Crisis Blogging: Opiate of the Masses or Catalyst for Change?

There are over 100 million blogs on the internet, a good many of them being rants/musings/analysis about the various social, environmental, economic, etc. ills that face global society. (Ours is primarily about energy.)

Is the creative freedom ubiquitously expressed on the internet an ersatz expression for real change? Or is it accelerating knowledge and thereby progress? More questions below the fold.

Most long time readers know (at least) two things about me: 1) I view the business as usual trajectory as being constrained by more than just oil - there are many other physical and environmental limitations as well as biological/cultural limits on current trajectory (such as habituation, addiction, cognitive overload, obesity, behavioural neural grooves, hard-wiring for competing for social status, etc.) and 2) I view the future as a dynamic probability distribution, meaning there are some trajectories more likely than others, but nothing is set in stone. I do not know what is going to happen with the intertwining of energy, economics and the environment. That is why I spend time here, in hopes that integrative and lateral discussion in a high signal-to-noise forum will accelerate cultural movement towards a society which, at a minimum, is 'less unsustainable' in its use of energy and other resources. In a sentence, I 'feel' that what we are doing is meaningful.


1970's environmental icon,Gus Speth, Director of Yale Graduate School of Forestry, said in his 2004 book 'Red Sky at Morning', that the greatest failing of his generation was it's ability to 'talk', and not act. (paraphrased) Most of the environmental success stories of that era(DDT, Chlorofluorocarbons, unleaded gas, etc.) had smoking guns, some evidence of immediate problem. Because of our evolved steep discount rates (delayed discounting), we disproportionately value the present over the future. This phenomenon is magnified by the centrality of the stock market in our culture, which focuses on quarterly/yearly earnings. Our diets lead to serotonin deficiency in many people, and many other addictions heighten our aggregate level of short-term thinking.

There are a great many people (though still a minority) in the world that realize we have problems. Most are focused on one small area they are passionate about or have knowledge on. They blog, eloquently. They dig for facts, and share them. They send blog information, via Twitter and get 'excited' at new information. They find out some inside scoop on an energy consultancy being wrong 8 years out of 9 on price forecasts, and feel vindicated by sharing a chart of such. They correctly forecast an unsustainable orgy of credit is going to cause a 50% haircut in the stock market, and spend 10 hours a day following the grisly details, sipping cold beer with a laptop near the fireplace. They find something outrageous in the news and email it to all their friends - 'Joe -read this -can you believe this is happening? Amazing.' At some point in the past 50 years, perhaps correlated with television becoming a core part of our culture, we have amassed a collective belief that conveying facts via 'words and communication' will somehow magically lead to change. Bloggers have carried this baton forward in the modern generation. Pissed off? Worried? Concerned about XYZ? Let's blog about it. Obviously the facts will lead to someone figuring out a way to solve the problem.

With so many planetary crises, there are a lot of us 'talking'; in speeches, in papers, in meetings, in conferences, and increasingly on the blogosphere. But how much of this is just information-disguised-as-peacock-feathers? Are we competing for who can articulate the problems we face in the most beautiful, interesting and compelling way? How much of blogging about the world and paper presentations at conferences is a maladaptive social response of a wired and activism-suppressed culture habituated to 'better understanding the problems', as if understanding alone would keep the worst at bay?


As this is the weekly Campfire, let me frame these questions within a thought experiment:

Imagine that someone you absolutely believe (god, an omniscient alien, your mother, a republican talk show host, tarot card reader, etc. whoever it might be for you personally) told you with 100% certainty that the worst case scenario WAS going to happen, and that by say, 2014 there would be permanent blackouts, no food on grocery store shelves, mad-max communities, basically A World Made By Hand, in relatively short order.

If you KNEW this, and internalized it to the point where it felt 100% certain, would you change what you are doing now? Would you call all your friends and hold emergency town meetings to get regional agricultural and resilience programs started? Would you camp outside your senators office entreating him/her to initiate immediate consumption taxes on Veblen goods, etc.? Would you start growing your own food and meeting and engaging your neighbors? Would there be fear and outrage?

Or would there be fear and apathy? Would you say - well - its been fun - we have 5 more years to party on. Let's go to Africa while we can, start pouring the libations more freely, quit your job, cash out what's left of your 401k at a penalty, and go hedonistic for 60 months?

Or would you do nothing, really? Would that information, even in its certainty, not change your daily routine, of surfing the net, finding out more interesting information, searching for unexpected reward as long as there was not too much physical effort required, etc.?

Events are making it increasingly clear to me, that the scale of change needed in our institutions and leadership is so large that our government is essentially 'too big to change', and that change has to come from the ground up. I worry though, that just like the environmentalists of the past generation, many of whom foresaw limits to growth and were very articulate about its details and timing, we talking about the upcoming energy train wreck, with oil at $50 and natural gas under $4, may be just alleviating our consciences, and that there is enough information out there now to see the sweet spot of the default future distribution, without further number torture.

After you've thought these issues through, here is perhaps a more important question: if you knew with certainty the worst cases would NOT arrive, would you change your behavior then? What would be the inflection point? Events themselves, or waiting for others to act and joining in?


I 'try' to have balance between my online efforts and what I do in the real world - gardening, speeches to local colleges and groups, learning how to make wine and other skills. But it is difficult. Because the gap between where we are and where we need to be seems SO large.

Perhaps just a few more posts. I think then things will change....

I think blogs may be a safety valve against groupthink, bias and political conformism. You can make strong claims on blogs and you'll either be howled down or help change the consensus view. For example I think it was TOD that effectively blew the whistle on corn ethanol as a silver bullet.

I was astounded how quickly lobbyists were able to water down Australia's cap-and-trade scheme due to start next year. Despite a lengthy enquiry and hundreds of submissions that all counted for little when the suits hit town. Thanks to blogs there is now a back swing against this interference. Blogs help sharpen the arguments so politicians and the wider public can understand the issues. Clearly blogs have an essential role to play.

The credit crisis did much more to kill corn ethanol than TOD ever did. We posted the facts and the reasons, but it took the facts themselves to manifest to stop the corn ethanol hype (and it still hasn't stopped).

Several years ago Congress ended decades of Federally funded tobacco subsidies. Perhaps someday they will see clearly to end ethanol subsidies also.

EDITORS NOTE: Next Saturday's campfire will be a companion piece to this one -topic will be "WHAT changes are you making individually, within your community, and nationally, globally?". HOMEWORK - please prepare something (relatively short) to share, if appropriate, for next week...;-) (I will be traveling).

Are 'we' just to contribute in the comments, or somehow in the top section?

comments. WAY too much work otherwise...;-)

Hi; a distribution of probabilities, indeed.

  • At one extreme, fusion-powered nanotech hyper-AI technological event horizon (even if "the future is here, it's just not evenly distributed" - w. gibson )
  • In the red corner, orlovian stage 5, mad-max, sudden mass crash, cannibalism, liebig minima.

Bewtixt the two lie :

  • return to permanent growth
  • BAU, boom-bust business as usual
  • very slow decline, permanent mild recession
  • .. and the orlovian stages 1..4

But what are the odds?

We are clearly in Orlov-stage-1 now, and risk stage-2 if growth returns and energy prices spike up again.
There's no sign of a return to long-term growth, and people like Roubini suggest the odds favour a long-term depression.
I'd give the techno-nirvana scenario slim odds, though keeping an eye on what happens with Brussard's polywell.
The ecological models of overshoot and collapse seem strongly predictive, otherwise, and support the gloomier outlooks.

I think the systems are so complex with so many types of feedback and gaming going on that any certainty would be an illusion.

But at the same time there's real risks of the ride getting pretty rough.

All these projections inform our courses of action.

Nate's question boils down to, how certain would we need to be of gloomier projections to change our plans?
Or analogously, how steep will it get before we change gear?
Perhaps we don't have too many gears; maybe just

  1. sell up and book round-world hiking trip
  2. work, save, skill-up
  3. cower in bunker

- as a set of routines to stick to.
Outside of routines, there's reactions to events that can't be dealt with by routine; storm, flood, war, etc.

So in summary, I think we'll mostly stick to a middle-outcome-appropriate routine until we have something intrusive to react to.

0.02; j

Hey,Boof,have you read the current Quarterly Essay - "Quarry Vision" by Guy Pearse?

I was familiar,in principle,with a lot of the content of this essay.
But I found this a very difficult read because it made me extremely angry.The moral corruption of the Australian hierarchy is enough to make me vomit,and I've got a strong stomach from years of exposure to some very unpleasant sights.

Highly recommended to save you from some future "astounding"revelations.

Wow -- what an interesting question!

If I knew where we were headed -- absolutely deep in my heart knew -- things would be a lot easier. Instead I spend my day thinking about the worst, preparing for what I consider likely, and hoping for the best. But even that preparation for the likely case is difficult with the uncertainty surrounding global climate change and the error bars I place on my personal view of the energy decline curve.

If I knew I only had 5 years before I was plunged into the World Made By Hand scenario, my first reaction would be to cash out my savings immediately and head out in search of a sustainable looking place to hunker down and do my best to survive.

If I knew that business as usual was going to win out, I'd likely go all-in in the stock market and take a vacation.

For better or worse, peak oil is not on the radar screens of most of the people I interact with on a regular basis, but with the ongoing US debate (I'm in the US) over climate change, I can only imagine the multitude of directions people would tend toward if PO emerged as a focus point to even half the degree climate change has.

I became convinced the American Empire was going to crash long ago, maybe by 1970. When we got to 1975 I realized that energy and consumption were at the core of the problem. I spent several years then trying to convince others and get some policy changes at the state level. When I proposed a graduated tax on non-renewable energy with the revenue going to support R&D in renewables I was politely informed that such an idea was politically impossible and laughed at behind my back. It's called a carbon tax these days. I pretty much gave up on this frustrating activity. Decided that the best solution was to burn up the oil as fast as possible. Then things would change. Nobody had heard about climate change due to anthropogenic CO2 back then. I started working on my personal plan.

Hadn't given up on collective solutions completely. Still had hopes people might listen to reason. Throughout the '90s I published an email and web newsletter that dealt with diverse local political-social issues. In 2002 I stopped. I had said everything I had to say and I was sick of the futility. Just about then the term "blog" came into currency. All of a sudden, everybody was shouting. And nobody was listening except to what they already thought they knew. Do blogs help anything? I don't know. I tend to think not in general but some help me. I think it's a pretty mixed bag with no way of telling except on an individual level.

Would I do anything different if I knew the ultimate decline would happen in 2014? I'd try to do everything I'm doing now a little faster, a little more urgently. Probably wouldn't succeed but I know I'm already better off than 99.9% of the population. So, no worries, mate. Let the winds blow. I've been expecting it. A bit surprised things have held together as long as they have.

Would I do anything different if I knew it would be business as usual? No again. I'm doing what I do because that's the way I want to live out my life. Simple.


I enjoy reading the thoughts of, above average intellects. Your story struck me because of its relative time line in comparison to those of us who just (past 5 years) have jumped on the world's problems are paramount.

For some reason I began to think about "The Doomsday Machine" or the supreme deterant. If someone could build one of those things or a punishment machine that would affect all humans with the same pain or discomfort, with no pain trading credits allowed, we (that is WE) may begin to evolve into something different and better.

These replies to this post also made me wonder about the quiet and easily influenced soul who looked out his door and noticed it beginning to rain, softly obstructing his view of Noah's Arch off in the distance...that crazy Noah.

Lately, in my pursuits as a Mavin, I have been more observant of counter arguements returned to me under the beleif that if a condition is written as a law then it is fact and is actually being done. It struck me harder this time that I do not and will never understand the minds of people (and there are many) who avoid fact, watch from their armchairs, and beleive that government and a countries laws are omnipitant.

Great post Nate. The oil drum has excellent analysis. Now its the time for some action. Our government is not a distant entity. We are the government. Is there any activist movement related to the oil drum? If not, then lets form one.

We can write some bills and try to get them passed into law. A question is, what (if any) are the pragmatic and realistically achievable actions oil drum readers feel should be in those laws (other than growing/buying food locally, cycling/walking everywhere or heading for the hills with a gun)?

I think that is part of the problem. Some want baby steps (CAFE standards), others want powerdown. It is hard to agree on plans of action. The closer we get to real decisions via painting out the corners, the more likely it is the 'clear' decisions will offend some previously aligned interest group. Clearly we want to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, but that results in taxes or conservation or hardship and these are all political no-nos in the current environment.

In the end though, you are right. We are the government. But I think most have forgotten that.

this is a heavy weight on the doomer side of my scale. what we (the world) need is a plan, a master plan. suppose we monkeys could even come close to developing anything like a plan, how would it be implemented? Mussolini made the trains run on time; but that's about it

rugged individualism is great for selling cigarettes; but that's about it

You've got to pick your spots. Time now for ... blogging on computer.

When computers go dark or government breaks down it will be time to do something else. Things will sort themselves out. The quick and the clever will advance and the slow witted and less acute will be bypassed, just like always.

The maze may change but the rats are always the same.

Hmmm, so be completely reactive, no sense of planning for (and mitigating) risks with high probability and high impact? Those following this path set themselves up for failure.

I do think all this time on the Internet with blogs etc. is serving a crucially important function: its as though we are all synapses in an evolving superhuman intelligence that is gathering facts and thinking about solutions. Look at the way the TOD community hashed out the topic of corn ethanol and its pros/cons, that was the work of a group intelligence more capable than any of its individual components.

It takes a lot of time spent gathering info, commenting and writing on the part of the individual synapses (this means you) in order to keep that group intelligence humming.

In fact, I believe that this is our only hope of survival as we face this century's converging crises.

In the past human civilizations have usually failed to ward off crises of resource depletion, largely because of the short-term-oriented limited-horizon thinking that Nate has often written about here.

IMO the crucial difference between us and our ancestors is the way we have developed new media technologies to tie our brains together and think better than we can individually. This is the only thing that has really changed about us since literacy developed, perhaps it will enable us to avoid a similar fate to our predecessors.

Personally I'm not sure if this emerging global networked intelligence we have been creating since the 90s is going to be enough to figure out the problems and find workable solutions that don't involve mass die-off...however its the only hope we have.

So keep blogging don't give up!

Also have to add -- I would imagine that at least here on TOD, many of us have significantly altered our activities in the real world because of the information we've learned here, am I wrong?

I recently made the most important financial decision of my life (NOT buying an overpriced house at the height of the bubble) precisely because of all the info I've gathered from hours of blogsurfing every day. Had I not understood what was going on and followed the advice of the real estate industry, we would have bought a tremendously overpriced house and lost everything we had in the ensuing downturn.

So for me personally at least, all these hours of reading blogs has paid off massively in helping me to avoid disaster...

I was speaking with a friend of mine this morning about planning for the paradigm shift. He is 55 years old and he said to me he didn't want to change. He loves his eating excursions to the local shopping mall (we are in Thailand and it is the hot season before the monsoon) He wants to die with his computer. And he was not pulling my leg!!! LOL

I'm all for action. And not just personal action. But before we can get the government to really notice we need to inform the people. A couple famous celebrities could help too :-)

We need activist groups in every major city united with a common message. They need to be organized and willing to walk the extra mile to get some real attention. Even though studying PO is as trying as a difficult college class, we need to bring it to the slacker (entitled) youth aboard to obtain a baseline of popularity. In many ways it could appeal to them as much as any other nihilist trend. Getting out the message is the important first step before we offer our "solutions".


Is there any activist movement related to the oil drum?

There are movements that focus on Peak Oil (and often Global Warming as well). One such is the Transition Town movement, started in the UK, and now teamed up with the PostCarbon Institute in the US, forming Transition United States. While these movements emphasize grass-roots planning and action, they also promote changes at the highest levels as well. Note that a large percentage of changes will need to be in local and individual choices; what we consume, in what quantities, and how to change our lifestyles to meet individual and community goals.

I highly recommend Rob Hopkin's book "The Transition Handbook" that gives a thorough and thoughtful treatment on the subject.

We can write some bills and try to get them passed into law.

Based on the power the minority has with the Senate filibuster, meaningful laws are very hard to pass, especially when a few Democratic Senators are from auto or oil/gas states. That doesn't mean we should stop trying, of course, but State and Local efforts are very significant and should be recognized as such.

Fortunately, there is a Congressional Peak Oil Caucus that you will likely find already pursuing the goals you've mentioned.

Your thoughts?

The collective "we" may be the government is some abstract sense but in the real world an elite group runs the government and I (and probably you) have only a superficial influence.

The time for mass collective action is not now. It was thirty five years ago. These issues could have been solved and resolved then if anybody had been paying attention. Now it's too late. Same with climate change. It is important to recognize this in order to deal with the future. Running around beating on bureaucratic doors is a waste of time. If you want to turn the rubble into compost then make a compost bin and start working.

My first thought on reading this is: the sharing of information is Necessary, but not Sufficient. That is, without the sharing of information, it becomes impossible for action to be taken, but the information will not change reality by itself.

As far as your SHTF in five years thought experiment, I would probably spend time and money both prepping and partying. Ultimately, I think it comes down to Gandhi's "Live as if you were going to die tomorrow, learn as if you were going to live forever".

Interesting question, Nate. Planned on watching the Basketball game and sipping a little elixir.

However you have set off a pack of hounds in my head. Since spending some time with H. T. Odum in the early 70's I have known the time would come probably in my lifetime when TSWHTF. therefore, i have a hard time now believing it's not gonna happen.

While i still look at the data occasionally I've seen enough to convince me. I denied, got angry, bargained, and all that stuff but eventually learned to live with it. Can't say I would live my life much differently if I knew it wouldn't happen. You see, borne in the latter days of the great depression I was taught to be thankful for what I had and get all the goodie out of everything.

I have carefully introduced the subject to a few friends and several seem to get it. Others, especially my own wife and children tell me to just not bring up the subject. I'm riding with them so I guess I will just go over the cliff in a Thelma and Louise moment.

I have made some minor preparations. Retired at 53, got a little farm, grow almost all my food, make my own wine, skilled in a number of critical areas, etc. But I, like our dear friend Airdale, am getting old.

The life before us is going to be tough and the time to make the transition is getting shorter. I agree the change is going to have to begin at the bottom. Got lots of young formally uneducated friends who don't know the details, but they damn sure got some skills that are going to be valuable. They might not be able to make a speech, but they can make all the basic stuff and have the tenacity to make a difference.

Obama has cast our lot with avarice and lots of valuable resources are going to be wasted. Hope we got until 2012, but i'm beginning to agree with Kuntchler (sp) we may not have but 4 months.

By the way. When making wine you start with growing the grapes. Next use Campden tablets liberally and keep everything clear. The yeast will make the wine for you.

Watch that sweet country wine. It will make on go out and howl like a dog at the moon. Its not your store brought stuff.

Wishin I had a bottle right here, right now.

Plan on making me some blackberry wine and maybe some elderberry come picking time.If the creek don't rise,the good Lord's willing and the devil don't care.


I make about 200 gallons/yr. grow my own grapes so the cost is about .50/gallon. I add a little honey or sugar to kick it up. Make some with no added sweetener, call it Jesus wine. The rest i call Better/worst. If it was any better I would not give it to you, if it was any worst you could not drink it. Normally run about 50 gallons through an ol still which makes some fine brandy.

I can see the outlines of a new, alcohol based economy emerging right now ...

Hey Airdale, Good to see you back man,


I never really left. I am just trying to confine my comments to Campfire topics.

It seemed that rudeness was vastly overtaking the other areas so I decided to take a breather and sit on the bench for awhile.

The rudeness has mostly left but I see at least one new id that is cutting a huge swatch in just two weeks of membership. Amazing.
Perhaps its an old member with a axe to grind and just genned himself up a new ID to play mind games with.

Anywho...I will try to only contribute when as the staff said "you can improve on the silence". Wise words. Something I have a problem with on occasion.


Amen, Rube

You old farmers are going to have to take on some younger apprentices soon to help you out and pass on your knowledge too!

Seems like we could see a massive back-to-the-land movement in this country soon if millions keep losing their jobs AND we see a recovery of global farm commodity prices in the next few years. Also, as the older generation of farmers finally retires and/or dies, there will be opportunities for younger farmers to get started.

Not really. Farming is not a matter of knowledge so much as it is of ownership or control of land by renting. Farmers have been getting older and older on average for a long time. It is one of the few things that old men can do well into their retirement years. That is its beauty. Modern equipment and technology does away with the need for a lot of labor. If any younger people enter farming it is usually the children of the land owners. And while there at not many of them anymore not many are needed either.

One of our neighbors was farming at 87 when he had trouble breathing.
Some neighbors came to his aid that fall to get the crop in. In the spring he was at it again. Finally, he did find someone to help in return for renting some of his land. He had no children. Then his wife died. Finally he died at 92. But I remember seeing him slowly driving his near new dark blue Silverado to town. He got a new dark green one shortly before he died. I believe his farm is now owned by other relatives.

Land is for keeping. When farmers retire or die the two ways the land is handed down is by inheritance or sale (usually at auction). The land around here is bid up by the biggest most successful farmers who frequently are not young but in their late forties or fifties. Young people who want it are simply priced out of the market.

I myself was in this situation as well as two of my brothers. To get our own land we had to struggle at jobs and scrimp and save for years and years. Finally, we all got some land, but it has been a difficult struggle. Those who think getting started in farming is like an apprenticeship are delusional. It is a battle and a struggle against the competition and inherited wealth. Rising commodity prices actually work to make it more difficult IMO.

You have it exactly correct. However it was about in the mid 80s when many farmers busted out. Thats how I got my farm and would have gotten the adjoining one if the auctioneers hadn't pulled a fast one on me. And then if I had I would be a rich man(in assets that is) by now.

Well ifn the missus had wanted to stick around on the farm.

I don't see another bust on the horizon and if there were then credit would be hard to get. When I bid mine I went to the bank and spoke to a neighbor I was sorta related to. I said will you back me? He said "I will be there,bid as you want but if I shake my head then you must stop." He never shook his head and I got over a hundred acres of extremely good land with buildings for about $440/acre.

Now I sold some last year and it went for about $3,500/acre.

Most farmers are totally in hock way past their bill caps. Way out there. What will happen when farming tanks? No one is sure.

You hire temp farm hand workers and pay them a pittance. You work them like dogs. They live mostly in trash trailers and have bad teeth and too many children. They tend to wreck equipment too. Farm workers don't have many rights as I see it. But they likely don't care too much. If Workmens Comp was in effect they would all be at home watching TV and drawing free money.

But I call this Big Ag and not real farming. A distinction you may disagree. My friend has no wife and only one offspring. Farming thousands of acres he can't support much more than that one offspring. Rich in assets he is but cash poor. He will die of a heart attack I think someday.

I would never want to do Big Ag. I enjoyed just cutting hay and selling it plus raising some cattle. Gave that up as well and now just try to enjoy myself. I used to custom bail all over the county once. That was pretty hard work but one learns to get some enjoyment out of it.

Yes no way can a young man get into farming without a leg up from family and a local bank. Then he ends up in debt he might never climb out of.

You made a worthy comment about something that needed to be said.


Best case scenario and worst case scenario are polar opposites. For the majority of us, the difference between what we can legally do and what we are probably already doing is not so great. There are already enormous constraints on personal action - even if some of those constraints take the form of apathy, procrastination, pessimism, cynicism etc.

Imagine you are told there will be a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in 1 hour centered at your home, but you are currently 10 miles away and with no possible way to make the journey in time to make any meaningful preparations. This is the situation we are in.

At best, even the most informed amongst us, will be reduced to observers of the train wreck - perhaps with a view from the roof of the last carriage, in the hope that we might be thrown clear or only suffer injuries that are survivable.

Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" is likely to become one of the most significant publications of the modern era, even if it is by title alone.

There can be no doubt that more than 90% of the population relies on main-stream-media spoon feeding them a palatable reality. Since they lack either the education, motivation, curiosity or means to inform themselves. Consequently they will be denied the truth until it becomes too shocking to actually believe or comprehend.

There are probably too many blogs and too much noise on the internet - over time natural selection would probably result in the more valuable blogs rising to prominent roles. News papers are already being replaced. The chief problem as always is the insufficient time available.

Today, Karl Denninger's Market Ticker blog has a link to an amazing youTube video - We The People Stimulus Package : it would seem that if people did rise up, or do nothing at all, the outcome will likely be the same.

Perhaps the greatest preparation any of us can accomplish is to adjust our minds to accept that in order to survive we may soon have to do things that previously were abhorrent. We will actually have to get our own hands dirty in every possible sense.

Hello HoustonB,

Thxs for the link to the "We The People" YouTube video [30,000 views].

Obviously, TPTB would consider this above video much too inflammatory for most of the general public's delicate sensibilities. They would be inclined to release counter-programming.

What if the U.S. government released an "educational video" to teach today's Americans how to be good citizens?
We're the Government -- and You're Not [10:39 viewing time]
This has very high film production values and has already viewed 216,000 times.

Thanks for that link, another excellent video! I've emailed the link to friends and family and posted in other blogs.

Ah yes the typical libertarian clap trap 'tax evil, no tax'. Taxes is the price one has to pay to be a member of a civilized society along with giving up some of your freedoms.
While i will be the first in line to say that taxes are not universally good. They are though a necessary, and least intrusive, cost to run a essential service in a hierarchal system that we have built called government in a experiment we are in called civilization. While the method can be up to debate the position that one should not have taxes at all is pure childish selfishness born of this age of fossil fuel opulence. Their same view on freedom is also childishness in that it boils down to 'i want to do what ever i want'. This idea is of course almost the exact opposite of a civilized society, In return for being protected from being robbed, beaten, raped, conned, run over, shot, hurt by a defective product, etc. I have to of course give up the freedom to do that to others, I may want to do some of those things from time to time depending on circumstances of how angry a person makes me.

Ah yes the typical libertarian clap trap 'tax evil, no tax'. Taxes is the price one has to pay to be a member of a civilized society along with giving up some of your freedoms.

You are entitled to your own view on what constitutes a civilized society and the price. You are not however equally free to decide where the line is drawn as to which aspects are debatable:

While the method can be up to debate the position that one should not have taxes at all is pure childish selfishness born of this age of fossil fuel opulence.

For some of us a civilized society has never been achieved simply because there is always a war ongoing at some place on the planet, or there are sweatshops in some countries, or Bhopal, or ... you get my point.

Also some of us do not equate government with civilization and prefer a much more limited definition: if we all managed to not cheat and steal from our neighbors or the commons (the planet) and also managed to contribute to the arts or sciences in some way, then my guess is society would be close to civilized. "All" means everyone on the entire planet. When there is no military-industrial complex we can consider ourselves on the path to civilization.

What we have at the moment is nowhere near civilized - and yet current taxation, future taxation to repay the astronomical debts and the size of today's government, according to your formula would mean that today's society is the very definition of civilized!

Methinks your formula is flawed. Civilization will not materialize until humans learn to live in non destructive sustainable ways. The population may need to be reduced by 80% or more before that can happen. The whole notion that people need to be 'represented' is a fallacy. A well educated people can represent itself. You might be happy to abdicate the difficult decision making to 'members of Congress', there are others like myself that are more reluctant and do not believe they represent value for money.


I like your distribution idea about possible paths in the future.

With the number of variables(6.5 billion is just one dimension), No one can model or predict exact pathways and progressions.

The mental image I get is a Ball Bearing factory, Throw a ball bearing into the machines. (there was even a tv commercial using that video in the US) Or that scene in the Movie Men In Black where that little ball was wizzing around smashing stuff.

Now, I cannot predict the exact sequence of events or which machine parts will fail first, second etc, BUT we are pretty sure that all heck is about to break lose.

Get your preps done.

I am intrigued by your suggestion that you "view the future as a dynamic probability distribution, meaning there are some trajectories more likely than others, but nothing is set in stone"

A few of us here want to approach the subject of oil depletion analytically and try to use a more formal approach. I have contended that our continued use of cheap heuristics works against us because we can never explain anything except by hand-waving.

So as I try to deconstruct your suggestion, I will put it into the context of the use of the Logistic curve to explain peak oil.
1. Trajectories
2. A dynamic probability distribution
3. Some trajectories more likely than others.

The classical Logistic derivation is based on solving the Verhulst equation which involves setting up a deterministic birth/death model and then working out a deterministic solution. The way this problem is framed has absolutely nothing to do with probability distributions, as it is set in stone from the start. There are no Black Swans, and in my opinion it completely misappropriates an equation used to solve a completely different problem. Somebody (Hubert, Deffeyes, etc) obviously reverse engineered the Logistic curve to come up with a model that describes the wrong thing. I have long belly-ached about this by blogging about it (I plead guilty, according to your theme), yet I think I can do some good by increasing our understanding by offering up an alternative way of thinking about it.

And, yes, the solution does include the 3 elements that you suggest, in what I call using dispersion arguments. That is essentially enough to generate the Logistic curve. That is the wondrous and strange thing about math, and the way that it handles such cases of degeneracy. (The Derivation of "Logistic-shaped" Discovery)

Now, one can always dispute the relevance of the dispersion arguments to explain the Logistic Curve. One would then have to argue that foxes eating rabbits works better than invoking dispersion of thousands of oil prospectors working at different rates on accessing differing accessibility pockets of oil. Occam would choose the simpler explanation.
And, for the important part, I would now have Nate Hagens on my side. Because he has the same intuition that I have on these matters. :)

And that's why we blog about this stuff, it is human nature to keep pondering.

Is it 'all talk'? No Nate, it translates to the real world. I first became aware of our 'energy descent situation' a couple of years ago and have followed The Oil Drum most days since. Without a grander political framework there is very little I can do, but some of what I can do I have done. I got rid of my car and bought a bicycle, I discovered that my great grandfather had acquired half an acre of land in 1930, I moved there and I'm busy transforming it from a bramble and hawthorn patch into an edible garden. I have become interested in permaculture, composting, potable water, keeping warm. As somebody who has spent a couple of decades working in a hermetically sealed cubicle it has been something of a liberation. Now what "if you knew with certainty the worst cases would NOT arrive?". I like my bicycle, I like my garden, I feel liberated from my cubicle, I would not change a thing ...

BUT ...

The most important thing I have learned during my little forage into 'minimal self sufficiency' is that it doesn't exist, it can't exist. I'm acutely aware of every external input into my little project and I keep asking myself "how is that done for that price?", "how could I do that myself?" and the answers are depressing. I'm also lucky in that I have half an acre of land in a crowded part of the world (something you in the US may not appreciate) and a partner firmly plugged into the 'real world'. It's a fake preparation, really, for the possible times ahead. I loved Professor Richard Wolff - we need a political revolution, we need land reform, we need to worry about our Gini index, we need to worry about our education system. It seems our "future as dynamic probability distribution" gives us plenty to worry about.

In the mean time, Nate, don't imagine The Oil Drum is just 'all talk'. Keep on banging away. And thanks for it.

Nate, it's a very timely question.

Someone I believe 100% actually did tell me that the worst was going to happen, about 4 years ago. It took me a very long time to come to terms with it, mostly because I insisted on trying to solve what I saw as a "problem" in the terms in which it was being presented to me. Alternative energy, political action, spreading the news etc. Essentially I spent three years trying to save the world by researching and lecturing to it. That didn't work out so well. I even posted couple of big articles on dieoff here, to an, um, "mixed reception". I did the whole Kubler-Ross thing, and came close to checking out near the end.

What changed me about a year ago was realizing that just because we can't fix the predicament doesn't mean we won't succeed. The answer lies in understanding the true root of the problem, and letting that understanding inform our definition of success. So far, the best statement of the root cause I've found is in Dr. Charles Eisenstein's remarkable book The Ascent of Humanity. In a nutshell, the problem is separation. It's the Faustian price we paid for the self-awareness granted by our neocortex. Self/other, mind/body, matter/spirit, humans/resources... Dualism has been the seed of our undoing. With that Achilles heel, it simply didn't matter how clever we were. In fact our cleverness made things worse. Sooner or later the wave function was going to collapse, and we'd discover ourselves ... right here.

I did discover a way out, but it's orthogonal to the problem. The only useful response to this problem, given the nature of its roots, is personal spiritual transformation. But not spiritual in any conventional religious sense. I mean spiritual is the sense of recognizing the unity of all things, and through that becoming aware of my own duality. I find that awareness allows me to heal the sense of separation, and that healing in turn allows me to make decisions in a broader, even universal, context. Such decisions are always more inclusive, more respectful, more whole. They may still have downsides, but every decision or action does (just ask the rabbit in the jaws of the fox). The difference is that the dark side is brought fully into my awareness and accepted.

For me, the healing philosophy is an amalgam of Taoism, Buddhism, pantheism and Deep Ecology. For others it may be different, but these are the streams I've found that have the healing of separation and duality at their core.

Carolyn Baker has just published a remarkable book called Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse. It fleshes our these issues with great lucidity and compassion. It's the perfect companion to Eisenstein's book I mentioned above.

Think of Peak Oil and Climate change as post-modern Zen koans. Structurally they are very similar to classical Zen koans: conundrums with no solution in the rational mind. Every twist and turn the intellect takes in trying to resolve them runs into yet another dead end. Eventually the effort to find a solution exhausts the reason, and in the instant of surrender the problem dissolves. When viewed in this light, it's not surprising that the onset of these insoluble problems has led to a surge in sudden spiritual awakenings.

What am I doing as a result? What I can, which is not much compared to some, but more than many. Most importantly I'm trying to do it mindfully, with loving kindness and as much compassion as I can muster.

Good stuff GG.
May i suggest a little Joseph Campbell. First quote from a little book about him. REFLECTION ON THE ART OF LIVING. "There is no place in this new kind of physics both for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality." Albert Einstein

Dualism is our problem.

I did discover a way out, but it's orthogonal to the problem. The only useful response to this problem, given the nature of its roots, is personal spiritual transformation.

I understand and respect this.

The issue is that:
a)if no one adopts this there could be a great deal of imbalance and suffering and
b)if everyone adopts this nothing (of scaled consequence) will be accomplished

If we all adopt Buddhist attitudes towards what is coming, there might be less environmental shrapnel, but the odds of there being shrapnel will be much higher IMO.

Are you aware of "Engaged Buddhism"? There's nothing whatsoever about my position that prevents me or anyone else from doing good works, whether in technology, social causes, or any other field. I may use a different definition of "suffering" than you're used to, but I think that people who stop clinging to specific visions of the present or the future also reduce their suffering.

And lest we forget, there's already "a great deal of imbalance and suffering" in the world -- there always has been and there always will be. It's how we respond to our personal experience that matters in the long run. Will we reduce the suffering in the world more by promoting/resisting various technologies or by changing peoples' attitudes towards reality? Why not try both? Because I can guaran-damn-tee you that "everyone" is not about to adopt my attitudes.

By way of clarification, here's a poem by a friend of mine about how suffering is relative to one's expectations:

by Karen Kebarle

One day, after surfing off the New Zealand's coast
Two dolphins got to talking.
“I was a stock broker,” the first one said
“in my former life. All day I added numbers
all day shouted into a tiny phone
all day typed frantically
all night lay awake beside my wife, Brigitte,
thinking about bad trades.
When I died, of a heart attack at 51,
I was reborn in waves and water.

“I was a lover,” said the other. “What I loved
was a dear one in my arms. The curves, the soft caress,
the trembling lips,
the kissing and the holding and the scent
of sweat, of spiced cologne, of desperate sex
on grass, or forest leaves, or perfumed bed.
And then one day, a rival and a knife
and suddenly I find myself in hell.”

“But this is heaven!” said the first. The second sighed,
“Dolphins have no arms and cannot smell.”

I have spent the last decade of my life finding myself pulled closer and closer to the idea of "Wu Wei". When I describe my life philosophy to friends, frequently the response is essentially as you have put it -- without goals, without desire, why do you do anything?

There is no reason that I do anything, beyond that it wants to be done. Yet, my friends all fairly unanimously agree that I am anything but lazy; I am a black belt in karate, build extensively, am constantly picking up new skills, and will be getting my PhD for work on using more sustainable feedstocks for chemical manufacture in the future once the oil is gone.

So, that then is a bit of a paradox, perhaps even the second most important paradox of all... Wu Wei, action through inaction, does not mean that you should try to do as little work as possible, but rather that you should follow your nature, and learn to enjoy whatever it is that you are doing, and in so doing make work meaningless. Leisure time, time when you lose track of time -- is very different from time spent idle and starving as an ascetic.

If we all adopt Buddhist attitudes towards what is coming, there might be less environmental shrapnel, but the odds of there being shrapnel will be much higher IMO.

Yes. Unless I misunderstand you. We need the shrapnel. And the sooner the better. I don't have the courage of the Buddhist monks that torched themselves during Vietnam era. Or those in Nepal now. Imagine a monk on the front steps of the Fed burning himself in a pile of dollars. Discipline and commitment only a long-trained monk could mobilize. Or a Korean farmer or an Indian farmer or Chinese students. Spirituality is critical to that.

cfm in Gray, ME


2 podcast by eisenstein here:

good listens.

also GG

re pantheism

if interested try john cobb: god & the world. he posits 'panentheism'. his other works, on integrating christianity with buddism were helpful to me.

process philosophy via alfred north whitehead is a primary basis for cobb. Ray Griffith is also one of these process theologians; & yes- he focused on 9/11.

GliderGuider, I couldn't possibly agree more. One of the first books I read that really spoke to me on this topic was "The Tao of Abundance". The fundamental thread was that as long as there is an expectation of a particular outcome, one can never be satisfied -- but as soon as we accept what we have as a great wonderful gift, and realize that we have everything we deserve and everything we need*, we will suddenly stop wanting more and more and more.


* and I spent many years contemplating how well this would hold up under fear of death -- it's easy to say that you have everything you need when your needs aren't at a survival level. Having yet still not been in that situation, I still can't say for sure, but having heard so many stories about the humanity of even the most miserably poor, I think humans have it in us... as much as I find it hard to have faith in my own personal strength to value my humanity over my survival.

'to value my humanity over my survival.'

In my life I have come to realize that accepting death is one of the most important understandings we can personally do. Knowing that it can come at any time and accepting it regardless of the circumstances prepares oneself in an inexplicable way. Fear is the most controling of our emotions and the only way we can be closer to free is by accepting reality. Carlos Castenada has always been one of my favourite reads even if it's fiction. Choose your battles, and if you find yourself in an inescapable situation you fight with everything you have even if you already know the outcome.

For those PO aware you have two basic choices. Either you try to escape or you try to affect the outcome. I guess doing nothing would constitute a third option...

The web is all talk, no action - but so is everything else in modern life.

To make a long story short, I cared very much about a big event at the dawn of this decade. I knew quite a lot about this event. I contributed to the making of some videos to inform people about this event. Some of these videos were viewed over 50 million times.

The public did absolutely nothing with this information.

On the other hand, my life became increasingly ... inconvenient, and I chose to leave my homeland as a result.

quit your job, cash out what's left of your 401k at a penalty, and go hedonistic

Good advice! I'm just looking for a few good parties, then some pills for when life isn't fun anymore.

No one is going to do anything effective about anything.

Just guessing, was this the Y2K "event"?

It can't be, because people did make use of the information and so it became a "non-event".

So what was this event exactly?

If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say it was 9/11. That one woke me up too. I don't talk about it any more either, but it still informs my attitudes toward politics.

9/11 was a great lesson for me, too - about the nature of deception and self-deception, and the nature of myth. Philip D. Zelikow, an academic who specializes in myth, and coincidentally was executive director of the 9/11 commission, had this to say:

In writing about the importance of beliefs about history, Zelikow has called attention to what he has called "'searing' or 'molding' events [that] take on 'transcendent' importance and, therefore, retain their power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene. In the United States, beliefs about the formation of the nation and the Constitution remain powerful today, as do beliefs about slavery and the Civil War. World War II, Vietnam, and the civil rights struggle are more recent examples." He has noted that "a history’s narrative power is typically linked to how readers relate to the actions of individuals in the history; if readers cannot make a connection to their own lives, then a history may fail to engage them at all."[9]

Note that my words and Dr. Zelikow's are in code. For better or worse, this is necessary.

It is not necessary. Say what you mean, or don't say anything.

Oh, yes it is necessary. If I am too frank about 9/11 here, my post gets deleted. Just like how anyone here who is too frank about peak oil elsewhere (e.g. Denninger) gets deleted, too.

We require great truths to be encoded, because most people don't care and wouldn't understand anyway. If you are too frank, you turn people off, which makes you look crazy and may block them from embracing the truth later on.

Especially now that the Internet exists, anyone who really wants to know the truth can figure it out, if they really care and have the energy.

TOD is a great service and brings people closer to the truth - but even here, there are taboos.

And this is fine. Every person and every place has its taboos. In principle, there is nothing we can do to change this.

I'm sorry to hear you say what you said.

Even in the closest relationships, as in families or long-time friends, there is often a long delay between words spoken or actions done by one and the effect or result in another. Years can go by before you find out that something you said or did had an effect on someone. Long-time teachers know this from experience--the flake student who writes to thank you for something that you said that led them twenty years later to be a doctor or a rocket scientist.

Take heart. Words and actions in real life do not have the same immediate effect as pressing ENTER on a computer does--but that doesn't mean they have no effect.

Three choices as to what you would do if you were certain of TSHTF(for want of a better acronym)...asks Nate.

Well I would do neither of those three choices.

Before I put down what I would do or am right now doing I will elucidate a bit.

Most here know I am a conservative. A conservative of the 'old school' and that means 'class of 57' as I am wont to post, but it means I grew up in an era of self sufficiency, if that's the correct term.

By that I mean my grandparents raised me , and some various aunts and uncles for periods of time, during the end of the depression and the war years and even beyond that.Up until about 1950..12 years more or less.

And I inherited there belief systems though they didn't call them that. They just worked and lived and there was no 'bailouts'. No welfare that they knew of or used. The lived by the sweat of their brows and asked for nothing. My grandfather was a master at breaking mules. He was always swapping. He was also of European stock and a half-breed Cherokee. Thru his father and thru his mother. Each were half.

I then grew up expecting nothing and relying on my own self. I went to work eventually and retired from a company(corp) that was very very conserative as I thought most businesses were back then. They treated there employees extremely well but expected lots of loyalty and hard work in return. I retired there after 30 years and came back to where I was raised and a farm I had bid on at a auction years before.

So my answer is number 1, but I would not go to meetings,engage others,or do all the other outward activities. Everything I did would be for mostly my own survival or very close kin but mostly for myself.

My children are grown and don't like where I live. My wife the same. They refuse a farm life or the rural areas. I have a lot of kinfolk here though and know a heck of a lot of folks hereabouts. Most don't care about this upcoming scenario and don't listen to me so I quit talking about it.

The church is the worse. They are rather stupid in that regard. I pretty much quit going but I have as a result turned more and more inward in my daily life.MOre and more to the spiritual side. Some here(in my area) respect me and my past since I fix a lot of their computers and such. Yet they sorta tune out when I might mention something about what is happening.Most do not use the internet to do ought than email and trivia. Maybe a bit of news. Never seriously.

My choice then is do all I can for my own survival. I learned that the hard way growing up on the farm and being pretty much without my real parents in my childhood. I used to be quite different and rarely spoke to anyone. I had a set of armor plating mounted on my body and soul that NO ONE could pierce. I let NO ONE get close to me for many many years. Whether I picked that up from my grandfather and other old timers I do not know but back then life was very very different from now. Very different.

I think we are going back to that sort of life whether we want to or not and many will never be able to go there. To that manner. They are not adaptable to it. They have no feeling inside for what it is like.

Now one last note. Around here I know most everyone and can sit and bullshit for hours and kid around. Today me and a horse breaker spent hours playing with horses and yakking about horses and IH tractors and other things. Yet he goes his way and I go mine in our lifestlyle.

Its called independence. Self sufficient. Conserative. Most here have changed more towards the city folks ideas of living. They are the newer generation. They do not touch the earth or soil/dirt. They have no kinship with nature. They don't feel it move them. They kill wildlife indiscriminately. They are full of themselves. They will not make it either IMO. The hate work to be honest about it. They do a lot of drugs. They fall easily into crime and theft. Why I don't know but many are very unreliable. They mostly live in trailers. Lots of trash around their place. They are what others call rednecks. They are your basic trash. No zoning laws out here in the outback you see.
Every one knows who they are, who is worthless and who you can sometimes trust. But most are not men of their word. Some will gut you out after you do something for them.

They couldn't raise a garden no way,no how.They couldn't farm and don't really care to except to take a summer job to get a few bucks in their jeans. They have forgotten the faces of their use a Stephen King idiom.

But if someone came to my place and were someone I could find to trust? I would help them if I could. If I could trust them and thats something I can't figure out how to determine based on how people are these days. They are simply not easy to trust. And I might add not able to turn to and work hard. At my age I can still outwork most of them. But if they were proven? Then I would do what I could.

Problem with this world today is that most everyone has changed so much that honor or trust is not very prevalent anymore. Its just like the bankster/gangsters ....good ole boys upfront and then they screw you over. Can't trust anybody much anymore.

The world has 'moved' on. Going to be very hard to go back. No skills. No abilities. Not in touch with nature. Will run you over out on the highways if you get in their way. Flip you the bird as they go by and you notice the 'sign of the fish' on their back bumper. The little stupid yellow ribbons. The flags of 9/11 have fallen off into the dirt. Unforgotten. Just trash and thats just how much they cared.

Airdale-I sometimes feel an outcast in my own country, but I can usually get a hug from a girl cousin however most of them are now gone

Forgot that part about the internet.

I worked on what we then called "TeleProcessing"..which was what businesses used before the internet came along.

Then I worked in the Token Ring days, and even worked on some early forerunners of the PC. Mostly on teleprocessing program products. Ran on mainframes.My company therefore was very early in using communications vehicles and they were company wide. Way before the internet we were using forms of email and most of our computers were linked via private copper, and later fiber. Also satellites.

So I was on the ground floor, starting with railroad accounts who used it first before many other businesses.

I use internet now just ocassionally. Sometimes heavy and mostly lightly. I have written code, created websites and all the rest. Its gotten boring to me. All the chatter.

IMO its a lot of flak and you have to work diligently to find worthwhile data. Some much is being leeched and copied and quite a bit is utter trash. Worthless.

Sites like TOD are gems. I find not that many to make it onto a shortcut on my desktop or remain in my history location bar on Foxfire.

BTW I worked on a friend computer who owns a auto garage. He had let some one use it for a week. It took me 12 hours of work to get rid of the worst trojans,virus,and assorted malware. It was totally compromised by a youngish wife of one of his workers in a matter of one week.

That is what the problem is with the internet. A nest of criminals and ner do wells. Crackers and leechs of the worst sort. Its not a pretty place. You shouldn't let children near it.


Token ring! heh. even though i am too young to see what it was like in wide spread use. the high school votech school i went to for half the day during my time in high school had a token ring network set up in the computer lab. took everything we could throw at it with those monitor + computer in one box 486's from ibm.

Yes..the Token Ring network.

And the customers kept asking us "Why don't you give us the Real Ring instead of a Token Ring?"

Nate you said:

Our diets (many are serotonin deficient) and behaviours (various addictions) heighten our aggregate level of short-term thinking.

Which seems to suggest that you think one can obtain the effects of serotonin by eating it.

This is not the case as Serotonin does not cross the blood-brain barrier, it is synthesized within the brain. You do need the amino acid Tryptophan as a starting point but that's found in most high protein foods (meat, milk, eggs, soybeans)

I meant many 'people' are serotonin deficient. I have a long post on this topic but it is down the priority list. thanks for pointing out the confusion. totally agree with what you said (we eat too many refined sugars and carbs and that is actually impacting our behavior). Sugar is a gateway drug...;-) (Hoebel, Princeton)

Great questions, Nate.
On the dichotomy between communicating and doing - 1) the intarweb is a good place for people without genuine community to touch minds with other people out there who feel the same things they do, and value the same things they value; this is therapeutic, stabilizing, encouraging, emboldening, etc -- all emotional prerequisites to constructive action, probably. 2) one's knowledge, in many cases, helps shape one's range of possible actions. the exchange of viewpoints on the intarweb facilitates a broadening of one's existential flexibility (range of possible actions). for example, i would literally have no idea of the existence of permaculture design philosophy, if it weren't for saints out there blogging (that's how disconnected from reality i am - no one in my immediate circle is aware of even the need for responsible earth-shaping by humans, much less the actual possibility of it). now that i know about permaculture, i gear my activities toward achieving the ability to grow things. permaculture has entered my horizon of possible future activities.
Regarding the respective orientation(s) of my life given either a guaranteed worst-case scenario or a guaranteed business-as-usual scenario -- I wouldn't change a thing either way. My vision for how I want my life to run (and my life won't work out how I envision it, but one needs orientation) lives in a world that is independent of the variability of future scenarios. Irrespective of the shape of the world in five years, I think gardening and writing novels is paradise, so that's what I'm striving for. What do y'all think ... is it possible to have life-visions that don't need to take into account one's "external" context? i.e. is it necessary that we always react to what the world gives us - or can we simply shape the world we want to be in?

Yes, it's a dynamic probability distribution, nothing set in stone. We may be certain, convinced, have faith in a prophecy, whatever, but we can never know the future. Perhaps the thought experiment is irrelevant. It seems to me that the better informed we are the less sure we become about the outcome, the less sure about the best course of action, the more aware of the law of unintended consequences. We suffer a great deal from what I call 'The menu not the meal' - it's relatively easy to draw up elegantly/intelligently presented lists of what we have to do, much harder to actually deliver. I, like you Nate, don't know. Some talk, some make films, and when I'm not gardening for rich people for my living, write songs about it. (Nate I will email you and ask if you'd like to listen to myspace!)

Nate, I like the thought experiment.

There must be countless cases in history where this has come up. Consider what some people must have thought in the 1930s as we got closer and closer to war. For a long time Churchill considered that early action could have stopped Germany but eventually it became obvious to many that the only outcome was another war. Many people must have known it was coming and some probably took action.

And the problem space is spacial not just in time -PO will not affect all places equally. IMO there will be places that prosper even as the aggregate descends.

Personally the closer we get to 2012 the more I am going to ramp up 'mitigation activities'.


Thought-provoking question, Nate.

I would say that blogging on the Web can be:
1) Mental masturbation
2) An extraordinarily effective way to promote revolutionary cultural change.

Masturbation: going over the same ground again and again. A high tech way to sit around the cracker barrel and bitch.

Culture change: networking, learning, making things clear, listening to other people.

Right now TOD and related sites are valuable because the subject matter had not been covered by the mainstream media. It's been important to provide a forum for people to develop ideas and realize they aren't alone.

I don't think most TODers realize how great the success of the peak oil movement has been. These are ideas that question the prevailing wisdom of the last 200 years. From a small nucleus a few years ago, the memes have spread to millions of people.

On the minus side ... because it's difficult to go out in the cold, cruel mainstream world, there's an understandable tendency to stay in the peak oil ghetto. I find that there's a self-perpetuating cynicism and fatalism that comes from breathing the same air all the time.

I'd like to see more interaction with people outside the world of middle-aged white technical professionals. I'd like to see more historical awareness. I'd like to see a more sophisticated approach to politics - moving beyond "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." - or "They're all corrupt."

Oh yeah, I'd like to see a place where women feel comfortable contributing and commenting.

Energy Bulletin

Oh yeah, I'd like to see a place where women feel comfortable contributing and commenting.

There is - it's their own blogs. There's a whole informal network of them out there, all busily commenting on each-other's blogs, recommending them to each-other, and so on. I know because of my site statistics - I track back to see who's been linking to me.

The tone of their conversation is different to male-dominated sites. No-one suggests assault rifles and spam, there's less "we'll be fighting off hordes of zombie surbubanites," and so on. It's less "you idiot, we're doomed!" and more "we're in trouble, I'm scared" which some (only some) follow up with "what can we do?"

Female bloggers are also much more likely to respond to comments on their articles than male bloggers, who often seem to think they're writing an opinion column for a national newspaper and can ignore their audience. They'll respond, even if it's just to acknowledge your comment and thank you for it.

The women are talking. Just not to us. Probably because most of us don't listen.

I'm not sure if the problem is that women believe TOD readers aren't listening, but that y'all are an intimidating lot. The communication style on the other blogs is quite different and, in the discussions with women, there's a lot of skirting around confrontation (what is the etymology of that phrase anyway?). TOD readers are more likely to shoot holes in your argument without a second thought, which is fine (and a blast to read as long as you aren't on the receiving end) because I think most commenters, being men, expect that as an acceptable response. That's how ideas are hashed out here.

But, I think many women want a more nurturing environment to express their opinions, which is why they hang out on the female written blogs. Kiashu also has a great point in that women are more interested in discussing what to do next, which is why I hope the Campfire will draw more female readers.

There are some female rifle toters out there, but they are in the minority.

I don't call the styles male or female because it's just too much of a generalisation. But there is nonetheless a different feel in a place like this, which let's face it is a real sausagefest, and some place full of women.

The more confrontational style is good for cutting through bullshit - and we need that, since so much bullshit gets tossed around, like how if we're carless we'll simply die.

But the more discussing style is better for finding a consensus about what to do.

So really we need both. We need people to cut through the nonsense and show it up, and people to come up with great ideas about what to do, and people who'll be able to get agreement on what to do.

The bad side of the confrontational style is that people will deliberately misunderstand you just so they can post something angry.
"I'm against the death penalty."
"What? So we should just let them all go?!"
"I'm in favour of the death penalty."
"What? So we should execute people for jaywalking?!"

There are times when the internet reminds me of the Monty Python sketch, "I'd like to have an argument".

The bad side of the discussion style is that if there isn't someone trying to direct it in a useful direction, it can be nothing more useful than a group hug. Which we all need from time to time, but usually it's not very productive.

So the ideal is to have both styles going on, with the good helped along and the bad squashed as much as possible.

And I would love to meet these women ;-)

Seriously though, good comment. I agree that is has been successful beyond what anyone 10 years ago could have imagined. Any peaksters from way back then? If wasn't for layman oil books 4 years ago, I would have probably not discovered PO until right before mainstream. I agree that we need to involve a more diverse age group, but then would we still all get along?

Generalizations tend to be hazardous, but I think that there is a discernible pattern of female insiders being more willing than males to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, or to confront the temporarily profitable--but deeply flawed--conventional wisdom.

Some examples:

Friday night, ABC had a segment on 20/20 about the two juvenile court judges who were sentencing kids with incredibly minor first time offenses to juvenile detention--in exchange for kickbacks from the company running the private juvenile facility. A female, who was involved in the juvenile system, asked the FBI to look into it (the judges were sentenced via plea bargains).

Meredith Whitney was one of the few Wall Street insiders trying to warn of the coming financial meltdown, especially in regard to Citigroup (and she got death threats in response).

And if memory serves, a female at Enron was one of the very few insiders who tried to blow the whistle on what was happening.

I guess women are not always as corruptible. Some women still have a working moral meter even after climbing the ladder to the top. Or maybe its because they never completely fit in the 'inner circle' as so don't feel as compelled to keep the status quo. Men tend to look after their own ass first and as long as they think its safe then they will just keep doing what their doing.

Or maybe its because they never completely fit in the 'inner circle' as so don't feel as compelled to keep the status quo.


I would not make a lot of changes either way - World as we know it ends in 60 months, or there is a solution for all of the ills we have discovered (so far). I have prepared for a lot of problems, and hope to help others, family first, overcome the difficulties.

I like the other alternative question up thread. If I knew that an earthquake was going to hit my home, and presumably family, in a few minutes with insufficient time to do anything even if I could get there, I would be quite distraught. But, since I have tried to live my life to deal with the misery I know will come (even if you cannot tell me when), I will hope that I can survive long enough to pass on what I know to those dear to me and those who might become so.

I am currently engrossed in a book by William Greider which deals with many of these topics - taking back America, making our will known, etc (the title is Come Home America). He is a very good communicator, and has a lot of good ideas. Will any of this make any difference? Probably not. It feels good to have reinforcement of my own ideas, however.

None of us are in this alone, and while I may communicate here more than with my cherished friends, they will be the ones I try to ride this out with, wishing I was thirty years younger for now, but not sure that wish will hold for very long.

"This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away. To the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing." -- some Muppet

I think there is no gap between where we are and where we need to be. We are exactly where we need to be. The gap is between where we are, and where we want to be, and in this case, the wanting is detrimental. It's like hoping. The hoping will usually involve the visualization of some better future. And to our brains, that visualization is almost real in and of itself, and acts as a kind of self-medicating or self-pacifying response to the ideas of doom and havoc.

If we want a little more motivation and action, we can on our own terms employ some fear. Examine the gap between where we are, and where we do not want to go. Especially examine where you do not want to go. What are you willing to do to avoid an internment camp, a bread line, or a damp, cold future of disease for your family?

What's that saying, hope for the best, plan for the worst. I think that's backwards. If we want an actual better future, maybe we should hope for the worst and plan for the best.

Or, more accurately, dreading the worst to motivate planning for the best.

Let's take the case of drinking and hangovers. Suppose you're heading out to a party where you expect to drink like a fish. If you are hoping you don't get a hangover, you may be visualizing waking up tomorrow morning, being coherent and pain-free, having a nice shower and going for a run with the dog before brunch, and then doing some work in the garden. That seems pretty nice, pour another few shots, I'm gonna get good and tight. You are likely to wake up feeling like Death warmed over.

Now, suppose instead of hoping for no hangover, you instead dread the hangover you are likely to get. You remember the last time, throwing up, head pounding, you could barely get out of bed before 4 pm. You didn't shower, you couldn't eat, and your dog bit you for acting like an a-hole. This visualization can prompt you to do any number of things that will actually improve your situation tomorrow. You may drink less, have pain-killers and plenty of water ready for before you pass out, or have multivitamins and a healthy meal planned out the night before for the morning after.

Only some things about the future are unpredictable. Other things are predictable with certainty. When I die, unpredictable. That I die, certain. Until I die, that I will experience nutrient depletion, certainty. When I will next feel hungry, unpredictable. That the oil infrastructure deteriorates, certain. When it breaks down and needs replacing, unpredictable. That it will eventually need replacing, certain. That's how it works. So the hands-in-the-air claim of "no-one knows what the future will bring", it's dubious at best.

To be clear, that's not what I said. I said I view the future as a dynamic probability distribution - the possibility of business as usual 10 years forward is extremely small. The probability of a large resource war in the next 10 years is 30-50%, etc. I waive my hands in the air and say no one path is defined and we can collectively (and possibly as individuals), alter it for the better, but there are biophysical and biological realities keeping the likely trajectory in the fairway (or out of it, as the case may be).

Blogs are good, as opposed to not having them, which we may not at some point. Australia, China and other places censor. Here it is done at work, and in other ways. So it's a good thing but it may not last. That they are good thing is why the TPTB hate them.

BUT blogs are not enough. I don't completely agree with bottom up, or at least bottom up only. There also need to be political movmements to get anything done, otherwise the TPTB will roll over local grass roots movement that are attempting to accomplish something. You become another Hezbollah. We'll need a political movement even to defend the right to continue blogging, or at least uncensored blogging.

Blogging and global interchage and communication are extremely important -- we share one planet. Many of the problems we face are global and require global communication.

Free interchange between citizens of various nations is also a force for peace. It is more difficult for TPTB to incite enmity beteen peoples when they are in contact and sharing experiences and ideas. It's much more pleasant to bomb strangers. Yet another reason why blogs will come under increasing attack.

At the risk of going offtopic, Asutralia doesn't censor any blogs, or any other 'valid' expression of political or social discourse. The only arguable exception to this would include anti-racism laws, which in any case do not serve to protect the PTB from the people. I'd like you to cite evidence that Australia censors any more than any other nation; simply throwing Australia and China together is misleading and unfair.

Are there any nations on earth that censor nothing, where all imagery is legal?

WRONG! Communications Minister Steven Conroy is introducing mandatory internet censorship. This will cover everything from child porn to pro euthanasia websites and once introduced it becomes the thin edge of the wedge to observe and control what we access. Once that happens people begin to self sensor what they write and what sites they access.
One can imagine that China as our fastest growing trading partner and investor will eventually use its economic clout to pressure the government to crack down on dissenters (pro Tibet, Falun Gong etc) or allow China through its commercial partners (Yahoo, Newscorp) to monitor dissenters (Yahoo has already cooperated with the monitoring of Falun Gong in China and Newscorp through Murdoch and Wendy Deng have close ties to the Chinese authorities).
As far as anti racism laws protecting the PTB one only has to remember that the threat of procecution for thought crimes has been used already to stifle dissent in Australia.

You don't need censorship. You can just let them be drowned out by the crowd. Freedom of speech doesn't mean much if nobody is listening.

There are reasons we hear about peak oil on SBS and ABC, but not on the commercial networks. And those commercial networks take up 90% of audience share. There are some things they just don't talk about, and that's got nothing to do with the ACMA or any other government organisation.

For better or worse, the internet bloggers helped me to see life as it really is, not as the MSM would have me see it.
Somehow, ALL my precious pre-conceptions have been killed in the process.
Thanks to information on the internet I now understand why; and I can accept it better.

Sadly, it was the truth when Bush said the US Constitution is just a piece of paper; and when adolescent Republicans keep saying we are not a [D]emocracy. Resistance is futile.
2. THERE IS NO GOD AND MOST RELIGIOUS "LEADERS" KNOW THIS. That is how they can behave like such hypocrites. It is also how I can walk away from religion without damnation.
3. MY PARENTS ARE COMPLETELY NARCISSISTIC. That's how they so easily dismissed/betrayed my trust.
4. I AM GOING TO DIE ANYWAY. So will everyone I know. No-one gets out of this world alive.
5. OUR CIVILIZATION WILL END. They all do. Given how much damage our civilization has caused, it's actually not a bad thing.
6. I AM JUST GRATEFUL. That I had a brain, an education, an appreciation for little things, and some good life experiences. Compared to most humans, really I have been very fortunate.

Re Action: Any positive change will occur locally. Forget the federal or state level, you do not have that much power, and your efforts will be betrayed by criminals in authority.
Work to help others on the extreme local level, among your peers. That's what I do.

Thank you to TOD, LATOC, and TAE for the inspiration to make small meaningful changes.
In the end, though, we cannot alter what is coming down the pike. So choose your battles wisely.

Break the corporation. Do that and it all changes, suddenly you have a society again.

Hmmm...Cassandra, Mad Max, Grizzly Adams, or Party like its 1999?

thanks nate

this post has a heartfelt quality about it.

the first part of your post is definitely where i am.

if it turns out timing wise that the timescale for no. 1 is a decade or 2 per my wife i have to go back to work as i am emptying all our coffers.

unfortunately i can't see no. 2.

like upstanding says above[nice comment btw] this blogging u -nate & TOD provides does matter as i have on many occasions had to come here to get the courage [reinforced by info] to take numerous first/big steps for me, & my family. i was often alone re PO; over & over. now thank god i have a small but tight 'real' circle forming that provides tremendous support & yet also perspective.

lately i have come to believe that being highly adaptive/flexible is the most important prep.

this is mental first & foremost; some physical preps too. i am very very blessed to have a supportive wife, though this is not active support as she gets very depressed focusing on PO; & we own our small place & may be able w/ others to own/have available an alternative place.

but as GG & others say above with the kinds of disorder we will have nothing is assured & massive suffering- eventually is ;so most important is mental/spiritual prep.

this will assuredly be a very disorderly process.

i haven't given up completely on all processes outside our small circle- almost though.

actually- i'll probably get some heat for this- i have some hope for President Obama, eventually that is.

i'll give this reasoning ;a few decades ago i had a boss/boss, 2 levels above me who for the first year sat back & left decisions to us w/o giving much input, or just making the decisions. when i asked him about this he said he believed he needed to do 'dog' leadership for a while. the dog he said leads until a fork comes then the dog hangs back til the wagon heads down one fork or the other.

one day i came in & he had fired my supervisor- a wonderful man- 1 1/2 yrs. from full retirement. i got the hell outta there asap.

so i will still hope for a type of crisis where president obama takes a fork most wouldn't anticipate - for the good.i think he is deluded though about our energy situation; but perhaps not so much re the economy. he is shrewd i believe; we'll see about his courage- or maybe his wife will be a positive factor for him.

so much for one of my longer comments; hell i couldn't type or use a computer much til i found a reason to with PO, & TOD!

airdale i have enjoyed u'r comments a lot lately- u seem more at peace or something.

Very interesting questions and observations here.

Your thought experiment is a difficult one, primarily on epistemological grounds, for I base my life on the axiom as well as the observed fact that there is no certainty--ever, and certainly no certainty derived from some authority or third-party. Even what I "see" is subject to uncertainty, though I will believe something I have experienced more readily that something I hear about. All knowledge other than experienced is based on inferences from experienced reality together with a sense of coherence of these beliefs with each other. (A belief, by the way, is not a certainty, but just a conjecture with many confirming instances and maybe also a few disconfirming instances.)

So, basically, if someone, anyone, assured me that the end was nigh, that would do nothing but make me roll my eyes. If I arrived at the same conclusion, I would still maintain a doubt or two.

So, if I believed the end was nigh, what would I do? Well, it depends on what I expected to happen. I have enough life experience to be able to respond to events and adapt as best I can. But oftentimes that is not enough. I would have various plans (a,b,c...) that could be adopted on a contingency basis, none of which are guaranteed to work, but might.

As for blogging, well, two observations. One is that writing things down is a great way to clarify one's own thoughts. Writing a book (or a blog or an article or even just a letter) is an adventure because one never knows what one will say or how one will say it. That it is possible, even if unlikely, that another person will read what one writes is just an added benefit--but not the primary one.

The other comment about blogging is that I have an affinity for Plato's Parable of the Cave: if you know or think something that might benefit another, you have a responsibility to communicate it, even if only to one other person. Blogging is a form of conversation, a sort of town hall meeting in cyberspace, or even just a meeting of friends or like-minded people.

Certainly, there's a lot of talk. . .but not all of us are only talking.

Here in Hawaii we have a very progressive and proactive community moving robustly towards a peak oil future. Over the last year I've personally achieved food self sufficiency, the capacity to produce all fuels on a limited but workable basis on site, have built 3 producer gas set-ups, a 5, a 7, and a 50 kw unit. We have formed a cooperative based on the 'ohana system that greatly improves our own sustainability and security. Anyone can, it simply takes a good deal of effort. It's time to get started. Really, we all know it is.

Part of the reason I think people get hung up and don't get much done is they spend too much time on websites, such as this one, rehashing and rehashing and rehashing the details. I certainly applaud the education and the quality insight sites like this provide. At some point, however, you must become convinced as the evidence stands for itself. This is how I feel about Peak Oil, and as far as I'm concerned there's hardly another article worth writing about it. As the topic suggests, certainly demonstrating real progress made towards viable post peak lifestyles is what we really need, and very rarely see. Especially without gimmicks.

I'd love to see more of that around here.

Anyway. Thanks.

yes, im in Hawaii too i moved here a year ago in reaction to learning about p.o.I will be moving back (MA) soon. Survival post peak and sustainability will be much easier here.Perpetual growing season lots of rain (esp. here on Kauai) chickens, goats, pigs, cows, horses ,rats if you get desperate.Small pop. you ,wont freeze.Larger pop. in colder climates wont fair well regardless of what mitigation is attempted. There is no mitigation at currant pop. levels.

Our civilization is toxic and destructive it needs to be stopped .That Its running out of fuel is good news . Still we have the small problem of what to do with all those surplus humans because 6 1/2 billion can't be supported by post peak "lifestyles".

Heroism yes im all for it but where does the hero apply his hand.
There is nothing to be done.
After tshtf and the dust settles the survivors can ask "what can we do?"

For now enjoy your family,your friends,enjoy the last days of peak everything the small things,driving your car ,a candy bar, an i- max movie.
There is nothing to be done.

Easy for me to say though ,i have no kids.
Hawaii lies between the two biggest consumers (addicts) of ff and the two largest military's the world has ever seen.

Nate, I think this is a very interesting question.

I'm actually not at all sure I would change anything -- I love what I'm doing, and trust in what I suppose most people would call God (and which I would call Tao) that whether I live or die, I will find the grace to be grateful and satisfied with whatever life I have. There simply isn't enough space on the planet for all of us humans if we don't have civilization to support us. Why would I deserve to live any more than anyone else? At what cost do I struggle to survive? It's not like my homo self is having kids any time soon to worry about.

Death happens to us all, even more surely than taxes. And in the end, it is the fear of death that drives humans to all the horrible things we do. I might enjoy living out my days with my close friends, supporting them with what labor and skill I have, and living in harmony with my environment, whether that means dying, killing, or just working hard every day until I die.

I suppose that in the end, I care more about my friends than I care about myself -- if I were alone on this planet, I doubt I would bother to live for long. Every day is a gift, to be cherished.

nice. thanks.

Reading through all this again.

It is time for some god-damned heroism, people. . .


Well, I don't believe in some absolute or supreme being so that makes it rather difficult for me to be convinced with 100% certainty of anything, so no matter how much I internalized the worst case scenario idea, there would always be a certain amount of doubt that would make it hard for me to convince others, particularly since the majority would not want to believe it as a matter of course and my self-doubt would creep in.

Anyway, I'm already doing much of this to some extent: encouraging people to change their habits (via the challenges on my blog), educating people on the issues, and making changes in my personal life. If I knew with more certainty what is to come, I would certainly ramp up my efforts enormously both in educating people who read my blog and working locally to build up resilience programs. But, people need to be pushed gently along or they either refuse to believe it outright and write you off, or totally freak out and become incapable of making any sensible decisions before getting sucked back into more comfy thoughts. Like who is going to win Dancing with the Stars.

At this point, I feel that what I can do is on such a small scale and even those who are receptive to my "odd" powering down/simple living ideas are still resistant to doing them for a variety of different reasons. Without a general consensus or, at least, the belief that we are heading down the worst case scenario path, people will still continue doing what they do best - consuming. Unfortunately, the core problem is that most people are still highly uneducated about peak oil issues.

I look forward to the day when it becomes more apparent to everyone that we are moving towards a low energy future, so that we can actually make some progress. And stop making just a lot of empty, feel-good gestures coupled with buying green, but equally energy-intensive, goods.

And stop making just a lot of empty, feel-good gestures coupled with buying green, but equally energy-intensive, goods.

Yes, I left my lights on for Earth Hour, too :D

I've never been interested in token efforts we know are useless.

Well, I, uh, may have, accidentally, sort of, turned my lights off for Earth Hour and read The Oil Drum by candlelight. It was soooo romantic, I highly encourage everyone to give it a try!

In spite of my intense bitching about the whole thing, I didn't want to be the only party pooper in the 'hood since, allegedly, Seattle was participating. And, you know what? I was the only one in my neighborhood with the lights off. And now the house stinks of candles. Beeswax, of course.

"I've never been interested in tocken efforts we know are useless". Complacency isn't helpful especially if that is the most we can get the general population to do. A drop in the bucket may not be much but it is better than a completely dry bucket. Besides, maybe next time we can get them to do more and to implement some of these changes on a daily basis as the WWF is asking. Further more, if the vast majority participated it would make a powerful statement to the powers that be. History has taught them to fear when the masses rise but the general population seems to have forgotten this.

Think of turning your lights off for Earth Hour not as a token attempt to save electricity, but as a statement of intention spoken mostly to yourself.

Even being conscious of your electricity use all year long isn't going to make any difference in the big picture. It may make a difference to your own utility bill, but the biggest effect is still from "speaking your commitment into a mirror".

I used the time to meditate, and a lot of what came up were ideas from this thread.

How about an Earth Day? It would still be token but you might appreciate electricity more afterwards. Just go to the circuit breaker and pull the lever labeled main. Reminds me of "adbusters" efforts for boycotting black friday with 'no shopping day' and their 'No TV Week'. But an hour really is ludicrous. No TV hour?

The first thing to say is talk or action is a false split. We can do both. Only talking is just slacktivism. Only acting is useful, but won't create widespread changing. But talking and acting, together they add up to much more than they are separately.

The reason speech must be free is to make sure decent ideas get out, and crappy ideas are cast aside. Blogs are nothing special in this regard. In terms of public affairs, they act like something between a letter to the newspaper, and an opinion column in it.

Blogs are just another form of speech. As to how many there are, first we have to remember that like dating and facebook profiles, most are inactive - someone made one and then lost interest, forgot about it. Many are duplicates. That takes out the majority of blogs.

Of the active blogs, most are not concerned with public affairs except in a day-to-day conversation way. People talk about their hobbies, their day-to-day lives.

Most people aren't political. That doesn't mean they're stupid or have no opinions, it just means that public affairs are not a major concern of theirs. Their opinions are nonetheless influenced by things they read and hear and see.

Because my own blog talks a bit about reducing your personal or household impact on the environment, people sometimes ask, "what's the point if no-one else does it?" I answer that in the first place, the right thing to do is the right thing to do, whatever the effect on the world as whole; but the second and main thing is that it's the power of example to make the radical seem ordinary. Because the more someone not obviously insane talks about their lifestyle, the more you see them live it, the more ordinary it seems.

And when things seem ordinary, people just accept them and themselves change. It's a slow but at the same time sudden process, as Rebecca Solnit writes.

Sex before marriage. Bob and his boyfriend. Madame Speaker. Do those words make your hair stand on end or your eyes widen? Their flatness is the register of successful revolution. Many of the changes are so incremental that you adjust without realizing something has changed until suddenly one day you realize everything is different.

We can see this with the peak oil question. Twenty years ago the issue was simply unknown. Ten years ago it popped up from time to time, but the peak oilers were dismissed as crazy or stupid. Around five years ago this started to change. Nowadays it gets mentioned in the newspapers in passing as something given, something obvious to everyone.

That's how ideas spread. There's no proud moment when someone turns to you and says, "you know, you were right! I'm sorry I doubted you." You spend years being mocked or ignored, then suddenly one day everyone knows what you know, and claims they always knew it. Just look at all the drongos popping up now on telly to say they knew the economic crash was coming - searches of their past writings and speeches often turn up no trace.

Or consider how hard it is to find anyone who'll claim membership of the KKK in the 1960s, and how easy it is to find someone who claims to have been at Woodstock. The Red Army noted that when they went into Germany, about two-thirds the population claimed to have been members of the Socialist party. After the revolution, everyone's a revolutionary.

As to your thought experiment, obviously if I knew an exact Doomsday then I'd be more active. But there's no indication that there'll be some sudden moment when everything turns to shit. Much more likely - if things go bad - is the slow crash, the long emergency. Things slowly become harder, blackouts go from being just on hot days a few times a year to being one or two days a month, then a week, then finally we find that electricity's only on for a few hours a day, but usually 9am-1pm. And people adjust.

That was the experience in the former Communist bloc. Nothing happened overnight, things just kind of sputtered along for a bit gradually becoming worse. Of course a Transition (as they called it) will be harder for us than it was for them. They were able to draw on the resources, money and people of the West to help them; but in a global crisis we have to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, or continue sinking.

Or if you want to think of the Ecotechnic world coming to be, consider the Industrial Revolution: it didn't happen in a matter of a decade worldwide. It took generations, and still hasn't reached most of the world's population. It's not like one day everyone was out hoeing the fields, then the next day a factory popped up and everyone had a telephone. Genuine change is gradual, and only looks revolutionary in retrospect.

So for my activism, I don't really expect my own words to create some kind of instant revolution. Our words, ideas and actions are drops of water falling into a glass in the dark. At some point the glass will overflow - but we can't know when.

Thank you for a very thoughtful contribution. Your individual viewpoints on various topics are always interesting, but what is more important is that they are integrated into a consistent overall philosphy or Weltanshauung which takes into account an unusually wide range of factors. People may not always agree with you but at least they know you are coming from. I wish that other contributors would make the effort that you have to develop integrated, comprehensive, policy positions.

Some people have already chosen to act (and react).

Thanks for this post Nate. It's a question I've contemplated a great deal over this past year. It's a reformulation of the old "fight vs flight" question that's as ancient as Lao Tzu, but with added urgency as we pass peak and enter the era of The Great Collapse.

Sadly, so much of what you said remains true for me, even though I've not been completely idle.

Here's what I have done:
1. moved closer to the CBD and started to ride my bike to work (1 out of 2 days at this stage)
2. got involved with the Australian Greens party and even stood for in the state elections - we got a record vote and we're just a whisker away from winning our first lower house seats! BTW, the Greens are the ONLY political party that deals with peak oil and its consequences in policy.
3. joined a local sustainable transport lobby group to pressure public decision makers on transport related issues.

I feel all this is helpful and leads to a meaningful change - though nothing drastic at this stage. But as the situation progresses I'm hopeful that more people will heed the messages I put out through my blogs, my classroom (I'm a teacher) and via the political groups I support, and get involved. Will this change be too little, too late? Time will tell. But if we're going down, I'm going to go fighting.

Here's what I haven't done (yet):
1. started growing my own food or storing food
2. wired myself up to renewable energy sources
3. stopped driving my (petrol miser) car
4. stopped flying passenger airlines
5. built myself a bunker with plenty of dried food and ammo, along with a tin-foil hat to stop "them" from reading my thoughts. :D

But who knows, it might come to that! Take care peoples!

Excellent thought experiment Nate :-)

I would point out that IMO without the NET the global village would be less aware of what the heck is going on. In some ways the NET is acting as a break on what gov. can do. The NET is not stopping gov.s completely but NET's conduit for the truth dampens their ability to do it easily. However Anna POLITOVSKAYA paid the ultimate price as she was trying to expose the whole can of worms. A can of worms that is still there doing its rotten work.

I would also bring the case of Cindy Sheehan. She is an example of hope and disappointment. Hope, because she single handily forced the system to take notice. When I saw here I though there is hope to stop this insanity but then it all fell through the floor as the Culture Disruptors stepped in and ended her show.

That old saying that if Jesus were to return people would demand to quickly re-crucify him, comes to my mind. The crowd is easier to manipulate than most believe and no amount of facts will change that. "EVENTS" can change group think but even then there are ways to turn them. Sheep dogs do it all the time.

Guess my post sounds gloomish, but that is my reading of the tea leaves.

On a positive note I will say that the ability to find an alternate view and far far more information than 20,30, 40 yrs ago exists only because of the NET. That is a huge plus. If one wanted to learn how to make good wine you can get the expertise of the whole planet. Want to be a farmer, well look in the Net to get advice. Relatively speaking it is FREE.

By and large I think even most Peak Oil bloggers are in denial about how bad it could get. When I first learned that Peak Oil was Now, I started to do some preparations, but 1. my family was decidedly not interested in having me prepare for them. 2. I am old enough that extending my own life is not such a huge priority 3. I realized that almost anything can be taken away if law and order break down (or before law and order break down the government can take away your land or freedom). 4. Climate change will probably be exacerbated as people desperately burn anything any way they can and it least in my neck of the woods that might make any attempts to be self sufficient impossible. So I have rested where I am - small garden, hand pump well.

I blog Peak Oil less than I used to. Why do I bother - basically it is hard to be alone with the knowledge of Peak Oil and the internet is the best place to read and chat with somewhat like minded folks. We humans are programmed to talk with each other, yet we often have no real bond of understanding with those closest to us. All the more so if we see the future more clearly than our neighbors.

I strongly suggest "Reinventing Collapse" by Orlov as the best way to prepare. As he suggests, mental readjustment may be the first necessary preparation. Besides being cynically entertaining, he has concrete suggestions based on actual experience in a collapsing society. IMO he his the most clear eyed writer about the future.

[simplified exaggeration] it's preaching to the converted. It does help the stupid guys like me seem smarter in casual conversation around the dinner table.

It is also elitist and has created a self serving environment for some intellectual pissing contest where being right has the ultimate goal of leadership of this tiny hill. Is that sound?


I often get derided and ignored for my bad prose and general dumbdowness.. I find that kinda strange given that "the message" needs to permeate strata of society way more ignorant than myself.

I keep suggesting that the brainy boys and girls here raise their game SIGNIFICANTLY outside the blogosphere. but i guess I'm just too stupid to make my point.[/simplified exaggeration]

on a positive note there is some trickle-down effect... PO is a known position across the political blogosphere


If you knew for sure that this worst case scenario was going to play out, then the simplest thing to do would be to buy some oil call-options and finance them with Toyota put-options.

Next thing would be to go to university or somewhere likewise where you can pick up knowledge and study permaculture.

In a few years, you would cash in and move to Argentina.

No worries, I would say. Maybe pick up some Spanish somewhere.

Good point. I personally would be quite interested to hear TOD posters select those locations they feel would be the best on the long slide. Obviously there are a lot of factors, from climate to political stability to cost of living to consider, along with one's roots in their current location. Why was Argentina your choice?

re argentina;

1. they are away from radiation if serious nuclear war.
2. they have already had a recent collapse.
3. i think good farming; major wheat producer, other commodities.

Ignoring current roots, I would say that the south pacific islands would be the best place to go. A culture that hasn't yet forgotten how to farm, a fairly secular government, although with a Muslim lean, geothermal and wind energy resources, and a low cost of living.

Not sure how their attitude on gays will be in the future, but if I could be fairly confident I wouldn't be beheaded for sinning, I'd go there. Actually, I'd probably go anywhere where religion wasn't going to take over...

The south pacific islands would be a bad choice. Many of the people that I currently work with are from the south pacific and they have left their islands to work in Sydney because their islands have little work and few opportunities. When TSHTF and tens of thousands of islanders lose their jobs in the cities of Australia and NZ then the returning populations and decline of remittances can only make the islands a worse option. BTW most islanders that I know are either very religious or are members of street and bikie gangs. Many of the islands do however have a native form of transgender culture if that is your persuasion.
If you are after a good place to live then the best options are probably the south island NZ (avoids the problems of the North island maori and bikie gangs) or Tasmania in Australia. Both are fairly tolerant places with low levels of racial problems, good mild climate, good soils, good hydro and other infrastructure and as big islands they can be self sufficient without being overrun by desperate hoardes. You can get an old house on a few acres in Tassie for a fraction of the cost of a Sydney house. Many treechangers, greenies and liberal retirees in Tassie, the language is English and Yanks are welcome (but Canadians preferred).
I'm uncertain by what you mean by muslim lean as the only parts of the south pacific with muslims are not really in the pacific itself but on its western fringe (mindinao in the phillipines or even further west in indonesia). Both those areas are heavily populated and already subject to violence that would only get worse WTSHTF.
I don't know enough about Argentina but have seen some blogs refer to the violence that pervades there especially since the last collapse in their economy (2001?). IIRC Argentina has a corrupt government and legal system and high levels of malnutrition due to poverty (even though it grows alot of food the situation is a bit like the Irish estates exporting food during the potato famine).

Nate, you write: "we disproportionately value the present over the future."

Neuroscientist Gary Small, co-author with Gigi Vorga of iBrain: Surviving the technological alteration of the modern mind writes:

"Teenagers desire instant gratification – they want to satisfy their needs and do it now, not later. Their underdeveloped frontal lobes often impair their everyday judgment. Many teens feel they are invincible – danger will bounce off them. Today’s obsession with computer technology and video gaming appears to be stunting frontal lobe development in many teenagers, impairing their social and reasoning abilities. If young people continue to mature in this fashion, their brains’ neural pathways may never catch up. It is possible that they could remain locked into a neural circuitry that stays at an immature and self-absorbed emotional level, right through adulthood."

I feel the conflict between short- and long-term goals will be at the center stage in the next few years, as well as the one between the mind frames for specialization versus seeing the whole picture. System theory and the science of complexity are important developments toward a vision of reality which takes complex interactions into consideration, but basically they are founded on the same thought modalities of specialization and reductionism.

For instance, now we have much more knowledge of the complex environmental interactions but we are still far from seeing the whole picture. Like the search for the elementary particles, there will probably be no end in that knowledge. Though the more we progress in environmental knowledge, if we just rely on information, the more we risk making bigger disasters looking for “solutions,” as in the geo-engineering proposals to “hack and fix the planet” in order to reverse global warming.

We can probably find good advice in ancient Taoist, American Indian, or just philosophies of organic farmers on how to interact as human beings with nature and, it would be much better if we join those philosophies with scientific data.

This is a particular form of despair. Experienced in most professions, but most typically in Art. There are no sustainably satisfying solutions. There are only working solutions that dampen the acute discomfort, and make for something that can be endured. I'm glad you asked the question. Your question hits the bulls-eye. The good news is that the gap between what the PO community has to offer, and, the still largely immovable public remains large. So, there's a ton of work to be done. We are probably at the tipping point, though, where the built-up dialogue among the PO community is ready for wider release. I encourage you to read Lawrence Weschler's profile of the Light and Space artist Robert Irwin and here is why: after working exclusively for the sake of his own, artistic development for decades, he turned his attention to the public. This type of story is no doubt repeated through history. It's perennially a challenge for the person who has developed specialized knowledge to then turn towards the whole area of public consumption. My hunch is that's what comes next.


PS: With regard to the fleeing from the country theme, on this thread, I already bypassed that off-ramp. My spouse is a New Zealander. We could/can exit anytime. We knew hard times were coming to the US, but I would prefer to stay and see what happens. Besides, there is no "escape." Every country will have all sorts of problems. Utopia no more exists in hard times than good times.

I have been absent from TOD for quite a while. Looking over the names, I only recognize a few (WHT, GG, for example). Interesting to see relatively few old-timers.

Nate's question is a difficult one. I have been applying Pascal's Wager, in practice. Either we have a considerable amount of time, or we don't. Either I prepare, or I don't. If I understand Pascal correctly, he might recommend in this case that I prepare.

A complicating factor has been the credit bubble. Here in Lithuania, real estate prices are finally coming down. And yet residential housing and the farmland surrounding my town of 33,000 remain surprisingly expensive, at least by my standards. This is a problem. Living in a block of flats practically means that modifying the structure (e.g., insulation, solar water heating, solar panels, etc.) requires common agreement and effort. Try getting a group of 25 households to reach agreement on fairly basic matters. Difficult. There are 243 blocks of flats in my town. Of these, 32 have organized groups of homeowners. With neighbors, we tried to organize such a group, the first step in the process of renovation. No go.

Okay, so a single-family house, or a plot of land on which to build such, becomes an issue. Prices remain exorbitant. I watch the market closely. We own our flat free and clear because we paid cash prior to when the credit bubble began to inflate locally. Sure, we could sell the over-priced flat, and pick up an over-priced firetrap on a plot of land not far from town. I could rebuild the firetrap, turn it into a post-peak ark, so to speak. Still, a difficult proposition, so long as the aftermath of the credit bubble remains.

At work (a small-business development center), we have actively organized seminars about building methods and alternative energy, and in January sent a group to a fair in Germany, to see the state of the art. The pace is slow, though. The construction industry here is just so far behind. We're talking Brezhnev-era. Architects, designers, builders here are just clueless. Sure, there are a few enlightened, educated ones, but the overwhelming majority have the attitude, "well, this is the way we've always done it..." (Yeah, and look at the result, pal...) Dumb as rocks. Not their fault, I hasten to add. The customers are just as clueless. As of January 1, any buyer of a flat can demand an energy audit of the flat from the would-be seller. Three months later, and NOT ONE BUYER has expressed such a demand. Dumb as rocks...

Riding my bicycle or walking to work is not enough. It makes me feel good, but I am only one of 33,000. A few years ago, I consciously chose to spend less time reading TOD and more time trying to organize action. So far I cannot point to any great results, unfortunately. But blogging would definitely not have been as useful as my attempts at moving people locally toward renovating our houses, or making bicycling more possible, or the other things I have tried to do. Many thanks to those who provide so much excellent information, but I have chosen to be a user, not a dealer, so to speak. :)

*takes a step back to get a good look*

I think i will go out on a limb here and call everything, everything that has been mentioned on this thread and in previous ones about preparation, getting the word out, changing the system by example, etc, is opiate. Why? Simple scale of the problem.

Nearly 7 billion humans on this planet veraciously consuming everything they can, though some more then others while completely ignoring the finite nature of the one substance that allows that many to live in the first place. A climate on the edge of tipping points where the inertia in the system makes it impossible to do anything but hold on for the ride. Many governments in the system we call civilization heck bent on maintaining B.A.U. by any means they can.

Want to get the message out about the problem? Fine by me since it makes you feel better but i think you should realize that in the long run it will just make the problem worse. Not everyone has the same mental or physical capability's. They all won't act like you do, or your little group does. Some will spit in your face. Others will ignore it even to the point that it kills them. Some might join you. Yet still others will do what ever they can to keep what they view as their's and their right to have it, which might include going after you and your group. Still others will just try to profit from it thinking the consequences won't effect them.

Want to make your neighbor's into a tight little community to weather out the effects or form a new one somewhere else? Many will laugh at you when you ask them after showing them the problem. Some will say "Oh thats nice." and inwardly wonder what medication you forgot to take today. Some will join you in your efforts but can you really trust them? Within your community, even with family members, you will have to fight off political power grabs from those who think they can do a better job then you are doing. Not to mention making sure everyone in your group contributes in a fare but not necessarily equal way to the group. You also have to realize that despite all the effort you put into it, that it all can collapse like a house of cards just as easily as the system your trying to run away from. Some of your neighbor's might form a splinter group over a trivial issue. The City/County/State/Federal government might come in and seize your and all your neighbor's property for the good of the the rest of the City/County/State/Country since your doing so well. A neighboring group of people with a similar mindset might take what you have. Even the climate might start to make your investment years down the line un-usable since a 2+c rise in temp will make agriculture very difficult to nearly impossible in many area's.

Teach and cause change by example? Before you even start you will be drowned out by every modern media outlet unless either your neighbor's are like minded people but more timid or they are forced into the lifestyle you preemptively adopted by external forces. Either way the change you force, other then the one you yourself undertake is reactionary. Such change could also bring it's own Chaos rather then peaceful order as those around who would otherwise have no idea what to do, or care to do, as times get bad see you as a example of what to do and try to acquire what you have by hook or by crook so they can keep as good of a lifestyle as you do. Not caring if it's from you or elsewhere.

The crisis we are sleep driving into is unprecedented in scope and scale, it won't leave a single area of this planet untouched yet at the same time it won't effect everyone equally. Everything I have read on this site pertaining to preparation for themselves & their family or trying to get social change to work on the problem is based on past methods which won't work as well now if at all compared to when they worked in the past because circumstances have changed. Along with those who are behind forces that do not want these things to work have developed effective countermeasures.
Simply put everything you do to prepare is opiate because you have absolutely NO way of knowing if you will be that lucky(or unlucky depending on how you look at it) 1 out of 6 that is optimistically estimated to come out of this crisis alive.

*please note this is one of the longest posts i have made so excuse any grammatical error's. I tried to proof read it as best as i could, I was never really good at writing but I am a very good reader.

A decent comment IMO. Rather good in fact.


Very interesting post. Intimidating in a way. Not sure I got your message cause you speak in riddles. Some of us out here have heard this kind of talk before. Dunno, but sounds like you believe you will be among the chosen one in six. You know, one of those who intends to prey on those who have tried to prepare. Warning, one of the first things many of us have done is put a little, capital, time, and effort into security. Now i ain't saying if you and your kind come on my property you will not succeed, but you damn well better not be the first to cross the line. Varmint!

*Please note I am an old man who can read fairly well, but I do sometimes miss the point. Please forgive if I have misread your strange missive.

I wrote that as a train of thought, I know it's hard for people to read but when i have to sit down and try to properly structure a written essay i don't finish it. I also posted it because i know i won't be a survivor, due to my recent medical incident once i can't get my medication i will die. It was that incident that pushed me from 'i know i might not survive but i will try my best' to 'i won't survive'.

please forgive. Mark it up to an old man and his liquor. But, I got a good friend who has a feral son who has told us his intention is to go rogue if things break down. His rap is similar to yours. The point is that if things get bad his kind will have to be dealt with or others will be threatened. there are those out there that will do just that.

On a more pleasant note. It is easy to slip into a funk sometimes when discussing peak oil and its potential for the end of civilization as we know it. Back in Sept of 08 the following link featured an interview with the Archdruid on the subject of the breakdown of civilizations within the context of peak oil. The Archdruid in this pod cast interview with KMO makes some very interesting observations which i believe all interested in peak oil might find edifying. Give it a listen. I believe it is the Sept 17th pod cast and it begins with a reading from the book of revelation.


My plan before my medical incident was to go nomadic, not rouge until things calmed down in a few months maybe as long as a year once the or a bought of chaos of the collapse starts in my area of the world. Chaos is a vacuum and nature abhor's them so they are quickly filled. In hindsight I should of put the 'going rouge' idea in there too but as I said I wrote it as a train of thought. Though i do think i got my point across, There is no guarantee what anyone will do will work and in allot of cases it decreases their survival chances, But with many people in the mindset that doing something is better then nothing makes anything they do a opiate. It's just making themselves feel good.

Simply put everything you do to prepare is opiate because you have absolutely NO way of knowing if you will be that lucky(or unlucky depending on how you look at it) 1 out of 6 that is optimistically estimated to come out of this crisis alive.

TK, you (and I) don't know what will happen. One could curl up in a ball. But to me it suggests hanging on, maximizing possibilities, even maximizing chaos. It's not even obvious to me that there is anything good in somehow overcoming resource depletion. It doesn't mean shit to a tree - at least not to a tree on some other planet. If there are trees. But it will be a hell of a show. So yeah, bring on the opiates.

What if "bring on the opiates" might turn out a good thing. Can we human animals enjoy life? Even if it is short, why must it be brutal and nasty? I'm not a believer in the "technological singularity" - at least not as usually envisioned - beam me up to heaven McPuter - but what if we're already there? What if we've reached a point of sufficiency and really there isn't much else to do except love and die and smoke opiates? Where do we progress to and why? Maybe if we all consume more we can get to another planet somehow? Pass me the hookah and espresso, please.

Meanwhile, our imperial army is halfway around the world in opiumworld Afghanistan. Destroying or planting I'm not sure.

cfm in Gray, ME

I think many of us have gone over these types of scenarios over and over again. Your probably right that most of us no matter how much preparing will not save us. But is survival really the point? What kind of world at the end of all this can you see yourself or family living in? Just trying to survive is pointless, its not living. I mean its like realizing that the titanic is about to hit an iceberg and running off to get a life jacket for yourself. Is that the type of person you want be?

Even if it is a futile effort to attempt to inform others it is the only thing worth doing.

AK -- I suspect you have a valid point in there somewhere but it's not clear. "Surving is pointless"...if surviving isn't important then what IYO is? Perhaps you mean at any cost. The life jacket comment also missies me. I work in a marine environment. The first rule is to keep your personal survivial gear ready. And not just for your own survival. We are consistantly (and correctly) lectured: if you cannot help yourself you will not ne able to help anyone else. Perhaps you and I define survial differently. For me it's simple not succumbing to adverse circumstances as well as helping those around you.

If I understand you correctly, if we can't live at the level of consumption we currently have, then life is not worth living? While there are certainly any number of scenarios, some of which are certainly not pretty, I would say that the standard of living of those in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries was viewed by those living then as being worth living. Will there be a culture shock to those living now when their standard of living drops? Yes, and we are seeing some of that now.

Some view this with grim chagrin or even despair. Others, like Rob Hopkins, say to prepare for the change with an upbeat spirit. I highly recommend "The Transition Handbook" for anybody that understands the reality and impact PO will bring. There is much that can be done, and those that do so will put their families in the best possible position to flourish. (Note: I have no vested interest in this publication or author whatsoever)

So I have decided to be proactive on many fronts, to the point that a national news affiliate decided to come out and do a story;

I encourage others to start planning and preparing, while stopping to smell the roses and continuing to keep your relations with family and friends uppermost in your mind.

What I'm trying to say is this: Assuming you did survive all this and your great-great-grand kid wrote a history about you, what would you want in your story? He saw the end and stored some stuff? That sounds like a squirrel readying for winter. We have unique and priceless knowledge. Most may not want to hear it but there are a few out there desperately needing to be warned. They deserve to be warned. I'm not saying we try a noah's ark thing but there is so much more we can do than blog and save up nuts. And honestly, although farming to survive has never appealed to me, I certainly don't mind manual labour or finding creative solutions using the things at hand. A step back would be more rewarding than running up the rat wheel.

I have voted for blogging as a catalyst for change. I did so by starting the Peak Oil Awareness Blog ( Before my awareness blog, I hadn't found any subject worthy of my efforts. Since Peak Oil is the biggest issue ever in history I've found it acceptable to blow a few hours wrestling with the intricacies of Blogger to have the chance to make a meaningful contribution.

But, I understand that writing the blog is mostly about catalyzing the change in ME. I think I need to change in order to create a channel to pass on my understanding of the myriad of nuances about Peak Oil that are obvious to someone with my extremely unusual collection of life experiences.

The last thing the world needs is another blind blog, especially just a copycat and rehash or reposting machine. There is more than enough noise already and I have a philosophical objection to spending time blogging enthusiastically about Cabbage Patch Doll collecting or Scrapbooking just as a manifestation of some psychologist's conception of the therapeutic value of the process of writing a diary.

As a surfer it's been hard in this life to understand the noise and apparent vacuity of other people's value systems. Surfing is an ineffable form of consciousness that the creative force hardwired into Planet Ocean. So, it's strange and difficult to try to communicate or connect with people who consciously live unconscious of the miracle of tuberiding and the obvious perfection of the ocean realm.

My hope is for my blogging experience to change me enough where I can become more effective at engaging people in expanding their awareness of the threat of Peak Oil, which may also lead to them understanding the connection between an unsustainable civilization illogically overdeveloped on the back of essentially free energy from oil and the consequences of the out-of-sight-is-out-of-mind idiocy of the disposable society that has created a monument to stupidity in the form of the "garbage patch" area of the Pacific Ocean filled with zillions of disposable lighters and plastic bottle caps.

Writing and acting to me, are inextricably linked - that is, besides reducing my own impact, or preparing for a particular future, there's the power to actually influence other people.

I also think that some of the talk-talk information stuff (as opposed to the practical) has the power to bring in readership who can then do things. For example, I get all intellectual when I write pieces for TOD, because I know that the readership of TOD really likes lots of data and links. I do posts that are designed to move people emotionally, because sometimes people need that - I can feel the tone of despair rise, and I want people not to go crawl back into bed, so I respond to my audience by reminding them of what they can do. I post informational material because it isn't interesting, and ideas have value in and of themselves - the exchange of ideas is never completely pointless. And I post a lot of practical material, and suggestions for other people. I want them to get their hands dirty.

I think one of the things that sometimes limits blogs is that we get good at doing one kind of post, and only one - either the political commentary, or the technical analysis, but not the "how to actually go ahead and do this." I find myself trying really hard to present all kinds of information, in all kinds of ways - to tell stories, write humor pieces, do long analyses of interesting issues, write how to pieces, inspire, depress, anger, analyze - because all the pieces matter, and different people take in knowledge in different ways.

I think it is important to distinguish then, between the doomer porn - that is the material that only just describes our situation, which also has great value - but and places like TOD which also try and cover issues in a range of different ways.


I tend to think that blogging is both. On one hand, people can simply be venting, perhaps stunned into inaction by what they've realised. On the other hand, even if they themselves are stunned, those who read the blog might be startled into desicivness. Without the information proporating to wider and wider audiences, few people would have any inkling about the subject at all. So it goes both ways.

My immediate family doesn't believe anything is going to happen. I've (mostly) patiently suggested selling up all (or at least the majority) of the family business to eliminate debt and to reduce dependence on consumer culture. I wasn't taken seriously, and, well, we see what's happened to the economy in just six months. The only jobs going are Government ones. We could have gotten out before everything hit the wall, but we're pretty much stuck now. In addition, no one here pays any attention to me about efficiency. Lights, for example, are left on despite no one being in the room for an hour at a stretch, even during the day. I'm forever walking past and turning them off.
My other halfs family is sort of split. Her mother is Evangelical, and believes that if she prays just right, their 'bounty' will be provided. Her father, herself, and her brother are in the Peak Oil camp, but aren't taking any active measures (this is not helped by the fact her father is a courier). On the other hand, her and her brother have recently bought property out in the hills, where, with some effort, farming is a possability.

Myself, I worry.

If I knew Kunstlers' WMBH was coming in 60 months, I probably wouldn't do a whole lot differently. I've already got a bicycle, live relativly close to shops. I own my land outright. The house I'm having drawn up will be efficient and 'sustainable' (I'm aiming for something above the QLD 5-star rating), with SHW, SPV, Grey Water, rainwater tanks. Insulation isn't a huge concern here in SEQ, but between the wide verendahs (keep sun off the house) and GSHP, I'm sure I'll be a lot more comfortable then most. I'd probably extend myself a bit, financially, and get a basement built below the backyard shed, and connect it to the house with a 'doom tunnel', just in case. :D The property is located near a creek, so water for the plants is more or less secure, if drinking water might be limited (or require solar distilling). I'd certainly take some limited self-defence lessons (and I'd insist on TOH taking them as well). I'd probably join a gun club and practice, just in case I ever need the skills.
Up at the other halfs' property, we're already in the early stages of planning for self-sufficiency. Plenty of space for raised gardens, there's already one big dam (although the drains need work and it needs some excavation work if it's going to be used to its' full potential), and the house and sheds all have rainwater tanks connected. There's space for a netted 'paddock' of fruit trees (local birdlife and Flying Foxes precludes leaving them unprotected), and more than enough space for nut trees and the like on the back side of the dam.

Between the two properties, given five years, we've got two bases we can relocate to with only a few hours notice (we could, concievably, just up and leave at a moments notice, but, as with almost everyone else, we'd want as much time as possible to prepare to 'bug out'. A week would be good).

Now, it's all very well to be self-sufficient in food, but a Mans gotta have something to occupy his downtime. I expect TV and the Internet will still be available, even if perhaps the internet is not so affordable/speedy, but there's almost nothing I watch on TV as it stands anyway. So it's DVD's, books, and models for me (and probably TOHs father), music for TOH and her brother. I don't know what TOHs mother will be doing, but (and this may be uncharitable, because she's got a heart of gold) I think it'll be either in the corner in a foetal position wondering why her god hath forsaken her, or down at one of the local churches, trying to 'modernise' (read: Evangelise) it. I'll also have to stock up on computery things like low-power PCs, in case they become unaffordably expensive.

So, accomplished so far:

  • Avoided car useage
  • Bought a bicycle
  • Started walking
  • sold Shares
  • own land outright
  • started researching Aquaculture and organic no-till gardening
  • focused on hobbies with long-term 'replay' value
  • attempted to run for Federal House of Reps.

Haven't accomplished:

  • built house
  • constructed garden beds
  • purchased PV system
  • constructed and tested Ammonia-ice absorbtion fridge/freezer
  • bought food in bulk to dry-store

Opiate of the masses or catalyst for change?

Neither, in my opinion. I frequent the Oil Drum and a few other sites for the sense of community they provide. Like many of you, I have not had a lot of success in 'passing the word' about peak anything. I haven't given up - I continue to speak with those who will listen, and I continue with my own preparations. It can be lonely - unlike Noah my family doesn't believe - lol.

What TOD provides for me is a place where what I believe is accepted - and discussion flows from there. This is why I stay, and this is the value I see in this blog.


Putting some numbers behind possible resource issues is useful. Exploring issues such as export land model is useful. the wiki oil projects is useful.

The gardening, try to achieve subsistence level independence is not useful.
Those plans are pathetic and weak. It is like seeing that the National Socialist German Workers' Party is being elected in 1930 and moving out of Warsaw into a cave in the woods.

The reason those plans are no good is that even if they are successful they do not address the real problems and the ultimate impact on any end result would be meaningless.

What kind of action is useful as a model. The March of Dimes funding of the Polio Vaccine. twenty years of the march of dimes to achieve large success against Polio.

Fund a technology or technologies that can affordably be funded and can make a big difference.

Look for useful technology and patents which are under-utilized which could be used to increase efficiency or to enable a faster transition to other energy sources.

Algae cost and production breakthroughs

What is adaptive? Seems obvious: Make more money now. Money still buys land, insulation, tractors, medicine, solar panels, water filtration systems, and tons of other very useful stuff.

If TSWHTF in 2014 and you are 100% certain of that then you've got 5 years to make more money and spend it in ways that improve your prospects for survival.

Aside from making money what is worth doing? Convince friends to do the same. Make money, prepare for huge disruptions and discontinuities. Small groups can accomplish far more than individuals.

Organized small groups can protect each other and achieve economies of scale in equipment and skills.

As for talking to larger audiences on the web or in person: You aren't going to convince most people that huge changes are needed in time enough to prevent big disruptions. Go ahead. Make the argument. But make peace with your limited

I used to think exactly like you do and I realized there was a fundamental problem with how I looked at 'money'.

What if money gets turned into pieces of worthless paper overnight? What if it just inflates?

Secondly, regarding the "tonnes of other very useful stuff" - have you thought about a 'finite list' of things you'd need before you've deemed yourself 'survival ready'? Already, plans are hard to execute. Grand plans are grandly harder to execute.

Consider this: How good is a farm land if you don't know how soil, plants and pests work? How good is a farm land if you've not worked on enriching the by-now already-dead soil? How good is your solar panel if you don't know how to fix it? Time is valuable and if you consider the plethora of skills you'd have to gain, you'd probably revisit the statement you just made. Speaking for myself, one thing I've come to realize: It took me nearly 4 years in college and about 2 years in the 'industry' to learn the (programming) skills I now use to make a living... and this is essentially a skill that can be learnt very rapidly - its a computer and it responds immediately. Think about learning gardening. If you sowed a seed in direct sunlight, it takes you a few weeks before you realize you've made a mistake.

Thirdly: community building is vital. Nobody can live inside a vacuum for long and Homo sapiens have pulled through tough times simply due to the power of language and communities. Here... money can't do much about building communities. As someone put it, we have Monkey brains cased in a modern skull.

I looked at it this way: From what I can imagine about this 'future' lifestyle, it is probably going to be tough. Imagine no "western medicines". Imagine having to visit someone from far away. Imagine even obtaining 'money' for any discretionary use. Simply put: It is difficult for one to assess "what is needed" and "what is essential" sitting inside an air-conditioned corporate setting. I'd rather test-run this life and maybe come back to work using my existing skills (programming, etc.,) on maybe a temporary / part-time or worst-case full-time basis if there is an absolute necessity to some of the "very useful stuff that money can buy".

Money will be a necessity for a lot of things, especially as you start preparing. But its not all just money. You need to devote time and setup your future home, acquire skills and building a resilient community that shares a similar view of human's place on this planet. This, my friend, is enough a task to take 3-5 years to get 'ready'.

So... Time and Effort - don't discount them. They're not replaceable with money.

Hyperinflation hasn't happened yet. So money is still incredibly useful. Also, you can easily convert money into property that will survive a hyperinflation.

As for solar panels breaking: If you use your money to buy stuff you can use to barter with then you can barter for repair services.

People who focus on post-collapse miss the point: We all live in the short run. We ought to focus on what to do before a collapse (assuming one is coming) first. We can do lots of things before a collapse using the still functioning economy to prepare.

Worried about post-collapse repairs? Build a house out of materials that have really long durability. Worried about post-collapse drug access? Buy drugs in advance and put them in pure nitrogen cool storage.

If you are poor now you are in far worse a position to prepare for collapse. Wealthy people are in a far better position from which to prepare.

Community: Rich people run with a more skilled class of people. I'd rather be a really wealthy person recruiting engineers and doctors than some poor shmuck.

Sure. The only point I'm trying to make is - its not all just about what you buy now. Its about life/social skills. You can't eat into your wealth and keep bartering it away. You need to create _value_ - how? ... and how exactly are you sure that by being a feudal landlord you can continue to run your life? Do you have the skills to, say, wield your power over those 'poor shmucks'?

When people become hungry, they can go to any extent to get their food - just that we haven't seen it happening since a long time due to an overall surplus of everything thus far.

resource and skill sharing communities will essential be built upon a network of trust. Money can't build that network - or atleast keep it up for long by merely trading it away for services in return. It needs efforts.

Do you think that organic / permaculture ways of farming will be super smooth and feed every mouth on this planet? Do you think everything can be 'compromised away' by having some 'stuff' that compensates for what you'll lack as energy settles into the dusk? To me, you sound like one of the many victims of the 'consumption is the way to happiness' mantra. On the outset, they do know the problems facing humanity but are unable to make change the root-cause of it all - "consumption".

Remember, 'stuff' didn't bring Homo sapiens here - it was mostly our social skills and what was in the genes. 'Stuff' has been in our lives only since the past few hundred years - that's nothing compared to the storms humanity has weathered by working with others (I mean, just imagine an ice age and no room heaters).

I hardly post any comments on TOD but I follow TOD without fail every day. Have been an unregistered member of TOD since end of 2006 and have been a registered member for slightly above a year now.

I'm 29 - live in India where our oil dependence as a nation that primarily depends on food, farm-produced goods (cotton / cotton derivatives, tobacco, etc., as examples) is equally bad given the high population density that feeds off the high amounts of food produced and an economy that needs consuming nations like the US to keep consuming at ever exorbitant rates.

Most folks around me don't see peak oil coming any day soon and even the "well read" few believe Technology can solve the problems. Yeah, sure. "I can help you" doesn't necessarily mean "I will".

I used to "believe" in Technology solving "Global Warming" and "Peak Oil" up until early 2008 after which time I learnt more on the subject through TOD and a couple of books ("Hubbert's Peak" by Kenneth Deffeyes, "The Long Emergency", etc.,). The TOD community has significantly changed my world-view and allowed me to learn as much as possible - not only about peak oil, but also pointed out the shortcomings of what-I-perceived-to-be 'solutions' as I understood key concepts more deeply.

But one key difference I noticed between myself and those who don't give a damn about Peak Oil is how they perceived their place in the grand scheme of things. I for one look at the world we live in wide-eyed wonder. Inanimate, simple chemicals _from earth_ made self-replicating chemicals that resulted in a conscious and 'intelligent' Homo sapiens. We could wield the forces of nature using an abundant energy source. We will continue to do so except at a smaller scale, if life continues on this planet at a level needed for Homo sapiens to continue surviving.

Since mid last year, I've taken some steps in my own life to prepare for the descent. Of everything I did, the only thing I'm proud of having done is that I have convinced my family that it won't be business as-usual in the very near-term. All this, simply talking about these issues, playing related documentary movies and sometimes even reading out some interesting things from the books I've read. The rest will fall into place once everybody is in agreement. We're amazing at how we can delegate work :) Now its all about mobilizing and liquidating existing assets and buying other stuff that would help us. I've bought a tiny 2 acre farmland and 'enriching' the soil right now; Quit my mutual-fund-linked Insurance policy - liquidated it (albeit with some loss due to the current market scenario); Doing every bit I can to sell off my existing mortgaged house in Bangalore and hopefully either construct or buy a house near my farmland.

In terms of creating awareness, I've given up talking to friends at work. However, I do talk to children because they're willing to listen, sometimes so curious to the point of being a pain :).

Right now, looking for a career in the short-term where I can do something to create awareness locally. I have always loved teaching and I'm wondering if I can create a job in some school - you know, like a "Ecological Sciences teacher" or somesuch?

I am having the exact problem voiced in these words... "What would be the inflection point? Events themselves, or waiting for others to act and joining in?"

In my case am ready to go ahead and do the needful but am restricted by the lack of support primarily.

Secondary problem being that if i had a little more monies to my disposal it would have helped greatly. But i think that is secondary because one can never have enough monies to jump into a life changing situation.

In the mean time i garden on my roof and try to talk to as many people as possible...