The Energy Candidate's Dilemma

One of the ways to effect change on a local (and national) level is to cast your ballot. Another is to actually run for elected office. It takes a strange breed to want to do that, as the level of scrutiny for your every word or deed is more than most people would wish for. Also, the political realities of what can be accomplished cause many of those elected to leave office in frustration. Most of those who stay, however, arrive at their own level of compromise between their goals and ideals (if they indeed had any) and the actions or words needed to get re-elected. For a challenger, it is actually better to have no clear positions whatsoever on most issues, relying on a crafted soundbite on one issue or something even less meaningful for voter persuasion. But what if your foremost concern centered around an imminent oil supply crunch? Could you craft a message around that and still get elected?

There was a local election last week in Seattle and surrounding King County, and one of the contested positions was King County Executive. This person heads the executive branch of government for the county of about 2 million people. Although cities such as Seattle have their own governing bodies, King County provides many shared services including the court system, public transit, and sewage. Revenue comes from a portions of sales and property tax, and both of these are on a downswing. This isn't a great time to run, especially if you have an expensive agenda. But the job seems to be a good political stepping stone, as the previous office holder, Ron Sims, is now Undersecretary of Housing and Urban Development for Obama. The holder before Sims was Gary Locke, who subsequently served 8 years as governor and now is US Secretary of Commerce.

The election was a primary, with the top two contenders for each race advancing to the finals. The K.C. Executive position is non-partisan, so it is often the case that a strange mix of long-shots enters the race. The furthest out there was a guy who ran under the name Goodspaceguy, touting his minor in economics.

Question 2: What do you see as the main issues facing Seattle’s parks and green spaces, and what is one innovative idea or change you think would help address these issues?

Answer: Lack of use. I, Goodspaceguy, want more free parking and showers. Sweaty people stink. I, Goodspaceguy, believe that showers would help solve this problem by enabling park users to exercise and then shower themselves promptly clean. Also I would like to establish campgrounds in some of the parks.

Unfortunately, most of the county parks are due to be mothballed because of the budget crisis, and they already have free parking as far as I know.

Another candidate was physicist and former lawyer Stan Lippmann. He describes himself as a libertarian, but his concerns about the economy seem to be most on his mind:

Lippmann says he sees a pretty bleak future for our country's economy and its effect on King County. He predicts more banks will go under this fall. If he makes it to the primary and is elected Lippmann says everyone in the County will be advised to exchange all of their paper money for silver coins.

"My thinking is if we all have real money in our pockets, then we can go shopping. We can go to the supermarket and buy gasoline."

Lippmann would also make it a priority to buy a mine, so the county could produce its own metals. He also wants to convert all of our cars to natural gas.

"Everyone who drives will save 2000 dollars a year."

Idaho silver mine, cheap!
Got mine?

As a candidate for Seattle City Council in 2007, Lippmann gave energy an even more prominent position on his slate. He advocated a large civic investment in wind farms, buying a mothballed nuclear reactor, and purchasing a coal-fired generator and converting it to a coal-to-liquids plant.

One can instinctively tell that he never stood a chance of being elected, and many of his thoughts on fluoridation, vaccines, and free energy were better left unexposed. But his concerns on the economy and energy are familiar ones to readers of The Oil Drum, and a few of his proposals and predictions have some connection to reality.

The point of this post is not to debate the merits or demerits of either candidate. Instead, here is a challenge: come up with you own campaign platform or candidate's statement for this position (or some other one), incorporating your ideas for effecting change in light of current economic and future energy problems. Realizing that a campaign blurb is not the best place to deliver bad news or wade through complex subjects, what message will get serious (as opposed to mocking) attention from the voters and the press?

As for the outcome of yesterday's race, the two survivors include a current King County Council member and a former television news anchorwoman with few stated positions on anything.

Guess who received the most votes.

One of the ways to effect change on a local (and national) level is to cast your ballot. Another is to actually run for elected office.

And another way is to vote with your dollars. Take the time to educate yourself and others and try to pick the least objectionable people to exchange your money with.


Last December, the Austrian branch of US vaccine company Baxter sent a batch of ordinary human H3N2 flu, altered so it couldn’t replicate, to Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, also in Austria. In February, a lab in the Czech Republic working for Avir alerted Baxter that, unexpectedly, ferrets inoculated with the sample had died. It turned out the sample contained live H5N1, which Baxter uses to make vaccine. The two seem to have been mixed in error.

Or how the makers of vaccines are now immune by law?

The oral polio vaccine used in Nigeria and elsewhere contains a mild version of the live virus. Children who have been vaccinated pass the virus into the water supply through urine or feces. Other children who then play in or drink that water pick up the vaccine's virus, which gives them some protection against polio.

But in rare instances, as the virus passes through unimmunized children, it can mutate into a strain dangerous enough to ignite new outbreaks, particularly if immunization rates in the rest of the population are low.

Yea - no reason to be concerned......

Guess who received the most votes.

The pretty and vague one.

Instead, here is a challenge: come up with you own campaign platform

Hows this for esoteric - Maximizing eMergy. Esp. the part where 'human thinking' has value. Try to promote knowledge workers. Toss in the observation

A better explanation is that STEMI (space, time, energy, mass, and information) compression must be able to occur across all phases of the process and not be artificially limited/restricted in any way.

No chance of winning.

Hi eric blair,
Thanks for the topic, really appreciate work.

A message that says we're in for a load of pain hasn't got a prayer against a message of cheery optimism.

Just look at how Ronald Reagan's 'Morning in America' handily trounced Jimmy Carter's realistic gloominess. It also allowed the US to almost totally ignore energy issues all throughout the 1980s and then some.

And when the hard reality finally sets in, never ever admit that you were wrong but quickly pin the blame on someone else: the liberals, the A-rabs, the Iranians, the Chinese, anyone will do. An unnecessary and irrelevant war will also help distract the people. Of course, it all will fail in the end, but by that time you will be out of office and your cronies will have made off with all the goodies.

As you may have gathered, I don't put too much faith in getting much accomplished via the national electoral process.

Rather than dwell on the negative and propose crazy things no one would ever understand, a platform of local civic improvement has proven effective time and time again. In the suburb I live in, a major move to rebuild the shopping districts around the area has been underway, with the first phase recently completed (just in time for the economic crash, unfortunately). Although I was initially skeptical of the plans, I quickly came to appreciate that what was proposed was a much more pedestrian-friendly design that minimized the intrusion of the car and emphasized “people-space”. Shopping would be concentrated in walkable zones around the area, rather than the traditional approach of turning major roads into one giant strip mall.

If running for city council or some such, I’d pledge to continue working to make that vision a reality, and look into putting in place a free circulating bus system to link the shopping districts -- my suburb already has pretty good bus service, although the cost to ride recently doubled to ~$1.50. Improving bike paths and pedestrian infrastructure are clear needs to me, but I often feel alone when trying to walk/ride anyplace.

It should come as no surprise that the platformless talking head garnered the most support though.

Billy_Smith - What part of the the country do you live in? It must be the East Coast, the West Coast, or one of the few enlightened cities in the hinterlands.

Where I live in the Houston area, the car is king, there is more or less no zoning at all, and developers call the shots. It might be considered anti-capitalistic by some in this area to propose that life could be a bit better with shopping close enough to walk to, public transportation, and people space. We do have an enlightened mayor though (Bill White) who is doing a terrific job of trying to introduce a few of these ideas to Houston.

Local is good. Improvement is good.

"Independence" is also a good draw in this country (USA). So, I would also be touting and pushing local projects that improve the community's (or region's) "independence". The key here is to avoid actually defining "independence" (or, for that matter, "local" or "improvement" or anything else!) in any way, shape or form, other than by the examples of the projects that you actually support (ideally, those few that are already funded by somebody else... financing is the task of the elected, not the running). ;-)


I did this in 2006, running for Governor of Maine in the Democratic Primary.

I spoke about STOPPING growth. About shutting down developers. About community gardens.

I was talking about how health care could not continue as it has been. How we need the barefoot doctors. How we need to devolve to county level, accountability and so forth. LOTS of this in Bryan's "Vermont Papers". It's a campaign plan - already done.

Entropy. Hierarchy.

Pension plan collapse. Budgets.

I spoke a lot about the corporations. How "economics" must be secondary to little-d democratic capitalism. Call it Jeffersonian. 14th Amendment gives Obama the vote. It gives corporations more than a vote. Repeal it. Who better than a black man in the white house? [But then again, exactly why did the coporations put this black man in the white house?]

The Commerce Clause. As Governor, it would have been one of my first few acts to challenge it. [The first would have been to order the National Guard Home and to demote to the field those officers that refused to obey - all sorts of Article 8 legal stuff here. But nothing more gratifying than getting the commanders of the Maine National Guard shot up on the front lines in Iraq. Quote me on that.]

Gun control is hitting the target. [I stole that one from Jean Hay Bright.]

I spoke about scale, about who profits and who pays, about what is fair and who decides.

That was my big line, "WHAT IS FAIR AND WHO DECIDES". That was core. Not tax credits - what good is a $40k tax credit to a single mother making $16k?

Food security, home security, order the Guard home to lay rail, build community gardens and insulate homes.

Free public transportation for those who give up cars. Paid for with a heavy energy tax [not just gas].

"What are you doing," someone asked me, "talking about the Commerce Clause?" How do you spell Nestles', Hannaford, FPL, Casella, Anthem, Verizon and any of the other global corporations that are destroying Maine? [All of those, BTW, the top sponsors of governor-elect Baldacci's Campaign Ball.]

Bottom line, I got 25% of the vote in the "Democratic" primary statewide here in Maine. With only a few thousand dollars. As a lone wolf candidate, I didn't court money. Didn't have time for it. I had to plant my garden and I had no organization. At that point, 2006, even my friends couldn't burn bridges to sign on for no pay and derision. [Personally, I don't think I could have done a whole lot better - even with money - within the Primary.]

And who would have given me any meaningful amount of money? The car dealers like Rowe Ford? No, my money came from wonderful people like John Howe.

Those who know me say don't do it again, because I'll be shot and killed. Because now I know how to do it much more effectively.

Think about that.

It was a huge honor. I met so many people - individuals, selectmen, people of all walks of life - that understood what I was talking about. I carried the flag for them that year. Others need to do that too.

Don't kid yourself. You cannot win. You will be shot if you even threaten. (Or poisoned or drawn and quartered.) But if anyone wants to do it, I'll be willing to help. I won't be running for Governor again this year, myself. But hey, State Senate sounds interesting. ;^>

You can't win. It's like trying to get a date by promising her she can come home to poop in a bucket. The whole natural-selection hoarding-of-energy peacock-feather feel-good stuff kills you dead.

On the other hand, we-the-25% need someone to carry the banner.

25%. Hello?????

Two things:

1) Get a coach. Channel a hero. I found an excellent drama/comedy/acting coach here in Portland Maine. He and Brother Malcolm pulled me through. I got "booed" at the Convention. Yeah!

2) Don't cut the bastards any slack. No matter what you say, you are probably not radical enough. [If you get a salmon or a coral or a bat or a bee on the podium speaking with you, well, maybe.]

Afterwards, well, it does give me a bit of joy to hear backchannel, "Oh, those are Chris Miller's peeps. Ignore them." Apprarently "my peeps" reduced some Rep to tears as she sold out on Real ID. [Real ID, hierarchy and so forth - yes, "peeps" understand.]

If you can carry the banner, carry it.

One final note: Governor is where it's at. It would take only a single governor to topple this empire. She, sadly, might not live to see the outcome.

cfm, in Gray, ME

I hesitate to step into this discussion having been there, done that (just deleted my long post)--it only begets the vitriol of TODs posters/readers. So, if anyone is considering such a thing, don't hesitate to contact me: energymavenatgmaildotcom

Thanks for mentioning your personal involvement with this issue.

If we stop and think about it, it becomes a real problem as to what to do / say that is acceptable to voters. Even trying to explain the problem is more than most people can accept. Trying to get re-elected becomes an even bigger problem.

Even trying to explain the problem is more than most people can accept.

Unfortunately that is the crux of the problem, either ignorance, denial or both. When the US Energy Secretary publicly express his optimism for finding ways to shore up and continue BAU, my personal pessimism falls off the charts. Yes, if only we have faith and believe, we can surely find a way to make a flock of flying pigs! All we need is more optimism...

Speaking to a crowd of more than 700 on Friday, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu urged researchers to confront what he called "the energy challenge."

ALG Officials have stated that indeed we were in front of trying times and for the first time in human history we possessed the ability to make meaningful decisions about our environment.

"For the first time in history, science has shown humans altering the destiny of our planet in a meaningful way," he said. "We have to try to enlist some of the very best intellectual horsepower to deal with this."

In a wide-ranging speech that touched on worldwide emissions, climbing global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and the rising sea level, Chu demonstrated how the energy challenge cuts across many areas and is intensely tied to our economic prosperity.

"But there's reason for hope," he said. "Scientists by their very nature have to be very optimistic... We can fix this."

Angels Lending Group President agreed with those statements and said that it started with a positive attitude. Optimism she insisted was much better than pessimism.

Pointing to historical examples of research easing global problems—including the invention of artificial fertilizer, which helped set off the so-called "green revolution"—Chu expressed his belief that science research would again come to the world's aid.

In addition to the energy/finance crisis we also have an equity/distribution crisis - the wealth disparity is at record extremes and folks can't borrow against their homes, get cheap loans, as they could in the decade(s) leading up to the pricking of the real/fiat bubble.

So one idea that might be populist as well as dealing with the energy/finance situation would be to run on a platform of "energy savings vs. the average". Determine the average use of electricity/gasoline in Seattle area - if people use less than that amount they get a rebate - if they use more they pay a tax - a wealth transfer from the energy users to the savers that also would reduce consumption, as both would use less than previous year. Reset each year or some such. Let a marketing person hash out the details...

Let me preface this by saying that politically, I am solidly in the libertarian camp. I was one of these people who "wasted" my vote on Bob Barr last November and strongly supported Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. I have several comments about this.

"In addition to the energy/finance crisis we also have an equity/distribution crisis - the wealth disparity is at record extremes" As far as I'm concerned, if you work hard and earn a good salary then congratulations and I'm happy for you. I see nothing wrong with people who are wealthy. Having money doesn't automatically make you an evil person. We've heard on the news about high profile abuses that have gone on but these are the exception. Just as there are abuses of welfare, but these are also the exceptions to the rule.

"folks can't borrow against their homes, get cheap loans, as they could in the decade(s) leading up to the pricking of the real/fiat bubble." And why is this a problem? This is a free market response to what has gone on and is something that should have been going on all along. If the government and federal reserve would have gotten out of the way and not artificially lowered interest rates and encouraged banks to lend to people who in the past would have been denied mortgages, there never would have been a housing bubble.

"So one idea that might be populist as well as dealing with the energy/finance situation would be to run on a platform of "energy savings vs. the average". Determine the average use of electricity/gasoline in Seattle area - if people use less than that amount they get a rebate - if they use more they pay a tax - a wealth transfer from the energy users to the savers that also would reduce consumption, as both would use less than previous year. Reset each year or some such. Let a marketing person hash out the details..."

This idea screams of having very bad unintended consequences. From a politician's perspective, you've just irritated 50% of potential voters. Also, in the discussion that started this, if King County implements a "wealth transfer" by any means, what do you think the reaction would be of people who live there who are losing this wealth?

I think that most of us who are PO, climate aware should consider running for office, as the mainstream candidates won't touch that stuff, and thus the word does not get out.
I ran for office here in Nevada twice, in 06 as a Green candidate for governor, and in 08 going for house of Representatives seat.
And of course, while I lost, I did maintain ballot access for our party, but more importantly I did notice some very small positive changes. My platform in both cases was making Nevada the 'energy state', and heavy on conservation.
I spoke of simple things like clotheslines, compost piles, solar cookers, and more complex things like focussing solar collectors.
Here in Nevada, and much of the west, the lowly evaporative cooler is so efficient compared with AC, that it is almost a crime to not use them. Places like Las Vegas still are stuck mostly on expensive AC, and we all know how gluttonous that place is on resource use.
But, in the end, some folks did talk with me about swamp coolers, and a few even did install them. Other folks considered putting in solar water heaters, and I did make some contacts and links that are still working and growing today.
Running for office is certainly stressful, and the compromise between what one thinks one should say to get elected and make a change, and what one really believes is seductive. Yet, one must stay true to one's beliefs, and that is the best path.
It's like, if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said before....
Campaigning was a trip, public speaking wasn't too bad (tho' I still do get the shakes if I speak too long at one time), meeting the other candidates was informative and bridge-building, and interacting with the voters is a challenge.
One of the congressional candidates last cycle and I spoke at several different events. One of my initial questions to the audience was generally, "who has heard of Peak Oil?" Only a handful ever raised their hands, and at near the end of the campaign, my opponent also started raising her hand.
So regardless of if you win or not, you can get some good messages out and start people thinking a little bit.
Would I do it over again? Yes.
Will I run again? No.
I did make some contacts, and I will use them to best advantage. Instead, I am now with a newly starting transition town movement here, and we are soon going to be putting on demonstrations of building simple solar cookers, solar heat boxes, extolling the virtues of swamp coolers, neighborhood co-operatives, and whatever else we can do.
If you have solutions, I urge you to consider running next year. Start now, build a base, get your postions down, and help get the word out. You folks here are the best informed I know to do this, and if you don't do it, who will? And, BTW, most of these politicos are pretty slow in person, and stuck in their beliefs and don't do a lot of thinking or outreach. The exciting people are the ones running for the first time. And what's cool, is, you can run your own campaign, and do it YOUR way.
I love this site, thank you all for such great information and solution sharing.
Craig Bergland,
AKA renofreepress.

Thanks for sharing your experiences. You brought up an idea that I was meaning to express, that being that running for office with a challenging message (meaning you won't win) is nonetheless one way to begin the conversation. Being seen as someone with a fresh message, as opposed to being somewhat crazy, is the key.

In addition to the energy/finance crisis we also have an equity/distribution crisis - the wealth disparity is at record extremes

Nate, while I still more or less agree with this, I read an interesting NYTimes article yesterday that stated how the "economic crisis" had reversed us off the peak of income/wealth inequality. It makes me wonder if this is a temporary loss of the super wealthy due to overleveraging when the crash came, or if it represents another true inflection point.

The line between a populist idea and a punitive one is easily crossed. Seattle has tiered electricity rates. They initially had two, and then the city council added a third a few years ago.

The third tier rate took effect in July, 2001. The City Council had adopted it earlier in the year at the peak of the energy crisis and in reaction to a newspaper story listing the top 10 residential energy users in City Light's system.

The legislation added an additional tier to Seattle's two-tier rate structure in which the first 16 kilowatt-hours per day are billed at 4.32 cents per kilowatt-hour and the remaining energy consumption is billed at 8.65 cents. The third tier rate is 16.53 cents per kilowatt-hour for usage above 125 kilowatt-hours per day in the winter and 60 kilowatt-hours per day in the summer.

Lot's of negative feedback. The dissatisfied included some lower-income households who have poorly-insulated houses heated resistively as well as well-off people with large houses. The 3rd tier was modified in 2002:

Under the new arrangement, which takes effect next month, customers have a higher ceiling before they touch third-tier territory, from 3,750 kilowatt hours a month to 5,000 in the winter (October through March), and a reduced rate, from 16 cents a kilowatt hour to 10 cents. For summer (April through September), the threshold will rise to 3,000 kilowatt hours from 1,800.

Usage of gasoline would be hard to treat similarly, since there are multiple places to buy gasoline. People would cross county lines to avoid anything collective being done. Also, there is the issue that many poorer people have lousy cars and longer commutes from the cheaper homes further out from the city.

It seems to be the case that a coalition will always form between the unintended victims and the more justifiable targets. Then there is the free-market sentiment that rich people should be able to use as much energy as they can afford -- at the same price everybody else pays.

The point of my comments about wealth inequality is that without cheap energy, continued 'haves' by the wealthy begins to equal misery and death for the have nots, as opposed to 'something less' which has been the case for a couple generations. THAT is the big story in next decade in my opinion..

Also, those who consume more create a price externality for those who consume less by driving prices up in a supply/demand inelastic market.

The whole inequality thing is big. It's surprising that there is so little dialogue about this in the U. S., almost as surprising as that there is no discussion of peak oil. Limits to growth exacerbates the problems of resource depletion because while higher prices are an inconvenience for the rich, it means starvation for the poor. So peak oil will force this issue upon us as well as energy depletion.

Seattle's approach to electricity is a classic example of trying to make one policy perform two policy objectives. It can't be done. Thus we have endless complaints about a gas tax (or other energy-conserving measure) falling unfairly on the poor and then nothing happens. We need one policy to encourage energy conservation, and a second policy of wealth redistribution to deal with the problem of inequality. Unfortunately, the easiest way to redistribute wealth is at the federal level through a progressive income tax or some such, which Seattle can't really bring about.

Another reason to have wealth redistribution is that a lot of the wastage of energy comes from the poor. If they have been marginalized through a grossly unequal system such as in the U. S., it will be hard to get "buy-in" from the poor. If we start redistributing wealth around here, then there will be some assurance that this is their country, too, and they will be more likely to identify with community objectives.



Cold Camel just posted some scary but all too believeable comments to the effect that oil depletion rates may very well be seven percent over the next three years.That HASto outrun so called demand destruction,or we might asd well man the barricades any way.

Now if the economy manages to struggle back to it's feet,that looks like five dollar plus gasoline for sure to me,if not another war or two someplace.

There is too my knowlege only one person with the personal stature and name recognition in the
US who might actually TRY to do something about the energy mess,who might just concieveably win if nomimated.

I can't believe I'm actually typeing this,but maybe it's time for a draft Gore movement.

Of course he is almost certainly not going to get the nomination,but he COULD force energy onto the front pages for the duration of the campaign.

Who esle can do even this much?

Nate -

The problem is that the devil is in the details, and as far as I can see some of those details make your proposed concept of rewarding or penalizing everyone against some energy average fundamentally flawed.

Even if you stick some sort of an energy meter up everyone's arse, you still won't be able to get an accurate picture of how much energy that person uses (or is directly or indirectly responsible to for using).

Here's are two simple examples:

1) You are a broker in derivatives for Goldman Sach and live in a posh condo in midtown Manhattan. You take cabs to and from your office on Wall Street. You do not own a car, but rather rent one whenever you go out of town. Whenever you want to do a little recreation, such a a wine-tasting even in Aspen, Colorado, you take a limo to the airport, hop on a jet, and then drive a rented car once you arrive in Aspen.

If one were to track mileage driven on personal cars, your apparent energy profile is essentially zero. Yet you have directly consumed or indirectly caused to be consumed a good deal of energy.

2) You are a rancher in a remote area of Montana or Wyoming. You live 35 miles from the nearest town. It can get 30 below during the winter and you use a good deal of fuel to heat your home. You have four kids and several parents living on your spread. You drive a full-size pick-up, and that's just one of the large vehicles you need to run the ranch. You have to go into town frequently on business and each visit is a 70-mile round trip. You energy profile is well above average.

So, Nate, how does your proposed scheme avoid rewarding the Goldman Sachs broker and penalizing the rancher?

You can't dismiss these sort of fundamental problems as mere 'details' for someone with a less grand vision to worry about. There is no way this can be done an anything approaching an equitable manner.

I think that while I can't quite figure out how to justify a Bill Gates being personally given $80 billion or whatever in return mainly for standing by the riverbank and commanding the water to flow downhill, and while I perhaps understand your comment in purely tactical terms, nonetheless the underlying envy-of-wealth trope seems an exercise in utter futility. A polite statement of the problem comes from British writer Susan Ertz:

Millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

The more forthright reality is that not only do they not know, they give every possible appearance of having been born too stupid ever to know. There's no use getting exercised over it as there's no cure - and besides, it never seems to bother them in the least anyhow, except perhaps should they get a chance to make a great Queen-for-a-Day show of mewling before the TV cameras for a pittance of a kickback from some power-mad politician using them to steal the wider public blind on his or her own account under cover of the excuse that "it's only fair".

At any other time, the millions (a.k.a. J&J6P) will happily hand over big bucks to further enrich some multimillionaire sports "star" providing a mere few brief moments of vacuous "entertainment" utterly diluted by a four-hour barrage of commercials. And as I observed the other day, they're just as happy to handsomely pay some well-heeled "rock" "band" to yell obscenities endlessly and tunelessly at them as an evening's "entertainment". That's just how it is and I see little to "do" about it under currently accepted social rules, except to leave them to it.

Now, should the day come when the millions themselves, not merely philosophers erecting fairy castles in the air on their pretended behalf, become sufficiently offended by the disparity of multimillion-dollar annual ballplayer salaries to drop their cable TV, turn out the politicians responsible for multibillion-dollar sweetheart stadium deals, let the steroidal "sports" empires go belly-up, and find something else to do on rainy Sunday afternoons, then please get back to us and let's talk. But in the meantime everyone directly concerned seems content, so it looks to be a stillborn cause on behalf of which I for one am not willing to accept even one jot more of pettifogging micromanagement of every detail of life by government know-it-alls and the armies of bloodsucking lawyers they enable and encourage (e.g.), arrogant parasitical bullies with nothing to do but suffocate every vestige of life that dares to show itself.

Possibly the current health care debate morass is a good example of what happens when the politicians try to address a pressing and very complicated issue. My understanding is that the US Health Care situation -- with health care now consuming 18% of US GDP per year, over half of which is funded by government with (mostly) borrowed money and with health spending growing by 0.5 percentage points of GNP each year (or something like that) -- is more of a pressing problem than the oil. If one parces Obama's words closely it seems that he does add in little peeps about controlling overall health care costs -- perhaps there's a sense that if these costs aren't controlled they will bring on a Kunstler style "financial" collapse before the oil runs out. My understanding is that the U.S.A. spends about twice the average on health care, while also using twice as much oil per capita (as the other so-called civilized nations). If there are two shoes to drop,perhaps the Administration, in its brilliance, is trying to address the more pressing one first.

Hello TODers,

As a member of the Boomer Generation, I am too old [54] to do what I will briefly explain shortly [and I expect & accept that I will be an early victim], but I think a much younger person from Gen X, Y, or Z could start running for office using a modified version of the Vietnam tactic of "don't trust anyone over 50". Recall that the earlier upheaval was dramatically effective in getting the entrenched Establishment to change direction.

It might take 4-8 years of losing effort, but I believe coming events, like WT's ELM, Duncan's Olduvai Re-equalizing, Economic Malaise, CC, and rapid extinctions, will make it OBVIOUS that everything has to be dramatically altered to try and avert the fast-crash of Jay's Themo/Gene Collision or the agonizing slow grind of Archdruid Greer's Catabolic Collapse.

So imagine a young person, running for elected office, proclaiming 'Optimal Overshoot Decline' [OOD] as his/her platform buzzwords. OOD is basically trying to hit the 'sweet spot' between Jay's & Greer's theories; to reshape the Dieoff Bottleneck for a potential maximum of biodiversity to squeeze through to the other side.

His/Her overall goal is basically to drive a demographic wedge into the voting public; to split the electorate into those heavily vested in BAU [retiring boomers, the "I want it All, and I want it Now" generation] and those who will get nothing from the Hubbert Downslope, collapsing economic and real structures, and rapidly declining ecosystem.

Ideally, you would like to see a whole throng of these young Realists running at the same time across the country, and heavily networked using the WWWeb to induce max awareness, and furthermore, to grow involvement from other young participants to help grow/support the various campaigns united under the sufficiently vague OOD banner.

I can hear Boomers already complaining to a younger OODer that this is unfair. The OODer can routinely respond that the fast-crash will then come to both Boomer & OODer if they don't place a priority upon future generations; "Don't you want your children & grandchildren to even have a postPeak chance?" plus "How long do you think you older people will last in a machete' moshpit against a mob of starving teenage thugs?". I think this Strategy could get a lot of Boomers to re-think, then vote for the OOD side. I know I would, and I don't even have any offspring.

It is easy to forsee Boomers asking OODers, "How can OOD benefit me"?

OODer replies: "How many miles can you carry water or firewood on your head, old man [old woman]?" Then the OODer shows this photo:

The OODer can go on to respond that if we continue BAU until we fast-crash to the disastrous, short radius of the Tlameme Backpacking scheme: we will all suffer greatly. The best way for a Boomer to continue to eat and live will be if young OODers are allowed to bring about fast & dramatic non-BAU changes.

The OODer can then quickly and easily point out how proactive and prescriptive changes can postPeak benefit both Boomer & OODer such a ZPG [or even negative PG], Kunstlerized walkable towns, Alan Drake's standard gauge RR & TOD, Permaculture, strategic reserves of bicycles & wheelbarrows & I-NPKS, and narrow gauge SpiderWebRiding to easily move O-NPK and vital foodstuffs.

Pointing out how OODers becoming ruthless Earthmarines to initialize, protect, then gradually enlarge biosolar habitats will be the best defense against the inevitable rise of the 'Dictatorship of the Detritovores" and their relentless Mercs who will seek nothing less than a scorched earth policy of eating the last tomato, potato, poodle, salmon, cat, bird, etc.

Constantly pounding out info such as Dr. David Suzuki's quote: "We are on a suicidal path...We are in the 59th minute... We have to start throwing our bodies into the fray..." will further help illustrate that BAU cannot continue much longer for both Boomer and OODer alike, thus fostering even faster exponential VOTER growth under the OOD banner.

Basically, the emotional thrust is directed to focus around Harry Chapin's song:

"Remember when the music..
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day..

"Remember when the music..
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time
And as we sang we worked, for time was just a line,
It was a gift we saved, a gift the future gave..."

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Constantly pounding out info such as Dr. David Suzuki's quote: "We are on a suicidal path...We are in the 59th minute... We have to start throwing our bodies into the fray..."

Suzuki is wrong. Astyk, Lovelock and maybe even Monbiot are right. It's too late. We still need to throw our bodies into the fray, but the goal in a mitigation scenario is different. Minute 59 implies we can save ourselves and we cannot.

It's too late. We are way past the time of "save". The issue now is "what's the mitigation path", and "WHO DECIDES AND WHAT IS FAIR".

Saving ourselves is not an option. As humans, we need to sacrifice "the entitled" to save anything.

cfm in Gray, ME

Great post JoulesBurn. As an Energy Candidate here in New Zealand for the 2008 general election, I have some serious sympathy for your arguments. The greatest challenge I faced on the campaign trail was not getting lumped in with the GoodSpaceGuys, the well meaning and often semi-informed candidates that allow the BAUers to denigrate any thinking outside the BAU box.

On the positive side, we increased our MPs in parliament by 50%, and the NZ Greens are now the third largest party in the House. The message is getting through, slowly but surely. It does, however, require the patience of a saint.

As for it being too late, (as the previous commenter suggests), that, in itself, is political suicide. No one has ever lost an election who managed to stimulate hope in the constituency - even if it was based on a lie or false fearmongering. You only have to go back over the last two elections in the US to see that (s)he who stimulated the greatest hope, real or imagined, got elected.

Fear is the flip side of hope - an intense expectation. Either will work because the physiological/psychological response is the same. But to say it's all over doesn't create fear, but defeat/depression. In order to fear, there must be something worthwhile at stake that is worth fighting for.

Well said, Caraka. IMO, WTSHTF: honesty and real truthfulness will be the coin of the realm to best illuminate the challenge ahead.

I think the UK would have eventually lost if Winston Churchill did Not give his speech, "I can only promise you sweat, toil, blood and tears.."

I could see a future Churchill starting off by saying the same thing plus also:

"Yep, I am asking you to expect and accept that we will probably die by the millions, but so help me God, we have got to make absolutely sure that the Dieoff Bottleneck is reshaped into the best possible form to get as many species and as much knowledge as possible thru to the Other Side. This is the Goal, the Foundation, the Purpose of all of us, the Overshoot.."

Isaac Asimov was not an idiot.

I notice that NZ is running low on the natural gas which is your major fuel for electric generation.

Have the NZ Greens changed their tune on nuclear power?  If e.g. the Hyperion power module were commercially available, would you push the government to buy them to provide zero-carbon electricity and save your dwindling gas supplies?

Disclaimer: I ran for election for a state-level office in November 2008.

Another is to actually run for office.

My estimate is that less than 1 in 1000 Americans ever run for elected elected office at any time during their life.

as the level of scrutiny for your every word or deed is more than most people would wish for.

I've got some disagreements with your point. The main being that newspapers and TV stations actually ignore the vast majority of candidates. Chatting with the other candidates who ran for the same seat that I did, we all commented on the complete lack of coverage for this state-level race by the media. Reporters would send all of us the same batch of questions, we'd spend hours typing up pages of answers and instead of printing (or reporting) anything we said, they'd distil 2-3 pages of answers/positions into a single formulaic sentence: Candidate X works as a Y and is Z years old.

You are only going to get coverage if you're running for mayor, state/federal senate/rep or governor. Anything lesser and you're going to get ignored.

One of the keys to actually running a better campaign than I did would be to be a better interviewee. Look for books on "media relations." While much of this is substantially the same as interviewing for a job (which you are doing), the main drawbacks for interviewees is knowing when to stop talking and how to keep steering the point back to what you want discussed. Done poorly, that leads to what you've noticed when candidates say "I'm glad you asked that, because that's a key of my_strategy_A" and then segue off to a completely different subject than the question.

I ran for local office (County Council) and got there, back in the 80's. I was Peak Oil / finite resources / renewable energy aware, but that was not the platform I used to gain office. I landslided in on a campaign to annihilate the local Building Inspector, very popular across the board. (so to speak)
The problem is that once you're in, unless like minds have a clear majority, you are reduced to horse-trading to get what you want. You have to drop two to pick up one, and you have to triage what is important to you.
Even then, it's like swimming in treacle. You put an awful lot of effort in, and it's hard to see what effect you had, in hindsight. All you can do is console yourself that things would have been worse had you not done it. Staying 'true unto oneself' can be an issue, too.
We are entering a different era now - if we all have it right, a rev-up of economic activity will hit the sinking lid of energy supply, and it's hard to see another bailout round. I suggest that anyone talking calmly and clearly, with a workable alternative strategy, will be listened to at that point. The problem of course. is that most of us here think the most workable strategy is to reduce the planetary population by about 5 billion, an approach which may get voted down....

Most of that population is in countries where you aren't running for office.  It isn't under your control, and isn't your problem.

On the other hand, lots of that population would come to N. America and Europe if you let it, then it WOULD be your problem.  This actually plays into your hands, because most of the voters want immigration radically reduced (especially illegal immigration) and running on a "zero net immigration" platform would be VERY popular with the public.

It may be somewhere else, but it will still be my problem. The last time people thought isolationist was before Pearl Harbour. They were wrong then, and there's twice as many people now. Hard to imagine they will leave us alone...

You can't get elected if Peak Oil is your slogan. Its because the masses, the majority of people are stupid, that is why there are so few genius people, so few writers, so few artists. If majority of people can intellectually think then majority of people would be genius, writers and artists and there would be novelity in that. Most of the people are morally weak, they do immoral things if given a chance, very few are strong enough to keep themselves tight "when nobody is watching". Most of the people are cowards, they run to hills when a problem come, they ignore the issues at hand, they put themselves in illusions and false hopes. Very few are wise enough to solve problems in their infancy and to face the problems. That is why democracy is wrong. A group of people is a mob, a gang of stupid, immoral, coward and self-illusioned people who can't handle things on their own, that is why they need a leader.

Who can be a leader? The first quality of a leader is to simplify things so that the weak minds of people can grasp ideas. A leader must also be fair, treat people equally, so that people come to him to get their conflicts solved. A leader must also be brave enough to lead people by taking non-popular but necessary stands rather than following people.

In most of the history the leaders were not elected, the throne was captured by force and kept by force. The democracy had to be abandoned at its birth place greece and later in rome. The real destiny of humans is to be ruled by kings.

Another problem with democracy is short-term govts. Being short-term they ignore long-term issues like Peak Oil, habitat destruction, climate change etc. They also depend heavily on big business to fund their election campaigns and later pay them back a hundred times at the expense of masses. A king on the other hand never worry about elections, he rule all his life then his son then his son. Being in power for long-term he can and do focus on long-term issues which generally result in better well being of masses.

America consider itself champion of democracy and fight by all means against kings and king-like dictators making life of masses in these countries very hard. Trade embargoes on cuba, north korea, libya etc is american tool of dis-popularizing long-term otherwise stable govts. Covert actions like martyring king faisal, bay-of-pigs operation etc is another american tool.

No dictator ever press people as much as a democratically elected govt. Great empires of past like Egypt, Babylon, Rome, Persia, Ummayids, Abbasids, Ottomans, Tzars, British, Spanish etc thrived under stable, long-term govts of caliphs and kings. The efficiency gains of american and european democracy has nothing to do with democracy, its a result of fossil oil usage unavailable to past empires and compromises on long-term benefits of masses something a king or caliph would never do.

You can blame as much as you like leaders like stalin, mao, castro but you have to admit that they did passed their people through extremely difficult times of wars, sanctions, poverty and technological backwardness. The nazis for example couldn't be stopped by any less devotion of people than russians something that only happen during strict govt rule. In a republic on the other hand people would be too busy in pin-pointing minor mistakes and defects of leaders to do anything important for the community.

Life in empire is like an arranged marriage, you didn't have much choice to not enter into it but once you are in it you get stability, peace, low prices, jobs and very valuable community. Life in republic is like a love marriage, you go into it with your own choice but then you can't blame the problems on anybody and generally its worse than an arranged marriage.