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Econ Disads Ankurstyle

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I really don't want to pollute Ankur's thread too much, but the reasoning is this: The economy is in danger of inflation related collapse. There are many factors pushing this danger. Aff increases the pressure in several of these areas. If too many of these areas take too much pressure, the collapse occurs. Hence, even if the oil link is non-unique, the spending and trade links aren't and the aff case runs significant danger of contributing to the economic collapse.

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Sure, I understand that. I still think it's an impact calculus problem. How much pressure is too much? The internal link evidence (if it's good) will say something like "X leads to a substantial increase in inflation." If X is going to happen anyway, why does it matter if A and B also happen? The negative is left arguing, "Well, we don't know how much inflation is too much, but if there's going to be inflation from X in the future, inflation from A and B just bring us that much closer to the brink." It's not a horrible argument, but it's not that good, either, in my opinion.

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Sure, I understand that. I still think it's an impact calculus problem. How much pressure is too much? The internal link evidence (if it's good) will say something like "X leads to a substantial increase in inflation." If X is going to happen anyway, why does it matter if A and B also happen? The negative is left arguing, "Well, we don't know how much inflation is too much, but if there's going to be inflation from X in the future, inflation from A and B just bring us that much closer to the brink." It's not a horrible argument, but it's not that good, either, in my opinion.

It's because economics don't work like A leads to B leads to C leads to extinction. It's like this: a combination of A,B, and C lead to spiraling inflation, when combined with D and E leads to global depression. A, B or C alone won't lead to inflation...it takes multiple influences to have significant macroeconomic effects. So even when you prove A and B are going to happen anyway, I get to say, "without C, the collapse is exceedingly unlikely, particularly without D and E as well...and all those are linked to Aff."

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Under your vision, virtually no disad functions strategically - including politics. To what degree does Bush need to spend capital? To what degree do we need to piss off China? Only disads with a clear threshold would be valid, and I agree that thresholds are valuable, but not all disads can be viewed in such manner. In fact, very few can. I can only recall one in recent memory on the Ocean's resolution which specifically went into detail why banning whaling (or was it a specific type of fishing?) would piss off Japan (be the final straw) and have them kick our soldiers out, thus leading to the power vacuum in East Asia (since we had already pulled out of Subic Bay, Philippines) and China takes over regional hegemony by default.


Agreed, such a disad logic is VASTLY superior - but its near impossible to find such disads on almost any case on any resolution.


Although that makes me yearn for the energy topic (fingers crossed) of next year. There are so many plan specific case turns and disads available. For example, if the plan was to build solar cells and change power over to solar, the manufacturing process of making solar cells with current technology would completely consume all available global supplies of a specific couple metals causeing MASSIVE price spikes and the process releases hazardous toxic heavy metals in waste water and aerosol to boot.







Pollute away. My objective with this thread is to educate debaters as to what they are missing in their debate knowledge set, and throw in economics to boot. If your additions are constructive, by all means have at it.

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And that's what makes it a bad disadvantage, in my opinion.


The first internal link says increased demand for oil increases inflation. Petrochemicals use 3.4% of oil in the United States. I haven't seen anything breaking that down for pharmaceuticals. Petrochemicals include things that are produced in huge quantity like plastics, pesticides and detergents. I really don't think that making drugs for Africa is going to have much impact on oil demand.


The second link is spending. With the cost of the Iraq war approaching $500 billion, spending another billion on pharmaceuticals for Africa is highly unlikely to break the budget. At least, in my opinion, the negative better have some pretty good evidence saying that every billion counts in a situation where we are hemorrhaging money.


The third link is Malthus. How many lives is plan going to save? Hundreds of thousands? A few million? Ten million? How much demand do Africans place on raw materials? My guess is that link, too, gets swamped by uniqueness. And, you're stuck with the baggage that comes with running Malthus.


So the relationship between uniqueness and the links is a huge problem. Your uniqueness evidence must say the U.S. economy is on the brink of collapse now. If you've got evidence that says, "the U.S. economy will collapse if, but only if, we make pharmaceuticals for Africa," great. My guess is you won't.


The increased risk of significant inflation from plan is very small. On the other hand, the evidence saying that the economy is going to collapse anyway is pretty good.


The affirmative, on the other hand, is going to have a field day on case. If you're arguing the Malthus link, you can't very well say plan doesn't save a lot of lives.


So now it's time for 2NR impact calculus. "We're winning a risk of the link on a giant impact that's probably going to happen anyway. And we're going to let millions of people die in order to keep our economy running. Vote for us." If I knew how to make one of those smiley things, I would, but you get my point.

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Under your vision, virtually no disad functions strategically - including politics. To what degree does Bush need to spend capital? To what degree do we need to piss off China? Only disads with a clear threshold would be valid, and I agree that thresholds are valuable, but not all disads can be viewed in such manner. In fact, very few can. I can only recall one in recent memory on the Ocean's resolution which specifically went into detail why banning whaling (or was it a specific type of fishing?) would piss off Japan (be the final straw) and have them kick our soldiers out, thus leading to the power vacuum in East Asia (since we had already pulled out of Subic Bay, Philippines) and China takes over regional hegemony by default.


Agreed, such a disad logic is VASTLY superior - but its near impossible to find such disads on almost any case on any resolution.


That's why I think counterplans are more strategic.

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So now it's time for 2NR impact calculus. "We're winning a risk of the link on a giant impact that's probably going to happen anyway. And we're going to let millions of people die in order to keep our economy running. Vote for us." If I knew how to make one of those smiley things, I would, but you get my point.


This is silly. Economics leads to war. Its empirical. In a failed economic state, instability predicates war. Remember, the economic collapse in the US doesnt necessarily need to cause the US to initiate war. Rather, economic collapse in the US might lead to an obliteration of Gulf State revenue propping up the kingdom, leading to instability and war in the Middle East. Just for example.


So do you rescue millions with the aff plan if you risk an Israeli-Pakistani nuclear war? (cant use Iran because of current intelligence... ).

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That's why I think counterplans are more strategic.


I like counterplans. Never said I didnt. :)

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This is silly. Economics leads to war. Its empirical. In a failed economic state, instability predicates war. Remember, the economic collapse in the US doesnt necessarily need to cause the US to initiate war. Rather, economic collapse in the US might lead to an obliteration of Gulf State revenue propping up the kingdom, leading to instability and war in the Middle East. Just for example.


So do you rescue millions with the aff plan if you risk an Israeli-Pakistani nuclear war? (cant use Iran because of current intelligence... ).


Big impact. Low risk. No uniqueness.

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Big impact. Low risk. No uniqueness.


you're telling me that the kingdom has an imploding economy right now? really? can you please tell me on which planet that is? because its sure as hell not earth. and do you mean to tell me that if th 90% of saudi arabia which despises america, israel and the west were able to overthrow the saudi royalty (which is in power only because they are functionally buying off the public with public services and development paid for with oil revenue), there would be a LOW risk of war in the middle east?


in the words of amy poehler and seth meyers on weekend update.... really?


and you are making a VERY large assumption that i dont have solvency answers saying that your magicaly drug you are giving to SSA has a high side effect risk of myocardial infarction. or some other answer of the sort.

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I'm not saying anything about Saudi Arabia. I'm saying that's a big impact. But the link risk is low and the uniqueness with respect to the U.S. economy.

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This is silly. Economics leads to war. Its empirical. In a failed economic state, instability predicates war. Remember, the economic collapse in the US doesnt necessarily need to cause the US to initiate war. Rather, economic collapse in the US might lead to an obliteration of Gulf State revenue propping up the kingdom, leading to instability and war in the Middle East. Just for example.


So do you rescue millions with the aff plan if you risk an Israeli-Pakistani nuclear war? (cant use Iran because of current intelligence... ).


there actually hasn't been a war within the last century that was caused by an economic collapse.

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there actually hasn't been a war within the last century that was caused by an economic collapse.
I agree - there hasn't been a war caused by economic collapse.


Hitler's rise to power wasn't linked to the Great Depression? I disagree. If we count Hitler as the direct cause of WW2 in europe, we must look to what allowed him to gain so much power in the first place. There were two key factors. First, there was the nationalism he embodied, allowing Germans to be proud of Germany in defiance of Versailles. Second, he was able to consolidate power as a direct result of insane inflation in Germany in the 30's. While he was elected based on the force of nationalism, his power only grew dictatorial as a direct result of economic conditions which had reduced German currency to the level where a barter economy took hold.


So, while other factors needed to be present, inflation was a key player in WW2.


Now look to the cold war's end, and the resultant conflicts in the Balkans. The fall of the Soviet Union was economic in nature. When the Soviet union fell, the government of Yugoslavia fell apart as well. The resulting war in the region was a result of the economic collapse of the USSR.


I'm sure I could list several more if I thought about it.

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wars dont need to be interstate to be considered wars.


countless african civil wars are directly attributable to failed economic states.


japanese entrance into the second world war was a direct result of american oil embargo.


and the current bush-jihad on the middle east is a direct result of the petrodollar and the significance of a shift away from it.


if america is more willing to go to war and risk being seen as anti-muslim than to suffer the consequences of a shift away from the petrodollar, what does that tell you about the impacts of economics? perhaps that war is in many ways less an evil than collapse.

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Published: December 14, 2007

Filed at 10:35 a.m. ET


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumer inflation surged by the largest amount in more than two years in November, led by gasoline prices. The cost of clothing, airline tickets and prescription drugs also jumped.


The Labor Department said its closely watched Consumer Price Index rose 0.8 percent last month, the biggest one-month increase since a 1.2 percent surge in September 2005, when the country was hit by rising energy costs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.


Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve reported that industrial production rebounded in November, rising by 0.3 percent after having fallen by a sharp 0.7 percent in October. The gain was slightly higher than had been expected.


The improvement last month reflected an increase in output at auto plants which helped lift manufacturing production by 0.4 percent. Output in the mining sector, which includes oil production, was up 1.1 percent while utility output fell by 1.3 percent.


The inflation report showed that outside of energy, price pressures were rising as well. Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose by 0.3 percent last month, the biggest increase in 10 months.


The 0.8 percent rise in consumer prices was worse than the 0.6 percent advance that economists had expected. With one month to go, inflation in 2007 is rising at an annual rate of 4.2 percent, far above the 2.5 percent increase in 2006.


The surge in inflation adds another risk to an economy that is already struggling under the weight of a meltdown in housing, a severe credit crunch and faltering consumer confidence.


The worry is that the jump in energy costs will leave consumers with less money to spend on other items, worsening the slowdown in economic growth that is already happening.


Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told National Public Radio in an interview broadcast Friday that the odds of a recession are ''clearly rising'' with economic growth ''getting close to stall speed.''


Many economists believe that economic growth in the current October-December quarter could fall below 1 percent at an annual rate, sharply below the 4.9 percent rate of growth in the third quarter.


The Federal Reserve, trying to ward off an outright recession, cut a key interest rate this week for the third time this year. The Fed also announced a coordinated response with central banks around the world to pump more money into the banking system to combat a severe credit squeeze which has made it harder for consumers and businesses to get loans.


Energy costs were up 5.7 percent in November, with gasoline prices rising by 9.3 percent, the biggest increase since May. Gasoline prices have been pushed higher by a renewed surge in global energy costs that pushed crude oil prices close to $100 per barrel last month.


Food costs were 0.3 percent in November, led higher by big increases in fruit and vegetable prices.


Outside of food and energy, clothing prices, which have been falling most of this year, surged by 0.8 percent, the biggest rise since April 1999.


Airline tickets were up 2.6 percent, representing the price hikes imposed by airlines because of their own rising fuel bills.


The cost of medical care, one of the leading areas for price gains, was up 0.4 percent last month, led by a 0.8 percent jump in prescription drug costs.



I was just reading the Times online today and spotted a decent brink card.

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The important takeaway from Brett's article isnt merely that inflation is ramping up, its that higher inflation eliminates the federal reserve's ability to keep the economy on a growth curve.


The fed raises rates to slow growth when inflation is high and lowers rates to increase growth when inflation is low. Right now, the economy is slowly tanking and the fed is trying to lower rates (as they did earlier this week), but if they continue lowering it, inflation will begin to skyrocket. This current inflation is not a product of economic growth - its attributed to the higher cost of energy which is finally being pushed by producers to consumers. Producers are finding it a losing enterprise to continue eating profits to keep prices low as energy costs increase. What we should see in the coming months is inflation at a steady but at a reasonably high rate as compared to the last decade or the historical benchmark of 2% per year.


Initial reports (I saw on Financial Times today) suggest that the global demand for oil will increase by 2.1 million barrels per day, with much of that coming from domestic demand in the Middle East (as they get richer, they use more energy), so even if the American economy slows down and limits our otherwise annual growth in consumption of oil, the Middle East alone would more than make up for it - thus the price of oil has no where to go but up over the mid-term and long-term.


If energy prices keep going up, then inflation will go up because it would appear we have reached the threshold at which producers are willing to eat the costs of higher energy. From here forward, that increase in the cost of energy will be passed to consumers. If the price of oil goes up, the cost of milk goes up too.


And the Fed wont be able to do much of anything to stop it. To control inflation, which is commonly thought by many to be the worst economic challenge a country could face, the fed may need to increase rates.


So I ask you a series of questions to test your comprehension (no need to answer on this thread... just test yourself. the answers are in my previous lessons):


If the Fed increases rates, what happens to the housing market?

If the Fed increases rates, what happens to the dollar and our trade deficit?

If the Fed keeps rates the same, but inflation persists, what happens to the general economy?




An interesting PDF on Peak Oil







How Our Fossil Fuel Dependence Is Jeopardizing Our Healthcare System

By Dan Bednarz, Orion Magazine. Posted July 24, 2007.


Reprint Notice:

This article appears in the May/June 2007 issue of Orion magazine, 187 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, 888/909-6568, ($40/year for 6 issues). Subscriptions are available online: http://www.orionmagazine.org.


* Dan Bednarz is a health-care consultant in Pittsburgh. He is working to build a broad-based consortium on energy, climate, and the future of health care.


Our country's dependency on oil and natural gas cannot be overstated. Nowhere is this truer than in our medical system. This means that the looming energy crisis is also a healthcare crisis. The scale and subtlety of our country's dependency on oil and natural gas cannot be overstated. Nowhere is this truer than in our medical system.


Petrochemicals are used to manufacture analgesics, antihistamines, antibiotics, antibacterials, rectal suppositories, cough syrups, lubricants, creams, ointments, salves, and many gels. Processed plastics made with oil are used in heart valves and other esoteric medical equipment.


Petrochemicals are used in radiological dyes and films, intravenous tubing, syringes, and oxygen masks. In all but rare instances, fossil fuels heat and cool buildings and supply electricity. Ambulances and helicopter "life flights" depend on petroleum, as do personnel who travel to and from medical workplaces in motor vehicles. Supplies and equipment are shipped -- often from overseas -- in petroleum-powered carriers. In addition there are the subtle consequences of fossil fuel reliance.


A recently retired doctor informs me, "In orthopedics we used to set fractures mostly by feel and knowing the mechanics of how the fractures were created. I doubt that many of the present orthopedists could do a good job if you took away their [energy-powered] fluoroscope or X-ray."


Despite this enormous vulnerability, public discussions of health care routinely ignore the prospect of peak oil. The proposed reforms, which seek to cover more people while holding down escalating costs, amount to little more than fiscal maneuvers. They take no notice of ecological resource constraints that will set limits on our ability to give people access to medical care.


The coming scarcity of fossil fuels, on top of inflationary costs in medicine (the prices of oil and natural gas are approximately four times what they were in 1999 and rising) and the expenses of treating Baby Boomers (a cohort twice the size of its predecessor), could overwhelm a medical system already in crisis.


We can avoid collapse, however, by reducing medicine's present consumption of energy and creating a health-care system that reflects our actual relationship to resources. Ironically, peak oil can be a catalyst for creating a health-care system that is cost-effective, ecologically sustainable, and congruent with a democratic social ethos.


At present we have a tiered health-care system. At the top is a Ferrari model of care that reflects our affluence, fascination with technology, and extravagance. Ferrari care has made possible the treatment of rare life-threatening diseases and expensive procedures like organ transplants, but it has also been used for esoteric and often redundant testing and vanity procedures such as botox injections. At the bottom is a jalopy model serving over 50 million un- and underinsured Americans who very often receive no treatment, defer treatment until their condition cannot be ignored, or face economic ruin when they seek adequate care.


If the two tiers persist after peak oil, they will eventually be preserved by force -- armed guards at gated medical facilities -- for the few able to pay, while the rest of Americans are relegated to the jalopy and faced with overt rationing, triage, and curtailment of medical care. Such an outcome would be an overt contravention of democratic values -- most Americans tell pollsters they believe that health care is a human right, not a privilege awarded those with higher income.


What then should we do? The best democratic option is to replace both the Ferrari and the jalopy with a Honda. The post-peak Honda health-care model will of necessity operate with fewer overall resources and less energy than today's health-care system, and at lower cost. But it need not result in poorer quality of care.


Although the United States spends more on health than any other nation -- per capita health-care costs in this country are three times those in Great Britain and more than twice those in Canada -- we do not have the best health outcomes. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006, for example, reported that "white, middle-aged Americans -- even those who are rich -- are far less healthy than their peers in England."


The commonsensical Honda model will emphasize public health -- the prevention of disease and the promotion of health within the population as a whole -- over treatment medicine, which focuses on restoring health to chronically or acutely ill individuals.


Typically accomplished through the diffusion of information, low-cost therapies, and the promotion of healthful nutrition and lifestyle, preventive medicine allows people to avoid or postpone disease, and to stay clear of the costliest and most energy-intensive sectors of the medical system -- doctors' offices, pharmacies, and the hospital. In the Honda model, treatment medicine would continue, but its role would be brought into better balance with the vastly more cost-effective and energy-efficient mode of preventive health care.


The public health system arose in the early decades of the last century as a response to fears of infectious diseases in our country's crowded cities. Its outlook is inherently egalitarian -- if the entire community is not protected, then no one's health is assured. Public health is no longer the force it was when it sent "ladies in white uniforms" into communities to preach the Gospel of Germs, explaining the relationship between hygiene and disease prevention. Today, public health is overburdened and underfunded, receiving about 5 percent of health-care dollars, with the balance going to treatment medicine and to biomedical research.


Despite funding inadequacies, public health is in place and functioning. Public health workers, for example, educate about and test for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases; they interdict infectious diseases like avian flu; they create emergency plans to deal with a variety of disaster scenarios; they monitor waste management and air and water quality. No new system needs to be invented or institutionalized to meet the health-care challenges of the coming energy transition, or, for that matter, those of climate change.


Already, some public health officials are beginning to address peak oil's effect on health care. On the national level, the Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control is investigating impacts of petroleum scarcity on pharmaceuticals. In Congress, a Peak Oil Caucus led by Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) and Tom Udall (D-NM), is looking into the health risks posed by economic decline and mass unemployment, which peak oil is likely to trigger. At the local level, Indianapolis's Marion County Health Department is the first in the country to begin planning for maintaining public health services under differing scenarios of energy scarcity.


Late though the hour is, we can still avert the worst health consequences of an energy downturn, but doing so will require transforming our entire health-care system. The elitist impulse to perpetuate Ferrari care for the explicit benefit of the few at the expense of the many will persist after peak oil, and substantial citizen action will be needed to put into effect the affordable, egalitarian Honda model.


Medicine itself could play a central role in this effort, by educating those who are unaware of the sweeping changes peak oil will initiate. Reprising its inaugural campaign against germs, public health could become a platform for disseminating a Gospel of Energy Conservation. For the most part, the medical community is as naÏve about peak oil as the rest of the citizenry. As one public health official told me after hearing about medicine's reliance on oil, "Oh my, I never thought of it that way. This is serious."









Public health and the precautionary principle: the case of peak oil

by Dan Bednarz, Ph.D.


Published on 1 May 2006 by Energy Bulletin. Archived on 1 May 2006.

Seminar at The Ohio State University School of Public Health April 28, 2006


Good morning; it’s a pleasure to be among public health colleagues. I wish to briefly discuss and integrate:

1. The Precautionary Principle (PP) in public health

2. Peak oil as a multi-faceted public health threat

3. Why public health has not paid appropriate attention to peak oil.


What Is The Precautionary Principle (PP)?


If we tell an audience, “Public health’s core concepts are assessment, policy development and assurance,” we will get puzzled looks. But if we say, “Public health is about protecting the community from injury, sickness and death,” heads will nod in agreement. From its formal inception 100 years ago public health has functioned in the spirit of the PP, which the 1998 Wingspread Statement formalized this way: When an activity raises threat of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.


There are other definitions of this principle, whose nuances as they apply to public health have been reviewed by Goldstein (2001), and Goldstein and Carruth (2003) and others (Tickner, 1997; Kurland, 2002; WHO, 2004).


In our risk conscious society suspected threats to health regularly undergo scrutiny: cell phones, saccharine, diets, exercise, genetically modified foods, the latest suspected carcinogen, to name a few. The PP codifies our collective apprehensions about health and safety –this is especially so regarding children and other vulnerable, innocent cohorts.


However, there is a cultural and psychological significance of the PP. To illustrate this, note that the Bush administration officially opposes the PP in many regulatory areas, especially in environmentalism and sometimes in public health issues. This stance is personified through the career of John Graham, formerly of Harvard’s school of public health and now Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.


Graham (2003) argues that the PP encourages indifference to the cost-benefits ratio of intervention versus non-intervention; as a result, he claims, we often go on obsessive, wasteful wild goose chases. But if we consider the rhetoric of the Bush administration’s foreign policy, we see that precaution and prevention are the premises of all its explanations for the invasion of Iraq –without cost-benefit analysis or anything more than an untested ordinal level of data conjecture that we’re safer now than if the invasion had not occurred.


This shows, I surmise, that the public intuitively endorses an expansive interpretation of the PP; however, given our differing political, economic, ethical, moral and group allegiances, our actual disagreements are about when and how to invoke it.


In this vein, Judith Kurland has pointed out that in the health and environment arenas, the PP is better received and more consistently implemented in Europe, where it was formalized into environmental policy in the 1970s, than it is in the U.S. In our country the manufacturers of tobacco, lead paint, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, asbestos, among others, have at times sought to withhold, stall, or doctor vital epidemiological and biostatistical information while simultaneously arguing that “all the data are not in” (Kurland, 2002: 499).


Kurland rightly contends that action in the face of “informed” uncertainty is the cornerstone of the PP - and I add of good-faith –(as opposed to faith-based) public health. We are touching upon the fault line of a narrow versus a broad conception of the public health mission – just think of our current debate in this country about climate change, also known as global warming. Is it a public health issue?


With this conception of the PP as a strategic tool/resource of stakeholders in the policy-making process – because that is, I contend, its real function - it is enlightening to ask why public health has been slow to respond to the emerging worldwide petroleum crisis colloquially known as “Peak Oil.” Is this indifference justified? After all, we cannot attend to every potential risk. Or is it symptomatic of a failure of public health to engage in “assessment, policy development and assurance” – that is, a failure to act in accordance with the PP.


Peak Oil as a Public Health Threat


Some background on how I identified peak oil as a public health threat is helpful. I will summarize a great deal of information, so if you desire further details on anything I say I will be happy afterwards to offer you sources.


At first I was skeptical of the dire and gloomy warnings of “Life as we know it” coming to an end. I had concluded during the oil crises of the seventies, when I was a college student, that when push came to shove technology would save us. In 2004 I realized that this sanguine outlook on energy was naïve. At that point I had an “of course!” experience: It’s about systems theory; stress/disturb the political-economic system with an exogenous change (peak oil) and it will reverberate through the sub-system of public health. For example, there is a good deal of discussion in the peak oil literature on the possibility of food rationing and food riots, but what about healthcare riots? This is merely one example of the repercussions for public health.


Finding only a few documents dating back to the seventies energy crises in the public health literature - I branched out for perspective: economics, environmentalism, earth sciences, geology, and so on. I was intrigued by the writings of economist Nicholas Goregescu-Roegen (1971; 1975). During the 1970s he wrote how traditional economics literally defies the laws of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy. His exegesis on this simplistic thinking, exhibited even among Nobel Laureates, exposes the power of the taken-for-granted assumption of perpetual growth. He likewise critiques the belief that a Steady-State economy is a solution to growth based-economics. His thesis is uncomplicated: if you come to terms with thermodynamics –and therefore energy and entropy-- you realize its formidable long-term constraints upon economic activity.


Also, I was impressed by Reg Morrison’s (1999) encyclopedic book Spirit in the Gene, one of whose themes, the unavoidable ecological costs of extracting resources from the planet, parallels Goergescu-Roegen’s analysis and is indispensable to grasping the enormity of our energy-intensive and dependent lifestyle.


I should add a definition of peak oil, which in shorthand form means the point at which half of all the recoverable conventional oil in the world has been pumped from the ground. This is momentous because of the universal role petroleum plays in society. Given our time limitations, I will not stray into examples; suffice it to say that we are ensconced in what some have labeled the petroleum era.


As alluded to earlier, “catastrophists” argue that peak oil signals the end of technologically complex society –a return to muscle-powered times awaits us, they claim. I understand fully why a first time or casual reader could dismiss their arguments as the latest Cassandra narrative –although we should remember that Cassandra’s “curse” was to tell the unvarnished truth all the time. Indeed, there is an element of identification or rejection one feels compelled to make when reading this (sometimes) fervent literature. All I can say here is that as scientists we have to keep these deep-seated feelings in mind and separate, as best we can, fact from value, wish and fantasy.


The three benchmarks I pay attention to are empirical: the price of crude, daily worldwide production, and the supply-demand ratio. Prices approximately are at an all time high and expected to rise, and demand is beginning to surpass supply. At this time, those who claim we are at or near peak oil are, in my estimation, supported by data trends. The flatness of daily extraction – it’s hovering around 85 million barrels per day - for the past two years may indicate we are at peak oil; we will not know until production falls and cannot recover. I suggest that this plateau in production alone is a classic case for invoking the PP: we do not have all the data, but the consequences of waiting to have full information are potentially damaging or irreversible.


Therefore, dismissing peak oil as humbuggery is unjustified because running out of oil is not a fantasy for revenge or the science fiction of unhappy recluses or cargo cultists; it is a geological fact.


At this point some of you may be thinking, “What about substitutes? Sugar cane, tar sands, shale oil, solar wind, chicken fat, palm oil, hydrogen, and so on. If these can offset the decline in oil, won’t public health be utterly unaffected by peak oil?”


Well, I’m glad you asked since this brings us directly to the mission of public health and how to deal with uncertainty and risk. Let me categorically assert, and I will be happy to provide evidence, that we do not have scalable, fully appropriate alternatives and substitutes available at present to face what a decline in world oil production will wreak. In addition, even if we are not geologically a peak, we would need, according to The Hirsch Report which is described below, 20 years lead time to make a soft landing. Therefore, I believe we should create risk management scenarios for a variety of disruptive to worst case outcomes.


Note I’m advocating risk assessment; this is an analytic process, not a call for immediate system change. Our default “do-nothing” position is to hope all goes well – and right now our old friend “Mr. Free Market” is pretty confused about oil. For public health to stand pat is irrational, even as it is the natural response from the point of view of what we know about the social-psychology of risk - I will return to this in my summary.


Consider that “The Hirsch Report” to the Department of Energy, released in February of 2005 to virtually no media attention,(2005: 64) states: “The world has never faced a problem like this…Previous energy transitions (wood to coal and coal to oil) were gradual and evolutionary; oil peaking will be abrupt and revolutionary [emphasis added].” I hope that this brief review has made the minimal point that public health should, in accordance with the PP, react to peak oil through the framework of risk assessment. Now we may ask why public health is not paying due attention to peak oil. Let me offer some admittedly preliminary classes of explanation.


The Unprecedented Nature of the Problem


Peak oil is not a virus, carcinogen, or a pool of fetid standing water. It is a unique problem of exogenous change: a geologically imposed end to the fossil fuel era, whose first manifestation is the peaking of petroleum extraction, to be followed later by natural gas and then coal.


Ideally our government and the market should solve the energy problem. Thirty years ago Jimmy Carter took steps toward a national energy policy that was subsequently ridiculed by Ronald Reagan, as was symbolized by the first act of his administration: dismantling the solar panels Carter has installed on the White House roof. In addition, there is no guarantee that government can alone solve this problem without substantial guidance from the public and interested institutions –like public health.


Turning specifically to public health, most textbooks acknowledge the importance of energy but only in the contexts of its environmental pollution challenges and its necessity to spur economic development and growth. There is scant literature on its scarcity or depletion; overall, it is taken for granted that fossil fuel energy will always be available and cheap. Historically, this is a pardonable but nonetheless an immense oversight or misconception that now must be rectified; and let me emphasize that many students are reading in their public health textbooks that we have a 50 year supply of petroleum remaining, and 300 years of coal.


Our discipline must revise its understanding of energy in its generic sense and petroleum in its uniqueness as more than a source of energy. For example, petroleum is integral to the cultivation, processing and distribution of food; and it is an ingredient of a vast array of products, from toothbrushes to pharmaceuticals to computer cases. Also it is associated with population growth and lifestyle comforts.


I only mention transportation. Problem Identification How would public health recognize the problem of peak oil? This is not a frivolous question; a theme of inquiry in the area of social studies of science is, “Where do research questions come from?” Do they come from theory and the internal dynamics of the field? Or from external political, social and economic forces? We can stipulate that ideally it’s an interaction of both because public health is an applied, problem-driven field. Still, I suggest that most public health problems reflect de facto government and foundation agendas – that’s where the positive incentives are.


Finally, public health suffers from the “Silo effect,” or to be charitable, the “Invisible College” phenomenon, where one’s research colleagues are few and spread across the globe. This is to say the discipline lacks overarching communication and integration and has, as do most scientific disciplines, small semi-insular groups working on esoteric problems. This is a widespread yet often benign pattern in some scientific disciplines, but it is vexing in public health.


The Media


Reviewing sociologist Herbert J. Gans book, Deciding What’s News, Frank Mankiewicz, characterized television and newspaper reporters: “[O]ur colleagues who set much of the nation’s agenda have solid, bourgeois, mildly reformist views, respect authority, want to be liked and probably see the unfamiliar as vaguely threatening. The result is that tomorrow’s news is going to look very much like today’s, even if the world does not.”


This orientation is not conducive to reporting that we face an energy predicament that may precipitate an economic and social crisis, let alone lead to extrapolating as to how this could affect public health. To indicate how little “mainstream” attention has been paid to the topic, on March 1st of this year, Robert Semple, Jr., wrote in the New York Times: “The Age of Oil … could be ending without our really being aware of it.” Semple never uses the term “peak oil” in his article; it is still a virtually taboo concept in mainstream media, and he takes the most optimistic position that peak is thirty years away.


Reviewing the literature on risk identification, Fischoff (1989) informs us that we tend to hold on to pre-existing beliefs in the face of conflicting evidence and are unlikely to change our minds exclusively on the basis of logic and appeals to evidence –they rely heavily on their social context for definition. Furthermore, people typically disagree more about whether a risk exists than what to do about an acknowledged risk - in other words, the question of when to invoke the PP is paramount.


There is hope as little-by-little the energy crisis enters the mainstream news discussion. A week ago Jane Bryant Quinn wrote soberly in Newsweek of her alarm over the oil situation, but she did not use the term “peak oil.” Three weeks ago, Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine, published and article titled, "Wie lange noch?" (“How much time is left?”), that dealt with the concept of Peak Oil by name. This has yet to happen in a major American media source, but, as the Germans say, “Wir wollen mal sehen” –We’ll see.


The Government


In the first three chapters of Kevin Phillips’ new book, American Theocracy, he indicts the federal government for failing to forthrightly inform the public about our energy situation. Philips writes, “The political establishment’s reluctance to acquaint the American electorate with this dilemma involves three particularly glaring problems:

(1) unwillingness to speak of the present oil crisis in the full context of geological, economic, and military history;

(2) failure to understand the past vulnerability of great but idiosyncratic national energy cultures [like England relying on coal] losing their familiar footing; and

(3) refusal to discuss the evidence of oil-field depletions and insufficient new discoveries that shows petroleum production moving toward an inflammatory worldwide shortage…”


I believe he is right to draw these conclusions. But governments, especially large ones, are not unitary rational actors. As some of you here know, I attend the Defense Department’s monthly “Conversation about Energy” series in Washington.


Let me interject an example you’ll appreciate on the ambivalent nature of government. While the Defense Department is planning for peak oil, the DoE in essence “buried” the Hirsch Report. It was not available on its website until October of last year - in response to citizen complaints about its unavailability. Hirsch spoke at this past Monday’s Conversation meeting, smiled and said “No comment” when asked if he felt the DoE had hidden his report.


In a conversation I had with a colleague last month, he advises the Federal government on environmental risk analysis and science policy, he told me I was overreacting to think energy was a major threat to our healthcare system. “It’s third or forth in importance, Dan, not first.” I was dumbfounded and asked, “What about the Hirsch Report?” and he replied, “I’ve never heard of it.” I like and respect this man, so I bit my tongue and did not retort, “Okay, now I know where you’re not coming from.”


Daniel Yergin, energy consultant and peak oil denier, had the same “never heard of it” response during an interview last fall. These gentlemen are not my uncle Joe; and I’m sure we all have “expertise” stories we could share.


Also, a few weeks ago The Corps of Engineers released a study on peak oil. It reported, “The doubling of oil prices in the past couple of years is not an anomaly, but a picture of the future. Peak oil is at hand…” It also predicted the possibility of resource wars and recommended that the Army think strategically about energy.


And for those who appreciate irony, in 1995 the Congressional Research Service released a report titled, “World Oil Production after Year 2000: Business As Usual or Crises?” Further, at this past Monday’s “Conversation on Energy” both Hirsch and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett, R-MD, agreed that if the president would openly discuss peak oil the financial markets would fall prey to panic and instability.


Finally and most important, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control are – institutionally — oblivious to peak oil’s implications for the nation’s health.


I’m neither an alarmist nor moral entrepreneur by inclination, but let me observe that this is utterly astonishing.




The PP is a strategic resource in policy debates because it allows advocates and stakeholders to - properly I believe - take a broad view of public health’s mission and to act on informed suspicion of deleterious threats to health and the environment.


The PP is not an alarm system or an oracle. We need to understand the filters, bureaucratic and more generally economic, political and cultural, that both lead us to and away from the identification of health hazards. Why study this and not this? is not a navel-gazing question.


Given that resources always are scarce, we cannot avoid what Harold Lasswell termed the heart of policy analysis: “Who gets what, when and why?” This question will become immensely important if peak oil turns out to be the fracturing beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. If it is, public health has an opportunity to help lead our society through several decades of difficult to catastrophic socio-economic times. By this I suggest that public health will no longer be able to avoid debating the limits to growth issue, for this may be the ultimate meaning of peak oil.


Finally, and here I am speculating with a tinge of grandiosity, if peak oil ushers in an era of resource scarcity and economic instability – perhaps in a way similar to what Steven Jay Gould has called “punctuated equilibrium”— public health will have an opportunity to turn its training and educational expertise to the task of – for want of a better way of putting it — providing a truthful narrative that explains the great transformation underway.


I will stop here for questions.


Thank you for your attention.




Fischoff, Baruch. 1989. “Risk: A Guide to Controversy.” In Improving Risk Communication. The National Research Council, ed., P 211-253. Washington: National Academy Press.


Fournier, Donald F. and Eileen T. Westervelt. 2005. Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Washington, DC. September.


Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. 1971.The Entropy Law and the Economic Problem. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. 1975. “Energy and Economic Myths.” Southern Economic Journal, 41.


Goldstein, Bernard D. 1999. “The Precautionary Principle and Scientific Research Are Not Antithetical.” Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 107, Number 12, December.


Goldstein, Bernard D. 2001. “The Precautionary Principle Also Applies to Public Health Actions.” American Journal of Public Health September 2001, Vol. 91, No. 9: 1358-1361.


Goldstein, Bernard D., and Russellyn Carruth. 2001. “Implications of the Precautionary Principle for Environmental Regulation in the United States.” Law & Contemporary Problems, Vol. 66.


Gould, Stephen Jay. 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. Cambridge, Ma: Belknap Press.


Graham, John D. 2004. . “The Perils of the Precautionary Principle: Lessons from the American and European Experience.” Washington, D.C.: Heritage Foundation Lecture #818, January 15.


Kurland, Judith 2002. The Heart of the Precautionary Principle in Democracy. Public Health Reports, Vol. 117 Nov/Dec: 498-500.


Mankiewicz, Frank. 1979. “The Knowns and Unknowns: Review of Herbert Gans’ Deciding What’s News.” New York Times Book Review, June 24: 7.


Joseph P. Riva, Jr. titled, “World Oil Production after Year 2000: Business As Usual or Crises?” Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service. Quinn, Jane Bryant. 2006. “The Price of Our Addiction.” Newsweek April 24.


Tickner, Joel. 1997. “Precautionary Principle. The Networker: The Newsletter of the Science and Environmental Health Net.” May, Vol. 2, #4


World Health Organization. 2004. “The Precautionary Principle: Public Health, Protection of Children and Sustainability.” Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health. Budapest, Hungary, June 23-25.








Energy: healthcare's preconditional crisis

by Dan Bednarz, Ph.D., J. Mac Crawford, RN, Ph.D.


Published on 16 Feb 2007 by Black Sun Journal. Archived on 17 Feb 2007.


Modern healthcare is dependent upon large inputs of energy as well as an array of products derived from petroleum. Nevertheless it is silent on the threats posed by the end of the fossil fuel era, colloquially know as “peak oil.”


This article presents the emerging scarcity of energy and the products of oil as both a “preconditional crisis” –one that threatens the existence of healthcare delivery systems—and as a series of epidemiologic population-level health risks. It then provides an anthropological explanation for why this hazard, the end of the fossil fuel era, is being ignored by healthcare professionals. Finally it offers a suggestion for the medical and public health communities to jointly address the extraordinary threats posed by peak oil.


If there was nothing to be worried about, then there would be no price increases.

Iranian oil and energy analyst Ali Samsan Bakhtiari,1

October 2004.


Among its various welfare effects, energy is closely linked with people’s health.

Energy Systems and Population Health Team.2



We pay rather scant attention to large-scale factors that affect health at the population level…

Anthony J. McMichael.3




The 21st century presents numerous population health risks; AIDS and various pandemics, global warming, bio-terrorism, modern warfare itself, and burgeoning health disparities between socio-economic classes and nations are several from a longer list. There is, additionally, a “preconditional” crisis looming for public health, and as well for clinical medicine: the denouement of the fossil fuel era (coal, oil, natural gas), colloquially indexed as “peak oil.” If this culture-enveloping challenge –whose first manifestation is increasing oil prices– is not solved the prospect for protecting and promoting population-level health throughout the entire world is foreboding, and perhaps doomed.


Without a secure supply of energy matched to its level of complexity no society can function4-7 (Tainter, 1988;Morrison, 1988; Catton, 1982). The context of healthcare (public health and clinical medicine) is characterized by energy-intensity and ubiquitous need for the yields of petroleum. Petroleum merits especial significance because, “It is simultaneously a strategic raw material, a unique industrial feedstock and the most essential of fuels,” (Bakhtiari,8(p1) 2006). Further, in and of itself a lack of oil –followed later by natural gas and then coal– poses new or exacerbates existing epidemiologic threats to human populations in terms of heightened exposure and susceptibility, and lowered resistance to disease (McMichael,3 2002). Also, peak oil will transform heretofore heuristic dialogue on the ethics of medical services into agonizing choices about rationing or denying healthcare to specified cohorts.


To summarize what is ahead, the twilight of the fossil fuel era creates both a preconditonal crisis and directly poses a series of health threats which at present are unaddressed by those entities responsible for the assurance of the nation’s health. Those negative health effects include but are not limited to:

Disruptions and drastic reductions in food production, given the dependence of modern agriculture on natural gas, for fertilizers; and petroleum, for pesticides; for crop production; and for transportation, processing, and refrigeration.

The stresses of peak-oil-induced unemployment will lead to varied adverse health statuses, behaviors and risk taking activities, and to increased burdens on tax dollars to deal with mass unemployment.

Health risks to populations unable to adequately heat their dwellings in the winter, or, conversely, to properly cool them in the summer.

Breakdown or interruptions in transportation systems, affecting the manufacture and distribution of a multitude of products necessary to preserve hygienic conditions, to produce medicines, pharmaceuticals and ancillary products and, more generally to distribute goods across the nation.

Breakdown or disruptions in the drinking and wastewater treatment systems due to their energy dependence.

Breakdown of the healthcare system for want of resources and demand overload.

A range of mental health pathologies stemming from the above conditions.

Healthcare has yet to “make sense of” the new “facts” and subsequent warnings created by peak oil, which is both an obdurate social-empirical reality9 (see Blumer, 1969) and an expansive “social object,” or metaphor, for a range of impending resource scarcities (potable water, fertile soil, copper, edible sea-life, etc.) that will set limits on human populations and economic activity10 (Meadows, 2004).The question is clear-cut: How is it that this preconditional crisis is being wholly ignored? The avoidance of peak oil is less an “inconvenient truth” stemming from the failures and shortcomings of responsible parties than it is an example of what Mary Douglas11 (1988), extending the work of Ludwig Fleck,12 (1979) who also influenced Thomas Kuhn,13 (1970), terms “institutional thinking.”


Institutions are widely shared “thought communities” in the minds of individuals that discount, deny, disparage, distort, or ignore social-empirical conditions that do not comport with embedded values and ensuing definitions of reality. Institutions classify “rightness” and “nonsense,” what is rational and irrational, and shape what their members remember and forget. In Douglas’s imagery, institutional thinking consigns subversive knowledge, fundamental challenges to extant values and social arrangements, to “shadowed places.” It follows, Douglas argues, that individuals do not make important decisions qua individuals; they rely on their reference group (institutional) affiliations for a sense of context and also for moral and other evaluative criteria to reach a judgment. This is particularly so for “life and death” scenarios11(p111-128) (Douglas, 1988: 111-128), which peak oil portends to be.


Media, business, and government, with few exceptions, have relegated peak oil to the shadows; and even at this time, when we may be at the apex of production attainable before the inevitable decline sets in, most remain loathe to mention the concept by name, let alone consider its implications for healthcare. For instance, the cost of oil is explained by reference to greedy oil companies, the weather, or political conditions, but rarely to the geophysical fact that there is only so much oil in the ground and, by logical extension, that peak oil heralds an inevitably widening gap between supply, which will dwindle, and demand, which continues to grow (see The Chicago Tribune14 (2006) for a rare explicit consideration of peak oil).


By default, then, healthcare relegates peak oil to the shadows. This is excruciatingly ironic given the appreciation –muted and oft forgotten in the public health and medical economics literature though it is15 (Bednarz, 2006)– that energy, particularly petroleum, is vital to modern healthcare.


Fossil fuels, in the United States taken-for-granted as plentiful and inexpensive, are governed by the laws of thermodynamics, the “physics of energy,” and are, in terms of a human conception of time, non-renewable. Nonetheless, the majority of our institutions –staggeringly healthcare—operate as if energy is cheap and infinite. Discussion of the finitude of fossil fuels destabilizes bedrock faith in perpetual economic growth, unlimited resources, promethean technological progress, and, critically, the concept of individualism, core values of American culture. Importantly, writes Douglas11(p94-99) (1988: 94-99), such values are experienced not as preferences –mere socio-historical conventions– but as laws of nature – timeless essentials outside examination; as, for example, slavery and denial of women’s suffrage were once considered eternal verities. It follows that socially negotiated values are transformed into sacred tenets, with all that this implies for those who dare to question or who live by them. Writing in the middle of the 1980s, Douglas11(p119) (1988: 119) –with what must have been unwitting prescience– observed: “The result [of the apotheosis of individualism] has been the sacralization of a society based on an extravagant use of energy…”


The sacralization of values makes fundamental, as opposed to incremental, social change extremely difficult. And it explains why brilliant and decent people can misclassify “obvious” inconsistencies and contradictions as random anomalies not fit for consideration (a point seized upon to great advantage by Kuhn,13 1970). It also explains why leaders can behave ruthlessly to protect the status quo.


For example, at present petroleum and natural gas are increasingly costly, scarce and difficult to extract from the earth and bring to market. The received “institutional” explanation is that this is ephemeral –soon energy prices will decline. The “subversive” explanation is that this is a market signal that all is not well in the supply line. Therefore, few “mainstream” media have allotted coverage to:

the announcements by Kuwait in 2005 that its oil production had peaked and it reserves were overstated.

the production declines taking place in Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

the fact that world oil production presently is barely keeping up with demand.

Within a matter of decades fossil fuels –including coal—will no longer play a significant role in society; simultaneously, more than 85% of all energy presently consumed in the nation is produced from them.According to Douglas11(p112-113) (1988:112-113), institutions perpetuate their legitimacy with implicit claims that they are the one “reasonable” reflection of nature and the cosmos; they represent the way things were meant to be. To recognize subversive knowledge, in this case peak oil, therefore, exposes this “naturalness” to doubt. Who wants to declare that the values of unlimited economic growth, perpetual resource abundance and socio-technological progress, and an exaltation of individualism are, because of peak oil, now health threats? Indeed, there is widespread belief –with objection in some quarters to be sure—in healthcare that economic growth is the quintessential solution to global poverty16 (Birn, 2005: 2).


Notably, whether we are at peak oil is not the singular matter of focus, although it is of great importance. The concern of healthcare should be preparing –with the analytic tools of risk assessment and management in tandem with our often undervalued gifts of tacit knowledge and experientially earned intuition– for the end of the petroleum era, which even peak oil “optimists” agree is no more than three decades away. If we are within 10 years of peak oil –current evidence suggests we may be at peak now– an economic crisis and severe energy and petroleum-based product shortages are unavoidable; if we are 10-20 years away there will be economic hardship. And this scenario assumes genuine preparation and infrastructure conversion begins immediately, which is not occurring17,18 (Bedzek, et al, 2006; Hirsch, et al, 2005).


Indeed, the world may be confronting Liebig’s Law, which holds that system growth is limited by the scarcest resource. Some readers may be wondering why the Market cannot solve this energy problem by spurring the discovery and development of alternative sources. The answer is nuanced but distills to this: Thus far neither exploration for more oil nor “substitution” has had appreciable effect, and this indicates that economic theory must fully integrate the laws of thermodynamics to remain robust19,20 (Georgescu-Roegen, 1971, 1975). The other available economic “solution” is demand destruction, which is, of course, a deleterious euphemism when applied to healthcare. However, energy conservation and efficiency are clearly in order, but on a systemic scale that will reconfigure how healthcare is organized and delivered –that is, what is required will undermine institutional values.


In sum, healthcare is sleepwalking into this molar crisis. Further, American healthcare is conceptually indigent regarding energy –especially the unique role of petroleum. In the past century there was scant incentive to devote attention to the relationship between energy and health. As an applied discipline public health, for instance, does not study states of affairs on purely theoretical grounds; there must be some sense of a problem to spur inquiry. This lack of attention is reflected in public health textbooks, where an initial survey of 20 texts written between 1956 and 1990 reveals that “energy” was not a subject-indexed topic until the oil crises of the 1970s made it one21 (Bednarz and Crawford, in progress), and this is relatively superficial and tangential to our current context.


Just as the proverbial Eskimos must distinguish the several kinds of snow to survive in their bio-physical environment, so too does modern healthcare need to broaden and deepen its understand of energy to promote health, prevent (or treat) disease, and prolong life in the 21st century. A century ago a “revolution in personal hygiene” occurred as medical science introduced germ theory to the public22 (Tomes, 1998); another such revolution in understanding will take place regarding energy. The issue for healthcare is whether it will be a leader or bystander, especially given this geologically forced energy transformation which, unlike past transitions –wood to coal, coal to oil—is not to plentiful and “better” sources of energy.


What’s more, a refined awareness of energy in maintaining health is especially urgent given that the Baby Boomer generation begins retiring in five years, considerably increasing demands on the nation’s healthcare systems.


What is healthcare to do regarding peak oil? The disciplines of public health and clinical medicine should emulate, mutatis mutandis, the recently released report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s. Energy Research Council23 (2006). The document outlines how MIT will “Walk the Talk” by taking the lead in research, education and campus-wide implementation of fossil energy replacements used at significantly greater levels of efficiency, lower levels of consumption, and in accord with well-known standards for inhibiting environmentally harmful emissions. Public health in collaboration with clinical medicine should draw inspiration from the MIT energy report to create medical school/school of public health collaborative centers throughout the nation for the study of energy and health organized around the activities of research, education and practice.





1. Bakhtiari, Ali Samsan. 2004. Quoted in: “The Man Who Foresaw High Oil Prices.” By Adam Porter, AlJazeera.net, October 15. Available at: http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/351FD000-D263-46D8-BE9D-C17E9D5CEB84.htm.


2. Ezzati, Majid, Rob Bailis, Daniel M. Kammen, Tracey Holloway, Lynn Price, Luis A.Cifuentes, Brendon Barnes, Akanksha Chaurey, Kiran N. Dhanapala. 2004. Energy Systems and Population Health. Berkeley: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


University of California Available @: http://repositories.cdlib.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2978&context=lbnl.


3. McMichael, Anthony J. 2002. “Population, Environment, and Survival: Past Patterns, Uncertain Trends.” The Lancet, vol. 359, March: 1145-48.


4. Bartlett, Albert. 2005. Arithmetic, Population, and Energy. Global Public Media, August 25. Available at: http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/transcripts/645.


5. Tainter, Joseph. 1988. The Collapse of Complex Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


6. Catton, William. 1982. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis for Revolutionary Change. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.


7. Morrison, Reg. 1999. The Spirit in the Gene: Humanity’s Proud Illusion and the Laws of Nature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.


8. Bakhtiari, Ali Samsan. 2006. Addresses the Australian Senate, July 11. Available at: http://www.energybulletin.net/18506.html.


9. Blumer, Herbert. 1969. Symbolic Intreractionism: Perspective and Method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.


10. Meadows, Donella, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows. 2004. The Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Pub.


11. Douglas, Mary. 1986. How Institutions Think. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.


12. Fleck, Ludwig. 1979. The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Chicago: University of Chicago.


13. Kuhn, Thomas. 1070. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago.


14. Chicago Tribune. 2006. “Special Report: A Tank of Gas, a World of Trouble.” Sunday, July 30. Written by Paul Salopek.


15. Bednarz, Dan. 2006. “Public Health and the Precautionary Principle: The Case of Peak Oil.” Seminar given at The Ohio State University School of Public Health, April 28. Paper available @ http://www.energybulletin.net/15535.html.


16. Birn, Anne-Emanuelle. 2005. “Gates’s Grand Challenge: Transcending Technology as Public Health Ideology.” The Lancet online March 11: Available at: http://image.thelancet.com/extras/04art6429web.pdf


17. Bezdek, Roger H., Robert M. Wendling, Robert L. Hirsch. 2006, February. Economic Impacts of Liquid Fuel Mitigation Options. Management Information Services, Inc. Prepared for The National Energy Technology Laboratory Pittsburgh. Available at: http://misi-net.com/publications/economicimpactsexecsummary.pdf.


18. Hirsch, Robert, Roger Bezdek, and Robert Wendling. 2005 Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management. Sponsored by the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the Department of Energy. AKA, “The Hirsch Report.” Available at: http://www.projectcensored.org/newsflash/the_hirsch_report.pdf


19. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. 1971. The Entropy Law and the Economic 20. Problem. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.


20. Georgescu-Roegen, Nicholas. 1975. “Energy and Economic Myths.” Southern Economic Journal, 41.


21. Bednarz, Dan, John Mac Crawford. (unpublished data, 2006) . “Energy in Public Health: The Genesis of a Concept.”


22. Tomes, Nancy. 1998. The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women and the Microbe in American Life. Boston: Harvard University Press.


23. MIT Energy Research Council. 2006. Chaired by Robert C. Armstrong and Ernest J. Moniz. Report of the Energy Research Council. Boston: MIT internal document available @: http://web.mit.edu/erc/docs/erc-report-060502.pdf

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Ankur, excellent articles on the function of impacts as the public health threat. It also vividly illustrates why supposedly contextual non-limiting definitions of public health are BADDDDDD for debate.

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eh. its all up for debate. i think the negatives have a better chance of winning T on expansive cases... but since most teams blow off T and never go for it, and the negatives have this egregious tendency to use T as a mindnumbingly dumb timesuck despised equally by all judges... i tell every aff to go for it. the risk-reward for the aff heavily favors the aff because of a legacy of boneheaded negatives.


but its nice to have evidence that works for next year too (probably).

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Today's lesson focuses on two concepts (one really basic, other complex): supply & demand and international argiculture.


The basics of supply and demand is as follows:


Changes in supply, demand constant

If supply goes up but the demand for a product stays the same, the price of the product will fall. If the supply of a product goes down but the demand stays the same, the price of the product will go up.


Change in demand, supply constant

If the demand goes up but the supply of a product stays the same, the price of the product will go up. If the demand for the product goes down but the supply stays the same, the price of the product will go down.


This is very intutional. It makes plenty good sense that if more people want Nintendo Wii's than there are Wii's to go around, then the price is going to stay high until the demand starts to go down. But what is less intuitional is what happens to other competitors? Lets say that we have three orangejuice companies X Y and Z. The operating expenses (the cost of doing business) for X Y and Z are in increasing order with X having the lowest expense and Z the highest. If the price of orange juice falls because the orange crop was enormous this year (high supply) or because people stopped drinking orange juice because of a contaminated batch of Tropicana that made a buncha people sick (low demand), then X Y and Z see less profits. At some point, if prices keep falling, Z will find that it costs them more to make orange juice than they get by selling it. If they would go into debt, then its better to simply not make orange juice. Maybe company Z will change their production to apple juice or close its factory doors. But in either case, Z becomes an unprofitable orange juice manufacturer and stops making orange juice. Suddenly, there is one less company making OJ and that means that the supply of OJ goes down. If supply goes down, then the price goes back up and X and Y are benefitted by the fact that they can raise their prices and have one less competitor to take the profits.

On the other hand, if demand goes up for any reason, and profit margins (the difference between sale price and cost per unit of product) are really high, then more companies will start making the product so they can cash in. This means more competition, more supply and the price comes down.


Now the problem in global agriculture is that in many countries, its more profitable to grow a 'cash crop' (a crop for which you make a lot of profit) like soybeans, than it is to grow other crops which are needed to feed the people in their country. If you are a farmer and you are given a choice: you can either grow food for the people of Zimbabwe and make 20,000 Zimbabwean dollars or you can grow soybeans and make 100,000 US dollars, which crop do you grow? Its a no brainer - you grow soybeans like hell and rake in the dough. Ultimately, in the impoverished countries, this means that it costs a lot to buy the most basic food items - milk, sugar, bread, etc.


So the problem that many developing or underdeveloped countries have with the west is that we are artificially keeping the price of agriculture high. In doing so they cant afford to feed their own people and their people suffer in poverty, malnutrition and hunger. When we give our farmers subsidies (payments from the government) to NOT grow anything, we keep the price high because we cut down on supply. This is why there is always a big global battle over all the farm subsidies we hand out.





Stagflation is defined as an economic situation characterized primarily by high inflation and very low or negative economic growth (unemployment, no GDP growth, recessions, etc). This is a very interesting economic situation because it is very well known that in a super-heated economy chugging along at 110%, inflation goes up. We also know that when the economy is tanking, inflation goes down because there is much less demand for products so prices stay stable or even go down. But to have inflation going up when the economy is going down is unique and challenging.




Greenspan sees early signs of U.S. stagflation

Sunday December 16, 12:02 pm ET



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy is showing early signs of stagflation as growth threatens to stall while food and energy prices soar, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Sunday.


In an interview on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Greenspan said low inflation was a major contributor to economic growth and prices must be held in check.


"We are beginning to get not stagflation, but the early symptoms of it," Greenspan said.


"Fundamentally, inflation must be suppressed," he added. "It's critically important that the Federal Reserve is allowed politically to do what it has to do to suppress the inflation rates that I see emerging, not immediately, but clearly over the intermediate and longer-term period."


The U.S. central bank has lowered its benchmark interest rate three times since mid-September as a housing downturn, tightening credit conditions, and steep food and energy prices threaten to push the U.S. economy into recession.


But cutting rates can have the unwanted side effect of pushing up prices, so the Fed finds itself in a tricky position of trying to revive growth without spurring inflation.


Last week, U.S. data showed that wholesale inflation rose at the highest rate in 34 years, while consumer prices rose the most in more than two years.


Greenspan repeated his assessment that the probability of a U.S. recession had moved up toward 50 percent but noted that corporate America's debt levels were in good shape, which should help cushion the blow from tightening credit terms.


"The real story is, with the extraordinary credit problems we're confronting, why the probabilities (of recession) are not 60 percent or 70 percent," he said.


"Because of the decline in long-term interest rates for a protracted period of time, American business was able to fund a significant part of its short-term liabilities and take out low-cost, long-term debt, so the credit needs have not been all that large," he said.


Greenspan has drawn some criticism for keeping the trendsetting federal funds rate at a low 1 percent from June 2003 through June 2004, which some argue contributed to a housing bubble that is now bursting spectacularly.


Greenspan said real estate prices will stabilize only when the overhang of unsold new-construction homes begins to ease, and estimated that financial losses could be in the range of $200 billion to $400 billion as securities tied to failing subprime mortgages lose value.


He warned against any sort of government bailout plan for homeowners that interfered with the normal functioning of markets for home prices or interest rates, saying it would "drag this process out indefinitely." Offering cash to stricken homeowners instead would cause less long-term damage, he said.


"It's only when the markets are perceived to have exhausted themselves on the downside that they turn," he said. "Trying to prevent them from going down just merely prolongs the agony."

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This article is very interesting. It's pure background as opposed to evidence, but valuable nonetheless. It explains how the mortgage and housing markets have exploded, and their place in the larger economy of the US. If you want to run econ and do it well, this will serve as a great refresher of just how complex are the inter-relationships of the modern economy.

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you say you don't cap a DA with bearden or mead. I agree...but what evidence DO you use then?


Nyquist concludes DeDev and several of the other authors lack either warrants or quals or both. Sticky power is probably true but takes too long to read and gets you into a hege debate. Unless you are 1


1. Hiding an awesome card under your hat (please post here)




2. Cutting specific terminal impacts for each scenario (is too much work for not enough of an impact)


I can't see what choice we debaters have.

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Nyquist concludes DeDev and several of the other authors lack either warrants or quals or both.


Funny, considering Nyquist is pretty light warrants himself and VERY light on quals.

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on family vacation so short post -


econ disads are notoriously 'real world'. with the right research, you win on the probability debate, not the impact debate. and if you want to win the impact debate, you take things one step further, like econ collapse in america kills our demand for oil, middle east turmoil, terrorism grows under a saudi collapse, ww3.


that makes things far less 'probable' but you get something large on the impact debate.

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my point exactly


we need a khalizad of the econ debate



in this article you can find a great peak oil impact or if cut right, could just be a general econ collapse impact



Riddoch 04 (Dr. Malcolm, Faculty of Communications & Creative Industries @ Edith Cowan Univ. Australia: Peak Oil - A Perfect Storm Melbourne Indymedia September 04, http://www.energybulletin.net/2076.html)

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