333. WAL-MART KEEPS ON TRUCKIN'
Wal-Mart often plays the role of Satan in the anti-capitalist peak oil cult, and the end of Wal-Mart is a frequent subject of doomer porn:
Kunstler sees Wal-Mart rather like an entity from a horror movie....
It was a manifestation of the 20-year-final-blowout of cheap oil. Like all economic distortions, it produced economic perversions. It allowed gigantic, predatory organisms like WalMart to spawn and reproduce at the expense of more cellular fine-grained economic communities....which must wither and die when oil prices rise:
Operations like WalMart have enjoyed economies of scale that were attained because of very special and anomalous historical circumstances: a half century of relative peace between great powers. And cheap oil - absolutely reliable supplies of it, since the OPEC disruptions of the 1970s.Maybe the purest expression of the peak oiler theory of Wal-Mart was a 2004 attempt by pup55, one the "experts" at peakoil.com, to slay the beast by applying the usual Hubbert curve voodoo. In a thread called Peak Mart, pup55 used highly advanced mathematical techniques like logistic curve modeling and Q-inf to show that, in 2005 or 2006, sales of Wal-Mart would peak and terminally decline (like everything in the peak oiler universe). Here's the chart (pup55's forecast in purple, actual stats in yellow):
WalMart and its imitators will not survive the oil market disruptions to come. Not even for a little while. [...] WalMart's "warehouse on wheels" will not be able to operate in a non-cheap oil economy
It will only take mild-to-moderate disruptions in the supply and price of gas to put WalMart and all operations like it out of business.
Oops. As you can see, the "Peak Everything" pseudo-science didn't work so well this time. Since the late 90s, the price of gasoline has roughly tripled, and so have the revenues of Wal-Mart. The "end of Wal-Mart" was just wishful thinking.
To add insult to injury, it turns out that Wal-Mart is planning to co-opt the organic food business:
In the United States the pressure to bring the cost [of organic food] down will vastly increase soon because in 2006, Wal-Mart, the largest grocery retailer, announced plans to increase the amount of organic food available in its stores.Source Specifically, the increase in demand for organic food will require that more organic produce be imported.Source Secondly, the push to lower prices might "virtually guarantee that Wal-Mart's version of cheap organic food is not sustainable".SourceTalk about diabolical. For the peak oil cult, this is the equivalent of Satan himself baking the communion wafers.