The Role of Service in this Community?

Nate is traveling and asked me to put together a campfire for this weekend. Now, dear reader, please keep in mind that I've not written a piece in a while, and never one of be gentle. :)

I realized that I'd been thinking about something quite important and related to the Campfire theme for a while now: the role of service as it relates to this community and its purpose. So, let's talk about it.

When Dave and I started TOD seemingly decades ago, we did it out of curiosity and a desire to create a space where the many energy-related "angles" could be discussed in an evidence-based, non-polemic manner. We didn't do it to create some vitally-important website that would grow to the extent that TOD has--and, though I can't speak for Dave, I am humbled by the relevance of this space and its ability to remain interesting and provocative on a weekly basis. There are some amazing people who hang around here on our couch. :)

The point is that we did this because a) we wanted to learn, and b) we wanted to help.

One of the reasons this site has worked is because we set an academic and empirical tone from the beginning: this site is defined by a unique symphony of ideas AND evidence.

TOD is also not about making financial profit--though there is little doubt that some/many readers have made money from the analyses done here--something that is not lost on us in the least (*cough* click here for the donation box or look in the upper left-hand corner of the site *cough*). Still, that's not why a single person here, at least that I know of, has continued to contribute over time.

Not to sound elitist (but I fear it's going to), but part of me thinks the reason this site isn't geared in that direction is due to some norms that existed here from the beginning, norms that persevered because the founders, and many of our staff who joined since, have been affiliated with academia or at least achieved advanced degrees. I would argue that while there are some academics who make really good coin, most don't; they do their jobs as a noble service: to educate, to try to help people learn, think, and therefore empower themselves about the bigger picture.

The priority here at TOD has not been to raise our standing or make a profit--it has been to reason, to educate, and to spread that discourse as far and wide as we can with our scant resources, perhaps influencing people along the way--just like a professor.

No one on staff has materially benefited directly from the (small) donations this site has received. That's not to say that we haven't been invited for a few interviews, been given awards, and/or received laud for the materials developed on this site. And that is gratifying in and of itself...of course, somewhere in the back of my head, I can hear Nate saying something about the dopamine/social capital from laud or "being right" is a powerful "feel good" force when it happens. Even so, dopamine can't be all of it, can it?

To the point - what I have been thinking about lately is the daily drive that keeps this whole enterprise going, whether it's Leanan, Gail, Nate, Super, or any of our staff. I have observed that this staff of roughly 25 keep it going from a combination of desires: to spread ideas, to educate, to build community - there are many others, but from what I have observed, they do it from a place of kindness, of caring, and of genuine concern for the direction society is heading.

But WHY?

Our staff sticks their nose in it over and over, putting themselves and their ideas out there for all to see; and folks use those ideas as they will, critique them, laud them, disabuse them. There aren't very many people who are naturally inclined to run through the TOD meat grinder, folks. You are an overly intelligent bunch of people--and it is that combination of the members of this community who uphold the norms, who call for rigor, who ask the hard questions, and a staff who are willing to work tirelessly to continue this model.

So, my questions for you tonight are these:

Why do *you* think these people are doing this? Why is it successful? Is it successful?

Many would say it is not so--at least not in a traditional sense...which of course begs the question: how does one define success for an endeavor like this? Is it educating and developing a community? Is it educating others? Is it becoming immensely powerful and influential? Is it rolling in cash? Is it developing a new kind of altruism? Is it serving one's kind and making us "better?"

Further, are we really serving others in doing this? If so, how can we here better serve our fellow humans as a community? What else can we do to improve this site in that regard? What else can we do to continue to push the message of the problems of resource depletion--a message that seems to be slowly, steadily growing in traction each day?

And, another angle, after reflecting on all that: why do *you* come back?

Prof Goose "Why do you come back? (to TOD)

That's easy. Everywhere I look I see a fatal disconnect from reality. Today I read a headline:Palin: Obama’s health plan is ‘downright evil’ I shudder when I think of people that would follow such an empty can as Sarah Palin. A lot of those people are my relatives (I'm originally from the south).

I found the the Oil Drum because I needed this in my life. If it didn't exist we would have invented it. Thanks for being here.


Hi Joe,

Funny, I'm starting to think most everyone else has got it right, and the world is slipping us by as we endlessly fuss and fret about things that may or may not be.



Amen, brother - I have been starting to wonder the same thing!


Why don't you guys take a break and then come back and re-evaluate. Sounds like burn out.

Michelle: Ditto.

Thanks Michelle. I'm extremely thankful for all that the TOD has to offer and the jostle of opinion and ideas, many of which run contrary to my own, contributes greatly to its richness. However, the fear, ennui, the general darkness, the lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate really does suck the life out of one's soul.

I share many of the same concerns that are routinely discussed here and I fully appreciate the magnitude and immense complexity of the challenges that lie ahead, but all the talk of a failing financial system, societal collapse, pestilence and disease, world conflict, mass starvation and die-off, unstoppable climate change, resource depletion and whatever else I've missed is making me question whether our imaginations haven't gotten the better of us.


That pretty well sums it up-thanks for the useful updates on air source heat pumps.

Hmmm....this IS interesting. It seems the tone of the string has taken a somewhat surprising turn. But not as surprising as one may think...

I have been seeing the above discussion among my close friends, and there seems to be something of a feeling brewing in the nation...let's talk about this, because it could be a huge trend in the upcoming years:

We must remember the BIG trend, the one that is ABSOLUTELY built in: The aging of the largest, and at one time, at least fo awhile, richest generation in the history of the world. We must remember that this generation never, NEVER pictured themselves as old. But nature is taking it's natural course, and the generation that would never grow old is now seeing themselves in the mirror, feeling the little (or sometimes not so little) hurts and pains that tell us we are in fact running out of time.

Given the above, there are one of two ways to attempt to confront our remaining years. We can settle into a nice quiet finish, do some golf, and wait for the end in the traditional old folks way...but somehow that doesn't seem like the boomers, does it?

The other option is to LIVE. That is, go out with a bang. If this is so, then concern about the world's remaining resources, and sitting around pining about the day TSHTF (the "stuff" hits the fan) is going to be the furthest thing from most aging boomers minds. Instead, they (we) are going to want to race cars, chase women (or for the females, chase some strong handsome men) travel, live in nicer homes or apartments, check out some arts, have some quality possesions and furnishings, maybe switch to a more rewarding career, take up some culture, etc, etc.

Recently there was a strong upsurge in guitar sales. Most of the market research people missed it, because as the population was aging, and guitar sales had normally occured among the young, no one really expected such a recovery in the guitar business. As it turns out, it was aging boomers buying them, wanting to actually feel the thrill of playing music, get in touch with their rock and roll roots.

In some other research I am familiar with, young motorcycle racing guys are noticing "more old guys" on the track on "track days", the days when the public can come down and run their bike around the track. More businesses are being started by people over 40 than by any other group. The old guys and gals want to get in there and enjoy life to the fullest while they still can...

But then, the economic collapse. Many people who had formerly had enough money to live the dream now are barely going to be able to afford to retire. The economic collapse has been painful for everyone, but it has been absolutely catastrophic for the boomers. They know they have lost several years of valuable time if they are lucky, and lost more than a decade if they are not. If the said boomer was slightly behind to begin with (and many were) the lifestyle they can afford will be somewhere between retired laborer and Walmart greeter. This is why the recent economic set back has been met with such absolute dejection, a sort of morbid shell shock by millions of middle aged people.

But that does not mean they will give up the dreams: Dreams are very powerful, and humans will try to force reality to conform to them. There is a reason that Don Quixote has retained his appeal for 4 centuries.

We are now facing the largest generation of hopeful Don Quixote's in history, and unlike the days of Cervantes, the women expect to get one last shot at LIFE as well as the men.

The great fear, as Paul and Michelle express above is that of being left behind, left out, irrelevant, in other words, the normal fate of the old, and in particular the poor and old. The aging boomers will fight this to the death, make no mistake about it. The money will HAVE to come from somewhere. As we have recently seen, if printing money and delaying the day of reckoning provides any hope of giving this generation of aging Don Quixote's one last chance to ride out and tilt at the windmills, to feel young, to LIVE, it will be done.

What this means is that dark visions will be ignored, and we will hurl ourselves once more into an attempt to regain the dream we held before the collapse, the dream to LIVE, to make up for lost time. We will be running even later by then, so the need to HAVE IT NOW will become all important.

It is important to understand the possibilities here: The economic recovery rests on consumer spending returning (the debt we will try to confront later). The bet is, after the boomers get out of their funk, the Don Quixote side will come roaring back with a vengeance, and these folks will be in a hurry NOW, knowing that the clock is running out. Long story short...we could see one of the single biggest spending and consumption booms in world history (remember that all of the above is not just a U.S. phenomonon, the Japanese and Europeans are on average even older populations than the U.S., and the former communist nations populations are bereaving a youth lost to communism {I have seen this in person among east European friends, it is deeply tragic})

The question is, can the raw materials and energy resources be provided to give the aging boomers one last shot at LIFE? We can assume the effort will be made to supply the Don Quixote's with the resources they need and will demand, because it will pay big in sales and profit, and damn the long range future, it will be full speed ahead. The boomers are now thinking in terms of the next 10 years, 15 at the longest, not a half a century out in front. They (we) are running out of time, and we can talk all the noble sacrifice we want, our short term mortality is now becoming the deciding motivator driving our behavior, to "suck the marrow out of life" before life is sucked out of us, and the big "die-off" begins.

Because with or without peak oil, the big die-off is absolutely assured: Some of the boomers are already leaving...Farrah, Michael, the movie director John Hughes...there is a reason these deaths were covered by the media in such detail: The aging boomers see the end of a generation coming soon, a generation that set the sound, the look, the aesthetic, the very soul of the world, the generation which expected the world to be built around them (us) and actually had it happen. The "emptying out" of the world will be the greatest demographic death event since the black plague. It is this coming event that is already driving the world economy, and will soon be driving the art, the culture, the very "feel" of the world. As Paul and Michelle point out above, the greatest fear is to be left out, left behind, this is an unthinkable thing to the boomers. It will soon move from being a fear to being an absolute terror. How the world confronts this terror will decide EVERYTHING about the world we live in for the rest of our lives. It is a fate set in stone, absolutely unchangable. The big die-off is coming. All other fears shrink to insignificance in the face of it.

A case could be made by a good psychologist or sociologist that the “peak everything” fear is simply a case of psychological sublimation of this assured destiny, a way of gaining control by substituting a terror that we have some hope of changing for one that we have no hope of changing, a form of denial of our absolutely assured and unchangable generational destiny.

Forgive me for going so long, but you folks are getting only the tip of an iceberg, of a very involved set of ideas and philosophical positions I have been working on for a very long time. I, like so many boomers, am facing my destiny, facing the destiny of all that I know. I am willing to bet there are millions and millions of people around the world doing the same thing. The one thing the boomers will have right to the bitter end is plenty of company. Until we are laid to rest, we are part of the largest individual demographic class ever measured and catagorized in world history. We are talkers, we "share", we will not have to face this alone. Thank you for your time.

Roger Conner Jr.

Eat drink and be merry because tomorrow we die.
This attitude is not new. The part that is new is the idea that living means having material objects or using as much up as possible.
I am younger than the boomers and I have always found the most satisfying feeling in mastering a skill and not necessarily having a bunch of stuff.
The most alive I have ever felt didn't cost me anything.
The boomers have been brainwashed into thinking that if they aren't consuming like a madman than they aren't living or aren't as good as the next is pathetic really.
Having said that I can't help but agree with your observation as to how this selfish generation is going to race to the bottom.

porge, you said "The most alive I have ever felt didn't cost me anything."

May I please ask, what were you doing? I am being absolutely serious here, I would really like to know. I have heard the statement you made all my life, but then the person would never say what they were doing that made them feel so alive, what you can now get for free in this life (?) I love to read...and have found out that books can be very expensive...I love to socialize and flirt with women socially...but that doesn't work well if you don't have the clothes, can't afford decent restuarants, etc. I love to travel...but that is VERY expensive! Of course one must be at a certain level of financial status in this nation to even mate! George Orwell said in his book "Down and Out In London and Paris" that the saddest thing about the homeless poor men in the cities was the sure knowledge that they had no possibility of access to female companionship.

So please help out on this, it has been a question I have had for years!

RC got me. Basically almost everything costs money or on the case of women the show of money (fitness).
But I will say that one of the best things anyone can do is get in the best physical shape possible. That endeavor doesn't have to costs anything and it is very rewarding both physically and psychologically. I think that the classical Greeks had it figured out. They advocated both a healthy mind and body and indeed felt that one could not be fully developed without the other. I don't know where you are located but here in the States there are many groups both formal and informal that exists for mutual support and encouragement of physical fitness.
You can even start with walking and see how far up the vigor scale you can move.
Anyway, I don't think that life can be experienced to the fullest if one is in poor physical condition and this attitude should be a priority for any person.
Oh yes, I was referring to female companionship.

ANother thing that kind of goes along with the above idea is to take up cooking to both improve health and learn a new skill. There are literally millions of ways of preparing food and the variety is endless. Many ethnic dishes are fabulous and not as difficult as you may think.
Maybe even impress the chicks that way? Or cook for a group of friends? Maybe they get into it as well and also start training with you for a triathlon?
Never know.
Do something healthy though.

Your right on the cooking, I do enjoy that a great deal...and creative to take fresh produce and some seasonings to turn into a real dish...a friend at work gave me some zuccinni (I can never spell that) the other day, and others asked me, "what the hell can you do with it?", so it is not a talent everyone has!

On fitness, I have felt after doing basic yoga, and want to delve further into that, so more advanced techniques...

My cheapest form of entertainment is libraries and bookstores (of course you have to get there), but I can spent the equal to a full work shift in a library and never noticed that much time has past! Bookstores are the same way, as long as you have the discipline not to buy anything...just browse, take notes and then follow out the leads on the, there is my heaven, and as long as I am paying for internet access anyway, Youtube music has been a gift from heaven! Interesting to think about, if we could help folks to develop ways to entertain themselves for free, but then where would the profit motive be for us? :-)


Thanks, Roger, for sharing your thoughts; hopefully, they will help spur further discussion.

As one of those ageing boomers, now in my 49th year, I appreciate my time on this earth will be soon drawing to a close; in some small way, I'd like whatever time I have left to be distinguished by something more than the hollow pleasures of self-indulgence.

My heroes are those who are in a position to do pretty much whatever they please and who have earned their entitlement through the sweat of their brow and toil of their hand, but who have chosen to dedicate themselves to the service of others. Last night, The National ran a feature on one such man:

I also admire the 92 year old lady who spends each Wednesday volunteering at the food bank at my church. I admire my grade nine math teacher who tutored me each Friday afternoon after school when he could have been home firing up the BBQ and enjoying time with his family. As a gay man who has lost many close friends and contemporaries to AIDS, I admire those in our community and beyond who offered their compassion, comfort and financial support to those in need.

It is for these reasons and others that I reject the darker notions espoused here.


Addendum: Sorry for the additional edits, but I keep losing my connection to this site. However, I wanted to add a couple more examples of how ordinary people are capable of doing some very extraordinary things. These individuals and their supporters are not hand wring at their keyboards or offering up prescriptive solutions based on some morbid fascination with death and human misery; they're throwing themselves head-first at the problem and doing whatever they can to alleviate it.


You’d think that boomers were decrepit, melancholic, slightly crazed, highly defensive righteous socialites gazing into the darkness of the long emergency / the great wind down / impending death, filled with self-blame and self-congratulation in equal parts.

And poised to squeeze out any last advantage.

Got the smarts, and the guilts, and moan moan moan.

The top post didn’t solicit this kind of navel gazing, but posed a question.

Why do people help others, organize things for others, spend time unpaid to move things along? Offer their time, expertise, thoughts that take a long time to get together, beyond the usual I know this or that, or I have power over you and shut up or give up etc.?

Well, the question itself is somewhat bizarre, as it implies that ppl don’t act unless they are sure of economic return, or of coming out on top in some kind of exchange.

People are social animals, they like to have an effect, they like to exhibit expertise, they have fun helping or teaching others, they want to share and convince, and joke, and prod, and question, and discuss, and learn, and see progress or change, or be surprised at new twists. They like to spend hours, or weeks, or years, on getting getting things done....

Images of man have become perverted by the so-called capitalist mantra, free market and such; Social Darwinism; biological essentialism, given a new boost by gene research, reviving old demons.

Images of man have become perverted by the so-called capitalist mantra, free market and such; Social Darwinism; biological essentialism, given a new boost by gene research, reviving old demons.

There's a lot to dissect here and I was born with a dull butter knife -- in other words, what in God's name was that?


I took it to mean that we currently put too much emphasis on the reptile brain and tendencies and discount culture and reason. Just my take though and I am not trying to steal any thunder.

yes that is what i meant - competing and winning, or domineering and extracting and "winning", are just a small part of the human mindset that have been glorified out of all bounds.

seeing Man's nature as basically acquisitive and manipulative provides an excuse for the few at the top who profit. get yours or get lost....becomes accepted by many. a fatality.

even 150 yrs ago man's nature was defined differently, by its is relations to God, to moral principles, etc.

I couldn't agree more.
I hate the " Oh it is just human nature" justification for greed and deceit.
It won't be that much longer before the whole mess tumbles to the ground.
Most individuals are not critical thinkers or principled and just too lazy to not go with the flow whether they sense something immoral or not.
Capitalism seems to be breathing its last...........but what next?

Well, I think that was in reference to the all too common belief that this society IS humanity and there has never been, nor is there now, any cultural alternative. Thus, any social problem experienced by us must be human nature.
Was that anywhere in the ballpark?

oak, I think think that's gets back to the issue of viewing humans in only one of two ways...humans as consumers, or humans as producers. Humans become purely an economic commodity.

After communism fell in Poland, Pope John Paul was very miffed that many people saw it as an opportunity to simply open shopping malls, nothing more...that people viewed liberty in purely economic terms.

Albert Camus, the great French writer and thinker, once confused his friends in a Communist party meeting when he said "dignity is more than a new pair of shoes." The communists and the capitalists had in common that they both saw humans as a purely economic commodity.

The same issue comes up here on TOD when humans are divided down to the only component that is seen as in vs. energy out. Humans can produce only X BTU of energy, must eat Y BTU of energy, or calories or Joules or whatever measurement you choose) therefore the value of human activity is X/Y in BTU conversion, end of story. The power of human thought is of course not measured in calories because it cannot be done...the power of culture, the power of dream, the power of art and music, what is the EROEI of a Beethoven symphony? But of course we are back to the old aesthetic/philosophical discussion...what is beauty, truth, perfect, good? This could take awhile...:-)

Good Lord, I feel like I'm on a double date with Leonard Cohen and Rex Murphy.

All kidding aside, I appreciate your respective takes on this. My cultural touchstones are more along the lines of Mork and Mindy and Joanie Loves Chachi, so hang tough with me guys, I'll need some time to digest all this.


Roger,this sort of stuff is why Jesus bloody well wept.
I have heard a lot of these generalizations about generations,particularly the "boomers".
It is 99.9% bullshit for one simple reason - the people you are referring to are individuals and there are vast differences between them.To say that "boomers" will do this,that or the other like some sort of mindless horde is beyond belief.

And sure,the "boomers" will die out,with a bang or a whimper and everything else in between.So have the preceding generations.And so will generations X,Y,Z and so on ad nauseum.

If you wish to pontificate please do it about some important and relevant subject.


First, my apologies if my post offended. One of the "generalizations" about boomers is that we are prone to excessive examination, both of self and the people and world around us, and we are verbal in discussing...the other generalization, that we are prone to excessive discussion (it is the stuff of our popular culture and makes for great comic effect...the difference between "us" and older generation in comedies such as "Frasier" and the endless "observations" on "Seinfeld", and the difference between us and the younger generation in for example "The Big Chill", the great, great film about the boomers in which the younger girlfriend points out that her generation just does not talk so much about everything...)

The reason this subject struck me as important is because it strikes at the heart of motivation, at why people will engage in the activities they do, including service. There is still the hope that many boomers will take up some sort of "service" to the world as a way of regaining relevancy.

The problem is of course, and we must be frank here, not everyone has talents that can be all that useful in serving the world, and truth to tell, the world may not be all that interested in what the boomers see as "service", and instead view it as simply attempting to remake the world, circa 1969. We may become the annoying old folks always in the way while we think of ourselves as trying to be helpful.

So the other form of self expression, i.e., collecting experiences and possesions, will be the path forward for many, and the variety of "toys" is almost infinite. (brief aside: I think that solar, wind and electric automobles may be most marketable as new experiences, status items...something folks haven't done before, with little concern about "payback"...think about it, who worrys about payback when they buy something like a new Ferrari or a speedboat)

thirra, you say:
"the people you are referring to are individuals and there are vast differences between them"

Frankly, there is very little evidence of that. The very good documentary "Boomer Nation" (broadcast often on PBS stations) points out that each generation is formed by its own generational assumptions. We all experienced roughly the same cultural imputs in our formative years, and we are much, much more alike to the others in our generation than we care to admit.

As I am writing this, there is yet one more documentary on TV about "Woodstock". Younger people must be astonished! WHAT more can be said about Woodstock that hasn't been said again and again and again? It is a 40 year old concert, WHO could care? But of course, "we" do. The directors cut DVD abut Woodstock has opened with the fastest sales of any DVD documentary in history. "We" of this generation speak our own language, use the same cultural measures of what is important, and live much more alike than differently This why change is very, very hard to accomplish in the developed nations today. On the Woodstock documentary I am now watching at this moment, the aging boomers constantly refer to themselves as "a tribe". Marshall McCluhan, who refused to watch mass media and TV himself except for what was needed for research was once asked about what he thought of the biggest star at the time...he said he didn't know who this would be but he would bet the person was very "tribal". At the time, the biggest star was Cher, in her full Native American look, and Jimi Hendrix, half native American and half black appearing in headband and native American garb on stage. The generation formed in their childhood in the period of the 1970's accept this as normal, (think 10,000 Maniacs, formed in 1982 and their great album title "In My Tribe".

Your point about the same being true for gen X,Y,and Z is true, but the difference is simply a matter of scale and of wealth. It is the boomer generation that has the numbers, and even after the economic collapse, still has most of the money in the country (and the developed world). There is no indication that we will turn the seats of power over to the younger generation until we go to the grave, in fact, as I imply in my first post, we will fight now ever harder to remain relevant, to be in charge of our final years. WE (this generation) are TPTB (The Powers That Be).

thirra, you said,
"If you wish to pontificate please do it about some important and relevant subject."

Okay, I issue you this challenge: Name that subject.
The very point of my little pontification was exactly this: The demographic aging of the largest generation, the richest generation in history, is THE IMPORTANT event of our time. All others "subjects" pale into insignificance in comparison. This is IT, the big driver, the central chord that makes the behavior and the actions of our age comprehensible. It will determine our reaction to the energy issue, to the threat of climate change and to every other "event" of our time. Use the old civil rights movement adage, 'Keep Your Eyes On The Prize"...keep your eyes on the one big trend, and there is some chance of gaining influence and relevancy in our remaining years...get on the wrong side of it (this was what the posts I was replying to were discussing, being left behind because of absolute acceptance of the "peak" issue as our deciding worldview), no matter how right in fact we may be, you will be essentially marginalized right off the edge of the table if we do not understand the biggest trend of our age.

thirra, thank you for giving me the chance to clarify my thinking a bit more, and although we may differ in our views, your points are well taken. The caution about over-generalization is accepted, it is always something to guard against. I think the discussion we are having is one that will soon be the discussion you hear out loud everywhere...remember, us boomers are talkers (oops, bit of a generalization!), and again, sorry I went long, but this post, like all the rest, will soon be buried in all the rest, pushed off the page, so no great harm done)


If you want to delve into tho world of generational analysis, I highly recommend the site "". I believe it was another user on this site that pointed it out when I first found it. It explains so much of what is going on and what will likely happen in the next couple of decades.

scientastic, yes, it is a good site, I have been there many times. Another great overview is the PBS Documentary "Boomer Nation", it is not deep, but gives a real sense of how individuals are reacting to their aging and the things they are doing to confront it. Some of the individual stories are very interesting and touching.


An interesting viewpoint Roger. For myself as a 58 year old boomer, The next ten years will start one of the greatest shows this earth has seen on change of habitat, society, humanity, spirituality, you name it. The words excitement and anticipation just does not do it justice. Whatever anyone complains about now will not be around in a few years because it will have been greatly changed. Adventure is now arriving at gate 9 3/4. Climb aboard and have a wild and challenging ride. Living is enjoying whatever ride comes along.


PS former Volunteer fire fighter and Emergency services Ham radio operator. N4OBT

..I fully appreciate the magnitude and immense complexity of the challenges that lie ahead, but all the talk of a failing financial system, societal collapse, pestilence and disease, world conflict, mass starvation and die-off, unstoppable climate change, resource depletion and whatever else I've missed is making me question whether our imaginations haven't gotten the better of us.

I don't believe that you actually have attained full appreciation of "the magnitude and immense complexity" of the interconnected problems you list, among others. Because if you had, you wouldn't regard them as mere "challenges" to be overcome and you wouldn't question their enormity. If you had attained full appreciation you would cease fretting over the inevitable.

Great, I'll just file this away in my " 'sez you" folder. Feel free to pass along any updates as you so wish.



Michelle and Paul,

And any others felling depressed by the subject matter:

Every once in a while I feel the same way-a lot of the time ,lately -and I've been a regular here for only a little while.

It's a consequence of the way we are MADE.

We are at bottom ADJUSTED PHYSICALLY (I mean in the same sense that you might adjust the brakes on your bicycle or that your body temperature is set at FIXED ADJUSTMENT OF 98.6 APPROXIMATELY) to be able to MAINTAIN OUR CONCENTRATION on dangerous things that might EAT US rather than the more agreeable prospect of us eating them for SHORT PERIODS ONLY......

Watching for leopards is not a 24 hour a day 7 dat a week problem for baboons because once they are on the cliffs where they habitually sleep,they can FORGET THE LEOPARDS until tomorrow.

And tomorrow the individual baboon can stick to the center of the area his fellows are foraging,if he's feeling paranoid...lessens the strain to the point it allows his nerves to calm down.

And of course the peak oil leopard is real to US, but all the other baboons are laughing and relaxing and OH IT WOULD BE SO PLEASANT to just do what our emotions are telling us to do-accept the social cues of our peers and RELAX,there ain't no peak oil leopard out there buddy,you been sipping a little to much o'that Old Oil Drum rotgut and hanging with them losers and what u need is to get offa that crap and just forget about the booger man the lights are on and there are people around...and he ain't gonna getcha...

But we are blessed (and cursed) with muscular neocortexes and the message being down loaded to that old mid brain is that the radar sez there's a damn BIG leopard out there and we ain't safe up in the rocks where we sleep fron THIS LEOPARD and we ain't gonna be safe tomorrow just because we play chicken amd stay in the middle of the troop-because THIS LEOPARD is so big and mean that he aint gonna be satisfied with just his usual victims-the baboons at the bottom of the baboon pecking order -he is GONNA GET US ALL.

and the old midbrain gets indigestion from stress hormone overdose,and fights back,AFTER A WHILE,with the message, ENOUGH-YOU'VE BEEN SENDING DOWN THIS CRAPPY DATA for months and years and NOTHING has happened,so GET OFFA MY BACK-or at least treat me to a Zanax and a belt of that Old Janx Spirit.

But what we WANT and what IS are two entirely different things.

Our "leopard meters" are unusally sensitive,and they are going off for good reasons.

One of my favorite all time cartoons( in The New Yorker ?) pictures a king,face deply lined,eyes baggy, sitting on the royal crapper ,his royall robes trailing onto the floor,news paper open wide,talking to himself.

"I know I'm paranoid.The question is,am I paranoid ENOUGH?"

So we are the odd group out,the little old lady baboons who see leopards that aren't there,and the other baboons are laughing.

But that ole (new) neocortex is on the job.OURS is any way.And when things change,WE can HANDLE the change BETTER.

There will be a MUCH HIGHER percentage of Oil Drum regulars among the survivors left behind by that non existent die off leopard.

Being bummed out is a small price to pay for being AWARE.

SO treat the ole midbrain to a shot or two of your mind altering substance of choice.

And dig out a good novel and get lost in it once in a while.

This is train of thought ala Faulkner but I ain't no Faulkner and I don't have the energy to clean it up and organize it tonight.

"There will be a MUCH HIGHER percentage of Oil Drum regulars among the survivors left behind by that non existent die off leopard.

Being bummed out is a small price to pay for being AWARE."

May I ask if that is a statement that can be backed by any kind of factual evidence? I do not say that to be snide, but I read the posts here. The folks on TOD seem to fly in airplanes, drive great distances, and have all the normal lifestyles of the rest of the country...I can't see any evidence that they will not be in as much trouble as the rest of the population. In fact I know many people in the south who use far less energy than the folks here seem to and know nothing about the peak oil leopard, they just can't afford the fuel. I know many people to this day who have never flown on an airplane in their life, and more than did only when they were drafted and the government forced them to.

"Being bummed out is a small price to pay for being AWARE."

But AWARE of what? Again, let's admit, there have been so many catastrophe scenarios spun on this board that there would be no possible way to be AWARE of even a quarter of them, and trying to guess which ones will actually occure would by like placing a winning bet on a roullette wheel! :-) Over the last year we have seen not only here on this board but everywhere a complete inability to predict oil or natural gas prices or production even a year in advance! What makes people think they can predict it over the next 5, 10, or 20 years?

Look at the natural gas situation as an example...only a couple of years ago investors were more than willing to pour money into LNG facilities to import it, because we all were sure the price of natural gas would stay somewhere around $8.00 or $10.00 per mm/BTU. Now it's about $3.00 bucks! People used Japan as an example of a valid LNG economy, seemingly forgetting that Japan has no home production or pipeline natural gas system to compete against. The truth is we often don't get the facts right even when the evidence is already right in front of our eyes.

So while we worry about the leapord we cannot even identify, the REAL BIG leapord, the one that is ABSOLUTELY ASSURED, that there can be NO doubt about, that is as sure as existence, is rapidly stalking, coming up behind us, the leopard of aging and then death of the largest generation in world history. It seems we really WANT to see the stalking leapord of multiple catastrophes (peak oil, collapse, climate change, etc.) to keep us from noticing the ONLY leapord that is assured to kill us...sublimation of the one sure threat by a set of multiple threats as distraction.

If it is a good idea to get off the use of fossil fuels, then do it...and encourage it being done and build the technology to do. No discussion is really needed, except to talk about the details, because IF we agree that the fossil fuel age is ending, then fine, who cares for exactly what reason? The point is that people are going to want to LIVE their last lives, not pine away about, as Conrad said "the horror, the horror..." The horror is in fact coming, the one sure one...I think the posts that I replied to were pointing out that some thinking folks here on this board are in fact beginning to envy those who simply are going about their lives and LIVING...and if "the horror" of collapse does occur soon, there is no evidence they will be in any worse shape than the rest of us. But they will have allowed themselves to LIVE (whatever that may mean to them) before they died.


IMO your best post yet Roger.


Perhaps I should have said only "a higher percentage".

And I probably should have said also something to the effect of "everything else equal" because ob viously lots of visitors will do nothing to prepare.

But a lot will.Some will select thier vacation property with a view as to it's suitability as a doomstead,others will make adjustments to thier investment portfolios,a few may say everything else equal OFM has made a point about living where the rain is dependable and hire on in NC rather than California if moving to find a job and offered one in both places.

A few might actually get started out of town a couple of days AHEAD of the mob if tshhtf suddenly,meaning survival for that reason alone.Normal traffic, you see,and gas and food at the interchanges,and they are still taking credit cards instead of your car.I have family that hopefully will get the hell out of Dodge and will arrive here a few hours ahead of the mob if this scanario comes to pass.

Although I have never delivered a (human) baby ,I know,and I am sure you know,that bioling the water and scrubbing your hands,etc, helps ensure the survival of the mother,as the chance of infection is very real.This single tidbit could save your own wife or daughter some day.There are probably countless things a regular may have learned here that could be "the difference",as some hillbillies call thier pistols when threatened by bullies too big to fight by hand.

(Incidentally if nothing else can be done,vigorously massaging the empty womb of a woman bleeding to death as a result of childbirth may save her.)

And of course collapse need not be total,and even a few minor preparations might be real game changers.An awareness of the likelihood of much higher transportarion costs can lead to the decision to buy a house near roads likely to be served by buses,etc.

Cut me a little slack for purposes of artistic liscense and I will cheerfully admit that I can't PROVE my case.But most professionals,regardless of the field,will tell you that more data is always better than less.

And as far as peak oil is concerned it will be,FOR THE MAJORITY,a defacto BLACK SWAN.Assuming of course that peak oil itself is a reality THIS time around.Every time the little boy crys WOLF!! he reduces the chance that when the wolf FINALLY arrives his cries will go unheeded.......

Personally I have only a freshman year understanding of geology,plus a reading habit.My OWN OPIOION of peak oil is no more or less than a summary of the views presented here-I am compelled to accept the word of the people who do this for a living,lacking any expertise of my own.
( NOW THAT OLE OVER ACTIVE NEOCORTEX IS WHISPERING THAT MAYBE THE OIL DRUM IS A FRONT ORGANIZATION SECRETLY CONTROLLED......I haven't been getting much sleep lately as I'm a defacto nurse these days and my bed ridden mother will be soon be departing on her final journey into the great unknown. )

Maybe the peak really is still ten years down the road??

And as far as that ole hyperactive neocortex goes,my coon dog barks at all sorts of things that aren't(so far as I can tell) there,but once in a while he catches a coon in my grapes and sweet corn,etc-more than often enough to pay his own food bill.

You have a very good point about some people who are unaware per se of peak oil being well prepared to survive.Around here many people who are "right wing nut cases" good only as fodder for jokes are very wellpositioned in comparision to thier intellectual betters who live in apartments in cities that will be death traps if tshtf-even though said intellectual has a phd and an extensive library-and said wing nut may have only a well worn Bible and maybe a couple of almanacs.

BUT ALL OF THEM HAVE TV,and now although most of them really truly would give someone in dire need "the shirt off thier back" ,viewed as a group they see the destruction of thier value system writ large in the words and actions of the democrats......... it didn't HAVE to work out that way.

(They have taken that religious nut case philosophy seriously and live frugally and have made such preparations as they can for the hard times that ALWAYS arrive,sooner or later.Possibly the Jewish herders of ancient times had a better grasp of reality than the "masters of the universe" waving their MBA degrees fron The Wharton School.)

If smug and self satisfied motor mouths had spent less time ridiculeing such people,and more time trying to CONNECT with them ,most of them COULD HAVE BEEN be easily convinced that tough environmental leglisation and national health insurance are good ideas.....

Gore would have WON, no question ,and by a fair margin ,probably at LEAST FOUR OF FIVE PERCENT imo. And although I personally don't care for him because he is a condescending hypocrite politician-which is pretty much my opinion of all politicians-I am SURE we would be better off today if he had won.

There certainly are other things going on. This is one of my favorite TED talks. It appeals to my data analyst side and has no and Hubbert curves... It's non-doomer. Just when I thought things were getting bad, people seem to be living longer and better!

Keeps me on my toes...

Hi Joe,

The minute I heard this Palin sound bite I had the same reaction as yours and proceeded to rant about the appaling level of political discourse we are experiencing. I live in one of the most affluent counties in the nation (I think ranked 30th) and Palin is revered by all these wealthy, church-going conservatives that dominate this region. I live in a county adjacent to Milwaukee, WI - so the problem is certainly not confined to the South.

So how do you know that you are not yourself fatally disconnected from reality, being only reinforced by coming here?

I see only one political dichotomy. On one end of the scale is anarchy (total freedom) and on the other is tyranny (total subjugation). I think Sarah Palin's views along with her fellow fascist/neocons (new conservatives or war mongering liberals in disguise) fall toward the tyranny end of the scale. I think also that collectivist/fascist/socialist Obama, et. al., also fall very close to the tyranny end of the scale, right next to Mrs. Palin, and that further government intrusion into energy, health care, or any other market activity is an abomination which does and will have abhorrent results. So in reality we have two "empty cans" as you chose to describe these thugs, both your presumed hero and your nemesis.

I come here to learn the details of the energy situation from those with greater knowledge that I possess, in spite of the aggravation of also reading the views of the large number of those who also frequent this site, and who habitually propose tyranny as the solution (more big government plunder and control).

First of all, there is really no solution, and certainly even mitigating actions will not come from government forcing anything us in the energy sector, for example mandated ethanol in motor fuel, making survival more difficult by the cap and trade tax, or encouraging more road construction or vehicle sales. If there is any relief to be had from the coming massive die-off it will be the result of individuals acting in their own self interest, free to pursue those actions without the burden of plunder and control of government.

I come here to learn the details of the energy situation from those with greater knowledge that I possess, in spite of the aggravation of also reading the views of the large number of those who also frequent this site

Henry I'd like to thank-you for your extraordinary forbearance.

I think Sarah Palin's views along with her fellow fascist/neocons (new conservatives or war mongering liberals in disguise) fall toward the tyranny end of the scale. I think also that collectivist/fascist/socialist Obama, et. al., also fall very close to the tyranny end of the scale, right next to Mrs. Palin, and that further government intrusion into energy, health care, or any other market activity is an abomination which does and will have abhorrent results.

Don't underestimate Sarah Palin. The appeal of a white woman with a weapon is strong - mythic in American culture. Susan Faludi covers it in "Terror Dream". As does Ward Churchill and Derrick Jensen. I thought they were over the top until I read them and - having read them - looked. And was more attuned.

Still, to paraphrase Gail and Nate, the money isn't there and it isn't going to be there and the more the PTBs pretend, the less will be there. Watch those shells, sucker.

Bottom line, some towel-head has oil and we want it. And not just any oil, but the last oil.

cfm, hugging a lost lonely bit of coral

Thank God that as a citizen of the good old USA I don't live in a country that has been under the burden and plunder of an unregulated band of Wall St bookies for the last decade. Good thing that all our workers can join unions and earn pay raises that are in line with their increases in productivity. Good thing we don't have millions of people without health care access who then postpone treatment until only the most expensive option, i.e. the emergency room, is left to them. I'm thankful that regulators have prevented the worst economic collapse since 1929. Or I am I living a fantasy?

Maybe not a fantasy, but perhaps a delusion.

It is fascism, the merger of government and corporate interests, that gave rise to distortion of wealth distribution. Of course in an economy rigged to favor those with privilege at the expense of does in fact shift wealth out of the hands of the many into the hands of the few. Again, a poster on this site complains about the effect of the loss of freedom and then implies that more tyranny is the solution.

The problem with the financial system and with the health care system was caused by the involvement of government. Health care worked quite well before employers were encouraged to provide health insurance (prepaid medical services) and before government decided to enter the insurance business themselves (Medicare). People afforded what they could, and there were hospitals operated by both doctors and churches, where people who could not pay were given a charitable free pass. It is a form of narcissism to think that you are entitled to health care paid for by your fellow citizens; you are entitled only to that which you can provide for yourself, and that is a lesson that will be demonstrated over and over again as the great die off progresses.

Of course the problem of government involvement in economic matters goes way back. Licensing of medical personnel, drugs, and hospitals was destructive of the free market, hence raised prices. Granting banks of privilege of printing up new money and loaning to the public and government is a scam that has been around since 1913 when the Federal reserve bank was created, just to facilitate that fraud.

So yes, delusion, not fantasy.

Henry: I am sure the anti-liberty philosophy of the majority of posters to this site has turned off a lot of readers. Obama and Pelosi are literally gods in this neighbourhood, and any critic is a racist or a sexist or a racist sexist Rethug. All actions are above criticism and any criticisms reveal a desire for Sarah Palin to rule supreme.

This might apply to you, but I don't see any other critics of the current administration drawing that sort of fire.

Perhaps a bit of mirror gazing is in order?

You are like dandruff or something-if you can ignore me I can certainly ignore you.

But you are so entertaining when challenged on even the smallest point.

It might be mean to poke you, but nobody is invariably right and correcting you instead of somebody else espousing the same views provides plenty of opportunity to explore the mindset behind those views.

Try not to think so hard about me-you are starting to sound like Crazy Joe Divola.

It isn't about you. It is about the ideas you present, and that you make at least some attempt to defend them even when they seem to me to be less than fully formed. If you didn't try to defend your ideas they wouldn't be worth responding to.

Of course, as you so ably demonstrate here, you frequently choose to defend them by attacking. Perhaps if you broke that habit we could drop the post count on those threads.

The problem with the financial system and with the health care system was caused by the involvement of government.

No, it was cause by who owned the government. The government merely served its "constituents".

Thus you describe fascism, the joining of government and corporations. So why would you call for more fascism to correct the evil effect of fascism. Why not call for the opposite of fascism, freedom and free markets?

The opposite of an evil can be evil itself.

The anarcho-capitalist ideal ignores much in human nature, in fact it ignores almost exactly the same aspects of human nature that the communist ideal does. This is the weakness of the big-L Libertarians.

Maximizing liberty in a group necessarily involves having rules, and having somebody to enforce those rules. In a small, homogeneous society this can be informal but the rules still exist. As the size and social complexity of a society increase the rules need to be formalized if liberty for all is to be ensured. This is the basis behind "Rule of Law" and one of the founding principles of the USA.

The only alternative to "Rule of Law" (with professional police and courts (and lawyers) to mediate and enforce the law) that has been seen to date is "Rule of Man". This would be the realm of monarchies, dictatorships, corporations, and other organizations where who you are and who you know is more important than whatever the written law says.

"Rule of Man" maximizes the freedoms of the privileged at the expense of everyone else.

These are the only two options. Any system that does not have mechanisms in place to protect Rule of Law inevitably devolves into Rule of Man, and under Rule of Man there are no free markets.

Why not call for the opposite of fascism, freedom and free markets?

Bullshit. "Freedom AND free markets" is not the opposite, but fascism incarnate. DOH!

There is no freedom without responsibility; freedom depends on responsibility. Societal freedom depends on a society ready and willing to insure responsible markets. Basic high school theology class. Yeeesh.

Off with your head, Henry.

cfm in Gray, ME

Why not call for the TRUE opposite of fascism, anarchy ?


To play a bit of devil's advocate here, what you're calling "tyranny" is what some other people call guaranteeing basic civil rights for everyone in a "tragedy of the commons" situation. No individual person has any motive to conserve energy, switch to mass transit, limit consumerism, to acknowledge that reasonable healthcare coverage is a basic human right that should be available to all regardless of ability to pay (ditto for a reasonable amount of electricity, water, local phone service and even basic dial up internet access, for that matter). What you're calling "tyranny" is just a refutation of social and economic Darwinism - and it's terribly ironic that churchgoers are the biggest proponents of "survival of the fittest" alone, when the teachings of the NT are clearly to sell excessive material possessions and share equally with others. An ethical and moral society must provide what everyone needs to function, and in the West that means democratic socialism with private ownership of profit ventures and public ownership of things that should not be for-profit (including medical care and basic utilities which are necessities of life in Western nations). The "I've got mine, too bad for you" attitude is neither ethical nor religious - in fact it is barbaric.

It is worse than that.
"I've got mine and my kid gets to inherit his from me."
"Too bad for you and your kid."
Most wealth in America is inherited wealth.

Let me get this straight. You think that if I am successful at acquiring a thousand acres of land by my work over my life, that I should not be able to give this to my children to help them survive the coming die off, but rather must give it to you and your kids.

So I suppose that if my wife dies, then you would be quite willing to share yours with me to satisfy my sexual needs. After all, you would have yours and I would not have mine, and by your standards we must not have more than our neighbors. I sure hope she is attractive and kinky.

You are a bit extreme in your individualism.
Cooperation is just as necessary and natural as competition and you know that.
There is a limit to cooperating though (she isn't that kinky anyway).

Cooperation in my mind implies voluntary action, not forced submission.

The free market is voluntary activity. Controlled markets substitute submissive activity for cooperative activity. So when you propose using force of government to take from one individual to give to another, you are hardly talking about cooperation.

To use the sexual analogy, rape, even if the victim "cooperates" with a knife to her throat, is different than genuine consensual sex. So yea I am against rape, and if that is extreme individualism, I am extreme. Fifty guys getting together and voting to gang rape some victim is no different, even if you call it democracy or government.

Sure in a perfect world of honorable men the free market is perfect.
Every example of laissez- faire in the real world has always ended in a concentration in the hands of a few psycopaths who used their position mercilessly to exploit. So there has to be some regulation.
To the other issue about accumulating property etc. The property and the opportunity exists as such because of the society or system that exists around it so the system itself was necessary in order for the individual to attain his/her wealth. The system needs to be supported.
Also and this is a bad way of looking at it. Welfare is cheaper than law enforcement and prisons so therefore more cost effective.

Just so you don't get the wrong idea about me...........I am self-made and have done nothing but pay into the system but I do understand that without the infrastructure and an orderly society i would have been able to make nothing.
We probably agree on much more than we don't.

Sorry my wife is not up to your standards. But in this longhouse, if she feels the bigger picture means she's willing to love you for what you are and where you are and being there when you are, then where the f**k do you get off talking about attractive and kinky?

Attractive and kinky? She knows a shotgun blast to the gut.

And if you want to be in this longhouse, then no, you don't get to accumulate a thousand acres of land as your property. That's not "success" in this longhouse.

cfm, outtahere again

What is this longhouse to which you refer?

See, more reflection of your willingness to use violence and force to solve problems rather than thru cooperation and competition. Competition requires cooperation rather than force.

I find your lack of respect for property rights to be offensive. Property is just an extension of one's life. We each only have a certain amount of time to live, and in furtherance of our lives, we give up some of that time in exchange for property. So what you receive for you time at your employer or in your enterprise is equivalent to the life you gave up to acquire that property. If someone deprives you of that property then he is taking part of your life, against your will if the force of government is used to deprive you of that property.

Saying that one does not have the right to keep the property he exchanged some of his life for (his time) is saying that one does not have the right to his life.

So the choice is still freedom or subjugation, and I think your choice of subjugation will come back to haunt you, not to mention the morality of such a position.


Since Dryki has not answered you question ,I'll try.

I expect the "long house"refers to the communal dwellings erected by some Native American tribes of the northeast US.The whole extended family,iirc,lived in one such house-perhaps even a whole band ,if it was a small band.

Land rights were held in common,and property limited mostly to personal possessions.This system apparently was working very well indeed until we palefaces showed up with smallpox,wbiskey,and guns.

The long house is thus a metaphor for our society and our environment,and the TRIBE may have a say,if it wants one,as to whether you and yours will be allowed to hog the fence of part of the commons and erect no trespassing signs.

I trust that although I may not have all he details exactly right,I have rendered the MESSAGE into plain english well enough.

Loud and clear oldfarmer.
In a well-functioning Longhouse (or mobile band for that matter) you probably don't need even a Chief. I seem to remember that in some places, Chiefs were appointed only for the duration of big seasonal get-togethers. Probably need some competent grandmothers though to pass-on essentials and do critical inter-band marriage stuff (still works that way with nomads on the Mongolian fringes).
However, when life gets more complicated, (you cultivators;) ) then we need some proper procedures - Rights of the Individual etc.. But that cuts both ways; heads towards the Rights of Man - Woman. Don't remember 1000 acres as a fundamental principle. Has to be socially negotiable at the end of the day and better if the Owners or cabals of such in their mutual interest can't compete the rest of the inhabitants out-of-sight?

Yes, thank you oldfarmer and phil. And yes, it does cut both ways. And much as I don't want the likes of Henry in my longhouse, he might add some variety to the gene pool. My wife would appreciate that. Perhaps when Venus moves into Jupiter (or something like that every couple of thousand years) he gets to mate. Once. Sacrificially. And then we make him into pudding abnd serve him to the long house in the depths of the coldest darkest climate-change winter. [Jim Kunstler eat your heart out.]

cfm in Gray, ME, preparing the raisins and corn henry-stuffing.

Your children have NOT earned that land, so why should you be able to just give it to them (especially after you are dead) ?

Title to land is an article of state power, NOT a natural right. See the county courthouse (the local ultimate expression of state power). Sinc etitle are an act of state power, why should not the state have the right to control this right via democracy (on death of owner, land goes to auction, with proceeds used to pay for police, courthouse and public domain activities such as roads & schools).

BTW, just about any land anywhere is worthless without access to public domain land.


You could make a case that title to land, especially heredity title, is regressive and a remnant of the feudal system.

You could make that case, but I don't think it would hold up very well.

Most of the non-trivial uses of land require long term control and the assurance that nobody can supersede that control arbitrarily. As such, land ownership or a suitable equivalent would seem to me to be necessary.

Orchards would be a prime example of this.

Inheritance is an ancient tradition, and a ball of tar that I don't care to get my hand stuck in today.

The USA isn't Germany or Sweden or France or Japan so quit pretending it is. In the USA, just like in Mexico or Argentina, those that control taxpayer funds tend to take advantage. The USA taxpayer, according to you, should simply hand over 110% of all his money quietly.

Well then, it really comes down to individual value systems. Some of us value freedom and some of us value government and the tyranny (slavery) that it brings. I think that your view that one is entitled as a right to health care, electricity, water, local phone service, etc, is absurd, simply because to have that right requires that others submit to a slave system in order to provide the resources for you to get what you think is your entitlement. It is a value system for those who want to be taken care of. The idea that everyone must contribute to a common pool to provide for the wants of others defies the laws of nature, and will always fail, simply because nature is more powerful than the schemes of those who cannot or will not take care of themselves. It has never worked, and always produces poverty for the many, economic stagnation, and general human suffering; this is the history of the world.

I think my values reflect much more compassion than yours. This is simply because I do not find slavery compassionate, nor does the evidence show that slavery produces anything but poverty for the slaves, and in order for slavery to have value to the masters, the majority of the population must be enslaved; otherwise what would be the point of slavery? You may want to live on one big government (master) controlled plantation and be guaranteed your little share of what you produce (what you are entitled to), but I prefer that we each act peacefully in competition with one another and keep that which we produce. Nature, of course dictates that the fittest survive, a rule that is far less barbaric than what you endorse. Otherwise the not so fit survive at the expense of the fittest, and the species eventually becomes extinct.

By the way, I am an atheist, and find the statist religious Conservatives just as offensive as the statist Liberals.

Ah, the true colors emerge.

Herr Mises was wrong. He didn't know half as much as he thought he did, and by extension neither do his religious followers.

Careful for what you wish for Henry, 'cause if your perfect stateless world comes to pass you will be hung out to dry.


I would like to have the opportunity to find out. We already know what the opposite in the extreme brings, examples of near total subjugation being more recently Mao, Stalin and Hitler.

Consider that government originated when agriculture produced excess to plunder and also anchored men to the land, instead of their previous hunter/gatherer existences. They became targets of random plunder by bands of thugs, and eventually made agreements with the strongest bands for protection in return for systematic payments (tribute/taxes). Given the origin and nature of government, it is no wonder that great minds like Thomas Jefferson advised to keep government limited. Certainly they thought they were creating a limited government when in 1781 the wrote the US Constitution, a document increasingly ignored at the expense of liberty to satisfy the wants of those who love government instead.

It looks like we are entering a collapse of civilization (the end of the industrial age) complete with a massive die off as the necessities of life for a bloated population become increasingly scarce for want of energy to fuel production. It seems to me to be particularly cruel to create further dependence on this crumbling system by the central government taking even more control of the economy (health care) and placing additional burdens on the backs of the population (new taxes like cap and trade and an increase in existing taxes and the inflation tax).

It is unfortunate also that this debate will not be limited to discussion boards like this one for much longer. My own view is that we are on the cusp of violent conflict equal in magnitude to 1776 and 1861. (Read "The Fourth Turning".) I don't think we can avoid such a conflict given the long term contraction the economy is entering. Look at the estimates by people like Matt Simmons that oil production could be cut by 1/4 in less than a decade.

The pain of civil conflict will increasingly be dwarfed by the pain of accepting the present system of plunder and control, especially when the burden of the economic contraction is placed squarely on the backs of average men while the elite increasingly plunder to maintain their positions (Wall Street / banking bail out). I will be surprised if we get past 2020 without this happening. Already, some prognosticators estimate that 1/3 of the population is ready for revolution.

The worst part about the civil conflict we face is that it will be citizen against citizen as much as government against citizen. Just like in 1776 there was a substantial group of citizens loyal to King George, probably equal in number to the rebels, who found violence against one another permissible. The same split loyalties existed in 1861. If you want to understand what this is like, read about the savagery among citizens during the Civil War in border states like Missouri.

The same old story keeps being retold. The 1776 American Revolution was about taxes. Contrary to popular belief the Civil War was a tariff war. The burden of the federal import duties fell upon the South which imported manufactured goods, and who then suffered doubly as retaliatory tariffs were placed on their agricultural exports. When the burden of government becomes oppressive the oppressed seem to not take it so well.

I think this coming conflict has the potential to be particularly vicious because it will have the usual political divisions that such conflicts have, plus it will have the struggle to survive the die off superimposed. My vision of the future makes me selfishly glad that I am much closer to the end of my natural life than the beginning. I don't think that it is freedom that will "hang me out to dry."

I am much closer to the end of my natural life than the beginning.

If not for Mao, Stalin and Hitler, where would those various nations be? It's not at all clear to me that they would be on a track any different from that on which they are now: the wrong track. Shall we talk about Hitler and the jack-booted Homeland Security goons strutting on Commercial Street in Portland Maine? Keeping moms and baby carriages safe from towel heads with bombs big enough - if you combined 100 of them - to disable one USAF missile silo. Please - can we have, hmmm, 20,000 times 100 more of those bombs?

How does the usual terrorist group keep up with that sort of escalation? Greenpeace blocking a whaling ship. Anyone here in Maine tacking a poster to corporate property that somehow interferes with that corporation making a profit.

It is NOT the same old story. We've hit limits. Sucks to be us.

How do you define anarchy?
Cooperation does not mean big government.

Everything you wrote is ridiculous hyperbole.

I keep coming back because the articles keep me stretching for higher competency in this fascinating subject matter. And I am always hopeful that I will find some nugget of value in the comments by your readers (I often do). It feels like community when there is respect among the voices; it feels like a dysfunctional family when it devolves to personal attacks. I wish everyone here would take to heart the sound advice of Eric Allenbaugh, "Be tough on issues, tender on people." Thank you TOD staff for all your hard work and dedication.

Be tough on issues, tender on people

Thanks Debbie; I am going to incorporate that quote and the concept it embodies into my "daily operating instructions".

I think you host TOD because it is in your natures to share valid information and search for truths, and to educate people. You know that educating people is noble and may lead to small, incremental, and hopefully exponential change.

I wish the TOD staff would be welcome on various television venues, to plant the seeds of PO and sustainability knowledge much wider...a series of programs on The Discover Channel and the Science Channel and on PBS would be a good venue for an in-depth treatment of the various subjects on TOD. Probably stay clear of the talking head shows, since they are merely Jerry Springer Shows dressed up in airs.

Articles in Scientific American, Discover, Newsweek...

All prominently advertising the TOD URL and inviting people to drop by.

Getting some hearings in front of Congressional sessions. Do any Congressional Staffers or actual Congresscritters read TOD? Would they admit it? Would you be permitted to admit it?

What is to be avoided, especially in TV, is folks spouting '11' on the Doomer scale of 10. That would incite blow-back in a big way. By '11' I mean people getting in front of a camera and advocating the quick death of humanity forever. On the other hand, I don't advocate a sugar-coat either.

I advocated this before and one of the TOD staffers said that a wider media campaign was out of the question. If that is still the case, Peace. You are doing plenty already.

Shifting gears: I don't recall from the TOD reader survey...are there a goodly portion of young (under 30) people reading TOD? If there are, most of them be lurkers. The young people need to take point on this and lead the charge for change. They need to take the effort to write and phone their Congressfolk and get involved. We need to elect people who can break free of BAU...for crying out loud, we need a legion of anti-Palins.

I'm 19, but not foolish enough to think voting really counts. (no offense intended, if you think it does)

The system is badly distorted.. but I hope the system you're holding out for doesn't take voting for granted. There is definitely far lower to sink than this.

One of our first priorities must be to Make Voting Count again.


One of the big things is to remember that voting is not only voting for the big guys at the top of the ticket.

Every elected representative or public servant down to the county dog catcher counts, and you can often have a big influence on smaller races. If you have a bit of the necessary thick-skin and charisma you may even consider running for one of those lesser offices or working directly with your local political groups personally.

I wouldnt like to get into a long, protracted argument over voting, since I have been anti-majority-rule for quite some time and neither of us is likely to be swayed. Really, it comes down to how much (subjective) BS and how many persons spouting it you are willing to put up with on a regular basis. Personally, I cant put up with much more than my family and friends and their respective BS. But if you can, rock that democracy thingamajig! For me, only consensus works.


Nearly all of us here on the Oil Drum were once young and foolish;-( and most of us would trade places with you in a heartbeat if we could.;-)

I suggest you take Mark Twains comment to heart:(paraphrased)my Daddy was so dumb he didn't know shit from apple butter when I left home but when I come back in a couple of years it wuz unbelieveable how much he learnt while I wuz gone.

Good luck.

You are ,as some ancient Chinese said,cursed to live in interesting times.

Without the vote the only consensus you will ever have will be between yourself and those you know well enough to trust with your life,and it will be approximately as follows:

If we keep our mouth shut maybe the cops won't hunt us up and knock our teeth out (first offense)

Haul us off to dig coal BY HAND for a few years (second offense)

Haul us off to dig salt by hand on a dead-by-starvation-in-a-year diet(THIRD STRIKE YOU ARE OUT)

Exactly why I'm moving to the rural desert. Noone can make enough surplus (post sht-hitting-fan event) in those parts to be able to have specialized law-men. I expect most to move out to wetter areas when they cant truck in or pump up their drinking supply. I have enough like minded people going with me that (I hope) we can deal with the few who stay, if they cause problems. Thats my "I'm young and idealistic, hope this works or I'm gonna go down with the rest of western civilization" plan. And many of us are well into life-style transition.

Working on planting the seeds of sustainability in larger audiences is a gradual process, and we are making at least some steps.

The European staff has been fairly successful in its efforts to get the peak oil message on television. See for example The Farm of the Future that some of the European staff was involved in getting on the air. I know that there have been various talks that have been broadcast as well.

Nate does a fair amount of talking to groups, and is right now on a trip doing some speeches. He has been on radio and TV various times, limited of course by what the station wants.

Jason Bradford does a radio show called the Reality Report, talking with people about peak oil and sustainability related subjects.

On all of this, it is helpful to build contacts and find people who might be receptive to the peak oil message. If any readers have suggestions in this regard, let me or one of the other staff members know. My contact information is given in the "about" section above.

Perhaps we will know the Drum has hit the big time when at one of Obama's press conferences he calls on "Nate Hagens of" to ask an energy related question.

Why do you do it?

I suspect some combination of; because it is enjoyable and interesting, some rise in perceived social status, and some spirit of true altruism. All those are linked in cortical reward pathways, much like getting money would be.

Why do I come back?

Because reading the posts and comments here make me feel at home/normal. Many in financial circles are catching on that our economic system is in shambles - here at OilDrum there is a broader, higher level of discussion (usually), that leads to some new connections/understanding of where we're really at. So when conventional/ignorant stuff gets me overwhelmed, I come and read a bit at OilDrum. Like putting on old slippers.

I enjoy the diverse range of content and the peer review aspects of your site.
Along with several others it helps to keep me motivated.
There is still much ignorance in the general population just being out here you are going to catch passing trade a good enough rationale for existence.
I recently got active locally and found huge apathy unless people are trying to build a business off the environment ticket.
Combined with political suspicions that lead to ridiculous situations e.g. I gave a 3 minute talk on Peak Oil to my Town Council - no one said a word literally apart from the Mayor to ridicule me before passing me the microphone.
The only other public contribution was put up by the council to bemoan the lack of a bypass for the town...
Still the District Council seem to be positive about a proposal I sent them for a community hydro project and they have the real clout locally.
We have an unused weir that could be used for an Archimedes screw generator e.g.
The government here really seem to have woken up and are directing the various agencies to push through hydro generating schemes, which in the past would have met Environment Agency / NIMBY resistance.
The local paper are printing a piece I wrote outlining the features of the proposal and my suggestions for lobbying the politicians if they wish to see the project happen.
If the project happens you will have been a part of realising a micro generating project and in any case provide me with a reason to spend far to long on-line;¬)
Although if the site is costing you personally a significant part of your salary there is always blogging.

TOD has been a surprise. I never thought to find a site I'd wish to post to, and aside from a single yahoo discussion list, there are no others. And eventually, events will move along and I'll evaporate from this one as well, which is as it should be.

But in the meanwhile, what an extraordinarily good place to spend down-time. The volunteers that created TOD and keep it going have created an experience that draws a wonderful selection of bright folks together, representing deep knowledge and no little wisdom.

One of the most valuable things to find, by my lights, is intelligent folks who don't entirely agree with me; whose path to knowing things has been different than my own. TOD seems to have somehow captured the stable interest of an eclectic group of lateral-thinking savants, systems thinkers, technological cognoscenti and folks with gritty real-world experience. Once I realized that some of the very best stuff was in the comments below the articles, and that real-time peer review was being conducted by real folks, it became addictive.

As a person who has worked for no pay on worthwhile stuff most his life, I don't wonder why the TOD staff does it; I wonder why everyone else doesn't. Here we are with a world at stake, most folks having plenty of food and shelter and toys, and yet it is somehow considered an odd thing - a sacrifice - to do something worthwhile with one's time just for the doing of it. I tip my hat to the lot of you, staff and commenters alike.

There's no measure of success unless the goals are defined beforehand, but I think everyone who comes here and invests the time to "get it" can tell that something worthwhile is happening here. What the effect of TOD will ultimately be, we can't know. But it sure feels worth doing.

RE: improving the site, I'd be very careful. There would be no way to have achieved this exact result intentionally. Like any complex system with emergent characteristics, it will eventually move on from what it is to what it will be, which will probably be something quite different.

With no disrespect - far from it! - to those who have created it, in some ways it seems that TOD as it has existed is like the image of Jesus showing up on a burned pancake; perhaps not a miracle but also a hard thing to do intentionally, and if nothing else it attracts some attention. It wouldn't evolve the same way twice, and any change might undo it. It will deconstruct or change soon enough anyhow, but it may have interesting effects on some key minds before it does. There are a lot of websites, a lot of blogs, only one TOD.

Thanks for it.


You have said so much so well that I can hardly think of anything to add.

I spend my net time here because as you say,there's only one Oil Drum.

It is so far ahead of every other site that I know of,in terms of learning new stuff,and dealing almost exclusively with highly intelligent people with serious things to say-well ,there's the OD,and then there's everything else.

I listen to NPR for the same reason-there's NPR,and then there's everything else,but there I can only listen,and then only to those who agree with the NPR world view.

Wouldn't it be incredible to have a talk radio station with a SCIENTIFICALY AND TECHNOLOGICALLY literate audience?

POlitics ,in the end ,after all must kneel before facts,eventually.

As to why exactly the staff does the jobs they do ,all of the above comments by others so far probably sums it up pretty well.

I tend to be rather cynical in regard to most of what I hear described as "serving others" but I do get a warm and humble feeling occasionally when I run into the real servant of his fellow man..I get that feeling in spades here.Imo,only a very small portion of those who talk about service are actually doing anything except collecting a salary,even if it is a very modest one.

The Oil Drum team is probably somewhat like the little league baseball team that comes out of some nowhere two traffic light town and makes it to the LL world series-such accidental assemblies of
talent and passion are so rare as to be almost nonexistent.

I sincerely hope that everybody on staff in one way or another has an opportunity to cash in sooner or later as the result of impressing an employer or investor via this site.

I also fervently hope that the site also will not stray too far from it's current incarnation.

There is a sort of magic here that could very easily be lost.

Greenish and Mac,you have said everything I could say about TOD,but much better.
Thanks to all the TOD staff for their hard work and thanks to the majority of commenters for their informative,thoughtful and sometimes entertaining contributions.

TOD is my regular morning fare here in the Land Down Under.

Yes, nicely put, greenish.

Care to share what that yahoo discussion list is?

Care to share what that yahoo discussion list is?

Nah. I think part of the formula of TOD is that a reasonable degree of anonymity is generally accepted by the community. I only noted the Yahoo list since there are some others here who are also on it, and they would have known I was fibbing if I didn't mention it. (Probably inappropriate to discuss that list here, sex with chickens is a personal lifestyle choice).

I would like to take this opportunity to note that a lot of excellent posters fail to include an email contact in their profile, and I think that's a loss. There are many here who I'd probably write side-messages about real-world notions or projects.

Thanks for asking, Professor Goose.

This site makes perfect sense to me. We have a real-time, global energy system with numerous potential breaks in its shell, a real-time Global Communications Network in the internet, and we are a species that is inclined to huddle and chatter (in a good way, I mean) when they've spotted a woolly mammoth in the room, and know they have to do something about it.

I'm sure that for some if not all of the staff, there is no small satisfaction in being 'part of something worthwhile', dissect that how you might.. I think it's what we all want, we all want to make sure it works out, or if it won't, that we're not alone at the end.

Three Cheers for you guys! and then Three more!

I think we all want to understand, to know, to learn; possibly feeling that we know something, but want to sharpen that knowledge, accumulate relevant facts, adopt attitudes that are useful, guide our lives in intelligent ways. Since this is a campfire topic, with a somewhat broader range of topics, may I say

which of course begs the question: how does one define success for an endeavor like this?

could be rephrased as

which of course raises the question:

The phrase "begs the question", or "begging the question" had a quite different meaning in the past, in the context of argumentation, which meaning has of late largely been superseded in the speech of the common man. One can maintain a sense of superiority by avoiding the recent usage, or being aware of newness of the usage - just as the phrase 'the ugly American' came from the book of the same name in which the ugly American was the culturally sensitive hero, but is, or was, commonly used to denote a culturally insensitive American abroad, or even that the "p" is apoptosis is arguably silent, coming from apo+ptosis.

Add decimate to your "Did you know?" list.

Yes, and there's many more, or should I say there're...

Two relevant truths here: 1) Language changes. It always has, and it always will.
2) Those aware of the nuances of language will miss useful distinctions that inevitably get washed away in the process of this change. For me, the conflation of the meanings of 'disinterested' and 'uninterested' in common usage is particularly troubling.

I love the intellectual quality of TOD. But, what hooked me in the beginning and keeps me coming back is the degree of civility. Yes, there are ad homs now and then I've been guilty a few times. However, I would look elsewhere were posters a bunch of pit bulls who attacked anyone who disagreed with them.

My favorite TOD quote would be, "You got a reference for that?"


Does it educate? Holyshit yeah!! Before I found this site, I barely knew anything about PO, but now I'm spewing production numbers and refuting BS all over the place! I come here everyday and it never dissapoints. THANK YOU!

I personally am deeply grateful to the folk that run this site. The TOD team are the glue that hold this site together and they are the people who consistently display the highest standards and deepest insights. After discovering Peak Oil in 2005 TOD inspired me to do a Masters degree "Sustainability Sciences" and I may only now just about be beginning to know something. My mood has swung from initial panic through cautious optimism to where I am now, which can be summed up as resigned acceptance that we, as a species, are in overshoot. And moreover that we are genetically pre-programmed to suffer the consequences. It will not be the end of the world, it will not mean the end of our species, but a significant die back, this century, seems inevitable. I am sorry that my children will have to live through that, but that is their destiny, as it is for every generation: to live in the world they find themselves in. We are all very lucky that TOD is what it is. Because of TOD there are many more people who have gained some understanding of our problems; and one result is that there is a cadre of people who will step up to leadership when the time is right.

I hope that illustrates what TOD means to me.

First of all, I offer my most sincere thanks to TOD staff for producing this web site. Visiting this site is truly a unique experience in many ways: it IS evidence based despite the fact that we all carry some ideological baggage; the commentary IS, for the most part, devoid of the inflammatory rhetoric that poisons so many on-line discussion sites; and, most of the commenters ARE far more knowledgeable than I am about the subject matter – which means that I am constantly learning something new.

Why do I come back?

I am trying to learn something: what are most likely to be my personal challenges in the next 20 years or so and what should I be advising my grandchildren (and now great grandchild)? It is hard to believe that BAU will prevail for very long – so just what is most likely to be the shape of life here in the US, and elsewhere on the planet, for the rest of the century (asteroids, nuclear holocaust, etc, aside). One principal taught in most business schools is to focus primarily on the most likely course of events and not overdo planning for catastrophes of marginal probability. So, I’m trying to learn what is most likely to happen in the rest of this century – recognizing the inherent margin of error in such a quest.

Before visiting TOD, I felt that GW, diminishing FF supplies, environmental degradation, species extinction, monetary debt and the like were accelerating at a pace that seriously threatened humanity (along with lots of other species). I think that overpopulation of humans is a critical driver and that “faith” based belief systems greatly inhibit our ability to think critically and observe the obvious. TOD is the only place I’ve found where these issues are openly discussed in a rational manner.

But, I’ve not reached any conclusions yet. On one extreme we have the notion that PO folks are just plan nuts. Here is Slate describing PO when their survey ranked PO as the second most likely cause of a US downfall:

“Peak Oil—"Petroleum production reaches terminal decline. Oil becomes too expensive to extract, and alternative energies can't maintain our fossil-fuel-dependent lifestyle"—is the hobbyhorse of widely read collapsists James Howard Kunstler and Dmitry Orlov. It's the scenario of choice for the modern doomsayer who thinks Western civilization has industrialized its way to destruction”

People with PO concerns are relegated to the ranks of “doomsayers” – in other words: nut cases. I think this is the most widespread view of PO.

And then we have many contributors and commenters who DO believe that we are involved in a basically doomsday scenario.

On the other hand, we have contributors and commentors who envision scenarios of hope – perhaps some intermediate pain, but overall we will rise to the challenge and then emerge with a “better way of life”.

Of course this is all very complicated and smart folks are building very complex models to deal with all the variables. But, there are some simple numbers to consider: 6.7 billion people, 380 ppm GHG, 85 mbd of oil,etc. Plus promised new technology and anticipated new technological innovation. Then some simple math in terms of consumption and supply of all natural resources (including breathable air and drinkable water). Finally, there are simple rates of increase and decrease of all these things along with rates of adaptation (things declining) and adoption (new things and methods).

The basic idea of such a model is to exercise it under different values, assumptions and scenarios. These scenarios are highly intertwined with political processes. To date, I’ve not seen such a comprehensive model. Assuming I could guess the outcomes of a technical model under various scenarios, it is most unclear how the political process would deal with this information.

I firmly believe we need such a model and we need not wait until it is 100% perfect. It is pretty clear that BAU is not going to be the model. Nor do I think that total collapse is the most logical outcome. Nor am I convinced yet (I really want to be convinced) that there is a scenario that will allow us navigate the next 90 years (to the end of the century) with reasonable grace for the human race.

TOD is the only place I know where my question is treated as a serious question.

Thanks to everyone at TOD: administrators, posters and those who post all these insightful comments. I think that the success lies in the truth of the message, and that's why I keep coming back. We certainly don't have a complete picture yet, and probably won't until long after this is all gone, but I agree with Dave that understanding the problem (modeling is one way) is the first step towards solving it. For several years I've been participating in a mathematics modeling workshop at North Carolina State University - IMSM 2009, and this year I proposed an exercise in extending the World-03 model, Resource issues impacting national security. I'd like to extend this model to include some of the ideas that have been presented here at TOD such the oil shock model, the export land model, etc. (BTW - The woolly mammoth in the room is that there is no woolly mammoth in the room, see the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment). Dave, if you or anyone else on TOD would like to give it a try, please send me e-mail at jpeach at ll dot mit dot edu (that's two lower case ell's, not ones).

Or we could go off and talk about bikes. :-)

Hi jpeach,

Your links are really interesting - good to see this kind of investigation going on. I thought the "Resource issues impacting national security" pdf was very good. Please keep plugging away at this.

If I were a young lad again, I would be happy to pitch in on this kind of project. Please keep us posted on your progress - I'm sure the TOD editors would like to post your work.

First a heartfelt thank you to the entire TOD staff for who you are and what you do.

As for why I keep stopping by, simply to keep my sanity and counterbalance my experience in dealing with what seems to pass for normal out in there in the world at large and our day to day lives.

Yes, I'm here for all the good reasons note.

But let's admit it, lot's of us are addicted.

What could be more addicting than good conversation with intelligent, informed and generally good natured wits about vitally important issues? Very hard to get anything like this anywhere else.

I may have to go cold turkey soon, though, as other pressing responsibilities loom.

Since discovering computers and the internet I have lurked and posted at various sites progressing through Prodigy, USENET (sci.geo.petroleum and others), yuku downstream adventures, the Jay Hanson inspired Yahoo sites (originally Onelist) and junk science sites. But without doubt TOD has become my favorite. The fact that thus far I have not sent money may be an example of Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons. During earlier decades print media had limited energy data though my public library once subscribed to The Oil and Gas Journal.
--I retired at 68+ and have since had volunteer jobs with a medical library, a public library and the local police department. I also participate with my favorite charity Planned Parenthood. I do these things because they are interesting and enjoyable. I may get credited with "community service" but it is really the last thing on my mind. TOD is the same. I participate because it is interesting and I love it. I serve myself.

I've not been coming back so much of late.

There is way too much to do. And I have to thank the TOD community for helping me push along my understanding of what needs to be done. And Ilargi and Stoneleigh at TAE.

I had a wonderful day today. The half-farm chores in early AM. Then off to play Master Gardener on the Cumberland County "locavore" tour. To talk with all sorts of people from Southern Maine about grapes and raspberries and solar dryers and blight and food-biosecurity and how-dumb-are-industrial-meat-chickens and yes, that is poisonous. I ran out of business cards - every one of them with an "email me to ask about this" note. I ran out of "if you see this beetle call this number" Asian Longhorned Beetle cards.

Asian Longhorned Beetle? Emerald Green Beetle? Got hardwood forest - will eat. That's not so different than "got coral, will poison via CO2". A byproduct of Business As Usual. Don't expect the Steppin' Fetchit Obambis to hep any. They're into sell you out mode. Clueless SOBs.

The first apples are in. At Sweetser's, the Vista Bella and my very, very favorite Red Astrachan. Tart. I brought my date tonight the first Maine apples of the year - well, not the first, those never made it out of my backpack - and wildflowers from my meadow. She brought me stories about her adopted children and the iroquois long houses. I told her how the garden where I played Master Gardener today was overshadowed by the 4 story bay windows and surrounding lawyer foyers. She told me of her conscious choice to avoid that sort of easy envelopment. We touched on mating suitability vs control of energy. [One can do that with a sexy poetess.]

This past week I had to cut down a birch more than 2' in diameter because it was too much shade over my garden. The garden where I was answering questions today had a brand new kubota tractor parked in the shade of the 4 story lawyer foyer. Yes, I told my date, I thanked that tree out loud for the firewood and warmth it will provide - didn't seem enough. I hugged it before cutting it down.

Have you hugged your Kubota lately? Is there a clunkers-for-kubota program? That garden is smaller than what I maintain with hand tools - excepting my WMD, a big Jonsered.

Echos of "World Made By Hand". [Sorry, I skipped a few steps there - get it or don't get it.] Kunstler riles people up - good thing - but then people think because he's good at that he doesn't know what he's talking about. I've been working on a sci-fi project and will have to acknowledge "World Made By Hand" because it's been there first. Except for the zombies; I've got zombies and Lyme disease and Asian Beetles gone native. Plagues and entire eco-systems destroyed by the likes of Wal-Mart.

Which brings me around to hope. I've had it with hope. Here are two of my heros discussing hope, Chris Hedges and Laura Flanders. Hope has been a topic of discussion in our local permaculture groups. It seems that people need hope to get up in the morning. But a realistic assement of the situation tells anyone with a brain stacked on the amygdalla stem that there is no hope. Only do the right thing in a hopeless situation.

Earthmarines to jewishfarmers. There's great stuff here and wonderful people working on it. But it's too late. Too late. Too late. Way too late.

Maybe some of us can play the role of the string quartet as the Titanic went down. Maybe some the Jewish Resistance blowing every bit of the machine into smaller bits.

Except those smaller bits form into new machines. Cat's Cradle.

cfm in Gray, ME

"Only do the right thing in a hopeless situation." Dryki

by all standard definitions.....yep!!!

yet u enjoyed u'r day!!!

remembering too ; there are 'good' black swans, & likely some will survive; & as u imply we'll 'live' even as we dieoff!!!

Thanks TOD!

I discovered TOD during the beginning of the capital markets collapse on September 15th 2008. I actually found the site through a brief mention on a Youtube video lecture that some professor in a tent was making to a handful of people. I knew a little about some of the ills society was plagued with and the inevitable resource crunch that the human race faces but like most Americans I did not think this problem was going to interrupt my way of life in the immediate future. I also didn't fully realize the significance of EROEI or how closely our economy was tied to energy consumption.

After the collapse in September/October I started deeply questioning what just happened and started looking for REAL answers as the events in our financial markets that were unfolding were clearly significant. I realized later on that most of the major investment banks and other companies imploding overnight was not simply a result of bad sub-prime loans or financial derivatives, but that this implosion was a result of excessive leveraging between 2004-2008 in a desperate attempt to maintain growth in a world that had reached a physical limit in crude production.

Do I know that this is absolutely true? Well no, but based on the data as we all know here on TOD and from other research it is extremely plausible that the world cannot produce anymore crude than it did in 2005. Maybe we can eek out a little more from Canada, from Brazil off-shore projects, the north pole etc. but for the most part we know the rate of decline is almost impossible to offset AND maintain growth.

I think the mention of burn out from the staff maybe partially true, the past 10 months have been exhausting as well as an information overload. Here I am coming back from a friends wedding and still thinking about what kind of future is in store for us all now that we have witnessed so much. It sounds cliche but I do feel that our future has never been more uncertain.

Your thesis, and many other concepts on TOD are now showing relevance like never before, with strong data emerging from the past several years supporting your arguments. Additionally most of the major financial institutions as well as the EIA have recognized and publicly stated in the past 6 months the supply side problem and looming price crunch now facing the oil & gas industry.

In my opinion TOD is one of the most intelligent and politically neutral conversations about our current energy situation in the world and it helps me filter out the BS and focus on data and real critical analysis of wtf is going on. That's what keeps me coming back, where else can you get this level of quality data/analysis and caliber of people all in one place? I mean these aren't exactly the kind of topics you can easily bring up at a cocktail party either =).

I do question as events continue to unfold, if we see more evidence of declining energy supplies and its undesirable outcomes, what then becomes the mission of TOD contributors and followers?

Thanks wildcatter
I found ToD after attending a lecture by ToD Europe staffer Chris Vernon in 2006. Before that ... much the same for me ...

I knew a little about some of the ills society was plagued with and the inevitable resource crunch that the human race faces but like most Americans I did not think this problem was going to interrupt my way of life in the immediate future. I also didn't fully realize the significance of EROEI ...

For 'Americans' read 'Brits'.
I also resonate with ... but for me it is nearly 3 years now ...

the past 10 months have been exhausting as well as an information overload. Here I am coming back from a friends wedding and still thinking about what kind of future is in store for us all now that we have witnessed so much.

Am inclined to think we have seen only the beginning, but I do not underestimate the momentum (hat-tip to Leanan) associated with 'the system' (and with global dominance?). It could string out in surprising ways for a while yet ... or not ...
I like the cooler academic, "lets do the numbers best we can" approach. I suspect that 'Export Land' is going mainstream (is this what some mainstream call 'Resource Nationalism'?). That, with "rates of supply, not reserves", and EROEI have been for me big learning points. My ability, however, to predict the future, one year, 5 years, 10 years, let alone 30 years is not really improved, but an all embracing sense of transience surrounds me as I jog our rural roads to pick up a newspaper. There was always increasing sense of personal transience, but I find I automatically start to deduct the whizzing, bigger, shinier cars, the verge & hedge cutters and other cosmetic maintenance (this is Britain) and other prosperities. The speculative up-market pocket housing developments, large and new for this area, standing empty where they were finished 2008: will they ever be sold, or even lived in? I don't know - but it gets a bit eerie.
Glad to have ToD, you all, info, still accessible.
good wishes

I came to Peak Oil via Savinar and Kunstler - so I started out with an extremely hard line Doomer-ish outlook.

I have a daily trawl to see what is happening in the Peak Oil world and that is how I came by TOD.

I might add that I have changed my lifestyle completely away from BAU. I threw the lot up in the face of what might, just might happen. It is a risk that I personally was not prepared to ignore. This place (with the possible purchase of another acre of land, just for growing firewood) will support an extended family. There are many such living in the village, maybe spread over a couple of plots. If TSHTF (I fear 'when'!) there is a place of safety here for such of my children and grandchildren that would choose to use it. Their choice. I feel myself as being merely the custodian of this particular fertile patch of gods earth.

Campfire has now become regular reading for me. I echo what other commenters have said about the standard of knowledge displayed here by contributors. That is the general contributors, not TOD team - their knowledge goes without saying. Other fora are full of posters who have nothing to say other than "Chicken Little" "The Sky Is Falling"-type abuse. No reasoned arguments, nothing.

Thanks TOD team. Just keep up the good work!

And so it is, in our minds, we are formulating "thoughtforms" on the mental plane. Creating a subtle picture of the big set of problems humanity faces in mental matter. This then slowly "trickles down" into everyday consciousness, and once a critical mass of folks are onto the problem, change will happen.

This "allocation of mental time to wrestling with our problems" is how an esotericist would define SERVICE.

They would further go on to talk about "group consciousness", how we are actually acting as one mind disseminated as many "non-local, acausal trans-dimensional nodes".

Sometimes SERVICE seems futile, Sometimes you really feel it's going somewhere: "... such is the hill and valley experience of the Server..."

The saying "It is always Darkest before Dawn" comes to mind for those showing fatigue at the endeavour; REST HEALS.

There is a good "small sample" here of trained minds interacting with the rest of us. That is often entertaining, informative, inspiring, infuriating and I read here to trigger my intuition to view some HOPE for humanity by looking at what humanity is thinking right now. For me, all this "lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'int" actually inspires it's subject: HOPE.

OUR difficulties won't magically solve themselves, people have to face them, TOD is the first wave of volunteers.

Hope and Cheerfulness come from within, they are "spiritual materials", WE have to create them from within. Hope or Faith in externalities, materialism, is what got us into this mess.

Should any of you scientists wish to "flame" me for this, just remember, it's hurricane season-;)

An example of books that relate to my above comments.
"Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle" and "Discipleship in The New Age" Alice A Bailey
A New Science of Life" Rupert Sheldrake

I'm one of the silent ones who check you out daily, as a dose of reality (as I understand it) after yet another day of watching the great unknowing, scurrying about their 'business'. Sometimes I reckon I know how Jonathan Livingston Seagull felt, watching that wheeling squawking breakfast flock.
I'm away down at the whip-end of New Zealand, but I have more in common with oldfarmermac than I do with my neighbours.
You guys are the best of the very few (or is that a few of the very best?) Don't stop yet.

I agree with most everything said by Greenish, oldfarmermac, and jokuhl; and with most of what the others before me have said.

Why do you do this? You said it yourself, Prof: you're academics: you teach, and seek to learn. In The Wordly Philosophers Robert Heilbroner quotes a wonderful observation by Maria Edgeworth about the friendship of David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus: "They hunted together in search of the Truth, and huzzaed when they found her, without caring who found her first." I think this applies in spades to the staff and contributors of the Oil Drum, and to many of the commenters.

I see The Oil Drum as a modern "Academy" - the debating group-cum-school of Plato and the other members of the Socratic school. Hunting after truth is necessarily a laborious, fractious, repetitive and wearing business - one must explain over and over to new seekers why they should not seek down the same blind alley that others have, and then watch them do it. And do it again. Nevertheless, it's one of very few worthwhile activities.

The Oil Drum is enormously successful from this perspective. The new medium ("web 2.0") helps considerably - debates are preserved as they are created.

Some might say that the proper place for this kind of activity is the University. I have felt for some time that modern universities have returned to the vices of their mediaeval ancestors - vices summed up in the term Scholasticism. Nothing can be expected from them.

A story is told that Steve Jobs recruited John Sculley from PepsiCo to Apple by asking him "do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" The staff of The Oil Drum are definitely doing the latter, in several different ways.

Success, for an enterprise such as The Oil Drum, is summed up in the phrase "everybody knows." When "everybody knows" the facts (and their implications) that you have worked so hard, for so long, to unearth, or when everybody knows "this is how to have a proper exploratory discussion on the Internet," The Oil Drum can say "we've made it."

Why do I come here? For JoulesBurns's clear, cool, measured analysis of hyped technologies, for Robert Rapier's brisk assessments of biotech, for Heading Out's (and others') explanations of the technology and techniques we all depend on, for Nate's (and others') exegesis of the psychosocial roots of our predicament, for Ugo Bardi's systems-theoretic perspective, for the Dispersive Discovery Model, the Export Land Model, and many, many other significant ideas, for a source of believable statistics and explanations about energy, for Leanan's ongoing presentation of an alternative news made up of pieces from the "mainstream media" - the most eloquent demonstration of our society's collective schizophrenia that I can imagine, and for the comments by other readers - some of the most perceptive, fresh, and pithy thoughts available anywhere.

I visit TOD frequently but post very infrequently!

What I like about the site is the measured, sober analysis of issues that in many other if not most places in cyberspace cannot be even mentioned in passing without a form of verbal trench-warfare breaking out. Did anybody else witness the hysterics that occurred following the recent piece on PO and the IEA in the UK paper The Independent?

I came to the broad subject-field via the Transition Towns movement and as a geologist with experience in the economic sector of things in the ground. Until about 2005 the insanity of the paradigm of infinite economic growth on a finite planet had not even occurred to me. Once you get that bit of the equation, you naturally hunger for more information, as I guess we all do on here - we would not be here if we did not have inquiring minds that question the world that we live in and its values, as opposed to accepting them with blind faith.

Thanks for keeping up such a great and informative service!

Cheers - John

"Did anybody else witness the hysterics that occurred following the recent piece on PO and the IEA in the UK paper The Independent?"

Yes, that was truly distressing/depressing. Let's hope those folks never discover this site and swamp it with their idiocy.

On another note, I will be sorely missing airdale who has gone into a (short term?) hiatus.



If you see this how about a very short comment once in a while just so we know you are ok?

I think that the staff here at TOD have all arrived at that intellectual place called reality, looked it squarely in the face and come to the conclusion that we cna only get through this by collectively working at it. There is a community here that is real. There is nothing virtual about it. Real community is something we carry within us but we have to keep filling it up. The way to draw strenght from any community is to contribute more of yourself and immerse yourslef in it. That's why I come back. To drink from the well.

TOD has inspired me to quit my job and go to university for the first time. I'm studying for a BSc in Sustainable Energy Management and i hope that it will give me the confidence and ability to contribute more both to this community and the physical one that I dwell in each day. I envy you wordsmiths who seem to effortlessly convey your passions and ideas here, while I hack away at clumsy paragraphs and trip over ideas. I hope that I can become a better contributor to this community and give back as much as i ahve drawn from it.

I love TOD! I read it daily, such an amazing bunch of people and ideas here.

Its a great place to chat with people that acknowledge, reality does exists!

Sooner or later the collective fantasy of perpetual growth in the consensus trance* will end.

Sometimes you need a kick in the butt to remember that nothing is really free, if you like TOD support it! Yes I donated today. :)

*A term coined by my favorite author James Howard Kunstler.
I'm sure all of you know his works.

Hello all,
I come here weekly to catch up on reality, and to shock myself out of being 'asleep'.
It is too easy to fall asleep when one has daily food and comfort.
You are all my heros, staff, posters, and all those who comment.
You're all very bright.
TOD, TAE, and the Doomers are my 3 favorite sites, and it seems there is just not enough time to catch it all, so I do it when I can even tho' incomplete.
This site encourages me to keep at my small solar and other projects, because as I have learned, the govt ain't gonna fix it, the govt has too much momentum to veer toward sudden shock change.
Just joined a newly starting transition town group here in Reno, and am turning them on to these 3 sites.
I like the drumbeat sections and especially the Campfire series. The campfire is for folks like me who are overwhelmed with too much 'science' altho' I do try to read all of TOD.
You folks inspire me to not 'forget' how serious a predicament we are in, and that in turn encourages me to keep at my own small contributions to our future generations.
So, when it seems a little hopeless out there, I come here to see how really hopeless it is.
And that is the needed kick in the ass to keep going.
Thanks to you all,

I second what JPdeveuax has said!

Also,I think this poster had said it well.:

" Termoil on August 9, 2009 - 8:48am
I think that the staff here at TOD have all arrived at that intellectual place called reality, looked it squarely in the face and come to the conclusion that we cna only get through this by collectively working at it. There is a community here that is real. There is nothing virtual about it. Real community is something we carry within us but we have to keep filling it up. The way to draw strenght from any community is to contribute more of yourself and immerse yourslef in it. That's why I come back. To drink from the well."
* Sorry, I don't know how to do the quote thing in a reply.

I come here everyday for information and illumination and have since I discovered the site at it's beginning. I post seldom since someone usually says what I think. And there's always a lot of information that I don't know about that I'm trying to understand.

You have a very valuable resource here and I hope it can continue for a long time and a big THANK YOU to all the staff and those who post here.

Peace to all,

First I want to thank Prof. Goose, Dave, all the other staffers at TOD, and the intelligent commentators of TOD for providing the most intelligent and useful Web Site on the Internet.

I read TOD everyday for many of the reasons give in this discussion. I want knowledge and intelligent discussion on the most important problem of our day. I use my knowledge to make my two married daughters and their families aware of PO and how best to deal with it. Later this summer I will start the education of my oldest granddaughter’s boyfriend. No, I do not know the best way to deal with the events that are being caused by PO. I wish I did. To learn more about PO and how to deal best with its consequences is why I keep reading TOD. The intelligent discussion of these problems is one of my main source of knowledge.

I use the my knowledge of Peak Oil in:
making my personal investments,
in educating my children and grandchildren,
in preparing a talk I am schedule to give this fall to a local community group, and
in telling individuals that I encounter and will listen about PO.

I too have a feeling of trying to serve my community. I don’t pretend to know why, but I can understand and respect TOD staff for their service.

I have always felt that the powerful have a responsibility to help the less powerful. Power can be derived from knowledge, position, or wealth.

If you see a car with the license plate “Peak0il” there is about a one in fifty chance its me:-).

Way back in the 1970s I looked at all the economic problems and realized that prosperity is dependent on affordable energy. To paraphrase Einstein "Energy is everything"! Without energy nothing gets done and that includes everything the economy does. The politicians argue about financial matters and business regulation but without affordable energy all manner of financial trickery mean nothing. Who the Sec of Energy is carries more weight than who the Sec of Treasury is.

Back in the late 1990s I read a Scientific American article about peak oil and its consequences. It predicted peak oil would hit around 2005 based on the peak of discovery occurring 40 years earlier. I realized that the party in power when that happened would bare the blame for all the consequences for many years to come.

The Drum has introduced me to many energy concepts such as the potential of thorium and the many different chemistry combinations of lithium batteries. I have learned much about fossil fuel technology from Heading Out. I have learned that it takes invested energy to make life more energy efficient. I have learned that if each of is does a little bit than very little will get done. It is obvious that a WW II scale response is needed to take us off our dependence on fossil fuels. We all need to accept that there is such a thing as good governance and that we are in this together. Our population density and our technological sophistication are so high that closer government regulations such as fuel rationing will be our only option for escaping deadly anarchy.

Boy that is going to put a damper on the baby boomers whoop it up plans!


I've read a few posts criticizing peoples research here, and I just sigh. At times it seems as if everyone forgets, that in the end, innocent people are going to die: slow, painful, horrific, starvation deaths... if they aren't killed in the political unrest and wars that will soon come.

Do keep in mind, the average person on earth has NO IDEA how close to chaos and peril the world is nearing with regards to energy insecurity, and the political/geo-political consequences of it.

I dare you to walk into any room full of people who know nothing about oil production, try and explain "Peak oil" and see if -ANY- of them take your seriously.

Today the world has over 1 BILLION people who are "food insecure". This number will only grow when the costs of oil goes up, thus causing the price of fertilizer to up as well. Food Aid budgets will be consumed by the cost to transport the food aid that can be afforded.

I think this we can all agree:
We are on the edge of something awful, in the history of -ALL- humanity.

We are lucky, if not blessed, to be ahead in the "Awareness curve". And with that, comes responsibility. Responsibility to inform, and to do all we can to ensure the safety of others. For me, this has NOTHING to do with money.

I use the info here, to try and understand the problems, the timelines, and then "game out" the political and geo-political fall out, calculate the probability of that info, and then share it with friends/family so that they can not only prepare themselves, and their lives... but also understand US, EU, AU, policy.

We are nearing the breaking point, for human civilization. We expanded too much, we became too dependant on fossil fuels... and history will look back on this 100 years from now and call it a massive, terrible tragedy. I think its reasonable to think that perhaps a billion people could die as a result of wars, starvation, and the results of civil collapse in "less stable nations", when the world KNOWS we have peaked. And if we really let things get out of control, I think 2 billion deaths is "on the table".

We can argue and debate the numbers of millions of barrels of oil that one nations MAY or MAY NOT produce this year... but we know how the game ENDS.

I would rather see all of us debate ways to try to spare as many lives as possible.
We know innocent people are going to die... we can make a difference.
Will we... and how will you?

The reason I log on to this blog daily or close to it, is that it provides the most detailed and timely news on a variety of energy (and future survival) topics. I'm constantly amazed at the details, the knowledge of industry sources, the graphs, and the generally good quality of the writing, and it's all for free. I tell my spouse -- these people do that and they don't even get paid!

This can be contrasted to the long term, general deterioration, of the main stream media print and of course TV.

One thought I'm in the process of exploring is that is that once any job becomes salary based and part of a bureaucratized system, the focus of the people in the system immediately changes -- away from whatever the essential mission was that justified the work in the first place. The more the farmers are involved in government supported agriculture, the worse the quality of the food; the bigger the medical system, the less the actual healthcare, the more elaborate the educational system, the less actual learning. In the 1776 blockbuster by Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, Smith muses why anyone would put anyone on salary in the first place .....

I come here to find rationality in a largely irrational world (and getting worse). As well as a great resource in its own right, TOD is also a portal to information and individuals that I never knew. Martenson, Bartlett, Hirsh... Well, you know.

A daily snapshot of the zeitgeist, for better or worse, is invaluable, so much well deserved thanks to Leanan and Gail.

The most important thing for me is to truly understand the issues, the hype, the agenda and the motivations, rather than wallow in delusions, complacency or ignorance. In moving forward, it is essential that we act from a reality base, regardless of how bleak things may seem. If I can disabuse just one boondoggle or hare brained scheme, then that's something.

TOD sets itself apart in that it is not just a facts and figures energy site. Economics, politics, finance and psychology are critical aspects which, if not understood, gives one a very incomplete picture.

Personally, this has led me to decisions which I would not have dreamed of a short two years ago. As a byproduct, I can and will inform, debunk, refute and cajole whenever and whenever I see an opportunity.

It may not seem like much, but laying the groundwork might just be the seed for people to perk up and pay attention, when the MSM finally becomes aware of the situation. This appears to be slowly starting as we speak, but I doubt that the majority will ever "get it", poor levels of education and high levels of propaganda will see to that.

This does not diminish TOD but makes it that much more important and I sincerely thank everyone involved.


What do you see?

Well that all depends on what models of reality you store in your cranial cavity.

Show this picture to an average Joe and you might get a response like: "I see the fruits of modern society and advanced technology. An aerodynamically streamlined tractor trailer is cruising down a modern highway at 70 MPH or better to bring high tech products to ever expanding markets. Cool."

Show this picture to a TOD reader and you might get a response like:

(you fill in the blank)

SB, I'm not quite sure what your point is, but I'll take a stab at it.

Of course everyone can, and will, interpret anything based on their belief systems and mindset. To me, that's a given. Most opinions are relative or contextual.

I see many varied opinions on TOD but that does not mean I will adopt them all, even if it were possible, just because I read it on TOD.

I'm guessing, but you seem to imply that I will think a certain way because I frequent TOD and ergo, that is reality. That doesn't say much for me and makes you presumptuous.

Without getting mired in the metaphysical, reality is not taking anything presented as fact but synthesizing a position based on what I read and then applying critical thinking. Despite the bleatings of relativists, there is reality out there. There are only so many BTUs in a gallon of gasoline, there are 6.7 billion people on the planet and entropy always wins.

TOD is not my only source, but IMO, it's a damn good one. The bulk of the postings are objective with references and they make a fine antidote to cornucopians, ACC apocalyptians, religious zealots, political shills of all colours and wingnuts in general.

BTW, I see a tractor-trailer. Beyond that, I'll need a lot more information.


BTW, I see a tractor-trailer.

I see an asphalt road (made from petrol).
I see a tank filled with diesel (made from petrol).
I see jet plane contrails in the sky (click the image to enlarge).
I see electric light poles (made of aluminum) and a truck made in many places of aluminum.
I see concrete road dividers (moved into position by petrol powered machinery).
I see paint on the truck (and on the roadway; hint paint is made from petro chemicals).
I see a market system (and civilization) highly dependent on all of the above.

step back, That's actually a rather inventive exercise! We should perhaps create a gallery, a sort of peak oil "Rorschach test", it could be interesting to cause us to examine our own positions (one of the hardest things in the world to do, by the way)

To your picture of the tractor-trailer, the very first phrase that popped into my head was "good but outdated technology". I realized immediately how much this said about my thinking: My respect for the interstate highway system (which I consider one of the great achievements of modernist technology), my admiration for the efforts and thoughts of the engineers who design the great vehicles of the age...BUT...I simply think we have stayed at the same stage of development for far too long.

I am technocratic fan, a believer in technology, which to me is nothing more than advanced and elegant design of the materials we use so as to be beautiful, use little, and completey clean, a closed loop of raw materials use. I love the ideas once proposed for robotic trains powered by electric current to carry our goods...the whole system built of aluminium and steel and recycleable materials, and powered by renewables or if the day ever comes, by nuclear fusion. Technically it should be doable. The tractor trailer to me will be needed in a very limited format, but should be built much closer to the ground, using hybrid drives and something more like recaptured methane or perhaps a methanol based fuel made from renewable energy combining carbon and hydrogen stripped from the recaptured methane...again, it is technically doable, the EROEI and economic questions come into play. And of course, there is the old idea of an inductive electric power line laid into one lane of the interstate which the truck would pick up the current from by way of an inductive power reciever, that could power the truck as long as it was on the interstate with no liquid fuel. Again, technically doable, but economic issues loom, it would be right out of the Tesla textbook!

So there. You can see by what I saw from your one photograph that I feel we can give up the tractor trailer if we have to, but that we can decide if we have to. It's our choice. My overall big picture view of course is given away by what I have said: At heart, I am certain there are more than enough raw materials available, if used in an elegant way, to keep humankind relatively comfortable and healthy for the next 500 plus years, maybe much longer, and by then we will be in space and the whole paradigm will be commpletely different again. I am self aware enough to know that I am at heart a techno romantic, a believer in the power of mind and combined effort, and do believe that humans should use the mind to correctly apply it on the materials of the world. (my intellectual influences on the technolgy romantic side, Buckminster Fuller, Alvin Toffler, Artur C. Clarke, Carl Sagen, would help explain this way of thinking) Abandoning science, technology, and all that we have learned to date to go backward is unthinkable to me. It is not human.


a sort of peak oil "Rorschach test"

This is a game I play with myself while driving around the neighborhood.

Look at this scene (e.g. a strip mall).

What does society teach you to see?

What as a TODder should you see (as an alternate vision)?

Strip malls, the young see them as somewhere exciting, somewhere to meet up, usually a restuarant there, so they can hang, and adults see them as a good place to shop, depending on the mall...

Me, I have always seen them as sheds. Multi colored, big sheds, with paint used to create excitement. If you strip off the multi-colors and the cheap tile, they are concrete sheds, what the architect Philip Johnson called "facaden-techure" meaning architecture that is all facade, all face but no depth, no quality , cheap crap that has no real value as art....oops, crap, I sound just like Kunstler! :-)


Everybody sees it different at different times in their lives.

When I'm in TOD mode, I see asphalt (petrol) that had to be transported here and poured at high temperature, thus using lots of energy.

I see a market system critically hinged on the ability of customers and suppliers to transport to this location by use of their cars and trucks.

I see water, sewage and electricity supply conduits. I see air conditioners that have to be operational in hot locales, intenet connection lines that have to be operational, etc.

Abandoning science, technology, and all that we have learned to date to go backward is unthinkable to me.

Funny you say that.
I like to multitask.
While responding to your comment, I'm also listening/peeking-in-on to this video lecture about science, technology and society:

You might enjoy it.

One thing that might be interesting would be for each of those who have actually donated over $25 each year to help maintain TOD to have an Astrix or something attached to their name/handle so everyone knows who donated?

I read TOD from Greed, plain old Greed. No, not for money, but Greed for knowledge. I find access and reference to vast stores of technical knowledge that I could find no-where else at one single source anywhere one the web.

The work of the staff and the work and knowledge that the article presenters give the rest of us free gratis is very much appreciated by me.

I would like to add my thanks to the staff and readers of TOD for their often insightful contributions. I think this is a unique community with an ability to discuss subjects which MSM just will not touch. I think the concept of service is strong here.

IMHO sometimes the comments go too far towards the doomer's perspective but I can understand why, when the implications are usually without any happy answers (or answers at all).

I found TOD from the ODAC site and was completely ignorant of the whole topic until only recently. The quality of comment on this site really brought it to life for me - many of the other forums degrade into is-isn't patterns, lots of personal slander or most worrying - no comments at all. Most of the time this site manages to stay on topic and even when it doesn't, you get plenty of useful views along the way.

The endless growth paradigm is so strong in my generation that any hesitating gets you instantly dismissed as a doomer - I see this clearly in my extended family and much more at work. However my own view is that everyone has an opinion but concensus is NOT evidence. Anyone that can see some of the analysis presented here and not react is blinkered. Much of the analysis is starting to be mirrored by world organisations - but I saw it here first.

I agree with many of the people above deploring the mindless drivel that emerged in the comments from the recent Independent story on PO. It is easy to think there are no sane people left.

My only slight complaint is the huge US focus in discussions and this again is understandable, based on the founders and dominant posters, but may not reflect the true ~12k? readership. The US future is not the world's future - but it will have a significant role to play with those huge grain exports if nothing else. A quick glance might conclude that parts of Europe and even parts of the East are just getting on with transition which the US is stuck debating. That said, I would be the first to acknowledge that many projects are PR and window-dressing, and so I will continue to look to this community for well reasoned perspectives.

Keep up the good work.

I think this site exists to act as a medium for discussion, just like most other websites. It's nothing new. What differs about TOD is, of course, the content. I have yet to find another place where such issues are discussed by intelligent and educated, but most importantly open minded people. That's what draws me to TOD.

Also, as a historian, I am constantly trying to rationalize the world and 'connect the dots'. The mainstream media is useless. My education has not done much more than equip me with the skills needed to learn and analyze. Therefore, when the financial world began to spiral downwards, I needed to understand why. Eventually my research led me here...

So to answer the question of whether this site is successful and why, I would say that it is as successful as it could be. I think most Americans are ignorant and reluctant to learn; especially when it means questioning their [comfortable] lifestyle. Most people don't want to consider that the next 20 years may, and most likely will, be completely different than anything they've known or anticipated.

Thus, as I'm sure most of you have observed, this site is mainly populated by critically thinking people that are eager to learn. That more or less guarantees success [for the site], so long as things stay civil, which seems to be the case.

The site itself isn't going to change anything. The readers and participants are the agents that are out there in the world interacting with others and making decisions for, talking with, educating, etc... their families, friends, and loved ones.

In regards to the site getting the message mainstream: (Warning: OPINIONS) If you look up status quo in the dictionary, mainstream media will be in the list of synonyms. One might think that given the sensationalist and fear mongering tendencies of the media, that peak oil would be mentioned fairly frequently. Although it hasn't happened yet, it might, and that may be an angle to play for those of you that are trying to spread the message on a large scale. Initially, of course, it won't be taken seriously, but the peak oil scenario answers a lot of questions and I wouldn't discount the possibility of the concept catching on, as global warming has. One thing I think is that the peak oil message can be easily convoluted or contradictory to itself if not explained properly. Something to think about...

Hopefully that answers most of the questions posed.

Thanks for everyone's contributions and hard work.

There are hardly any sites online that are as reality-based as The Oil Drum. Most of the others are based in faith, fear or fantasy .. reflecting the blind values of our society at large. It's a comfort to know that many others out there are paying attention too. It's a joy to be given the opportunity to learn from and communicate with each other in a generally civil discourse.

Thanks to all at TOD for making it happen. It is definitely worth the effort.

As with all virtual communities, it's a little too easy to settle into the illusion that posting and commenting are constructive ends in themselves. We must remind ourselves that the highest use of the information discussed here is for all of us to go out and try to manifest some of these ideas in the real world, in our own neighborhoods around the globe. Lead by example, not by comment or complaint.

We cannot depend on any government or mass communications medium to relay these messages.

We are the messengers.

The strength of this site is also its weakness. It has the both virtues and the classic drawback of academe – specifically, the desire to educate, to reason empirically, to serve society in some way, as well as the “ivory tower” mentality.

The best example of this was that series on passive solar design. Well-researched, well-written, informative, but basically useless to most of us. We will not have the opportunity to start from scratch - get some land where we can orient a home properly and build in all the requisite features. Instead, we will be, to use Sharon Astyk’s phrase, “adapting in place.”

I come here b/c I learn a lot. But I get frustrated with a site run and frequented by engineers and others with fantastic technical knowledge I lack who, like the economists they often ridicule, “assume we have a can opener.” Because assuming the average person can, in this economy (which as we know will not be going back to BAU) run out and build a properly designed solar home is akin to assuming we have a can opener.

Sometimes I come here just for the amusement – the heated arguments about how much sooner or later we’re all going to die. Or the human interest factor – watching techies who understand peak oil and its implications grasp again for the high tech solution.

But for actual practical help for things I can do now, I turn to people like Sharon Astyk. Interestingly, she, like me, is trained as an academic but doesn’t have a career as one. With a foot in both worlds, we are able to appreciate and learn from academics but as outsiders, also see the limitations. She is trained in literature, I in sociology. We need you engineers to help us with the technical aspects of making some sort of transition.


Wow!! This has hit me right between the right and left Atrium! This is a wonderful dimension to be brought to the Oildrum. I come back because of posts, and contributions like this-burned off by burnout. Thanks prof and all!!!

That last comment should have read 'burned off my burnout'.

Why do *you* think these people are doing this? Why is it successful? Is it successful?

I believe it is altruism. The primary contributors including Nate, Gail, RR, Heading Out and all the offshore folks, never come off as self serving. I could be wrong ;-) That is what works. I may not agree all the time and I'm often overwhelmed but I come back as a reader and (as HereinHalifax so eloquently put it) dull butterknife to get news from this subculture.

It is successful because it is a fact based alternative voice. So rare, so rare....

There are a lot of posters up thread that may not understand the concept of altruism, confusing caring for others, community and compassion as slavery or mass delusion. That I disagree with their rants is my privilege. That they can post freely here is theirs. This is an open, free and self regulated board. THAT is extremely valuable and also rare.

Could also consider the motive enlightened self-interest. I do well because the group does well.

Why do I pay cash money to rent our Library meeting room and give free public presentations on peak oil?
Because knowledge is power.
And one of the little contributions I can make is to help empower people. THAT’s why I think you do it. You have helped to empower me, so that I can pass it on.

That, for me, means you are succeeding. You represent, IMHO, the best of the Internet: a broad selection and aggregation of real, hard data, along with an offering of analyses, interpretations and yes, opinions. All offered up with a generous helping of peer review and open critique. And your contributors do an admirable job of leaving politics out of their analyses. Even the comments surprise me in that regard.

So I plan to continue my near-daily visits to TOD. For another recharge of my power!
Please keep up the great work!

Yes, this string of posts, with the variety of opinions, ideas, thoughts is a great example of the mental chessplaying and soul searching that keeps us coming back, even when we may differ in our outlook and our take on the "big picture".

Where did I once hear the quote (?) that the only way to a solution is by thinking about it, thinking some more, and then...think some more.

But of course the day comes when we have to choose our position and live with the consequences. The best we can hope for in a less than perfect world is that we have given all the consideration and attention to the options we could possibly afford before we made the leap. The acronym "YAHOO" (You Always Have Other Options) apply until you hit the grave! TOD helps us be aware of other options, and for that we can say thanks, the exercise is well worth it, and off we go into the future!


so, in case anyone looks at the bottom of the list... I think the magic of theoildrum is that it collected a large group of 1)numerate 2)curious 3)people who care about the physical world and 4)a simple profound issue that involves an exceptionally large amount of money and the fate of mankind.

I post that someone may be able to show how the data I have is wrong and give me
leads to show why they are right. (This is where I get the most value from TOD

Dead-Bob-from-Galveston's pointing out how fish and mammal prions are different
is a fine example.

I also post bits to expand others worldview. On occasions that happens. (staub
er products as an example)

And I post that I educate to therefore clear up ignorance. With the occasional
"wow this is out there" post.

(oh and try to be as arrogant seeming as possible - that usually gets a few to p
rovide a well researched POV posted to try to change minds VS a bunch of BS post

I come here to read others data and POV - some have changed what I do, others wh
at perceptual lenses I view the world and history.

But enough of me.

Without Leanan (attempting/succeeding) sorting though the BS to create the drumb
beats, or superG having nothing to do - then having to patch the system because
of flaw X, or the people who make the guest posts (not to mention the ppl who ac
cept/filter em) - there would be no TOD.

I used to have "OhMeGawd, I'm getting old" moments. They are not so potent now.
But I do feel the pressure of time.

I come back to this site to escape the dross fed to the ranks. Have you yanks seen your TV?

If I may be so bold as to offer an observation.

Chaos theory shows that even simple mathematical expressions can have deep structure and lead to unexpected outcomes. Perhaps we should be a little humble when expressing absolutes.

On the other hand chaos theory shows that the truth circles a strange attractor, so we cannot say that anything is possible.

You are part of the show. What will suprise us next?

I come here to learn, and to express and test my ideas. Everyone else comes to show off, to compensate for their ego-deficiency....[/attempted sense of humor off>

Actually, it reminds me of how when I got involved in the Birmingham Friends of the Earth, I found I learned more from there than I had learnt in all my formal education (albeit that wasn't so much!).

And I recall well, about 2 yrs ago, I decided my next task was to learn all about peak energy, and not least deepen my knowledge of how economics worked in dodgy theory and in real practice. For the latter fortunately I found the Chris Martenson course (from here I think). For the rest, I have plagiarised much of my learning and thinking from this site, so it's perhaps natural that I will rate it as uniquely as others do above.

When I first visited here (about 2 yrs ago) I thought it was a bit too technically-abstruse and the volume of comments was (already) intimidating. I still struggle to half-keep up with it all. (Memmel and some others regrettably I have to scroll past.)

What is remarkable is the difference from most web-forums of any size, which get destroyed by very low quality input (see eg the comment-is-free which is just a brain-dead posters' time-wasting exercise despite (or rather because of) heavy "moderation"). I think what has most effectively filtered this dross out from TOD (my own indiscretions apart) has been the engineeringy name of the site, automatically repelling any non-engineeringy-minded people, which means most of the woolly thinkers and ideologically-jerking sorts.