What are Your New Year's Resolutions? (Open thread)

Last week, Nate outlined his New Year's Resolutions. Related to his thoughts:

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

Major insights: Should have known this earlier, but the country's broke and pretending to be otherwise. We were broke back in October, 2008, now we're even more in debt. This will not end well. PO, when it hits, will make these recessionary times appear to be the "good old days". Not happy with revelation that the "land of the free, home of the brave" is actually more a military junta like Guatemala except we have much better military. Otherwise, it seems very similar and now the vast majority of citizens is beginning to act like those in Guatemala, also.

Sometimes it's the little things, like serving one-olive martinis and paper instead of cloth napkins at the local Outback...(lame attempt at dark humor).

Planning: getting serious about gardening, chummier with the neighbors. Keep pounding on denialist family--seems to get better but I wonder how much information they are getting from others? Gonna trade more 401k for physical gold. Preparing for the near-term future like one would for retirement, only a working one, perhaps manually. Resolve to get the boys trained in gun safety and marksmanship. Giving more to charity as one cleans out accumulated bubble-era stuff in preparation for a move elsewhere--a feel-good twofer.

Starting to feel downright scared about the future. Went to the AGU in December and looked at the USA. I feel like the US has decided to deal with economic collapse by playing the military card. Deity help us, there's no doubt in my mind that we'll take the Mid-East's oil when needed. Airports with young punks in military uniforms swaggering around obnoxiously and queue jumping. Canada's no better.

Continue to work on energy efficiency and paying off the mortgage and holding onto my job. I will keep my paperwork more organized and dust more and stay on top of the weeds in the veggie patch better.

On the "military card", I have been considering whether the current pres. might be just smart enough to have a plan, or at least a plan B; sometimes the only way to stop a train is a train wreck, and our military has gotten up such a head of steam I don't know if anything but a thorough strategic disaster like Afghanistan could de-couple our future course from world military dominance.

Or, in another way, when an empire goes somewhere to die, its really the pride and confidence of the military that goes. Before that happens there's not much that a populace or a president can do, but after; new world models become possible. Or at least that's one thing I've come up with, or an excuse not to worry about it as much in the new year.

The war crimes committed by the USA's military machine that we all so very well know about yet see no "action" against reminds me of the war crimes that the Nazi germany did and continued to do until it fell apart after WWII. I hope I'll live to see the day when these tyrants get tried and hung.

These are historic times, indeed.

My resolution is to move this land co-op proposal a little further down the road. First proposed three years ago, it's not gotten much traction in central Wisconsin. But I still think the idea of a land-owning, agriculture based worker co-operative has merit, and includes peak oil planning as a core principle throughout. Take a look here:


Central Wisc. USA

Pretty much done everthing I can with my house. Solar water heating, maxed out on insulation. Wood burning stove, small PV and battery set up.

Food - have 50m2 allotment. Planted out trees in garden.

NY resolutions.

Use public transport more (both business and social)

Install water butt - to cut water usage.

old , retired, fixed income, health issues. I have known about peak oil for over thirty years. the only insight i really gained in the past year was i realized I might actually experience some of the early, and possibly most dramatic first major disruptions of this predicament. I have not discussed the issues with my family for over 5 years, because they refused to even consider the fact that cheap energy might not always be available. An open honest discussion of the issue always seemed to lead to despair and one cannot lead from despair. Effective leaders can only lead from hope. I have personally spent many years developing skills I believed would be essential for the transition before us but have been unable to convince those close to me to participate and likewise learn the basics. Due to health issues i moved from my bolt hole last year back to the city where i could be close to health care facilities. bolt hole is still being operated by a very competent young fella who just might make it through the bottle neck. Living in the city and watching how folks are responding to the earliest signals of the coming storm I have come to realize this is not going to go down well. government is totally ineffective. You are going to be on your own. Get a good sleeping bag. Plant a garden. Learn to eat the diet you can grow. Prepare to defend yourself. Make lots of friends. Avoid free riders especially if they are family.

rather than try to ride it out, i am going to sit in my front row seat and observe one of the most dramatic events in human history, thinking of the wisdom of Epicurus. "Faith in immortality was born of the greed of unsatisfied people who make unwise use of the time that nature has allotted us. But the wise man finds his life span sufficient to complete the full circle of attainable pleasures, and when the time of death comes, he will leave the table, satisfied, freeing a place for other guests. For the wise man one human life is sufficient, and a stupid man will not know what to do with eternity."

nice quote

touche' rube.

Well written. Your words apply to my own situation; old and satisfied with my life. I have had a full and rewarding life filled with challenges and adventure. I now watch the future unfold with curiosity. It seems likely that we are indeed entering a watershed era in human history where life will be significantly different from what we have come to think as "normal" in terms of energy, economy and environment. The U.S. is clearly slipping from its position as a leading global economic and military power. Our debt based economy has begun its inevitable collapse. We are seriously overextended militarily. Our dependence on imported energy is unsustainable. Our impact on the environment, including the atmosphere, is a disaster in the making. I have decided that little can be done to avert the consequences of these trends. However, I figure that this is no reason for fear or despair, at least for me. My wife and I still find life very rewarding and intend to continue living it fully. I participate in a local sustainability organization and occasionally write on related issues, but I am fatalistic insofar as the inevitable outcome.

Well written Rube and pretty much echos where my spouse and I are at. Everyone now alive will die no matter what. The timing and means may be unexpected. The closer you are to your natural end and the more your body gets run down, the easier it is to become philosophical and accepting. That quote is one of my favorites.

So here at the end of the world we sit back and watch the show.

Here is a song for the end of the world - listen at

Here At the End of the World
David Rovics

Standing here on a highway
Turned into a lake
Born on this planet
That I didn’t make
The ice caps are melting
You can measure the rise
Of the poisoned oceans
Hear all the lies
Of the political pundits
And corporate crooks
Their accountants and scientists
Cooking the books
With hardly an inkling
Of what it’s about
Wedded to profit
In flood and in drought
I’m talking to you
From here at the end of the world

Standing here on the bayou
Amidst mountains of soil
Washed off from the farmland
And covered in oil
One ton every acre
Lost every year
And along with the pesticides
It ends up right here
Millions of miles
Of chemical wheat
Challenging all
To try to compete
And lay waste to your country
Like we’ve done to ours
Let them eat coffee
Sugar, coca and flowers
I’m talking to you
From here at the end of the world

And here in the city
Shrouded in smoke
Ten million people
This morning awoke
To a future of cancer
Industrial disease
So let’s build some more suburbs
And buy SUV’s
Let’s cut down the mountains
And burn all the coal
And put all the money
In a humungous bowl
They’ll call it progress
And they’ll blame it on you
To end life as we know it
To enrich the few
I’m talking to you
From here at the end of the world

Yes I speak to you now
From an occupied place
You might call it your home
Or a terrorist base
They’ll send your sons and your daughters
To make sure that it’s theirs
While they sit in their mansions
On their plush leather chairs
And everyone’s waiting
For us to decide
From dust we were born
And in dust we reside
Will we realize the commons
Is to shepherd and share
Here in this war zone
Called land, water and air
Yes I’m talking to you
From here at the end of the world

Created November, 2003
Copyright David Rovics 2003, all rights reserved

1. in the UK we have lots of appliances, furniture, houses, cars etc now that we may never be able to afford to replace as we have done recently. But not many people, I tend to think, have the wherewithal in terms of skills and tools to repair and maintain all their stuff.

2. besides turning meagre cash savings into tools and the skills to use them myself (bike repair my main gig) I want to see how a training operation to 'reskill' people for keeping their household going through running repairs might work. E.g. What would the syllabus look like? How do you teach/learn common sense of deciding what's economical to (try to) fix; diagnosis and fault finding, as well as less tacit skills such as soldering a replacement part into an electrical appliance. What parts of the government might fund this training? How to market it and build a network of instructors? What core skills cascade to other problem solving more readily and economically? Also, beyond inserting spare parts into various things what happens when spares from China dry up - machining new bike parts from scrap metal? That will have to be a 'higher qualification' with an industrial economics module I suppose...

Hi Mudlark, It might be way too small for what you're looking for, but i got some start up funding from a crowd called "unltd" in the uk. www.unltd.org.uk
The first grant is from £500 - £5,000..
I set up a community supported agriculture project in Cornwall with it. It's basically any project that benefits the community..
if you want i can help you out with the application
sounds like your idea would be well received...

Thanks Dylan I will check that out.

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

Energy is going to be a big underlying driver of what unfolds in the future, but that doesn't necessarilly mean that it is going to be all that obvious or loom all that large in the consciousness of people. I had been sort of thinking of the experience of the 1970s as a model or mental map for the 2010s, but I now realize that things won't work out that way. What happened wrt energy in the '70s was a shock, and so of course it did loom large in people's consciousness. What we are likely to face (unless something huge happens geopolitically) is going to be not so much a suddent shock, but rather a slow, inexorable grind. Things will just continue to go downhill and get worse, month after month and year after year, but people will not be able to pinpoint that solely on energy - or on anything at all, really.

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

a) I'm probably actually putting energy conservation on a slightly slower track; I have more to do, but allocating funds toward paying off remaining debtsis a much higher priority at this point.

b) I'm pulling out of our community garden and am just going to focus my efforts on my home garden. I am going to put much more effort into watering my vegies much more intensively than I have in the past - I've come to the conclusion that is what I most need to do to boost yields, and if I boost yields enough at home, then I won't miss the production from the community garden plot.

c) I'll not be voting for candidates from either major party this fall. I'll vote for whatever independent or 3rd party candidates make it on the ballot, or write in someone if there are no alternatives. I have come to the conclusion that the two major parties, in toto are a main part of the problem, and that votes for either of them just perpetuates them in power. I don't care that a non-mainstream candidate can't win; from my point of view the election of people from either party means that I - and the entire country - lose.

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

That the politicians of the world are incapable of solving Global Warming. For a number of years, I had been fairly optimistic about Global Warming, because the science was now abundantly clear and it looked like there was sufficient political momentum to get it fixed. Round about the middle of 2009, however, I realised that the denial industry was just getting into gear here in Australia and that the politicians of both major parties were more interested in looking like they were doing something than actually doing it.

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

Throw myself into doing something about it at the community level. We're already doing our level best to cut our carbon footprint in our private lives. We've installed solar hot water and a rainwater tank, and will be getting solar power in the not-too-distant future. We travel by bicycle or public transport (no car) and have no air-con. But I need to do more to get community action going on climate change, since we can't trust the pollies to do anything meaningful.


In terms of WNC's observations, I think that at some point there will be a sudden re-pricing of oil. That will be when the market gives up on the predictions of increasing production. I can't predict when that will be, but when it does, Peak Oil will become conventional wisdom within months and all producers will see that they have no reason to undercut their rivals.

The newfound reserves of natural gas in the US will certainly prevent any rapid industrial collapse (though I didn't think it was likely anyway), but that won't help motorists very much. When the penny drops about Peak Oil, people will find their current car-dependent lifestyle unsustainable. It always has been, but that's when they'll notice.

Throw myself into doing something about it at the community level.

I decided to be more active at the local level. Used their dogs as the wedge - Dogs are not creatures of nobility - they are bribe-able. So I keep homemade biscuts made from bacon fat and old stale and even bug ridden flour. Hand 'em out to the dogs on walk about.

Pimp then the timebank and alternative energy - to the point that the receptive neighbors are now comming to me asking "how do I do this" and "why arn't you on this mailing list as we have questions about that".

I'll not be voting for candidates from either major party this fall.

Me as well. Particularly after Copenhagen its obvious - whether Peak Oil, climate change or the population issue, politics has completely failed to address our problems and will continue to fail in the future. I'm not wasting my time imagining a 3rd party solution though (if you look at election-theory mathematics it just doesn't work), but looking for more local community solutions. If things are to change, that's where it can happen, and where one can make a difference independent of political ideology. National and international politics have become a waste of mental and physical energy.

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

  1. Iraq's vast oil reserves that change the date for peak oil.
  2. The world's substantial natural gas endowment that will enable, more or less, BAU for another 20-35 years.

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

I am replanning my life. I was misled to believe Peak Oil would be a game changer in the near term. It won't, and I have to replan a lot of things. Not happy about it.

Everyone sees things differently. It would be nice if BAU would continue 20-35 years, but I am afraid we will learn too soon that that is not to be the case.

Seems like there's more ways for things to fail than I can ever imagine. I certainly did not see this kind of thing coming.

"HONOLULU — Cash-strapped Hawaii can't afford to pay for an election to replace a congressman who is planning to step down next month to run for governor, potentially leaving 600,000 urban Honolulu residents without representation in Washington.

Budget cuts have left the state Office of Elections with about $5,000 to last until July, with a special election costing nearly $1 million, interim Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago said"

I wouldn't have seen it coming either, but it looks like bog-standard priority-setting by the usual low grade of politicians. I don't know Hawaii, but if that "cash strapped" state is anything like many of the others, there's no limit to what it squanders on sports "facilities", "tourism" subsidies, overbuilding of (very possibly understaffed) state-university campuses, other ego projects, and/or who knows what other fluff.

Let's see how spot on that assessment is:

1) there's no limit to what it squanders on sports "facilities". New basketball/volleyball dome, new baseball stadium for university. Maintenance of large football stadium in Aiea. Highly-paid athletic staff, especially head football coach.
2) "tourism" subsidies. Honolulu airport expansion, Maui and other outer island airport upgrades, Waikiki beautification (in eye of beholder), Hawaii Tourism Bureau.
3) overbuilding of (very possibly understaffed) state-university campuses. UH West Oahu Campus. Boondoggle for Campbell Estate elites and local pols.
4) other ego projects, and/or who knows what other fluff. Fixed Rail Project. Too little, too late. Another boondoggle for Campbell Estate elites and local pols.

Congrats, PaulS.

Well they did seem to do at least one thing right! As a south Florida resident I'd like to see a similar law in my state and its not just because I'm in the business.


Law starts today, requiring solar energy heaters in new Hawaii homes (Weather Channel)
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03 Jan 2010 - 09:19 26193

Joined: 05 Sep 2006 Law starts today, requiring solar energy heaters in new Hawaii homes (Weather Channel)
[KIB note: Sometimes our hot water tank's electric breaker is off for over a year. We don't really notice though.]

A report from the Weather Channel just informed that the State of Hawaii is the first one to mandate the use of solar water heaters in new homes. The legislation passed in 2008 set January 1st, 2010 as the start date for this law. Building permits for single-family homes require solar water heating systems starting today.

Of course, in a sense, we've had so much social and technical change for a century or more now that "BAU" never continues unaltered for 20-35 years. That's not exactly what you mean, of course, but it does indicate that there may be no scenario in which rigid or grand plans have a near-guarantee of working. One blog I would recommend to help keep a centered sense of perspective is Peak Oil Blues.

Curious about what you did that you are regretting so dearly. Most of the leading suggestions are things that are just a good idea in any case: get out of debt, start a garden, get to know neighbors, learn skills...

Was there some investment decision that went south because you thought the PO end was nigh?


I would like to address that question for just a second, but I promise I won't take long...

I cannot possibly know Mamba's situation, but I can refer to my own and many of my dear friends who are getting on up there in years.

In the late 1970's I experienced as a young person and saw many friends experience how terrible misplaced expectations of assured future scenarios can be. I KNOW that these same predictions of doom, ecological catastrophe, economic collapse, political upheaval, chronic and never ending resource supplies and the whole "catastrophist" catalog were MUCH more popular then than they are even now.

Many young people took a path of risk aversion due to their belief that any investment in a future involving the survival and prosperity of the culture at large was essentially a wasted investment, and the ones already prone to morbid imaginings and risk aversion to begin with were most damaged because they now had a consensus view, a "support group" for their most terrible fears. These young people gave up opportunities for a good education and good investment and business opportunities in many cases purely out of fear and blind unhedged belief in future scenarios of soon to occur doom and catastrophe.

It can be a VERY damaging thing. I am not saying that all the horrors described on TOD everyday will not occur. I am simply saying that it is usually unwise to accept such horrific scenarios as absolutely assured. PLEASE think very hard before you give up on your culture, and be very, very careful about accepting assured predictions. Really, much of what has been said about "peak oil" since awareness of it became somewhat mainstream has NOTHING to do with the original science and geology of peak oil (which is virtually undeniable and has ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN, if something is finite and you use it long enough you run out) but instead has become a horrifying catch all basket of the sum of all fears.

These assured timetables of doom complete with dates...folks, if you assure people of an outcome and put a date on it, YOU HAD BETTER BE RIGHT, because somewhere out there some poor melencholy sap will bet his whole life on it, and if you are committing prophecy without knowing what your doing, you have essentially helped wrecked his or her future. I don't know what the future holds, and to be honest I am becoming damn distrustful of those who say they do.

Again, key takaway: Think very hard before you give up on your culture, your age, before you renounce the work of 4,000 years. You are betting against a long tradition and millions of lives used up to make the world you would seem so glad to throw away.


Hi RC,

In the late 1970's I experienced as a young person and saw many friends experience how terrible misplaced expectations of assured future scenarios can be

I very much agree with your thinking about this. We should be aware of the important factors in our lives and the planet in general. We should study the research of qualified scientists and writers. We should avoid the nonsense of religious, corporate and political myths. In short, I think we have a responsibility to be informed citizens (at least as a way of thanking all those who sacrificed in earlier times to provide us with our current lifestyles). BUT, we should be very cautious about how we make our life decisions based upon predicted future scenarios (just as you suggest).

The concerns of the 1960s led us to buy 80 acres in the wilds near Lake Superior. The concerns of the 1970s moved us into bicycling and passive solar. Each decade seems to have had concerns that caused us to make some important life decisions. HOWEVER, we never did anything that did not fundamentally appeal to our basic sense of life satisfaction. We enjoyed Lake Superior for many years. We still love biking and have a great passive solar home.

We never stopped pursuing our basic education and work goals. We like to laugh and have fun. We like to travel (mostly by bike). We always voted and stayed pretty mainstream in many aspects of life - we definitely did not "drop out".

With hindsight, there are many things I would have done differently (like floss my teeth more ;-) but given the actual context of each big decision we made - I happy with our choices. Certainly, I wish I could have influenced the world to have fewer children, conserve energy, pollute less, stop war, etc. As my old farmer father-in-law used to say: "poop (similar word) in one hand and wish in the other - then tell me which hand produced the most".

But RC, this thing down thread about your automobile addiction - we really need to have a talk!

"But RC, this thing down thread about your automobile addiction - we really need to have a talk!"

True. But I have to admit that it so much a part of my upbringing (my father and uncles were all mechanics, and it was the first job I had in high school and after for some time), I grew up in the automobile culture, and then took it even further with my roving mind chasing down minor makes and models from all over the world.

It is the art form that does it for me, not the consumption for consumption sake...almost all the cars I have owned have had over 100,000 miles on them when I got them, and most have been 4 cylinders.

Lately, I notice that I have become very selective. Most of the new car ads just don't work on my, they are just barges of shiny paint, all glitz and complexity for the sake of it...BORING.

But I still get goosebumps at the sight of an old Porsche 356 speedster (about 55 horsepower, Volkswagen engine) or an adorable little Alfa Junior (1600cc engine, maybe 105 horsepower), even the Alfa Montreal which us "small bore" fans can like as a "BIG" car has a 1500cc V-8, it's more like a motorcycle sized engine by today's standards (our cars are now so FAT, just as our culture is)

Now to bicycles...again, I love the artform, but with some developments, me and a bicycle loving buddy of mine who is getting on a bit in years....we're thinking...a leaning recumbant trike, with electric wheel hub motor for assist (like the "Copenhagen wheel"...and maybe a little detachable wind screen/weather protector...this could work...:-)


Hi RC,

we're thinking...a leaning recumbent trike

Now you talking my language. In my early 60s I had to stop riding an upright bike due to pain issues with back, neck and wrists. No pain at all on a recumbent.

Family vehicle: http://www.greenspeed.com.au/gtt.html

My Porsche 356 speedster: http://www.volaerecumbents.com/

No need for electric power assist - just get really low gears and make mental adjustment to going slow when climbing steep hills.

PLEASE think very hard before you give up on your culture, and be very, very careful about accepting assured predictions.

There's many varieties of giving up, as any survey of modern history shows. Mental health issues arose and became prevalent long before peak oil was even thought of...

I agree with the thrust of the argument, though, and there is a deeper culture that needs to be preserved; if you look at all the skills involved in living in sustainable way in the real world, that is the deep culture that lays beneath our superficial or trivial current one. I grew up hating the trivialities and destructiveness of the world I was being taught to join...I was able to make a positive choice to "learn the real world", as I put it; learning to grow and cook and can, learning how to build and fix and maintain machines, learning the basics of carpentry, plumbing, engineering, etc...its not about "doom", its about planning to be a provider rather than a dependent in any future.

Clap, clap.

Thanks for the insight, RC. I actually have no problem with giving up on some aspects of our culture, especially the very recent ones that are causing global destruction. I early on decided that making money was not going to be a central goal, but I immersed myself in the historic underpinning of Western (and some non-Western) cultures by studying many of their early languages and literatures.

I think giving up a culture is actually almost impossible to do. You carry around with you all sorts of unexamined assumptions you are not aware of. The best you can do, it seems to me, is become aware of your cultural assumptions as much as possible, and this requires both reflection and study of your own and other cultures.

As an educator now, I am very thoughtful about how to responsibly introduce students to the state of the world they are coming in to. Many tell me that they have heard so often and for so long that things are going south fast that any new area of impending doom, PO or otherwise, is just shrugged off as yet another enormous catastrophe they have no way of reasonably averting or even preparing for.

I'm with others that suggest moving toward lifestyles... that have some deep appeal to you even if prognostications do not end up panning out.

The biggest reality, for me, though, is not something that might happen in the future, but a catastrophe we are already unquestionably right in the middle of--global mass extinction under the assault on life now underway from our industrial, over-consuming society and as well as from the sheer numbers of us.


Very well said!

Although I have a tendency to jump into a thread or conversation and comment within the current context(meaning if the thread is doomerish I will comment as if that scenario may play out) I thoroughly agree with you that we can not predict the future-except possibly in the broadest terms.

I hold that while there is a significant chance any of the doomer scenarios will may play out, the more likely immediate future involves a few decades of decline and stagnation in the richer counties,but not outright collapse-unless a war gets out of hand, which is very possible, probably likely.

Progress will continue to be made in some fields and if the overall culture evolves toward smaller families and less consumption with higher actual quality of life , things could be just fine in a century.

There is even a modest chance that the cornucopians may be right -for a long time I thoought that prosperity would win out and that the third world population problem would solve itself, as it has in Japan and western Europe.I'm afraid that race against overshoot and depletion is lost however.India , China, Indonesia, many other places are going to be very sad places for sure for a long time.

At any rate there is nothing that I can do to change the big picture significantly, as I lack the organizational skills and resources needed to organize a large scale project-not to mention the personal energy after taking care of essential business. Old age has a firm grip on my ankle.

I resolve to do what I can to prepare my family and community for some hard going and to enjoy myself as much as possible otherwise.

"Curious about what you did that you are regretting so dearly"

What I would expect lots of people in this situation to regret would be not having any kids (if the world is going to be a horrible place you certainly don't want to bring kids into it).

It sounds to me that the biggest regrets are purchases. I have come to the conclusion that PO and CC are good reasons to deeply reexamine your values, to pull back a bit from the ultra-consuming society, reduce meat and dairy intake, form closer communities, start a garden, learn some practical skills, insulate your house...

But they are not very good reasons to go out and buy a lot of stuff, especially really expensive stuff. Even PV for many people has been a purchase that many have regretted for various reasons (see neighboring thread).

1. Iraq's vast oil reserves that change the date for peak oil.
2. The world's substantial natural gas endowment that will enable, more or less, BAU for another 20-35 years.

The only thing WORSE than peak oil happening NOW is peak oil happening much LATER.

The further up the curve we go, the harder we fall into the Malthusian catastrophe. I seriously doubt that Iraq's production will increase beyond 5MB/d by 2020. It makes no sense for a country to sell off its only real money-earner as rapidly as possible.

It is necessary for the PO transition to be forced upon us ASAP. Having said this, I hope for my own sake that if worldwide chaos is inevitable, that it comes later than 3 years from now. I desperately need time to sit down, think and contemplate the changes that will unfold. My new years resolution is to heighten my vigilance and to learn to imagine pain before reality brings it to us.

Hi Mamba,

1.Iraq's vast oil reserves that change the date for peak oil.
2.The world's substantial natural gas endowment that will enable, more or less, BAU for another 20-35 years.

These 2 points also trouble me. I really expected a wake-up call (like a significant spike in gasoline prices) to occur sometime in the next couple of years. I hoped this would be a catalyst to get MSM focusing on the hard issues discussed here on TOD. Now, I'm not so sure. I'm certainly not an expert like Rockman - but his comments leave room for at least the possibility that Iraq oil contracts and North America NG supply could delay significant price increases - of course we are always one Black Swan event away from some catastrophe.

If these 2 factors actually result in the next 5 to 10 years having oil priced less than $100 and NG less than $6 (and probably gasoline less than $4) then it seems quite possible that the US will not implement any significant change in it's energy policies.

This, in turn will lessen any serious efforts to address GW, population overshoot, habitat destruction, specie extinction, ocean fishery problems, environmental pollution, and a host of other such issues. Happy motoring and all you can eat (in western countries).

I recently listened to an NPR program where future tends were being discussed - great enthusiasm for nanotechnology and nuclear energy. Technology will give our grandchildren great lives. Items like PO and GW were viewed as simple challenges for innovative technology to resolve. Lots of room for more humans on the planet. My take-away: more pessimistic about the general public becoming aware of global environmental issues - less inclined to see meaningful action.

I see religion and military becoming stronger elements of our US culture - both of which I consider will be key factors in our decline as great place to live. Even on TOD, it seems there is more of an inclination to value religion as something useful in troubled times ahead. I just find it is sad that totally irrational myths are valued at a time when we desperately need very rational thinking. The extension of our military adventures at a time when any sane person would be contracting them is also discouraging.

Different for 2010. Be more critical about when PO issues are actually going to impact western countries. Be less tolerant of religious views - this whole affair about US evangelical folks involvement in the anti-gay laws in Uganda should be another wake-up call.

Bicycle more, spend more time on vegetable garden and less time mowing grass, work on PV, rain collection, home insulation and such. Spend more time with grandchildren. Spend less time talking to people about the issues we discuss on TOD - boring to most folks.

Dave, I'm in agreement with all you say.

I made a large precious metal investment (gold and silver) in the hopes that TSHTF. Now all that metal has appreciated a little, but I could have made much better investments and I've essentially lost money.

My house is also crammed with post-peak paraphernalia: scythes, bicycles, gardening tools, Mylar bags, bulk-bought clothes (which could become more difficult to buy and expensive post peak), and on and on... My wife is demanding I get rid of it all, or at least put it in storage.

I've also spent the last several years leaving the US (still happy with that decision) and planning to set up a smallholding in a semi-rural area. This is looking less and less essential as the energy picture unfolds. D'oh!

The delay thing makes me sick. When this finally all goes down I'm going to be so fricking old that I won't be much good for anything. In a way, I've gone so far down the track to combat PO in my own life that I may as well continue. It's too depressing going back to the old life. I'll soon be on 5 acres, growing food and poultry. I'm 52 and I may die anytime from now on, but I hope to live to about 80 if I'm lucky (both parents died at 81). It all depends what I want to do with the $2.5 million dollars I have and the 28 years of life I have left. My wife has no original ideas ... seems that it's mostly men that plan the future, women just are. I love her dearly, but sometimes I feel it's all up to me. Her only contribution is that we should simply enjoy the money and then exit the world when it runs out. She may be right.

... seems that it's mostly men that plan the future, women just are.

Speak for your wife. Don't you think it's too broad a generalization? Especially with all the inspiring women in the community like Sharon Astyk and others homesteading and thinking in practical terms about the community solutions.

No, not too broad. Even the posters here are 97% men. Look at African village life: women work in the fields, cook food and care for the children, men are usually found sitting around talking and philosophising, often in a council or circle. It sticks in the craw of many "enlightened" modern people, but that's how society organised itself for hundreds of thousands of years. It's probably biological, because it would be an evolutionary misstep to give females brains that tend to the esoteric and theoretical when they have so many practical matters to take care of, like children. And by the way, I think Astyk's stuff sucks. No offence. Not interested in a female liberation debate, thanks.

Mamba,Regarding the past and womans roles.

I live not too far from some famous Mississippian Mound Builder sites.
I attended a exposition one of the archelogy Profs who take care of the site gave.

I remembered some of his comments on the mound builders, which expired and we then entered the 'woodlands' phase.

He said that some famous explorer came up the Mississippi back when the mound site here was still active for they noted the natives standing watching them on the bluffs at the high ground and noted it in their logs. Some visiting apparently took place and it was noted that it was a matriarchial society and a head person was then a female.

He opined that in most of history when the females were the head leader that those cultures/sites ,whatever, tended to not last too long. As opossed to a male leader figure.

When the Woodlands phase started it appeared that all the natives had massacred all the priests and leaders and from then on would abide no big leader sited on a big mound excerising life and death decisions over them and instead they formed a more communal form of government, where COUNCILS were the means of making decisions.Any warrior(two head feathers denoting such status) could sit at the council fire and make his voice and speech heard.

I refer to the volume by Jake Page "In the Hands of the Great Spirit"...very well researched and speaks to the natives americans here of about 20,000 or more years of occupation here in the continent.

Anyway the prof said that during excavations of the mounds they found what appeared to be a burial of a very very important personage.Based on what was buriedwith the body and the clothing , headdress , etc.

It was a female.

The next explorer up the Mississippi found those very mounds deserted. Not a single soul to be found. Only Chickasaws and Chocataws , some Shawnee and some Cherokee. But beyond that the interior of Ky was totally void of any NA habitation. They hunted it and some claimed parts of it but most of it was thought to be the grounds of ghosts and was left to be.

So no Native Americans were slaughter, well some, in KY in order to take the land for no one tribe patrolled it as they did land they considrered theirs.

So appears that female leaders did not bode well then. This was the thinking of the Archelogy Prof who was pretty much resident and knew about all their was to know of these mound builders.

Airdale-note, I am not head of household in my own family. My wife refuses to listen to me so we do not live together very much,welllll except when I was making a large amount of money then sometimes she listened and eventually by her activities I lose close to a quarter million of my estate, most in the lawyers pockets or for clothes never worn and other trash, not a penny for the land. End of story.

PS. While I have always cherished the companionship of women I have never never allowed one to control my life or lifestyle. I also am not too interested in those debates you speak of.I think a few of the females on this website have likely figured that out. I had enough female programmers under me on my team to believe otherwise. Good to drink with, bad to write good solid code. Peer reviews of their code by even others proved my point. At least in my teams and many others in the same location. RTP Raleigh,NC.

Good to drink with, bad to write good solid code. Peer reviews of their code by even others proved my point.

As an ex-Team Leader on many IT projects myself, I can report similar experiences. But my own wife is in IT, and very good at it too, although when her PC goes awry, she calls for me ;¬)

I don't know what you sacrificed, but I do think some "doomers" are a little too cocksure of themselves, and one well-known human failing is that we are deceived too easily by cocksureness. I even think that some of the propounded doom may reflect petulant resentment over personal failure rather than anything to do with economics or resources - a bit like throwing away the chess pieces when one is losing, or pretending to be sick when one didn't bother to do one's homework.

I would suggest this piece: Ordinary Fears/Extraordinary Times: Fifty-Five (real) Things to Worry About (if you must…) as a corrective to set these matters into perspective (without denying the larger issues) in a manner that many people will find more useful than giving up on life, becoming disappointed when the world fails to end, flying into a permanent petulant rage, or becoming a socially disconnected hermit.

Personally, I doubt that the world will fly apart all of a sudden by three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, although World War III certainly could break out (impossible to prove a negative, so get over it.) I also think that in the event it does happen that way, most hard-core "doomers" will find themselves quickly displaced from their doomsteads, and/or relieved of their ammo dumps and food warehouses - IOW the typical "plans" will be fairly useless. If it happens some other way, it'll take longer, leaving less need to rush recklessly into something fundamentally foolish or impracticable.

On the other hand, several other commenters have already suggested "no regrets" and "low regrets" actions that you could consider - as does the article I linked. You might want to see whether any of that fits; some of it might well work out fine if business continues more-or-less as usual.

The thing is, anyone who has studied history (human and natural) and statistics to any significant degree, and especially who has read Talib's "Black Swan" understands that even the most extreme scenarios - both doomer and technocopian - can't be ruled out altogether. Unfortunately, while it can be dangerous, or even deadly, to "bet" against the extreme scenarios, it can also be equally dangerous to "bet" for either of them.

The simple, hard fact is that none of us really knows how the future is going to unfold, and anything we do or don't do is going to imply risks. The chances of not getting it 100% right, and thus regretting something, is just about the only thing that approaches near certainty, just short of Franklin's death and taxes.

The way I see it, the most extreme doomer scenarios are pretty much unsurvivable. I don't care how will "prepared" you are, if things are that bad they are very likely to unfold in ways that no one can predict with certainty, and survival will likely end up being as much just a matter of being lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time and not at the wrong place at the wrong time - and none of us know where those places and times are. Thus, while I fully acknowledge that the extreme doomer scenarios are possible, I don't worry about them, because there really isn't much I can do about them. I am am going to be shuffling off this mortal coil within two or three decades at most anyway, so it is just silly to get one's anxiety worked up all that much about it.

Similarly, if the most extreme technocopian scenarios work out, then it is going to pretty much be laissez les bons temps rouler for everyone in any case. Only a greedy, grasping fool would get worked up over the prospect of missing out on a little bit of the prosperity that might be available. Once again, I figure I'm not going to be around that much longer, and most of my life WAS the technocopian dream already, so it is not like I've really missed out on much.

So, as a practical matter, while I acknowledge both extremes as possibilities, I don't let them impact my thinking, my planning, or my life all that much. I focus mainly on that broad mid-range of contingencies. As it turns out, there is still quite a lot to be concerned about and to have to prepare and plan for. Even if mamba is right about Iraqi oil and tight formation NG (and I think he is being optimistic), I think a lot of people are too excessively focused JUST on energy. The reality is that we - both the US and all of humankind - are confronted with multiple huge problems. For the most part, these are no surprise, they are things that have been discussed in the news and in the academy for decades, but much too little has been done about them, and what has been done is usually late and either ineffectual or counterproductive. What we are facing is a confluence of major problems, and their consequences, and it is this COMBINATION, rather than any one factor (like energy) that leads me to think that something along the lines of a mid-range declinist scenario is probably the safest "bet" to take.

If one makes the type of lifestyle adjustments and preps that the more moderate declinist scenarios suggest is prudent, then one will still very likely be at least somewhat better positioned than most people to make further adjustments if things go bad sooner and harder than is implied in a gradual decline. On the other hand, if somehow the luck holds out for the BAU crowd and they are able to keep things going for a little longer than a declinist scenario would allow, that mainly just buys one more time, and means that one is farther ahead of the game than one absolutely needs to be - a comfortable position, at least.

That's been my approach, anyway.

WNC observer said:

What we are facing is a confluence of major problems, and their consequences, and it is this COMBINATION, rather than any one factor (like energy) that leads me to think that something along the lines of a mid-range declinist scenario is probably the safest "bet" to take.

You are almost certainly correct. But I think this is a medium term concern. It is very difficult to plan in the shorter term, as one must do as one approaches the final decades of life.

My plans are to not leave paid full-time employment (something that used to be called "retirement") until the house is paid for in full, and I have put in solar water and space heating (and maybe a few PV panels), a larger wood stove, and various energy efficiency retrofits. We'll also be remodeling the house so that we could rent out a room to a tennant if necessary. I also am in the process of increasing my garden space and the number of beehives in my apiary; once I'm done with full-time employment I'll also be adding chickens, and will be prepared to add a dairy goat if need be. I'll also have a bicycle and an electric car for local transport. My wife and I each have two or three options for things to do to earn some money or to have something to barter on the side.

These are realistic, achievable goals, and I've got about ten years to reach them. These should take us through all but the worst possible scenarios in the 2020-2050 time period, which is all I'm really worried about.

We ought not to plan our lives to survive the bottleneck.

Peak Oil and Climate Change are happening, but there is much more -- we have changed air, soil, and water to the point that I doubt we can recover.

We are violent -- in our relationship with the planet, we have declared war. We (collectively) spend huge resources upon killing and lying to ourselves about, as well as lying to ourselves believing that we are more secure the more people we kill.

We also lie to ourselves about our ability to determine a "survival" outcome through the next couple of decades or so. This is absolute rubbish. No one will survive because they built the right kind of community or the right kind of bunker in the right place.

We do not control the huge number of key variables that will determine who or what will survive -- whatever survival means.

I suggest that we will do better to live a life of love. I love the rich verdant habitat that has allowed our species to thrive for thousands of years. Therefore I want to express that in terms of how I relate to the planet here and now.

I do not believe in sustainability as a kind of policy we can implement in order to reshape the planet into a "Spaceship Earth."

We are fools if we think that we can understand the variables and beat the odds. Any place we pick to live may be obliterated by human violence or by the whirlwind of ecological catastrophe.

We cannot plan to survive anymore than the birds, frogs, or bees.

Live for love. It really is that simple. We are given bodies to express love and gratitude here and now. We help each other without any guarantee that any of us will stretch out the length of our earthly lives by one minute.

We live here and now out of love and gratitude and sometimes out of a sense of deep sorrow for the passing away of the womb and cradle of our species. We are crazy in love with the Creation we've known, and which will be no more.

Who ever or what ever "survives" or thrives will not be in our power to determine. Our weapons are turned upon us. The Faustian deal we made with technology is revealing itself. Hope is a verb -- we do loving things because we have hope. If we despair, we do absurd and violent things. Our civilization has chosen despair overwhelmingly.

Zbigniew Brzezinski has written extensively on "The Grand Chessboard" and America's place in the world. He notes that Empires have had shorter life spans throughout history. Pax Americana is a blip that has never really established global peace and justice, but rather a fairly strong military dominance for a couple of decades

Do not plan for Peak Oil or Climate Change now. Just live as good a loving life as you can.

Pretty profound comment. Certainly worth thinking about, since you may well be right.


First you speak of the reality of what we are. Destroyers of a very high grade.

Then you suppose us to LOVE?

How then is that possible? Is not the word LOVE just a 'code word' for,
"ohhhh I love you" and then set about destroying that person we pledged love to?

Happens all the time. Destroyed families, lies by CEOs, Preachers who do it in spades, politicians etc, etc.

It is perhaps wiser to be more on the outlook and lock the barn doors rather than laying ones neck on the line to be chopped off while the word love is still in your mouth and on your lips.

The savages wield the very axe that takes your head off then and you have gained naught.

I sense that you mean very well but in practice how will it go?

"Here, in love I offer you my last sack of corn, pray use it well"...and now YOU have no seed corn but your heart is full of love and yet you die a slow death of starvation for somehow the rest did NOT practice this fairy tale called LOVE.

I submit that love has been aborted long long ago for those who practice deceit and avarice.

Airdale-I am very very wary of this word. I prefer neighborlyness, or trading of favors...Favor trading worked well in the past I grew up in. Shunning connivers worked just as well too.

Trust but verify I would guess would be about as far as I can take that idea of yours. Sorry.


I don't know what beggar means by "love". If one is influenced in one's thinking in any way by the Christian scriptures, then one should understand that there is a type of "love" that is driven by feelings, and another type of "love" that is a matter of actions done in spite of one's feelings - and the belief that only the latter is of any real virtue or merit, even though it is far more difficult and "unnatural". Interestingly, we are told to "love our neighbors", not to like them. The reality is that one is very likely to end up with some neighbors that one really doesn't like all that well. However, as you point out, it might very well be one's own self-interest to make an effort to get along well with them anyway, in spite of one's feelings. If you help a neighbor you can't stand pull a stuck truck out of the mud, maybe that's "love" enough.

I agree with this comment and this insight occurred to me as well in 2009. However, I wouldn't blame TOD or its community or the web or Mr.Heinberg :) On the contrary, I'm likely to spend more time on TOD because this very insight occurred due to TOD itself!

Like someone said, "We can't let others do the thinking for us" and maybe I made the mistake of taking everything mentioned on TOD very seriously (including comments from those who bought guns and stocked up firewood ;) ).

Moral of the story: Think for yourself :)

Humanity took several years to transition from animal power to slavery to coal to oil over several decades each. From the "best" resource (oil) we're probably moving on to exploit the next-best resource which is Natural Gas. Humans are fighting the second law of thermodynamics and clearly we can't win. But there is still time for the big picture game to end :)

Though this transition might be full of changes and quite likely spark off resource wars, I don't think BAU mode will come to an abrupt halt. In all likelihood, it could go through an extended depression while we transition to NG and after that, we'll move on to face the Limits of Growth even more.

So I'm completely in agreement with your comment.

For all we know, maybe we'll make wise use of NG? Maybe we'll switch to permaculture from agriculture?

However, there are problems to this mode of thinking:

1. BAU must be seen from the point of view of the scale of today's consumption - with a growing population, how long will "iraq's vast reserves" last? Think exponential growth. This makes judging "time left" difficult but its likely not "25-30 years". As Dr.Albert Bartlett puts it in his lecture series, Iraq's "vast reserves" will likely last for only a couple of years.
2. PO is just one of the issues arising out of our scale of population. Like Dr.Meadows puts it - PO is a symptom of a more fundamental problem of limits to growth. What about the degrading soils, fisheries and the already accelerating loss of biodiversity. NG can't fill the void when the bees are gone.
3. Dangerous new technologies like BioTech could play out in more catastrophic ways - its a big black swan sitting under our arrogance and belief in technology that we could tame nature.
4. Clearly, economic growth cannot be unaffected due to PO. Will the affect not lead to something disastrous like societal collapse, if not human-species collapse? You know, like how the people from the 30s talk about the Great Depression and managed to move on with their lives after it?

You (and me? :) ) are likely right that "collapse" is not here and now. This is one of the biggest changes in perception to myself.

As a result, my 2010 plan is to "stay in the rat race" just for the purpose of earning vital capital.

That said, I have a kid and when I think about life and the future as it would seem from her future's point of view, I still think its important to get off the track to live a simpler and more meaningful life and send that message across right. Screwing with nature ends up screwing us. I'm still on with the plan to not BAU but, to me, it won't be in 2010. Rather, I'm going to make use of 2010 in planning that transition right and understand stuff deeper before I take the plunge.

Simply put: To me, 2010 is the year to keep alert and watch out. Like NNT says in his book "The Black Swan", it is important to prepare for "positive" black swans and not focus too much on negative black swans.

small[few hundred max] rural community is likely better than a more isolated setting.

location is likely a key factor; but that will have to be evaluated all along.

this may take a while. a year or 2 is 'noise' as i have learned from u math folks.

predicting 'where this tree will fall' is impossible to know.

out of the markets/ira later this year.
less sugar/alcohol; before it is less available. learn to cook/eat from our garden... do the extra work.

focus on how to help a disadvantaged group/folks - like mentally handicapped as PO/$ crises hits.. to get beyond self/friends/family.

enjoy the blessings we have- what a unique time in history we live in- comforts, luxuries... such power/energy at the push of a button/lever.

I think one benefit of understanding peak oil is as you say, we can understand the blessings we have now. It is very easy to take our home heating, and appliances, and cars, and food shipped from afar for granted, but we shouldn't. We have much to be thankful now, even as things seem to be getting worse.

1. On the spiritual front, after many decades of being an agnostic/atheist who believes in the sacred, started to reconsider slightly based on process theology and ecology. The only part of the universe that can even remotely be imagined as caring for us is the thin crust of habitable space on this planet. So that's the closest thing to being anything like what a religion calls a god, as far as I can see (though issues of consciousness, personhood...are still up in the air). So I'm considering offering to the next theist I converse about the matter to admit a kind of deity of this sort if they are willing to admit that they are daily in the act of killing her (as are we all).

I also realized that food is more important than energy. This may seem obvious, but I had been rather open minded about schemes to make energy out of various kinds of biomass--there is a county burner that does this from trash of various sorts, and neighborhood plans to make digesters that will take compostables.

But both of these compete with plans to maximize use of most of the same material for compost for neighborhood gardens. When it comes down to it, the gardens are more important. You can survive even MN winters with a good sleeping bag, tent... but you can't survive anywhere very long without food.

2. Move closer to one planet (to about 1.2 from about 1.5 now) on the footprint analysis at www.myfootprint.edu, mostly by getting closer to being a vegan and continuing to work on making the house green, and continuing to minimize car use to under 20 miles a week on average.

Pay off the house, even if it means taking everything out of the money market part of my retirement account and taking the penalties (better to take it out with penalty than see it evaporate completely as things continue to devolve). Get myself and my wife out out of other debts.

"The only part of the universe that can even remotely be imagined as caring about us....."

My NY resolutions: continue to read books related to PO, energy use and culture. All the studying I`ve done has quite helped me go from a panicked individual to one who is more comfortable about waiting for a long slow downturn without worrying so much. Worrying will just tire a person out and stress the body`s immune system.

What have I changed? I stopped talking to people about PO unless they ask.

The sun shines all over the solar system, but the only place it (or lack of it) won't kill us is here on earth. If you will, the sun is the stern father and earth the (relatively) forgiving mother, though of course Shinto and some other traditions have feminine sun deities.

Good idea about not bringing up PO, at least in most contexts.

"work hard, avoid stupidity"

that's been the short version of my regular new year's resolution for some time. Usually I do fine on the first part, not always so good on the second. In detail, I need to let go of some "assets" this year. I have three junk cars which I could fix but I have no intention of ever driving again...the scrapyard is a better place. I have a commercial property which is about the same; I could renovate it, but I have no realistic goals there. Need to move on from that stuff, though its not been easy to let go. I have a mountain of accumulate odds and ends, books, collectibles, stuff, just taking up space. I feel like it would be easier to effectively plan and move forward if the current load were lighter.

Maybe getting some property with the capacity of being ag or orchard in the future...

What did I learn?

So-called "collapse" is decline (as in Gibbons: Decline and Fall...). It takes MUCH longer than anybody would expect. (The decline of Rome took 150 years, and the fall took another 200 for the Western part of the empire, and 1200 years for the eastern part.) It never plays out as expected. For example, Peak Oil may play out as a prolonged economic crisis and never be acknowledged as what it is, a resource crisis.

I'd rather come to an opposite conclusion. The denial is so strong that it will be impossible for mindsets to adapt fast enough. We will go through a series of cyclical depressions finance/energy based, with political entities always promising a return to better times.

Eventually we hit a point where "the centre cannot hold" and things fragment. In contrast to Rome, fragmentation in our society will have a runaway effect, since the sum really is more than the parts. The collapse in societal capability and energy generation capacity will spiral down - to who knows what point.

Thus I'd suggest we will be shocked by how fast it happens, not how slow.

This is exactly my thinking also, garyp. We are two bodies, one mind.

You may recall Nate has posted Stanley's human population curve over geologic time, with an interesting projection that is at odds with Meadows et al. (The Club of Rome) World 3 computer simulations, themselves doomy enough. Stanley's curve obeys symmetry, and a lot of ecology work. It is mind-boggling to contemplate. When I show it to classes and to colleagues in seminars, the disbelief is palatable. Yet, it appears that this is where we are heading. Take the speed of exchange today as a measure, as compared with that of Rome, for example. We are speedy and highly interconnected in exchange, so it makes sense that the collapse rate will be proportional.

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

The deepest insight I gained this year is the understanding that I am not my personality, my experiences, my knowledge, my possessions or my physical circumstances. At the deepest level, the enduring, substantial I is a node in an infinite web of connections between all elements of reality, whether physical or purely noetic. My most important purpose is to strengthen the interconnections I'm already a part of, and to create new ones with every action and thought.

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

I will work to become a better friend, a better lover, a better listener, a better student and a more engaged participant in the events of my life. I plan to get to know myself better through continuing inner work, to disidentify from my personality and re-connect with my true nature as much as I am able. I will try to be impeccable in all things, to have compassion for my own humanity and the humanity of the others in this web, and to do everything I can to help those who need it.

Oh, was this supposed to have something to do with Peak Oil? In that cased I resolve to walk more, eat less and turn off the lights when I leave the room.


It has everything to do with Peak Oil, and our overall predicament. We must begin at the first step, which is going beyond the basic insanity of the egoic mind. Compassion is already there in all of us, once identification with the "self" falls away.


I continue to cycle back to the basics:

1. People cannot handle truth very well, and mostly do not want to be told the truth. Comfortable lies -- "carrion comfort" are acceptable for social, religious, educational and political interaction.

2. Most of us will do anything in order to believe that we can be comfortable, and that "we" are entitled to comfort and security even at the expense of others. This gives rise to demagoguery and fascism, which use ancient prejudices, fear, shame, and resentments to control people.

We are willing to believe absurdities which allow us to commit atrocities defined as noble actions.

3. We are all absolutely vulnerable. There is no preparation that can be made to change this. There are too many huge consequences coming together to manage. Our species is warlike and ungovernable, and we have dealt our own habitat a mortal wound -- as if we have declared war on all species and the earth itself.

4. I embrace absolute vulnerability even while trying to live a loving life with those around me and the planet. I do this because love seems to matter to me the most. I do not plan my life in order to beat the odds.

5. Hope is not an empty noun. "Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up." I do work to help my children to be aware of likely future scenarios, but make it clear that obsession with "survival" is not a solution, and can destroy the gift of life and love here and now. If we garden, it is for love of relating well to the earth -- not to save our asses.

6. As per old Kurt Vonnegut: "The purpose of life is this: we are here to help each other through whatever this is."

Beggar, good comments. Add Voltaire's Candide: 'Il faut cultiver son jardin.'

Tending our own gardens is a good idea.

Foreclosures and walk-aways are plentiful in my part of town. As one working class person like my neighbors, I know that many people have had less work even as bills have generally gone up. Note that working people and out-of-work people are being thrown out of their homes on a daily basis.

I cannot worry that "my garden" might belong to the bank one day. I will tend it while I can.

Through all of the financial turmoil, I do come back to the simple things about what makes life joyous and free.

I'd like to continue to earn enough income to hang onto the place we have now, just because I'd like to continue to make ecologically sound choices on this lot, and make good connections with my nieghbors. I hope that not too many more will be turned out of their homes. These houses usually stand vacant and ill-cared-for while the bankers decide how to squeeze money out of them.

Back to living the life that makes sense from the heart -- I cannot control so many outcomes, just do my bit of work, play, and prayer in the midst of it all.

Mom Nature's Bank will rock our world for a few decades -- who knows what happens then?

I saw a clip of a seasoned bee-keeper who noted that huge quantities of pesticides and other chemicals are found in pollen now -- the amounts increasing all the time. This is happening to us and all species -- it is a matter of time before this and other consequences of human industrialization hit even harder with us.

Again, we are vulnerable to quiet, perhaps not-yet-detected ecological consequences. We can try to live a life of love with other people, species, and the planet. We cannot control outcomes.

New insights:

1. Having voted for Obama with high hopes and thinking he was the lessor of two evils, it is becoming clear he is not much lesser. I use to not vote at all, but all that does is put people like G. W. Bush in power.

2. I use to believe all the tankers sitting idle and storing crude oil were due to speculation because that is story I read so often. I now believe the tankers are sitting idle because there is not enough oil in the export market to fill them. A lot of exported oil flows by pipeline so tankers are only needed where pipelines don't reach. With declining oil exports tankers are the first infrastructure to be hit. At some point in the future oil tankers will be obsolete.

3. Energy analysts do not understand that they are dealing with an abstraction. They reify that abstraction in their analysis. They think all energy is the same because the unit of measure is the same. They see a BTU of one form of energy as the same as a BTU of another form when it obviously is not.

As a result they compare things that are different, totally disregarding important characteristics such as renewability, utility and price. This leads to false conclusions and bad energy analysis.

No matter how many times this is pointed out, most do not care and keep right on with their faulty analysis.

4. Being a farmer, weather in 2009 was unreliable and a shock. Harvest weather was the worst I've ever seen in 34 years of farming.
I use to have ample time to get crops planted and harvested. But now it seems that spring planting is delayed by too much rain quite often and in 2009 the harvest was also delayed by too much rain.

Planning differently for 2010:

Since soybeans do not like too much rain and my yield in 2009 was poor due to that and aphids, I will not grow them in 2010. I will grow only corn and let Brazil grow soybeans.

I expect gas prices to rise in 2010 which will drag up ethanol. Corn prices should follow.

I recently, before I got the flu, ran all the IH combine yield maps on the office desktop. I showed over all that the corn harvest ,here in the margin lands, was over 200 bu/ac as per the summary data for each field.

I was suprised. Never seen yields that high around here. I asked some other corn farmers and their harvests were the same they said.

I also downloaded the soybean fields but didn't notice them.

Software was Case IH AFS desktop with data collected by a CF card plugged into a AFS 600 Pro Yield monitor running a touch screen monitor and control system with about 10 computer modules buried in the very latest combine from CIH.


Hmmm...I wonder whether being a lessor of evils is almost a requirement to get elected...

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

That in the UK we have a climate change minister who gets on with the job (at least until the election). Not sure I agree with the nuclear option but plans for 32GW wind farms are mindblowing. Some other signs that govt may be thinking of getting its act together, such as Defra's U-turn on food security, but that dept remains painfully slow and blockheaded.

That tying energy descent arguments to Peak Oil (currently unproven)may be wrong tactically, climate change is more strongly evidenced and many mitigation policies will be similar

There isnt enough land for fuelwood, biofuels, food production, wildlife and people

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

Take a more active role in community efforts towards transition

Install solar pv

Garden more successfully having converted most of garden to fruit and veg growing space

Taste the wine made 2 years back and make more if its ok

To deliver a State Of The Union address to the American people and the world reminiscent of President Carter's April 18, 1977 speech. The crisis we face must indeed be met with nothing short of the moral equivalent of war, lest we find ourselves inevitably mired in endless literal global conflict. There can be no civilization without energy, and nations that have their resource base cut off do not simply wither and perish, they use their might. We must shift first and foremost to the cheapest, quickest, most plentiful "source" of energy-- conservation-- and change the modern banking system to allow efficiency gains to circumvent Jevons and actually lower energy consumption. The era of economic growth fueled by cheap energy is over. Only morons and economists think that exponential growth on a finite world can last forever, and indeed during the first seven decades of the 20th century the United States consumed more oil than has ever been used in the entirety of human history, each decade, for 7 percent per year growth means consumption doubles every ten years. Let it be said that the decision to "switch to plentiful coal while protecting the environment" was an oxymoron, and the decision to go with coal rather than nuclear has got to be the worst environmental mistake in human history. Our largest resource is not coal, as our depleted uranium alone-- already mined-- contains more energy than all coal in the world still unmined. If we fail to act soon, the social, political, and economic consequences will be unprecedented. Stay tuned.

Boy O boy I wish that was really you.

* Add between-wall insulation (probably inject PUR)
* Add additional underneath floor insulation (probably EPS plates)
* Replace double glacing on the ground floor with high efficiency (with metal IR reflecting layer)
* Use the bicycle even more then I already do
* Practice some square foot gardening
* Try to determine how to use rainwater better
* Preach the need for reducing energy needs and the move to renewable energy. Help neighbours, friends, family determine their possible energy reduction opportunities.
* Counter the denialism on AGW with scientific arguments
* Probably forgot some more :-)

This one is so easy:

Stay on a path that I began over two years ago:

1. Reduce debt, reduce debt, reduce debt.

2. Absolutely set out a plan to get completely away from being a customer of the big banks. Small local banks are better, credit unions even better. Stay to the truth I now know: The big national and multinational banks (and even many of the regionals, but they are harder to weed out the good and bad) are completely unreliable and untrustworthy as co-partners and cannot be relied upon to act rationally. If they were individuals instead of institutions they would be diagnosed as bi-polar and schizophrenic. Investigate the financial opportunities in helping promote local community banks and credit unions as a possible business venture (I have some partners interested in the potential of this...)

3. Renew my contact with the arts. Despite what many folks seem to believe, our culture is MUCH more than oil. Renew my long love affair with our culture at it's best, the music, the art, the literature and the architecture.

4. Listen to Brandi Carlile and go to one of her concerts as possible. Resolve to listen to even more of the our young artists, see the work of more young sculptures and painters, read the poems of more young poets. The youth of our generation are easily scoffed at and scolded, but there is so much great young talent and so many of them have beautiful souls, I want to hear what they are trying to say.

5. Hedge better. Do not get locked into conventional wisdom, doomer or otherwise. Keep my eyes open for the real opportunities that are coming at us so fast it is hard to keep track of them.

6. Accept the facts that I already am relatively sure of: If "peak' catastrophe is coming, I will not know when, and I cannot change it anyway. In fact, the U.S., where I live is rapidly becoming a marginal player in the whole energy situation, so I cannot try to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. If "peak" catastrophe is not coming, I cannot know exactly what is coming anyway. There are posible nightmares that make "peak oil" look like a walk in the park...terrible epidemics, release of chemical or germ warfare, nuclear conflict in the world....I cannot do anything about those either, so resolve to "take care of my business", strenthen my finances, enjoy my culture, and not cause myself dispair about things I cannot possibly change.

7. Some more, these more personal and one of them won't be popular here: Renew my old love affair with classy artistic and interesting cars. The great postway cars of the boomers, BMW 2002, Alfa Romeo, vintage rarities such as Arnolt MG, possibly some classic sports racing cars like Lotus and Lola..., and the great postwar Packards, I still love cars, and the small number of beautiful artistic collectables will make no difference regarding peak oil anyway, and this one very personal, renew my contact with women. I have been through some breakups and am living essentially a life alone. This is no fun. Oh, and better food, better gourmet coffee and begin working on my sailboat to sail the twin lakes of Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, gifts from God and the TVA...:-)


Roger, I always enjoy your posts; thank you. My 2 resolutions:

1. Dance more
2. Kiss more

Yes, we should take the time in the New Year to enjoy the good things that we have, while we still have them. Perhaps even some of the 'guilty pleasures' like classic cars. I have a few myself.

However, I'm reminded of the character in "On The Beach" who spends his last days racing his sports car like there's no tomorrow.

Now it appears that the the Iraqi petroleum reserves will finally be extracted and marketed, thereby delaying the 'end of oil' for a few more years.

How many of us are ready to entertain the idea that our Mesopotamian adventures have actually turned out quite well? After all, the 30 or 40 thousand deaths and injuries so far attributed to the Iraq War pale in comparison to just one year of highway injuries and fatalities in the US. Most citizens seem to consider that toll to be a regrettable but unavoidable price to pay in exchange for the freedom of mobility that defines the American lifestyle. Apart from the immediate families, are the military casualties attending the current resource wars really perceived any differently?

As a culture, are we ready to take responsibility for this course of action that the US government takes on our behalf? After all, we vote with our dollars every day when we buy fuel and big vehicles, telling whatever administration is in power that they should 'stay the course' in the pursuit of control of all available oil reserves.

The big banks and other corporate citizens demonstrate every day that the real voting in Western societies is done with money, not ballots. Until the rest of us change our voting patterns, business will continue to be conducted 'as usual'.

I am retired and have been preparing as best I can for some time. I live in a rural area, garden, store food, etc.

The main insight I gained this past year is that we in the US have lost our representative government and that participation is futile.

Accordingly I will no longer vote except for any third party candidate who manages to get on the ballot as a protest against the democrat-republicans.

We have no future. As soon as the last of the loot is exported to safe havens, we will be on our own. I am glad to have lived most of my life while times were pretty good and hope not to live too far into what is coming. I feel for the young.

plant more trees, plant more trees, plant more trees

love your handle. i am watching a male Rufus as i write this just north of the Cody Scarp. Yup, i also feel for the young. But then at that age i believed I was bullet proof and invisible. "The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination." ~Marian Zimmer Bradley

If safe haven is not to be found within the boundaries of the US it probably cannot be found anywhere else.

The rich people of this world who are looking for ultimate physical safety seem to have a lot of investments in this country-and probably constantly up to date entry visas too.

If things get out of hand here which countries might be expected to remain reasonably safe and peaceful?

I might vote for New zealand or Canada but they would either be invaded and subjugated or in a state of anarchy most likely if the US fails.

If we can't make it with the resource base we have , Europe is out.

It would seem that the only safety (probably temporary at that) would be to either BE the local warlord or to be closely allied with him-in other words to be one of his dogs.

My chief concern for the future is fresh water access. I survived Katrina (40 miles inland MS) and was without power for 9 days (I was one of the lucky ones). Water had been stored in gallon jugs, and National Guard distributed cases of bottled water. Yet I know of no local wells where one could let down a bucket on a rope. All rural water supplies are mostly from private small diameter wells with electric pumps. I can't imagine what city people will do for either water supply or wastewater disposal if the power grid locks up. I need to learn how to dig a well and equip it with some type of pumping device. Windmills may be one answer. When I read about all these home gardens, that's a great idea but water is the critical stuff. Tu

To protect myself better.

No more talking peak oil to people. Too many glazed looks and cold shoulders, even though I stick to the most academic sources--Albert Bartlett, William Catton, Kenneth Deffeyes.

"The more the words,
the less the meaning,
and how does that profit anyone?"

I have watched the climate change and healthcare debates in the US with horror, as I believe that they are the model that any legislative attempt to deal with Peak Oil will follow. It seems clear now that however strong the evidence that we need to do things differently, the combination of big money with an interest in maintaining BAU, along with the religious fundamenalist/highly individualist American mindset will block action. How else can you explain INCREASING numbers of Americans denying AGW in the face of mounting scientific and empiric evidence? Unlike some here, I do believe the Obama administration is gently testing the water as to some mitigation leadership: the White House garden, increased support for small, local farmers and markets, increased cafe standards, "green jobs," cash-for-clunkers, cash-for-caulkers, talking about climate change, support for high speed rail, etc. I'm not saying all of these things are right or enough or being done well, but it is truly a change of course for the US government. That said, it will be a long, hard slog, and the resistance is great.

Much of what needs to be done will have to start at a local and individual level, but that's not easy, either. I live in a town that is putting a lot of money and effort into bike/ped improvements, and you should hear the anger and vitriol spewing forth on that! We are working to change our city ordinance to allow small flocks of chickens. That looks like it may happen, but again, it is stirring up a lot of anger and fear.

As to what I have done:

Food: I keep expanding my organic garden, planting fruit and nut trees as well. We built a root cellar, and I learned how to can and pickle this summer. I am taking a beekeeping course in a few weeks, and hope to add chickens this summer. I have been secretly glad not to have them yet as the weather has been so severe...would I, a novice, know how to protect them from these conditions? EVERYTHING here has a steep learning curve--many crops were poor, I am keeping careful records to try to learn how to plant the right amount of things, the root cellar cooled down too late with our warm November, and now I have to manange it to keep off frost...No wonder people are enamored of refrigerators!

Energy: We plan to install solar hot water this summer. I am in a quandry regarding heat--I have looked into a ground source heat pump, and don't know whether that's a better option than a high-efficiency nat gas furnace, especially given that we dislike AC except on the most extreme days. We have debated about moving out of our over-large (2500 sq foot) house, but we did choose it for easy access by foot and bike to the places we need to go, and I have invested many hours of labor into the garden. That's a very tough decision for us. I am leaning toward continued attempts at energy efficiency, and a plan to convert to co-housing or extended-family living as times dictate.

Transportation: We were seriously considering going from 1 car to none in a few years when the kids leave home, but this week, with the severe weather, one family member with a leg injury and another with an illness requiring a doctor visit, has made that seem like a bridge too far. I think it shows the great need for car-sharing schemes and adequate public transportation even in small cities like ours.

Community: Really, I have come to believe that this will be the key to how the transition goes. I'm frankly terrified of terrible, despotic government, hate groups that emerge in the face of scarcity, crime by desperate people. We have certainly seen over the last year or so that Americans by and large are ready to let the poor fend for themselves rather than improve our societal safety net. I generally do not talk about PO, except to others who are already along the transition path, but I do seek to build a network of friends making similar lifestyle changes. We are in a small city surrounded, still, by agricultural land, and I think this is the place to be, but of course we don't know. We are donating money to local groups that support non-motorized transportation, urban gardening, etc.

Religion: There has been discussion of the positive and negative implications of religion in what we face. I absoluely believe that fundamenalist religion of any stripe is seriously dangerous. But for me, being part of a liberal religious congregation, without a creed or belief in a magical rescue for anyone with the right theology, has been helpful. It has been as close to a ready-made community of people willing to accept ideas of resource limitations and need for lifestyle change as anything I have found.

Family: One of the most difficult conundrums for me has been how to raise my kids. I don't know the time frame or the exact way this is going to play out. How much do I try to keep the kids out of mainstream culture? What skills will they need? If BAU lasts another 10-20 years, will we have denied them important social opportunities because of our fears/beliefs? Here's where we stand, and I guarantee we're not right on everything: We talk about peak oil and what lies ahead, but try not to be too negative and fearful. It's the world they have to live in, no matter what. They are in many of the typical youth activities of the day, but we choose teams/lessons/teachers that allow the kids to use bikes and public transportation rather than parent-taxi. Some of these things (daughter's "competition dance"), we are very uncomfortable with; others we think will be of benefit however things turn out (learning to play a musical instrument, Boy Scout skills--son just earned clear bead for camping out in -0 degree F weather! I make them do chores that I hope will give them a little knowledge of gardening, cooking from whole ingredients, hand tool use, etc. I try to encourage them to eat right and stay fit, and we hope that we are creating a family environment of love, protection, connection with nature, and value for friends and community. But its tough, we argue with them a lot about TV(cancelled the cable this year!), ipods, video games, fashion purchases, fitting in, having to ride their bikes, making them "weirdos!"

Gratitude: I would like to reiterate the comments made by others that PO awareness has made me more grateful for what energy does for us in terms of shelter, food security and safety, medical care, social connections and so on. How I wish we had had the foresight as a people to consider what energy uses were beneficial, and reject those which have led us to our present crisis--a bit of Amish thinking for all, I guess. But here we are. Thanks, too to the great efforts of those here to keep us informed, and to provide a forum for discussion of what we can and should do.

nice post EHT & sounds like good work w/ u'r kids- discomfort & all.
a few years into adulthood ours have at times angrily pointed our mistakes[or at least their interpretation of such]; & even later they have been less or not emphatic pointing out our mistake[s] so i think as their anger subsides[probably in general] they are generally grateful. i think getting the overall flow in the right direction is what is crucial not so much each & every decision 'right'. u have a good attitude to 'hear' them though ; 'we will make mistakes'.

tis hellish parenting teens when u are going against most in u'r/their culture. btw we cancelled cable during that period too, & it wasn't a $ issue, & movies when they were in middle school- that was actually maybe the worst social issue.

godspeed & good luck.

One advantage of an oversize house is the ability to retrofit for energy efficiency - you can construct strawbale/thermal mass-type walls in the excess interior space, using the existing structure as an outer weather-proof skin. No permits required, no outward sign that you are remodeling in a way that might open you to negative interactions with your neighbors... Just a thought.

I'm investigating alternative emergency power sources, in case the grid goes out. Last year we had a 5-day outage due to heavy storms taking out a transformer box.

5 days in August is not difficult to cope with, since you can stock a refrigerator with ice (if someone else has power) and get a charge on the laptop and cell phone anywhere there is a working outlet (I was lucky to have customers that would let me charge up at their offices).

Days are long, and solar lanterns and battery chargers work just fine.

But I'm thinking about what to do if this becomes more frequent. I don't have the roof space for PV (since I already have solar hot water).

I did come across this website last night, and wondered what the solar gurus here think :-


Cost-wise, in the neighborhood of $4k - $15K depending on model.

Having spent the last several years in preparation (paying off the mortgage, installing solar intertie system, solar hot water, wood cook stove etc.). I will continue to prep. Each year my projects are just a bit more substantial as I gradually convince my spouse that such backup is a good idea. This year, fencing in part of the property for poultry and goats and building an outdoor bread oven- next year a small barn.

I have resolved to sit back and, if not enjoy, at least be at peace with the long descent. Although I will continue to teach about PO, AGW, and the hazards of the never-ending growth, I will try not to worry about whether I am right but just view my preparation as a good hedge against future calamity. I resolve to endure the teasing I get from friends and family with a calm and knowing smile (at least most of the time).

We had a good drill yesterday with a 6.5 earthquake. There was considerable shaking and, after I realized it was not going to be short, I went outside to see my pond sloshing and the trees in the orchard acting like leafless Ents.

As soon as our heart rates were down to normal, we flipped the master breaker off (power had gone out with the S wave) checked out the chimney and foundation, the water tank and called our of town kids to let them know we were alright and ask them to check usgs.gov for us to get quake details. It’s a good idea to have a phone that’s not cordless to work when the power goes out and it’s usually easier to call out than call in.

Neighbors on our spur road checked in with each other and a few generators powered up. Dinner was no problem with the woodstove and we spent the evening playing chess and reading by oil lamps. The power came back on after about 4 hours.

We live in a small rural valley on Vancouver Island. A few weeks ago I was at a potluck and approached a local farmer about peak oil. I knew he spent most of his spare time researching/reading and figured he would know about it. Finally, a kindred spirit to share ideas with!! My wife and I were feeling pretty alone up here. Anyway, we had dinner together just last night and all agree that it will probably be a gradual transition with various bumps and cycles....depending on events, etc. Of course there may well be cataclysmic events! Further to that, we shared a consensus that a single family cannot make it on their own, that it will require a new community mindset of, well....old style community.

We will continue to reach out more to others and be good and helpful neighbours.

After a life spent working as a pilot and carpenter, some years ago I became a shop teacher and worked at the other jobs on the side. I now teach elementary school in our valley. I have tried to reach out to other teachers in our District, (those who live in town 75 km away), and mentioned that I am planning for no, or very little, pension. I have been met with stares of disbelief. (You guys know the reaction). I have always been active in my teachers union and have offered to put on a presentation on peak oil and our indebted economy. No one wants to hear about it. Most of my colleagues cannot even entertain the thought that life may unfold differently than what they have planned. Anyway.

We will continue to speak the truth, to share our beliefs, and count on our friends to listen once in awhile.

We live on a river with very big salmon runs. We can, freeze, and smoke fish every fall, have an expanded garden, and are developing a 16 acre parcel of land with gardens, meat birds, meat sheep, layers, etc. It will go to my two children and a nephew. My son just bought a place on the river 1/2 km away. (When we sold out and moved here 5 years ago people thought we were nuts. They still do.)

We will continue to do our best for our family.

When the jets hit on 9/11 we still lived in town. I remember the empty streets as folks were glued to their tv and radios. At school the tvs were on all day. One of my students laughed about it. I got mad and told him our lives would be forever changed. And so it came to pass. As the financial events have unfolded these past few years most of us have come to understand how nuts it all was, and how fast a complex society can break down. Katrina should have scared us all into this understanding, if nothing else. I am not a doomer, and will remain working out of optimism, but one day we will turn on the news and realize that 'the event' just happened. That, "here we go, dear", is starting to unfold.

One big event may wake all of us up one day. It would be nice to be as ready as possible. And if it doesn't happen, well, we are pretty happy with how we live.

It may take just one event to knock the gyro into wobble.

Thank you all for sharing your ideas.


I realized that ITS ALL ABOUT MONEY.

Just read that dairy farmers are loosing their farms to the banks at record rates, on average one farmer a week kills himself. This is in the UK not third world. We are so Fooked up that we as a people think its OK for people to die because they can't pay money to a bank that never had it in the first place.

I have resolved to make as much money as possible.

Then you've learned nothing. The farmers that are failing are those that believe in money and have based their business on the basis of money and economics. If you chase money it will destroy you, after-all, money is a neat trick to motivate humans to work for intangible and manipulable rewards. Look around at the people burning themselves out to pay for their rented lifestyle, mass produced shabby low quality clothing, cheap throwaway goods and poor nutritional foods.

Whatever wealth they accumulate in a lifetime of toil and stress will likely go back into the system as their health gives way due to the corrosively lethal environment in which they must live. As the cost increases to maintain the mass of workers in what is accepted as a healthy condition, so will the conditions deteriorate for those same workers. Middle class first.

Chase the money and become ever more embedded in the economic quicksand that will consume your life and also demand you sacrifice your children to the inhuman tyranny of a parasitical financial system. Few people can beat the system at its own game and by playing by its rigged rules and loaded dice. I wish you luck.

So Burgundy... How much is a farm and house in the French Burgundy region?

I'm thinking of picking one up.

eeyores, now that's not the same thing. Accumulating money as an end in itself is not the same thing as working to acquire valuable productive assets. Wealth is built upon expended energy, human or other forms, not from gaming the system and faking it with non productive schemes (increasingly the only way to create and accumulate profit by reducing costs to near zero). My own view is that money will still be valuable as a medium of exchange, but not as a store of wealth and not worth chasing for its own sake.

An interesting view of the future comes from John Robb at Global Guerrillas, whom I think is on the cutting edge of detailing how our future will be:

"The double standard on debt defaults. The aggressive behavior of corporations and high net worth individuals relative to debt and contracts will be copied by the rest of society. Get over it, game theory dictates this. The result a legalism so intense (since basic norms of behavior can't be assumed, they must be spelled out with excruciating detail and enforced through lengthy and exhaustive monitoring) that the overhead expenses of running our economic system become unsustainable. Why? This behavioral roll-out converts the economic returns on societal complexity already in place (systems we built to solve past problems) from marginally positive returns (I'm being generous) into deeply negative drags on all economic and social activity."

The behaviour of governments, corporations, the elite and increasingly the population at large are going to destroy the financial system, which in turn will alter the way money is acquired and used.

"If you chase money it will destroy you, after-all, money is a neat trick to motivate humans to work for intangible and manipulable rewards"

yeah, tell it Warren Buffet! The guys like a hundred and ten and still as happy as clam! :-)


Money, whether fiat currency or gold or whatever, has no value whatsoever in a resource-constrained world. Read a little history...every currency ever invented has failed. Even gold loses its value when people are hungry.

Value lies in what can't be taken from you: how to grow food, prepare and store food, how to build and repair houses, machines, etc, all manner of useful skills. Nobody may want your money in the future, and if you don't have the skills to be a valued provider you may have to beg at the doors of those who are.

daxr - that sounds sweet but you obviously have not been paying attention to what is happening in the world. Anyone who lived around the time of the last depression understands that there is never enough money. It can all go away and you and your loved ones are SOL.

No ticket (money)

You must get off the bus (die)

I suggest you get as much as you can.

"Money" only has value between people who agree it has value, and, again, every form of currency ever invented has failed.

If a society under stress had to choose between a individual with the knowledge and skills to survive and prosper and provide, and a guy with a bucket of cash but no head for anything else, I think the choice would be obvious.

Daxr - I don't disagree with your comments or burgundys.

My point is getting from here to there which, as many people agree will take a long grueling time.

And if you can't afford a ticket you simply can't get from here to there.

...and of course I'd admit that money opens doors quite well, for the moment. Its the timing of it, like anything else financial, that really makes the difference.

Thinking a little more, I'd probably pick a third emphasis over accumulating either money or skills anyway: friends. A good set of close friends probably would make much more difference than either, in a shtf situation.

No real resolutions. Just keep doing what I've been doing; hope for the best but prepare for the worst. However, my view of "the worst" has deepened considerably. I simply see no rational actions from any quarter (public, private or governmental) regardless of the problem.

Like others, I'm pretty much staying under the radar. The exception is my boondocks "neighborhood" where I've spent a lot of time attempting to increase our already strong relationships (most of us have know each other for 30 years). Fortunately, 3 out of 5 families are serious doomers, 1 is concerned and only a weekend family believes in BAU.


The future is grist for my mill.
It has been for all of my evolution.
Bring it on.

Airdale's resolution is to never, never again become infected with H1N1.

For two weeks I have been a basket case. I am in bed right now. Got up and fixed me and wife and smallish breakfast and was so tired I once more collapsed.

When I cough sometimes I almost blackout. The hacking is sometime continous for hours. The fever spikes at 102 then recedes only to come back a few hours later.

Once last week I awoke with all my underwear totally soaked it sweat and shivering. I went back to sleep later and it happened two more times the same night.

Folks, this flu is a killer for some. My age is very much at risk and with my missing kidney I may face severe complications once the flu has run its course. That is IF I survive it at all.

Living on a farm with little contact with others could be a Godsend but eventually perhaps no so for if never exposed then never immune.

It has been many years since I was this sick. I now have a far different outlook on my future. I am currently in the suburbs of south St. Louis with my wife and son.

There being NO WAY that I could chop wood and feed a fire. No way to feed myself. Going it alone? Seems impossible now for me.

I may with a possible reduced life decide to sell my holdings and move permamently. The future is very cloudied.

Best to all and watch out for those who carry the flu. I keep thinking it has run its course but back comes the malise and the fever.


"There being NO WAY that I could chop wood and feed a fire. No way to feed myself. Going it alone? Seems impossible now for me."

Airdale - This is one reason I decided to stay in the city. Actually, I am about 7 miles from downtown, so really, in one of the original ring of suburbs, now integrated into the city limits.

I have access to road, rail and river, for transport, and for water, and have a garden to grow the basics, but, more importantly, I know I will need to rely on neighbors.

Sorry to hear you are ill, but it does open one's eyes.

PostScript : I suffer from lower back pain now (disc issue, I believe). Not conducive to very heavy physical labor.

Hi Airdale,

Sorry to hear you're sick. What a bummer. I'm hoping to hang out here in the boondocks for another nine years until I'm 80 (good grief that sounds old). However, if it hits the fan like I think it will, we'll probably get some of our younger family members here to do the heavy lifting.


Did you have a chance to boost your Vitamin D intake before the flu hit you?


Yes I did and with the best natural form of D3 but I fear I started the regime a bit late in the game and it had not permeated my system enough.

I much appreciate the headsup on this subject.

After starting the D3 I noticed my skin had a far different texture and feel to it. Most like it was smoother and had a slight oily feel to it. Not unpleasant,in fact most pleasant.

I am still taking it but not as yet in larger doses as perhaps I should have a first.

After I recover and if I do recover intact and in good health I will certainly attribute some of that to vitamin supplements.

Today my high fevers has diminished somewhat but the constant hacking cough still destroyes every bit of energy I can attain.

So I spend a lot of time in bed and wish for the best. Read a lot and sleep a lot.

Any others who are sufferers from this flu have my sincere sympathy.

So far my wife has not caught it from me. She had a flu immunization earlier.


If you don't get sufficient sunlight (and in some cases and times of the year, especially among older people, it's hard to get enough sun), Dr. Cannell, who runs the Vitamin D Council website, recommends 5,000 IU of D3, for several months, until your 25(OH)D test shows a blood level of 50-70 ng/mL, and then moderate dosages based on time of year and additional blood tests. In any case, the only way to know if you are deficient (and probably 80% to 90% of Americans are deficient) is to get a blood test.


What have I realized? People are not people. Or rather, people are not who they appear to be. Or rather, the concept of "people" as some kind of cohesive group, they don't exist. Whatever cohesion exists is formed from the bottom up, not from the top-down as we tend to view it. Nearly all of our cohesion comes from not the cheap energy that powers our lives, but from the ideas formed by billions of individuals born into this cheap energy environment.

While it may sound like an accusation, or a complaining litany, or bleating at the night, the issue is that most people will never "get" anything. Most individuals do not actively think, reason, inquire, pay attention, or care. Only a tiny fraction of people can even be approached with explanations, logic, reason, facts, data, science. And how could it be any other way? All humans are evolved animals, with no knowledge of even how to use our own brains and bodies when we're born.

The evidence is that we are not as alike or similar as we want to believe. How many times do we have to try to argue a point with someone who isn't receptive? When to we learn that at least half the problem is not what other people do, but what we do that causes them to respond in ways we don't want?

So, I resolve to learn how to deal with all these different individuals in a more effective manner. Also, to have more sex.

Insights for 2009

Since mass culture is so intractable individual effort is more important than ever.


Build the PV setup, do a few more bicycle tours, keep the communication lines open with the young, the neighbors, and the family.

Cheaper thin film PV seems to be here ,having already bought it, at some point perhaps in another thread the solar gurus would like to weigh in. Spring_Tides might be interested too.

Note; As to why I'm feeling so pessimistic about macro BAU. The basic premise has been borrowing from the future to exploit the past (resources) to maintain the unsustainable present (3D TV culture, high HP individual car culture, freeway and airport improvement). In 2009 I did not see very much in Stim, TARP, the mid-east policy, or tax policy which materially indicated an understanding of this fundamental delusion. I.e. the US adding 12 trillion in debt mostly to reflate the unreflatable. I did see a little more on the individual fronts seeking to establish a path through the bottleneck.

Insights: Wow, are scientists crooked! Climategate.
No peak oil for a while, but the price of oil might cause recovery remission.

Be more proactive for nuclear power, like they are in Asia.
Try and figure out if it's possible to make some money on gold, as the price seems to continually be going up.
Get a good laugh at people's preposterous assumptions, and de-stress!
Comment more.... and that one's working. :)

I have been PO aware since 2005 and became so interested in the subject more generally that I did a Masters degree (Sustainability Sciences). This was an eclectic mix of subjects including Energy and Society, Climate Science, Resource Economics, Environmental Systems, Environmental Law, Ecology and a few more besides. I thoroughly enjoyed it and qualified with a sense of optimism. Since then I have become somewhat depressed about our future, or more specifically my kids future and my retirement (I am 54). Endless discussion about PO and Climate are interesting, but these issues, important as they are, are not the "problem". The problem is that the human species is in overshoot, by probably several billion people; and dwindling energy availability (and a degraded environment) will mean a decline, one way or another. Our psychology is made up primarily of selfishness and agression (we are "civilised" only so long as it is advantageous) and the portents for the decline are not good.

This being the case I have personally resolved not to talk to anyone about PO, climate, population etc unless I can detect that a discussion may ensue on the basis that we start at approximately the same level of knowledge and understanding. In other words if I can learn something, so much the better. But I will not be evangelising any more. I find people, generally, are woefully ignorant in this general area and arguing with someone not educated in climate science about climate change is pointless. They simply do not have the systems knowledge or understanding of the complexities that make such a discussion worth while. Since finishing my degree I have never met anyone also trained in climate science. So it is with PO. To understand PO one needs a vast body of background knowledge. Most people simply do not have it. I used to say to people that if they wished we could meet later for a couple of hours and I would give them a short presentation and a reading list. No one has ever taken me up on it. While oil was over $100 I tried to set up a short sustainability discussion that would run locally for 12 weeks. With the price set only to cover cost (for 12 people) I advertised for quite a few weeks in our local paper. I had 2 takers and had to cancel. People are not interested and do not care. It is all outside the terms of reference that make up their daily lives.


I retired at age 55. I had brought my farm of a bit over 100 acres 4 yrs before retirement.

At 55 I seemed to be at my prime. I built, totally alone and by myself, a 4500 sq ft log house of Western Red Cedar. Poured a full basement, did all my own dirt work, laid the subfloor and then the logs and then did the second floor. All alone. All the yards of concrete, the forms work and rebar work, every single nail and screw.

I would advise you to go find some good soil with a good supply of water and start making something happen.

Now the log house is a waste as far as heating when times get tough and far far too big. I do miss the basement though but a good large metal building to make a residence out of would have left me entirely debt free long long ago.

When I auctioned the log house off? It was appraised at $295,000. I got $95,000. Never never ever ever trust an auctioneer.

But that was my story. It could have played differently if I knew then what was coming. I would also have all my farm tools and likely my herd of horses as well. Things I really cherished.


Hi Airdale,

Geez, I got a very sharp pain reading your comment. I built my own house in the same fashion as you did: all of my own design work and manual labor - well, I confess to having the help of some very strong young lads in the neighborhood. I spent many hours working with concrete, mixing mud, laying tile, sawing, sanding and finishing wood, pulling wire, soldering copper, etc. I doubt that many people can actually relate to the blood, sweat and tears you put into your project.

Fortunately for me, my wife has endured my project with a reasonable amount of patience. It has taken me nearly 30 years and I am still not "finished" with the house. I never wanted any debt so I only bought stuff when we could afford it from our salaries. I never wanted to be a "slave to a house", so bicycling and other fun stuff always came before house labor. We had a fire in a previous home and I never wanted to be in the position where I devoted several years of intense labor only to see it evaporate in one day - we have gotten many years of service from our house at this stage (but, a fire would still be a heart breaker). We love our house and I can imagine the pain of having some auctioneer take advantage of a person's immediate financial needs.

I would advise any DIYer to maintain a balance in life - it is easy to get carried away and then wonder where the years went. It is very unfortunate that this type of slow building process is illegal in most places - you need to pull the permit and "finish" in a fixed time to get an "occupancy" permit. I actually like building codes (they can be very helpful), but not these restrictions on time, labor licensing, and "architectural" standards. This will probably change (forcibly) in the decades to come.

Anyway, I really have sympathy for your story and hope that there has been some silver lining aspects for your bigger picture.

Hi Airdale

Sorry about the house etc. It is a bummer.

My wife and I owned a decent house in Yorkshire, free and clear of debt. I sold it, bought a boat and sailed to Australia, where I spent the next 4 years in Sydney trying to get a job. Luckily I got a job a couple of years back, but the company may not survive the next few months. I do have some retirement finds though, all in cash.

If it is any consolation I wouldn't let the house etc eat me up. If the economy does collapse owning a property might help, at least initially, but I would be more worried about society breaking down. The property may become irrelevant. So will retirement funds.

We humans need to learn to live with less, in a zero/negative growth economy. I see no chance of that happening willingly so lots of people are going to be angry. When they get hungry as well life will get interesting.

Good luck.

Saildog and Dave,

Thanks for the replies.

I might add that besides not trusting an auctioneer to NEVER NEVER go thru divorce proceedings. That was the main culprit in my case.

Speak thee of 'love'? As in my response to Beggar above.

My wife and her lawyers like to have destroyed me piece by piece.

So never trust a lawyer as well?

Rules: Go thy own way. Judge your maidens well.
Live close to the 'bone' for you may need to soon.
Build wisely. Hold all in your own name.
Be generous but keep tight control.
Do not listen to politicians and plan by what they say.
Suffer not fools.
Keep all you can hold and let nothing of real value depart.
Plant good foodstuffs for thy merchants will sic bad shit on you.
Sleep with a clear conscience.

And most of all. Avoid sick folks or you will get what they have.
Especially the flus. Most of all H1N1 which I now lay in bed from typing away. Three weeks so it has been til now.



The banks and capitalists own everything. Slaves are encouraged to work through imbibing the illusion of ownership. Ownership will revert to the capitalists, especially the credit masters, when the game is over and the elixir wears off.

Most people are not interested in learning beyond technical preparation for their slavery – they seek entertainment.

In the future, most people will live in an ugly place and travel through an ugly place to work in an ugly place.

Our President is a lawyer that represents corporate and banking interests.

The future is only uncertain for those who believe.


Drink more peppermint Schnapps in my hot chocolate. Eat more real food. Get at least two years of living out of one. Slip through the bottleneck before the rush.

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

One of the biggest recent insights is the need to get back to basics. In the activism I do, that means returning the basics of reiterating fundamental messages that I take for granted but others needed to be reminded of. One of those, alas, is that global climate change is really happening (AGW, even!). In my area it is very difficult to get decision-makers to accept any limits--they just want to keep on with BAU, exploiting natural resources as long as possible. Peak oil, peak coal, AGW, and any message of limits takes constant reinforcement to get through in a meaningful way.

Another theme--one reading TOD has really reinforced for me--is the importance of communities.

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights?

At a personal level, I'm making a major commitment in 2010 to simpler living. There's some things I did well with last year and there's some even bigger steps I've already successfully started on for this year. Right now I'm focused on what I consume on a daily basis--changing habits in what I eat and drink. Keeping up better habits for entire year will make a big difference in my household in terms of $$, resources, and footprint.

I'm working on getting involved in different communities more actively, both F2F and virtual. Also, I'm looking for more ways to encourage supportive structures for people who are working towards a shared vision that will clean up our atmosphere. As one example, I've stared a Facebook group for people who are committed to reducing 10% of their emissions in 2010: http://bit.ly/1010fbgrp

Reduce 10% in 2010

For this coming year:
1. Expand my worm bed
2. Make better use of the worm castings and "tea"
3. Renew and diversify my herb bed
4. Attempt to get spouse interested in charcoal making
5. Build the soil
6. Ride my horse more often

1. What insights have you gained in the past year, that have caused you to see things differently about the future?

Worry and anxiety about ANYTHING is non-productive and leads to naught. 2009 was for me a full year without Effexor and other chemicals trying to calm the paranoid Peak Oiler in me. Yes we are in the thick of it now. Yes Obama was not the savior or the real change we hoped for. Yes we are still at war and yes CO2 is running amok, China is on the rise and putting more autos on the road than the USA every day. I say yes to all that, because it just IS. My whining about it only makes ME miserable.
So... I start small. Eat and live as ethically as I can and share these values with family and friends. Life really is good, simply because I am alive.

2. What things are you planning to do differently in 2010 because of these insights.

I've encouraged my son to pursue his dreams by applying to national top schools in Musical Theater (which means I DIDN'T force him into practical things like Agriculture and Engineering). I've chosen to spend more time valuing and enjoying family. I've gone from engineering manager to homemaker, and we eat and live a hell of a lot better on less income. Dad's happy, healthy and present. I'm meditating almost daily and we eat much more vegetation and the majority of our animal protein I have personally harvested. I'm exercising more simply by walking or biking and I absolutely LOVE riding motorcycles again whenever possible and parking my truck.

Most of the attention over climate change is given to the increase of CO2. However, the toxic effects of nitrous oxides and sulpher dioxides, emissions which morph into ozone and acid rain, are a much more immediate problem. These poisons cause damage that is lethal to vegetation. Decades of cumulative exposure are killing trees all over the world, at an increasingly rapid rate, and of course this ultimately means the extinction of all species - animals, and plants in the understory - that are dependent upon trees for food and shelter.

This is an existential problem for humans too of course, because those same atmospheric contaminants are already causing widespread crop failure. And of course, there are other terrible consequences that will rapidly accrue - wildfires, trees falling causing power outages and property damage, and vast areas turning from CO2 sinks in CO2 emitters, thus contributing yet another tipping point to overall global heating.

Why virtually everyone, from private citizen to scientist to government agency, is ignoring this accelerating trend when the evidence is readily observed in a cursory inventory is a mystery to me.

From what I have seen in the past year I expect that it will soon become impossible for even the most dedicated ignorer to avoid the fact that we have so fouled our own nest that we will have skyrocketing food prices and shortages. At that point, we shall discover whether people decide to cooperate and help the most vulnerable, or selfishly and greedily consume everything around them, including their pets, and then each other.

This is almost impossible to prepare for, especially when you factor in climate change, with the likelihood of rampant disease and insect infestations, wild extreme weather events, and peak oil. But I'm trying.

Pictures and links to scientific research shared here: www.witsendnj.blogspot.com

I just opened a present to myself from Nutsonline, I got the money for it last year But ordered it this year. In the box were 5 items, only one of which I cold make myself if the world were to come crashing down this year. Gail asks what insights did I gain this year that have made me see things differently about the future. One of them is not taking so long to gather up some of the things I have been putting off getting.

I had the pleasure of having both my parent's in the Hospital at the same time last month. Okay that is a bit sarcastic, but I was not alone in dealing with it, we were near family that could help us with all the issues. Now they are both fixed and on the road to recovery. But I learned as if I needed to be reminded, that you can't see the future to well from where you are standing. You can get a general hint of where things might go, but you don't see all the underlying bumps and pits in the flat surface in front of you.

I live on a fixed income, roughly 8,600 dollars per year, most of that goes to help around the house, and even to help a friend or two. But I do have spending money, which I'll use to pay down some debts. There are several species of plants that I want to try to grow that I'll have to wager some money on, because they don't normally grow here abouts.

I also want to improve my pool game, so I am going to play more pool this year, when my back allows it. I want to help a friend with his "End of the World" prep, so I'll be spending time and money doing that.

I don't in general make resolutions.

The only things new that I learned in 2009, was that no matter how you think it is going, it can get much worse than what you see on the surface. But really is that anything new? NO. It is a reminder I won't soon forget though.

I will try to enjoy what I have today, more than I did last year. I will try to learn a few more skills, or go back to practicing skills I already know but have not used in a while. I'll try to save more moeny for treats from places like Nutsonline, while they last.

Prepare for the wosrt and Pray for the Best.