Endings aren't always happy

This was the week that the History Channel aired the “Mega-disasters – Oil” program, which, in the best part of an hour could only briefly skirt all the different arguments that we discuss here, leading, in their case, to the conclusion that we are possibly heading towards the Mega-disaster of the title. But, given the speed of the story, and a little artistic license in dealing with a possible future, it left me wondering over a question. Tom Engelhardt in his Tom Dispatch of November 15, raises a similar question over the question of the current droughts that are developing about the country. In its simplest form the question is “What happens when it doesn’t get better?”

When the networks have put on the fictionalized reviews of the future oil shocks there has usually been a savior hanging around in the wings. In the first “Oil Shock”, for example, it was the Russians who sent a couple of tankers our way. Somehow I don’t think that scenario is now likely to play out, nor will it solve the problem. And while prayer is being tried in Georgia (as Tom notes) if we are now in a different climate mode than we were fifty years ago, we may, as I noted in an earlier post , be heading for droughts that will last for many decades. But it is the oil future that, despite the beginnings of MSM attention, is still likely to happen faster and more pervasively that I suspect most of us anticipate.

There are a growing number of “canaries in our coal mine,” that are showing the signs of distress that Leanan has caught over this past week; the continuing supply problems in North Dakota , and there may now be possible supply problems for Scotland , though these are merely indicative of problems that the Michigan notes the rest of the world is starting to see.

The list of countries that are now facing fuel, gasoline, diesel, oil, and other supply problems gets longer by the day. A few countries facing such issues include (in no particular order): Zimbabwe, Jamaica, China, Argentina, Ghana, Malaysia, Uganda, Trinadad & Tobago, Australia, Rwanda, Iraq, Kenya, Burma, India, Bangladesh, Niger, Nepal, Bolivia, and the Philippines. Some of these are simply have rising prices, or trouble getting diesel to needed locations. Others are being priced out of the market.

In discussions of the problems of oil supply fluctuations we read in the discussion of how the odd cargo or two of crude changing its destination from China to California, or back, is starting to have a possible impact beyond just an adjustment to a short-term trade opportunity. We have, I fear, in short, already arrived in the period where the impacts of the supply shortage are going to have an increasing impact on society. And where, as was discussed at the ASPO Meeting in Houston, political considerations have the power and influence that they would lack if oil retained true fungibility. Saudi Arabia may indeed have a million or more barrels of oil still, as they say, in reserve. But if, as seems likely, this is merely the heavier crudes of Safaniyah and Manifa, that will become available to the market only after 2009, when the KSA refinery to deal with these comes on stream, then there is, perhaps a little smoke over the mirror. The question then arises if, when that supply does become evident, whether there will be an increase in exports that it will possibly allow. The current evidence suggests that the increase may well not appear. And that brings back the question “and what happens then?”

The History Channel followed the Megadisaster story with a Modern Marvels episode dealing with renewable fuels, and extrapolating from current successful projects, into solutions that have the potential to help solve the coming problem. But there is not as much successful progress, or investment to make the answers come quickly, as you might get from the upbeat message of most of the program. Optimistic projections just keep bumping up against current economic realities. (And even my dentist had, un-coached, disparaging things to say about ethanol yesterday as he repaired a more personal problem).

When we read stories, or comments by some of those trying to bring attention to the problem, quotations along the lines of “a shortfall of 10 mbd by 2020” are the ways in which the problem is defined. But we aren’t going to roll out of bed, one morning that year, and suddenly find the oil has gone. Much before then the gap between effective supply and the growing demand at an acceptable price will have made its presence felt. It is already happening, but we are palliated by the “answers” that renewable supplies are rushing to our door.

The problem however is that the scales are wrong. New supplies of energy are as much focused on electrical supply and do not recognize that you can’t tell millions of your people that they should aspire to the cars and lifestyles of America, and then curtail their supplies of gasoline and diesel, after they have bought the car. Social unrest is a likely consequence of such moves, and yet, where will the oil come from to stop such an action?

In a recent column in the Washington Post, Robert Samuelson would have you believe that we still have time to solve the problem. All we have to do is:

Raise fuel economy standards for new cars and trucks; gradually increase the gas tax (possibly offset with tax cuts) to induce people to buy those vehicles; expand oil and natural gas production in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. These steps would, with time, temper the power of oil producers while also checking greenhouse gases. But many liberals, conservatives and environmentalists oppose parts of a sensible compromise. The stalemate hurts mainly us.

. Would that it were that easy or that possible! We still remain enamored of the few favored technologies – despite my dentist corn ethanol remains a favored solution (and despite the ghastly economics, ethanol from switchgrass is still seen in the press to be an imminent answer). We quarrel about how little this answer or that will really help, not wanting to face the fact that we will need them all in as much as they can produce over the next couple decades, and beyond.

It’s that vision thing again. Pat folk on the head, tell them that isn’t going to be that bad, and they’ll go to sleep happy, not feeling the need to plan for the reality of tomorrow.

Richarson Gill’s book on The Great Maya Droughts , begins:

Millions of people died, and until now, no one knew why. The devastation is almost impossible for us today to understand. One by one, and by the millions, the people died of starvation and thirst. They died in their beds, in the plazas, in the streets, and on the roads. Their corpses, for the most part, lay unburied and were eaten by the vultures and varmints who entered the house to eat the bodies of people who didn’t die in the open.

There was nothing they could do. There was nowhere they could go. Their whole world, as they knew it, was in the throes of a burning, searing, brutal drought. Their fields and woods were paper dry and on fire. The smell of smoke was everywhere. There was nothing to eat. Their water reservoirs were depleted, and there was nothing to drink.

And from Tom Dispatch::

And then what exactly can we expect? If the southeastern drought is already off the charts in Georgia, then, whether it's 80 days or 800 days, isn't there a possibility that Atlanta may one day in the not-so-distant future be without water? And what then?
Okay, they're trucking water into waterless Orme, Tennessee, but the town's mayor, Tony Reames, put the matter well, worrying about Atlanta. "We can survive. We're 145 people but you've got 4.5 million there. What are they going to do?"

And that is the great concern. We will sit too long complacent in our condition, expecting that someone will take care of this. But when, unless things get worse faster than most expect, it will occur in the next Presidential term, rather than this one, then it is far to distant to worry about – I mean it is not as though it is next year is it ? (Sorry! Couldn’t resist)

In his well-referenced book, Gill makes the case that, as society advances, so more advanced levels require greater levels of energy per capita. Historically the energy came from access to more food and water, and thus the growth of Empires. But, when that energy supply is cut off due to prolonged drought, then the same correlation leads to the consequent collapse of the society. And this leads to a reply to Burgundy who asks where to look to find where conditions might predict what may be coming, it makes more sense to look at the beginning of the Medieval Warming Period, rather than the end – so you may want to go back to around 900 AD or so, rather than the 14th Century.


I wouldn't be honest unless I said the only message you seemed to be sending is "we're all freaking doomed". (sorry Mogambo)

I went to a birthday party for one of my girl's friends. All the parents are friends, and I have broached PO with them in the past, but I never push it.

I was in an odd mood and we discussed subprime, a bit of energy crisis, and GW. Everyone seemed to agree they were big problems, but the sense I got from all of them was...what can I do about it? Resignation! Is this a new step...skip acceptance...go straight to resignation?

Sure, resignation could be another form of denial, but it almost seems to be a hybrid when people clearly admit the problem.

As I am leaving, one of the husbands announces he wants get a new Audi sports car...


Peak, judging from the experience of the Easter Islanders, Classic Maya, and Anasazi - yes, sometimes most the folks they knew were all freaking doomed.

I've recently asked myself "What's the point in trying to inform people who don't have the resources to prepare effectively in the time remaining? Should they spend their last good years frightened and depressed?" It could be that the guy wanting to buy the Audi has the right response for his situation: he's so deeply in debt he might as well enjoy himself till TSHTF.

In the 70's I thought I could Save The World; in my humility I now know I'll be doing good if I save a few family members.

Errol in Miami

The history of peaking and collapsing societies suggests it is usually a long drawn out process that people only seem vaguely aware of. In many ways the USA has been declining since the 1970s when local oil production peaked. Since then the rise of the middle class has reversed, access to education and health care has deteriorated, civil liberties etc (only partly offset by rising technology).

There is a massive amount of waste in the west still to be trimmed down (ie eating grains rather than running feedlots, and multihousing/car-sharing not because we feel guilty but because there is no other choice). Perhaps having 10 or 20 million barrels per day below peak production wont be as crushing as we imagine. We would have already been through 5 and 1 million per day less. In the beginning we will still be arguing if it is a temporary dip or not. By the time we are certain it is a permanent downward trend we will be a few years past the idea of being shocked by it. Changing prices would have already started to change everyone's economic priorities.

There are two potential black swans to negotiate though. The first is the unwinding of the financial system that could lead to short term distortions in demand and trade relationships. The second is global warming crossing a threshold. The most immediate risk there is declining industrial activity leading to a rapid decrease in particulate pollution, loss of global dimming, and getting the full impact of greenhouse gas pollution over a very short period. Together these could be the one-two punch that causes the wholesale doom that some of us like to imagine.

It does seem resonable to think that the world can and will adjust to less oil for a few years. The question is: to what degree will the global economy be able to support a slow decline in oil?

to what degree will the global economy be able to support a slow decline in oil?

Various firms will let the air outta the bubble by going bankrupt.

Hopefully the air going out won't result in violent reactions.

I hadn't considered the affect of global dimming due to industrial activity. Thanks for the insight.

We pick up about 4.1 watts/M^2 due to GHG forcings and we lose about 2.0 watts/M^2 due to reflection of sunlight, mostly from sulfate aerosols caused by dirty diesel.

Looks like those prayers have been answered by the increasing likelyhood of a peak or plateau in world oil production. Finally, emissions will begin to subside by geologic necessity, and alternatives will begin to kick in. Here is the DOE's strategy for replacing the automobile fleet with hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles by the year 2020. The hydrogen will come from very high temperature helium-gas cooled fast spectrum reactors. These reactors utilize uranium over 100 times as efficiently as current reactors, and will be fueled by nuclear waste from current LWR reactors. Uranium is an abundent, abiotic mineral in the earth's crust, and exists in abundance even in seawater.
Look, I don't want to upset any of the doomers here, but this is supposed to be a "discussions about energy and our future" site, not dieoff.com

It's far, far, cheaper to build fast reactors using enriched uranium. The accidental pollution cost of attempting to use old, radioactive, PWR fuel rods is horrendous. The financial cost is almost as bad as the security issues.
Specify helium and you run into availability issues. Argon is a byproduct of nitrogen fixation plants. We aren't going to run out of argon. Helium leaks into and out of everything. And if you are running a fast neutron reactor, thermal absorbtion is not a significant factor for gas coolant. Helium gas does have a lower viscosity and that reduces pumping power.
The good news is that the Chinese government will build sensible systems. They don't care what the political types in America and France will back. If we want to do something dumb, that's our decision.

Do you have any stats to back up these dubious claims?

I have had this kind of experience (especially among the crowd from the suburbs). It really is a downer and people don't really want to talk about it, beyond smalltalk type stuff, then move on quickly. It can really be a bit socially isolating when you bring these kinds of things up, you feel like you're living on a different planet from these people.

I recall having a similar feeling at a wedding reception. Everyone was so happy and excited. I was stuck thinking about the possibility of a rapid collapse in the near future. I wanted to say "WAKE UP!" It was a rather gloom evening to say the least.

PeakTO, don't despair too much. You are making progress. The husband who wants to get a new Audi Sports Car may be further along than you think.

My expertese is not in geology, or economics, or geo-politics, but in theology, which is a fancy word for God talk. I am an Anglican Priest of orthodox persuasion and I've dealt over the years with many people in grief. As Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross pointed a long time ago, grief, i.e. coming to terms with loss, is a multi-stage process. There is denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. The process is anything but linear or straight-forward. People will bounce among the various stages and may even reach acceptance quickly, only to find themselves back in anger or bargaining sparked by a seemingly innocuous trigger.

Another observation: a crisis of grief is always made worse when a person is undergoing a personal struggle with their beliefs. Part of the problem with conveying the urgency of the PO message is that we are trying to convince people to prepare for the end of the world as they know it. Like it or not, oil is the life blood of the western world's obsession with material well being. This monstrous shibboleth of economic and commercial enterprise built on cheap energy is the foundation of our hopes, our dreams, and yes, our salvation. In other words, it has all the attributes of a god and we worship it with all our minds, souls, and bodies. Our highways are pilgrimage routes, our cars are our sanctuaries and temples, our pension funds are our ticket to an after-life, and our mobility is our freedom from bondage.

I suspect that Buddy who wants the Audi sports car is seeking sanctuary from facing "end times". Moreover, it is a great bargaining chip: if he can appease the gods by getting the best they can offer, he may be able to stem off their wrath and judgment.

PeakTo, you've moved him from outright denial to quasi-bargaining. That's a step forward. At least he didn't leave the party peeved off.

Potentially, what awaits us is not mere economic collapse but spiritual catastrophe as well. The annals of history don't bode well in this department. The dark night of the soul, even when it produces later peace and strength, is never easy. For cultures, it tends to bring out the worst demons in people and once they're loose, much mayhem.

The only example in nature of a living thing that increases exponentially without restraint is cancer. Suffering is inevitable for its host body. Remission occurs when the tumor shrinks. This may be the silver lining to the PO cloud. More and more oil, year after year, is neither good nor healthy. Explained this way – and I am sure there are other and better analogies that can be used – people can be moved from quasi-bargaining to quasi-acceptance.

BTW, keep up the good work.

Loved that, Zadok!

Have you given your Peak Oil sermon yet? If not please do.

I'm a high church Episcopalian . As you know. Anglicans are the people for whom they invented the term White Anglo Saxon Protestant to describe, And my cousin was a personal assistant for Kubler-Ross for about 10 years.

Its amazing how well she nailed the processes of grief. But its one of the biggest fallacies of our civilisation to think that because we can describe something, to name it that we therefore control it, that knowing the name gives us power over the situation. Its Adam's power of naming and one of the great things that separates us from the rest of the world. And its also one of the principles of Witchcraft
that having something's true name gives us power.

Just yesterday with the Wall Street Journal thread we let the WSJ authors stir a few of those snakes because they would like to describe us as a cult. The situation may be uncontrollable but we're less powerful than they if they can describe us with a few deroguetory stereotypes. That helps keep that fiction of control alive for our ego's benefit as well as theirs.In shorter words, its another game because if we can reduce the whole thing to a game we have an illusion of control.

I'm a minority around here, I really do try to follow a spiritual path. At least 2/3rds of the folks here are without religeon but are very fine and moral people. I think they are making a mistake because theology and philosophy represent how people have tried to represent their relations with the universe for several thousand years. Its a pity to throw away all kinds of info, ancient people were just as smart as we are. And its also inconvertable truth that more evil has been done in the name of God than any other excuse. The war in Iraq is a threeway religeous crusade, including all the born-again Christians in our military and mercenaries.

My spirituality describes a path rather than a goal, and I try to live and let live about these matters and I'm in a distinct minority. I believe that we don't own the natural world, but intead should be stewards-protectors-that we have a duty to protect it and pass the world on better than we received it. And, most importantly, to act with love for the world and its people. The rest, I don't know, sacrifice always sounded barbaric and if we didn't start out with a god by now we have created them.Bob Ebersole


This is one discussion I was not expecting on TOD.

Bob, you say :
I think they are making a mistake because theology and philosophy represent...

Why do you think that if someone is not religious, that person is not interested in philosophy?

I am not religious, but philosophy has always drawn me. Discussions on morality interest me as well.

Could you elaborate a bit?



I agree with FB. Just because one doesn't have religion, doesn't have theology, does not mean one can't have a very deep philosophical relationship with {reality/existence/life}

I think this is a mistake religious people make all too often, to believe the nonreligious are somehow, by definition, philosophically poorer.

Jaymax (cornucomer-doomopian)

Philosophy should stand on it's own as an autonomous branch of knowledge. I think it was Mortimer J. Adler who wrote before the age of enlightenment that philosphy was the poor handmaiden of religion (and wrongly so, he explains further on in his book "the 4 dimensions of philosophy").

yup - i find the mistake tedious too

i usually find the opposite

most religious people i run into are very philosophically poor relying more on received dogma than a personally thought through consistent philosophy
All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

Philosophy asks questions that may never be answered

Theology gives answers that may never be questioned


"Existence has no given significance. This precisely is what makes our situation so interesting." Ed Abbey

Well that's Christian theology, but "Jewish theology" if such a thing can be said to exist at all, is almost entirely questions and process, not answers. And Buddhist "theology" is an entirely different manner. And Native American theology is another matter. In fact you might want to limit that statement to "Christianity" and perhaps "Islam".

FB, Don't know if this helps but I have recently come to agree with Bob's position. However in looking back I can see clearly that I always worshiped something and before deciding on a more spiritual path my religion was science and rationality. I still love science and what it can show me about the physical universe but for me there is a whole other deeper side of my being that seems to be addressed by religion or spirituality. Of course I'm no fundamentalist either and I know that many religions are filled with both corrupted messages and messengers, but I view the core message that is transmitted by them as THE message that fully addresses man. So I agree with Bob that those who ignore this message are losing out on tremendous knowledge and truth.

Hello Roamer,

This is a very delicate discussion. I like TOD and the people around here quite a bit and have no intention (or desire) to hurt any feelings, so could we simply say that religion appeals to your yearning for meaning (i.e. what addresses man), but that other, non-religious people can find meaning and value outside of religion?

To suggest that those non-religious people "are losing out on tremendous knowledge and truth" strikes me as an extraordinary statement. Dare I say I find it insensitive?


Hello FB,

You are right it is a delicate discussion and I feel like I really miscommunicated and probably should learn to refrain from this type of discussion when in the future, I do however want to set the record straight since I got the impression you think I'm a cruel fundamentalist. When I look at my statement of losing out on knowledge and truth is a bit insensitive. I also didn't mean to imply that those who don't practice religion are missing out on meaning, not in the least. I guess what I meant by meaning is contentment, or peace or joy and I know people can find this in many areas.

My filter on religion may be pretty wacky and far from the normal, but I sort of see it as the collective concious venture for discovering internal concious truths. I especially view many of the eastern religions like buddhism in this light. As such I think some of the most brilliant people to have lived on this planet have participated in this tradition. I view the teachings of the Buddha, Jesus, John of the Cross and other mystics and saints as an opporuntity to learn a few thing about the interior of my conciousness. In partciular I enjoy the experience of meditation. The catch is that I would not have a clue how to go about experiencing these states without their instructions. I think of those people as the Einsteins and Newtons of the spiritual world. I know darn well that there is not a chance in heck that I'd discover either F=ma or Einsteins theory of relativity, but I still try to understand and still appreciate their work very much. I know scientifically speaking I'd be missing out if I ignored their work and I feel the same about those spiritual giants I mentioned.

We have a little discussion on religion and philosophy here. The problem is that making a choice to have a little spiritual discipline gets confused in our society with the religious meme-if you don't believe the way I want you to believe you are going to hell and I'm going to help you get there. In other words, its very dangerous at times.

The great current examples of this meme in our current world are easily seen. Osama Ben Laden and George W. Bush are both very happy men and convinced that their models pf the world and doing God's will are right. And I'm convinced they are deluded and dangerous.

Bob Ebersole

Careful now, sir, or you'll let out the big secret :-)

Religions are like the little CAFE standard stickers, while actual mileage depends on how the vehicle is operated. If I'm humble, mindful of where I'm going, and I wave others in who are trying to merge I can get near the 36 mpg my window sticker had. If I've got the "its all about me" hammer down climbing I-70 west out of Denver because I think I might get lucky with that cute attendant at the Indian Springs Resort? I'll lose a third of my supposed benefit right off the bat, and if the troopers don't get me the midlife crisis police will :-(

This is at once an interesting thread and at the same time dangerous and inappropriate, because there is no common shared definition for certain English words, despite the fact that they're in the dictionary. Conservative? Liberal? Totally poisoned by the likes of that pervert Limbaugh. God? No such being exists in my book, and if there were I think everyone who believed in such things ought to be scared white, 'cause we are not playing nice, not any of us ...

Economists can be considered priests of the religion of the free market.


Thank you for your thoughtful comments especially pointing out that we "don't own the natural world, but instead should be stewards-protectors." The good news we offer, and hopefully try to live out, is to "act with love for the world and its people."

May help to answer why you and I are maverick enough to post on PO despite, or perhaps b/c, of our WASPish establishment baggage. The writing is on the wall, and if life is a journey and not a destination, then it is our role to chuck the weight that bears us down and thereby limits our travel. We are called to speak out.

Speaking out, and this goes for all who offer their insights and wisdom, is always dangerous. From a Judeo-Christian perspective, the prophets were never popular. Jesus paid the price for being so outspoken. From a philosophical vantage, Socrates paid the same penalty.

I mentioned the work of Dr. Kubler-Ross for a couple of reasons: a) her work is well known, and b) she does provide guide-posts on the phenomenon of grief. As anyone in the "caring professions" will tell you grief is messy. There is a mountain of literature on the subject. Yet, the moment any of us are presumptuous enough to think we have it all figured out, whamo, someone or something comes along to prove us wrong.

I fully 100% agree with your assessment of naming. If the western world has one egregious sin it is the pride, dare say hubris, of assuming our world can be dissected, categorized, and pigeonholed into nice little slots and named. Naming gives the illusion of control. Gone is any mystery and any intrinsic value of just being. It also leads us into the temptation to shame and blame when we discover, as inevitably we will, that the illusion does not hold. Sticks and stones will break bones, but it is a lie that names never hurt. Too many graveyards hold the untimely bones or ashes of people named "sub-human", "undesirable", or "not one of us."

Also, names often limit healthy debate since one party or another will be forced on the defensive to disqualify what is implied in the all-too-handy label. A cautionary note: these are the serpents that can creep into unexpected places, including our own rhetoric when trying to prove a point.

The war in Iraq saddens me deeply. As you say, it is seen as a three-way crusade and there is a common impression that it is a religious battle. That's unfortunate. More so, b/c it's an observation that lacks validity and accuracy.

Notwithstanding the bombastic manipulation of leadership, all, and I mean all the religions of the book appeal to highest principles and sentiments of the human condition. To draw from the prophet Micah, many mouth the words and even believe that "they love kindness" and "do justice". What is often overlooked is the last and important part, "to walk humbly with your God." A healthy dose of humility goes a long way to ease the pain we inflict on one another.

The war in Iraq, like all wars in human history, is the result of the lesser qualities of the human condition: pride, greed, anger, lust, envy, sloth, and gluttony. Regardless of what one believes, the seven deadlies are called deadly for a reason.

One of the pieces missing from most media and academic "commentary" on the major questions facing our world is ethical and moral considerations. Sometimes such dimensions are implied but rarely stated openly. This, too, is unfortunate.

You don't have to be a moralist, theologian, or scholar to see the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Nor is intelligence restricted to the few. Why moral and ethical questions are the last to be asked perhaps stems from not wanting to be named as an "expert" or "novice" or "smart-ass" or "ignorant" or "high minded" or "zealot" or "heathen" or "hypocritical" when dealing with the subject. There's that name calling again.

There's no shame with honesty, even when from time to time we are wrong, inconsistent, or found less than perfect. If we can't let our rough edges get knocked off, how on earth will we ever get polished?

Yes, the western world has a long history of theology and philosophy upon which to draw. Both are deep wells of received wisdom and knowledge. One, or the other, and both are accessible to all. Moreover, they are much more nuanced and richer than many would have us believe. We ignore them at our peril. We ignore speaking our truth in love at our peril, too.


Yes, the western world has a long history of theology and philosophy upon which to draw

I think that Eastern thought and religons have a great amount to draw upon also. Buddism for example.

A wealth of things for Personal Spirtuality and Personal enlightenment as opposed to having a minister/priest to lead the flock.

There is so much good in the worst of us
and So much bad in the best of us
it's hard to tell which of us
should reform the rest of us

What gets me is the way Bob says a number of things which are pretty wacky and probably not at all what he meant to share.

"I'm a minority around here, I really do try to follow a spiritual path."

Whether he meant it or not, Bob is suggesting that the majority here are not following a spiritual path. How he knows any of this to be so -- that he is in the minority here on following a spiritual path (whatever that might mean?) and the majority is not -- is highly questionable, but is illuminated in the following way:

"At least 2/3rds of the folks here are without religion but are very fine and moral people."

Bob is apparently defining this majority as being "without religion" (meaning what exactly?) yet who still are fine and moral people. Despite acknowledgment that folks *without religion* can be decent people he is further distinguishing his belief (?) that it is *with religion* one follows a spiritual path, and hence his alleged minority status.

Oh man, Bob is an endearing fellow but this is ridiculous stuff to write!

As to "I think they are making a mistake..."

I think Bob claiming all manner of things with respect to the position of any minority or majority beliefs about himself and everyone else here on religious or spiritual matters (especially so without explicit definitions!) is the biggest mistake. Say what you want about your own beliefs by all means if so moved, but leave out the pigeon-holing as to what you think anyone else may or may not believe, or anyone's ranking in any of this.

Bob, it isn't just the naming of things that is separatist, it is this categorizing of spiritual matters and what other people may or may not believe (especially according to most formalized religious codes) that is equally if not more so misbegotten. That's the real pity of formal religion and many followers thereof IMHO.

According to the survey we did at TOD about six months ago, 60% of the people posting here are atheists. I don't know how to find the demographics again, but maybe someone around here can remember. Of the 40% remaining, its safe to say 25% are not participants in a church religeon. At any rate, thats wher I got my figures.

I don't know where you got the idea that I think that people in a religion are following a spiritual path. My actual belief is that many people who are religious are religious because many churches will tell you the moral and philosopical position to take in reguards to most areas of our lives, areas like sexuality,divorce,and abortion that have changed and evolved over the centuries. And I try to be mindful of the things that I do.

But I do think that reviewing my life to see its effectc on others, meditation, contemplation and prayer are good for me as a person, and thats what I consider spirituality. And they are certainly not confined to religious people.

your assumptions about me is why many people don't discuss spirituality much here. And its a shame, because our actions are what's distroying the world-our carbon release is a personal sin, as well as a civic one. And its not mentioned in the Bible, Quran as a sin or even displeasing to God, even though it may destroy the world. It a real, modern ethical problem which I find easy to answer, but since its brand new hasn't been labeled as a sin.

And that's the fault I find with religion. Churches find it far to easy to be comfortable with capital punishment, war, distruction of our natural environment, Bob Ebersole


I've made no a priori "assumptions" about you at all -- except one. All I've done is reflect back what you wrote, which, if I assume anything, I believe you didn't really mean to say at all!

Yet when you wrote, "I'm a minority here, I really do try to follow a spiritual path", you are suggesting (unintentionally so I believe) that the majority is not doing so. Now that's an assumption and a questionable one at that!

I too am aware of the TOD readership survey, but what atheism, agnosticism, or religious affiliation has to do with spirituality or any such path of the same by each of us is a whole other matter. (Had the survey asked such questions any resulting insight into this might be very different.) Yet your original statements as a whole were suggestive of an assumption -- one I do assume was more than likely completely unintended -- that these majority TOD folks "without religion" were a) not on a spiritual path, and b) "making a mistake".

Based on the replies of FB and Jaymax, I further assume, and rightly so I think, that such assumptions as you suggested are bound to be looked upon as highly questionable. I agree, and yet I've offered you from the get-go the benefit of the doubt that any of this is as you intended.

That you don't understand how I (and others) "got the idea that I think people in a religion are following a spiritual path" vis a vis those "without religion" are not doing so is clearly suggested by what you wrote! "I'm a minority here, I really do try to follow a spiritual path" immediately followed up with "At least 2/3rds of the folks here are without religeon but are very fine and moral people. I think they are making a mistake..." on top of the opening statement that you a "high church Episcopalian" and the rest.

My intent, which I tried to make plain, was only to point out where I think you went amiss (categorizing yourself in the way that you did versus the rest of us) with the hope that you would see it too and avoid making the same mistake ever again. If I assumed anything about you it is that I don't think you meant to say what you mistakenly did.

In all this I assume only that you are a decent fellow who misspoke. :-)

Best wishes -


I think there could be something else going on here...by it's nature, PO theory is about a phase change, a new paradigm, or whatever jargon you want to use, but in this case the jargon refers to something real. Accepting PO theory means accepting that prices may go much higher, that there could be shortages, financial turbulence could make liquidating assets problematic, there could be enormous changes to every aspect of American middle class life. Just because a person understands and accepts the basic outlines of PO and ELM theory, if they look around and see all their family, friends, & neighbors doing nothing, and the media is untroubled by the implications of PO...
Most TOD posters say, "If you KNOW this, you should ACT..." But not so easy to do for someone who has made a living with their hands...we don't trust our own analysis, it seems counterintuitive. "...gee, no one else seems concerned, maybe I've missed something..."
So, for us, it's not that there's a psychological barrier to taking necessary ELP precautions, but a lack of confidence to act on our own considered judgement. Same reason I didn't buy Microsoft 20 years ago.

hey sld -
I think you're onto something.

by it's nature, PO theory is about a phase change, a new paradigm, or whatever jargon you want to use

ELP is the generally accepted way of preparing ourselves for this change. But there's only one problem: We don't know how the post Peak world is going to look. We don't know how the new paradigm is going to feel.

It's like the general fighting the last war. Carbon credits, conservation, getting out of debt, etc.. are building the figurative Maginot Line. Will they fit the next war/paradigm, defend us from the Blitzkrieg?

Nobody can garantie that my actions are going to "fit". So why do anything at all?

Somebody, please, DO SOMETHING!

Cheers, Dom

ps. The Greens in Germany motivated the country to commit themselves to get out of nuclear energy. The result will end up being: burn more coal imported from Australia! Is this what they wanted from their actions? Ich glaube nicht.

pps. I also think this is the biggest reason for resignation - not that we don't recognize the situation and know that we need to act.

We just don't know how effective our actions are, if they'll fit the next paradigm.
And we KNOW that politics have no idea how the next paradigm will look, or at least can't act on it.
And we KNOW that big companies have a hard time looking past the next quarter.
A non-elected dictator or absolute gov. (like in China) AND a prosperous family business AND organized religion AND guerrilas, for example, all have the luxury of adjusting their actions according to the outcomes in more than half a political term..

I find the same reaction as you describe, an awareness that change is required, yet resignation, bordering on dispare, that change is possible given the framework we live in.

This resignation and passivity is because we no longer live in functioning democratic society, formerly we do, but in pracitice we don't. So before we have any hope of implimenting the changes that are required to mitigate the challanges we face, we have to somehow radically alter our political institutions and re-create a functioning and responsive democracy. I'm not even sure such a political revolution is possible anymore without a great deal of upheaval and strife. We may already be living under a de facto dictatorship.

"We may already ..."

May? I think you're a bit behind the times on this; Mullah George and the Jesus Jihad have been in power for seven long, miserable years, and when impeachment is regularly described as "trying to overthrow the government" by the people who tried to impeach over fellatio? Will the shadow coup solidify, or will the winds of democracy disperse it? I think its a 50/50 thing at this point.

writerman-that's equine manure. We have never had a functioning democratic society-if so, tell me when. A hundred years ago? No women's sufferage, the government calling out the national guard to shoot strikers, Blacks terrorized by lynch mobs? Two hundred years ago-genocide against Indians, slavery?

Read Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the U.S." and open your eyes instead of reading romance in newspaper columns.
Bob Ebersole

I am constantly amazed that so many think we've had an equitable country, or even that it was in its fairly recent history, that it suddenly just up and turned sour. That's the perspective of those who feel most threatened by the sourness of the moment, not the sourness evident everywhere in our history. (And of course it's not what we're taught in the US school system.)

i second that recommendation - Zinn's People's History is a must read for all Americans and all who want to understand America better


All these memories will be lost in time
like tears in rain

There is a Danish saying, that I'm paraphrasing / translating off the top of my head:

"We may be going to hell, but at least we are traveling first class."

I think that might sum up the situation for some.

Then again, world/future is not as black/white as doom/utopia.

The sane thing may be after all to try and understand, not too spend too much time on it, raise preparedness personally, but not to become too emotionally/time invested until the situation is really clear.

I mean who am I to judge. My crystal ball is still in the repair shop and it seems they'll never be able to fix it again...

"Prophet" has never been a very rewarding career path. Going around and trying to warn people about what you think is coming is only going to lead to grief.

They'll all find out soon enough.

Meantime, focus on yourself and your own household. Do what you can to prepare for and adjust to the new reality that you know is just around the corner. Don't put much hope in much help coming from the federal government; you can count on it being too little, too late, and mostly counterproductive. You might not be able to make yourself invulnerable to every contingency, but you can do what you can.

Then quietly go about doing what you can in your own community to strengthen personal networks and community institutions. People don't need an explanation about why you are doing it, just do it.

In this direction lies sanity.

What you can do depends on the person and the place he is in.
The inconveint truth though of that plan is there are allot of people who can't do a damn thing because either they don't have the money and/or they are not in a good place to do it in.

Well, given that this is the time where there are a fair number of folks wandering around suggesting that they would make good leaders, and given that this is a problem that requires leadership - perhaps they should be asked their plans?

Having once been a middle manager "over" ten employees, I am highly suspicious of the sanity of anybody who would want that role over 300,000,000.

If you look to history to be your guide,most endings are grim.Think of Nazi Germany,or any .gov we have sent the jackals in to replace.Or Mussolini's end.The collapse of a culture,or a Petro-civilization will be "messy".Then there is the question,will you want to survive?

"If you look to history to be your guide,most endings are grim."

Can you really prove that? During the dark ages in Europe, would anyone have assumed these would be the richest powers in the future?

Looking at the counter Reformation, and the religious wars in Europe, could anyone have assumed that peace would ever return to Europe?

Looking at the American Civil War, who would have bet money on the Americans surviving as a unified nation?

My father grew up in WWII. He said that the terror was real for him and millions of others. We were attacked in the Pacific, our navy wrecked, and at war in Europe. We came into it completely unprepared for war.

At war on two fronts...why would we just "assume" we would emerge victorious?

And would anyone have bet on the collapse of the Communist empire in the U.S.S.R? Or China becoming a market economy? When I was a child I was taught one golden rule about the Communists..."they always expand. In the history of the world, there has been no case of the Communists giving up ground once they gained it."

Predicting grim ending is just as narrow as predicting sunny ones. So much is decided by small things, the so called "butterfly" effect that we now know of by way of Chaos theory. Very small groups, a few technicians in an underfunded lab or a tinker shop out in some small town, or at a small university...an as yet unborn political group, a small venture fund that finds just the right firm and people and hooks up, who can predict the outcome?

My favorite example was given by Toffler in "The Third Wave". "The termite lesson" he called it.

Researchers found that termites who break away from a termite colony are on their own. They will wander and die if no new colony can be formed.

But, they leave a small trail of pheromone, which other termites can sense.

Now the Chaos part: If a few of them wander the same direction, and cross the pheromone, they will group to it. If the density is enough, it will attract even more. But if the density of termites who cross each other's path is not high enough, or the pheromone trail is disturbed (say the board they have traveled on is a loose one, and is picked up and thrown in a pile or burned) there will be no colony, and the straying termites will die soon enough.

But if the density is high enough of "communication" and the trails undisturbed, a new termite colony will form, seemingly out of nowhere.

It is the communication, the natural process "networking" that is their only hope.

This is why Toffler considered information and networking to be the greatest factor in our future.

So, you see, there are a few lessons (a) The end does not always have to be grim, but it can be (b) tiny factors, even the path of individuals can make a difference, and (c) NETWORK. See, us folks hammering away on the keys may not be as useless as we seem! :-)


I grant you that It will not always be grim....{eventually}....but the last centurian facing a blue hoard in england,or the last members of any collapsing system have it fairly hard....think no support system,whatever that support system was.The time between the establishment of post petro-man, [what will follow us],will,as the chinese curse goes,be ..Interesting..

Thanks Roger, nice post.

Weaving a tangled web of Sarcanol, Kool-Aid, Sprayed Coffee and Fear-a-moans, and catching us a few flies!



I want to survive and I hope my children do too.

It probably will be messy, but frankly, I cannot imagine not wanting to survive.

There are things we can do in our communities. I am busy talking to as many mayors (we live in the Alps where a big village is 400 people, small is < 100) as I can contact. It is time consuming and discussions are difficult to prepare, but is sitting on the info an option?

I am perhaps naive, but I prefer to be naive and active than worldly and inert.


So which is it? Climate or oil? If a drought like the one in the mid-west during 1930's happened today, we would panic and blame it on global warming. Most everyone survived the 1930 drought and they would if it happened today.

The modern cluster of exponentially worsening problems are global, not local, and require global actions if they are to be resolved.

But, most importantly, multiple resource depletion is an ongoing worsening problem with, as yet, no obvious adequate solutions - unlike a drought, when it rains again and all is well.

Peak oil is just the 'icing on the cake', wait until we are post peaks of fresh water, natural gas, coal, phosporus, indium, top soil, sea fish, agricultural crops and fiat money as well. Kunstler has a very descriptive word for this!

History and personal experience tells us that mankind is more likely to fight than cooperate for declining resources - a recent mild example would be the rapid decent to looting in NO during the flooding. :-(


Remember this because it will never change.

"The only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history".

Most everyone survived the 1930 drought and they would if it happened today.

Methinks you forget that the living write the history - and the dead did not go on to reproduce.

But hey, please show death records to support your position.

If they survived why would there be death records?

Because it was over 70 years ago and anyone then living would most probably be dead now? Ergo if you had the death records of those who lived during that time you could demonstrate how many died during the period versus after the period? Surviving one calamity is no guarantee of surviving successive calamities (whether large scale or personal). And in the end, none of us get out of here alive anyway. ;)

"The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function." -- Dr. Albert Bartlett
Into the Grey Zone

I live in the part of the city that is classified as low income and racially mixed. Near me are many people classified as minority (racially from Africa) although caucasion make up less than 50% citywide. Many of the minority people in this city, along with newly arrived eastern European and Middle East immigrants, are low income and classified as poor. Many of these poor get some kind of government assistance if only food stamps.

Most residents here appear to have some type of job, although most of the good paying jobs are far away from this neighborhood. A lot of them have cars but many must use public transport which is not very frequent in the direction of the jobs (to the west).

My main concern is that as oil gets higher priced these people will be in the circumstance of having to choose between buying gas or a more expensive transit pass (cost seems to rise 10 or 20% every two years) and paying for rent/clothes/food. Will these poor people be the first to feel the peak oil effects in the US, while the "well to do" that live in the suburbs just "grin and bear it" with high energy prices.? Will these people be the first to lose their low paying jobs as the fast food and cheap retail stuff employers close stores in economically depressed areas?

What really bugs me about those predicting peak oil solutions like buying higher mpg cars is that the poor will be the last to afford to make such a change. And as unemployment rises in the cities, so does crime. Thus the poor get poorer and the violence escalates just as in Zimbabwe.

Mark in St Louis, USA

If you care about these people, promote bicycling. Cars are EXPENSIVE. Even motorcycles/scooters are expensive compared to a bicycle.

Bicycles are a solution to many of the poor in this area. However, the main streets are dangerous to ride and close by good paying jobs (less than two or three miles away) are not real common. Also, the problem of riding at night on busy streets is a hazard as the sun now sets at 4:45pm.

I see the main problem as access to jobs and availability of nearby low skilled jobs. Most of the new good paying jobs ($25,000+ per year) in this metro area have been 10 to 20 miles to the west of this area. Some neighbors take bus rides of an hour or more to get to these, but buses run only every half hour in the rush hour and once an hour at other times. Many new office buildings built in St. Louis area have been in St. Charles county (20 miles west) which has no transit system.

Mark in St Louis, USA

Ditto everything you said about the KC Metro area...there is no great public transport system and the buses that do get around are not frequent outside the inner corridor of KC.

Hoping for light rail...at least St. Louis has that.

Employers having the choice of A.) failing or B.) buying an old bus and running a route that suits their needs are likely to choose option B. Another option is organizing and subsidizing car pools. Efficient passenger vehicles are going to become like pickups are now - a resource that makes you popular once you own one. My Versa is already wandering here and there with other people at the wheel, leaving 4x4 trucks at home.

The idea of someone biking east to west in the morning in St. Louis is pretty funny. I used to work some times in Westport and I dated someone who lived north of St. Charles. That trip was always an adventure - half of the traffic of the 101 south of San Francisco, but 9X the kinetic energy because everyone is going 75 instead of 25. I can't recall making that run without having my poor little car at redline a couple of times trying to scamper out of the way of something much larger, faster, and inattentively operated.

Coming up I-55 from Crystal City or Arnold I have sometimes ran at almost 100 MPH...taking I-270 from Jeff Barracks area of south county up to north county...I have sometimes ran at 90 mph..just to keep up with the traffic.

Of course then I have many more times sat at idle for long long traffic lines heading up I-70 to Florrisant Rd. out of the city...

There is not rhyme or reason to it..you either run with the traffic or sometimes you are roadkill...

I am glad I left that madness long ago..and I suspect its only worsened.....

..and yet some here say "ohhh light rail will solve all this"....sure!. Sure!...

When the fuel gets hard to find...these folks will simply go quite beserk...I seen it in 73 and I sheeple were far more mannered back then....today its a powder keg....

I do go there once in a great while and come back alive...amazingly...then kiss the Ky soil and swear "never again..never again"


Too true, I live in Columbia MO and whenever I visit STL or KC I am glad I don't have the traffic of the "big city"....yet.

if the endings referred here are to the complex societies, then could some one please show us there had ever been a happy one? there seems to be quite a bit of ancient wisdoms in "HO" - known to be the best strategy among some 36 fabled ones.

According to Tainter and Catton, when the Roman Empire was falling, part of it decided in effect to "de-complexify" and became the Byzantine Empire which went on for another 1000 years.

another proof of the wisdom in "HO". had anyone stuck with a collapsing complex society to the end had a happy ending?

Enclaves are a very valid way to handle the collapse of a complex society. Also the monasteries of the past acted as a enclave and later source of knowledge. We are not all doomed just most of us.

the majority of monasteries did not come into being till after the collapse and most of the anceint knowledge that wasn't aquired by the musliums were destroyed. contrary to popular belief the majority of anceint knowledge(writings, manuscripts etc, some artwork(source: a breif history of dis-belief if i remember correctly)) lost was due to fundimentalist christians at that time who reasoned that it was the anceint's heathen ways that was causing the collapse. the rest was phsyiclly destoried by some of the invading non-christian tribes(architexture, infrastructure, along with the skilled labor force that knew how to make it). what was left was subject too centurys of paper recycling by the very same monasteries, for example a previously unknown work of archimedies was found very fadded under the writing of a prayer book.

This de-complexification happened across the entire Empire. The success of the Eastern Roman Empire wasn't in de-complexification, it was in limiting the loss. Other places weren't nearly as lucky. Post-Roman Britain, for example, regressed to pre-Bronze age levels of agricultural development and urbanization (see Ward-Perkins). Britain, Gaul, Hispania, North Africa, Italy all saw massive depopulation, massive de-urbanization, and a collapse in complexity. Gaul, for example, went from around 20% urban in 350 AD, to 1% urban by 600 AD. Literacy, which was widespread during the empire, disappeared except in monasteries. If de-complexification is a success, there were success stories all over the empire, not just the Eastern part.

The collapse of the Roman Empire was a tragedy for the rich poeple with their suburban villas. The peons back in the sticks didn't mind paying taxes locally instead of to an emperor.
The local tax collector couldn't tax you too high, or you would start paying taxes to another tax collector and let the two of them sort it out. Or start up as a tax collector yourself by ambushing the local tax collector and going into business with his horse and armor.

This is a deep and complex question.

If you define an unhappy ending as the sudden collapse from a complex society to a simple one, the question then becomes is it possible to have a complex society that can either stay in a stable state indefinitely, or if needed smoothly transition back to a simple one?

This is the issue that Joseph Tainter addresses in "The Collapse of Complex Societies". The short answer is, no.

The reason societies become complex is that it is a way to optimise the use of resources, ie. to turn food into people. The downside to that is that an optimal system has low redundancy, and is therefore vulnerable to changing environment. Tainter explains that once a complex society starts to develop, the pressure becomes to get ever more complex. This means that when a need arises to downsize, it is difficult to unwind complexity gradually, and collapse to a much simpler state occurs suddenly.

This pattern of collapse has occurred to all previous complex societies. The question, will the awareness of what causes complex societies to collapse enable us to avoid it?

well summarized. if one, however, remembers what Laozi had stated, while on his way "HO" on an ox some 2500 years ago, Tainter's work can be viewed as a foot note...

the answer to your last question could perhaps be found through another question: is the society run by rational thoughts or genetic instincts?

is the society run by rational thoughts or genetic instincts?

I would say that is the same question, but I guess future generations will find out.

What does strike me is that while a vast majority of the population pretty much run on instinct, a very small percent of the population thinking rationally has produced a very large effect on society. Whether that partnership continues or breaks down I think will determine the future.

A test case will be whether the IPCC reports will have any real impact, at the moment I can't see it happening.

whose "future generation" will that be - the "very small percent of the population thinking rationally" or the "vast majority of the population pretty much run on instinct" - especially after a population decimating collapse?

"a very small percent of the population thinking rationally has produced a very large effect on society" yet never enough to prevent the collapse of a complex society - historically.

ain't any of the IPCC reports already a compromise between rational thoughts and genetic instincts - in the form of politics?

never enough to prevent the collapse of a complex society

I was thinking more that the inventions of the few, where they fit the genetic imperative, are adopted by the masses, leading to collapse.

ain't any of the IPCC reports already a compromise between rational thoughts and genetic instincts - in the form of politics?

For sure. "Inconvenient truths" are watered down before even being set to paper.

I get the impression that scientists especially in the US are fed up with being ignored, and this may explain why some are a little over eager to state the scientific case.

The problem is that only 5% of the people are capable of awareness, and they don't connect much because of distance, poverty and time. Its hard to think or contemplate if you are hungry, and it won't be any easier in a resource-constrained future. Maybe the connections and incredible knowledge resources from the internet will make a difference, but I wouldn't count on it.Bob Ebersole

I was thinking in terms of things like microwaves, computers as well as abstract stuff like money markets. A few people understand these things well to enough to create and maintain them, but for the rest knowledge of how they work is not necessary - they can just use them.

I like to think that I am an engineer, but I only have detailed knowledge of a tiny fraction of what goes on even in engineering.

I was really trying to refine the idea that society is either run on rational lines or just instinct. It's more like 1% rational, 99% instinct, where the 99% are merely customers of the 1%. This allows the appearance of a rational behaving society, but this could be an illusion.

While the 1% produces things that the 99% likes, eg cars, Ipods, suburbs etc this is OK. The question is what happens when the 1% says, "sorry, you have to stop using all those things?".

This is where dogma returns and science is rejected. Society says "hey, thanks for all the health care improvements, but you can go to hell with caring about the environment". The question is can the 1% influence society when it goes against what the 99% want?

can anything being "invented" for a short term interest without thinking through its long term consequences be really called rational?

It is rational (in a game-theoretic sense) to act in a short-term manner if others are doing likewise and there is a lack of trust and rules. Long-term thinking produces superior results but requires agreed rules, sanctions and trust - ie "social capital". It's no use trying to save the planet for your grandchildren if your neighbour can still benefit by destroying it.

There is a political struggle between those who want to agree and implement these rules, and those who want to prevent that happening for their own short-term benefit.

Each of us individually is doomed, starting at birth. But I don't think the species is doomed just yet. A really big retrenchment is certainly staring us in the face. And it is certain that there will be a lot of loss of life in the coming decades through famine, war, etc. But this is a time in which the species has to learn to unify sufficiently to deal with the global crisis that faces us and strive for a new, sustainable relationship with the planet.

To a very great extent our attitudes are molded by our being members of the middle class in a first world country. In many third world countries, death is never far a away, yet life goes on. It was that way even here a hundred or more years ago. But the species can go on. So what is there but to think about and participate a little in trying to deal with finding a way out? There is no individual salvation, not for us, not for our own kids and grandkids. There is only a collective salvation if we can get it together as a species.

What IS dying is our middle class way of life, whether it's lived in Osh Kosh or Shanghai. How much of what was accomplished (or learned, in any case) in the oil age can be rescued is the big question, or one of them anyway.

I re-watched the "Death" skit from "The Meaning of Life" today ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoBTsMJ4jNk ), first time in years I've seen it.

The thing I'd forgotten that struck me (and I certainly wouldn't have thought about the same way at the time I first saw it) was as death led the dead dinner party into the hereafter, they all decided to follow him not by walking, as death was, but to drive the cars they had brought to the dinner party (that featured the bad, canned salmon mousse). So they got in their cars (not even a carpool!), revved up, and their ghosts drove off in ghost cars.


Heading Out asked an interesting question....

“What happens when it doesn’t get better?”

That would be bad of course, although, right now, if they only stayed as good as they are I would be overjoyed (I once said that if the price of gasoline stayed anywhere under $8.00 to $10 bucks for the rest of my natural life, that would be fine with me....I have no patience with boneheads who consider the only measure of "success" being gas prices back at $2.00 a gallon.

But another question is even more vexing, in relation to HO's original question:

"What happens if it DOES get better?"

I mean think about...there are folks here who have built their whole world view around pending doom. Many have planned their financial situation based on this premise, and the number seems to be growing, as "Peak" makes it into the mainstream.

What if it doesn't happen? What if, at a certain level, say, $110 per barrel, or $120 per barrel, the price begins to flatten....then, even though no one thought it possible, production does begin to pick up....China starts entering the oil services industry with equipment and labor, at a level not thought possible only a few years earlier (and why wouldn't they? This is an industry BEGGING for massive manpower and heavy equipment, it could be boom industry for them, plus they can use the oil, would we agree?)

Africa begins to deliver, offshore China picks up, offshore Brazil...facing competition for the first time since the peak of the North Sea in Europe, Saudi Arabia really starts to spend big money to develop it's oil, and it turns out to actually be there. Could it happen? Who knows...

My point is, that it would create a major "crisis of faith" among many in the peak community if it happened, and while it may be seen as impossible here on this board, what if...just what if, it happened?

Oil production climbing and oil prices dropping,along with other commodities, especially if it happened fast and hard, could be an economic nightmare.

We have no idea, and really, I mean NO IDEA, how much money has been poured into the energy and commodity markets. This will not be like the 1982 price collapse. In those days, there were no day traders on the internet, no online marketing to pour suckers into the commodities market based on the premise that "The end is nigh, oil will still double even from here! Get in before it's too late, dial 1-800-sucker to get in on this opportunity!"

And can anyone even guess how many hedge fund dollar have poured into the commodities run up, completely unchecked and uncontrolled? That's billions upon billions of your pension fund money, mutual fund money, city municipal fund money, university endowment, charitable trust fund and foundation money that could be at stake. Can anyone even guess how many billions of dollars bet on a never ending price increase in oil, gas, propane, copper, stell, molybedium, platinum, gold, silver....combine the runup in price over the last five years, and try to guess the total, in billions, trillion?

Never mind the broken self esteem and broken dreams of the doomers. Billions of dollars will be wiped out, and fast, if prices were to drop fast.

One can make the argument that holding these prices up, or at least, bringing them down gradually is actually financial policy by those in the know, and if it isn't, it should be.

But why would I believe this is possible? How could I even IMAGINE such a thing?

Because, I have been there and seen it. I owned them all....real estate, silver, energy futures once, as a younger man. I have seen it happen. Trust me on this...it takes DECADES TO CATCH BACK UP, DECADES, IF YOU EVER CAN.

Now, HO may be right. It may never get better. It may be correct that the guy buying that Audi is an idiot. I remember when V-8 engines were sold for scrap, and used as buoy anchors at our local lake, because the day of a V-8 engine in a car was OVER. The thought that in only a few years, folks would be driving V-10 and V-12 cars with 400 and 500 horsepower engines? MADNESS!!

I am simply asking my friends to be very, very careful. There is simply NO WAY to know which way this situation may turn. Being wrong in either direction at the personal level can be catastrophic.

What if it never gets "better"? Who knows.

What if it does get "better"?

Exactly what do you define as "better"?

Roger Conner Jr.

What happens if it does get better? ThatsItImout, you ask the $64,000 question.

Oliver Cromwell said when he dismissed the Rump Parliament during the English Civil War, "Gentlemen, remember. By the bowels of Christ, remember. You might be mistaken."

Ah, there's the rub.

From my experience, people tend to fall into one of two camps, depending on what they are mulling over in their heads: optimists and pessimists. Both will try to convince others that they are the true "realists", and to a degree, both are right. The polyannas tend to set our eyes on the broad horizons before us, helping us focus on the direction of the light. The grumps tend to tell us if we are witnessing a sunrise or a sunset and to watch our step lest there are potholes underfoot. Both are crucial for leading the way.

What I can tell you is that after reading this blog for the past while, I have been privy to insights and major developments in current events long before any mention in the MSM. Yes, the bloggers here may be mistaken. Sometimes they may be bang-on right for all the wrong reasons. That possibility always exists. Moreover, I must confess that I for one hope that the worst case scenarios don't come to pass. There is enough suffering in our world already without an energy Armageddon.

Yet, by laying out before us that something is amiss and doesn't add up, PO has provoked discussion on the impact of oil and what it has done to our lives, psyches, and souls. At the very least, the bloggers have challenged others to ask how best to husband our resources and be better stewards of our environment.

What will happen if oil production climbed and prices fell? I suspect that most of us here would continue to cook breakfast, lunch and supper, make love to our spouses, play ball, surf the net, earn our paycheques, and provide for our families.

The only way that it would be a "crisis of faith" is if we pour all our vested interests into the stakes. Even here, we would likely brush the dust off, eat humble pie, and go on to other things.

Yet, and this is a big yet, if PO is right, at least some of us in John Q. Public land were warned.

Besides, this is far more interesting and stimulating than the usual diet of celebrity caterwauling and inane gibberish that passes as news on TV.

Roger,I learned a lesson during the y2k non-event.Dont set your life up to require a collapse of the system for your survival...those who talk about maxing their cards,and then retreating to the pine woods are betting the farm that it will come down fast and hard...what if its long and grinding?and the credit card co. has their number?.Bad game plan.

I have made my lifestyle less and less dependent on "services"This is more a strategy,than simple preparation.Tommorow,I am getting another 15 fruit trees.Not because I "need" more trees{I have close to 140}I am also getting a raspberry variant called a Tayberry,and another 2doz.blueberries.My reasoning is simple.I have the ground.I am fairly sure that local folks will provide a market for my product,and if worse comes to worse,you can live on dried fruit,and stay fairly heathy

My other chore tommorow is scaring up some more "boat grade" doug fir from some of the local men who have small sawmills here.Clear,vertical grain old growth with grain so tight you need magnification to see is possible to find.If you know who to talk to.I am collecting a supply of this wood for a small sailboat.or ,perhaps I will build a larger one...but I am quite prepared to live my life as a small scale retired orchard grower of fine apples and pears to the organic crowed if we miss all those bullets flying around now...

I dream about sailing,but I am spending most of my vacation working my ass off to get the ground prepped for greenhouses,and more straight garden area.and finishing the final bits and pieces on my home....now on its 5th and final year of work{moved in 2 years ago}

Y2k taught me to prepare for whatever...including the world NOT comeing to a end.

You have to be in Washington, Oregon or BC. Sounds nice, AK were I live in a post peak oil world may be tough. GW could make SE AK similar to the Northwest. How much for board foot of clear doug fir?

In 8 ft section...1x4,1x6-8 2$ a board ft green as grass small tight knots 80c to $1.50 large{20-30ft} vertgrain clear $2.00 board ft.I love craigs list.There is an old boy logger a ways up the road and 2 small {4-5man}mills close that custom cut

I'm surprised you want tight grained doug fir for a small sail boat. I thought old growth, tight grained cedar was the wood of choice, and that you can find in old docks. I recall stories of coastal mills surviving the hard times by recycling their unwanted pilings.

One thing I've found with small orchards-pests and diseases seem to exponentially increase with tree number...maybe not exponentially, but it becomes daunting. Each heirloom had it's reason for development, and one why it was left behind. One variety is susceptible to scab, another to blight, another bitter pit, large # trees is stronger attraction to browsers, (deer select for apple above all others I think) etc. You might already have it, but if you're looking for another variety with it's own problems but fascinating taste, try Hudson's Golden Gem-a chance seedling from the Oregon coast.

You get a hard winter with deep snow and you'll find that bunnies select for apples first :-( We had thirty apple trees on this place when we moved in and after the winter of 1974/1975 when the snow covered our one story outbuildings that spring we found all of our trees had what looked like male pattern baldness from bunny bark snackin'. The insect pests had their way in and pretty soon we had a lot of firewood and one manky ol' crab apple tree was all that was left.

Get a good air rifle. Aim for the eye. Hassenpfeffer!

Bunny kills with an air rifle are difficult ... unless you can make an eye shot. When I was younger and less concerned with the suffering of all sentient beings I could tag barn swallows 40' in the air but I've only harassed bunnies with .177 cal and never managed to kill one. Here I have a hundred eighty degree free fire field with my .22 and if I stick to #6 shot I can go full circle with my .410 - that stuff is too light to carry to the nearest neighbor's house. Even so with a winter that hard I think we'd be pretty much overrun ... there is just no stopping those critters when its life/death for them.

To each area its own unique problems. I think I'd swap rabbits for pocket gophers, but then I've never been beset by rabbits.

We've got pocket gophers, too. They excavate, they aerate, and I know people used to trap them for a bounty when my dad was a kid. Our pine tree grove wind break to the north and west of the house is pretty well infested with them and they're taking over the ditches both north and south of the farm. We don't have any more large animals so I don't see it as much of a problem ... no cows or horses here to be put down after they stumble in a hole.

Is there something else I should worry about with those?

Depends what you're doing.

This is about the northern pocket gopher, about 5-8" inches long, not to be concerned with moles or ground squirrels, often termed gophers.

If you have an orchard, especially younger trees, they will slice off the entire root about 6-12" below the surface. I've had trees 3 to 4 inch dbh that in the spring just fall over-no longer any connection to the earth. And no tell tale evidence at the tree-their dirt pile 15 feet away.

They infest alfalfa- a lovely tap root system for them. Extension agents estimate 30% yield reduction on some fields locally.

In grass pasture, I'm not sure of the yield reductions, but their cast piles make haying a nightmare for smaller machinery. Dogs will compound the problem, trying to dig them out, giving you a hole and hill right together, obscured by grass. Come close to tipping smaller 30 hp tractors on hillsides in these instances.

In grain, they have the distinction of both root consumtion, and covering over young plants, tho the concern and infestation levels are not near alfalfa. Mainly a fringe or margin problem.

In gardens, they love any root crop, esp potatoes and beets.

Ut oh. We have lots of old pine trees in that grove and lots of new growth right next to it, and plenty of pocket gophers. And yes, they are plump, brown, always underground big diggin' pocket gophers, not thirteen lined ground squirrels, which we also have hiding behind every third stalk of corn.

I'm willing to bet they're tender and delicious, cooked right. I'd look up Chinese recipes for cat or rat and go from there.


I raise Jack Russell terriers...I used to have a bad mole problem...no more...

These are true hunting dogs...they go right in the ground, if you help them to get the right idea...they will go in after almost anything..but I have no idea how they would fare on gophers...yet in England they went in after fox...and here they will go in after almost anything in the ground...

Be sure to get a good agressive breed..Jacks vary a lot now that the yuppie soccer moms are buying them up...the moms must like to be dominated by male Jack Russells..but by and large these are men's dogs...

These are the best dogs I have ever owned and I have owned many...they will dominate if your not assertive...

they greet me each day with a fresh kill usually..and when the moles are in short supply...then mice are taken....

Highly intelligent dogs..can almost read you mind..

Watching a jack work a burrow in great entertainment...they dig a hole,,sniff..sniff...go a few feet away..dig again..sniff sniff..pretty soon they are on the prey...they don't eat it usually ..just show it to you for your praise and approval....best farm dogs going...



Those big Havaheart traps are an essential tool -- not so much because they are non-lethal, but because sometimes they are a more effective way to eliminate a pest animal than is a firearm. You can't be outside guarding your property against animals 24/7, and it is sure to be when you've given up to get some shut-eye that they'll make their appearance. Unless you've got good night vision equipment, shooting at night can be pretty difficult anyway.

Rabbits, raccoons, opossums - the big trap will get all of them. For deer and bears, electric fencing with a solar charger is your best bet.

People seem to have this idea that if they have a gun, that is the answer to all their problems. No, it isn't, sometimes there are better answers.

In my experience, electric fences are good at keeping wildlife out of the areas where they don't want to go.

Deer in a garden...

Chicken wire 6 foot high...four strands of high tensile electrofied ...american wire...

I have found nothing yet that will keep determined deer out of a garden once they get to the corn and beans...

Maybe letting dogs run in it...human hair doesn't work..peeing in coffee cans doesn't work...playing a radio doesn't work..

You have to kill the offending ones...gut shot so they go somewhere else and die...sounds cruel but one must protect the crop or give it up...for a deer can ravage a whole row of beans in one single nite.

Its you or the deer.

Been there..done it all...as I broadcast #6 shot at them from 75 feet via a Browning BPS 12 gs...they stamped their feet and walked towards me!!!!

Kill them are let them eat the crops...thats about it..at least around here where the city folk who come to hunt can't even get a shot since they are such worthless hunters!!!!

With thousands of acres of surrounding thickets and fields they will always tend to come to your garden..,.once they get a taste of it.


With the exception of those exhibit signs of rabies I'd rather not hurt any critters around here. We've interdicted about two dozens of these guys who were nosing around looking for kittens, which are apparently quite the delicacy. I truck 'em out to Riverview, but if mom gets one she has the neighbor shoot it. Oh, and now she complains - excess barn cats. I will never understand women ...

Cat Burglar

Aww how can you look at that critter and not want to invite him to dinner or loan him your Encyclopedia Britannica or something?

A little kitten cassarole should shut the wife up.....

One of my friends had a pet raccoon when we were in grade school. As he got older he got wild and mean so they let him go. I think this was bad all around - clawed up kids, clawed up housepets, and then a raccoon not used to fending for himself put outdoors after six months with humans.


Man, do I disagree with most of your suggestions. First of all, it illegal to transport trapped animals in, at least, California. The reason is that they are territorial so you are going to shoot them anyway.

I would suggest that people check out http://www.buckshotscamp.com because he not only offers equipment but also DVDs on how to do it. Plus, it's a home-based business in ND, The DVDs aren't slick city productions but rather him "doing it."

I have yet to find a bear that is stopped by an electric fence - I've tried them, same with deer, coons, et.al. For bears, I wait until there is damage (since I can't keep them out) and then get a depredation permit from F&G in CA. This allows me to have a culvert trap hauled in. I guess we've had to have 3-4 bears trapped in the last 30 years. There are some ways to deal with bears but I can't really mention them since they are illegal. As an aside, it is really "neat" to find bear paw prints on your sliding glass doors - not. Tracking a lion and her cubs around the house and up and down our road was equally fun.

One thing I don't recommend is sitting outside at night to whack the bear. I did this ONCE. We finally got the bear in a culvert trap and he was not only huge (550#+ - laid out he was 8' from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head) but was old and wanted to attack and kill. It took three shots from point blank range to put him down when he was in the trap. And, I was going to whack him from 50' with the same gun? Dumbo! I'm probably alive because he didn't show up that night.

To me, it is better to learn how to use snares or Conibear traps for almost any animal. It does take a little bit of time to train them but it saves the hassel of a live animal in a Haveaheart trap or in a leg-hold trap. BTW, I'm not anti-Haveaheart trap - I have several of them but I only use them in special circumstances.

I used to trap when I was a kid so this stuff is easy for me. Suit yourself.


Port Orford cedar would be nice,but spendy.Doug fir is thought one of the best woods for boat construction by many.Including me..

I have went for newer varieties with a eye towards disease control...the only real problem has been with coddling moth.I am running hens in the orchard now...I also have broken up the areas,I have 3 different orchards in dif. locations on the land.akane,liberty,spartan,melrose is the moth attractor.chojoro,20thcen,bosc,umbilleen,are my main pears

I have a real problem with codling moth, pheromone treatment included. Timing so critical. It also leap frogs on neighbor, woodland or roadside trees. I've had good luck with Chojoros, Hosui(excellent flavor), had problems with 20th Century. I can't beat Anjou for storage. Liberty a great tree...anything with much Jonathan in it I avoid.

Coming up on antler shedding time-one high damage time, tho I'll lose a couple trees per winter to pocket gophers also. You don't seem concerned with deer, with 3 locations.

I didn't know that some small boat builders prefer doug fir. Why? Granted coastal vs interior are nearly 2 different spp. I'd appreciate any refs on plywood boat reconstruction that don't include fiberglass. I know the disdain wooden boaters have for plywood.

This year I have spent close to $4000.00 on 6'-fence,and electric wire,and I am thinking about talking to the county about a ag permit to shoot a couple of bambies in the neighborhood that are doe's..I nearly run over them every night.

The plywood design I am looking at now is called the "Egret" .Look in Woodboat mag for ideas/plans.Also "glen-l" do a google on "sharpies".I was also surprised to find the wood that I had burned for low-grade firewood for years was one of the best for boats.Home boat builders in the east would kill for what we can get here,and I am NOT talking about whats at Homebase or Lowes

I think its for all around ease of working,and screw holding power,and fairly good decay resistance.

"You don't seem concerned with deer, with 3 locations."

"This year I have spent close to $4000.00 on 6'-fence,and electric wire,and I am thinking about talking to the county about a ag permit to shoot a couple of bambies in the neighborhood that are doe's..I nearly run over them every night."


Wrong assumption I made. I've had deer jump the fence at 7 feet. And with cheaper posts at 10 foot lengths, it makes the 8 foot fence a little shaky with only 2 feet bury.

What has worked is a second fence 3 feet outside of the main, usually a cheap 36 inch wire mesh. It forces them back so that the main at seven is too much to jump. Also works nice to funnel sheep between pastures.

I'll check your google-thanks. I have an old 19' plywood designed and built by Doug Glazer of Tacoma for the Alaskan fishing trade in the early 70's. Great heavy water design with upturned bow, enclosed wheel house, flat bottom for onshore beaching/having the tide run out on ya. Real good memories, don't know if I have the skill to repair/rebuild. A friend had moved it from AK to CA, and it really dried out in storage down there.

Here are two great boat bldg sites for "back yard" boat bldrs. No gimmicks, straight fwd in design, cost, and function. Anyone interested in a project would enjoy. Buehler has two books out which I have enjoyed, trying to find the time and space to build a skiff from Tolman first. In AK a skiff with a 70hp is plenty to move around, fish, hunt and not use too much fuel. A larger boat with diesel would also be nice. We may be moving more in this fashion in the future. I have not forgotten sail which also has its place.......


Builders in the East use Cypress if they can get it. Practically everything on the Chesapeake Bay is Cypress planked with White Oak frames and keel...well, they were when cypress was still available. Way back when first growth pine was available it was used for planking...old pine has so much resin that the toreros would leave it alone. Now when cypress is still small the mulch makers cut them down and grind them into mulch. And pine is raised on farms in long lines...and will hardly hold a nail. A crime imo.

I dont see the need to build a sailboat now. When tshtf there will be more abandoned sailboats in marinas than you can shake a cedar at...so what if they are fiberglass? There will be few 'boat snobs' around to disparage what you are sailing. :)


I built an "Egret" a few years ago. The design has some peculiarities not admitted by those who sell the plans, or by the woodenboat purist types who tend to worship classic designs, regardless of their sailing characteristics.

The centerboard is too far forward, which makes for way-way too much weather helm, especially on a broad reach in heavy air. This is not remedied completely even by reefing the mizzen. Unfortunately, there is no way to relocate the centerboard without changing the location of the masts, which would entail an entire redesign of the boat.

Just thought you might need a heads up on this. Good luck with your boatbuilding.

Thank you!...I am still at the plan ordering stage of this and will review this carefully.I am not completely set on an egret,but had heard many nice things about the design{ordered the plans last week}....I have a friend who races sailboats,his advice,after we sit and stare at "woodboats"plans for awhile,my swing me another way.There is lots and lots of plans for review&dreaming before I commit as much time and money and effort into this kind of a project...In the meanwhile,I have 4-5 Phil Bolgers instantboat plans to playwith.I NEED a salmon boat,and the Seahawk with a 10hp will be my first project
For sail I am looking primarily at the cat-ketch,sharpie...I am also looking at some of the classic Howard Chappele Skipjacks.....the old designs with new materials...I am not a {leaky} wood boat purist

There are several CM options: Pricy - predatory nematodes. These are applied beneath the trees and they eat the CM larave. I haven't tried this though; Moderatly pricy - pheromone traps. I've used these for years and they do a pretty good job; Cheap #1 - wrap a piece of burlap around the bottom of the truck. The larve stop in it when they move down the trees. You empty it now and then. It should be kept damp. I haven't tried this; Cheap #2 - make a mix of apple cider vinegar, molasses, a touch of ammonia and dilute with water. I don't have the ratios off the top of my head. Take a 1 gallon milk jug and cut a 2" diameter hole by the neck. Fill with a couple of inches of the mix. I use this too. It isn't great but every bit helps.


PS I use my 12ga for rabbits. No point in screwing around.

In keeping with the it's as good as it gets theme, I think your "they do a pretty good job" is about the best we can expect with codling moth. It's a bugger. Just more apples in the cider pile, I guess.


The sad part is is that if it does get "better", we return to trashing our world.

For my part, I am not gleeful about my doomerism because if things really go south, a lot of people will go through tremendous pain. At the same time, I see peak oil as something that may finally force us into a more localized, sustainable society which is not a bad thing in the long run.

My preparation for peak oil was to buy a farm and work on making it as self-sufficient and sustainable as possible. However, I had the luxury of not having to give up everything I wanted because of my peak oil beliefs and move to a worse lifestyle. I have wanted to have a somewhat self-sufficient farm since the 70's; I am just now getting the chance and the additional motivation necessary to have finally made the move. But the overall goal now is to provide not only for myself but for my extended family, none of whom believes in peak and none of whom has prepared in the least. So if things go south, I can at least provide them a refuge (if they can get here from the west coast).

But I have a hard time imagining things getting better. Yes, overall, oil prices and consumption will come down if we go into recession. That will extend peak (or plateau). But with or without recession, we won't have the capital to implement the necessary changes. This is not the same world as in the 70's and 80's; this is not the same U.S. from a fiscal viewpoint, either nationally or individually. The current sub-prime crisis may or may not be contained (and I have to think it is nowhere near contained), but even if it is, I don't see us returning to the days of easy credit. Foreign investors will be very slow to buy U.S. asset-backed instruments again. How are we going to finance existing business? How many businesses have to borrow money for the first 4-5 months of their fiscal year to meet payroll and other expenses after zeroing out their accounts at the end of the last business year and before new receivables come in? If credit has dried up, how will they weather that? And if credit has dried up, how will we ever finance the implementation of all of the changes necessary for the post-peak world? And if we go into recession, our ability to transition to a post-peak world will be even less.

So, could it get better? Sure. Should we believe it will get better because all of the doom prophesies of the past have not materialized? No. If someone is building a house of cards and I tell them not to go any higher because it will fall over, and they put on a new level and it doesn't fall, and I tell them again and we repeat this process a couple times, does that mean it will never fall and they can build it infinitely high? Of course not. Our current economic paradigm is a house of cards.


As a farmer, I don't have to speculate much about a future collapse, because it's already happening. Yesterday I bought oil, air and transmission filters and two and a half gallons of engine oil for a small Ford tractor. The cost: $208.

If the price we get for our products doesn't double, how are we to stay in business? And if the price of food doubles...

I'm not prepared to quit farming by conventional methods, but I have planted a garden and my wife cans food.

But I must ask, how will I keep farming by conventional methods when the bank account is zero, I'm maxed out for credit and have sold everything we produced in a year?

I just heard on the tv going in the background that the average Wall Street securities worker just got a $200,000 bonus.

Well I hope that mfer can feed you, because it's getting pretty hard for me to.

I did inhale.

Those people have no economic value in a post peak {oil|ARM scam|suitable climate} world, so don't envy them their $200k bonus. Next Christmas may see the ones who don't jump from somewhere high learning to spot which abandoned houses have the easiest to retrieve copper pipes.

I wish for more material things in certain areas, but I'm glad my expectations are already beat down - I think I can stand what is coming and I'm not going to be surprised by it.

Actually my own personal experience is better than that of most farmers. Ours is a family business; my dad is a geologist/oil man as are two of my brothers.

But I get tired of working my ass off and then having to go hat in hand to ask for more money to keep up the habit of farming.

I'm not sure it will get better if things continue to go south. The fed seems determined to bail out Wall Street at the expense of the rest of us and if food really gets scarce, I expect the national guard to roll in and relieve me of my burden (and any grain that happens to be left in the bin) so those poor down-trodden securities traders don't have to do without.

I did inhale.

A three million dollar lottery gets won by three Iowa men - a banker, a minister, and a farmer. I forget what the first two say they'll do with their money but you know how the last one goes - he says "I'll just keep farmin' and farmin' until its all gone".


The highest net worth group in the US is farmers. More than doctors, lawyers, etc. I liked the old farmer who bought another section of land. His buddy asks him how will he pay for it. The farmer states that with 4 straight years of bumper crops, it will be paid for. On the other hand, it will be paid for in three years if drought ruins the crops each year and he gets the government bailouts.

Another saying: the way to make a small fortune farming is to start with a large fortune.

Most big farmer/ranchers nowadays made their money elsewhere and invested in land. For example, the largest landowner in the US is Ted Turner.

I did inhale.

Also, it is quite common for people with farming backgrounds to continue doing the work on a farm after a doctor/lawyer/entertainer/professional athlete buys the family farm (and the neighboring farm and the neighboring farm to that one, then the one across the river...)

Nolan Ryan bought about half of the good bottom land in the Guadalupe Valley near Belmont.

But Nolan Ryan didn't get rich raising corn or cows.

I did inhale.

Unrepentantcowboy, loved your post. We are working our tails off and barely getting by while the butt heads on Wall St are destroying our economy and getting big bonuses for their efforts.

The list of countries that are now facing fuel, gasoline, diesel, oil, and other supply problems gets longer by the day. A few countries facing such issues include (in no particular order): Zimbabwe, Jamaica, China, Argentina, Ghana, Malaysia, Uganda, Trinadad & Tobago, Australia, Rwanda, Iraq, Kenya, Burma, India, Bangladesh, Niger, Nepal, Bolivia, and the Philippines. Some of these are simply have rising prices, or trouble getting diesel to needed locations. Others are being priced out of the market.

This paragraph was used in the Drumbeat of a few days ago. Can you explain why Australia is in that list? The issues of supply for Australia - a wealthy first world country - are akin to those of comparable OECD countries (USA, Canada, Japan, European Union). It can therefore afford to buy its way out of trouble for some time yet. Why is it listed with these much poorer per capita nations?

Sorry! I copied the quote without looking too closely at all those on it, and missed the inclusion of Australia - which does not have some of the problems of others on the list.

Maybe because of this:

Rural Ambulance Victoria says a shortage of diesel caused two of its ambulances to almost ran out of fuel this week.

Diesel shortage hits Victorian ambulances

All very well, but a gasoline shortage in North Dakota last week (or the week before that, etc) doesn't result in the USA appearing on such a list of (mostly poor) countries that have - in the main - serious systemic issues that are quite different to the challenges the OECD group must manage. But in all likelihood won't, of course.

Yes, it will be the next President that deals with this, as you alluded. Because the Bush family is on good terms with the House of Saud, in a weird way they really are protecting American interests. Once that cozy relationship disappears, and Aramco is freer to announce unmet supply needs, the next President will be mired in managing the crisis.

Look at the comic sideshow Presidential politics has become. Not only are the candidates in relentless campaign mode for 2 years, but the country will unravel when they are in the White House. Business leaders, I suspect, are protecting the Bush reputation (and are quietly securing their wealth, moving their money out of the dollar) and will let the next President, Republican or Democrat- they don't care, flounder, suffer and be blamed.

If one looks at the population of the planet before fossil fuels, that may be the natural carrying capacity. The number is proabably between 1 billion and 2 billion. Go back to that and the water problems will be localized. Bad, but not totally devestating. The same for food.

One has to look at fossil fuels for what they are. That is solar energy stored over a period of 100 million years or more. There is no way to replace that with solar energy taken in on a daily basis. I believe it was Ghandi who said that, the rich must live more simply so the poor may simply live.

If you take into account the damage done durring the time of plenty i would think 1 billion would be the most optimistic case. This is of course hoping no one decides to use nukes on the way down.


I giess I´m just a glass half full kind of optimist

Nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn't blind you from seeing uncomfertable factors in the equation like enviromental damage done during the time of plenty.

most of the people i have seen here doing calculations on how many people the planet can support just plain ignore that.

Endings and Beginnings, Collapses, Rejuvenations, and Plateaus. These are the judgments of the analyst, the historian, the philosopher. There is no absolute measure to judge against. We tend to view the "collapse" of the Mayan civilization and the "fall" of Rome from our perspective at the summit of yet another highly centralized society. But the Mayans did not disappear. Some of their cities did, but even at their height the cities were only a small percentage of the total population. Some of their arts and sciences did, but they didn't impact the rural majority all that much. Likewise for the vast majority of Roman "subjects" who were poor and illiterate. Once the influence of Rome waned, they remained poor and illiterate (only with fewer taxes). Sure, the roads fell into disrepair and some cities lost their water supplies. But, tell me again how many of the poor and illiterate used those roads in comparison with the number who never traveled more than a few miles from home? How many lived in those cities? The Dark Ages are only dark when you think that you are the source of light. Was the loss of literacy a terrible thing? Yes, but who was literate to begin with? And to be honest, it never was lost completely.

(I am not trying to deny the deaths and dislocations that resulted during these transitional periods, but I see them as more related to the disjuncture of moving from one set of societal structures to another than to some absolute value of the "lost" civilization)

No, I will not mourn our collapse, either. Simply because I don't believe that's what we are facing. The absolute worst thing that could happen at present would be for things to continue as they are currently going. If we were to find some previously unknown cache of oil or make some dramatic tech breakthrough that replaced 100% of our oil without much effort, this would be the worst disaster I could imagine. The mindless worship of economic growth, the spiritual paralysis of consumer materialism, the empty minded assumptions that this is the only way things could be - these are the enemy of all that is potentially good in human beings.

This is the second post I've seen here in the last twelve hours decrying the spiritual bankruptcy of our consumer society. Would you care to expound on this? I think the other one was from an Anglican priest and it was last night ...

Sitting on your ass wearing skins and waiting patiently to snare a groundhog can be utter misery or utter bliss.

I've been about that low as a kid, in my own case it was foraging for stuff to eat and catching what turned out be smelt, smelt in Hawaii? - by running through the shallows with a net and catching 1-3 on each pass. Delicious! It was only a mile walk to where they were too. Barefoot on crushed-coral that's used on road-sides there. Wearing a T-shirt and shorts that only got washed by regular wear while swimming. The net was store-bought, but I knew/know how to make nets. I know how to make the fiber to make nets.

I was as happy as any kid with a bigscreen in their bedroom and an endless supply of soda. In fact I was a pretty happy kid. I was not a complete hunter-gatherer, but I was as close as a person can get these days and in fact, looking back, I'd have been better off to go more "into the wild" and use more of the native food sources and to farm here and garden there......

This sort of thing happened in the American Colonies: there was a real problem with settlers running off to join the Indians. Somehow Indians were not defecting from their tribes to join the settlers and enjoy the Civilized Way Of Life (tm), it was always the other way around. I'm sure this is the reason the Indians were all but completely exterminated; their way of life was ideologically a huge threat.

I think you drastically overestimate the attraction that colonists had for American Indian lifestyles. For every colonist that went native, you probably had 100,000 that didn't. And I don't recall reading about too many stories of women colonists rushing out to live the life of an abused squaw.

The Indians were subjugated for the age old reason: the strong do what they want, the weak endure what they must. The vast majority of Indian cultures and societies were not compatible with 17th and 18th century European civilization. We're talking pre-literate, stone age societies for the most part coming in contact with industrializing, literate societies. The Comanches, for example, had an honor system that was predicated on raiding, killing, and banditry. A warrior's status in the tribe was dependent on his success at committing the above. To the Comanches, at first, the white man was just another tribe for the raiding. There was no way that the Comanche lifestyle was going to survive contact.

America has been romanticizing the American Indian way of life for over 150 years, but the reality was that it was violent, brutish, and short, and that was before the Europeans arrived on the scene.

America may have been romanticizing it, but you have demonstrated even less understanding of those cultures or of the dramatic environmental impact that the arrival of Europeans had on North America.

Oh, by the way, I believe the quote is "nasty, brutish and short" - a quote from a man who never met one of the people he dumped into that bucket.

I have made no statements one way or the other on the environmental impact of Europeans on North America, so it would be pretty hard for you to conclude that I've demonstrated "even less understanding". You want to romanticize a hunter-gatherer existence and go on a pilgrimage to see the school bus where the subject of "Into the Wild" died at, go right ahead. More power to you. But if you are going to debate, it might be helpful to interject facts, not fantasy.

But if you are going to debate, it might be helpful to interject facts, not fantasy

Of course, it might also be helpful to the debate if you actually read what the other person says, too.

You made no statements about the environmental impact of Europeans, and that was your statement. Your assumption that the state of Comanche culture was some pristine version is naive. Had you thought about the environmental impact (and the cultural impact) of Europeans, you might not have tried to paint an entire continent of peoples with a single brush based on a culture in crisis. And that is why I say you demonstrate less understanding.

If you'd gone up thread and reread you'd also know that I did not claim the europeans "destroyed the Indians because they were afraid of people abandoning the 'white man's way of life.'" Indeed, that appears to even be a misreading of what Fleam did say. His focus was on the ideological aspect and while it might be a stretch to suggest that Europeans were afraid the native ideology would win out, it certainly did present a troublesome alternative.

And on the subject of magic, you demonstrate, again, a rather uninformed understanding of what "magic" even is to those cultures. Before you criticize others and suggest they ride off on any bus, you might want to actually know what you are talking about. You could start with Evans-Pritchard. He may have hated the people he studied, but at least he went to the effort of understanding their way of thinking.

You made no statements about the environmental impact of Europeans, and that was your statement. Your assumption that the state of Comanche culture was some pristine version is naive.

The only one making assumptions here is you. I don't make assumptions on pristine cultures because there is no such thing. A strawman on your part.

If you'd gone up thread and reread you'd also know that I did not claim the europeans "destroyed the Indians because they were afraid of people abandoning the 'white man's way of life.'"

You are correct. Which is why I re-edited my post.

while it might be a stretch to suggest that Europeans were afraid the native ideology would win out, it certainly did present a troublesome alternative.

Maybe so, maybe not. Regardless, hardly an engaging motive for genocide. Occams razor suggests the Indians were killed because they had something that the Europeans wanted, namely land, not because they were ideological competitors in any legitimate sense of the term. What's next? Claims that Jefferson stole the rough draft for the Constitution from an Micmac Indian?

And on the subject of magic

True or false? There are repeated stories (propoganda, no doubt) of Indian shamans and prophets and warriors professing to have or to grant immunity to bullets as council to war on the colonists (Geromino was one such, but I guess he wasn't authentic or pristine), and there are repeated stories of these war parties then being cut down like blades of grass under a scythe by bullets. This is the story of history, time after time, of technologically primitive cultures coming into contact with aggressive, expansionist, technologically sophisticated cultures.

Before you dismiss that strawman, perhaps you would be better served examining your assumptions. Just because you don't make an assumption explicit doesn't mean it's not there.

I understand the land thing, and clearly there was absolutely no difference, ideologically speaking, between the ways Europeans and Native Americans viewed the land.

And before you're too quick on the origin of our constitution, perhaps you want to go look at the Iroquois League constitution.

On magic, I can do no more than to encourage you to go and learn a little about it, separate the stories created by Europeans who understood little about the local cultures from those who learned the context. You might just find that there was more to those "propaganda" stories than just some naive natives who thought they wouldn't get hurt by bullets.

Before you dismiss that strawman, perhaps you would be better served examining your assumptions. Just because you don't make an assumption explicit doesn't mean it's not there.

Pot, meet kettle.

Look Shaman, I get the impression you think I'm anti-American Indian. I'm not any more than I'm "anti-Roman". I have no dog in the fight (although, supposedly, I have some American Indian blood in me). It's all history to me, water under the bridge.

I am against romanticising Indians as historically and currently practiced by non-Indians (and by some professed Indians in academia). All of the evils in the world that existed east of the Atlantic existed here in the Americans before Christopher Columbus set foot.

Since you appear to be guessing all around my assumptions, I'll enumerate them out for you.

1) Native American Indian societies were not in a position to compete, either technologically nor organizationally with the colonial European powers.
2) Part of this was due to the decimation that occurred via epidemics that swept through the continent immediately post-contact. Arguably the Aztecs and Mayans and some of the North American federations might have been able to organize and defend themselves if 80-90% of them hadn't been wiped out the previous 50-100 years by disease and dislocation caused by disease.
3) Regardless, there was a certain historical inevitability with the result. The technology available to Indians was a poor match vs the ruthless application of warfare as practiced by Europeans of the time. While the Comanches in particular were pretty innovative when it came to mounted warfare (essentially being the Mongols of North America), they didn't have the numbers and the organization to present any existential threat to encroaching non-Spanish colonial settlements.
4) There is nothing inherently noble or superior or inferior about a hunter-gatherer existence. One person's ideal existence is another person's vision of hell and vice versa.

Your assumptions about my assumptions are really quite amusing. What I've done is "read" you. Perhaps you don't like the result. But my real belief is that you are so busy trying to fit the discussion into your predetermined notion of the "romanticized native versus techno-realist" debate, that you missed the opportunity to explore the ideas in more detail.

I never thought you were anti-native american. What I did think was that you were so busy being anti-romanticist, that you had romanticized your own position.

With regard to your assumptions, they are just as I would have thought, with one exception. That exception is in #4 where you note that there is nothing inherently noble or superior or inferior..." The addition of the inferior was wise on your part, but does not exactly match your notion of historical necessity.

We will never know, of course, why it is that those who lived in the western hemisphere succumbed to the Eurasian diseases, whereas Europe did not suffer the same fate. It would make an interesting alternate history to imagine that it was the other way around.

Still, as you note, the technological advantage that would lead the Europeans to dominance of not only the Native Americans, but of every other society in the world, was all the difference. But that does not make them a superior culture. And while I'm sure you would not make the mistake to romanticizing that aspect of our history, nor would you want to fail in understanding the European cultures to understand world history.

That's all I'm saying. You've made the first step by giving up on the romanticized image. Now, make the next step by learning the real value of these societies. It seems clear to me (maybe not to all) that the technologically lead society of our European fore bearers has led us into a cul de sac. It is time we explore what the alternatives are. Romanticizing alternatives won't help, but neither will tossing them aside before we understand them on their own terms. Measure primal societies with a western yardstick and they will come up short. But maybe the problem is the yardstick.

Wow I really set off a bomb here, good.

By the time whites encountered all but the most Eastern of the North American Indians, two things had swept through and changed Indian societies: European diseases and the horse. The fierce Plains Indians in fact up until recently had walked everywhere, used dogs to haul things, worshiped (considered manifestations of a Greater Being) ammonites among other things, had relatively matriarchal societies and if you were gay, that was OK.

Their coup system was developed back when you didn't ride up to the other guy and tap him, you ran up to him.

The lowest form of coup was to actually kill the guy; kind of like how we don't fight duels any more. It's considered very low in our society to kill someone you differ with, the highest coup is to argue your case and win in the opinion of the people.

European diseases killed something like 90% of the Indians. The horse had the effect you'd expect to see if you handed a Ford Mustang to every Maasai in Africa - with unlimited gas.

So, you kill off most of a population, then give the means to travel and fight much better to the survivors, as well as something to fight over (prize horses) and then you figure that's normal. Kind of like judging Western society by the residents and happenings in a Western boomtown.

That 90% figure is hard to accept, but from everything I've read, I think that IS close to the right range...now, I usually dismiss all the historical "what if..."s but I can't let go of What If the figure had only been, say, 20%? At least here in the Northwest where Indian culture was intact, they had the basis for a strong economy, rapidly adopted new technology, and traded extensively. They were also able to adapt their war-fighting strategies, ala Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce. 21st Century Western US would have a lot more in common with modern South Africa than modern Israel, in the sense that...we have the myth of inheriting a depeopled land ("Here. 160 acres. Just build a house and barn and live there 5 years and it's yours") which gets echoed in "Palestinians? What Palestinians?"

Now, make the next step by learning the real value of these societies

You ask the impossible. How do you determine the "real value" of a society. It's like deciding what's the best flavor of ice cream. I like chocolate, chocolate is clearly superior to all other types of ice cream. The measure or mismeasure of a society is the same kind of problem. You can't escape your own cultural biases and any measure inevitably ends up speaking more to your biases than any value you were trying to capture.

What I've done is "read" you.

Predicated on a few paragraphs of text, any "reading" you or anyone else has on someone is going to be a caricature of reality. A little bit of detail with self-imposed hallucinations filling in the blank spots. It's interesting to juxtapose your point of view on generalizing cultures and societies (against it) vs generalizing individuals (all in favor). Usually, cultures and societies are generalized as a means of simplfying the explanation and understanding of a point (because it becomes tedious to identify all of the exceptions to the generalizations). When generalizations are applied to individuals, however, it's not to explain or understand, it's to condemn. It's a way of invalidation by association.

Beleive me, "global" warming isn't just caused by North America. In Beijing they can't even see the sun in the winter, and some atheletes during the summer olympics aren't planning on staying in the city for more than 24 hours to avoid respiratory illness (#1 cause of death in the nation).

...by the way, Columbus never even set foot in "North America" once in his life. He landed in Cuba in 1492, populated by Taino and Arawak Indians. So go complain about their environment (which is crap).

You should study the Cherokee.

One size doesn't fit all. Around here there are still folks who have indian blood. One of my kin is half cherokee..

It was the white man's materialism that made them seem to be savages ..they were not.

It was just rationalization to the white man to depict them as savages.We took their land and murdered them..What the hell do you expect? A cake walk and doll hair?


Expound upon it? Where do you want to start? Where do you want to go?

Been in any shops this week that aren't playing "Christmas Music"? See much in those shops that suggests the original meaning of Christmas? No, this isn't a trick question about the origins of the holiday in pagan solstice rituals. I'm talking about the celebration of a particular man's birth.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a Christian. But even I can see the problem here. Know the story about Jesus in the temple when he goes ape on the money lenders? What do you suppose he'd think about the Day After Thanksgiving Sales? Frankly, if I were a Christian, I think I would be livid that one of our biggest holidays had been reduced to an orgy of consumption.

But, like I said, that's not even my spiritual path. Want to talk about our relationship with nature? Why do you think I chose the screen name I did?

No two ways about it, Jesus was a sandal-wearing hippie who probably had B.O. He'd be a Freegan today, an Anti-Capitalist, and a real threat to the system.

namaste :-)

We definitely have a First Church of Christ, Investment Banker on the loose in this country. We're wrapped up in our global dominating unsustainable consumerism and since we've been so successful at it god must be on our side. The common religion has flowed and shifted over time to conform, so we have a hideous consumer orgy on a pagan holiday and our for profit wars of choice (thou shall not covet! thou shall not steal! thou shall not murder!)

No one here really wants to touch it, but I think there is a spiritual crisis brewing as well as a economic, energy, and climate crisis. When the United States gets knocked flat, and knocked flat it will be, do we completely change, or do we go down the road of saying "Ah, the tribulations are here, T minus seven years and counting to rapture!"? That leads to forever war in the ME.

There are historical precedents for this sort of thing - the Spanish(Catholic) armada failed to take England(Protestant) and the English promptly memorialized the divine intervention that protected them using the phrase He blew with his winds and they were scattered. We, of course, are going to have hot winds driving wildfire and steering winds taking hurricanes over major urban areas as well as the figurative tornado of the ARM scam unwinding.

I believe the spiritual crisis is already upon us, has been for some time. (I'll probably offend some people with this next passage, so I'll apologize before hand.) I see the rapid rise of the evangelical movement in North America as a response to this crisis - and of exactly the type you suggest. Lacking leaders who themselves have the fortitude to believe in themselves, we turn to those who believe in some pie in the sky that will save us if only we believe enough. What could be more shallow spiritually? Unfortunately, even some of our more traditional protestant sects are getting swept up by this evangelical movement, losing their more grounded approaches to their relationship with their God.

The disloyal Christian right are dangerous fanatics but I don't see any harm in saying this - confront them now or we all end up like Martin Niemoller, standing alone in the place where they came to take others away before us.

I am specifically enjoined against interfering in anyone else's spiritual path but I don't feel this applies to the disloyal Christian right, which is a fascist movement hiding behind the minister's robes. We, the reality based, are definitely facing in this group the largest doomsday cult to ever exist. They're much the same as those who were at Jonestown or Heaven's Gate.

I'd disagree re: traditional sects - they have been standing in the shadows behind the noisy nutters and they seem tired of it - good Christians here are mostly rolling their eyes when this subject comes up. I see places where traditional ministers are talking about stewardship of the country for the next generation. If the rapture comes they're doing the right thing, but they're not wrapped up in thinking they can play "god" and move the ball down the field ...

I am going to have to agree with the guy who made 'the god who wasn't there'. he stated that if you have to take whats in the bible as truth(litural or otherwise) then tolerant/moderiate christianity doesn't really make sense otherwise your just cherry picking what you want to see and not. I guess though the same can be said for any other religion that has a aproved liturary doctrine.

applying the entire bible as a blueprint for how to live would likely wind up in full blown psychosis. Just too many damn contradictions to be taken literally - too many different authors - too many different eras - too many different agendas - and the editors had their own purposes.

There is a dramatic difference between the monotheistic religions and the polytheistic. The Christians, Jews, and Muslims are cursed with the way and they're alternately fearful of or predatory towards those who are different. Those who follow other beliefs, primarily the four great Vedantic religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism don't seem to have any trouble with others' beliefs.

The Christian Bible has indeed been edited to death by a line of politicians starting a few decades after the man's death right down to the various new and improved versions out there, like the NIV Study Bible sitting over here on my shelf. I must say that if I need a good, stern monotheistic quote I am far more likely to pick up the N.J. Dawood translation of the Qu'ran which sits next to it on the shelf. My favorite chapter? Why The Cow, of course :-)

Truly, those that commit evil and become engrossed in sin shall be the inmates of the Fire; there shall the abide for ever. - The Cow, 2:80

Ahh, so the Divine Power or Spirit (Kami) blew a sacred wind (Kaze) and kept the Spanish Armada from invading England?

In exactly the same way as the Chinese Fleet was kept from invading Japan?

I have a rather different view on the causes and conditions that lead to certain phenomenon occurring at some times, but not at others :-) Your interpretation is how it was taken by the English of the time.

I thought the rise of the evangelicals was the crisis, not the response to the crisis.

Durring hard times people will rally around certian things they view as certanitys. one of those is religion.

Ok, you correctly claim there is no absolute measure by which to judge, although your Marxist interpretation of history is a little suspect.

But you then merely replace the relative judgements of others with those of your own - "The mindless worship of economic growth..." etc.

If there are no absolute values, there is no moral high ground, and your judgement is as valid as that of the mindless consumers.

ooh, should I feel insulted that you have labeled me a Marxist? A claim that wouldn't stick if you thought much about it. For Marx there was an absolute measure. Perhaps you want to go read about historical materialism?

And as for your attempt to catch me in the trap of "relativism," bravo. Just didn't come off too well.

Understanding that truth is not measured objectively is not, as you claim, the same as claiming there is no basis on which to make truth statements.

You're going to have to do better than that. For example, you could begin explaining how it is that "mindless consumerism" is just as good as my "animism." Otherwise, you might as well be claiming that, oh let's say, a 1977 Gremlin is just as fun to drive as a 1965 GTO. Might be cute to claim so, but it sure isn't a path to a meaningful discussion.

Marxist wasn't meant to be an insult.

The Marxist interpretation of collapse is that the leaders rise to the top by exploiting the "common man", and those trappings of culture are indulgences of the rich. It holds that the common man is happier and better off without the leaders. So really collapse is the common man reasserting his/her rights.

The rest of your comment was gibberish.

If we were to find some previously unknown cache of oil or make some dramatic tech breakthrough that replaced 100% of our oil without much effort, this would be the worst disaster I could imagine

This is my sentiment also. I was a eco person in deep dispair about fish stock, soil depletion, species dieoff, etc.

Watching housing development after housing development strip mall after strip mall, I thought NOTHING could stop the Growth Paradigm.

Then I found out about Peak Oil. I feel much better :-)
in a strange sort of way. Humans are like Norway Rats, we will survive in some numbers (millions low billions ?) but as soon as our numbers are cut significantly down, The earth and nature can regen a little and heal from our "Success".

Yes, I am not ashamed of being glad that Mother Nature via depletion and running out will stop this cancer growth.

Mother Nature Bats Last


While it's exciting to visualize the 'doom and gloom' endgame that some hope for, I'm pretty sure it won't play out that way. Kunstler is certainly entertaining, but I personally think we'll just see increasing prices for energy and everything associated with it (which in fact IS 'everything'). We'll just have to get back to a simpler way of living and getting by with a 'less is more' approach whether we like it or not. Those who are in complete denial or ill-prepared won't be able to live the "Lumpenleisure life" (coined by Kunstler) much longer, and it should be entertaining to watch them flounder trying to cling to a way of life that will no longer be possible, at least for the 'common' folk. There will be haves and have-nots and many, many social ramifications...it'll be ugly.

Kunstler's a florid-speaking, Zionist, elitist, neocon.

He had the power go out in his area and his solution was to drive until he got to where the power was on. His supplies at home were something like a bottle of Perrier and a tin of smoked oysters.

He's entertaining as hell. His monthly architectural Eyesore is not to be missed. His points on bad architecture and civic planning are all true, and all the more poignant in that they're true in spades in his beloved Israel. He slams the goyim and in such an entertaining way that we goyim will keep coming back for more, at least for now.

You're kind of out-of-bounds, Fleam. Zionist neocon?
And you don't know a thing about how I live.
You also apparently do not read with comprehension. My view of things in "The Long Emergency" is a lot less dark than many other views expressed on this website.

Jim Kunstler
Saratoga Springs, NY

How nice to see you Oh Chosen One.

All people have to do is read. Just read, and I suggest camping out with a cuppa coffee at any McBarns'n'Borders to read the book because it does not stand up to a 2nd reading. I re-sold my copy to a fellow who with a few drinks in him turns out to be a closet Nazi and he's not going to be changed, it's a deep family thing. Not saying this is my belief, it was in fact rather surprising to hear this fellow in his Dockers and button-down shirt go on. I've been surprised every time and it's been 6 or 7 times now......

We goyim are scary animals indeed.


JHK was gentle with you.
Don't let it go to your head.
You're the most talented writer here.
Easy on that too.


Those of us who have been around this site for a while know you are no stranger to hard times.

But you are straying into a pernicious mode of attack that has a very ugly history.

There is never any excuse for it.

The Chosen One has all of his People's now considerable power behind him, I have only my honesty - I call 'em as I see 'em.

It's not attack, it's defense, of all of us who are not Chosen but whom are sent to die, either literally in Iraq or well, literally also, by working long hours for low pay to make the oligarchs rich. And we have the same oligarchical group in the US as in the ex-USSR, sure some WASPS and so on have been allowed some scraps, but but we all know who runs things. Ask yourself, what group believes they are apart from Nature, separate from Nature, above Nature? What group started the evil belief that it's our duty to eat up this Earth, so God will give us a new one for dessert?

I'm not talented, I'm a highschool dropout. (Had to work.) Belaboring the obvious is necessary but it will never equal the great work of say, a Kevin McDonald.

I think this misses an important point. It is not just that oil will be more expensive. We could deal with that. It is that oil will slowly become scarce. Imagine going to the gas station for the Monday morning auction and being outbid. You don't just go somewhere else. Your gas tank is empty for the week. Gradually fewer and fewer people win the auction. What do you do when the guy driving the truckload of food to Safeway is among those who lost the auction?

It is a big question as to how we'll "get back to a simpler way of living".

There is a story I heard somewhere about a person visiting the afterlife. He is shown hell where people about a cooking pot are shackled to long handled spoons. No matter how they try the food falls off the spoons before they can feed themselves. Next they are shown heaven. The same number of people, the same cooking pot, the same shackles and spoons. However, here everyone is happy and well fed as they are feeding each other.

What happens when it doesn't get better?

This reminds me of the "inflationary expectations" that are occasionally mentioned by the media. What happens when people expect that inflation is going to be rather high?

Bhutan would measure this with their Gross Happiness Index.

"Getting better" requires that there be a standard to measure against.

One might measure "getting better" by their ability to travel to exotic locals. In this case, things will probably never get better than they are now.

Another possibility would be that a person feels connected to family and friends... I suspect that will increase... eventually.

Some things will never get better. Some things will remain basically the same. Some things will improve despite what we would suspect.

I think our goal is to keep in mind that some things will get better. Without that thought, we have no hope.



WTI spot topped $98.00

Anyone see it wiggle over $100 on a live feed?

At the moment the problem is the Asians, especially the Chinese. They subsidise the price of petrol and therefore their consumption is spiraling ahead, while ours in the west is static. There must be some globlal system of rationing, so we can conserve our share while the Chinese etc drink their's dry with their rapacious consumption. We can isolate ourselves from the crisis they are causing.


Those are grammatically correct sentences but the post is pure nonsense. "Chinese ... rapacious consumption"???

We in the United States are 5% of the global population using 25% of the global oil supply. This sounds for all the world like some foolishness that came spilling out of Rush Limbaugh's mouth.

Wow. I'm, like, amazed to see something like this posted on TOD.

It's easier if it's someone else's fault, isn't it?

I can only assume you are being sarcastic. Are you aware of the price of gasoline in the UK (as one example)?

You forgot your sarconol tags

Peak Oil Pilgrims Thanksgiving

I was thinking about Thanksgiving this year, and how much it relates to our global situation in relation to Peak Oil.

The Pilgrims were a group of dissidents who came to America from England to escape religious persecution. They were at odds with the Church of England, and in the early 1600s anyone who disagreed with the church was hunted down and thrown in jail.

These folks braved treacherous ocean storms, disease, and even death to finally land on the shores of America, all in order to escape from a previous world. They may have dressed like wussies, but man, that kind of dedication to fixing their situation took more intestinal fortitude than our current leaders are showing.

Like it or not, the population of the world is the new Pilgrim, faced with crossing the turbulent waters of energy depletion and overpopulation. Our boat is a global Mayflower, yet enough people on board haven't yet seemed to agree which course we should be on. Our present religious persecution comes not from a single church, but in the form of extremist religions dedicated to finishing stories they believe have a very unhappy ending.

This Thanksgiving, I am 31 years old. I understand that the US economy is doomed as long as it is pegged to a dollar dependent on oil. We just don't have the stuff to drill anymore, and we can't get enough of it from our many dealers around the world anymore. They just don't want our money.

"You very bad customer!", they are saying. After our escapades to secure oil, other countries are making moves to shut us off.

Folks, if you think things are bad right now, wait until countries stop sending us oil. If the economy collapses completely, we will need to act like orderly pilgrims indeed. The cool part is that we have plenty of houses, plenty of food, and we can make enough fuel from Alcohol to get by.

Of course, everyone would need to downsize their luxury Western lifestyle, and that will take some real adjusting. As long as money exists, there will be class disparity and seemingly "unfair" distribution of things. That means there will be fighting, unless we all agree to work together and figure things out for a while.

That's why I am so Thankful to have food, family, and friends to celebrate with tomorrow. Because experts don't know how much longer the ship can hold together on the course the world is presently charting. Unless country leaders can come together and put together a global action plan to curb population without resorting to murder, we may not get to see many more Thanksgivings.

So when you are digging into your Turkey or Tofurkey, take time to not only think of yourself, but of the young faces sitting around the table. You have the chance to help them have a better future by changing your behaviors today.

The Portland Peak Oil Task Force has written the best Peak Oil emergency plan available. It can be tweaked to fit your local needs, just change out the variables. Most of the work has already been done, and I invite you to pass this plan along to your local government and businesses.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Lesson from the
"Grapes of Wrath"

BONUS: Check out this Population / CO2 / Species clock!

When I read this...

These folks braved treacherous ocean storms, disease, and even death to finally land on the shores of America, all in order to escape from a previous world. They may have dressed like wussies, but man, that kind of dedication to fixing their situation took more intestinal fortitude than our current leaders are showing.

I thought of this...

Origin myths do not come cheaply. To glorify the Pilgrims is dangerous. The genial omissions and false details our texts use to retail the Pilgrim legend promote Anglo-centrism, which only handicaps us when dealing with all those whose culture is not Anglo. Surely, in history, "truth should be held sacred, at whatever cost."

Please read "The Truth About The First Thanksgiving," excerpted from James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me at:

"It is up to the most conscious member of the relationship to create the space for the relationship to grow." Ram Dass


I sat in on a few of those meetings,Mr peak oil boy.The assumption by many ,was a orderly,rational,transition.I don't think its going to work out that way.Your presuppositions will play hell with your ability to deal with the great unwashed masses who didn't get much of a chance to discuss,or give input on many issues that were brought to the table,and dismissed,out of hand,by your 12 "select citizens".

Here is a piece of advice.You had better take one hellava lot more input from those around you,and not let the personal tastes and disdain of its members for the public,pollute this type of work.It is too important.

It didn't take long for the Puritans in Massechusetts to become the persecutors. The story of Roger Williams comes to mind. They were also incredibly anti-Catholic.

This is absolutely wonderful creative irony, even better than The Onion! Bravo! Your caricature of the “faith based” point of view is seamless. At first you had me entirely. Down here in the SF Bay Area, we too have many who believe that a thought can trump physical reality, ignoring man’s darker history. This is absolutely the best Thanksgiving treat in years!

Being a British driver I know the price of petrol. The thing is that the price of petrol in China and India is actually lower than the World price. They do this to promote social stability, but the result is that consumption is racing ahead. Until drivers in those places pay 4$ a gallon or whatever things will rapidly reach crisis point. If all drivers in the World paid British prices peak oil would be some way off.
About the US the point is that while it is very wastful and has plenty of scope to cut consumption without hurting, any such attempt will be swamped by increased demand in China and India, so it will be pointless. That is why the West needs to secure it's own share of the supply.

The thing is that the price of petrol in China and India is actually lower than the World price.

You must be kidding, right? Petrol in India costs around Rs. 50 per liter, which translates to approximately US$4 per gallon. And it has been that expensive for some time now. Petrol and diesel is heavily taxed in India.

Well here is the sign of the ending of the oil age which came through the magic window on my desk today:

The End of the Oil Age

If you don't care to follow the link its the 20:10 11/20/2007 spot prices for crude - with Louisiana Sweet at $99.99. It did sneak over a hundred for a bit before retreating ... Tapis had been there before, but this was a first for U.S. crude.

Reading on the pilgrim fathers the entry seems a lot like polically correct claptrap we are subject to here. All that was missing was a reference to dead white males. Actually the truth is a bit banal.
The pilgrim legend was covered in a BBC documentary. The celebration of the Pilgrim Fathers dates fron the American Civil War. Arkwardly the first British settlement in America was in confederate Virginia, so the Federal government had to find a nice Yankee story for the nations founding. Hence the PF legend.

Actualy, the first British settlement in America was in North Carolina. Jamestown VA was the first one to survive. (Although some think that Roanoak did survive, but just relocated to the Outer Banks and was assimilated into the Native American Croatans.)

By far the first North American settlements were in Newfoundland. Both the Vikings and the British and the Portuguese (part of Spain at the time, sort of) for the obvious reason that that was where the oilfish were. Cod is an oilfish, capable of being smoked by all the free trees on shore that you didn't have to buy off some damned landlord of a lord.
Fish, firewood, no damned feudal lords, no wonder they went there first.

And the cod have returned to Greenland.

“The Cod are coming back to Greenland strong,” he says. I find it ironic that global warming and the melting of the Greenland ice cap that threatens the world ecology has also meant that cod have started to move north into Greenland’s warmer waters and their numbers are growing.

Yo, historical nitpicks.

Who cares if the Pilgrim tale is a story? Most of America can follow that rationale rather than your cerebral efforts.

The classes of every race are at a point where you had better give them directions on what to do or it will be chaos. Wrapping it in a motivator is much better than letting everything fall apart.

This is rather amazing. Who cares if our stories are lies?

Well, what if we have enough houses, food, and crops to turn into Alcohol is a story that's a lie, too after we're "cut off"?

Then we're up a feces crick, eh?

Very interesting comments on this thread, I enjoyed reading them.

A lot of history was covered...Everything from prehistory to biblical times to the Romans, Brits, Gauls, Mayans, etc. The rise and fall of many previous world powers.

What was not mentioned was human nature...Human nature has not changed and that should be remembered in all calculations of what may or may not happen in some future catastrophy. The actions of humans in past disasters are a very good guide (I did not say perfect guide) to how humans will react to future disasters. Such a simple, but often overlooked, truth.

Soldiers disabled in Iraq are being asked to return a prorated portion of their signing bonus because they can't complete their tours(!)


We occasionally talk here about whether or not we'll have elections in 2008 as opposed to the Bush administration shadow coup coming out into the light. This one pretty much tells the tale - unless we're willing to fight, and I mean manning the barricades fight it looks like the United States, at least in the form we knew it, is dead. Our own soldiers are being tortured, albeit in a different way than those poor men sold into Gitmo for a bounty, but the effect is the same.

I am ashamed of what my country has become.

Caught that little turd on the news.Wonder how hard the recruiters are going to work now....side money says congress will act fast on this...but I heard more than a few say there ought to be some firings,and lost careers on anyone who signed off on this one.

I am with you on the shame thing.

Just when I think the Bush administration couldn't possibly sink any lower they totally exceed my expectations.

We can't stand another twelve months of this. They'll get us into a forever war in the ME and figure out a bunch of additional Privatize & Loot schemes ...

too bad the hole they are digging is not real. they have dug so deep that it could of been used for geothermal power.

For those who haven't seen or can't see the above mentioned History Channel documentary, it's here:

Looks like those prayers have been answered by the increasing likelyhood of a peak or plateau in world oil production. Finally, emissions will begin to subside by geologic necessity, and alternatives will begin to kick in. Here is the DOE's strategy for replacing the automobile fleet with hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles by the year 2020. The hydrogen will come from very high temperature helium-gas cooled fast spectrum reactors. These reactors utilize uranium over 100 times as efficiently as current reactors, and will be fueled by nuclear waste from current LWR reactors. Uranium is an abundent, abiotic mineral in the earth's crust, and exists in abundance even in seawater.
Look, I don't want to upset any of the doomers here, but this is supposed to be a "discussions about energy and our future" site, not dieoff.com

We'll boil the seas with CO2 before we build nuclear reactors because they produce dangerous radiation.

Seriously, the most dangerous stuff we face now is photons from 700nm to 1mm, but loonies will march one day protesting anything involving uranium, then run off to protest global warming, then participate in hearings to block wind turbines because of one poorly placed setup in Altamont.

And if they don't get it the NIMBYs will. Its sad that we have to go to the point where no one has a back yard before we can start any remediation ...

As already established, building and using fission is not the issue.

The issue is the failure modes.

With a youth spent as a boilermaker,building the last reactors built in the usa,a couple of years DOD/FEMA/C/105.3RADCON at Mare Island,and 37 re-fueling outages at 17 stations,I think I have a pretty good handle on the nuke industry/bidness.My knowledge of current industry might be a bit dated,as I escaped almost 20 years ago,but I still have a few friends in the Health Physics field.

Outside a revolution in this country,you will never see anything in that report exist.That report was written by a bunch of engineers for the express reason of of justifying their dept.existence .It ain't going to happen ,deut.

Granted, there is the alternative of going back to the tenth century. But with Matt Simmons now on all the financial news shows talking about how cheap $100 a barrel oil is at "15 cents a cup" and how insatiable demand remains, I don't think that will be a popular option. We're gearing up to have nuclear look as good as possible for when we have to finally tell everybody that fossil fuels won't last, that the waste can be recycled, that 24,000 Americans die of heart & lung illness from coal emissions every year, etc. Nuclear does have a bad image to the public, but things are and will change.
Here's an example of things changing:

I've often thought that 1ppm to 13ppm uranium in coal plus lots of other nasties would be a good reason for keeping our radioactive isotopes in nice, safe reactors ... I guess our clean air is too clean for this tactic to work :-(

"the waste can be recycled"

Yee, ha. More depleted uranium shell casings for the resource wars. Let's party. ;-)))

there is the alternative of going back to the tenth century.

There is a fundamental bias in the manner in which you pose this "option." You assume that what we have now is better than what existed in the tenth century. (You are also assuming a european measure of the tenth century.) What if you posed it a little differently, say:

There is the alternative of moving forward to a tenth century type life.

(though personally I wouldn't choose tenth century Europe, I'd choose 7000 BC Anatolia)

Point taken. I value the concept of living a less rushed life, camping, etc. But I think my point is well founded, that most people won't want to go forward or backward to the tenth century. You give someone a hydrogen fuel cell car, they're like, "cool." You give them a bike, you won't get the same response. But don't get me wrong, I'm still in favor of having the electric trains be efficient, energy should be conserved on a matter of principle, etc.

I just chatted with the woman my best friend from high school is dating. Is this not the sum of all fears?

She works for ... an infomercial place taking orders.

She has a mortgage ... and its an ARM.

She is trying to refinance ... to pay off credit cards.

All of this is happening ... in a suburb of Atlanta.

I think I made her cry :-(

Between 60% and 70% of the 150 foreclosed homes he has in Detroit have had their plumbing stripped, he said.

Well, I think we know what is going to happen to that excess inventory of homes. Ten pounds of copper going out causes $5k in damages and the banks can't afford the time or money to repair them as they'll just get hit again, so they get sold as is, and the downward spiral continues.


This one caught my eye because its here now, too. Little Dolliver, Iowa, population 77 is the center of a regional crime wave. It seems that many of the corn bins in the area have had their copper wire pulled. They've got a deputy on night duty roaming the area stopping everyone they see. That is speed freak behavior and here it is likely just the same two guys in a ratty truck, but what a hassle for the farmers.

I know what that was like. My family grew up in a bluelined neighborhood in Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York. The cops stopped enforcing law in our neighborhood, even though it was one block away from the police station. I guess they thought the junkies had to buy someplace...
My brothers had to arm up and make the dealers stop harassing people walking down the street. The dealers only wanted customers there, for better security. They had to teach them that if they wanted to sell crack in our driveway they were going to have to be polite about it.
Our street lost every house except us and the McGues next door, the Terry's down the street, and the office and restaurant at the other end of the block. Everything else had the plumbing stripped after the squatters tore it up too much to live in.

The question posed is "what happens when it doesn't get any better?" Many of the above comments indicate that alternative energies will "kick in" and save us. The studies of the U.S. government, the Canadian government, international agencies and organizations, and scientific studies indicate that alternatives are not going to bail us out, as reviewed in the following report: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html
Alternatives face several problems: (1) a low EROEI when all inputs of energy are included, (2) meager capital available for the huge investments for alternatives development in times of high inflation and increasing energy costs, and (3) the negative ecological impacts of oil sands, shale oil, and coal GTL. The inevitable impact is population decline, and the U.S. is not exempt, as it is highly dependent on oil and highly dependent on imported oil. Many of us do not want to face this, but it is necessary if we are to focus on conservation, birth control, risk management, and preserving much useful technology for future generations. You can't do hip replacements without hospitals, but you can make penicillin, but only if you know how to do it.