Drumbeat: April 12, 2010

Stuart Staniford: It Can't Possibly Be That Easy

Now, if the economy is going to be a bit more than three times larger, but we are only going to emit 17% of the current level of carbon emissions, then the carbon intensity of the economy - that is the ratio of carbon emitted per dollar of goods and services created, is going to have to be only 5% of the current value. Next you have to figure that there are certain things in an industrial society that are very hard to do without liquid fuel - construction and agricultural machinery come to mind, along with aviation. Relying heavily on biofuels is a very dubious prospect in a world that also needs to feed 9 billion (assumed wealthier) people from its limited agricultural land. So you can probably figure that the residual 5% of carbon emission intensity is all going to go on these kind of specialized uses that are hard to substitute.

Therefore, these goals basically imply that the ordinary living and working of most citizens would be essentially carbon free by 2050. That is in 40 years time.

Why Is Obama Drilling?

What have we learned in the decades since OPEC, Tower of Power, and others brought the oil crisis to our attention? Back then, the Nixon administration's energy policy included a big push to open the outer continental shelf to offshore oil and gas production. In 2010, the Obama administration has announced plans to open more of the outer continental shelf to oil and gas production.

We've been there, done that. And it didn't work. Despite plenty of drilling, U.S.crude oil production reached its all-time peak in 1970, and began to fall rapidly and steadily after 1985. By 2008, it was barely half of its 1970 level.

NRG Says It and Constellation May Both Get Nuclear Loan Help

(Bloomberg) -- NRG Energy Inc., the second-largest power producer in Texas, said it and Constellation Energy Inc. may both get federal loan guarantees for new reactors as the government tries to spur development of nuclear plants.

“The government has two projects they want to support, ours and Constellation’s project, and they’re trying to figure out how they can support both,” Crane said in an interview during Platts Global Power Markets Conference in Las Vegas today. “There are many ways in which it’s possible.”

The U.S. is trying to revive nuclear-power construction after the last new plant to be licensed opened in 1987. The U.S. Energy Department is analyzing projects by Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG, Baltimore-based Constellation and South Carolina’s Scana Corp. after handing out its first loan guarantee to Atlanta-based Southern Co. in February.

Free Live Webinar on Global Outlook of Oil & Gas, April 14, 2010 at 11:00AM EDT

The focus of the discussion (and the Q&A) will be only on sector trends and fundamentals, and not on company specifics or company recommendations. The discussion will cover Global Trends, Developments, and Outlook in Oil & Gas. Presented by Fortis Bank Nederland.

Petrobras Still Plans Share Sale by End of First Half

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-run oil producer, still plans to sell new shares by the end of the first half as it seeks to fund the world’s largest investment program in the oil and gas industry.

Made For Each Other: Vietnam Wants Oil, Saudi Arabia Wants Rice

Like many countries specifically in the Persian Gulf or Arabin Gulf area, Saudi Arabia require a large amount of imports of vegetables, rice, and the other usual agricultural products. It also heavily relies on foreign labor forces from Asia.

Vietnam remains to be one of the top exporters of farmed goods to Saudi Arabia and many other countries. Vietnam on the other hand needs significant investments in its refineries and reinforcement of its petroleum and energy sectors; Saudi Arabia is of course the major supplier of oil for Vietnam.

Pakistan: Protests against power outages spread

LAHORE - The prolonged and unscheduled power cuts continued across the country, triggering angry protests in several cities including Lahore and Karachi.

The Lahorites continues protests against unending and unscheduled power outages, which has multiplied their miseries, as Sunday witnessed the worst loadshedding with hours long outages reported in the morning and afternoon amid the rising temperature.

East Timor to reject Woodside natural gas plan

THE East Timorese government has reiterated that it will reject any attempt by Woodside Petroleum and its partners to process gas from the Greater Sunrise field either at Darwin or on a floating liquefied natural gas platform.

The government's statement appears to be at odds with an ABC report last Wednesday that quoted East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta as saying that a floating platform might benefit all sides.

Yemen tries rebel supporters with spying for Iran

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen put four Shi'ite rebel supporters on trial on Monday on charges of spying for Iran in a move that could strain a slow-going truce to end a northern war that drew in neighbouring oil giant Saudi Arabia last year.

South Korean refiners' recovery faces hurdles

Although signs in late 2009 indicated South Korea was fast recovering from the 2008-09 global recession, the South Korean refining industry is still suffering.

Deteriorating refining margins caused refiners to post poor performances for 2009. Oil demand is recovering but still below 1997 levels. Various internal and external factors imply that the difficult situation may be prolonged.

Saudi April gasoline imports down 20pc

Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, was expected to lower its gasoline imports in April by about 20 per cent versus the previous month, traders said on Monday.

The Colosseum and Energy Flows

Today it is not slaves that are transported to the centres of power to do work but, rather, black oil. (However, as an example the labour force in Dubai is bordering on voluntary slavery. Many men come from Pakistan and are given a bunk in large barracks and food three times per day. There remains only $20 per day that they normally send home to their families.) They are no longer paid with stamped coins of precious metal but with worthless paper on which is printed a number and a quantity of zeros. On the paper there is also a “$” symbol. There are those that declare that the flow of oil will never end but will always increase. But there are others, e.g. Global Energy Systems at Uppsala University, who assert something quite different. The future value of those dollar bills that exist outside the USA remains to be seen.

How we can become an eco-city

Last August, Wausau resolved to become a sustainable eco-municipality. Because the eco-municipality concept is based on a planning process known as The Natural Step, several community members began reading circles for The Natural Step for Communities, in order to better understand Wausau's eco-municipality resolution.

At UWMC, The Natural Step is the framework for an environmental science course and the campus shared reading is Bill McKibben's "Deep Economy," which focuses on building sustainable communities. Sustainability is a great idea, but how do we move toward such a goal?

Southern California Edison blankets roofs with solar panels

FONTANA, Calif. — The view from a warehouse roof here is consistent. In every direction, there are blocks and blocks of warehouse roofs baking in the Southern California sun. Rather than letting them sit bare, a California utility hopes to blanket roofs like these with solar panels to produce enough electricity to power 162,000 homes.

Southern California Edison has installed solar on two warehouse roofs and is working on another in the Los Angeles region. The utility expects to do 100 to 125 more, totaling about 1.5 square miles of roof space in the next five years.

Iranian Tankers Expand Oil Storage to Echo 2008 Surge

(Bloomberg) -- Iran, OPEC’s second-biggest crude producer, expanded the number of supertankers being used to store surplus oil, echoing a program that contributed to a tripling of freight rates two years ago.

At least nine such vessels are idling in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and to the south of Egypt’s Suez Canal, according to data from the ships collected by AIS Live Ltd. Two months ago, there were three. Their depth in the water indicates they are loaded, with as many as 18 million barrels of oil being stored, almost enough to supply Europe for a day.

Crude Oil Falls a Fourth Day on Demand Doubts, Dollar Recovery

(Bloomberg) -- Oil declined for a fourth straight day in New York on speculation that demand has not sufficiently recovered to support prices around $85 a barrel.

Price of gasoline continues to climb

NEW YORK - The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose 3.79 cents to $2.85 in the past three weeks as retailers gained some margin, according to an industry analyst.

It was the third consecutive survey showing an increase in the price of regular-grade gasoline as global crude oil prices rose by around 10 cents a gallon equivalent during the three week period of the survey.

Gasoline Traders Boost Price-Rise Bets to Record, CFTC Says

(Bloomberg) -- Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators boosted their net long positions for gasoline, bets that the motor fuel’s price will rise, to a record last week, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

'There's no shortage in oil market'

Qatar's Oil Minister Abdullah Attiyah today denied that supply was pushing crude prices up, saying there is no shortage in the global oil market.

Reuters quoted Attiyah telling reporters that oil prices of around $85 a barrel were not related to supply and demand fundamentals.

Global oil inventories were high, indicating supply was sufficient, he added.

The oil price is above the $75 to $80 a barrel that the king of top exporter Saudi Arabia said was fair late last year. Other Opec members have also said a price around that level was good for both consumers and producers.

Royalty Rip-Off

A sloppily written law passed by Congress 15 years ago has cost the country several billion dollars in lost oil royalties in the Gulf of Mexico and threatens to cost the country billions more. Representative Edward Markey has been trying, without success, to fix the law. He argues that the profit-rich oil companies are absconding with money that rightly belongs to American taxpayers.

US Expert Predicts 'Oil and Gas Rush' to Israel

A US energy industry expert estimates that international companies may soon join exploration efforts for oil and gas in Israel.

The expert, Fred Zeidman, told Globes website that it is very likely that international firms will join the exploration efforts on Israeli territory, a year after the 'Tamar' and 'Dalit' discoveries in the Mediterranean Sea. One international firm is already involved: Noble Energy, which was the partner of Delek and Isramco in the discoveries.

Nigerian military issues alert on plans to attack Shell facilities

Nigerian military operating in the oil rich Niger Delta region has issued an alert on a plot to attack a facility of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in the region.

The military spokesman in the region Timothy Antigha disclosed this in a statement reaching here late on Sunday.

Nigeria: Acting president swears in Cabinet

ABUJA, Nigeria -- Nigeria's acting president sacked the head of the nation's oil company Tuesday, the same day he swore in a Cabinet that put a former oil company employee in charge of the country's petroleum ministry and an investment banker at the helm of its finances.

The moves by Acting President Goodluck Jonathan seemed to cement his power in Africa's most populous nation, despite ill President Umaru Yar'Adua's recent return to the country. Jonathan also said he directly would manage the nation's failing power ministry, a move that could turn around years of struggles to produce power for Nigeria's 150 million people.

Goodrich to buy Eagle Ford, Haynesville shale assets

(Reuters) - Independent oil and gas explorer Goodrich Petroleum Corp said it will buy 35,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford shale and 4,200 net acres in the Haynesville shale in Texas.

The Eagle Ford deal involves about $15 million in upfront cash payment while the Haynesville deal has no upfront cash consideration.

BG to sell power plants - report

LONDON (Reuters) - British gas producer BG Group is retreating from the UK power sector and has put its power plants up for sale, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The newspaper said bidders lodged first-round offers last week for two power stations put up for sale by the FTSE 100 company.

Another Financial Crossroads: Attempting to Read the Signs

By contrast, almost no one is seriously predicting a real bout of Great Deflation - no one, that is, but members of the inevitably regular doomsayer brigade for whom the clock is permanently stuck at 5 minutes to catastrophe du jour. But some of them may have something valuable, indeed, to contribute to our views on possible monetary and fiscal futures; I shouldn't even call them doomsayers. Prophets of inflection points, perhaps?

I am referring to peak oil theorists and analysts. First, please note the absence of capitals in "peak oil"; it is meant to separate sober fact from the panting and hyperventilation common just a couple of years ago, when crude oil had reached $150/bbl. Add climate change to the mix, stir well and let settle. Do you see a possible monetary future emerging - or, at least, a desirable future?

Renewable Energy Investments Surge on China, Wind

(Bloomberg) -- Global investments in renewable energy surged 31 percent in the first quarter from the same period last year, driven by wind power and demand in China, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

New spending on wind, solar and geothermal power through share offerings, venture capital and asset finance totaled $27.3 billion in the three months through March compared with $20.8 billion in the first quarter of 2009, New Energy Finance said today in an e-mailed statement.

Energy Department vows quick approval for loans to help automakers retool

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu vowed Thursday to quickly approve additional loans for automakers, parts suppliers and startups to retool factories to develop and build more fuel-efficient vehicles.

"We are working as fast as we can," Chu said in a conference call with reporters to tout new job-training grants, adding he hopes to make announcements on loans soon.

The Detroit News reported this month that most of the 100 automakers, suppliers and start-ups seeking the remaining $16 billion in low-cost government loans have been rejected, given up or are still waiting.

China Can’t ‘Afford’ to Halt Argentine Oil Imports

(Bloomberg) -- China cannot completely halt imports of soybean oil from its biggest supplier Argentina as rising demand outstrips its ability to expand domestic production, Oil World said.

The Asian nation, which is said to be curbing supplies from the Latin American producer, cannot process enough oilseeds to replace the volume lost because of the halt, Thomas Mielke, executive director of the industry journal, said in a report given to media before a conference today in Beijing.

United Biofuels of America Hosts the Second Jatropha Harvest Experience in Costa Rica

The Jatropha Harvest Experience was held in Costa Rica, April 7 – 10, 2010. This event developed by United Biofuels of America (UBA), is an annual outreach program to create awareness of biofuel development in Central America.

Ukraine loads US fuel into South Ukraine NPP

Nuclear fuel made by Westinghouse in the USA has been loaded into the South Ukraine nuclear power plant. The milestone, on 8 April, is part of the Ukraine nuclear fuel qualification programme, a ten-year effort supported by the US Department of Energy (DOE) to help diversify the Ukraine’s fuel sources for its nuclear power stations.

Sir John Chilcot in MoD lobbying row

SIR John Chilcot, chairman of the Iraq war inquiry, successfully lobbied the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to drop its opposition to a lucrative £150m wind farm project of which he is a director.

Chilcot was among a group of three of the company’s directors who met MoD officials in a private home in London in January 2009. The MoD was blocking the whole scheme because it said the 410ft high turbines would interfere with military radar.

China Has Overtaken Germany as Second-Leading Wind Power Nation

(Bloomberg) -- China overtook Germany as the second-leading wind power nation last year, the Global Wind Energy Council said today in a statement.

Transition Town Movement

I spent this morning working on the Quaker community garden in Leek as part of a Transition Town Leek project. We were planting apple trees. The siting of the project is significant the Garden is attached to the Meeting House in the town and with the exception of the parish Church the second oldest place of worship in Leek. It dates from 1694. And from 1897- a year after his death- the Meeting House was called the William Morris Labour Church and up to the outbreak of the First World War many pioneers of the labour movement such as Keir Hardie, Edward Carpenter and Charlotte Despard spoke at socialist meetings. The place has a very strong progressive resonance and its fitting that it is the setting for a social experiment that is sweeping across the country and galvanising communities.

Tokyo carbon scheme: blueprint for Asia?

Tokyo’s recently launched carbon trading scheme could provide a blueprint for similar schemes across Asia, say carbon experts.

Under the scheme, which is the first of its kind in Asia, 1,400 of Tokyo's most carbon-intensive industrials, including commercial buildings and factories, will be required to meet legally binding emission reduction targets. The first phase of the scheme will finish in 2014 and requires participants to cut carbon emissions by 6% of 2000 levels. Overall, the scheme aims to cut the metropolis's overall emissions by 25% of 2000 levels by 2020.

UN Climate Talks ‘Fracturing’ as Decision Delayed

(Bloomberg) -- Negotiators at United Nations climate talks put off a decision on how to treat a U.S.-brokered agreement on global warming, reducing the chances for a new plan on limiting emissions of greenhouse gasses after 2012.

After three days of discussions, delegates from 175 countries left it up to Margaret Mukahanana-Sangarwe, a diplomat from Zimbabwe chairing the talks, to decide what parts of the accord signed by President Barack Obama in December 2009 in Copenhagen to include in the UN’s official negotiating text.

Peru glacier collapses, injures 50

AFP - Around 50 people have suffered injuries in Peru after part of a glacier broke off and burst the Hualcan River banks in a disaster the local governor attributed to climate change.

The mass of glacial ice and rock fell into the so-called "513 lake" in the northern Ancash region, causing a ripple effect down the Hualcan, destroying 20 nearby homes.

"Because of global warming the glaciers are going to detach and fall on these overflowing lakes. This is what happened today," Ancash Governor Cesar Alvarez told reporters, linking climate change to the disappearance of a third of the glaciers in the Peruvian Andes over the past three decades.

So what, exactly, do these Transition Town people actually believe?
Is it technofix? Everything is going to be animal powered because there won't be people making electric motors? Just a lower level of energy? The-dare-not-spoken population reduction?

If you have 15 minutes, this will clarify what it is about.
Highly recommended.


As I read it, the point of transition movement is to act as a means for people to work out what works for them, in their own locality, to change their way of life to one that uses fewer unsustainable resources.

If it sounds a bit wishy washy it is. Population is not generally mentioned, because the towns/villages/cities that attract transition organisations are generally ones where people can imagine the current local population being sustained in a post peak world, albeit at a lower point on the food chain, and with a lot more manual labour.

It is not particularly technofix or animal powered, it is a bit of both. Appropriate technology.

The whole attraction is that it dodges the messier aspects of global problems precisely by defining them as 'not local'. They become somebody else's problem.

I don't think the transition movement has much of a view of what it is transitioning to--Just pleasant views of a world that is a bit greener that doesn't require too great sacrifices on the part of those doing the transitioning.

Ja, Gail. It's feel good stuff for people who don't understand the problem, presented by people who might understand but want to conflate green with BAU.


To be fair, I suspect that there is a lot of self-censorship by members of the movement. They want to show the future in a positive light to avoid scaring off their target audience. The attitude is that any change is better than none.

The drawback (one drawback among many) is that it attracts a lot of cranks and dreamers. It's lack of central leadership and direction means that it tends to default into gardening and knitting circles for the underemployed middle classes, at least round here.

I don't think the transition movement has much of a view of what it is transitioning to--Just pleasant views of a world that is a bit greener that doesn't require too great sacrifices on the part of those doing the transitioning.

That nails it.

I mean, really, who knows what's going to happen? Who knows when it's going to happen, or to whom, or to what extent?

"... until the end comes, enjoy your life,
spend it in happiness, not despair.
Savor your food, make each of your days
a delight, bathe and anoint yourself,
wear bright clothes that are sparkling clean,
let music and dancing fill your house,
love the child who holds you by the hand,
and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.
That is the best way for a man to live."

Shiduri, in Gilgamesh: A New English Version

There’s some pie-in-the-skyism that seems to be in the movement, but in the video, Hopkins agrees with a lot of what most folks on TOD believe: that BAU or some grouping of technofixes are not paths to the future. I think we’re better off with the Transition Towns movement than without it, though there seem to be people here who disagree.

The people here who disagree to maybe finding a way out are what is called Doomers. I am a Gloomer, I don't think it is all doom, but I don't think it is all going to be rosy pink daffidil red. We are at a point where mankind has gotten itself, greed runs in the veins of most of us, so deep in most cases that we can't even see that it is there. There are a few humans that aren't greedy though, And I see them a lot almost every day.

But in general most people won't do anything muych when they see someone hurting besides shruging their shoulders and going on about their lives.

Sorry It is a rant, but there are days when in my own area where I try to help the homeless I see the things that are happening on a national scale, then I read about them in posts on this site. Not everyone, just some folks.

Humans are to blaim for where we are, we have plenty but only want more, we have less and we only want better, it seems like the same ole same ole, day in and day out.

I am not a doomer, but I am gloomer, in that as time goes by we in the western world seem to know where we are heading, and just seem to not care about everyone else.

There are methods, proven in small cases of feeding everyone on Earth, but if we don't all work together, then people will fall through the cracks of the system and they will die and not many people do more than shrug their shoulders.

Any effort of letting people know there is a problem is a good thing. We can't solve every issue. But every issue we try and do something about is one less issue we have to do something about, as those people involved will help others along the way.

On the backside of FF decline I don't see a world where only a handfull of people survive, I hope for more.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

I guess that depends on what you call a handful, Charles. Some would say that having a Billion or fewer is a handful left, and out of almost 7 Billion, they might be correct. OTOH, a Billion is what I would call, "more."

Frankly, it will surprise me if h. sapiens doesn't overshoot on the way down, and get back to maybe 500 Mil. or a bit less, before finding sustainability on the way back up.

We may be sapient, but we don't seem to learn very well.

Doom and gloom? Best always,


The only thing we need to transition to is a zero-growth economy, which is going to be forced upon us. Peak oil does not mean the collapse of modern agriculture, however, and population die-off. This mantra among peak oil theorists is flawed. Bear with me here. Here's why:

Peak oil destroys oil demand. When the price gets too high non-essential industries collapse first (airlines, car manufacturers, etc.) We've seen what happens then. The price of oil drops. It starts rising again as there's some economic recovery, but eventually the price gets too high again and more industries collapse. Each collapse make the subsequent recovery smaller. It's a bumpy down slope.

But agriculture won't collapse during these high price peaks, because people need to eat. They will spend their last dollar on food. They will stop flying. They will stop buying new cars. But they can't stop eating. So even if food prices rise during these brief oil-price peaks, agriculture won't collapse. Remember also that the world food crises in many countries in 2008 was not due to the rising cost of oil (or natural gas) needed to produce food. Those amounts are marginal. Rather, it was the result of biofuels diverting cropland, and the UN and other world organizations woke up to that danger. It's doubtful that will happen again on the scale it did in 2008. It's doubtful economic recovery will ever increase enough to produce oil prices that high again, making biofuels competitive. Remember demand destruction REDUCES oil prices. Peak oil will over time REDUCE oil prices by destroying demand. This is such an important point.

Some important stats:

All farm machinery combined (tractors, combines, etc.) uses less than 1% of world oil consumption.
Producing nitrogen fertilizer uses less than 5% of world natural gas consumption.

As long as supply remains greater than demand and the price remains low (which is virtually assured because peak oil = industrial collapse) there will be plenty of oil and natural gas around for agriculture for a very, very long time. Even the transportation of food, which clearly uses more oil than farm machinery, will not be affected by oil depletion for these same reasons. Transporting furniture around the world from IKEA might slow down, but nobody is going to stop buying food.

Only when people are completely broke without a penny to their name will they stop buying food. But when this happens the government starts buying it for them, because otherwise the result is food riots, and that is bad for the upper classes as well.

Hence there is no imperative to localize food production. Most locations around the world can't live on locally produced food anyway. Most States in the US are net food importers. Most countries are also.

One of the very smart posts on here in a very long while (and naturally I agree with it). And I just wish all the doom and gloom Mad Maxers on here would all take a long cold shower.

If governments can buy food for people why are there a billion hungry people today? We need to remember farmers are reliant upon other systems of the economy, if the financial sector has serious problems then they can not make payroll or purchase equipment needed for their farm. The transportation of food is also important, that may become difficult. Trucking companies could easily go out of business if they don't have retail goods to move.

This is wishful thinking and not at all demonstrated by the evidence. If what you said were true it would have always been true since the beginning of time. And yet we've had famines and so many people so poor they couldn't afford food and farmers going bankrupt in droves, including right now in India and the U.S.

Here is reality, in my view:

Farms are business entities and thus have sales and expenses, just like any other business entity.

If the economics turn sour for them, they either can't purchase the inputs to grow the crops (or as many crops) prices plunge and they can't get a good price for their product. We saw both of these things happen in 2008 all over the world.

If they are saddled with high debt and they have insufficient cash flow, they go bankrupt. Of course if there is a widespread economic fracture, all businesses are hurt, including farms.

That's the farm side of the equation.

On the purchaser side of the equation, again, if what you said were correct there wouldn't currently be 39 million people on food stamps.

We are at the beginning of seeing the middle class become poor and the poor become destitute.

Floridian and Angel, I am not saying there won't ever be hunger. I am saying that hunger has never been and will never be the result of a lack of oil or natural gas. Hunger is a result of political issues. These may be exacerbated by industrial collapse, but not by any theorized unavailability of fossil fuels.

Oooo lewt me rephrase that... Hunger never has been caused by a lack of natural gas SINCE the green revolution and the development of the Haber-Bosch process of creating artificial fertilizer. Before that, a lot of hunger in the world resulted from a lack of fertilizer to grow food.

The handful I meant was something like a few 100,000, as some of the more Doomer Doomers have mentioned in the past.

Seeing as we are hard pressed to get an accurate count of people even in the USA, getting the right number of people in the world is also tricky.

By 2100 none of us and likely none of what we say here on this forum will even be around to make a dent in what will be happening then. Most of us are armchair discussionists( is that a word, am to tried to find out)(worked in the yard a lot the last two days).

A handful of black walnuts is at most 6, but a handful of Amaranth seeds could be several thousands, in the case of people a real handful is one other person, but for future I mean to say about 100,000 or a few more.

More power to the edible weeds.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Wow. I'm impressed with the degree of skepticism towards the concept of transition town movements.

The key point I took away from Rob's talk was "resilience" verses sustainability. The idea that we need to identify the weak points in our communities and plan for those weakness. Personally, I think this a good idea, but doubt it will be put into serious practice in most locales.

My impression is that these efforts will be too "inconvenient" for most poeple in most communities. But, it might make a huge difference for some (small) communities.

BTW, James Lovelock said in a recent BBC interview that it is "silly" to try to "save the planet."
He then said his advice would be essentially what your quote says "... until the end comes, enjoy your life."

I'm trying to decide whether the comments are better described as 'First they laugh at you,' or ' then they ignore you..'

The people I see doing Transition Town work and similarly Permaculture around here are consistently thoughtful individuals, eager to find a forum where they can help institute a number of needed changes in our lifestyle and assumptions, and not just do what they do all alone.

So when these posters try to 'Unify the TT belief system', like Eric Blair asking if "Everything is going to be animal powered.." (Sorry, Eric), it's more of this argumentative hyperbole, where clearly you are going to find a range of people, and a range of views.. some will be driving EVs, some bikes, some hybrid SUVs.. others probably refuse to even wear mechanically knitted socks, others will still be gunning for more Nuclear Power, still others focused on boosting local food production or attacking population, etc...

The urge to oversimplify what is clearly a very multilayered problem and has to be met with a complex and nuanced series of responses to it, is an extremely tiring rhetorical battle to keep waging. It's a kind of simplemindedness that is really beneath this forum, and to me is as discouraging as any 'math or thermodynamic' misunderstandings out in the general public.

It's a kind of simplemindedness

My tendancy is to agree. I fail to see the problem with people getting together to do what they can to change themselves over to a more sustainable life. This issue (what will the future look like?) is very complex and EVERY opinion needs to be salted with a statement of "probable uncertainty".

I agree - "probable uncertainty." What is probable (+/error)?

Not what is "possible if" money could create "unknown projects" with meaningful volumes available starting in two years.

One thing that seems to be slightly more probable lately is that The Global Village is going on a diet (cutting out the high density carbs) starting sometime around 2012.

Some bodies are going to notice the difference. I'm just not sure whose bodies or where the most bodies will feel it... you know what I mean?

I'll take some CERA with my salt, thank you.

Well, if anyone asked me, I'd bet significantly that no-one I'm likely to meet will suffer carbohydrate starvation due to oil shortage in 2012. That's just really really unlikely in Canada.

Those are my sentiments exactly Gail. But what Rob Hopkins and other transition movement leaders never talk about are their neighbors. All transition towns, or transition folks who are not associated with any town, will have neighbors who never thought about transition until it was way too late. And this will be the vast majority of people in any country.

So the question is; how will the transition folks deal with starving neighbors? Will they ignore them when the starving children come to their door begging? Will they shoot those who try to steal from their gardens? And what if the numbers invading their little farms are overwhelming, what then?

Rob Hopkins talks a good story but he ignores the one thing that could, and likely would, totally destroy his littl transition town in less than a fortnight.

Ron P.

Maybe they will share what they have learned,
being in the position to teach a man to fish.

But, yes, successful production of any kind requires a degree of security which is often assumed in Western societies. Few of us really understand how quickly society can degenerate to gangsterism and warlordism.

OTOH, if you believe that BAU is doomed, you might as well try something else. I applaud those seeking a different path by walking forward.

OTOH, if you believe that BAU is doomed, you might as well try something else. I applaud those seeking a different path by walking forward.

So do I Ron, but they could include in their transitional plans some type of security. I have seen not one mention of anything like that in all the transitional essays, books or videos I have encountered to date.

How ironic that those who no longer deny that the system is likely to collapse still deny that desperate people will take desperate measures to feed themselves and their families. That is, by far, the most irrational denial of all.

Ron P.

...but they could include in their transitional plans some type of security

Ron, who is "they?"

Yesterday I completed an introductory course in Permaculture. Highly recommend it. What a diverse group of people in my class but all eager to be doing rather than snarking. I didn't meet anyone in denial. And what a different response perspective it has given me.

I don't know about any of you all, but I don't like it when people ascribe a belief system to me because of the company I keep. Once you label someone, you have dismissed them. It would be a shame if we dismissed all those who are doers.

"They" are Rob Hopkins and everyone who ever wrote a book, an essay or made a video on "Transitional Towns" or the transitional movement.

I have not ascribed a belief system to anyone. I don't think that denial can be classified as a belief system. The word is far too broad. Anything can be denied, particularly things that people find too uncomfortable to think about or prepare for.

When you talk about a transitional town as if it would be some kind of utopia, totally immune to outside invasion of any kind, then you are in denial.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for transitional towns. I have made such recommendations in the past myself. But I always stressed that such towns should have the very best defensive system possible. And that would include arming themselves to the teeth.

I suppose that is why most transitional folks deny much of a defense is even necessary. They are, by nature, peace loving folks. Peace and guns just don't mix. The idea that a few dozen men could invade their town, rape their women, kill them and/or their animals and take all the food they could carry off is not an idea they even like to think about... so they don't. Such a thing is far easier to deny than to prepare for.

Ron P.

The idea that a few dozen men could invade their town, rape their women, kill them and/or their animals and take all the food they could carry off is not an idea they even like to think about... so they don't. Such a thing is far easier to deny than to prepare for.

An arms race...now that's something to get behind and we know how well it works.

I'm not going to get worried about any of it, at least not after watching this video: http://home.comcast.net/~steveham21/turbo.mpg

Debbie, the video was just a silly spoof about the government buying anything. Not related to the subject at all. But you are right about the arms race.

Way back in our hunter-gatherer days, a few tribes decided they were not going to arm themselves at all. They decided to be peaceful and not resist their neighbors should they try to take their territory, or their women, or anything else they possessed.

All those tribes went extinct. I wonder why?

But you can rest assured, the surviving tribes passed along their genes. And those folks who inherited their genes are your neighbors today.

Ron P.

Maybe not related to the subject but definitely related to my mental state when I was responding to, what I think, a pointless spouting of opinions on both our parts. It was my way of sending you a smile (although I would prefer to deliver it in person). I love the education I get on TOD but think we could all be a bit more gracious in our reviews of the work of others. Seems to me the transition folks are following a path of "caring for the earth, caring for each other." Studies show that if your neighbor smiles at you as you leave for work, you'll have a much better day than if you get no smile. :-)

Why don't you provide us to a link to your video of hunter-gather days and show us the unfolding of the extinction of those unarmed tribes. If the video is getting a little worn out after all these millenia, maybe you can point to some other evidence that somehow could be construed to support these ridiculous comnments of yours.

Here's a question that might help you realize the absurdity of your comment. What happened to the genes of the 'taken' women from the groups you claim decided to be peaceful?

Here's a question that might help you realize the absurdity of your comment. What happened to the genes of the 'taken' women from the groups you claim decided to be peaceful?

It was a joke Toil. I thought that was obvious. And I was just trying to be kind. Sure women were often taken but usually they were just killed, along with their children.

[U]nderlying all the other reasons for warfare is almost always this fundamental imbalance of resource stress and population growth.
Constant Battles: Page 169

Constant Battles: Why We Fight (Paperback)

It took more than twenty-five years and a great deal of additional fieldwork for me finally to change my initial naïve view of the past, and humans in general. My take on warfare is now very different from what it was. Though these new ideas about conflict seem exceedingly obvious to me, I arrived at these conclusions not by means of abstract theory, but by being forced to look at warfare based on conclusive evidence found on the ground. The central importance of warfare throughout known history came to me slowly, prompted by archeological fieldwork in a number of different region and reinforced as I tried to reconcile theoretical positions that became increasingly impossible to accept.
Steven LeBlanc, “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage” page 3

LeBlanc, like you Toil, was originally a believer in the peaceful nature of man. The evidence he found as an archeologist forced him to change his mind.

Ron P.

I don't believe in the peaceful nature of man. Which is why I believe that God evolved.

Do you think you might post your videos of ramaging hunter-gatherers killing the peace loving women and children, so that we could all share your evidence that our neighbours are definitely not carrying pacifist genes.

Ah, yes-the noble savage, living at peace with himself and his brother man in harmony with nature.

The myth dies very, very hard, and very very slowly.

It ain't what we don't know that's killing us;it's what we know that ain't so.

There are a few of us stupid, ignorant, insensitive, earth raping conservatives out there with iq's well over 100.

I have never met one of my intellectual brothers who believed in either the noble savage, or in his Momma the blank slate.Conservatives with brains, mind you -I ain't talking about republicans.

I have commented many times on the fact that when men and societies cease to believe in God,they do not hence forth believe in nothing.

Someday I might try to write a very long comment about the historical TRANSITION of of modern western ethics and philosophy fron a Christianity based system to a secular humanist system.Some professionals may quibble with my terminology, but that isn't important.

The people who carried the day during the ENLIGHTENMENT had no explaination for our less delightful tendencies, having basically relegated the concepts of the devil and sin to the dustbin of history, and so they simply declared that we are innately good , peaceful, sheep like creatures, incapable of harming each other, except when we have been somehow DAMAGED some environmemtal or cultural phenomenon.

But saying it didn't make it so......

And it didn't get rid of the church , either, except in the ivory towers devoted to philosophy .

The social sciences, which are only recently finding some solid footing under the quicksands on which they are based, made a fundamental error;they based thier early work on the enlightened Enlightenment model of human nature.

Of course that was a lesser mistake than basing it on the theological model, but it was still a fatal error if uncorrected;and only in the decades since I left the university since 1972 has any real progress made in correcting it.....the blank slate was simply accepted as unquestioned true writ or gospel by professors of education, history.....

Craving scientific respectability, for a hundred years or so after Darwin did his thing, they(the social scientists) still denied even the possibility of our psychological evolutionary roots almost to the last man.Thier model is generally referred to as the blank slate.

Talk about cognitive dissonance and being unable to see what is obvious if your jiob depends on not seeing it!Accepting Darwin in general but denying the evolution of the brain and the mind!!!

Of course it has long been accepted as a truism (by outsiders at least) in these fields that progress is as dependent on funerals as it is on research.

These believers in diversity and tolerance and multiculturalism all together don't carry as much real wieght as one real biologist such as E.O. Wilson, who was once treated to an ice water bath on stage by one of thier acolytes at a major conference.

Even today the authors of the very most popular introductory text books in the field continue to pussy foot around the issue of evolutionary psychology, as there are still some blank slaters in postions of power and influence in thier respective fields,if indeed the author himself is not a closet blank slater. (I find this to be an interesting twist on the old story of a religious person being forced to conceal his faith, or to renounce it.)

There is little doubt that there are lots of mostly older practicing social scientist/mental health/ medical types out there who still believe in the blank slate, and tens of millions of educated people who were taught sociology, political science, history,anthropology, economics etc , by professors steeped in it.

This is a book sized subject, and I cannot do it justice in an hour.

For those who would understand reality as it is understood by leading modern scientists, I strongly reccomend Pinker's The Blank Slate and LeBlanc's book mentioned by Darwinian.

the blank slate

The slate is blank at the start.

What is assumed is the slates are all black and the chalk, being chalk is white. If you are used to black slate and white chalk you'll be shocked when you come across the 1st whiteboard.

The reality is some slates are not black and some of the chalk is not white. Charcoal on a black slate doesn't do a good job of transmitting information. And some of the slates seem to be stuck in a sandstorm such that marks just seem to go away over time.

If the basic slate is that of a sociopath - some things won't leave much of an impression while other things do. And its hard to leave a mark on a slate submerged in the water of poverty/drugs/abuse/et la.

What is assumed is the slates are all black and the chalk, being chalk is white. If you are used to black slate and white chalk you'll be shocked when you come across the 1st whiteboard.

That statement makes no sense whatsoever. What on earth are you talking about? Who assumes that the slates are all black? Have you read "The Blank Slate"? The book is not about abnormal psychology, which you seem to be talking about. It is all about the nature-nurture debate. It makes no assumptions about black slates or white chalk at all. Anyway what in hell does that mean?

Again, you wrote:

...is assumed is the slates are all black...

Nonsense! It make no assumption that slates, (minds) are all alike. In fact it stresses that they are all different, and that they are not blank at all but come into this world with a many things written on them, different things for everyone except for identical twins.

Ron P.

You are in over your head and in great need of an information rescue in this one respect at least-I suggest that you actually read something written by professionals in these fields within the last couple of decades.

Obviously you have not. There is no such thing as a blank human mind-we ARE BORN with an installed operating system;the enivronment can add a great deal of data and some additional programming, and the operating system itself is somewhat plastic and capable to a certain extent changing it's own code if not in actual practice then in effect;we can learn new behavior patterns.

Of course no two of these operating systems are EXACTLY ALIKE;even identical twins develop somewhat differently, probably due to minor in the womb environmental variations and differences in actual experiences after birth-remember that the brain is somewhat plastic or mallaeable.

You are in over your head and in great need of an information rescue

Naw, just trying to keep the 'lets speak about really complex stuff in something simple like a hunk of mineral marked with another mineral' going.

ARE BORN with an installed operating system;

That installed OS (as you are calling it) is the wiring, the chemicals and all the other bits. And to use an OS abstraction is more complex than 'you remember a slate board from school' level of abstraction being used. Black slate VS grey VS whiteboard are still a (mostly) 2D surface (really 3d as a slate is not 100% smooth and if it was really 2d, could you leave a mark?)

And one should probably test the assumption that a propensity for peacefulness is carried genetically in any case, like blue eyes or red hair.

It seems to me the most useful thing transition town groups can do is become a community pressure point that tries to unwind several decades of cultural practices that have been considered part of "modern life". This would include overturning local government / local council regulations that prevent a whole range of useful interventions - such as water tanks on all houses, re-cycling of grey water, water management and restrictions generally, capture of storm water, the keeping of poultry and other useful animals in backyards, the growing of vegetables and fruit trees, planning bans on various types of house shading, the criteria used to stop a wide range of better housing designs, and so on.

I understand that some communities have even banned the drying of washing on external clothes lines, on the grounds of neighbourhood "amenity" - my goodness.

And at the more common-ground level - the preservation (or even the expansion) of parks and reserves by councils, better land and water management by councils, greater resistance to ever-more road and car-park building, planning regulations that foster medium and higher residential densities to lessen suburban sprawl, the strategic planning of shopping precincts to be pedestrian-friendly, support for producers' markets and other alternative shopping models that can work, the instigation of fruit and vegetable growing on school grounds and other public spaces, greater commitment to sustainable energy systems, major audits of council fuel use and the way they employ vehicles, and so on and so on. Support candidates for local elections who are open to these changes. All useful and realistic options.

The need for security and total distrust of neighbours are over-stated at this point ... I suspect there are many years of slow change and belt-tightening required - Mad Max and Survivor scenarios are somewhat premature, it seems to me ... unless the US really is nearer to a bunch of tipping points than is obvious.

Disagree Cargill, Security preparations are only too early if they are NEVER needed. What part of the Department of Defense analysis that came out a day or two ago did you disagree with? You know, the one that said the world will see a 10 million barrel per day shortfall by 2015. Do you really think that will not cause duress that could manifest itself in violence of some sort?

Firstly, 10 million barrels per day shortfall in just five years seems a pretty big call ... do we have the analysis on where that shortfall will be caused? And is this shortfall based on wide-eyed BAU growth levels, with no accounting for demand reduction caused by price and economic recession?

Secondly, it is not necessarily the case that a 12% reduction in supply means Americans start shooting each other across the cabbage patch, and cracking out the pitchforks, is it? I can see (a) transport fuel getting expensive, and (b) supplies running short, but is there good evidence that that will lead to a level of violence such that the tree-hugging transition types can expect to get blown away? I don't think so - have a little more faith in your fellow human beings, and their resilience and adaptability.

But I do suggest everyone consider getting themselves into a living situation where you are not wholly (or even partially) dependent on car transport to make a living, buy food, reach services, etc. I think that is prudent!

The JFCOM Joint Operating Environment is written with deliberately speculative tone. "Scenario building." One of their underlying premises is that geopolitical alignments and drivers can change very quickly. In regards to Peak Oil, do not consider that report to be a definitive policy statement - more along the lines of 'entertaining the possibility.'

I don't always agree with you Ron, BUT, when it comes to security I am right with you. It is denialist lunacy to think that the masses who have not prepared, will not attempt to take from those who have. As someone who has been in kill or be killed situations, I feel you have to prepare for that eventuality. I pray that I would never have to use those preparations, but I would never not prepare.
Even people who are reasonably bright can easily deny the problem, as we have all seen, over and over again. What about the not so bright. 40% of the US population does not believe in evolution. 40% do. 20% don't know. 40% of the population believes we never landed on the moon. Think the bulk of these people are preparing at all? Not a chance. Think they will want to take what other people have prepared for. Absolutely.

The thing is Ron is not talking about security, accept to incorrectly ascribe a lack of concern about security to various people; he's prophesing insecurity. Oil production goes done and in Ron's imaginary world, policing, and all the other ways that order is maintained, vanishes. Marauding gangs appear. The starving are particularly viscious, probably even more viscious than Mexican drug gangs or US helicopter-killers. I don't know that he really thinks that anyone should even bother resisting these pillagers, since by the time oil production is down a few more percent, he has nine out of ten of us dead anyway.

The thing is Ron is not talking about security, accept to incorrectly ascribe a lack of concern about security to various people;...

...accept to incorrectly ascribe... That makes no sense whatsoever. I haven't a clue as to what you are talking about. But I apologize if English is not your first language. I never like to pick on foreigners for language screw ups. But I am talking about security. In every post I have posted on the subject of surviving the crash, I have stressed security over and over again.

I don't know that he really thinks that anyone should even bother resisting these pillagers, since by the time oil production is down a few more percent, he has nine out of ten of us dead anyway.

I do expect the eventual number of survivors to be under one billion. But that will take perhaps half a century... maybe not put perhaps. At any rate, that is the whole purpose defending yourself, to attempt to be among the survivors! Yes, there is every reason to resist the pillagers, else you will not be among the survivors. That is why I put so much emphasis on defense. One must try to be among the survivors! There is no guarantee of course, but you can definitely improve your odds.

Ron P.

If things get that bad, no degree of local security will make much difference. It will be kind of like Juarez, only worse. They will not have the extra margin of resources to be spending great sums of resources/money defending themselves in a mad max situation.

If our centralized security systems break down to the extent that security has to be done on an neighborhood by neighborhood basis, just about everyone is screwed.

I have seen not one mention of anything like that in all the transitional essays, books or videos I have encountered to date.

I have. There was one group that had plans to blow up the bridge into town if it became necessary.

Good for them. Then at least one group has stopped denying the obvious and has started thinking rationally.

Ron P.

My experience watching various TT groups is that there is often a group (usually of men) who immediately begin to discuss militias and such.

But the point of the Transition Initiative, as far as I can tell, is:

  • begin learning new skills
  • create community
  • remember to focus on what's possible to be gained, not just on what's being lost

The message is definitely optimistic simply because that gets more people involved than if the message is "straight talk." I prefer straight talk but I'll be the first to tell you from personal experience that it doesn't work very well when trying to organize a community. People show up for one or maybe two meetings and then that's it.

I think the message of Transition will change over time as it adjusts to changing reality. I'm personally trying to inject more "straight talk" into it but I do recognize that it has its limits.

Probably the most valuable thing that comes from Transition is the community relationships that are formed. It's much, much easier to address future shocks, whatever they may be, if you know everyone in your neighborhood since meaningful results fundamentally occur via relationships and webs of trust. Trust comes from relatedness and that takes time to form.

It's not perfect. Not every town will form a Transition Town.

But really, what's the alternative? Organize into fiefdoms as quickly as possible? Working on Transition is a much more interesting and fulfilling way for me to spend my time left on earth. Your mileage may vary.

"but they could include in their transitional plans some type of security."

I actually discussed this issue recently in a post I did here on TOD that was pretty roundly ignored...the issue of studying French fortress and fortification architecture as a guide in town planning.

Many European cities were originally designed to be self protecting in the Gothic period, and this type of architecture continued to influence city planning and garden design well into the 18th century.

It is not impossible to even envision "moat architecture with the moat acting as a supply of fish for the community. The idea is to keep the buildings relatively close together and in line of easy sight of one another, and plan the gardens in such a way so that they are in easy view by all...something like the contempory gated communities. At the time I wrote my last post on this I commented on the seeming lack of security that many wealthy families live with and never seem to consider as a real priority. Very wealthy families often live in homes sitting on big lawns with no real defense at all except for the alarm system to notify to the police. This is already proving to be not nearly enough and there have been some tragic cases of home intrusion style murders that shold get the prosperous thinking about their situation.

Our current architecture seems to assume that the poor have a respect for the wealthy and their property that may soon no longer be the case.


When I was in Germany last Fall, I did something similar,
judging individual buildings on their zombie proofing.

Once I began, I found it hard to stop.
And it was quite instructive.

The most obvious was that pre-20th Century buildings had bars on the 1st floor windows. But some of the older buildings had no 1st floor windows at all. Of course, there were town walls. Mills and barns built outside the walls. Fields outside of them. Woods outside of that.

One thing to think about, though, is the political and legal rights that went along with that. In one village, the village lake and all its fish were owned by landlords in a city many miles away. Every few years they drained the lake and collected all the fish for sale elsewhere. The woods and wood-gathering and hunting rights were also owned by rich city folk. And probably more than a few of the fields. The village folk were hemmed in by more than their walls - there was a whole legal structure which kept them in their place as well.

Hi Darwinian,

It's just too bad there aren't more around like you to let the hot air out of the wonderful wizards baloon, in a manner of speaking.

I personally have found it to my advantage in life to maintain two public personas, one to leep up contacts with all the liberal long hair dope smoking commie socialist friends of my wild youth, who are nowadays mostly teachers and minor bueracrats and good dependable liberal democrats.

But as I grew older and perhaps a little wiser, I long ago learned the lessons Professor Bardi wrote about just this past week- not only unexpected consequences,but consequences often diametrically opposite of the ones intended when one trys to control people and societies.

As someone once said ,paraphrased: If you aren't a liberal when you're young , you have no heart;and if you aren't a conservative when you 're old, you have no brain.

So I gradually returned to my roots and developed a whole new mostly conservative set of friends and associates, which generally does not intersect with the liberal circle with which I maintain contact.These people are mostly independent small businessmen of various sorts.

Both groups are composed almost exclusively of well educated and highly intelligent people-and yes, Virginia, there are some conservatives who understand peak oil,ecological degradation,peak finance,climate change, and lots of other things , believe it or not.Unfortunately I must admit that there are relatively few of them, as a percentage of the group.

The biggest glaring difference between the two groups is that nearly all the hard core realists are conservatives.

If and when tshtf,the conservative group has a pretty good shot of surviving a mad max scenario as a group.We realize what we will be up against, and WHAT we will have to do to meet the challenge;but any detailed discussion of THAT TOPIC is not only unsuited to this forum;it might land me on a watch list,or get me hauled in for questioning,or worse.

The liberals literally expect the sheriff's department to look afer them;some of them are turning into expert gardeners and stockmen, but most of them don't even own a gun.

They are however very good at discussing various schemes that would be and are politically impossible to implement, barring the attention concentrating Black swan event I have often mentioned in this forum as our greatest but still slim hope!

Farmer Mac says of most "liberals",
"but most of them don't even own a gun."

Are you sure about that? Or are they just more discreet about talking about it?

I have noticed that liberals have learned to keep a lot of their ideas on the down low...(in many workplaces, liberal means anti-business, which means no promotion and in fact it would be best to get those guys out of the office at the first possible opportunity), so folks DO NOT talk about it, (as opposed to conservatives, who are in sync with the goals and ideas of the management so they are open in their views, often loudly so). Many Liberals have learned the art of being very discreet (when was the last time you heard someone admit to voting for Obama...but somebody must have!) :-).


Hi, RC,

I refer simply to the group of people I know personally well enough to have been into thier homes on several occasions.I don't see any guns in evidence, and I don't hear any conversation supporting firearms rights in these homes, when and if the subject comes up at a social gathering.

But you are correct in supposing that some portion of these people are going along to get along and that there is a gun someplace handy.

I do for a fact know that a few of them do own a gun,and simply don't talk about it publicly. I have asked ask privately, and they will admit to having a gun to an old friend such as yours truly;but then back in the good old days we all had enough evidence on each other to get our entire extended circle fired and blackballed at least or more likely locked up fot ten to twenty.

I remember one case of this sort famous among firearms rights supporters, from some years ago. A prominent DC newspaper columnist who always took a strong anti gun stance was charged with shooting a couple of punk kids at his house in the wee hours ; apparently they were looking for something to steal.

Well, I think you're missing it, Ron. I'd say he does talk about his neighbors, all of them, and the neighboring towns and countries as well.

Since I found out about peak oil, I have become fascinated by how we apply these principles to whole towns, whole settlements, and in particular, to how we design this transition in such a way that people will embrace it as a common journey, as a collective adventure, as something positive. So much peak oil and other environmental literature is doom-laden and information heavy, and most peoples’ reaction is to switch off. How can we design descent pathways which make people feel alive, positive and included in this process of societal transformation?


Will there be brigands? Will there still be piracy, or raids, or landgrabs, pickpocketing, etc.. yes, there will. The question becomes one of 'how much of a societal immune system can we create so these darker parts of human nature will be less, and productive, well-built and connected communities will be more?'

To more directly address the 'Defensive Posture' imprimatur in your post Ron, I suspect that Hopkins would be happy to remind you that our society has created an ample class of people who are very aware of defending their property, and that in any community of more than two people, there would be those who are 'on the lookout'.

Basic Security doesn't have to be a main theme of the TT initiative for it to still be present in these communities.. but I think the intentions that Hopkins and those like him are fostering are considerably more UNDERrepresented in the current age than the one you bring up, and are doing well to bring up their side of the balance, particularly in the area of precluding what competitive tensions are going to exist between 'My street and Your street', or 'My Town and Your Town' .. if people are learning how to produce enough food and figure out how to stay healthy and safe, then much of the source tension for neighborhood conflict will be preempted.


.. if people are learning how to produce enough food and figure out how to stay healthy and safe, then much of the source tension for neighborhood conflict will be preempted.

I believe you live in a dream world Bob. Only a tiny fraction of the population will form "transitional towns". The vast majority will do nothing at all until reality slaps them in the face. The one point I have stressed over and over and over in my almost four and one half years on this list, is that only a very tiny fraction of people can be convinced by logical argument. The rest can have their minds changed only by events! They will believe it only after it happens.

The event of total government and/or social collapse will send total panic throughout the population. All hell will break loose. And those in the transitional towns will say; "I told you so" as the threat of starving masses overrunning their tiny little towns send panic throughout their population also.

Ron P.

The real issue is whether we will still have enough social and cultural capital to enable us to behave as the British did during the outbreak of WWII. Perhaps not. The "Me Decade" of the 1970's may have swung the pendulum so far that it will never come back. But who knows? A good slap in the face might just work.

The real issue is whether we will still have enough social and cultural capital to enable us to behave as the British did during the outbreak of WWII. Perhaps not.

Not the same thing quixotic. The British were attacked from afar, they ALL clung together after they were attacked. There was no collapse of government, police or other public services. A better example would be Montreal's 'night of terror' in October of 1969. Steven Pinker tells of that night:

"When law enforcement vanishes, all manner of violence breaks out: looting, settling old scores, ethnic cleansing, and petty warfare among gangs, warlords, and mafias. This was obvious in the remnants of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and parts of Africa in the 1990s, but can also happen in countries with long tradition of civility. As young teenager in proudly peaceable Canada during the romantic 1960s, I was a true believer in Bakunin's anarchism. I laughed off my parents' argument that if the government ever laid down its arms all hell would break loose. Our competing predictions were put to the test at 8:00 A.M. on October 17, 1969, when the Montreal police went on strike. By 11:20 A.M. the first bank was robbed. By noon most downtown stores had closed because of looting. Within a few more hours, taxi drivers burned down the garage of a limousine service that had competed with them for airport customers, a rooftop sniper killed a provincial police officer, rioters broke into several hotels and restaurants, and a doctor slew a burglar in his suburban home. By the end of the day, six banks had been robbed, a hundred shops had been looted, twelve fires had been set, forty carloads of storefront glass had been broken, and three million dollars in property damage had been inflicted, before city authorities had to call in the army and, of course, the Mounties to restore order. This decisive empirical test left my politics in tatters (and offered a foretaste of life as a scientist)."
Steven Pinker, "The Blank Slate" page 331.

But who knows? A good slap in the face might just work.

The slap in the face is the event! It is the collapse itself. It would definitely convince the unconvinced but by then it will be way too late.

Ron P.

.. or maybe the 'ultra ME decade of the 1980s..

There are a lot of factors that will play into what areas show resilience, which parts of the world or even within countries have grown a civic culture that can hang onto social tools that give them a chance to skirt falling into Ron's Certain Apocalypse (RCA).

I don't for a minute think 'success is guaranteed'.. but I do believe there are social systems that can be developed, and some latent ones that show up when the situation has become dire enough.

I think it's worth feeding the good wolf and starving the bad one. (The bad one being fear, jealousy, self-righteousness, alienation.. etc..)

"I believe you live in a dream world Bob."

I know you do, Ron. And I believe you're addicted to nightmares.

..total panic throughout the population..

Dogs and Cats, living together.

Self-fulfilling fear fantasy.

To which you could add, self-indulgent misery. And ignorant hopelessness.

In the real world, the more desperately hungry people become, the more passive they become. I would like to see the doom and death obsessed brigade provide actual evidence that contradicts this rule, evidence which does more than provide the odd exception that proves the rule.

That is not a rule and there is no evidence to support it. While it is true that people who have been hungry for years, all their life, see no sense in rioting. But the newely hungry almost always riot, rob or kill to feed their famlies.

So I challange you to supply evidence for that which you say is the "rule". I can supply evidence that the exact opposite it true. Just Google "food riots".

Results 1 - 18 of about 1,130,000 for food riots.

Then after you check out all 18, click on "next" and get 18 more, then click on "next" and get 18 more, then click... well you can keep on clicking all night.

In the real world, the more desperately hungry people become,... the more they riot.

Ron P.

This is intensely compelling, Ron. Thank God someone is being rational about all this.

Googling "Food Riots" gives you a million examples of food riots. Uncanny!

It's funny, I googled 'Cooperative Farms', and didn't see ANY references to food riots. There was one food fight, however.

I googled 'Cooperative Farms', and didn't see ANY references to food riots.

Of course not, no one was desperately hungry on those farms. And fortunately none of their neighbors were starving either... not yet anyway.

Ron P.

And if I google 'Britney Spears', I get over 7 million whatevers, including no doubt a bunch about asparagus.

Is this the level of your scholarship? Why even ask.

How many hungry people are out there now, or were in the past, pillaging, raping and murdering, which I believe is your favourite scenario, to obtain food?

You haven't got a clue.

I have been in the middle of drought and famine stricken areas in the Sahel and I can tell you, that yes, it's true, when people are hungry, they push and shove while in line for bread, just like getting on a bus in Cairo. When they are desperately hungry, and not after years, but in the weeks following crop failure and the exhaustion of local reserves, they are listless, not aggressive.

Go without food for a couple of weeks. And report back on your desire to rape and pillage afterwards. Hell, start a blog and let us know about the state of your murderous feelings as the days go by.

Toil, I agree. All those pictures of food riots shown here are just damn lies. There were never any food riots, these pictures were just staged, phoney, just like the pictures of the moon landing.

Pictures lie! There have not been the hundreds of food riots depicted here. History lies too. Hey, here is a real good one.

Stuffed and Starved: As Food Riots Break Out Across the Globe

Global food prices have risen dramatically, adding a new level of danger to the crisis of world hunger. In Africa, food riots have swept across the continent, with recent protests in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania and Senegal.

Lies, damn lies, all of it.

Ron P.

P.S. My wife used to tell me that I would argue with a sign board. Perhaps but I always knew when to stop. When solid hard evidence, like pictures and news stories were put in front of me, proving me wrong, I knew I was licked.

Too bad you have not learned that lesson.

Ron P.

It's not that those pictures are lies, it's that that was all you were searching for, so that's what you found.

You have solid hard evidence for ONE PART of the picture, and you're content to let that be your answer.

Why how foolish of me. I searched on "food riots" and all I found were cases of hundreds of food riots. But I guess that's what search engines do, they give you the stories you are looking for. Now if I could just find some evidence that hungry people will never fight for a morsel of food. If I could just find evidence that a father would let his child die rather than steal a morsel to put in his mouth. What would I search on to find that?

Of course hunger does not always cause a riot. All riots must have another ingredient. They must have someone to lead them. They must have a case that everyone involved agrees is a just cause. And above all, they must have a Devil, someone to hate, someone that has more than they deserve. All these ingredients are the recipe for a riot.

But actually this thread is not about riots, it is about people lying down and dying, and letting their children die, when there is food that will keep them alive just over a fence. That usually does not cause a riot. But if enough people are hungry it can very easily cause a massacre.

In the history of the human race massacres have caused far more deaths than riots.

Ron P.

Your case for bands of starving marauders pillaging nearby villages found lacking, to put it kindly, you decide to go off on a tangent about food riots.

I know you like to play with spreadsheets, so here's an exercise for you: make a random selection of 100 food riots, determine the duration of each riot and then show us a graph of these durations. Then prepare another showing us the number of people who were physically hurt dividing this lot into rioters, law enforcement and bystanders. You can count anything looking like a bruise, a scratch or worse in the hurt category.

I think those two charts should be pretty revealing, but, go ahead and play around somemore with the data. I'm sure you figure out some way to prove that the antichrist has seized the souls of mankind and mankind's soul, and famine, war, disease and death, if not 40 days and nights of torrential rain, are only awaiting the prophesied fall in oil production.

Javert: "Now bring me prisoner 24601... Your time is up and your paroles begun... You know what that means?"
John Valjean: "Yes, it means I'm free"
Javert: "NO! It means you get your yellow ticket of leave. You are a THIEF!"
JVJ "I stole a loaf of bread."
Javert: "Your robbed a house!"
JVJ: "I broke a window pane... My sister's child was close to death... We were starving..."
Javert "You will starve again! Unless you learn the meaning of the law!"
JVJ: "I know the meaning of those 19 years, a slave, of the law..."
(Credit Les Miserables)

I'm going with Ron on this one. Thievery and violence have always been part of the human condition, even in the "good times". Desperate people take desperate measures to survive. It would be nice if in a post-peak world, there would be enough resources to share them equally, but if there were enough resources for all, there would be no need for the whole transition movement in the first place.

There is no shame in protecting what you create/earn/grow and where you live. In fact it is very moral to do so. By all means, share what you can with your neighbors too. I don't see a problem with preparing for security post-peak however. Ideally, preparing is all you will ever have to do and you will never have to act on those preparations. Failure to acknowledge the possibilty of having to protect your life/stash/garden/supplies from a hungry criminal element no different than failing to acknowledge how game-changing PO itself is.

Jokuhl, I see nothing in the paragraph you quoted that even hints at the likely actions of those outside the transitional group. Even your statement implies that you are working on the darker parts of human nature of those within your group.

The question becomes one of 'how much of a societal immune system can we create so these darker parts of human nature will be less, and productive, well-built and connected communities will be more?'

Notwithstanding the fact that human nature cannot be altered, only restrained by threat of punishment or the good parts accentuated with the promise of reward, but it can be restrained or accentuated only within your group. You have no power to dictate the behavior of those who do not follow your ideals or abide by your rules. After all, they are likely to have ideals and rules of their own. And those ideals and rules may to be to take from their neighbors in order to insure the survival of their own tribe.

Not only are human societies never alone, but regardless of how well they control their own population or act ecologically, they cannot control their neighbors’ behavior. Each society must confront the real possibility that its neighbors will not live in ecological balance but will grow its numbers and attempt to take the resources from nearby groups. Not only have societies always lived in a changing environment, but they always have neighbors. The best way to survive in such a milieu is not to live in ecological balance with slow growth, but to grow rapidly and be able to fend off competitors as well as take resources from others.
Steven LeBlanc, “Constant Battles: The Myth of the Peaceful, Noble Savage” page 73

That Jokuhl, describes why human nature has evolved the way it has. We still have the exact human nature that we had during our hunter-gatherer evolution. It is totally irrational to deny that human nature will be any different in the near future than it was in the past.

Ron P.

The descendants of John Calvin have instructed you well! There is more at play in the fields of humanity than Punishment and Reward.

Human Nature is multi-faceted enough that you don't have to "Change it" , you simply have the opportunity to bring out different pieces of it

Where did I imply that I or Hopkins has some kind of intention to 'dictate behavior'? I'm afraid your filters are making translations that don't fit into what I said or posted.

LeBlanc can focus on "Nature, red in tooth and claw.." just as easily as you can. That doesn't make your Black and White view of the world any more accurate.

"I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
Anne Frank

I fully understand your position Bob. I, and LeBlanc, (above), have given you a logical argument. You have responded only with illogical idealism. You will believe it only after it happens.

Thanks for the exchange.

Ron P.

So you think that ascribing views to other people and adding your own ill-informed sentiments with a mix of poor comprehension of all of the disciplines from evolutionary biology to moral philosophy amounts to logical argument?

Well, whatever helps you deal with your self-inflicted misery.

One thing I can safely predict about a desperate situation is that if I find myself on a lifeboat with someone who can't stop croaking about how the end is nigh, I'll gladly swing an oar to send that person to Davy Jones' locker. Were I to later find myself in court, I would use the precedent of shooting deserters in wartime in defense of my action. And no, I wouldn't come to regret the loss of a potential food source, as my moral standards are deeply rooted in the biological and cultural evolution of our species.

I'll gladly swing an oar to send that person to Davy Jones' locker. Were I to later find myself in court, I would use the precedent of shooting deserters in wartime in defense of my action.

You've just eloquently made Ron's point for him.

Notta so much, Mike.

Noone is claiming there isn't and won't be violence out there. Sh!t will surely happen..

Ron seems to be saying that it's inevitable that there will be so much of it, that only dreamy fools would try to set up relationships of trust and cooperation and self-driven plenty to allay some of those results.. (and then claims that these people have no thought or plan for security.. since HE hasn't seen any of it.)

Quite the contrary. My action would be motivated by the ache in my ear, not the ache in my belly.

But to be honest, I wasn't thinking of a lifeboat of two, but one filled with people hoping to survive some calamity. Clearly in a situation of this sort, careful consideration would have to given to the impact on morale of any disciplinary action, or the lack of such action.

If we are facing desperate times, a moot point to be sure, the last thing we need are a bunch of miserable whiners complaining about the impossibility of it all. Now I don't really anticipate being in a lifeboat, or society being in a comparable situation, but I can anticipate times of trouble where some forms of social censure will come to bear on those who drag down the spirit needed to overcome obstacles to the continuence of civilization.

The religious notion that evil lurks in the hearts of men is normally joined to the recognition that it sits in the shade of love and that through the gift of self-reflective consciousness we develop the moral codes that enable us to prosper. In the doomers world, there is no love, no recognition of its evolutionary roots and of its evolutionary potential. And no I didn't drop an 'r'.

You should read a book or two by Alfie Kohn. Lots of evidence that we're fairly cooperative by nature, but that culture has interfered with our upbringing.

The question becomes one of 'how much of a societal immune system can we create so these darker parts of human nature will be less, and productive, well-built and connected communities will be more?'

Actually the most apt question is; 'How are we going to feed all these people during the transition?' It's fine to consider how things might transition more peacefully, but people are anything but friendly when it comes to eating when there isn't enough food. Survival instincts will kick in and chaos, mayhem, marauding gangs will ensue. Small towns will block entrance to strangers and martial law will become the law of the land. It will breakdown into the lowest common denominator until there is enough food to feed everyone that remains, and then, and only then will some semblence of order be re-established. It's pure cornucopian dementia to think it can transition peacefully to a lower state of food production.

Creating local food supply is pretty much the central theme in these projects. Having an abundance of local food production, with cooperative ways to get more and more people able to add to this 'food resilience' IS the immune system, if it's that necessary to spell it out.

They are focusing on the basics for living, here. I think it just becomes easy pickins for getting branded as 'Dementia' when ever words like Peace and Sharing start showing up too much.

"...to think it can transition peacefully ..." and once again.. there is no IT. There are going to be multiple its out there, and some will do better than others. What happens in Helsinki is not going to be the mirror image of LA, Gaviotas or Johannesberg. The transition town idea is basically to spread as many tools and plans as possible so that more places can have preps beginning. None of them are going to be blind to the fact that if the next town over is starving, then they ALL have a problem.

But I know, "Survival instincts will kick in and chaos, mayhem, marauding gangs will ensue. " is much more thrilling to talk about than rutabagas in raised beds, or a new plan for bike paths.


I have to support Earl here. Rural areas will blockade the roads. We have a plan for that now.


If it came to that, and the blockades were seen as causing problems, wouldn't the regular army come in and destroy them? How would you fight that? Isn't the use of armies for such purposes common throughout recorded history?

The U.S. army won't work for free, most of the equipment would probably end up rusting in some warehouse. What do you think happened with much of the Soviet military equipment?

That's why North Korea feeds the army first.

Causing problems? It's fixing them!

I fully expect our homeowner militia to be on good terms with whatever local police and military remains.

Blockades won't be universal except during periods of unrest. Most of the time they'll be porous, like the old gates of the city -- let traders in, and keep highwaymen out.

Yeah, there's the old saying: "A lock on a door only keeps honest people out".

Time to take a trip to fix a broken gate for one of the local gated subdivisions in which I now own a lot. After some 10 minutes of reading the manual, I now know how to fix one and also know how to sabotage one as well...

E. Swanson

I'm not sure that will help.

If I used a .50 cal, I can reach out and tap you for a mile.
The 20 mm snipers have a 2-3 mile reach. Far longer than any blockade. Man's willingness to be inhumane to man means a whole lotta death.

What about people behind your blockade who are willing to use their .308's while you tend your crop to get what you had?

Lets not forget the willingness of the Military arm of the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex who have FAR bigger toys than a simple deer rifle to take what you have for their convienance?

A blockade will just slow up a few people in the same way a kwiklock doorknob lock in a glass door will stop the guy who has a brick, a powerpick, a bump-key set or the guy with the ladder who goes to the 2nd floor and comes in via the open window.

The strength of the military is tied to the economy, if it cannot be funded it won't. The military is really not that large and rather extended, in the future it will be much smaller.

'How are we going to feed all these people during the transition?'

Dude, this has happened before. It happened in the Great Depression. It happened in the panics of 1893, 1871, in the demobilizations of 1865, and in the upper Midwest famine when everyone and his cousin trekked to southern Illinois in search of food in the early 1800's.

And every time this happened, it was not a pandemonium. It was a test of the nation's character, not marksmanship.

Sorry to have come to this discussion so late... but as someone who started is trying to start up a Transition initiative in his own town (www.patransitions.net) what I would say in response to your point about starving neighbours is twofold:

a) it matters not --- with that sort of attitude then we all might as well go our own ways and build our own bunkers. That is precisely opposite of what Transition Towns tries to establish... which is....

b) hopefully a more resilient (in food distribution, energy consumption/production, transport, etc) community that is also more connected socially in terms of groups of people getting together, working together doing things that each are good at. The business folks that create a town currency... for the farmer to use to sell his crops to the individual who is learning how to generate their own power.

Wishy washy? Yep.

But really... life is wishy washy. It's a freakin' mess. That must be seen as a positive to get anything done.


There is an ancient teaching “It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either”, attributed to Rabbi Tarfon in the wayback but echoed over and over by such diverse people as Ronald Reagan and Trathen Heckman at a Transition Town event.

I, personally, guess what, am not in my lifetime going to solve the many challenges of the modern world. What I can do is make a difference in the lives of the people I meet. I can do that by being the change that I want to be in the world, by taking those steps toward sustainability, however small and clueless they may be, and by sharing the skills that I have learned from the university of hard knocks (for purely personal and financial reasons.)

Sitting around with my thumb up my nose, moaning about the future of the world, does no one any good, and especially not me.

You were in business, you took Marketing 101, and they told you to keep the negative wording out of the ads. Marketing a social movement is no different. It has to be upbeat to build community, because that's the point. All kinds of communities have coped with all kinds of dire disasters. An alienated societies collapses in the face of even moderate stress.

You were in business, you took Marketing 101, and they told you to keep the negative wording out of the ads.

Energy Crisis? Peak Oil?! Transition Towns?! Fuggedaboutit!

Year-over-year sales of GM's Cadillac division alone are up almost 76%

The question is why? Especially considering its CR scores. I guess it's that ole marketing 101 that Gail is talking about, looks like it really works...

Cadillac Escalade
Segment: Luxury SUV
CR Predicted Reliability Score: Fair
CR Value Score: Rated among the worst in value
CR Safety Score: Rated among the worst in safety.
CR Overall Score: 61 out of 100
J.D. Power Dependability Score: 2 out of 5 Power Circles
MSRP: $62,495

BTW if I spent that amount on solar panels and a battery bank I could run an average US home completely off grid for the next 25 years... No electric bill for 25 years would be a nice transition.

Well, Fred, maybe the real reason is that the only segment of the economy going up is the very wealthy, who are becoming more so. Hence, the only cars being sold are high end. And, with foreign autos out of favor for the moment, courtesy of Toyota, perhpas the wealthy Americans are buying an American high end automobile.

Bad mileage, yes. Poor reliabilty, of course (it is, after all, GM). Bad value, naturally. Who cares? The Dow is above 11,000! Happy days are here again!



Very well said. Personally, I do whatever I can to align my life and actions with my ideals of conservation and sustainability. Is it insignificant, you bet. But I do it anyway.

My garden is growing, my compost bins are overflowing. I don't have any illusion that this will change the world in any meaningful way. It just changes my little corner of it and that's good enough for me.

Easter Islander,

Good for you. You are likely having a far larger effect than might appear on the surface. If nothing else, gardening uplifts the spirit. Getting one's shorts in knots over the fate of industrial society is waste of time that could better be spent sleeping, or showing someone else how to garden.

If you haven't seen it, "A Paradise Made in Hell", by Solnit, is a fascinating discussion of how communities come together in disasters. It also offers considerable insight on the disruptive effects of elite panic, a phenomenon much in evidence on this thread today. Solnit details the calamitous effect of elite panic following the San Francisco earthquake and Hurricane Katrina, and convincingly argues that in both cases the natural disasters were magnified and prolonged by the very class of people charged with leadership.


In my experience Transition Towns does not constitute a monolithic movement. You cannot take a statement of one of its leaders, even Rob Hopkins, and quote chapter and verse to "prove" a point about Transition. In Denver TT sponsored Chris Martenson to come out and talk about "The Crash Course." Peak oil, financial collapse, etc., were well covered. If you had walked onstage and given your usual discussion of these issues they wouldn't have even blinked an eye.

The strong point and flaw in TT is that they really are trying to popularize discussion of things TOD talks about. They tend to have one cheery message for the masses ("living with less will be fun!") and another, more apocalyptic message, for the converted. I'm pretty sure that most people in TT are not completely aware of this. It is still a turbulent and dynamic movement.

So while I agree with many of these criticisms of TT, I think it is incumbent on those making them to propose something better. Politically, it's possible that TT could very well be the future.


I guess as a Biologist I come to this with a different perspective. I think the transition people are trying to deal with a large problem in small steps such as growing a garden because it is the only thing they can see to help there situation. It is actually a good survival mechanism because it gives you a safety net for when you get layed off or fired.

The difference between the Russian depression and the Greater Resession is that in Russia when you lost your job you still had a house and a garden.
In the USA if you lose your job you also lose your house in most cases. Even if you save you can't save enough to pay for rent forever on your savings.

Last year I worked for the State of California Department of Fish and Game. I lost my job and it took me 7 months to find a job in Hawaii. I got a job as a farm laborer.... So there I was a recent college graduate working as a seasonal farm worker picking corn.

I worked there for a year before I lost that job also. I am going to go to South America and get a farm down there. The land is cheap and I can speak the language. I hope it will be better then being homeless here in the Good old US of A. The land of broken dreams.


Cane Spider, find your community. If that community is in South America, more power to you.

As for working on the farm, that is excellent real world experience that I'm guessing most of your peers don't have. Not to worry, you aren't special. Many of us have done this and that along the way, despite plenty of fancy education, and been the better for it.

My 2¢ worth, from three years ago, my ELP Plan essay:


While we will desperately need engineers and many other technically qualified graduates, we are seeing wave upon wave of college graduates entering the work force with degrees that very poorly prepare them for work in a post-Peak Oil environment. We may ultimately see college graduates competing with illegal immigrants for agricultural jobs.

In order to hold on to the job I had in 1989, anticipating layoffs, I proposed that I receive a 50% pay cut, in exchange for an equity interest in oil & gas deals that I generated and sold. My offer was accepted, and as I expected, the boss fired about 40% of the staff (but not me). My last paycheck was in 1991. Been self employed since then.

"The aim to bring about changes to Leek that mean we both use less energy and are more resilient to future energy shocks."

It seems they actually believe that pragmatic, incremental changes are in order.

Under any scenario there will be 'techno-fixes'.

Population reduction is coming, quite independently of any horseperson of the apocalypse. See "The Empty Cradle" by Phillip Longman.

My personal plan to survive in an energy constrained future is to purchase a boatload of chrome plated modified woks.

Quite basically, parabolic mirrors.

Invented in the dark ages, robust, efficient. Capable of melting iron at the focal point. Certainly able to cook and boil water.

The clever will be able to generate eletricity via a small closed system steam engine.

Localized power, portable, and recipients will need my help to utilize them

Cost approx. $8 each

Some years ago a fiend of mine called a company that made the aluminum saucers that kids used to ride down hills. The receptionist asked if he wanted the sporting goods division or the antenna division.

As much of a mathematical triumph the parabolic mirror is, you don't need one to focus sunlight. You can achieve the same result, in a DIY project, and at larger scale (if need be) with flat mirrors. You just take little mirrors and mount them onto a piece of plywood, and orient each mirror to shine on the desired focus point, and then fix in position, and do the next. Basically, a mini version of the heliostats used for large solar thermal stations.


I have seen this done with a 4x4 plywood piece in Australia, and it would set anything on fire. Most interesting demonstration was focusing it on an unopened beer can. Can heated up and burst, then evaporated the remaining beer and finally melted the can!

Not as sexy as a parabolic mirror, but much easier to make, and you can make the focal length whatever you want, or, very helpful, even make it off centre or linear

Transition movement is localization.
Localization is diametrically opposed to the existing infrastructure therefore it has attracted a large following.

Unfortunately the economics of localization make it a pipe dream. Also it would never work with existing population. We are 100% (maybe only 90% in some regions) dependent on the existing production/distribution infrastructure to feed and cloth the people. I know of no region that could produce more than 33% of what it needs, therefore distribution will always be necessary and the economy of scale will make local produced goods more expensive...until it's not...then everything is more expensive.

People always talk about how local will get cheaper than distributed and take over but IMO they will both always be there and both will just keep getting more expensive.

Shop local is just a feel good slogan to get behind.

Localization is going to happen. It will look however it looks but globalization is in reverse. Ask the now 39 million people on food stamps in the U.S. if they are planning any trips to Bora Bora for the holidays.

So what, exactly, do these Transition Town people actually believe?

In short, the answer is "Yes".

It has been my experience that the Transition Town movement will differ in direction a lot from locality to locality. There is general agreement of the problems, but TT is a framework for a developing solutions rather than the solution itself. From an evolutionary perspective, this is good, because it encourages lots of different approaches and hopefully some will succeed.

Locally, my town's TT team was bright green (technofix) when I last participated. I discovered that I am dark green (collapse, die-off, de-urbanizing) and decided to drop out of TT.

I have been wading in the transition movement waters also, and I agree, it is a bit amorphous, and not defined.
We will see what emerges, as many are peak oil aware, but thermodynamically challenged.

A few years ago I traveled north to Santa Barbara for a two day workshop on "permaculture" and I encountered a lot of ignorance and downright denial. However I have to admit that there were a lot of young dedicated persons present that impressed me.

Michelle Obama's move to create a White House Garden was one of the most popular decisions of a first lady since Lady Bird's Keep America Clean movement of the 60's.

The garden this year is expanded by two rows -- an additional 400 square feet, bringing the total to 1,500 square feet. Ground for the original 1,100 square-foot garden on the west side of the South Lawn was cleared on March 20, 2009, and first planted the following month.

Bok choi, mustard greens and artichokes are among the 2010 additions to the crop lineup. Earning a second year in the nation's highest-profile garden are, among other vegetables, peas, spinach, carrots, sorrel, radishes, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage and leeks.

Later on, other new foods -- figs, corn, melons and pumpkins -- will be planted in the fertile soil. Also around for the second year is the White House beehive -- kept nearby to make it an easy commute for the bees.

Last year the garden (a four-season affair, with the winter planting surviving under plastic "hoop houses") yielded about 1,000 pounds of produce, used by the White House chefs or sent to local food pantries or homeless shelters. While mainly vegetables, the crops also included blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. In all, Mrs. Obama said some 55 kinds of food were grown in the first year.

It's tempting to become cynical. Sure I know that we're headed for a population bottleneck which will no doubt severely reduce world population by the next century. However at the same time I have no idea how or when that will play out. But I think we have to look for small victories as we move into a new and dangerous era. As James Lovelock opined, "...the coming crisis will be a great thing for bringing people together, just as it did during the horrors of WWII".

The TT and permaculture movements are probably the best we can hope for at present. At least they are moving their muscles trying to make things better, as opposed to yours truly sitting on his derriere blogging.


two day workshop on "permaculture"

What was noted one day on TOD and I came around to agreeing on - the primary product of the Permaculture movement is people selling access to the Permaculture movement and not alot of Ag products being sold.

TT movements ... sitting on derriere blogging.

Oh, I see plenty of the TT people doing just that. Talk a fine talk but when it comes to implementation of the talk they miss details. Big details.

I have been attending some TT meetings in a community near us. Most of the attendees are farmers and gardeners well versed on growing food. Some are living off grid and pretty self sufficient. At least in our group, there seem to be very few with an energy background which is probably part of the problem. I think most people just don't understand the scale of the energy available in oil and how much electricity, etc. it will take to offset declining oil availability.

Jim - I agree. I met a young couple at one seminar who had made a decision to help heal a severely damaged piece of land around Solvang that had been degraded due to improper storage of obsolete industrial machinery. They had been living on the land for over a year and planned to stay one more. He had a degree in Environmental Science. That has to be the most heart-breaking work on Earth.


I'm part of our local transition group and its an attempt to try to do something rather than accept BAU.

Sure, there are community gardens, converted home gardens, permaculture, energy conservation, miocrogeneration, trying to build local resilience, reskilling, political activism.

It is amorphous though.

I belong to Transition Rogers Park, a Chicago neighborhood. I read through all the comments. TT is a movement rooted in the local community. What may work for us might not work elsewhere. We are working on developing a community garden, improvements for cyclists, and educating the community on the issues. We are also working on the "unleashing" and that is going to be pretty interesting as we look for partners further along the path of localization. It is indeed amorphous, but I think that is its greatest strength since it requires people to step forward and begin taking leadership of the issues and solutions, rather than wait for some far off entity/government to do it for them.

Rogers Park considers itself to be pretty progressive, and regarding Peak Oil and Climate Change people are spread across the continuum of change from early adopters who see the threat on the horizon and want to act, to those firmly entrenched in the notion that BAU is non-negotiable. If we are going to reach these folks we can't be all about the doom and gloom, they have to believe a healthy future is possible.

There are around 150 members in our group of which 10-20% are actually fully engaged. Not a lot and certainly there are those on TOD who will think, and possibly post, any number of snarky responses as well as legitimate criticisms. I make no apology for my participation. As I see it we can all sit back and enjoy the ride and figure out what to do when TSHTF or we can try and prepare as best we can. In the event of a collapse I'd rather be further along the road in building relationships that will help me survive (perhaps thrive?) then wait until the collapse to build relationships. At the very least I will get that much out of this experience.

I applaud your efforts.

I'm a doomer as much as anyone, but positive social action is better than nothing. There are some old men here who envisioned widespread social chaos when peak oil hit, some of them have been obsessive about it and have made grand doomstead preparations, but collapse hasn't happened yet, and we are a good five years into the production plateau.

Granted things could get bad when we hit the downslope, but my sixth sense tells me it won't be a supply problem as much as a political/financial problem. In other words what you have to worry about is nuclear war with Iran and totalitarianism, not whether you can fill up your car or not - although that problem is surely coming as well.

There are alot of people here who didn't see this. In 2008 even very smart people like Matt Simmons were calling for $200 oil and they were dead wrong.

Moreover, there are many here who don't believe society can make a transition to efficient, partly electric transportation and I think they're wrong as well. It won't be pretty or perfect but it will happen. Remember: all you have to do is get to some meaningful job, to a grocery store, and back. It's not the end of the world if you can't make it to Aunt Betty's place 200 miles away for the 10th consecutive Thanksgiving.

So, Kheris: keep up the good work!

One can be an armchair quarterback, or go out and do the hard work of at least trying to make a difference in one's own community.
One thing we know for sure - we will all be transitioning to a lower-energy lifestyle, one way or another. I'm all for doing what I can to lessen the shock, and, if I can help a few other people to do the same, that's a good thing, IMHO.

Hmmm. I live in a town with ~90% local renewable electricity on its own grid, a strong sustainability movement, and LOTS of guns. Although we have not affiliated with the transition town movement, we are using many of their ideas, just not in quite so 'liberal green' an expression. Our local challenge is growing food so my permaculture training comes in handy. The nearest big city is more than 250 miles away - by water.
May I respectfully suggest that those who are determined to bash anyone else's efforts because they don't see the world in exactly the same way,
hush up and DO something instead?
If I may paraphrase another book, "Be doers of the word, and not bloggers only."

Eric, perhaps a better question is what are they trying to achieve, and how do they propose to do so.

The original idea was to have a town with an orderly descent of energy use, particularly oil.

Now, this can be done, but it take real changes, such as densifying towns and getting people to give up their cars. not just alternative transport, but reducing the need for transport, not just of food, but of people. But these changes are very hard to make, and require real change to a town, it;s structure, and economy.

Instead, they inevitably end up with things like local food production, because that is what a group of part time volunteers can achieve. making the town able to live and thrive car free would achieve more, but is much, much harder to achieve.

While people here note that they don't talk about security etc, that is because they are not considering the Mad max scenario, their idea is to avoid that by orderly descent, and I am OK with that. If they adopt a doomer approach, they will be viewed as extremists and won;t get the support to achieve anything.

But, to achieve something, I think they need to be more focused. And quite simply, on oil and energy - the goal should be for the town to get to "energy independence", or at the very least, minimise it's dependence on outside energy.. Every action should be assessed against these criteria, in this order;
-does it help to DIRECTLY reduce the consumption of oil (e.g. getting rid of vehicles and reducing VMT)?
-does it help to create local jobs that are not dependent on oil?
-does it help to reduce dependence on outside non-oil energy (elec and gas)?
-does it help to indirectly reduce the consumption of oil (e.g. transport of goods, and reduction of goods consumed)?

Now, local food production does, but really, a town could be food self sufficient, but what good is that if everyone is still driving vehicles all over the place? I'd rather have a town that is not food self sufficient, but does not require any oil powered transport, at all.

In my town, which has a "town" of 4000, but a local area population of 10,000, everyone is very dependent on their cars. There is a limited public bus service, up and down the main highway, and would"serve" about 1/3-1/2 the population. But, the schools have their own bus system that serves 90% of the population. if we combine the two, and allow the public on the school buses (which are half empty), we can save a lot of VMT, using equipment we have already, and save far more oil than backyard veggie gardens. That is one example of the sort of change that i think is needed, but that is quite a change. similarly, would a town impose a car tax, like they did in London, to then fund it's transition?

But, it is easy for a group to grow food, much harder to to change their towns transport systems, or anything else that involves real change to the direction/administration of a town, so they end up growing food, doing parks and cycle projects. Better than nothing, for sure, but not enough to really make the changes required. be interesting to see how it develops..

The Transition Towners have a lot of good ideas, but I’d be more interested in "Barter Towns" which take a less rosy view of the future and how the post-peak world is likely to play out. I certainly wouldn’t want to cast my lot with a community of gardeners, cob builders and (bad) folk singers in a Mad Max world. If there are TT’s that incorporate more James Wesley Rawles-type paranoia and less Shire pacifism I might consider them; otherwise I’ll take my chances with the well-armed country folks in my neighborhood.

Speaking of "barter towns," Tom Sherry posted two books on another forum (Shatter and Dark Winter) but eventually pulled them to publish a book based upon them. One of the essential elements of both books was barter. He now has a book out entitled Dark Winter which I haven't read but I assume includes barter elements.

The "forum" books were based upon Rainer going volcano and its impact upon Seattle. They were truly excellent reads (I wish I could write half as well)! Tom eventually moved over to AR15.com but I don't know if he continued his fiction writing there.

Really, check him out. He's sort of Rawles lite but lots of good information. I highly recommend his work.


Oops! I remembered the title wrong: It's Shatter (Deep Winter). Here's an Amazon link http://www.amazon.com/Shatter-Deep-Winter-Thomas-Sherry/dp/061519320X/re...


I'm planning on attending Kunstler's presentation tonight in Albany, NY.

If there are any other TODers in the area who will be going to the talk let me know if you'd be interested in a bit of a meet-up afterwords. Let me know on Drumbeat and I can give you contact info etc.

For those in the area that don't know about it he's presenting at the Colonie Town Library (Albany - Shaker Road) at 7 pm tonight (April 12th):



On a related note Stoneleigh is coming to Hartwick College in Oneonta Tues April 20th.


And Stoneleigh will be speaking at the Brockville Public Library in Brockville, Ontario on Sunday, April 25:


Catskill - I wish I could attend that event but I am on the opposite end of the continent. Please take notes and give a detailed report on TOD tomorrow.


Big oil rush to Israel... of course, the field is offshore in the Mediterranian, so it is more like club Med oil.

in the Levant Basin Province in the eastern Mediterranean region,


Still, with 1.2 BBO and 122TFT of gas, they will be drilling there for a while. And, at 84MBD, that will extend oil use for about 15 days.

Good luck with your 15 extra days.


Yes, but these fields may work for Israel for a while.

I am trying to figure out how to take, "The Colosseum and Energy Flows" in the posting above.

We still have large flows of energy in the form of oil or manufactured products that enter the OECD nations but the question is if the nations outside the OECD plan to alter this flow. The number of potential customers outside OECD will increase dramatically. We now need leading people within the OECD to realize very quickly what is happening – the insight must come now. In 10 years it can be too late.

Who do they think plans "to alter this flow"? How do they think alteration would not happen, without a plan. In fact, isn't it already too late? This is such fuzzy thinking that it absolutely boggles my mind!


I'm surprised this wasn't in todays Drumbeat:


US military warns oil output may dip causing massive shortages by 2015

But there are signs that the US Department of Energy might also be changing its stance on peak oil. In a recent interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, Glen Sweetnam, main oil adviser to the Obama administration, admitted that "a chance exists that we may experience a decline" of world liquid fuels production between 2011 and 2015 if the investment was not forthcoming.

It's still a bit frustrating though that few reporters understand supply ALWAYS equals demand at a certain price. It's economics 101.


You're a day late and a Euro short. It's up top on the 11th. Discussion towards the bottom.

Very helpful article for me to share around here, though.

How bizarre! It was in my newspaper print today!! Sorry.

And the report itself is not new; it got some media coverage back when it was released. Most of the articles dealt with the climate change elements, but this one (from the March 16 DrumBeat) was about energy.

This Transition town idea sounds good, does anyone have a link to one that has worked, or know of any?

I don't think we can pass judgement on whether or not they've been successful until Peak Oil extraction is well behind us. They could be wildly successful now because people not involved in the movement are not interfering, in the future this is likely not to be the case.

Saudi Arabia require a large amount of imports of vegetables, rice, and the other usual agricultural products.

I believe Saudi Arabia is buying up agricultural land around the world to ensure its food supply.

And China is buying up oil reserves:

Conoco to Sell Oil-Sands Stake to Sinopec for $4.65 Billion

HONG KONG—ConocoPhillips said Monday that it agreed to sell its 9% stake in the Syncrude oil-sands project in Canada to China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. for $4.65 billion, marking the biggest North American energy investment by a company backed by the Chinese government.

The deal demonstrates China's increasingly assertive strategy to secure energy resources around the world. The country's rapid growth and emerging middle class have made it the world's top automobile market, surpassing the U.S. earlier this year, and its state-backed oil companies have been acquiring oil and gas reserves and storage globally.

WT, The Chinese have been quietly poking around the Cdn oilsands for some time. Canadian gov't is keen to sell other things to china, like lumber and nuclear reactors (several CANDU's operating there and, I think, one under construction), so they are not actively blocking this sort of thing, unlike the Unocal takeover attempt.

It's an interesting one because the oilsands represent a fairly secure, though not cheap, supply of oil, unlike fields in Sudan etc. one of the larger Canadian oil companies, Husky energy, is controlled by a Hong Kong based fellow, but to date, he's been happy to send money, not oil, to Hong Kong.

There is a new pipeline to be built from the oilsands to the west coast, at Kitimat, specifically for oil export to Asia. Makes more sense to pipe it south, in my opinion, but it's a business and if the Chinese are prepared to pay more for it, then we'll sell it to them. If nothing else, having the option to ship west instead of south means the southern customers don't have a captive seller.

many of the oil majors involved in the oilsands have shelved development plans, preferring to look for more conventional oil. But as we know, the Chinese will take whatever they can get. Wonder if the Chinese are paying with US treasury bonds - would be a good way to swap devaluing paper for revaluing oil...

Where ?

If there is a shortage of food, I expect most countries to ban exports. Doesn't matter who owns the land.

Why is Saudi Arabia buying up African farmland?

The Christian Science Monitor highlights an April report by the International Food Policy Research Institute entitled "'Land Grabbing' by Foreign Investors in Developing Countries." The report details purchases of farmland in developing countries by China, South Korea, India, and a handful of gulf states.

Saudi Arabia recently purchased 500,000 hectares of land in Tanzania and Indian companies have bought land in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Senegal and Mozambique.

Another analysis of the "land-grabbing" trend relased in June by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and two other agricultural research groups examines more closely the potential positives and negatives of the purchases.

Other places too. Just Google.

To paraphrase totoneila: Food flows uphill to money.

They may not ban exports to all countries. China's policy is not just to buy up farmland, but invest in other stuff too. They built hospitals in Angola, to get access to their oil, and where they are buying farmland, are helping with "infrastructure", which mainly translates into roads/ports to help export the food. The strategy is to become a close enough partner with the country in question, that food exports from the Chinese farms will still go to China, maybe not all of the production, but most.

I believe Korea tried buying up agricultural land in Madegascar. It led to a coup of the government and the expulsion of the Koreans.

Reverse migration: Flight to the exurbs stops cold

"We're stuck there," said Jason Hanson, who bought a townhouse in Farmington with his wife in 2005. At the time, moving farther out was a way to get more space for less money. Now with a baby and a dog, the distance from work and everyday amenities has turned into a drag. They want to move to Lakeville or Eagan, closer to a freeway and transit to carry him to his job in Minneapolis. But, Hanson said, "a lot of people want to sell and they can't."

Now that story is a good find! This confirms a discussion that Alan from Big Easy and I had last week in the thread about peak asphalt.

The exurbs devaluate, but the areas near transit hold their own. People will give up the house on 1/4 acre when they realise it is driving them into poverty. Even the arrival of EV's and PHEV's will not stem this tide, as people whose mortgages are underwater, can't afford new cars, and it will be at least a decade before enough people have them to make the suburbs/exurbs seem desirable enough to recover any value.

Given that adding transit to an area is a proven way to improve property values, it begs the question of will cities finance them (partly) by a property tax on the benefitting areas? If my mortgage was underwater, I'd vote for it.

The cities will be just as unsustainable as the exurbs, they are reliant on cheap energy to move goods around and to provide services; the make-work service jobs will continue to dissapear. It's just the exurbs may go a bit sooner due to higher transit costs. The cities are livable for now so some move to them, but too many on here write off civil unrest.

I just checked two cities, Detroit and Chicago. Both have lost population recently. If point to point travel becomes impossible nothing will have any value but rural farmland because the entire economy will have imploded. This will not lead to a city revival, but a politically radical world that is probably on the brink of unending resource wars. If you really believe point to point transit will not be possible in the relatively near future you should be picking up farmland and building a bomb shelter because that would lead to not only an economical collapse, but a complete societal collapse. Think otherwise at your own peril. Starbucks and the theater will not be open for the end of modern life.

Many (most?) cities will turn into slums, is there really any question about that? Still, that's where more jobs will be and government services, too, at least for a few more decades. Here is their extent today.

Planet of Slums


Have you noticed that most of the poorest cities in the world are in the sunniest regions of the world? Give me your take on this, are humans somehow disabled by sunshine? :-)


Jarod Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel has a plausible explanation as to why human population, agriculture, civilization and industrialization developed differently around the world.

Before the industrial revolution it used to be the other way. 300 years ago life was a lot easier in India than in cold, miserable Europe.

The industrial revolution started in the "cloudy" regions of the world which made it possible for the people who live there to colonize the people living in the "sunny" regions. The people in the cloudy regions became very wealthy by using the sunny regions as a source of raw materials and a dumping ground for their finished products. The people in the cloudy regions also benefited from the discovery of vast continents rich in natural resources. Surplus population from the cloudy regions could be exported to these new continents at the expense of the native people.

Unfortunately for the people in the sunny regions they got antibiotics and vaccines before they participated in the industrial revolution in a major way. As a result their populations exploded which means a majority of them will be poor unless they have strong economic growth for several decades. Unfortunately for the people in the sunny regions there are no more vast continents left to be discovered.

Does this answer your question?

Hi, RC. I'd just be speculating, having given no more than a glance at the topic. The others' answers above sound like their are in the ballgame.

"We're stuck there," said Jason Hanson, who bought a townhouse in Farmington with his wife in 2005. At the time, moving farther out was a way to get more space for less money.

The documentary "House of Cards" discusses the economics of post 9/11, and their take on what led up to the financial crises currently in progress. Discussion of the exurbs plays a part. Was informative.


As commuting becomes more difficult - more people will telecommute. I think most of the white collar work, can be done from home.

The question is how long will all these jobs last - and if you don't have a job do you have to commute, anyway.

Telecommuting can help, but in most companies there is no replacement for face-time. If you want executive visibility and to be "in the game" you have to be at HQ or at a large remote site.

The other issue is that telecommuting can increase your viable commute distance. It's little different whether you commute 20 miles per day every day or 100 miles once per week, from a cost perspective.

Work-at-homes have additional IT costs, and you often still have office space costs at the office as well. Often it's more of a perk than a savings.

Good oil background reading.

Can anyone recommend some reliable texts detailing the oil process from start to end including surveying, extraction, all the way through to futures contracts (is there more?).

The only complete-ish guide I've seen is here:


Would anyone in the field endorse this?

I keep seeing arguments based broadly on 'market verses national' supply but I am confused as to how this takes place. Can you only sell to a market (presumably as futures?) and what does this in practice mean - sales to wholesalers? - sales mediated by wholesalers? - how about strict bilateral deals?
Can a market buy futures contracts on oil that does not actually exist or is proof-of-physical-ownership required? What about crude verses refined product? Seeing as gasoline requires a lower temperature than diesel can you make any product out of crude if you just provide enough energy? Are the ratios fixed?

What say,if any, does a nation-state have on oil under its land? Presumably this most of the time can only be extracted by IOCs so what does it mean to 'own it'? The ability to raise taxes on its extraction?

I think you get the idea - lots of questions... Not looking for anyone to provide an essay - just some web sites or books that cover end-to-end.


Oil 101, by Morgan Downey:


Part One: Oil fundamentals
Chapter 1: A brief history of oil
Chapter 2: A crude oil assay
Chapter 3: Components of oil liquids
Chapter 4: Chemistry of oil
Chapter 5: Industry overview
Chapter 6: Exploration and production
Chapter 7: Refining
Chapter 8: Standards
Chapter 9: Finished products
Chapter 10: Petrochemicals
Chapter 11: Transporting oil
Chapter 12: Storage
Chapter 13: Seasonality
Chapter 14: Reserves
Chapter 15: Environmental regulations
Chapter 16: New engine technologies

Part Two: Oil markets
Chapter 17: Oil prices
Chapter 18: Forward oil markets - futures and swaps
Chapter 19: Forward oil markets - options
Chapter 20: Managing oil price risk

Thanks WT. Just went and read the reviews and this sounds just the ticket.

JHK wants to harp on the Military Industrial Complex, Which seems kind of odd seeing that he is using one of its greatest inventions. The Internet.

The Militaries of the world gave us more than one invention. It is not prefect but generally Mankind has advanced only because of Military needs.

Maybe I just want harp on all the recent posts about how "they" are sucking us dry, but in the end we can't discount where we would be without them.

Now onto another group the AIA American Institute of Architects. I am not a membe r of them, though I have studied the concepts and had the classes to become one, even though I went off into landscape. I always designed, drew and advised people to build Passive Solar, and Earth shelter homes, Hoping that I was not screaming into the wind.

I don't think you can have the Millions of People you have in the world's big cities all in Earth Shelter, or Earth friendly homes, Well you could, but not as it now stands.

We humans for generations, for eons it seems have been trying to Rule nature, and all the while, we should have been living in harmony with it.

When the global collapse happens I hope that those are left will understand that living within nature is the only way to go.

Sorry for the rant, but it's been building for a while.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

"We humans for generations, for eons it seems have been trying to Rule nature, and all the while, we should have been living in harmony with it."

That's because humans (most of them) consider themselves supernatural, Charles. Creatures in nature don't have an "afterlife". This is one of the ways we give ourselves permission to "rule" over nature. Devine right.

That is why I have a divine right to prosperity, and will live forever in heaven when my soul leaves my body.
It is the 'Merikan Way, and is non negotiable.
The Psychopathic Space daddy didn't create us his own image for nothing!

Congrats to hightrekker...just when I think the right wingnuts are as narrow as a human can be...I realize what I thought was so just ain't so...:-S


Say Amen.


Now put some money in the collection plate and QUIT YOUR BITCHIN'!!

"Don't make me holler, don't make me shout, turn them pockets inside out!" Richard Pryor

The Militaries of the world gave us more than one invention. It is not prefect but generally Mankind has advanced only because of Military needs.

Maybe I just want harp on all the recent posts about how "they" are sucking us dry, but in the end we can't discount where we would be without them.

Thats hardly the efficient or the ethical way to do it. The same way Hitler can't be credited with creation of Israel.

In regards to the article quoted above - 'There's no shortage in oil market' - well, that statement may be true for now. But the concept of 'excess inventories' is relative, and it doesn't take a big swing in demand to use up the entire amount of inventory above the MOL (minimum operating level) very quickly.

Despite the 'high inventories', on which more than a few oil commentators in the finanicial press mentioned even today, total OECD inventories are already 75 million barrels less at the end of March 2010 as compared to March 2009. Even the EIA's latest short term report is based upon the expectation that the US will build up total inventories more than 3 million barrels per week for the entire second quarter, so that there will be adequate supplies for the summer 'driving season'.

But what if 'high inventories' are only a fleeting, leftover outcome of the financial panic of early 2009? Who will say 'sorry about that' if gasoline use goes back to record demand levels, and all that oil we were expecting somehow didn't show up at the unloading docks this summer?

Romance blooming in the spring: Americans + driving
By John Kingston on April 9, 2010 5:49 PM
The last time the four-week average topped that 67 million barrel mark, according to the MasterCard data, was in the week ending July 3 of last year. Before that, it didn't top it until the first week of August in 2008. It hasn't consistenly exceeded the 67 million barrel mark since the summer of 2007, before the economic crash, before oil prices went crazy.


If I was in the oil bidness, and knew that it was going to run short, I would have quite an inventory. Right now!


zap -- You and my owner see things the same. So does every other operator I know. Unfortunately most don't have the capital to execute.

Capital? Who needs capital, I mean any old gang of bedraggled Somali pirates can hijack an oil tanker nowadays. I'm sure even the cash strapped operators can still come up with a few mil to hire a few pirates, sort of like an up front down payment on the ransom ;-)

I took millions of pieces of data on worker productivity and applied some math-fu to it which allows me to explain the statistics to a gnat's eyelash. Details forthcoming. As usual, the derivation is quite simple.

On PBS "Charlie Rose", there is a fascinating interview with James Chanos, the guy who called the Enron collapse and made himself a fortune selling Enron short, is predicting a housing and property collapse in China, and a BIG ONE, sometime around the end of this year, or early next year. It may seem boring, but we are now tied to China in a way we have never been. It is worth considering. His logic is sound, Chinese couples with 2 combined incomes of about $8,000 U.S are buying semi-finished condos for $150,000 plus and flipping them to other young Chinese couples making no more than they themselves are, there are whole "Broadway" districts being built with theatres and clubs and being sold as Collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)all over the world, the whole thing smells like U.S. circa 2006.

Interestingly, Chanos says that some 50% to 60% of China's GDP is in construction, NOT EXPORTING, as many Americans seem to believe.

Chanos is now talking about a collapse of commodities (steel, copper, cement, glass) as Chinese construction freezes up, and is playing against the tide in SHORTING MATERIALS COMMODITIES. FASCINATING interview.


Chanos referring to Lehman Brothers, "you can be off by 10 billion dollar, or 15 billion dollars, but not by 150 billion...there's fraud here..."
"There should be a LOT more criminal indictments..."

Hs anyone, any big time insider in the financial community ever said it better?

All around the cobbler's bench
The monkeys chased the weasel;
The monkeys thought 'twas all in fun,
Pop! went the diesel.

A dollar for a spool of thread,
A dollar for a flagon
That's the way the money went,
Pop! goes the Dragon!

The period of confession and atonement:


Realizing that all trust in the financial community is GONE, the high priests of the financial community begin the long task of trying to rebuild the wreckage. FASCINATING.


There's been a lot of chit-chat from time to time here on TOD about the potential popping of China's housing bubble, potentially initiating the 2nd rung down for the world economy. Well, here's a new article:


China real estate bazaar drowns out government warnings
Chris Buckley
Mon Apr 12, 2010

Standing in the shouting tumult of a Chinese real estate fair, Chen Shiyong said, feels like watching a suicidal man on top of a building ignoring the pleas of bystanders to pull back from the edge.

The average selling price of properties of seven major developers in mainland China increased from 8,069 yuan ($1,182) per square meter in November last year to 10,810 yuan in March.

"If prices keep rising like they have, then ordinary residents won't be able afford anything, and even middle-class people will be squeezed out, and that could be dangerous," said Wang.

"I'm looking to sell one of my places, and I get serious calls about it at all hours, even after midnight," said Zhang.

Chen, the investment analyst, said he had come to the fair hoping to persuade investors to buy instead into the stock market, which he said was a surer way to profits.

"I warn them to switch, but they're not listening to me," he said. "They'll be unhappy people soon."

Those comments add up to the obvious signs of an overheated market that will tap out at some point, when there are more sellers than buyers. I'm still wondering though if that will affect the world economy, or just the economy in China.

Peak Earl, you ask,
"I'm still wondering though if that will affect the world economy, or just the economy in China."

No one seems to know. In the interview on Charlie Rose, there was discussion of CDO type packages being sold in Europe and the U.S. (although less so in the U.S. because everyone is still scared after the last catastrophe) but no one knows how much and the holders are probably not admitting to all they hold out of fear of spooking their shareholders...the bigger issue is that those intending to cash in on the China building boom by selling to them may take a hit on earnings if the building boom freezes up. I know in my home state of KY there are quaries and cement makers that are getting easily half of their earnings from sales to China. Still, as always, it may pay to hedge just in case...play to the safe side.


Chinese CDOs? Are we talking mortgage-backed CDOs? Can you provide some references please - I can't find any information indicating that the Chinese are selling MB-CDOs as part of their current property boom financing.

First, here is a link to the interview that caused me to comment on the Chinese real estate market:

This is an incredible interview, I will let you judge it for yourself. Chanos mentions the foreign investors over and over again, and stresses London, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York and “Western” and “Foreign” investors. One must assume that he is referring to investors who are using Chinese real estate as collateral by the context of the interview. It is I who used the term CDO in relation to China. I don’t know that the Chinese use this term, but I do know from various research that outside “foreign” investors have been pouring money into Chinese real estate, and that this market has been heavily promoted, by way of recruiting wealthy individual investors as well as corporate and speculative partnerships.

"As of 2002, China’s entry into the WTO (World Trade Organization) made it possible for outside investors to invest in Chinese Mortgage and Construction debt."

“An agreement has been signed between The International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the WTO and Advantage Services Holding Limited (ASHL) for investment in Advantage China Holdings Limited (ACHL). This is surely going to have a very positive effect on the mortgage industry in the country.”




The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has signed an agreement with Advantage Services Holding Limited (ASHL) to invest in Advantage China Holdings Limited (ACHL).

ACHL will establish joint venture companies in China to provide home mortgage origination, borrower credit analysis, and contract underwriting services to Chinese banks.

IFC's investment represents a 24.5 percent direct ownership in ACHL. Other types of shareholders include ASHL and Netherlands Nederlanse Finanierings-Maatschappij Voor Ontwikkelingslanden N.V. (FMO).
Javed Hamid, IFC's Director for East Asia and the Pacific, said, "IFC is very pleased to support the development of mortgage servicing in China where private home ownership is expanding rapidly and lenders need to manage their exposures as they increase their mortgage lending portfolios." (note: This is a fascinating and seldom mentioned fact, that a para-governmental entity has helped fuel growth in developing market real estate in a big way. It could be seen as something of an international version of the U.S. experience with FannieMae and FreddieMac)

"This new institution should help alleviate credit concerns in China where the housing sector is growing steadily, increase homeownership rates, and strengthen families and communities."

"IFC's mission is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helps in reducing poverty and improve people's lives."

"IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.
Promoting the market"




Selling the market:

Dateline 2007
“This brings to three the number of offices the real estate arm of INVESCO has opened in this region within the past year, which began with the opening of the Hong Kong office in 2006. The expansion is a result of increasing interest from foreign institutional investors looking to invest in the region and also local investors increasingly looking for overseas opportunities.”

The Chinese boom is staggering, and if you like modern architecture, astoundingly beautiful

Does this sound familiar?
The China mortgage insurance programme generally covers Smart Mortgage Insurance Programme and Super Insurance Mortgage programme.
Such type of Mortgages saves the expenses with an interest-free mortgage insurance premium repayment for 3 years.
Such types of insurances reduce the financial burden during the early stage of mortgage term with an interest-free mortgage insurance premium repayment for 3 years.
It brings more flexibility with deferred principal repayment period ranging from 1 to 3 years, during which only interest is payable"

I have maybe 3 dozen more links, but what we see here is all the same talk we had in the U.S. in 2006 or so just before our real estate meltdown...interest free loans, so called "mortgage insurance", foreign investment, property flipping, very fast rises in prices, projects that would be doubtful in even the very best of economic times.

As Chanos points out, however, China is a very closed system. It is impossible to know exactly how all this development has been collateralized. Chanos just seems to take the position that when the roof starts caving in, they will try to cash out. How? They will try to take control of the property and sell it, and if that is impossible, they will write it off...but how much will have to be written off? How will this be managed? Chanos admits he does not know and he has studied this issue to a far greater degree than most people.

I have gone long, but I want to play Chanos discussion out for a few more moments, because what he did not say may matter more than what he said. In brief:

-The effect on the ETF (Exchange Traded Funds) market. Many investors have adopted ETF funds as the salvation of the financial markets, and many of those funds are centered around China, emerging markets, and commodities. These are the three areas that would be first hit by the scenario posed by Chanos. This deserves some investigation. Many investors have not really considered the possibility of a serious setback in these markets.

-Effects on commodities prices. Right now, if you take out commodities price increases, the developed nations are essentially deflationary, at least for the moment. Many think that if steel prices, lumber prices or concrete prices collapse it will be great for industry and construction to build...but to build what? We are already up to our eyeballs in commercial real estate, houses, cars, boats planes and trains. What will we build that has a market and at how low a price?

-Energy prices-I will let you guys play with that one! This is fascinating stuff...:-)



Thanks for a thought provoking comment. This is quite fascinating and never even gets a mention - I had never even heard of the IFC. Very interesting to see how this plays out. Please keep raising it when you see new developments.

An office that redefines the energy envelope
Enermodal Engineering has made its reputation by working on some of the country's greenest buildings. So when it came time to build its own headquarters, the bar was set high for low energy use

A pioneer in green building design for 30 years, Stephen Carpenter likes to explore new boundaries.

But the University of Waterloo-trained engineer is no wild-eyed radical. In his determination to raise stretch the possibilities in the design of low-energy buildings, he prefers to keep things simple and monitor results.


“It would be hypocritical to have an energy pig of a building,” he says, given the company's business focus and his philosophy to be a “pot stirrer” on green issues. “Our role is to say, we think you [the building industry] can change and here is how. We have done it on our building, we live with it and we know it works.”

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/an-office-that-redefines-the-...

Best hopes for smart, sensible building design.


This is what it looks like when a Global debt Bubble Explodes:
(warning - graphic, adult themes)


Wasn't it just the other day the DOE/EIA said they knew of some "unidentified projects" showing up after 2012 - if the investment is there?

Is humpty flat broke? Or just broke? And up tar creek without a paddle?

Interesting graphic aardvark. Looks like higher priced energy is having a direct effect on debt. Japan at the worst end of debt to GDP ratio imports all of its energy, and at the better end is China which runs on super cheap coal and has a surplus. Europe is investing in renewables, but at what cost? Evidently from all the red showing on that graphic, quite a bit.

I wonder how long it will be until there is a crescendo of countries at the debt bubble bursting point like Greece. Once there are and the remaining ones cannot bail them out, what happens then? That's not the point of collapse is it? Could the collapse occur with fuel at the pumps, oil at say 90 a barrel, due to an overload of debt? Is it like a ship taking on water in small debt based increments due to higher priced energy, until it sinks under the weight of that debt?

I wonder about that " crescendo of countries at the debt bubble bursting point like Greece" too.

It's worth noting that some people in the comments section critisized that graphic because it did not include ALL debt - in which case the USA looks much worse than depicted.

My guess is that Orlov's stages of collapse are accurate, and that the collapse of the financial system now in progress leads to international debt defaults causing the next stage - economic collapse.

We'll all be like Argentina a decade ago - trading ship loads of grains for cars and other finished goods.