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It may be necessary to save our earth

THE ENERGY CRISIS / The earth's natural resources are running out – rapid economic growth has led to exploitation of resources.


We are talking today about the energy crisis in Western countries. But we have not yet experienced a crisis in the true sense. Society functions roughly as normal. Production will essentially be maintained. The gas stations will be closed on weekends. Perhaps there will also be certain restrictions on private driving. And those of us who fire with oil must expect it to be a few degrees colder this winter than we usually are.

But this is only a foreshadowing of the real energy crisis that we are approaching with blinding eyes.

The Earth's resources of fossil energy sources – oil, coal and natural gas – have been stored for 600 million years. We have almost consumed everything in a period of 200 years, a brief moment in human history.

At the current rate of extraction, the oil resources will be exhausted in 20 or 30 years.

Coal reserves will not last more than 150–200 years, if coal regains its dignity and prestige as an energy source.

In this context, the stock of natural gas is almost negligible.

But other natural resources are also running out. The iron ore that humans have used for nearly 3000 years will be used up in less than 100 years. The copper won't even last this century.

So uncertain is the foundation on which modern industrial societies and our entire prosperity are built. We are all wealthy in our country, measured by the world community's yardstick.


It is the rich countries that bear the responsibility for this plundering of the earth's resources. This particularly applies to Western, capitalist industrial societies. But also in many of the countries that call themselves socialist, accelerated development of heavy industry and the desire for rapid economic growth have led to exploitation of resources.

18 percent of the world's population – the rich – currently consume 90 percent of the natural resources. The United States, with six percent of the population, alone consumes 34 percent – ​​or more than a third – of these resources.

If all countries used as much oil as the United States, the oil sources would be exhausted in just seven years. And with current consumption and current life expectancy, an American infant would, statistically speaking, consume energy equivalent to 10 tons of gasoline, 000 tons of steel, 10 kilos of copper, 150 kilos of lead, etc. in its lifetime. In all, it would transport 150 15 tonnes of goods for this child – along roads, railways and by plane.

The corresponding figure for an Indian child is 500 times lower.


In a country like Norway, energy consumption has doubled in the last 10–15 years. Our country with four million inhabitants uses more electricity than India with 600 million. And we collectively consume more energy than the whole of Africa apart from South Africa.

With the increased energy consumption also comes pollution of soil, water and air. The waste from industrial production is stored in our immediate surroundings and becomes an indelible part of the heritage we leave to our children.

It goes without saying that this development cannot continue. We have to look around for alternative energy sources. But nuclear power is not an acceptable solution. The development of nuclear power creates, among other things, life-threatening waste substances that are almost impossible to get rid of.

Half of the most toxic waste, plutonium, only breaks down after 25 years. After 000 years, there will still be a quarter of the radioactive material left.

As long as such alternative energy sources are not available, we must reduce energy consumption and give society control over what is to be produced.

In this area too, the need for a socialist planned household is increasing.

We will illustrate this with three examples from the last election campaign:

Power-guzzling industry

Sojalistisk Valgforbund warned against continued development of the power-guzzling industry.

This industry uses between 45 and 50 per cent of all electricity in this country. It pollutes, provides few jobs, is based on a strong utilization of raw materials and is largely owned and controlled by large foreign corporations.

Both out of consideration for our own waterways, the ever-increasing pollution and the scarce raw material stocks, it is unjustifiable to continue subsidizing large international companies with cheap Norwegian power.

On the contrary, the energy prices must be used to subsidize jobs in the rural areas and to develop the forms of industry we want.

Railway stations

NSB's long-term plan assumes that 65 per cent of the country's railway stations will be closed by 1980. "The savings amount to approximately NOK 60 million per year in 1980 prices", says the report to the Storting presented by the then transport minister John Austrheim (Sp).

But that does not mean that Norwegian society saves 60 million. On the contrary: the closure of railway stations will lead to evictions, greater costs for society and further pressure and pollution in urban areas. Car and bus traffic will increase.

The Socialist Election Association strongly opposed NSB's long-term plan. But it is not only the consideration of the districts that dictates that rail traffic must be maintained.

It takes three to five times more energy to move a person one kilometer by car.

NSB reminds these days that train transport is the most energy-saving form of both goods and passenger traffic. It takes three to five times more energy to move a person one kilometer by car than by train. The bus requires twice as much energy as the train.

90 percent of the railways also run on electric power, while car and bus traffic consumes non-renewable resources such as oil and petrol.

In such a perspective, the Line Freight Agreement, with the transfer of transport from rail to road, also becomes completely meaningless.

We see again that the private economic sector thinking has failed. Profitability is no longer a matter for the individual company. Nor is it something that can be left to a country's national economists.

Our profitability has increasingly become a matter for all the people of the earth.

And thus we have come to the question of "economic growth".

Zero growth

Both during the EC campaign and before the last election, Trygve Bratteli, Helge Seip and Kåre Willoch took to the field against what they called the "zero growth" ideology. Against this they set slogans such as "growth and protection", "growth with sense" and "healthy economic growth". It was Seip who appealed to common sense, and Willoch who advocated sanity.

"Zero growth" was stuck on those who were critical of the concept of growth itself, and who most strongly warned against the plundering of resources and the systematic destruction of our entire living environment.

The same gentlemen could say that continued economic growth is a prerequisite if we are to be able to effectively help the developing countries.

First we have to plunder the poor countries for raw materials. Then we can help them.

The logic is unique: First we have to plunder the poor countries for raw materials. Then we can help them.

These politicians ignore the fact that our consumption and our entire economic system is based on the plundering of the poor countries' natural resources. What they call economic growth occurs today through uncontrolled consumption of these natural resources.

Commodity imperialism

The need for a socialist planned household therefore grows with each passing day. A liberal economy – with "free" movement of capital, "free" investment and "free" exploitation of resources – is incapable of solving the problems facing humanity today.

Only a socialist planned economy can do that, which puts an end to commodity imperialism and takes care of future generations.

He hardly knew how right he would be, Rudolf Nilsen, when he wrote:

It may be necessary to save our earth. But the poem was called "Voice of the Revolution".

Kjell Cordtsen
Kjell Cordtsen
Cordsen was previously editor of Orientering, and included in the name change to New Time in 1975.

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