Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production--Conclusion and Adaptations

Recently, a 55 page paper called Tipping Point: Near-Term Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production (PDF warning) was published as the joint effort of two organizations: Feasta and The Risk/Resilience Network, with lead author David Korowicz. We have recently published several excerpts from that paper, which can be found at this link. This final excerpt gives the author's view about the future.

8. Conclusion

This report has laid out why we may be entering a near-term period of profound and abrupt change. The temptation might be to ignore it, or to carry it awhile until some august personage assures and persuades us that such concerns are quite without foundation and that the experts are indeed in control. Or we might wonder why we should stand out from our social group, initiate some actions, and risk the ridicule of those whose opinion we value. There is an abundance of psychological literature exploring the diverse ways in which we as individuals and groups maintain cohesion and keep the frightening and uncomfortable at bay [67]. Yet in acknowledging our fears and anxieties we are being true to ourselves. Fear evolved to warn us that action must be taken, and for many, action is the means by which we surmount our fears.

There is much we can do. Not to prevent or defer a collapse--rather to prepare to some degree ourselves and communities for some of its impacts. For example, despite the limitations of lock-in, planning for food insecurity is something in which everyone, from children to governments, has a role to play. Other jobs, from monetary system collapse and reserve communication systems planning are more specialised, but in which we all have an interest in understanding. And the reality is that this is the most important, meaningful, and potentially liberating work that we have ever had to do, and it must be done right now. Our current employment status is immaterial, employed or unemployed, we can begin from where we are.

Part of the preparation is in the acknowledgement of our predicament, that we recognise it when we see it. That as systems fail, we spend our efforts on positive change and adaption, rather than finding scapegoats or letting anger and loss drive the cannibalisation of our social fabric. Putting a wise step forward increases the chance that the next step will be wise; putting the foolish foot forward increases the chance that the next step will be foolish, or even initiates an evolving spiral of social breakdown. By acknowledging the potential stresses and the demons in our nature, we can begin to protect ourselves from our own worst enemy.

What does seem clear is that those who, through fear or avarice, try and insulate themselves from the impacts by disproportionate hoarding or land grabs for example, will imperil not only their community's security and wellbeing, but their own. This will be a time when we really will need the cooperation and support of others, and where the idea of autonomous security through wealth and the market system will be revealed as a transient illusion.

What is important is wisdom and speed. Our current political and social processes have not evolved to take quick and decisive action, in developed democracies. Instead, they have evolved to manage competing interests for the spoils of growth, and the maintenance of general stability. Constructive action must be taken at the limits of the possible, and this will require individual courage and the support of those who recognise the precarious status quo.

Finally, this is a personal story. It will no doubt be a difficult time, and horrific for some. We are likely to see a major increase in mortality. But it will also be a time when many people will find a liberation in new social and personal roles; in the new friends and connections they make; in the skills and pastimes acquired; in their ability to contribute to other's welfare; in their freedom from the subtle corrosion of positional consumption; and in the pleasures gained from contributing to the most crucial of shared endeavours.


[67] Cleary, S. Malleret, T. (2007) Global Risk: Business Success in Turbulent Times. Palgrave Macmillan. Introductory chapters review cognitive biases.

Thank you for these thoughtful reflections and insights.

One, perhaps minor, point for now:

You say, "those who, through fear or avarice, try and insulate themselves from the impacts by disproportionate hoarding or land grabs for example, will imperil not only their community's security and wellbeing, but their own."

I expect that, when things get really tough, the line between prudent preparations and disproportionate hording will be quite hard to draw, especially for those who have not given any thought to these issues before.

Good point dohboi, and one that I have personally moved through to both extremes. I suspect you are "talking your book" to a certain extent, in other words you have prepared by way of strategic acquisitions aka hoarding. IMO the point is that any who have parlayed large amounts of the "virtual wealth" perceived by most as ill gotten gains, into an inordinate amount of real assets in the hands of an individual or small group would and perhaps should be targeted and relieved of their possessions for re-distribution, (may also include French revolution type retribution).

Among all the issues mankind faces going forward wealth inequality in all it's manifestations has the most potential for generating the worst possible outcome. That individuals hoard in massive quantities with the expectation of out lasting others is the hight of denial, and anyone positioning themselves through massive land acquisitions to be "land lord" in some envisioned feudalist future are just plain sick in the head and deserve the inevitable ugly, violent end that will happen.


Among all the issues mankind faces going forward wealth inequality in all it's manifestations has the most potential for generating the worst possible outcome

Could be, but I wonder. It also could be that perfect "wealth equality" would cause more problems than it would solve. That sort of distribution in nature, if indulged by a hypothetical malicious deity, would make for a lot more extinctions.

I often feel that our predisposition to blame everything on unequal distribution of "stuff" is as destructive as having adding fire to our extended phenotype. We arguably need to Just Get Over It. Inequality of all kinds between individuals is part of the resilience of life, and life may need all the resilience it can muster.

And along those same lines; as an alternative to eating bugs, building bunkers and preparing to shoot zombies, why not just plan to die during the dieoff? It's not like there's a shortage of humans - far from it - and our genomes are enough alike that it doesn't much matter whose seed gets transmitted to the other side of the bottleneck.

Admittedly, this seems easier for a 60-ish guy than for a person in their 20's. But actually, I was in my early 20's when I made the decision to die steering the dieoff. I'm rather surprised to not be dead yet, all things considered.

I won't flog it because I know it seems insane: but once you get past the personal survival imperative it frees you to dedicate yourself to any set of goals you find meaningful. Rather than planning to shotgun your insensitive neighbor to defend your last can of corned beef, you can be creatively thinking about things you want to be doing with each day now at the peak of industrialized overshoot, and how to spend your efforts on something bigger than yourself; keep a sense of humor and die liking yourself.

And then, who knows, you may live a long time anyhow. Of the thousand who read this, maybe two of you may feel there's something to it; I'd say go climb a mountain and think on it. Not much sense giving in to fear. We're living on the cusp of the great human crash and in the midst of a mass extinction event; how might we affect it? These are extraordinary times coming up.

Fear is the mind-killer.

One of the few expressions of optimism here on this site that's made sense to me.
Thanks for the uplift.

Thanks for the "bravo". I actually expected to get flamed for the post; and since I have the flu I wasn't looking forward to checking back. Very nice that some folks felt a resonance with it.

And it is optimism, not fatalism. I'm glad you recognized it as such.

I live by 'that which is closest to me is most sacred'. Children, family, friends, pets and where I live, hold more importance than anything else for me. If I hadn't had children I could have probably adopted a similar sort of mindset and just die gracefuly when the time comes. It sounds quite liberating in a spiritual sort of way.

I'm delighted that I was able to convey the meaning I intended. I'm a bit daft with the flu so there are a lot of typo's to catch.

It would be much more difficult with kids. My advantage there was the accident of being cooped up in a room with a bunch of oilfield extraction records in an early job after college and coming up with my own theory of "peak oil", so by age 24 I had re-defined my own life. Of course this meant not having kids. I would have liked a family - family means a lot to me - but it was clear that there were larger issues that took precedence.

Best of luck to your family.

Well put Greenish. Some people seem to not be able to grasp that we are all mortal and will all die anyway - every one of the 6+ billion people alive today will have to die. Every newborn lives with a death sentence in essence. It is freeing to accept that personally and accept that dieoff is about timing, ways of dying, and whether or not your genes get passed on. It is not about will 6 billion or 5 billion or whatever billion will die or about whether you will die. We are mortal. Might as well do something positive rather than cling to the idea of personal survival. No one survives. That is what being mortal means.

Finally, evidence that someone else sees the amazing opportunities that arise from the unprecedented predicament. Nothing focusses the mind better than the knowledge of having only a limitted time to act on this planet, so make the very best of it. In fact it can be a liberating experience:

- The end of boredom as there is sooooo much to do (link up with others, join/create/explore transition towns)
- The end of pointless consumerism - spend your money and energy wisely
- The end of meaningless existence - this awareness can imbue you with new found meaning and direction in the world.

But don't just sit there staring at the words. Turn off the computer for now and get stuck in - transition towns, walking clubs, biking, allotments, whatever. More words on this subject may be unnecessary - especially when words as well-crafted as these have already been formed on the subject. Under these circumstances actions speak louder than words.

B-b-b-but, I rather like words. Who said it?: "Some say life's the thing, but I prefer reading."

Finally, evidence that someone else sees the amazing opportunities that arise from the unprecedented predicament. Nothing focusses the mind better than the knowledge of having only a limitted time to act on this planet, so make the very best of it. In fact it can be a liberating experience

In my experience it was immensely liberating. I'm not the same person I was. The conscious decision, and process, of letting go of fear as a motivator is empowering. It opens up life paths which didn't seem to exist, and facilitates focus on other unexamined assumptions. And it allows access to a sort of real wealth; knowing that your decisions have made a difference, and what that difference was.

But don't just sit there staring at the words. Turn off the computer for now and get stuck in - transition towns, walking clubs, biking, allotments, whatever. More words on this subject may be unnecessary - especially when words as well-crafted as these have already been formed on the subject. Under these circumstances actions speak louder than words.

Thanks for the kind comments on my post.

Posting here is an OK thing to do when one has the flu. I have developed genuine affection for many here I'll never meet.

"greenish" is actually the "ill" version of the guy typing this, a persona killing time to get better. And TOD stacks up quite well versus the other options while sick. But yes, I hope people will ENGAGE. Being alive in this time, with the advantages we have, among others who are simply reacting instead of thinking, confers a strange gravity to our actions. There are differences to be made. My own directions are more of the "think globally, act globally" persuasion, with very high risk-taking and a set of activist theories and principles which may not survive me.

But in general, this should be a time for heroism, and I recommend aspiring to it.

Good morning,Greenish

I hope you are feeling better, a day with the flu is mostly not a fun day.

What I have to say is not directly relevant , and most readers may want to skip it as OFF TOPIC.

But anyone who actually reads and thinks cannnot fail to see the actuality of unequal wealth distribution across nature, as you have remarked here before;and if there is a fundamendal failing with just about all of our philosophies of business, government, and human relatons, it is this:

The foundations of all of them are built on sand in that they either deny or ignore the reality of our evolved human natures and extended phenotype.

Personally I am convinced that the great novelists, and the better historians,know more about the workings of our "hearts" than all the SELF IDENTIFIED psychologists who ever lived before the advent of evolutionary psychology.

Now I have read for a lifetime mostly at random, but I have sought out all the famous utopian and antiutopian novels, and I have not found a single one iirc that depicts a technological society with any sort of real equality of wealth and or status. Futhermore I have read the works of a great many science fiction writers, some of them literary giants in thier own right, although not yet acknowledged as such by the larger literary establishment, and none of them depict technological societies with equality of wealth or status.

If there is a point to be made at this point, it is that I believe you are absolutely correct in this respect;and second, that the prevailing mood of the well meaning liberal establishment(currently dominant in academia, it has indoctrinated most recent college graduates,and and therefore society ) of all actions taken having to be egalatarian in nature is a hopeless roadblock that will continue to hold us hostage for some time yet to the status quo.

Now to the controversial part:

There have been numerous PRACTICING psychologists over the course of history who do not identify themselves as such, these being the founders and builders of religions and governments.

Any capable religious leader(or business leader) down to the level of Sunday School class leader is a capable practical psychologist almost by definition.Now that I think of it in these terms,it might be quite useful to view businesses or corporations as groups of people self organized for personal survival in dawrinian terms, just as religions are groups of people so organized .

The fact that Bill Gates and the Pope control disproportionate shares and that the higher one's position in an organization , the greater his share, is so universally observed it should be recognized as a law-which it probably is, but I don't know the name of it.

Now at last I will get to my real point;I know numerous people who are very well educated, including lawyers , high school principals, doctors, engineers, a couple of writers, some college professors, and so forth.

Only a minute fraction of them have any clue as to the true current state of the world as it is generally described here in this forum, and none of them, no sir, not a single one of them, is psychologically prepared to deal with what the next couple of decades promise to bring.A couple of them are making some material preparations.

The only people I know of personally who are prepared are known to me only thru this forum, or because thety are friends, nieghbors, and relatives, nearly all of whom lack any advanced education.

The last members of the last generation that never attended school at all died over the last decade,but I knew some of them well.I found them to be as wise in the ways of the world and people as most of the people I know who have advanced degrees.Nearly all of the ones currently alive and well can at least stumble thier way thru the King James bible, missing only a word here and there.

(Some of them, although they are only elementary school graduates, believe in evolution ans several other heresiesbut keep thier mouths shut.Religions evolve too.)

The ones who take the religion seriously regularly read and study THE BOOK, as they call it.

The book is chock full of stories of collapse, famine, war , and hard tough times in general, and teaches nomerous lessons concerning the ways people living in simple societies with only limited technologies camn work together to survive.

Futhermore it is so written that while the teachings in it are always for "today", the reference background material is always historical.A prime problem with peoples perceptions today is that these perceptions are based only on the last few decades , decades when energy and resources weere plentiful.

Very few people have a historical perceptive available to them in thier intellectual tool box to help guide thier thinking.

My grade school educated , ignorant, backward, superstitious relativesnand nieghbors are better prepared for what is coming than the average engineer or lawyer, or reader fo this forum.

For those who are capable of overcoming thier prejudices in respect to religion ,THE BOOK would make a wonderful addition to any survival library.

I would even go so far as to say it might be the most valuable book in most such libraries, except for the fact that so much low tech knowledge has been lost , which was common knowledge in the times when the book was assembled from the source materials,and therefore not included..

In case anyone new here does not know, I am not a believer, but an OBSERVER.

I am a committed Darwinist, and do not take the bible literally, but view it a useful historical resource.I do believe a great deal of the recorded history in it is more or less accurate, rewgarding wars and kings, etc.

My personal but imo well informed guess is that the percentage of the membership of small local fundamentalist churches which will survive the coming crash will be higher than the surviving percentage of the membership of the bar, or the AMA, or the UAW,or the faculty of the largest local university.

Good points about the severe shortcomings of the education most get in this (and many other) countries. I have in some previous threads been a lonely voice pointing out, to those dismissing the less educated, that it was very well educated people, by and large, who were at the helms of government and industry as we dug ourselves into this hole. And I speak as a college educator.

If you are interested in eloquent discussions on this topic, look to anything by David Orr. Wendel Berry also has interesting (and even more eloquent, of course) things to say on the topic in his book "Life is a Miracle."

THANKS Dohboi,

I have not read either of these authors but since they seem to hold some opinions in this matter very similar to my own, well then, they must be pretty smart guys! ;)

Seriously, I will add them to my reading list but it has gotten so long since I have been following this forum I fear I may never get to them.

The Oil Drum is the best place I have ever found insofar as turning up useful new information is concerned.

I think you would particularly like Wendel Berry. One of the best modern writers I know of. And he's a farmer and writes mainly about farming issues!

Hi mac, and thanks for the kind words, and even more for the great post.

Religion will indeed be more durable. It is evolved to be. If I live long enough, it's not impossible I'll be a baptist preacher, notwithstanding my athiesm.


Believe it or not the same alternative career choice has crossed my mind!

I can just see myself now, in front of a crowd, weeping over my sins,all well documented here of course,and repudiating them, and returning to the fold, the spiritual home of my parents and grandparents and great great grandparents.

It wouldn't do to mention any names any farther back , because a few previous to that were apparently (gasp!) GODLESS CATHOLIC DEVILS.

I do believe if it becomes necessary I can do rather well as a preacher.

Hi Greenish,

not impossible I'll be a baptist preacher

I have often thought I should have sought employment as a preacher - especially the kind that equate salvation with prosperity.

Having grown up in a very strong religious family/community and then later on understanding the real nature of religion, I think I could have been quite prosperous.

The best way to benefit from mass delusion is to nurture the delusion. Unfortunately, this utter failure to understand the actual concept of truth is what will be both the foundation and catalyst for a potential collapse. The only real hope is that younger generations can transend the very idea of discussing supernatural nonsense.

Now at last I will get to my real point;I know numerous people who are very well educated, including lawyers , high school principals, doctors, engineers, a couple of writers, some college professors, and so forth.

I believe there is a difference between educated and trained. Most "educated" professionals must stick to the letter of the licensing organizations, which, in most cases, are sanctioned by government and the law. All open minded free spirited thinkers will be banished.

On another note, and this may not be relevant, the phase "survival of the fittest" was coined by Spencer not Darwin. The men knew each other, as they lived during the same times, however Darwin did not like the phrase, that people credited him with, until later in his when it seemed easier to accept their mistake than to try and correct them one by one.

For a good insight into accepting our state read old stuff. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan and Google "Despotism" which was written around 1854, author unknown. This book gave me an understanding of accepting death as part of life and how other people view someone elses death.

Great reading

Thanks TOD contributors.


Interesting Greenish as usual.

What I refer to is the extreme inequity, not just some over active sense of "fairness". I never talked about perfect wealth equality, that is just as negative.

and I would have to say that equality in herds, schools, flocks, etc. in nature is rule not the exception. That said I would take it further by saying that because we, homowhateverus, have the ability to reason shouldn't that also allow us the potential to focus on that most desirable of situations? We all talk about tribes, is that not a herd, flock, school?

Sorry but I will never be ok with rationalizing the negative behavior of mankind. I think where we went wrong is when we failed as a culture to call BULL$*@T when we see it. It's not PC to point out unethical, immoral acts anymore. Oh well thats just nature doing its thing. BS

What you want is a meritocracy.
And I call bull$hit all the time.
I have very few "friends" left..................

"I would have to say that equality in herds, schools, flocks, etc. in nature is rule not the exception."

All flocks, herds and schools have very strict heirarchies. We call it a 'pecking order' for a reason.

Unfortunately for humans, the last time we had anything approaching 'equality' was as dispersed bands of hunter gatherers, and i don't see us going back to that state. Some group, somewhere will keep on farmning, they will build up numbers over thousands of years, and the whole 'guns germs and steel' series of events will happen again.

Even in the age of kings and queens, the everyday living conditions for the richest and poorest were not very different as far as likelihood of dying from various diseases. Up until a few decades ago, the poor generally ate somewhat healthier diets than the rich, too, at least in the US--they couldn't afford steaks, rich sauces, single malt scotch, cigarettes...as easily as the rich.

Income distribution now is much greater than at any time in history, and this is part of what is dooming us. The people at the top are so far removed from the rest of the world that they can pretty much seal them selves off in their delusional wonderlands. And since they are in control, their delusions are driving us over the brink.

The people at the top are so far removed from the rest of the world that they can pretty much seal them selves off in their delusional wonderlands. And since they are in control, their delusions are driving us over the brink.

Hi dohboi, I think you know you're one of my favorite posters here. Yet since I'm killing flu-day time here this morning and have advanced the thesis that wealth disparity may not be the problem, I'll follow up on it.

In my observation, delusionality is pretty much a human condition unconnected with wealth. The super-affluent may have different delusions than the poor, but there isn't a lot of difference.

Further, people "at the top" are not "in control". There's nobody driving the bus, which is in some ways scarier.

The way things happen in the sphere of human events is, by and large, not the way people think things happen.

It would be kind of comforting if there were an evil conspiracy hidden behind some set of curtains.

The world is probably full of conspiracies, boring peer networks helping each other, maddof types working to cover up what they do to last a little longer, lobbyists for unjust laws, people scheming to move upwards in the pecking order and bands of more or less crazy people like al queida and neo nazis. But I would be extremely surprised if there is a mastermind coordinating the general mess.

I belive you are correct in the assumption that no one is driving the bus, I dont even think the bus has any controls.

On the other hand it isent realy a buss, its more like some kind of herd, en echology of legal, cultural and corporate entities among other kinds of cooperations. And the herd is moving into a rough landscape where some will perish and manny has to change.

It would be kind of comforting if there were an evil conspiracy hidden behind some set of curtains.The world is probably full of conspiracies, boring peer networks helping each other, maddof types working to cover up what they do to last a little longer, lobbyists for unjust laws, people scheming to move upwards in the pecking order and bands of more or less crazy people like al queida and neo nazis. But I would be extremely surprised if there is a mastermind coordinating the general mess.

Yes. There are alliances on different scales towards different ends, but actual conspiracies are very self-limiting.

Al Queida was pumped into being as a strawman symbiote for steering the USA.

I belive you are correct in the assumption that no one is driving the bus, I dont even think the bus has any controls.

The provocative part of my thesis is that the bus does have controls, and that they are in plain sight but ignored.

I won't be expanding it here on a flu day, certainly; and the last time I tried it the estimable Mr. Telescope called me a "poseur" for not being able to mathematically express driving elephants off a cliff. (That's why my profile now says "lesbian activist" in the history and not "former oil industry geophysicist"; it was causing him cognitive dissonance.)

I'm stating that any reasonably intelligent individual can potentially, in this odd time and situation, exercise levels of control over the outcome of global events which are not necessarily available to billionaires and presidents. And I'm stating it from experience.


I won't be expanding it here on a flu day, certainly; and the last time I tried it the estimable Mr. Telescope called me a "poseur" for not being able to mathematically express driving elephants off a cliff.


Hey man no problem that's what TOD is all about we all help each other out, allow me...


Well,let's say the elephant drives off a 15 meter high cliff at a forward speed of 8.0 m/s

Horizontal component:

d = vit + 1/2 at2 <- Initial vertical velocity is zero so...
d = 1/2 at2
t = sqr root (2d/a) = sqr root (2 x 15.0 / 9.81)
t = 1.75 s

Vertical component:

We know that gravity is causing the acceleration, and that it wasn’t moving vertically at the start, so we can figure out how fast it is going (vertically) when it hits the ground.

vf2 = vi2 + 2ad
vf = sqr root (vi2 + 2ad) = sqr root (0 + 2 x 9.81 x 15.0)
vf = 17 m/s

Vectorial combination of the two components.

The elephant's total velocity is found by adding the horizontal and final vertical components of the velocity to find the resultant.

c2 = a2 + b2
= (8.0m/s)2 + (17m/s)2
c = 19m/s

tanΘ = opp/adj
= (8.0m/s) / (17m/s)
Θ = 25°

Therefore the elephant is moving at 19m/s at an angle of 25° below the horizontal when it hits the ground.

Next time I'll make sure it's a lesbian elephant in pink pants. Hope ya feel better! :-)


An elephant rides a bike at 8 m/s? (18 mph)

But elephants can run at 25 miles per hour!


..hehe..it's a slow day..

Hey, it's a veeery delicate balancing act, the elephant has to slowly build up speed ;-)


Theta=65 no?

No, Theta = 25 degrees but it should be depicted where the elephant has hit the ground so you are right it is shown incorrectly, but it was already too busy down there so I took some artistic and aesthetic license ;-)

At the risk of sounding clueless.........
How did you get the theta and degree symbols ?
Do you have a special keyboard?


Also the 25 degree angle is measured counterclockwise from the vertical......I know, I know, nit picky, anal retentive prick.
I said it for you ;)

At the risk of sounding clueless.........
How did you get the theta and degree symbols ?
Do you have a special keyboard?

You could use the "Symbol font" available on all computers nowadays to get all your Greek letters. You can also get mathematical symbols in Unicode.


However my graphic was created in an application called "Canvas 11" from ACD Systems, its a high end scientific graphics program that allows you to create your own symbol library.


Very nice! I'll have to collaborate with you more often!

Though the physics is the easy part, I could handle that. My methods are more about how to predictably get the (metaphorical) elephants to place themselves in that untenable situation. The gedanken experiment works for me, but it's hard to reduce it.

Still, our anscestors were running herd animals off cliffs for generations. It's a valid example, I'd contend, of a general class of complex solutions. Feel free to follow it up with me via email sometime so it won't engage WHT's tourette's.

(for those wondering WTF we're talking about, I think the post in question was called "steering your elephant" a couple weeks ago)

Actually, I'm much happier posing as a former lesbian activist than being a former oil-industry geophysicist. I consider it a step up.

I don't know about Tourette's, but at work they describe me as "edgy".

Actually, it was not meant as an insult but as a description. I have tourette's in my family, in addition to other stuff, and that's what your behavior seemed reminiscent of.

Your aggression level was inappropriate, ad hominem, and unprofessional. You may find that cutting back on that will help your own ideas be seen on their merits. I do wish you luck, because if you're correct, the implications are exciting.

Cool, like I said before, if there is another forum that is equal to TOD in what I can get out of it, I will go there. In the meantime, as David Byrne said, this must be the place.

Funny thread! I was at the big box store a couple of weeks ago, waiting for tires to be rotated, and a very patient woman was trying to get her husband (my assumption) to try on some shoes. As she was lacing his shoes, he was looking around shouting "F... YOU!" at anyone he could make eye contact with. He could be heard all over the store. The manager had asked them to leave the store and soon the deputies showed up.

I went over and quietly explained to the manager and deputies that the man seemed to have Tourettes and was likely protected under the disabilities act. Improperly handled, the situation could result in a lawsuit. After I explained to the manager what Tourettes was, he exclaimed quite loudly; ""thats a crock of sh*t!". The deputies rolled their eyes, the poor woman collected the shoes and headed for the check out with her husband ("F*******K YOU!).

I was thinking how liberating having Tourettes could be ;-)

but at work they describe me as "edgy".

But what do they think of your "FAT TAIL" ;^)

Despite what OFM says below I think what you are doing should be taken very seriously.
I was reading a study in a biological journal the other day and couldn't help thinking how your work might impact the analysis of the data.

Fill me in on it. I am spongy for info.


Systematic discovery of nonobvious human disease models through orthologous phenotypes

1. Kriston L. McGarya,1,
2. Tae Joo Parka,b,1,
3. John O. Woodsa,
4. Hye Ji Chaa,
5. John B. Wallingforda,b, and
6. Edward M. Marcottea,c,2

Biologists have long used model organisms to study human diseases, particularly when the model bears a close resemblance to the disease. We present a method that quantitatively and systematically identifies nonobvious equivalences between mutant phenotypes in different species, based on overlapping sets of orthologous genes from human, mouse, yeast, worm, and plant (212,542 gene-phenotype associations). These orthologous phenotypes, or phenologs, predict unique genes associated with diseases. Our method suggests a yeast model for angiogenesis defects, a worm model for breast cancer, mouse models of autism, and a plant model for the neural crest defects associated with Waardenburg syndrome, among others. Using these models, we show that SOX13 regulates angiogenesis, and that SEC23IP is a likely Waardenburg gene. Phenologs reveal functionally coherent, evolutionarily conserved gene networks—many predating the plant-animal divergence—capable of identifying candidate disease genes.


Phenologs reflect the innate modularity of gene systems and identify adaptive reuse of those systems, creating a rich framework for comparing mutational phenotypes with potential for finding nonobvious models of human disease. Cross-validated tests indicate phenologs show utility for roughly one-third to one-half of tested human genetic diseases (Fig. S2). Given a phenolog for a human disease, any approach for associating more genes with the model organism trait (e.g., a genetic screen) will suggest additional new human disease gene candidates. In addition to associating unique genes with modeled diseases, such models can provide mechanistic understanding in simplified model organisms for understanding aspects of more complex human diseases.

Phenologs thus bridge the molecular definitions of homologous and orthologous genes (34) with classic definitions of homologous structures from Owen (35) and Darwin (36), deriving from considerations both of gene heredity and of the traits/structures affected by perturbing the genes, concepts falling within the general field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo) (37). The conserved gene systems revealed by the plant-vertebrate phenologs illustrate a more ancient homology than the “deep homology” of metazoans that is currently a focus of evolutionary developmental biology (26). These phenologs should bring attention to the potentially extensive molecular toolkit within the last common eukaryotic ancestor, which facilitated the parallel evolution of complex multicellular organisms. This comparative approach provides a simultaneously deeper and wider view of the evolution of life and points the way to a greater synthesis of evolutionary developmental biology and modern medicine.

Thanks. All about mutations, natural selection, and the possibilities of chance.

Yeah, and what specifically made me think of your work was this statement:

Although a framework exists for discussing complex gene-phenotype relationships across evolution, we lack simple—and importantly, quantifiable—methods for discovering new gene-phenotype relationships from existing data.

Your lucky. My new work nickname is Uncle Fester.

Hi Greenish,

I don't believe you need to take WHT too seriously. ;)

Undoubtedly he has some important contributions to make, but a strict mathematical and statistical analysis is not always necessary to understand a phenomemon well enough to work with it.

I doubt that there are over a half a dozen profesional baseball players who can mathematically describe the flight of a long fly ball, but the outfielders still catch them regularly.

Fans of the book The Black Swan might remember the story of the uneducated but streetwise hustler saying to Taleb, paraphrased, the dice MUST BE FIXED, we can take this academic clown for everything he has, I KNOW THESE EGGHEAD TYPES.

This is not intended as a slur towards WHT but simply as evidence that some things are self evident after so long.EXCEPTING Black Swans of course.( THe professor was discussing the odds of getting another head after throwing 98 heads in a row. THeoritically the professor was right, saying 50 percent, but the hustler was right in saying that any coin that comes up heads 98 times in a row is fixed. Actally the odds are only two to the 98 power to one that the coin is fixed, but that's close enough for a farmer.)

I must admit that having had only a year and a half of calculus in the late sixites, which has been rusting away ever since, I generally can't make heads or tails out of his commentary.

Unfortunately I never studied statistics as suchlearning only enough to get by in other classes..My loss.

Evidently he does know some serious stuff, as a few professional engineering and scientific types seem to follow him with great interest.


Taleb is entertaining but doesn't have the guts to commit to the math. If you read his book carefully he flat out states that it is pointless to derive anything based on fat-tail statistics. He has learned well from Mandelbrot, who essentially did the same thing with the entire field of fractals.

Both Taleb and Madelbrot realize that by placing their talents on some mystical level, that they could sell books and become sought after speakers for people impressed by anecdotes.

The field is basically wide open and I am definitely taking advantage of it.

Amazing what you can find in the fat-tail of CO2 persistence:
That was a fun night working on that problem.

I think your mathematical analysis gives lots of insights in various areas but there are still physical processes involved and a black box statistical analysis has its limits.

Regarding the CO2 persistence, the IPCC estimate is based on the obsolete and primitive Bern carbon cycle model. It simply cannot be taken seriously. Analysis with process-resolving models yields a 50% persistence after 10000 years (cf publications of David Archer at U of Chicago). The thickness of the tail is a function of the atmosphere-ocean temperature regime. The biggest sink for CO2 is oceanic and it is not single signed. A few degrees of warming is enough to turn it into a source so there is no longer a tail on the timescale of thousands of years. Eventually, slower processes such as chemical reaction with rocks (via rain carried carbonic acid) will overcome the initial pulse of CO2 (including ocean outgassing). But this takes hundreds of thousands of years.

Clowns who yammer about six year CO2 lifetimes in the atmosphere are professional idiot-criminals. If CO2 had such a short lifetime (akin to CH4) it would not have the observed well mixed distribution in the atmosphere (the mixing ratio is constant to around 80 km where photolysis breaks it down into CO and other processes sequester the carbon through some poorly understood surface chemistry on meteor dust and ion chemistry -- but this sink is tiny given the exponential decrease of density with height).

If CO2 had such a short lifetime (akin to CH4) it would not have the observed well mixed distribution in the atmosphere (the mixing ratio is constant to around 80 km where photolysis breaks it down into CO and other processes sequester the carbon through some poorly understood surface chemistry on meteor dust and ion chemistry -- but this sink is tiny given the exponential decrease of density with height).

I appreciate your insight. I agree that this is complicated but I have found that a "well mixed distribution" is akin to saying that we should use entropy arguments. Everything simplifies if a system is totally disordered and you can start using purely statistical mechanical arguments.

I assume that you know that the exponential decrease of density with height is purely a Maximum Entropy Principle. This is the classic simple example that many statistical mechanics texts use to explain maximum entropy.

I assert what leads to the huge realized residence time is the process of diffusion. Since diffusion causes a "slowdown" in movement according to the square root of time, then 10,000 years actually amounts to 100 years of activity.

Clowns who yammer about six year CO2 lifetimes in the atmosphere are professional idiot-criminals.

The six year numbers may actually be close to the lifetimes when diffusion doesn't play a role. I contend it is the mix of entropic dispersion and diffusion that accounts for this process.

I bet my black box model will work in the end. I don't really find it any different to the dispersive transport mechanism in amorphous semiconductors. Scientists and EE's studying this phenomenon get themselves all tangled up in the specifics of trapping mechanisms, etc, and don't realize the simplicity of an entropy-based argument which combines diffusion and drift.

Notice that the tail in the above picture starts flattening out as the electric field is reduced, which means that the diffusion component is taking over. I explain it all here:

If it wasn't for the drift component in these semiconductors, the effective lifetimes of holes and electrons can be measured in terms of seconds. When you consider that the lifetime of the carrier is ordinarily measured in microseconds, having a spread in times that approaches 1,000,000X is not that outlandish an idea. Diffusion works this way.

The atmosphere is really no different than a disordered amorphous semiconductor by way of the math. Scientists unfortunately don't want to admit something is simple to explain because they may have a huge intellectual investment in their pet theories.

I am definitely on your side on this, but my goal is to simplify!

BTW, thanks for the David Archer reference.

I took a look at an Archer paper

I looked for a reference to 50% persistence after 10,000 years and only found a 10% level

I plotted my model as comparison. What Archer is doing, and I think it is intuitively correct is adding the positive feedback due to ocean warming. Whether this is actually a real impulse response or the results of adding more CO2 to the system, I can't tell. I also plotted the blue curve, which is essentially the model proposed by the global warming sceptic crowd.

This essentially shows what kind of agreement we have and how diametrically we are opposed to the denier camp.

It looks like there is some disruption at Archer's website so not all articles are accessible.

I had in mind:


in particular figure 1. The 50% was for a 5000 Petagram pulse, for a 1000 Petagram pulse it is about 25% after 10000. If we trigger the release of methane from the East Siberian shelf and from the vast deposits in the sub-Arctic land permafrost even over several centuries then we are looking at a legacy lasting tens of thousands of years.

Behind a pay firewall. I looked at the abstract:

Common measures of the atmospheric lifetime of CO2, including the e-folding time scale, disregard the long tail. Its neglect in the calculation of global warming potentials leads many to underestimate the longevity of anthropogenic global warming.

That is exactly what I discovered with my entropic dispersion model. People are confused by the e-folding time-scale, not realizing the fat tail exists.

One goal of climate change scientists should be to clearly explain how this comes about. I don't think they have successfully done this.

The models agree that 20–35% of the CO2 remains in the atmosphere after equilibration with the ocean (2–20 centuries).

In my model, for a characteristic parameter of 8, I get a value of 36% for 2 centuries and 15% for 20 centuries.

It is back up:


Your simple model cannot account for a dependence of the persistence of CO2 on the total amount released. The dynamics of sinks has to be taken into account.

There is a reason why researchers spend their time trying to understand physical processes. Complex models cannot be replaced with simple ones. Of course some behaviour will emerge from complex models that can be "captured" by simple models. But it is not really a quantification.

Of course I have that taken into account as entropic disorder in the rates. Everything else is second order as far as I can tell.

Same thing happens with dispersive transport in amorphous semiconductors.
Simple models always beat complex models.

I don't believe you need to take WHT too seriously. ;)
Undoubtedly he has some important contributions to make, but a strict mathematical and statistical analysis is not always necessary to understand a phenomemon well enough to work with it.

Actually, WHT may be brilliant. What he's claiming he can show would be revolutionary, and I hope he takes it to peer-reviewed math journals for sorting out. Y'know, as opposed to hanging out expounding it among non-professional mathematicians. I look forward to seeing his picture on the cover of Scientific American and being able to brag that he used to insult me before he was famous.

I was discussing the general concept of nested criticality landscapes and using the neolithic practice of stampeding herd animals off a cliff as an example of a that general class of problems and solutions. I got a harangue over not being able to describe it mathematically. I doubt I could have done that even in my early math-whiz days, and that was a long damn time ago. Another life.

But life is too short to explore new ideas while being insulted. Simple solution - I stopped. I will be fascinated to see whether he has actually revolutionized the mathematical basis of Nearly Everything Complex as he seems to contend. That would be cool.

However, what I'm doing is trying to generalize on a set of analysis tools which I have been using for years, so that they might outlive me; different ways of thinking about things and getting things done. But that will not happen in the TOD forum, and that is Mr. Telescope's victory-of-attrition.

As I have said before, I take advantage of every bit of insight that I can get. Using blogs is just part of a grand experiment in knowledge advancement.

I deal with the TOD crowd because they tend to have grounded sensibilities. And then something great out of the blue comes along when someone sends a link to Random Matrix Theory or Category Theory or Michael Frank's or Thomasso Toffolli's quantum computing ideas. This is all neat stuff and I often get too excited for my own good.

I can honestly say that I may not have had these kinds of incredible exchanges if I were to hole up in peer-review land. I know what that is like, and this is different, and arguably better just because things have turned out the way they have.

The only thing about TOD is that the posting cycle is too slow. I submit something and it will sit there for an entire week or more! If you have ideas, IMO the stuff should go out there immediately.
In Letterman's immortal words, this is more fun than humans should be allowed to have.

Thank you for calling BS on that comment. Hell, according to a piece on NPR, scientists have found that flights of birds that seem to random following are really highly orchestrated examples of leadership dynamics. In other words some of the birds are more equal than others.

All flocks and herds have strict heirarchies, yes.

But the bottom chicken and the top chicken, and all the ones in between, still all weigh between 7 and 8 pounds, all live in the same henhouse, all eat the same food. The top chicken is not in a penthouse coop eating caviar wearing a diamond legband.

Sorry but I will never be ok with rationalizing the negative behavior of mankind

Hi EE, I didn't mean to sound like I was arguing, I just used your initial comment as a springboard for something I felt like saying. I like your posts.

I'm probably more down on "rationalizing" than anyone you're likely to meet.

Personally, I have given away my time and money; living at what would be considered a "poverty" level income even when my actual income was in the 6 figures. I simply consider the money needed for modest survival to be for that, and any other money for affecting the world, and I put that into practice with no regrets.

Most people who know me don't know that. I mention it here in semi-anonymity because it's temporarily relevant.

I eat bruised produce that the food banks won't take, and bulk staples like 50-lb bags of brown rice. My standard of living is thus unlikely to go down in the coming 20 years; people on food stamps eat luxuriously in comparison.

Yet I have been comfortable interacting with billionaires; and in many cases they have been comfortable interacting with me, because there is a lot of common ground. Acting on my own plans, deliberately, without special funding or connections, has made me one of the "powers that be".

I don't mention such things often, because I realize they tend to make peoples' brains explode. But hey, it's a flu day.

Of the thousand who read this, maybe two of you may feel there's something to it; I'd say go climb a mountain and think on it. Not much sense giving in to fear.

Yesterday while most people were engaged in the rat race my brother and I were diving on a coral reef. It did clear my mind a bit. There aren't too many mountains in Florida so that will have to do for me.

Back when I occasionally did scuba, one of my favorite things to do was pick a good spot on the ocean side of a barrier reef, on a sandy spot surrounded by coral castles, at a depth of 20-30', and get into very slow deep yoga breathing to stretch the air tank, overweighting myself to stick to the bottom. Great way to meditate, with pantheism suffusing oneself, the wrasses cleaning you off, and various critters just taking you for part of the scenery. Even better with a double tank.

Of course, in Hawaii there are mountains too. If you're going to choose to be poor, it isn't a bad place for it.

Back when I occasionally did scuba, one of my favorite things to do was pick a good spot on the ocean side of a barrier reef, on a sandy spot surrounded by coral castles, at a depth of 20-30', and get into very slow deep yoga breathing to stretch the air tank, overweighting myself to stick to the bottom

I hear ya! Not to brag or nuthin but I can still do a full lotus with fins on and choose to hover a few feet off the bottom while controlling my buoyancy and depth with my breathing. Sometimes I let the current sweep me away over the reef in this postion while I literally levitate... Hey, where else could I float completely weightless?

Man - you guys know. Shut down all senses. Most of your hearing is limited, visual does not have to be fully processed, taste is gone (unless a little salt water has crept in) touch is gone, smell is gone. For all intense and purposes you are no longer tied to the earth by gravity. In the proper wet suit there is no cold or hot. Time has stood still at least until the tank pressure alarm goes off.

32% enriched is a nice bonus.

I think this is my favorite comment on TOD. Thanks.

More suggestions/ideas from you on how best for us to help on the big picture issues would be appreciated.

Hi. Hard to tell this far down the page, but I think this was directed at my initial comment. I'll have to blush if not.

My ideas of how to deal with the big-picture issues are difficult for me to communicate, despite the fact that it has been my focus over the years to manipulate chaotic things on a pretty large scale to targeted outcomes.

Moreover, the nature of these ideas is such that - to the extent they are worthwhile at all - they should not be broadcast, for a number of concrete reasons.

This has nothing to do with their being "radical" in the negative sense of things... I'm not a bomb-planter in any trivial or mundane sense; or misanthropic, or megalomaniacal, or self-interested, or any other such assumption.

Rather, steering large things is a delicate business. It's only due to a sort of human selective blindness to systems behavior - and the resulting relative rarity of those with a clue of how to steer them - that high leverage is (in some, not all cases) available to campaigners at all.

If health allows, I may start a jedi academy or somesuch thing; but perhaps not. Strong, the dark side is.

For now, I'll just leave it at recommending that people do what makes them like and respect themselves; to decide what might constitute heroism in their own eyes and live up to it. Be scared sometimes, but don't accept fear as a valid reason to do or not do something. And recognize how exceptional it is to be alive exactly now. Recognize which boxes that seem to constrain and define your reality are unreal constructs. A large responsibility rests on us each individually, and all the more since so few acknowledge it.

The human overshoot/dieoff/climate disruption/mass extinction confluence will be the nearest thing to a real-world Ragnarok our species and its cohort species will ever see. In sheer simultaneous scale, incidents of suffering, privation, heroism, nobility, innovation, cruelty, spirituality, generosity, empathy, hate, love, crisis, war, torture, gentleness and revelation which came before it will probably amount to rounding errors, the orchestra tuning its instruments before playing.

The open future is broadly constrained by limits imposed by nature, but still has huge degrees of freedom in how it ultimately plays out, and most members of our species to ever exist may live in that future; or be denied existence by what we do now. The stakes are as high as possible. That being the case, my advice is to engage this preposterous context and play the game as well as one can.


My mom was raised in a cold and delapidated log cabin near the Canadian border. After a college degree and a comfortable life, she said that if/when the collapse comes she won't be fighting to keep going or joining us on our farm. When the food runs out, she'll take an old New York Times to bed and expire...

I sometimes wonder in general, if I will be able to keep any more than others have.

For example, I have a solar cooker. I don't get any sun in the back or side yard, so would have to leave it out front to cook something. If I leave it sitting out in the yard, how many days before the solar cooker (and the food in it) are stolen before it is finished cooking?

And all of the ground level solar panels people are putting in. How long will they stay in place, if others see that they have something that others don't have?

Or a large garden. If others are hungry, won't they help themselves to what is available (unless it is constantly guarded)?

If I look well nourished when others are hungry, won't there be break-ins?

I've thought the same about looking well nourished and the whole solar panels being stolen thing. Its hard to believe the conversations that go on sometimes, and what boggles my mind is it doesn't seem so far fetched.

I'm happy I found you folks, your educated, intelligent and have diverse views.
Some of the possibilites are depressing and very hard to believe yet the worst case seems likely to me at some point, its just a question of when. I also think everything boils down to there's just too many people for this planet to support.

It takes a village.

Seriously people in small villages are not living close together so everyone can play noisy neighbor its for mutual protection. I get flamed often wondering about the survivability of the He Man house in the woods but seriously isolated homes have a lot of problems. Bravado simply does not solve the logistical issues.

Thats why I tend towards the smaller town as a reasonable viable solution and to some extent not too small either as you will need at least some local manufacturing. I don't know the "right size" but I tend to go with the county seat or where the county hospital is if the town is under say 50k or so and surrounded by farmland.

Even better if its hydroelectric power for the town.

I'm not convinced in the least that food will be a real problem for quite some time. Eventually yes but not for a while. Far more likely we will see serious gang then out right bandits being a issue. Robbery for all kinds of stuff not simply food will be a big issue. And plenty of the more isolated homes will be hit and of course in the larger cities. Plain old crappy violent crime.

The problem with staying home and protecting your stuff is few actually have viable working farms. Sure many will try and make a go at it as things get tough desperate to make some money selling food as they try and stay home protecting the place but many will fail and be forced to look for work and see their home robbed and their loved ones murdered. Same tune in the larger cities.

Later of course if food does become a problem which it probably will the situation gets even worse.

Probably we will become more military like however often at that point the the military become the robbers.

So its a bit of a fine line small enough to not be worth bothering with by the military but big enough to take care of your own if you will a field a few hundred well armed men to suggest people go elsewhere for easier pickings.

In short its a matter of balance pick to small a town and the reliance on the nearby bigger town can become a real issue esp with high fuel costs. Too large and local crime is a issue. Isolated farmstead and random violence by bandits passing through becomes a problem.

Food is not and issue and by the time it becomes one the village theme is a must and will be viable.

I like to think of myself as a rat I don't want the titanic and I don't want a row boat. I'm looking for a nice sized grain ship to ride out the storm. Well supplied and big enough to protect what it has but not big enough to be a juicy target for the military.

Look at Afghanistan.

The order of the day is high, thick, walls surrounding a compound which comprises multiple buildings and other aspects. Scaling the walls is hard work and they can be defended.

Part of your survival prep should be the skills and materials to build such a wall.

Might want to be careful with that. Walls and modern weapons (18th century on) don't really play nice together. They do, however, do a good job of reducing infiltration, so there might be some use. If you want to hold off people with modern weapons, sandbags, foxholes, and dirt berms are a better choice.

He doesn't mean conventional walls at all. Instead consider structures which survived well against British and later Soviet military incursions. One example from Afghanistan is the mud-and-straw qalat. Heavy walls are a plus.

Another example from China before the 20th century is the rammed earth Fujian Tulous, a very remarkable structure that is secure, energy efficient, and can house 50-80 families in interior apartment like structures.

I expect that, when things get really tough, the line between prudent preparations and disproportionate hording will be quite hard to draw, especially for those who have not given any thought to these issues before.

Not at all. It's prudent preparation if I did it. It's disproportionate hoarding if someone else did it while I didn't bother. That bastard. How I hate him.

I say it tongue-in-cheek, but that's probably how it'll roll out.

"Not at all. It's prudent preparation if I did it. It's disproportionate hoarding if someone else did it while I didn't bother. That bastard. How I hate him."

Thanks--you put it better than I could have, as usual. That is exactly the point I was trying (in my bumbling way) to make.

Thanks duhboi,

I'm really pretty conflicted about this. Firstly, most of what is now considered wealth will vanish. My once wealthy neighbours, in their 10,000 sq ft. home, are likely to be in the exact same position as me-how to find something (a skill, tool) to exchange for food. In fact I might be better off; my smaller house is easier to keep warm: and I may feel as if I have lost less (not just wealth, but high status), allowing me to move on.

Beside people on TOD, and a few others, only a tiny number of people are aware of these risks. One group who are more likely to be aware are wealthy folks on Wall st or in the City of London- partcularly those whose business is to understand such things. They might just decide to cash-out and hoover up large tracts of land before markets are generally aware of the issue. Now I don't want to be a feudal serf (this happened after Romes fall). He's at risk too, of violence. Such conflict can also be a terrible waste of precious resources.

Social change is probably easier if there is some equality (not rigidly so). Rationing during and after WWII in Britian was relatively well accepted-because everybody was in the same boat.

However, if I were to speak to the people of Ireland and they were to more or less believe me (clearly this is far-fetched), I might say "sell your foreign owned property, shares, pensions. Repatriate your money-and help prop up our failing banking sector (for a while at least). Convert that cash into renewable energy systems/ tool making factories/ work-horse breeding etc.This would help employment, allow people the funds to build personal and family resilience (food storage, insulation etc). But you will have to be quick!! Because once others cotton on to what is happening, they too will want to do the same-and the value of assets will crash, and a solar panel will be impossible to buy. And if that happens-times up!"

And so I've just warned against hoarding within my tribal group (community, country), and advocated hoarding by my tribal group vis-a-vis the rest of the world. This clearly is a moral issue-and yet this may be one of the defining dynamics of behavoir under scarcity.

As usual, the culture we have created, based upon a massive wealth of excess energy, has distorted our moral values. Moral values assist individual humans and tribes of humans to survive.

Hunter-gatherer tribes routinely shared within the tribe but hoarded against other tribes. They didn't have wars because wars are protracted things and require a level of savings that hunter-gatherers generally did not have. But they did have tribal raids and skirmishes. Was this immoral? Or was it to enhance survival?

Now please think! In a finite world with limited resources and more mouths than can be adequately fed what will happen via natural selection? Those predisposed to survive will and those not so predisposed will not. Sure, some prepared people will die. Some unprepared people will succeed as bandits or another type of thief. But generally, those majority of those prepared will survive and those not prepared will not. And this is not a bad thing. It's not a moral thing at all. It is simply the natural balance being restored after a strange outburst of growth fueled by ancient sunshine that is now coming to an end.

Thus my focus has been on preparing myself, my family, and my "tribe" of immediate friends and neighbors to prepare as much as they can for a world that may, in very short order, become very different from what we've come to expect.

"Social change is probably easier if there is some equality (not rigidly so). Rationing during and after WWII in Britian was relatively well accepted-because everybody was in the same boat."

Hi David,
this isnt quite true. Restarants were exempt from the rationing laws allowing rich people, who could afford to eat out, to top up their calory intake.

Hi Grautr,

Well, I did not know that!

It will no doubt be a difficult time, and horrific for some. We are likely to see a major increase in mortality.

A report from the southern border of the US:

A Report from Juarez, the Bleeding Front Line of the War on Drugs

"The violence is unprecedented. Never in the history of Mexico has the government lost such capacity to govern. So far this year, the homicide rate in the Juárez Valley is about 1,260 per 100,000 inhabitants," says Chihuahua state human rights representative and attorney Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson. "This murder rate is only found on the battlefields of open warfare and could qualify as genocide."

The warfare is between the Juárez Cartel, headed by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, and the Sinaloa Cartel, run by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Although both are fugitives, they still run the show. In the past two years, however, Guzman has so far successfully encroached on Carrillo's turf, unleashing gang violence for the control of the opium trade as well as the marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines pouring into the United States. Between 40 and 60 percent of Mexico's illegal drugs are smuggled across a 300-mile route that stretches from New Mexico to Texas, including the Big Bend National Park.

WT - I would think this is the default setting of humans. It is hard if not impossible to do anything productive under an archaist situation. There will always be some a-hole who thinks he deserves a share of what you have, and there it starts. Taking from someone else, and their response and defense of themselves.
I like the idea above about being prepared to die. I have talked with others and with modern weapons and scopes you can get picked of so easy that defense will only get you so far.
Spending your days watching your back and horde will take time from productive activities.

"homicide rate in the Juárez Valley is about 1,260 per 100,000 inhabitants"

I knew things were really bad down there, but that's just insane. That's better than one in eighty, and just so far this year. If this rate continues, it will mean that by the end of the year one of every 25 people in this city will have been murdered. That really is genocide.

I wonder how effective it would be for the United States, if allowed, to set up "stores" in Mexico that would buy illegal drugs, at say, 50% premium to the Black Market.

More generally, wherever illegals drugs are a problem -- say Afghanistan-- have some governmental entity outbid the "drug lords"/middlemen/users for them.

Hilary Smith

I can't find the source now, but I believe some pundit has actually suggested this for Afghanistan--let them grow their poppies and sell it legally to drug companies to make morphine for medical use. I'm not sure if the market would work and there are obviously huge security issues--drug lords generally do not take kindly to entities butting into their profits. And they are very well armed and organized. Mexico is turning into something that makes the old mafia days look like a tea party (--oops, guess I can't use that metaphor anymore.)

If the dollar goes bye bye, the drug trade goes into a death spiral, nothing to trade for drugs, and a lot of the drug takers lose out.

The only problem is that these people have a lot of guns, but do they have the machines to make guns and gunpowder?

Lots of little things fall apart when you have collapse, some of them we don't think about.

One thing that will likely be brought back into voque is old west justice.

I don't know what the future will hold, and If you come knocking on my door, I'll feed you if I can. If you point a gun in my face I'll be a bit scared and I might or might not be nice to you, it all depends on what is going on at the time. I have been trained in some hand to hand combat, I can use a gun, I don't own one though. I like staves and knives, and can use both of them. But really all this is neither here nor there. If it has come to warring gangs running around the countryside, likely I'll have been long gone by then.

The drug lards should be treated like terrorist and rounded up and put away, not that I have any say in the matter.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

By acknowledging the potential stresses and the demons in our nature, we can begin to protect ourselves from our own worst enemy.

I suppose the extent of how much we can expect that to occur, depends directly on how bad things get. There is a big spectrum of ways in which people can conduct themselves.

It's so depressing to read a well-written factually researched doomer paper, but thanks anyway.

What the hell am I supposed to DO, other than plan for the Long Hunkerdown?


What are you supposed to do? With a statement like this:

"those who, through fear or avarice, try and insulate themselves from the impacts by disproportionate hoarding or land grabs for example, will imperil not only their community's security and wellbeing, but their own."

I'd say the advice would be to move into a shoebox apartment and hope and pray that everyone can be saved by "working together", because if you buy 5-10 acres of doomstead land with the intention of self sufficiency you might be accused of a land-grab and get lynched by the jealous zombie horde.

That's only after the zombie horde has burned their own neighborhood to the ground, the same one with the shoebox apartment.

I've talked to people about PO and almost NOBODY seems to care/believe the possible dire implications. I do say possible because I just don't know what will happen. With that said, I'm preparing (hording) now for a possible grim scenario. If I don't prepare now for my own future survival, what or who am I leaving that up to? The gov't? Kind neighbors? I'll take my chances defending my preperations if it came to that and still have a good conscience. Worst case you have to make it through a period of violence, who knows how long, and then hopefully some type of civilized culture reemerges. I'm just not to keen on leaving my life in others hands if possible.

Read a few of James Kunstler's books.
Perhaps become part of a Transition town group in your area, if there is not one consider starting one.

"become part of a Transition town group in your area"

Good idea. If you can get most (or at least many) others in your immediate area to also "horde"--and garden, develop skill, acquire basic tools...--you won't be seen by them as a horder and the likelihood of neighborhood survival increases dramatically.

"No man is an island."

I havn't found any of my local group of Transition Towners want to look the devil in the eye. They want to watch films and talk about a positive 'Green future' based around farming and gardening. Anything that is remotely negative is dismissed as depressing and not worth mentioning. After looking at the Totnes website I saw one of their more succesful projects was a local currency setup. When I suggested we could try something similar I was told it was pointless because they couldnt pay their taxes unless it was in Euros.

"...action is the means by which we surmount our fears." Well, this describes me perfectly. I've been very busy over the last 12 months preparing in my own way, including buying some #10 cans. Lately I've come to accept the idea that I can't prepare for every possibility. I can only hope that my efforts will make some small difference.

What concerns me the most is the shock that awaits most Americans who feel entitled to frivolous lifestyles.

Did anyone see the video on paulkedrosky on the milken global conference- 30 mins with 5 person panel about energy future. One of the people mentions biofuel production as being limited because of gov't regulations capping the amount added to fuel at 10% and says if that cap was lifted farmers would grow significantly more crops, implying it would help solve our current problems.

From the discussions I read here, most here think biofuel gives little net eroei. Also in the discussion one person on the panel I believe says that biofuel is cheaper to produce than gasoline by 70 cents a gallon. Just wondering if any one saw this vid.

. . . it will also be a time when many people will find a liberation in new social and personal roles; in the new friends and connections they make; in the skills and pastimes acquired; in their ability to contribute to other's welfare; in their freedom from the subtle corrosion of positional consumption; and in the pleasures gained from contributing to the most crucial of shared endeavours.

I am wondering about this. If we can overcome the basic hurdles (enough food and water, particularly), it seems like people will adapt pretty quickly to changed circumstances. While things sound bad, we know that surveys seem to say that people in the slums of India seem to be happy, with very little. It is often family and friends, and the roles that a person plays that are important. People can be happy, in very changed circumstances.

I have my music (banjo, concertina, guitar, and mandolin), my dogs, and my mules. I'm happy. I'll share what I have with whoever is needy, in equal proportion. What else can one do in good conscience? I can defend myself (ex-Green Beret), but have chosen a more peaceful path these last 40 years. I'll make it, until I don't. Like the Indian in the movie said, "It's a good day to die". Best from the Fremont

I have been thinking of that quote recently Fremont. I guess my most important goal is that I not be ashamed of myself at the moment of death. That would mean sharing not hoarding, not killing anyone for the sake of extending my life etc. We don't know how we will react under pressure until we are there, but I perhaps setting a mindset of how to face collapse is a help. I am thinking of getting an extra set of garden tools and a few other things. Being in my 60's and already feeling my body going down I don't know if I will use them. But better than letting my money be inflated away and it feels good to know there will be improved soil and tools here for some other human. Sounds like you have made excellent choices for TEOTWAWKI

"They's a time of change, an' when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearin' is a piece of all bearin', an' bearin' an' dyin' is two pieces of the same thing. An' then things ain't so lonely anymore. An' then a hurt don't hurt so bad."
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Grapes of Wrath is one of my favorite novels. Based on real events during the Great Depression, I think it offers some pertinent views on how people react when they lose a lot of what they have.
In general, I would say that the human response to other people in the same difficult situation is to cooperate and sacrifice for the greater good of the "tribe". I think we're wired to react this way, and personally I view this response as a manifestation of the more noble aspects of humanity. At the same time, the darker aspects of our nature would probably be directed at those who are percieved as oppressors. In the Grapes of Wrath it was the banks and large landowners.
Another great quote from the book:

"And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed."

For me, I'd rather be poor and comfortable with the daily threat of sickness and death while working to contribute to the health of a tight community, rather than relatively wealthy, isolated, and afraid. I guess it all depends on a person's spiritual/philosophical idea of what it means to be alive and human.

I read the Grapes of Wrath in high school and again in college. I think it formed some of my thinking without me remembering that it did. I think it is time to read it again. Thanks for those quotes.

I think that perhaps you cannot be fully alive when you are bent on denying your mortality. I know it has been quoted on TOD before but I think is worth quoting again, "Faith in immortality was born of the greed of unsatisfied people who make unwise use of the time that nature has allotted us. But the wise man finds his life span sufficient to complete the full circle of attainable pleasures, and when the time of death comes, he will leave the table, satisfied, freeing a place for other guests. For the wise man one human life is sufficient, and a stupid man will not know what to do with eternity. "Epicurus.

Interesting original article, and comments. Thanks to Gail for posting it.

Oxidatedgem, I agree with the sentiments you express. But yours and other posts here have me scratching my head about what we all mean by "hoarding." Is hoarding just the accumulation of food and materials beyond your personal/family needs? And if so, what is the dividing line between a reasonable store and excessive amounts that constitute a hoard. Is it still hoarding if you gather your "stash" when there are no shortages in site? Is it still hoarding if you use your stash to help others in need? What is the definition of hoarding, and does it change as the conditions around us change?

Perhaps this question has been addressed elsewhere, but I see it as a real and potentially limiting force in our societies' preparations for the future. There seems to be a real taboo to hoarding. Yet in the current situation, with only a small minority of people aware of a potential crisis and the need for stores, the collection of stores by people and organizations who are aware of the potential problems in the future, could literally be a lifesaver.

I am just trying to understand this taboo against hoarding, when it seems that it could be a useful part of dealing with future changes.

By and large when people talk about hoarding, they mean to store up for personal use. In web discussions it often includes weapons along with plans of trying to prevent others from using or taking any of your hoard. I am not against saving up, I have a small stockpile of food and saw blades. I just think that people who intend to stockpile and not share with anyone will be resented and unlikely to survive. While the word itself just means storing up, if you read most posts that talk about hoarding, they have a very narrow view of who they will share with as per one recent post on TOD involving putting up plywood on windows and making holes to shoot out of, and making personal body armor out of tires. I just think it is shortsighted.

I was thinking about this, and about the importance of sharing as a way to form community bonds. A couple of easy things to store up that don't cost much but may fairly soon be invaluable would be salt and matches. Put a pile in zip lock bags in some back closet and when those become unavailable hand them out to your neighbors.

But hoarding also puts in place a mindset of not becoming independent. Better than to hoard much food is a plan to grow your own food. Perhaps if you have the money invest in several sets of garden tools that you can share with your neighbors. Learn to save seeds, hoard soil fertility by getting leaves others are throwing out and mulching or just composting them for future use. Hoarding is a short term strategy, and if it is selfish hoarding is likely to have very negative consequences. We humans do very poorly alone, much better in groups. That's why the tribe was the mode humans lived in successfully for thousands of years.

Look, growing your own food is not a trivial task. It takes years to master basic gardening. And a garden doesn't sprout goodies to eat overnight. Crops planted typically take 60-120 days to mature to harvest. Then that food has to be stored (HOARDED! OH MY GOD!) until the next harvest. And if anyone takes your harvest stores away from you they are, in point of fact, committing murder on you and your family. I have every biological right to try to survive against such scatter-brained selfish thinking and I will certainly try. Like Todd said elsewhere, we'll shoot you, plain and simple. That's not short sighted. That's simply natural selection in action.

On the other hand, almost no serious prepper I know is trying to go alone in a cabin in the woods. That metaphor itself shows that the person using it is simply ignorant. It's a straw man argument used to bolster a really really uninformed world view that refuses to face the reality around them. A major point of advice in every preparedness community with which I have dealt is, in fact, the topic of community, building community, supporting community, etc.

"Hoarding" is a political euphemism for covering the crime of theft by those who refused to prepare when times were good and there was plenty (excess) in the land. There is no reason at all that you, right now, cannot begin to stockpile food, medical supplies, and other critical things necessary for your own well being. Those of us near the coasts have done it for years solely because of hurricanes. Even though I am inland far enough to not have to worry about being washed out to sea, the winds and storm damage from hurricanes can leave entire cities incapacitated for weeks. Look at what happened when Andrew hit Florida a number of years ago - entire neighborhoods without running water and power for weeks. Look at Katrina's aftermath. So it doesn't even have to be a global disaster to make being prepared pay off. And in the event of a "fast" global collapse, being prepared makes it far more likely that you can get through that first 1-2 years post-collapse intact, which is what you need to establish deep harvest stores to carry you past a bad harvest or a drought. (And if we get a slow "catabolic" collapse, your strategies for dealing with that will differ but being prepared is still useful.)

As someone up above said, it's being prepared if I do it but it's hoarding if you do it and I didn't and want what you've got. And that's a very astute observation. If you don't want to be a beggar when times are tough, then be prepared for tough times. Be the ant, not the grasshopper.

The choice is yours, starting right now, today. Buying an extra bag of rice, mail ordering pre-packed grains, picking up and rotating extra cans of food - these are all strategies that almost anyone can start doing right now. Instead we see people skipping mortgage payments so they can buy IPads and go on vacations. And you expect me to have sympathy for that kind of person if society falls apart? Ain't gonna happen.

"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." - Frederic Bastiat. The way the word "hoarding" is used in modern society is an example of exactly what Bastiat talked about, a moral code that glorifies plunder. Of course, so is the very moral and legal core of modern Wall Street today, the epitome of plunder, on a global scale. We live in a very sick society, very divorced from its biological and physical roots.

Finally, I totally disagree with your assertion that hoarding puts in place a mindset of not becoming independent. Hoarding food is just storing up the harvests and perhaps a bit extra in case the next harvest goes badly. Hoarding is what humans have done for thousands of years to get by. It's the natural extension to growing your own food - i.e. canning, pickling, drying, and other forms of food storage, and it is critically necessary to hoard (what you produce) in order to become independent of the larger global system. Part of what you hoard becomes your trade goods and your trade goods are how you trade within a community for something you want but cannot produce yourself.

And what do you do with excess stored food that is approaching it's expiration date? We currently give it to food banks and soup kitchens. That's further community building right there. And in the event of collapse, we'd find someone local to whom a charitable donation would be welcome.

P.S. I am not picking on you personally here. I see these same straw man "lone survivalist against 100,000 mutant hungry suburbanite" arguments and high worded justifications for what is nothing more than plunder all the time on TOD. Eventually it causes me to want to respond and today was one of those days.

OMG greyzone. I never said good or evil, right or wrong, I was just talking about reality. You have to sleep. You have to eliminate your wastes - that usually happens outside once public utilities are gone unless you like living with outhouse smells. If you want to hoard better find a community in a very rural area to do it with because it is highly unlikely that you and your hoard will survive long alone if there are any significant number of people around. People may be stupid not to store up supplies and food but that doesn't mean they will sit and starve while you eat and not get mad. Remember these are stupid people so they won't sit around beating their heads and saying they deserve to starve. Board up your house really good and wait for someone to set it on fire. If they can't have your hoard because you are well defended they may just get mad and burn you up.

Now putting food by is a whole different thing. But to grow any food you have to go outside your fortress and if you come out in spring to start growing and you are plump and well fed and your neighbors are sticks and bones, well they may just make it hard for you to grow any food to put by.

You think your approach is most likely to succeed, I think with your attitude you are mostly likely to be lynched. I might die earlier by sharing whatever I have but if I do share perhaps I will starve among grateful neighbors. In the end we will both be dead. Good luck all you who will not share. I expect you will have a miserable end - Ah negotiating the great game of life. We tend to think it is about staying alive, when all the time the cards are stacked against us from our first birth. We in the end can't stay alive. We can only choose how to live until our inevitable death.

I see these same straw man "lone survivalist against 100,000 mutant hungry suburbanite" arguments and high worded justifications for what is nothing more than plunder all the time on TOD.

Hmm that is a straw man arugument if I ever saw one. Where did I ever say anything about mutants much less implay 100,000 hungry suburbanites would be necessary to take down a lone survivalist. Actually I think it might take only 3 armed or maybe 10 unarmed. Lone survivalists have to sleep yes? 3 survivalists taking shifts might require 50 to 100. The 50 to 100 would take some losses no doubt but if you are already starving what the heck.

PS It is my opinion that there are some smart survivalists out there who will make it longer than others. They have no doubt formed small unobtrusive rural communities that may not even look like communities. They would already be farming or hunting. They would have stockpiles of certain items. They would probably lay low in the beginning and share with close neighbors, perhaps even drawing them into their community. They wouldn't waste emotional energy on righteous indignation for within the extended local community may be many talents and skills that will enhance how long they survive if they just welcome other in. They would not be wasting time or drawing attention to themselves with endless rants on the web or bragging about how they plan to survive. They would hide if necessary in the beginning to save ammunition for hunting and again to not draw attention to themselves. I strongly suspect they are out there. I expect they got off any web discussion sites long time back - in the early going no doubt the feds while they still have power will seek to neutralize those who publically express desires to defend themselves with force.

BUT remember this - no one survives WE ARE MORTAL

Classic TOD response. You didn't even read my comment. Carry on, sir.

Yes, I have also been wondering about this.

As things---machines---jobs--commuting--etc. became more complex, people would feel more and more alienated. There would be less real communication.

But as we go the other way, there will presumably be more and more real (face to face) communication, less and less complexity. More and more simplicity and (ha!) not so many tough hs or college courses to pass or else seem like a total idiot. In some way, the pressure to perform will be off----while, of course, the pressure to find food will be on!---I think on the whole things might be more natural for us as a whole. We might have more fun and re-connect with our real selves as humans because, of course, we evolved to cope with the low spacious energy flow from the sun. (We didn`t really evolve to cope with the high and finite energy flow of FF---in some way, our alienation on this planet is basically from our own selves because FF energy flow is all wrong for our DNA.)

We`ll be going home---to ourseves!.

Hi Gail,

Thanks for everything.

People with very little are often quite happy. However, I think the sudden loss of your world, not just wealth, but expectations, reference points, and identity could probably be profound. In addition, the poor Indian, say, has the ability to feed and shelter themselves in a context they understand-basically a sense of autonomy and agency. If we lose the systems we depend upon rapidly, most would be as helpless as infants.

In responding to rapid collapses in welfare I think of Wiemar Germany, the collapse of the former Soviet Union, Zimbabwe etc. Can anybody think of 'good' transitions following a collapse?

I worry most about the collapse process itself-in time, maybe life could be quite fine.

Hi davidk
I think you've hit the nail on the head here
The sheer rapidity of deeply transformative change will be frightening
People can be very primitive when scared enough

I also would like to say 'thank you' to Gail, the Oil Drum and the author for publishing this paper here. It has brought clarity to my own very lonely thoughts about the not too distant future.

I agree that outward signs of self sufficiency are problematic if things get ugly. We can hope that a slow decline will allow for periods of adjustment. Perhaps it is wise to include your neighbors in your planning. We have four chickens in the backyard and give away eggs to our neighbors weekly. I know I can count on my neighbors to watch the chickens if we aren't around.

As our quality of life continues to erode, I think it will serve us well to share what comforts we have made provision for: a hot cup of coffee, or recharged batteries for example. I hope that there will be greater safety, and compassion in numbers.

I agree.
It is easy to be made despondent by so much unrelenting negativity in considering what lies ahead. But in fact this is a great opportunity, in many ways. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to each other (to ourselves) that we are essentially social creatures; we achieve what is best by working together; that a job shared is half as difficult. There is an unvarnished truth about things in periods of crisis. It is always good to see the truth as clear as day, and the truth is that we must embrace our fellows, respectfully, but with peaceful intent.

Thanks for posting the paper -- I enjoyed it a lot.

I couldn't help reading the document without wearing my editor's hat (misspelling Qatar and Siberia on page 41 was one of many indicators that the document was still in a draft form). So while I have lots of positive things to say, let me start with my editors' quibbles.

My main qualm about the structure of the paper is its treatment of examples of what Korowicz calls "Lock-In." Lock-In can be paraphrased as the inability for human civilization to change one of its subcomponents to reduce (oil) energy dependence, without also modifying other subcomponents simultaneously, which is impossible because of the countless dependencies that riddle a complex society.

Section 7.1 provides reasons why hoping for a managed, slow decline are misplaced. However, the reasons are of two different classes: myths and facts. The myths (eg. "we can turn on a pin," "the myth of potency") are useful illustrations of cornucopian rhetoric and are supported by the preceding chapters. The facts (eg. control, Lock-In) are meant to provide support for the tenet that slow de-growth is impossible and that a catastrophic collapse are more likely. I would separate myth from fact. The myths are useful towards the end of part 7, as a summary of how the BAU mindset is stuck in a rut and acts as a brake towards understanding tipping points. The facts, on the other hand, are worth expanding upon, particularly Lock-In.

Defining Lock-In at the beginning of section 6 would be useful, because examples of Lock-In could be provided at the end of 6.2 through 6.6 that supported the specific feedback mechanism. Such examples would hand-hold sceptics through the mechanics of civilization's interdependence by being realistic (eg. how supply chain disruptions would lead to a shortage of replacement parts for residential natural gas furnaces at the end of 6.4). Multiple examples of Lock-In would drive home the point that we can't just magically legislate change in one aspect of our energy management, and expect tangible results without parallel change in many other aspects of society's structure.

I had some qualms about the style. Section 8 was too personal for a conclusion. Shortening it a bit and entitling it something like "personal notes" and leaving a formal conclusion to a ninth section would have been better. And when catastrophic bifurcations are introduced on page 29, an historical example or two might prove useful (wood and fuel shortages among the Ancient Pueblo/Anasazi spring to mind).

The definition of "operational fabric" on page 6 depends too much on conditions whose crucial interdependence has yet to be illustrated; it might be better defined in terms of conditions that allow the maintenance of human health, reproduction and learning at a rate not drastically lower than what had been experienced earlier. This allows the term "operational fabric" to apply to any society, even those without, say, monetary stability. It also prevents any potential circularity in reasoning when stressing the importance of interdependence: given the definition on page 6, any reduction in one part of the operational fabric by definition weakens civilization's operational fabric! I think it's more rigorous to define operational fabric in terms of human welfare extrinsic to characteristics of society, and then show how the interdependence of subsocietal systems and their reliance on abundant energy (which Korowicz already shows in detail in sections 3, 6 and 7) can destroy the operational fabric when the energy input is reduced.

Because I read the paper with an editor's eye, I risk sounding like I'm complaining too much about it. I'm not. The author's style is generally crisp and packs a punch (the very first paragraph of the summary is itself a work of art). The widespread effects of greatly reduced EROI are well illustrated in the latter parts of chapter 3 without even introducing the term. The relation between tipping points in section 4 and types of collapse in section 5 is well-explained. Korowicz's masterstroke is probably explaining the interdependence of civilization's component systems in depth without ever sounding like he's repeating himself. And the approach to cumulative probability of the timing of PO in the appendix is an excellent way to drive home PO's certainty without becoming dependent on one particular approach to measuring its timing: even the Cornucopians get to throw their estimates into the bonfire! I wish Korowicz's dispassionate treatment of some difficult-to-swallow facts occurred more often in energy and political circles…

…the only thing more depressing than listening to Doomers is listening to Cornucopians!

As a result, I'm glad I printed out the whole paper and read it in my free time. It's a keeper. I look forward to more from this author and Feasta and the Risk/Resilience Network.

Hi Minsyntax,

Thanks very much for your comments.

Hum, I must apologise for the spelling/ grammer, it is most embarassing! Next time I hope to be in a position to hire a real live editor!

I'll be doing a longer paper where more methodical exposition and examples, your comments are useful in preparing that. I think you are right about the operational fabric, and this is something I will re-frame.

I seriously enjoyed the paper and would be thrilled to help edit your next one just for fun... just structure, style, typos and the like. I wouldn't be able to catch factual errors as well as some of the TOD heavyweights would. hmwalker -at- gmail, if you're interested.

"What does seem clear is that those who, through fear or avarice, try and insulate themselves from the impacts by disproportionate hoarding or land grabs for example, will imperil not only their community's security and wellbeing, but their own. "

I do not understand why the author claims this to be so. It seems to me that almost any effort at preparation is helpful, not harmful. I can not imagine that I could ever buy enough land, or stockpile enough food (or even stockpile enough ammunition) to imperil my community's survival. Even if worst case I keep all my preparations for myself, at least one person is not scavenging for food. Realistically, if I have surplus, I would sell / trade / barter / donate some of my preparations to others. If there is a danger in being "too prepared", it is not that you rationally endanger others, it is that others irrationally endanger you !

Self-sufficiency is not an option for me anyhow. I am a city boy, not very handy. While chaos is a possibility, I think that if others lead, when the shit hits the fan, people will follow. Opposition to entrance into WWII melted when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, nothing that clear is likely to happen to wake the populace to the danger and its source.

Even if worst case I keep all my preparations for myself, at least one person is not scavenging for food.

I concur, and we plan on being as prepared as possible so my wife and I are not out there with the rest them, like you say, scavenging. My advice is to have enough stuff to last a few months, have something to defend yourself, hunker down and take a defensive position. You need a 2nd person to stay awake while you sleep to wake you should something start up.

If things look like they could get real crazy, I'm going to make an armored outfit out of pieces of tire, for the torso, legs and arms, and a helmet for the head. Use a carbide cutting tool attached to a grinder to cut through the steel belts. Drill holes and use thin threaded wire to hold it together. Obviously it will be too heavy to wear all the time, but when there is an attack it will probably be by several people at once, so you need to be able to take a bullet without going down.
You see, one person will not risk bolting into another person's house, but in numbers they will feel invincible. So you need to account for that inevitability.

Also, I'm going to get sheets of 1/4-3/8" thick steel, and attach it to the framing around the inside of the front and back doors. Leave a hole big enough to shoot through and drill a hole for the peep hole. If someone tries to shoot out the lock the steel will stop them from shooting through at you and will stop the door from opening. Use 3/8 thick shank lag bolts to secure it to the framing. Once your doors are secure, find an alternative way out of the house, that is not apparent to someone outside so you don't need to remove the steel. Maybe a drop down point from inside a closet into the crawl space under the house to an access door. People won't bother going under a house thinking they can get in.

Have precut pieces of 3/4" plywood for the windows and set them only once all hell is ready to break loose with 2" long grabbers (screws). If you're paranoid enough you could even strip the face of the screw to eliminate removal from the outside.

Throw a bunch of clothing and empty bags of food strewn about in front and in back of the house. Try to make it look like its already been ransacked. Have some food available should you get outnumbered by marauders. Give them a bag of corkscrew pasta and say its the last of your food. Invite them in if necessary to search through the empty pantry and frig, knowing full well your stash is safe in the attic or in a hidden storage location. Act defeated and ask for their help. They will quickly get the picture and head off to the next victim.

The goal is to last until the dust settles and the local community survivors come together to work for everyone's benefit.

How long do you expect it will take before some sort of stability in your community happens?

There will be a lot more unprepared than prepared people around. People may be fools about preparing for the future, but they are geared to detected "cheaters". You may not think that your preparations to hide what you have hoarded is cheating. The rightness or wrongness of that is immaterial. What matters is what the mass of people think as you will be in a minority. The only good use for what you have hoarded is to share it with at least some others generously without lambasting them for not hoarding. What people will MOST need is other people in the times that are coming.

If people get the least hint that you are hoarding while they are starving, well I wouldn't like to be you. As has been noted before you may succeed in hiding your food, but you will not be able to hide the fact that you are not starving like them. There are lots of guns out there, many belong to people who have not hoarded food.

OMG I can just picture you in your armor. Did you forget that everyone has to sleep sometime. I can assure you that others won't..

I think it depends on the speed of collapse. In the western economies it is likely that you will see food shortages for some time, then government intervention to ration food (as per Europe post WWII) possibly for years, before we get to complete collapse.

The best things to hoard, in my opinion, would be the goods that were deemed 'luxuries' during periods of rationing, most of which are hygenie related. Soap, good shampoo, toothpaste, quality toilet paper, etc. These would be valuable bartering tools in a period of severe austerity.

Obviously, whilst rationing will be enough to keep most people alive for some years, skills such as home-gardening and rearing chickens/rabbits will become very valuable. Just look at the UK in 1945-1955, every home garden was entirely devoted to food production - this state will need to be reached again and exhausted before total collapse. Skills in this area will be as valuable as any food that is hoarded.

I would agree that hording food and other goods will not work, because you cannot hide your health. However, selling and buying in the informal market may work, because the community would like to have some few luxuries.

I keep a good stock of grains and beans, and my only protective skill is the knowledge of how to cook them, and live well on a vegetarian diet. The skill of cooking is being lost in the fast food culture.

Maybe I can earn my way as a good cook and indifferent gardener.

I recommend "hoarding" knowledge and relations with people.
Learn skills and interact with your neighbours.

Learn skills and interact with your neighbours.
- that pretty much sums it up for me. I would also say start planting fruit trees now for later, plant enough to be able to share. We've planted over 100 fruit trees in our area and will have over 1000 for next year. The more food we can get into the landscape, the better everyone's chances are.

There's a lot of fear about this issue, understandably so, and yet i wouldn't get so bogged down in this belief that we are hard-wired to be reactionary, or violent or that inequality always happens.
Yes it has Happened, and we can also choose a different vision for the future.

I can't help thinking that more women leaders would insure a more peaceful transition to this brave new world we are heading toward. ;-)

I seriously doubt that women on average are more peacefull then men, we have to look at the individual qualities since there probably are no easy solution for finding perfect people.

I am afraid that I will not be wanted for my spelling skills either. More seriously, making social connections is difficult in the USA.

If people get the least hint that you are hoarding while they are starving, well I wouldn't like to be you. As has been noted before you may succeed in hiding your food, but you will not be able to hide the fact that you are not starving like them.

I'm not of that mind. I plan on staying out of sight until the dust settles, and only then reappearing to become part of a community. It's that first 4-6 weeks after the collapse that will be the most dangerous. Sure, you can't be barbecuing ribs and not think the smell or your whooping and hollaring will not be found out. But if you stay in the shadows eating cold food, you can make it through that toughest of periods and your cache will never be detected.

What on earth makes you think 'the collapse' will happen overnight like in some hollywood thriller?
the collapse has already begun, and is a process that few would identify for what it is until it's well
behind us. Expect it to continue for the next couple of decades. If you still plan to hide out until
'the dust settles' you will have to be hiding out on rapa nui or something - and when the 'dust settles' and you want to re=join society, you might find that they have found their own way without you,
and they might not necessarily welcome you in.

I read about a village in India (sorry dont have a reference now) during a famine. Some of the villagers noticed that several of the families were not becoming skinny like everyone else. This eventualy boiled over into resentment and rage, their houses were searched and food caches were found. The horders were killed for not sharing with the others. This is what happens to perceived cheaters in desperate life threatening situations.

Why not just buy some body armor from these folks?


You might actually be able to move inside of their gear.

Your house might offer a certain level of concealment, but does it offer any cover? A rifle bullet can pretty easily go straight through a lot of standard home building materials.

Static, single point defense is a pretty tough problem, especially for an individual (or two); probably not a survivable situation for very long.

I think one pretty much has no choice but to work within a community of some sort; some type of prepared hamlet.
I believe in individual preparation like you and Doomerdave, but I'm hopeful that within the boundaries of my small town we might be able to put something together for everyone's benefit.........if things get really crazy.

Jeez ... from the perspective of London that really reads like a disaster movie bs. Funny, in a dark sort of way. I thought this was a serious forum but increasingly feel it is descending into a survivalist one.

From the perspective of Sleepy Cornwall it looks like mad max!
I'm moving to America in a year or so and am intrigued to say the least as to how it's going to play out over there....
In my home country, Ireland the police don't even have guns, so to go a country where people can carry guns any old time (what if an arguement gets a little heated?) makes me a little nervous..

Well, they say an armed society is a polite society, but in this case, I think the jury is still out.

No, Japan is a polite society and they don't carry guns around.

I didn't mean to imply that people MUST be armed to be polite, just that if the person you are talking to is armed, you're more likely to be polite to them. It's a stupid quote from I don't know whom. Probably should have kept my mouth shut.

Your fear of guns is baseless.

Only conservatives carry guns but they also carry knives, axes, tasers, live explosives and pepper spray.

Guns don't kill, people kill.

My friends in the military say that you must be able to move away from any viable threat. Bunkering down merely invites someone to burn you out.

The only alternative would be to bail out and turn the table by making their life untenable, by sniping.

I suspect a cache in a remote [ non residential ] location would be a sensible precaution. That way you can still barter and have no need to defend anything. You might also be able to negotiate entry into a viable community.

Best wishes on our survival

either advance or retreat. Never stay still.

And this is why human history since agriculture began is full of nomadic pillaging groups always overrunning large castles and fortresses making them completely useless. NOT!

To the WaveRider, your friends are assuming certain things that may no longer be true in a post-peak oil world.

Good point.

Interesting perspective, however I'm not sure about burning them out, because doesn't that defeat the purpose of getting their food, their cache?

Perhaps I should have said smoke them out. Also note that cans don't burn quickly.

Also note that it's probably not sensible to die defending food that can be hidden elsewhere. People tend to wonder why someone is fighting so hard to defend a house. Stay mobile, stay alive

My friends have also advised me; tho I may have a bullet proof boat, if the bad guys have eight men with automatic weapons, I better have eight guys with automatic weapons. I tend to listen to experts who know how to survive in hostile environments like Afghanistan

Cant hurt to have a fall back position or plan B

In Afghanistan those 11 guys (not 8, because a squad is 11) with automatic weapons are backed up by massive air power and additional ground power not far behind them. So it's not 8 guys against 8 native fighters. It's 8+their entire backup structure against 8 native fighters.

Historically, even in the modern era, defenders have a massive tactical advantage, typically of 4-1. That ratio of 4-1 was precisely why the old USSR built up a 7-1 advantage against NATO in tanks, troops, artillery, etc. They knew that in order to overcome NATO's defenses, they needed more than a 4-1 advantage. They were students of history, military history.

Trying to burn out the lone survivalist in a log cabin sounds cute, until you realize that may not be what you will be facing. More likely you will be facing a rural compound, reinforced with ditches and earth berms, sandbags against house walls, etc. Even getting close enough to try smoking them out is highly hazardous to the "8 guys with automatic weapons". How many casualties can they expect to take in order to take the house? Do you have any idea of how easy it is for a farm with power equipment to establish ditches and earth berms making direct assault on the house extremely difficult? Have you checked how cheap concertina wire is? It stores basically forever, you know.

Finally, I point to actual human behavior when society has any breakdown at all. Those Korean shop owners in LA during the Rodney King riots who sat on top of their shops with shotguns clearly visible did not see their stores smashed and looted. Why is that? It's the same reason that Professor Gary Kleck found that criminals try to determine whether a target is armed or not - in the mind of a looter (plunderer) hard targets are not worth the risk compared to a soft target. Is it worth dying to try to take down that farmer and who knows who else inside that compound? Or do we move down the road and find a soft target? Look at the Afghan mud-and-straw qalat with thick rammed earth walls and tell me how many automatic weapon rounds will get through those walls. (Hint - zero.)

The mobile advice only works in an era of cheap hydrocarbon fuels with large scale military forces. If you find yourself up against that, sure, bug out. But 8 guys with automatic weapons against a fortified rural compound? Come get some, punks.

NOTE: Fortified rural compounds are still common throughout the entire third world for very obvious reasons. Now you tell me why and why they continue to be used after centuries of use. If (large if) we see a rapid fall off in hydrocarbon production over the next decade, mobility will be reduced vastly.

P.S. Your Afghan soldier friends didn't stay mobile 100% of the time, did they? No, when their patrols were done they went back to... *drumroll* a fortified compound. Give that a second to stew around the old noggin, ok?

The only words of wisdom passed on to me, by my dear old Father as advice, were in the form of two axioms:

1). Don't stand out in the rain if you don't have to; folks will think you're stupid.

2). Don't get into the fight if you're not sure you'll win.

There are lots of dead heros, most aren't remembered. Everybody knows who Poncho Villa was, or Ghenghis Khan, and he did his stuff a long, long time ago. The Chinese guy's book, "The Art of Warfare", Sun Y. Sen, or something like that as I recall, is very good on the topic of how to win. It's been years and years since I've seen a copy.

Way back when, during my time in the service, I was regularly surprised by the stupidity of West Point brass. Not much has changed over the past 50 years as is evidenced by our most current fiascos in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and of course, Iraq.

Best from the Fremont

My guess is that here in the US there will not be aheck of alot of serious millitary hardware floating around, beyond some assualt rifles(real ones ) and some grenades, etc.

It is not likely that one would need an artillery resistant compound,a barrier capable of stopping smallarms fire should be adequate the vast majority of cases.Of course this migth change over time, especially if walled towns or castles, and groups of marauders largw enough to assualt such fortifications become common.

I am reasonably sure that there will be preemptive patrolling organized by local militias in many areas, especially in some isolated areas a long way from any remaining law enforcement , or any INVESTIGATION of POSSIBLE missing persons, especially of persons not known as local residents.

But the odds in a mad max scenario of my living very long while taking care of our scattered fields and orchards are not good at all.

It might be necessary to bunker up and simply proactively defend the home place for a year or two.That would be very hard,but probably not impossible.

After that maybe things would tend to trend back towards day to day safety, in terms of marauders at least.

The modern assault rifle eats lots and lots of ammo and, I think ammo will be scarce, if available at all. A reloader could spend a week to make enough ammunition for a few minutes of fire from a single automatic rifle. I think, more likely, in the Mad Max scenario, good quality single shot black powder rifles will be valued. The balls are easy to make and powder can be manufactured "out back in the yard". Firepower, at any rate won't win the day. The Mujahadeen defeated the Russians with locally manufactured weapons, and of course, SAM's provided by Uncle. The Hind Helicopters the Russians used were heavily armored, but a decently placed shot from a shoulder fired rocket brought them down....no problemo.

Throughout history, the guerilla fighter has always kicked butt. Small groups of fighters can be disproportionately successful against much larger forces. Witness Viet Nam. Here in the USA, we never seem to learn...thus our current quagmires. Mechanized Infantry cannot defeat a determined guerilla effort. It'll take guerillas a while, but, they'll pick a conventional infantry apart, piece by piece. Time works in favor of the guerilla. Defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan with our usual array of conventional forces is as problematic as, maybe, English Infantry defeating the Southern Baptist Convention in Dixie?

I know there are Special Ops forces in Afghanistan, but, their successes are far overshadowed by the blunders of the West Point Corps and their handlers in Washington. Special Ops had a free hand in Viet Nam under Kennedy; Johnson brought in the conventional forces and the West Point Brass. The rest is history. Tet, by the way, was in my opinion, the beginning of the end of American influence in the world. We got our butts kicked by a bunch of farmers in their pajamas. It was soooo embarassing. Best from the Fremont

I don't think any militia type group would want to get into a prolonged engagement where they fire thousands of rounds. If anything, single shot or semi-automatic rifles would be much more realistic versus black powder. Even then, most automatic rifles have a semi-automatic option, I think a select-fire rifle would be quite useful. Look at how rural Afghanistan is, they don't seem to have an issue procuring ammunition.

1. The Tet offensive was conducted by North Vietnamese regulars, not Viet Cong.
2. On the battlefield, the North Vietnamese lost every single engagement and failed to achieve even one single objective of their original battleplan.
3. The north lost over 20,000 dead.
4. The north lost over 20,000 soldiers who defected.
5. The north's government forbade its military commanders from ever taking on such an action again.

On 5 April 1969, COSVN issued Directive 55 to all of its subordinate units: "Never again and under no circumstances are we going to risk our entire military force for just such an offensive. On the contrary, we should endeavor to preserve our military potential for future campaigns."

Was the Tet offensive hard on Allied forces? Sure was! 1968 saw the highest casualties for the US up to that time by a large margin. But the casualties and military failures of the north were far larger. Tet was only a victory for the north in the minds of western journalists who thought the US should be able to win the war with zero casualties.

Now should the US have been there in the first place? No, but that's how empires behave. It's how the empire still behaves, whether I like it or not (and I do not). But to cast the Tet offensive as a military victory for the Viet Cong (who hardly even participated!) is a statement completely out of line with the known facts of history. Was the Tet Offensive a PR nightmare for the US? Yes, because of the reporting that I mentioned above. But on the battlefield, the US and South Vietnamese forces denied the northern forces repeatedly and suffered casualties far, far lower than the northern forces sustained.

The Viet Cong did not win the war in Vietnam. The North Vietnamese government won the war via a propaganda offensive, not a military offensive. And given their failures on the battlefield, having the assistance of western media to assist them in their propaganda war was most fortunate for them.

That the myth of the Viet Cong survives to this day is testament to how poorly we educate ourselves to the actual facts of history, even recent history.

NOTE: The same sorts of myths surround the American revolution. But without the assistance of France and other great powers who were in direct competition with Great Britain, the colonies could never have won that war either.

The North Vietnamese didn't win the war. We left the war because we could no longer stand it's costs, socially, and economically. If we hadn't chosen to leave, we'd still be fighting both the North Vietnamese Regulars, and the Irregulars. The conflict was, in my opinion, an exercise of conventional US Forces against an essentially unconventional force that was ill equipped and untrained for the conventional battlefield, but successful as an irregular force operating with the support of at least some, and in some areas, most of the local populace. As the conflict grew, the North Vietnamese benefited from support from both the Chinese and the Russians, but, the conflict, in my opinion, remained an unconventional one on the part of the North, because many of their operations were small unit operations that enjoyed support from the civilian population in the south. Photos of the Ho Chi Minh Trail would indicate that North Vietnamese forces were punished severely by our bombers, but yet, the supply line from the north to the south was never severed and, I think that is in large part because, most of the materials moving from the north to the south were moved by small groups of irregular forces. A conventional force would have easily been obliterated.

As for Tet, it was a humiliation for the US Military. You're right, it was a major offensive by the North's Regulars, but, the perception at the time, and as you note, the perception remains, that we got our butts kicked by a bunch of little guys wearing pajamas. It was awful for moral, and truely viewed as a defeat for our army. I don't believe we ever recovered. I remember Ft. Bragg, after the US withdrew from Saigon in 75 and the whole place was demoralized, looked crappy, and felt crappy. To this day, With hindsight, I don't understand why we were in Vietnam in the first place. I don't know, 56,000 dead kids, and what difference did it make for today's world? It's all old stuff now, old history, and I seldom think about it. I lost friends, and I have friends who are still suffering from that war, but, that's the way it goes. I appreciated your comments, and I think we agree on most points except this one, and that is, the Viet Cong was a guerilla fighter, and the way guerilla warfare works is the guerilla wears out the conventional force. Our mistake was that we tried to fight an unconventional war with conventional forces and doctrine. The guerilla has all of the time in the world and a sniper with a single shot rifle can kill a General any old day. Best from the Fremont

Access to rubber tree plantations and denying Sovjet access to the same?

Doing these things, but doing them as part of a viable community from the start, and sharing some
of your advantage with that community, will give you all the advantages of doing those things alone, plus
the advantages of that community. In the great re-localization of our modern connected world, those
communities that emerge will likely be quite suspicious or even hostile to most 'outsiders' once theyve
worked out their 'us' and 'them'. Fission is a natural response to intense resource stress or scarcity-
once that process begins (and it can repeat before things stabilize) people tend to develop stronger
and stronger ways of distinguishing their group's identity from others. Wandering outsiders, unless they
present a hell of a deal by bringing something very valuable (and sharing it) will not find a friendly reception in such environments.

I've been making progress with my friends. We're talking baby steps here, but progress none-the-less. I stick with the basics; things that they can pretty easily confirm for themselves or better, already see happening around them. Things like the inexorable rise in oil prices in spite of "high inventory levels", the daily news about loan defaults and mortgage foreclosures, the tightening up of credit, the rise (globally) in purchases of gold and its corresponding relentless price rise. I try to explain to them how all these things are not isolated, but all related. And I am making progress:)

I agree with the criticisms of the above article regarding "inequitable distribution of wealth". There has never been "equitable" distribution of wealth. And I'm not so sure this concept could even be defined in the real world. Not everyone is even predisposed to working for "wealth". As near as I can see, from my studies of history, efforts to distribute wealth equitably end up relying upon various totalitarian schemes with much bloodshed as a result; and still NO equitable distribution of wealth. It's pretty obvious to me that most utopias are, at their core, totalitarian; so, no thanks. I'll pass on the utopias.

As near as I can see, from my studies of history, efforts to distribute wealth equitably end up relying upon various totalitarian schemes with much bloodshed as a result; and still NO equitable distribution of wealth. It's pretty obvious to me that most utopias are, at their core, totalitarian; so, no thanks. I'll pass on the utopias.

Like the 8 hour workday, progressive income tax and social security?

Marxism(as in Karl Marx) in Europe evolved into the staunchly anti-Communist UK Labor Party and German Social Democrats.

Communism is a Third World phenomenon.
It started because countries like Russia and China wanted to catch up with the West technologically and were also besieged by anti-Communist 'containers'.
Today China no longer aims at wealth redistribution but remains totalitarian in control.
Capitalist Malaysia and Singapore are similarly totalitarian.
Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany despised wealth redistribution as Marxist but were highly totalitarian.

People who think raising taxes is totalitarian are hopelessly confused.

Paging Glenn Beck!

claiming an all-encompassing and exclusive monopoly on power is totalitarian. The particular
inspiration or cover story for what the elites do with their power is entirely immaterial. The methods
themselves are indeed totalitarian. Raising taxes is definitely a strong evidence in the direction of
totalitarian. When raising of taxes occurs in a large imperial state which does indeed claim an exclusive
monopoly on power, it is extending the 'all encompassing' part of that definition and indeed is getting
closer and closer to totalitarian. The very justification of such acts when based on ideological claims to
unique or exclusive 'right' to levy tax, and the efforts taken to ensure that all exits are closed and any alternatives are blocked, certainly smack of a totalitarian approach.

It boggles the mind how so many people cannot see beyond the silly 'left versus right' distinction in
this modern world. They're two different brands of totalitarian industrial civilization. They're coke and pepsi. They have the same methods at their disposal, they face the same challenges, and they have, by dint of physical reality, to take the same approaches and behave ultimately in the same way if they are to
continue to exercise power. That particular instances of such regimes vary somewhat, or that some of
them possessed particular idiosyncracies which from inside the brand-war seem to set them apart as absolutely different, should in no way cloud one's vision or grasp on the reality that all industrial
empires function according to the same basic rules. they are coke and pepsi.

Typical anarcho-capitalist.
Anything the state does is inherently totalitarian--pah-lease.
You'd only be happy if there was no state at all.
OTOH, you would characterize the thought controlling, unequal, and oppressive 'free market' as the epitome of 'freedom'.

What libertarians lack is simple common sense and any connection to reality.

It's a cult.

You still can't see that all power structures, whether you like to call them governments, corporations,
'organizations', 'entities', states, what-have-you, all power structures live and die on the same earth
and obey the same physical rules. Large scale power structures, only possible in conditions of ludicrous
surpluses of energy (and usually other resources besides) in conjunction with the technological ability to
extract and use that energy, are indeed oppressive and ugly, _regardless_ of what kind of name you'd like
to put on them.

They are also an entirely predictable consequence of those prevailing conditions, it's essentially impossible to do away with them while those conditions persist, and are absolutely impossible to maintain when those conditions fail.

When any power structure makes a claim to exclusive monopoly on power, which tends to be a smart move as
it often deters a lot of small-scale opposition, heckling, or outright defiance, you have an aspiring totalitarian regime in the making. Whether or not such a power structure is successful at exercising
a monopoly on power is a different matter.

Yes, humans evolved in the absence of those resource-glut conditions. Humans evolved in small bands, kin-groups, or tribes, with basically no persistent power structures. This kind of self-organization might be called anarchic by some people but you can hardly call it capitalistic, unless you want to extend the metaphors of capital, investment, and return, down to the basic thermodynamics of biological metabolism.. some of the ideas might apply, but sorry, that's not capitalism.

When you have more advanced technologies and the resources to feed them, then you actually have more
and more of what you might call capital or investment. In those conditions, every player is a capitalist
regardless of what personal religion or ideology he might profess, because the only way to operate such
technologies is by way of some investment into capital (you might try to hide this by calling capital
something else, but it's capital all the same).

Useful technology is all about the concentration of power. That's the whole point! That's what technology IS, the technical means of concentrating power!

..and the concentration of power is an unavoidable ingredient and characteristic of every sort
of despotism, domination, dictatorship, tyranny, and so on. Benevolent or well-intentioned players
seeking power 'to do good' still need to obtain that power through the same methods as the most malevolent
despot, and the very act of obtaining and exercising that power _is_ a live demonstration of domination.

I said nothing at all about my happiness or about any kind of 'free market' being any kind of 'freedom'. Your own ideological short-circuit led you there. i'm just telling it like it is.
What part of this is disconnected from reality, i leave you to ask yourself. The bigger discussion here
is about the fact that we are observing the breakdown of the conditions which have made industrial civilization possible, and are starting to experience the unavoidable consequences of that history.

By definition the more power you give government the more likely the politicians who make up that government(and who cann't clearly Always be trusted to not be self interested) are to grab power or too much power or continue to want more power and create a totalitarian type state or one headed in that direction.

Like most things in life, balance is a key. An unchecked marketplace with no regulation allows for disruptions as people use up limited resources. On the other hand, this country has swung WAY TO FAR in terms of laws, regulations, redistribution and is headed for bankruptcy due to the inefficiencies (more lawyers per capita then any other country) and promised redistributions.

We have 14 Trillion dollars in debt, our deficit this year is one and a half trillion, social security and medicare are "off balance sheet items" that are going 100% certain to explode. Healthcare will be an additional Huge deficit creator (unless the Supreme Court reverses - which is 50/50 but correct based on the fact the authority for mandating insurance purchases is the Commerce Clause -but there is no "interstate activity" -neither interstate nor activity- when someone sits on their couch and doesn't purchase insurance) because private insurers will effectively leave the individual marketplace in 2014 (in the 44 states that are currently free market states - the non-free market states like NY are one of the key reasons there are so many uninsured in the U.S. - and the Federal Government directly and indirectly has caused the price of private insurance to go up in six other major ways and caused much of the under insurance) when the law kicks in at 2014, insurance companies won't be able to reasonably price for pre-existing conditions, and the Government will have to take over the individual insurance marketplace. That should work out real well, say goodbye to the best healthcare in the world (Canadian Hockey players and the Prime Minister of Labrador and people with money in Canada come to the U.S. for serious healthcare issues) and the Government will have to make very difficult decisions on healthcare for many Americans (I hope it's run as well as my excellent local DMV office because it might be a little more complicated to run than issuing a license).

Every dollar absorbed by the Government is by definition a dollar not available in the private system. The private sector IS what creates wealth for the people. Half of all workers in the U.S. now work for forms of the Government already and if that's not bad enough, they earn considerably more than the private sector. Federal workers, including compensation and benefits, earn TWICE what private sector workers make.

The pendulum in the U.S. has swung WAY to far already. IT IS SOO TRUE...the comment attributed to Margaret Thatcher..."The problem with socialism is eventually the socialist run out of money to redistribute".

Guess what...the U.S. HAS (effectively) Already run out of money to redistribute. (By the way medicare is six times the social security deficit and goes into the red around 2016). Increasing taxes will not solve the problem. The Laffer Curve is valid at most points on the curve. When Ronald Reagan cut taxes he dramatically increased Federal revenues (and created 21 million jobs). Increased taxes will drain the private productive sector that actually does create wealth and jobs. People really do adjust to incentives. They really do work less and create less wealth and create less jobs at really high tax rates. (Reagan and President Kennedy were in agreement on this and the Federal tax rates versus Federal revenue stream charts for the past 100 years are clear that this is true - That is a very clear numerical pattern)(one of the extremely few- maybe the only exception in the clear pattern was the recent Bush Tax cuts which were in fact offset by Federal reductions in grants to the states which then raised state taxes in an amount roughly equal to the Federal cut- causing effectively no tax cut-- but the historical pattern is very very clear).

As for the European socialists, they are even in front of the U.S. in their race toward bankruptcy. The Greek Crisis is just a tiny view of their ghost of future.

Separately but in a related important note to all doomers above and below...I really doubt it (not impossible but I give it 1-2%). It won't be total doom but it won't be at all pretty either...yes, be prepared for the U.S. to go though a dramatic economic shift as most people have to give up large SUV's and drive tiny little cars that go beep beep beep (sorry couldn't resist the reference), give up a lot of their air travel, pay more for food (as that is where resources will be shifted since it is a necessity), and give up a lot of average living space due to higher energy costs. (the poor in the U.S. currently have more square foot of living space per person than the middle class in Europe). Talk about returning to the start.

(PS...Glenn Beck is a genius and certainly more often right than he is wrong).

What a thoughtful thread!

It sounds like the often feisty TOD community is reaching the final stage of acceptance in the face of approaching calamity.

I sense a resignation and peace in the comments.

Don't worry, we can still get feisty (to put it mildly).

kudos for a great paper! I have gained from this series. THANKS.

Things are getting kind of gross.

"this is not real.... this is not really... this is not really happening!"

"You bet your life it is!"

Tori Amos

(Where'd you put the keys, girl?)