Where should we be putting our mitigation priorities?

It seems like there are three distinct approaches to mitigation:

1. Modifying our current system so that it can continue, perhaps on a lower level, hopefully maintaining an acceptable lifestyle for most people.

It seems to me that most of the climate change inspired mitigations and most of the efficiency mitigations are in this category (electric cars, carbon capture and storage, more efficient light bulbs, more efficient cars, more large wind turbines added to the grid). This category might also include building more trains, building more energy-efficient homes, and improving insulation.

2. Doing things that might help our immediate families survive for some period of time--a few weeks up to 40 years.

Things in this category would include hoarding food, water and medicine; buying water filters; setting up gardens; raising chickens; buying solar PV panels; buying bicycles; saving tradable items, from gold or silver coins to small bottles of alcohol; and buying guns and ammunition.

3. Doing things that would truly be helpful for several generations in the future, if we need to go to a much lower energy life style.

Some things (which may overlap with (1) and (2)) are closer to this ideal than others. Building a farm using hedge rows instead of electric fences, and using a mixture of crops suitable to the climate including some which fix nitrogen might be an example. Building factories powered by small wind that can be repaired with local materials would be another example. Building small solar ovens using reflective materials that can be used for many years would be another.

Below the fold, I discuss these three approaches briefly, and ask for your thoughts.

Approach (1), (2), or (3), or some of all of them?

I think many of us try to do some mitigation from all of the above lists. The question is more one of priories since we don't have infinite resources for mitigation. Also, it may be useful to stop to think that there is a difference in approaches.

Some people put more emphasis on (1) Approaches that would allow our current system to continue, perhaps at a lower level. Various readers will have different views as to how long we will really be able to maintain our current system, and that may explain a big part of the difference in views on this matter. If we are truly approaching a tipping point, and electricity will be lost within a few years (perhaps because of oil dependence for transporting coal; perhaps for financial reasons; perhaps because of geopolitical factors), then putting a lot of effort into (1) becomes less important. If we really can keep business as usual (BAU) going indefinitely, then (1) is all that is needed.

The big issue with (2) Doing things to help our immediate families survive is the question whether it is really possible to have "individual salvation". Perhaps if the downslope is slow, the preparations we make will help for some period of time. Preparation may even be helpful for many years, if something close to BAU can be maintained (including a working financial system and electrical system). If things are truly awful, there then there is a question whether our preparations will leave us more open to attack than we would otherwise be the case.

The problem with (3) Doing things that would truly be helpful for several generations in the future, if we need to go to a lower energy life style is that these things tend to be more difficult and more expensive--for example buying a farm and setting it up in a way that can be maintained without fossil fuel inputs. In addition, It would be difficult for an individual family to live in this manner, so we would need to build communities that include a range types of foods produced and services. In this way, families would have neighbors to trade with, and other community members might provide essential services.

One issue is that many (most) probably think an approach as (3) is not needed. Another is that it is not clear that we could support the world's current population with approach (3). And clearly there is a significant cost involved. There are a few little things we can do (for example, plant fruit trees that are suited to our areas, along with nitrogen-fixing plants), but trying to make a wholesale change to a lifestyle that is truly sustainable is very difficult.

What will the downslope look like?

One of the questions in deciding which approach to emphasize is "How fast will the decline in world oil production be?" If there is an 80% decline in oil production by 2050 (as some forecast, and as would be preferred from a climate point of view), the decline in oil production would average about 3.9% a year.

There is a question at to what extent productivity increases can be expected to offset this decline. EIA forecasts a 2% annual increase in labor productivity to 2035 in its Annual Energy Outlook 2010. But historical productivity values are based on using more and more oil and electricity as a substitute for labor. One might expect labor productivity increases to be less than 2.0% per year, and perhaps to decline absolutely, if we need to start substituting manual labor for work currently done by machines.

Another source of efficiency gain relates to technology changes alone - say more efficient cars. These depend on capital investment. They also depend on the turnover rate of new vehicles (or other machinery) into the system. Capital is at this point quite scarce, so expecting huge improvement in efficiency (enough to offset a 3.9% annual decline in oil production) seems optimistic, unless changes are quite drastic--replacing autos with bicycles, for example.

The Government Revenue Problem - Higher Tax Rates Likely Ahead

Before finishing our analysis of what the decline will look like, it is helpful to understand the financial bind that governments are in now. For a while, consumers and banks tried to handle the problems that arose from the mismatch between revenue and expenses, as world oil prices rose but salaries did not (and perhaps other problems as well). Then governments stepped in, and tried to fix the situation. But the time is coming to "pay the piper," and governments will need to do something differently. I like to look at graphs--shown below are some graphs based on US data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. It seems to me that a similar situation is likely to face many OECD countries.

One of the issues with peak oil is that it tends to hold down personal income. This is a graph of US per capita disposable personal income in 2005 dollars, based on data of the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Average per capita US Personal income in 2005 $ flattened starting in mid 2006, and is still flat through the first quarter of 2010. I would expect a fairly similar pattern to hold for much of OECD. Without an increase in oil production, it is hard to see a substantive rise in per capita personal income.

At the same time government revenues (which include more than personal income tax) sank. Governments needed to bail out banks, and to "stimulate" the economy, so their expenditures soared.

As a percentage of disposable personal income, US federal government disbursements soared and receipts sank. Outstanding debt also soared, but because interest rates are so low, interest payments have remained relatively low.

This whole situation is not very sustainable for most countries facing a situation of stagnating incomes, soaring expenditures and declining receipts. At some point, creditors will not want to offer more debt, or will require higher interest rates. And taxes must be raised to bring receipts in line with expenditures. Even if not all of the taxes are personal income taxes, the impact will still indirectly be felt by consumers through higher prices for products. The net effect on consumers is likely to be less after tax income, in "real" dollars.

Can a Drop In Oil Production be Offset by a Rise in Gas and Coal Production, or Will the Decline Spread Beyond Oil, to Other Fuels

One question is the extent to which a decline in oil production can/will be offset by increases in natural gas and coal production. My personal belief is that the various systems are very much interconnected, so they will all tend to decline together--oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. A cutback in oil consumption (even if due to a drop in demand) can be expected to have adverse impacts on financial systems and on revenues of governments. As governments attempt to raise taxes to offset this lack of revenue (a point they are now reaching), the higher taxes can be expected to destabilize the system further, leading to a reduction in demand, recession, and an additional decline in oil, gas, coal and uranium prices. The slow economic growth will cause debt to continue to unwind, leading to even lower demand, and more decline in housing prices.

With all of these impacts, government revenues are likely to continue to be too low, despite tax increases. The continued recession and low revenues are likely to lead to yet more tax increases, or a reduction in services provided by government--a feedback loop that is likely to get worse and worse, as it is repeated. Declining demand from these feedbacks can be expected to affect not just oil, but natural gas, coal, and nuclear as well.

I would expect the result to be a decline in oil, natural gas, and coal consumption by more than the average 3.9% per year one might expect from Hubbert's curve. And this decline in consumption, in my view, will be described as primarily a decline in demand, rather than supply. Saudi Arabia will no doubt to continue to point out that it has extra supply available, if needed, but this will be irrelevant.

China's consumption of fuels, separately (bottom) and combined (top) from Energy Export Data Browser

There are many who believe that oil production will not decline at a rate faster than suggested by Hubbert's curve (or by historical decline rates, offset by some new production), and that increases in natural gas, coal and uranium production will act to offset the decline in oil production. Whether or not this is true is debatable. Certainly, China has greatly ramped up coal consumption recently, and has increased gas consumption from a small base. If others can do this, it might be possible to mitigate the downslope, and to allow BAU, or a scaled back version of BAU, to continue for a while longer. I see this as a small possibility if governments can somehow circumvent higher tax rates, and instead, can continue to borrow and spend freely, despite low tax revenue, so that they can help facilitate growth in natural gas, coal, and nuclear.

It remains to be seen whether ramping up coal, gas, and nuclear will be used to offset a decline in oil production on a world wide basis--existing coal and gas reserves will become depleted in some areas, and gas from shale gas may prove to be expensive. Also, adequate capital is needed for any scale-up. With more and more debt defaults and less and less after tax personal income, debt based financing is likely to become less available. In addition, international trade, needed for high tech industries of any sort (including current natural gas, coal, and uranium production), may become less available. Climate change concerns may also act to hold back coal production.

To summarize, my conclusion is that production of all fuels is likely to decline quite quickly, even faster than the 3.9% per year suggested by Hubbert's Curve, but there is room for other beliefs as well. With respect to the various mitigation approaches, my beliefs would make Approach 3, involving planning for long term mitigation more important. Approach 1, involving efficiency and climate change issues becomes less important because energy use is likely to fall off very quickly, whether or not any steps are actively taken to promote such a drop. Our real need is to plan for the long term future--what Approach 3 is looking at.


1. For how many years do you think the world can maintain its current complex system (financial, electric, industrial agriculture, Internet, paved roads, etc) after energy availability begins to decline?

2. How does your view of (1) influence what your view of the most important mitigation approaches?

3. Do we have resources to do all three mitigation approaches simultaneously? If we need to scale back on one, what would it be?

l. please pay attention. The complex evolved system is breaking down before our eyes. You know, ENTROPY. As some have said it's already started, it's just ain't equally distributed yet.

2. I am an old man. Mitigation? Just don't want to die like a dog in the street.

3. Please. Human nature is driving us off the cliff. Everyone I know is saying, "I will cut back when everyone else does."

Damn nice sunset here just north of the Cody Scarp.

Sorry, but this thing in the GOM has got this old man feeling a little melancholy.

1 Exercise kindness
2 Drum the exponential function into our kids heads.
3 Pay attention to Maslows hierarchy of needs.
4 Accept that we are organelles of a greater organism, and that our deaths, while a personal tragedy, are inevitable and apoptosis.

I add this as a value judgment.
Cane killed Abel.
Cane represented a settled agricultural mode of life. Abel's life was nomadic. Cane is forced to sweat in the sun for his sin.
We need both systems.
Cane is about to take a hit to make room for Able.

Oh, and remember, you were built tough by evolution.

....our deaths, while a personal tragedy, are inevitable and apoptisis.

"Faith in immortality was born of the greed of unsatisfied men who make unwise use of the time that nature has allotted us. But wise men find their life span sufficient to complete the full circle of
attainable pleasures, and when the time of death comes, they 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

Maybe the key phrase there is "attainable pleasures". When leaving this life, surely it would be
a pleasure to believe you have left a chance of some "attainable pleasures" for your children, grandchildren, etc.

This morning (in Australia) I am having butter and honey in my oats porridge.
Let the good times roll.

This evening i am having sour mash on ice. Living in the moment is the only way to go.

""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

This evening i am having sour mash on ice. Living in the moment is the only way to go.

You say living in the moment is the only way to go but you are talking about drinking sour mash later in the evening! I am afraid you are not "living in the moment".

This live for the now has been so commercialized it only seems to represents sensory gratification. Living in the moment is about seeing the wholeness of existence. (Very hard to do after a sour mash I will add.) It is a great lessening to live in the moment, there is no "you" to receive the burning quench of alcohol. Sensory enjoyment vanishes, true enjoyment, not based on conditions (like running out of sour mash), appears.

Thanks for the perceptive comment. Lots of wisdom in it. Guess I subscribe to the Arlo Guthrie principal. "Lot of wisdom in a pint. Not much in a quart." Moderation my friend in all things. I occasionally get a little existential angst. The booze is an escape, I suppose.

But on to an underlying message contained in your comment and those of many others in this very interesting post. As I read through the comments there is a both a thread of despair and of hope. Revolutions come out of the latter. This mood of hopelessness about the future of man goes against one of the most fundamental features of Western thought: the faith in human progress towards justice and peace and all those other things. That's what the Old Testament is all about. And the famous Greeks and Roman writers were all about. Hope for man to reach perfection. Huxley and Orwell, and others, dealt with hope and despair in their writings and predicted the despair we see today . I, as a trained biologist, believe we humans are in overshoot. Became aware of it back in the 70's. Since then the situation has only gotten worse. Technology will not save us. Human nature, being what it is, is going to burn every fucking thing it can get it hands on and always demand more. One little verse by E. O. Wilson sums up our situation, “Selfishness beats altruism within groups. Altruistic groups beat selfish groups. Everything else is commentary." The competition has been going on since the first throws of life. Human natures fetish with duality in all things identifies the groups. Interesting watching it play out. "Living in the moment is about seeing the wholeness of existence." Nice!

Thanks for your reply.

I just want to add that if two people look at our current events and one sees hope and the other sees despair, I say there is a problem with perception.

Hope and despair are both conceptual notions, and we telling ourselves a story of a future that does not exist. If one has either hope or despair, they too are not living in the moment.

We know that we are being wasteful right now, that is all that you need to know. I do not see a need for predicting the future. It is just a game.

"We know that we are being wasteful right now, that is all that you need to know. I do not see a need for predicting the future. It is just a game."

Predicting the future is just a needless game? You must be a mighty bad driver. Or family planner. Or cook.

Get real. You seem to be saying that we can just turn civilization around on a dime, as soon as the "present" tells us to, and that human nature and the inertia of social governance will magically disappear should the need arise, like converting to wartime production.

So what's your idea of a Pearl Harbor of Global Warming?

Oh, you haven't got one? Too bad. Guess you and me and the rest just die from lack of foresight, that needless game.

Predicting the future and planning are two different concepts.

By seeing that I am being wasteful now, that knowledge contains all the future plans I need. If I see I am wasteful, I use less gas, I look for more efficient ways to live. If I see in the present moment, say, that drinking makes me careless, I stop drinking. Then, I will not be as careless in the future.

The present predicts the future. If you want to change where you are going you have to change your current actions. So instead of neglecting the present by looking at the future, look at what you are doing right now. Right now is the future.

Planning is useful, but a plan does not predict the future.

Maybe that is how we got into this mess. Many people thing that planning for the future is the same thing as predicting the future. And the majority of people right now are predicting the future; they are predicting that things will go on like they always do, that they can continue how they live without harming the world. You see where prediction, without close self examination goes haywire?

I make no assumptions about turning civilization around on a dime. I have no control over anyone's mind but my own, and that is difficult enough.

In that case, drink up now. There is only now, anyway.

Life is short.

Why make it shorter?

Why not?

It is a play on words. I hear that comment by people and they are masking their suffering in superficial enjoyment, so I point out the paradoxical nature of the statement.

There is nothing "wrong" with ignoring or hurting your health. It is just a symptom of physical or mental suffering.

But you care, deep down, or you would not be on a site like this for 4 years.

I guess, though, even pointlessness is a reason for living. I mean, if there really was no point to life we would go beyond nihilism.

(lmaocoughing up my coffee - no kidding, bottom's UP! ;)

Let me know how that works out for you.

Thinking more on this; what is the difference between you and the Hummer driver. Or you and BP? Or you and the mountaintop miner? They have the same attitude, yes?

Why are you here, on this site? Are you a rouge agent?

A rouge agent? Would that be like a cosmetics salesperson?

Why not?

In my case, other than the usual reasons, I want to stick around to see how things turn out, and I've always enjoyed a good challenge.

I smoked and drank for awhile when I was younger but I quit completely a couple of years ago and put some work in every day toward mental and physical fitness. A clear head is the best tool for any job.

Good time to mention "mismatch theory" and the unquenchable desire to fuck and grab.


Another pre-calculus wander through more and more of less and less, with a little 3.9% number thrown in to make it seem sort of actuarial or something.

"Another is that it is not clear that we could support the world's current population with approach (3)."

And what exactly makes you think there's any question we could support the world's projected population, since you mention nothing about controlling its growth, AGAIN.

Over and over you plow this ground, and never plant a seed.

I mention that it does not seem possible to support the current world's population, using truly sustainable techniques for the long term. That clearly implies we have a population problem.

Exactly how to address this problem is a question.

People are unwilling to seriously cut back on having children, because having children, no matter for how short a period, can be one of the joys of life.

If we are facing a major population decline shortly, it may be that nothing we can do through family planning will do much to change the problem--it is just too late, and we are too much into overshoot.

Also, with government and private pension programs becoming more and more difficult to maintain, people will need to depend more on their own families, This further makes it difficult to "push" serious population control.

But I very much agree that population is way to high, and if nothing else, this issue needs to be publicized.

Are you saying peak population is a myth? I accept your expertise on that one, I bought off on peaking around 2070. I learn much here.


The blurb on the Nature study doesn't say what the basis for this projection was (nor does it specify in what manner the population will begin to decline after around 2070). But you can be sure that it was extrapolation based on some current trends, which, like virtually every mainstream "projection" in this society, fails to take into account the fundamental bases of such trends - extreme fossil fuel dependence and the inherent unsustainability of that dependence. Population will certainly peak, but unfortunately the decline will probably be much sooner, and the causes much less benign, than were perhaps assumed in the study.

I basically share your pessimism about people's willingness to change in this respect, Gail. Surely you are right that a reason for unwillingness to curtail reproduction is that "having children ... can be one of the joys of life." But couples who have _one_ child surely are not deprived of such joy in any significant way, and a fairly strict one child policy might be compatible with some relatively benign decline scenarios which, while no doubt unlikely at this point, are not inherently unrealistic (say, with the presence of good leadership). As for the qualifying statement in the ellipsis, "no matter for how short a period," are you suggesting that parents would want to bring children into the world knowing that they were likely to die within a few short years? I would think that overwhelmingly, people choosing to parent do not _realize_ that this is what their choice amounts to. I know from personal experience how hard it is to speak frankly about such things to people contemplating parenthood. But one can conceive of strenuous educational campaigns with the following slogans: "Better to be an only child than to be an orphan" and "Better to _have_ only one child than to bury a child." Accompanied by real understanding of our predicament, who could disagree?

The children as old-age insurance problem is a thorny one, the major reason China's one child policy is not enforced in the countryside. If only strong multi-generational non-blood bonds and mutual support could be systematically encouraged and facilitated ...

Has civilization come to a tipping point?
Has population come to a tipping point?

"People are unwilling to seriously cut back on having children, because having children, no matter for how short a period, can be one of the joys of life." Gail the Actuary

The reasons to have children have changed over the century's. Ranging from a mans wealth to killing infant daughters. I can't believe we are in overshoot since the 70's. This implies we are "off the path" but if you look at civilizations true record of events I cannot see when we were actually on the line and that means everybody all together all at once on the entire planet. We have a tendency to forget history and to only record history from a positive and not a realistic side. Standing on the backs of the poor and ignorant in order to build a great nation has been the creed of man whether in his cave tribe or going to dep con 4.

I am sure that in a few hundred years history will record these times as those of frantic worry. Decline of civilization or that system we currently live in will be so gradual it will be hard to perceive. We have already changed over the last few years. Plastic shopping bag use is dwindling, smokers are dying, alcohal is lighter, church and state has been replaced by conglomerates and state, and even a catistrophic oil spill has sent out the wake up alarm to some people who finally see a connection between need and want.

This site is the best link to reality.


An engineer simplifies the equation of life. I like it!

Oh, and remember, you were built tough by evolution.

Tada! The synthesis of an artificial organism by Craig Venter's research team...


Maybe we will get a "Green Swan"?

However It probably still won't make it possible for 7 billion humans to continue living on Earth in peace and prosperity if they all continue to aspire to the "American Dream" of endless Consumerism, McMansions and SUVs with the hopes of funding it all by playing the stock market.

So either that paradigm changes or a few billion humans will have to pack their bags and leave.

We might start by eliminating GDP as a useful metric and institute an official GNH (gross national happiness), index. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_national_happiness

So I say, be with your friends and loved ones more, drink good wine and dance and sing under the moon and stars, walk the trails of nature more. Enjoy it while you still can.

Ride a Bike or Take a Hike!

Perhaps if the downslope is slow

This is the key statement.

If the downslope is slow it will be manageable with various mitigation procedures. Slow might mean over three or four generations. Civilization will move to a sustainable low population, low net energy future. The hope would be to perhaps maintain some high tech advantages such as local electricity generation, biofuel or solar farming tractors and medical technology such as antibiotics and anaesthesia.

If the downslope is fast it will be a chaotic collapse. Very few mitigation policies will be of use. Think Germany from 1937 to 1945.

Peaceful non violent transition as energy shortages worsen will be vital. All three of the above mitigation options will be applied by society as the energy and financial situation worsens. If nations or regions start fighting over resources or lifestyles collapse will be guaranteed.

Actually, the amazing thing about Germany in WWII is just how long it maintained internal order.

I keep pointing to WWII as an example of societies continuing to function under severe stress. Is there some reason why stress of equal severity will cause faster collapse today? If so, what is the reason?

The thought that popped into my head - I make no claim as to its usefulness or accuracy - is that Germany was facing an external threat common to all and identifiable. In this case, the threat is internal; it is our own behaviors we are confronting. Also, not all agree there is a threat, or, if they agree there is a threat, about the true nature of it, not what to do about it. Also, the threat is not the same for all. Wealth might have a significant impact on survival, for example. Location will play a major role. Etc.

Not really comparable, if you ask me.

Collapse is more likely today for several - well, many, but I will list only a few - reasons. One, any shortages Germany, and all nations, experienced were known to be artificial rather than natural constraints. Two, while it seems superficially that complexity then is roughly equal to complexity now, that simply is not the case. Virtually everything is far more complexly connected, and built (not to mention more shoddily) than back then. Three, back then, the average person wasn't far removed from basic skills while many more are now. That means a much more difficult adjustment period if change is fast. And, actually, it could be a problem even if slow because 1. people tend not to realize the big collapse is coming, thinking things will turn around relatively soon, so may not re-skill, and 2. where are all the people to teach the skills that might be needed?


Complex connections? I see an internet that enables collaboration across national borders at a speed that is extremely fast. This is an asset, not a liability.

As for people not identifying the threat: But they will once it gets worse. So Peak Oil will be seen as a common threat in many nations.

You make a good point. I think the key difference between then and now is that the population has more than doubled and feeding the extras has been achieved with cheap diesel and nitrogen.

I see factors that weigh in our favor:

- We have way more technology than was available in the 1940s.

- We have much more capital infrastructure per capita. Hydro, wind farms, nukes, etc that power our agriculture.

- The world being so networked can bring many more brains (and computers) to bear on problems.

As for diesel to operate farms: It is my impression that rapeseed crops grown in North Dakota would provide enough diesel substitute for farm tractors in all the plains states to operate. I could be wrong.

The amazing thing about Nazi Germany was the incredibly well designed police state;it appears to be so far at least the only one in history that could maintain near absolute political and social control and yet not destroy the productive ability of the underlying economy.

It is extremely unlikely that another such state of comparable economic capacity will arise;the unique combination of circumstances that allowed Nazi Germany to come into existence are simply not going to recur.

This is not an argument against new police states of course.

How do you know they succeeded? The nazis only held power for 6 years before the second world war and then they plundered the occupied states. Manny socialist dictatorships has managed to mobilize the economy for some tasks and a few years later is the decay obvious. The realy though task is not to build an army, its to get all kinds of stuff done for all kinds of people in an efficient way.

It is perfectly obvious that they succeeded because they built and deployed the biggest, most technologically advanced, and successful war fighting machine in history until it was outclassed by the combimed efforts of the allies;and they did it from a much smaller base, resource and population wise.

Germany was destitute when Hitler took power.

Of course this does not indicate that they would have been successful over the long term, had they won the war.

Only a single reference to population.

Anything done today will be of little use in the long run, if the population issue is not dealt with properly - before nature (perhaps our own) shows us how to do it.

There have to be enormous, radical changes in lifestyle - this is much more the case for people in the first world than others.

For example - here is a simple change that would be revenue neutral for utility providers - do away with the "base" charge, and incorporate it into the unit charge of the item consumed. The immediate effect of this is to reward people that consume very little at the expense of people who choose to either waste, or be profoundly ignorant.

In the case of electricity and water, I would go further and make the first 1 CCF (that's a hundred cubic feet ~ 700+ US gallons) of water (per domestic household per quarter) free and the first 1 kWh of electricity per day per meter free. This could be made revenue neutral to the utility by making units in excess of those first units more expensive. This would introduce considerable incentive to economize.

These free units could reduce over time, and the price of the more expensive units increase over time - and drive down consumption.

The external costs of gasoline and all other fuels (including hydro) need to be incorporated into the price paid by the consumer - with one simple goal - drive down consumption.

Only a single reference to population.

...and of course population trumps every other problem, as it has and will continue to overwhelm every other solution proposed.

I would focus mitigation on population, applying the one thing that has been shown to be effective: education for women. The US should set an example by raising its own standards. Tax credits could be scaled to grades, and ended if a child drops out. The first two years of college should be free for girls.

Further, financial or military aid to other countries should be made dependent upon education programs for women. Pakistan, for instance, shouldn't get a dime until it raises its standards (traditionally girls are discouraged from education beyond middle school). There are limits to the meddling we can or should be doing in other cultures, but if you look at the consequences of doing nothing...

". . . applying the one thing that has been shown to be effective: education for women."

Bad idea. Fewer babies for smart women, more for dense women. And we drastically reduce our productivity by keeping too many people out of the labor force until their late 20's. We need less useless university education and more apprenticeships.

Bad idea. Fewer babies for smart women, more for dense women.

It doesn't work that way. By your statement, the western world should have been getting collectively stupider over the last 150 years, with the dull and under-performing having large families, and the very smart having no children. Is this the case where you live? The only family I know of from my generation with four children is the wealthiest (and not stupid, either.) Three child families are also rare in my (Toronto) experience, and reflect the general fertility rate.

Education for women is about full personhood, if you will, an indication of a change from women being treated like chattel. I think that it's a cart and horse issue: in the west, full personhood was the driver, and education was the result, not the other way round.

And we drastically reduce our productivity by keeping too many people out of the labor force until their late 20's.

In the developing world, you're talking about keeping them out of the workforce until their mid teens. This would lead to reductions in population from fewer active breeding years, as well as from the usual culprits like knowledge of birth control.

Of course, I am for reductions in productivity, as this would lead to smaller families and lower consumption (and I subscribe to the idea that most productivity gains result from fossil fuel inputs.) The productivity gains that result from people being able to tell time and understand rudimentary safety equipment are hard to argue against, but I consider them a necessary side effect of change.

This is a useless proposition. Any method of population reduction that does not involve actually killing people will only reduce world population, at best, in 50 years. Given global expected increases in life expentancy it might match the West, under present conditions we're talking 70-80 years. Needless to say, that's "way over the expiration date".

Since without oil we're not talking about, shall we say, "losing" 1% of our population, but 80-90% or more (in the US, certainly more in the third world), it can hardly be considered a way forward that is in any way moral.

Furthermore, what about the people who refuse to have less kids (say, for religious reasons, or simply because they like it) ? You're basically handing them the country in a democracy (and frankly, the same is true in any other political system once you calculate how fast these groups become 80-90% of the population). You might want to read up on what happened in Iran in 1972, read a few stories of intellectuals who did exactly what you say, and see where it got them. And if you're going to enforce population control you're no better than the nazi's and communists, besides you won't be able to do this globally, and therefore you'll have to have a near-total block on immigration, a policy traditionally seen as extreme-right (despite being implemented by at least as many extreme-left and center governments).

And, quite frankly, since population reduction through birth control is useless, and hands power to the people who resist these policies, can we please stop discussing it as a viable policy option ? Besides, if evolution is true, having many humans alive will be an advantage, not a disadvantage. (An advantage that, granted, may prove insufficient, but an advantage nonetheless).

When one reads comments like yours, one almost gets the impression that you're not even interested in survival unless you get your monthly "new gadget fix". Well, here's a thought :
-> population increase is going to maybe/maybe not kill us and destroy your gadgets (say 80% chance of disaster, if you're truly pessimistic), if however, it is not a disaster, you'll have much shinier gadgets every few years and we'll be able to support hugely larger populations
-> population reduction is going to kill you and destroy your gadgets (100% certainty)

Frankly here's what I think is the correct action for, well, just about anyone : have 10 kids, raise them so religiously they'll each want 15 kids and get every boy into theoretical physics in a different university, make it so that your christmas party becomes the foremost conference on comparing the merits of different energy generation techniques by the time you're 50 (well, that's a bit over the top, but you get the point). Now THAT might help, especially if a few thousand people did this.

Whining about how the easiest option (without kids, and thus no caring, no trouble) is "the right one" is nothing but lying to justify extreme egoism, and you can tell yourself whatever you want, but it's somewhere between counterproductive and mass-murder (you're basically refusing to help society do the one thing that might save us).

Hi oelewapperke.
Not sure how I came to be responsible for this whole thread. I was just responding to the points raised. I am quite willing to discuss small points even if I don't think they are full solutions.

I have dug up an old post which reflects some of my personal viewpoints:

I do have ideas about how to prevent a collapse, starting with a one child per family policy, all new construction being required to be heated with passive solar, taxing second residences out of existence, controlling the acceleration of vehicles to the equivalent of 0-60 in 14 seconds and limiting top speed to 70 miles per hour, expanding public transit, rationing pleasure travel....things that would actually cause a difference in a meaningful time frame.

Not a lot of takers.

I think doomers are misunderstood. They are really romantics, who have looked at the possibilities, considered them, seen things that would at the very least, mitigate a collapse, and seen that even watered-down, mamby-pamby compromises are impossible to institute. I don't think of myself as a doomer (more of a hard declinist) but every day I get closer to the tipping point.

We see a future that's possible and prudent...and everyone else says "Smile! Have some Soma! It's not as bad as you think! Wanna see my Porsche?"

I do see population as the primary problem. I would like to see people die of things other than exposure, mayhem and starvation. I think we need to institute population control on a massive scale this century or we will face a Malthusian collapse.

I am definitely on #3 on this post. Every reduction in the fertility means fewer people dying of things other than natural causes. Just because one's Fantasy solution is impossible to implement doesn't mean that you can abdicate your responsibility to participate in the political process.


Frankly here's what I think is the correct action for, well, just about anyone : have 10 kids, raise them so religiously they'll each want 15 kids and get every boy into theoretical physics in a different university, make it so that your christmas party becomes the foremost conference on comparing the merits of different energy generation techniques by the time you're 50 (well, that's a bit over the top, but you get the point). Now THAT might help, especially if a few thousand people did this.

Why's that? Because it's better "evolutionary"-wise?

First off, you are going over 150 years. The dysgenic selective pressure really didn't reach significant force until the middle of the 20th century. Second, improved nutrition was boosting IQ in the 19th and at least into the early 20th century. So genetic selective pressure and nutrition effects were operating in opposite directions.

The Flynn Effect on IQ has begun to end in some countries. I expect we should now start to see declines due to smarter women having fewer kids.

All this talk of IQ is pointless. An average intelligence is more than enough to deal with future changes. Few people are truly brilliant, and the truly brilliant are not always all that well adjusted.


Hi FuturePundit.

The dysgenic selective pressure.....The Flynn Effect on IQ ....

Didn't actually know about the Flynn effect. The timeline I was thinking about was Women's Sufferage, which dates to about 1850, and led to things like more women going on to higher education. Since there are no IQ scores for the 1850's available, your thesis cannot be tested against my statement. In any case, it wouldn't refute my thesis, which is that the education of women does not translate into a reduction in the fertility rate for the most intelligent. I said that society collectively was not getting stupider, not that it was becoming more intelligent. If anything, the Flynn effect (which is not universally accepted and which I would not use as a primary defense in this case) backs up my position as it suggests that IQ scores have been rising.

To expand slightly on this point, I would suggest that issues other than intelligence have far greater impact on the fertility rate. Economic realities, reduction in infant mortality rates, and current cultural ideas about family size spring to mind: I'm sure that people from the 1890's, if shown current (2010) TV programming, would wonder what is so unusual about 8 and 10 person families.

I expect we should now start to see declines due to smarter women having fewer kids.

Call me when you've got some graphs. ;)


Lloyd, Among psychometricians the Flynn Effect is well accepted. There's even an argument about whether Flynn was the first to discover the effect (did Richard Lynn discover it in Japan first). As a result of this effect psychometric tests of intelligence have to be periodically renormalized or recalibrated. James Flynn doubts the effect is due to real rises in intelligence because if it was we'd be living in a renaissance age where a far larger fraction of the populace would be accomplishing the sorts of mental achievements only geniuses can do.

Education and fertility: This is also pretty well characterized and not controversial among the social scientists who study fertility. Anything above 8th grade education lowers fertility and each additional year of education lowers it further.

Hi FP.

James Flynn doubts the effect is due to real rises in intelligence because if it was we'd be living in a renaissance age where a far larger fraction of the populace would be accomplishing the sorts of mental achievements only geniuses can do.

I did misspeak (miswrite?) myself. As you point out, the Flynn effect is accepted; what it actually means is what is in question.

Anything above 8th grade education lowers fertility and each additional year of education lowers it further.

I agree wholeheartedly. However, education and intelligence are not interchangeable concepts; one can be educated without being intelligent well educated without being exceptionally intelligent. Further, if education is available to all (as it is in the west, at least to grade 12, and frequently beyond), the point is moot, since the fertility rate for all drops; the loss of the outliers (PhD's, grad students, etc.) hasn't had a measurable effect on average aggregate intelligence. And since education for women has been increasing in the west for 150 years, and there has been no noticeable decline in average aggregate intelligence levels, I suspect that it is safe for underdeveloped countries to try as well.


Does the Flyn Effect mean that relentless evolutionary pressure is forcing us to develop our only asset, our brains?

I wish your article showed a graph so I could tell if the effect is exponential. I suspect it is if the rate of change is 2% per annum.

This is the best news ever.

All my information came from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect#The_rise) Perhaps FuturePundit has better sources.


Tbe Flynn Effect is not the result of evolutionary pressure. Rather, evolutionary pressure is actually selecting against genetic variants that boost intelligence.

The effect is not exponential. The effect is slowing and in some countries it has stopped.

Canuckistan, I see you live in Canada, a nation with a more sane immigration policy. In Canada, your observations on family size make sense, but not in an area inundated with immigrants determined to have large families. There will always be an expanding first generation offsetting the reduced family size in the third generation.
Flynn himself has said that environmental impacts on IQ are about played out in the developed world, and intelligence is likely to decline if the less intelligent keep outbreeding the more intelligent. http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/03/flynn-anti-effect.html
Yes, productivity gains are related to fossil fuel inputs, and we are facing a future with less fossil fuel. That is why we will no longer be able to afford a large class that works only between ages of approximately 28 to 60.

...if the less intelligent keep outbreeding the more intelligent.

The underlying presumption is that stupid parents lead to stupid children, or that intelligence is inherited. As far the causes and effects there can be untangled, its not nearly that simple. Our genetic codes are far less complex than our brains, so it seems that the primary instruction to neural cells is "go forth and proliferate", leading to a great surplus of brain cells and connections in a child's brain. While some characteristics and structures and tendencies are inherited, it is largely environment that determines how that brain fares in the world.

The idea that intelligence is not correlated with inheritance is just one more example of many things we know that ain't so because it suits the agenda of the people responsible for the assertion.

But the correlation is not absolute or very strong. There is good reason to believe it could become a strong correlation if the environment were to begin exerting a strong selective pressure for intelligence;but even the (pardon me, such things must be said occasionally)dumbest of us , under current conditions, can generally reproduce quite successfully.

And fortunately for all of us, only a small portion of the people who are highly intelligent refrain from having at least one child.

The Blank Slate lives on.

well...it is complicated. Pinker's book "The Blank Slate" put that pretty well to rest as far as the inheritance of behaviors and so forth, but the study of intelligence is a different field, really, and I don't know of a good attempt to integrate the two. The last thing I read on intelligence is that an individual is basically capable of developing whatever level of intelligence his or her environment requires - keeping in mind that social environment animates the mind and behaviors more than any other factor. And the critical periods of development are birth to 13 or so, after which things are increasingly less malleable.

Of course the typical person has more than enough intellectual capacity to master the knowledge and thinking contingent to day to day life.

But at the margins, the more more structured and non intuitive abilities come into play;most of us are not capable of succeeding in a really tough academic environment for instance.

This extra capacity appears to be inheritable , although of course a couple of uneducated farm hands whose parents and grand parents were illiterates may be the parents of world class thinkers.

No one who is not simply prejudiced against this idea should be surprised by it.

Fast horses breed fast colts.

Genetics sets the limits;environment determines where one falls within the limits thus set.

Bad idea.

That's a remarkably stupid comment, even on the internet. If you read up on the history, there's close to 200 years of sincere efforts of every sort, and the larger story is that our species has been on a long learning curve about what works to manage our numbers. Education for women works; all the rest, not so much.

If you want a bigger labor force and greater productivity, that's a whole different issue (and it sounds like a 20th century meme driving exponential growth anyway).

Educating women works, when the world is using more and more oil, and moving away from manual labor.

It is less clear to me that education will work as we move more and more to manual labor, and the subjects currently taught in school become more and more disconnected from our new lifestyle. At a minimum, it seems like we need a change in education, to skills that we can use for the longer term.

Also, as life gets harder, death rates of children (and others) are likely rise, solving (???) the population problem, in a very unpleasant way. It would be good if we could figure out another way, but given the difficulty of imposing one set of standards on those who do not want to follow them, it will be very difficult to do.

I suppose our best evidence of what works could still be wrong, as the cause and effect can't really be untangled from the world conditions and worldview we exist in.

In any case, my opinion is simply borrowed, nearly whole, from Connelly's "Fatal Misconception: The Struggle to Control World Population", which is a comprehensive and (at the moment) pretty conclusive overview of the various efforts and research to date. The first two thirds of the work are pretty gut-wrenching, all the wrong-headed mix of good and bad intentions that got us where we are today.

Connelly writes, “The fatal misconception of population control was to think that one could know other people's interests better than they knew it themselves.”
This may be irrelevant. The question is what is in our own interests. For myself, this means the interests of US citizens. Anyway, looking at a population graph for the last 200 years, you could only conclude that nothing works. The population of the world has increased seven fold. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
Stabilization in some ethnic groups is offset by explosive rises in other groups.

Nothing works very well...except the education of women, which has worked consistently and predictably. Its a book which leaves its conclusion (or thesis, if you will) to the last couple of chapters.

A common 20th century argument against population management was that whatever one saved would be taken by one's neighbors, so you wound up literally with a race to grow the fastest. At some point in the resource equation, however, larger populations simply increase their own misery and instability while decreasing their fitness, while a population living within the capacity of its available resources keeps the means and motive for survival intact.

(on edit) - or in another way, when the lemmings are racing for the cliff's edge, it might seem for awhile like one or another is ahead, but at some point its the one who stops running and has a look around that "wins".

My wish list for Mankind, Rev2.

1.Sterility is the default condition. Pregnancy must require an act of will. The releasing of an egg must be a conscious decision by the female.

2.Reversion back to egg laying. (The genes are in there somewhere.)

3.Internal diameter of spine increased to 3 inches.This will increase strength of the spine and allow packing for a third brain.(We already have two. Left and right hemispheres.) The third brain copies a hemisphere. It then takes over the functions of that hemisphere while the hemisphere is taken apart for rebuild.

4. A much more complicated, richer, entertaining and fulfilling sex life.

5. A weakened fear of death.

6.Ability to synthesise vitamin C and essential fatty acids.

7. A brain that can revert to a juvenile state when necessary.

We could run evolutionary programs on super-computers to achieve these results so that the crueler aspects of evolution are avoided.

SF: Bad idea.

Other than "the first 2 years in college should be free to girls" I saw nothing in daxr's post that limited "education" to those that are smarter at a cost of creating "more [babies] for dense women".

Not only is daxr's opinion correct, it is based on valid and generally accepted principles. There are far too many teenage pregnancies, far too many females that have no idea that a male's penis and unprotected sexual intercourse was the cause of their pregnancy.

Basic education in procreation (not abstinence) is the type of education that is universally required.

Basic education in sexually transmitted diseases is the type of education that is universally required. How to use a condom!

While myopic religious conservative freaks and the catholic (deliberate small c) church et-al continue to stymie efforts to address STD's and unwanted pregnancies - then there will be no progress of any kind toward any kind of solution.

Simple changes to tax-codes, simple changes to free-trade agreements (to incorporate updated wisdom on carbon emissions and undesirable wanton procreation) would be a small start.

Saying "bad idea", singles you out as the village idiot.

...and of course population trumps every other problem, as it has and will continue to overwhelm every other solution proposed.

Correct. If we weren't so overpopulated, tackling the peak oil problem would be *vastly* easier.

The two quickest ways to reduce the population are plague and war. Choose carefully now.

Personally I think we shouldn't try to "save everybody". It only stops perfectly good plans from being feasible due to scale.

Start with a 200% tax on meat. Very simple to implement. Will immediately mitigate many significant problems.

The tax on meat would cause the meat producers to lobby the government and politicians to not do this and so the senate and the congress and republicans and democrates could not agree on this all at once.

Your asking too much for our over complex world.

It makes me think about the bible and the verse "give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for life". As long as you teach him that in order to fish he will need a license issued by the government so they may subsidize industry.

I do not believe we where mean't to be so many.


And will cause massive malnutrition (you should read a few stories about what life was like on medieval ships). So it is inhumane, to say the least.

And even if it solves our immediate problem, for how long will it work ? Mind you a 10% increase in overall efficiency (which is an accomplishment easily worthy of 10 nobel prizes, and God knows that not using meat certainly won't do more than that) would buy us, perhaps 5 years. Probably not even that.

I think we are mind-bogglingly overpopulated. If you look at modern groups that are living anything remotely like our ancestors, you notice there are much less of them, and they tend to move around more and utilize a wider variety of resources that are also generally wide spread.

Unless someone dreams up a deus ex machina, the mitigation will probably come about by the usual suspects, plague, famine, etc.

If there were less of us, with access to current technology, we might be able to cobble something workable together. But human nature being what it is, the resulting societal structure would most likely not be warm & fuzzy.

My household can't afford #1. I'd love to install a windmill and some solar panels, and buy a more efficient vehicle, but it ain't gonna happen.

We're working on #2 as part of a general push to be better able to weather crises of many kinds.

#3...We've crossed our fingers and are making a low-input farm, easy to maintain, producing enough surplus to sell or barter. We have good connections with our neighbors and community and are sharing what we learn with others.

I think any government with a grip on the facts would be thinking about triage. How to 'ark' the right amount of people and knowledge to restart things after the world as it is realizes there is no magic trick. There are too many issues to deal with to save us all....climate change, peak everything, overpopulation, food crises, etc.

I think any government with a grip on the facts would be thinking about triage. How to 'ark' the right amount of people and knowledge to restart things after the world as it is realizes there is no magic trick. There are too many issues to deal with to save us all....climate change, peak everything, overpopulation, food crises, etc.

You're no better than a Nazi. Sorry, but there is just no other way of putting this.

I find it horribly immoral to use tax money to ensure the survival of just a few. And somehow when the "global warming catastrophe" fails to materialize (as, quite frankly, it will, we will simply adapt like we've always done), I somehow doubt these "special" people (chosen by you, no doubt), will not try to do population reduction the old fashioned way. Just like the Nazi's, who made the very same argument you do (google "Lebensraum"). The joke is, that unlike us, the Nazi's were both confronted with peak-quite-a-few-thing and at least somewhat successfully dealt with a lot of the problems (just look up "fischer-tropsch process" for one relevant example).

Coming West over the Sierras on I-80 last year, the highway was nearly down to bed rock. In fact, in some places I think it was down to bedrock. Perhaps that situation has been remedied by way of the stimulus package. But even if it has, it just goes to show that it took an extraordinary event to motivate the powers that be to maintain what is one of the most heavily traveled portions of Interstate in the United States. Maintenance of not just that stretch of road but all roads needs to be virtually continuous, resulting in continuous dysfunctionality of what we like to call our outmoded transportation system.

Even with the recent and current abundance of energy, we are incapable of maintaining adequately the sytems we have, including the electrical grid. In these parts, the grid goes down several times a year every year and we don't even get snow or extreme cold. It just takes a little wind or rain storm to bring down the system. This is a wealthy part of the country with incredibly high electricity rates all the way up to 49 c per kWh for the highest tier.

Don't think many here would argue that our financial system is in very good shape. Even bribing the banksters with trillions still hasn't turned the situation around. Maybe we're good for one more recovery. I don't know but am not betting on it with my investments.

In summary, the current system is not being maintained, so the answer to the first question would be zero. We have reached the level of complexity and/or dysfunctionality that we are incapable of making what we have work to the people's benefit. I am being U.S. centric; things may be better overseas in Europe or China, for example. Singapore seems to be fairly well run if you like boring and anal.

I think we have the resources to do everything you mention but we won't do it regardless. After the dieoff, maybe whoever is left can regroup and figure all this out.

In another post I have up today, I mentioned the possible role of complexity in the Deepwater Horizon Blowout---just because of the many people involved, in their different roles. Some are employees of BP, some are work for a number of companies acting as contractors. Within these companies (especially BP), there are a mixture of experienced and inexperienced people. BP has many of the experienced people in Houston, where they can be contacted as needed to solver problems.

But having such a complex system makes it easy for things to fall through the cracks. Most of the time things work out as planned, but sometimes, the checks and balances the one would think would be in such a system don't work. As roles are broken down more finely, it becomes harder to keep everything together.

I think we can see the same kind of complexity, too, when we try to deal with the medical system. Sometimes it is hard to even figure out which specialist to see.

" I think we have the resources to do everything--"

I am certain we do, aside from the intractable population problem, without which, nothing.

Think of all the examples of survival in truly tough situations- siege of Leningrad, for one, and there are many others.

And wartime USA, with the instant change to meet the arms challenge.

We have plenty of capability; we don't have the will.

And this line I hear so much--" switching to sustainable,solar, etc, costs too much" is just flat out stupid, when one glance around shows us obese cars, obese houses and obese kids that somehow DON'T cost too much?! . What could cost more than the whole planet?

"they are as the sons of rich men, unable to endure pain, or resist pleasure".

Now, to calm down, I'm gonna think about how to rewrite "Pride and Prejudice" to cut out all those excess words and failures to communicate, and then go back to sleep.

And this line I hear so much--" switching to sustainable,solar, etc, costs too much" is just flat out stupid...

No, it costs me too much. Literally. I'm trying to capitalize my food production infrastructure, pay my mortgage, take care of my critters, stock my pantry, etc. I can't fork out the cash to put some panels on my roof, even though I know it would save me bank in the long run.

Sure, I know, it costs me too much too. But of course I was talking about a nation when I said "WE". We decide, for example, to put a big and increasing tax on carbon, and simultaneously subsidize sustainable energy, and so on.

And we simply quit putting effort into things like big fat pickups, and tons of ads that go straight to the dump, and long jet journeys that go nowhere for nothing, until we have switched entirely to sustainable energy. A while back I did a BOE number to the effect that it would take about 10 years of the entire auto industry.

Sure, socialism! (or maybe fascism, or commie plot, or the devil himself, or---). So. Can't do it.

We are doomed. Now I gotta go tell my grandkids in carefully chosen words that tells it like it is without scaring them too much. Might take some thinking to package that one.

I live 1/4 from a former railroad line that ran from Canada to Olympia and points beyond. It's torn up now, but sometimes I walk in the woods on the old grade and ponder that 100 years ago I could have walked around the corner to the rail stop and gotten a ride in to town, or to see me family in Seattle.

So stupid to lose simple technology like that because people chose money over sense. Now that 'we', that national we, know better, we still aren't doing anything to change.

I don't really feel doomed, knowing the reality of where we're headed. I'm haivng too much fun in the here & now, preparing for disaster. I love growing my own food and sharing it with people. I love my critters, even the ones I eat. It feels good to build things and dig and talk to my neighbors about the price of gold and such.

My partner & don't don't have kids, but we have kin. Hopefully we can be a repository of knowledge they will need in the future. For now, we're those farmer aunties that it's fun to visit.

wimbi gets it right:

We have plenty of capability; we don't have the will.

We have far more capability today than we had 50 years ago. Look at the cost of a nuclear reactor. Even if they cost $10 billion each we could build 1000 of them in 10 years for 7.2% of GDP per year. We could electrify most transportation and sail right thru Peak Oil.

The problem is that people are either not aware of the problem or, like some posters here, convinced they've got no extra money to spend on getting ready. People who believe they have to maintain their current living standard right now can not invest toward the changes that we need to make.

Say's formulation
In Say's language, "products are paid for with products" (1803: p. 153) or "a glut can take place only when there are too many means of production applied to one kind of product and not enough to another" (1803: p. 178-9). Explaining his point at length, he wrote that:

It is worthwhile to remark that a product is no sooner created than it, from that instant, affords a market for other products to the full extent of its own value. When the producer has put the finishing hand to his product, he is most anxious to sell it immediately, lest its value should diminish in his hands. Nor is he less anxious to dispose of the money he may get for it; for the value of money is also perishable. But the only way of getting rid of money is in the purchase of some product or other. Thus the mere circumstance of creation of one product immediately opens a vent for other products. (J.B. Say, 1803: p.138-9) [2]

He also wrote, that it is not the abundance of money but the abundance of other products in general that facilitates sales:

Money performs but a momentary function in this double exchange; and when the transaction is finally closed, it will always be found, that one kind of commodity has been exchanged for another.[3]

I find this most interesting and am led to believe that if we stopped using cash, at least in a micro local society, we would stop consumming and wasting. The crash would come down around OUR feet.

Lower than needed maintenance rates on physical public infrastructure says more about the size of the welfare state than Peak Oil at this point. Not saying Peak Oil won't eventually make infrastructure maintenance problematic. But the problem now is that large andg growing of percentages GDP to go retirees, overpaid government workers, too large a military, excessively high school tuitions, and other wastes. We could easily fix our roads and bridges if we didn't waste so much.

It ultimately comes down to overshoot, and as stated above, how steep the slope.
Until the twin opiates of Religion and TV (media in general) are faced, and either drowned in the bath tub, or made unimportant through education and awareness--- good luck!

I think that some religions may be helpful. There is a wide range of belief systems. It may be helpful to have community groups, and some who are thinking a little about "Love your neighbor as yourself".

I believe religion is a natural phenomena, and may have provided evolutionary fitness (as you pointed out, through community, and possibly as health insurance- Dennett has explored this thoroughly)-
At this point, most religions are replicators, and like a lancet fluke that rewires a ants brian for its own replication, are parasites that are preying on us human hosts.

Religion, to me, arose out of agricultural in an attempt to regain what we lost when we left the nomadic life. Religion does not serve to make one greater, but to return to the source, to lessen.

Some parasites are symbiotic, yes? It is the ones that kill that we must pluck out.

I was out for a walk in the sunshine yesterday up to a hilltop above the city..
pictures : http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/showthread.php?p=64649501
Some 4 thousand years ago, during the transition between hunter-gatherer societies and
agricultural, people shifted from measuring out time in moons to suns, and the prediction
of the passing and return of seasons was a huge leap of faith. This faith was mediated
by a class of astronomer whose knowledge allowed them to build stone and earth structures
that consistently showed the exact location of the rising sun at midwinter, and other

After a couple of millenia, this knowledge shifted from being seen as magical to being
accepted as practical common sense.

I think that some religions may be helpful. There is a wide range of belief systems. It may be helpful to have community groups, and some who are thinking a little about "Love your neighbor as yourself".

While I have no problem with the superstitions and magic based rituals of others, I support and would defend to the death, their right to practice their beliefs, I get really *ANGRY!* when I hear statements like ...and some who are thinking about:"Love your neighbor as yourself"

WTF! Do you not understand how profoundly offensive that statement is? Do you not understand how condescending it is for religious apologists to assume that those who do not believe in invisible pink unicorns or Magic Sky Daddies are incapable of *LOVE* or suggest that they do not have compassion for their neighbors?

Your implicit assumptions are a load of steaming Yak Dung!

I am an unapologetic atheist and I assure you that I am more moral and ethical than most religious hypocrites! Not only that but I don't need a supervisor in the sky or the fear of eternal punishment to keep me on the straight and narrow! I love because I am a human being. Furthermore I am quite capable of seeing and appreciating all the beauty in the universe for that same reason. It know that it is quite possible to be part of a secular non religious community that is *BETTER* than a religious one!

We need religious apologists with their damn martyr complexes to get of their holier than thou high horses once and for all!

My personal fear is that we (in the US) will undo separation of church and state. Not only is it bad that corporations are persons, but the notion that one has to belong to a particular religious faction (who, of course, is the "right" faction, above all others) on top of that...well, it beggars the imagination.

I think our response to the future will very much depend on having the right leaders, and, seeing what is rising up out there, I'm very afraid people will make the wrong choice.

Leaders that should be supported, IMHO, understand the following :-

1. All beliefs, including no belief, should be treated equally
2. One has to understand an issue before it can be addressed, and that means researching the facts
3. Birth control is necessary

I'm sure there are others...maybe I'll add more after I have my morning cup.

I don't think I'd want to return to a world where the major decisions of the day are made by reading the goat entrails.

"1. All beliefs, including no belief, should be treated equally."

"I don't think I'd want to return to a world where the major decisions of the day are made by reading the goat entrails."

From which I deduce that you DON'T think all belief systems should be treated equally, since I believe goat entrails are the actual words of the World Deity.
The point being that merely mouthing liberal platitudes about tolerance doesn't help think through the situation.

I have very strong opinions on the worth of particular ways of thinking and especially when matters of great moment are concerned.

I greatly prefer people who are willing to put aside their casual beliefs and start thinking evidentially about the end of society as we know it.

My point is that "beliefs" don't make for good decisions, where leadership is concerned. Facts do. Reading goat entrails constitutes "belief", in my book, not fact.

If an individual wants to read the tea-leaves before purchasing a stock, who am I to say they shouldn't do it ? I just wouldn't vote for a leader at any level that thought reading the tea-leaves to be an adequate foundation for decision-making.

I heartily second your motion! I am tired of hearing folks, many of whom are hypocrites, going on about 'family values' and moral compasses and the like and railing about how those who don't subscribe to their particular clubs cannot possibly be good people.

I also intensely dislike the re-writing and dumbing down of our education system by some of these folks...slavery is now 'the Atlantic Triangular Trade'? The return to the one-sided rah-rah jingoism and sloganeering of Columbia and American Exceptionalism is a bad vector, pushed by folks who couldn't face the telling of the spectrum of truth, including our good events and accomplishments, as well as the bad and the ugly.

I will admit that I get as disgusted with some religions as others--and the predominant one right now is a problem, as you point out with your examples. All I am saying is that these problems don't necessarily make all religions bad. And even within the "conservative" religions, one can find some very fine people (at least a few of whom read The Oil Drum)! Quite a few people accept some part of a church's teachings, and ignore parts they find offensive, or disagree with.

Also, this isn't meant to say that those following an organized religion are more "moral" or better people than others. I know a lot of very fine non-religious people (including some avowed atheists) as well.

All I am saying is that these problems don't necessarily make all religions bad.

Gail, if that were truly all you were saying, I wouldn't have had any reason to express my anger.

What you and many others who defend religion, (BTW I don't have a problem with that per se) are actually saying, is that people who aren't religious, can't really be compassionate, good loving people, who care about their fellow man because that is only done by religious people.

How else should one interpret your statement?!

I think that some religions may be helpful. There is a wide range of belief systems. It may be helpful to have community groups, and some who are thinking a little about "Love your neighbor as yourself".

Who exactly is that "some" that you refer to in this context? It isn't just anybody is it?

Do you not see what that statement implies?! It implies that those who are not religious do not care about their fellow man and are not thinking about loving their neighbors. And that is just plain not true and it is deeply offensive to those of us who do not believe what religious people do. You are saying that we are not as good as you are, in effect it is the epitome of the holier than thou attitude.

Any time I encounter this attitude I push back very hard because I want those who think like this to open their minds and understand me and others like me a little better, because we are just as good as you and we are your neighbors, we are fully human and we have full rights as well!

What you and many others who defend religion, (BTW I don't have a problem with that per se) are actually saying, is that people who aren't religious, can't really be compassionate, good loving people, who care about their fellow man because that is only done by religious people.

I don't. I'd say that religions teach those things, but that doesn't mean someone has to be a complete, committed follower of some particular brand of religion (or any religion) to perform those things. If some non-religious person loves their neighbor, then it is not any more or less "true" love than if they followed any formal religion. Just because X teaches something, doesn't mean you need to be a committed Xist to follow it, or that if the teaching was heard from someone else, that it is any less valid or one's practice of it is somehow less honest.

I think both you and Gail have it right.

Religion is as natural to me as breathing air. But, unlike air, no one has packaged it and sold it, yet.

Along time ago someone helped a troubled sole but did not directly take the credit for it but called it religion. From then on it grew into a big business.

From time to time I refer to religion and its lessons to find peace of mind but, in general, I do not expect others to listen to what I have found out. I am old enough to know the general lessons on being a good man, citizen, father, husband, neighbour and provider.

It is like everything else. We consult with those who have greater knowledge on the subject, use it as we see fit, and move on.

-Religion is as natural to me as breathing air. But, unlike air, no one has packaged it and sold it, yet.-

I believe religion is best rented. At 10% of ones income.

Religion has been packaged and sold on all levels from the lowliest tribal shamen ( theres a spirit in your belly making you sick. I can pull it out in exchange for that cow)up to the Catholic Church (commited a crime against God? Buy an indulgence and you can still get into heaven).

Hi FMaygar,(and everybody else who has their underwear in a bunch in respect to religion)

It is my impression that you are a professionally trained either as a biologist or in a field closely related to biology.

You certainly seem to have a very good handle on the overall parlous state of the environment, and your commentary is generally of the very finest.

But methinks you display a certain lack of ,um, shall we say,professional dispassion or objectivity in respect to religion

It exists.

It is universally present across our species.

Therefore it is a natural result of the evolutionary process.

The only reason a person as obviously intelligent as you are could come to the conclusion religions do not confer fitness advantages is that such a person is blinded by his own prejudices and passions.

You simply have not thought this issue through from a biologically informed pov.

Perhaps it is true that religions taken as a whole do not confer an advantage to our species taken as a whole.This is irrevelant.

The selective advantage in this scenario works at the group level , or the individual level , rather than the species level.

There can be no doubt that such an institution as the (for instance) Baptist church my family supports and believes in is has been a powerful positive influence in terms of the survival of it's members over the last hundred years.It provides food and shelter to those burned out, takes in orphaned children, and supports a local hospital -a hospital staffed by doctors who uniformly believe in evolution and geological time by the way.The members keep an eye on each others fences and machinery left out in the fields, and preferentially patronize each others business establishments.

It actually PROTECTS WOMEN-within the context of a male dominated world where we males have little use for women once they are no longer physically attractive except perhaps as laborers.Perhaps this protection is not all that might be desired but it certainly does exist.

It provides the political glue that prevents it's members perceived best interest from being trampled by EITHER other religious groups OR groups organized on some OTHER basis.

Of COURSE other groups of people organized around other memes can and do effectively provide similar fitness advantages to the respective groups.

This is not in dispute;but neither is it proof that religions are maladaptive.

Now tomorrow, or fifty years from now, some other group of people organized on some other basis,perhaps even the basis of another religion, may stand all the members of this church up against a wall and machine gun them after forcing them to dig their own graves.

Such things have happened in the past, frequently,and they will happen again in the future-frequently.

If so, this will be evolution in action ,no more, no less.

Religions evolve, just like all other culturally based organizations of people.If a religion is maladaptive enough, either it's adherents, or the religion itself, will disappear.

If it quits snowing in places where rabbits have white winter coats,mother nature will provide rabbits with winter coats in summer colors pdq.(This one is easy for her, she can't turn a rabbit into the equivalent of a fox except over geologically measured time.)

In a single generation, the local church went from "women stay home" to "we gotta have that extra money, she needs a car and a drivers license".

In one more generation,"and an education".

I assure you as both (as a Darwinist to the core )who grew up in this church, and a currently enrolled student(working on what will be my last formally organized education, an RN ticket) that the commonwealth requires the prospective student to finish the same first year of chemistry and biology, taught in the same classrooms, at the same times, by the same instructors, to the students who will be majoring in these fields.

Now the interesting thing about this is that the girls(from my old timers pov they are simply about forty years too young for me to PERSONALLY PERCEIVE of them as women, eighteen year old females will ALWAYS BE GIRLS TO ME) who organize bake sales and teach Sunday school to the
little kids in the AM get together and study Darwin and introductory genetics in the PM.Sometimes they even condescend to invite me as a token of respect to the elderly-a value they learned in church, incidentally.

They have no problems doing so , but they do refrain from upsetting their grandparents with the details.

I speak as an observer, rather than an advocate.

I fly under false colors as a member of the local religious community simply because it costs me next to nothing to do so,but it adds substantially to the happiness and peace of mind of my devout family members.

It would be unspeakably cruel of me to unnecessarily subject my elderly Daddy to the torture thinking about one of his children burning in hell forever.

I might add that some of the dumber followers of the church are a lot more afraid of the devil and his eternal brimstone than they are of the sheriff and the county jail.Perhaps this in and of itself is worthy of serious thought.;)

Hi FMaygar,(and everybody else who has their underwear in a bunch in respect to religion)

Hey OFM you know I have only the highest respect for you! However I've been trying to make my point of view as clear as day here but am obviously still failing to do so.

Quite frankly I do not have any problem whatsoever with other people's beliefs. I also clearly stated that I would defend anyone's right to those beliefs with my own death and I mean that!

I also have no doubt whatsoever that there are good people who happen to be religious.

I also understand and agree with the premise that religious community serve a purpose and may indeed confer a survival advantage to the group.

My one and only main objection specifically to Gail's comment about our needing someone to think about loving our neighbors is that it is based on the false assumption that one needs to be religious to do this.

I don't know how else to put this but that assumption deeply offends me personally and I'd like her and anyone else who is religious to understand why it is offensive.

This is what I refer to as a holier than thou attitude, to me it is akin to judging someone else by any subjective quality such as race, gender, sexual orientation or whatever else...this attitude is blatantly discriminatory. I'm just asking that people do some serious soul searching (no pun intended) and think about their base assumptions a bit more deeply.

This isn't at all about religion. It is about religious people discriminating against nonreligious people based on false assumptions. They are clearly saying if you aren't religious you can't possibly be as good as we are.

I hope that clarifies it a bit more.

Hi FMaygar,

I like wise hold you in high repute.

I'm just saying that getting mad and indignant at the holier than thou types is for YOU a professional failing;as a biologist you are should be above this and not react to it PERSONALLY.

You don't get mad at misquitos or crab grass in your garden or thundertstorms that rain on your picnics do you? ;)

EXPECTING the holier than thou types to behave differently is about as big a waste of your time;they are simply pursueing their chosen survival strategy, trying to build the size of their coalition.

Whether they are right, or wrong, is irrevelant;nature endorsed the arts of DECEPTION, lying and subterfuge long before you and I arrived on the scene.;)

LOL! OK, points taken. I'll try to keep the "personal" out of this.

Just curious though, how, might you suggest, one should deal with encountering discrimination against others.

Should one just pretend it has no consequence?

To be frank I'm aware of a school of thought that prefers to eschew any confrontation. I myself in general do not enjoy confrontation but sometimes I do slip into that mode...

Anyways, I think I'm done with this for now... ;^)

I heartily second your motion! I am tired of hearing folks, many of whom are hypocrites, going on about 'family values' and moral compasses and the like and railing about how those who don't subscribe to their particular clubs cannot possibly be good people.

However, I think that moral compasses are good, but don't believe that you must believe in a specific religion to be a "good" person and if you don't, you're bad. The principles of morality given like the one about loving your neighbor that are found in those religions are *good* in themselves. That doesn't mean that if you're not a Christian (or whatever), you're automatically bad.

Yeah, Fred. Religion too often comes down to "Us and Them", Insiders vs. outsiders, for or against. It can justify, rationalise, excuse the worst that we do. Convenient invalidation, someone to blame when things get bad.

I'm glad I don't have this "problem",,,,,,though it can get lonely out here in the real world sometimes.

Us (vs. Them) bonded by something bigger than rules written by your power grubbing neighbor is what gave religions evolutionary fitness. We need to harness this genetic power by making the bigger thing some form of worship for nature. Sorry, no idea how to make it happen.

An issue I have with religion and religious tolerance, is that the ones founded in the middle east are based on extreme intolerance. It's codified in their texts, unbelievers should/will be killed, either in the course of events by humans, or at some future date by their deity.

How can I in right mind be expected to tolerate a religion that spells out my downfall as part of its tenets, no matter how much I "love" and tolerate them.

And if you mention this fact to believers, they almost unanimously claim that they don't partake of that particular belief, or that it's in the old testament, or that it's symbolic, etc.

I figure it's more like a mortgage contract. You don't just sign it and trust your loving banker to skip enforcing any ugly clauses in the contract.... History shows us what happens to non-believers who 'tolerate' religious groups founded upon an us/them mentality.

And yes, the fictional character Jesus had some relatively warm & fuzzy lines written for him. Right about the time the religion was being pimped to women and slaves. Opium anyone?

WTF! Do you not understand how profoundly offensive that statement is? Do you not understand how condescending it is for religious apologists to assume that those who do not believe in invisible pink unicorns or Magic Sky Daddies are incapable of *LOVE* or suggest that they do not have compassion for their neighbors?

I don't make any such assumption at all. I can't judge someone just because they believe/don't believe in some religion -- but there *are* people out there who do not adhere to that principle. And some of them may even claim to "follow" religion (what hypocrisy).

If someone who isn't a "Christian" practices this principle despite not believing in any of the rest, I'd say they're more "Christian" than the "Christian" who goes and practices the direct opposite while preaching it.

You do realise that "love thy neighbor as yourself" is from one specific religion, right ? (or, let's be flexible : "2" : judaism, where it's de-emphasized, and christianity where it's emphasized) ? Most religions have a response more akin to "jihaaad !!!!" (and quite frankly both judaism and christianity have done this too)

And btw : that may tactically be a wise decision too. When resources are shrinking like hell, attempt to kill off the competition.

If we could beam all humans off the Earth tomorrow to another planet, how long would we need to stay away to allow it to rest and recover?
Would it all ever recover. Co2 levels will continue to rise and deserts will expand, the oceans will rise and the glaciers disappear. There is a real and frightening possibility that the oceans will become uninhabitable to anything but worms and jellyfish.

I ask these questions because I think we don’t have an option to live sustainably anymore. The opportunity to get our act together probably passed a century or more ago.

In my opinion there is not a free solution we can make. We won’t choose collective suicide, hell we won’t choose to give up our TV.
Like beaming everyone from the Earth we need an “all in” approach. Choosing to reduce greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels means nothing, in 1960 we should have been reducing emissions to 1900 levels.

All we will ever do is rhetoric, we do rhetoric very well but it’s action we need. The problem with that is being human we are self aware. We each feel more entitled than the next person. Each feels that the people in the next, house, next street, next town, city, state or country should do the suffering.
We have divisions along family, creed, ethnic, patriotic and personal beliefs let alone collective beliefs which hinder our motivation and willingness to change.

I really don’t grieve for the human race, we get what we deserve but we had no right to take everything else with us.
By the way I have done all of option two. I'm only human.

That realization is something my partner & I are starting to deal with. When we first started on the path of learing about peak oil and other crises, we thought things might be salvageable. But with everything we learn, and each new catastrophe, it has become evident we may only have the wherewithal to plan for the next few years. Decades if we're lucky.

Sadly, we've changed some of our focus now. Drawn in a bit, looking to the shorter term, and the nearer horizon. If people with money & power aren't stepping up, a bunch of microscopic fragments of humanity can't really be enough of a tipping point methinks...

I think a large percentage of people have intuited that the best response to the coming mess is guns, ammo, MRE's and water filters.

I don't hear rationality. I don't care any more about the pore birds and beasties than I do about feller hooman beans.

I think it will get ugly, without warning, and troops will be in the streets, herding us into our homes if we're lucky, camps if we demonstrate.

Wanna have an anchor pool on per cent population decline worldwide by 2020?

Our current rate of gain is around 1.1 %. So if you want to bet on a rate of loss, then anything less than 20% won't help much. But 20% is a loss of 136 million per year which is an awful lot of people.

The problem with death and life is that the numbers you project does nothing to show you the human side of things. When you throw the dice and say this person or that person is going to be dead in 10 years, its cool on paper, but not up close.

But 2020 is only 10 years away, and in 10 years how many more rivers will be silted up or have run dry? How many more acres of arable land will have turned to desert? How many countries will be importing food that did not do so this year?

I don't have those answers. All I know is that I got a call this evening from a couple looking for help in buying food. They live where jobs are hard to find, almost a job desert, their moped died, they are behind on the electric bill and a steady job is only a dream. Their yard grows rocks really well and even if they could afford seeds, the soil is to rocky and shallow to grow much, not that planting a garden now would feed them.

I deal with a lot of nearly homeless and totally homeless, Not something you have when you have nomadic tribes wandering around. In the coming years I expect to see more of them showing up in the area, and storming the doors of every nation that has food.

MRE's still cost money, even if you know where to get them cheap. I used to watch them on ebay, numbers were in the 300's recently I checked back, they had doubled in the for sale column. I wonder why? (seriously).

It is one reason I am working so hard on having a water catchment system for rainwater, currently it is still free, while tap water costs about 4.7 cents a gallon. Kinda sad that the above couple a few months ago had their water turned off for a while. Living in a First world country, like it were a third world one.

No easy answers, I don't think I'll bet on where the population will be in 10 years, I might not be here to gloat that I was right.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

When you throw the dice and say this person or that person is going to be dead in 10 years, its cool on paper, but not up close.

This is why I own a yacht.
When it happens I am going to put my fingers in my ears and my head where the sun don't shine, and sing
"La La La, I can't hear you."
As a matter of fact I do it now.
I don't own a TV.

Hey!! That makes me just like everyone else.

Well, I'll offer a #4.

Personally, I think that the most important thing is the options we can preserve for the future roughly half-billion years of the planet's life as a living oasis in space. This means options for humans and whatever we might evolve into, as well as currently-evolved complex species.

We have a bottleneck of converging crises, of our own making. Many possible futures are already foreclosed, but there remains a huge degree of freedom in the possible outcomes. Those outcomes, in turn. will determine what "life" has to work with over countless millions, probably hundreds of millions, of years into the future.

Seen from that admittedly unusual perspective, the extending of human overshoot and creature comforts for a few decades or even a few centuries may be a wildly sociopathic concept by any objective standards of planetary citizenship and even species self-interest.

I'd suggest that the existence of the trillions of humans who have yet to exist in the future - as well as their cohort species and environment - is what is most immediately in jeopardy, and should be the overriding concern to any sane species. That's where "mitigation" would have deep meaning.

my 2 cents' worth, in passing, on a sleepy saturday.

Are you B?



Haven't read the book, or many books at all compared to most here. From the description at the link provided (spoiler alert):

The narrator, Jared Osborne, is a priest of the Laurentians, a fictional Roman Catholic order under an ancient, covert mandate to stand watch against the coming of the Antichrist. Although skeptical, Jared is enjoined by his superior to investigate Charles Atterley, an expatriate American preacher known to his followers as "B." Allowing Jared into his inner circle in Munich, B soon dispels both the concern that he is the Antichrist and the shivery intimations of apocalypse that make the opening chapters darkly intriguing. Through long, often numbingly repetitive parables and speeches, B instructs Jared in the solutions to overpopulation, ecological despoliation, cultural intolerance and other ills that have dogged civilization since the time of "the Great Forgetting" 10,000 years ago. B's smug pontificating and his disciples' unquestioning devotion reduces them to interchangeable mouthpieces for Quinn's philosophies.


I'm suggesting an alternate perspective from which to draw a rationale and structure for mitigation.


Regret asking the question. Your comments always reflect a solid understanding buttressed by an appreciation and love for the natural world. Lots of folks point to this book and others in the series as turning points in their lives. Quinn, the author, posits many things that just seem to fit. I have discussed the books with many folks and the verdict is varied. However, among those of whose opinion i respect most, these books, and especially the story of B has greatly broadened their understanding of our predicament. Please before you question my sanity , go to a book store and read just the "teaching of B" at the end of the book. Only a few pages, but covers a lot of our evolutionary history that is badly misunderstood. I don't agree with everything Quinn presents, but find his theories edifying.

Please forgive my intrusion. Your comments are always of the highest caliber. The book was discussed on one of the oildrum posts several years ago and while i don't remember the context or the date perhaps others will remember and provide info as to its relevance.

Regret asking the question. Your comments always reflect a solid understanding buttressed by an appreciation and love for the natural world. Lots of folks point to this book and others in the series as turning points in their lives.

No regret necessarily; I just didn't understand the comment, although I have a high regard for your comments generally. Many people here seem to be quite well-read. I made a conscious decision to not read much for about 3 decades, just as an experiment in independently deriving my own systems and concepts. That experiment is over now, so I'll make a note to read that one.

Please forgive my intrusion.

No intrusion at all; interacting is what the campfires are for. Don't hesitate to comment or call me on stuff if it seems appropriate.

The "antichrist" question has come up regularly enough over the years that when I re-do my main website I should probably add it to the FAQ. But I'm just a guy who does stuff. And just "phoning it in" today, I'm having to deal with family matters, but I wanted to get that minority view in there for the record.

all best, and keep up the good comments.

Yours is a beautiful vision. I keep seeing locusts.

How do we fend off the locusts in the midst of collapse?

How do we fend off the locusts in the midst of collapse?


When Life Gives You Locusts, Make Locust Pizza

Posted by Adam Kuban, April 20, 2010 at 8:00 PM


[Photograph: Glenn Milne/ABC.net.au]

Locust swarms in northern Victoria, Australia, are the biggest they've been in 30 years. So what do the folks in the city of Mildura do? Cook them. Joe Carrazza of Mildura's Pizza Café stuck some on a pizza and voilà! The insects are considered a plague of course, doing untold damage to crops, but the folks here remind us that they're considered edible in some parts of the world. How 'bout you? Up for a locust pizza?

How about Locust Recipe

I don't think there is time to try all three strategies, although some of the more powerful nations will be able to try this longer than the less powerful nations.

I think for most of the world the current global economic system will fail them either BEFORE or shortly after oil production starts to seriously decline (between now and 2013).

As for your list of mitigation steps, I lean toward:

2. Doing things that might help our immediate families survive for some period of time--a few weeks up to 40 years (resiliency planning).

3. Doing things that would truly be helpful for several generations in the future, if we need to go to a much lower energy life style.

I think our governments will continue trying to prop up BAU. We have had 3 presidents in a row now who chose using the military to "secure oil supplies" rather than make any serious changes at home.

We have had 3 presidents in a row now who chose using the military to "secure oil supplies" rather than make any serious changes at home.

And the president before those three chose as one of his first acts as president to remove the (admittedly symbolic) solar panels from the roof of the White House. Not long thereafter PV technology moved off-shore.

Hi Rainy,

Given the nature of the subject, your handle sure is appropriate!

We can discuss the overall problem on a theoretical level,or a practical level.Lots of members, such as Hightrekker( Hello Trekker!), who is very astute, will make theoretical comments tonight;but he knows that he might as well have said when pigs fly" as there is very little hope, within the relevant time frame,of the change he advocates actually taking place.

On a practical level we are deep into a very high stakes poker game and we are not only losing, we are not even able to walk away from the game.All our chips are on the table.

I grant you that on the theoretical level we should never have gotten into the game,and maybe it is possible, theoretically, that we could have gotten out of the game as late as the Reagen era.Personally I believe the die was cast at least as far back as the WWII era, and probably much farther than that;Once the industrial Revolution achieved critical mass ,the handwriting was probably on the wall.

I might even go so far as to blame our plight of the philosophers of the Enlightenment;it is a sure thing that had the Catholic church retained its power, there would have been no awakening of the sciences, and no Industrial Revolution.

I certainly do believe that if Carter had been able to to transform his vision and insights into reality, we would be in a far safer and stronger position today.

I also believe that as a practical political matter the last four presidents have not had any real choice in this matter of securing oil at whatever cost;nor will the next president.OBama will leave office in 2012, or 2016,as the commander in chief of our Mideast occupation forces whether his leftward hard core supporters like it or not.Regardless of his campaign pledges , the incoming president, of whatever party , will enter office in 2016 as the CIC of our Mideast army of occupation, and leave on the same basis, unless we collapse first.

Now as to mitigation;we can, and must, do what we can in all three respects.

I have come to believe that a collapse is inevitable,but if we are lucky it can be a long slow collapse and it can be managed, preserving some semblance of bau on the way down.This scenario allows some hope of for the continued survival of most of us, under fairly dignified conditions.We might even come to realize HighTrekker's vision of an informed and rational citizenry, given enough time and just the right amount of having our noses steadily rubbed in reality.

We can learn to live with the inevitable changes that are coming if they don't come too fast, and adapt to them peaceably, given sufficient time.Some progress will continue to be made in renewable s, and more progress in conservation than most people would believe can be made very quickly, once we focus our spending on this area instead of propping up the UAW, govt motors,fusion power, sports stadiums,giant airports,and consumption in general for the simple sake of consumption, rather than living well..

A lot of people seem to believe we can never afford to go solar at the residential level have never stopped to think that thirty grand spent on a residential system will do as much for investment and employment as thirty grand spent on another tricked out truck that will never regularly haul anything other than groceries.

In the meantime, as people learn, under the heel of reality, to live differently,the political calculus will be shifting in such a away that things formerly politically impossible become achievable.Such things include bike lanes on nearly every street,a national 35 mph speed limit,downsized 100 plus (at 35) mpg cars,the end of no deposit containers and high performance cars,zoning laws that not only allow but REQUIRE neighborhood stores, doctors offices,sundry small businesses,and so forth.

This is a "nothing succeeds like success" scenario of course,and while it is entirely possible that it can come about,it could fail to materialize for any number of reasons, and collapse could be fast and brutal.

Of course I have no way to estimate the odds of a fast collapse, but everything I have learned over the course of a long life spent in large part as an amateur scholar indicates that the odds are such that a prudent person will take as many protective measures as are reasonably achievable.Huge numbers of people may lose their lives in very short order in the event of a mad max scenario.Even minimal planning and preparations, such as having a months food on hand and a firearm ,or bugout bags and an always full gas tank, might be enough to save an individual and her family from the initial mayhem.Once that is past, there is some hope of stability returning, although perhaps under authoritarian circumstances.

We can talk all we like, and profitably, about this theoretical strategy or that, which should be pursued by society as a whole;but when tshtf,only those of us who have complied with the dictates of our built in programming, and done what we could to ensure the well being of our spouses, partners, friends, and children will enjoy such peace of mind as will be possible in the new world.

As far as doing what we can to create a safe , sustainable low energy human ecology, by all means! Creating a thing of intrinsic beauty and utility to boot can never be a mistake.If the human race is to continue to exist in civilized form long term,a world view compatible with this goal is a necessity.

Otherwise we will find some new means of going into overshoot again some day other than by burning fossil fuels.

A lot of people seem to believe we can never afford to go solar at the residential level have never stopped to think that thirty grand spent on a residential system will do as much for investment and employment as thirty grand spent on another tricked out truck that will never regularly haul anything other than groceries.

Well, here's the sixty four thousand dollar question...

64 thousand dollar question

That really sums it up very nicely. Why are the scales tipping towards the shiny red truck? It must be the hot babe. When presented a choice like that, which do you think most guys are going to choose?

Hey, where's the missing $4,000?

Hey, where's the missing $4,000?

Have you ever gone shopping for women's designer bathing suits?

What kind of a guy do you take me for? ;-)

For one, I can't do much of my farm work without a proper vehicle for hauling and towing.
For two, I can finance said vehicle in an affordable manner.
For three, I cannot finance a solar system affordably.
And last, spending 30K on a solar system in my area will most likely not bring my household as great a return as spending it on effcient outbuildings, rainwater catchment systems, a new well, etc.

Seriously, if some agency funded low-interest loans for a system, I'd run the numbers. But we're both state workers in my household, and our jobs are always on the line. How can I in good conscience take on another payment? Maybe someday single-family solar systems will be paid for by oil profits, but until then, my fancy grocery hauler is a more immediate need to get me to work and help with farm chores.

(comes in for a bit of lunch)

"Maybe someday single-family solar systems will be paid for by oil profits, but until then, my fancy grocery hauler is a more immediate need to get me to work and help with farm chores."

Or maybe someday (soon), you won't have fuel for your "fancy grocery hauler", or even a light to read by.

(goes back to planting spuds)

What makes you think I'm not aware of that and haven't taken what precautions I can? (And my spuds are already well up, just in time to replace last year's spuds in my well stocked root cellar.)

The possibility of having no fuel and electricity later doesn't mean I should do without a useful tool today. How silly. In our current reality, we drive to day jobs 16 miles from home, using an affordable practical vehicle. If/when that reality changes, we fallback to another layer of planned for reality. And if that reality changes, yet another layer. Repeat until death. Survival takes flexible thinking and the ability to adapt to circumstances and surroundings. Not fixing on any one path as "the one".

I live in a network of farmers, with a small town within walking distance where my 2-people-sized farm and its products are well known. I have 2 draft ponies with proper gear for hauling and farm work that I can keep comfortably on my place with no added input (aside from a rent-a-stallion to breed my mare). I save seed and swap with neighbors, have access to woods for foraging, etc & so forth.

There's always the chance someone may 'nuke' my place, but barring that, my household can do quite well without external power. In the meantime, I'm using what's available to help me prepare for tougher times.

(goes back to hilling spuds, gathering eggs, feeding pig, training ponies, gathering herbs, adding honey super to beehive, bottling wine, harrowing grain field, etc etc etc)

Unfortunately if we spend $30K on a solar pV installation, the bulk of that investment will end up causing additional pollution in China.

China has tooled up to supply low cost pV panels to the rest of the world markets. The bulk of the embodied energy in these pV panels comes at the expense of burning Chinese coal in low efficiency thermal power plants.

China is already burning 3 billion tonnes of coal every year.

Very little of the investment will benefit the West, and the investment is very detrimental to the East, in terms of air pollution and loss of human life in the mines, and lung disease caused by coal dust and air pollution.

I write this from a hotel room in Shenzhen, Southern China. As I look from my 14th floor window, visibility is about 1 mile - the view across Shenzhen Bay, obscured by air pollution.

On Saturday, I had lunch in a restaurant in the centre of town. I watched the activity in the busy street below. I was amazed by the mix of vehicles that passed by - from tricycles and bikes, auto rickshaws and scooters. It was noticeable how many luxury Western private cars there are here - Mercedes, Audis, VWs, BMWs, Buicks, Lexus, Toyota, Honda to name but a few. Whilst the locally built, sub-$10,000, Cherry A5 was also spotted - the bulk of the cars are luxury Western designs, - some models of BMW, Mecedes and Lexus, built in China.

I remember 10 years ago when there was hardly a private car on the streets. Whilst car ownership might be restricted to fewer than the richest 0.4%, the growth rate is astronomical - 10 million cars in 2003, 57 million in 2008. In 2009 13 million light vehicles were sold in China.

I leave it to another Oildrummer to crunch the petroleum consumption figures of a nation that adds 13 million vehicles to its parc every year. Vehicle penetration is currently only about 40 vehicles per 1000 of population, compared to 800 per 1000 in the US. Lots of room for market growth.


China hasn't mitigated its population problem very well either. So goes China.

Think of it as PROPI, pollution returned on pollution invested. The pollution created from the manufacture of my PV panels (50% were made in the USA) can be expected to mitigate much more future pollution than most any other source of energy available to me. It's not my fault they are now mostly being made in China.

They want the bucks, they get what sucks. It's not my fault they can't mitigate their pollution problem any better than their population problem. Where were most of the things you buy made (speaking to the crowd now)? What makes PV any different than running shoes or a "salad shooter", from a China/pollution perspective?

For one, I can't do much of my farm work without a proper vehicle for hauling and towing.

Ask OFM to tell you about his trucks..

For two, I can finance said vehicle in an affordable manner.

That seems to be a rather ephemeral circumstance... things may be changing but OK if you say so.

For three, I cannot finance a solar system affordably.

Don't know where you live. That has indeed been a problem where I live (South Florida) but it seems the good Guv just signed some legislation that is about to change that in a big way.

And last, spending 30K on a solar system in my area will most likely not bring my household as great a return as spending it on effcient outbuildings, rainwater catchment systems, a new well, etc.

By all means do those other things first. I always tell my customers up front that there are plenty of things they can and should do before installing a PV system.

Seriously, if some agency funded low-interest loans for a system, I'd run the numbers.

Best hopes for major changes in our priorities and the way we do business in general.


I think that's where we are now in Florida.

Property Assessed Clean Energy policies are key to the financing problem. You don't need an agency to fund solar system loans, you need a local government willing to instiute a PACE program.
Essentially, the local government places a lien on property (in proportion to its value) which is then rolled into annual property tax. The lump sum is then paid to the owner of the property owner after the clean energy system has been installed. Most current PACE programs apply to weatherizing, solar panels, micro wind, etc...

We are not in the Arab countries to preserve our oil supply since most mideast oil is sold to our economic competition in Europe and Asia. Our army is there to protect Wall St's investment in foreign enterprises which use mideast oil.
There was a comment not too long ago that said that we will import more oil from the Alberta tar sands than from Saudi Arabia this year. The United States could easily get by with zero imports from the mideast via easy conservation measures, converting heavy truck fleets to nat gas, and increased imports from elsewhere.

It is not our current supply of oil we are protecting, I agree with you there. A primary reason we are there now is to be ready to control where that oil goes when we hit the downside slope of peak oil.

Thanks for all of that, Mac.
(Could be wise, though not to choose a place that might become regarded as of 'strategic importance'? History suggests that 'strategic interest' trumps ordinary measures - witness Afghanistan or even in days of yore the Scottish Border where I live now.)

It has to be #3.

I imagine the majority here are all about peak oil, but ultimately climate is the biggest deal.

I just read James Hansen's Storms of my Grandchildren, and the worst case scenario is a Venus-like atmosphere after all the fossil carbon plus clathrates. Can't take that risk.

I see a fractal design.

I am reading "The Other Brain" (RD Fields). The attention of my neurons is controlled by astrocytes. My astrocytes control what my mind focuses on. Microglia crawl through my brain protecting it and generally interfering in my thoughts.

Our purpose is the continued existence of the our larger self.
Our larger self is a thin film on a small rock adrift in a vacuum. I feel very protective.

The time has come for us to have a Mind.
We communicate over the web. We are the mind of the planet.
The Mind is very expensive and must be pruned.

The web must be salvaged.

I heard about a new study that predicts expected decline in fossil fuel consumption will prevent the worst climate change scenarios. Anyone know anything about this?

I think you talking about a recent paper by James Hansen.

Gale, perhaps the deepest wisdom is -- as Carolyn Baker suggests -- to prepare for utterly tragic events sweeping over us all, with, probably, no-one anywhere exempt. Maybe we just have to accept that we, the species, have blown our brilliant chances so comprehensively that now there is certain to be a hellish time of widescale destruction of many of the things which we love, with near-unbearable despair to be suffered, as we see them go.

We should do everything we can to mitigate this, and we will of course. And we should struggle to keep ultimate despair at bay, always. And we will. But we do need to start preparing ourselves for the reality that -- pretty certainly -- there is no unscathed, relatively happy outcome left available for us. We're booked now for our descent into hell. With reasonable luck, regarding mainly the survival of the living planet itself, some of us, or our descendants, will make it out to something tolerable at the other side. In the very long run, the planet will heal itself, probably, and refecundate its life, as it has done after global catastrophes several times before. We may or may not be around to see that.

Another old man's resigned, accepting estimate of what's happening.

The goal should be the 2000 Watt Society(17.5 Mwh per year per person or 23.3 quads/yr for the USA(2050) down from 99 quads/yr).

1.) End personal transport(60% of transport energy) Save 20 quads.

2.) Cut oil industry by 60% Save 6 quads.

3.) Do business by internet.
Close retail, service, business and government offices .
Save 7 quads.

4.) Go paperless. Save 2 quads.

5.) Phase out single family homes unless Passive Houses. Save 11 quads.

6.) Increase renewable electricity to 15% of grid while holding output constant thru conservation, not counting rooftop PV and distributed generation like home microturbines or fuel cells.
Save 11 quads.

Total savings 57 quads. Down to 42 quads.

If we manage to get this far I expect Yankee ingenuity get get us down another 50% in the next two generation or so it would take to implement steps 1-6.

Yeah. Good luck with that. Right now we can't even get people to believe in global warming. Even if we wanted to do a massive retool, where's the capital going to come from when the world economy is already on the brink of bankruptcy on its unserviceable debt? Then add peak oil into the mix and you've got receding horizons bigtime.

Even Richard Heinberg doesn't take top-down mitigation seriously anymore. Seems like he's continuing on that path solely to soothe his conscience.

That's the kind of thinking i like to see, not the detail, which we can debate forever, but the general idea. My own family is down about to that right now, just from simple, obvious things like never traveling. (confession, I did a hell of a lot of travel for 30 years by "necessity" and am fed up with it and the gastric attacks thereunto appertaining.)

Ho ho! Your no. 6 above is too feeble. We could get a lot more. And besides, microturbines and fuel cells are silly when you could buy a really great little stirling engine from me for way less-- if somebody would just pony up the megabucks to put it into production.

Runs on shredded sales catalogs and political posters. But if we go paperless, it could switch to lawn clippings, but but if we do right and cut out the lawns, then twigs, but then we cut down the trees and then what?

Got it! Go back and consult with Julius , Jesus, and Genghis, who got along ok without a single watt of electricity.

Anyhow, good shot, and thanks, majorian.

I showed this to my wife and she responded as I knew she would "Don't wanta look at it".

After all, we chose this place because:
low population
not attractive to city people or most anybody else--(flyover country)
enough rain
not too hot, not too cold ( about 40 degrees north eastern midwest US)
ergo, survivable

So, we will make it, but looks like grandkids better move--- like everybody else. How many can canada and siberia hold?

Only a single reference to population

I think we are mind-bogglingly overpopulated

It ultimately comes down to overshoot

Population of course is the gorilla hiding in plain sight. Population plus consumption.

The poor under-consuming overpopulated countries destroy their environment locally. The rich moderately populated countries destroy globally. Each blame the other for the resource depletion and the ecological catastrophes now unfolding.
IMO there will be no reconciling.

Population control and consumption control will be forced on humanity by events. Due to religous, social and political dogma, there will be no hope for controlled depopulation.

A low population low net energy future is inevitable in the coming years and decades.

Mitigation will only be effective if the downslope is gentle. Rapid depopulation or rapid decline in the system will be catastrophic.

The longer human political and religous systems ignore the population and consumption problems then the more likely there will be catastrophic overshoot & collapse.

Not one country in the world has taken any genuine steps to address real and proper sustainability in their systems. Ad hoc solutions to deteriorating economic, environmental and resource problems will do nothing to solve the bigger issue of too many people consuming too many resources and causing calamatous environmental deterioration.

The future is not looking good. Strong action on mitigation procedures will be essential.

When we take over the Mideast and Nigerian oil, we'll need to reinstitute the draft to run the oilfields, right?

Only makes sense.

I'm the old man in the mill in Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. Kind of detached, amused.

Where's our samurai?

"1. For how many years do you think the world can maintain its current complex system (financial, electric, industrial agriculture, Internet, paved roads, etc) after energy availability begins to decline?"
This is a false dichotomy driven by assumptions.
We need to separate out near term peaking of light oil from heavy oil/bitumen and coal.

We need to identify and rapidly develop renewable energy conversion methods with high EROEI, while bridging with heavier fossil fuels.
e.g. Solar thermal power and and solar thermochemical fuels appear to have much higher EROEI than PV or conventional biofuels.

"2. How does your view of (1) influence what your view of the most important mitigation approaches?"
Again a false dichotomy that assumes greenhouse mitigation is needed, rather than adaptation (if that).

Idur Golkany in "Living Longer in a Warming World" at the International Climate Change Conference 2010" showed detailed data on excess cold weather deaths indicating that global warming will likely reduce death rates, while the major concern is global cooling driven by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) as predicted by Don Easterbrook. Consequently global cooling is much more dangerous than global warming. Climate mitigation typically ranks dead last on any international health care evaluation. Any climate "mitigation" that increases costs will itself cause far greater deaths in the developing world than global warming, directly because of depriving the poor of funds and harming their economy.

Developing countries are generally deemed to be most vulnerable to climate change, not necessarily because they will experience greater climate change, but because they lack adaptive capacity (that is, financial and human capital) to acquire and use the technologies necessary to cope with its impacts. Hence, another approach to addressing climate change would be to enhance the adaptive capacity of developing countries by promoting broad development, i.e., economic development and human capital formation, which, of course, is the point of sustainable economic development.

Golkany confirms the overall Copenhagen Consensus ranking. (For global warming enthusiasts see: Copenhagen Consensus on Climate)

"3. Do we have resources to do all three mitigation approaches simultaneously? If we need to scale back on one, what would it be?"
1) Focus all attention on alternative liquid fuels for transportation on a war time footing.
2) Focus on high EROEI fuels for transportation.
3) Put climate mitigation dead last as burying money in the ground with negligible benefit while causing great harm to the poor.

Spending any substantial resources on climate mitigation will seriously harm the global economy by robbing funds from critically needed transition to alternative fuels. Diversion of critically needed investment into alternative fuels will cause severe shortages of transport fuels and high prices which will very likely very severely harm the global economy. See publications by Robert L. Hirsch

We will all be held accountable for our choices, as the cries of the poor rise up to the Supreme Judge of all the world.

On the contrary - we need to use global warming to stop oil subsidies in countries like China and use it also to agree on an (initially VERY small) global minimum carbon tax, the revenues of which should go to the local government in each fossil consuming country. Then use each climate summit to raise this floor. (This lessens the disagreements between rich and poor countries inherent in capping carbon emissions and trading emission rights.)

There is no energy shortage in coming few decades. Even though easy oil may have peaked or may peak within a decade, we can get at more difficult oil and we are literally awash in NG and coal. Our big challenges are making the whole world rich and peaceful and stopping global warming at the same time.

So we should do that carbon tax along with lots and lots of nuclear to get rid of coal - both conventional nuclear buildout and breeder research. Also wind needs to get built to 20% of electricity generation or thereabouts, so people realize that it isn't really practical with high penetrations. If we do all this, things will take care of themselves.

Oh, by the way. You yanks should stop having communist federal and state regulations in the electricity sector. I'm from socialist Sweden and even I shake my head when I see the problems you have.

Please take your denialist claptrap elsewhere. It was just getting pleasantly non-denialist around here.

David Hagen,

You made my "Do not waste time reading" list.


BTW, the poor will suffer more from Climate Change.

I am seeing cycling in our future. "If China keeps buying cars, America will be on bicycles".

Man on a bicycle can go three or four times faster than the pedestrian, but uses five times less energy in the process. He carries one gram of his weight over a kilometer of flat road at an expense of only 0.15 calories. The bicycle is the perfect transducer to match man's metabolic energy to the impedance of locomotion. Equipped with this tool, man outstrips the efficiency of not only all machines but all other animals as well.
~Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity, 1974

For instance, the bicycle is the most efficient machine ever created: Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of three thousand miles per gallon. ~Bill Strickland, The Quotable Cyclist

Or, as I have heard it, "A man on a bicycle is more efficient than a bird in flight"

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. ~H.G. Wells

We have just finished moving into a country house with a couple of acres. If we can establish a vegtable garden I think we will be doing well. This is different lifestyle and it has taken years to get here. Change is costly and difficult.

Dont try and take on to much at once. Start small with your garden and build up.

Goodluck with your new home and lifestyle.

1. We are already on the road to complex collapse due to extreme population overshoot and the peaking of a critical resource, oil. I think the current system can be maintained while oil production declines less than 30% from its peak, and I'm using 30% as ballpark maximum based on how much blood a person could lose before collapsing into a coma or dying. .7 * 75 is 52.5. Depending on decline rates and how they are affected by our existing compounding system issues, we can keep oil production high enough for 2 to 6 years. But after oil production falls below some critical level, then social service, electrical, financial, governmental, and transportation systems start rapidly shutting down.

I think 2 to 6 years is the best case, because beneath the oil production is its net energy contribution to the rest of the system. Net energy has already been falling, and will fall more rapidly than production itself.

2. If you are going to try to mitigate the effects of collapse, then concentrating most effort in #2, local preparations for family and community, has the best chance of yielding benefits.

3. We don't have enough resources to do all three simultaneously. Definitely scale back on trying to modify the current system. The cancer is too vast.

Also, expend some energy enjoying yourself and having some fun.

Reform of the current system is not possible.

Yes, 99.998%, or thereabouts. However, as humans who were born into the current system, we are at least somewhat capable of reforming ourselves. So, there's that.

Your analysis makes sense to me. And I think it does make sense to spend some energy enjoying yourself and having some fun. If our time is limited on earth (and it always is--we just don't realize it) we need to appreciate what time we do have available.

We were at low 50 mbpd around 1972.

We have used 40 years to get to here, and now you are telling me that we'll go back to that level in just two to six years, despite all Hubbert curves being somewhat symmetrical? And despite higher prices, despite oil sands? And society will immediately collapse, despite being awash in natural gas and coal? That's crazy talk.

Life is not a Bell Curve. Rather, collapse isn't. Rome? Established, what?, 700 BC? Collapsed in about 200 years. Or less, depending on what you call "Rome."

Mayans? Developed over at least 1,000 years. Collapsed in 300 or less.


We're looking at shark fins, not Bell Curves, when it comes to collapse:


Notice just how fast things are moving by about the fourth bifurcation. I think we're somewhere between the third and fourth.


True, that. Mayans, Romans, those were societal and social collapses. Symptoms and harbingers of what was to come. What we face now is a species-wide population collapse.

In 1972 we had half the population we do now. And we had nowhere near the dependence on oil that we do now.

Hubbert curves are not symmetrical. The assumption of symmetry is based somewhat on two points. One, existing Hubbert curves appear symmetrical up until passing the peak, but then dropped off to mostly zero production afterward when they became too costly to keep pumping. Two, the symmetry has also been tied to the distribution of sampling and the Central Limit Theorem, but they do not apply here. (The CLT is inapplicable in most places, for another time.)

Oil sands have too low a return on net energy, they won't make a difference.

Gas and coal are both dependent on the rest of the oil-dependent system. Hundreds of millions of cars can't run on coal. Millions of miles of roads can't be patched with methane. In order to use methane or coal for personal transportation, there needs to be buildout. Increased availability of electricity (build more power plants), hundreds of millions of cars need to be converted or replaced, and in increase in the amount of rail lines, trains, and buses. There is currently an extreme shortage of time and resources (money is irrelevant in this issue). Here, petroleum is the limiting factor in Liebig's Law of the Minimum.

And, no, society won't "immediately" collapse. It will take years still for this to play out, and then months or years between the peak of population and where we end up after the crash.

Crazy is in the eye of the beholder.

I seen nothing linear or continuous in the future.
This thing we are looking at is multi-dimentional and chaotic.
Between one stable state and another exists a region of chaos where events flicker from one reality to another.
We saw a big flicker when the price of oil reached $147 a barrel. And then it flicked back again. But the closer we move to the new reality, the more permanent the stable region.

Yes, and in 1972, or thereabout, we had peak oil per capita. We are quite a bit more efficient now, and could be more efficient still as soon as we want to. (It doesn't take that much effort to lower speeds, or drive less often, or car pool, or ...) Hubbert curves are not symmetrical around the peak, but not that far from it either. Actually, the increasing price is a factor in favour of a plateau-ish development. Perhaps we have been in a plateau of sorts since 2005.

Oh yes, hundreds of millions of cars can run on coal, if we do coal liquefaction. South Africa covers 30% of their needs with CTL. NG can also be converted to gasoline and diesel, of course.

Oil sands does not have too low a return on net energy and it already makes a difference. Of course EROEI is not that meaningful a concept - obviously we need to have a greater-than-one return, but other than that, cost determines viability. (A 1.1 EROEI would be quite ok if no other inputs are needed - just loop the energy and you can have as much energy as you want.)

No, there is no extreme shortage of time and resources. There is plenty of both, at least if AGW don't kill us off by some runaway feedback loop.

Yes, we were less efficient then, and efficiency is what causes collapse. Resiliency, the opposite of efficiency, is what enables survival, stability, and sustainability. Coal liquefaction is worse than oil sands in regards to net energy return to rest of the system. And who told you that EROEI was not meaningful? As an experiment, just think about how your life would be, if you had to expend 90 calories every time to get 100 calories to consume. If you have to drive 27 miles for each gallon of gas that got you 30 MPG, so each time you fill up your 10 gallon tank you have to drive 270 miles just to get to the gas station. This is your 1.1 EROEI world, and you are welcome to try living in it.

Then again, if you really don't think there is an extreme shortage of time and resources, you must be having a lot of fun. Enjoy yourself, and don't worry about my rantings. I must obviously be crazy.

Resiliency, the opposite of efficiency? So improved aerodynamics and engine efficiency in freight, computer simulations that optimize logistics, more energy efficient computers, vastly more efficient methods of enriching uranium and so on - is stuff that makes us less resilient, less able to survive, and less stable and sustainable? Isn't that a bit counter-intuitive?

If you have to drive 27 miles for each gallon of gas that got you 30 MPG [...] This is your 1.1 EROEI world, and you are welcome to try living in it.

No, my 1.1 EROEI world is that I just have to set fire to 90% of the gasoline as a sacrifice to the fossil gods - else I can't have it. If I'm awash in easy, cheap gasoline, perhaps that won't matter to me. As I said, EROEI is of academical interest. Cost is the true benchmark.

Then again, if you really don't think there is an extreme shortage of time and resources, you must be having a lot of fun. Enjoy yourself, and don't worry about my rantings. I must obviously be crazy.

A few simple questions: When did you start thinking there was an extreme shortage of time and resources? How much time did you feel we had then, and how much time do you feel we have now? If BAU keeps going strong and alternatives to conventional oil continue to gain market shares in an orderly fashion, at what point are you prepared to reconsider?

Resiliency, the opposite of efficiency, is what enables survival, stability, and sustainability.

This is *NOT* the truism so often quoted. Is more false than true.

After the next major price increase in oil, just ask the Hummer owner and his neighbor that bicycles to work & shop when weather is decent and drives a Prius *that he modified to a plug in) when it is not.

Home gardens are efficient, and they certainly add resiliency.


Optimizing based on money is THE PROBLEM.
Everything should be measured in terms of energy and have back up plans/systems.

Home gardens are resilient, and are certainly much less efficient than easy motoring, petro-fertilizers, plastic packaging, refrigeration.

Resiliency and efficiency are inversely related within the same perspective, scale, and scope. For the individual, using cheap energy is efficient. Having to seed, plant, self-fertilize, fence, weed, pick, preserve, store, these things are not efficient, they are resilient.

So, *YES*, I think you are mistaken.

I profoundly disagree.

Efficiency is unrelated or positively related to resiliency more often than not.

Long lived, efficient infrastructure is resilient as a general rule.

The meme that they are opposites is just inane.


PS: I walk out back and grab what I want for supper. How is that not efficient ?

You are confusing different scales, scopes, and perspectives when you think there is no relationship.

You didn't walk out back and grab what you wanted for supper. Your supper was not an ex-nihilo event that manifested into being upon your will. Try again. From an individual point of view, where did your supper come from and what did you have to do to get it? Did you expend time, energy, and resources to provide sustenance on your postage stamp? It was difficult, hot, sweaty, and time-consuming, and it was resilient.

From an individual point of view when going to the store for the "same" food, how much time, energy, and resources did YOU expend to grow it, transport it, package it, and preserve it? It was easy, and quick, and used very few of YOUR resources, it was efficient.

Let me know where I lost you.

Time efficient yes but if all that is done with the extra time is to seek ways of entertaining oneself is it really valuable?

We need to start thinking in terms of physical resource efficiency and quality of life.

There is a certain satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that accompanies self-sufficiency.

After all is said and done all individuals are looking for is a neurotransmitter cocktail called "happiness".

The question is more one of priories since we don't have infinite resources for mitigation

Unlimited resources are available for mitigation in the USA, although not "infinite".

The common number for consumption in the USA is 2/3rds of GDP.

Cut consumption as much as need be to fund whatever mitigation is needed.

And since investments in long lived energy producing and energy efficient infrastructure pay "dividends", they start to self finance after the first year and 100% self finance in a couple of decades.

Instead of a cruise or a trip to Vegas, or a new SUV, buy insulation and more efficient appliances. Different people get employment, but the economy still "works".

Raise gas taxes and fund Urban rail. A shift from consumption to investment to the extent people use less gas and have less disposable income.

Instead of buying a new McMansion, rent an urban apartment and invest the difference in railroads and wind farms.

I could go on and on.

CONSUMPTION is a ENORMOUS fat pig that can supply ALL of our mitigation needs !


Alan is absolutely correct in that we COULD fund a changve over out of consumption.

I would have been online with this same point first had I not fallen asleep.:)

The question becomes then:

Can society be steered in such a way as to make this possible?

I can visualize it happening,if we are lucky.


The basic problem is that humans use too high a discount rate when choosing between consumption now and consumption later.

I agree with you that we have the resources needed to handle this problem. We waste huge amounts of energy. All the big SUVs driving down the road mean we use lots of energy that is not necessary. So we ought to be able to channel that energy toward new energy sources, electrification, insulation, etc. But we need a broad public recognition of the problem and a willingness to make sacrifices.

I personally have cut my consumption substantially and invest in energy companies. I drive about 600 miles per year. I walk to almost all stores. While I use CFLs I'm sitting in the dark typing with only monitor light. I have a gamer keyboard that is backlit so I can see the keys.

Over what time frame?


Hedgerows rather than electric fences??? I'd like to see you try to grow a hedge in most of Texas.

Solar electric fences are commonly available and cheap, $100 range (seems there's never an electric outlet where you need one out on the farm).

One should not make simplistic assumptions that nothing technological will be available when there are oil shortages.

Hedgerows rather than electric fences??? I'd like to see you try to grow a hedge in most of Texas.

Which may be nature's way of saying that Texas doesn't have a huge carrying capacity.

Maybe people herding a few cattle out on the open range, riding on horses will work.

At this point, we don't have a way with local renewable resources to make electric fences or solar panels, so this solution will work for a little while, but not indefinitely.

What would keep you from planting hedgerows in Texas?


I'm going with 1, business as usual. I recently worked out some scenarios that cut CO2 emissions, and I came up with one that got along just fine without any oil at all. Most things that you need oil for, you can do with natural gas. The cars cost more , but...

Getting by without any fossil fuel would definitely be more expensive. For certain things, like aviation, you really need a chemical fuel. You are reduced to using biofuel, which is only available in limited quantities. Converting all sugar, edible oils and corn gets me about 7 Mbbl/d worldwide.

The main consumers of oil are road transport and aviation, so that's what gets squeezed. Electric cars are only marginally affordable for American families, but cutting the required range to 40 miles and restricting the power should get the cost down to something not too painful.

Gail seems to be under the impression that fertilizer supplies will stop. I don't agree. Fertilizers are based on the ammonia molecule. You make ammonia by reacting nitrogen and hydrogen in the Haber process. The question is where do you get the hydrogen from? Electrolysis of water driven by hydroelectricity is one possibility. Another cheaper method is gasification of biomass.

Rebuilding our economy will take time, so we can get into trouble if oil supplies drop too quickly.

Phosphate for ATP, Adenosine tri-phosphate.
There is no substitute.

The easy phosphate has been mined out.
The rest will need lots of diesel to mine and get rid of "the other stuff".

Without phosphate, plants have no way of storing energy. (Can that be true?)

Even the USDA gets it right sometimes."There is no substitute for phosphorus."And no life as we know it without the big P.

I remember reading somewhere that phosphate was a potential problem. However, if prices are currently low, then there is no incentive to search for more. I doubt that much effort has gone into prospecting for phosphates.

It is really the financial system that has the biggest problems early on. It may be possible to"fix" this problem within a country, but international trade is likely to be a problem. International trade is so embedded in our current way of life (fore example, making computers, and making almost anything else high tech you can think of), that it will be difficult to carry on without it. It will be difficult to extract natural gas for example, or even coal, after a few years, as parts wear out, and cannot be replaced. If our system weren't so interconnected, it wouldn't be a problem.

Given that international trade goes back before the Bronze Age#, I think that your assumption that international trade will disappear completely is pure fantasy !

A single container ship may not bring all of the Christmas toys for Great Britain from China. In other words the volumes may drop significantly.

The collapse of the current financial system will see another rise in it's place (see cigarette economy of occupied Germany post-WW II). Perhaps trade will be denominated in Swiss francs, Brazilian New Reals, standardized barrels of oil or gold, but it WILL continue !

I personally expect a decline in volume of at least 50% in the coming years, but 90% is entirely possible.

But only 0.2% of current international trade volumes would be required to maintain industrial civilization. And we can, and will, manage to do that !

For several centuries, a single trade ship would travel to Iceland each year. The years where the ship did not come were disappointing and hard on the merchants. But international trade continued.

For Eurasia, electrified rail will connect them (as it will for NAFTA). For ships, they may be powered by coal, sail, Venezuelan heavy oil (over 1,000 years for current shipping levels if that is all it is used for) or nuclear.


# The Bible records that, at the dawn of the Iron Age, the King of Israel wanted to buy some of those new iron swords from the Hittites. They were fresh out but sent a single iron knife for the King's personal use as a good will gesture.

I have said international trade would scale back, not disappear completely. I think that this will be very disruptive. I don't think industrial civilization can be maintained with anything like 0.2% of trade. There are just too many things that are traded now for the system to continue with that little.

If avoiding famine in developing nations is not a priority, then 0.2% by volume can certainly maintain industrial civilization. Food importing developed nations will go towards a more basic diet. (Import wheat from the Ukraine into Germany & Switzerland by rail).

Not the economy of today. No toilet seats from China, raspberries from Chile, but the essentials required to maintain industrial civilization certainly can.

My Mac mini weighs about 3 lbs (and uses 14 watts). If computers were not universal but the minimum required (every engineer gets one when theirs breaks, libraries & schools, offices & stores), a couple dozen containers could meet the annual demand for computers for the USA (or we build them here).

And it is not that big a deal to start making things domestically, at least the essentials. The Defense Dept requires domestic sourcing and that gives us a base to build upon. In high tech, I suspect that we could "get by" and maintain industrial civilization with just the industrial capacity devoted to DoD. Just run those factories 24/7.

Just like I could build a bicycle in New Orleans. Crude, expensive and usable. True for many other goods (like toilet seats).

Best Hopes,


In fact, you can probably keep 99% by volume. What you lose is the air freight. Toilet seats don't mind taking 3 weeks to cross the Pacific. Raspberries on the other hand are perishable, and will have to be sourced from within North America.

Alan is also right about making more within the US. We can manufacture computer cases, power supplies, heat sinks and motherboards locally. We can do the assembly locally, and benefit from shorter supply chains as a result. Globalisation has resulted in some pretty crazy supply chains. For example, we shut down our furniture factories and now import matresses and furniture from China. We even import catfish from China.

Alan is also right about making more within the US

I bought a combination pocket tool in a grocery store here in Esperance, Western Australia.
I mention this because it was cheap, good quality and Made in America. This was astounding. Is this a trend?

One of the interesting things about where oil goes is how little is used by trains and shipping.

For the US, in millions of barrels per day:
Gasoline: 9.0
Jet fuel: 1.5
Diesel: 3.4
Railroad diesel : 0.24
Ships: 0.33

Keeping container ships and double stack trains running isn't hard ( and you can electrify the trains). Per ton/mile, large container ships are something like 66 times more fuel efficient than road transportation. And the fuel consumption of ships can be greatly decreased by reducing the speed.

Air freight will get a lot more expensive, and it might disappear in a world with no fossil fuel. But anything that moves in a shipping container can continue to move. There is more than enough biofuel to run that system at current volumes.

The parts of the economy which are in trouble are those that depend on raod and air travel. Fedex. Las Vegas. Hawaii.

"Building a farm using hedge rows instead of electric fences, "

Many electric fences now run off of solar cells. So that one doesn't help. Electric fences are easily moved to adjust with the crop rotations. Hedge rows are not portable.

Read up on historical farming practices before drawing conclusions as to what is best in any given situation. How did your ancestors weather crises?

Also, hedgerows have other benefits than just keeping critters in or out. Food, windbreaks, wildlife (i.e. food) habitat, defense, microclimate management, etc.

Plopping a charger & hotwire here & there is convenient. I use them myself. But that system is still non-renewable in the long run. And besides, if anything knocks your hotwire down, critters can tell. If you have hard fencing backing up your hotwire, you're much better off.

LOL but I'm biased, since I have hedgerows in the making to back up my electric fence and livestock panel perimeter.

Hedgerows can be designed to attract beneficial insects as well, both for pollination and for preying on pests.

I learned a lot about the benefits of hedgerows while doing research on them for a blog post. At the time I didn't have bees, but now that I do, I can see how much they utilize the plants I used for my hedgerows. The native pollinators are also enjoying the extra food.

A lot of my hedgerow is made up of edible native plants, like elderberries and roses, plus hardy 'domestics' like crab apples, sunchokes, wild garlic (a trial planting). I tried to do a layered planting, with small trees as the backbone, then shrubs and perennials to infill. The wild rabbits like it too.

I also planted some native hawthornes to help keep random humans out, plus have an edible fruit and some medicinal value as well. We also have a lot of the native vegetation left, like wild blackberries, and other thorny berry plants, cascara trees, dogwood, etc.

One indispensible category of books to have in your library is ethnobotany for you area, native plant guides, and medicinal plant guides. Know what to plant, and know what exisiting plants can do to help you ;)

Great thoughts. We are learning how interconnected things really are. Becoming conscious of our energy use is important for no other reason than realizing how little we could really consume and be just fine.

I live in a building originally built in 1905 in the deep south, when there was no electricity. As a result it has a lot of single pane, double hung, 36"x 84 windows. There are some natural cooling features that are amazing, and the minimal heating is provided by low angle sun exposures to the south and small, wood stoves for the north sections.

Thick concrete blocks ( not like todays) moderate temperature variation. Sure the hard wood floors sag a bit after 105 years, but that is part of the charm.

Our ancestors had comfortable, low energy, living down-pat. Reading about their techniques is not taking civilization backwards, just adding to some wisdom developed over the centuries that works, to solar heating and underground cooling things we have today, and judging from the copious pictures and writings, they were having a fine life back then.
BTW, current wisdom (LEED) says tear it down and build a new building. However, EnergyPlus modeling of this building in my latitude, totally unmodified ( except for electricity ), shows it is superior (+6 KW/YR.Sq FT) to a NEW LEED certified construction of substantial cost.

Many of our energy problems have been solved, mankind just forgot about the solutions. Maybe just ignored them because they are too "simplistic".

Good points!

The simple ways of building are some of the better ways in my opinion. Passive solar construction is nothing new, cliff dwellers have done it, as well as others long ago.

I love the tall rooms and the tall windows, if they still work, pulling the top down and pulling the bottom up, you get a flow of cool in and hot out. In the south the high ceilings were standard, something I miss from having lived in one while going to college.

Earth shelter homes that have passive solar built in, are temp stable a lot better than most wood homes with siding and such to stave off the sun's heat, or the winter blast.

Lots of things we could be doing, even if we only do a few of them here and there, better than doing nothing.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Hi folks,
I will be working on strengthening my families chances,as well as my own...I burned way too much time and treasure talking at people who still "don't get it". M.Ruppert has the right Idea.If they are too boneheaded to see with their own eyes,the rapidly disintegrating life of petro-man,as well as the continuing collapse of our "economy"...move on.And don't mention how much loot you have squirreled away in the basement.

My goal now is filling the last few places on my "liferaft"with passive food producers,and working at getting the highest quality bees I can find...[if you want a true challenge try raising bees w/o chemicals,or antibiotics.]

I think in order to be effective at either of the other goals is to make your own,and the ones you feel responsible for as independent as possible...this keeps you in a position of strength when dealing with "the BAU"crowd ,as well as having the greatest effect on how the future plays out...

Bee Good
Bee careful


If they are too boneheaded to see with their own eyes,the rapidly disintegrating life of petro-man...

That, my friend, is what evolution is for.
Please don't discourage boneheadedness.
We need volunteers.
Lots of volunteers.

Good luck with the bees.

I find the analysis flawed and quite unrealistic.

One cannot, in general, "prepare" for #3 because it requires a massive dieoff and the social (and economic) disruption that goes with it.

One of the few examples of infrastructure that can make it through to #3 (and #4) are railroads.

I will use the genocidal (>1/3rd population dies) civil wars of Cambodia and Liberia as illustrations.

In both cases, homemade rail cars were used for transportation and were highly valued. Villages in Liberia kept their rail line from being sold for scrap.

Rail infrastructure can last for centuries. Ties are the least durable (40+ years) and ties can be made out of wood.

Hydroelectric is another that will make it through. North Korea and Albania (when it was isolated from the world except for China) both managed to keep their hydroelectric plants going. Afghanistan had a hydro plant that kept going for almost 50 years with minimal maintenance (they were using barbed wire covered in used tire rubber in places, but it was producing power).

Hoover Dam is currently undergoing a major overhaul, the first since it was built in the 1930s. Generation for given water will go up +7%. But it could have produced significant electricity without the overhaul for another 50 to 70 years.

Niagara (US side) just finished (three years ago) an overhaul (increased efficiency a few %) of 13 identical generators. In a pinch, and by using parts from one to repair another, Niagara will be producing power in 2110.

Quite a few 1890/1900 era small hydroelectric plants scattered around the world.

I frequently use streetcars built in 1923/24. They just replaced the 1930 era DC rectifiers that supplied the power to the trolley wires.

In summary, rail and hydroelectric are good for both #1 and #3 per your definitions.


Another point. You say "the world". Only one island of highly organized western industrial civilization is required to supply the world with rail, hydroelectric, wind, solar PV, etc. industrial goods and can trade these for whatever materials they want from the rest of the world, which may be in varying degrees of chaos.

Probably more than one island will and can make it.

Some possible islands:

Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark & (optional) Iceland/Greenland.

Germany & France axis with a mix & match possibility of all or part of neighboring nations (Switzerland should be able to stand on it's own if need be and trade for food). Note: Next door to Nordic block with direct rail connections.


Large parts of the USA & Canada

Japan (trade organization that can produce for raw materials)

Parts of Russia

And so forth.

Rail over Eurasian land mass and coal fired, heavy oil (Venezuelan heavy oil can supply the world's fleets for 1,000 years) or sailing ships for rest.


Thanks Alan, keep it coming. Too much despair on this site. Even the pessimistic Colin Campbell only had oil decline at less than 1.6% per year from 2010 to 2030.

Best hopes for rational optimism :)

OK, just checked Campbell's predictions for 2050 in his latest and last ASPO newsletter (link).

He combines oil and gas and his graph shows a decline from 48 Gboe in 2010 to 28 Gboe in 2050. This is a 41.7% decline or 2.1% a year.

Doh. 41.7% divided by 40 years is 1.05% per year. Can we handle a 1.05% per year decline rate? Or do you have a better argument that it will be 3.9% per year???

28=48(1+R)^40 annual rate


28=48e^r40 continuous rate

around -.0135 per year

I agree with you, Alan.
I hope UK will be able to learn to trade our wind and perhaps tidal energy, and to be useful enough to France and Germany and the Scandinavians.

I heard on the radio this morning that countries such as Uganda are no longer getting the financial support they need to treat AIDS cases, and many are just being turned away from the clinics.

I will leave it to the reader to decide whether that is a good or a bad thing.

Furthermore, Jacob Zuma, South African President, a man with five wives and more than 20 children, who famously stated that you couldn't get AIDS if you shower immediately after sex, was finally tested and the test came back negative.

I won't pass judgement on that one, either. Except to say that denial is alive and well all around us, and what is happening in Africa should be an abject lesson for us all, specifically when it comes to choosing leaders.

I've been too busy working on #2 to add to this discussion, then was too tired from working on #2 to add to this discussion. Shortly, I'll be back to working on #2, so won't be adding much to this discussion. I've already done a lot on #3, which overlaps with #2, at least for me.

Given up on #1 for the most part.

I agree with Greenish, #4 matters.

Back to planting spuds and beans.....as it may rain tomorrow....

BTW, Gail, hedgerows? We have barbed wire fences that are over 40 years old. Doing fine with regular maintanence. I just replaced the battery in one of my solar fence chargers. The last one lasted 19 years. Wow! With no maintanence (except for washing bird crap off of the panel). Best hopes for another 19 years. I'll let the grandkids worry about the hedgerows.

Ditto on #1 - I've given up trying to get people to change their lifestyles and make tough decisions now rather than later. OTOH, I have started speaking publicly on peak oil.

Ditto on #2 - I'm putting every effort toward short / long term migation: pantry, gardening, canning, long term food, etc. I have found a couple of new friends and neighbors along the way. Contemplating portable solar now.

I have planted berries, apple tree, etc.; maybe years from now after I'm gone, someone will enjoy the 'fruits of my labor.'

I have given up hope that our government can / will do anything to prepare the public or refocus military spending on domestic humanitarian efforts. We are on our own.

We should cut Gail a little slack about the hedge row thing-she obviously is not trying to push hedge rows, or ANY SPECIFIC agricultural technique.She just pulled this one out of her head as one possible example of low tech sustainable techniques-and it fills the bill nicely.

I did not myself ADVOCATE installing a thirty grand solar system on anyboby's , or everybody's, house at this time.What I actually wrote was that circumstances CAN and MIGHT change in such a way that we WOULD reorder our priorities in favor of the solar system at some later date.

At that time, the guy with the solar system can entice the bodacious babes with his working refrigerator, washing machine, and entertainment systems.;)

My POINT was (or is) that if once we ACTIVELY pursue conservation as a basic long term strategy, we can be just as prosperous in the future short term as we are now pursueing more cars, more air travel , more oversized houses...

Conservation COULD succeed in such a fashion as to surpass the fondest hopes of even the most optimistic of the regulars here.Unfortunately the odds of this happening are not very good in my personal opinion.

"I did not myself ADVOCATE installing a thirty grand solar system on anyboby's , or everybody's, house at this time.............

My POINT was (or is) that if once we ACTIVELY pursue conservation as a basic long term strategy, we can be just as prosperous in the future short term as we are now pursueing more cars, more air travel , more oversized houses..."

This is one reason I went off grid, Mac, and help others do the same. It gets one off of the grid tit and forces them to live within certain limits. It certainly promotes the pursuit of conservation.

Spending big bucks on a grid tied PV system gives one a warm, fuzzy, green feeling and bragging rights, but I suspect it does little to promote active conservation in the home. It occurs to me that it could have the opposite effect. It's just BAU lite, though still worthy of consideration when incorporated into a reduced consumption lifestyle.

BTW, I do like Gail's hedgerow idea, but you know what a techie I am (and I haven't seen a hedgerow yet that'll contain a rogue bull calf ;-)

Yet this is what the "News" thinks is important.


It is about the cultural ethos which is shaped almost exclusively by the television.
Harness that and you have your "Top Down" and "Bottoms Up" momentum.
Carter tried the only way that could have worked and that is trying to change what people focus on and what they think is important.
Putting the solar panels on the White House was the ultimate Lead by Example and taking them down was also the ultimate Lead by Example.
We squandered our only chance with Reagan the f#cking IDIOT.

A plan to orderly reduce population through lower birth rates and natural attrition coupled with minimizing energy use per capita will make the decline more tolerable.

I am currently surrounded by beautiful, light hearted graduates of University and High School. Their lightness of being is infectious.

I occasionally eves drop (earned the right to be here by inviting my children to gather friends at our place and serving tasty Pupus and soups) They, just like every generation before them, believe that the world is there oyster. They talk about money, travel, cars, houses, technology, some even talk about family.

As soon as the realities of the convergence of constraints becomes impossible to ignore for the majority of the population, as it already has for many around the world...

The World will become a living hell.

I have read nothing that changes my feeling that this is true, not even remotely.

I also have not read anyone coming close to what that scenario might be like.

IMO the most important issue to address is our humanity which is what will determine whether or not we get hell on earth or just plain really bad.

What we have going on now is lies, corruption, deceit, out right criminal activity, and other INHUMANE acts and this is all being done by those who are in control.

P.S. jobs is not the answer. We must get way more creative than that.

I think we can take it as a given that in an increasingly resource-constrained world, something will eventually have to give. The question is: what will that be, and who is going to be on the short end of the stick?

Or to put it another way: in this game of resource musical chairs, who is going to be left without a seat, who will be sitting in the remaining seat and how will he/she go about getting it?

In the US one incredibly large source of untapped resources that I have not seen mentioned in this thread is the vast amount of money currently being spent on our gargantuan defense and security apparatus plus our various ongoing military adventures. The total price tag for our Department of Defense, Department of Energy (a large part of which has to do with nuclear weapons), CIA, NSA, FBI, DEA, Homeland Security and no doubt some other alphabet-soup agencies I've overlooked, plus our military adventures in Iraq, Afghanistan (and maybe soon Pakistan and/or Iran) is now pushing one trillion dollars annually. And most of that is being paid for with 'plastic'.

Gail has, quite rightly, continually hammered on future constraints to mitigation efforts due to our growing financial problems, i.e, unsupportable debt. But the concern I have, is that no matter how bad things get in the US, money for our defense and security apparatus will always have a way of magically appearing. Even if people have to live in their cars rather than drive them and have to scrounge for food, I have a hard time seeing the military/industrial/congressional complex in the US ever doing without the goodies it wants, much less cutting back to a fraction of current spending. The model that comes to mind is North Korea. It's ruler don't give a damn about how bad things are for the general population but have managed to build and maintain an incredibly advanced military machine for a country that probably has GDP less than than of Pennsylvania.

So, unless we get this money black hole under control, I find it pointless to talk about things like planting hedgerows or home gardens. First things first.

If the financial situation gets too bad, it seems like the possibility of governmental overthrow (whole new constitution) rises. I don't know precisely where this will happen, but it seems likely at least some countries will experience such changes, and may even have changed boundaries. Things could change pretty dramatically over a few years.

But you may be right about fighting for what is available. As long as there are people in power with this as an option, there is a distinct possibility of this happening.

I still subscribe to the punctuated, painful fall hypothesis. Sometime in the next 5-10 years it will become obvious to all but the most dense, narcissistic individuals. When people(generally) finally figure it out it will be far too late. However, the fall has already begun. Each day my belief that we will destroy all that is good is reinforced. Case in point:
I have 5 house mates and all but one is too stupid to make the connections. No matter how many times I explain it, they still do nothing to curb their behavior. I took my stereo out of public household use the other day, and instead of using a perfectly good stereo already in the house the house mate with the least money went out and bought a new one. So much effort just to play video games! He owes tens of thousands in student loans, his parents are raising his defective child, and he can't pay his phone bill or fix his rotting, fetid mouth, and buy $10 cigarettes, but he CAN spend a few hundred to keep his XBOX Call of Duty addiction going.
Meanwhile I have saved more $$ in 3 years than he has made pouring drinks and avoiding taxation/bills. About to buy a house by a little lake(oh yes I know the risks!) and put in a garden.

Failure to make the connections...lack of understanding of the exponential function. These are the people that will just try to take what they want when they realize how badly they F'd it all up.


Failure to make connections is a good way of putting it.
And it's much easier to let someone feed you what they want you to connect with, i.e. tv, religion, consumer culture....

Even if this ends up being a fast painful descent, a lot of immediate pain could be mitigated if people who refuse to think for themselves could at least glom onto some advertising campaign a la victory gardens (I call mine a furlough garden) and do some basic prepping for their households.

It's overwhelmingly irritating that people who know better and are tasked with leadership, don't use the masses willingness to be led in a more instructive/constructive way. Must be more to be gained by an ignorant desperate populace....

Like your choice of comments and topics.Mitagation,imagination,friendship and barter and some deep thought.

Good palaver for for the long-run: ideas, dreams, discussions. Here in South Louisiana we're looking at the ugly short run end of the stick. What are its mitigation priorities?

Cajuns and Creoles don't know what a garden path is, much less that they're being led down one. They no longer think it's a conspiracy, or a complexity. Thinking that has got them to take the bait, and only added to the feints and sideshows. Same for their outrage against foot dragging and deception, which merely changed the subject, extending the dodge plays.

Incompetence is what's being covered up. Dorothy, Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion will not be allowed pull the curtain away from The Wizard of Oil. Power-holders know how much we need it. They have this tiger-shark-vampire-squid by the tail and will apparently have to sacrifice Louisiana's coastlines.

watch this final clip from three days of the condor. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eovei355l4o

Yep. I remember it. Tnx rube. Here's our radio guy melting down on air. Think global, look local.


The solution to the energy problem will initially come from improved efficiency in resource utilization, and later from renewable energy mass production, due to high demand in the emerging economies. The key player in the first case is the US as it is not only the largest but the most inefficient user of energy. The key question here is why should the per capita power consumption in US be twice of Britain or France. Are lifestyles so different? Or is it the lifestyle management?

The key players in the second area are China and India. With 2.5 billion people between them, they will provide both the market as well as the disruptive technologies that will crash land the price of renewable energy products in 5 years time. It is not only the cheapest computer or the cheapest car that will be produced by China and India but the cheapest wind and solar energy products, not due to brilliance but due to market dynamics.

No wonder all major renewable energy companies have already set up there plants in the subcontinent even though political leaders struggle with fruitless climate change discussions.Come what may the answer to sustainability lies in improving efficiency and lowering cost be it oil, coal,nuclear power or renewable energy.

Being 30 years in the industry, I do not believe in any peak energy crisis. The current panic has been created by speculators over the last decade but should be over by next 5 to 10 years. Oil demand by 2050 will be negligible due to market innovations which are taking place at the grass root levels in several fields. So let us not even think of 'peak oil', but try and achieve 'flat oil' by streamlining demand, better stockpiling and reducing market volatility, in the immediate future.

We need to work the problem on all three fronts. Resourceful folks with limited means and/or time might form transition teams or "micro-tribes" for the express purpose of transitioning to more sustainable lives (#3). They could double up to live under one roof and thereby free income to invest in land and alternative infrastructure for sustainability. Too many of us get stalled out as soon as we see that we can't get where we need to be on our own steam. The fact is that individualism has limited usefulness given the scope of the challenges we face.

1, Roads will be around for 50 years, if they are traveled enough, Some bridges will go away, others will have old school ferry boats taking people across. Not all roads are built the same way, Germany has thicker road beds than the USA does for example. Railroad tracks can be traveled on by any number of wheeled carts either pushed by hand cranked devices or by small enignes. Look to several third world conutries that have been doing so for a while now.

We don't have to reinvent the wheel, most people know how to make one of those, and people will learn the old ways to making them and use the roads even as they decline in pavement. So even in a deep collapse roads will be used still.

I have no clue how far down they will go though, as how far down the slope we will go is a matter of guess work.

Electrical systems require a lot more work than roads do, as every pole in the power grid can stop the flow of power, if only one of them falls down. As we see in several other countries the power grids have a bad habit of failing with just a little bit of stress on them.

The internet could be just between a few locations and still be called the internet, but as the server farms fail, the over all structure of the internet will degrade, so it all depends on who will be left to maintain the system as to how long it stays afloat.

2. As to how I am planning for the future in regards to my ideas in #1. In my designs for houses and gardens I am trying to steer clear of depending on life as we know it today. Basics of home construction and using passive solar heating and lighting, so that if the ability to produce batteries or LED's dies with the collapse, the people living in the houses, don't have to abandon the dwelling.

If you build into the design of a house, protection from floods, and storms, or earthquakes, you can extend the usable lifespan of the dwelling. We have all those technologies today, and they don't require continual imputs of energy. They arn't going to be castles, and living within a basic framework is not going to be for everyone, unless they know the world that might be in the next few years to decades.

It is like trying to get people to give up their SUVs if they see no reason to do so, then convincing them is that much harder. My designs aren't for the BAU folks, they are to simple minded.

Currently we have the energy to do most of our downsizing, but we likely don't have the willingness to do so. Too many people still do not see a need to lessen the load on our systems. When it becomes known in the general public it'll be to late to get most of it done.

Though I have had conversations with some folks that love the idea of a CSA that just opened it's doors in downtown North Little Rock, they were talking about how neat it was to have locally grown foods available. But they were both older than your average person, and remembered the days when locally grown foods were available for sale, country girls from before world war 2.

I see things changing, but is it fast enough? I don't know.

I planted wheat this spring and most of it did not make it, I'll need to plant earlier and protect it from the birds and bugs, and plant more of it. It's an experiment in seeing if I can grow wheat in a home garden. I have several other experimental crops growing, some might or might not do as well. It would be nice ot have a few more years of downslope before everything crashes, just so I can say I grew this or that new plant, but I guess I won't get statisfied either.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Being able to experiment is key! I've read about so many wonder crop or critters and tried them, only to find issues that only come to light after field testing.

I chose a variation of #3. Setting up quasi-monastic communities which have the mission of preserving certain technologies that will be needed in the 22nd century. Those who participate in these communities must see the mission as their sacred duty and not as a way of generating personal or community wealth. There are 7 categories which need preservation; electricity generation, radio communication, energy efficient aviation, basic health care, preservation of patent records, basic literacy and numeracy of nearby populations, and preservation of a wide range of crop varieties.

Electricity is more important for the continuance and rebuilding of civilization than the availability of liquid fuels. Electricity is just too useful to let knowledge of it to perish. The methods used are dependent on location. Solar, wind, hydro, and biomass methods would be used by the communities based on local resources.

Radio is an energy efficient way of communicating over long distances. A morse code signal from a one watt transmitter can be detected anywhere in the world by the right receiver. A simple crystal receiver can detect a strong enough signal from many miles away. Radio must be preserved for both communication and navigation systems since society may lose the ability to replace aging satellites over the next several decades.

Aviation using energy efficient bush planes will be easier to maintain than our complex interstate highways and railroads over long uninhabited stretches. It doesn't take much energy to maintain grass strips and docks for seaplanes. I envision planes like the amphibious Catalinas of WW II but with diesel engines using biomass derived fuels.

Basic health care services is how I see as a way of trading with local neighbors. Relieving pain, setting broken bones, stitching up wounds, minor surgery, and cultivation of medicinal herbs would make the monastery something the neighbors would protect from roving bandits or regional warlords.

Out of the over 7 million patents issued by the US government about 20,000 are truly useful for the rebuilding of civilization. Future engineers do not need to reinvent these devices and manufacturing methods. Deciding what patents to preserve on long lasting paper or parchment is something cloistered monks ought to be good at. Translating them out of patent-legalese would be a useful activity during periods of inclement weather.

The basic education of future generations will be essential for maintaining and restoring civilized society. Most folks need to know the 3 Rs and the best methods of teaching them need preservation by continual practice.

We may not be able to predict which plant varieties will thrive in the warmer climate of the 22nd century. One seed repository has been established in a frozen mountain in Spitzbergen. Many other repositories need to be made. Experimental breeding needs to continue on some of the farmland instead of using it all for profit making. We learn as much from what fails as from what succeeds and some land must be dedicated to repeated failures as the climate changes.

We cannot survive as isolated individuals or families and we cannot save everyone from the future hell of the mid to late 21st century. Dedicated lifeboat communities could not only survive but maybe thrive as examples and a model for the future.

Glad you are thinking about these things.

It would be a lot easier to maintain electricity with the local resources we had 200 years ago, than with the local resources we have now, given how "mined out" many of our mines are, if we did not have our current technology. It seems like that is going to be an issue.

It seems like we had a lot more plant varieties 100 years ago. Now we need to know which ones grow where, without too many artificial inputs. It would be good to have a reasonable supply of seed of crops adapted to each area. If climate changes, these will have to change, as well. Lots of challenges ahead!

A good source of info are old (pre-ww2) government publications. USDA Farmers' Bulletins and the like. I work with them as part of my job, and read all that apply to low-input farming. There is good info about dealing with pests, non-chemical fertilizers, alternative cooling methods for food, food storage, etc. Many are location-specific too, which is also helpful.

If your local library is part of the federal depository library program, chances are they have some of these or can help you find them.

I've done a couple of blog posts using some I've found - http://seventreesfarm.com/2008/09/25/rainy-season-and-thoughts-turn-to-p...



Some of the info is dated thanks to later experience and discovery, but there is a lot to glean that is useful.

It would be a lot easier to maintain electricity with the local resources we had 200 years ago

Simply, factually, provably 100% wrong !

200 years ago, we had zero hydroelectric power plants (and their associated dams).

200 years ago, the only way known to harness wind energy was Dutch style windmills.

200 years ago, there were no geothermal power plants (a few hot baths was all).

Industrial civilization in North America can continue indefinitely with just the installed hydroelectric power. Large areas will be without electricity, not enough power for air conditioning or electric heat (in many areas), but enough hydroelectric power for critical industrial projects, such as the manufacture of wind turbines and solar PV.

Manitoba has 4 GW of new hydro that they will build if a buyer appears, Quebec 25 GW and Newfoundland 3 GW. BC has some too.

From memory, the following states & provinces get at least half of their electricity from hydro. Oregon, Washington, Idaho, BC, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland. Enough to build an industrial base around.

More than half of the states have enough hydro for basic functions.


200 years the water was there, and the geothermal resources were there.

The iron ore was there closer to the surface, in higher concentrations.

The coal was there, closer to the surface, closer to populated areas, in higher concentrations.

Trying to do mining without our current high tech industries would be difficult. Without the metals, it is hard to any of the other things you talk about.

Water without power plants are not of much value.

And concentrated iron ore is closer and MUCH MUCH more accessible today than it was in 1810. Why, I just saw 1.5 tons go by a few seconds ago !

Compare that to steel production in 1810 (1.5 tons might be a week's or a month's production for a mill).

A rail centric TOD urban form can live for centuries off of recycled metals with no new mining for most of them. And with minimal need for coal. Much less than today as overall energy needs decline and efficiency increases.

Just increasing to EU averages of today will cut coal, and energy use in toto, demand by half. And we can do MUCH better than that.



Interesting comment, regarding us being surrounded by 1.5 ton lumps of fairly pure iron.

What do you think the best method for re-purposing of our gasoline ICE vehicles should be?

Should we try to save the ICE as a mechanical source of power, and then find a means of running them on biomass - such as wood gasification or methane from biomass digestion.

Should we melt down the thin steel body panels and make a poorer grade of pig-iron - such as the Chinese did under Mao in the 1950's in their misguided quest to increase steel production figures?

What about the rubber, glass and plastics - can these be recycled into other more useful products without a large injection of energy? Should we mine the hydrocarbons from the plastic waste, and gasify this to produce fuel for farming and transportation?

It looks like we are up a blind alley - with few options to turn around and head off in a better direction.


I would like to see more labor added to recycling cars. Copper in particular can be recycled almost 100% with a little work.

Electric arc furnaces need 100% scrap steel and cars are a good source. And good quality steel can be made with them. Later, we could run these furnaces when wind energy is in surplus, or when spring run off gives a surplus of hydropower. Much less energy than smelting iron ore.

Composite railroad ties are made from recycled plastic. The types of plastic in cars may well be suitable for that.

Burning tires are used today to make cement. Solvent refining them and plastics to recover specific chemicals may be a better use (depends). Bicycle paths could also be made from processed tires.


Thomas dePlume.
Please consider making airships from recycled Poly ethelene terapthalate. (PET)

David de Rothschild has set sail in a yacht Plastiki made from recycled plastic bottles.

If you overcome your laughter you will see that PET has amazing properties. It is light, strong,transparent, UV resistant,impermeable, cheap and plentiful.

It is the ideal material to make a steam/hydrogen lifted solar powered airship.

Airships need little energy to get them into the air.

A 100 meter airship intersects 7MW of insolation.

At some point, creditors will not want to offer more debt, or will require higher interest rates. And taxes must be raised to bring receipts in line with expenditures. Even if not all of the taxes are personal income taxes, the impact will still indirectly be felt by consumers through higher prices for products. The net effect on consumers is likely to be less after tax income, in "real" dollars.

There's a lot here that's confused, at least for countries such as the US that are sovereign in their own currency.

Govt spending creates money. Taxation destroys money. The purpose of taxes is not to "fund" government expenditures, it's to drain some spending power from the private sector so that aggregate demand doesn't exceed supply capacity (which would be inflationary). If the govt runs a deficit -- creates more money by spending than it destroys by taxation -- then the private sector will have more money (lumping together the foreign sector with domestic private, actually). We also call this "saving", and it's not, in general, a bad thing (so long as destructive inflation is avoided). During a recession, private demand for saving goes way up due to income insecurity, loss of wealth as asset prices fall, tighter credit, and reduced business investment. At such times, it's appropriate for the govt to run a substantial deficit to accomodate the private sectors desire to improve their (collective) balance sheet. On the whole, averaged over business cycles, it's reasonable to expect that the amount of savings people will desire to hold will roughly scale with the growing economy. The national debt should never be "paid off", as doing so would force the private sector into dangerous dis-saving, resulting in precarious private sector balance sheets.

Traditionally, deficits are "sterilized" by issuing an approximately equal amount of interest-bearing fixed-term securities, also known as T-bills, notes, and bonds. The Federal govt is not "at the mercy of the bond markets", and deficits do not drive up interest rates (unless they raise inflation expectations -- though at present inflation is under 1% and still falling). The money has already been spent into existence. Someone in the private sector now has a big pile of dollars, more than their current consumption needs, and wants to save. They can buy govt bonds and get interest. Or, I suppose, they could sit on their pile of money and not get interest, but that would be irrational. Any individual can choose to buy stocks or real estate or gold or foreign currency or corporate bonds, etc, from another private sector individual. But this doesn't change the aggregate-level situation, it's now just a different individual with a big pile of dollars and the option to exchange them for govt bonds. The Federal Reserve sets the short-term rate by buying or selling securities to adjust the "base money" supply, and longer-term rates reflect expectations about future short-term rates and inflation.

I recommend http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/ to learn modern monetary theory. Many common misunderstandings happen when people assume that individual-level logic applies to sector-level aggregates. And many "intuitive" ideas are leftovers from the gold standard and fixed exchange rate eras, that don't apply to floating fiat currencies.

Because we live in a finite world and are reaching limits on extracting resources, we can expect that long term there will be less and less real resources. Whether we like it or not, this has huge relevance to how much goods and services can be produced in the future--it becomes less and less, rather than more and more.

Any system that depends on interest and growth cannot work in such an environment.

Debt also does not work well in such an environment. The problem is that someone needs to pay back the debt. In a period of economic contraction, there will be a lot of debt defaults.

Since none of us individually have control of the levers of government I think we should focus on what we can do individually and in small groups. As individuals we should:

- Lower our living standards before we have to. Use the extra money to either invest or upgrade our households for efficiency or to move to a place with lower energy needs (smaller, closer to stores, etc) or buy more energy efficient vehicles.

- Think about our career paths in light of Peak Oil. Get retrained and try to move into positions more suited to what is in store.

- Develop products and services that cut energy usage.

We can do lots individually.

If I was up there with hands on levers of power I'd focus on energy efficiency and shifting infrastructure from dependency on oil to dependency on electricity. The area of energy efficiency covers a huge amount of ground including building design, building location, and appliance efficiency.

I try to incorporate all three mitigation approaches as part of my lifestyle, within my financial means. Switching to alternative energy sources is well within our technology, but our society is not structured to enable/support that change for the vast majority of its members.

As many posters in multiple discussions on TOD have pointed out, the GoM is a highly complex system within its own right, and when considering it as a component of a much broader dynamic, it becomes apparent that the effects of the contamination of the Gulf will be irreversible, long term and deleterious to the quality of life for a significant number of persons in a very large geographical area. This fact will produce change, but how that change is to be effected-and what that change will entail- is not clear.

Three quotes:

"Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him?" ~Pierre Troubetzkoy

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." ~Richard P. Feynman

"The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through all kinds of things worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles; hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors; worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages... And we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet... the planet... the planet isn't going anywhere. WE ARE! The planet will shake us off like a bad case of fleas. A surface nuisance." George Carlin (transcript available http://www.climatechangefraud.com/videos/130-george-carlin-saving-the-pl...)

Thanks, Gail.

The National Academy of Sciences could do an immediate investigation into global oil supply "peak oil" facts, impacts and policy options.
For an explanation, please see www.oildepletion.wordpress.com

People contact either their Congresspersons or the President *or* their State reps to get this in motion.

This way, we would have the Academies weighing in: to present the facts, so that States, municipalities and communities can plan.

The current NAS energy study omits the critical topic: peak oil.

In my area, two different churches are planning to build on prime farm land (sigh), a local non-profit is putting in an ice skating rink - (????) - it seems planners of large projects are in the dark.

A couple of modest suggestions:

1. "First, do no harm." -Hippocrates.

This is the "prime directive" for physicians, but there is no reason why it should not have more universal applicability. It is also scalable. There is harm done by individual actions, and there is harm done all the way up the scale to the very largest human organizations.

Each of us may feel tiny and powerless. However, we can do what we can do. Each of us is responsible for our own actions, especially where they are harmful to people present and future, and to the environment and ecosystem. To the extent that we are involved with and benefit from larger systems and organizations, to that exent we are also responsible for their harm. Maybe we can push them in a less harmful direction, or maybe we need to just disconnect ourselves; maybe the only hope of eliminating the harm is to just hasten the demise of the harm-causing entity or system.

2. "Be the change you want to see" - Gandhi.

We can spin all of the nice theories we want about how to re-construct the world from the top down, but let's get real, it isn't going to happen. If "they" - the top dogs - were seriously going to be change agents, they would already be at work on the project. They aren't, and they aren't going to be. If you want to see any meaningful and effective change at all, you are going to have to look for it starting at the bottom and working its way up, not from the top down. Since change is going to have to start at the bottom, at the grass roots, why not start with yourself? I don't know if Gandhi's model will "work" or not, but I really doubt that there is anything else out there that has even a prayer of a chance.

Taking these two together, this suggests to me that a basic starting point is a personal dedication toward living a lifestyle that minimizes one's consumption of resources of all types, and strives for a minimal "ecological footprint" or minimal harmful impact upon the ecology. Call it "voluntary simplicity" if you want, or "frugal living'. or anything else; a trendy name is far less important than the actual doing thereof. Again, I don't know if that, in and of itself, will "work", but I can't imagine any strategy that can possibly hope to be successful that does not include this as a foundation.

Individual action is meaningless. Global carbon taxes and nuclear buildout may do some good regarding AGW and PO. Not much else in politics or grassroot action will make an impact before the law of supply and demand forces the issue.

"Individual action is meaningless."

(looks frustrated)
Its not meaningless to me. How can I advocate for changes I'm not willing to make in my own life?

If you'd advocate a global carbon tax, I'd guess you would be willing to live with one. No problem.

But you driving a bit less will just lower demand for oil, which will lower prices, which will increase demand from some other guy (effectively taking up the slack you gave him by not consuming the oil yourself). Forget about that shit.

The carbon tax wouldn't hurt me much. I also agree with carbon credits, so I could start cashing in on all of my hard work reducing consumption, limiting driving, etc. I can't control what the other a'hole decides to do, but there are ways to make him pay for it.

Oil slave? Credit slave? Go for it.

Unfortunately, there is no global taxing authority, and it is not bloody likely that we'll be seeing one anytime soon, is there? Just imagine some politician announcing that they are going to advocate a global tax; want to guess how many microseconds that trial balloon would fly before being shot down?

Remember Copenhagen? It wasn't all that long ago. That was your global effort to reach a global solution. You know how that turned out. That was probably the last, best chance to even begin down the road toward a global, technocratic solution to some major global problems, starting with GCC.

Yes, the law of supply and demand, and maybe the most harsh and brutal law of all - 2nd thermodymamics - will force the issue. It seems to me, though, that what these define is exactly the aggregate of individual actions. They also carve out pathways that individuals could elect to go with rather than against.

I don't want a global tax, I want a floor on each individual country's own carbon tax!

The problem with real global taxes (the revenues of which would go to the UN or something) and also global cap-and-trade or credit systems is precisely that it creates winner countries and loser countries, and therefore cannot get support. My idea, OTOH, will present no real problem - shifting taxes within a country from labor to carbon will in all likelihood be good for the economy!

So, one reason Copenhagen failed was precisely that it didn't try the distributed carbon tax with a global floor that I recommend. They could have done it and they could have started with whatever ridiculously low floor they could agree on (equivalent to a cent per gallon or something). Then after a few years, politicians would likely accept a raised floor (it does give them revenue after all) and some countries would exceed the floor by quite a bit.

Naive? I don't think so. At least my idea has a much, MUCH better chance of going through in a climate summit.

I'd also like to add that there are some winner and loser countries even with my idea, but the effect isn't that obvious. It depends on the price elasticity of oil. Higher prices due to taxes would lower demand a bit, which in turn will lower prices.

So, even though prices will be higher with the tax, the price increase will be smaller than the tax increase. The difference will eat into net producer nations' profits! The tax will effectively take money from Saudi Arabia's oil profits and put it into US tax coffers.

Yes, and living it also means learning about it organically, with many of the nuances.

And there are ways to "change the world" starting with individual initiative, lots of work, strategic and tactical planning and quite a bit of luck.

It has been done before.


I found out today that I have a very cruel disease called Slow Death Syndrome. SDS can take up to 100 years to kill.

If global warming proves to be a significant driver of humanities problems, then rest assured it will be our problem. The earth will be eventually be fine once we are purged.

People won't change. If they are forced to change, then half will die from... whatever... violence, most likely.

Some will think they are doing God's work never suspecting for one instant the truth: they are doing the work of the biosphere, for we are all subservient to the biosphere.

Life fills up every nook and cranny because the biosphere employs an adaptive strategy. It supplies great pleasure to induce us to have sex, and then it compels (some of us) to grow roots and stick around until our offspring are nurtured to independence. Love is a chemical with a purpose, as are many other emotions and instincts.

Something in our past mutated to where its neural topology employed some combination of feedback and feedforward that allowed it to run simulations on remembered scenarios and alter the terms to seek a more gainful outcome. Since then, man spends almost all his time living in the future, plotting and planning ways to gain and to hold gains.

We are goal oriented, and the goal is gain - it's our survival strategy. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that you are the clever bastard, because you are merely a biological automaton running a survival program. The biosphere wants you to survive, but it wants you to thrive even more. That's why you will take a bullet for your child, and why you voluntarily give up half of your id, consciousness, and free will to start a family.

We have that ability within us, but that gain thing is such a powerful subroutine/narcotic. You want my SUV? You can't have my SUV, mofo; I'd rather die/kill/whatever than to be forced to whatever.

And so many of us will, and that will leave more for the rest. It's a very clever trick.

B.T.W. I live in Oregon and I know how to make a steam engine. I'm so sitting pretty, but you are too because I'd love to help you in any way that I can.