So, What Are You Doing?

It's September and we still have 7 more 'final' posts in the queue (myself, Joules, Jerome, Jason, Art, Dave Murphy, and Euan...) and will run them every 2 days until finished. Leanan will post a final Drumbeat later this week where people can leave website links contact details, etc.

For 8 years we read about what people think about energy related themes. I thought it would be a good idea to use this thread to highlight what people are actually doing in their lives given the knowledge they've gleaned from studying this topic, which really is more of a study of the future of society.

What do TOD members plan to do in the future? Herding goats, fixing potholes, creating web sites, switching careers, etc? I'll go first. Feel free to use my template or just inform others what you're doing. This might be interesting thread to check back on in a few/many years.....(Please no posting of energy charts etc. and let's not respond to others in this thread, just a long list of what people are doing w/ their time).

Ere we scatter to the ether, please share, anonymously or otherwise : what are people doing?

My basic theme: We are approaching the end of growth for developed world and soon after, world as whole (for most in US, Japan and Europe growth is already over). We face ecosystem depletion, energy depletion, financial depletion but the highest risk for societies in near term is 'psychological depletion' of populations, whose expectations are much higher than their reality is likely to be. As such, even though higher extraction costs of energy are the cause of this reduction in benefits, we will not be truly energy constrained for some time.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - I'm working part time at Institute for Integrated Economic Research on: public energy education (why what we are experiencing is not really the fault of any social group or person but has biophysical roots), mitigation of local and regional systems to end of growth changes to supply chains, and creating strategies for helping growing ranks of people facing 'less'. I am also on several other Boards dealing with energy/economic issues including Post Carbon Institute. My long term goal is on the environmental side -to have human beings mature into a more sustainable relationship with our ecosystems and eachother - but as most of you know, to move the needle on that goal is nigh impossible - so in the near term I'm trying to make society a bit more resilient to whats ahead, in hopes that others can move the needle on the larger goals, in the future. Lastly, I am doing these things because to be overly deterministic about our prospects is a mistake IMO- there remain some - many -degrees of freedom in our actions given the difference between much we consume vs how much we need.

Personally - We grow a large garden, am installing solar soon, have planted 300 hazelnut trees, and have been alot more physically active. (building human, built and natural capital). Part of predicting there will be 'less' is accepting/navigating that personally, so I am trying to live off of 35k per year and do without alot of the frills I used to treat as given. IOW, meeting whats ahead part way. Thats what I'm actually doing - what I'd like to do is learn a physical skill - other than growing potatoes and explaining why the end of growth is nigh, I have few real skills. Finally, I am contemplating doing something most would consider crazy - not driving and not eating meat for a year (or longer) - and living in a small cabin w no electricity. I think it would be a rite of passage given what Ive been studying, but as yet I don't yet have the guts (plus such a plan would stop cold all the professional work.) I would do this not to save the planet but to save my brain and body. Balance is key - I want to enjoy life, make a difference, be kind to people and die liking myself (in 30+ years) (translation, live up to a personal ethic irrespective of fact I was born into peak of energy/wealth era)

(contact details in profile)

My Basic Theme: Near-term (< 20 years) end of global economic growth and the growth of energy throughput. The growth rates of these are already slowing, and the fun of adapting a growing global population's expectations to this emerging reality has already started. Boy am I glad I don't live in the Middle East.

What I'm Doing:

Professionally - I teach courses in energy and food systems at the University of Vermont, and make sure that students leave my classes with a realistic understanding of what's happening with respect to energy and economic systems. I also do a range of consulting work in the energy and food system sectors, including co-authoring a chapter on food system energy use for the Vermont Farm to Plate Strategic Plan and working with extension staff at the Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture applying energy auditing and energy life cycle assessment to farm enterprises to help farmers reduce the energy intensity of food. I write articles on a range of topics aimed towards public education that I host on my website, including a recent piece entitled The Energy Cost of Food. I will soon be offering local and regional workshops on relocalizing food systems and food security.

Personally - I live in a house where the yard is planted in a mix of medicinal and edible perennials, including fruit and nut trees. Over the last decade I've invested heavily in learning low-energy and low-tech skills for living, including how to make fabric and clothing, hunting and fishing tools, and how to use wild edible and medicinal plants. Probably about half of the food I eat was either hunted or gathered. I've been training in self defense and martial arts for ~20 years, and will probably start my own training group locally as my training partner of the last several years took a new job in another state at the end of August. Realizing that any solution to what's coming is necessarily a community-based solution, I've also invested a lot of money and time developing better interpersonal skills, particularly attending workshops in Non-Violent Communication and Clean Talk. I remain very active and use high-intensity training techniques to stay in good shape. I've dropped grains, legumes and most dairy from my diet, and have radically reduced my consumption of cooked foods while increasing my use of fermented and raw foods. I train to better enable my body to adjust to temperature extremes (swimming in ice water during the winter, participating in sweat lodges, and taking sweat baths), and spend a fair amount of time wandering through wild areas near my house to enjoy peace of mind in a crazy world. I've been doing a lot of co-counseling over the last few years too, so I can face the future with an open mind and less psychological and emotional baggage.

If someone wants to contact me, the best way to do that is through my website, Aisthetica.

My basic theme: BAU for probably another 20 years. Three more recessions in that time, plenty more money printing, FF all the way. That's the plateau covered, then comes the cliff. Not so concerned for myself, but hopefully the kids have some solid grounding by then.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - Moved from a good money earner (25 years video taping weddings) to building domestic dwellings (hands on of course, currently obtaining a builder's license). Plenty of work still about where I live, still money to be made. I'm an under-the-radar niche-chaser I guess.

Personally - Not much really... I'm pretty well out of debt, no mortgage to speak of, cars and other business expenses paid for... But still live in mainstream where cost of living continues to rise (live Melbourne, Australia); the bills just keepa comin'. I see no point pursuing a move to the outlands or such; wife and kids (3 teens) would never support that. So prefer to stock the wine cellar and enjoy the sunsets while they last. Still a skeptic of so-called "green" solutions.

FWIW, I'm happy enough in my resignation; have my deck chair all fitted out.

Cheers and good luck, Matt

Spending the next year building my sister's house (from scratch), then looking at selling up and moving a bit further out to a bit more space/bushland (suburban fringe, but comes with fire hazards/regulations). I hope to have the spectacle of sunsets entertain me until senility kicks in or when Rome burns, whichever comes first! The rental will come after that, but the figures will have to be sweet.

Cheers, Matt


We are both fortunate and damned to be just over the crest between two remarkable centuries. Fortunate to have seen such a steep rise in the progress of civilization over the last century; damned to constructively address the challenges of the century ahead, or face the consequences. Learning from the crimes against humanity and the otherwise preventable politico-economic mistakes of the last century will also help continue to define our path forward, as would learning to thrive against the tide of the entrenched status quo and vested interests. We must do our best to create a new status quo.


My three decades in urban design and land planning has taught me that the best efforts to address fossil fuel depletion and climate change in industrialized nations should be concentrated mostly within and adjacent to our cities and towns, and the systems that service them, because that is where 85% of us live.

It’s obvious to many who have visited and contributed to The Oil Drum that the spiked rate of entropy in our cities is so last-century. I believe the rate can be reduced not just through the now-traditional ways of investing to counter the vast amounts of waste (renewable energy, energy efficiency, density, transit, age-in-place zoning policies) but in also the consideration that cities present uncalculated urban design qualities relative to their attractiveness as human habitation, and occupy a far more important role in the economy as significant wealth generators than they are given credit for. In fact, cities are an economy unto themselves (something espoused by people like Jane Jacobs) that are grossly underrated compared to things like exploiting and shipping offshore natural resources with a panicked Gold Rush mentality. This is especially true in nations like Canada, where I live, under the current Conservative government and the raw resource export-at-any-cost promoters that have subsumed the British Columbia government.

In that light, appropriate local metropolitan land planning, accompanied with an increased emphasis on the above energy-oriented urban initiatives, can go a long, long way to aiding our transition to a more beneficial 21st Century urbanism. Two thirds of the urban land base of the younger cities of western North America consists of roads that service a gargantuan per capita 1960s car dependency footprint and impractical front, back and side yard setbacks on detached-home single-family lots. If, for example, 25 percent of this land resource was converted over a generation to transit corridors, attached energy-efficient row housing, low and mid-rise mixed use residential / commercial / light industrial neighbourhoods, allotment gardens, storm water infiltration gardens, bike lanes, reserved parking for car co-ops with EV fleets, et cetera, my city (Vancouver) would recover over 22 square kilometres of land and convert it into far more efficient and human-scaled uses, lower per capita energy consumption and utility costs, the ability to house about 300,000 more people in a wider variety of housing, create new employment opportunities with expanded private services and public institutions, and, considering British Columbia’s magnificent market garden capability near many of our cities within the Agricultural Land Reserve, contribute to greater food security.

I am also very optimistic about BC’s potential for developing an abundance of renewable energy, provided the appropriate decisions are made. Decentralized rooftop solar power and domestic hot water are totally feasible even in Vancouver’s wet winters (about 50% efficient in winter, and over 90% efficient in summer for HW). Wind and tidal power are very promising but have not been explored much due to our large hydro power infrastructure legacy. There also seems to be a huge potential in the as-yet unexplored base load level geothermal power resources near some of our hundreds of hot spring sites that could feasibly supplement a great portion of the existing centralized publicly-owned hydro power grid. One day, while sitting in the BC Ferries Tssawwassen terminal parking lot waiting for the next ferry to Vancouver Island I looked across to the Roberts Bank superport about two km away, one of the largest coal export terminals on the continent, and thought that it would make a great site to locate heavy industry powered via undersea HVDC cables by emission-free power from a large geothermal generating station at Pemberton, only 200 km away. (Either that or return it to prime estuarine habitat.) The organization that does the necessary R&D into low or even zero-emission concrete and steel making (if a substitute for coking coal can ever be found) will no doubt be very heavily rewarded in the coming decades.

With the above opportunities and potential, I don’t consider the Doomer camp arguments seriously at the local level, with the exception of their warnings about public and private debt.


I have been renovating our house incrementally for 15 years, mostly with sweat equity, with two goals in mind: energy conservation; and recovering the lost heritage architecture after an unfortunate spate of “modernization” in the 1970s. We have almost completed replacing all the cheap single-glazed aluminum windows (the wind whistled in during winter storms …) with double-glazed reproduction wood windows and additional storm windows, and have really noticed a difference in both heat retention and sound attenuation. Our house is oriented with a gable roof sloped at a 45-degree angle toward the sun, perfect for solar panels. I’ll have to do more research to determine whether they will be PV or HW, and trying to convince my wife to spend the money.

We have never travelled off the continent, but hope to make one or two trips to Europe where we have roots before retirement. I admit to having guilt over the potential four tonnes of CO2 pollution per trip that would generate between the two of us, so I will be seeking advice on carbon offsets. We rarely fly more than once a year and never over 1,100 km to the next province to see family.

We drive an old rusty compact car that will get replaced in a couple of years with a new econobox that will be based on the best assessments of Consumer Reports (probably Japanese). I will not agree to spending an extra $10,000 on a hybrid or EV for several reasons. Among them: We don’t drive enough to justify the cost; we live in the inner city where most services are within walking distance; our commute to work is less than 15 km one way; we currently car share; I place building more efficient cities on the benefit side of the ledger over car dependency (and its associated resource gluttony); there are better investments one can make with $10K; and last, I will be retired in four years and my wife will use the car for only another couple of years while I ride a bike. Beyond that the car will either sit on the street and get used maybe once a week, or we will sell it and continue to rely on transit and become members in a car co-op.

We had some bad experiences with debt and therein became debt-averse. Our strong motivation to cancel our debts through thrift, tolerating tenants, and doing huge amounts of OT while in the private sector, resulted in killing off student and car loans early, and later lopping 14 years off the 25-year home mortgage amortization period. Between the savings in mortgage interest and our own home renovation labour, we have saved about $250,000 and are debt-free.

With declining elders and firsthand experience with serious health issues in our closest circle of family and friends I am ever so grateful that Canadians enjoy a reasonably decent public healthcare system at less per capita cost (and, tragically, personal cost to those with low incomes) than that of our friends and good neighbours in the US. Living in the inner city in Vancouver means that we are very close to several public healthcare institutions and doctor’s offices, an issue that is of concern as we Boomers age. In my view, public healthcare (at least in the core health and insurance services), urban services, and regional and nati0nal energy and transportation investments are three of the most important institutions to strengthen as time passes. Some may disagree that this is too “socialist.” Well, so is the yellow line down the centre of the road. The question is what utility do these elements give to society beyond political handles?

Lastly, I intend to start a website with other urbanists or alternatively a blog on the above issues in early 2014. I am very grateful to TOD for its intensely professional and hugely informative articles, comments, links and format, which I have enjoyed for over three years. These helped me gain a greater understanding of urbanism and I gained a fresh perspective. To those who put their hearts and souls – not to mention a huge amount of time – into this exceptional site I give many, many thanks.

Contact email is listed in my profile.

All the best of everything to everyone.

Theme: Creating a life that would be okay if/when SHTF, but which would also be okay it if didn't. We are far from any cities, we know our neighbors, we can grow food, and we own and use firearms. That being said, we also hope for a world where none of those facts are all that relevant to a person's quality of life. Our perspective would best be described as cautious and adaptive.

Professionally: Paying off the land, transitioning to model where farm income can meet 50-75% of "BAU lifestyle", which would hopefully translated to 90% of "SHTF lifestyle" expenses.

Personally: First got concerned about energy issues in 2004-2005. Took some classes and worked on some farms 2006-2007. Moved to Appalachia in 2008, bought land in 2009. Currently developing a farm plan based on perennial polycultures that would do well in both cash sales (if BAU persists) and as subsistence/local trade goods (if SHTF). Hoping for the best, whatever that means.

My Basic Theme - There are clearly limits on how much humans can extract from the earth and spit back at it (although less clear what those limits are). I am alternately fascinated, energized, depressed, and horrified by the implications.

Professionally - I work independently on a variety of (my family thinks too many) scientific and technical projects which include running a company which provides web-based training, performing software development and research directed towards monitoring the survival of salmon in the Pacific NW US, and others things that are in different stages of development. I hope to be involved with Nate's efforts directed towards moving society in a different direction. I'll probably blog more about energy/sustainability issues on my own, and perhaps even do that twitter thing. Maybe write a book.

Personally - I just put solar panels on the roof and might buy/lease an electric car. Experiments. I do want to try to "walk the walk" as much as possible without descending into a bunker mentality, and I really want to refrain from instilling hopelessness in my children. Coach soccer. Play music. Walk and bike around town. Get rid of the powder mildew on my zucchini.

Contact via my handle at gmail. (The future TOD front page will also have links to where contributors can be found)

My Basic Theme - The limits to growth (in a host of areas) is for most an unwelcome realization. For me it´s the other way round. My interest in limits to fossil fuel production has been from a climate perspective, and I still hope that high energy prices and declining export markets can severely hamper growth and give future generations a chance.

Professionally - I gave up working for a major producer of long haulage trucks when I realized that their market was about to get a whole lot smaller and when climate moral was not part of the company policy. For a while I worked researching and promoting renewable energy, but after some time I realized that there are other problems besides global warming. And the other limits/problems will only be made worse if we manage to supply humanity with cheap renewable energy. As of this summer I have begun working with rural sustainability/resilience and am actually getting paid doing it.

Personally - Last year I installed solar panels on the family farm, to which I moved with my wife last summer. This year I have built a greenhouse, installed a furnace for firewood, bought some chickens, learned to hunt, and processed all my own fire wood (from tree to furnace). Right now I am negotiating with dealers to purchase two new "cars". One Quest XS Carbon for myself and a Renault Twizy for my wife.

Anyone looking to fulfill Nate:s 1-year trial - I have the perfect hunters cabin for you (Sweden). Free of charge - all you have to do is to stand a few chats on fossil-fuel-related news. ;)

Only my second comment here (I wish TOD were not going away) so I'll keep it brief...

Basic theme: don't panic, act local...

Personal: though not a hard-line greenie by any means I am working with the local Transition Town group to get as much solar PV put up as possible (and have done several buildings with my own money); making sure I'm roughly zero carbon at home (see; working on heating energy efficiency stuff such as; other grid/renewables stuff such as trying to put together not-too-crazy dynamic demand projects; moderating a biggish US-based renewables forum; not flying nor owning a car; steering my savings and pension away from fossil fuels and conspicuous consumption.

Definitely not filling my kids full of doom since it can still be a great life for them if we do things right. My parents nearly decided not to have me because of the Cuban missile crisis or somesuch...

Professional: I've been in banking IT for 20 years, and urge efficiency and green thinking there too.



My basic theme: We are past the point of "solutions" and are in mitigation now. I am pushing a wide variety of mitigation strategies - and trying to motivate people to start doing so. Any initial success will be used to leverage larger goals - the primary one is to lower the future peak CO2 in our atmosphere. Secondary is delaying that CO2 peak will allow both humans and nature more time to adapt.

I cannot predict in detail the disaster we are heading into - but I can predict what actions will make it "a little less bad". And that is my focus.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - A broad front approach. Earlier pro bono work with the Millennium Institute showed that a strategy of renewable energy + rail (urban & freight) & TOD has quite positive impacts on a variety of metrics. We will redo this and publish a book by Springer on Transportation Policy using the updated model.

I have worked with one of the original designers of DC Metro on detailed plans to triple urban rail ridership in the Greater DC area,. In some ways, this is a "proof of concept" that can be applied elsewhere. Google Oil Free DC

Just finished a plan for a PG&E middle manager to give California access to West Texas wind, and electrify BNSF from Los Angeles to Texas. Copy available upon request.

I have indirect access to a multi-billionaire and I am writing a proposal for him to become as "environmental Koch" to manipulate the public towards the truth of what we are doing. Worth a shot.

Two attaches at the French Embassy are giving me some access into their national planning, and I hope to bring MI modeling into their process.

Also trying to get SNCF & BNSF to jointly offer a plan to California for a rail link from Bakersfield to Los Angeles.

Selling the idea within the Sierra Club that Climate Mitigation needs to be much more than just renewable energy. With some success.

I got to the point where Speaker Boehner spiked the idea of financing rail electrification with the unrepatriated $1.5 trillion in overseas profits. Details in my main blog. Another approach is to use a loophole in the WTO Treaty.

I cut the electrical consumption of a 5 story office building by -73% a decade ago - but could not sell my services elsewhere. So no more.

I have introduced two new species of trees into Iceland, and one appears to be a success (sugar pine). Planting trees in Iceland is a carbon capture technique.

Personally - Living modestly is New Orleans, when not caring for my father in Kentucky. Writing a fan fiction piece about the future 350+ years hence, focusing on the only society to consistently make rational decisions in their long term self interest "Star's Reach - Scandinavia".

(contact details in profile)

Best Hopes,

Alan Drake

Addendum: Left Dad with RN on disability plus her daughter & daughter-in-law plus the woman that was fixing two meals/day and house cleaning before. Finished Physical Therapy three days before I left.

Went to Climate Change conference and more in DC. Talked to Chief Climate Strategist at World Bank and pointed out that there are other effective and fast ways to reduce carbon & other GHG emissions than renewables. He was very interested and I am going to send him a series of documents. He agreed that higher oil prices are going to collapse some developing nations, and moving towards oil free transportation would be a good thing.

I introduced the concept of moving Climate Strategies beyond renewables and "point-of-use" efficiency to some good effect at the conference. Several other good contacts developed.

Worked with Ed Tennyson on his ideas to make the Maryland Purple Line both cheaper to build and with fewer standing passengers. Will write up and publicize soon.

At "Green Breakfast" in Fairfax County VA, I introduced concept of adding siphon small hydro to existing dams (from MHyLab in Switzerland). Former director of 10,000 small dams was there, also engineer that does pro bono energy work in India, plus local engineers working on local non-power producing dams.

Saw clear evidence (thousands of housing units under construction) at Braddock Road Metro station. Will write up this "micro case" into blog essay.

Best Hopes for More :-)


My basic theme is that BAU is more robust that it gets credit for. However, It does change slowly when under constant pressure.

Professionally; I'm going to be keeping the old chemical plant running at least another decade, taking advantage of opportunities to improve energy efficiency as well as the usual operational efficiency as time goes on.

Personally; I'm in heavily agricultural area powered by hydroelectricity, and over 1000' above the current sea level. And the local climate would benefit from some warming (9 days of AC needed in 2013, compared to 7 months (mid Sept to mid May) of heating). I see no point in moving after retirement in 10-12 years. The eruption of Mount Rainer (or possibly Glacier Peak) is about the only plausible scenario where bugging out would be preferable to sheltering in place. Installing some solar panels for backup power is about all I can think of to do to improve on the situation. And going to an second generation EV is an option if the real world range is at least 90 miles (about 1.5 X a Leaf)

My Basic Theme - The US is turning into a fascist state and the government is no longer trustworthy. It is important to isolate oneself, so far as possible, from BAU and the government. Collapse may be fast or slow but it is coming and unprepared people (both psychologically and materially) will be in a world of hurt. Collapse may come from resources, financial excess, wars or some other cause. Yea, it sounds paranoid but that's how I see it based on current information.

Professionally - I retired 15 years ago (at 60) and my main emphasis is on local groups (the Grange) and friends. For example, I'm doing a seminar on survival trapping later this month. I did do a weekly Update newsletter for three plus years but ceased doing it recently due to government spying. I felt I would have to self-censure myself to avoid non-PC subjects and, most importantly, that people receiving it might be hurt in some way. I hope I can re-start it one of these days.

What Am I Doing - Well, I've been doing it for years and years - see A Trip to Todd's ( ). While I will never be self-sufficient, I am self-reliant and will weather the storm.

Best of luck to all.


In December I’m going to take my early retirement from the Carpenters Union (60) and devote more time to my ten acre farm in South Central Illinois. I’ve already have a fruit orchard with apples, pears, apricots, persimmons, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and paw paws, and nut trees including pecans, hazelnuts, heartnuts, walnuts (both English and black), hickories, chestnuts, and sweet acorns. I’m going to concentrate on fencing in the pasture initially with electric fence to raise some cattle, and later as I put in higher quality stranded fence, some sheep and goats as well. After two consecutive dry summers, I have to put in an irrigation system (my hazelnuts took a beating this year - lots of empty shells) from my well on the corner of the property. I’ll possibly build a cistern for rain water; I already collect rainwater from 4 food grade barrels. I have been raising awareness, carefully I might add, of making my county more self-sufficient as to producing local food crops.

I am 82 thus have a somewhat different set of problems. I am trying to persuade my somewhat younger wife to live frugally. Also hoping that my only granddaughter does not acquire massive student debt

My basic theme: I am a doomer, but no longer expect a rapid collapse or significant climate change during my lifetime. In the coming years I expect the cost of energy and everything else to increase significantly. To mitigate this we are preparing to be more self sufficient and less dependent upon modern technology.

We need simpler technology that is more robust and can be maintained. I am amazed at what people throwaway at the 'dump' and pay to see it crushed with giant earth movers. I believe that older technology re-engineered and manufactured with modern knowledge could play a significant role in the future. Complexity needs to be reduced.

One impediment to being more self sufficient is community standards and codes. In most of the US there is no place for the poor and homeless and it is illegal to live in a shack and make do, but you can live one day at a time under a bridge or on the streets. In our area codes are in place, but are not aggressively enforced. We should drop many of the codes but that is not going to happen.

What I'm doing:

Professionally: I am retired from software development/project engineering/statistical analysis. During the boom years of late 90's and early 00's I ran my own software company. I have worked at Microsoft, MITRE, Goodyear Aerospace, Computer Sciences, and Rockwell International.

Personally: I am most focused on getting our small farm prepared. I am astonished at how much time, money, and commercial products this requires. Gardening, fencing, soil preparation, brush clearing, and general maintenance take both time and money and it will take years to get it where we would like it. We already have chickens and plan on having turkeys, miniature cattle, goats, and pigs in the future. We are also planning bee keeping, an orchard, more permaculture, and an expanded garden.

When I am not doing something else, I am collecting and reading old technology books from I find these fascinating. For example, to build a fence in the 1800's generally meant a living hedge carefully maintained by layering to keep in larger livestock. Such a fence required careful planning, soil preparation, and years to grow starting with a nursery to grow the seedlings. It was labor intensive and also required a lot of land since the hedge rows were quite thick (multiple meters).

Finally we are lucky to have our son and his family, including two grandchildren, living in separate quarters on our property. We are finding that life is a little easier living as a multigenerational family.

I have recently moved to a registered Greenleaf neighborhood in town that tries hard to incorporate the homes into the surrounding natural environment. There is running water, ponds and lakes within walking distance to my house. There are farms and beehives nearby. The community is close knit and has many cooperative activities. Neighbors regularly invite others to hang out around fire pits for casual conversation.

Planning a major garden in the backyard, but missed installing this spring due to the move. Next step will be making a career change that minimizes my commute and gives me more free time to enjoy my kids and dedicate more time to home projects (gardening, canning, ecological education, etc.)

Nate...thought it would also be fun to make a list of all the memorable taglines so many have had here. Can remember them all, but some were:

~Are humans smarter than yeast?
~Have you hugged your bag of fertilizer today?

My Basic Theme - In a nutshell, I want to reduce some of the ecological harm caused by our [mis]use of energy.

Professionally - For the past five years, I've worked with Nova Scotia Power and Efficiency Nova Scotia to help our institutional and commercial clients become more energy-efficient. Much of my work is lighting related, whereby we replace or upgrade older lighting systems with more appropriate hardware and delivery strategies, e.g., there's no need to illuminate an area at 1,000 lux if 200 lux is all you really need. In some cases, the reduction in load can be as high as 90 per cent. I also look for ways to reduce concurrent demand or, in other words, to flatten the curve. For example, I'm currently assessing a number of schools that are fitted with electric water heaters that draw up to 72.0 kW each. Originally, these tanks were sized to accommodate the flow requirements of gymnasium showers and school cafeterias, but in many cases these showers and cafeterias are no longer used. Thus, they have been relegated to basic hand washing duty and, as such, are grossly oversized; all can be de-rated to 3.0 or 6.0 kW, which is more than adequate for this purpose. Here, we can cut a school's peak demand by half or more with no loss in performance, and, in the process, lessen the load on the utility grid. BTW, most of these DHW systems are equipped with circulator pumps that operate 24/7 and, in effect, the network of pipes becomes one giant radiator system bleeding tank heat day and night. We can place these pumps on timers and cut their runtime by 75 to 80 per cent. It takes less than five minutes to de-rate a tank (you basically yank a few jumpers from their terminal blocks) and the installed cost of a seven-day, multi-cycle timer is less than $200.00. Walk through most any building and you can find any number of opportunities to do better -- much better.

Personally - I've been working for over ten years to reduce our home's energy inputs and I've referenced these efforts on this forum numerous times. Suffice to say, we started the process at just over 75,00 kWh a year (a combination of fuel oil and electricity) and we're now down to about 8,500 kWh/year, all from renewable sources. Most everything I purchase is second hand and I make due with what I have for as long as I can, e.g., the ThinkPad that I'm typing this on is nine years old and was three year old when I bought it off-lease, and my wardrobe is strictly Village des Valeurs. Transportation remains problematic due to the nature of my work, but a PHEV is one possible option. I can't undo all of the harm I cause this world, but I'll do my best to minimize and offset whatever I can.


OK, just to beat this dead horse a little more... these water heaters are generally located in utility rooms that house humongous oil-fired boilers, and these rooms get so hot that the waste heat generated is exhausted outdoors. I'd love to salvage some of this waste heat to heat the school's DHW. A Nyle Geyser heat pump add-on like the one in our home could do the job nicely for less than 700-watts. The incremental savings might seem small, especially if you started out at 72.0 kW, but dropping from 6.0 kW to 0.70 kW would save the Board an additional $631.00 a year in demand charges and a further $394.00 in energy by shifting some 12,720 kWh/year to NSP's lower-cost second-tier (for 11M accounts, the first 200 kWh per kW of demand, per month, is charged at a higher rate). Thus, just the drop in demand would pay for the system in less than a year, and the energy saved by re-using heat that would be otherwise dumped outside versus heating this water with electric resistance would cut the simple payback to perhaps two to three months. No uptake so far, but I'll continue to plug-away at it.

My basic theme: Government (at all levels) is the problem, not the solution!

Professionally: I am retired from owning & running a small business which went under after 25 years a year before I planned to retire. Starting and running a small business (manufacturing) was a lot of fun before computers and Government regulations ended the fun. Glad to be out of business. Should have become a rural mailman 30+ years ago. Wouldn't have had to put up with the stresses of running a business, not have medical insurance for most of those years cause I couldn't afford it and would have had a decent retirement income.

Personally: I live on a small farm which keeps me physically active. I insulated the hell out of the 80 year old masonry farm house ( R3 up to R-50+) and put in geothermal heating system and put metal shingles on roof. Used up most of my savings CDs to do it, but at least I can afford to heat the place now with the much higher energy prices. (CD interest income had dropped to next to nothing so insulation has turned out to be a much better investment of my retirement money)
Put in a wood burning cookstove in the basement and relined the chimney so even if the power goes off, I can still heat the house with wood and cook my meals. Trying to get to have 5+ years of wood cut, split and stacked so when I can no longer handle the cutting & splitting I should have enough wood to last me until the end of my time on this planet. Have given up on trying to convince other people what is coming in the future for the most part. Still, when I see the projections in the farm publications about what they think they are going to be able to produce in 2050 I can't help but want to "Write a Letter!". Even if it doesn't do any good.
Would like to still have a big garden and raise chickens and a few steers, but I just don't have the energy (or money) any more to do all that. Old age is probably the biggest surprise most people will experience in their lives.

My Basic Theme - There's trouble ahead and it's very hard to predict its shape, form or exact timing. Stay nimble, agile, learn as much as possible, save money and help family and friends.

Professionally - TOD was a great influence. I was always interested in sustainability, wilderness and the inequality/poverty problems of the world. However, I was also fascinated by the natural world. So after finishing a PhD in quantum physics in 2008, I drifted towards engineering: large scale wind energy plus small appropriate technology with engineers without borders and the IDIN network. In parallel I taught myself to program and eventually started my own company. I'm currently in Chile, building a search engine for small scale renewable energy for the world (to help people find products, incentives and save money with solar, wind, insulation, etc). If you have ideas / suggestions you can contact me at alvaro "@" renooble "." com

Personally - Mostly learning at the moment. For instance cooking, building a well insulated mountain house in Spain, staying fit, growing my network. Also keeping an eye for interesting investments that could help weather the bumpy ride ahead (Bitcoin, Land, Energy futures). I try to live with less than $20k/yr ... and tend to succeed! :)

Oh yes! And trying to keep the oil drum conversation going at

I am a research engineer/inventor developing cheaper more effective methods of enhancing hydrocarbon recovery, more efficient, cleaner and cheaper power systems, and a VTOL twice as efficient and fast as a helicopter. I have 23 US provisional patents filed and 15 issued/approved with more in the pipeline. I post to address ethical energy and science integrity issues. See the Cornwall Alliance and the NIPCC

Strategically I am working towards developing abundant sustainable replacement fuels with high EROEI.
I am seeking to work with stewards with a Joseph calling for the pending global liquid fuel famine.
Contact my name at gmail dot com.

Filed two more patents on enhancing oil recovery

I can hardly count the little building and designing projects I've done and am doing.. while they might be a trifling compared to what we really will need.

I am teaching my daughter to build and repair things with me.. use tools, look at how things work, think critically and with a sense of the possible. She has been helping me remember how good skipping is as a way to get places so that your body and your heart are in the right attitude for the next part of the day.

I also put a light but steady pressure to get my wife interested in Permaculture, both to make sure her course and mine were going to remain compatible, and to have more of the family working in the directions I feel we need to go. Crowning achievement was her request that we settle into a Hobbit Hole by retirement time.. my response, 'let's get some friends into it and build a whole Shire'

Working on personal tools, homebuilding, transportation, communication and community ties that all require planning and experimenting to get gradually into place.

Starting to aim at teaching the skills I use to the kids in my area. Many are learning to code, to write and to do math, but few have tried out hand drills and chisels, knots or kite design.

basic theme- Growth will soon be over, and decline is virtually inevitable within the fore seeable future. We may have peaked already economically.

What I have done- Nothing of any consequence on the grand scale of thingsI tried to teach a few hundred kids some basic trades.Only a small percentage of them were interested in learning, aas opposed to is a faqntastic way of learning simple skills quickly mastered, but entirely unsuited to the mastery of skills requiring intense effort- and that is most relevant skills these days.

What I am doing-I'm looking after the home place, and looking after my elderly father.Shutting down the farm.

Such farming as I will do from here on out will be very small scale stuff intended to supply our own and maybe a few friends need for eggs, fruits and veggies, etc. I may raise a beef cow of two for personal consumption.

FARMERWANNABES TAKE HEED -Unless you are situated just exactly right, in terms of land , skills, markets, and capital, farming is just about the most cutthroat business in the world.
The odds are overwhelmingly high that you will not be able to earn a decent living on a small farm- just staying in business will be a tremendous challenge.
Despite the fact that our land and equipment is paid for, and that we are if i say so myself highly skilled , we have not been able to make any money for a long time- because a small operator can't compete in the wholesale markets.It got to the point several years ago we could hardly ever find a buyer able and willing to take a truckload of apples- anybody who thinks they can sell from small farm these days is dreaming, except for the boutique market of nearby high dollar restaurants and upscale markets.
In some cases you might make it running a roadside seasonal market, but good locations and permits are hard to come by.And the time involved is a killer.
The bigger growers have the wholesale markets effectively locked up because the wholesalers aren't going to bother with small quantities, period.
And in our case- we are located in a place where it is impossible to sell enough at retail to maintain a c commercially viable farm.

Now if you have a forty hour part time job, and look at farming as an engrossing and enjoyable hobby ...... In this case , go for it, because the farm will supply some income, keep you at home and out of trouble and help you live quite well by stretching your off farm income.You won't need a bass boat anymore because you will never have time enough to use it.

I recently bought an old house and have nearly finished getting it ready for a rental. It will have a large fenced garden area, fruit trees,well and septic, barn, etc. It will be an ideal place for somebody renting who wants to be as self sufficient as possible. They will be able to run a wide variety of small businesses from the premises.This looked like the best option by far I had to earn some money, given my skill set. It's taken an ungodly long time, but it will soon be finished, and I have done nearly all the work personally, and expect to earn a good return.

-I will have to do whatever i can to bring in some additional money- we are fine month to month, and even year to year, but the long term outlook is ominous in the event of a major illness or accident, etc.

Now- What I hope to do is simply to live as well and as long as I can, and contribute in a minor way helping people to adjust to the coming decline and crash.

If any footloose regular here is interested, I might put a roof over his head and a few dollars in his pocket- minimum wage part time- in exchange for helping me on the farm and in my shop. I can guarantee a superb hands on education in the basics of several critical trades.

It is my intention to have a blog of my own, before too long, and to contribute articles and comments on other blogs and sites to the extent that I am able, in an effort to get the majority of people who have no clue as to what the future is going to be like started thinking about limits and personal strategies that will help them live as well as possible.A suitable candidate must have a few brains, as part of his or her contribution must be one end of intelligent conversations while we work.

This is going to require a certain subtlety on the part of anybody attempting it. People don't want to hear bad news. the trick is to get them to listen to the relevant facts , by subterfuge, and leave them to draw their own conclusions..of course only a few people are willing to listen to to anything, except feel good pablum, and even fewer are capable of drawing accurate conclusions. But if I get a thousand readers maybe a handful will come to understand our true situation, and do something to better position themselves for the future.

I'll be writing at my blog, if anyone wants to drop by. OFM

I am working on solutions that avoid a worst-case scenario. I just got off the plane in Arizona. I will be here at least a month, and possibly permanently. I am working with Roy McAlister who founded the American Hydrogen Association and whose ideas cover upon every theme of interest to people in TOD. He preaches sustainability, waste management, carbon capture and use in advanced building materials, sustainable agriculture, etc. He was a professor at the University of Kansas who realized that he was simply teaching his students to burn up fossil fuels faster and more efficiently.

He wrote The Solar Hydrogen Economy, and while he is certainly an optimistic, he has a ton of good ideas and the capability of seeing them realized. This is him:

Do not confuse this with the stupid water cars you see out there. What he is advocating here is real and it works. My job is to see that it works economically and that we overcome technical and engineering hurdles.

In Phoenix for at least a month if any TOD readers want to meet and exchange ideas.

"avoid a worst-case scenario"

Thanks Robert,
You have helped my thinking a lot on a lot of issues, but ... "worst-case scenario" is, in my opinion, extrodinarily difficult to discover. What about a wandering black-hole approaching too close to our star, Sun, and stripping away Earth and several other planets, and we all fall into the gravitational singularity? Is what you worry about worse than that? ;-)

I'm a doomer with a sense of humor.

I'm currently worrying about impending bombing attack on people in Syria.

There will always be sufficient things to worry about to fill the time until we die, so why worry?

Paul Condon

My basic theme is that our world is facing a whole host of interrelated problems from Peak Oil, dying oceans, pollution, climate change and so on, all greatly exacerbated by an obsession with endless growth and an unprecedented population explosion. How it will all pan out I do not know.
Professionally I retired from my job in the (UK) National Health Service in January after 42 years. Just before I circulated a questionnaire to about 60 colleagues on their attitudes to Peak Oil and climate change which hopefully got at least a few of them thinking.
Personally I try and live fairly quietly, spending much of my time researching railway accidents/safety. I have never owned a car and walk everywhere other than a weekly journey to Plymouth (50 miles away) by train. I have only ever flown a few times and not at all for some years. I am considering installing more house insulation and did wonder about solar panels but decided that at my age their initial cost would probably exceed any savings in electricity. A good friend is trying to survive on £71/week Jobseekers Allowance (not enough to even pay the rent on her flat) so I help her financially. I have never married and have no children.
I am very sorry to see the end of The Oil Drum and just hope that the majority of people who have posted on it will move to the same new site.

My Theme: Reduce - Reuse - Recycle. I've had good success retasking things, and focus on not foisting my bad decisions and waste on society and the planet. Lead by example and encourage others to do the same. Avoid the label "consumer" and resist most of societies other expectations.

Professional: I have no professional ambitions, never really did, though I have filled a variety professional roles in my life fairly successfully. Looking back, my goals were to learn and acquire skills and understanding rather than to acquire financial wealth and status. I've resisted specialization, and have devoted most surplus financial wealth to the goal of reducing the need for such. I hope to develop a trade by learning tools sharpening, something I can pass down, but currently have other priorities.

Personally: I'll keep doing what I've been doing for most of the last 20 years:

Continue to develop ways to live as passively as possible, reducing the need for external inputs, being happy focusing on non-discretionary needs; avoiding consumptive wants. That said, I'll continue to utilize some of the things that our current industrial systems may offer such as solar panels, plastic pipe, pressure canner, LED lighting, etc.. No outhouse or carrying buckets of water from the spring, for now.

Continue to reduce my reliance upon, and support of, complex and largely extractive systems. That said, I'm a pragmatist, not a purist. For instance, I still drive a pickup truck, but much less than I did 10 years ago, and see it only as a tool for meeting current needs. Our plan is to get/build a PV-charged electric farm vehicle to do most chores, such as haul firewood and manure, etc. Our small tractor runs on biodiesel when we can get it.

I'll work at sharing what I learn as much as possible. I've helped others get off the grid, though I've never really profited from it. Living off the grid is as much a state of mind as it is a solution to one's energy needs; a great teacher of how to moderate one's needs and impacts. Taking personal control and ownership, if only on a very local scale, is an admission that I'll likely have little effect on the much greater experiment that humanity is conducting. Rule #1 - Stop feeding the beast.

I'll continue to try and be a good steward of the little bit of land we are blessed to occupy. I've long since stopped mowing and chopping things down for purely ego-driven aesthetic reasons. I'm planning to get goats to do the mowing for us, and as a trustworthy source of food and fertilizer. I'm also hoping to utilize our abundant clean water for a low tech aquaponics scheme on a small scale, crawfish perhaps. Other forms of aquaponics require external inputs (feed, fish stocks) that I hope to avoid. Still in the research phase on that one, but the point is to have goals. Most of what I need can be salvaged and retasked.

I plan to build a (mostly) passive green house to extend our growing season, and have already salvaged most of what I need there. I've made good progress developing low impact, durable and locally sustainable infrastructure: a large fenced garden; chicken coop and large run adjacent to the garden so the chickens can have access during the winter; clean water sources developed for irrigation, livestock watering, and domestic use, on a scale appropriate for our needs. I'll continue to maintain and improve on all of the above, and hope to get our kids and grandkids involved more. I have a feeling they'll be drifting in as catabolic collapse proceeds.

Continue to learn, avoiding confirmation bias, and work on my writing skills, mainly as an outlet, but perhaps to communicate whatever I've learned to others who may find it useful.

Avoid debt and usury while promoting barter and gifting of goods and labor.

...and don't work too hard; take time to "smell the roses" and enjoy the fellowship of others. I'll try to resist doomerism, even though I'm sure that collapse is eminent, whatever forms it takes. There's nothing to be gained from getting depressed about all of this.

I’ve been watching the energy, what it flows through, what conduits are built, what happens before it radiates into space. The flash in the pan of human technological endeavor is progressing towards resolution with attendant damages. There never was a choice to be made regarding our trajectory. The foundations of our present predicament were written in our DNA well before the prefrontal cortex was able to critically examine the temporarily successful course undertaken by our species. That some of us can understand what’s happening and the likely result of our creative and rapacious enterprise, can not in any way retard the seemingly automatic technological process underway.

I’m working on a .pdf that will explain what has happened and it is a bitter wine to drink. I’ll put it up on Blogspot when it’s done. I don’t think my cancer metaphors were much appreciated on TOD but I’ve always considered resource depletion tangential to the central truths of our existence and there are very few venues suitable to litigate those ideas.

Our society says that everyone is special in their own way, but don’t believe it. Nature determines who is special, and kills those that are not. I’m spending most of my time trying to be just as special as I can be.

As the oil pressure falls in society's arteries, I hope those that have had the benefit of TOD's wide ranging explorations can reestablish themselves in more permanent circumstances and thrive.

My basic theme is similar to many. We are far too many people on the planet and those of us in the industrialized/ing countries use far too much energy and other resources, spewing out far too much harmful effluent for the biosphere to bear. Due to the nature of interlocking systems, most of these ills are coming to a head at roughly the same time – i.e. roughly now. Greer's definition of 'predicament' fits well, I think. An edit in response to the idea that we might avoid ecological catastrophe. I'll just note two bits of evidence: 1) we've already acidified the oceans by about 30% over pre-industrial levels, with no slow down in sight, 2) click this link for a view on how other species might view the possibility of such 'avoidance': Simply put, we cannot avoid ecological catastrophe, we are swimming in it, and the water is only rising.

I never really had a 'professional' life. Spent 3 yrs in the 90's doing DSM work for a tiny electric co-op in VT, and a decade or so doing contract work for an educational testing company in NC, in between various odd jobs mostly building trade related. Had gotten BA/MS in Env. Studies/Nat. Resource Planning, so was always tuned into energy/env. issues, but didn't grok PO 'till '05, at which pt. I found TOD & the evolution of my thinking was off to the races. Not long before that I had written a piece called 'Whither the Automobile?' as part of my lifelong effort to gain meaningful employment in 'my field'. In it I pondered the possibilities of all-electric transport, and thought that and other measures might be enough to mitigate the interwoven predicaments noted above. But TOD and getting to know the makers of the doc 'What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire', and hence reading the likes of William Catton, Albert Bartlett, Jerry Mander, Chellis Glendinning, Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, Joseph Tainter, Naomi Klein, Mike Ruppert, Richard Heinberg, then Kunstler, Greer, Orlov, Alexis Ziegler (and some others I'm sure) made me realize the real meaning & size of the predicament. I go back to Catton, Bartlett & WAWTG as the three key pillars of my thinking – we are deep into overshoot.

So, by '08 my partner and I (fortunately, she's on the same page on these matters) left the feeble jobs we had, sold the house (we like to joke that our buyers got the last FHA backed loan before the crash) and moved to an intentional community in the Blue Ridge Mtns. Our community is NOT focused on/prepared for collapse, but awareness is a bit higher than in the world at large, and we felt the need to be on some quality, well-watered land, with neighbors to whom we are connected. We grow a big garden, cut our own firewood, which supplements the solar gain in the house we massively re-modeled to do so. I also installed solar hot water, and PV is purchased but not installed, 'cause I'm not technically adept like Fred, Ghung or wimbi. I can make solar hot water out of anything, but electricity is a on a different level. And that's where I think we need to be – in future simple is going to win out over complex. Glass and mass can keep you warm, showered and help grow your food. What else do you need? Now, we have fallen prey to the human tendency to do the complex things. We've owned a Prius since '05. Recently had a plug-in conversion installed (by my nephew 600 miles away). Now it's not working. Complexity sucks.

So now I putter at finishing the inside of the house - including incorporating adobe, homemade radiant floor solar heat, reclaimed wood & the like – try to keep bees, read TOD and basically live a very low throughput life(under $20k for the two of us, but like OFM said, if a major medical comes along...?). But when I read about what others have done, like Ghung, Todd & Nate (300 hazlenuts! Are you kidding?), it feels like I've done nothing.

ps - I'd be happy to hear from TODers - address in profile. My 'things' are simple solar & building retrofit as far as hands on goes, and EROEI as far as cyberspace goes. And re:cyber, I hope a critical mass of us can stick together, likely first at ASPO's The Energy X-change. See y'all there.

My basic theme : The oil bonanza has been like putting lipstick on a pig .
Technology might have exponentially improved but we still are primitive monkeys driven by basic instincts.
Moreover it's too late to change society and keep BAU running ,doomsday feedbacks are already kickin'in like
methane venting from the ocean floor in the Arctic or permafrost quickly thawing ...

Professionally: I have a background in social science and began working for Exxon Mobil. I gave up
after a year and ended up with huge depression when i discovered peak oil theories and doomer concepts. I felt
such a gap with my colleagues(college educated and working for the biggest oil company) just preoccupied by their
careers or blissfully ignorant of the meaning of "EROEI" or "Ghawar".

Personally: After three years sitting idle, addicted to my daily dose of internet confirmation bias, I'm finally making concrete steps to adapt to the future.After getting into prepping and survival agriculture I searched something needing more unique and useful skills . Finally I found my happiness into medicinal plants culture and transformation. I'm taking a one year course to learn how to grow and use plants to cure people.
After the course i'm planning to move to south Chile where part of my family leaves .Why Chile ? I think Fukushima
is a clear example of what happens to a nuclear plant without active cooling ... After the collapse I guess most of
the world will be a nuclear dead zone and I hope that in south Chile bigger life forms than cockroaches will adapt and
survive to the nuclear and climate apocalypse.

I've been fascinated by energy issues since geography class at age 12 when I learned that the world had enough oil reserves to last 30 years. When I asked what we were supposed to do when we turned 42 I got smacked with a ruler. What I should have learned was that the world discovered more oil every year than it consumed, but I didn't believe it then and I certainly don't now.

I studied physics because I thought that nuclear power was the answer, but I became enchanted by the idea of renewable energy, and so I studied that subject for my masters. I worked in conventional power markets in London for 3 years because I couldn't get a job in renewables. I had been an analyst at Enron for 6 months when, in 2001, the ship sunk. I learned a lot. 3 months later I had become a renewable energy developer and I have been ever since. We develop mainly biomass power and CHP, and we feel very misunderstood.

I am generally an optimist about our future. The world's population should peak before 2050. If we can get most people onto a decent standard of living by around then (3 square [veggie] meals, warm, safe, literate, free to speak and think, reasonably healthy when young, some light in the evening and a little bit of leisure time) I think the future could be just fine. Things can get better as well as worse!

The challenge is the transition, and technology is mainly the answer. But our lifestyles will have to change too. Cars are the main thing that I think we will lose, and I believe most of us will eventually be much happier without them. I have told my two sons that they will never have their own cars, my youngest cried - he is only 3 and has already done grieving for that loss. I didn't own one until I was 31, and we still use it only in very limited circumstances. We live 7 minutes’ walk from a mainline train station and we cycle every day - both kids on board! Other than that my wife and I try to live normal lives, be positive and optimistic, enjoy friendship and family, and live the moment.

I'm planting olives and apples, thinking about a winter garden (i'm late), and worrying about the well if we get one more year of draught.
Hoping for good mushrooms in the Fall, and just got back from backpacking in the Russian Wilderness, used a little too much fuel to get there.
Trying to be an effective hunter gather of information and food, and increasing my knowledge the best I can.

I put my body in the way when effective, and sometimes when it is not, but social justice issues are not the concern as they have been in the past.

People around me are essentially good, but clueless, and seem to lack imagination beyond simple stories, but I try for equanimity on the issue.

It is getting late in the game----

Basic Theme: What Todd said. After trying for a few years inside the system, I rather quickly concluded that the system is not fixable and any efforts to support it are counterproductive. I'm therefore working on a new system in parallel with the old one (I'm not so naive as to think I don't need some things from the old one for a while). My goal will always be to leave the land with more life than the last year.

Personal: I'm helping form an intentional community in the Missouri Ozarks (cheap land, good soil, plenty of water, no building codes, and very independent, yet small-community-minded, attitudes). Our 250-acre farm will eventually provide for about 15-25 people; we will primarily be grass farmers, using intensive rotational grazing, with only enough grains to supplement the pigs, chickens, and us, not the cows. While I understand some others' decision to either reduce or eliminate meat, particularly if you have to buy it from the system, rotationally-grazed cows can be a more productive use of land than grain farming, it can be done more easily without fossil fuels, and by also rotating parts of the pasture with the crop lands, they can all be kept more productive, which is pretty difficult to do without animals.

Professional: I worked as an engineer in the offshore oil industry until I came to my senses in 2000 and retired at the ripe old age of 34 to natural building and renewable energy. We plan to make our living with a combination of greenhouse greens and sprouts, furniture making, energy consulting (mostly good house and water system design, but possibly including wind generator and controller manufacturing), and natural building. Once we are up and running a bit more, our goal is to help others do the same, showing how it only takes some hard work and good friends and family, not (much) money, to live well. As a cornerstone of that effort that works well in my locale, I'm building a interlocking compressed earth block machine that will be more friendly to people with standard construction experience than, say, cob or earthships, but will still use materials right off the land.

Nate, I saw that you said you want to earn not more than $35k; my goal is to show it can be done for $6k (per adult; you may have meant per family). If I can't help but make more than that for myself, I'll use it to spend even more time in community outreach, and possibly even in town politics, but for the moment, I don't have that much of a masochistic streak.

Where can I apply?

If you mean apply as a community member, we are accepting applicants; e-mail me at my TOD username @ yahoo. We don't really have an official application process; so far, we're long-time friends here.

To be clear, things are still a bit rough here ! The description I gave included things that are just twinkles in our eyes, but they are all very achievable, not pie-in-the-sky, and we are committed.

My Basic Theme

Growth is basically over but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I think one of the most important steps we can take is to realize that GDP is simply a measure of output, and not a measure of societal well-being. By doing so we can decouple energy and growth, which is currently not possible (see my post this week for more on this subject).


I am an assistant professor in the Geography Department at Northern Illinois University with a joint appointment in the Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy. I am also a joint appointment with Argonne National Lab, where I work in the Environmental Science Division dealing mainly with policy issues related to the environmental impacts of energy extraction.

I have also recently embraced twitter (@djmurphy04) and now get most of my energy related info from the people I follow. I also try to inject a little sanity into some of the more polemic issues, e.g. fracking, but that is an uphill battle...

My MANY Basic Themes: I'm going to give what others think that the dear readers may not have seen/been exposed to.
Without a functioning system based on the rule of law - what is the point? Plenty of others have figured out how to get the power of Government to do what they want, so why not you? Impotentes defendere libertatem non possunt.

Thus Scylla is set up and now onto Charybdis

Professionally This is an interesting bit of box-putting and framing. A definition and worth to society based on how one makes money in society. I spend my time working with "high tech" with some intersection with "law".

What Am I Doing Trying to fit my life into energy flows and lowing my expectations below what life actually doles out so I'm surprised when things are better than expected. Many things can raise one up from misery to less suckage like insulation, LED lighting, small amounts of electrical power. Advances from the past like lighting at night and pressure canning/food preservation are being fought for/kept VS media consumption habits. Trying to find business models that don't need constant electrical energy but are able to be stopped and started based on local energy flows.

My basic theme: The human species is about to embark on a one-way ticket to hell due to resource depletion, overshoot, climate change, and human nature. Timing is still unclear but I anticipate the collapse to start before 2020. I expect nuclear wars, exploding nuclear power plants, widespread famine and civil unrest will result in very few survivors by mid century.

What I am doing: Trying to be nice to people. Trying not to say anything too alarming. Trying to enjoy my small farm and produce as much of my own food as possible. Trying to live simply but also enjoy the pleasures of civilization (vacations in Belize, fine dining, box seats at Fenway Park) while they last. Not having children and encouraging others to do the same.

Tom Fugate aka SolarDude

Well sure, why not.

My basic theme: The earth is experiencing a mass extinction, and anthropogenic causes are wrecking a perfectly good world while increasingly constraining the possible futures open to my species and others. An atheist, I somewhat arbitrarily have chosen to regard healthy ecosystems characterized by large vertebrates as sacred, and to regard consciousness and self-awareness as sacred. Humans are in unsustainable overshoot as a result of historical accidents and our nature, and I am part of that overshoot, a creation of fossil fuels.

I determined about age 20 that it was my responsibility to prevent species extinctions and to try steering my species in such a way as to make the realized outcomes better than they would have been if I hadn't existed. I look at this pragmatically and reject the concept of personal karma; it isn't about what I need, it's about what may be better for life on earth approaching human-caused bottlenecks... and what may come out the other side and determine the shape of life for the next half-billion years. My target is the other side of the bottleneck; what remains possible from 1000 years in the future until earth life is destroyed by external forces such as the sun's expansion.

My philosophy and planning are probabilistic. There is still a huge amount of freedom in terms of what's possible. However, the most desirable future paths for earthlife and our species are being degraded every hour. This puts a huge responsibility and obligation on the shoulders of a person now alive.

Humans are not very good at doing that sort of thing. Most activism relies on unexamined, and incorrect, assumptions about how things happen. My activities look very little like standard activism, and are grounded in a sort of systems-analysis approach & seasoned with a bit of audacity. For some years, friends have referred to me as an eco-jedi, and I've come to kinda like that term.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - Having learned a few things about how to steer some fairly large systems in the real world, I'm now looking at the biggest issues such as CO2 heating and acidification. Inasmuch as this deals directly with somehow throttling the metabolic basis of current society, it's a poser. I don't have the luxury of feeling powerless, because I know it isn't true. I will be able to steer things. But it's a much deeper chess game than steering individual industries or nations. I'll continue work on behalf of protecting other species and the sea, but my quest at this point is to prevent ocean acidification from knocking huge holes in the ocean food web, and incidentally making many species of cetaceans extinct.

I will almost certainly fail. However, that reality is no reason not to plan to succeed and put full effort into it. I'm not aware of anyone who's better at this sort of thing. I really wish I was.

Personally - I'm now 62, and this year am doing a series of elective surgeries to deal with a genetic neuromuscular problem. No fun, but such is life. These surgeries wouldn't be necessary if I were planning to just sit around and watch things play out.

I don't agree with "be the change you want to see"; I think that personal responsibility should run a lot deeper than that. More a "think globally, act globally" sorta guy. However, as a matter of esthetics and personal hygiene I have both a grid-tie and an offgrid solar power system. I consolidate my trips and drive an older car <1000 mi/yr. My wife and I tend to live a very frugal lifestyle, even when there's money around. In general, we consider that any funds over what it costs to live a basic life are for environmental campaigns. (She is a top environmental campaigner; we're fortunate to have each other to talk to). We decided not to have kids; we love family, but there's no shortage of humans and one couldn't do the stuff we've done while being parents. We like who we are. We think big, have been through a lot, and haven't given up.

I'll miss TOD, and feel a real affection for some of the posters here. My contact email is in my screen name, feel free to drop me a line.


Basic Theme: We are in for some interesting times. The most prudent thing we can do (as they say on the air planes) is “put on our own oxygen mask on first, and then help others. “

What I’m doing:

Professionally: Retired. Trying to learn about country living, especially forestry. Also write an energy and environment news letter and blog:
Personally: After we retired, we moved to the country, built a fairly tight house, which is heated with wood and geothermal, and has solar hot water. (Still negotiating on PV, in the meantime buying wind power from the utility.) We have plenty of wood from thinning the 30 acre wood lot. We have largish garden, some fruit trees, and a fish pond. We do some canning and drying, but nowhere near what it would take to be remotely self-sufficient.
We are trying to manage the woodlot in a way that will make it more likely to survive the coming climate situation, and preserve opportunities for wild life. Therefore, we are encouraging deciduous trees, and thinning out the excess of all species. Funny how this also makes us more self-sufficient in the entertainment category!

Community: At this point, there is a little awareness or interest in the energy/resource/ climate situation in our immediate neighborhood. It may be too soon to try to organize any community around these issues and, frankly, I’m not that into organizing others. Nevertheless, we are very lucky to have a few nearby like-minded friends who lend support, expertise, tools, and even labor!

Although the root causes of the crisis may be resource and energy related, the symptoms are and will continue to be financial. We are not thinking so much about energy itself, but about the human situation and how to anticipate changes. We are active supporters of the local food bank, which is highly forward-thinking. Marion-Polk Food Share is using community gardens, gleaning, and even encouraging local farmers to raise particular crops. We are fortunate to have inherited a little money, and we set up a charitable trust to fund projects that help rural folks to be more self-sufficient.

We also have some community structures that could be very useful as the crisis worsens. We have made some efforts to strengthen local groups such as the Grange, or to create and participate in new groups with some success. Our neighborhood has a FaceBook page where neighbors share information. We also support the West Valley Community Campus, which is teaching many life skills (gardening, preserving food, sustainability tactics) to anyone who wants to learn, as well as providing an anchor for those looking for community. See also

My Basic Theme: The impending population/resources overshoot will not occur evenly throughout the world.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, I see a level of waste in the US and Canada so massive that citizens of these countries could reduce their consumption of everything by 50% and, were it not for indebtedness, lead very happy, Euro-style lives. I do not anticipate any sort of "collapse" where I live. Instead, I anticipate some unevenly distributed economic hardship. So what else is new? (Things will not go so well in other parts of the world where the population/resources ratio is severely out of balance.)

What I'm doing Professionally: Set up shop on my own in a growing field.

I have always been appalled at how quickly incorrect information spreads around the media and the internet as 'fact'. A few years ago I left my government agency position to set up my own company,, to provide easier access to accurate information coming out of various branches of science and engineering. The goal is to make it easy for decision makers of all stripes to access, interpret and communicate important data as a regular part of their decision making process. I have both local and remote clients but I very rarely have to travel -- telecommuting works well for what I do.

What I'm doing Personally: Long-term focus on community and simplicity.

For over 25 years, we have lived in a close-in neighborhood of Seattle in a small, well insulated, reasonably efficient and now almost paid-for house. We know our neighbors and vacation locally. Although we own cars, I don't drive much as I primarily walk/bike to work, shop and eat. We buy mostly LOYKTD (Local, Organic -- You Know The Drill.) Seattle owns its own watershed and separate hydro-electric dams which provide plentiful and cheap water and electricity but I still attempt to reduce our consumption of power, lately by installing LEDs and motion sensors whenever a compact flourescent burns out. I'm a big believer in community and we work hard to stay involved in ours (i.e. walkable from my house). I eat healthy and try to stay fit.

Final note: If you were raised by hippie parents, none of this seems extraordinary.

Great question. TOD continues to amaze me, not just by how knowledgeable you guys are, but also by your openness. It's encouraging to hear what others are doing all around the world. So many parallels.

Can't separate personal from professional though. I'm a doctor with greying temples and a life-long interest in science. My favourite graph in all medical literature consists of three parallel lines: the rise of TVs, cars and obesity in postwar Britain. Persuaded our institution to use envelopes made from recycled paper. They're big and slow-moving and balk at more, so not putting in much effort there. Haven't owned a car in a decade and travel anywhere between Oxford, Copenhagen and Zagreb by train. (Easy here. Though they just trashed the night train to Barcelona. "City of New Orleans" is everywhere.) One flight in six years. Tiny garden with nuts, carrots and tomatoes. Subscribing to a contractual agriculture project. Green Party member. Just before our little one came along, we moved to a wealthy area, and conspicuous consumption really hit me. That, and the kid, led to my becoming more radical with age. Rooftop solar just installed, after a surprisingly tiresome argument with the millionaires next door ("the reflections might lower the value of our property"). Prior to that, electricity consumption down to 1000 kWh p.a. for the three of us. Wood oven since 2011 because they, we and others share central heating with oil, recently revamped - we got funny looks for suggesting a heat pump. Heat pump to be installed in the big old house in the Alps where the whole clan goes on vacation. Writing irate letters to the editors of the city's conservative newspaper, who attack every improvement for cyclists. Writing exceedingly polite letters to parents who park their SUVs opposite our kindergarten. Boycotting, equally politely, the tide of plastic toys that comes with birthday parties here. Many parents agree in private, but still keep up with the Joneses. Second hightrekker's opinion that people are not evil, but amazingly clueless. Those who are seriously into money (and could do most) are those who least want to hear about an end to growth. Human nature, but what a pity. Moving in less than a year, to a newly-founded transition community in town, walkable and liveable. We want to learn, and to contribute what we can. Over there, I may also be able to provide free consultations for illegal immigrants who will continue to seek a safe harbour here. We intend to let our flat near the university to someone in environmental/scientific research, at little to no profit, and not to bankers at a big one. But there is hope, even among the gnomes of Zürich: we passed THREE bakfiets today! Seeing one a week used to be an event.

Thanks to all of you! And good luck.

My Theme:- Humans are not smarter then yeast. We will deplete every resource available to us before we die in our own wastes. There will be a long hard road down, as the desperation for moar drives people to lower and lower quality resources. I don't believe in human extinction, more a future similar to what the Easter Islanders were enjoying. No trees, no large mammals, a struggle for survival against hunger, disease and the elements.

Professionally:- BAU, I need the money.

Personally:- I'll have my farm freehold soon, then it's time to sit back with some popcorn. I imagine there is still a long way to go before this story is over, and I should have time to take it easy for a bit.

My Basic Theme: Integrate preparations into my everyday life, but also be sure to enjoy some simple pleasures now. I've been doing several things, here are some examples ...

At Home: First, I've been practicing and improving my gardening skills. I live in an old city neighborhood and space is limited. On the other hand I consider these to be portable skills in that even if I move, I can probably use these skills and will be better off than if I hadn't had the practice. Even under BAU conditions I enjoy the fresh produce. I am also working towards putting in a wood-burning stove that will have a cooking surface. Later this month I expect to have my chimney rebuilt, then I'll have a metal flue put in, and then the new wood stove. This will be for supplemental or emergency use -- for now my primary heat source will be natural gas but I expect that the energy supply will be squeezing the economy in a few years. (A couple years ago I replaced my old furnace with a high-efficiency one which vents out the basement wall, freeing up part of the chimney.) Again, even under BAU conditions, I love the radiant heat given off by a wood stove. And I dream of making tea on top of my wood stove while reading a good book, warmed by the heat.

Those who make the transition to a low-energy consumption will be better off than those who try to continue with BAU. I'm not as efficient as HereinHalifax since my consumption is about 16,000 kw-hr/yr (after converting the energy contained per ccf of natural gas to kw-hr), but I know I can do much better even without heating with wood.

Professionally: To satisfy the continuing education requirements for my Professional Engineer license I am taking classes in renewable energy. I have done classes in home energy audits, solar heating, and photovoltaics. I made my own solar cooker (somewhat crude, but it works) and am working on an improved version. I also have an extremely small photovoltaic system underway. This will have little usable power since my house and yard are pretty well shaded (except for the garden area), but it will give me practice for a possible larger system if I move or the shade situation changes.

Spreading the Word: I also talk to people all the time about what I call the upcoming energy squeeze. I think more people are becoming aware, and this aspect is where I will miss The Oil Drum the most. I find the insights and analyses very useful in rebutting the propaganda from the cornucopian side. A big thank you to all the staff and contributors.

my basic theme
reduce my footprint. financial system is broken and the current fiat system will not last too much longer. political structure in trouble too. interesting watching a complex system spin apart. climate change will like disturb plant growth, affect soils, cause diseases to spread. health care will face many physical and financial struggles along with food supply.

semi retired from IT and Healthcare now at 54. Trying to reduce my involvement with modern industrial society.

what i am doing
Bought 10 acres of pasture in 2010 with access to 350 acres of cdn shield trees not too far away on an existing canal system dug in the 1830's in canada. Put in 3,000 trees on 4 acres for future coppicing. Edible woodlands started. Hazelnuts to go in next spring with more fruit trees and chickens. started building a small 1000 sq foot straw bale house when diagnoses with stage 3 cancer but said to hell with it and kept on building last year between treatments. Wood heated, 1.2 kw offgrid solar system with LED throughout. Passive solar design working great, kept warm on a cord and a half last winter. Talking to local community about steps to control their own destiny as much as possible. no longer talk to most others about system failures but try to explain the benefits to me of what I am doing. being self reliant - self sufficiency is impossilbe.

many thanks to the site for education, inspiration, amusement, creative thought and reminding me that notwithstanding peak oil, climate change its one's family, friends and neighbours that are the solution for what lies ahead.

One thing your post reminded me of was my parents' experience when we build our 'back to the land' house up in the White Mts of Maine some 30 yrs ago. Many terrific bits of education and inspiration making this Passive Solar post and beam saltbox home.. but one aspect that really did the project in (apart from the divorce, which was surely the greatest hit) was that we had no co-conspirators in the neighborhood. None of our neighbors was a close friend or involved in any of the same thinking, so we had very little support and pooled energy (if I may) to help nurture the project.

That was why my response to Leslie's desire for a Hobbit hole was my desire for neighbors who would also be working on related and similar goals, so we could regenerate some of that fervor that otherwise is soaked quickly out into the surroundings and sometimes not reclaimed again. "SROSI' Synergy Returned on Synergy Invested..

There seems to be some good work in Wales on these Ecovillage and Tr. Town projects.. the 'Hobbit House' that was reported here some months back has a range of good projects and proposals that others will find encouraging and illustrative. Poke around in that site, and one can find many links to this work as it's happening in the UK.

I'm looking forward to meeting Rob Hopkins, of Transition Town fame, as he comes through Maine next month. Otherwise I've only chatted with him via TOD.

Best of luck!

Bob Fiske,
Portland Maine

My Theme: The future of the interaction between human society, technology, and the limits imposed by our ecosystem and resource base are very hard to predict. The resource and climate constraints are going to make major changes in how society operates. But the response of human society will be to evolve and innovate, not return toward some pre-industrial state. Take for example limits on future transportation imposed by limits on rates of extraction of oil. High gasoline prices have already contributed to a recession but they have also made new resources economically accessible and are spurring developments of alternatives. The McKinsey report on battery technology ( nicely captures the fact that oil prices can't rise much higher before alternative energy efficient technologies simply come to dominate the market because they are lower cost. On current trends, gasoline cars will be more expensive to run than battery electric vehicles by 2020 even if gasoline stays at only $3.50 per gallon. Raise the price of gasoline, and battery electric cars take over sooner. But new technologies will create new limits from the ecosystem and resource base that will lead to new rounds of evolution and innovation. Humans will continue to dramatically change our ecosystem, and it is nearly impossible to predict what the outcome will be over centuries. Even though we know that CO2 produces climate change, we don't know what the humans will do in response.

What I am doing:
Professionally: Teaching students to consider how the whole system (including the ecosystem) needs to be involved in the design decisions they make.

Personally: Making steady steps toward living using fewer resources in the suburban academic community where I live. Between home efficiency and a plug-in hybrid automobile, I have made a significant reduction so far without decreasing quality of life at all. Plan to have a solar powered home and car soon.

Personal theme; I suspect the human race is a plague species (Reg Morison, to Robert Ardrey) with many innate behavioral characteristics, which at one time may have benefited us but now are of no value . Many individuals on this site probably have also figured that out, it would seem. We are but locusts (Might make a good tee shirt. “ARE WE BUT LOCUSTS?”). The idea is to get out of the swarm, not just as an individual but as a community. While it is not possible to convince the entire community there is actually a problem, it is possible to lay the ground work in the system that may lead to a better future away from the swarm.

A small community is essential in my book as are numerous skills that have value in a greatly constrained world. Today, I am working on malting barley I got from a local farmer. That barley will go into making the special elixir called beer---can be used to make the greatest of all beverages, whiskey.

The swarm will move forward for some time in hot pursuit of BAU but the peripheral nations and communities (cities) will struggle. The “vegetation” will be greatly consumed but those who spin off and find a nitch on the side (outliers) will be best suited. Some (Jensen-Kingsnorth) may just slow down or stop at one point hopping to find some of the left-overs. The speed of the swarm many not be so great as to prevent some adjustment, but 80 million new souls a year and the loss of abundant fuel (food) will cause great pain starting with obscenely overpopulated first (Egypt, Syria, Niger, etc)

Professionally: Botanist by training, artist by occupation. Mostly retired but working endlessly to learn new skills that might have value to my community/family in the future. George Washington was one hell of a distiller.

Personal efforts and activities: Have very strong group of friends, most well informed on living close to the land, no jack-asses. Live in a community of 1000 friendly folks in an area with great climate and abundant vegetation. Also not very close to large city. I am the President of a non profit, private foundation that provides many community programs (including allowing one Nate Hagens to speak his mind ---he was not stoned in any sense) I have spent my entire life learning those skills that have value in any condition. We have a large garden, PVs with parallel circuits in the entire house, heat with wood (but NG is damn cheap), play my fiddle with great glee and still chase my wife, fish, hunt and laugh at the fate of man (they are very interesting!). Life is still very good and I’d like to think I can keep it that way for some time as we power down---say to the French standard---or Italian, or even Irish (remember the whiskey) I have a blog that goes over my many trials, and laughs, and musings (Missionary’s Position and Revolution Watch)

Thanks TOD from David Wright

I'm a 32 year old physician who first started to understand what was going on with the crash of 2008. I'm a catabolic collapse, stepwise doomer; I believe that the global financial system based on the petrodollar has broken down, and with it will go American empire. This is also consistent with the limits to growth hypothesis, and we should eventually see a reversal in the global population boom, and a massive increase in death rates. The middle class in America is finished, as the wealthy and connected plunder what's left and distribute handouts to the growing underclasses. Still, I don't think we are going to starve any time soon in North America. If we're lucky, we make it through the transition without WW3.

So far, all I've done is to to reduce my hours by doing locums and part time work. I've put all my savings into gold.

Other than that, not much. But this means less consumption. I'm not acting the way a guy like myself should...I certainly am not taking on debt to buy an expensive car or big house. And I have no plans to have a large family. I have broken off contact with many people, and don't drive that much anymore.

Medium term I plan to relocate from Texas to Washington state with British Columbia as backup (I'm a Canadian citizen by birth). I am still deciding whether to continue medicine or change careers. A difficult choice with all of the sunk investment; medicine is honorable, but it's not sustainable. I do want to meet women who are at least somewhat aware of our predicament and would be ok with no children.

So to sum it up...what I've done is to reduce both work and consumption. Permanently getting off the rat race and starving the beast.

Love the line "not acting the way a guy like myself should". Same here. And I see what you mean about medicine being honourable but not sustainable, particularly in the States. You're young enough to start over. If I was eighteen again, I might be going into something engineering-related. Still, once you've sunk all that investment (including years of your life doing little else but work), medicine is probably one of the most rewarding professions out there, and if you don't overdo it, it's a decent job in every sense of the word. I have now been in private practice for over ten years and still enjoy it. Much more than I did at your age. With your outlook, you'd probably want to avoid over-serviced communities with people clamouring for botox and relief for other non-issues. Also specialties with too much high-tech prolonging of life (even if vegetable not animal) going on. Why not become a family doctor in a rural area? Transition communities still need physicians. Medicine can be scaled down too. Local colleagues seeing illegal immigrants (with, of course, no insurance whatever and next to no money of their own) are surprisingly pragmatic, and not too unsustainable. Good luck!

(And rethink the gold - where it comes from is ugly. My shares in PV-related Meyer Burger are climbing fast again, after a long period where everybody thought they were going to go broke. I refused to sell them on principle and I'm glad I didn't.)

My basic theme - The next 20 years will be far more challenging than the last 20 years. Each of us needs to fashion his or her own plan for resilience.

What I'm doing - Four years ago my wife and I moved to our subsistence farm in Elmore County, Alabama. We've been learning how to grow vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Now we're stocking the pond with catfish. Next up: laying hens in chicken tractors on the orchard floor.

Professionally - I continue to practice law on the Internet from my farm; it doesn't pay that much, but it's surprising how little money we need to be happy. We maintain a web site about subsistence farming, and we publish a weekly podcast.

Personally - We're both master gardeners, and we spend a lot of time teaching others what we've learned about resilient living and growing. Very active in our Episcopal Church, but still not able to speak frankly to our friends at church about what's coming; I'm afraid they're just not ready.

Contact details in profile

Basic Theme
I am a supporter. I think Nate has it right on ‘growth’; Greenish on ‘oceans & cetaceans’; Jonathan on attention to data; Paul (Here in Halifax) on energy change; Alan on just about all of his projects, and all of you making changes and pursuing the good where you find it.

I am not as old as Todd but there is not a lot in it. I gave up flying in 2006 when I decided I would take no more work. That had entailed a lot of flying. I try to study a lot, trying to lower the cognitive dissonance while living in British reality.

Have been essentially vegan for a while; originally as an easier way to stay alive. It seems to have made dramatic difference to our health, at least the way we do it. My wife grows the vegetables and we are lucky with fruit. The idea is that we are capable of adding very high value nutrition at very low cost. The stuff sometimes seems to ‘glow’.

I used to run for health (lived with CVD for 23 years now and the kids are pretty well grown and doing their thing). Nowadays I run as a privilege while the luck holds – and a friend persuaded me to try half marathons.
We reduce the domestic kWh and do not drive much. My ambition is still not to have a car. Ah well – like Todd I could use some 10 hour days, but we can’t have everything, or at least only sometimes.

Stay thinking people! Damn old age; yes it does come as a surprise! It’s surprising though what magic can still turn up at the door.

I’ll keep a watch out for you all.

First: A heart-felt thank you to all who have made TOD _the_ resource for energy information. I encountered it in ~2005 and have appreciated it since.

My basic theme: We are on the "overshoot" and given the population levels, adapting to "less" will be ... disruptive. Among intelligent people around me there is a general understanding that there is a crisis looming, but working actively in anticipation of the crisis is seen as bad form. Thus we work in anticipation and attempt to lead by example.

What I'm doing professionally: working as a bureaucrat (got kids in the house), with the occasional opportunity to mention things like peak oil, global warming ...

What I'm doing personally: Working to reduce the family's CO2 footprint. We now have solar up on the roof (since about 2 months), and have just invested in LED lighting. Now comes the more challenging conversations about making the next vehicle replacement lower on carbon impact.

Oil drum closeout statement

First, thanks Nate for reading my mind and doing what I hoped someone would do-- exactly this.

Basic theme. While the future is totally unpredictable, it can be invented- and who knows, maybe sold. Mutual concern and collaboration is the without-which-nothing.

Personal-- I was born in the Hoover administration when Ford was making model T’s. I grew up without any money and got used to living that way. I didn’t get killed, as scheduled, in the invasion of Japan that didn’t happen. I got my ME degree in 1950, and advanced degrees on the GI bill, and coasted thru life on a big wide oil slick. Like most engineers of the time, I was trained for and worked hard on things intended to swiftly kill a lot of people a long distance away. Realized that was stupid and went into teaching and then to my own R&D business, which over time turned away from solar energy into an outfit that made things intended to kill lots of people a long distance away, since that’s where the money was.

I quit the whole thing, then my son, far more astute in such matters than I, took over the business and sold it - zap!, leaving me in my old age, and to my great surprise, with a lot more money than years left.

I am fully aware of how lucky I have been- in everything. My wife is a super achiever, and when I mention an idea, she hesitates not at all to reject it instantly as nonsense, or, on the rare occasion that it has merit, grabs it real quick and runs ahead of me with it. We have never lacked for money for two reasons- never felt a personal need for much, and had a real easy time getting it.

What I am doing. Having a lot of fun pushing that money around in the local community to invent the world I would like to see my grandkids inherit. I am cranking out business ideas and looking for energetic smart people to run with them. I stick to the locality since we know who we can trust and who has what smarts. There turns out to be an astoundingly large number of them. And- to my surprise, even some people with the same resources and same goals as I have. There’s Hope!

My ideas are all in the non-carbon thermal machine-hardware category, in which there is a semi-infinite number just waiting to be exploited, starting with a solar chimney and going on to the stars.

Basic Theme
I'm not really a doomer, but I think BAU is clearly not sustainable either. Things will get very "interesting" and lots of people will suffer. Many unforseen things will happen. Global warming is a very bad deal.

Been working as a geo in the oil patch most of my adult life. Currently planning development wells to squeeze the last few drops out of the existing North Slope fields. I try to gently prod my co-workers into looking at the bigger picture. I will retire within the next couple of years. My politics have never been a good fit for employment in the oil patch, and it will be a relief to not have to be so careful about what I say (or how I say it) at work.

Trying to live simpler. I live quite close to work and I should ride my bike more often, at least in summer, but old habits die hard. We drive small cars, and we try to save our auto use mostly for getting out of town for hiking, skiing and sea kayaking.

We've recently added insulation to our home and installed a new high efficiency heating system. I'm trying to figure out how to add a supplemental wood stove but that won't be easy with our current layout, so we may go with a fireplace insert. We are replacing our lights with LEDs and gradualy converting to more energy effiecient appliances. We love our neighborhood, but since our one child is now off and launched on her own, we now have way more house than we need. We will probably downsize before I retire, and may consider some sort of solar set up then.

I try to support people, causes, and policies that lead to a saner and more sustainable city, state, and country. That's not easy in a red leaning state like Alaska, but I try to do what little I can.

My basic theme: Blissfully ignorant. Yet perhaps a realist.

What I'm doing - The comments here are presented by a plethora of impossibly intelligent men who have pretty much seen and done it all in the business of energy. Me? I’m living in a dingy flat at the starting line of my career in the oil and gas industry. I have never had a nice car - my primary mode of transport is a beat up bicycle - and my phone is so far removed from a smart phone, it’s dumb enough to let its battery last for a week. I am, in practice, more environmentally friendly than any idiotic fracking activist.

Will things remain as such? No. I want the nice car. The nice apartment. It’s part of human nature. At least for a while. The intelligent men here of which I speak have had these things. And thus can go to the grave, or equally so, sit in the midst of their outback farm, knowing that they have done it all. It is easy for the men of which I speak to critique the life of which they lived. You are Adam, who has tasted the apple, and found it to be sour.

But to every pauper who has gazed at the glossy Apple(TM), they want it. Nearly every person on the planet will soon have or be within touching distance of a smart phone. With internet. And they, in turn, will want the world. And that is the ultimate reason why realism is required. Renewables in current form are far from, or indeed part of, a solution. The necessary changes of lifestyle would require almost totalitarian measures of restraint. We need them there hydrocarbons. In the short term I, unfortunately, plan on being part of the problem.

Professionally – After a couple of years designing offshore pipelines, I am doing an MSc in Petroleum Engineering at a good college to get with the big boys. See how it’s done. Then I can walk away with that sour taste in my mouth and retire to said outback farm. Or more idealogically via a company like EDF, oversee the developed worlds transition to Nuclear Fusion (the most realistic of unrealistic conclusions), while the third world countries of Africa have enough cheap gaseous resources to keep it going for many moons with the riddance of western kleptomaniacs.

I did say I was blissfully ignorant.

Hello, good evening, and welcome ...

Short term personal
I’m a geologist, because I always wanted to be one, before I knew what the words were.
Before going into the awl bidness, I specialised in glacial geology with an MSc and a PhD topic. My PhD supervisor insisted I got experience broadening in Petroleum Geology. Oops.
I’m now a trouble shooter as in the 1970’s TV program who’d rather go exploring.
After putting a conventional oil project in West Africa together, technically and financially, it appears my group is getting the last signature from the government very soon. They’ve fiddled and fuddled for five years, and I’ve taken the time to upgrade the original project and start to think about the offshore. That is my real middle-term objective. I’ve been told repeatedly that the financing is still there.

Longer term personal.
I’m 64, and expect to keep going in the O&G industry for another 16 years at least. Then I’ll probably do a PhD in some leading edge subject or a frontier area in geology.
I will never retire.
My grandfather was an alcoholic from the age of 19 in 1887 to 1964 when he died, over three quarters of a century. I neither drink nor smoke, but I do go to far-away places where people have tried unsuccessfully to kill me.

Short-term problems
I’m laughing myself sick over shale gas. To quote, “Lipstick on a pig”.
Art Brennan, West Texas, Rocky Mountain Guy, etc., have it dead to rights.
It’s the next investment bubble, and it will blow over by the end of the decade.
I’ve just dissuaded an investor from funding a shale gas project “in southern Europe” it’s technically very risky and marginally economic all across the Variscan Foreland (hint hint, England)
And then what is going to happen? Like Norman Hunter, economic reality about O&G resources bites society’s leg very hard, I hope. That will be the wake-up call. Unfortunately, the cheap alternative appears to be coal.
Seriously, Good Luck to Alan From The Big Easy, but you’ve got to wait another generation for rail transportation to come back in the Blue States.

Long-term problems
My original background is in glacial geology, a next step over to climatology.
Keeping up with progress on RealClimate website, recommended to everybody.
The Limits to Growth was the set reading for EVERYBODY in grad studies in the Department during my MSc. And an object of derision for decades from the deliberately iggorant.
Society’s real enemies are economists, power-grabbers, right-wing populist politicians, and right-wing capitalists and their lackeys. The Chicago School, Arthur Scargill, Mrs Thatcher, Ronnie Raygun, Tony Blair, and Dave and Osbourne.
Putting two and two together, it doesn’t look very good for society or h. sapiens in the long term, does it?
Nature, like the jungle, is neutral. It really doesn’t care.

I mentor the profession in the Third World.
People in Africa now know about Hubbert’s Peak.
Countries in Africa that want shale gas now know about the essential requirement, water.
Which is more important to them, oil or water? Especially in Sudan and Chad.
The sun shines an awful lot in Sudan … They’re talkers, not doers, over there. But they are very good metal bashers. So how to … ???

I want to make a whole lot of money:
My objective, Overt Public Revenge on the English Public School System (private schools to you) in my former home town in England, exact method uncertain right now but money into the nearest Grammar School.
Not a Bilious Old Nabob but an Angry Young Sahib.

Send me an eMail if you will.


My Basic Theme: I haven't posted anything in years, but I still do (did) peruse the site on occasion. I have long since come to accept that humanity will simply not address the end of the oil era, so I do what I can.

What I'm doing:
Professionally: I'm near retirement. So I can spend more time on urban gardening.
Personally: I've really got into supporting local farmers at the farmers market, and experiment with permaculture and how to store the harvest.

I have purchased more solar panel capacity and learned the hard way how touchy batteries are.

I got a bumper crop of apples and pears this year. Shared them with co-workers, froze some and made pie. Its amazing how you forget what real apples taste like. I think I will try canning.

Two interesting points I've learned:
Don't wash apple if you are going to root cellar or refrigerate. The will go bad faster. Wash just before using not before. Also pears don't ripen (turn yellow) on the tree, you have to pick them for them to ripen. Two important things to know if you are storing fruit.

The recent down turn and the 2011 tornadoes have taken a toll on my neighborhood. Empty houses everywhere. More fear of tornadoes than high gas prices.

I recently purchased a DVD called “Wartime Farm” from amazon UK. It shows how the UK dealt with the oil and food shortages of WWII. Kind of uplifting, we can return to the soil, we just won't like it. It is part of a series on how people use to farm, great series all around. (warning you need a region free DVD player, but you can order from Amazon UK when in the USA). Also check out “The Victorian Garden Series” it was very informative about 4 season gardening.

I would like to wish everyone a safe journey and thank everyone who created and ran this site. You have been an inspiration.

Basic Theme - The writing remains on the wall - the "long emergency" sums it up but I will not be surprised by a catalyst that quickly brings us down the other side of the curve.

Professionally - I work with physicists and have given PO presentations. Like anyone else in this society, everyone is stuck at the bottom of Maslow's pyramid and has a short attention span. I often find myself in an inner dispute over how we (physicist) create elaborate experiments that are a huge burden on resources – is the payoff worthwhile, I sometimes have my doubts.

Personally - Started panicking around 2006-2007, moved out to a small country home with; wood stove, cob oven, chickens, fruit trees, small gardens, small scale solar. Kid's (now in their twenties) are fairly aware and yet well grounded. We encouraged my son to take a renewable energy program in college, he is now working in the HVAC industry.
PO has had a profound effect on me but I am grateful to have my eyes open on the subject and very grateful that society is not falling apart as fast as I expected years ago. Also grateful that my wife has been on the same page. Now just trying to take things day by day and not worrying much. I often try to get this whole topic out of my consciousness but it just won't go.

What am I doing?

I'm reading this right now:

Radical Abundance

Thought it would be appropriate to show that for my last comment here. :D

What a long strange trip it's been but not really. Second City to Highline to AK and back a couple or so times with a few homes, more than a few jobs, a bit of school and a lot of luck along the way.

For now I keep my hand in a few of the issues this state is dealing with. Last winter oil tax legislation took a fair amount of my energy, looks like I will have to take and push a position on the Pebble Mine Project next--and taking that position is not the no-brainer many seem to think it is. It's highly unlikely we will leave that massive copper resource alone indefinitely. Whether we will do a cleaner job with it now or in the future takes more crystal ball than I have, but the last really big salmon run left on the planet needs us to make our best guess on that pretty darned quick.

For me it is all about the journey and who you take it with. It's not over, can't tell yet if the 14,000 heating degree days a year will force us south but the trade I've plied for the last 20 plus years to keep the wolf off the family's door has about run its course with my frame. I play the hand I manage to get dealt at the moment and move to a new table if it looks like my odds will be better there. Yes I know we've but one casino to play in. I've stayed at the fringes mostly but found life far better at fringes of thriving rather than dying areas.

Enjoy this place, if you've been lucky enough to have been born into the OECD the biggest thing you can waste--opportunity to enjoy the life that accident of birth has given you. Hard scrabble hand to mouth existence at the very bottom of the third world food chain is hell on earth. Yeah try not to be too big a consumer but if you're already in an OECD country the security that surrounds you is already consuming a whole lot of resources, so unless you choose to leave that security for the hard scrabble bottom you are responsible for part of its cost, that is just how it is.

I grow food and build soil and water capacity on my suburban lot. I look forward to a time when my neighbors do the same.

I have not posted for quite a long time. The wheel turns and life and times change. I have enjoyed the Oil Drum almost from it's beginnings and have learned a lot from all of the talented and very knowledgeable contributors. I will miss you all.
I'm not at all optimistic about our future, and have not been for a very long time, in fact, since finishing school, having taken a job in San Francisco, and waiting on the bridge "out" into Oakland and the hills above Fremont where I had purchased a little house for $43k for myself, wife and two small children. The wait was 3 hours and then and there, I decided not to participate. I quit my job and returned to my roots in the Intermountain west where I have been since. I have worked as a Prison Guard, I've been a Soldier, and I finally retired as a Peace Officer with an additional small pension from the United States Army. I was 53 when I quit gainful employment. I'm 70 now and have for the past 17 years worked as a Cowboy, a Spurmaker, a Youth Ranch Counselor (crowd control), and a Convenience Store and Gas Station Attendant. I've been woking toward a sustainable life for at least the past 35 years. It's been a journey. Through thrift and hard work I now live in an ideal situation, a small farm/ranch, in a remote river valley. I have few neighbors, but those I do have are good ones, tough and self reliant. I bought this place 25 years ago, just vacant ground, with good water. Since, I have built a small log house (700 square feet) that I heat with wood, drilled a successful well, planted a pasture, grown fruit trees, and cultivated a large garden. My wife and I keep bees as well as small flocks of sheep and goats (40 animals total). We have chickens, about 30 of them. We milk our goats, make cheeses, and they are an excellent source for protein. We also raise a few cows and so we have beef when we want it. We also butcher a lamb in the fall. We've been fermenting quite a lot of food the past few years and we love the Sauerkraut and Pickles. We made a large batch of Kimchee yesterday.
We sell our excess vegetables at a little farmers market in town and make about $100 per week doing so. I still make spurs for local cowboys and am able to add an additional 2-3k in annual income. We drive very little, maybe 3000 miles annually, if that, but own a large diesel pickup truck that is necessary for our farm work. I have had mules around for many, many years now, and have the harness necessary to use them with a wagon if it comes to that. I prefer them to a saddle horse however, although I always have a good horse around the place.
I have learned to play the fiddle and the banjo and belong to a little group that plays old time music. My wife plays rhythm with the spoons. Music, I think is an excellent community builder and very enjoyable besides.
Life is good and I'm hopeful small communities of like minded folks will weather the storms on the horizon. I think mine will, but it all depends upon correct choices now. It is what is. My children and my grandchildren are certain to face interesting challenges and I do hope they're up to it, that they can live with spirit and will and do the best that they can in a changing world.

Basic Theme: Natural and anthropogenic systems are coming unhinged right and left. Therefore, I have begun to build resilience into my little sphere of influence. The forces at work are much bigger than I. I will continue to lower my expectations, raise my productivity and generosity, and accept that I cannot stop the inevitable. I also accept that I don’t know exactly how and when it’s going to shake out.

Professional Life: Has undergone complete metamorphosis. In a way, I do not have a professional life right now, as hearthkeeping has taken the front seat the last few years. I have taught some classes in resilience, had a brief partnership in an agrarian project, but truly most of my efforts have been on the home front.

Personal Life: For me the last few years, it’s all personal. ‘Been learning how to’s such as food production and preservation, forest management, nurturing soil, welcoming plants and animals that are helpful to my endeavors, gathering information and prioritizing projects, animal husbandry. Planted a forest garden that is beginning to have a mind of its own. More and more, I work in local food production. Having food and fertilizer producing animals has kept me outdoors much of the time, and so I have become more hardened off, adapting to weather extremes. I am learning how to apply the bit of herbal and folk medicine I know, and I keep adding to that knowledge. Being out in the elements, and having critters, there are always opportunities to treat scrapes, bumps, stings, infections, and so forth for them and for me.

My body has toughened up quite a bit the last few years, hooray! And my inward parts – emotions, soul, spirit, whatever you want to call it – are developing, too, but not hardening, I would not call it that. Becoming more flexible, thicker skinned, but kinder, less easily put off by absurdities. Doing more of my daily activities with manual labor and more primitive technology has helped me adjust my expectations. I know what it feels like to pump and haul the water, shovel the crap, hike up and down the hill countless times, hang clothes out in 21 degree F weather, lose produce to insect damage, weird weather or wildlife again and again.

I am grateful for the people of TOD. I have not been a regular contributor, but some of the articles and comments made over these few years have stuck with me to this day. Glad I checked in before it is quite done. This leave-taking is a good exercise, too. Blessings, everyone.

My basic theme:

The world is a complicated place with many unexpected outcomes relative to past precedent. Whilst we as humans share a lot of societal features with the rise and fall of past civilisations, we cannot predict the future. One concept which is a favourite of mine which sums up this complexity is 'Simplicity on the other side of complexity'. Sometimes things get so complex that the end result is that they revert back to simplicity again. Think of things like for instance a quartz watch in relation to a mechanical windup watch. Each component is far more complex than the mechanical watch, but the overall design is simpler. Overall we can make far more quartz watches than we ever could mechanical watches inspite of the fact that the quartz watch is an order of magnitude more complex.

We still have a lot of game changing innovations in the 'pipeline': Computers are in line to get several times faster with current known technology roadmaps; Biotechnology is entering into a 'golden age' with advances compounding on advances in that field; microscopic materials technologies are taking off for things like nano-particles; solar cells are breaking through cost/performance barriers; and auxiliary technologies such as batteries are making good strides as well. In general optimism must be balance with pessimism because the future is an unpredictable place.


I'm at the point in my career as a student to decide on what 'specialisation' I want to pursue. I haven't yet decided whether to go for medicine, business or technical.


I'm glad to live in New Zealand. I live in a relatively free country which has better long term prospects in terms of food production, climate change, security and resource depletion than the vast majority of countries out there. I have just about written off a large number of countries in the Northern Hemisphere from the Middle-East and further East because of internal problems, or crazy neighbours with internal problems. I believe that internal problems will catch up to China before they surpass the U.S. and that the U.S. will likely remain the number one political power in the world indefinitely. I believe that robotics as a concept is going to be the undoing of countries with high population densities as robotics will essentially make large numbers of people irrelevant.

Basic Theme:

The World is transitioning away from oil to electrons [coal, gas, and renewable electricity]. In this view I am basically persuaded by the moderates Rapier, Staniford, Gregor MacDonald, and don't see Gail and Steve from Virginia's Collapse ideas. This change is difficult, especially around transportation, but will happen because it we have no choice, and is already underway. IMO the West will do it, ie not collapse, the overpopulated third world will suffer terribly. Staying with the OCED, I am not a doomer but an adapter and I think the recent past shows why, Collapse, after all is just an emotional word for change. And change, she is a-coming. For some people and especially some places it will feel like Collapse, and it already has, but many places will in fact improve through this pressure. This is the end of Motordom and suburbia as we know it, especially in the anglophone new world. We will look back on the post WW II car made world with the same horror as people view the shit strewn streets and coal smoke clogged air of Victorian London. In many ways we have a lot to gain from this energy transition: The future will be different. Cities in particular will be a lot better, more human at USD 200 oil. Oh and yes price will be the mechanism for the coming rationing. We know oil isn't disappearing; it's just getting too precious to waste driving to the mall to get a couple of lattes. I am with Richard Florida; we are undergoing a Great Reset: in Energy, in Spatial Order, in Employment, in Education.

I am much gloomier about Climate Change: we will try to burn everything. It is just hard to know how this will manifest and when.

What am I doing?

With this world view one should get to a place ready for the more compact walkable Transit electricity based economy, or work as hard as possible to make where you live become this shape. Transportation is the big issue. In New Zealand where I live oil is the source of 30% of our primary energy and 75% of that goes to transportation, in other words agriculture and industry can go on as they are on a 1/4 of our oil imports. NZ is rich in renewable electrons [~80% and should be working more aggressively to 100%], but poor in liquid fuels. I have dedicated all of my spare time in the last few years to changing the road focussed status quo here to switch investment to Transit and the Active modes in my home city, Auckland, principally through a very effect blog; In this I have learnt a lot from TOD, not just about energy but also how to run an effective blog, so am devastated at its end. The most important lesson is to blog about technicalities not politics. This is in fact a more effective way to achieve political outcomes. And, with our blog, I have to say this is working very well. The people are ahead of the politicians however, and Auckland, while it went down the sprawl and auto-dependent route in the last 60 years is fixable, with time and investment in the right things. It is already improving and preparing for a more oil constrained world despite a sprawl promoting provincialist government, as especially younger people choose to live differently from their parents; more compactly, less auto-dependently.

Better to choose to change than to wait till it is forced upon us. I remain, as my Twitter profile says, an impatient optimist. And a fascinated witness to these events as they unfold: Beat of times worst of times.

Professionally is more difficult, someone here on TOD [westexas?] said it is time to get on the non-descressionary side of the economy. I agree, but hard to do for someone in the arts, although I am now teaching Urban Design part time at University which dovetails very well with the blogging and activism I still need my day job to work. As a specialist Architectural Photographer vulnerable to technology and publishing changes while the non-paid pro-bono work is booming and enjoyable what used to be a lucrative and rewarding business is now much tougher now and I expect that to continue.

So it goes: Change la vie!

Best wishes for a successful transition, whether you are of the 'run for hills' self sufficiency persuasion [frontier myth still very strong in North America I see] or, like me, see successful cities thriving in the coming new world. New Urbanism and Rural Self-Sufficiency are of course entirely compatible. It is sprawl and over consumption that can't last.

You know I should probably look you up. You work at Auckland University right?

What I'm doing: I've become a novelist and my theme is "eco-Shakespeare", and based on my original research. I'm also an academic.

No car, no TV. Try to live frugally. It's easy if you pick a good location...for me that's a small town with tiny old roads dating back way pre-automobile.

No, not the USA, which is too car dependent for me.

I'm in my 40s and have no plans to do anything except react to events as they happen, if they happen. Basically who knows what will happen? Or when? So I just work as an academic and write. I love the spiritual side of the sun: Shinto. I visit Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Both have altars for praying for your wishes.

The shrines and temples make me realize that hardships people have faced over the millenia are just like ours in many ways. We are bound and tied up with the past and we live on a rock in a huge solar system, all of us on the same rock. It's not an easy task for any of us.

I live in Taiwan, which is a crowded place with no fossil fuel resources of its own. Fortunately I live in a rural area, which makes it possible that we can feed ourselves unless hoards of starving people invade our farm (a real possibility). Hopefully it won't get to that anytime soon, but a war in he Middle East could bring about sudden economic convulsions world wide.

I'm fatalistic, but I don't have children, so I don't worry too much. I do have a bunch of nephews and nieces, and I feel sorry or them. None of them seem to have a clue about what future horrors are possible when we lose the ability to import sufficient oil.

Taiwan is not well-prepared. Our current government (as well as their opposition) is enthralled with the USA, and thinks that "free trade" is the answer to every problem. They'll sign any free trade agreement that gets shoved in front of them without reading it. I almost look forward to free trade collapsing due to energy shortages, just so that this idiocy stops.

My basic theme: Resource scarcity is upon us. The good news is there is plenty of evidence that over-consumption harms human well being, so there is scope to improve lives by using fewer resources. The question is whether the level of resource use supporting maximum human well being is above or below the budget given by our finite planet.

Professionally: Directly as a result of TOD I have changed career from software development to energy systems research (under the umbrella of electrical engineering). Lucky for me skills from my previous career are relevant, a lot of software goes into electrical energy systems these days. I'm researching management of energy demand because as the cost of energy rises it will be more and more attractive to invest in end-use efficiency. I'm working on creating simple ways to control energy consuming devices so they become compatible with the fluctuating output of wind and solar powered electricity.

Personally: I seek to continually minimize the energy we use in our household; we're down to about 1300 kWh electricity / year for a family of 3. Turn down the thermostat in winter and wear two layers of socks. Emigrated from a profligate energy importing country to the world's most energy efficient oil exporter. Choose to live car-free in a dense urban location with world class cycling infrastructure, 5 minute walk to a transit hub, district heating, friendly neighbors. I've planted a few trees in the neighborhood, and continue to push the condo board to put in food bearing perennials in our large yard. Volunteer for the local cyclist club. Still eat meat when it's offered, but when I choose the menu it's veggie. Learned to pickle, grow bean sprouts, hunt wild mushrooms.

I volunteer for a small group that redistributes wealth to the world's poorest people by collecting discarded PCs and sending them to African schools (after installing Free Open Source Software). This activity depends on charitable grants, and is probably very vulnerable to the receding tide of extravagance, but as long as we can tap into an overflowing stream of wasted electronics (and can take responsibility for cleaning up the broken electronics eventually left in Africa) it's a worthwhile use of my limited time.

Maybe my actions are too little too late, and there's no doubt I still consume/emit more than my fair share, but at least it will be clear to my descendants who's side I was on.

My Basic Theme: Our children are screwed.

What I'm doing Professionally: Working as hard as I can to save as much money as possible to weather whatever comes down the road.

What I'm doing Personally: At age 58 I hope to continue to work as long as possible for both the financial security and intellectual stimulation. When I first learned about peak oil back in 2007 we moved from a remote suburb to a village close to mass transit and NYC, where I work. Bought a hybrid car. Raised chickens and tried to grow food. Then the realization hit that this was just silly -- these minor efforts will provide no protection from the changes that peak oil will bring. The only real protection would require a massive life style change.

So we moved to upstate NY with my vision of buying land and starting a self-sufficient small farm. That plan didn't last a year. I found a nice plot of land but when the reality of what I was planning sunk into my wife's head, that was the end of it. Fortunately I continued to work for my employer while living upstate and now we are planning to move back to the NYC area to continue our life there. NYC is a dead end from the long-term perspective, but it will continue to be a money generating machine for many years to come, until it can't anymore.

At this point my big concern is my son. Born in 2000, he will live to see changes that I can't imagine, even in my peak-oil aware dreams. I will do what I can to help him prepare. I work in IT and I am preparing him to do the same as I see it as one of the areas that will continue to have employment -- until the entire system crashes, that is. Beyond that, I am considering buying some land and just leaving it to him for his future. Also buying modest amounts gold and silver for the same purpose -- it will benefit him some day I expect.

I strongly believe that we are at the peak right now -- by the time my son graduates from college in 2022 the world will be seriously hurting, by the time he reaches that all important 40 year mark, I think survival will be the main goal of every individual.

Thank all of you for the years of wonderful banter and advice here at TOD. May you all fare well.

I've been lurking here for 5 or 6 years absorbing but never commenting, well I suppose its now or never.
At the very least we should expect our lifestyles to need to continually adapt over the rest of my lifetime; I assume that living in the rich west I will see/are seeing others suffer first and that needs to motivate me to try and reduce my impact and reduce my exposure.
I have been involved with hydropower since I left university, installing small systems in the UK; it won't save the world but in its own small way it is slowing our rush toward the cliff edge. The business and house are fully powered by hydro (except when its really dry like now) and usually export around 80kW in the winter. I have just written a textbook on the subject which hopefully will also help others do the same. We are building a handful of further sites to operate, and design them for others also. We always find ourselves fighting hard to prove the sustainability of proposals for hydropower; I try to keep in my mind that on many sites we are just the latest engineers updating the equipment, and the power itself has in quite a number of sites we've dealt with been harnessed for over a thousand years. So that's a decent track record.
Actually its hard to separate personal and professional because personal motivations have always driven the professional things. By working from home, and getting a home with a bit of land, wood fuel heating, I try to insulate us from the worst of FF dependency. But there's loads more we should do... but it's hard to make it a priority over day to day stuff. Actually thats the world's view to climate change is it not? And I don't pretend that I'm immune to PO, I live in the modern world after all.

Please contact me (or put your contact information in your profile). I would really like to get your book.

I have some prior contact with MHyLab for turbine deisgn of <1 MW hydro, but I would like to know more.

Best Hopes for the Forgotten Renewable,

Alan (contact in profile)

Google 'planning and and installing micro hydro chris elliott' - but I've only just finished it, so its not published yet - also note that the blurb on Amazon was not written by me so is not actually very accurate... hopefully that'll update soon.


Basic Theme
Continuing my work for Peace as War is the greatest waste we have and Green Transit as part of a Green New Deal towards sustainability as part of my Community, my State , the USA and the World.

Professionally - I run Web applications for a major Pharmaceutical company which thankfully embraces Green policies with recycling, composting, shuttles and even has a "carbon manager" as the COO is fully supportive of Green initiatives. When I retire I plan on working fulltime on Green Transit and Green issues.

Personally - I have been supporting Peace and the Environment all my life and trying to get more and more off fossil fuels. Years ago we managed to get our County to recycle garbage instead of building incinerators. Recycling efforts for my town and county get more successful every year. My community rallied to restore 8 train stops after 21 train stops were cut for our whole Rail line after the 2008 crash.
The excuse for the train cuts was "diesel costs" even though most of the trains cut were electric trains to Hoboken which do not use diesel. My community also managed to get 1 train restored for the whole Rail line. Unfortunately our teabag Gov Christie went on to cut 7 more daily trains as well as buses, lightrail frequency while wasting $7 Billion on highway expansion and beyond that going into debt another $1.4 Billion to expand the Garden State Parkway into the Pinelands preservation area.

Finally finished building a solar carport which will supply almost all my electricity.
This follows installation of triple pane American made windows on the 2nd floor which cut natural gas usage 20%,
an energy efficient furnace and insulation which cut natural gas usage another 30%.
A few years ago we bought a used Prius and replaced the van which had been used for shared carpooling with a more efficient Honda Fit. In 2007 I bought a folding bicycle with Bush's tax rebate which has been invaluable for reaching places from NJ's trains as it is allowed on all trains and buses and I have used it extensively.

30 people from my community which has a very strong progressive and Green aware outlook have joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which delivers fresh produce from a family farm about 8 miles away once a week.

A number of people are very interested in my solar carport as out here in the Jersey suburbs we have a lot of trees which ironically shade roofs from solar energy. But driveways may be in sunny spots.

We already use only a manual lawnmower (only thing I ever used!), ride the train to work, and have been composting for a couple years.

I plan on reducing natural gas usage more with new hot water heater and more triple pane windows,
more insulation and a snow room for winter in front of the front door.

I would like to start a sharing club for my close-knit community for ladders, tools, tents all those sorts of things which a lot of people have but really seldom use and could be shared with others. In my community I am sure it could work...

Also now that solar carport is done which wound up taking a huge amount of time to push it along I plan on renewing the campaign for Green Transit - restoring the 28 daily trains cut on my Rail line, converting an existing freight and tourist Rail line to LightRail out in the suburbs, getting some youth groups to help convert the old traction trolley line paralleling the Rail line into a bike and pedestrian trail much safer than the major County Road with no shoulders.

Orb, you do the Garden State proud! If you've put any pix of that carport (future velo/bike port?) online, would you mind sharing a link?

Apart from our occasional (!?) jabs around EV's, I know we're fighting on the same team, and you're in a place where your efforts can really be seen across the aisle, as it were.

Best of Luck!

(Working to lobby for renewed Trolley Service in Portland, ME.)

My Basic Theme: Near-term (< 20 years) end of energy throughput growth globally, and the end of global GDP growth over roughly that same period. The growth rates of both these are already slowing, and the fun of adapting a growing global population's expectations to this emerging reality has already started. Boy am I glad I don't live in the Middle East.

What I'm Doing:

Professionally - I teach courses in energy, food and complex systems at the University of Vermont, and make sure that students leave my classes with a realistic understanding of what's happening and, to paraphrase from Daniel Quinn's book Ishmael, why things are the way they are. I also do a range of consulting work in the energy and food system sectors, including co-authoring a chapter on food system energy use for the Vermont Farm to Plate Strategic Plan and working with extension staff at the Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture applying energy auditing and energy life cycle assessment methods to farm and other food system enterprises to help reduce the energy intensity of local food. I write articles on a range of topics aimed towards public education that I host on my website, including a recent piece entitled The Energy Cost of Food. I will soon be offering local and regional workshops on relocalizing food systems and food security, and on other personal and community resilience topics as well.

Personally - I live in a house where the yard is planted in a mix of medicinal and edible perennials, including fruit and nut trees. Over the last decade I've invested heavily in learning low-energy and low-tech skills for living, including how to make fabric and clothing, hunting and fishing tools, and how to use wild edible and medicinal plants. Probably about half of the food I eat is either hunted or gathered. I've been training in self defense and martial arts for ~20 years, and will probably start my own training group locally as my training partner of the last several years took a new job in another state at the end of August and moved away. Realizing that any solution to what's coming is necessarily a community-based solution, I've also invested a lot of resources developing better interpersonal skills, particularly attending workshops in Non-Violent Communication and Clean Talk. I am also investing a lot of resources in rooting in my community, for instance by volunteering for local non-profits like The Intervale Center and my local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I remain very active and use high-intensity training techniques to stay in good shape, including sprinting on land, doing swimming sprints in nearby lakes and rivers, and high-intensity body weight and weight lifting exercises. I've dropped grains, legumes and most dairy from my diet, and have radically reduced my consumption of cooked foods while increasing my use of fermented and raw foods. I train to better enable my body to adjust to temperature extremes (swimming in ice water during the winter, participating in sweat lodges, taking sweat baths), and spend a fair amount of time wandering through wild areas near my house to enjoy peace of mind in a crazy world. I've been doing a lot of co-counseling over the last few years too, so I can face the future with an open mind and less psychological and emotional baggage.

If someone wants to contact me, the best way to do that is through my website, Aisthetica, although my contact information associated with this account is also up-to-date.

Best of luck to everyone!

My basic theme: In my view, the world more than anything else needs a new means of generating an abundance of electricity which is preferably at least semi-renewable and much more efficient than all current technologies. If we do not find one, I believe we are doomed to riding the peak plateau before eventually slipping down the other side. Slipping down the other side will lead to tremendous and unpredictable instability in many parts of the world - financial, social and geo-political. My greatest fears include hyperinflation and nuclear war.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - I'm a relatively young structural engineer. I am currently working on the design of what could be one of the last new oil platforms in the North Sea. I had previously worked as a structural engineer designing sports stadiums and commercial office buildings amongst other things, but the pay was poor and I am not sure how many more sports stadiums and office buildings we will need in future. The pay in the oil and gas business is much better and it should ensure I have a viable career for at least the next decade, even if I am becoming more specialized than may be ideal in the longer term and even if it means I have to relocate to another country for work at some point.

Personally - I feel that my generation got pretty well screwed over by the property bubble which is now re-launching here in the UK and never really even let off any steam following the GFC. So I am property-less, if cash rich. I am hoping to convince my girlfriend that it would be a good plan for us to buy some agricultural land in New Zealand and eventually move there to live the good life, although quite what I will do for income over there I am not sure. Perhaps in the meantime I need to develop another skill which I can take with me when the time comes.

Basic Theme – That energy, oil in particular, is too valuable to squander. It continually amazes me that oil products are as cheap as they are considering what they can do.

Professional – Currently running a company that manufactures CNC grinding machines. These automated machines are used in diverse industries: medical devices, firearms, cutting tool manufacture, jet engine parts and so on. The level of precision required frequently precludes the use of “manual” machines operated by a person. Many of our customers are also seeing their skilled workers retire. They are turning to increasingly sophisticated machines to do the same work with lower skilled (also lower paid) workers. My engineering functions include electrical design and writing PLC programs. I commute 18 miles each way. Last year I sold my 40 MPG diesel car and bought a Volt. Of the 20k miles I drive each year 60% is now electric. The car averages 42 MPG when running on gas alone. We recently replaced all the lights in the plant with new T8 fixtures. The monthly savings will pay for the lights within three years.

Personal – I live in suburbia three miles from a large city in Connecticut. My main hobbies are solar, gardening and energy efficiency. My 60 year old home has PV, Solar hot water and solar space heating. Too many insulation and envelope upgrades to mention. Every Fall I test for air leaks using the whole house fan and I always find new leaks. I recently installed a central heat pump for space heating and a Nyles heat pump for hot water. My neighborhood is composed of densely spaced single family homes. Despite the proximity to the city, natural gas was not installed here and most of the 40,000 residents of my town heat their homes with oil. I have been teaching a introduction to solar class through the towns continuing education program. Getting more than a half dozen attendees per class has been difficult. The town is now pushing for more PV and I am participating as a “solar ambassador”.

In my spare time I am attempting to reclaim a old farm in upstate NY that my brothers and I own. The fields have been fallow for at least 70 years. We do mow them every year. The only thing we produce at the moment is blueberries. This year’s crop was great. The house was built in the late 1700’s. Post and beam construction. Before I retire there I need to find a spare 100k to do a deep energy retrofit.

I will miss TOD. Contact details in profile

My basic theme: The primary impact of peak oil is on transportation. That impact is coming very soon -- indeed, it has already begun. The effects will be serious but not necessarily catastrophic. Beyond peak oil, though, we must consider peak fossil fuels. I suspect that we're already within about two decades of that, especially if we're counting net energy and not gross energy.

Peak fossil fuels will be a "good news-bad news" kind of thing. The good news is that it will mean peak CO2 emissions. The bad news is that it almost certainly signals the end of economic growth even if peak oil doesn't. Our current economic system is predicated on growth, and when growth ceases, things will not end well. So basically we're in a race between economic disaster and ecological disaster. If we're lucky, we might be able to avoid ecological disaster and emerge from a highly probable economic meltdown with a new economic system, one no longer predicated on continuous growth, and powered by renewables. If we're NOT lucky, we'll find that we have just enough fossil fuels to bring about an ecological disaster followed more or less immediately by economic disaster. And of course we have all sort of sources-and-sinks problems that we'll have to solve in addition to those involving energy. I can only hope that we turn out to be lucky, but I probably won't live long enough to find out.

What I'm doing:

Professionally: Not much. Given the nature of my particular profession, there's not much I can do.

Personally: I'm 63 years old. In an earlier time, I'd be gearing up for retirement. Right now, I don't see that as prudent, so I'm considering the possibility of working for as long as my health holds out. I'm fortunate in that I live in a mid-size university town with a fair amount of social capital and only two miles from my job -- sky-high high gasoline prices would be an inconvenience for me as far as my daily commute is concerned, but not personally devastating. The effect of high oil prices on other aspects of the economy are another matter (although as I said, those need not be catastrophic).

My basic theme: Havn't got a clue what i'm doing. Crossroads in life time after deciding the people I work for I quite literally work for rather than the profession of commercial archaeology. Education and social capital is my thing with a emphasis on getting the kids brainwashed with a different mindset. Health and fitness as a mode of resource cost mitigation.

What I'm doing
Professionally - Sacked the career which seems churlish except it has become so moribund to business interests dysfunctional is perhaps too polite a term. And this runs through into the academic realm, the wage was becoming so low the return on actually working was not worth the effort especially as any results that implied a need to rethink working practices were suppressed for the financial interests of those in project management. I have struggled with this situation on the periphery for 20 years and at its core for 5 or more and things only got worse at my expense. Sick of it. Really came to a head with the crunch when everyone ran to protect there position/mortgage/etc. What a crowd of spineless tossers. So plan B , C and D etc. The whole profession is such a easy target for marginalisation in a austerity world.

transferable skills bicycle mechanic, ground worker. bicycle trainer/coach

Personally Well we have a herb garden and some tomatoes but self sufficiency is a pipe dream in this urban context but we a pretty ow consumption household embedded with a zero/one child policy meme. we have one older proxy step daughter who we used to call the pet teenager and one of our household has a 8 year old. i am working to support several projects aimed at the youths of today. Cycle training for sport and utility and constructing play environments here and abroad. Trying to work up pilot projects in support for a proposal that sustainability [i struggle with sustainability as a term because IMO its so loose in definition it can often mean un sustainability in practice] be made a core school subject GLOBALLY as a target for the UN. This support can take many forms and be indirect such as supporting those core members of these projects in their day to day lives freeing them up to give their resources to these projects. This localised mutual support culture is one I believe in and has a worthy track record in my world. If you can not do something directly positive reducing the daily bullshit burden on those that can counts.
The maintenance and promotion of good health is very important and basically a win win when it comes to societal costs. I encourage and aid all those around me to this end. BTW Nate you could do with some sort of regime by the look of things ;-)

that old maxim you have your health you have everything is a pretty damm good piece of old school wisdom.


Hackney London

There are few strategies that reduce risk in different scenarios. Paying down debt is my safest option. We will own our modest UK property clear soon, so that seems a realistic choice in the UK.

Without kids, my aim is to get through my wife's and my life with as little stress as possible. I garden some food [UK properties are tiny by US standards] and try to have nothing I can't maintain forever. I could live without a car, although I have relatives far away. The UK will likely have serious energy shortages soon - always in winter. I have plans for some heating of final resort. I am lucky to be an electrical engineer [a dormant skill], although plans always fall foul of someone else's regulations. Let's just say I intend to be one of the last to suffer hypothermia, starve or have no electricity in the UK. I am happy with my neighbours, but could improve security for bad times. Unfortunately, the tasklist is long.

At 48, I am too old to conscript, and would be happy to get through 20 more years. I fear for relatives and friends, but I have told everyone my thoughts for decades and they choose their own course. All the best to the largest group of sane people anywhere.

My first post, though I’ve been reading TOD for years. I never felt I had enough expertise to join in the discussions, but I got a lot out of them. I will definitely miss TOD!

It’s been an interesting journey since I first really “got” peak oil about ten years ago. The logic of limited resources was shockingly obvious, once I’d read up on it. And once I saw the trajectory and added in climate change, I couldn’t see the point or morality in participating in our consumer culture. My gradual withdrawal has placed me on a semi-rural half acre with fruit trees/bushes, veggie garden, chickens & rabbits for food, learning to live on $15k/year or less, and really grateful for the simpler life!

Professionally: Trained in communications and mental health; “retired” after I became disabled last year. My background makes it easy to read between the lines in the news – catabolic collapse has definitely begun. It’s also too easy for me to “read” the unconscious anxiety of those around me who are still denying both peak oil and climate change. I have taught classes (in art, writing and recently in food preserving), and hope to volunteer doing more teaching, if I can share skills. I’ve been writing poetry and fiction about societal issues (one story made it in to “After Oil”, a wonderful anthology) as I try to express what I’ve learned and what I guess about what’s coming.

Personally: As I said, a mini-homestead (wood heating, a well with backup handpump), and learning as many basic skills as I can. Also learning about the eco-cycle; trying to create cycles on my land that honor and re-use resources (growing/composting/growing). I always enjoyed sewing and domestic crafts, cooking from scratch and making things out of almost any material. Now I’m learning brewing, some carpentry, attempts at permaculature, and have completed the Master Food Preserver series at the county Extension. I’m participating in local-food events, and looking for others around me who aren’t in denial. As I adjust to what is technically poverty (it doesn’t feel like it), I’m learning a lot more about how illusory (and wasteful) the middle-class lifestyle is. I’m doing a lot of inner work, to try and make sense of life, and to consciously face both my “elder years” and the decline of everything around me. I think the next couple of decades will need real consciousness in order to stay balanced in the shifts and slides. Thanks, all, for your example and helpful suggestions! I will be looking for you all at the spin-off sites.
My contact is my name at my name dot com.
Cathy McGuire

Nate, thanks for starting this thread. It's been an amazing read. If this 'community' takes root and reboots in the fresh soil of energy-x or some other site, it would be pretty great of it became standard for people to publish a similar 'profile' to their user accounts. Being able to read through them all on a single page has been very rewarding, inspiring, and remarkably, even hopeful.

Basic Theme: Humans are an amazing but tragic species. Nature has caught us in a Malthusian trap. Our cleverness has enabled us to reach unprecedented levels of achievement both constructive and destructive. Being unwise, we've used a single shot dividend of immense energy wealth and built vast complex mechanisms to metabolize it into waste. Seemingly unlike most or possibly all other species on the planet, our ability for abstract thought allows us to live within fantasy paradigms decoupled (for a time) from the underlying reality which sustains us, and ultimately constrains us. The notion of a governor on human power is what brings me some sense of hope, not despair. In my view, the worst fate that could befall us would be to discover a source of unlimited energy, regardless of how 'clean' it is. This would simply guarantee that we devour the entire ecology of our beautiful and terrifying world to the very last bug.

The wild card is climate change, and the nail biter is what degree (ha!) of change we commit to before the end of the fossil fool era. The desperate propaganda of plentiful petrol by fossil interests seems to undercut the argument that there is no viable substitute for their products. It seems clear that they fear the end of demand for their product more than they fear the end of the product itself. It also seems clear that there are viable and affordable alternatives available now. The EV industry is infantile, yet already the total cost of ownership for a PV powered EV is less than an ICE of equivalent size. We are also capable of building net-zero buildings -- also an infant industry -- and seemingly also with lower total lifetime cost of ownership. So the barriers are institutional and social inertia, not technical or economic in-feasibility. Social change can happen quickly. Status and fashion are larger drivers in housing and car selection than practical need is. When the size of ones PV array advertises ones access to resources (i.e. fitness) better than the size of ones truck does, the current paradigm will be over.

I look forward to the time when our transportation systems are no longer dominated by the private auto. I'm old enough that I likely won't see it. The bridge from here to there will be electric cars, which will allow the petroleum depletion tail to be very long, and act as a market stabilizer on price. Intercity or regional rail systems are a perfect complement to electric vehicles with limited range, and it seems likely EV adoption will spur support for regional rail. In urban areas widespread adoption of bike share and car share programs seem likely (France, Je'taime, sauf pour le nationalisme). EV's seem very well suited for suburban living, and the suburbs seem very well suited for distributed rooftop PV.

Obviously my ramble is U.S. centric, and I guess my bottom line is that although overall I'm pessimistic and think the odds are against us, I can see a possible path to a technologically advanced, high efficiency, ecologically sustainable human future, and that tempers the despair somewhat.

Personally: I've insulated and sealed my house (which is a four-plex that I've been renovating), and installed radiant hydronic heating. The house is comfortable without air conditioning, and with only one apartment occupied, uses about 6kWh/day average. When I can do so, I'll add a 4kW PV array and lease or buy an electric car. I planted two peach trees in the spring, and they are thriving. Once my three vacant apartments are occupied with well vetted tenants, I'll turn my effort fully towards converting the fairly large yard into an urban food forest. The city I live in is safe, walkable, has decent transit (getting better), a perfect climate (four distinct seasons), and very good water resources (although that may change with the climate).

Professionally: I design big houses for rich people. I love working with clients, and I enjoy trying to bring their dream dwellings to fruition, but the cognitive dissonance has simply become too great and I'm losing my capacity to produce that product. My clients are typically very smart and very hardworking people who have been successful in starting and running their own businesses, and I can't fault their ethics within the paradigms that they live, but they are seemingly blind to the elephants that I'm being trampled by.

I don't think there is anything inherently immoral about large houses or quality material goods; this planet is rich in renewable resources, and at some unknown population density, and with some yet to be devised economic and social model, could provide a luxurious standard of living for every human inhabitant, if we chose to pursue such a strategy. Back here in reality though, my professional strategy is to position myself to where I only accept design commissions if the foundational goal is a zero, or positive net energy home. Once my house renovation is complete, and my house tenanted, I'll be in a position to dedicate more time to the education I need to be able to do that.

I'm in the process of designing my second high efficiency home: (Insulation values of R10 underslab, R20 basement walls, R40 above grade walls, and R60 roof and with low air infiltration). Both of these homes are relatively small at 3300 Ft2 and 5000 Ft2. lol. But I am nervous about both projects as I don't have the knowledge at this point to do the energy modelling or HVAC system design that will be necessary to make them successful projects, and I'm having a difficult time finding affordable consultants in my area to do that work. Then will come the challenge of getting the contractors on board and educated.

Once I am confident in my ability to design net-zero dwellings that work, my intention is to eventually give permit ready construction documents away for free on the internet. Perhaps my capacity to have positive impact in disrupting fossil B.A.U. is zero, but even if it resulted in a single instance of a home being built net-zero that otherwise would not have been, I would still count that as a personal success. In a best case scenario, my designs will be good enough and simple enough that they can displace some of the crap being foisted on the world by builders who are unwilling to pay money for good design, but find buyers for their homes anyway.

Best hopes for a sustainable, catastrophic collapse free future for the human animal.


e-mail me. Building energy modeling and high-performance/low-cost HVAC system design is what I do and what I have loved for 30 years, when I get that rare client that also really loves the NZE genre. To pay the bills here in the wilds of Redding, CA I'm currently designing yet another commercial office building with yet another set of rooftop package units and feeling yet again that same cognitive dissonance:)Foundational goal of a quality NZE or PZE home design that can be re-used sounds like fun!

Keith -

kritter at mesystems dot com or cyclingpie at gmail

Basic Theme: (Insert Nate's intro here). After 2100, there will be myths and legends about "The Ancients" as well as a multitude of mostly useless artifacts. Various forms of feudalism will predominate with civilization descending into another Dark Ages, hopefully re-emerging into the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment.

Professionally: I'm continuing on in my engineering field, with an eye to applying my energy engineering education and skills acquired since to efforts directly related to a sustainable "powerdown".

Personally: Have set up a small farm with passive solar home (woodstove backup) powered by PV, raise a small flock of sheep and backyard chickens, have 50+ disease resistant fruit and nut trees, and 15 raised beds in the garden. Am working on establishing a Transition Initiative in the community, which is a local form of a powerdown. Have focused on interesting others in horticulture (edible landscaping) as a hobby, as well as biking as transportation. Any future location shifts will be based on very long term prospects (2100 and beyond).

The biggest challenge I see is not technological, as we could easily transform our energy systems, lifestyles, and population levels to reasonably sustainable ones. The big challenge is the standard economist entitlement mindset that there are endless amounts of resources available, so we are encouraged/exhorted to 'eat, drink, and be merry' in the most unsustainable manner with little regard to the impact of high population levels. In other words, because humans value current over future rewards/consumption, high discount rate instincts have our minds flooring the consumption accelerator on the advanced civilization plateau as we head towards the cliff ...

My basic theme: Peak Oil fundamentals have not changed, even if the current euphoria resulting from the shale oil ‘revolution’ gives the deniers lots of ammunition. Energy returns on energy invested is the key metric here and fossil fuels extraction does not escape the predicament.
What I'm doing:
Professionally – I left my high paying job on Wall Street for a commodity trading hedge fund for a restaurant FOG recycling business using my long experience in the management of biochemical industries and in finance to prop it up.
Personally – Installed 4 kW PV four years ago in my home roof and collected 20,000 kWh already (in the NE), bought my second Chevy Volt (average first one 125 mpg, second one 65 mpg).
Writing a book on my twelve year old quest for alternative aviation fuels (I am a pilot and an active member of CAAFI). I have conducted research and prepared numerous plantation projects for biofuel feedstock. I am participating in policy making for renewable at the state and federal level.

Not Optimism but Hope in Local-Regional Action

Basic theme: Hope lies in action and most tangible action is local and regional--whether its personal or professional.

The words "optimism" and "pessimism" are not terribly useful to me. They imply a passive role in the future. Hope--in its full historical context not just its recent political one--is more about guiding the 'long arc' of our collective destiny (as Martin Luther King used it).

National policy and personal preparation are important of course, but both are best served when rooted in local and regional reality which will also be the strongest determinant of how bright or bleak one's future is.

So after working on federal energy and transportation policy and seeing the opportunities and constraints there, and having enjoyed a simple, low-input lifestyle for many years, my personal and professional focus is on helping communities and regions be smarter and more capable in building their resilience and quality-of-life.

Now, I work for a national organization, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas USA (ASPO-USA) which ostensibly is about advancing a national conversation. But for our work to be truly effective, we need to ground our thinking and our actions in what is happening on the ground to real people in real places working in real economies.

We are not there yet, but that is where we are heading. Our new website, The Energy Xchange, just launched this past week, will be one tool to help lead the way. At present, the interim version of the site is just a way to maintain connections among the TOD community. Ultimately though, we intend it to be a mechanism for connecting people at the local and state level. Our friends at the Post Carbon Institute are already doing something like this with Our goals are similar but we will occupy a different niche and engage a somewhat different constituency.

We invite you to be a part of our work at Stay tuned for a full launch later this fall. Thanks, Jan

My basic theme: Our societal/cultural use of money was a poor choice and continues to be. We can choose to collectively end it and the inherent incentives that go with it that have led us to the precipice of destroying our life support system. In the meantime, take a permaculture approach (which doesn't include an economic component, by the way) and love reality.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - Computer database programming to "make" money to fund the life described below.

Personally - Learned to love reality from Byron Katie's writings.

Started writing book in 2011 about ending the societal/cultural use of money worldwide. May not get around to finishing it before it's too late to matter (wrt Fukushima and climate change).

Cashed out SIMPLE IRA entirely in 2010 (paid penalty). Likewise my wife's in 2012.

Bought 1000 sq. ft. ranch-style house on 0.22 acre lot in Ann Arbor in 2009 (paid off mortgage in 2012), removed detached garage and part of driveway for planting space and solar access. Insulated attic, gave up gas dryer in favor of hanging racks and clothes lines, bought electric induction stove, added mudroom/shed to side of house and large south-facing windows in back and tile floors for passive solar, installed wood stove for heat, sold 2nd car in 2011.

Replaced all lawns (front, back and one side yard) with semi-dwarf fruit trees (18—3 apple, 2 apricot, 2 cherry, 1 fig, 1 nectarine, 4 paw paw, 2 peach, 2 pear, 1 plum) raised vegetable beds and berry patches (25 quarts of strawberries this year, raspberries, blackberries didn't work out so I've pulled them, 2 serviceberries, 3 blueberries, 2 grapes, 2 hardy kiwi), raising free-ranging laying hens in back yard, took permaculture course in 2010 and reading more, planted 100+ native species of forbs/grasses/shrubs, inoculated 2 logs with oyster mushrooms, dug and planted 4 rain gardens to capture all runoff from a neighbor's roof as well as our own, and built several hügulkultur beds this spring. Just ordered 1 English walnut tree, 1 dwarf persimmon, 1 almond, and 3 blueberry bushes. Planning to order another fig, maybe honey berries, thornless blackberries, and 20+ more native plants. Freezer in basement full of local food, including our own. We're buying close to 90% local food now, including only Michigan beer and wine.

Collected about 3 large trees (spruce, oak, and maple) and one small (crabapple) worth of wood chips (for paths) and logs (for hügelkultur and blueberry beds and mushrooms) from various neighbors this summer. Will finish coppicing large pussy willow and cut weed trees for waddle fencing.

Getting solar panels and battery bank in next year. More insulation and sealing of building envelope. Replacing gas boiler with electric as backup heat source. Will replace gas water heater with electric (probably heat pump) model, will remove brick chimney down to ceiling level to eliminate heat loss in winter and gain in summer and to make more room on south side of roof for PV panels. Will replace old A/C unit with air-source heat pump (not enamored with ground-source invasiveness). Will probably switch from CFLs to LEDs over coming years.

Considering removing more of driveway for gardening. Will at least create raised beds on part of slab for sweet potatoes and other veggies. Will sell or donate car in next year. My wife has ZipCar membership through her job now and we'll probably get it for personal use as well. We walk to grocery store (as well as doctor, dentist, pharmacist) and take bus to farmers market and downtown. Have bikes, but work at home (me entirely, wife mostly) and only use for longer errands.

After that we'll be sharing our experience—and the surplus—with neighbors and friends. That's actually started. We enjoy it all, including having our four young-adult kids pop in for dinner once in a while.

Thanks to all of you for your participation here. I've been an occasional visitor and always appreciated the sharing and foresight.

Steve Bean

Thanks, Nate, your campfires were the best. And TOD was one of many places that helped me find my voice, thank you to the instigators. The Oil Drum posts lost their appeal to me when TOD returned (pulled back) to a specific energy focus in 2010, abandoning its wholistic posts that linked energy with the economy and the environment. When we reduce the intellectual focus of society to either the pursuit of energy or the pursuit of money, we lose our humanity. And producing energy is one or more steps short of the big picture we need now to address or even visualize our problems.

I shifted gears around the year 2002, after my previous role models for descent passed away. It's not wise to compete with genius, so I shut up and listened until then. I dropped out of more conventional pursuits in critical care nursing and as a nursing professor, and, after a break, adopted a loud visible role as activist--be the change. The trick has been to juggle the highest best use of my old skills with what I needed to learn in order to begin walking through descent, bringing as many along as possible. I keep one foot in the old ways, and one in the new, moving my weight from one foot to the other, with more weight leaning forward.

Professionally, I have taught a freshman course on sustainability for 5 years. I have become more active in the Emergy Society (which has an upcoming biennial conference in January in Gainesville, FL). I began a blog on the topic of descent last January, which has been fairly successful, in part due to the support of in reposting. I don't avoid the difficult topics where society is still in full denial, such as nuclear, which really scares me--someone out there will listen. My goal is to move the meme forward faster than the blogosphere wants it to go. After 50-some years of waiting for the world to change and for empire to fail, I'm pretty impatient.

Personally, I stopped at one child. We built a smaller, efficient house with multiple energy backups, chicken coop, a greenhouse, a garden, and a hand pump. We grow our own wherever possible. We tour by bike (2000 mile trip this summer). We watch what we eat wherever possible, preferring the 20-meter salad. We use socially conscious investing, which at this point means out of the financial system as it currently exists. I've mostly broken my consumption habit. We are active in the community (Anchorage) and in relocalization to some extent, especially on bike advocacy and permaculture. I'm not sure if Luke's 14,000 heating degrees days a year will force us south eventually, or if failed nuclear will keep us parked above the 61st parallel for the long haul.

Thank you to the very intelligent community here, from which I have learned a LOT! Where will I go for intelligent, critical information when the next environmental catastrophe unfolds?

Mary (Odum) Logan--it's all about the oil

My Basic Theme: Our one-time-only fossil fuel based civilization is nearing collapse mainly due to the net energy cliff. But there are so many other reasons -- resource depletion's, climate change, chemical pollution, ocean acidification, and so on, that it will take future historians many more volumes than Gibbon's to explain the decline of the Roman Empire. The microchips that make computers and most other electronic devices -- even toasters -- work, will be one of the first products to disappear as single points of failure, electric power outages, supply chain failure, Liebig’s law of the minimum (i.e. key rare metals, pure enough silicon, etc. are no longer available), wars, and other factors prevent fabrication plants from operating. It’s a shame most of our knowledge is being preserved on computers, which future generations won’t be able to access. While life is still good, we should be trying to preserve the knowledge that would be useful or interesting for future generations. My website, is my attempt to document the various ways our civilization will decline and collapse, how the collapse will occur, why fossil fuels can’t ever be replaced by alternative energy resources, a recommended reading list, book reviews, and more.

What I’m doing:

Professionally: Ironically, understanding the range and depth of the crisis we face has led me to a far more joyous and interesting life than I’d have had if I’d buried my head in the sand. I quit my career 9 years ago as a systems architect and engineer for a variety of more rewarding activities, such as taking inner city 4th and 5th graders on day-long hikes to give them an appreciation of the natural world, which most of them have never experienced; gardening, natural history, camping, studying the decline and fall of civilizations, systems ecology, history of war, traveling, etc..

Personally - I’ve written a cookbook, “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”, which can be made from any kind of legume or grain flour and last up to a year -- similar to the hardtack Columbus took on his voyages. Once refrigeration becomes less reliable, and a 9% decline rate of oil per year makes transportation, refrigeration, and meat too expensive for most people, a return to grains and legumes as the main source of calories will make these long-lasting nutritious crackers a useful skill to have, and a good item to sell or trade for other products. More information can be found at

If you are trying to survive collapse, Irecommend finding an area that’s under carrying capacity which is not obvious to everyone else (i.e. the Willamette valley), lest the lifeboat be swamped, perhaps a marginal area with a harsh climate far from cities. You need to you fit in (i.e. not an atheist in the Bible Belt, an American in a foreign country, etc). Your odds are best if you’re young and competent at farming, carpentry, etc., and have a kind, cooperative, unflappable personality plus good social skills.

I've read so many books about what happens to civilians in wars, collapsing nations and civilizations, that I can see there's a lot of luck involved as well, even if you are in a good area. Also, harsh autocratic rulers thrive in these conditions. People will look the other way and tolerate genocide, prison camps, and other horrors in exchange for any level of order and security. If you want to do something about the energy crisis, get involved in local government to make your area a saner, more ecological place to live. The carrying capacity of the United states is 100 million (Pimentel) to 250 million (Smil), so whatever you can do to lower immigration levels and foster birth control would have the most impact in making the collapse less extreme.

The crazy hate talk I hear now reminds me of the Hutu's before the Tutsi genocide, so perhaps it's one of the many warning signs of ecological stress preceding the earthquakes of sudden dislocations in the future.

I admire the participants of theoildrum both for their awareness, and their bravery to peer into the abyss and discuss these matters. I wish all of you the best of luck in the hard times ahead.

Alice Friedemann

What am I doing to prepare for the almost certain collapse of the world's economies. Absolutely nothing. I just turned 75 and hope to be safely dead when TSHTF. I have started a blog to monitor and report on what is happening in the world of peaking crude oil production.

However I am offering no advice on what anyone should do about it. I would be a real hypocrite if I did because I firmly believe that no person, or group of persons, can really change the trajectory in which humanity is heading. Our fate, and the fate of the world, was sealed when our brains evolved to a level that enabled us to out compete every other large species on earth for territory and resources. That enabled us to expand our numbers until we will, eventually, drive most of them into extinction.

As advice I can only advise that everyone learn to put things in their true perspective. Don't get paranoid. The government is doing what they truly believe is the right thing to do, whether we agree with them or not. Everyone has their world view and that governs their politics as well as their everyday behavior. Don't get paranoid. No one is spying on you... or me. In the grand scheme of things we are just not that important.

The government is not your enemy. To quote Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Ron Patterson
PeakOilBarrel dot com

Basic theme:- somehow without forward planning we arrived at this parlous state, with a bit of forethought we may just muddle through to somewhere better.

Proffesionally:- I am a heating engineer in the UK who bores the pants off anyone who will listen, about how relatively small changes to their houses and lifestyles can save a large amount of energy, and as a bonus money.

personally:- I bored myself with the above and reduced our energy consumption at home by 75%, solar thermal, woodstove, insulation,draught proofing, decent heating controls,and wear more jumpers in the winter.

Thanks TOD.


My Basic Theme

We need to drastically reduce our energy consumption very soon if we wish to avoid catastrophe.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - I quit my job programming computer games 4.5 years ago and went WWOOFing to learn how to grow food. 9 months later I moved into Tinkers Bubble, a fossil fuel free community in Somerset, England. I am now an eco-peasant: growing much of the community's vegetables (recently started using horses), felling trees with hand tools, working in the wood-fired steam-engine sawmill, making hay, timber framing, making apple juice, cider, etc...

We teach many other people the skills we have learned and share our experience of trying to live without fossil fuels. Whilst we strive to live without fossil fuels, we still buy some of our food in, most people travel by car occasionally (I don't), we buy in tools and other equipment (usually second hand).

Recently I've started campaigning through talks and plan to write some articles - my message is that we all need to reduce fossil fuel consumption immediately and that it is possible to make a drastic reduction and still be happy. And you don't have to live at Tinkers Bubble to do it (although it does help..)


I avoid using fossil fuels wherever possible. According to carbon footprint calculators, my CO2e emissions are less than 1 tonne per year - down from 8 before I quit my job and much lower than the UK average, 15. I'm still working on it, trying to grow more food and make my own clothes, but the last mile is the longest one...

We have a 1kW solar array and a tiny wind turbine, which provide all of the electricity for the 12 adults and 3 children. There is some talk about hydro to provide more power. We cook and heat our homes using wood. By cooking communally and living in small homes we use a relatively small quantity of wood. I could write a lot more about what we do, but there is already plenty written about us on the internet (for example:

As I mentioned on another post recently - The Oil Drum had a huge influence on my decision to change my life.

My life as a peasant is a fantastic one - I'm much poorer (financially) than I was before, but I've never been happier.

Pete Brace (Pedro)

Professionally, as an engineering faculty member, I have tried to incorporate "big picture" ideas about resource depletion, population, climate change, and conservation into course work and research proposals. But I have frankly been consistently surprised and disappointed at the disinclination of both students and other faculty to consider this viewpoint. The faculty continue with business as usual, while the students, who probably sense that something is wrong, want the best degree from the best school so that, whatever may happen, they will be on top, a member of the privileged elite. This is particularly true of foreign students.

Personally I have, for many years, gone everywhere in my small town by bicycle. I use a car infrequently and only if absolutely necessary. I have studied and practice bike mechanics and have begun to study bicycle frame building. I have a big garden in the back yard and I take advantage of other "community garden" plots to produce lots of vegetables. I give surplus to the local food bank and increasingly do canning for the winter. So far only boiling water processing, next year I will get a pressure cooker for corn and beans. Soil preparation, pulling weeds, staking the climbers, and harvesting in a timely way are more work that you expect.

I keep the job for income, but my heart is not in it. My real sense of fulfillment comes from personally moving towards something that has a chance of being sustainable, and trying, gently, to bring the family along. In the 1970's oil shocks I sensed that things were not going according to plan, but it was not until I read read E. F. Schumaker, Jane Jacobs, and Jim Kunstler that my real education began. TOD has been an invaluable resource, thanks everyone!

Since nearly two years I'm driving an electric car. I plan to put a photovoltaic roof. Furthermore the photovoltaic energy will be stored and will be usable also at night, with a new charging station, which is not only able to charge the car, but also to deliver electricity for my office or my home.

On the same time, doiboi from TOD has mentioned the blog "arctic news". According to those scientits, climate change is progressing faster than expected and will probably be much more urgent than Peak Oil - or hit us with full power at just about the same time in a few years!

I'm waiting for Godot.

Life is often a Samuel Beckett play.

Well life is good in our corner of the empire. Just about every week my wife and I say to each other "we live like kings"....we most definitely eat like kings! We rent a house 10 miles north of Seattle on Puget Sound and life in this particular place, at this particular time, is amazing. No kids, we're both in our mid-late 40's, I'm a gardener, shes a therapist. Basically I feel like all of us in the US have won the lottery by having the good sense to be born here at the receiving end of the empire/wealth pump.

I grow many veggies, potatoes, strawberries, pears, blueberries, figs, raspberries and adding more edibles all the time. We have no lawn grass to mow and don't own a lawnmower or any ICE equipment other than the vehicles. I collect some rain water for the gardens and would like to add a lot more storage capacity. Although we get plenty of rain here almost none of it falls during the summer, so a large storage capacity is required. I bartered work for a modern high-efficiency wood stove and have a garage full of free wood from my gardening work. Since we currently rent, those are in storage in the event that we buy a house.

There have been a lot of comments about "no meat" on this thread. I respect that, but think pastured critters (goats!) that can go off and graze on marginal land and then come home and drop their precious fertilizer near your garden may be an important source of fat and protein in the future...but who knows really. We eat meat about 4 times/week: local wild salmon, wild halibut, wild rockfish, wild Dungeness crab, grass finished beef, lamb and local pork & chicken. Goat, elk and bison when we can find it. Have been increasing our proportion of organic food, will never be 100%, just too expensive, especially dairy. We buy food at the weekly farmers market 7 months, supermarkets 5 months. I buy most of my clothes and a lot of other stuff at Goodwill. I haven't flown in years but my lovely wife does several times/year. She brings home most of the $ so who am I to complain? She would like to take an another overseas vacation and we may do that before TSHTF. Re: flying and its negative impacts, and everything we do that have negative impacts, these words are wise: "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good". A 90% reduction of a bad thing is still pretty damn good!

My wife walks 1 block to work, so her Prius mostly sits there and is used for annual vacations to the coast of Oregon, and getting groceries. I use a compact 4 cyl pickup truck for my work as a gardener but it mostly sits there as well as I have gardening gigs only about 3 days a week. I encourage local customers and actively discourage anyone from hiring me that is more than a few miles away by charging for my travel time (both ways) at the same rate as gardening. If a gig is one or two blocks from our house, I walk and don't charge for that time. I use no ICE tools in my work other than the pickup truck, no chain saw, leaf blower, weed whip etc. I don't do any lawn work (president of the Lawn Haters Club) and actively encourage clients to plant edibles. I have converted a lot of lawn to garden though!

Others have mentioned on TOD how incredibly sensible and useful compact, rear wheel drive, 4 cyl pickup trucks are, and I tend to agree, as long as you aren't driving all over the place all the time like most in the US. They're cheap to buy used, not very complex (that fuel efficient Prius is INCREDIBLY COMPLEX), good for all kinds of useful trades, incredibly helpful for moving, going and getting free stuff from Craigslist, moving around materials for gardening and small farming. I guess its that whole "less efficient = more resilient" argument. The fuel efficiency sucks compared to the Prius, but the whole point is to not commute in it and not drive everywhere, all the time.

Since we rent, there are a lot of things I dream of doing (passive solar, solar hot water, PV, chickens) that we cant do here. We vacillate between "buying" a house with mortgage and enjoying our current situation renting and having ZERO DEBT. Houses are expensive here and the bubble is re-inflating with abandon, but if prices crashed again we would probably enter the (real estate) fray once again in order to be able to do a lot more resiliency type stuff.

I feel fortunate to be able to witness these interesting times, and often wish I could live for 1000 years to see how it will all play out. I mostly expect Greers catabolic collapse scenario to come to pass.

Hope to read all of you in the future someplace else online, thanks for the inspiration and education!

My Basic Theme: After being a doomer for a long time, I think the tight oil developments are just too big to ignore, and even the faltering in global temps relative to AGW forecasts being a hopeful sign (don't get me wrong, I understand radiative forcing, but temperature increases noticeably and consistently below most forecasts are a positive IMHO). I have a silver cloud with a stormy lining kind of view. I think we're going to go through a mini-golden era till 2020 or so, with a minority of the population benefiting significantly. Then, thanks to precipitous drops in shale wells running into ongoing population growth and ecological destruction, this golden era of sorts leads to worldwide lifestyle momentum trending up into a wall of pretty harsh limits.

What I'm doing

Professionally: Mechanical engineer by training, out of school five years. I work on military and nuclear related heat transfer projects. The company I work for recently started exploring getting into supplying equipment to the O&G industry within the past 6 months, in part due to low cost nat gas hurting the nuke "renaissance" they were gearing up for (Fukushima was kind of a buzz kill too). Which is a bit ironic because...

I originally wanted (badly) to get into the petroleum industry. Even as I was aware of peak oil and fully expected production to fall, I figured O&G would be the place to be - we're replacing 1,000 bbl/day wells with 100 bbl/day wells meaning 10x the work! Granted now we are doing 3,000 bbl/day wells that last three years but the effect is the same - or even more exaggerated. It seemed like exciting and challenging work. I actually interviewed with Halliburton and Schlumberger (Schlumberger took us to a frac job that was easily the coolest field trip ever), but for reasons that are hard, and in hindsight painful, to discuss I was distracted at the time of the interviews by what I thought was a bigger opportunity and my heart wasn't fully into the interviews and I'm pretty sure it showed. Even so, getting rejected by Schlumberger for me was literally on par with hearing a girlfriend say "this isn't working out." (With Halliburton, I was already jaded and hardened.)

That was a bit more history than action, but I am not seeing too much of a future for me at the company. Barring run-away success with the O&G work, I can't foresee advancing in knowledge or position significantly for a decade or more. Further, the only option for success in O&G is everyone else being too busy. Which is definitely the case, but we are not a low-cost, nimble facility. I am actively working on two side businesses completely unrelated and definitely not future-proof. One being party rentals, and the other web marketing for local services. This feeds into my personal life:

Personal: I am trying to follow a simple, low impact lifestyle. I am attempting to follow the spirit of Jacob at - I regularly save over half my income, sometimes 2/3. I live in a nearly rural apartment complex, but its 0.6 miles from work, and 2-3 miles from a sizeable exurban shopping complex with groceries.

As I live on the third floor, I have limited gardening options, but I selected one with a south-facing balcony to grow what I can. There is "commercial" land for sale adjacent to this complex that has been fallow for at least a decade (judging by the trees there) and probably will be for at least a decade more. I started a guerilla gardening patch there that largely failed this year, but I have identified some of the issues and expect next year to go better. I just read about gardening/farming (with permission) under high-tension powerlines too, and I'm going to explore that this coming year as there are some very close by. I don't expect to need to work much longer in engineering thanks to savings and the side businesses, but am doing marketing for its general flexibility, and party rentals since the work is 100% weekends (just turn down work doing the week) so even if both grow significantly, I have the option to collect a regular paycheck. As I mentioned, they are not future or collapse proof, but it's low capital/high return and with my golden-till-2020 view, I'll extract what I can from the conspicuous consumer.

Longer term - stay healthy, further reduce personal wants and needs, explore getting my own land - though I find a lot of value in the flexibility in renting, and ideally become a bit of a renaissance man reading, learning, traveling (bike touring), and being free. My father is working on improving the resilience of 80 acres of Indiana farmland - I can definitely see myself helping him out with the physical and financial load there in the future as well.

As mentioned above, I'm a short term cornucopian with a longer (likely - hopefully? - well within my lifetime) view that life will suck for almost all of humanity for a long time. Education, personal and community resilience, and preparation are my themes I suppose, but I can still see potential for solar, nuclear, and retrofits saving the day on the energy side. Arable land issues and/or lack of sufficient fertilizer, resurgence of AGW, water shortages, and obviously ecological damage are much harder limits and I don't see more than two of these being avoided too much beyond 2030 or so.

Finally, thanks so much to all who contributed and helped with theoildrum. Member for 5 years, regular reader for longer. The knowledge I gained was invaluable, and it definitely spurred my initial interest in an oilfield career, and who knows, it may yet happen.

Just a couple of links to peruse regarding the idea that AGW has 'slowed down':

...each of which reference this Nature article which is behind a paywall, but even the abstract & graphs are informative:

Bottom line - Only a small percent of the additional forcing goes into the atmosphere, most goes into the oceans. There's been no slowdown in warming of the total Earth system.

MY BASIC THEME: Systematic contraction is coming, time uncertain. Personal goal is to reduce energy use in buildings by 50 to 90%, one building at a time. Started in the mid 1970's as designer/contractor, added MArch about 15 years ago.
PROFESSIONAL WORK: Day job is as Building Science Trainer for the MT Weatherization Training Center: Insulation methods, Zonal Pressure Dynamics, Furnace tuning, etc. Targeted towards Weatherization crews that work on low income, elderly and handicapped clients.
Night job is energy related building design including new houses & remodels. Currently have two Zero Energy type homes under construction. Strong interest in Chinese style commercial solar greenhouses.
PUBLIC SERVICE: Led successful state-wide push to adopt and exceed the current Energy Code in 2010. Currently working on the next round of the code adoption process. Also am a frequent public speaker, including educational venues, legislative hearings, etc.
PRIVATE EFFORTS: Live in the middle of a small town within walking distance of almost everything. Almost done with top to bottom re-insulation of our 100 year-old brick house. Energy use down about 40% to date. Drive a Jetta TDI though my work commute is 25 miles. Maxed out the back and side yards with garden & fruit trees. Very reluctant consumer.
I am happy to lend my experience to anyone who has energy, construction or design questions. jlbaergatgmaildotcom

I study economics, which sort of makes me persona non grata around here. As with most other economists and students of economics, I found energy decline theories to be wrong in almost every regard. There was only one aspect of energy decline theory which I believed: I thought Hubbert Curves were plausible and could possibly predict future oil production. All the rest (collapse of civilization, reduction in complexity, relocalization, breakdown of long-distance transportation, end of economic growth, and so on) I believed was mistaken. I also thought that peak oilers were exaggerating the rate of post-peak decline. I believed that oil might peak in 2005 or so and decline at 1 or 2% per year thereafter, but it would be a fairly minor event and would necessitate a gradual (60+ years) transition to EVs, which would happen without disruption.

Despite my disagreements, I always enjoy a good discussion, and I always appreciated the civility which most people on TOD displayed. I always followed the TOD community with interest. It fascinates me to be around people with such a starkly different outlook than I have. I don't speak up here too often (I'm usually a lurker) but I do pipe up every once in awhile.

TOD was not my first peak oil community. I initially came to peak oil through Matt Savinar, Life After The Oil Crash,, and similar venues, most of which are gone now. TOD was a much broader community than those, and I learned many things from it.

I am probably more familiar with energy decline arguments and literature than anyone who is not actively a believer in it. Certainly, I am more familiar with it than anyone in the field of economics, where it receives no attention these days.

As you can imagine, I made no preparations for peak oil back in 2004 when I first encountered it. I did not learn to farm, sew my own clothing, preserve food, or anything similar. I did not relocate to a rural area, or change my profession. I already live in an urban and highly walkable area, so fuel prices made little difference to me. I certainly did not prepare for any kind of collapse.

Furthermore, I will make no preparation for peak oil or energy decline in the future. (However, I do intend to buy an EV (probably the Nissan Leaf) as my next car, not because of peak oil, but because I wish to reduce my co2 emissions).

The only preparation I would recommend to my friends, is not to commit themselves to high fuel consumption. I would probably advise against buying an enormous SUV or buying a house way out in the exurbs. I expect gasoline prices will continue their climb (in fits and spurts) over the next 25 years, ultimately reaching more than $160/bbl (in y2013 USD) before the transition to EVs is fully underway. If I were more concerned about peak oil or energy decline, I would recommend moving away from rural areas and into the densest urban areas possible. As always, I seem to be on the opposite side of things from most peak oilers.

I look back now, and realize that it has been almost ten years since I first encountered the peak oil and energy decline communities. When I think about it now, it inspires considerable nostalgia in me. Best wishes to everyone, most of whom I hardly knew,

-Tom P

Creating a semantic web site and associated blog related to energy and the environment.

I'm slowly solarizing my house.
(500W of panels ~> 2KW/day)
Paid off the house after the 2007-2009 recession.
I've added some water storage.
Planted some berries.
Next up is a greenhouse.
The theme is resilience and self-reliance.
Heinlein's "human being" more of a model than the 'doomsteader.'

I don't expect sudden collapse. Expect to finish my career in IT.
Don't feel the need to drop everything to learn a manual trade.
Planning a normal 'white-collar' retirement,
although putting a bit of more of it into 'hard' assets in/around my house.
I'm an incrementalist regarding 'response.'

Basic theme: The energy decline will be slow, and its effects will be uneven across the world. Attempts at personal isolation (and I include small communities in that) may work in the short term, but are not sustainable in the long term -- at least not at a level of tech much above subsistence farming. I believe (perhaps delusionally) that the key is to be part of a region of appropriate size, sufficiently isolated, with substantial and diverse renewable energy resources and bridge fossil fuels. Overcoming current political boundaries will be a problem.

Professionally: Try to understand more accurately what size of region is appropriate, and where the foundations for those exist today. It's a balancing act: too small and you can't support the level of tech that I want, too large and you outgrow your resource base. Alan Drake listed his fan fiction effort above as personal rather than professional; I suspect that well-told fictional stories set closer in the future than his 350 years that explore realistic scenarios will be as important in convincing people to change directions as any number of academic or policy white papers.

Personally: Notably, I'm not moving to the country or installing solar panels. Given where I live, pooling my money with others to buy large-scale wind installations clearly produces more kWh for the buck, something that can be accomplished through expanding our state's renewable energy mandate. A home-built smart controller has made our whole-house fan much more useful. Looking forward to the light rail line that opens in 2016 with two stations within a couple miles of my house.

Michael Cain

My basic theme: Due to a resource constrained future I am seeking a path to a graceful failure rather than a traumatic one. While living an apparent BAU lifestyle I am building the capacity to live in much lower energy future.

What I'm doing:
 - In 2005 I quit my job as programmer/analyst, sold my paid off home and moved across the country to 10 acres of land that was given to us. I am grateful and fortunate. I have been learning many of the skills necessary for resilience and self-reliance (along with being the stay at home parent/taxi service/galley slave). I have a lot more learn but I am going to try to start sharing my experience. I have a dormant website that I plan to work on this winter. It seems that the closing of TOD might have acted as an incubator and actually throw a lot of (now more knowledgeable ) people on to the interwebs.

Personally - My family puts up with my plans (as long as it doesn’t affect them too much). I built a passive solar home with a pair of stacked masonry heaters. We are using about 3.5 cords of wood a year to heat our home in southern New England. We have solar thermal for hot water and minor space heating. We have 5000 watt grid tied PV and 2000 watts of of off-grid PV. We have all LED lighting. We are close to net zero energy for the house (the electric clothes dryer is just too seductive and I don't seem to be able to give up my always on home computer network). We have a garden, planted fruit and nut trees and have chickens for eggs. My failed/stalled projects include an electric lawn tractor, and an electric car conversion. I am actively working on adding 50,000 BTU per sunny day to my basement via a solar thermal system, so I can trim wood usage even more. Many of the systems do rely on some basic technologies, but my house would be quite livable without them. That's the plan. Most of what I have done has been in response to what I have learned here, so I haven't posted much on TOD.

Anyone can fail; but it takes talent to fail gracefully.

Eli Glickman

See my Profile for contact info

My basic theme:: If we be as gods, we might as well get good at it – Stewart Brand.

A world-savvy aunt gave me Stewart Brand’s “The Last Whole Earth Catalog” as a high-school graduation gift in 1971. I took it to San Jose State as I entered their mechanical engineering program that fall. It changed me forever. If you wish to be as a god, and hopefully a good one, become an engineer.

I became an engineer. I think I’ve been a good one. Pretty sure I never quite made god-status, though. For the past 42 years, I’ve designed the mechanical side of everything from conventional commercial buildings to 100-watt off-grid micro residential hydro turbines to net-zero-energy LEED Platinum schools. If it burns or turns or transforms energy, throw it at me – I’ll figure it out and squeeze every watt or BTU out of that sucker.

Another book profoundly impacted my life - “The Existential Pleasures of Engineering”. Engineering is a fundamental human drive that we do as much for fun as we do for profit. Even if we go over the peak-oil cliff, remnants of us will follow our passion to study the hows and whys of what is left and figure out how to take advantage of it. To be human is to engineer. Kobo Abe’s existential novel - “A Woman in the Dunes” - illustrates how finding solutions to problems can bring existential joy in even the most miserable and hopeless circumstances.

Professionally: I design the mechanical systems for commercial buildings, schools, and high-end residences in far northern California. Lots of oil-to-natural gas or LPG conversions. I’ve converted a lot of old central-plant-based oil-fired boiler systems in the rural mountains to decentralized LPG and/or heat pumps. The economics make it a no-brainer if you have to do mechanical surgery anyway (and all 50+ year-old hot water boiler systems require major surgery). When I’m lucky enough to have a client with a more long-term energy vision I’ll add a dash of low-mass condensing boilers, geothermal heat pumps, ductless mini-split heat pumps, or other more leading-edge technologies.

Like fellow TOD member Riban Conbajos, though, I’ve recently felt a “cognitive dissonance” in my work. With every conventional building my clients bring, my inner voice screams, “We can’t do BAU anymore!” My own vision is that if we continue to have a 1st-world level civilization in the future, electricity will be the universal energy currency for all our needs, including heating and transportation, both currently dominated with fossil-fuel energy sources. I’ve particularly enjoyed Speclawyer’s and AlanfromBigEasy’s posts on EV’s and electrifying the rails and strongly agree with their visions. I’m not sure exactly how it will work, but I’ve set a two-year plan to phase myself out of the BAU engineering role and into “something else” that is congruent with that more-electric vision.

Personally: I bought a Chevy Volt last year and have become an EV-fanatic. At least that’s what my friends tell me. Of course, one is shopping for a Volt now, so I guess I’m contagious. It really changed my whole perspective on the possibilities. Whenever I read a nay-sayers critiques, I just want to scream, “get over it and just drive one. You’ll never think kindly about an ICE-powered vehicle again”. Next on my list is to buy a regular house and start converting it to net-zero-energy condition – exploring cost-effective ways to adapt our existing building infrastructure to fit the new energy paradigm. Use all the skills and knowledge I’ve applied to my clients' dreams for my own place.

This next century will be an interesting ride. I think I have good tools for handling the bumps, though. To paraphrase and twist a worn cliché, “knowledge is power, and knowledge about energy is power squared” Thank you all, TOD moderators, contributors, and members, for further expanding my knowledge on energy and giving me, and countless others, the most powerful tool in the world.

My basic theme: Eyes wide open. The changes in technology are fine, but the real changes are cultural. The transition from a cultural system of abundance to one of “no so much” is a subtle one. Moreover it’s a slow one on the ground level.

I saw what happens in a “hip” neighborhood when gas prices skyrocket and how people – especially the young- will adapt. Living in downtown lofts, taking metro trains and riding bikes on street lanes designed for the previous gas crisis of the 1970’s.

It brings to mind a concept I have been mulling over “Hidden Resources” – when something gets scarce something else that is invisible to the average intellectual come into view – what is not seen becomes clear as day even if it was dismissed in the process to doomer judgment. The concept that aspiring members of the “beautiful people” would gladly jump onto bikes and scooters (Italian ones of course) was lost on many TOD commenters blinded by moralistic decline fever. That the same group would learn survival tricks from the LA’s Latin lower middle class is a testament to what happens when people HAVE to adapt.

Professionally: I was expecting that I was going to be laid off from my tech job years ago. It seems to be holding up and non-discretionary for large corporations and government entities. Not a planned thing on my end, it just seems to work out that way.

Personally: Not much. I will try to avoid flying and I will take vacations close to home. My little bungalow uses small amounts of energy. I try to take the metro and keep to weekend small pleasures. Free in the Shakespeare Park is a lot of fun.

The things needed in Socal – walkable neighborhoods, expansion of the train system and getting off of coal as a first step – all of that is in the works. I did some research and it seems that the peak oil message was taken seriously by the intergovernmental infrastructural agencies. It’s agonizingly slow but it’s happening.

The real question for me is this – do I take off to the countryside and start planting food of do I take my chances in the city? If I do then I have to blend in with the young who seem to adapt quickly. In my 40’s this is a huge question.

The Oil Drum has helped me to understand that it's all downhill from here for most of the things we've all taken for granted for generations. After living through peak everything, it's hard to unlearn everything I've learned about 'progress'. A long career in mass media and music entertainment has consistently pulled me in the opposite direction from where I need to go now, but I am making some 'progress' in letting go of all that.

With a medically fragile, handicapped family member attended daily by nursing staff from BAU, it is impossible to pull the plug on the modern world right now. All I can do is try to hold it at arm's length and try to assemble as many post-peak skills, tools and sympatico friends as I can. We've rebuilt an old farmhouse with foamed-in insulation, maximized solar gain, masonry stove and PV capability. I'm trying my hand at farming the acres we have. Nothing is easy, but we've made a start. At 62 years old, I wish I'd been more proactive in the 1970's when I first started reading the Mother Earth News and Whole Earth Catalog, but I suppose it's better late than never. My appreciation to one and all at the Oil Drum for opening up so many new knowledge pathways.

My Basic Theme: There is no way to tell when or how the shit will hit the fan, or what the splatter pattern will be. As a result, ducking in any direction is just as likely to get you splashed and not ducking at all.

What I'm doing Professionally: Just working at my job as a Project Manager, trying to keep body and soul together. There is no other profession I could move to at this point in my life that would give me the particular combination of rewards and benefits that this one does.

What I'm doing Personally: Trying to uncover the most radical root cause of the apparent human inability to be voluntarily sustainable. So far I've narrowed it down to the intersection of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the nature of life itself, and human evolutionary psychology. This discovery has allowed me, at long last, to stop blaming the Rex Tillersons and Jamie Dimons of the world for being scorpions.

My Basic Theme: There is no way to tell when or how the shit will hit the fan, or what the splatter pattern will be. As a result, ducking in any direction is just as likely to get you splashed and not ducking at all.

Very well said! I wish I was smart enough to have summarized it so well!

My basic theme: not too optimistic about the 2020 timeframe for OECD poverty. Expect it to get harder from there as climate & water issues pile on top of p/o issues. Relatively rosy future is technically possible, but I see little historical or biological evidence that we're going to do anything constructive as a species and expect rosy future to slip past. Generally a catabolic doomer, but the wildcard is sociopolitical - if we have a fast collapse it's going to be do to violence/war/things-of-that-nature (sure would be nice to be somewhere with low inequality next few decades, I expect). I've got no illusions about the socio-economic status of me & most on TOD - all the stuff in my 'personal' column is hardly reachable for most of my friends, let alone most of the population.

Professional: I work for a metals mining service company. You can bet we know there's a global recession on, and it's hitting the BRICs now too. Looking to sell my extra harvest at the local farmer's market to see how realistic that is as a diversification & collapse-now-and-avoid-the-rush strategy.

Personal: The usual (for this group at least)...cisterns, PV, batt backup, solar hot water (would you believe it generally even works when cloudy for a couple days in winter here in the desert?), insulation, double-pane windows, 'big bike' (roadie), 'cadillac' (e-bike w/ lifepo's), cargo bike, hitch-tandem for the 7 year old, 10mpg propane F-150 which I fill up once every few months for building materials, craigslist & camping trips. Surrounding the casa with living fence of nopal for zombie management, 100sqft aquaponics system (10% water use of dirt garden [evap only, no h20 loss to ground] good in desert, if not economically feasible for most) w/ greenhouse, 6 citrus, pomegranite, grapes (10 lbs from one Black Monuka vine this year once I screened out the birds), chickens, compost, composting toilet, welder, strawbale insulation. Becoming active in local politics (most of the city council seems p/o aware [weren't too suprised by my presentation], but not actively engaged, member of a lot of local permaculture & sustainability groups, knowledge & eqpt. for local wild harvest (mesquite beans, nopal, cactus fruit), 95% of produce from CSA & farmer's market. Next big project after I complete the insulation is hoping to be a passive-solar attic and a rocket mass heater insert for the fireplace (figure I can heat by coppicing my one mesquite pretty easy). Expect to own a makerbot with a good supply of PLA as funding is available.

My email is in my profile. Anyone visting Tucson is welcome to stop by for a chat.


My basic theme: The planetary ecosystems are screwed. I'm still doing my best to unscrew them.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - Taking less pleasure due to the psychological distress of burning 20 gph but more thanks in the ability to fly floatplanes in the Canadian wilderness. I may be the last generation to spend their life doing this.

Personally - As I have mentioned previously - built a 1200 ft^2 'passivehaus' on a 60 acre unkempt farm cycling distance from an exceptional, remote northern community. Solar hot water to an 150 ton annualized heat sink. Another 150 tons of mass on an earthtube HRV intake. R100 ceiling, R40 walls, no thermal bridges, fallen wood heat when 'necessary (usually just when we want to be 'cozy'). 2000W of Uninstalled PV - busy building house, winterized greenhouse & a shop for all the tiny hand-me-down farming equipment. Cycle everywhere but keep a Eurovan camper to deal with the current infrastructure & as a RV/bug out vehicle. Well trained & prepared in firearms (military/armed guard) but hoping desperately to avoid it getting 'that bad' by working on the community resilience.

Thanks for being an interesting cohort - I will probably end up on the putative Energy Xchange.


Well, since my reply to the risible claims of one economist were removed, let's try this for a vision of some imagined future. What am I doing? Professional gadfly, Internet Plumber supremely unimpressed with "did you try turning it off and back on again" technology (printers, Payments Pipeline during the spending spree season, whatever, it's fractal), supremely unimpressed with what passes for livability in "dense, urban" carhell, USA. They have humans, whose job is to stand in the disgusting petrol stench and manage the crash of cars piling out of the Amazon headquarters parking caverns. I find this both hilarious and profoundly disturbing. Why was I in the area? Picking up new shoes. My transportation expenses for 2013 now stand at $60.

Dystopia 2.0

Better, Faster, Stronger

Steps towards building a better dystopia.

  • Encourage social isolation. Mandate baby carriers for newly born (because everyone is in a car, right?), encourage baby seats and back seats and baby strollers to reduce necessary physical contact for the young. Isolate the young by age, so they only have their peers to interact with. Limit interaction with those younger and older than the individual age groups. Use advertising to target and influence the thus isolated and peer-grouped segments of the population.
  • Foster large farms and large corporations via favorable taxation, regulation, and if possible judicial activism, at all levels from state and local to national. These help destroy any sense of local community and local ownership, thus destroying local character and limiting involvement in the community.
  • Polarize the population around arbitrary dichotomies. This promotes combative us-or-them mentalities, and properly implemented can leads to paralysis or reversals of projects initiated by the previous administration.
  • Build out the road system. This avoids the limited tax revenues from being directed to other purposes, such as schools, and if done properly can pave over neighborhoods with character or historic value. Mandating cars saddles the population with high costs--orders of magnitude more than necessary for simply walking--encourages social isolation by trapping the occupants behind walls of metal and glass, encourages lack of physical activity via hours stuck immobile behind the wheel, and puts down a blanket of health-destroying carcinogens for the population to breathe. These are all wins.
  • Encourage jobs that discourage physical activity, such as tellers or computer work. If there is physical activity, ensure that it is repetitive, to foster RSI health problems--keyboards, pipet buttons, routine data entry during package delivery are excellent examples.
  • Since slavery is a somewhat touchy topic, build out prisons, and employ the thus imprisoned in low-wage work. Lobby for increased sentencing on minor offenses--three strikes, you're out--that turn possibly productive citizens into a permanent prison population. Fund the prisons through political lobbying and bills that promise to increase safety for the non-imprisoned populace "war on drugs", etc.

Welcome to America! Enjoy your stay.

My Basic Theme - Only now exists and the future can't be predicted. That said I'm still amazed of how people avoid thinking our noticing the unnatural feeling of living in an civilization relying on million years of fossil fuel reserves and the implications that it brings. It's like people have been disconnected from reality.

Professionally - Working on my carer as a maintenance engineer. Currently working in an BUA organization trying to keep some Swedish nuclear power-plants running for another 30 years. Seeing great challenges ahead that the organization effectively avoids seeing and dealing with.

Personally - Trying to live and enjoy life while dealing with the events that unfolds before me. Right now I don't feel committed to any larger cause. Maybe in the future when more people wake up I will.

I have been following the oil drum for a couple of years and when reading on TOD I have had a feeling that I´m being connected to people who are like minded. I have also learned a lot I could not had figured out on my own and for that I´m deeply grateful.

If you have something interesting for me to join in feel free to drop me an e-mail.

Thanks to all of you and best of luck!


My basic theme: My interests include the holistic, natural, simple, peaceful, truthful, careful, ethical, pure, wise, pleasurable, leisurely, intelligent, beautiful, etc..

What I'm doing:

I'm involved in the Permaculture & Transition movements, among other related things which I have widely-varying degrees of theoretical, virtual and/or practical knowledge & experience in. They include...

- Knitting
- Surveying/Land-design
- Design, Drafting & Graphics
- Natural Building & Carpentry
- Philosophy, Psychology, Writing
- Gardening & Edible/Medicinal Wild Plants
- Ethical/Sustainable/Reasonably Self-sufficient Lifestyle
- Ecovillages/Intentional Communities/Transition Network

- Sustainable Seaworthy Classic Sailboats and Related Sail Networks: These may be the predominant means of distant exchanges of people, things and ideas between those of Permaea **

- Permaea: (Permaculture and Pangaea together) A different form of social organization to the current nation-state model. It is an ecological, FLOSS-/mesh-network/peer-to-peer-network-/permaculture-inspired and/or based (Care of Earth; Care of People; And Their Results Used Recursively to Enhance Each) global/'glocal' decentralized network of self-governing locales/'nodes', whereby, in part, each person and location/land area on Earth of those who participate become part of the mutually-enhancing, self-supporting network that progressively transcends current nation-state modes and borders. Over time, as each node is added and Permaea grows, it may replace the current coercive, hierarchical, unethical, prison-like, warring and destructive, etc. nation-state model.

** There may be an opportunity for this to acquire a free seaworthy sailboat of a good size. The first. Please contact me if curious and/or interested.

Last word: As a social species, a reason why we are in the predicaments we are in is that we leave the flow of our lives to, and support, organizations we have less, if any, say or control in. Therefore, my last response to Nate's question would be, What Are We doing? We could be doing Permaea.

My Basic Theme: I think collapse is likely to be catabolic, but rather on the fast side. Working in community mental health, I can see a gathering awareness that things are not right, and I feel this may be a cultural and social feedback loop with consequences that are difficult to predict.

Professionally: I am trying to do my best to prepare my organization for abrupt change. I work as an unpaid intern; there is almost no paying work for anyone over 50 doing what I do at the level I'm doing it. However, I'm an operations and procedures freak. I am convinced we could run our clinic with paper and pencils, and with only sporadic access to electricity and medication, if we had to, and still maintain about 70% of our functionality. I have archived a chart outlining the referral and treatment process so we can still function if the power goes out, and the electronic medical record crashes. I'm going to print a thousand copies of the chart, and the bare minimum of forms we need, just to help us transition. (As for the EMR crashing, IMO, that can't happen soon enough.) In my clinical work, I now focus on affect regulation-- basically, avoiding panic-- as the primary survival strategy. Co-facilitating Anger Management groups, that's kind of mantra: Learn these skills, and you might survive. Surrender to your reptile brain, and you will follow the herd as in stampedes over the cliff. I can do all of this within the ethical and legal constraints of my profession.

Personally: I have not done as much as I should, but we have started. We have passive cooling in our house so we don't have to run the AC much, and we only run it in one or two rooms. We need insulation, PVC, and electric bikes. I drive a very fuel-efficient car when the weather is cool enough to be in a vehicle with no A/C (I have some serious health problems) and I'm taking fewer and longer trips to minimize my air travel. There's a lot to be done-- but I want to see my family and relatives as often as I can in the next few years, while I still can. This is my guilty pleasure, but like smoking cigarettes (which I stopped three years ago) I know that I'm going to have to quit eventually.

I have almost died many different times in many different ways. I've had guns pointed at me, been slashed by box cutters, had two life-threatening health crises, and a regulator failure scuba diving. I'm not about to surrender to fear now.

I think of the approaching crisis that way I think about a rogue wave that rolls in when I am bodyboarding. You look out and see that an enormous swell is coming, and you are going to be in the crush zone. Every instinct tells you to paddle inside fast as like hell, that the shore will provide some safety-- but that course of action will only get you killed. All you can do is paddle towards the wave as hard and fast as you can, and at the last minute you have to decide if you're going to try to dive under it, or if there's any way to ride it. Before making the final decision, as the wave towers above me, blotting out the sun, there is one thought which will push the panic aside and allow me to function: "Oh, well. This is going to be interesting."

Post Script: I did speak with KD a few days ago, and he is okay. I am grateful for many things about the Oil Drum, as I've mentioned in previous posts, but particularly for that friendship.

My Theme:
Adopt David Suzuki’s motto: “Think globally and act locally”.

I feel that it is important to champion renewables and efficiency. One thing that is apparent is that any sort of business as usual approach will become increasingly difficult to sustain. More specifically, most renewable discussion centers on a consumer demand that is much as it is today, changing the consumer is a lot more effective than trying to build the amount of renewable energy that would otherwise be needed.

Try to steer the political discussion onto a path to sustainability. This will be challenging in Australia with a truly regressive government having been elected today.

What I'm doing personally:
Unplug from the fossil fool circus by plugging in. This project started out as a convert old car to electric, although available products have overtaken that project, to the EV is a Mitsubishi i-Miev. This is really an excellent urban vehicle – small and quiet with a surprising amount of inner (cargo) space. I hope to have it powered by PV shortly. One issue I have is that it is still part of urban congestion and represents a pile of materials that had to be mined and processed. Also, it is better to walk or cycle from a health and fitness point of view.

Get my own house in order, energy and water efficient and as energy self-sufficient as possible. The original project battery (Lithium IronPhosphate) will now be a buffering battery for the house and EV. Again, a technological solution to a consumer problem.

What I’m doing professionally:
Work in an area that is part of the solution and not the problem. In my case, this means passenger and freight rail. I attempt to offer the most energy efficient solution to problems.

General comments
It seems unlikely that there will be a total world crash, although the world's biggest financial institutions are a horrible interlinked house of cards and very sensitive to any of the corporations failing. It seems that 2008 taught the bankers nothing, if anything it has spurred them on to be even more fragile than likes of Lehman's was.

I am not convinced that heading for the country is the only solution, although I do have friends that have done this and now ride bicycles surprising distances over hilly country, occasionally using the utility for heavier loads. Not surprisingly, they are also off-grid.
I don’t see the effects of mankind’s excesses becoming really dire for 50 or more years, so I am not likely to see it. In the interim, I am trying to set a good example for others and to demonstrate that it isn’t too difficult.

Basic theme:
It's not as bad as I thought it was. I've been on TOD for over 8 years now. What a great site (thanks to everyone!). I used to think peak oil was a big deal. Now, not so much.

Colin Campbell (ASPO-UK) had numbers showing a 1.6% per year decline in oil (from 2010 to 2050). Personally I think we could handle a 1.6% decline. But he was wrong. We have more oil (all liquids) than ever before. The economists were right; high prices bring on substitutes.

I write software for an Energy Crop project at a UK university. Our US partner's stock price is crashing (they blame shale gas) and they are pulling funding.

I am a renter so unable to do the cool things that Paul in Halifax and Ghung do. My annual electricity usage is only 800 kWh though. Here in Europe it seems that a combination of government policy and ever cheaper renewables is changing the electricity landscape. And even in Texas! Bjorn Lomborg in The Skeptical Environmentalist said that renewables would reach grid parity by 2035. I think he's wrong. We're almost there...

800 KWhr per year? Hmm, that's about 2100 watt/hr per day. Do you have a refrigerator? How about a microwave oven? Internet and computer(s)? Lights?
Do you have other sources of energy such as natural gas/propane/heating oil?

Just curious how you are maintaining an obviously modern lifestyle (you are on the internet somehow) and just using 2.1 KWhr per day.

My family of four have been using about 2500KWh /year for the last few years. We have fridge, freezer, microwave, kettle, laptops, lights, internet, TV, cable (fibre optic) washing machine, oven, power tools , games console, etc, etc. We choose efficient modern stuff and use it sparingly. Cook mostly with gas, heat water with solar/gas. You don't need much electricity to live well, but 2 incandescent lamps inadvertently left on in the loft would double our consumption. Attention to detail is the key.

Hi Mouse. Yes to refrigerator and computer and router and lights. No microwave but I have a nice stereo. But no TV. The 800 kWh is electricity only. Upstairs heating and hot water is oil-fired. Downstairs heating is electric (and occasional fire in the wood stove). Cooker is electric. My lights are mostly CFLs. I have friends who use four times as much.

Well done both of you. My house is electric only except for propane for the cooking range/oven. We are in the 6000 to 7000 KWhr/yr range and looking to lower that. This is also a strongly passive solar house and solar hot water. Our biggest loads are (inefficent window units) air conditioning in the summer and electric clothes dryer, which I calculated to be on the order of 30% of my yearly load combined. Keep up the good work.

My Basic Theme: We’ve entered into the twilight zone. The planet is well on its way toward resource depletion and population overshoot but, at least in the richest societies, we have avoided the worst consequences of this by papering over financial and ecological deficits with various forms of fiat currency printing and hopium. This can only work for so long before the inevitable severe consequences come home to roost. Probably the best thing that can happen is if world oil and coal production peak soon and countries begin the difficult, but inevitable, transition off carbon-intensive fuels to renewables before the worst impacts of climate change really begin to kick in. Baby boomers, who did so much in their youth to spearhead changes toward a more environmentally-friendly and peaceful world, have been a huge disappointment as we have aged in terms of the legacy we are leaving to younger generations.

What I’m Doing:

Professionally: Not enough, to be honest. After more than 30 years as a productive analyst of the U.S. energy scene and manager of business units and research organizations in DC, with a particular focus on the U.S. electricity sector and renewable energy technologies, it has been more difficult recently to find and keep doing interesting work. Most of the people I interview with now are 20 years younger than me. I’m contemplating writing a book or two on my own – either on energy transition topics or perhaps a novel. I also serve as a director of a non-profit organization where I have kept my connections.

Personally: I’m beginning to wind down my life in the DC suburbs and starting to plan a retirement move with my wife to a more sustainable location in the Southeast, on 10+ acres of fertile farmland and woodlands overlooking a beautiful spot on the Tennessee River. We’re deciding whether to buy an existing house or have one built. I will likely install a solar PV system in either case and buy an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. I expect to have some issues with the transition to country life as, while motivated and willing to learn, I know I lack many of the hands-on skills needed for keeping up a place in the country. I also worry somewhat about the cultural transition and potential isolation we face as we will be 20 miles from the nearest grocery store, movie theater, restaurant or gym. In the meantime, I am doing my absolute best to stay in good physical shape and to revisit the grandeur of as many of the U.S. national parks as I can get to. I will greatly miss the intellectual stimulus of The Oil Drum and the spirited discussions and debates that I used to have with Rockman, A. Berman and others.

Hello, Nate! And hello to everyone in the Oil Drum community!

This is my first post here, or anywhere in the Peak Oil/Steady-State community, for that matter. First, I want to thank you, Nate, for your recent posts here and for all the work you’ve done and are doing to raise awareness about the multiple dilemmas our civilization is facing. And to everyone here at TOD, the moderators, contributors, and commenters, all of you folks have been an unparalleled font of information and perspectives that have contributed to my knowledge base and the way that I think about the state of the world in countless ways. Your drive, intellect and passion have both informed and inspired me enormously over these many years. I cannot sufficiently express my thanks and appreciation to all of you for all of your efforts. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you once again and forever.

Now, to my reply to your post, Nate. I have to tell you all that I have been putting off finally coming out of the closet on presenting this all to you for a very long time, and finally working up the nerve to do so now makes me very anxious. None of you know me or have heard of me before. Although I have been an ardent reader of TOD and the Energy Bulletin and many of your personal blogs almost from the beginning, I have never so much as commented even once anywhere. I am an unknown person in the community, and what I am about present to you all here now is so audacious, so ludicrous, so outrageous on the face of it that I fear after you read the next few sentences you will find this notion absurd and dismiss the possibility outright. But hopefully that will not be the case. So… *sigh*… *big breath*….

I am proposing a completely new and unexplored economic paradigm that I believe has the potential to fundamentally transform and/or replace significant aspects of our current dysfunctional socioeconomic systems. I am also going to be launching an initiative that will implement one application of this paradigm with a very specific and concrete project that I hope will precipitate a part of this transformation. The name of this paradigm is Symbiotic Economics.

OK, there, I’ve said it. Now, to try to explain and describe, assuming you are still with me. My appreciation and thanks to you if you are. In what follows I shall try to be as succinct as possible.

Three things, first off. First: this is not an idea originating from my own mind. New ideas on the scale of impact that I am suggesting here do not originate solely in the minds of the wo/men who first articulate them; rather, they emerge from complex historical circumstances which, in the poststructuralist terminology of Louis Althusser, over-determine the emergence of such transformative potentials. Second: by definition, any successful new paradigm must inherently possess system boundaries capable of including any and all existing paradigms. Given the enormously complex nature of the existing paradigms, it is not possible for me to adequately and fully articulate the new paradigm within this single comment. I have not yet myself identified all of the potential socioeconomic areas to which it might be applied. The most I can attempt to do here is to only sketch out its very broad outlines. Third: I have struggled for years with trying to find a way to introduce and describe this paradigm absent any personal history regarding its development. Unfortunately I have found it virtually impossible to do so. And so there I must begin now. Please forgive me in advance if I occasionally relate events that do not directly pertain to the paradigm. I feel that I know so many of you so well from reading years of your comments, it seems appropriate for me to share a bit of my personal history with you here in return.

The genesis of this idea came to me in 1982 when I was about to complete my BSE in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. I had just finished reading Economics, Ecology, and Ethics, edited by Herman Daly, and Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity by William Ophuls. I was also at the time President of the Michigan L5 Society, a space-advocacy group that many of you are probably familiar with (Keith Henson, an occasional commenter here, cofounded the national organization). Five years previous when I first entered UM I had come from an intellectually parochial and sheltered education, and when I first encountered the Limits to Growth (LTG) studies and Gerard K. O’Neill’s response to them, I had thrown myself into space industrialization (SI) advocacy efforts with unbridled enthusiasm.

Exposure to Steady-State Economics (SSE) through Daly and Ophuls added a dimension to my thinking about the SI community that made me realize that their efforts, however strongly and genuinely motivated by a sincere desire to find solutions to the many problems posed by the LTG studies, would have to incorporate SSE into the conceptual approaches that informed their advocacy efforts if they hoped to accomplish their goals (Unfortunately, this situation has not changed in three decades; although they may exist, in all that time I have not seen one instance of anyone in the SI community even mention their recognition of the necessity of transitioning to a terrestrial SSE.).

At the same time I had also begun reading The Entropy Law and the Economic Process by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and realized that a very long-term SSE was not possible without SI. Although it is discussed only briefly in an early chapter of the book, and given only a scant mention in a reference to an inevitable “berry-picking economy” in a footnote in one of his related papers, his “fourth law of thermodynamics” leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the ultimate destination of an industrial civilization without an input of extra-terrestrial mineral resources is that of a return to the horse and plow.

As a result, I envisioned an economic narrative that coupled the two concepts into an approach that I felt not only enhanced each other, but were actually necessary for both of them to achieve their goals and objectives, which I believed were, and still believe are, by and large shared. I was so inspired by this vision that I sought to apply for a Ford Foundation grant to further develop and articulate it. The application required that I have a faculty advisor, and I was assigned a professor who taught society and technology issues within the Engineering department and whose area of expertise of Marxist Philosophy and Cultural Studies. it did not take long for me to realize that I was in no way prepared to embark on such a path. I had a lot more learning to do first. In many things.

For the next ten years that she and I lived together, I worked as solar/geothermal systems engineer, we both quit our jobs, moved to Northern Michigan to learn how to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, raised chickens, chopped wood, and learned how to organic garden. We also became involved in the emerging Bioregional Movement and efforts to stop the war in Central America. And although I had shelved the SI part of my vision, it was always in the back of my mind as I was learning about the SSE side of the equation. Growing somewhat disillusioned with the progress of the environmental movement’s efforts and out of a desire to make more of a difference, I entered Grad school in 1987 at Michigan Technological University. For my MSE in Environmental Engineering I conceptualized and developed a design methodology for a regional waste processing facility that operates along SSE principles. The business was built based on that design and is still a thriving operation today.

After graduation I spent the next twenty years at General Motors. During my time there I had the fortunate opportunity to work on a number of projects which had applicability to my project, particularly when in the Environmental Regulatory and Legislative Support Group at Corporate HQ. While there I served on a Federal Advisory Committee charged with establishing guidelines for the management of industrial wastes. That project involved Monte Carlo and Sensitivity Analyses of multi-media fate and transport models and conversion of these models onto Neural Networks, techniques that may find applicability to future phases of this overall project. An even more useful project was the work I did with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in support of commenting on proposed rulemakings to the EPA Toxic Release Inventory reporting program. All through my time at GM I was able to delve into many journal articles describing Environmental Engineering research underway on econometric modeling techniques that I was hoping I would someday be able to augment by introducing extraterrestrial material input variables. And of course, as the Peak Oil community began to form, I started reading The Oil Drum!

In 2009 I was unfortunately on the wrong side of the “Good GM/Bad GM” fence resulting from their bankruptcy, and for the first time in my life found myself unemployed. I decided that the time had finally come for me to pull all my research together and articulate the economic narrative and conceptual framework that I had been developing for the last 27 years. Two years and a couple of hundred pages later, and with a couple more hundred to go, something happened which caused me to set aside the entire project and begin anew with a totally different approach to articulating my new economic narrative. That something was the growing recognition that in spite of all the excellent books written on peak oil and the end of growth, the community’s efforts, at least in terms of their objectives of reaching a wide audience to facilitate societal change, were effectively not working. The books were extremely well-written, thoroughly-researched, exhaustively-referenced, their logic and arguments unassailable. And yet these efforts were being read mostly by members of our own community. The conclusion and consensus of everyone was that a new approach was needed, one that was more informed by cognitive psychology and framing analysis and that utilized a more narrative form of presentation. Also at about the same time there was another growing awareness that one important element that seemed to be lacking in a lot of our efforts was a positive compelling vision that could inspire the average reader to get on board with the program. As a consequence of these developments, I set aside the Big Book and reformulated my approach to rolling out this economic narrative (at this point I was still not thinking of this in terms of it being a paradigm); this required a crash-course in fields about which I knew nothing.

The way forward that I settled on was a much smaller book, written in a narrative format, and absent nearly all graphs, charts, tables, diagrams, figures, and footnotes. Each descriptive chapter would be followed by what I called a “Letter From the Future”, which consisted of a mother/grandmother writing a letter to their newborn child/grandchild describing the state of their world and which was sealed and not to be read until a future time at the birth of a subsequent child/grandchild, and so on. My intention was to use this as a rhetorical tool to assist the reader in envisioning this positive future through the voices of the characters authoring the letters and to reinforce the information expressed in the previous descriptive chapter (all of the above is still the plan). There are benefits to this approach that I will not describe here, but will be on the website. Also, prior to this time I had not really ever considered what I was going to call this entire project. After some reflection it occurred to me that the concept of symbiosis was perfectly suited. A subsequent internet search revealed that no one that I was able to find had any sort of research, initiative, or any other type of project that used that name that I might be appropriating.

Another essential component of the project which emerged at this time was the idea of a website as a follow-up to the book which would allow and encourage the reader to participate in an initiative to model the impacts of some SSE implementation tools which have never been adequately applied in a large-scale setting: the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and External Cost Internalization (ECI). The former of these had been done on a limited basis in the State of Maryland, but this project used an expanded and enhanced version which could accommodate actual data upload with which real-world simulations could be performed. The latter of these would also be implemented similarly, starting with a simple carbon tax and later on being expanded to include other measurements, as well. Inasmuch as my finances were getting rather low at this point, and in the hopes of reaching a wider audience, I decided to launch this initiative in the form of a Kickstarter project: the Symbiotic Economics Initiative.

It is at this point when the project turned from being a modest proposal for a new economic narrative into an entirely new economic paradigm. Although my previous research indicated that no one was using that name for anything, I decided to do a little more digging and turned up a surprising (to me, at least) discovery: someone had come up with the notion of Symbiotic Economics, and over 100 years ago, at that - - a certain Russian zoologist, geographer, and political philosopher by the name Pyotr Kropotkin!

Kropotkin was an extraordinary man, and in my opinion is one of the most neglected philosophers in history. If you are unfamiliar with his life and work, I highly encourage you to become acquainted with the man. Why his story has not been turned into a blockbuster Hollywood movie is a complete mystery to me.

As a young man he launched expeditions all across Siberia, cataloguing, observing, and researching the wide variety of flora and fauna in that region of Russia. As a result of his research, he came to the conclusion that the role of competition in neo-Darwinian evolution was vastly overemphasized and that actually symbiosis should be given much greater attention as a dominant evolutionary mechanism. In his book Mutual Aid, he described the concept of Symbiotic Economics:

A soon as we study animals — not in laboratories and museums only, but in the forest and prairie, in the steppe and in the mountains — we at once perceive that though there is an immense amount of warfare and extermination going on amidst various species, and especially amidst various classes of animals, there is, at the same time, as much, or perhaps even more, of mutual support, mutual aid, and mutual defence amidst animals belonging to the same species or, at least, to the same society. Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle. Of course it would be extremely difficult to estimate, however roughly, the relative numerical importance of both these series of facts. But if we resort to an indirect test, and ask Nature: "Who are the fittest: those who are continually at war with each other, or those who support one another?" we at once see that those animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest. They have more chances to survive, and they attain, in their respective classes, the highest development and bodily organization. If the numberless facts which can be brought forward to support this view are taken into account, we may safely say that mutual aid is as much a law of animal life as mutual struggle; but that as a factor of evolution, it most probably has a far greater importance, inasmuch as it favors the development of such habits and characters as insure the maintenance and further development of the species, together with the greatest amount of welfare and enjoyment of life for the individual, with the least waste of energy.
It is especially in the domain of ethics that the dominating importance of the mutual-aid principle appears in full. That mutual aid is the real foundation of our ethical conceptions seems evident enough. But whatever the opinions as to the first origin of the mutual-aid feeling or instinct may be whether a biological or a supernatural cause is ascribed to it — we must trace its existence as far back as to the lowest stages of the animal world; and from these stages we can follow its uninterrupted evolution, in opposition to a number of contrary agencies, through all degrees of human development, up to the present times. Even the new religions which were born from time to time — always at epochs when the mutual-aid principle was falling into decay in the theocracies and despotic States of the East, or at the decline of the Roman Empire — even the new religions have only reaffirmed that same principle. They found their first supporters among the humble, in the lowest, downtrodden layers of society, where the mutual-aid principle is the necessary foundation of every-day life; and the new forms of union which were introduced in the earliest Buddhist and Christian communities, in the Moravian brotherhoods and so on, took the character of a return to the best aspects of mutual aid in early tribal life.

For a variety of reasons which I shall not list here (for the reader interested in the fascinating history of symbiosis, I recommend Jan Sapp’s 1994 book Evolution by Association: A History of Symbiosis) Symbiotic Economics was abandoned as a line of inquiry in the study of economics very shortly after Kropotkin proposed it.

I did some further investigation and the only subsequent instance of symbiosis in the context of economics ever being even mentioned was in a 1998 paper by John P. Watkins, an economist at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah:

Towards a Reconsideration of Social Evolution: Symbiosis and Its Implications for Economics
John P. Watkins
Journal of Economic Issues
Vol. 32, No. 1 (Mar., 1998), pp. 87-105

Renewed interest among economists in naturalist Charles Darwin's theory has generated confusion regarding the meaning of social evolution. The debate between the old institutional and neoclassical economists finds a parallel in a debate that has recently emerged among biologists. Recent research in biology, however, cast doubts about the simplistic vision of evolution presented by the neo-Darwinists. The theory of symbiosis in particular makes two points. First, evolution is not always gradual. New species may arise from the merging of two or more species. Second, evolution may also result from "cooperation." The symbiotic theory focuses not on the individual organism as the unit of "selection," but on the relationships that in fact define the "individual" organism. Historians of biological science trace the origins of modern symbiosis theory to the reaction on the part of socialists and anarchists to the emergence of the market economy in the nineteenth century. For years, biologists studying symbiosis were excluded from "polite biological society." Their theories were either dismissed or met with open hostility. The "market mentality" underlying the neo-Darwinian synthesis led biologists to look for conflict.

Other than the above—nothing. This in spite of the fact that the distinct and separate branch of Evolutionary Economics had been developing for a number of years. This branch further evolved into the emerging field of Complexity Economics, which utilizes the insights of Evolutionary Economics and applies them using advanced analytical techniques. These branches have produced extremely useful results in describing the inherently non-equilibrium nature of real-world economic relations. It seems to me that economists are looking at nearly every aspect of evolutionary biology and applying them to their economic models - - except for symbiosis, which is completely ignored. As Sapp describes in her book, evolutionary biology and economics co-developed all through the 19th century, and symbiosis from the very beginning had been rejected by both biologists and economists. Even after Lynn Margulis’ groundbreaking field and laboratory work conclusively demonstrated the vastly important role that symbiosis plays in evolutionary biology, Symbiotic Economics was still completely ignored by every economist except John Watkins.

Now, I am not a trained economist. I took one course in economics as an undergraduate student. I do not by any stretch of the imagination possess the qualifications to declare that this notion of Symbiotic Economics constitutes an entirely new economic paradigm. Besides reading some of the foundational works of Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Keynes, Galbraith, and a few assorted others, the only serious studies in economics I have done are of the Steady-State variety. For me to make such a claim is beyond bold, borders on ludicrous, and flirts with being delusional. I am by training, trade, and practice nothing more nor nothing less than an Environmental Engineer. However, I am also one of the most serious students of science that you would ever care to meet, and I know a fair bit about paradigms in science. And unless I am grossly in error, paradigms possess the same basic characteristics and interact with humans and their institutions the same, whether you are talking about physics, biology, economics, psychology, or golf.

The same applies to paradigm shifts. For any new paradigm to subsume or replace an existing paradigm it must meet certain requirements: it must provide new insights to existing problems; it must possess system boundaries flexible and expansive enough to be inclusive of existing paradigms; it must be able to generate new approaches to existing problems intractable with existing paradigms; it must be able to be applied to at least a few existing problems that elude capture by any existing paradigm; and finally, it must be sound enough in both its basis and formulation to be expressed in readily-understood terminology; it must be communicable.

I do not have the space or time here to go into a lengthy dissertation and exhaustive presentation of evidence to defend my claim. At this juncture all I can do is make my assertion that Symbiotic Economics is a self-contained economic paradigm currently superior to all existing ones and leave that very necessary confirmatory step for later or to others more qualified to do so. But I will say this, however: I understand just as well as anybody else on this planet, including every economist, that fundamental basis of any conceptual system that purports to fall within the class of study known as “economics” ultimately and always has its roots in the natural world - - the world of biology, chemistry, physics, thermodynamics, and so many others. The field of economics is, in the last analysis, merely a subset of these other dimensions of the world we live in. And this is why the recent efforts of Evolutionary and Complexity Economics have been so successful: their basis lies in the natural world - - just as Symbiotic Economics does.

None of this is to say that competition as a driving force in economics should be replaced by the mutualistic model; indeed, it would be as ludicrous to try to do so in economics as it would be in evolutionary biology. I believe that the growth imperative and the competitive urge is an inherent part of us as a species. Not all of us, to be sure, but a sufficient number of us, and that will always be with us, to make the proposition of its extirpation the highest folly.

The growth paradigm has its place in our economy. In its unbridled form in a world without limits it is free to expand to its heart’s content with comparatively less adverse impact than when it operates in a world with limits where that growth imperative must be reigned in. Fortunately we have tools like the GPI, ECI, and GRI that have been developed or are in development that are ready and waiting to be implemented to transition terrestrial capitalism into a steady state operating mode. I realize that there is some debate within our community as to whether steady-state capitalism is even possible. I agree with Philip Lawn in this question and know from personal experience creating such an enterprise that steady-state capitalism is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary to aid us in this larger transition that is now upon us. The matter of the appropriateness and need to apply the unfettered economic growth paradigm in the industrialization of space should be self-evident.

This is where I believe one of Symbiotic Economics’ greatest strengths lies: its greater inclusiveness can accommodate these hybrid forms of economic social relations whose diversity in approaches I believe are going to be essential in the coming years. The paradigm can provide descriptive power not only for inherently mutualistic relations such as cooperative businesses, it is also inclusive of the relationships that those types of businesses will inevitably have with ones based more on competitive models - - and vice versa.

But I have had enough with theory, as you probably have, too. Before I leave this topic, however, I would like to make one final observation since I have your ear. It is my opinion that it is far past time that we make the attempt to develop a new language when discussing economic concepts, particularly when it comes to terms like socialism and capitalism. I contend that in our persistently mixed economies these words have lost their original descriptive power and applicability to our current conditions and circumstances. To continue to invoke them in the face of the urgencies of our time is to only slow our progress in dealing with all our rapidly closing multiple dilemmas. I think if Marx and Smith were around today they would probably look at us in amazement and lock arms in agreement and ask of us, “why on Earth are you guys still using our outdated terminology? Go and find yourself some new words, for Pete’s sake!”. Whether or not Symbiotic Economics holds any potential in that regard I have no idea.

In any case, it’s time to move on and wrap this up. As Marx once said, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.”. It’s time for some praxis.

The Symbiotic Economics Initiative as I formulated and developed it prior to the above theoretical explorations remains essentially unchanged. Although my recent discovery that I have been merely swimming around in a single tributary of a much mightier river has modified some aspects of my approach, the essential mission is simple and straightforward: to write a modest-sized book in a narrative, story-telling fashion that strives to increase understanding of our situation, present a positive long-term vision of the future, and provide the reader with avenues to act on their new-found awareness via the GPI and ECI tools on the website. The book will build upon and reference (on the website, not in the book) the voluminous stores of information that all of you good folks have worked so hard on all these years.

Which leads me to my desired outcome for this initiative. While my original formulation of this approach was always intended to hopefully produce a viral-like spread of awareness and a call to action to our national leaders, recent observations from the community have prompted me to consider a more ambitious proposition to put to you all now.

Over the last year or so a growing consensus in our community seems to have emerged that even with some sort of mass awakening of the general populace the chances of industrial civilization surviving the transition without collapse are pretty slim. I tend to agree with Gail Tverberg’s assessment that even with such an awakening and a whole-scale and rapid conversion of the military industrial complex to address energy conversion issues, our chances are still slim to none. Given these circumstances, I think we would be remiss to not look at every project, initiative, and undertaking for any potentialities they might contain to precipitate such an awakening. The calls for some form of transformative event or message have grown in number and urgency recently. Here are a few. As John Feffer of FPIF observed last year speaking about a recent analysis by George Fukuyama,

Despite his misunderstanding of the sustainability of the middle class—and his naïve commitment to a marketplace of ideas already tilted in favor of the wealthy—Fukuyama does raise an important point about the lack of compelling synthesis coming from the Left. We await a modern Marx who can shake up the Left just as surely as the Right with a trenchant critique of the current economic orthodoxy and a game plan for transformation. The Left, after all, has long been committed to a similarly unrestrained growth paradigm, from the industrial model of communism to the stimulus packages of progressive economists.

This Marx will produce not a manifesto for the middle class. Rather, the new synthesis will fuse economics and environmentalism in a way that fundamentally reorients both disciplines. Marx pioneered political economy; Marx 2.0 will pioneer planetary economy. It’s not just about greening capitalism, as if enough solar cells and Prii will save the world. Our current economic system has reached its planetary limit.

The confusions of our political classification system suggest that we stand at the verge of a new era. The task is not, as The Economist, the Financial Times, Francis Fukuyama, and Newt Gingrich all believe, to save capitalism or the middle class. The stakes are much higher than that. The rising waters will overwhelm Left and Right both. The future might be “storm socialism,” as Christian Parenti argues in TomDispatch, with big government expanding to deal with big weather. Or, if the next Marx is out there somewhere scribbling away, the future might be an entirely different economic system altogether.

One tremendous advantage of Symbiotic Economics is that it is nearly completely unencumbered by existing political affiliations and ideologies. It is essentially a blank slate, and empty canvas just asking to be taken off its 100-year old dusty shelf and painted on. In regards to vision, Don Hazen at Alternet put it like this last year:

…we know what the problems are. We're increasingly sure about how we got here. We're very clear about who's to blame. And we're even beginning to figure out what we need to do to fix things.

But we're still lacking a clear vision of the world that awaits us on the far shore of the change process -- the world that we want to create, that will meet our hopes and aspirations. Until we can offer better alternatives, we cannot hope to overwrite the corporatist reality that's stifling our liberty and our democracy. Without a vivid sense of what we stand to gain if we dare to loosen our grip on the present and reach out our hands to the future, we will never be able to fully let go of the past.

It is time to generate a new conversation -- one that asks: What comes next?

And a recent tweet from Foundation Earth called for this:

Desperately needed: a compelling new economic narrative, a moral philosophy, of a stature of an eco-Adam Smith or Marx.

I make no claim nor purport to be the next Marx or Smith. I have merely spotted a new ball on the field and now seek to put it in play with this project. There are countless other people more intelligent, more qualified, more knowledge, and more articulate that should be looking at where this ball can be best played and running to the goal line with it. It is my opinion, however, that this paradigm, and the single application of it with the vision of coupling SSE with SI, fills the needs identified by the above observers. There is power in this paradigm and in this vision that I believe has the potential to reach wide swaths of the American public and could generate a sizable amount of interest to even attract the attention of our national leaders. I would not even rule out the possibility that we could see a repeat of the size of mobilization present on April 22, 1970, only this time on-line.

I see no reason why we should wait for the publication of this book six or eight months from now to seize this opportunity. The conditions have never been more fertile, the interconnectivity more available, and the need more urgent. In case any of you are unacquainted with the dynamics of Kickstarter projects, those with a compelling vision have a propensity to build up a certain unstoppable momentum once a critical mass of attention is reached.

Although I would hope it would not be necessary at this point, I want to make perfectly clear that I have no personal financial motives in seeing this project reach the level of funding it is capable of achieving. The target goals themselves are quite modest, and it is built into the project that any funds received above an additional modest threshold will be used to establish a non-profit foundation and into which all funds will be deposited for later disbursement to expanded present and future projects (these are listed on the website).

Now a couple of detail items and then to close. We are still on track for launch at 10:00 a.m. EST on September 24. All pages on the website,, are currently password-protected. The About pages will be ready for unlocking in a day or two and the rest of the pages a couple of days after that. The primary video is still in production; secondary ones will be completed within a week after launch.

Finally, I would like to share with you all something that I hope will further pique your interest in this project and the nature of its vision. Nate’s recent invitation to OD readers to present their vision of the future in 2100+ and 12,000+ provided a perfect opportunity for me to present the long range implications of either our success or failure at implementing the vision I have outlined. It also presented me with the chance to try my hand at the writing style that the “Letters From the Future” will be composed in. Please note that this is my first attempt at such prose; my writing experience is solely in the non-fiction and technical genre. I anticipate that with much professional editing and input the finished product will be substantially better than this first rough cut at the approach.

What follows, then, are two timelines. In Timeline A a “Great Awakening” occurred on September 24, 2013. In Timeline B this event did not occur. The rhetorical vehicle of the “Letter From the Future” is premised on the idea I described earlier. It is a tradition which was initiated in both timelines.

In closing, I want to again thank everyone at The Oil Drum for your many years of service in your work here. The contributions you have made to our community, this Nation, the Planet, and all our futures have been inestimable. Thank you again.



September 23, 2163 AD

Post-Carbon International University, Main Campus Medical Commons
Titusville, North American Ecoregion 8.1.10.b.1

My dearest, darling, adorable, granddaughter…

My my, little one, if the timing of your arrival is what we can expect from here on out we’re all going to have our hands full with you! Yet another Brussel girl comes into the world with fanfare. We knew you were due right around the conference and commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Great Awakening, but you had to choose mere minutes before my Conference address, address, didn’t you? It was joyous moment, actually. After your birth was announced in the auditorium I said that I would postpone writing my letter to you and go ahead with the proceedings so as to not inconvenience everyone here and elsewhere attending via satellite, but no one was having even a moment of any notion of delay in this matter. So whether you intended to or not, your birthday was greeted with cheers and applause from all the good folks here and at all the other PCIU campuses around the planet. Quite the entrance little one, well done!

But now that I am sitting here next to you and your amazing mother and I finally get to look into your bright little eyes and infectious smile I am glad that I paid heed to everyone’s insistence and held to the tradition. I really have never been one for rituals, but now that I am penning this letter to you in your first hours of life and have the unopened pair from my grandparents that I am looking forward to reading tonight, I understand now the power of this tradition. Everything attached to it reminds you of how shockingly close we came to the total collapse of Industrial Civilization. From the different types of handmade paper used in the previous letters to the ink well and fountain pen that gets passed around and down through the years, it all tells a story of the forgetfulness of our ancestors before the GA that we ourselves must never forget. Rereading all the previous letters is a frightening experience to see all that we went through to reach this point, but I promise you, when you do you’ll be glad you did. I feel such an enormous sense of gratitude and thankfulness for the courage shown by those folks in 2014. It really was quite an inconceivable achievement at the time to begin to turn the tide on 150 years of wasteful consumerism and all the harmful effects it had on our culture and relationships with everyone and everything around us.

I only have an hour before I need to get back to the auditorium, and so my task at hand is to describe our world to you as it now exists and my own perspective on how we got here. Being an historian that’s going to be challenging because I tend to look at the present through the lens of the past, but I’ll do my best, little one.

Right now I’m teaching Early Transition History here at PCIU. When I found this calling thirty years ago your grandfather and I were reluctant to spend all our accumulated carbon credits to leave Lansing and move to Titusville. There always seemed to have been a member of our blood family living in the original 100 acre ecovillage in the city since it was founded six generations ago. I guess it’s just in our genes. In spite of the enormous costs involved, we seem to have family in nearly every ecoregion of the continent. I suppose that in the Old Times we would have been the sort of folks who would have owned those “motor homes” and traveled the highways endlessly. It’s hard to imagine now what that must have been like, to be able to just fill up the gas tank of one of those monsters and heading out without giving a single thought to what a valuable resource you were wasting - - using liquid fossil fuels for transport - - it just boggles the mind. We do all get together for reunions back in Lansing every five or ten years. Your grandfather and I used to take the train, but the last few times we’ve opted for one of the regular blimp transports. They take longer, but it’s such a pleasant ride to float gently over the landscape and see all the improvements and rebuilding taking place. It’s very encouraging.

We’ve found a wonderful home here in Titusville, though, and by the looks of it your parents aren’t planning on leaving anytime soon. Your father seems to have made himself nearly indispensable around town. He bounces around between the local foundry, batch refinery, energy farm, and fab plant when he’s not working in the community gardens. If it’s mechanical, chemical, or electrical your father and broken he knows how to fix it and if it’s running he’ll optimize it. One downside of your father’s unique abilities is that the unpleasant role of being the local ecoregion’s political representative was thrust upon him early last year. Of course he could have refused that thankless task after everyone nearly unanimously nominated and elected him against his protestations, but he understood the importance of one of the few “jobs” that are left anymore, and deep down I think he knows that he’s perfect for it. Fortunately for him so far he’s been able to attend the larger regional congresses remotely, but next month is the infrequent physical meeting, and not only is he a bit hesitant about traveling, he’s even more worried about the rumors floating around that he might get nominated to represent us at the Level 1 Continental Congress! He says now that he’s done enough in politics and his hands aren’t getting dirty enough these days, but everyone knows if elected he’ll agree in the end. Your Dad’s just that kind of stand-up guy and knows everybody has to take a turn doing those unpleasant jobs. He’ll teach you well, little one, you’re a lucky gal.

Your Mother has managed to make quite a name for herself, as well. In fact, if it wasn’t for her, we probably wouldn’t even be here in Titusville at all! As soon as she began to grasp the scope and history of the world her thirst for knowledge became insatiable, and it wasn’t long after that that we decided to withdraw most of our banked carbon credits and move here next to PCIU. As we guessed she might, she went straight into the Economics track as soon as she was able, the youngest candidate ever to be admitted. Your mother is truly extraordinary. Not many people have the drive and stamina to get through the demanding multidisciplinary requirements of the program, not to mention the time commitments of the various field residencies before one can even apply to take the board exams. Her thesis has caused quite a stir, apparently; now that extraterrestrial minerals are starting to play a big part in our materials base she says we should be thinking much farther down the road and changing our tiered time/carbon currency system with something that takes future mass limits into account. It seems a bit premature to me, but I suppose we shall see what comes of it.

Speaking of the extraterrestrial part of our economy, it’s finally become quite apparent now how fortunate we are that space industrialization was such a central part of the Great Awakening. At the time a lot of people argued that mining the moon and asteroids was a waste of time and resources that would be better spent on the mobilization to convert the world to renewable energy. The SI folks always had their trump card, though, in the steady-state economists’ own Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s fourth law of thermodynamics, that complete recycling is impossible. It’s a damn good thing they played that card whenever they needed to, too; I shudder to think where we’d be right now without those now-regular deliveries of pure lunar titanium and asteroidal steel and other metals dropping from the sky. Like someone once said, Nature always bats last and entropy is her best hitter.

I don’t mean to make it sound like the SI and SSE folks were adversaries in those days, though, they most certainly were not. In fact, as I’ve argued in my research, it was the coming together of those two groups which may have precipitated the GA itself. Unlike the left/right socialism/capitalism polarizations of the time, there were few barriers between those worldviews and once they discovered how much they shared in common it all fell into place. All that was needed was the SI folks’ recognition that their hopes and dreams for the long-term survival of humanity could not be achieved without establishing a terrestrial SSE, and a similar realization by the SSE folks that their own goals wouldn’t be possible without acknowledging the very deep psychological and cultural roots that went along with 150 years of fossil-fueled economic growth and providing a means of expressing that inner need through encouraging economic growth in space. Once these two things happened, both groups suddenly saw that they very much needed each other, just like the sea anemone needs the poop of the clownfish, who depends on the anemone’s stingers to protect it from predators.

When the dam was breached with the introduction of the new paradigm in late 2013 it was as if everyone knew in the back of their minds that there was something fundamentally wrong with the entire economic system. The new paradigm resonated and the numbers of people who responded in support of it astonished everyone. And just like what happened as a consequence of Earth Day in 1970, their national leaders had no alternative but to respond by talking openly for the very first time about the issues the new paradigm raised.

To be sure, all hell broke lose for a little while in certain sectors of the economy. The Awakening was a clear common-sense-based mass rejection of the growth paradigm and the advertising industry was particularly shocked at how readily people supported the new paradigm that opposed the consumerism that was an inherent part of it. Nevertheless, the shift in the mindset was surprisingly easier than anyone had previously imagined. Once told the truth about their multiple dilemmas which contained no simple solutions, people accepted the reality of the situation and had the courage to radically reprioritize their society to affect the transition to a steady-state economy. I think what astounded people the most was that many of the tools were already there lying about, just waiting to be used. The Global Reporting Initiative, True Cost Accounting standards, and various other policy instruments had been developed and experimented with years before, and when people became aware of their existence demanded that they be implemented with all due haste.

That was the easy part.

Depowering an industrial civilization of the size they had built was a task that no one on the planet had the slightest idea how to accomplish. Prior to the Awakening most people thought that the transition from non-renewable fossil fuels to renewables would be a relatively straightforward affair, a gradual but aggressive program of convert all modes of transportation over to electricity and then replacing all the existing fossil-fueled electrical generating stations with ones that used only renewables. The reality, of course, was enormously more difficult than that, and everyone quickly realized that there was no possible way that they were going to be able to maintain their high-energy lifestyles. The renewable energy sources were not truly “alternative”, they were derivative; they were all derived from fossil-fueled mineral extraction, processing, and fabrication plants. In spite of these challenges, and because everyone was now fully aware of what was at stake if they failed, they did achieve the power-downs required and lowered their expectations accordingly.

So far I have spoken only on how the Transition was affected in the US. The global aspects of the transition were much more difficult. And please make no mistake, Granddaughter, I am no Pollyanna, but the fact remains is that that generation was burdened with a weight of historical responsibility that they had not been asked to shoulder, nor did they have any sort of blueprint or roadmap which they could rely on to guide them in their journey; they were in completely unchartered territory. They did the best they could with the overflowing plate that was handed to them, and when the time came to mobilize where it was needed, they answered the growing calls with all the strength they could muster. And with every blimp in the flotilla that emptied its cargo of Great Lakes water for the thirsty masses on the plains of Bangladesh made parched by the rapidly disappearing Himalayan glaciers, the world community took one step closer to realizing that we were all in this together, no longer as separate nations, but as a species whose entire civilization was teetering on the brink of total and permanent collapse. Yes, we still mourn the billions who died. Every day we mourn. But we dishonor the meaning of their lives and deaths when we do not learn from them and use that knowledge to ensure such a tragedy will never happen again. And we have done that. At a very steep price, to be sure. But we have done the unthinkable. We have joined the ranks of our brothers and sisters who made it through the Toba eruption of 75,000 years ago. We have made it through the bottleneck.

So tomorrow we celebrate. About a mile southeast of Titusville in what used to be called Pennsylvania. On a plateau overlooking a tributary of the Alleghany River called Oil Creek. Alongside this creek is a small wooden building with a square tower-like structure attached to one end called a derrick. At the base of the derrick 304 years ago the world’s first oil well was drilled in 1859, and the world, and our species, was forever and irreversibly changed. Some might say for the better, some might say for the worse. Who is right, and who is wrong, in this judgment will probably always be a matter of some debate. For now, all we can say with any certainty is that faced with dilemmas that required patience, persistence, and vision, we prevailed. For each other, for the world we live in, and for worlds that are yet to be.

I need to close here soon, sweet pea, but before I do, your grandfather will never let me hear the end of it if I don’t include what he’s up to these days. He is dying to meet you, by the way, and would have been here had it not been for all the problems they are still having in Houston. Asteroid 2009 FD is due to impact the northern hemisphere of Asia 22 years from now in March 2185 and they now know that there are some essential pieces of equipment and construction supplies they are going to need that doesn’t look like they’ll be able to manufacture in orbit. The space elevator on the lunar surface that delivered all those high-grade titanium ores to orbit worked so well they are attempting to duplicate their efforts here on Earth, too. Also, the prototype Space Solar Power Satellite we constructed is still functioning just as predicted, but currently there are no plans on the drawing board to build any additional ones. Everyone seems to be quite comfortable at the energy levels we are currently running on and there’s just no need to increase those levels right now. It’s always good to have that option in our hip pocket if we ever need it in the future, though.

Well, the nurse on duty just informed me that everyone has decided to postpone my speech until tomorrow, if that was OK with me, and I said fine. They all want to go spend the rest of the day helping to bring in this year’s harvest and they thought I might like more time here writing. But, my little one, I think I’m going to close this letter now and go join my other family members amongst the beds of the community gardens. Remembering the past has its place, as does chronicling the present. But to create the future one must always strive to live in the present and connect with all those whom you share this space and time with and depend upon for your life and future. I hope that when you are my age and writing your own Letter you will be living in a world that offers as much or more as this one does. And I am fairly certain that you will.

With all my deepest love and affection,

Grandma Savannah


September 23, 2163 AD

Titusville, Former Pennsylvania, Former USA

Well, granddaughter, welcome to the world! If yours turns out to be anything like mine, which it probably will, you are in for one interesting ride - - hang on!

So, everyone in the village has been telling me I have to write this letter to you. Apparently there used to be this thing that they used to do but don’t anymore, or at least haven’t in a huge long time, where a first-time grandma writes this letter to her grandkid right after she’s born and then seals it up and the kid isn’t supposed to read it until she becomes a grandma, and her grandkid does the same thing, and so on and so on. You get the picture. They wanted your ma to write one too, so the whole thing could start up again and your kid would have something to read when she has her first kid, but your ma’s having none of this foolishness, as she put it. So I guess this is probably gonna be a one-time deal. Time will tell, as it always does, I suppose.

Anyway, the reason why they used to do this and wanted me to do it now is that a long time ago when the oil started running out they thought it would be a good idea to keep a record of everything that happened after, and everybody seems to think I’m the right person for the job now, what with how much I like to talk and think and read and write and stuff. So I’ll try to tell you what life is like here around Titusville. And if you end up reading this before you’re supposed to, don’t feel bad, I probably would have, too.

So, Titusville. it’s kinda weird when I think about it. It’s sorta like there’s a whole lot to tell and hardly anything to tell at all, all at the same time. Probably the basics is the best place to start.

We do pretty OK here, all in all. We all have enough to eat, clothes on our backs, and roofs over our heads. We all have jobs to do to keep our little village going all right. We call our village Titusville Junior. It’s just a couple miles south of the old city of Titusville, which we all call Titusville Senior. So when people talk about going from place to place we never say the name Titusville, we always just say “Hey, you going down to Senior today?” and “Yeah, I should be heading back up to Junior here in a bit.” Like that.

We say up and because Junior is up on what’s called a “plateau” (that’s a French word, by the way), which is a nice flat place a couple of hundred feet above Oil Creek and the Drake Tattoo Parlor (at least that’s what we call it - - more on that in a bit). The soil’s good for growing all the vegetables and beans that we need and we’ve got plenty of room for all the food animals and even a few horses and wagons for when you need something that Senior hasn’t got that you can get in Erie City 30 miles north of here. Junior hasn’t got any electricity or telephones, but Senior does. Sometimes at night we make a game of it betting on when the lights down in Senior are going to be on or off. The fun seems to have wore off on that game lately, though, cause the lights have been off way more than they’ve been on this year.

30 miles southeast of here is the town of Leeper. I grew up in Leeper before my Dad moved us to Junior when I was about 14. Leeper is real important in this whole area, way more important than Senior. Leeper’s got huge landfills where all the people used to throw away the stuff they didn’t want anymore back in the time when there was lots of oil. It’s amazing the stuff that you can find in there. All the metal that gets dug up there goes over to the Leeper Foundry where my Dad used to work where they make all the iron stuff that we need in Junior. Leeper has also got the electricity station, which they fuel with the coal they dig up in the area. The only other way Senior can get its electricity is that they’ve got some old windmills left that they manage to keep running. They used to have solar panels, too, that made electricity straight from sunlight, but when those wore out they never replaced them. More and more windmills don’t get fixed after they break now, too, and the people in Senior are always saying that if it wasn’t for all the bankers and regulators back in the day when they first built them that they could have built more of them and built them better and then we’d all have windmills and electricity all the time still now. I never know what to say to that. I always asked my Dad lots of questions about metals and wondered about what we’re going to do when the landfill runs out of metal and the electricity plant runs out of coal, but my Dad always used to tell me that unless I had a way of making another Earth there was nothing I could do about it and so should best not worry my pretty little head over it. But I still do. We need those metals to make our plows and axes and all our other tools and equipment. I don’t know how we’d live without them.

All in all, Junior is a much better place to live than Senior. Senior has always had a hard time of it, it seems. For a long time after the Unraveling (that’s what they call the time after the oil ran out. One thing they do a good job of teaching us here in both Titusvilles is history) Senior was always getting the short end of the stick. Part of the Unraveling was that people got real angry about all the oil running out and one of the things they used to do was come to Senior and just smash things up to take out their frustrations on the place where it all started. Because it was right here, in little old Junior Titusville, right down the hill from where I’m writing these words, where in 1859 Edwin Drake first drilled 70 feet down in the ground and struck oil and that started the oil age. Everyone knows everything that happened after that. All the cars and big cities and ships and airplanes going all around the world and even building rockets to send people into space and walk on the moon. They even put satellites into space that you could hook up to your computer with radio waves that you could use to talk to anyone anywhere on the planet anytime you wanted. Everyone had one in their house and you’d just turn it on and there on the screen would be the face of the person you’d be talking to thousands and thousands of miles away. This is all true history. They’re always finding old computers over at Leeper, you can go there and see them yourself if you want to, they got some in a display there. And you can still see those satellites going around and around the Earth at night, too. They say they stopped working a long time ago, and I believe them, but sometimes I think about how fun it would be to just hook up an aerial to one of those old computers and turn it on and who knows, you might just be able to pick up a radio wave from someone else on the other side of the world who’s doing the same thing and then we could all start communicating like that again. I’d like that a lot if that could happen.

But back to the history (I know, this letter is supposed to be about the here and now, but I like history a lot, and I’m in the here and now, so I think that should be allowed). After they first started to run out of oil they figured out a new way to drill to get more out of the ground and thought that that new way would be able to keep the oil age going for hundreds of more years, but they were wrong about that. Then when they couldn’t run their machines anymore people got mad and decided to take it out on Drake’s poor little oil well here in Junior. But the folks in Senior wouldn’t ever tell them where the well was so they smashed up the town instead.

So now we’re at the tattoo part of the story, which I think is the oddest thing about Junior. After many years the Unraveling started to slow down and a new kind of normal settled in, pretty much like it is now. After they got a couple of telephones working again, one day the Mayor gets a call. Some rich man tells the mayor he wants to visit the Drake Well and get a tattoo with ink that has some of the oil from the well in it. So the Mayor arranges it. The man comes and pays the town a lot of money, they blindfold him and take him to the well building and he looks around for a while and then gets his tattoo. Before he leaves he tells the Mayor that there will be others like him in the future asking for the same thing. And sure enough, a few months later the same thing happens just like the first time, and with the very same tattoo. (That’s when Junior officially got formed. Everyone thought it was a good idea to make the little yurt settlement up here more permanent to help make sure no one messed with the Drake Well anymore.) This all happened many years ago and keeps happening even today. Sometimes people come from all different parts of the world to look at the old well and get that tattoo. They travel by sailing ship all the way to Erie. They speak languages we don’t know and bring interpreters with them. It’s all very odd to me and I don’t quite understand it. The oil’s gone, why not just deal with it and get on with your life?

You’re probably wondering about the tattoo. It’s a circular figure of a snake eating its own tail, with another figure of the planet Earth in the center of the circle. I’ve learned that the snake figure is very ancient and is called an “Ouroboros” (that’s a Greek word, by the way) and it can mean different things to different people, but it’s always supposed to mean big important ideas that aren’t really real in the real world, but only in our minds. That’s what is called a myth or a symbol and why they call the Ouroboros a “mythological symbol”. When the snake is eating his tail faster than he can grow a new one he gets smaller and smaller but never completely disappears, and that’s a symbol for nothingness. When he’s growing his tail faster than he can eat it he keeps growing bigger and bigger without end, and that’s a symbol for infinity. And when the snake eats his tail just as fast as he’s growing it he just does that forever, and that’s a symbol for eternity. You can tell I like this subject a lot, I read about it just as much as all the technical books I get from the libraries. I probably know more about the Ouroboros than anybody in both Titusvilles by now. What it all means in connection with the Drake Well I haven’t figured out yet, though. Hopefully I will someday. Time will tell.

But I need to stop here for a bit. The doc just gave me a prescription for some medicine that he says we should have on hand in case your Ma needs it because there were some complications with your delivery, so I gotta ride down to Senior and finish this up when I get back.


Well, I’m back. And I don’t know what to write now. Or say. Or think. Maybe trying to write about what just happened will help me sort all this out in my head. So I’ll try.

So I ride my horse down the hill and into town. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, but at the same time something doesn’t seem right that I can’t quite put my finger on. When I reach City Hall I tie my horse up in front of the four big pillars and start walking up the steps. Looking back I realize that there are no other horses or bicycles or other vehicles in front of the Hall, which is odd for this time of day. I slowly swing open the front door and peer inside. The two front office desks are unoccupied and papers lie scattered about in some disorder. I hear the sound of papers being shuffled in the back office. Something is not right.

“Mayor Lynd?” I call out. “Are you here? Where are Chris and Jackie?”

More shuffling. The smells of Rose Water and cigar smoke reach my nose.

“Horace? Is that you I hear back there?”

Horace Lynd, Senior’s Mayor, had lately taken to signing all official documents “Horus”. He also asked us to start calling him by that new name. Since the names looked and sounded nearly the same we all had chalked it up to someone just being a little goofy, which most of us all do from time to time, especially when we get on a bit in years and don’t care quite so much about what people think of us.

“Horace, Connie just had her baby and the Doc sent me down to get her some medicine he said she might need later.”

The sound of footsteps, then a pair of shiny tall black boots appear in the open space below the swinging doors. A pair of black trousers are tucked into the top of the boots. In the space above the doors I see part of Horace’s forehead underneath a tall black stovepipe hat. Something is most definitely not right. A puff of cigar smoke rolls out of the doorway and Mayor Lynd walks into the front office with a drink in one hand and a cigar in the other.

“Young Lady, by unanimous consent, Mayor Lynd’s tenure in office has been unceremoniously abrogated and usurped. Moreover, henceforth and forthwith, the Mayoral Office itself has been replaced with that of Chief Administrator, Banker, and Regulator. The consolidation of all these functions into one position will vastly increase the productivity of this province. Why, the efficiency gains alone will be sure to enhance our prosperity and reduce overhead costs in impressive and unprecedented quantities almost immediately!”

This is way more than someone just getting goofy. There is something seriously wrong with Horace Lynd, I think.

“Horace, what…”

“The name is Steele, young lady, John Washington Steele. But everyone calls me Johnny, Coal Oil Johnny. And you would be…?”

He extends a hand toward me and I take it in mine. It’s clear he’s been perspiring not long ago.

“Hora - - I mean Johnny, it’s me, Emma. Emma Brussel. What’s going on here? Where did you get those clothes? And where are Chris and Jackie?”

He lets go of my hand and spins around, the tails of his topcoat twirling behind him and walks back towards the back office.

“I had to let them go, Miss Brussel. Consolidation leads to greater efficiency, you know, and greater efficiency leads to more resources, and we all know that without resources one cannot make progress. Please to follow me, Ma’am, I have something important to show you.”

I always like it when Horace calls me as Ma’am. He calls every woman that, of course (something most men don’t do any more), but when he calls me that it feels extra special somehow. Horace and I have always gotten on real well and we see things in each other that most people don’t seem to. So I follow Coal Oil Johnny back into his office. He goes behind his desk, stubs out the cigar in an ashtray, sets down the glass, and then starts sorting through a large stack of books that I’d never seen before.

“Would you like a whiskey, Miss Brussel? A sip of whiskey now and again helps keep the mind lubricated, you know.”

A sip of whiskey does sound pretty good right about now, I think to myself. I lift the glass and hold it to my nose and sniff. That’s not whiskey. That’s urine.

“It’s all about resources, Miss Emma, it’s all about resources. Renewable, non-renewable, you must count and measure them all in your head first to make them count for real.”

I hear the sound of feet coming up the front steps and Coal Oil Johnny stops sorting and looks up and behind me and suddenly he’s back to being Horace Lynd and looks me right in the eyes.

“Here, take these, Emma. Don’t let anyone know I gave them to you,” he says, stuffing some of the books into my pack. Then just as sudden he’s back to being Coal Oil Johnny again just as Sheriff Beeker and a couple of other Seniors walk up behind me.

“Horace Lynd, you’re under arrest for vandalism and theft of Old University Property.”

Old University is where part of the University of Pittsburgh used to be here in Senior. It stopped being a school during the Unraveling, but they do have a little library and some big rooms on the main floor that Seniors use for classes sometimes. I’ve looked at all the books in the little OU library and they aren’t like any of the books in the big Senior Library that everyone uses, they’re full of equations and drawings that didn’t make any sense to me. The doors to the floors above the main one are always locked and no one can go up there except for just a couple of Seniors. They say they keep them locked up because they’re full of very valuable books and other stuff that needs to be kept safe in case there’s another Unraveling, and that we wouldn’t understand what’s in the books anyway. Which kind of makes sense, if all the books up there are like the ones I’ve looked at in the little library. Still, though, I always thought they should let people up there sometimes. Even if the equations don’t make any sense they’re really pretty to look at, like real fine intricate leatherwork.

“Miss Brussel, would you mind telling me what you’re doing here?”

I show the Sheriff the prescription and tell him that Connie just had her baby and it didn’t go well and she’s getting real sick and needs this medicine right away. Which is a lie, of course, but I want to get out of there real bad before the Sheriff finds out I’ve got some of the books that Horace stole from OU in my pack. I wanna see what’s in those books.

The sheriff says Horace can fill the prescription but then he’s gotta arrest him. While he’s doing that I look over to the side table and notice a pile of rocks on it I didn’t see when I came in. Well, they’re sorta half-rocks, really, they’re all like sliced down the middle and the faces are polished as shiny as a mirror. I reach out and pick one up and it’s real heavy. I look at the flat mirror side of it and it’s got all these funny-looking parallel scratches in it going in different directions.

“Please put that down, Miss Brussel, that’s stolen Old University property.”

I put down the half-rock and Horace hands me the bottle of pills. Then he gives me this kind of look that Horace does sometimes when he and I get to talking and next thing I know he’s got one of the half-rocks in his hands and he’s threatening to throw it at the sheriff and there’s a struggle and they wrestle him to the floor and take off his top hat and tails and put the handcuffs on him and drag him out the front door and a crowd has gathered to watch and the whole time he’s acting all crazy and yelling things like, “they lied to us about the oil!” “they knew that it wasn’t going to last that long!” “we could have had elevators to the stars!” “we could have built cities in the sky!”. I follow behind the whole scene down the front steps and decide that it’s time for me to get out of there right now. I get on my horse and watch them for a little bit more and then walk my horse slowly out to the edge of town and make sure no one is following me.

As soon as I get out of sight I put the horse into full gallop and race up the hill to Junior as fast as my horse will go. Before I get to the top I slow the horse down and head off on a side trail that leads to my favorite lookout spot where I like to read and think and write. The spot has a big old beech tree that slants back just perfect. I grabbed my pack and saddle blanket and settled in for the afternoon. I waited a little bit before I started looking at the books, though, and munched on an apple while I calmed down and thought about what had just happened. I had so many questions and not a single answer that I could come up with. The answers had to be in the books.

There were three books. The first two were about Peak Oil and the Limits to Growth, both subjects we studied in school. I was sure there was some important information in them that I hadn’t been taught in school, otherwise Horace wouldn’t have gone to all that trouble to steal them and give them to me, but I decided to set them aside for now because it was the other two books about space that really caught my eye.

Titled, “Space Settlements: A Design Study”, it was written in 1977 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, the folks who put people on the moon and built and operated the Space Station before it came down in a huge fireball when the Unraveling was getting underway. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. Not only did it have a lot of the equations I so liked looking at, there were pictures and diagrams of huge donut-shaped and cylinder-shaped structures designed to hold thousands and thousands of people in them. They were sealed up from the space vacuum but had windows and mirrors to let the light in. They spun around their central axis to push you against the sides so you wouldn’t float around like you do in zero-gravity. They were settlements in space just like Junior started out as settlement that came out of Senior. Some of the designs were so big they even had rivers and lakes and clouds and weather in them!

I was flabbergasted. Did NASA build these space settlements? If they did, how come they didn’t teach us about them in school? Were they still up there now? Is that why these books are all locked away, they did all this in secret and didn’t want anyone to know? They taught us about everything else that NASA had done, why not this? And how did they get all the material up there from Earth to build all these things? They taught us that they stopped flying the Space Shuttle years before the Unraveling and after that only launched smaller rockets to put up the last of the satellites until they stopped altogether. There’s no way they could have put all those materials up there with even thousands and thousands of Shuttle flights, even if they had kept flying them in secret. But the book showed they were planning to use only Shuttles. Something didn’t make sense.

Then I got to the chapters on space resources. They were planning on using lunar rocks and asteroids to build the space settlements! In school they always told us that the reason we went to the moon only those few times was that the rocks that they looked at weren’t worth much more than as souvenirs, and with the oil being finite it wasn’t worth spending the resources on going back more than that. It was just a one-time deal. They also said that they looked at all the comets and asteroids with their telescopes and found the same thing, that it just wasn’t worth going to them at all even once to check it out in person. Our teachers were lying to us! The data and the pictures were right there to see! They even had photographs of pieces of asteroids sawed in half with the same kind of scratch marks I had just seen and held in my hands a couple hours ago!. Those asteroids are pure metals!

So now my mind is filled with questions that I want answers to. If they knew that the oil was finite and that the less pure a metal is in a rock the more oil it takes to get it out, why didn’t they start going after the metals in the asteroids from the very beginning? Or start mining the moon? This wasn’t in the book, but there was a report stuck in between the pages that said that they discovered huge titanium metal deposits on the moon almost 40 years before the Unraveling. Why didn’t they go back right away and start mining them? They had plenty of time left then and enough oil to at least try. But they didn’t. Why?

Oh, one last thing and then I have to end this letter because I’ve got chores to do and then spell your Mom for a while. In all of the three books on the inside cover was a stamp of the Ouroboros symbol. What I’m thinking is this: if they were lying to us about the metals on the moon and in the asteroids maybe they were lying to us about the oil all being gone, too! Maybe there are people in places around the world who know about the metals in space and how some other people have been trying to keep it secret. And maybe these people know about hidden oil deposits that they have been keeping secret and saving up for a time when they’ll finally try to mine the moon and the asteroids! And maybe the Ouroboros is their secret symbol and Horace stealing those books and giving them to me is part of their plan to start up a new space program! Maybe I’m part of their plan and I just don’t know it yet!

I am so excited I don’t know what to do next after chores. Finish reading the space settlement book, for sure. They even had detailed schematics of their original plan, it couldn’t have changed all that much yet, I should study those especially hard. Maybe those peak oil and limits books talk about the secret oil deposits that they might be using to make this all happen, I should get to those next. Somehow I need to contact Horace in jail and see what else he can tell me that might not be in the books. My Dad would be so proud of me right now if he were still alive. Then he’d know for sure that I didn’t worry my pretty little head off for no reason or not being able to do anything about it, No Sirree.

I can’t wait to get started.

Signing off for now, my little Granddaughter. I love you very much, and welcome to this exciting new world you’ve just joined.

Grandma Emma


23 September, 12,163 AD

Planetary Defense Network
Enceladus-Saturn L2 Station Headquarters
Central Logistics and Planning Main Offices

Dear Granddaughter:

I just received the transmission of you and your Mother. You are one gorgeous little newborn. I wish I were back on Earth to see and hold you in person. I’m sorry that this is going to be such a short letter, but as you will (hopefully) learn all about in a few years, we’re at a very critical moment right now in trying to head off what will without question be the extermination of our species, and quite possibly all of life on Earth, if our efforts in the end prove to be unsuccessful. What follows is a quick summary of what has happened.

Not long after our Oort-cloud long-range telescope array spotted The Bullet we knew we were in big trouble. We’ve been moving big asteroids around for thousands of years, of course. In fact, there’s hardly a rock anywhere in the solar system that hasn’t been charted and repositioned if it posed a threat to Earth. Although we’ve diverted the occasional extra-solar rogue object which found its way into our Solar System before, astronomers had always speculated that we might someday encounter something big and extremely fast-moving which we were ill-prepared to deal with. That day has arrived. While The Bullet is only half again as big as the KT killer from 66,000,000 years ago, the speed of this object has required us to mobilize unprecedented resources from across the system in order to prepare for its arrival. We’ve also had to rapidly develop untested technologies that for centuries have existed only on the drawing boards. Whether they function as predicted when we deploy them in the next few days remains to be seen.

Marshaling these resources was not without controversy and objections, however, and if Earth survives this encounter, the situation has uncovered a larger controversy with profound implications that is going to require a fundamental restructuring of our existing dominant socioeconomic systems.

For the first several millennia of the Great Expansion, the pace of space colony construction proceeded at a fairly constant rate, constrained primarily by the engineering limitations of solar and traditional fusion power sources. The invention of the Schmader Process in 9859 removed those limitations, resulting in an exponential growth rate in colony construction. Human colony populations now exceed that of the Earth’s by orders of magnitude, so there was great reluctance to devote such vast resources to saving Earth given its small population and the colonist’s supposed self-sufficiency. “Supposed” being the operative word, here.

Well, it turns out that supposed self-sufficiency was a complete fabrication. The colonies and their supporters were advocating an approach that basically said, our chances of success for saving the Earth are so slim that we would be better off focusing on building as many new colonies as possible and evacuating Earth to them entirely. What was discover was that it is impossible for any colony to survive without the regular introduction of new species originating from Earth. There simply is insufficient space in a colony to be able to provide the genetic diversity necessary to sustain its system integrity over long periods of time.

The implication of this discovery is that unless some way around this limitation humanity will forever be confined to the limits of our solar system. Which means that the exponential growth of colonies we have witnessed for the last three millennia must end. Just as it was in the 21st century with oil, we have now reached peak mass.

Well, my little one, I wish I could find the right words to close this with. We may or may not make it through this. At least if we don’t, we’ll die knowing that we had the opportunity to make the attempt, and we tried. No one in the Universe could ask any more of us than that. Now it’s time to get to work.

I love you.

Grandma Hannah


23 September, 12,163 AD


There are no letters.

TL;DR for most people. Here's a brief summary:

The author is an Environmental Engineer from Michigan with experience in solar/geothermal systems, living self-sufficiently, and twenty years at GM working on environmental matters. He is also interested in steady-state economics, Limits to Growth etc.

He lost his job in GM's bankruptcy and decided to write a book addressing future scarcity issues as he saw them. But on researching economics he realised a new economic paradigm was needed, something he called Symbiotic Economics utilising metrics like the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) and External Cost Internalization (ECI); and it needed to be put across in more popular form than a book with graphs and tables, so he conceived of a website and stories.

It turns out that the term Symbiotic Economics was first used by Kropotkin, who observed animals in the wilds of Siberia and concluded that they survived by mutual aid rather than by competition.

The author is establishing a website and getting funding via Kickstarter to promote his ideas.

He concludes with two possible future scenarios. Both assume a population crash in the interim. One imagines a prosperous steampunk low-technology world where minerals are obtained from asteroids; and the other a less prosperous world where minerals are mined from old landfills.

The author is welcome to post any corrections to this summary.

Now that I have had a chance to get a bit of solid sleep for the first time in many days I want to make one clarification on the above. When I said:

I believe that the growth imperative and the competitive urge is an inherent part of us as a species. Not all of us, to be sure, but a sufficient number of us, and that will always be with us, to make the proposition of its extirpation the highest folly.

I was intending to address the various calls I have seen from certain groups that the only acceptable solution can be nothing less than a form of ecosocialism. As a good friend of mine observed this morning:

Having seen what results from trying to extirpate competition/capitalism/individualism in Hungary and Romania, I can only agree. I would simply stress that competition is also a force that is necessary for a vibrant society. It simply has to be kept on a leash, as I think your purpose is.

I should have expressed what I said better.

And yes, the whole thing is a tl;dr. Right now I have to say I really don't know what I was thinking, posting something this large and expecting anyone would have the time to read it all. And I usually express myself better and felt rather in a hurry to make a post here before you good folks closed up shop. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have posted anything. My apologies to you all. But thank you all once again.

My Basic Theme
Grateful that I was born into such a time and place that I could be free from hunger, have access to books, advanced schooling, and later the internet, have opportunities to travel and to have different types of jobs, and the comfort of hot showers, climate-controlled dwellings, and so forth. BUT… care deeply and feel amazed at the variety of and the connections between living things – plants, animals, fungi, microbes (but don’t like to be in the vicinity of fire ants, mosquitoes, and a few other critters); hate to see the destruction we humans have wrought even though I enjoy many of the benefits of the destruction. Experiencing cognitive dissonance.

What I’m Doing Professionally
Very little these days. I retired last year from teaching physical geography at a state university. While teaching, especially in the last few years, I talked some about vanishing resources (especially freshwater and oil) and increasing levels of pollution, even in courses that weren’t directly concerned with these topics. I’ve given a few post-retirement talks to groups, mostly concerning weather and climate.

I’ve had a fascination with water, ships, and boats for almost as long as I can remember. In spite of this, my path took me to the middle of the U.S. where I went “back to the land” in the 1970s with my (late) husband and another couple. We had a large garden and grew much of our own food but used electricity from the grid to pump water from our well, for refrigeration, and for lights,amongst other things. We used propane for cooking and backup heat. We bought gasoline and lubricants, some paper supplies, much hog, chicken, and cow feed, lots of seed, hardware and building supplies (though we often used recycled lumber and windows) and other supplies. We had a woodshop and a metal shop. We had a milk cow (sometimes two of them) and made butter, cheese, and yogurt. We made hay and we kept bees. We planted an orchid and other perennials such as asparagus and rhubarb. We had immense compost heaps. We built a passive greenhouse where I started many of our plants and produced a few winter greens. We heated with wood that we cut and split. All of these experiences and many more opened my eyes to things like the multitudes of interconnected cycles in the natural world, and also how much work it was to produce our food even with all the inputs from other places. We became a small semi-commune that lasted for about a dozen years. Disagreements over moving to a larger piece of land spit us apart; finally we were back to just the two of us and he was a metal-worker who didn’t like to farm.

We designed and built, with the help of a few friends, a very energy-efficient house on a different, more wooded, piece of land. My garden shrank in size each year, and we didn’t replace our aging chickens. We increasingly traveled, mostly on the back roads of the U.S., on our (BMW) motorcycles, camping most of the time. These experiences greatly increased my knowledge of the weather, geology, soils, plants, agriculture, buildings, and lifestyles across the U.S.

After a few years I went to graduate school where I studied mapping, remote sensing, surface and ground water, soils, geomorphology, weather and climate, amongst other things. My husband passed away as I was nearing the end of my PhD program and, luckily, I got a teaching job the next year.

Now that I’ve retired I live alone in the Pacific Northwest and have a small sailboat. I purchase much organic food but am renting a house and have no garden. I’m getting old (70 next year); still pretty healthy but not nearly as strong or resilient as I used to be. I’m sure hard times, VERY hard times, are coming as industrial civilization contracts and crumbles, but don’t see that I can prepare for it in any meaningful way. I feel rather helpless and depressed about this part of the time, but at the same time I’m fascinated and want to learn more about what’s happening, so have spent many hours at TOD and other related websites. Very few people that I talk with realize what’s going on, and most don’t want to hear anything about it (a common experience for TODers, I’m sure). I’m sure going to miss this site, but maybe I’ll spend more of my time out doing things.

Basic Theme: Limits to growth. Collapse could be fast or slow. Although different localities will transition with more or less pain, predicting which will be difficult. Best to look to the pre-industrial age (my my locality) to plan the best path.

Professionally: Software development for distance learning. As long as the internet stays up, distance learning can spread the word with minimal consumption of resources. The key is finding the right words...

Personally: I have long seen species extinction and climate change as the primary limits. I spent many years doing voluntary nature conservation work, and keeping a low consumption lifestyle. Whilst I believed a smooth transition was possible I worked in aviation research with a view to minimising fuel consumption. Gave that up when it became apparent that there was no safe consumption level. Adopted children in preference to pro-creation. I try to sustain a BAU lifestyle for my family whilst minimising consumption, but BAU is a state of mind. My children are too young yet to see the bigger picture. Have moved a few weeks ago to 17C thatched cottage in a village with sufficient local amenities and cycling distance to work. I have started insulating this as far as the historic listing status for the building allows. Hope to heat mostly using local coppice wood. I am considering a back-up trade of chimney sweep, plenty of local trade as wood becomes ever more popular as an energy source, until the wood runs out...

No one knows how the future will unfold. Often the picture that we paint about the future says more about how we feel about our self than it does about the unfoldment of reality. Within the physical limits of our ecological predicament there is an incredible array of choices and possibilities too quickly limited by our strong belief in the greed, shallowness and ignorance of humanity. SHIFTS HAPPEN!

Professionally I am the Director of Green Building Services for an engineering firm. In the AEC world (architect, engineering & construction) green building has become somewhat mainstream yet true sustainable design is still poorly understood. I can readily identify with the story of the young boy putting his finger in the dike hoping that the adults will show up at some point. Perhaps our efforts are just to set the stage for the next generation's commitment to valuing the extraordinary beauty and aliveness of our precious planet.

Turnbull comes from Dr. Andrew Turnbull who failed an attempt to colonize this area in 1768.

Professionally - Started working for a Mom and Pop telephone company which later morphed and merged into one of the big three. Stopped feeding the beast and retired in 2000.

Personally - No children, or Nieces or Nephews to worry about in the decline going forward. At 60 I don't think either PO or CC will have too big effect on me personally. I have my electric use down from a high of 6611KWH in 2004 to 4053 total KWH for 2012. Plan to add grid tie PV in the next couple years. My gasoline use is down considerably from when I was commuting 100 miles a day. I still enjoy riding ATV's and Jetskis (environmentally responsible as possible). We are partying high on our inherited fossil fuels, I'm not leaving the party early.

About 5 years ago a friend asked me if there was anything to this Bakken thing he was hearing about. A google search led me to TOD and the answer, as well as the answer to many other things. Many thanks to all those here that made this place possible. The regular posters here had a critical mass big enough to run off the trolls and idiots, thus keeping the signal to noise ratio high.

e-mail: Tree_Hugger (continued at my profile). My friends can't understand how I can call myself a tree hugger and still be OK with sustainable and responsible harvesting of wildlife.

My basic theme:
Life goes on. My grandfathers were born before the electric light bulb was invented, the motor car was invented, or the airplane was invented. They relied on wood for heating and candles for lights. Oil was mainly a replacement for candles and whale oil. My grandfathers helped build the first railroads in Western Canada - powered by coal, and homesteaded the land. However, by the time my grandfathers died, men had been to the moon and back, most cars had V8s, and gasoline cost 25 cents a gallon.

The changes during my lifetime haven't been as great as theirs, but they have been significant. The first big oil discovery in Canada occurred the year before I was born and one of my earliest memories is of pipeline crews building a pipeline right past our little one-room country school (coal furnace in the basement, outhouses behind the school, horses stabled in the school barn). Little did we know how all the oil wells popping up like mushrooms across the prairies would change our lives.

I grew up off the grid. It wasn't that much fun, so I'll allow other people to enjoy it. We had wind power, but it kind of sucked because we had no power when we had no wind - which is still a problem, you still need backup for when the wind don't blow. However, there's energy everywhere, it's just a matter of finding it and using it. That could be my second theme, there's energy everywhere, it's just a matter of finding it and using it. Both my grandfathers had their own coal mines on their farms, and although they are gone now, the coal is still there - and there is natural gas in the coal seams, and shale gas under them.

And then there are the oil sands. When I was a kid, I remember my father showing me a stock certificate in the very first oil sands mine. After he died last year, we were looking for it because it could be worth a lot of money now. (He probably sold it to help finance his retirement). The good thing about the Alberta oil sands reserves is that they probably will last for centuries. That's great for us in Alberta, possibly not so much for people in other countries who may not be able to afford to buy it in future, after the conventional oil runs out.

What I'm doing:

I'm retired now, but it was a lot of fun albeit very stressful while I was working. There was always the risk of accidentally killing someone, or a large group of people. I was flying in little bush planes from oil field to oil field, computerizing the equipment, frac'ing the oil and gas wells, and doing oil sands research 35 years ago. All of this stuff is considered leading edge technology now, unlike 35 years ago when it was so far out there that nobody knew what it was and I couldn't explain to people what I was doing because nobody had heard of anything like it. Now that it's old technology, it's considered new, dangerous, and earth-shattering technology by the media and environmental groups. Again, I was doing environmental studies before most people knew what "environment" meant. The problem is they keep trying to tell me how dangerous it is, and it's like trying to teach your grandmother how to suck eggs. I know exactly how dangerous all this stuff is, I used to write computer programs to calculate the exact danger factor, so STFU and stop trying to convince me it's more dangerous than I think.

As I said, I'm retired. I'm living in a post-and-beam framed cedar house in the Canadian Rockies that I built with my own two hands (it took me about 20 years to build, but it was worth it). Forward planning is much better than retiring and then saying, "Now what do I do?" The house is free and clear of mortgages because the banks didn't understand my approach to house construction, so I built it out of cash flow. Doing it yourself is much cheaper than hiring a builder, and you know all the mistakes you made rather than having to guess what the builder might have done wrong. Building your own house is unusual these days, but it's something of a tradition in my family, going back to the times when men were men and carried broad axes in case they felt a sudden urge to kill someone. But they were Vikings, so that was normal.

My house has natural gas heating and the gas fields are only a few miles away. It has a wood fireplace and there's a forest behind the house. It has electric heating and there are two hydroelectric power plants (50 MW and 100 MW) within a short walk of the house. And if all else fails, the footings of the house are sitting on the largest deposit of anthracite coal west of Pennsylvania. If I wanted to, I could get out my pick-axe, start digging in the back yard, and have an operating coal mine by this time tomorrow. I am prepared for just about any energy crisis.

However, we get a farm box full of custom veggies and free-range chicken eggs every Thursday, and we are getting a half of hand-raised grass-fed beef sometime soon, so we are participating the the modern trend toward all-natural local food. It's the 500-mile diet rather than the 100-mile diet, because here in the Rockies the 100-mile diet would involve eating a lot of bear sausages and elk steaks, plus buffalo berries for desert, and that would get real old real fast. Bear tastes like really fat pork, and buffalo berries taste like soap. In the city I used to do a lot of gardening, but here in the mountains, I'll buy my food from the farmers and let other people try to live off the land. Here in my back yard the veggies would attract rabbits, elk, deer, and bears. And the rabbits would attract cougars, and the elk would attract wolves, and the wolves and cougars would fight like dogs and cats and mix it up with the grizzly bears, so it's best to just buy food from the farmers and keep the wilderness tame.

Other than that I'm just doing a lot of travelling in a lot of different countries. It's what everyone should do after you retire, because it's really difficult to do much touring of them while you are working.

I too express my sincere appreciation for TOD, those who made it possible, and the fantastic group of commentators.

At eighty years of age, my theme is ‘Development of Relationships. I think in terms of family and community. My immediate family consists of wife, son, daughter, son in law and four grand children. My wife, daughter and son in law live on an eighty acre farm in a fertile river valley in the Pacific Northwest. The others live nearby and we gather every Saturday evening at my house for a big dinner prepared and served by Granpa.

We moved to the Valley in 1995 after I retired from a large Aerospace Corporation. To earn our place in the community we joined the Church, volunteer fire dept., Lions Club, Grange, and 4-H club. Today, I am an Elder in the Church, my son in law is the Fire Dept. Chief, I am the principle fund raiser for the Grange (raise plants and bud fruit trees for annual plant sale), and my daughter is the Chair of the County Republican political organization.

Participation in leadership roles in these community organizations allows us to alert people to what we believe is a near term collapse of the global economy and suggest practical ways to prepare for coping with radical downsizing. I also use the local radio call in program to spread the word. I prepare carefully for these call in presentations and have developed significant credibility in the listening audience.

All of the family except my wife and I are employed so the operation of the farm and ‘prepping’ are my responsibility. I run 16 to 21 large beef cattle on 47 acres of pasture and meadow (no commercial fertilizer). My hay baler was built in the late 1950’s but it still lets me bale 1600 -1800 bales of hay each year. I do the baling but hire young men to put the hay in the barn. I also maintain a year round vegetable garden/fruit and berry orchard of about 30,000 sq. ft.. The garden/orchard provides more than the family can use so I spread the bounty among people in the valley, especially the old folks.

My son in law has formed an Emergency Planning Group that meets monthly to plan and develop skills to cope with emergencies that we might experience in our valley. This group has served as a model for other emergency planning groups in the county and works closely with the central county emergency planning organization.

We have always been a do it ourselves family. We built my SIL’s house, my house, have built a fully equipped automotive shop, and a reasonably complete metal working shop. None of us posses all the skills to do every job but between us, hay bucking is the only labor that we ever hire.

I plan to continue promoting the development of relationships, acquisition of essential skills and the stockpiling of essential tools.

Personally, trying to be resilient and low-impact. 12 KW of PV with battery backup, Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt (great cars) = direct fossil fuel consumption of 70 gallons of gas per year (mostly for summer vacation). Solar water heater, 2600 gallons rainwater capture and storage, built a large garden. E-bikes and road bikes, often bike to work.

Murphy's Law of Prepping: If you are fully prepared for some kind of disaster, that kind of disaster will not occur.

(If something can't go wrong, it won't.)

(Of course, some other disaster, for which you are woefully unprepared, will occur instead.)

Don't forget that Mr. Darwin does not care whether you survive (you won't); he cares whether your grandchildren survive.

Don't succumb to doomer depression: we are lucky to live in the best countries during the great party; enjoy life.

Basic theme: All our problems have solutions, but as Donnella Meadows said, most of the solutions run in the opposite direction to the one that most people think is right. Not only that, there is a huge amount of wilful blindness that prevents people in power even acknowledging our problems. I expect that our problems will continue to get worse for quite a while until they become unavoidable, and that we will try all the other options to solve the problems before we do the right thing. Key solutions – use dramatically less energy (electric bike not electric car, national 30 mph speed limit for any transport); stay local (food, holidays, purchases, work); ban fructose; ban pesticides and fertilisers.

I try to keep a foot in both the BAU and the transition/permaculture camps, but I am trying to make sure my weight is over the foot in the transition/permaculture camp.

Professionally: I saved 2 million litres of diesel a year through developing a route optimisation process for the waste industry, but had to leave when our company was bought. I am trying to get back in to a different company in the waste industry so I can repeat the savings again.

Personally: I have stopped flying, and have reduced our family’s carbon emissions from Heat, Electricity and Travel by 75%. Some was through behaviour change e.g. turning off lights, putting on warmer clothes in winter, making friends locally to reduce car travel; some was through really cheap things to do, e.g. low flow shower heads and cycling to work (3,000 miles a year); and some was more fundamental e.g. 4kW of PV (produce 4,000 kWh per year even in the UK), solar hot water, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation. Still a lot of things to do: converting 1,500 sq ft of front lawn to a food forest (looking really good now), improving my food growing (and preserving and cooking) skills, putting in water storage, putting in a wood burning stove.

The main difference is that I am really enjoying my new way of life. It is so much better than the BAU prescription, but it doesn't make others rich!

A huge thank you to all at TOD for opening my eyes to the problems, and to the possibilities of doing things differently.

Basic Theme
I am insulating my old wooden house, keeping away from natural gas, got solar PV and hot water, collecting rainwater and am breaking in the garden which was previously all grass. Also got a wood burning stove and a few years of wood supply. Growing fruit trees, lots of them.
I live in Hunter Valley, Australia about 200 kilometres from Sydney.

I work as an Electrical Engineer but surprisingly there is very little renewable energy work here yet. I did get the chance to work on the geothermal power plant a few years ago which I understand has not yet generated any power (I could be wrong there).
Apart from that I would like to stay in work until I retire and not be unemployed.

I would like to do some research into simple low impact energy saving ideas, e.g. solar cooking, passive geothermal cooling, the passivhaus concept in general, solar hot air heating and would like to hear from others in Australia who think along similar lines. Add my username to Gmail and you have my email address.
I aim to get an electric car in a few years and expand my solar PV system to battery storage. more insulation and double glazing to follow.

There is nothing in what I say here forth that is much different from what somebody else has already said in some fashion, but here goes:

Basic Theme –In the long term, the human race will be forced towards a civilization that uses energy created/captured in real time instead of using energy created and stored over millennia. This obviously will force a change from an economic growth society to a society based on a static economic model, which is brand new in modern times. Shorter term, within my lifetime and that of my son, the next 75 years or so, will be a transformation that is well titled as “the long emergency” aka Kunstler. There will be economic depressions, resource wars, and hardships interspersed with periods of relative stability and even slight economic growth. However, I feel the down sides will outpace the upsides. I do not know the timing exactly so I remain middle of the road with respect to doomer/hopeful realist on the very near term (~10 years).

Professionally – I have a graduate degree in polymer chemistry employed with the US Navy as a civilian at an aircraft Fleet Repair Center, 20 years into my career with about 20 years left until retirement. I like what I’m doing on a daily basis and admittedly get compensated well. I have some misgivings about working directly in support of an organization that promotes war like activities, which is pushed by a congress because of the “military industrial complex” that makes a lot of money from taxpayers. More of the same robbing the people to make a few rich. However, I acknowledge that doing my level best every day, to ensure the safety and survivability of the troops flying these complex machines, is a reward in itself. There are also no very good options for good employment in this area where I call home. I grew up here and feel that familiarity with the area and the family and the people who I call friends will be paramount to success and even survival in the coming years. I also have this mantra that the US government will be the “last corporation standing”.

Personally – I moved back home (eastern North Carolina) to a rural area because I was employed at a large chemical plant in a suburb of a large city. Obviously chemical raw materials will get increasingly expensive over time which will push profit margins lower and eventually bankrupt the chemical industry. Also, I do not consider being near large cities as being a desirable location in case a crisis hits. I was given some acreage from my family when I moved back and built a passive solar log home, which is my dream home and my ark. I’ve been planting fruit trees, slowly transforming the woods on the property to permaculture (planting asparagus, edible berries, nut trees, etc), and generally slowly preparing to be more self sufficient. I’ve built a library up to about 30 books of various categories on self sufficiency/survival/gardening and trying to READ them when I get a chance. We have 7 solar hot water panels that provide all of our spring/summer/fall hot water needs plus some, and in the winter, in conjunction with the passive solar features of the house, provide all but approximately 300-400 kilowatt hours of electricity per winter month for heating. Our yearly electricity budget is less than 7500 kilowatts per year, the biggest load being air conditioning in the summer. Eventually I will add PV solar and should be net zero in electricity at that point (a 6 KW system should do it). There is an old water well on the larger family property, so I know that a well driven to about 80 feet gives clean, good tasting water, which is also on the list for adding at some point. Sewage is the big bugaboo. However, if things on the macro scale go south, humanure is certainly an option. Locally there are more than half a dozen small specialty farmers that grow many common vegetables and animals. I plant a small garden most years, and am adding more area as I can. Can I survive if TSHTF? Certainly not now. Maybe not ever, but I’m hopeful that with continuing to upgrade my skills I can be a catalyst to help the local community build a more sustainable living arrangement. I try to instill long term thinking on my wife and one progeny, a son born in 2000. Of course being a millennial he might as well be first in line for the direct mind/computer hardwire interface when the technology comes available. This generation is so connected it’s unbelievable. He is maturing and is asking questions. I answer in as straightforward terms as I can. I don’t mince words and I don’t water down what I think, he especially, can expect in our lifetime. Here’s hoping for the least of the worst I think will happen. Good luck everyone!

Basic Theme - Peak oil is upon us, but progressing slowly enough that it is not obvious to most. This will lead to the end of real economic growth and the onset of decline in the near future (10-50 years) but I'm not making any specific predictions as to how it will all play out.

Professionally - I work in I.T. as I have for most of my life. It's not directly connected with preparedness, but so far it has been steady work, and it doesn't appear to be going away any time soon.

Personally - My family is part of an intentional community, which I believe to be a good position for meeting an uncertain future. Living with a group of like-minded people with a range of skills and abilities, on a shared piece of land large enough for farming, as well as some source of income in the BAU paradigm, provides a level of flexibility rarely found elsewhere. Of course, there must be a shared commitment to common goals for any community to survive, but it is possible. There are hundreds of intentional communities in existence; has a directory of many of them.

As TOD winds down, I wish each one of you well on your continued journeys. And thanks for all the insightful articles and comments over the years.

My basic theme: If we want to avoid extinction in the long term, the human race needs to develop and keep some high technology. Of the kind needed to deflect a coming asteroid or combat a deadly virus, for example. We are far too many people on the planet and we need to do it better than the Roman Empire this time.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - As Gandhi said, "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it". So I write free (as in freedom) software useful to preserve knowledge (lzip) and to keep it safe (ddrescue).

Personally - I have insulated my house, installed a PV array, and grow some wheat, tomatoes and pumpkins. I also stopped at one child.

Contrarily to most people here, I think that consuming as much renovable resources as we can, may turn our problems unavoidable sooner, which could then produce a better outcome. (Prices escalate faster and population control measures are adopted sooner, for example, avoiding a worse collapse).

Thanks to everyone who made TOD possible.

My Basic Theme:
I think human nature can overcome the Limits to Growth simulations and keep the home fires burning. But I'm not a student of history -- I feel that political establishments, capitalism, freedom, and BAU will be different during and after the fall, but I don't know in what way. I tend to think we'll have a slow rather than fast crash. I believe we (well, humankind) will burn most of the coal and AGW will be far worse than peak oil. But we will adjust, some small number of us. It will be a different world.

What am I doing:
Professionally - I'm a mid-career software engineer with some hardware design experience. I work as a free-lance consultant, mainly out of my home. My focus for several years has been embedded systems, because these tend to be smaller projects that I can do alone, and since there is associated hardware or instrumentation, there is no easy way to outsource the projects to distant countries. My greatest worry is that key parts (integrated circuits) will become unavailable, leading to the entire embedded system business going down the tubes. I keep stock of some key parts and tools myself, along with archived copies of development tools and needed documentation. I guess losing the internet is another key worry. But I'll muddle along and find work somehow for at least another 8-9 years, until my second child gets through college. Maybe I'll start fixing bicycles or installing PV arrays.

I've enjoyed following HereInHalifax and others who have posted their work and home improvements, and I'd like to keep in touch. Seems like there is a lot of work in the energy conservation product area, and hopefully I'll find projects in that space that are both financially and personally satisfying.

Personally -
I'm in awe of those of you who have solar PV and all the other preparations. We have a garden that seldom produces, rain barrels, and a few used solar HW panels in the barn. And chickens. But in truth we are nowhere near prepared, with too little land and too close to a large city to feel safely away. I still have 10 years to work, hoping TSHTF can be delayed a few years more. Keeping my eye on some rural valleys in northern New England, but unable to move far away yet. My wife and kids are PO and AGW aware, but angry with me for sharing it with them. I've given up on the town, too politically charged, but I'm helping our church go green. I was happy to find my interests aligned with our mainstream protestant congregation's moral imperative to protect the environment.

I will greatly miss TOD, and I hope to keep in touch via TOD Registry, blogs, or ASPO, in the future. Peace and best wishes to all.


Theme: I am hopeful that we will see Greer's slow descent. When governments start taxing people for how many kids they have, then we will know there's been some progress. The hero/villain in Dan Brown's novel "Inferno" has the answer: make sure that 1/3 of the earth's population cannot reproduce. I started thinking about energy just prior to Y2K. At the time I thought "everything will eventually be OK as long as there's reliable electricity. If that goes, we are 'poof' a 3d world country at best" So that led me to think about the underlying necessities for reliable electricity.

Professional: For the past 30+ years I have practiced law in SW Oklahoma, the reddest of the red states; I admit shame at our congressional delegation. Since 1995 we have been raising cattle;
producing grass-fed beef and direct marketing beef but also selling
breeding animals. We have suffered GREATLY at the "exceptional" drought from 2010 through this sumer. We had to sell off over half our herd in order to keep a core group of breeding animals.

Around home: We installed 2 kw solar and a 1kw wind generator(Whisper 200) in 2006. The wind generator pooped out about 2 yrs ago and we have not replaced it yet. There's NO ONE (I believe) in the state that can help us with selection nor installation. Our inverters are two 4024
trace(yes, I know: legacy) and we have a dozen Trojan L16 batteries.
We are not grid tied. Our system uses the renewables for the two water wells, and all the things that plug-in and lights. If the battery bank gets low, the grid brings it back up to charge. We also have a diesel generator in case we need it.Our PROBLEM is that air conditioning is all grid, as well as heat(not entirely necessary in this oven of a climate) and 220 range top. We can heat the house with wood stoves. During the occasional ice storm w/o power we use propane refrigerator (1948 Servel) and propane cook stove and keep the regular refrigerator and our beef freezers on the battery system; as well as the water wells. We have solar hot water assist. I would like to expand our system somehow to cover air conditioning. One of the problems is that no one is familiar with our system at's too old they say.

We garden extensively, can food, have chickens, beef and can raise pork; plus have several fish ponds available if they don't dry up.

We are trying to make a "lifeboat" here for our grandchildren....if only we can hold up for the duration. We are in late 60s but in pretty good health.

Can you see the irony? Drilling rig in amongst the wind generation field!

[link to photo]

Here is our little system:

[link to photo]

I would hope to correspond with Todd, Ghung, et al to improve on our set up if possible. I will hate hate hate to lose TOD. :(

Personally I expect a long and slow decline. In the mean time earths population grows. At some point the diminishing butter will be smeared out over a growing slice of bread like a hobbit wearing the One Ring to long, and it will all snap in one instance and the Big Suffering will come. I guess in my expected life time?

What am I doing? Personally my life is changing a lot right now in a way where I can not distinguish between professional and personal life.

I have done: Payed off all my loans. Every one of them. Feels great. I moved 100 Km south from the place where I used to live to the area where I grew up and have a much stronger social network. I'd be lost without these two moves.

Will do: move in with / marry my girl and cut out one of our two flats. From that point on build up some sort of readyness for the future.

However, there are no long term solutions. We will gradually be squeezed out as the space provided by natural resources, global economy, ecological stability etc shrinks. When will you be evicted? When will I? Who knows? This is a losing game for all. Only some will lose sooner than others.

It's been a while since I posted a comment but I thought I would get in one more before the end of TOD
My Theme
To provide a better future for my two sons.

I will continue to provide engineering expertise for the power generation industry for as long as they pay me. There has been a significant downturn in the conventional and non-conventional power industry in Australia since the GFC. A downturn in demand combined with a large uptake of domestic solar has mean that no base load power stations have been built for a number of years with no real prospects for the next 2-3 years. The trouble is that the construction industry that supported these projects is now as good as dead. The first project that gets built in the future will struggle with a lot of relearning of previous lessons. I don't know if i will still be in the industry at that stage.

I have approached the issue of making a better world for my children with a two pronged approach.
1/ Direct provision of food security. I have converted my entire suburban yard into a food production garden and spent several years learning through trial and error how to grow things to eat. As much as this is a potentially useful asset I have come to recognised that it is impossible to be self sufficient on this amount of land. As a result of this conclusion I purchased a 44 acre farm about 150km out of the city. I have spent the last year working to convert this block of grazing land into a productive farm. It will take many more years of work for us to become self sufficient.

This exercise has had a number of beneficial spinoffs.
- I have become much tougher and resilient in my personnal work capacity
- I have been able to teach my sons a number of very useful construction, engineering and farming skills that they simply would not have learned through their university studies.
- I have been able to create a whole range of mutually useful relationships with the local townsfolk in the town adjacent to my farm.

2/ As much as the above will provide long term essential security for my own family it does not provide for a world where I would wish they could live. You cannot be secure and happy if the world around you is in chaos. To this extent I ran a parallel exercise in trying to provide for a better future for my community. From my evolving knowledge, starting with TOD and progressing through economics and general resource depletion I have concluded that the common denominator is population. We can live in an environmental and economic balance with the worlds resources, but not with 7 billion people. We have got to get population numbers down. It is likely at this stage that nature will impose it's own limits but the pain the human world experiences during this transition will be mitigated if we at least make an effort to restrain the growth now.

To this extent I became a founding member of a new political party, Stable Population Party of Australia. The core policies are to limit population growth within Australia and to provide substantial family planning assistance to developing nations. We faced our first election just a week ago. I decided I could not in good conscience ask others to stand as candidates if i was not prepared to stand myself. I ran for a lower house seat and achieved only 0.6% of the vote. Not very encouraging but at least there is a few hundred more people who are now aware of the population problem. I will continue on trying to create awareness of this issue.

Thank you TOD for initially providing me the knowledge to start down this path.

Background: Chemistry Engineer, Phd in Biophysics.

Beliefs: due to constraints on fossil energy extraction rate (and also changing climate), our western world will be forced to do an unwanted shift to use less, more efficiently, and slowly go to renewable. And as this shift is forced and definitely not welcome by most of the population, it will leave many casualties, both countries (from Greece to Egypt) and individuals.

Personally: Get off direct fossil fuel use. In 2007, switch to heat pump (instead of NG) for heating, buy a bike and combine it with trains instead of using a car (got rid of it in 2009 after 2 years of nearly no use), replace old windows from seventies by recent ones. And buy electricity from a green provider. Try to get rid of debt (mission should be accomplished first quarter 2014) and spare a large part of my salary. Also limit myself to only 1 child.

Professionally: I work in IT. The company is very successful but definitely not green. Company car for good employees, force the use of AC everywhere in the building because windows doesn't open. Huge AC in datacenter room when forced ventilation would be OK 11 months on 12 as Belgium definitely doesn't have a warm climate. Drinking tap water instead of cans of coke or similar is probably the only thing that I can do there, in addition to switch my screen off when I exit.

Future: I plan to learn sailing (I am at knowledge level 0 now, this will take years) and, in a undefined time frame, to both quit my job and country and live on the boat around the world. Some stability will still be needed as my son (now 3 years old) needs to go to school... Living on a boat will probably be the best education he can have to interact with the real physical world, see different cultures, and keep mobility when long travel in planes become financially out of reach.

My basic theme: Unlike many here, my focus has long been on the shape of the post peak world, not working out when the peak would be, etc. As such I've been through a good few viewpoints on what that post peak looks like, discarding as they didn't seem to describe the practicality of the decline.

First, and contrary to some of the more rosey tinted views here, I don't think we have nothing to worry about. The 'substitution' idea just doesn't match the reality of, maybe, 1Mbpd from tight oil after all the hard work. In addition renewables don't answer the exam question of transportation fuel at all. In short, the race with the red queen eventually leaves our society puffed out by the side of the road - it's just not a race we can run an win for very long.

As such, I arrive at a view that that the decline win NOT be gradual. The 'lands viewpoint I've developed means that unequal resource allocation will be the order of the day and as such individuals will feel no significant impact of declining oil availability till it inequality hits them, by which time it will be too late to act and their effective decline rate will be in the double digit percentages.

And I'm not sanguine about the kumbaya-we'll-all-work-together mantra either - history says we get nastier and more brutish the more our backs are against the wall.

Finally, the first-thoughts ideas of many people; back to the countryside, living on soy and sawdust; isn't a viable approach for the 5-10 year timeframe - sorry guys. I've already worked out that harvesting such rubes is a better plan than being one, and I'd prefer a better solution still.

What I'm doing: Priorities go as:

  1. Understanding - Getting ahead of the crowd means being ahead of the crowd in understanding what the decline looks like, whilst understanding what they they *think* the decline will look like.
  2. Money - Make it, accumulate it, get it out of the banking system. Yes wealth will matter, and guess what, the 1% will survive preferentially to the rest. You can claim that's not fair, but it doesn't matter - you need to be able to pay for what you need, and able to be able to hang on to that wealth through the collapses.
  3. Online Transferable Skills - We are moving towards a low mobility world, therefore value remains with those who can still add value - and on a global scale. That means you need to be expert in something that matters, and be able to deliver that knowledge remotely. Bonus points for that saleable skill being intrinsic to you and your knowledge.
  4. Independence and Resilience - Limiting your dependence on others and being able to deal with the loss of key services. Although the kumbaya view is community is everything, that's only true when you can make the group work, and we'll be in the midst of upheaval. As such if your approach relies on others, you are likely to find those others a point of failure in your plans. Independence first, then community as an add on.
  5. Locate - not to the back of beyond necessarily, but to the right spot where those inequality effects won't hit you early and where you can have some level of independence. Think of it like the Titanic sinking - you want to be on the very back of the boat, not jumping into the sea at the first sign of trouble. If nothing else time gives you perspective on how plans fail.
  6. Contacts - related to point 1 and others, your contacts give you knowledge, allow you to navigate the turbulent effects, and bypass the rationing.

Personally: What does 'success' look like? Well, not being dead is nice, but in the end you need to be moving forward - and everyone seems to be focused on recourse to an agrarian, middle ages, type lifestyle. Personally that doesn't look like 'success' to me. I'd want to 'fail upwards' - the trick is arranging that.

THEME : be a DOER, Empower Others and enjoy the gift of time,

TOD has brought awareness to: the unique timeframe and inflection point in history we live. The end of cheap crude likely to make all other historical events seem insignificant. Also living in car hell is worse than a train wreck, This love affair with cars is truly very costly in so many ways. everything is just so bleeping spread out. It hurts.

MISSION: Wage war on Complexity. KEEP THINGS AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. Einstein quote. (Unnecessary) Complexity is Evil. Reduce dependence on centralized resources that are not under (your) control. Limit feeding lawyers types. IMO, no law should be longer than the US Constitution. Refactoring on so many systems is in order.

CONCERNS: 1: The US Health Care debacle as outlined by Karl Denninger may be as serious as the pending liquid fuels crisis to many alive today. So better Eat to Live, not Live to eat or else. Do anything to avoid the Hospital. 2: Lack of urgency in dealing with the spent fuel rod issue in the US. Release of radionuclides into the Biosphere could unzip the fabric of Life as we know it. The neglect by gov and Industry is unacceptable and light needs to shin on this one.

PROFESSIONALLY: Started a PV company 2 years ago with the goal of deploying much. > megawatt so far. In addition to grid support Distributed Generation, I'm focusing PRACTICAL and sexy methods of deploying and Integrating PV for the masses. Products Include PV Trailers, PV Dog house, PV Bike Rack, Lunchbox APU's, LED Linear Light bars, etc. I'll have details soon, A lot of what makes these apps effective is just now available. email if interested.

PERSONALLY I have somewhat parallel lives in Pensacola Florida (Business and Aging Family) and heart is in Upper Buffalo River Area of Arkansas, In a county WITHOUT a traffic light. Got lucky and purchased an amazing sweet limestone spring and north side of a mountain from liquidated life savings. Plan to settle there and run a mountain inn and luxury campsites, looking for the right partner(s). Have a design for a pumped Hydro setup and Lots O PV. Passions: PV Applications, Forest Stewardship, Tending to final canopy trees like Walnut and Sugar Maples, Hardwoods, Softwoods, hording NPK while affordable, Building Soil, Biochar, Training Border collies and soon Belgian Sheepdogs and did I say trees. Donald Long, infoat micropower(dot)us

My undergraduate degree was in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and I specialized in digital. I spent the next 25 years working in the IT field in a variety of public- and private-sector settings. By 2011, I was growing tired of the industry and when the Deepwater Horizon blowout occurred, I began reading details about the circumstances surrounding the blowout, found TOD (because it was one of the best sources for information about the blowout itself and the context surrounding it), watched many hours of underwater ROV cams, and decided that perhaps it was time I made my credentials look more like the credentials of the people who were writing on TOD and other energy-related blogs I was reading at the time.

And so it was that I entered the Masters program at Georgia Tech's School of Public Policy, specializing in energy and environment, and had two of the best years of my life. I graduated in August 2013 and I spent much of that time as a Graduate Research Assistant in Dr. Marilyn Brown's Climate and Energy Policy Laboratory, where I leveraged my IT background to set up and run an instance of the EIA's National Energy Modeling System software, necessary for the lab's research work. Since graduating, I made my new-career professional debut in September 2013 by giving a couple of talks here in Atlanta at DragonCon (the Southeast's largest scifi/fantasy convention), one of which was titled "Resource Abundance and Poverty in American Science Fiction Film and Television."

I am looking for fulltime or contract consulting work focusing on energy and environment issues. I am based in Metro Atlanta and will consider clients and employers elsewhere depending on the timing and circumstances. You can find email and LinkedIn contact info on my profile page (I have some of my coursework posted there for your perusal).

It has been a privilege to be part of the TOD community and I thank all of you for your excellent contributions and personal inspiration.

From user 'renofreepress'
[-] renofreepress on September 19, 2013

I was unable to post on the thread 'what are you doing', but wanted to say hello/goodbye to you my dear friends. Thank you all for your knowledge and inputs over these short few years. XOXOXO, please write.

Personally, I am retired and living off of social security albeit thriftily.
I am still an advocate of solar and have several projects in the works:
Building a portable/towable solar soup kitchen.
Working on the first all solar coffee station, where we will not only roast our beans solar, but grind them also, and use solar hot water for brewing.
Helping add a mylar skin to several parabolic forms we have at BridgeWire (our local makerspace/hackerspace community workplace)
With these parabolics (ranging from 1 meter up to 6' plus) we plan on learning how to melt/smelt lead, zinc, and hopefully small batch aluminum for later machining to replace broken and breaking down parts which may soon become unavailable. This includes perhaps plastics, too.
Trying to build a parabolic charcoal maker, which will reduce to almost zero the energy needed to make charcoal, and it may be that the fumes can be captured (in water???) for later use to make chemicals and oils etc.
Continuing to build up my used tire garden, which, here in the very very dry Nevada desert helps to hold in water, and also gives us an earlier start on spring planting due to the darkness and heat gathering capabilities of the old used tires.
Working on my little greenhouse which has faithfully given us salads most all through the winters lately.
Still making ethanol from my solar still.
And, especially I am missing the Campfire Series which kept me always checking in here in the vain hopes that it would rise again.
I have been reading a lot of T/R stuff lately (channeling kind of...) that suggests the global economy is going to collapse in a few months, and that soon techtonic shifts and global warming are going to hurt our food supply etc. The suggestions are that soon we will have a global population of under 3 billion. But it will be ok....
Some one please write My email is cobergland at g mail ....
Love you all
renofreepress (aka donnerpartyofate) (aka cobergland)

**Posted for "Hamster"**

Hi, all. I missed the time window for the "what are you doing" post (just a thought, to open it up again for stragglers..), so I shall post it here.

I am an electrical engineer in Bellingham, Washington, one of the gems of the world. I mostly do plain vanilla electrical design (power, lighting, communications) for buildings, but I also do some solar power. I try to get "greenness" into all my designs and scoot them in the direction of low energy, robust design. Sometimes it's just trying to convince the client to keep down number of different kinds of light bulbs, to avoid maintenance nightmares.

I'm just sitting here by Bellingham Bay, breeding those beets. I live in the city on a postage stamp sized lot. There's no lawn left. It's all garden. I breed locally adapted vegetable varieties, write, speak, teach, save seeds and eat a lot of really good stuff out of the garden. Over sixty posts that I wrote on edible gardening, lost domestic arts and traditional foods are on Just search on "Celt's Garden" and it will come right up.

Best wishes to all in all your endeavors.

Celt Schira, P.E.
aka Hamster, a nickname that I share with the other 80,000 residents of Bellingham

I am in the phone directory under "Engineers, Electrical"

My basic theme: What I call "Net Export Math," as illustrated by the Export Land Model (ELM), is not an opinion, but a mathematical fact: Given an ongoing production decline in an oil exporting country, unless they cut their consumption at the same rate as the rate of decline in production, or at a faster rate, the resulting net export decline rate will exceed the production decline rate, and the net export decline rate will accelerate with time. Furthermore, if the rate of increase in consumption exceeds the rate of increase in production, a net oil exporting country can become a net importer, prior to a production peak, e.g., the US and China. I have continued to be surprised at how much attention is given to the top line production number globally, and not to the bottom line net export number, especially as the developing countries, led by China, have (so far at least) consumed an increasing share of a declining post-2005 Global volume of Net Exports of oil. For more info on “Net Export Math,” you can search for: Export Capacity Index. For my specific advice from several years ago, you can search for: ELP Plan.

What I'm doing:

Professionally - I mange a small oil and gas exploration program in West Central Texas, looking for shallow conventional oil and gas fields. One of the surprising observations I have made is that virtually all recent (past 20 years or so) commercial conventional fields in my area were based on exploratory drilling. I suspect that most new fields that can be found staying very close to existing well control have been found.

Personally - I'm increasing my personal ownership in oil and gas producing properties, based on the assumption that I can basically trade energy for food in the coming years. And I continue to offer my 2¢ worth regarding my net export analysis, which 99.9% of the population seems to be almost completely oblivious to. I have frequently used the “Midnight on the Titanic” metaphor. Around midnight, after hitting the iceberg, perhaps three people on the ship (about 0.1% of the people on board) knew that the ship would sink, but the fact that perhaps 99.9% of the people on board did not know that the ship would sink did not mean that the ship was not sinking. Later, as the first lifeboat pulled away, the passengers in the boat were reportedly ridiculed by some passengers remaining on board. As a character in a movie from a few years ago said, “Never underestimate the power of denial.”

I will probably primarily be on the new ASPO-USA website, and also posting items on Ron’s website, Peakoilbarrel. Presumably, new articles will also up on the Resilience website.

Good luck to all of us in the years ahead,

Jeffrey J. Brown

As an old “Peak Oiler” since the mid-‘70s I will really miss this site. The Oil Drum has been the most solidly reasoned and consistently newsy sentinel on the front lines.
But, with great sadness, I understand why the Oil Drum leadership is shutting down. Been there, done that.
It is almost two decades now since I wrote my last Peak Oil piece, Joy Ride to Global Collapse, ( December, 1996) and quietly slipped away. Written when I was the editor of an early Web ‘Zine: e design Online, “Joyride” was linked into “The Coming Global Oil Crisis,” translated into Spanish and enjoyed a ride of its own before its archives were scrubbed.
More than just a Peak Oil warning, it was also a Net Energy explanation of why, when the Peak does arrive, the much-touted alternatives will not sustain our present oil-dependent, global auto economy. A quote: “…Minter's Little Maxim: A society's transition from a more efficient energy source to a less efficient energy source will always and invariably decrease the wealth, flexibility and options available to that society.”
Look around. That’s what’s happening.
So I’m an old guy now, shuttling back and forth between several lives. I’ve started a small publishing venture Silverback Sages, Publishers, LLC. Right now, we’re based in Northern New Mexico, (a totally unsustainable place when today’s Peak Plateau begins turning towards the bumpy ride down.) No biggie; we can move quickly and publish from anywhere.
I’m finishing The Great American Novel, an alternate history about a premature political Peaking of Oil: The Islamic people wake up in the ‘80s after the Iran/Iraq War and begin the wise stewardship of their petroleum resource. Guess who that affects. Title: The General Patton is Out of Gas. Watch for it; it won’t be self-published.
In my other/other life, I’m retired in the heart of an old slow-growth river city within bicycle blocks of everything. For old folks that seems a wiser choice than some small, “self-sufficient” farmstead out in the boonies in a time of declining petrol. I own my old Victorian house and fuel efficient car outright; owe nothing to anyone. Have enough firearms and ammo and a few trading rounds of silver.
I had wanted to buy a small rural property for survival gardening and chickens up on Puget Sound between Anacortes and Bellingham, WA, (far enough away from the commute of Seattle’s traffic strangle) and to leave that “retreat” to my kids and grandkids, along with a few fruit trees, blackberry and blueberry bushes, a small sailboat and some crab traps. It might have sustained them for a while on the initial downslope of Peak. But, we can’t plan for our heirs; the “old family place where they might retreat” is an anachronistic dream.
Our present lifestyle will be extended by BAU for as long as we can stretch it out. I will most likely be dead by the time it gets really dire. I feel sorry for you younger folks and my own descendants.
But I fought and lost, was called “Chicken Little;” really laughed at that. All the animals were running to tell the king that the sky was falling. Funny thing was that even if the sky had been falling, there wasn’t a damned thing the king could do about it.
Even funnier was, “Aw, you’re just crying wolf.” People don’t remember that story either. The boy’s cries were false alarms, but there really was a wolf. And he ate the boy.
Ya’ll take care. I’ll be watching for wherever this community reassembles. I’ve had my say; it’s time to play.
As Jimmy Rogers sang, “They were not listening. They’re not listening still. Perhaps they never will.”
From Joy Ride to Global Collapse, (December, 1996):
“Listen up, economists: Neither capital nor labor can create energy. Growing out of this observation is Minter's Little Law of Energy Subsidy: The shortage of a more efficient energy source in an economy will always make the remaining sources of less efficient energy more expensive and even less efficient. Will humanity belatedly begin to use all energy more efficiently…? Of course. We will have to. But such efficiencies will not make us more prosperous (as they do today). By that time they will only slow the rate at which we get poorer. Why? Heed Minter's Little Maxim: A society's transition from a more efficient energy source to a less efficient energy source will always and invariably decrease the wealth, flexibility and options available to that society.”

Jim Horne Minter

My Theme:

I think that our economic system is something we have made up. It fulfils needs that are not strictly functional. I call it the mad economy because it is best analysed as a delusional fantasy.

The other thing I think is that some explanation for our consumptive behaviour can be found in the theory of maximum entropy production. Just hurrying things along. Not something we are in control of.

My Life:

I live on an island off the west coast of scotland. Small community, I'm part of it.
We have an energy group - seriously examining seaweed farming.
Just now I'm in Oxford where I'm using the university library to write a book - The Sharing Economy.

The sharing economy does not exist. No sharing economy has ever existed. It is time we invented it.

Love, and respect for all the hard work put in for sharing on this lovely site.