The Peak of Humanity - John Kinhart's Comic

John Kinhart gave us permission to reprint this piece from sorrycomics.

Is this your view of peak oil? Or do your see things differently?

Yes, this is my view of the beginning of the peak oil collapse, just as the effects are starting to sink in. A few years after peak oil things will not be nearly this pretty however.

The question is how soon after the peak will we start seeing things like the cartoon dipicts? Well, perhaps we have already started to see them.

Ron P.

You could put an idealist spin on this strip and the last two frames show the dude playing guitar on his back deck and then going to tend his garden.

Or... you could show "the dude" looking at his draft notice, telling his girlfriend about how important it is to protect Nigeria.

I think this dude is going to buy a small arsenal and try to live off the fat of the land. If need be, he has his arsenal for protection.

You know, though, when you've followed Peak Oil discussions for 4-5 years...and have gone through what the character in the strip has experienced...and then realized that it is not all going to collapse change your frightened and depressed perspective and ask how you can make yourself happy and somewhat content knowing this information? If you don't find something positive to keep you going, it's indeed a dark road ahead for you personally.

So, for you young folk or those new to TOD, you gotta get through the "shock" of PO and either find a way through for yourself or start a's your choice. Just advice from a 45 year old.

Completely agree!

The future that we are living into largely determines our experience in the present. Have a great future = happiness. Have a lousy future = sadness or even depression.

I think that, for a brain operating within the "normal" biological/chemical ranges, it really is as simple as that.

Hear Hear!

When I hear some posters wrap up their comment with 'Game Over..' , I have to go back to my Philosophy Prof at NYU, James Carse.. and remember that there are Games and there are Games..

- on Finite and Infinite Games...

"The rules of the finite game may not change; the rules of an infinite game must change.
Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.
Finite players are serious; infinite games are playful.
A finite player plays to be powerful; an infinite player plays with strength.
A finite player consumes time; an infinite player generates time.
The finite player aims for eternal life; the infinite player aims for eternal birth.

Having the right Playful Attitude towards life's events can make all the difference. It doesn't claim to upend Thermodynamics in any way.. it just keeps you from being swirled down into a magnified vortex of self-generated mental entropy.

or else, you can follow Chad's 12th Axiom -
"Forget the power of positive thinking. It just doesn't work.. and it NEVER will!"

"Forget the power of positive thinking. It just doesn't work.. and it NEVER will!"

Precisely. Positive thinking doesn't work because it doesn't fundamentally alter how the world occurs to a person. Creating a new future takes effort. First one has to distinguish the future that's already there (not always easy to see without some help from another person guiding you to see what's not immediately visible...there is quite a bit hidden to ourselves). Then once the existing future is fully and cleared visible, you can let it go. Only once there is some space created can someone create a new future.

Thinking "positive thoughts" does not bring a person through this process. The future stays filled up with what was there before and thus the person eventually reverts back to behavior consistent with the future they continue to see.

A person's actions are always correlated with the future they see.

Sorry, I should have used a Sarcanol Warning, as that statement was made very much in jest.

Developing a Constructive Attitude makes an enormous difference. THAT is Positive Thinking. We're not trying to affect BTU's with this, but behavior, communications, relationship building, despair-management, which in turn DOES affect BTU's very significantly.

"Positive Thoughts" is probably not a good stand in for 'Positive Thinking', although they seem to be literally identical.. but it instead clearly harkens to that gem of 'Magical Thinking', which is a different animal.

"Forget It, Game Over" - is an adolescent 'quit' line .. whatever it is that can put you in the position to take those actions that you speak of above IS positive thinking. It might be mental tools you use to avoid destructive communications that would keep a team of people from necessary action, it might be axioms that you carry that ward off your own fear of inability, or ridicule, or fear of money that keeps you from recognizing necessary but hard investments.

Think of the Positive Mental attitude necessary to communicate on this forum without descending into rants and spiteful rebuttals. Even the wisest posters here (whoever that may be) certainly have to keep a level of Productive Discipline in sight when some thread gets their goat. It's positive thinking to remember that if we keep channels open, we can solve things together that we couldn't have managed all working in isolation, and that our own fears can cause us to mis-perceive reality enough to make poor choices and overlook many opportunities.

They're important phrases to keep distinct from one another, and I do feel they get very muddied in these fora, where there is so much fear and so many ideologies and prognostications flying around.


“Adventure is just bad planning.” Amundsen

Now that you've explained what you mean, I concur. That kind of positive thinking is very valuable.

In a way, it means standing for some possibility even when all the evidence is that it can't be done. Interestingly, this is a key component of leadership.

I find that positive thinking is a result of positive doing.
I always feel better when I take a step in the right direction and improve my current situation and hence my posture for the future.
The problem for me right now is that I am stuck until I sell my current property to allow me to locate better.
It is amazing though how many people are just choosing to ignore the facts that are growing daily and change the subject to something "happy".

I find that positive thinking is a result of positive doing

That's probably a good way to look at it. I tend to review my day before bed and usually feel good about how things have gone, so I sleep satisfied. Then I tend to behave during the day in a manner that stands up to review well. Such as: I cook and eat well, don't smoke or drink, exercise for an hour or more a day, write for an hour a day, work on the garden and housecleaning, and generally have a list of tasks going, working toward medium and long-term goals...all pretty positive stuff, though from another perspective I could be called a "doomer" as well.

Live as though you will die tomorrow but prepare to live for 100 years.

It is tricky to clarify, because I really do understand how much people, and US culture in particular can cling to 'imaginary positives', and refuse to think that anything could go seriously wrong.

But there are actual positives that we have the chance to grab onto, if we are intent upon not falling apart. The 'Tyranny of Positive Thinking' that PaulS posted had, unfortunately, examples of both, and it threw out the Babies and the Bathwater in self-righteous rage.. which is mainly, Rage.

It's like that distinction between 'brutal honesty' and then mere 'brutality' that sometimes tries to pretend it's also honest.

Alright.. semantics have their place. Time to get my daughter to practice her Piano lesson. THAT takes some real Positive Mental Discipline on my part.. but ultimately, I know it won't kill us, and might just make us stronger!


No royal curse, no Trojan horse,
And a happy ending, of course!
Goodness and badness,
Panic is madness--
This time it all turns out all right!
Tragedy tomorrow,
Comedy tonight!

Stephen Sondheim - A Funny thing happened on the way to the Forum

"Misery Loves Company. Especially this company!" Glen Claybrook (I think)

Hi Jokuhl,

Excellent comment. Normally, I'm very much turned off by "new age" style of positive thinking nonsense. But, your "Constructive Attitude" thinking resonates well with my POV. My main purpose for visiting this site is to gain insight into what the future most probably holds for us (and our great grandchildren) and what actions (or non-actions) might be useful to mitigate/avoid potentially nasty scenarios.

BTW, FMagar proposed that we explicitly identify "tongue-in-cheek" comments as they are otherwise usually misunderstood. He suggested this icon

"You can be scared when it gets too real,
But you should be diggin' it while it's happening,
Yes! You should be diggin' it while it's happening,
'Cause it just might be a one shot deal."
— Frank Zappa (from the song "One Shot Deal")

Maybe I should have wrote LOL
hee hee ha ha

"It must be clear that the Nigerian government cannot protect your workers or assets. Leave our land while you can, or die in it"

(Movement for the emancipation of the Niger Delta)

This may be closer to reality than we all realize.

This cartoon is a reflection of exactly what is happening right now.

Ah! That is because the economic effects are due to peak NET energy, not peak oil (gross energy production). Because EROI's for all forms of FF production have been decreasing the net energy flow into the economy to drive real work (and cars and heating, etc.) has been in decline for some time now. The peak of net flow appears to precede that of net gross by several years. See: Economic Dynamics and the Real Danger.


In other words Capitalism in in complete global collapse due to PEAK PROFIT.

I wonder if there enough lamp posts for the bankers.

Net energy is everything. Which is why alternatives won't salvage an industrial economy built on high net energy.

Obama should just re-read Carters speeches form the 70s to us while wearing a sweater sitting next to a space heater.

I'm a huge Jimmy Carter fan. You must admit..., he was honest.

And a Very Good example of someone who's productively "Thinking Positive", in my mind.. without being mired in fantastical illusions..

December, 2006 "I picked up Jimmy Carter's new book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid at San Francisco airport, and zipped through it in a day. It's a good, strong read by the only American president approaching sainthood."

Robert Fisk - UK Independent

Agreed Ron. 4 more banks closed on Friday. How much more can the FDIC absorb - ie when do the runs on the banks start?

Runs on banks?
Everyone is living off of credit cards!

The FDIC has a line of credit at the Federal Reserve. And, with so many of us being debtors rather than savers, if a run happens we have no reason to be part of it.

Hyperinflation is the obvious risk, of course.

Some of us are not debtors. I realize we are in a small minority. If too many banks start failing, I expect that people will be removing cash and putting it under the mattress. Of course if we have hyperinflation none of that matters and it is barter time.

Man, they even got my stubble right.

I do look at all those things in life around me and think about how they tie in to energy flows, and which of them will be the things that will have really surprising side-effects if they get either really expensive, or disappear from the shelves. But I don't pretend I can predict where Toad's Wild Ride is going to lead from here. 'Interesting' does seem to be the right word.

Yesterday, I had a daydream about being in a grocery store after hours, knowing that it would burn down in the morning. (For now, assume it's not an arson fantasy..) What do I stock up on, or salvage for not just me, but for the mass of people in my neighborhood/community?

The scenario is loose, I'm not trying to paint the whole 'crash' story, just looking at what products in a typical, bountiful American Grocery Store have 'deep value' to them. Or have materials and components that carry a high energy footprint that we still take for granted and hence undervalue when there's no shortage of it.

What of the food in there is, in fact worthless, but is 'considered' prime, like maybe prepared meals, coffee, beer, bulk- bleached white flour, Candy, Bacon? How about Aluminum Baking Pans and kitchen ware. Canned Goods; Produce; Spices; Wine; Peanut Butter - There are things like the Peanut Butter that are sort of the first off the shelf in a crisis, and very probably for a good reason or two. It stores well, even after opening, it's stocked with oil and calories, and requires no cooking. (But the oils and sugars in it can also be ANTI-Nutrients, as with so many items in that store.

I was also wondering how many people during the Plague(s), or as Hitler took power, or when Communism and Nuclear Weapons were taking hold, how they foresaw without question the complete unfolding of the world, to a fine degree of mathmatical certainty.

As Damon Knight puts it, (In the intro to Heinlein's THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW)

"We are a tough and resourceful lot; our descendants will have to be tougher and more resourceful still. The odds are all against them. The stars are high, life is short, and the house always takes a percentage. But Man himself is so unlikely that if he did not exist, his possibility would not be worth discussing."

Hi Bob,

Yesterday, I had a daydream about being in a grocery store after hours, knowing that it would burn down in the morning. (For now, assume it's not an arson fantasy..)

Next time I shop at your local Hannaford, remind me to take along a fire extinguisher. =:-o

I was also wondering how many people during the Plague(s), or as Hitler took power, or when Communism and Nuclear Weapons were taking hold, how they foresaw without question the complete unfolding of the world, to a fine degree of mathematical certainty.

It's an interesting question. I suspect few did or could fully comprehend all that it would entail. And, sadly, short of fleeing the country and finding another that offered refuge, no amount of planning would have helped those rounded up and loaded onto the death trains. I'm inclined to believe events will either overwhelm us or we'll find the means to adjust to our newly altered reality (the latter being more or less BAU).


I guess the main question is that there have been people during other times of 'great unravelings' who must have been sure that the end of the world was right at their doorstep.. and yet it wasn't, while it WAS still time for great changes.

'The Meteor' could catch us all before I hit send on this post, and we would never know if PO or CC were actually promising to be these total 'world enders'.. I do think PO is serious, quite possibly devastating.. but it's an understatement to say 'It's no way to live'. You try to see what's coming, and make what plans you can, 'Help each other through whatever this is', as Vonnegut said (right?), and not waste too much time getting ulcers over it all. It's a good day to die, right?

'To change what I can, accept what I cannot change, and be wise enough to know the difference..'

(Personally, I'd definitely grab the beer and the coffee.. and probably a lot of raisins and peanuts.. Gotta have my gorp!)

(Personally, I'd definitely grab the beer and the coffee.. and probably a lot of raisins and peanuts.. Gotta have my gorp!)

Hey, let's split up. You grab the beer and coffee and I'll load up the cart with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Frito Lays.


Hi jokuhl,

I admire your comments, but you have now disappointed me:

I'd definitely grab the beer and the coffee..

Coffee, yes. But why would any rational, sophisticated TODer grab BEER when WINE was there for the taking? Perhaps you should give serious thought to you life priorities :-)

Ok, you convinced me, I'll have to make room for beer AND wine.. but the Coffee is my real drug.

To be clear, it's gotta be sophisticated beer for me. I don't have much tolerance for the Generic Big-name brews.

As a German friend told me in High School.. American Beer is like Making Love in a Canoe - ("F-ing close to water!")

If you like coffee and chocolate I do believe SA Cream Stout might fit your taste. Heard that bunch is going belly up, hope not. Since the Aussies bought Miller and the Belgians picked up Bud that 'original' Boston micro brewry has actually become the USA largest domestic beer producer.

Those with a positive attitude were amongst the first to be loaded on the trains. Those with a negative attitude had already fled the country. With respect to peak oil or peak resources, survival may require a bit of a negative attitude to go with the positive approach to living within future constraints.


(ie, calling your bluff reediculous..)

I don't think a link is required...he is pointing out a valuable insight, not stating a historical fact per se.

My point is that it's NOT a valuable insight. This is pure fear-fantasy...

How does one distinguish that the people who were 'Thinking Positive' received the poetic justice of being Loaded up for the Camps? It's creating an unprovable association in a situation where if you were Jewish, Gay, Black any number of unacceptable traits or associations you would be targeted, regardless of your level of consciousness.

I'm sure there are countless examples of people who were awake, proactive and aware (I would say 'Positive Minded'), who were thus able to read the Tea Leaves and get outta Dodge. It's a false equivalence, what Tstreet proposed, amounting to 'Positive Thinking will get you into Auschwitz' ..

I like this saying
The world is a grindstone and life is your nose.
Fred Allen, 1894-1956, American humorist

"The world is your oyster", there is nothing you can't achieve", "nothing is impossible", "live to the point of tears", "live life to the fullest" blah, blah blah. Theses are the sayings we got fed and we fed to our children and each other. Absolutely perfect for a world of waste, decadence and narcissism.

Wasn't it Senator John McCain who said when describing life as a POW that the "optimists were the first to die".

I think the future is going to be mostly full of disappointments. Being positive about being negative is as close to positive thinking I want to get.

It's a valuable insight to me. Your mileage may vary.

" The world is your lobster " ;)

Hi tstreet,

No doubt true. The right combination of critical thought and healthy optimism.


I think that's a bit simplistic. Those that trusted authority, were scared of authority or did not want to break up their families probably got put on trains more easily than those that believed their instincts, took a huge risk and fled.

I don't think people are always positive or negative, but yes...each comes in handy at different times in your day and life. The problem comes when there is only negative in your attitude. It will isolate you and eat out your marrow...eventually. Believe me from experience.

Being positive or negative does not confer an evolutionary advantage in and of itself. It really all depends on what is favored by the enviroment at any given moment. Positivity, or blind optimism was, on the way up, the best bet. In fact, it shapes the way most people see the world now. Insofar as recognizing the tragic nature of our situation, however, negativity seems to take the cake. The question of whether to be positive or negative is just silly. The big picture for our species is that our long evoloved way of life cannot possibly survive what's coming. That's not negativity, it's realism. In the long run, it really doesn't matter what attitude you take, positive or negative. (Having a so-called negative attitude helps me see it this way)

Blind Faith and Blind Fear are both potentially deadly, and mainly because of their common denominator, it would seem.

"I was also wondering how many people during the Plague(s), or as Hitler took power, or when Communism and Nuclear Weapons were taking hold, how they foresaw without question the complete unfolding of the world, to a fine degree of mathmatical certainty."

I've been looking for a while now, traipsing through history. I've found a lot of 20/20 hindsight, and very little prediction. Some of the contemporary analysts have a relatively clear view of how their situation will lead to dire consequences, but none can predict the scale or even the shape of future events.

Before Word War One, there was some trepidation about international tensions in the press, but not enough to perturb the markets. And once things started rolling, absolutely everybody was convinced it all would be over in 3 to 6 weeks. Well into the first months of the war, nobody could imagine it would become the biggest slaughter the world had ever known.

When I was a boy (too long ago) in the sixties, I had a book about the wonders of science. It said that by the year 2000, we would all be living lives of leisure, served in every matter by robots, and we would all be flying private nuclear-powered helicopters.

The problem with prediction becomes clear when you look at pool or snooker or billiards.

By 'feel' and practice, which is what all players do, people can handle three to five successive contacts of balls and sides (any person who can consistently predict 5 consecutive contacts every time he shoots a queue is an automatic world champion). At each contact, the slightest initial error multiplies exponentially. It has been calculated, that in order to predict nine successive changes of direction, you need to take into account the gravitational mass of the people standing around the table. For 51 consecutive contacts from one queue, you need to know the exact location and movement of every single sub-atomic particle in the entire universe.

With what we know about nature and physics and everything, we can make very short term or very local predictions. But as soon as we venture out further into the future, or contemplate more complex systems, there is just not enough data available to make accurate predictions. And even if we had the data, the only useful model we have is the universe itself, and faced with the universe, we are sitting on a small island of knowledge in a vast and seemingly endless sea of unknowledge.

We know that the flap of a butterfly's wing can be the start of a tempest. And we can see storms and hurricanes and tornadoes coming. But we have no way to calculate where, when or why the butterfly wing flapped that started the storm.

We cannot even predict the past, and we think we can handle the future.

We cannot even predict the past, and we think we can handle the future.

Wow. This ranks as one of the most profound statements (and posts) I've read to date.

"Here we are in the amber of the moment. There is no why." Kurt Vonnegut

Darn good post, kudos.

I recommend a probabilistic outlook, which is easy to say but less easy to do, but it can be useful.

And (in a Sunday digression) it may even correspond literally to reality, if we eliminate ad hoc assumptions and regard the data verifying quantum mechanics to be consistently and systematically as true as it seems to be. This seems insane, since it would imply that the universe is vaster than we normally consider, and in a particularly disturbing way. In other words, the same conceptual hurdles faced by the explanations of Copernicus, Hubble, etc.

Not that it would make any difference to most, except perhaps philosophically. I occasionally bring this up with friends because it seems fantastical like a religion to some; however one gets to a religion by adding arbitrary assumptions, while this is the implication one is left with if they remove all arbitrary assumptions and take humans' most successful explanatory theory at face value. A lot of the world's brightest physicists consider it to be the literal truth, but you won't hear them talk about it much.


Thank you my friends, you flatter me.

I must admit the multiverse is way over my head.

I think a practical philosophy should include at least the following :

Beware predictors. They can be amusing and informative, but anyone who tells you what the world will look like in the next few months or years is just guessing.

Cover your rear. Make sure your situation is more or less secure for now. Steady income, a garden, don't build a house on a river bank or a fault line.

Do not go too far and build yourself a hyper-protective bubble. Bubbles are fragile.

Position yourself so that good luck can happen to you. You need an evolving social network for this. Make new friends all the time and you may get lucky. If you are friendly with sailors, you could be sitting on a deck with a fishing rod while the world collapses around you.

A social network is essential. Anything that is bigger than yourself requires a social net. From the problem of dog doo on the sidewalk, through health care, the economy, peak oil up to global warming, the only way you can have any influence is by pushing at your social net. Someone has to start making noise, and as long as that person is alone, he will get flak. But the most important people in a movement are the first followers : if the first voice accepts his first followers as equals, and all remain vociferous about their message, a tipping point becomes a distinct possibility. Once a movement has critical mass, anything becomes possible.

A bit of fun to round this off :!v=fW8amMCVAJQ

I enjoy the research and discussion on this site, but I'm not going to fall into the Cynic's Trap - appearing to WANT the collapse of civilization just so I can be vindicated.

Peak oil is still a theory, in that no one know when it will bite and how hard; just like global warming. If the far side of the peak is indeed as close and steep as this cartoon depicts, then collapse is probably around the corner. I also, however, have a little faith in how markets distribute limited supply (ECON 101), and more than a little faith in human ingenuity under duress. Michael Ruppert and others say collapse is already happening.

Perhaps we're just at the beginning of a radical shift; we need the high oil prices in order to drive investment and innovation to get us off the damned stuff. We've been manipulated for too many years by the oil companies, and too many technologies that could have made a huge difference in our oil consumption patterns have remained hidden, stagnated, or simply asphyxiated. The higher the price of oil, the more the intensity of the race to replace it will increase.

The price signal for oil that drives us to find alternative energy technologies also carries the obvious and parallel benefit of doing far more to reverse global warming than the rubik's cube of Cap and Trade.

The question is how much all the measure would have to be impemented. Infrastructures take a long time to be build and need a lot of resource. Meanwhile, you might have hard time dealing with a lot of problems. Obviously, the tougthess part will be the fast crash section of the Hubbert's, but once we get to the second inflection point recovery will be much easier. Also, we have to fear the synchronisation of peak as domino effect will propagate to others ressources. I think it is still managable but time is running out fast.

As a format system enginneer, I must say that I have a bit paranoiac. Hopefully, after six month of unemployement, I manage to get a job as the scientific coordination of a research chair on energy. I might manage to surf the crisis for a while, pending complete societal collapse.

I would sit up and take notice if the U.S. Congress were to propose to scrap personal and corporate income taxes (and smaller jurisdictions tossed property and sales taxes) and replaced them, initially dollar for dollar (but with some incentives to help cover poorer citizens), with a tax on greenhouse gas emissions. And then sent forth the caulkers, white-roof painters, electric-railroad builders, and tiny-tiny farm advisers.

As it is, though, the cartoon is apropos, probably even if we did these things. We're suffering from discovering the fun of playing with oil and coal, from the consequent agricultural and transportation innovations that led to false hope and an inconceivable jump in population, coupled with improvements in sanitation and medical intervention. Might it be that the pit latrine has led to peak humanity?

"Perhaps somewhere deep in his crypt in Bath Abbey, Malthus is quietly wagging a bony finger and saying, "Told you so." -- Joel K. Bourne, Jr., National Geographic, special report, June 2009, p. 26-59.

It increasingly looks like the financial system will give out and not many beyond a small group will ever know that oil was one of the causes.

I'm going to be speaking at a conference in a month and I'm going to ask people to tell me "when was the last economic bubble that popped and what sector was it in?" Then I'm going to ask "when was the last oil shock?"

My hypothesis is that I'll get "housing and 2008" for the first question and a fair number of "1979 or 1973" for the second.

Jeff Rubin expressed it well:

The fact of the matter is, wherever you go in the OECD, we’re all PIGS now. That’s because we mistook an energy shock for a financial crisis and bailed out everyone under the sun. But we are soon going to find out that today’s bailouts are tomorrow’s spending cuts.

Most people still have no clue about peak oil (still need to explain it to many people I meet). That's why sales in my company are steadily increasing (31 people in the current eLearning version of the UnCrash course and another 12 or so in the instructor-led version) but there certainly isn't a stampede.

BTW, I'm not sure what your intention is behind saying "peak oil is still a theory." Do you seriously think oil production will increase forever? Is there a quicker way to signal that someone doesn't understand basic physics? ;-)

(please notice the wink at the end)

Most people still have no clue about peak oil (still need to explain it to many people I meet). That's why sales in my company are steadily increasing (31 people in the current eLearning version of the UnCrash course and another 12 or so in the instructor-led version) but there certainly isn't a stampede.

Most of my family thinks I'm insane and doesn't want to hear about P
eak Oil. One considers it a conspiracy theory. Another considers unimportant because only the spiritual world matters (until she goes hungry I guess). One is a programmer and assures me that we have tons of tar sands, oil shale and enough coal to last 300 yrs. Another does get it (engineer), but thinks I'm giddy about it. And another, She majored in Geology, but doesn't work as one, assured me that her old teacher used to search for oil and he helped to discover a field in alaska and can find plenty of oil anywhere and if there is really a problem, it will be easily solved by nuclear fussion, fission or even cold fission. She got very angry at me when I rediculed cold fussion.

I leant a friend my book from Kenneth Deffeyes, "Hubbert's Peak Impending World Oil Shortage," and after 5 years or so, he still lives in the desert 50 or 60 miles from work.

I was also assured by a family member that scientists are stupid and science is pointless because Charlse Darwin is the devil and all that matters is your soul.

Even very smart people are either clueless, or don't want to hear about it or know about it.

So, at this point, I generally keep Peak Oil to myself. They either don't believe it even with charts and graphs, or they don't want to believe it.

The way that paradigm shift occurs is strongly based in human psychology; the same thing happened with the 'theories' of Kopernicus, Darwin, Newton - every major change in our explanation of the universe was resisted by fundamentalists until it became undeniable. The nature of the 'World Story' we tell each other is that it explains the issues that are forefront and most troubling to us. Back in the day, the thing everybody worried about was spititual survival- the Devil, after all, still covets your soul. Those were different times, you bet. Some places on this Earth, that's still what worries people the most, and that's what they talk about. In Western civilization everyone is worried about personal survival again. I can't really say that this is a less advanced position. It even seems healtier, in some ways. Eventually it will become commonly understood that what we used to think of as progress is not really what we are pursuing. The connection between advanced technologies and a planet bursting population spike needs to be not only understood (knowledge) but incorporated into our paradigm (wisdom) as well. Read Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed for an example of how this can happen.

The biggest hurdle getting through to people I have is people have some sort of addiction to positive thinking. The USA national anthem should be 'Don't Worry, Be Happy'. Peak oil, the disasters and fraud embedded in our financial / political system and what it all means for the future of this country and it's inhabitants, it is all just 'too depressing'. The vast majority would rather occupy themselves watching celebrity television or playing 'farmville' on facebook than contemplate anything going on beyond next weekend.

The truly depressing part is I consider many of my friends and peers more intelligent than myself. I have an engineer friend that is convinced that 'if THEY would just let us drill, we could be energy independent.' Another friend recently told me he just stopped reading up on current events 'I can't do anything about it and it is too depressing'.

To be sure, I don't even really consider myself a doomer because of the realities of peak oil. For example, there is plenty of places to cut and conserve and continue on with civilized society in light of oil decline. I mean, do we really need 100 different selections of breakfast cereal at the grocery store? I think our basic needs will be met well into the future. If anything, I think we have hit 'peak reckless, consumer'. I am however a doomer because of the ability of my fellow humans to detach themselves from reality. People will react violently and irrationally when it is no longer possible to stock the store shelves with 100 different brands of cereal and it is no longer possible to commute 100 miles per day to the air conditioned cubicle. Thats when the fury is whipped up. "Libruals" and "Progressives" are to blame. That is when the proto-facists and corn-prone nazi's will spring into action.

We're not in real danger from running out of natural resources, we're in real danger from the chain of event and human reaction to running out of natural resources.

What 100 different kinds of breakfast cereal -- and 700 overseas military bases, and 100 bureaucratic insurance companies -- provide is jobs. Wasteful and expensive as they are, they provide employment.

All we really need in a community is a place to buy sugar, flour, cornmeal, beans, oil, etc. Cornflakes if you must. The brands, the packaging, are fluff to employ people.

How to reconcile limited resources and people's need to earn a living? Don't ask me.

same problem as before.

But we have to give up some freedoms.

Good read!

"Aside from the fact that only by means of the sophistries of lawyers and economists can it be explained how, on this basis, those who do nothing at all frequently receive the largest shares of the national income (SEE: BANKSTERS; CEO's; INVESTOR CLASS PARASITES, POLITICAL CLASS), the simple fact is that it is impossible for any man to contribute to the social system the physical equivalent of what it costs that system to maintain him from birth till death-and the higher the physical standard of living the greater is this discrepancy. This is because man is an engine operating under the limitations of the same physical laws as any other engine. The energy that it takes to operate him is several times as much as any amount of work he can possibly perform. If, in addition to his food, he receives also the products of modern industry, this is due to the fact that material and energy resources happen to be available and, as compared with any contribution he can make, constitute a free gift from heaven. Under these circumstances we recognize that we all are getting something for nothing, and the simplest way of effecting distribution is on a basis of equality, especially so when it is considered that production can be set equal to the limit of our capacity to consume, commensurate with adequate conservation of our physical resources."

And you would never know that was written in 1940 by none other than M. King Hubbert.

If things really fall apart this could be the only way to salvage an organized society.

I do not think that a freshly impoverished former middle class will sit still and watch the worthless psychopaths live even bigger.

We need real leadership right now.

I know that things are going to get at least as bad as the 1930s when this movement was taken seriously by the federal government.

Of course there is always SOMA.

deleted duplicate

mudduck said:

How to reconcile limited resources and people's need to earn a living? Don't ask me.

See America 2.0, a guest post from Jay Hanson, posted by Nate on October 29, 2009.

Well said. Positive thinking is the national addiction of the last, um, century or more. The thing I've noticed about the reasons given for ignoring or ridiculing us Peak Oil Cassandras, is that they are always based on some kind of general principles -- the market will do it's magic, technology will solve the efficiency problem when we need it to, etc. But when you actually look at the numbers -- what is the practical meaning of 3% versus 9% annual decline rates; how much oil do we need to keep industrial food production going and where exactly is this oil going to come from at what price -- the Peak Oil Cassandra case wins every time. My conclusion, positive thinking is based on lazy thinking.

Positive thinking is rooted in group conformity. It is just a kind of cheerleading.

SchadenFruede, said,
"I am however a doomer because of the ability of my fellow humans to detach themselves from reality."

I had to laugh, Humans have almost always had the ability to detach themselves from reality, it is something that enables most of us to go on after a tragic event. Think about the caveman who just lost his child to the Cavebear, if he does not get his mind off of reality, he'll not be able to function later as clan leader. Take that one of many steps further, and you can see where we as a species have been able to detach ourselves from everything.

Then again without that ability would we be able to have any kind of fiction in writing, would we be able to write anything but the facts as we see them, would we be able to see beyond our cave walls?

What has happened is that our shear ability to get away from the reality at hand has both empowered us and limited us, it is gift and curse.

What I would say is that we have a lack of wisdom, we can detach from reality, but we lack the wisdom to know when we need to get our head out of the clouds and get back to work.

Wasn't it about 50 to 60 years ago when writers of the day were telling us, we will be flying around in personal jet cars, and robots would be doing our work, so we'd have more leisure time? Now we have more time to spend looking at the latest news of the model runway and don't know where plants are grown.

I can say I am more doomer than I am hopeful, then I detach myself from reality and think I am more hopeful than I am a doomer (tongue in cheek thinking).

Being a Christian I am more hopeful for where I'll be when I am dead, but I don't see the world getting back to the Eden It might have once been. So be cheerful today, but prepare for tomorrow. You'll each get different results from your thoughts of reality and from your thoughts on doomerism.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

Right On leduck Same here with family & friends.

But when even "Evolution" is considered false by the majority, what hope have you with a predictive science based on stats and probabilities.

They'll never get it.

Forget about it. Anyhow, the fewer people that understand will mean fewer people crowding you out of your escape plan.

Hi wotfigo,

"Evolution" is considered false by the majority

I think this is a very important metric to watch. The last I heard, it was around 3/4 of the US population that disbelieved basic evolutionary theory and accepted biblical explanations.

If we see surveys that show this figure dropping below 50%, then we have some reason to be optimistic. Also the last figure I heard about US non-believers (mostly atheists and agnostics) was around 16%. If we see this rise to over 30% then there is some hope for rational thought.

I think the Christians in general are PO deniers as PO would remove their big stick. No stick, a lot less believers. Think about must take a lot of coal or oil (or maybe NG) to keep the fires of hell roaring. I don't get to church much, but does anybody know if they have had to up the collections to keep up with rising coal prices?

Hi leduck,

I'm 3/4 through Plan C - I take a book whenever I have a doctor or dentist appointment. The other day, getting my teeth cleaned, my book was lying on the counter. The dental hygienist asked what I was reading. As soon as she saw the word "survival" in the subtext, she gave a condescending smile and and said "oh, survival - yes" and promptly changed the subject.

What makes this more disturbing is the fact that she migrated, as a child, from a former Soviet country under very stressful conditions. She believes she is "totally safe" now in the US - very grateful to have escaped a bad situation and now no longer worries about things like that.

Peak oil is still a theory, in that no one know when it will bite and how hard; just like global warming. If the far side of the peak is indeed as close and steep as this cartoon depicts, then collapse is probably around the corner. I also, however, have a little faith in how markets distribute limited supply (ECON 101), and more than a little faith in human ingenuity under duress.

I find it strange that in your view Peak Oil is still a theory apparently subject to doubt while markets are not evidently a theory (ECON 101) and worthy of faith. We have just been through and are in the midst of one of the biggest failures of markets in history. Econ 101 is also a theory.

Your faith in markets is misplaced. In markets where supply is constrained as in oil and in the stock market for example, an increase in price does not bring on more supply contrary to the Econ 101 theory. Instead we get demand distruction through price increases. These price increases are often fast and temporary in nature and are sometimes called bubbles.

After the bubble bursts the price falls rapidly as demand is destroyed. This discourages producers of the scarce item from investing to produce/find more. It also discourages potential investment in alternatives and even in technological innovation since the expected price is unreliable.

Thus Econ 101 breaks down and we have market failure.

This could be partially corrected by political action such as raising taxes on the scarce item to permanently reduce demand and encourage alternatives, but that too is stymied by lack of understanding of market failure. Instead faith is preached in the Econ 101 model. This cycle repeats over and over again as we proceed down the backside of Peak Oil.

I find it strange that in your view Peak Oil is still a theory apparently subject to doubt while markets are not evidently a theory (ECON 101) and worthy of faith.

Peak Oil is a theory or an "explanation."
It's a true theory.

and it should not be subject to doubt by anyone remotely familiar with it. The only legitimate question is timming.

This could be partially corrected by political action such as raising taxes on the scarce item to permanently reduce demand and encourage alternatives

The problem with Peak Oil or Global Warming arguments is they're too wonky. As soon as you present the numbers they begin to argue that we'll find some other energy resource that will be a replacement for oil and natural gas. The arguments go around and around and the more it's talked about it the more people don't care.

However if you doubt Peak Oil, which has come to mean Peak Everything, one number that trumps all of the rhetoric is exponential population growth. We are adding over 200,000 new humans to the planet every day. How can anyone in his wildest speculations explain how we can continue to provide adequately for this rapidly growing population on an already ravaged planet such as ours?

A couple of weeks ago I showed a population graph to a bright young man who said that "it was all propaganda". He then retorted that there is "plenty of room" to settle these new people. I then asked if he knew how much arable land, water, energy and other resources each new "person" requires? He didn't have a clue. I then showed him some basic numbers and stated: "That's the reason that we need 7 new planets for all of us to live like you and I. Every new person added to the group diminishes your share. "

42 years later Garrett Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons argument still stops people in their dogmatic tracks.


"That's the reason that we need 7 new planets for all of us to live like you and I. Every new person added to the group diminishes your share. "

But all 6 billion will never approach living like us. Everyone knows that - and thats why this argument is just some esoteric theory.

One thing that does get attention is "They sold more cars in China than in US last year".

Joe, if you add the population growth to the Peak Oil, or Peak Net Oil you get Richard Duncan's theory, which is Energy per capita which he says happened about 30 some years ago. Obviously now that long plateau of energy per capita is over and the continued population growth coupled with the decline in net energy makes the descent of that curve even steeper.

That's what matters in the end is it not, how much energy does each human get to use? More humans, less energy, much less energy per person.... Time for the crunch to start hitting 2nd and 3rd world nations and it is. Homeless Americans in tent cities, governments and states nearing collapse. Austerity measures being forced on whole countries.

An exercise in futility:
1. the word "math" is right there in plaintext in the link. That'll divert it straight to the spam folder. Better hide it somehow.
2. the page has a bunch of digits with no context or perspective. Means little to the typical math-challenged person. Might be a lot, might be a little; it's fewer digits than the national debt for example.
3. the more people we have, the more chances we'll have to invent our way out of anything that's bothering us. So I've been told - haven't you heard that one???...

Are these alternatives to oil eventually going to be able to reproduce themselves without oil?

ECON 101 still works because even bubbles are subject to it: when demand collapsed because of $150 oil, the price followed it into the rabbit hole (again, frustratingly). What we need is a constant price signal for oil (high) that forces adaptation and breaks the bubble cycle. Disruptive technologies persist across all endeavors; they just need the forces of competition and the market to bring them out - a fundamental and true dynamic because of the core of human motivation: greed, need for fame/recognition, etc. Case in point: Thorium. If the U.S. military did not have their way in the 1960s when Uranium nuke plants became all the rage, and instead the far more stable and "green" Thorium was used, we'd have a different energy picture today (

A theory is true? That's an oxymoron. Unfortunately, we won't know the extent, timing and impact of P.O. until we're in it. People can claim that we're already in it, but the thing is about mono-theories is they can get side-swiped by unforeseen events, rogue variables if you will, plus I can still buy tomatoes from New Zealand cheaper than from (my home) Canada and California romaine is still 99 cents a head.

My take on it is simply that The Market, if focused by some kind of tax on oil (the proceeds of which get invested directly in green energy applied research, for example), will surprise everyone with the speed, proliferation and dissemination of disruptive technologies. Humans are marvelously adaptive, and when our future is clearly threatened, we'll respond in unforeseen ways.

Perhaps the nut of it is that instead of the assumed bell curve, peak oil may become "Plateau Oil" that gradually declines as we move to alternatives. I, for one, do not believe we're all about to head back off into the bush wearing loin cloths. We need a scare like Peak Oil to change the status quo, but I doubt it will be the dagger to the heart of civilization like so many seem to assume.

We have been on a plateau for a while now, I do not see any alternatives materializing. Oil is trading at $81.50/bbl, where is my electric car?

...where is my electric car?

It's out there if you want to buy it. It's just that the overall cost is heavily front-loaded, so at the moment you might do as well to buy a high-mileage gasoline or diesel car. In any event, hardly anyone is saying the alternatives necessarily are or will be cheaper; if they were, there would be little need to discuss regulations and subsidies to bring them in.

Of course, Florida's complete lack of anything worthy of being called "winter" allows for flexibility in one's notion of what is a car. So if you're able to be flexible, for example with a second vehicle driven only locally, many Florida localities already seem to be stuffed full of these, wobbling and weaving along the streets, and now and then on the landscape...

I can't get home from work/school on electric only unless I can charge on site, and how long would it take to charge?

In 2009, the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry said that "GM is at least one generation behind Toyota on advanced, “green” powertrain development. In an attempt to leapfrog Toyota, GM has devoted significant resources to the Chevy Volt." and that "while the Chevy Volt holds promise, it is currently projected to be much more expensive than its gasoline-fueled peers and will likely need substantial reductions in manufacturing cost in order to become commercially viable." [88]

Earlier in June 2008, Bob Lutz admitted the first-generation Volt with a price tag of about US$30–40,000 was not expected to generate a profit for GM.[89][90] In an April 2009 interview with the president of GM's North American operations, Troy Clark stated he was uncertain if the next generation systems following the Volt would be profitable.

How can a company sell these at a loss? What if they get inexpensive and everyone wants one, what will happen with the lithium supplies? Naturally demand would drive the price of lithium up and would be passed on to the consumer. But even if they are too expensive to drive up lithium demand, how many people can afford a $40,000+ car?

" many people can afford a $40,000+ car?"

We're going to find out; that's what I meant by the cost being front-loaded. OTOH, for example, and despite all the wailing, California roads seem still to be stuffed beyond bursting with very expensive cars.

And yes indeed, early-adopter goods are often sold at a loss but that can't go on indefinitely. So until and unless plug points are widely installed, the real transitional vehicles will be hybrids or high-mileage regular cars. In places like Florida and coastal California that have no winter, that may be supplemented by two-wheelers. Transit may also be a small supplement but it may stay that way - just for financial reasons, the practice of giving away $7 urban bus or tram rides for $2 will stop.

So this may also be where we get down to at least some facets of westexas' repeated "rant"; another supplement may be less mileage. Some people may be stuck with their commute, but others may be able to trade off the huge yard for a shorter commute, or may find work or school closer to home. Other current practices, such as driving the kids halfway across the state every weekend to play soccer because local play just isn't good enough for our oh-so-talented gift-to-God's-world darlings, may also gradually give way.

Oh, and by definition the Popular Science tech-geek gee-whizzery of lithium will wear off as electrics or hybrids become more routine. Then if need be, producers of large batteries can get down to the prosaic business of reworking their products to use commonplace non-geeky sodium at a slight cost in weight. Now, I'm cynical enough to think some government somewhere may eventually create a shortage of sodium (because meddling in ways that make things worse is something they're good at), but, really, there's plenty of the stuff lying around.

What's happening is the oil shortage itself is being monetized with the result being that the economies are becoming more about discovering the value of currency ... and little else.

When the pursuit of currency value becomes the purpose of countries there is no need for innovation. Consequently, there isn't any.

One of the notable aspects of our post- 1998 oil peak period is the lack of any transformative technologies. Most of what have posed as such since the middle of the 18th century have been means to amplify - and profit from - oil/fuel consumption. Think about it ...

MANY people have built conversions for around $10/12 thousand.

Many still run on Lead Acid, and Nimh has proven itself in some EVs, so Lithium doesn't have to be the bottleneck.. but it is possible that you live too far from Work/School.

These options are not promising to be cure-alls. You might have to get creative and flexible to make life in the next couple decades workable.

Solar Charged RAV-4 EV.. with cute, fun driving music!

Here they are, a fine selection!

(You're not expecting the tools of the Revolution to be sold at Wall-Mart, are you? If you're waiting til it's mainstream, you're gonna probably be too late, since 'Mainstream Vehicles' looks to be a couple decades out of date as it is.)

Floridian is exactly right. Where are the electric cars? This is not just a selfish, knee-jerk question but a legitimate and thoughtful one. Our last chance to save any semblance of modern industrial civilization was in the early to mid 70's. At that point it was clear to any adult with a brain that we were on a one-way train to peak oil and global limits. We could have started to incentivize decreased reproduction, increasing efficiency, decreasing consumption, taxes on growth, massively ramping up and subsidizing nuclear, solar, and wind, and beginning to transform our transportation architecture. If all of these happened, we may yet have had a fighting chance to save modern civilization, as well as the globe.

But we are stupid apes and we decided to have a 30 year party. And now it's over. The pain must come, and it must come on a grand scale.

.. and I say, if you want Forward-Thinking, then 'Ask not what the car industry can do for you?..' Take some chances and be one of those oddballs who saw the obvious when the crowds were still 'in debate' ..

Clearly, there has been a vast and terrible oversight on the part of the Auto Industry, the Political Leadership (with ring in nose, led by Industrial Giants), and the 'common ken' of the people.

This room is, to me anyway, one place where I hear some sense and some foresight.. but it isn't a mass movement, and by the time it is, the direction it goes in may well be herded towards some other cliff.

Who really knows what will become of 'Modern Industrial Civilization'? That's way too broad for me. I'm looking at tools that could work, at materials we can count on and reuse, at foods that will make it to our mouths somewhat reliably.

The useful answers, including Electric Vehicles, perhaps, are coming TOO SLOW! That doesn't mean those tools are wrong, it means the Herd hasn't figured it out yet.. but maybe you have.

What are you going to do about it?

In 1969 I was 7 years old and I watched Neal Armstrong take man's first steps on the lunar surface. Even the sky was not the limit to man's mastery of all things technological. And just look at us now. To hell with electric cars. We were all supposed to be driving HOVERCRAFT by now. What a total ripoff! It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I wonder why the future didn't turn out all shiny and cool like on the Jetsons. I want my money back.

Ever heard of exponents?

Loren - you don't really believe they actually went to the moon do you?

This whole 'moon landing' thing must surely go down in history as the biggest all time fraud ever. It really does amaze me that seemingly intelligent people actually swallow this!


chrisdollard said

A theory is true? That's an oxymoron.

Newton's theory? The theory of relativity? The germ theory of disease? The atomic theory of chemistry? Electromagnetic theory? The theory of natural selection?

The question of what the experience of peak oil may like be is indeed speculative. That oil production will peak long before oil is exhausted and then enter a permanent long (if we're lucky) decline is not speculative and not questionable by any reasonable person with some basic science education and some access to someone who understands the geology. It is certainly a theory in the sense of the above theories. In a sense it is even better based than they are. As stated above, it is so simple that it is not even vulnerable to refinements to its accuracy, as those complicated theories are, retaining their validity to within a given accuracy, but being improved, as Newton to Einstein, as phenomenological physical chemistry to statistical mechanics and quantum mechanical physical chemistry, as relativistic electromagnetic theory to quantum electrodynamics.

Well, The 'cornucopian' version has human civilization performing a segue to other forms of energy *before* oil production actually begins the downward slope, thus rendering the 'theory' of peak oil false, or at least moot.

You know, "the stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones...." etc.

A theory is a hypothesis supported by facts and thus is proven to a degree and is subject to futher modification as more facts become available. Both Peak OIl and Global warming are proven theories, as are Evolution and Plate Tectonics.

I haven't shaved since I was laid off. Sent off a couple of dozen copies of my resume. So far the only reply has been canned emails with my name mailmerged into them.

The wife has something in Berkeley coming up. Looks like a move at the end of the school year. Not sure how the Bay Area is going to fair in the next decade. California is something like bankrupt. I'm thinking it could be a trap when gasoline is $7/gal.

I live in California. I don't think it will be too long before Arkansas becomes a step up.


Try Australia, it is Arkansas with a beach.

No,don't try Australia or anywhere else.

Stay where you are.You broke,you fix it.

No try the beach off the coast of Australia - called New Zealand...LOL

Peak Oil is fine as far as theories go (and a threat to us all) - but we need to remember that BEVs could be just around the corner. Also grid levelling, smart grid and grid storage can make a difference to the ability of renewables to play their respective parts.

Hypothetically, a Nanosolar 8kv array plus a 52kwhr EESU could provide us with household independence from the grid in some places and the use of a 52kwhr EESU in a BEV could change the world.

I am not saying this will happen although I hope it will. But what I am saying is that we should focus on the positive progress being made and try to support it.

Cup half full v. cup half empty.

kind regards

Yes, perhaps a cock-eyed optimist :-)

No, not an optimist. You just haven't studied the graphs below long enough for the consequences to really sink in. When you've done that then you'll start to understand the predicament we are in and that renewable energy will not be rolled out nearly in time. And even it were, the current economic system demands growth, so it will just keep attempting to grow (like a cancer) until some other part of the system (i.e. planet) fails.

When you are ready, I have your Doomer Badge ready for you. The next Doomer Induction Ceremonies are this coming Friday night at a pub close to me. If you come here (Northern California) not only will I give you your badge, I'll buy you a beer!

aangel. You are the greatest. You keep up with the hard data. It clarifies and explains. And frightens.

As for the beer! Local of course. Anchor Steam always wonderful. Or Sierra Nevada. I like their Stout. Or perhaps an Oregon import, Henry Weinhard will be fine.Cheers

Hi, wotfigo. Thanks for the kind words.

All those beers are very fine let's add in a Tiburon Blonde and Tripel Dipsea (Marin Brewing Company).

Jason mentioned in today's class that in 15th century England 2% beer was distributed daily. I couldn't find a reference to that with a quick search but think I may have found the best post-peak career so far instead:

An ale-conner (sometimes aleconner) was an officer appointed yearly at the court-leet of ancient English communities to ensure the goodness and wholesomeness of bread, ale, and beer. There were many different names for this position which varied from place to place: "ale-tasters," gustatores cervisiae, "ale-founders," and "ale-conners". Ale-Conners were also often trusted to ensure that the beer was sold at a fair price. Historically, four ale-Conners were chosen annually by the common-hall of the city.
Ale-Conners were sworn "to examine and assay the beer and ale, and to take care that they were good and wholesome, and sold at proper prices according to the assize; and also to present all defaults of brewers to the next court-leet."

From wikipedia article Beer In England.

Indeed! It was our addiction to beer which gave us rule over a third of the world! At 2% ABV nasty germs and wotnot can't survive in the water.

Now we English just get rat-arsed every night, throw up in the street and make complete pratts of ourselves. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Don't forget the tea drinking too. We wouldn;t have been able to cram so many people to work in the London slums without the antiseptic properties of tea and without all that cheap labour industrialization wouldn't have kicked off the way it did.

And a cup of rosey lee is a great hangover cure :)

I find the 'what will oil decline look like for an oil importing nation' a bit rosey. Britain peaked in North Sea crude production in 2000 and was an imported by 2007. Mexico peaked in 2005 and is due to begin importing by 2011. How long will it take SA to go from peak to the point where they cant export considering they have a lot of nessesary infrastructure like desalination plants that run on oil? I think most importing nations could be in trouble only 10 years or so after world peak production.


"Stay where you are.You broke,you fix it."

This may be the wisest posting I have ever read on this topic. We need to take responsibility for our causes. Like mature adults.

Stay away from Arkansas, we don't need more people.

If you come here, you'll only add to wally-world's job crops, or you'll have to supported by the local Gov't either as a new worker or by taxes.

And don't be homeless in Little Rock, They don't like homeless people either.

I'll take it that ya'll commenting on the state have never been here.


Ps, If the house were in Iceland I'd feel better, but sadly it is not. I miss my years in Iceland.

What's the latest on colleges protesting budgets and tuition hikes in California? MSM has let that slip off coverage so not sure if it's ongoing or it was just a 1-2 day event.

California's myriad budget problems and fiscal overextension are far from over, as are the student protests. The adjustment period will be difficult indeed.

However, as a resident of the Bay Area, I am convinced that this is going to be one of the best places to be as the transition to a low-energy future proceeds. We've got an educated and progressive, can-do population, usable waterways extending from the ocean to well inland, decent (though not adequate at current population levels) resources in water and food, and high-efficiency infrastructure and rolling stock compared to the rest of the country (though that is not saying much). When it's time to pull together with my neighbors and my community to address the coming challenges, I can scarcely think of a better bunch to work with.

Violence from neighboring Richmond and Oakland will spill into San Francisco proper. No large metropolitan area will be safe.

Hi, Chris.

However, as a resident of the Bay Area, I am convinced that this is going to be one of the best places to be as the transition to a low-energy future proceeds.

Maybe for a little while, but there is a discontinuity in that future. That's why I'm aiming to relocate before the Big One hits.

Simulation of M7.0 Earthquake along the Hayward Fault

According to Risk Management Solutions, the Bay Area has only 6 to 7 percent of its potential losses insured, or about $8 billion. We will get roughly the same amount of damage as Katrina but they got $56 billion in insurance payout.

I assign this video as homework in the UnCrash Course to add extra motivation for people to take earthquakes seriously.

Our county disaster official told me that only about 5% of Californians have an earthquake kit.

And of course we are going to be able to respond to an earthquake in 20 years much differently than we can now.

Hayward is a concern for them...,
but we, in SO CAL will have a great quake before they do.
Their last great quake was in 1906. Ours was in 1857 in Fort Tejon. We are over due..., they have a ways to go.

I live in the compression zone in So Cal....
After I live through our next great quake..., I intend to move to the Pacific Northwest and hope I live to see..., and feel..., the next great quake from their subduction....
extremely unlikely..., but I'll keep my fingers crossed


Right on...this is what I was talking about upthread. Finding your way through this mess...that path is going to be different for every one on this forum.

We all got to find that spot...that niche...where we can survive and have some enjoyment with others before the music stops.

Yeah..., well, you live in the north..., I live in L.A.
Our water is up north. We are overpopulated down here.
We have no real mass transportation.
Our subway cost an arm and a leg and doesn't really go anywhere.
Our Metrolink is an arm and a leg and doesn't really go anywhere.
Our light rail is ok, but the system overall is not nerely as good as we used to have before Firestone and the auto industry killed it.
We have a ton of urban sprawl and conjestion.

from were I'm sitting in a Los Angeles suburb...,

I'm pretty concerned.
But..., I've always like the pacific northwest..., if they keep me out at gun point, maybe I'll just head for Frisco.....

Not from where I'm sitting.

I live in a Los Angeles suburb.

Our mass transportation is terrible. It's way too expensive and it goes nowhere.

Our freeways don't move so in that respect, peak oil will have no impact.

we have way too much urban sprawl. we have way too many people down here.

Our water falls mainly up north and they are tired of drying out for our sake.


every year we have budget problems.
because our state constitution is like a book.

it takes a 2/3 vote to pass a budget.

a 2/3 vote to increase any kind of taxes. (So much for my favorite -- the gas tax)

every election year we have endless poorly written propositions.

We can recall someone in political office on a whim, ok..., well, that one's fun.....

The southern part of this state is scary!

Our mass transportation is terrible. It's way too expensive and it goes nowhere.

I dunno. I just checked the Metro site, and the basic cash fare shows as a paltry $1.25 with a paltry $0.30 for a transfer to municipal bus. This is cheaper than dirt. For example, JR fares in Tokyo start at 130 yen (about $1.45) and Tokyo Metro (subway) fares at 160 ($1.75), but that will get you only about two local stops. Fares range up to 540 yen ($6) and beyond if you're actually going much of any distance at all.

Perhaps the dirt-cheap fares are related to the system "going nowhere", unlike the Tokyo system which can take you just about anywhere in the region, and usually gets you there on time. I'm thinking that old tired saw so hated by entitlement-minded Americans (and maybe, based on the recent news, Greeks) you get what you pay for.

Metro is not bad - if you live in the LA center city. A day pass is $5.00 - I sometimes take it to go to clubs off of Sunset blvd.

The major faults of the system is the lack of East - West connections (due in part to Westside insular nature) and the pitiful service they give to the suburbs.

Look up metrolink.

OK, sure, I just did. I find no fare charts, so I don't have a Big Picture. However, I tried San Bernardino and Union Station in the calculator. It tells me $98 for a weekday ten-trip book, or $9.80 per 58 mile trip, or alternatively $8.25 single cash fare on the weekend. That's still quite cheap as these things go. The money would get you maybe a third as far in Tokyo.

It bemuses me the way lavishly subsidized Americans have so little idea what public services often cost elsewhere, and think that everything under the sun ought to be and can somehow be nearly free. As the borrowing Ponzi scheme unwinds over the next years or decades, the subsidies will both decrease and become shared out among more consumers of public services. Among other things, we're going to learn the hard way that the cost of providing a trip on public transportation is often about the same as, or even more than, the cost of driving a car solo the same distance. IOW like it or not, transportation is not free.

quick comment on the greeks.. there are three separate economies in greece, the public sector, the private sector, and the global capital sector, for lack of a better term. The rich elites in greece, like in most other countries, have nothing to do with the country, aside from considering any large scale plundering of greece to be theirs by right. The politicians have built up a huge dependent class in the public sector as a base of support in years past. The private sector works its ass off paying for all this (and the balance is covered by borrowing). The public sector does have an attitude of entitlement to a salary and pension for life, and indeed in the past several decades, this mentality has been deliberately encouraged by making it legally almost impossible to fire these people. So now, yes, the chump change parasites in the public sector think they are owed it and will riot or demonstrate if they feel at all threatened. The people at large are being crushed between a mindblowingly irrational, corrupt, and inefficient bureacracy (the aforementioned public sector) and ever more ornate laws and requirements and taxes (covering the asses of the really big big shots who are plundering the country and tried to use the public sector as a buffer against popular sentiment).

but in many ways i'd say there is a stronger and deeper attitude of entitlement
in the US than greece by far. Invasion, dictatorship, civil war, famine, bombing,
and general destruction are all in living memory in Greece. People will take what
they can get while the good times roll, but the people who are leading productive
lives right now (those who aren't drawing cozy government paychecks)know what hard work and hard times mean. Most Americans have only seen that on tv (it's all catching up with them, very quickly though) and the entitlement in the heart of the Empire is of a whole different order of magnitude. The whole culture feels entitled to live off of the entire earth's bounty. This is not unique to America, it extends to all the technologically and militarily rich&powerful 'first world'.

I think the economic collapse that will come with increasing energy costs (due primarily to the decline of oil production) will catch many people off gaurd like the cartoon illustrates. For many people it will turn out this way. Life will peak as oil peaks for the unprepared.

I think there will be two kinds of businesses and three groups of people, generally thinking.

Unprepared Businesses - Those betting on short term profits and ignoring long term preps and plans. These will collapse and the management will take what they can with them.

Prepared Businesses - These folks are thinking long term viability and will be prepared to downsize to ride the storm. They will not be heavily reliant on external capital and will be the big winners as the collapse occurs because competition will be gone. Their long term viability will be determined by how long the downturn lasts and how well they prepped for the worst.

Totally Unprepared and Unaware People - These folks will be totally caught off guard and be at the greatest risk.

Somewhat Prepared People - These folks will be able to adapt more quickly and immune to layoffs and other economic shocks.

Prepared People - These folks live sustainably in small rural communities of like-minded people (like Willits, CA). These will be havens for localized prosperity and models for reconstruction on a local level.

The fewer completely unprepared businesses and people we have the lesser the overall blow will be. This is why it's so important to get the word out that moving toward sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyles and business models.

So this cartoon shows one of these scenarios. The protagonist was clearly aware but not well prepared. The company he worked for was not prepared but seemingly more so than some competitors. The story this doesn't tell is the part about local small communities thriving or the businesses that are ale to weather the storm.

Prepared People - These folks live sustainably in small rural communities of like-minded people (like Willits, CA). These will be havens for localized prosperity and models for reconstruction on a local level.

If past is any indication (as Greer points out) there small rural communities will be the first to perish to looters.

Unless your small rural community happens to be in the middle of nowhere with no reliance on FF (Tibet, Mangolia, Siberia etc).

I've visited Jason Bradford in Willits and Jason is an Instructor at PPL so we've had many conversations about Willits.

It is still in gross overshoot. Too many people and not enough land to feed everyone without food imports.

Willits may not be that rural when compared to what rural meant a century ago...

The area where I live is probably as rural as can be found in the lower 48. 2500 or so population in a county that is 100 miles long and 70 miles wide. However, we have 4 or 5 gas stations, a grocery store, a Subway Sandwich and Taco time, and two year round restaurants. We also enjoy a single movie theatre built in the 1940's. It's all much more urban than when I was a kid 60 years ago and I could stand in the middle of the road all day and maybe an automobile would pass. Most folks who live here are either recently retired and from some other place in the country, notably, California, or they're engaged in the cow business. The area was first used for cattle grazing when Texas Cowboys brought herds in to the area of the Henry Mountains around 1885. The country was too tough and they left, but for a few who found their way to the 4 corners area. The Mormons got here in the late 1880's and were able to make a go of cows in a very tough land. The reason, I think, Mormons were village folk. Their ranches were not the far flung and remote enterprises still found in other western states. Instead, the cows lived "out there" but the ranchers lived in villages constructed around a common area where milk cows were kept and vegetables were grown. The community organization was and remains the Ward, or the Mormon's organization for it's membership, consisting of a Bishop, his Counselors, High Priests, 70's etc., and the Ward's general membership (even that is organized according to specific criteria). So, even though the Texas Cowboys were a pretty tough bunch, they weren't able to succeed here where the Mormons did. No one here has made millions, most just get by. Per capita income has been one of the lowest in the nation. But, we're still here and will remain. I worry what the rest of the USA will do as the descent continues and gathers momentum. I've been to Chicago, LA, NYC, New Orleans, and honestly I don't think those folks have a chance in the world of a positive outcome. I think we'll be OK here; 4 generations used to adversity and making a living from a tough landscape. Downsizing isn't needed. We've always been downsized. My little place is about 650 sq. feet, I heat with wood from the mountain, no TV, cell phones don't work in most of the county. There isn't a single stop light. Lots of what I eat comes from my own place or from here in the county. I can live off of my chickens, goats, garden, and an occasional steer in the back pasture. Besides, wild game is plentiful, Turkeys, Elk, Deer, and Buffalo. We once grew a lot of potatoes and could again.
Best from the Fremont

Thanks, Fremont, most interesting.

Your account of the Texas cowboys vs Mormons points to the importance of social organization in the matter of adapting to adverse conditions.

Please provide GPS coordinates and a track map.....

I'm Female and heading your way. hahahahahah.

Seriously, you folks in the cities don't stand a chance.

You'd be welcome. When you get to Wayne County just ask "Where's the Mule Man?" You'd get directions.
Best from the Fremont

If Willits will perish to looters, Los Angeles will burn to the ground. I'm sure it's easier to deal with looters than a burning city AND looters.

The whole mad max future thing of rampant mobs gets way too much play, I think. You can find problems in history here and there to support it, but counter-examples are just as easy to find. One thing that's different now is the level of defences available; in the middle ages, for instance, a few knights could cut down a village and burn it to the ground without much to worry about. Now, at least in my own semi-rural town, there are enough guns and ammo and mean-as-a-junkyard-dog type individuals to hold off a medium sized army. Given that the resources here for the taking are potatoes, beets, hay and some cattle, its hard to imagine it would be worth anyone's effort.

What can I add, but YES!!

Oh--I could add the one frame to the 'toon that's missing:

Turn on TV.
Turn on Radio.
Talk to friends.

None, not one of them utters the words, not even once:


A couple of Drumbeat posts that seem relevant:
Greece's Plans Draw EU Praise, Spur Protests

German Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled that Germany and its European Union partners would intervene to rescue Greece if its problems threatened to spiral out of control, but emphasized that she is "optimistic" that Athens won't need help. . .

Ms. Merkel's comments about Greece are the latest sign that her government is pursuing a wait-and-see strategy with the crisis. That course enjoys wide support in Germany, a nation of savers who strongly oppose using taxpayer money to rescue a country that has lived beyond its means for years.

Author Thom Hartmann, in his book, “The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight,” described a high tech company that he consulted for that went through several rounds of start up financing, and then collapsed, without ever delivering a real product. At the peak of their activity, they had several employees and lavish office space--until they ran out of capital. His point was that this company was analogous to a large portion of the US economy, which has the appearance of considerable activity and uses vast amounts of energy, but how much of this economic activity delivers essential goods and services?

I have read, and it seems reasonable, that the majority of Americans live off the discretionary income of other Americans. We are therefore facing a wrenching transformation of the US economy--from an economy focused on meeting “wants” to an economy focused on meeting needs--and the jobs of a vast number of Americans are thereby directly threatened in a post-Peak Oil environment.

Dividing an expanding economic pie is difficult enough, but dividing a contracting economic pie is, and will increasingly become (perhaps literally in many cases), a bloodbath.

The division between the savers and the spenders, between producers of essential goods & services and consumers of essential goods & services, will become increasingly apparent. Kurt Cobb probably had the best image, he showed an inverse pyramid with 95% of the US economy resting on the 5% represented by the food & energy producers.

I have described developed countries with out of control debt financed government spending as the Grand Prix of Debt Race; some countries are just closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff than others. The "Thelma & Lousie" moment is the point at which local, regional and national governments can't borrow enough money to fully finance their deficits. For national governments, it would especially be the point at which they can't borrow enough money in their own currencies to fully finance their deficits.

Circa 2005/2006, I started describing the probable impending decline of (North) Ghawar and the certain decline of Cantrarell (the two largest producing fields in the world at the time) as "Two warning beacons heralding the onset of Peak Oil." From 2002 to 2005, combined net oil exports from Saudi Arabia and Mexico went from 8.7 mbpd to 10.8 mbpd (close to one-fourth of total world net oil exports, EIA)--as annual oil prices rose from $26 to $57. But from 2005 to 2008, their combined net oil exports fell from 10.8 mbpd to 9.5 mbpd, a decline of 8%, as annual oil prices went from $57 to $100. This was, IMO, a huge confirmation of the "Warning Beacons" thesis, but our government/finance system can't handle to concept of a finite earth, so these warning beacons continue to be largely ignored.

To put projected US deficits in perspective, let's assume that we had to repay the debt with barrels of oil. The CBO is projecting 10 year cumulative deficits of $9.8 trillion (let's call it $10 trillion). Of course, this assumes economic growth. In any case, let's assume $100 oil, so if we had to pay back $10 trillion of debt with oil, if my math is correct, we would have to come up with about 100 billon barrels of oil--the equivalent of about eight Prudhoe Bay Fields.

And to put 100 Gb of oil in perspective, if we extrapolate Chindia's recent rate of increase in net oil imports out to 2018, they would be net importing 15 mbpd, when Sam's best case projection puts the combined (2005) top five net oil exports at about 15 mbpd. So, based on these two projections, the total volume of post-2010 cumulative net oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Russia, Norway, Iran and the UAE--after subtracting out Chindia's net imports--would be about 22 Gb.

Estimated 2010 net exports from the (2005) top five--less Chindia's estimated net imports--are about 5.5 Gb.

22 Gb divided by 5.5 Gb/year is four years.

I'd rather live in Greece then California.

WT Keep banging away. Excellent data. They just don't get it. Yet!

ELM 2.0 just keeps making the downslope cliff steeper and steeper, and shortening our time to Chaos Point frighteningly.

There's more oil exported than just the Top 5 so maybe, just maybe we have more than 4 years to chaos. Say 8? What do you think?

Is it worth doing ELM 2.0 on Total Global figures?

You and aangel keep posting the hard data that describes the slow motion train wreck in progress. As Scary as it is Keep it up. Thanks

I studied under Master Westexas for years before striking out on my own. After years of disciplined practice, I finally was able to identify ELM with just four data points! Of course he can do it with just three but there is a reason he is the sensei.

I hear they are going to name a dojo in Texas after him so that his work will continue after he is gone.

I am actually an automated program that posts slight variations on net export topics whenever oil exports are discussed.

Hey WT, how's the weather down there in Texas?

So are you studying for the Turing test?

The whole noise being made about 'german taxpayers won't bail out greece' is
a bunch of hot air by merkel and other german politicians, intended mostly for the
ears of german voters. There was no chance of german taxpayers bailing greece out
anyway, so saying it won't happen is just a few cheap points for merkel to tally up.

If greece defaults, who is stuck with the loss? most of those bonds have been
bought up by banks and private investment funds, and immediately turned around and
put up as collateral in frankfurt against ECB super-low-interest money. Then they
all play the spread between paying 1% and collecting 5-7%. Nice game wherever you
find it. Those entities would be screwed by a default.... EXCEPT! Banks are true first class citizens in the modern world, and would surely be bailed out or propped up.
Eseentially monetizing the greek bonds, one way or another, and diluting the euro a
bit by the corresponding amount. Some poor sap investors who bought the bonds (including a lot of soon to be formerly middle class Greeks) are not banks, and therefore will not be bailed out in this manner. But the Germans? they will experience a bit of erosion of the euro, but who would even notice in the wake of
much larger bank bailouts in the 'strong' NW european countries last year anyway?

The ECB last week laid the foundation for how this will play out, by complaining
howunfair it is that American ratings agencies can destabilize the European banking system. This is the first move in either breaking the rating criteria for
government-issued paper as collateral at the ECB borrowing counter, or perhaps
in perfect brussels style they might create a new 'european' bond rating agency whose purpose is to rubber-stamp the desires of whatever banks are in the right
club to approve their collateral. Either way, it looks like they will permit greek
(and other shaky bond issues) bonds to remain legit collateral, thus allowing
banks to keep playing the interest rate spread, therefore there will be no shortage
of money or buyers for greek bonds. It's all just paper, right?

Greek taxpayers and citizens, though, are already finding themselves to be the
target of convenience for a lot of folks wanting to try out all those new provisions
in the treaty of lisbon that everyone said would never actually be activated.. This
is the experiment of dismantling an EU member state and federalizing the EU. Mind
that in the USA, this began a long time ago, starting with the replacement
of the articles of confederation with the new constitution, and perhaps continuing
in a process of further centralization as fast as the available means permitted.

Luckily, Greece is chaotic enough, and the bureacracy so ineffective and insane, that they can't pull off a competent tyranny there either. I don't think that
Brussels would invade or take over a member state militarily any time soon, so
greece will just continue to disintegrate but leave the form and institutions of
a nominally working state in place.

The private sector and citizenry at large have been living in a state of semi-collapse comparable to most third world countries for a long time now, though, and a
lot of them will have a lot easier time of transitioning than folks further west
in wealthier functioning countries.

Interesting to see your take on things--I'm betting you are fairly close to right on. Interesting thing about the country/govt that traded in its Articles of Confederation for the Constitution--only one very bloody, long, expensive interstate war when a good chunk of states tried to use an opt out option from said Constitution. That is one big war in just about 230 years (okay there were the Indian wars but they just don't compute on the same scale unless of course you were on the losing end).

How many big and little interstate wars in Europe during the same time span? Just thought that was worth mentioning.

yes, the American Civil War was a very long bloody war- i wouldn't be proud to have had it happen anywhere, at any time. however, the claim that wrapping the better part of a continent into a single empire (by bloody conquest, for the most part, and if you were to have asked the native americans what they thought of that process, they would certainly not write it off with a shrug) somehow made things more peaceful is extremely dubious. First of all, the two bloodiest european wars were fought with the USA as one of the biggest and most important combatants. Those wars could very well be described as wars between old europe and the new power in america, the first of them writing off the death certificate of the colonian mercantilist european empires of the 19th century, and the second of them settling the uncertainty about who was in charge of a new, now global, order. How many wars were the USA involved in all around the globe since 1789? dozens of declared ones and hundreds of 'conflicts', 'engagements', and other euphemistically named wars. Consider also that empire itself, anything that enormous, is necessarily engaged in a nonstop process of low-level warfare against even its own citizens or subjects- to keep them in line. This usually starts out with any small nugget or kernel of dissent or disagreement with something- this is guaranteed to arise often in a big empire where enormous uniform policies seldom suit most peoples' interests -
and that dissent being silenced or crushed one way or another. Sooner or later things begin to accelerate,
and the trust between ruled and rulers breaks down by degrees. The more that trust is broken, the more
paranoid and assertive the rulers become, until they have descended into the raw open totalitarian domination we see in some countries today. History does not give us many examples of any society which
managed to arrest this process once underway. It stops only with the replacement or disintegration of
the regime, or the destruction of the people and subsequently the entire polity, usually from without but
nothing says it has to be.

It's not clear where you were going with that comment, but if there was some kind of claim in there that alleged that the unification, by force and deceit, of a continent sized empire, somehow fosters peace, and that It Is A Good Thing, that argument is very very dubious.
and if the claim was something along the line of 'they gave up their freedom, but see how safe the empire
kept them', then the famous benjamin frankin quote about 'those who would give up their freedom for security deserve neither and lose both', comes to mind.

So many falsehoods and incorrect "assumptions".


..for example?

Not much time (or inclination), but the War between the States was 4 years, 1 month. Not "very long" although it was very bloody.

The delta in bloodshed between Europe and America for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is extreme (Europe managed to close out the 20th with genocide). Orders of magnitude differences.

The USA was a Federal Republic and had no trappings of Empire until the close of the 19th Century. Our system is designed to allow significant variations in local governance (BTW, the same system has worked well for the Swiss).

The level of trust in the US government was extremely/extraordinarily high until it started to erode in the 1950s/1960s. US citizens almost uniformly turned in $20 gold pieces for $20 in paper after gold was revalued and the Au in that coin was worth $34.xx I remember as a child the shock when the US Gov't was discovered to have lied (U2 Gary Powers incident) and the debate that followed.

The USA was not a major combatant in WW I. Only the last year and with one of the smaller armies in the field even at the end.

and more


My question was how many wars WITHIN Europe in the last 230 years as opposed to the one-the Civil War-in the US (Britain did invade us once in that period as well). Almost always better if the wars are far from your hearth. My wife's people were pretty much run over from the west by the Russians, she isn't too enamored of how it went down (her people's population is only about ten or fifteen percent as large as it was when Russians arrived) but at her age she would already be an old woman if the Eurasians hadn't interfered with her ancestors rather than the good looking girl in the prime of her life that she is. Just stating how it is, nothing more.

Trying to pawn any of WWI off on the isolationist USA of the time just doesn't fly. If we hadn't been strong enough to run Spain out of this hemisphere and the Pacific early in the century England would have, so our activity in this hemisphere was likely more stabilizing than destabilizing to the Continent. WWI was strictly a European affair, the Germans figured to win it in six weeks. US citizens had to be lied to in oh so many ways to get them to join that party.

WWII was pretty much an outgrowth of how badly the Armistice was handled. Wilson had actually tried to set up an institution that would avoid such a war but the League of Nations just didn't have the 'right stuff.' Of course once the war was on we played our cards fairly well and hung England just about out to dry before we stepped in in a big way. If Yamamoto hadn't had the strength to ram his big Pearl gamble through the powers above him it might have all panned quite a bit differently. But it didn't and that is the way that is. Too bad winning it made us so arrogant about using oil--that looks to be about ready to bite us real hard.

Greece had a long history of warring regions unless some overarching empire was around to keep its foot on the combatants throats while insuring a safe commercial environment. That is hardly a unique or unusual settup throughout world history.

It is nice to live on a continent where two nations make up the bulk of it, speak mostly the same language and handle their differences peaceably. Still I would love to visit Greece, Spain and Italy--there is something to be said about maintaining rich independent long as they can keep their hands trading goods with one another rather than on each others throats.

I will say I agree, peak humanity = my personal peak = PO +/-.

But to blame peak humanity on PO alone is way to easy.

PO is bad, but so is peak extraction of just about every resource on which we depend from soil to water to wildlife to lumber to oil. I think it is a race to see which essential resource we run out of first.

Or kill ourselves off trying get before the next guy.

The Cartoon shows what is happening now. Its just a drawn out descent using debt.

If you are primitive, intact in your self sufficiency, and create a Permaculture design of swales for your food forest. You will make it, the transition to natural systems will be smooth.

If you are waiting to preserve the modern world with new green technologies and amazing innovations, well that is going to take seizing the banks and creating a Manhattan project for civilization. That has been the idea until the financial institutions got wind of the energy convention trail innovations. Wall Street panicked and drained the banks, killed the economy because of the innovations in energy independence. And soon they will be the only ones in position to finance and own green energy.

It was an act of terror by Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs, and we keep sending them trillions of dollars.
What did we do so bad as a nation to deserve just laying down our rights? Oh ya, we installed brutal regimes around the world to manipulate and terrorize civilization for resources for more than 50 years. Id go back longer, but I do not need too.

I am sickened by civilizations modernity not able to see the fashionable existence that could have been the green energy eco villages. Corporation Soles eliminating the federal tax. Like a church, if you are completely sustainable, you can file as a CS. Did you know that?

"That has been the idea until the financial institutions got wind of the energy convention trail innovations. Wall Street panicked and drained the banks, killed the economy because of the innovations in energy independence. And soon they will be the only ones in position to finance and own green energy."

Let's all sing along shall we.

(to the tune of Bill Murray's rendition of the Star Wars them)

TINfoil, nothing but, tin-foil.

Greer in his "The Ecotechnic Future" paints a plausible future extending out several generations through various phases of collapse; like ‘end of affluence‘, ‘salvage‘, etc. The book is well thought out as is his Arch Druid blog.

At 76 much of this scenario is well beyond my possible scope and I wish my descendants well. In the meantime, I think it is important to prepare for whatever the immediate future may bring. The outline provided by Stoneleigh in the Automatic Earth last fall is about as good a start as anything I could possibly come up with; i.e. 'Get out of debt", "remove money from banks", "grow a garden", etc.

I am more of an activist than a talker/writer, this year we are increasing the garden area. My SIL lost his job and the larger garden will provide more food for 6 rather than just my wife and I plus our normal give away. It is quite unknown when he will go back to work and at what wages and what hours. The additional help around the garden will be helpful. Our growing season doesn’t start for a while and this week we are just starting seeds.

I really believe it is possible that they will lose their house as so many others have and we are slowly but deliberately cleaning out extra rooms so they can move in without too much hassle. Our house is big enough by clearing out a couple play rooms like this office and putting the computer in the shop.

I guess the bottom line is to see the local reality of what is going on and the old adage, “Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” What other people do … that’s up to them unless they get in the way.

Haven't read Ecotec but from alot of Greer that I have read he doesn't put much emphasis on violence.

IMO we either have a redistribution of wealth on a massive scale, from local to global...

or we have chaos and violence. Oh, by the way its starting now.

"Violence in Greece as parliament approves cuts"

Note to readers; Be sure and keep a Playful Attitude during all violent outbreaks.

What emphasis would you like to put on violence? Violence has always been a part of human existence, and it still will be in the future. Where is the surprise, and what do you propose to do about that? It is not helpful to about this as an event that one must weather and will then be over - it is a period of major change and upheaval that will last for generations. You cannot stockpile enough guns and ammo to "survive" it, at best they will only be helpful for short periods. So focus instead on developing useful skills that improve your self reliance and make you a more valued part of the community in the future we're likely to encounter. That does not make you immune to violence, but then nothing else does either.

Why do you assume the upheaval will last for generations? I see that idea mentioned all the time but no one ever lays out a very good reason. What makes you think it can't happen much faster than that?

Read Greer's "The Long Decent" and his theory of Catabolic Collapse - he explains it better than I could. Also Tainter and Diamond. So far, things do seem to be taking much longer to play out than people acclimated to modern instant gratification seem to expect. I certainly anticipate some larger steps down to show up, followed by some periods of partial stabilization, but in general when empires fail it takes a long time. I expect this one will still be playing out long after my name is forgotten.

I don't know.
In the old days true but Britain didn't last very long once they started to crack.

The US basically took over after everyone else wiped themselves out in WW2.

I don't see the US rolling over like the Brits but this is the instant age remember.

The other thing is that all players are subject to declining energy so I guess it could be called a global collapse and not just Empire.

I just reread Greer's Theory of Catabolic Collapse and I don't see anything pertaining to my question. Any collapse would be catabolic. I asked why civilization will take generations to collapse. Why not much faster? To turn it around a bit, why not Duncan's curve instead. That scenario plays out in twenty years or so. Why, specifically, do you object to that?

I guess it depends on how you define civilization and collapse, and what you think the end point is (which is of course an arbitrary definition, unless you are expecting extinction). After the western Roman empire fell there were hundreds of years of chaos, and as I said, defining and end to that is arbitrary. Empires rise and fall, it's a normal thing. Ours may be exceptional in that we used the energy in FF to increase our population very fast and very far above the carrying capacity of the planet, have created a society more specialized than any before where people lack basic survival skills without FF, have damaged the environment severely, and changed the planet's climate - but I'm not convinced we're headed to total collapse or extinction in a couple of decades. I think we're headed to much more rapid change within the next decade or two, but there will still be a world with humans in it, and much will be familiar. Greer explains it better in the Long Decent - while I have some minor quibbles with his logic I think he's got it right.

So my answer to your question is simply: "because it always has before." This time will be more extreme, but not fundamentally different in time scale.


I think this is the first and most important great debate in the development of Social Collapse Theory. I'm asking a very important question here. What I'm trying to do here is begin to develope of a more robust predictive model of the coming social collapse. Somewhere between 20 and 300 or so years is pretty crappy science. The range of uncertainty makes the current model just about useless. I'm suggesting that we find a way to agree on terms, and really try to clarify rather than cloud the debate.

But make no mistake, this is not for the faint of heart. I'm seriously throwing down the gauntlet on this. Don't cling too tightly to cherished beliefs. To be useful, this debate must produce real winners and losers. I don't claim to know the truth, I just want to know the truth.

Twilight, you've made an initial attempt to support John Michael Greer's notion of collapse in "The Long Decent". Your argument, however lacks any actual justification. "because it always has before"? There has been a worldwide social collapse of the type and on the scale of the current one? Really? "This time will be more extreme, but not fundamentally different in time scale." And once again that is an opinion, not an argument. The question remains: WHY?

You also say: "Empires rise and fall, it's a normal thing. Ours may be exceptional in that we used the energy in FF to increase our population very fast and very far above the carrying capacity of the planet, have created a society more specialized than any before where people lack basic survival skills without FF, have damaged the environment severely, and changed the planet's climate" (that's a pretty good list of extremely significant differences when compared to historical examples, by the way, thanks for making my argument for me)- "but I'm not convinced we're headed to total collapse or extinction in a couple of decades."--So your argument boils down to : fast collapse just sounds unbelievable. Not a very good answer to my basic question.

Sorry to be so harsh, but this gets to the crux of my assertion. John Michael Greer suffers from wishful thinking. So do the people who tend to believe him. I asked John Michael Greer directly in relation to one of Memmel's postings----


I believe that Memmel is probably correct. The worst proposed scenarios aren't as bad as things will actually get. Carter probably should have declared a national emergency and started another Manhatten style project to address the issue in 1976. I would bet that even if he had, we would eventually say that he hadn't done enough. You see, that's the real problem with our energy conundrum...there is NO POSSIBLE SOLUTION! What we are all experiencing is the front end of a giagantic biological event: a large scale human die-off. It cannot be avoided. It took humans more than 10,000 years, from the time of the first cities till now, to reach this critical juncture. Not one bit of our so called progress was centrally planned. Just clever monkeys aquiring better tricks over evolutionary time. If the physicists are right,(and of course they are), then we are about to experience the end of the growth of the energy base of our civilization. If the biologists are right,(and of course they are), this means that we will very soon see the end of population growth and begin to experience it's inevitable SHARP decline.

The real problem is that human's are just not psychologically capable of dealing with unsolvable problems. It just drives people nuts. We have so many ways to deceive ourselves, to blind ourselves to the obvious reality, that it is really not too surprising that we keep getting it wrong. Memmel is right to point out how we underestimate the scale of all kinds of problems habitually and systematically. Peak oil researchers are subject to the same disability. It's just human nature. In the big picture scheme of things, humans are not smarter than yeast."

He didn't answer. So John, if you're out there, are you satisfied with Twilight's defense of your theory? Does he have it right? Feel free to jump in.

The thing is, for people on the periphery of the Roman Empire, collapse happened very quickly indeed as the barbarian tribes swept in. For those living in Rome, it took a bit longer.

While the Olduvai theory is interesting to consider, it seems clear to me that things are not going to play out on a uniform basis across the globe, whatever scenario you happen to prefer. This is a testable hypothesis: if one assumes that we are already in the early stages of collapse, then one should already be able to observe whether or not collapse is occuring on a uniform basis or not. I've seen no evidence of uniformity - have you?

In other words, what one person experiences one place might very well feel like a fast, catastrophic collapse, while what another person experiences someplace else might feel more like a slow decline/catabolic collapse.

We have lots of deep thinkers here who like to think about big-picture issues with aggregate models. There is a lot of usefulness to that, but it is important that one remembers that it is quite possible to drown in a lake with an average depth of six inches.

WNC Observer,

Thanks for your post. Let's consider some of your points----

You say: "The thing is, for people on the periphery of the Roman Empire, collapse happened very quickly indeed as the barbarian tribes swept in. For those living in Rome, it took a bit longer."

I have no disagreement with you on this point or any other inferrence drawn from history. I just don't think it is relevant to the question at hand. (The reasoning could be hammered out in detail if necessry.)

You say: "While the Olduvai theory is interesting to consider, it seems clear to me that things are not going to play out on a uniform basis across the globe"

I agree with this also. I don't think Richard Duncan was visualizing uniformity either. So that's really kind of the same argument and a bit of a straw man as well.

You say: "In other words, what one person experiences one place might very well feel like a fast, catastrophic collapse, while what another person experiences someplace else might feel more like a slow decline/catabolic collapse."

Yes, everyone will have a different subjective experience. Objective as well. No disagreement there either.

Now I want to introduce a new argument I've never seen anyone here point out. You make a distinction between:
1. fast, catastrophic collapse
2. slow, decline/catabolic collapse
This is a false association. Really a conflation of different things. The concept of catabolism comes from biology. It refers to a metabolic process whereby an organism is temporarily able to convert some of the waste products in it's environment to useful metabolic energy. The common and operative example is yeast in a vat, who metabolize their recently fallen brethren. In this case, catabolism slows the aggregate die-off rate of the yeast population. A negative feedback. Greer is correct to believe the collapse of industrial society will inevitably be catabolic (at this level catabolism refers to the destruction of future productive capacity in exchange for temporary sustainance). But Greer is totally incorrect to believe that this means catabolism will have a similar negative feedback effect, ie it will slow down the collapse itself. Quite the opposite, really. Catabolism at this level may help individuals survive temporarily (by creating brief pauses in the collapse) but only at the expense of the stability of the overall system (decaying system becomes ever more prone to rapid catastrophic collapse which eventually happens). The catabolic feedback loop thus simply increases the nonlinearity of the already collapsing system! I would offer that another type of catabolism, more closely analogous to the yeast in the vat example, will certainly be a major factor in this collapse. In fact, it even ranks as an actual negative feedback on the speed of collapse. I refer, of course, to canabalism! And I'm not joking.

I don't mean to over simplify, but I really think Greer's catabolic analogy is just a rhetorical trick. So, since collapse in any complex, nonlinear, adaptive system is catablolic by it's very nature, we can quickly dispense with that distinction. Also, since a fast collapse is unarguably catastrophic, I would suggest we just simplify the whole argument to---FAST COLLAPSE vs. SLOW COLLAPSE.

You fianally say: "We have lots of deep thinkers here who like to think about big-picture issues with aggregate models. There is a lot of usefulness to that, but it is important that one remembers that it is quite possible to drown in a lake with an average depth of six inches."

You are right. But if my lake is directly in the path of a hurricane, it would help to know that too.

Loren, I agree with most of your post. I have just two points.

1. Duncan was simply wrong when he expected the grid to be the first thing to collapse. Because the grid is mostly coal powered it will be among the last things to collapse.

2. It will be neither a fast nor a slow collapse; it will be a combination of the two. At first the collapse will be very slow then gain momentum as time passes. As the slow collapse progresses more and more of the human support systems will disappear until finally the whole damn system crashes down, very fast.

Ron P.


Thank you for your post.

I've noticed that this topic is a semantic minefield. I don't think that this is accidental. That's why my style is to carefully read each assertion made and attempt to understand exactly what someone is thinking. Then I will agree or disagree with each statement in enough detail that the other person can hopefully understand the basis for my reasoning. This is not snarkyness. I welcome and invite my posts to be parsed with the same intensity. I'm looking for a real dialog on a complex topic. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but talking past each other is just useless. So with all that in mind...

"Loren, I agree with most of your post"

I'm glad, I guess, but I really can't tell what you mean. Being a little more specific would help a lot. Do you agree that Greer is wrong? Do you notice that people who try to back up Greer's assertion don't seem to be able to even articulate his theory? Do you agree with my understanding of catabolism as it relates to collapse and the speed of collapse? Do you agree that Greer's theory is just a byproduct of wishful thinking?

You say: "1. Duncan was simply wrong when he expected the grid to be the first thing to collapse. Because the grid is mostly coal powered it will be among the last things to collapse."

I would strongly disagree with this statement. Duncan does not say that the grids will be the first thing to collapse. He is simply saying that once the grids do begin to flicker out, modern industrial civilization is finished and the human die-off begins in ernest (ie the fastest part of the collapse begins). Thus in Duncan's model the grids are the last thing to go, not the first. And it really doen't matter what powers them. We don't have to run out of coal to loose the grids, but once we loose them, we loose everything.

Duncan's model doesn't feel very satisfying because it is based on curve fitting. The curve is the energy available per capita. Duncan places markers on the curve to help visualize what will probably be going on in the real world at a particular stage along that curve. But speculating on the exact chain of events is not part of the theory. That's what gives the theory it's predictive power. This seems counterintuitive to most people and leads to much misunderstanding.

You also say: "2. It will be neither a fast nor a slow collapse; it will be a combination of the two. At first the collapse will be very slow then gain momentum as time passes. As the slow collapse progresses more and more of the human support systems will disappear until finally the whole damn system crashes down, very fast."

I agree but this fine distinction is making things more difficult than they need to be. We are having a slow catabolic collapse right now and most people can't even tell. They wouldn't even call it a collapse. The collapse really began in the 1970s (in terms of energy per capita) but that seems imperceptable to most as well. When people begin to realize that their civilization is collapsing it will be because the collapse is fast enough to notice. Duncan's collapse takes 20-25 years to play out (fast). Greer's takes generations (slow). Greer is the one who created the distiction between rapid, catastrophic collapse and slow decline/catabolic collapse to set his so called theory apart. Both styles of collapses will have slow and fast sections. True. But I am pitting the two theories against each other, so, for the puposes of this discussion, fast describes Duncan's theory and slow describes Greer's. If we could agree to use the terms in this way, we could avoid a lot of unnecessary confusion.

Thanks again,


It probably is true that if/when the grid shuts down, it will more likely be for lack of transformers than it will be for lack of coal.

Yes. Or the inability to mine and transport the coal. Or lack of money to pay the guys who maintain the grid. Or political unrest. Or terrorism. Or war. Or bad weather(a nod to all the climate change folks). Or all of the above. Or you name it. All of which logically leads to a fast collapse. As Jay Hanson would ask: How could it be otherwise?

I think it would be cool to compile exhaustive lists of positive and negative feedbacks that could affect the speed of collapse. People always surprise me with ones I never would have thought of. The two lists could be compared side by side. I think the outcome would be obvious.

The grid is not going to just suddenly blink out worldwide, though (short of a coordinated suicide EMP attack). What will happen is that in each locale, on different time scales, the outages will become more and more frequent, and last longer and longer. There are places in the world right now where the power is only on a few hours each evening - if it is on at all. That will become more and more widespread and common, and the worst-off places will be the first to blink out entirely and permanently. There may be some localities and even entire regions or small nations that will be able to keep their grids up and running at least intermittently for a very long time. I don't know about "forever", for I really can't think in terms of much more than a century or so out. There may still be electricity in at least a few isolated places as much as a century out, though, and maybe more than that.

The rate at which the grids go down will be a byproduct of the net anergy available. So will the die-off. That's why Duncan has them beginning to blink out around 2012 (basically all gone not too long after that). Things haven't gotten bad enough yet for most people to really believe that is possible. But I wouldn't bet against it. Follow the energy curve (energy/capita) out to 2025 and the die-off is basically over, with a loss of population probably exceeding 90 percent.

Greer's theory doesn't have any way to estimate the timing or severity of the event. It is just rhetoric, not science. Duncan's theory IS scientific. Duncan picks a real, measurable metric (energy/capita) and bases all his subsequent conclusions on the expected future behavior that simple metric. The theory has been criticized for using curve fitting methodology. While it makes some sense to be critical of the theory on the grounds that it is based on curve fitting, Duncan's great insight was to understand there was no other way generate a predictive model. So far Duncan's theory is still our best guess. If Duncan's energy/capita curve is correct, and I don't see why not, then Greer's long descent, catabolic collapse is just impossible. It violates the laws of physics. You can't have it both ways.

Most of what you say in your post is a good detailed description of how individual grids will go down at different times. The collapse will be lumpy. But the range of possible lumpiness must fit within the range proscibed by the energy available. I would very seriously doubt there will be any sigificant use of electric power by humans many years after the die-off has run it's course.

North Korea has a functioning grid and power most of the time. Albania kept their hydroelectric going for over a half century of isolation. Hydro was the backbone of each.

Any area with lots of hydro should keep going, even in isolation, for over a century. Cannibalize some to keep the rest going.

Niagara Falls (US side) has 13 identical turbines and recently finished refurbishing them all (one/year). How long till they are down to two or three turbines ?

Compared to FF and nukes, hydro equipment is big, robust and slow moving.

Best Hopes for Hydro,




Isolation is a big part of it. If these places with functioning hydro-electric grids are not isolated and completely self-sufficient, economically and in all other resources, the grids will fail, no matter how much potential energy is lost in the process. But don't forget the many other factors affecting hydro---

Other factors affecting hydro-electric power generation:
(partial list, in no particular order)
1. civil unrest
2. economic upheaval
3. war
4. sabotage
5. overload
6. famine
7. scavenging
8. cost of maintainence simply outweighs benefits
9. things I haven't thought of yet
10. etc.

It is difficult to cannibalize parts for your hydro-electric generator when actual cannibals are trying to cannibalize you!

Best Hopes for Me Being Wrong,


I grew up playing drums in a Dixieland band. I love your city and have visited often. I am sorry for what happened.

Well, to be honest I'm not much interested in developing a "more robust predictive model of the coming social collapse". I am but an individual trying to calibrate my own mental model of how things work, and that is enough for me. I don't give you good odds of developing something that will have any accuracy for prediction anyway - there are several large forces at work, the details are impossible to predict, and the attempt foolish and wasteful of effort.

I was well aware that the list of differences I wrote was evidence that this will be different. It means we're going to have a hell of a hard time. It is not, however, proof of fast total collapse.

You say:

The real problem is that human's are just not psychologically capable of dealing with unsolvable problems.

I have no interest in "solving" this "problem", as it is not a solvable problem, it is a predicament that must be dealt with. I seek only to come to an understanding of how things might play out (that satisfies me, and no one else), to prepare for the eventuality that I think seems most likely, and to continually watch and see if my conclusions are supported by what I see around me.

You stated:

So your argument boils down to : fast collapse just sounds unbelievable. Not a very good answer to my basic question.

These are your words and not mine, and represent your erroneous conjecture of what I think (and an attempt to bait). There have been others here who have argued that we are headed for fast collapse leading to extinction, and they had very persuasive justification for that too. That is always a possibility, but it is meaningless information - the empty set. If we all die then we all are dead. If that happens, then it does, and there is no way and no point in planning for it. I think the arguments of a fast collapse to zero are not persuasive, and that Greer's arguments ring more true. I do not need to justify this in a court of law or to get it published in a peer review journal - it must only satisfy me. You are welcome to think what you wish.

When I read your comment I think that it is you who are looking for certainty and solutions where there are none. Are you concerned that you might put in an effort to do something constructive, only to find that it was useless? Welcome to the human condition. As Jackson Browne sang:

And somewhere between the time you arrive
And the time you go
May lie a reason you were alive
But you'll never know

We work and toil with no guarentees of success, nor even of knowing how it works out. Those of us in the western industrial empire have had it easy for the last many years, but this will not last and life will get much harder. Failure is always an option, and maybe we will fail totally (I hope you don't think this is something new). Now, what do you want to do with that information?

Also I doubt Greer is interested in debating with those who are obviously antagonistic toward his ideas - he is presenting a view, which you are free to disagree with. There are lots who will disagree with him, and if he spends all his time jousting with them he will not be able to communicate with those who think he's making sense.

Hi Twilight,

I seek only to come to an understanding of how things might play out (that satisfies me, and no one else), to prepare for the eventuality that I think seems most likely, and to continually watch and see if my conclusions are supported by what I see around me.

Although this is pretty much my POV also, I will support organizations and political candidates (if I ever find one) that I think can help mitigate the worst consequences. If I think there is some constructive action (or inaction) that is useful, I will adhere to that thinking. As you say "prepare for....most likely" - I include supporting (very selective) organizations, studies, initiatives, politicians, etc. as part of that preparedness - least I can do for my grand kids.


Your post is disappointing on many levels. I am only asking a very simple question, but I seem to have hit a real sore spot. I'm being a little tongue in cheek here. You feel like you've been set up. You have. I am sorry. For that I must apologize. You jumped in to help answer a simple question I started asking a week ago. I began to notice that no one wanted to try to answer it. I needed someone to try to make the attempt in order to effectively highlight the obvious problems with this theory. The simple question I ask turns out not to be so simple, yes?.

Greer's theory acts as placeholder in the minds of it's adherents. It simply says "Collapse will be slow because it is catabolic" without any justification as to why. (please see my post to WNC above) Add in a few misplaced historical references and you've got a whole lot of nothing. Over the last couple of years the technocopians have begun apeing this idea because they are finally beginning to realize that collapse cannot be averted, and so this slow, rolling, collapse with it's ecotech flavor is just irresitable. It is nothing but wishful thinking.

Your rapid exit from the debate reminds me of one of Aesops fables. The one about sour grapes. When, upon finding that you could not construct an effective argument, you simply decide that you never really wanted to play the game in the first place. Seriously, though, what you are experiencing is what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. Being forced to face the irreconcilable contradictions inherent in Greer's theory causes you to respond as if personally threatened. As if I was somehow causing you pain.

You say: "These are your words and not mine, and represent your erroneous conjecture of what I think (and an attempt to bait)." True (except for the baiting part). But, I asked the question multiple times with querries for added clarification. If you would try to honestly answer the question, I wouldn't have to guess as to your actual views. That's just not fair.

You say: "Also I doubt Greer is interested in debating with those who are obviously antagonistic toward his ideas..." Gosh, I hope not. He wrote his "Theory of Catabolic Collapse" to be published in a peer reviewed scientific journal(it wasn't by the way). That is, by definition, inviting debate. In the world of ideas, that's just how things are done.

In the end, the only way to make my point was to make you think deeply about the premise you hold. No one can convince you of your error. You have to do that for yourself. That's how we learn.

By the way, I totally deny bating you. I just tricked you into helping me bait John Michael Greer. The great debate continues. If anyone has the guts.

Greer already addressed your question in The Long Decent - it's an entire book related to that topic (hence the title). I did not write it and am not interested in trying to defend it in a short online forum comment. By and large I find the logic valid. Others think there will be a faster crash, and some think that will extend all the way to extinction - this is a discussion that has been ongoing for some time. Your lumping Greer's ideas in with "technocopians" shows me you have not digested much of that discussion, and I can definitively tell you I am neither a cornocopian nor one who believes technology will "save" us. I find it is often those who are most familiar with technology who best understand its limits.

In the end, the only way to make my point was to make you think deeply about the premise you hold. No one can convince you of your error. You have to do that for yourself. That's how we learn.

Your condescending attitude is priceless - as if I need you to make me think, or to show me how I may learn! Gosh, maybe someday I may be able to site Aesop's fables to some poor uneducated cretin too. You may be surprised to learn that some of us have spent an awful lot of time thinking about these issues. There are differences of opinion - that I don't think will be settled in our lifetimes - but don't presume learning was somehow on hold just waiting for your arrival.

Here is your stated purpose:

What I'm trying to do here is begin to develope of a more robust predictive model of the coming social collapse. Somewhere between 20 and 300 or so years is pretty crappy science. The range of uncertainty makes the current model just about useless.

You are trying to find certainty where there is none, where there can be none. We already see the broad outlines of what is coming with more than enough clarity to start doing things that might be of value. Not guaranteed to be of value, but of possible value. Your desire to find a clear and detailed map is a fool's errand that devolves toward being a hindrance and an excuse to do nothing. The royal "we" will not do anything with even the most precise maps or models of the future - it is only as small groups, communities and individuals that meaningful contributions will be made. All with a lot of risk and the ever present possibility of failure.

So to be clear - my lack of interest in debating you on whether collapse will be fast or slow is because I believe the topic has been covered well enough, I think you are off in search of the Holy Grail, and I don't wish to come along. But if that is what interests you, by all means have at it. As for me - I need to figure out a better location to compost the manure, the details of how I'm going to modify the chicken coop, along with a hundred other projects.


You have completely misunderstood me and the purpose of my posts. I'm sorry for the confusion. Carry on.

Oh, what the hell...

Ok, sorry, I just can't resist. I want to leave you with another fable, this one by Hans Christain Anderson----The Emperor's New Clothes. That's the one in which a whole bunch of people are suffering from a bout of serious collective denial.

From the Wikipedia page:

"With each successive description of the swindlers' wonderful cloth, it becomes more substantial, more palpable, and a thing of imaginative beauty for the reader even though it has no material existence."

Greer is the swindler...

"Robbins concludes that the story's appeal lies in its 'seductive resolution' of the conflict by the truth-telling boy."

...and I'm the truth telling boy!

You're serious? You think The Emperor's New Clothes is an unusual story that you are somehow revealing to me? What's next - Dr. Seuss? Perhaps Mother Goose? Nevermind - my po' lil head may explode if I get any mo learin'.

Dude please don't pick a fight. I'm making a semiserious joke. It is not aimed at you.

"Oh, by the way its starting now." Maybe, maybe not. This sort of theatrical violence is commonplace in a number of European countries; France comes immediately to mind. The barricades have been manned regularly or sporadically since at least the 1950s, while the governing structures have remained sufficiently intact that there has been (even including the dictatorship that came and went in Greece) rather little of what posters here tend to mean by "chaos". Nor have we yet seen a massive redistribution on a global scale; despite all the awful violence seen in the 20th century, Europe remains far richer than Africa or most of Asia. So one ought to keep one's eyes open, but one ought not to be led astray by egalitarian wishful thinking.

The 'playful attitude' is what I get to maintain while reading your despair-laden posts.. which sometimes DO feel like violent outbreaks.. the playfulness is what you do to ReChannel the fight, when possible.

How is this ruckus in Greece the "Start" of violence, anyway? Didn't we have bloodshed before?

Takes a bit of heart and trust, probably a sense of humor- to interfere with any vicious cycle.


Interesting how none of you commented on the solution I put forth. I guess if I am not talking happy you all just dismiss it as despair laden.

I am way more optimistic than you guys. I believe that we can have redistribution and thus avoid the worst case scenarios that that all the super doomers talk about. You guys avoid the whole issue and slam any who bring it up.

Whats up with that?

Greece is violence directed point blank at the wealth inequity. Bail out the wealthy then impose austerity on the people to pay for it.

"Takes a bit of heart and trust, probably a sense of humor- to interfere with any vicious cycle."

Nice sentiment but as Greer once said you should read some history now and then. Your naivety is exactly what allows the worst to happen. If we don't demand redistribution, a breaking of a vicious cycle, then eventually bombs will fall.

It's not that interesting a reaction to your post, Eeyore.

When you draw your conclusion the way you did, to interpret this outbreak as the Start of Violence that validates your thesis, is it any wonder that you've thoroughly upstaged this suggestion?

I'm not opposed to a more equitable way of dealing with wealth.. Corporate Lifespans, Antitrust, Stock Trade Taxation .. but when you paint it with this vague language of 'Redistribution of Wealth', it could be anywhere along the spectrum that this generic shorthand is always used in.. what have you offered for people to respond to? Violence in Greece.

Let's see, History. Do you think there was any Heart or Trust that got us through the Cuban Missile Crisis?

'Character is destiny.' Heraclitus

> Greece is violence directed point blank at the wealth inequity. Bail out the wealthy > then impose austerity on the people to pay for it.

Sort of. There is a very real inequality in Greece, yes. The majority of the people
you see rioting and demonstrating, however, are NOT the ones really being squeezed by
the inequality- they are NOT the people you would think would have the biggest axe to grind.

The people you see demonstrating and rioting are largely people living off of the
public dole- flunkies with public sector jobs they can't legally be fired from,
who sit on their asses for 20 years and then retire at 50 with a comfortable pension.
Their ranks were stuffed full to bursting by successive administrations padding the
country out with a base of support. They are the ones who are threatened by the pay
cuts and pension cuts and privatization of state owned industries here.

However, they have been riding (in the cheap seats) the gravy train for a while.
The people who are really being squeezed are the private sector. Those people are
too busy working two jobs to pay the bills, and dont have time for rioting!
the public sector folks can take a day off work, or go on strike, or do whatever they feel like, really, with no fear of being fired or any consequences.

the other , say, 2/3 to 3/4 of the adult population, would lose their jobs and be
out on the street if they tried to pull that kind of monkey business.

Of course the guys _driving_ the gravy train, the politicians and elites who have been stripping the country bare for decades, don't give a damn about either of these
two groups.

The public 'servants' striking and rioting are in a sense spoiled children being told that they finally have to do something for themselves.
But if the people in the private sector, who have been feeling the squeeze get
tighter for years now in greece, ever take to the streets, it will be a LOT uglier.

The joke is that while Greece has a worse case of this kind of disease than many
countries, most of Europe has followed more or less the same plan.

So,it appears that Peak Oil is responsible for just about all our troubles.

When a simple explanation for a complex situation becomes accepted in a certain segment of the population in defiance of reality then you have the makings of a religion.

Growth is responsible for all our troubles.
Growth in population and consumption.

Peak Oil is one of many symptoms.

The cartoon is in my opinion an accurate depiction, yet it understates how far things can go. Maybe there should be a follow up cartoon of a group of deshelvilled people standing outside a grocery store watching expensive vehicles like top end mercedes, rolls royce coming and going, as these are the last of the people that can afford food. As they watch this, they contemplate rushing into the store in a big group to steal food.

Frighteningly accurate. Nice to know I've already made big plans that involve exposing "The Board" and all their shenanigans, for once it all goes down.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be

I must be the only one - NO

We have had in the past depressions.
Wages have been stagnate since @ the late 1970's in terms of purchasing power. I have more money but the cost of everything went up to where I need even more "to be ahead".

To increase economic activity (profits for banks), banks lent to people they should- people who could pay it back, while collecting and pocketing the fees. Then banks lent to people more marginal, again for fees. Then bundled and sold the underling mortgages off by "likely hood of default". Least likely went cheaper for obvious reasons of safety. The you get to the truly shady stuff, loans that should have never been made that were because the "ticking bomb" was sold to someone else, again for fees.

Borrowing moves consumption forward in time, it doesn't increase consumption (growth), but borrows economic activity from tomorrow.
We are at the tipping point, loans need to be repaid, and can't in all cases.

Deceit, delusion, denial, all played a part as did peak oil.
Was it solely peak oil - NO.
We played financial games to keep the party going.
20% annual returns on real estate as "the new normal" while wages are barely moving? NO WAY. IMPOSSIBLE!!

The are to many un and under funded retirements, social programs, pension guarantee's. There is simply not enough money to pay for it all. Some one has to go with out or less. Banks have gotten through bailouts to move the burden on to the taxpayer. They do not want to go without, guess who will...

Peak Oil is like tossing gas on the bonfire. We were already heading over the financial cliff. PO would cause severe problems over time no matter what. That it coincided with the largest debt bubble in the history of the world is just that - coincidental.

The world was living beyond its financial means. This has happened over and over again in the last 500+ years. Over extension always leads to contraction, like "average weather" is just that "average". The weather in Florida is normally nice with a few hurricanes.
We are in "a hurricane", unfortunately PO or Peak FF is going to give us a contraction like the world has never witnessed, of course the over extension was too...

Of course you are right, Delusional. There may be some underlying PO cause and effect, but unless the players that misbehaved did so with foreknowledge of the PO event, it's going to be hard to stick it all on PO. I'd say let the lawyers figure it out. Meanwhile, PO will act like a body blow to an already teetering fighter.

Perhaps a relatively "good news" way to see it is without the Financial Crash, we were headed full-speed for the iceberg; with the Financial Crash, we see the iceberg, reverse propulsion, steer hard to starboard or port, and then watch with exasperation as the ship continues on its course at a somewhat slower speed. IIRC, some have argued that Titanic's hitting the iceberg at full speed would have led to a better outcome, so perhaps that is a bad analogy!

Another analogy that I personally encountered once was averting my eyes from viewing the rear of the girl bicyclist, seeing the traffic light had changed, hitting the brakes hard, and then watching helplessly as the wheels locked and the car continued to skid into the stopped car in front of me. Not averting my eyes would definitely have been worse.

"Was it solely peak oil - NO."

Finally a voice of reason besides me in the endless cavalcade of "peak oil caused the credit crisis".

The other comic panel I'd add would mention relates to hyperinflation and a possible meltdown of our currency itself. Since money, in part, is a measure of energy, once the foundations of our energy driven economy start to weaken, it's hard to believe that the value of money itself won't be affected. At some point we may be carrying it around in wheelbarrows to buy loaves of bread as they did in the Weimar Republic.

I haven't thought this through enough, but tend to think that this may affect the rich to even a greater degree than the poor. The rich are probably less flexible when it comes to changing their lifestyle and getting their hands dirty. They are also the group of people who are most encumbered by possessions that are expensive to maintain.

Debt is a pit that you either fill or dig deeper. It means that someone/thing owes a part of you, and you are beholden until you pay it off. It is debt (financial, environmental, moral) that served as the path to the future we now face. No. 1 - Stay out of debt! If you can't afford to pay for it up front don't buy it. Chances are that you really don't need it anyhow. No. 2 - If you are in debt pay it off! Don't play the game of chance that inflation will somehow reduce the value of your debt. Even if it does your debt reduction will probably balance out somewhere else in your life. Debt is a moral as well as a financial responsibility. Trying to weasel out of it is a sign of weakness and failure. The challenges awaiting just over the horizon will require you to be strong, dependable and trustworthy. Don't give up your claim to those qualities by welching on your debt.

I think the most significant frame is the last one above the fold, "banks fail". I think people, and real world corporations, as opposed to financial firms, will stop borrowing money and start paying cash to each other. Banks will have bloated cash accounts from the deposits of oil companies (and oil exporting countries) who are making record profits. But with no one borrowing they won't be able to engage in their traditional usury.

WT teaches in ELM, that oil exporting countries will reduce their exports drastically. The rest of the world will be in trouble, but will not be having problems paying for oil because none will be being delivered. Parts of the world will revert to using cockle shells for money.

Gold is a non-starter for money after peak. It will be too dangerous to have it in ones possession.

just my 2 cents ;-)

"Gold is a non-starter for money after peak. It will be too dangerous to have it in ones possession."

That's why you need some silver! Or bullets, which both have value and imply that you have the means to protect yourself.

Because of my old paradigm profession, I may become a part-time lead dealer to the home-made bullet makers and fisherpersons.

I used to make fishing sinkers out of bobby pins and lead when younger.
For surf fishing it made perfect sense.

While not as good as lead, gold will do in a pinch for bullets.
Plus, it makes great jewelry, and is a great conductor, if we are still using electrons in any quantity.
As a medium of exchange? As a commodity only, primarily.

"While not as good as lead, gold will do in a pinch for bullets."

Gold not as good? I wonder. Lead specific gravity is 11.3 and of gold is 19.3. A bullet of any caliber made from gold weighs 1.7x as much as to same size lead bullet.

Gold would definitely have greater stopping/killing power. It might require different burn rate in the powder, and beefier metal in the gun to contain the hot gas. Gold bullets were used against the Were-rabbit. The hunter failed thru general incompetence, so we don't have data on the effectiveness of those bullets.

Silver SG is 10.5, so not as useful for bullets as lead. I wonder why silver bullets have so much rep.

Hey, silver bullets were good enough for the Lone Ranger!

I think the main effect of gold bullets would be the slug would fall faster, so lack of range. That, and increasing the net worth of your prey.

One of our problems is a lack of general understanding of physics.


"would fall faster"

No! Galileo is credited with doing the experiments that demonstrated that all ponderable bodies fall with the same acceleration. This fact was later used by Einstein as the jumping off point for his General Theory of Relativity, which has been confirmed in many experiments to a far greater precision than can be achieved in dropping canon balls from tall buildings.

Interesting. Just like Galileo, I love experiments, and from experience, I don't trust theory, even gravity. My friend allowed me to test fire his 45-caliber hand gun recently. I was amazed at how fast the lead slugs would drop into the dirt of the firing range. My prior experience was with 22-caliber long, where one has to worry about too much range, if the shot goes wild. Anyway, it could be an expensive but not impossible experiment to use the same gun and bullet load with different metal slugs, like gold, silver and lead, keeping all else the same. The slugs might all fall with the same acceleration, but they are driven forward against air resistance with a directed explosive force (called gunpowder). What you are apparently saying is it does not matter what mass the slug volume occupies, it will travel in air and fall to the Earth in the same distance. I think that is incorrect. We could also try some of those US military depleted uranium bullets, and I promise to clean up afterwards.


Ildo like to play with guns myself, and while I am no physicist, I will chime in anyway.

For puproses of simplicity, let us assume that we fire your 45 pistol and a 22 long rifle cartridge FROM A RIFLE ,in the same direction, horizontally, the guns being located side by side, out across a flat range.Both bullets will drop to the ground in the same length of time-this is basic physics-the 45 bullet, if dropped silmantaneously with a 22 bullet may strike the ground a millisecond or two quicker- because the 22 bullet, being less massive, is slowed slightly more by friction woth the air.If you drop a 45 bullet, a twenty two bullet, and a feather silmantaneously in a vacuum chamber, all strike the floor silmantaneously.

But the twenty two leaves the rifle traveling a lot faster than the pistol bullet-therefore it shoots a lot flatter trajectory.Both bullets will have traveled downward from the initial horizontal direction the same distance at one tenth of a second , or three tenths, etc, but the bullet fired from the rifle will travel father horizontally in the same time.

It is true that the twenty two will lose speed in the horizontal direction somewhat faster than the forty five, due to the smaller mass of the bullet in relation to the amount of friction involved in traveling thru the air i shigher for the twenty two in relation to it's mass for two reasons-first, the friction or drag increases faster than the speed of the bullet-and second, the forty five is much heavier, or more massive, in relation to the frontal area of the bullet.

This effect however is not nearly as impor5tant in practical shooting as the first effect descricbed above.

It can be easily demonstrated with acar-if you load your car heavily, and allow it to coast to astop, if will roll noticeably farther loaded than it will empty, on a level road, from the same intial speed, everything else equal.Of course the car is slowed by both friction with the air and friction with the road and within the wheels and tires, but the illustration holds-only friction is stopping the car.

Not a bad explanation of projectile motion.
They both also leave the gun at an angle greater than zero relative to horizontal and travel in a parabolic arc.( gravity is an acceleration).

I will also add that the reason for rifling is not just to "cut the air" but for centrifugal stabilizing of the bullet as well (like a bicycle tire).

Also the gravity vector is acting along the radius of the earth also negligible.(can be considered flat)

I take it back about having to leave the barrel at an angle greater than zero any will do but the parabola holds. Horizontal or negative angle will cause a trajectory of the back half of the parabola.

The real kicker is this: If you fire the bullet horizontally and drop a bullet from the height of the muzzle at exactly the same time they will both hit the ground at the same time. This is a classic high school physics experiment.

Bullet weight is measured in grains. If the bullet is too heavy it will not be stabilized by the barrel of a rifle as it is dependent upon the twist rate. Stopping power would also be dependent upon the bullet deforming, if it mushrooms it will crush more tissue.

Good cartoon, thanks for sharing.

For sometime now I have (semi seriously) been believing that the Earth is just one big advanced computer game like Age of Empires. 'God' is a ten year old boy, sitting on his bed after school with his laptop. Just like in Age of Empires when your little dudes run out of gold mines and there are no more scientific advances to buy the game gets pretty dull. I think when PO really hits the little kid will get bored and just shut the computer down. What that means to you and I? Well we will just blink out of existence.

Then again God's mum might call him down for his tea and he will hit 'pause' and we will all just freeze rock-solid where we are for an eternity!

what luxury. he received notice that he was being laid off. clearly he doesn't work in the game industry.

Recently I read that social unrest in a nation is not due to the absolute wealth in a nation, but the level of inequality, the distance between the highest and lowest incomes. The problem here will be that blue-collar men, who are disproportionately feeling the brunt of this recession, will once again be humiliated. Humiliation is the fuel for violence. The US is becoming third world in its distribution of incomes. Eventually, bankers will be hanging from lampposts if the population can get at them.

One thing that is clear from history is that when you have a regime that is so plagued by factional infighting as to become virtually paralyzed and incapable of addressing even big problems (which continue to fester and expand), when the military gets more and more bogged down in more and more conflicts along the periphery, when debts cannot be repaid and can only be financed by rolling them over, and when the population descends into ever deeper levels of decadence, then it is only a matter of time before that regime collapses and a regime change occurs. The details vary considerably, but the basic pattern does not.

When we talk about "collapse", regime change is in fact a typical part of that. We just haven't talked about it much, probably because we don't want to. I'm not looking forward to it - in fact, I'm terrified. Yet, face up to reality I must.

I don't know what the scenario will be for regime change in the US. (And let me make it clear here, I am not talking about the usual change out of one set of demopublicans for another, but about a replacement of the present constitutional regime.) Today, it seems unthinkable, yet I am pretty sure that somehow or another it will happen. I don't know when, either. Not this year, probably not through the next several years. I see little likelihood of getting through more than another decade or two at the most without experiencing regime change, though.

With regard to your (and other's) comments about inequality, it quite often happens that the top layer of society does not fare very well at all following a regime change. They have been the principal beneficiaries of the old regime, and so the former "ins" will become the "outs". As far as they will be concerned, a regime change and its aftermath will indeed be a catastrophic collapse, and maybe the end of the world - their world, at least. This does not mean that life will become better for the people at the bottom of the heap, or most people for that matter. Things may very well get worse. It is likely that a new, different set of top dogs will emerge once the new regime has consolidated its power. That is what always happens.


You comment seems to make sense, but I wonder about one detail: the whole issue of population overshoot and exceeded carrying capacity. We often think about regime change in terms of historical precedents. But, it does not seem that today's circumstances have any historical precedent.

In the past, (in one popular model) people opposing TPTB would hide out in the hills and forests, conduct raids, gain popular support, and eventually overthrow the current regime. In a place like the US, I don't see hills and forest as a sanctuary from GPS guided drones and cluster bombs.

In another model (Romania) the "people" made it clear by mass show of solidarity that the current regime could not stay in power - that is not possible in the US with the huge ideological divide.

In either case, if our complex systems break down, people will be starving, sick and dealing with local violence. How does a new regime take form in this environment? Probably this argues for an elimination of a US federal government - in this case, will other world powers be in a position to redress their grievances against the US?

Seems really complicated.

Regime change has happened many different ways throughout history. The first example you gave is actually relatively rare (at least in terms of being successful, although it has often been tried). Castro's revolution in Cuba is one of the few successful ones that come to mind. The "people power" events of Romania and the Phillipines have also been not all that common. Of course, there have also been military coups, conspiratorial assassinations, etc., etc.

The one thing that is common to just about every sucessful regime change, the one indispensable factor, is the switch in allegiance of the military from the old regime to the new regime. This must happen, or else the old regime successfully fends off the challenge from the aspiring replacement.

As societies/civilizations decline, it is not at all uncommon for them to undergo a series of regime changes. That is a feature, not a bug. When people talk about collapse, I wonder if they realize that this is a very big part of it.

The one thing that is common to just about every successful regime change, the one indispensable factor, is the switch in allegiance of the military from the old regime to the new regime. This must happen, or else the old regime successfully fends off the challenge from the aspiring replacement.

That is the key.

I have said this many times and it seems obvious.
I wonder what the tone and moral is in the mid to upper ranks right now.
I also wonder the true affiliations of the upper brass. I wonder if they are just as corrupt or if at some level there is still some integrity.

There is a very strong tradition of deference to civilian authority in the US military, and absolutely no historical precedent for a coup d'etat. I thus think it unlikely that this will be the direction that regime change takes. I am absolutely certain, however, that whatever pathway regime change does take in the US, the military will have to be on board. I am thinking that the most likely scenario, and the path of least resistance, would be for a POTUS to declare a national emergency, invoke the executive orders that are already in place, and thus to suspend constitutional government and rule by decree. If things got bad enough, and the right (i.e., for us, wrong) type of person were in the White House, this could happen.

Given the necessity for the military to be on board, I see zero chance of a successful regime change in the US from the left. It just isn't going to happen, though it may be tried. The military is only likely to back something from the right, and even then only if cloaked with some appearance of legitimacy and justified by a genuine national emergency.

One credible scenario I can imagine would be a center-right Republican presidential candidate picking a far-right running mate, getting elected, and then being assassinated. The far right VP becomes POTUS, and once the inevitable crisis hits, invokes the national emergency executive orders in order to grab dictatorial powers, suspend the constitution, and silence the opposition. I really could see that happening sometime in the next 10-20 years.

You're right. I'm educated for white collar work, but I work in the trades because there has been better money in it over the last 15 or so years. If you want flags for "collapse" start looking for guys refusing jobs because they're afraid that they can't leave tools or materials on a site without it getting stolen or they can't leave their house for a day's work because it will be ripped off. This isn't that far off, unfortunately, and in some areas is already here.

It looks like The Oil Drum now has an official cartoonist. Unrelatedly, tonight I was reading Arthur Waley's translation of "Journey to the West". For about a half hour, I wasn't thinking about peak oil on any level. Sigh.

Hey, that's not a bad idea at all. I wonder if this chap would be allowed to run his strip here at TOD or at least we could have a permanent link on the sidebars. TOD is always better with a dose of humor.

Well, his work isn't the only one trying to creatively address peak oil and limits to growth.

Check out my show:

Peak Anti-Thermodynamic-Disenlightenedment

A little off topic here and probably better left for DrumBeat, but Tiny Tom (Friedman) has done it again and out shone Mr. McGoo:

Sootless Cement is the new red white and clean white cure ... Dreaming the Possible Dream

Surely the cartoon is vaguely satirical of the PO community mindset? It suggests in a subtle way that doomers and peakers conflate their own life circumstances to fit a model of collapse that is out of their control. By transferring the blame for their circumstances onto peak oil they avoid facing up to the mundane realty that much of what occurs in their life is of their own making? Furthermore events that may not have anything to do with a world of plateauing oil production are made to fit this world view.. much in the same way people fit events and traits to match their horoscopes.

Does it resemble me?


The cartoon is ambiguous in so far as it matches my observations of my own world view... the protagonist can't quite commit and also has no mechanism or model of how to react to the growing realisation that this cassandra complex thing really might be for real.

"is this evidence of a post peak world? Or am i just jerking off because believing in some all encompassing theory of doom lets me off making sensible but unattractive life choices?"

one of these days the doomers will be right just by virtue of frequency

By transferring the blame for their circumstances onto peak oil they avoid facing up to the mundane realty that much of what occurs in their life is of their own making?

That is about the dumbest thing I have read in years. I know a lot of peak oilers and none of them blame the circumstances of their own lives on peak oil. Before 2008 there were no circumstances of by peak oil! So how on earth could anyone blame their own misfortune, or anything else, on peak oil?

Also, believing that oil plateauing in 2005 had no effects on the world economy is just super dumb also. We are in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Peak oil was not the sole cause, only a primary cause. When the oil supply stopped growing in 2005, the economy, after a delay of three years, stopped growing also. And the fact that the oil supply will never grow again means that the economy must do likewise.

I am sometimes shocked by those who cannot put two and two together.

Ron P.

That is about the dumbest thing I have read in years. I know a lot of peak oilers and none of them blame the circumstances of their own lives on peak oil. Before 2008 there were no circumstances of by peak oil! So how on earth could anyone blame their own misfortune, or anything else, on peak oil?

Well I have so you have heard of at least one... i think others hint at being laid off as a result of peak oil on this very thread?

"I know a lot of peak oilers and none of them blame the circumstances of their own lives on peak oil."

Peakers often phrase this in the royal "We". They engage in simple populist class warfare not that far removed from Tea-Party rhetoric. You know, Joe the Plumber vs. the Banksters. This is a fatalistic narrative, especially when the debate veers into Alex Jones "endgame" narratives of NWOs and genocidal solutions to overpopulation.

These peakers always seem to overlook that society at all levels participate and attempt to perpetuate BAU, and so there is no one segment of society that is entirely to blame for it crashing and burning. The same people shouting the loudest at these Tea-Party rallies are, for instance, global warming denying SUV drivers who shop at Wal-Mart. They are, bit by bit, shoving homo sapiens off the Olduvai cliff. But as long as we superimpose the word "peak oil" onto the credit crisis and get wrapped up in the groundswell of public anger over "banksters" then we fail to see the forest through the trees. We just become part of the mob that may one day form the dreaded post-peak "zombie horde".

Further contemplations on the way to moon base alpha

I think taking ownership of ones own behavior/motivation starts with with taking multiple readings of said position.. we do it all the time to a greater or lesser extent.

I find I'm often guilty of this "simple populist class" mindset yet despite catching myself doing this I'm struck by how it doesn't mean I'm wrong. When I weigh up the validity of my world view I have on one hand suspicion of my own biases but on the other a growing body of rational argument that has stood the test of time. It's like I don't trust myself to buy into all this stuff because of it's fatalistic narrative yet I feel it to be true. Perhaps if there was no peak oil I would believe in some other doomeresque theory that wouldn't have as much validity? I certainly strongly entertained the possibility of nuclear war in the eighties.. didn't hold as much traction with "my soul" as the realisation of the finite which I also held back in the day.

well, I.... so far think that Peak Oil is not coming so early..... but it will surely come one day..... but that day is far away from us... because new off-shore discoveries will cover the gap.... I hope so.....

and by the way... still I have 1 year left till I start my career as a Petroleum Engineer

What offshore discoveries? The few billion barrels discovered off the coast of Brazil that will push the peak date back by a few months?

Yes it is far away from us, far in the past. 2005 if you are talking about peak year or July of 2008 if you are talking about the peak month. I am talking about C+C of course. Of course if you talking about crude plus ethanol, biodiesel and bottled gas, (all liquids) then the peak year and peak month was both in 2008.

Ron P.

because new off-shore discoveries

See Thunderhorse and Kashagan for time from discovery to peak production for those new offshore discoveries.

Study the productive lifetimes of off-shore fields, especially those in expensive to produce areas. No 50 year reservoirs there.

The numbers do not add up#. Cantarell is in freefall, Northern Ghawar is watering out, every major field discovered before 1990 is in decline. Depletion everywhere and a drop in new megaprojects in 2012 & 2013.

Not Much Hope for a Delayed Peak,


# The wild card is Iraq, but their fields will be redeveloped to maximize net present value; i.e. up quick, down quick. H'mm, wonder why we invaded ?

What I believe and what I think that most everyone else does NOT believe.
And I have been pursing this 'ghost' most all my life of 71 years.

And now he began to see for the first time the unbelievable magnitude of what man, when he gained power to understand and rule the world in terms of dialectic truths, had lost. He had built empires of scientific capability to manipulate the phenomena of nature into enormous manifestations of his own dreams of power and wealth...but for this he had exchanged an empire of understanding of equal magnitude: an understanding of what it is to be a part of the world, and not an enemy of it.

Airdale-forgive me for posting when I said I was done with that activity,
just a parting comment such that some might wonder just what I was all about, not that most care. I have now proceeded to put my hands back into the soil and practice much more of what I preach while I still have a few years of life as my remaining kidney cycles slowly down and down until the toxins finally finish me off at 15% functionality...time is of the essence so I will waste no more of it. Glad I will not see the 'end times'.Its been a good ride and too bad someone screwed it up. It was NOT my generation.At that nonsense started in the 80s. "I want it all and I want it NOW!"

PS. Quote is from Pirsig. Once also a motorcyclist who found Phaedrus while riding and lead to probably the last and best philosophy of man before his coming downfall.ZMM,Lila,SODV


Good to hear from you. Do keep checking in occasionally.

I was able to start prepping some garden beds today, first time the soil hasn't been frozen. Good to get back into the dirt.

I don't think that any generation has a monopoly on greed or folly. Part of the human condition, I'm afraid - that thing the Greeks (funny how they keep popping up) called hubris. We did have some good things going in the USA, and have pretty much chucked it all away. Very sad, especially when one thinks about what might have been. That is going to be a feeling that more and more people are going to have in the future, I'm afraid.

Do take care of yourself, and make the best of your remaining time on this crazy planet - as we all should!

I just got through discussing the whole green-climate change-we have a problem in the world topic with me dad, after I saw a green advertisement on the side of my chip bag, and started thinking about the whole We-are-at-the-end-of-the-world notion.

Our conclusion is that we can't change anyone else. We can't fix the problems we see, because we know where most of them started from, but no one else will care because it won't fit into a 20 second sound bite.

My biggest worry today is where to plant some sprouting Jerusalem Artichokes we had overwintering in the spare fridge. And where to plant several fruit barrying plants that we want to add to our yard.

So we are at peak Humanity, peak everything as it were, we can't solve much by sitting in our nice chairs looking out into the yard/world and thinking about it. We can only solve one issue at a time, and only that by doing something.

I know that I need to clean some pine needles off a shed roof, but I can think about doing it all month long, if I don't go out and a ladder and broom and do it, they will be there next month.

We are a bunch of people who see the world wide problem, and have great ideas on how to fix it, but have only 2 hands, and 2 feet, and can only deal with the bit of world we have at hand. If we think about to big a chunk of the world out there, all we do is give ourselves fits. Go change your bit of world and if anyone askes, tell them what you did today, what you plan for the morrow, and what you hope you'll be doing in 5 years, and leave them with the ideas, and go on about doing your bit.

If I were king of the world, is a great thought puzzle solution, but doesn't work for anything but fictional stories.

BioWebScape designs for a better future.

Maybe this is the time to re-post "Yesterday - Peak Oil version"

Yesterday all our troubles seemed so far away
All the trends were pointing to the Sky
Naïve we were then, yesterday
Suddenly, all our plans now need an overhaul
Need adapting to the other rules…
Oh yesterday came suddenly

|: Why we hadn’t been told I don't know, they wouldn't say
I heard no alarm
Now I long for yesterday
Yesterday, food was easy even in a town
Now I need a place to grow my own
Oh I loved it yesterday
I believed in yesterday :|

Here, this one'll be on Broadway once it's a dirt goatpath again ..

Little Orphan Annie get your Gun

"The Guns'll come out, Tomorrow!
Bet your bottom dollar that Tomorrow, they'll be Guns!..
..Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya Tomorrow ... but just 'cause I hate Today!"

(and from my first Gun typo, I was able to add the Herdsmans Lullaby of Broadway ..)

'Start spreadin' the Gnu's, I'm starvin' today.
I'd even eat a Water Rat, in old New York..'