Drumbeat: September 27, 2009

'A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster' by Rebecca Solnit

The bad news is that more disasters are coming, arising from any number of sources: climate change, widespread infrastructural vulnerabilities, toxic threats brewed at cellular or weapons-grade levels, seismic or oceanic volatility, and so on and so on. Whatever their cause, disasters will be born of some mixture of human and natural action or inaction, lives will be irrevocably altered, and absurd numbers of people will die.

Yet Rebecca Solnit sees human possibilities inherent in the certainty of big trouble. In "A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster," this writer of impressive versatility explores disasters and the goodness that can come to characterize them. A careful student of the sociology of catastrophe, Solnit argues that the human experience of disaster so alters convention that a different social milieu can emerge, if briefly, within them; one distinguished by altruism and the absence of social hierarchies. In contrast to the presuppositions of the powerful (and Hollywood), steadfast about the inevitability of anarchic mayhem and riot, Solnit makes a convincing case for the sheer dignity and decency of people coming together amid terror.

Study may shift where foods grow

WASHINGTON — New York may be the nation's second leading producer of apples, and Maine is near the top in potatoes — but the vast majority of the fruit and vegetables eaten in the Northeast come from other parts of the country.

A federal study aims to change that, by figuring out what could be grown more in the Northeast to satisfy big-city markets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said this week it is pouring an additional $230,000 into the food security effort, which will examine soil types, climate and economic issues that could shed light on the region's potential to produce more of its own food. Doing so could dull the effect of high fuel prices and other transportation-related woes than can drive prices up in grocery stores.

New Presentations from Matt Simmons

What Lies Beyond The Fossil Fuel Horizon?

Investing In Energy: A Nightmare Or An Enlightened Dream

How Did Our Energy Hole Get So Deep?

Pemex’s Export Revenues Down 55.5 Percent

MEXICO CITY – Mexican state oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos said the value of its crude exports during the first eight months of the year totaled $15.4 billion, 55.5 percent less than in the same period of 2008.

UK acts to back Cadogan Petroleum

THE British government has intervened on behalf of Cadogan Petroleum, the quoted oil explorer embroiled in a dispute with Ukraine that has pushed it to the brink of liquidation.

Climate change bill may drift

WASHINGTON — Although President Barack Obama confidently assured world leaders last week that the U.S. was determined to combat global climate change, that resolve isn't shared in the U.S. Senate.

The chamber has instead been consumed by other domestic priorities — including the administration-backed push to overhaul health care — and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., is months behind her original timetable for introducing legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.

With all of the obstacles, it is increasingly likely the Obama administration will not have a new climate change law — or even a preliminary version passed by the Senate — to bring to international negotiations on a global warming pact this December in Copenhagen.

Heavier Rainstorms Ahead Due To Global Climate Change, Study Predicts

ScienceDaily — Heavier rainstorms lie in our future. That's the clear conclusion of a new MIT and Caltech study on the impact that global climate change will have on precipitation patterns.

Dust storms spread deadly diseases worldwide

Huge dust storms, like the ones that blanketed Sydney twice last week, hit Queensland yesterday and turned the air red across much of eastern Australia, are spreading lethal epidemics around the world. However, they can also absorb climate change emissions, say researchers studying the little understood but growing phenomenon.

Small island states warn ecosystems already threatened by climate change effects, urge drastic reduction in greenhouse gases

Still reeling in the aftermath of a global economic crisis begun far beyond their shores, leaders of small island nations, among others addressing the General Assembly today, exhorted large economies to drastically reduce greenhouse gases that were threatening their ecosystems and sending shock waves through the very markets and industries on which their fragile economies depended.

Paul Roberts - The Future of Food in a Peak Oil

Roberts pointed out that in 1900, the average household spent half its daily income and half its hours providing food. Today, we spend much less time and much less money as a percent of our income, thanks to the industrialized food system. “I don’t think too many people want to go back to 1900, spending that much time making food,” he said later in response to a question about how disconnected we’ve become from our food sources.

“But,” he continued, “we have recognized that there are also costs. At the end of the day, food is not an industrial product. Food is not iPods or SUVs and there are troubling questions when industrialization is applied to food.” In a system where the inspection person on the chicken processing line has only three seconds to look for defects, he elaborated, it was only a matter of time before something like the 2007 recall of 22 million pounds of potentially E. coli-tainted hamburgers, which sickened dozens and ultimately put the meat company out of business.

Iran Plans 1 Billion-Euro Bond Sale to Fund Gas Field

(Bloomberg) -- Iran plans to sell 1 billion euros ($1.47 billion) of bonds by December to fund the development of the South Pars natural-gas field, the Oil Ministry’s Shana news agency reported today.

Saudi not in favour of high prices

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, wants to keep crude prices from rising to the record of $147.27 a barrel seen last year, said the kingdom's oil minister.

Saudi jobless rate to ease by 2014

Saudi Arabia's festering unemployment problem could ease at the end of the forthcoming five-year development plan as the world's oil powerhouse is intensifying efforts to find jobs for citizens, a local report said yesterday.

Unemployment in the kingdom, which sits atop a quarter of the world's recoverable oil deposits, stood at nearly 10.5 per cent at the end of 2008 and it is expected to shrink to 7.1 per cent at the end of 2014, said the report by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

U.S. to Demand Inspection of New Iran Plant ‘Within Weeks’

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration plans to tell Iran this week that it must open a newly revealed nuclear enrichment site to international inspectors “within weeks,” according to senior administration officials. The administration will also tell Tehran that inspectors must have full access to the key personnel who put together the clandestine plant and to the documents surrounding its construction, the officials said Saturday.

Smuggling Europe’s Waste to Poorer Countries

Exporting waste illegally to poor countries has become a vast and growing international business, as companies try to minimize the costs of new environmental laws, like those here, that tax waste or require that it be recycled or otherwise disposed of in an environmentally responsible way.

Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe, has unwittingly become Europe’s main external garbage chute, a gateway for trash bound for places like China, Indonesia, India and Africa. There, electronic waste and construction debris containing toxic chemicals are often dismantled by children at great cost to their health. Other garbage that is supposed to be recycled according to European law may be simply burned or left to rot, polluting air and water and releasing the heat-trapping gases linked to global warming.

U.S. Panel Shifts Focus to Reusing Nuclear Fuel

OXON HILL, Md. — With a federal plan to handle nuclear waste in deadlocked disarray, an advisory panel that has spent 20 years studying a proposed repository at Yucca Mountain turned Wednesday to discussing ways of reusing the fuel instead.

But the meeting of the panel, the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, made evident that such reuse was uncertain, along with the future of Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, about 100 miles from Las Vegas.

Solar Module Prices Halt Slide on German Demand, Barclays Says

(Bloomberg) -- Solar module prices, which have dropped by more than half in the past year, have stopped declining as a seasonal demand increase in Germany reduces inventories, according to Barclays Capital.

Schwarzenegger to Children: Hurry Up in There!

LOS ANGELES — In a new twist on an old saw trotted out by generations of parents who think their children have it easier, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken to monitoring his children’s water use by timing how long they spend in the shower. If they are in there too long, he said, he turns off the hot water midstream, inciting screams.

The Future of Cars Was Hydrogen, Once

The enthusiasm for electric vehicles keeps growing, but only few years ago the auto industry was betting on hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars.

Tiny Cars Feel Smart

The Slaughters, both 86, are among several owners of ultra-compact Smart fortwo cars at Lake Ashton, a gated retirement community in Lake Wales.

It might seem odd to find so many of the cars, which project an air of European futurism, in a place where Cadillacs are common and the entertainment leans toward Joe Piscopo.

Then again, when you don't have kids you don't need a back seat.

Australia: Cutting the train line won’t ‘fix our city’

The report’s supporters obscure its true nature by focusing on the urgent need to reverse urban decay. But the reality is that the main goal of the “fix our city” campaign is to cut the rail line.

The rail line sits on prime land. Developing this land (especially the last 500 metres of it) has been the goal of a 25-year push by developers to get rid of the line.

E.P.A. Ordered to Reconsider New Mexico Power Plant Permit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals board has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider an air permit issued for a planned coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation.

The decision, in part, grants a request by regional agency officials who wanted to take another look at parts of the permit for the $3 billion Desert Rock Energy Project, which is planned for tribal land in northwestern New Mexico.

There's nothing 'clean' about it

Have you ever had that nightmare where you're being chased by a monster and yet your legs feel like lead and you can't get away?

That's how I feel every time Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty start babbling about the joys of dragging us into a global cap-and-trade market, supposedly to lower man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

Fossil fuels are running out anyway; so why fight about climate-change?

Since fossil fuels are, in fact, running out, it seems senseless to keep arguing about climate change. The point is, whether or not you care to believe the evidence under our noses, what we need to be concentrating on is finding new, clean, renewable, eco-friendly energy sources.

Population: Overconsumption is the real problem

THERE is a pervading myth that efforts to fight climate change and other environmental perils will be to no avail unless we "do something" about population growth. Even seasoned analysts talk about the threat of "exponential" population growth. But there is no exponential growth. In most of the world fertility rates are falling fast, and the countries where population growth continues are those that contribute least to our planetary predicament.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…
Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

With the recent release of Michael Moore’s new film Capitalism: A Love Story I was inspired to watch again the classic 2004 documentary The Corporation (3 hours). (Spoiler alert: the Corporations are the bad guys!) For those who haven’t seen it yet, the theme of the movie revolves around the 14th Amendment that was drafted in the wake of Civil War Reconstruction to protect the rights of newly minted citizens (ex-slaves). This populist law has since been twisted by precedent to allow corporations to have the rights of “a person” and armed with nearly unlimited resources a kind of “super-person”. To date almost all of the lawsuits brought to trial involving the 14th Amendment were produced by and for corporations. The question that starts the inquiry was: “If corporations are persons what kind of people are they?"

BTW the most impressive individual in the film isn’t Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein or Michael Moore. Rather it is Ray Anderson (video: 2.0 minutes), CEO Interface, world’s largest commercial carpet manufacturer. When tasked by his company to assess the environmental impact of Interface worldwide he reluctantly but dutifully completes the task and in the process has in his words a “paradigm shift”. He said there was a realization that “I am a plunderer”. At one point in the film Mr. Anderson gives a speech at a business conference and says in his polite southern drawl:

“Do I know you folks well enough to call you fellow plunderers of the earth. As plunderers we are the inter-generational tyrants who are helping to hand an environmentally ravaged planet to our grandchildren...”
Ray Anderson

The camera pans the audience and it look like Mt. Rushmore. Not a grin or even a good-natured chuckle. I think he would have gotten more support if he had suddenly confessed: “I am a recovering pedophile…”

One Orwellian term that gets bandied about repeatedly in the film was Externality.

Externality: In economics, an externality or spillover of an economic transaction is an impact on a party that is not directly involved in the transaction. In such a case, prices do not reflect the full costs or benefits in production or consumption of a product or service.

Without disagreeing with the polemic of the film, that corporations as persons are prototypical psychopaths (they certainly are), it’s important to keep in mind that these exploitation machines (corporations) have the complicity of consumers. Like the friendly townspeople of Nazi-occupied Poland, we grown-ups know what the acrid aroma at the edge of town is: Death. Is our tolerance of the wrongdoing a tacit approval of the act? Do we benefit from the crime?

For instance if I live in an area that forces me to drive for even the most routine errand like grocery shopping and as a result my carbon footprint (externality) is out of proportion am I at fault? Or is it GM and the political hacks whose conspiracy closed up the trolley system and got the US govt to build massive freeways that define our lives today? If I buy coffee from Starbucks that isn’t Fair Trade or Nike running shoes made in sweat shops in SE Asia or I turn on a light powered by coal powered utilities am I complicit in the crime in the court of moral outrage? If so should moral outrage be backstopped by Local and International Law?

The legal and not merely moral dilemmas which will come into relief as we proceed with climate bills and international agreements in Copenhagen are:

• Should all externalities now be taxed?
• If not all externalities which ones?
• Who will determine this tax?
• Should this be a shared tax?
• How can you make the tax equitable?

The directives of civilizations as well as corporations are primarily economic so what are we the people, the stockholders of civilization, prepared to pay to correct the environmental, social and economic harm?

These are large and difficult questions but if we’re to take seriously Bill McKibbon’s 350.org movement, as we calmly pass 390 ppm, we need to be willing to take a thorough and merciless audit of the externalities of civilization.


Hi Joe,

Most of the people I have seen who are knowledgeable about Climate Change are still not doing anything meaningful about it. Certainly, corporations are not, and I am absolutely fed up with the propoganda distributed through the oil industry going so far as to make light of the problem. I have met with some organizations I am associated with and tried to make them more aware of the actual threat to both our lives and our livelihood, but they do not want to hear it, or if they do, they will still not change. You'd think they were President or something.

I am convinced that the best we can do is to look out for us and our own while we are trying to change our local communities so our neighbors don't think they can beg, borrow or steal what we have done to prepare for a slow decline in our standard of living, hoping that it will not be a dramatic cliff-like scenario instead. The real value to me of having some acreage is that there is wildlife and wild plants available for food and a shallow water table for usable fresh water. I have unmarketable well-head gas in a small quantity available as well, but that will probably be the first thing folks will want to share.

In the meantime, I think whatever taxing of carbon, carbon credits trading scheme, or whatever other control mechanism will have inequities. I know it will be an attempt at fairness, but subject to the same lobbying, graft and corruption as the current income tax structure, and that has become less equitable with each revision of the tax code. In addition, many folks will simply ignore it to the greatest extent possible, just like tax fraud and cheating which goes on now, despite severe penalties - the Swiss banking changes are sending ripples of new understanding of tax laws through the clients of many brokers at the current time, and the Feds are letting many of the offenders of the hook to a great extent.

As you point out, we are already well beyond McKibbon's limit of 350 PPM, and we will never see 350 again. The Earth might, after the Anthropocene Era, but that will be for another civilization to discover.

carbon credits trading scheme

Hey woody - When I think about free market pirates selling a commodity such as carbon credits I cringe. Can anyone predict what the value of these "credits" might be on the down-slope of Hubbert's Peak?


People seem to be waiting for a cheap techno-fix of some sort that will allow them to continue on with life as usual. Barring that, they are waiting for goverments to "do something". Or waiting for solar panels to come down to $19.99 or some such.

Most people aren't at all focused on using less. In many cases the thought never really enters their minds..

Most people aren't at all focused on using less.

Or using less means buying a few CFL's, and reusing a couple of plastic bags, but continuing with BAU in all other aspects.

I think the first part of using less that most people should do is simply to live on less than they make, and then invest on requiring less to live their life.

It is not realistic to expect most people who face what appear to be distant uncertainties to go to a "power down" life -- there simply is no sense of urgency.

Getting people to live prudently now and having plans to survive on less in the future is about as good a start as you can hope for until the full public consciousness catches up.

Reducing energy usage IS a reasonable start, though. Once you start realizing dollar savings from the changes you're making, it's easier to fund (and support) making more changes.

For my family, we've saved a good bit with essentially zero pain. It's kinda fun actually. Sometimes I miss having a Suburban and my wife still wishes she had a Lexus SUV, and we'd love a new mansion on 10 acres 10 miles out of town, but instead we're quite happy settling into what we have. Really I think that's the wisdom of being happy -- being content with what you have, working hard for what you want, and keeping a few dreams and desires just in case the lottery comes through.

Peleocon, thats a very wise lifestyle philosophy. If only we could recruit more to that philosophy.

For instance if I live in an area that forces me to drive for even the most routine errand like grocery shopping and as a result my carbon footprint (externality) is out of proportion am I at fault? Or is it GM and the political hacks whose conspiracy closed up the trolley system and got the US govt to build massive freeways that define our lives today? If I buy coffee from Starbucks that isn’t Fair Trade or Nike running shoes made in sweat shops in SE Asia or I turn on a light powered by coal powered utilities am I complicit in the crime in the court of moral outrage?

Of course we are complicit when we do these things, but it's impossible for us all to stop doing participating. That's what it's all about - we cannot support all of us without the system we have, and we cannot continue with the system we have without killing the planet. If I had understood these things from the time I was young and starting out, I could have made different choices. As it is, I understand many things I could to to make a big reduction in my impact on the planet, but I cannot afford to do them now. The system has got me, and I am in debt too far. Beyond that, the things I would do if I could afford to would not be scalable to everyone else. The system cannot be fixed from within by means of gradual change - a dislocation must occur.

The system cannot be fixed from within by means of gradual change - a dislocation must occur.

Hey Twilight - That's the fatal disconnect isn't it? Even a lot of those who have become aware imagine that we can simply reform and tweak the system: drive a Prius, eat local, change some lightbulbs, recycle our beer cans and then we'll be able to avert Climate change, Peak Oil, Over-harvesting the oceans, habitat destruction, massive species extinctions etc...

In a lot of ways we're like children who can't acknowledge that there are consequences.


It's even worse, in that even if you are aware and see that there are consequences - well, what do you do about it? Any worthwhile changes would have to be done at a societal level to be effective, but the system is deflecting any attempts at change. And in the end the problem is us - too many of us. Even if you picked the best course imaginable to reduce our impact you still have to deal with population. How do we solve the problem when we are the problem?

Twilight - I'm doing what I can trying to set an example and raise awareness but I see a massive tsunami coming in the next 20 years (no idea how it'll play out) All you can really do is get out of harms way. How do you do that? Look for higher ground and learn how to handle firearms.


I'm not convinced about the handling firearms business. I'm thinking that the people most fond of guns are perhaps their own worst enemy. It's a true fact that I've never been in a bar room fight in my life. The reason? I stay out of bar rooms.

You can sleep peacefully in your bed tonight because rough men stand ready to do violence on your behalf.George Orwell ,paraphrased.

I am afraid the rough men may not always be on my side.

You can never better yourself by denying yourself an option.

If you do not know how to defend yourself, you can't.

If you can ,it does not mean that you have to use this ability to harm others unnecessarily.


I first was educated about the term 'externalities' in Econ 101 in college. I have not issue with the term...what I have issue with is how we don't make enough efforts to successfully account for pollution, etc. so that they cease to be 'externalities'.

The only way to enforce the proper accounting of externalities is f governments to mandate such accounting and compliance with necessary regulations, including punishments such as fines and shutting down non-compliant operations and pulling products off the market...and ideally preventing them from coming to market to begin with.

Few business people want to hear this reasoning, since it adds complexity and cost to their operations, and it impacts schedules.

However, if such accounting were uniformly applied to all firms, then the playing field would be level.

We should not hold our breath...the Regan acolytes still insist that unfeterred capitalism and 'free markets' will adjudicate all these problems successfully.

I agree that they do indeed...in favor of the shareholders and profit margins, and to the detriment of people everywhere (Mercury, Dioxins,and on and on).

“If corporations are persons what kind of people are they?"

And how do you jail a Corporation found guilty of 1st Degree Murder?

This may sound a little like trolling. But when the argument is being made that population is not the problem, consumption is the problem, what many are actually saying is "I want to keep having children."

Population IS consumption. Every additional person is made of of food, and must continually take in food, and both are the result of consumption. The way we make food, industrial monoculture, is consumption of the land.

A non-exhaustive examination of what THE problem is, would include population, consumption, complexity, physical limits, psychology, biology, evolution, social networks, individual development, sexuality, brain deficits, and maybe a few other things that I'm too lazy to think of right now.

Oh, right, laziness would have to be included, too.

The argument being made is that consumption by a few (i.e. < 1/6 of the world's current population) makes up the vast majority of the world's consumption. That is to say, if we were all living like peasants in Gansu we wouldn't be approaching the brink at the rate we currently are. If you could magically convince North Americans and Europeans to consume only what they need, and convince the rest of the world that a Western lifestyle isn't something to strive for (good luck), 6 or 7 billion people would be considerably more sustainable than it is now. That's the argument, anyway.

Edit: to this I should add that having privledged, white, westerners (ie, one of the consumers) wringing their hands about those silly Africans and Indians and Chinese and whoever else who just won't stop "consuming" by having children (when it is largely the West that is responsible for the predicament we're in) smacks of all kinds of ethnocentrism, racism, and everything else. That's a major problem a lot of people have with folks claiming population is the #1 problem - a family of four in the states consumes vastly more than families of ten or fifteen elsewhere.


It is not the absolute consumption level of any particular group that really matters, but the consumption relative to the available resources in the local area.

A high consuming nation living within its own resources is more sustainable than an overpopulated low consuming nation that is destroying the last of its fragile habitat. Here in NZ we export the vast majority of our food production because we have a low population relative to our productive land area, and are consequently more sustainable than the UK with a similar land area but 15 times the population.

A recent article (can't locate it) about the drought in Kenya mentioned a farmer leaving behind his 4 wives and 16 children while he moved his 200 starving cattle into a game reserve. Only 76 survived the trip, and they were dying thru lack of food and water. The consumption level of these people would be far lower than any "Western" nation, but is still absolutely unsustainable.

As climate chaos progresses,more areas of the globe will become less able to support even the current population levels, let alone the extra 75 Million per year growth.

Joy of the Boondocks - Wake Up to No Water

There was no water pressure when I got up this morning. Oh, great! I checked the pump starter and one of the breakers was kicked off; reset it but it kicked out again. Since we needed water for toilets and breakfast, I switched over to one of our back-up tanks. They are pumped with a small back-up pump in the garage.

After breakfast, I walked down to the where the well is (the pump itself is set at 450') to check the external wiring. A mouse may have been in there so I made sure the wires weren't shorting. Came back up and reset the breakers again. Ah, success!!!

Now, the concern for me was that it costs several thousands of dollar to pull the pump. In the mean time we have to truck in water at $300 a load for 3k gallons - once a week - for us and our tenant.

Anyway, I think this shows the skill-sets people must have if the move to the country. You can't throw up your hands and wait for an "expert" to fix stuff.


Roger that. I noticed that our well pump came on and pressure built very fast and shut off. The accumulator air was gone so I cranked up the little compressor and refilled it. No big deal but without the compressor, it is a call to the well guy. In mid summer with a garden to water, it could be critical.

How does it go? For lack of a nail a shoe was lost ... for lack of a shoe a horse was lost ... for lack of a horse a battle was lost ... and the country was lost for lack of a nail.

We just don't know what tiny glitch will ruin an entire survival plan. I think about this all the time. Fortunately, our well pump is only at about 100 feet and I can pull the pump with an 'A' frame and a come-a-long. Neighbor to the north is a big strapping guy and he just pulled his well pump up for replacement hand over hand. The hose and wire are flexible in our set up.

Above they are going to spend $240K to figure out what grows in the Northeast US. Great! We've only been gardening up there for well over two hundred years. Ask a gardener what grows here, write a report, throw in a couple graphs, pocket $240K and call it good. WOW, potatoes grow well in Maine. Who would've ever thought. I wonder if they will grow in Idaho?

"Ask a gardener what grows here, write a report, throw in a couple graphs, pocket $240K and call it good."

My favorite reading of a pointless Govt Grant was a couple of sociologists who were also big NASCAR fans. Yep, you guessed correct: They used the money to get a big RV, then proceeded to party on the NASCAR circuit for the next year. "..write a report, throw in a couple graphs, pocket some cash, and call it good."

A replacement for a compressor is a faucet valve between the pump and the cut off valve. Turn off the cut off valve, turn off the pump, open the air valve and drain a third of the volume of the tank into a container then close the air valve, the drain faucet and turn on the pump. When it cuts off turn on the cut off valve.

I just got back from irrigating and found I had trapped a skunk who had been getting into plants. FWIW, I use Conibear traps. These are spring traps with the bait (peanut butter is always a great bait) set so the animal sticks its head into the trap and the trap then clamps onto its neck causing instant death. They come in three sizes and the biggest one will take a 60# beaver. I highly recommend them.

I'll have to re-set them today since I still have something else that is causing trouble.

... I switched over to one of our back-up tanks. They are pumped with a small back-up pump in the garage.

This is the piece I'm working on, even in my bedroom/suburban community.
Just trying to build out redundant systems.

Water: bottles, roof barrel, garden pond
Heat: woodpile and propane
Electricity: batteries, small scale solar, (and soon) generator
Food: pantry, garden, rifle

Hi Ron,

Yes, redundant systems is where it's at. Because I'm so far out, I even have redundant parts bins for electrical and plumbing stuff along with auto/truck stuff.

On the generator front, as I've noted before, I have an 8kW gas and a 23kW diesel (that I never use) and a 3.6kW PV system with lots of batteries. However, I just picked up a little 2.2kW gas generator. There are times when the power is out and its been a cloudy day so the batteries aren't full and I want just a little juice. The 8kW burns about 1.5 gallons/hour but the new one will only burn about 0.3 gallons/hour. It was on sale at Harbor Freight for $300 and I couldn't turn it down.


For those interested in rainwater harvesting, I learned yesterday that Bushman USA is going to start importing a "bladder" style water tank that fits in a crawl space.

Interesting, please post a link once it is available. I have been thinking about cisterns but this product may be easier since I don't have much land around my urban home. What little land we have is dedicated to growing food.

Flexible fresh water tank for sailboats and other boats and more... A friend of mine has 2 X 400 liters in his schooner.

Here's one that looks interesting: http://www.groovygreen.com/groove/?p=2091

If you will email me your telephone number I will tell you how the hillbillies in my nieghborhood do this job with out hiring any contracted help .I can't type well enough to do it by email.


Hello TODers,

Early retirements strain Social Security system

..Applications for retirement benefits are 23 percent higher than last year, while disability claims have risen by about 20 percent. Social Security officials had expected applications to increase from the growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement, but they didn't expect the increase to be so large.

What happened? The recession hit and many older workers suddenly found themselves laid off with no place to turn but Social Security..
I expect this trend to continue as Peak Outreach spreads. What I don't know is if a greater percentage of older people are Peak Aware versus younger people. It certainly appears that there are more older people on TOD versus younger, but this may be because older is more text & graphics oriented versus the younger that is Youtube-oriented.

IMO, it only makes sense for people to get whatever money they can from SS as soon as they become eligible, especially if it is going to go belly up soon. If their kids & grandkids are moving back in with them as the economy continues to collapse: the sharing of assets will relieve the stress for the entire family tree. If using the SS funds allows paying off the seniors' mortgage, building a emergency food supply, useful tools & gardens, and other postPeak Preps--this is a good thing.

I hope the seniors are not blowing the funds on silly things like travel and gambling because that will only piss off the Peak Aware youngsters. We will see...

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

Hello toteneila - What a lot of seniors are deciding to do is live on the road. I went to an RV show a few months ago and I saw a 28 foot 5th wheel that my wife and I could live in comfortably (we're not retired yet but I like the idea of being on the road for a while) and I could still manage to get into all of the parks (a lot of parks limit the size of trailers and motor homes). The vendor wanted almost $40,000 for it new. I went online and I found a two year old model for less than $15,000. If you're out of the workforce why do you need to be tied to a mortgage?


Hello Joemichaels,

"If you're out of the workforce why do you need to be tied to a mortgage?"

Thxs for your reply. I would assume a Peak Aware Senior would be preparing for his kids to come back home, especially if the Senior House has good land & water prospects [Lucky Ducks!]. I also suspect many Seniors are not upside-down on their mortgage because they bought the land many years ago. Instead, they are probably much closer to having the note paid off.

My guess is the vast majority of RV-Seniors are NOT Peak Aware. A popular RV-bumper sticker proclaims: "Just out spending my kids' future inheritance now!". Such is life...

That's something I wish I could do. I would be tempted if I were retired or unemployed, even though it might not be a great idea in the light of peak oil.

Leanan - It may be counter-intuitive but it is perfect match for Peak Oil. When it gets cold go south. Gets too hot go north. Park near water and utilities. A lot of RV's come with remote PV panels that can at least run some lights and your computer. Since you can choose your locale you pack bicycles (remember to get a big basket on it for carrying stuff) and make sure you're close to vital services. You'll lose weight trust me. If you have friends around with RV Parking you can hang with them for a while without wearing out your welcome. If they're your friends they'll be glad to have you particularly if they don't have to give you interior space. Offer to pick up the utility bills and you're good for a month or two.

If you need motorized transport you can pull this smaller rig with an F-150 (an F-250 Diesel is ideal) and once you're camped you might park for several months and you have a truck if you need it(but park it and take a bicycle instead). If you stay long-term and you're staying in an RV park the management will usually cut you slack on rates.

So as far as Peak Oil is concerned this is a small footprint(at least on American standards).


Yes, I have considered that. I have also considered that mobility may be a very good thing if the future turns out to be unpredictable. You'll be able to move easily: to follow jobs, to avoid political or climate catastrophes, etc.

On the flip side...I think that with mobility, you may be giving up what could be the most valuable asset in a post-world: community ties.

You are also very dependent on infrastructure. If there's a "gas stations go dry overnight" scenario, you risk being stranded somewhere you don't want to be stranded.

If I did go this route, I would want a motor home rather than a towable. I want the security of being able go from the wheel to living space without getting out, if necessary.

Hi Leanan,

With a conventional motor home, there's a good chance your wallet will be sucked dry long before any of the stations enroute. A good friend of mine recently bought an older 20 ft. motor home powered by a Chevy 350 engine and on a "700 to 800 km" trip through the BC interior, his fuel costs came to "about $250.00", which translates to be something in the range of 50-cents per US mile.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0NJOPX-TUA&feature=channel_page

Granted, a new, lighter and more fuel efficient model might achieve [somewhat] better mileage but, if things turn out as bad as you suggest, the cost of gasoline or diesel at that point could easily be two, three or four times its current price.


Some friends of mine have a fifth-wheel rig they tow with a used (quite) semi tractor. They go from friends and family in the south for the winter to friends and family in the north for the summer. When they leave with full tanks (hundreds of gallons) they can make it straight through if necessary. They've looked at a biodiesel plant (some of their friends have those) and they're solar-ready except for panels (when money allows).

They exist very nicely on what most people would consider college-student jobs, though the couple is semi-retired with lots of professional mgmt experience and such.

Parts and repairs will always be an issue, but they have an extensive network of similarly-equipped friends, and a host of places they're welcome to stay for a week or a month. A semi built for heavy-hauling for 1M miles is loafing along pulling a fifth-wheel for a few thousand miles per year. Seems as reasonable a life as any.

Oh, and you can get your CDL by becoming a school bus driver, which is a in-demand job almost anywhere. Pay sucks, but it's a part-time job that gets you a license and big-vehicle experience while paying you.

A semi sleeper is self-contained if you're decoupled from your "house", and it's drivable almost anywhere. Toss a motorcycle/scooter on the back and you're pretty much set anywhere.

Of course it all depends on your budget, but a used semi doesn't cost as much as a new F350 with common towing add-ons, or so they say. This couple sold their suburban house and ended up cash-positive on the trade.

Hi Paleocon,

The extra fuel carrying capacity is a definite bonus and you do develop a network of "fellow travellers" who become a sort of quasi-family. Although I've since sold it, I had an Airstream (a 34 ft. tri-axle) which we towed with my partner's Grand Wagoneer. We met a lot of great folks in our travels and developed some close friendships as a result (if left to his own devices, Ed would sell everything and hit the road without a second thought).

Paul, aka "crusher of all dreams" :-)

I think it's safe to assume that anyone hanging out here has given a lot of consideration to fuel prices, and the likelihood of their increasing.

Yes, modern and fuel-efficient is better. Diesel is supposedly a better choice than gasoline, too. I don't think the difference between a towable and a motorhome is that significant, especially if you consider that once you're at your destination, you'll be stuck driving a truck around with the towable.

And someone here pointed out...if you travel south in the winter and north in the summer, you may end up using less energy than you would if you lived in a house with heating and air-conditioning.

if you travel south in the winter and north in the summer, you may end up using less energy than...

If you choose a region with significant local topography, you might be able to move to high elevation during the summer, and low elevation during the winter. I think the energy cost would be much lower. Long before the advent of fossil fueled transport it was popular. The Raj, had it's Himalayan hill staions, for the summer retreat. And many pastoral cultures have been moving their herds up/down for hundreds of years.

Of course where Leanan lives, theres plenty of topography, but too little seasonal temperature change to bother with. But for say Arizona, Phoenix or therabouts for the winter, and Flagstaff for the summer could provide a pretty pleasant year-round climate.


I have been living a "disconnected" life for nearly 12 years now. My wife and I travel in a 25ft fifth-wheel pulled by a Dodge 2500 diesel truck. We have a base camp in southern California for winter time, and are arranging for having a summer base camp in central Oregon. I am very conscious of the cost of fuel to move north and south and around the area when we are "at camp."

First, you express concern about losing your local community. We have found there is a community on the road, and we keep meeting people we have seen thousands of miles away. Our friends and support extend across the nation. You do not have to have a neighbor 30 ft away that you have known for 20 years to have a community. It is more of an attitude, and how you relate to people.

I have been very concerned about our carbon footprint compared to others, and my conclusion is that we use less than half of the energy of any of my children by being on the road, and I am proud of the efforts they make to limit their impact on the environment. Yes, when we get to SoCal and the temps are in the 100s, we run the AC part of the time, and we use a catalytic heater when it is cold in Oregon. But we are only heating 220 square feet of living space. In addition, we have 240 watts of solar PVs and all our lighting is done with LEDs. We also have satellite TV, Verizon aircard Internet, and two laptops. If the sun shines, and we are conservative in our usage, we can survive completely off the grid.

Water? we use less than 15 gallons each per day.

This lifestyle is very pleasant and healthy. And in general, you do not have to worry about being attacked on the road, at least if you practice common sense. Stay among friends, and they will protect you. And did I mention that even though I am retired, I run an Internet business from my rig and keep up with Internet sites like TOD, CR, and AE.

BTW, if someone wants to know about living full-time on the road, they should check out the Escapees RV Club for information about the kinds of services that are available. I recommend the lifestyle.

Sam Penny
the Prudent RVer

We have found there is a community on the road, and we keep meeting people we have seen thousands of miles away. Our friends and support extend across the nation. You do not have to have a neighbor 30 ft away that you have known for 20 years to have a community. It is more of an attitude, and how you relate to people.

I understand that...but I have my doubts about whether that will hold up if things get really bad.

I have to think that the social bonds Sam Penney describes will only get stronger as the challenges surge.

Not in a derogatory way, I hear his story and think about the Roma/Gypsies. Sounds like it's a life that stays very alive and doesn't get quite as immersed in the 'assumption of security' that folks in settled suburbs can develop.

Sam, keep checking in, please! I love to hear about what your experiences have been.. living large and living small.

Bob Fiske

When it gets cold go south. Gets too hot go north.

I have become convinced that I can, very uncomfortably, live without either heat or a/c in New Orleans. It took one August (an experiment), no a/c, 2-3 weeks to adapt & tolerate, plus post-Katrina winter w/o heat (except one 1500 watt electric heater) to convince me that I could make it w/o either.

A ~1500 watt solar PV, driving a small heat pump, would make things MUCH more bearable.


Agreed, economic collapse really sucks for everybody including Seniors who essentially lost half their cash retirement or more to the banksters. Fortunately we have been out of the stock market for a long time. For some Seniors, there is reverse mortgage but that is a bankster rip off too with high fees and low valuations.

The good news is that we are still making it work (almost)... the bad news is that it is going to get much worse and it won't get better. There is no way a service, debt based, economy will make it after everyone has been serviced by the banksters and other crooks.

Reading the piece behind "Paul Roberts - The Future of Food in a Peak Oil", the author writes:

. . . he would be in town during Eat Local week, when some Burlington-area residents, including my family, would try to consume only foods and beverages grown and made within 100 miles of our homes in an effort to support local farmers and reduce our carbon footprint.

Okay. What seems like a good idea on the surface may not be borne out by in-depth analysis through such means as Life Cycle Assessment and Life Cycle Assessment of Farming Systems. Sometimes importing a foodstuff from a afar has less carbon impact than local production, and overall the energy investment in transport prior to retail sale generally isn't a big part of the total energy investment.

Ugly empirical data slays beautiful cherished hypotheses much of the time.

But then she writes:

I realized on Monday afternoon, less than an hour before journalist and author Paul Roberts was to speak at the University of Vermont on “The Future of Food in a Peak Oil World,” that I was missing a key ingredient for the all-local meal my family would eat while I attended the talk.

So I dashed off to the store in my SUV to pick up some Vermont creme fraiche.

Oh my, oh my! Were I in a hurry and missing some sour cream I might sneak off to the store in my SUV but if I really understood this issue that I'm attempting to inform the public about, I certainly wouldn't include my little lapse without noting its huge impact on my carbon footprint. This whole thing ain't a gonna be easy.

Addendum (with a bit of wordsmithing on the sentence above)
One among many previous Oil Drum Posts relevant to this issue - Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Ecological Economics and Intensive Vegetable Cultivation

JMG3Y - I like Paul Roberts. The End Of Oil was one of the first books I read about Peak Oil. But the more I study the phenomena of resource depletion the more convinced I am that the affluent will insulate themselves more and more from the pain and privations of resource depletion. The guy jumping in his SUV to obtain "some Vermont creme fraiche" (sounds tasty) illustrates how entrenched our behavior patterns are.

I'm not well off but I don't worry about not having enough to eat and I can't think of a person that might be in need. Even the homeless here (a large homeless population locally BTW) seem to be well fed. When I read that there are over a billion people who are malnourished and 100 million that are starving to death I can't visualize it. I was only genuinely hungry one time in my life and it was an experience I'll never forget.

The conclusion I've come to is this is not going to be a cliff we'll suddenly fall off. I'm expecting a long bumpy road.


I would like to point out another distortion of energy embedded in local vs. far-flung food. As JMG3Y points out,

overall the energy investment in transport prior to retail sale generally isn't a big part of the total energy investment

As we have learned thanks to previous posts, farm inputs, industrial food processing and home food storage and processing add significant amounts of energy to the foods we consume. However, how a local food diet plays out in reality actually addresses these energy concerns.

The two main ways to get local food are the Farmers' Markets and CSAs. In both cases, one can choose organic food and food produced without much fossil fuels. The price may vary, and certainly food availability as well, but the choice is there. So a person who goes to the trouble to eat local, is also mostly eating low fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide. Energy used for irrigation is another matter, but it could also be ascertained easily if you know your farmers.

Industrial food processing mainly disappears when you eat local. I can get locally grown and made corn chips here in Boulder, but that's as processed as it gets. Otherwise, I am biting into fresh fruit, and putting elaborate raw salads together. I boil some eggs and roast a chicken once in a while. There are no energy hogs in my local diet, such as breakfast cereal, frozen dinners (with frozen transport and retail), ice cream..., crackers, cookies, Ho-Hos - I need not go on. There is, nevertheless, cheese, oil, butter, bread, pasta - I am no nazi...- but I try to get those as close to home as possible.

If I want processed food, I have to make it myself. While this is fun, to an extent, I do think twice about it. As someone said recently (Michael Pollan, maybe), the access to cheap energy means we have become accustomed to eating "special occasion food" several times a day - burgers, fries, soft drinks. Try making French fries at home - the total kitchen spongedown this will require will convince you once and for all of the superiority of boiled potatoes (maybe mashed if you were itching for a mild upper body workout).

My point is this: you cannot remove the transportation costs, or compare them between one large truck and several small ones, and feel that you have done a complete assessment of "the local diet". True you could eat exlusively simple far-flung foods - local does taste better though, tempting you to eat more simple foods, instead of feeling like deprivation.

Then, when you factor in my budding friendships with "my" farmers, the fact that their local businesses have to use local hired help and accountants, etc..., thus bolstering the local economy, and that I am sure "my" farmers don't use abusive practices with their hired help (because I have worked alongside them!!) - I don't see how local food would not come out ahead, as simply a better way to live.

Then if your deepest concern is carbon emissions (as well it should be) - grow your own food. Don't tell me that's harder on the environment than factory farmed 1500 mile dishes.

Hello TODers,

I believe I am only posting occasional weblinks on a very small fraction of the golf courses and/or resorts going belly up. Here are some more:

A golf course, but not enough green
Brides, golfers livid over Georgetown Club’s abrupt closure

..As a result, brides lost $5,000 deposits.
Yikes, that is no way for a young couple to start off their life as we go postPeak. You would think the banksters would feel so bad about scamming these girls for 5-large that they would make sure the deposits were refunded back to the brides. Nahhh, altruism isn't in a bankster's vocabulary when they want a yacht or new luxury car most of all. Check out this next sad example:

Eagle Creek left in unhealthy state, with unpaid bills

It's not just the gigantic banks, insurance companies, mortgage brokers and automobile companies that leave others to absorb bad businesses decisions.

There's also Barry Shiffman and Edwin Edelberg, the former owners of the Eagle Creek Resort at Lake Shelbyville. They not only left a badly deteriorated resort that had to be closed by court order in July – a place that once employed more than 200 people and served as an economic engine and tourist destination in central Illinois – but they left millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

There's a possibility that they'll be able to walk away without paying any price....

Teed-Off Residents Drive Developer to Brink of Ruin

..Bonita Bay's bind is one of the strongest signs yet that putting up houses around fairways -- a hallmark of the real-estate boom -- has lost its cachet. Several other developers of golf communities have already entered bankruptcy proceedings, including the high-end Winchester Country Club in Auburn, Calif., and Promontory in Park City, Utah.

..Bonita Bay began closing beach clubs, slashing hours at restaurants and cutting back on maintenance. Earlier this summer it closed the courses at its Twin Eagles development, which were designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Golf courses closed, golf shops followed

..The worst of his [golf shop] troubles began in early July, about two weeks after Seven Hills Golfers Club and Spring Hill Golf and Country Club closed.
He didn't realize how many of his customers used the popular public courses. For a while, people came into his store and complained about the abrupt closing. After that, he rarely had any visitors.
Walton sometimes went days without seeing a single customer, he said.
What I want to know is WTSHTF in Tiger's neighborhood: Is he going to plow the land, or join the others in last minute scamming and skimming?

EDIT: As part of your Peak Outreach efforts, please continue to email Tiger Woods website, plus other PGA pros and orgs asking them to mitigate the coming #@%$storm. Thxs.

$5000 deposits on a wedding?!? I shudder to think what the dress and honeymoon would have cost!

Just another reason to live in sin. ;)

I believe one of the biggest problems of preparing for the coming badness is that we have a built in concept of cycles. “I only have to get ready for badness till the next cycle when it gets better. That will only be a few months or a couple years at the most. It has been that way forever.” Call it human optimism, denial or whatever. It is obvious that the economists and politicians running the show are convinced of cycles and it won’t be long till we are all OK again.

I am a doomer and I don’t think it will get better this time, maybe level off a bit like a stair step but then go down again. There are just too many Black Swans on the horizon. Preparation for that scenario is much harder and fraught with trip wires and mines. Since I am 76 and I will probably be dead before civilization gets to the Olduvai Gorge so I hope to train my grandkids in a few basics.

Well, I'm 71 and I agree although I'm not anticipating even a stair step downward slope...just down and down. Nate has an essay of mine about establishing priorities. I don't know if he'll ever put it up on Campfire since, like my other ones that have been posted, it's sort of out of the TOD mainstream. But, who knows.

My personal feeling about preparing for a "worst case" is that, within reason, the actions taken are positive even if things don't go to heck. Even from a practical view in my case; stores are a long way off so we need to have stored food when we are snowed in, the food is bought on sale so it saves money and so on.

I'm just sorry that so many people are going to be blindsided.


In One Home, a Mighty City's Rise and Fall
Price of Typical Detroit House: $7,100

..And the median selling price for a home stood at a paltry $7,100 as of July, according to First American CoreLogic Inc., a real-estate research firm -- down from $73,000 three years earlier.
Once TSHTF in Los Angeles, Las Vegas & my Asphaltistan: I expect prices to decline at a much faster pace. Sometimes I think my USA WAG of [19 @ '19] may be too optimistic. :(

Is Cascadia ready?

Uh-Oh, more bad news on White Nose Syndrome [WNS]:

Southern bats now dying from fungus
Of course, Michael Lynch would say that there are huge, but yet undiscovered reserves of bats in caves out there, and thanks to the miracles of technology, it is a simple task to drastically ramp up bat reproduction much more than the current one pup/year to increase this reserve. The size of the depletion flowrate is not a concern to him because he is always focused on undiscovered reserve growth. He would project that future flowrates of bats flying out of caves nightly would be in simply flabbergasting numbers....

UPDATE: I have received No Reply from Victoria's Secret..

I sure hope TODer Conservationist and his crack team of inventors are close to perfecting their Totally-Free, manufactured, non-fossil-fuel-powered, non-battery-powered, artificial bats to start eating mosquitoes in the nightly darkness:

Hello Conservationist,

Your Quote: "Yes it's hard to even imagine the advances that will take place in the 21st century."
He never replied to me on this post. My guess is he is too busy also perfecting his free, manufactured replacement for Lesquerella navajoensis (a bladderpod). I am also positive that Yergin & Lynch are so confident of 'rapidly advancing technological success' in replacing soon-to-be extinct species [such as bats, bladderpods, and FFs] that they have now fully bet their fortunes on this lofty goal.

/rant off

Toto, the way you harp on hideous-looking rabies-bearing insectivores could conceivably drive a person ... ummm ... batty. Like it or not, it looks as though a natural experiment has occurred, in that the fungus seems to be widespread in some areas, and, as yet, nonexistent in others. And there's little reason to think artificial creatures made by Conservationist or anyone else have anything to do with it, since plagues have been crashing populations in the natural world from time immemorial, and without important long-term effect. That is, in natural-history terms, it seems like an event of supreme unimportance, one that has happened countless times before without eliminating or even affecting the possibility that someone would later be around to talk about it.

So here's the only useful question. In the badly affected areas, has any significant practical effect been demonstrated as compared to the not-yet-affected areas? If not, then, well, <yawn/>.

Hello PaulS,

Thxs for responding. Evidently, you misunderstood my tongue-in-cheek poke at TODer Conservationist--He is NOT making any artificial replacements for bats, or any other endangered species, and I doubt if anyone is even thinking about attempting this task. Life is not a Jurassic Park sci-fi. I was merely trying to point out the yearly trillion$$$ in ecosystem services provided free by Nature. This has been discussed before in TOD keyposts.

Your Quote:"That is, in natural-history terms, it seems like an event of supreme unimportance.."

I am not a bat expert, nor a biologist [Are you?], but this top-expert seems very concerned, thus so am I, and hopefully millions of other people:

Bat Man vs. White Nose
Thomas Kunz is fighting a killer disease

..Thomas Kunz, a College of Arts & Sciences biology professor, director of Boston University’s Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology, and one of the world’s top bat experts.

But in the past couple of years, a mysterious bat-killing disease has spread across the eastern United States, threatening entire species with extinction. The disease, known as white nose syndrome, has transformed Kunz the scientist into Kunz the crisis manager, convening emergency meetings and testifying before Congress to warn of ecological and economic disaster if the bats can’t be saved.

..their 1,116 known species represent about 20 percent of all mammals.

In the meantime, he and fellow bat researchers continue with as many investigations as funding allows. This fall and winter, Blehert will try various fungicides as potential treatments; such efforts will have to work bat by bat, rather than spraying whole caves. “Caves are complex ecosystems, with hundreds, sometimes thousands of species, in addition to serving as important filters for groundwater,” says Kunz.
IMO, a total loss of 20% of all mammals would be catastrophic. Even if a cure is found soon: a large decline would be very bad because their reproductive rate is so very slow. Also, because lots of other plants, bugs, fish, cold-blooded creatures like frogs, and other animals are endangered or going extinct, too.

More than 1 million bats already have perished in what one expert described as the most precipitous decline in American wildlife in recorded history.
Again, you may feel different than me, but the loss of FFs is very minor compared to ecosystem collapse. We are evolved to sit in the dark [countless generations have done it before], but we cannot do starvation. IMO, if this dieoff continues to rapidly spread: the problems that might erupt soon will make sitting for hours in a gasoline queue a minor concern. Empty grocery store shelves is minor compared to empty farm fields ravaged by bugs.

Your last paragraph: "So here's the only useful question. In the badly affected areas, has any significant practical effect been demonstrated as compared to the not-yet-affected areas? If not, then, well, ."

Sorry, not sure what you are trying to ask here, but my guess is that there may be several timelags before the bad effects of bats dying become evident. It will be interesting to see if these affected areas have more mosquito borne disease next year, such as West Nile Virus, more crop predation by bugs [lower harvest yields], or if the govts & farmers go crazy spraying/fogging lots more cubic miles of air.

Thanks Totoneila. I discovered yesterday my husband had not heard of white-nose fungus - I think I learned about it from you here on TOD.

Maybe PaulS was trying to be provocative (?) If this was supposed to be funny, well, it's not really time to joke about this. If not, wake up! ("yawn" could be a good start for that)

Also, we have clearly not been seeing as many bats as usual here in Boulder. Usually we sit on our deck in the summer and as soon as the swallows are done, the bats come out, swoop down over our heads and fly out above Wonderland Lake. I'll be heading over to the Boulder Wild Bird center to see whether there is anything I can do to encourage them. Hopefully I am wrong.

On another note, I had a heartbreaking time at Rocky Mountain National Park today. The back side of the park, where the Colorado River has its origin, is devastated by the Pine Bark beetle, with a majority of dead and dying pine trees. In some places, they have been clearcut and piled up. I don't know how quickly, if ever, the area will recover, but I know the loss will be impossible to measure. The area I am talking about is called "Never Summer" - and at 75 F on a late September day, one wonders about that name...

A lot of the rest of the park is a year or two behind the Never Summer area - so if you're headed this way, make sure you visit. In 10 years, it will be all 2 foot trees.

Hello Paranoid,

Thxs for your reply. Yep, lots of 'red flag' dead trees in my AZ. Here is an older 2004 article, but a good one if one considers how CC has heated up even more since 2004:

Global Warming's Unlikely Harbingers
The West is heating up — and bark beetles are moving in for the Kill

..These pines define landscapes — and, in some cases, economies. Imagine a swath of standing dead snags stretching from British Columbia to New England to the Deep South. Imagine hundreds of busted logging and mill towns, unable to process all the timber before it began to rot. Imagine the cloud of carbon dioxide these decaying — or burning — trees would ultimately release into the atmosphere. Regeneration of the forests would take at least a century, and it might not happen at all; if temperatures stayed high, the beetles could just keep coming...
A more recent discussion:

Triple threat imperils Colorado’s water supply [Sept. 2, '09]

ESTES PARK — Colorado is melting, drying up and blowing away right in front of our eyes.

Treasured icons such as snow-capped peaks and alpine forests don’t quite match the scenes on the postcards anymore. Dust storms have converted the white snowpack into a muddy flood in early spring, while pine beetles continue their unchallenged march across the state’s northern forests.

Arizona Sen. John McCain was shocked Aug. 24 when he toured the pine beetle infestation in Rocky Mountain National Park.

“It’s unbelievable. Every citizen should see what’s happening here,” McCain said.
IMO, Peak Outreach is the best way to get billions paranoid about our future.

You would think the big seed companies like Cargill and ADM would ante up money for WNS research because I don't think there is anyway to bio-engineer food crops to be resistant to huge bug swarms if the bats & birds go bye-bye. If it is poisonous to bugs--it will be poisonous to us, too. Even if they could bioengineer such plants, the harvesting equipment would find that cutting a wheat crop would be like trying to cut acres & acres of steel-rebar set vertically in the ground.

Hello, Paranoid.

I couldn't resist the pun since the overwrought hype does drive me a bit "batty". We seem to be burdened with a vast horde of government and university scientists with too much time on their hands, measuring the pettiest details of trivia that would have passed utterly unnoticed just a few decades ago. As we risk drowning in this tsunami of ever-more-insignificant data, it seems less than obvious that it's useful to panic at every occurrence of a bog-standard natural event of the sort that has undoubtedly occurred billions of times already.

The bats in question will survive, or not, with us having no say in the matter. It will matter not one whit whether we're "awake" or "asleep". It's merely "nature, red in tooth and claw" doing its thing: random products of aimless evolution pointlessly devouring each other as they have done from time immemorial and will go on doing until, presumably, the ocean boils away. That's not so much a joke as a cosmic joke: there's simply no point in getting one's undies in a bundle over the ups and downs of myriads of fortuitous predator-prey cycles when there's nothing to be done about them anyhow.

Oh, and I was indeed inquiring about practical effects since there seems to be nothing yet to find. This fungus has become old news, and yet mosquitoes and some other pests breed and die very fast indeed. Given that, plus all the lurid speculative tall tales, one might expect at least some tiny knock-on effect to have been noticed by now, by at least some amongst that horde with too much time on their hands. And yet one seems to find little or nothing save for contemptible millenniarian sci-fi piffle, with an occasional admixture of some utterly meaningless anecdote or other.

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the U.S. shouldn’t take for granted the dollar’s status as the world’s main reserve currency.

In remarks set for delivery tomorrow, Zoellick said the “next upheaval” in the international economic order is under way as emerging nations gain greater influence.
Interesting, makes one wonder if TPTB are getting ready to rapidly drive the US down the steep BOE/C ramp as postulated by Duncan's Olduvai Re-Equalizing.

I think it would be fascinating if other TODers started posting their own 10-year prediction WAGs using BOE/C/Year as the major metric. I would like to see how they compare to my [19 @ '19].

I wonder if the "next upheaval" to remove the US Greenback as the global reserve currency has anything to do with a nuclear Iran:

There Are Only Two Choices Left on Iran
An Israeli or U.S. military strike now, or a nuclear Tehran soon.

..An American attack would be more effective [than an Israeli attack], but it would take longer and probably lead to real warfare in the Persian Gulf, disrupting oil supplies and producing global responses...
Boy, I sure hope negotiations can be successful. I am not a military expert, but it would seem that you would want this attack to go off with maximum offensive 'first-strike' firepower; a joint US/Israeli action [I wonder if the RSAF would want to join in too?].

The RSAF has developed from a largely defensive military force into one with an advanced offensive capability. The RSAF maintains the third largest fleet of F-15s after the USAF and the JASDF.

On 12 August 2009, UPI reported that Saudi Arabia was seeking upgrades of their E-3 fleet of electronic warfare and aerial tanker aircraft.[3]
If I was Ahmadinejad & the Imans: as soon as the attack begins, I would send the Quds Forces & Revolutionary Guard into Pakistan to make a grab for their nuke-missiles, because the US & Israel are not going to invade overland. India might feel greatly relieved if Pakistan's nukes do not become a threat to them anymore. Would Pakistan voluntarily give up their nukes early to US/Russia/other; [EDIT: Would you volunteer to cutoff your penis]? Or would they dither around too long, then lose them to internal insurgents/Iran?

Or worst of all: would Pakistan decide that if they can't keep their nukes; [EDIT: the 'Ultimate Chrome Penis'], then nobody else can have them either. Pak then proceeds to fire them towards Iran, India, Israel [EDIT: KSA wouldn't be happy about any Pak-nukes falling short on their flight to Israel!]? Oh Crap, now I really scaring myself!

I have no idea if this is just propaganda for negotiation leverage in the upcoming Iran talks, or if it is for real:

The Pentagon has brought forward to December 2009 the target-date for producing the first 15-ton super bunker-buster bomb (GBU-57A/B) Massive Ordinance Penetrator, which can reach a depth of 60.09 meters underground before exploding. DEBKAfile's military sources report that top defense agencies and air force units were also working against the clock to adapt the bay of a B2a Stealth bomber for carrying and delivering the bomb...
The 'Hawks' in Congress is sure starting to beat the wardrums, too:

Graham: We're Walking a Road to Armageddon
GOP Senator Says Int'l Community Has 18 Months to Stop Iran From Building a Nuclear Weapon


Iran would have considerable difficulty sending forces to Pakistan seeing as the U.S. forces are all over Afghanistan...no luck going by water either considering the U.S. Navy.

I am not optimistic about the Iran-v-U.S. situation. If we attack Iran could try real hard to disrupt shipping in the Persian Gulf.

If KSA would be foolhardy enough to attack Iran with us, then their ports and refineries would likely be targets for Iranian missiles.

I would estimate that in these circumstances, 'above-ground factors' would significantly increase the price of oil.

Iran has a border with Pakistan. But having said that, I don't think Iran is in a position to grab Pakistani nukes. First of all, the Pakistani military will fight back. Secondly, the missiles and warheads are not stored in the same place. I don't think it is easy to mate them unless you know what you are doing. And I don't think those warheads can be armed without secret codes. It is much more likely that as Pakistan falls into chaos the radicals in Pakistani military will take control of the nukes.

Hello Moonwatcher,

Sorry, but I am not sure what you are getting at as Iran/Pak share a very wide border:

What is the length of the border between Iran and Pakistan? 805 Km or 500.2 miles

Iran deploys 10,000 soldiers on Pak-Iran border [March, '09]


Iran Sanctions: Why Pakistan Won't Help
By Omar Waraich/Islamabad, Monday, Sep. 14, 2009
Thus, the Iranian Navy is not required, nor do they need to go thru Afghanistan. Remember that during the earlier Iran/Iraq war: they had no problem being killed in huge numbers to try and achieve their objective:

Under the slogans "War, War until Victory," and "The Road to Jerusalem Goes through Karbala," [41] Iran advanced. A tactic used in this advance noted throughout the world was the encouragment of heroism among young Iranian basij volunteers who sought martyrdom in human wave attacks on Iraqi positions. The volunteers were inspired before battle by tales of Ashura, the Battle of Karbala, and the supreme glory of martyrdom, and sometimes by an actor (usually a more mature soldier), playing the part of Imam Hossein himself riding a white horse, galloping along the lines, providing the child soldiers a vision of "the hero who would lead them into their fateful battle before they met their God." [42]

..In the Basra offensive, or Operation Ramadan five human-wave attacks were met with withering fire from the Iraqis. The boy-soldiers of Iran were particularly hard-hit, especially since they volunteered to run into minefields, in order to clear the way for the Iranian soldiers behind them. The Iranians were also hard-hit by the employment of chemical weapons and mustard gas by the Iraqis.
My guess is that the Iranian fury created from being attacked by Israel and/or US would make these battles seem like a walk in the park.

Lastly, even if KSA's planes do Not attack Iran: my bet is the Iranians will try to take out KSA infrastructure anyway they can, because they would not like KSA to get even richer selling crude while they cannot.

In short: the whole MidEast is a huge mess, IMO. I have no easy answers.

I think Iran may choose to deploy 500 million euros rather than several divisions of Revolutionary Guards to get Pakistani nukes. Cheaper, fewer side effects, less obvious.


Google just recalibrated their flu trends system with actual recent infection data for swine H1N1. Here's their picture of the US as of yesterday. This estimate is between 1-2 weeks ahead of the CDC published data.


Texas has now moved into the lead.

Is this totoneila's "Google: I'm feeling unlucky" button?

Edit: Very recent interview with long time Flu Virologist Dr Henry Niman

Niman is sort of the Matt Simmons of the Flu World.

How about some 'cornucopian porn' for a change...

A Life of Its Own
Where will synthetic biology lead us?


Fuel for Ray Kurzweil and his ilk.

Where will synthetic biology lead us?

To the same place all previous attempts to optimise a single facet of a system have lead. To Unintended Consequences.

Wisdom begins at the point where one says "I can do this... but should I?

Thanks for the link, though.

A very interesting chart - Job Voyager:
Reported Occupations - US Labor Force 1850-2000

How will it look like in 10 and 20 years (after PO)?