The Speech Obama Need(ed) to Give

This is a post by R. Daniel Allen Ph. D. Dr. Allen teaches at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in New Jersey. It originally ran October 18, 2009 on Campfire.

The Speech Obama Needs to Give

Note from the speech-writer: In one illuminating sense, the future is a probability distribution. Unfortunately, a host of not-so-nice futures are now more probable than others at this point. Every species we eliminate; every ton of fossil-carbon we release; every gallon we pull from fossil aquifers; every cubic meter of top soil washed to the sea lowers the probability of the more livable futures.

So trouble’s a-comin’ in what will likely be a many-act play headed downward over the next few decades -- it just remains to be seen what costume it’ll be wearing in each scene. At some point the general public may be told the truth about our predicament -- but maybe not. I suspect the revealing of the truth would be a sort of last-resort for those in power to try to keep things together. This speech is my take on “telling the truth.”

Setting for the speech: Several “bad” things have happened in the span of a year or two (ex: sharp economic downturns, petroleum shortages, extended blackouts, acts of terrorism, flare-ups of civil unrest, storms or other natural disasters, etc.). America is reeling, but the center is still holding -- for now. A slightly drawn Obama sits down at his desk in the Oval Office…microphones on…the cameras roll…

Our Predicament

As I’m sure all of you are painfully aware, the United States, along with the rest of the world, is in the midst of some of the most profound economic, environmental, and energy troubles ever experienced by modern civilization.

I understand the deep pain, anger, and confusion many of you are feeling at this moment, and I sympathize. My goal tonight is to try to clarify our situation a bit, and in doing so, perhaps channel some of those feelings towards more constructive ends.

The economic, environmental, and energy problems we are currently experiencing are not ultimately the fault of any one person, political group, ethnic group, religious group, country, or region. They go much deeper than that. They are, instead, manifestations of the ongoing conflict -- a war really -- between a finite planet and a human species with infinite aspirations.

In such a war -- a war we are waging against our very life-support systems -- we have no hope of winning. Our best hope is to, as quickly as possible, call off the war, regroup, and fundamentally restructure our society around the acceptance of our planet’s finite nature – around limits.

My words here are, no doubt, striking to you. These are not ideas commonly expressed in “polite” circles -- in the national print media, on television, in board rooms, in Congress, in addresses from the President. They are revolutionary. But they are true and they are necessary.

Let me use an analogy from my experience as a father. As children grow towards adulthood, one of the most painful experiences – for both the child and the parent – is the child’s slow realization and eventual acceptance of limits. Such an embrace of limits is, in fact, one of the hallmarks of “growing up.” My fellow Americans, we need to grow up.


We, as a species, are now bumping up against -- slamming into, really -- some very immutable biophysical limits on a global scale. These limits and the mounting consequences for their continued violation have been predicted and well documented by our best scientists for many decades -- complete with dire warnings for the consequences of failing to change our course.

We have not heeded these warnings and we are now suffering the predicted consequences. It is our own fault.

We have reached limits in two very real and dangerous senses. Firstly, our voracious material wants have outstripped the Earth’s physical limits -- hard limits on how much and how rapidly the Earth can provide us with material and energy resources to run our industrial lifestyles. A partial list of these increasingly scarce resources includes fossil and nuclear energy sources, freshwater for drinking and irrigation, phosphate fertilizer, and various key metal ores. Even theoretically renewable resources such as our ocean fisheries, fertile soil, and forest products are being destroyed by persistent abuse.

In short, we cannot have infinite wants on a finite planet. These were childish wishes.

Secondly, the almost-unimaginable volumes of waste arising from our industrial activities have overwhelmed the Earth’s waste-disposal systems. The list of accumulating toxins is long and growing: greenhouse gases, PCBs, mercury and other heavy metals, radioactive waste, various endocrine disruptors, silt from eroded forests and farmland, excessive fertilizer, pesticides, and antibiotics from industrial factory farms in our estuaries and drinking water, as well as many others I could list. Most notable among this shameful list are the greenhouse gases arising from our civilization’s terminal addiction to fossil fuels. These have accumulated in our atmosphere to such an extent that a potentially disastrous suite of climatic changes has already been initiated – changes that may ultimately endanger our very survival as a species.

We have fouled our nest. Again, we are guilty of childish behavior – mindless, reckless, and irresponsible.

The End of Growth

Having recognized these limits, we are immediately challenged to renounce one of our most cherished beliefs as a civilization -- the idea of continuous material growth.

Perpetual growth in the economy; in wealth; in consumption; in production, have been viewed for over a century as both desirable and possible. Continued growth in all things material has, in fact, been the very lifeblood of our Industrial Civilization. Socialist/Capitalist, First-world/Third-world, Democrat/Republican -- all have worshiped faithfully at the alter of material growth. Eminent economists and others in the social sciences, heads of state, and religious leaders have sung its praises. As recently as a year ago, I myself was guilty of promoting renewed economic growth as the solution to our current troubles.

Taking stock of our current national and global situations, we can now see that the quest for material growth beyond some level is both dangerous and impossible -- our scientists and feedback from the Earth itself have clearly shown us that. We must now recognize this quest as a profoundly tragic mistake; a blunder of monumental ignorance and hubris; an infantile desire of our limited minds projected grotesquely and tragically onto the entire Earth.

Simply put, the ideology of perpetual growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. We were horribly wrong to use this as a foundation of our civilization. Horribly wrong.

So now what? Growth, in any sense beyond the spiritual, is simply no longer an option -- it’s not even on the table anymore. In fact -- and these are words I never imagined I’d hear in my lifetime -- we have begun the decline phase of our Industrial Civilization. There will be no recovery in the sense promised in years past.

For the foreseeable future, contraction in all things material will be the rule of the day -- decreased economic activity, decreased production, decreased consumption, decreased material wealth. This contraction is unavoidable, as it simply follows the advancing depletion of all the material and energy resources that made growth possible in the first place. All the advanced technology in the world cannot and will not revoke the Laws of Thermodynamics and the finite material limits of the Earth.

For all our accomplishments and pride as a civilization, the Industrial Age will turn out to have been a brief, intensely bright, historical aberration made possible only by the one-shot burning of irreplaceable fossil fuels and the destruction of a good part of the pre-existing biosphere – our very life support system.

It pains me beyond words to admit this, but these words are true and we must move on as best we can.

The Way Forward

So where are we? We have admitted to some serious fundamental problems with our Industrial Civilization, we have recognized our earthly material and energetic limits, and we have renounced the quest for perpetual material growth as both dangerous and ludicrous. If your head is spinning, I understand. Change is never easy, and this one’s a doozy.

But now what? I suppose if we are proposing to do away with some of the major ideological foundations of Industrial Civilization, we should also outline an alternate path. I think we can do this.

So here are our main questions: If material growth beyond a certain level is neither desirable nor possible, what is the level we should aim for? Is that level even possible? How do we get there? And how do we stay there without tragically replaying our recent past on a smaller scale? We need to begin this conversation now. In truth, we needed to begin this conversation forty years ago.

This conversation should perhaps start with the principles of Ecology. This branch of the natural sciences investigates the web of relationships between organisms and the material world. The idea of material and energetic limits is pervasive in this discipline, which is why it may suit our newly-limit-conscious-selves just fine as a starting point.

The Laws of Thermodynamics, with their inviolable limits and penalties associated with matter and energy changes will also be appropriate as a starting point. The application of both Ecology and the Laws of Thermodynamics to human affairs has already been investigated in the fields of Steady-State Economics and Permaculture. I suggest we review that literature for some guidance.

We will perhaps need also to look to the world’s religions and moral thinkers to afford us some guidance along the treacherous road down from our civilization’s peak. Authors Wendell Berry, Aldo Leopold, and E.F. Schumacher come to mind, among others. Our physical needs during this contraction will have to be balanced by moral guidelines if we are to avoid the unspeakable atrocities that have characterized declines of past civilizations.

In short, we will need to find a path that sustainably nourishes both our bodies and our spirits in the trying times ahead.

Some First Steps

So how do we start down this necessary path? First, let’s start with a few things we cannot do -- some doors that are now closed to us due to our decades of profligate resource destruction.

Firstly, anything requiring significant amounts of energy is out of the question. The era of cheap, abundant fossil energy is behind us -- forever. Despite repeated warnings from our best scientists, we failed to make the transition to renewables in time. Now it’s too late. Every year from now on will afford us less and less energy -- possibly significantly less in the coming years.

Secondly, anything requiring significant amounts of money in the form of credit is out of the question. In a future of a continually-declining resource base, there is simply no such thing as economic growth, and thus no credit. Basically, we play with what material resources we have at this point -- which is a lot less than we used to.

But enough with the negatives -- let’s start with some concrete positive steps that we can accomplish. I can think of three that deserve our immediate attention:

1. I see no more crucial place to start than with food and our country’s food-security. We will change both the way we grow food and the food we eat. We will create more small local farms, more small farmers, more ecologically-sane fertilization methods, more seed saving and exchanging, more farmers markets and CSAs. We will grow food on our city’s rooftops, windowsills, and front stoops. We will grow food in our suburban lawns, parking lots, and golf courses. We will become self-sufficient in food-production with a smarter kind of agriculture that does not waste soil, pollute water, and poison our children. This, my fellow Americans, is true “homeland security.”

2. Next up is transportation. We will need to move ourselves and our products around largely without the aid of fossil fuels, as these will become only more expensive and unavailable in the years ahead. Is transportation with minimal fossil fuels even possible? Of course it is! We did it for centuries before the Industrial Age, and we need only to reclaim those technologies. Bicycles with trailers, hand-carts, and electric scooters will be made available as much as possible. Mules, oxen, and draft horses will be bred as rapidly as possible for distribution to our farms, towns, and cities. These will not allow us the mobility of former years, but that is the price we pay for thoughtlessly squandering our fossil fuels.

3. If we are to be a less-mobile, more-localized people, we will need to start producing most of the necessities of everyday life in the places where we live. Globalized trade was a brief artifact of the now-ended age of cheap fossil energy. We will need to re-learn lost manufacturing skills and regain the proud craftsmanship of our forebearers. This great re-skilling of America will be a high priority in the coming years. The list of self-manufactured goods we’ll need is long. It includes tools, clothes, blankets, furniture, housing materials, bikes, wood-burning stoves, solar cookers, and rainwater collection systems -- among many other items. Trade of these goods will again take place locally -- within and between our regions, rather than across oceans and hemispheres.

Now I know what many of you are thinking: Must we really throw out our 20th century technological gains? Is the reclaiming of 19th century technology really necessary? Aren’t we giving up? I respond by saying this: What choice do we have? Where is the fossil energy to run our computers, cars, and tractors? I’ll tell you -- it’s gone; sqandered by seven generations of tragic excess. Gone forever.

Can We Do This?

So can we do this? Can we make this monumental transition towards some sort of lower-energy, lower consumption, humane living arrangement that can persist within the limits now pressing down upon us from all sides? Can we humans carve out our necessarily-limited niche on this planet without overstepping our boundaries? Can we do it without the violent convulsions to which humans are historically prone?

I, of course, am confident that we can, and I am willing to make great personal sacrifices to achieve this success. I hope many of you share my confidence and my resolve.

Make no mistake – our journey forward will not be easy. Change of this magnitude will be a monumental task with no guarantee of success. There will be pain and suffering -- our past excesses have guaranteed this. Our only hope is to minimize this suffering as much as possible while resolutely pursuing some sort of livable future for our children.

So it’s time to get down to work. May we manage the decline phase of our civilization with every bit of intelligence, kindness, and dignity our species can summon.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go outside and dig a garden.

Yea, a blast from the past. :-) A bunch of the comments for this speech scolded that it was unrealistic -- but it was meant to be set in a 'distant' time when several 'bad' things happened in succession. Doesn't seem so distant now. The Deepwater blowout certainly counts as one. Take your pick for #2 & #3 & #4... -- hurricane, european economic collapse, (insert any number of black swans here), etc.

Also, it was meant as a sort of last-resort truth-telling gamble by Government Inc. to 'keep its charter.' The other option, of course, is tanks in the street. That would probably work even better to keep things together, huh? It's time-tested. All hail, General Petreus. :-)

I've written a lot of other stuff since then:

I would argue that the following from Obama's speech certainly *does* address some points found above;

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we have talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked – not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.


I don't think he needed to read off the laundry list at this point. He clearly turned the point of the discussion towards the question of our energy supplies and the various implications of it. Every detail you add at that point becomes argument fodder, and distracts from the main theme.

I don't know that he'll follow through, but as with the 'speech he should have given' post today, telling stories about Draft Animals started turning it into a charicature..

Will, the part that's missing is the 10 part prescription plan for how to implement such lofty aspirations. President Obama is a skillful speechmaker and a skillful politician. His decision to leave the "how to" details to others left me with the sense that he doesn't have the right stuff to lead this country in a new direction.


At this moment, our economy and debt load is like being on a trip and having a blown tire. The needed action is to get all the wheels back to rolling condition. Ie, correct the issues that are causing our economic problems. Once the tire blows, the answer is not how to pack a bigger load onto the disabled vehicle.

I think the contention is that the car itself (the 'Oil Economy') has a lot worse than a blown tire. Patching one tube will just reveal that the radiator and the brakes etc are all on the fritz. Sometimes, the car hasn't got enough left to be worth fixing, and you have to get out and find another way home.

The Bigger Load is upon us, we're due. It's not the fault of the messenger that we'll have to bear it now.


I would beg to differ as 10 points is much too confusing. What is needed is ONE point, a focus, a direction, and the mass Will to achieve it. This is what made Kennedy's space program speech effective; the goal was to send a man to the Moon and return him safely. After that, all the rest is details.

Energy independence is not a realistic goal, nor is it really in the best interest of the nation. Energy independence should be a consequence of the goal. I wish I could state that goal now, but I'll put it out to the TOD campfire crowd.

What is the one galvanizing primary goal similar to Kennedy's Moon race program that can move the nation ahead?

I proposed in that we need something like this:

THE LAND AND COMMUNITY ETHIC: Maximizing the health of human and biotic communities is the highest earthly goal of humanity. Thus, a thing is right when it tends to increase or preserve the health of both human and biotic communities. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. (Note: Phrasing adapted from Leopold)

Everything we need to do would follow from there.


You da' man, Dan. Now I'm off to dump the dandelions and compost in the chicken run and pick some spinach.

Edit: I think I killed the thread :-}

I'll keep the thread alive: Enjoy the spinach! :-)

Some really well written passages in here. Very nice!

I have to say I personally lost traction with the core idea when it made too strong a point about 'No Growth (besides Spiritual)'. I simply don't buy into this as an effective absolute to work from, and I think MANY other readers will also stop nodding at that point.

This doesn't mean I doubt the limits we've hit and are on the verge of hitting. I fully accept that. But as we are Natural Creatures who've become divorced from Nature in too many ways, I think that it's simply essential to acknowledge that what we have to do now IS to grow. As was said later on in this, we'll be growing food, we need to Grow Smarter, we're growing our kids, growing a set of more healthy systems. Growth is central to what is needed, it just needs to be differentiated from the assumptions about 'perpetual economic growth', and constant wealth growth, lifestyle improvements.

I think it's a factual AND a rhetorical dead end to use that language without some kind of clear differentiation in the exact KINDS of growth that are causing the problems. Otherwise, stomping on that word alone is like stomping on hope. (Can of worms, I know) .. but sorry, 'Hope' is no more the antagonist than 'Growth'. Maybe a better way to detail it would be to warn against 'Blind Growth' .. no less than 'Blind Faith', 'Blind Hope',or 'Blind Despair' for that matter -

While I think this point is central to the effectiveness of such an Essay/Speech, and not simply a 'niggling detail', I think much of the rest of it is REALLY brilliant, and thanks for writing it.

Bob Fiske

(Some of the other conclusions, like 'Draft Animals' and 'Going to the Garden' might be giving a little too much ammo to the other side at this point.. or are in fact still just too predictive, and could undermine the buy-in about the facts of the overall scenario that is outlined)

One way to describe the 'Bad Growth' that is both visceral and intensely personal, is to talk about how Cancer develops. In fact, I think that our economic growth mentality is so closely aligned with cancer and the corresponding immunological issues, that they are to me possibly the same thing, for all intents and purposes.

Bob, you're both right and we're probably discussing semantics or paradigms in actuality. To reiterate a much discussed point on TOD, growth within the context of BAU is unsustainable. Working on capital projects I have to deal with this internal dichotomy daily. If my parents ever needed proof that I had in fact grown up, this is one key point indicator of the adult mind.

I get a bit of an ironic chuckle reading Jeremy Rifkin's interview the other day regarding the future plan for the EU and why they are better positioned to implement it. The "growth" in Rifkin's plan encompasses many of your points, and if we as a species are to turn this corner we may yet finally get to a more enlightened existence within this universe. The irony is I read Rifkin's book "Entropy" about 30 years ago and he was dismissed as quack science; but who is consulting with heads of state now?

There comes a time when science has to be melded with the human/natural condition. The Utopian vision of the early 1900's was really a fantasy from hard toil and some have come full circle to understand the real nature of toil and spirit. (I try but I am a child of my generation).

Life itself is growth and if I have my Cheerios in the morning, I usually learn something daily. I think about the artful skill of diplomatic people older than myself and how they came to be that way. I just realized that before entering into the debate it is better to assess where each party is equal or like-minded than to tackle the differences immediately.

Still not ready to snatch the pebble from the hand though...
(for the Europeans that may not understand the simile, this is from the 70's TV show Kung Fu)

All politics and partisanship all the time. That's the new virtue????

Where's the partisanship in this, in your opinion?

Is gardening just another Liberal Ploy? (oh, never mind, I get it, "Green Salad". right..) (KIDDING,.. KIDDING!)

The partisanship? It's all partisan. 100%. All this pandering to the environmental fringe movement, is nothing BUT partisanship.

There's a REAL world out there and exploiting disaster to advance fringe agendas is just plain wrong. And this whole thing is all about "kill the economy, take away all freedom, and have the government do everything". Which, of course, suits politicians just fine, as the more power and c ontrol they have, the more graft, corruption, and political blackmail opportunity exists to be exploited. I'm tired of ideological dogma being passed off as "good policy". And to have a president, of all things, turn to 100% dogma 100% of the time in response to a disaster, is a nation ending type of societal calamity.

Except that this is THE nation designed to take power AWAY from politicians, to kept at a minimum, forever. Which, of course, is the ONLY sustainable model for any nation.

I know some of you have specific things you want to focus on, but the nation cannot and will not EVER simply be bent to such narrow views, and remain viable. We're seeing the results of such narrow minded thinking now. The "lend money to buy homes" calamity foisted upon us by Congress, via Fannie and Freddy, for instance. Near international financial ruin, and those who implemented it were and still insist "all we want to do is help people". It didn't do it single handedly, of course, but tell me, how many nations are borrowing money to spend? Not invest, SPEND? You do not borrow money for expenses or wages or building monuments to dreams. You borrow money to create more wealth by creating something that creates wealth. Something like 6 TRILLION dollars of debt was enabled by those two agencies alone, and it lent extremely large percentages of it on over-inflated assets and to non-creditworthy borrowers. A monument to insanity.

We're still borrowing money to spend pointlessly on non-productive things, which is a catastrophe, especially when the supply of borrowable money is nil, and we're just borrowing fake money now, from the fed. The BANKS are borrowing money from the Fed to lend to the government by buying bonds. Of all the immensely screwed up situations, that's insane.

And people want the federal government to borrow hundreds of billions more to throw into dead-end subsidy of wind turbines and heaven knows what, to build an entire energy industry dependent upon subsidy and protection from prices in the open market. You could print money and stuff it down the well in the Gulf to plug it, and that would be MORE productive than that. It's DEBT, people! And sunk into money losing activity. Like borrowing to build a large money incinerator. No matter how you throw money at it, we're ALWAYS worse off. The government deciding what the future technology is like having monkeys throw darts to choose buttons to push at a nuclear plant. It's just insanity.

It reminds me of the "biofuel" nonsense. My goodness. We use 1000 barrels of oil to raise canola to make 1100 barrels of Canola fuel. All that for a pitiful 100 barrel gain? Just not farming would have saved more than 100 barrels of oil. Not only that, diesel's 3 bucks a gallon and Canola fuel is 5. And it's not EPA certified, so you're breaking the law to burn it.

Nobody can tell me the amount of energy required to build a Prius. Nor a solar panel. Nor a wind generator.

Build a big wind generator farm, and then you have to build a big natural gas generation plant to meet the demand when the wind doesn't blow. And keep it on hot standby.

Is ANYONE out there thinking?

"Build a big wind generator farm, and then you have to build a big natural gas generation plant to meet the demand when the wind doesn't blow. And keep it on hot standby. "

No. It would be 'nice' to have peaking plants and baseload and all that.. but at least with (appropriately designed) Solar and Wind, there is at least a source of power, whether it promises to be feeding us every minute of the day or not.

Why do you need someone to tell you those amounts? I'm sure you can look it up.. and it's been attested here over and over that they will recoup their invested energy, and generally will keep on going. How does that make it dead-end? and Why would you give the Left all the credit for these sources? Windfarms will sell their power to you regardless of Party Affiliation.

Good Rant.. but you're not listening if you can't hear anyone out there who's thinking.

Our electrical grid cannot work if it isn't 24/7 "on" and stable. This is why wind and solar can work "at the margins", but as soon as we try to expand our capacity, instead of substituting, we run into the "must have fast, hot start back up power" factor. I'm sorry, I know how the grid works... and, you just can't violate the laws of electricity. All the 'green wishes' in the world just won't mean a thing.

"Why do I need to someone to tell me those amounts"??? Because it seems nobody has them. I see all sorts of "this pays itself back in x years" prognostications, but absolutely NONE of them produce any verifiable figures. Means they're just making up stuff.

It's not a rant. It's a desperate plea to try to get all these pie-in-the-sky people to address real life problems, instead of demanding absurd 'fixes' to problems that generally dont' even exist.

"Our electrical grid cannot work if it isn't 24/7 "on" and stable."

One factor missing from your analysis is Demand Management, which is the consumer side of the smart grid. ROM Wind forecasting is roughly accurate 48 hours out, and becomes more accurate the closer it gets to current time.

On the residential side, all major appliances would have trigger points preset by the homeowner to adjust consumption based on availability, most often identified by price. So the A/C would revert to 77F if the price jumped $0.02/kWhr, to 78F if it jumped $0.04/kWhr. An overnight laundry load would run at the least expensive time. The refrigerator's automatic defroster would pick an inexpensive time to engage. An electric waterheater would follow similar price-following algorithms.

Residents can choose discretionary consumption based on projected costs (e.g., TIVO a show instead of watching it right now, etc)

An electric car charger would evaluate the time left to charge, the amount of charge desired, and the projected electricity price over the time left, then selecting when to charge.

Will, in defense of the pie in the sky criticism, this scenario is very much a la mode. This presupposes enough people have enough discretionary income left lying around to go out and purchase these intelligent appliances. They can be mandated by new building regulations, but that in itself will take over 10-15 years to change with the optimistic forecast. I know you were throwing numbers up, but where pray tell would you find retail power at 0.04/kWh? I know some regions have to dump power off peak and even go so far as paying people so they don't have to modulate the boilers.

Both you and Geezer are right, and naturally the answer lies somewhere down the middle. I'm working on new grid designs to accommodate and better control the flow of energy (power) due to the nature of renewable generation. The technology of choice is HVDC, but that still needs more traditional means of bulk generation to be viable. The little detail that never gets discussed because most people either skipped trigonometry, or are trying to put the pain and suffering behind them, is the reactive component - which is 90 degrees out of phase to the real (power) component - is what stabilizes the grid.

While everyone banters about power, or energy as a synonym, renewable generation, and plug-ins, etc, no one talks about the reactive power required. Wind and PV solar do not produce reactive power (VARs), concentrated solar does because it drives a steam turbine. HVDC requires a good sized VAR source at both ends to be functional. The existing thermal and hydro electric base load plants produce VARs. This is so important, the EU has started looking at implementing a tariff for VARs.

The other pie in the sky solution is lots of local generation. Ironically, getting back to Edison's business model with local generation plants within eight block zones. Then VARs won't be required near as much to stabilize voltage. My other big idea just makes too much sense. Put DC distribution in homes and small commercial buildings. So much of our electrical energy use these days goes towards devices that really operate on DC. This includes ovens/stoves and LED lighting. Only the fridge and A/C/furnace should stay on AC for the motors. (You don't want to have to take care of a DC motor). This would reduce electrical consumption appreciably because energy is not being lost in the AC/DC conversion, and the heat is not being removed by A/C.

But the here and now solution is - once again - behavior change. The first step on the road to recovery is just saying "I don't need this now". Take away the tyranny of the time clock and a whole new world of possibilities emerges. I'm afraid it is that conceptually simple.

BC_EE : ... This presupposes enough people have enough discretionary income left lying around to go out and purchase these intelligent appliances. ...

Why would the appliances need to be replaced with "intelligent appliances", given the context here is about electricity consumption, surely all that is required are outlets with relays controlled by a small low power computer (in computing and electrical terms)?

This would be a computer a lot like the embedded systems in Wireless Network Routers or Automotive Engine Management - i.e. disk-less, headless (no display), no keyboard, no mouse, etc.

If they have a standard USB or Ethernet connector, then people could connect up a regular household PC or laptop to configure them.

At the moment I am convinced that the roll out of supposed Smart-Meters is primarily to make it much easier for Utilities to automate remote disconnects as they see fit.

"Our electrical grid cannot work if it isn't 24/7 "on" and stable."

One factor missing from your analysis is Demand Management, which is the consumer side of the smart grid. ROM Wind forecasting is roughly accurate 48 hours out, and becomes more accurate the closer it gets to current time.

On the residential side, all major appliances would have trigger points preset by the homeowner to adjust consumption based on availability, most often identified by price. So the A/C would revert to 77F if the price jumped $0.02/kWhr, to 78F if it jumped $0.04/kWhr. An overnight laundry load would run at the least expensive time. The refrigerator's automatic defroster would pick an inexpensive time to engage. An electric waterheater would follow similar price-following algorithms.

Residents can choose discretionary consumption based on projected costs (e.g., TIVO a show instead of watching it right now, etc)

An electric car charger would evaluate the time left to charge, the amount of charge desired, and the projected electricity price over the time left, then selecting when to charge.

"And this whole thing is all about "kill the economy,..."

The economy is killing itself, and us with it. This whole thing is about how to deal with the inevitable.

"Is ANYONE out there thinking?"

Only a few of us it seems. Instead of casting stones and spouting dogma, perhaps you can actually address the issue of real limits and offer your solutions.........on second thought, nah. If you're having difficulty accepting reality, you have plenty of company:

Today's Congressional hearings confirmed Tony Hayward, CEO of one of the planet's largest energy companies as an utter fool.

Our current President's recent speech was a political load of nothing at a time of crisis. He has been as ineffective as our previous President. Oh yeah:

Our previous President was a pure fuck-up who set the Country well beyond the point of making any meaningful change. The list of his confirmable ineptitudes is long.

Former "Fed God" Alan Greenspan admitted to Congress that he was basically clueless.

Regarding de-regulation:

"Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief."

On his tenure as Fed Chief:

"We were wrong quite a good deal of the time,"......
"And the answer is that we're not smart enough as people.

And our current Fed Chief seems equally clueless:

“I expect there will be some failures…. I don’t anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks.” —Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman, Feb. 28, 2008 In September, Washington Mutual became the largest financial institution in U.S. history to fail. Citigroup needed an even bigger rescue in November.

So, with so many of our current and past "leaders", those at the very top of the systems that you have so much faith in, obviously inept and clueless (or liars, take your pick), I fail to understand your faith in BAU continuing for long.

I can only conclude that you are equally clueless.

No, the economy is being killed by direct intervention and the injection of poison at the hands of Congress.

I am not clueless. I dunno if you are, but you are about one thing... YOu don't know anything about me.

It seems that a "hands off" approach (as you are apparently espousing) hasn't worked so well geezer. Greed, fraud, outright steeling, "creative investments" such as CDSs, derivatives and subprime mortgages have been the result. But, of course you ignore that.

Further, you state above that no one has given any verifiable figures regarding RE payback. False. You choose to remain ignorant for the sake of argument:
"Why do I need to someone to tell me those amounts"??? Because it seems nobody has them. I see all sorts of "this pays itself back in x years" prognostications, but absolutely NONE of them produce any verifiable figures. Means they're just making up stuff. "

I posted links to NREL (on a thread you were on) and others have posted links to Sandia, etc. This topic has been discussed in depth on TOD for years (oh yeah, you've only been around for 6 days) citing many studies and sources. It seems you are the one making stuff up.

Oldgeezer offers no credentials or qualifications, only claims to a superior point of view, while those he would challenge and belittle have years of verifiable performance in the various diciplines they claim knowledge in.

You say: "YOu don't know anything about me."

Yeah geezer, I do. Guys like you always show up here, making baseless arguments, ignoring the gist of others' posts, ignoring their links and verifiable data, critisizing much, offering little of substance, and showing off their pompous asses. They expect to be spoon fed then regurgitate poorly digested bile in turn. They rarely do their own homework or research, and never, it seems, go back and read the more than five years of posts and discussions here, showing utter disrespect for the hard work, time and sacrifice that so many have contributed to the site.

I'm not the brightest light in this array, and I'm always open to being proven wrong and willing to defer to the wiser and more learned, or actually do the work of trying to alter the collective consensus for the sake of accuracy and clarity. You hold yourself above proving your points....the World according to Oldgeezer. I submit that, ultimately, your like is what's wrong with America. You automatically invalidate anything which challenges your narrow/arrogant view of things.

You automatically invalidate anything which challenges your narrow/arrogant view of things.

My view is also narrow and I am by nature arrogant.

Perhaps, kind sir, you would disavow me of mine view, which is that our path is straight and narrow.
Right over the cliff.

Gail held up some hope.
She thought that civilisation would not have enough oomph to get the really bad CO2 numbers.

• CO2 likely to rise much less rapidly than
models suggest

Thanking you in advance,

"I am open to correction but I believe that Norwegian law discourages building houses on prime farmland."

A comment from you from May 26th. I scanned a random sample of your comments, Arthur, and found none that were arrogant or invalidating. Some unsupported perhaps, but always respectful. I don't see much similarity, but, respectfully, comparing yourself to other posters is always your perogative.

My apologies.
I never made myself clear.
What I seek is a destroyer of demons. The demon of certainty. I am too certain of our doom.

I am not your destroyer of certainty, Arthur. I have long wondered how the GW proponents could frenzy based on such bad models. GIGO--most GW models do not incorporate peak oil. I would suggest that the current crisis in the GOM suggests how things are going to go in the future. Not to rupture your narrowly held views, or anything. It's interesting how quiet the GW advocates have become. Not a word about carbon credits these days. One has to wonder who whipped the frenzy for cap and trade.

"I am not your destroyer of certainty".
Have I no friends?
It is good to know that there is a silver lining to peak oil.
But Hansen says that not much carbon is needed to do damage.

It might pay to study this thing that is doing the thinking.

I thought your link was going to take me to this:

Another silver lining--we will eventually be able to stop listening to potential and sitting presidents yammer on about energy independence. There won't be a choice about whether to rely on imports or not after a while . . . unless we decide to just go and seize them.

It's interesting how quiet the GW advocates have become. ... --most GW models do not incorporate peak oil.

They don't incorporate peak oil because they dare not think (with either hemisphere of the holistic brain) about the next station our train wreck system is taking us to:

The return of King Coal and his impending marriage to Queen Methane (a.k.a. "clean" natural gas and "clean" coal)

Let's all hope there is not another '100 year' hurricane in the warmed GoMex this year equal to Katrina.

If it happens, "I told you so" just won't cut it. We will simply be overwhelmed by the tragedy. We will all do the crybaby act of "I want my life back". Ole' Mom Nature won't be listening though and won't be handing out tissues for the tear ducts.

I just don't think we've got it in us for extended King Coal. Using slave labor and pick axes will slow it down. We've mined the easy stuff, and mountain-top removal is not sustainable with decreasing net for coal.

The doom cloud approaches Panama City Beach. Would you dive in this stuff? Did he get a mouthful of dispersants?

Swimmer's ear my *ss. I hear that there have been some pretty nasty cases of massive inflammation. Dispersants again? BP is picking up the check on these with hush money.

Concerns about dispersants
The issue of oil dispersants emerged repeatedly during the June 16 hearing, with questions about whether these chemicals might aggravate any risks posed by the oil. Howard expressed concern over aerial spraying of those dispersants during the early weeks of the spill. “From the health and safety perspective, we’re not fans of dispersants,” he said of CDC. “Aerial spraying really puts it [dispersant] in all sorts of exposure zones that we do not think is safe.”

He noted, for instance, that “there was aerial spraying of dispersants up until about two or three weeks ago.” This spraying, he said, “was correlated with the illness that the nine fishermen had that we’re investigating.” And that’s why, he said, “We’re delighted that the [remaining] application of dispersant is only subsurface.” That said, he acknowledged that workers where oil-dispersant mixes bubble up from the seabed still “may be at risk.”

How big a risk? “That’s unclear,” he said, because almost no data exist on the types of exposures workers and volunteers are encountering.

Where's Waldo? A friend works with the AUVs which are lined up off the coast of Florida as advance scouts against the cloud of doom. I've been watching them pull back from the coastal shelf towards the beach all month.

Massive Jubilees of sting rays and other sealife in close to shore. 10 whale sharks schooling 23 miles off the coast of Sarasota. The displacements start. Sadness.

Are the OEMs mostly aerobic? Biologists? My cursory search didn't find much in the non-technical literature. If so, the dispersants are the absolute worst thing you could do. But I think we know that already?

TOD asks, "What were the causes that led to the DWH incident?"
What a circus. Hundreds of people respond, talking about BP and devices and drills and pressures and radioactivity. Only one responder suggests a moratorium on cars for three days while we stage a teach-in. I'm with Arthur. Can the human brain be taught to synthesize rather than always analyzing/reducing problems? Synthesis can be taught. But the technological culture dictates that in general, we narrow, focus, specialize, and reduce, especially for engineers. The answer to the question as to causation of this spill is positive feedback loops in man's response to ever increasing energy production from stock flows of fossil fuels, leading to declining net energy and overshoot. What a circus. No one is interested in the real answers to the problems.

Well, Professor Goose? How do we avoid getting sucked in and get past the rhetoric, to make this a teachable moment? I searched hard for the word conservation in all of the word clouds below, and couldn't find it, even in the Greenpeace cloud. What does the word cloud for TOD look like? Probably a lot like the BP word cloud. Serious noise to signal, with lots of conversational dead ends in short attention span theater.’s-in-a-word-the-rhetoric-surrounding-the-deepwater-horizon-accident/

Today's Congressional hearings confirmed Tony Hayward, CEO of one of the planet's largest energy companies as an utter fool.

Not one CongressCritter (CC) dared ask BP's Hayward (TH) the ultimate set of questions:

CC: Is it not true sir that you met with your company accountants on a regular basis?

TH: I don't recall at the moment, but if true I genuinely am remorseful and sorry.

CC: Is it not true sir that you discussed with them how to maximize BP profits almost every day?
TH: I don't remember at the instant, but if that is the case, I am truly ashamed, remorseful and sorry.

CC: Is it not true sir that maximizing BP profits almost every day means cutting safety corners every day?
TH: I am most humbly apologetic that eye can't for the love of me understand your deep American accent.

CC: Is it not true sir that almost every corporation maximizes profits by cutting costs and that often means cutting safety corners every day?
TH: Ah mate now yeah talking the God's honest truth, bless yah (and thank you so much fer apologizing 'bout that "shakedown" thing)

CC: Is it not true sir that we the US Congress encourage that sort of behavior by deregulating, by pledging allegiance to a portrait of Saint Ronald-McDonald Reagan every morning and by spittin' on a cast down soiled painting of Jimmy Carter twice a day?
TH: God love yah man. Now you're becoming my kind of Yank.

While it's true it was the speech he needed to give, he could never do it, even if he believed it.
1. He'd be laughed right out of office.
2. There would be calls to have his mental faculties checked.

I watched the speech, and although the call for cleaner forms of energy were welcome, he didn't use the word he should have.


We're going to have to change the way we live, and that's going to call for sacrifice.

I agree. it's time to cut the federal governemnt's share of our nation's spending from 4 trillion to 900 billion.

Sacrafice. We start with the politicians.

That one came up yesterday from out Minister of Finance (Canada). Canadians have to be more productive, we are losing ground, more asinine words an economist could not have spoken!

(Maybe because I watched one of his movies the other night, you have to imagine Michael Moore's voice over)
Did he mean we should be even more like the Americans?
Was there a problem with keeping our economy stable while the other G7/G20 fell about us?
Are we really lazy, or are we just too clever for the NWO masters?

If our distinguished Member of Parliament means we should be more "competitive" or "productive" like the Americans, he can keep it. I've seen what the mindless orthodoxy of competition really means and its usually a race to the bottom. Many other countries drank that Kool-aid and are paying the price. Tortoise and the Hare I guess.

There are some good points in here- we need to grow up about our needs and our wants. Sadly, the conclusions of this speech are utterly laughable.

Start with the "Stop using industrial farming". It's not possible to feed the world without it. In 1900 the world used 850 MHa of land to feed 1.625 billion people without industrial fertilizer. We farm about 1500 MHa now, so using the same techniques we could feed about 3 billion people. Rooftop farming isn't going to feed an additional 4B people, and you're not going to find the additional 2000 MHa to farm without destroying every other ecosystem on the planet. The real lesson should be to go full bore with higher tech, using genetic techniques to breed plants that need less water and fixed nitrogen, better plowing and irrigation techniques to save soil and water and to couple that with a shift away from things like beef and pork with low return on calorie investment.

"We'll use more horses". The author clearly has no conception of what cities like New York were like before IC engines-see this NYT article for a taste. The sanitation problems are huge, plus you now have to generate even more food for the horses, worsening problem 1. Electric cars powered by nuclear/wind/tide/solar energy sure, but animal power???

#3 is even more pointless. The items we use today are not things that can be produced in simple shops. Even the materials require a globalized economy- modern stainless steels require a pile of elements only found in traces from places around the globe, for example, and microchips simply can't be built at all without a staggering investment in equipment. Telling everyone they must return to an Amish-level of technology is simply absurd, and switching our economy over to a pastoral way of life while everyone else is aiming for the stars is pointless.

I can think of a many better speech that Obama could have given, but this isn't one.

Ed is on base in his evaluation of the farm issue.

Eventually we will have to change our ways of farming, but in the short to medium term it's bau or starvation.

The author is not knowledgeable about this issue and appears to be parroting whatever he has read;setting aside the very modest amount of oil needed for actual on farm operations will not be a problem for the forseeable future.

Conservation of oil and natural gas off farm and using powered machinery and manufactured fertilizers rather than draft animals on farm is a far far more ecologically and economically sound strategy for the forseeable future than adapting any not- yet- proven -to- work- at- scale- in -the -real -world alternative.

This is not to say that current bau ag practices cannot be improved substantially.

Good idea -- let's just tweak bau agriculture a bit & run 'er right off the cliff. C'mon.

Here's the speech he needed to give:


My fellow Americans, I ask you to give, along with me, our condolences and prayers for the families and friends of those who were lost in the fire and explosion onboard the drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. These people were doing a dangerous job, and each time they left for work, they faced the very real chance that they would not return home. Each goodbye needed to be said as if it were the last. Our hearts are with you, the families and friends and loved ones.

At this point, pointing fingers of blame will keep lawyers busy for two decades, but that's not our immediate problem. Our immediate problem is that this damaged oil well is creating an environmental disaster, one we predict will be huge, but lacking a historical perspective, since this is not something that has happened many times in history. We're facing the unknown in terms of consequences and harm.

Everyone's first priority is to stop the flow of oil into the water. This is best done by shutting off the well, if it can be, or else capturing the oil to keep it from being leaked into the ocean water in mass quantities. The ultimate goal here is to be able to stop the flow of oil, and then permanently seal off the entire well, in such a way it cannot leak into the water, nor underground.

I have asked for the best and most knowledgeable people to summarize for me the nature of the threat we face. First, in temrs of how to stop the flow of oil, and then, how to remediate and mitigate the damage the already leaked hydrocarbons have and will do to the ecosystem in the Gulf waters, shores, and areas inland it might reach, should a hurricane or storm drive it inland.

As of today, I have asked Congress to establish a temporary fund of 10 billion dollars, and this fund will be used to immediately hire every available asset towards containing, cleaning, skimming, absorbing, even blocking it from spreading any more and from reaching the shore if it does. Our efforts will be to contain as much as possible, then protect the most sensitive areas first, and then ultimately, continue to raise the level of cleanup and containment operations until we can mitigate as much damage as can be.

I have already sign an executive order that suspends all hiring, contracting, labor, even EPA and other rules that would cause delays or obstructions to cleanup in the Gulf. I have directed that the information which is gathered, the knowledge we have, be made public immediately, published on the web, and that every means of cleanup employed be evaluated, and those which present risk and poor effectiveness be suspended. I am ordering the clearing of the beaurocratic hurdles which may slow down a threat which will not delay even one day, to allow for procedures and delays inherent in government operations.

Obviously, the companies involved in this process have financial liabilities. These liabilities are determined by law, and who is at fault, what percentage of the liability they share, etc, will have to be determined in a process that is niether fast, nor can be done immediately, since it requires the knowledge gained in the outcome of an in-depth investigation. Much of this will be decided in a court of law, in hearings, and by negotiation. Ultimately, however, those who are liable, will be assessed fines and fees, and those will reimburse the temporary fund for the outlays plus interest.

I have asked the Inspector General to audit the MMS and determine if the agency is operating correctly, and if not, to determine how to make the agency properly responsive present and potential risks. For this, I have asked for a two week long moratorium, as far as possible, on activity besides our efforts to stop the leak at Macondo. During this time, an independent audit of practices and communication will be done.

In times like this, emotions run high. Many are facing possible loss of livelihood, financial distress, bankruptcy, ill health due to possible air pollution, and of course, we cannot help but be anguished over the loss of wildlife, the pollution of beaches and other places that are dear to those who live there, know them and see them. But just because we're hurting, does not mean we must let our lower natures rule. It is important that we work effectively, use good judgement, and until it can well be established, refrain from placing blame and conducting campaigns against people who may be found to be not, or minimally to blame. Americans value true and justice, and we must uphold those highest levels of tradition. Let it be worked out, and let the truth be what we value, not vengeance.

Within just a few days, the White House will publish contact information for those seeking employment in the cleanup. There will be contacts for people with cleanup technologies, with cleanup systems. We'll have the proper information sharing in place so that each state, county, city, park and even neighborhood can proactively prepare for known threats coming toward them. For safety's sake, only people who are properly briefed and equipped to protect themselves from hazard will be allowed in polluted areas, and we're going to provide resources, so that ANY agency, business, family, municipality, or anyoen else who needs it can be fully knowledgeable, and we'll have it available as soon as it can be done. The White House will be providing the proper references to those sources on our website. Included in this will be an office to report any procedural or beaurocratic obstruction to getting things done. This office will have the authority to act on my behalf to resolve things, and instructed to do them immediately.

In every disaster, there are many things to learn. We are going to focus on what there is to learn. So far, it is apparent that our readiness to deal with a deep water oil leak is very lacking. Our procedures lean on what will have become a suddenly overtaxed company to then arrange for and conduct cleanup. That isn't wise, and by agreement, the federal governemnt will take over that task, to let BP and its contractors concentrate on one thing - stopping this disaster in the making.

I have asked the relevant agencies of the federal governemnt to give me a report in 30 days to tell us how we could need to do less high risk drilling offshore, and what it would take to meet our present needs with less risky operations. I've asked tasked an appointed small committee to analyze how and why we have become dependent on operations where a single failure can result in such widespread harm. I've asked them to do this as carefully and objectively as they can, to analyze how and why and what steps, by governemnt, industry, law, or otherwise, have lead us to ignore safer options in favor of riskier ones.

I have asked that BP and contractors provide us with video feeds of their operations. We often forget how incredibly complex and sophisticated things are that provide us with commodities we take for granted.

If you are so inclined, I ask the ministers and priests and other clergy to have thier congregations pray for the skill and abilities of those whose job it is to fix things, not just the engineers, but the cleanup people, as well. That no more lives be lost, nor anyone harmed. Good night, and I entreat God's blessings on all.


And he needed to do this in less than week from the initial explosion and fire.

For being an old geezer, this is quite good. And sensible. And credible. And heartfelt. Have you ever thought about applying for a job as a White House speech writer?

They probable make a pretty good salary.

You could even include this in your portfolio.

I have already sign an executive order that suspends all hiring, contracting, labor, even EPA and other rules that would cause delays or obstructions to cleanup in the Gulf

For safety's sake, only people who are properly briefed and equipped to protect themselves from hazard will be allowed in polluted areas

Excepting that contradiction, a good speech.

It's not a contradiction. You can't just poke people into a situation without knowledge. Distribution of that knowledge is easy, fast, does not obstruct or slow down deployment of assets.

It's just saying "You're not going out there until you know how to deal with the dangers". Has nothing to do with stupid rules about having to hire only union people or the 15ppm rule about water that's been filtered. Costner fought for years with the EPA because the EPA said that if you pump oil fouled water out of the ocean, the water that comes out must have less than 15ppm hydrocarbons. It's better to do nothing, according to them, than to let 18 ppm hydrocarbons leak out of a filtering system.

Mindlessly stupid beaurocratic idiocy. But then, that's 99% of the federal government.

Distribution of that knowledge is easy, fast, does not obstruct or slow down deployment of assets.

Actually, distribution of knowledge is hard, slow, and is obstructed by others.

Have you ever tried to tell family & friends about Peak Oil?

Mindlessly stupid bureaucratic idiocy ... that's 99% of the federal government.

Like everything else, the world is complicated.
I often work with the so-called mindlessly stupid bureaucrats of the federal government. It isn't usually their fault. They have mindlessly stupid managers directly above them. The mindlessly stupid managers have mindlessly stupid bosses directly above them. And so it goes.

......and the mindless managers' bosses rely on mindless geezers to elect them.....and so it goes.....

The geezer's meandering rants on TOD remind me of Grandpa Simpson.

We can't bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don't go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m'shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where was I... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn't get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

and rely on mindless geezers to elect them.....and so it goes.....

The system evolves sort of all on its own, ... but in the end we always blame the old geezers ;-)

My fellow Americans, we need to grow up.

If Americans are immature how effective will exhortations to "grow up" be?

I dunno. But if you tell kids to do it, it seems to have no effect. If you tell adults who ARE grown up to do it... they get insulted. If they aren't, it's probably too late. Or they're not listening.

Best just talk to the audience that's listening. And, who is actively going to act or react on what you say.

My fellow Americans ... Drink Brawnd'oh ... it's got electrolytes

For those who haven't seen the movie (Idiocracy) click here

That's worked on every 16-year old to date I'm sure.

I've always maintained the fundamental difference between European, American, and Canadian economies and infrastructure were formulated by their birth in the industrialized world. That is, the Europeans were already mature and tried to fit the industrialized world into their existing agrarian world.

Canada and the U.S. are relatively young nations and cultures and came of age in the midst of the industrial, high energy input world. They are like teenagers or twenty-somethings with nearly unlimited allowances, but there is another fundamental difference between the North American neighbours. The U.S. parted from the parent in animosity and violence, while Canada left at an older age and simply said it was time to move out.

This is an overly simplistic analogy but it helps to put things in context. The U.S. does need to grow up in some ways, but it won't until like a twenty-something that finally discovers they don't have any more money even though they still have checks, the nation will have to go through a bit of hard times and learning from them. I'll qualify that generalization because obviously it does not apply universally. I would liken this statement to the same admonishments that Kunstler likes to invoke; that is, within the context of over arching principles.

Amazingly enough, if Americans would take the time to really read and study The Constitution, they would find enough wisdom and direction to make their way back home. Get back to fundamentals as it were without the polluting ideologies of fundamentalist religion or constructs from cowboy movies. Of course, my favorite is to start with the Second Amendment... read it, all of it.

We're joined at the hip with those damn Yankees (and all the rest of the regional monikers), so of course our destinies are somewhat entwined. Hence, we have great concern about the general welfare and/or negative outcomes. Many also accept that at some time regionalism will overtake nationalism, and we prefer to deal with grown ups but I don't think we'll get much say in the matter. (We have our own collection of Nascar, confederate flag waving, Wal~Mart lovin' rednecks also - serious, there's Canadians that have Confederate flag decals on their big-a$$ pickups).

You really don't know Americans. This nation was NOT "founded by partiers". This nation was founded by the most intelligent, thoughtful, insightful people this world has known. It was grown by the hardest working, most thrifty this world has known.

Only the advent of modern "liberalism" has seen the "party till you drop" kind of borrowing into bankruptcy (distribute the wealth to the poor at any cost and harm) we're now seeing the results of.

As I said before. It is time for the federal government's budget to go from 4 trillion to under 900 billion.

And state governments to cut theirs in half.

Is Palin still pushing for that Bridge?

Geezer, you've got a little Kool-aid on your nose..

You really don't know Americans. This nation was NOT "founded by partiers". This nation was founded by the most intelligent, thoughtful, insightful people this world has known. It was grown by the hardest working, most thrifty this world has known.

Some hard working American business men circa 1930's

Know them quite well Old Geezer. Lived next to them all my life, lived with them for a decade and am married to one. However, the typical "Americans are the best' hyperbole has got to stop. Americans are not any harder working than many other cultures I've had the pleasure to experience. That is a long running fallacy of the Protestant work ethic. Delusional really.

And, BTW, that is exactly what I said, the country was founded by insightful, wise, and intelligent people - re: The Constitution. You must have your rants confused.


This nation was founded by the most intelligent, thoughtful, insightful people this world has known. It was grown by the hardest working, most thrifty this world has known

Do you really believe this? If that's the case then there's too many kissin' cousins gittin' mahreed cause lately the U.S. has an inordinate amount of banjo players. Let alone that they actually get a few hundred thousand to congregate at one time around a Nascar oval.

I can do this all day...

Only the advent of modern "liberalism" has seen the "party till you drop" kind of borrowing into bankruptcy (distribute the wealth to the poor at any cost and harm) we're now seeing the results of.

No, geezer, your right-wing talking point is not historically accurate. It was the desire of business to encourage ever-expanding consumption among frugal Americans (you were right about that part). Read The Gospel of Consumption

Here's an excerpt:

But despite the apparent tidal wave of new consumer goods and what appeared to be a healthy appetite for their consumption among the well-to-do, industrialists were worried. They feared that the frugal habits maintained by most American families would be difficult to break. Perhaps even more threatening was the fact that the industrial capacity for turning out goods seemed to be increasing at a pace greater than people’s sense that they needed them.

It was this latter concern that led Charles Kettering, director of General Motors Research, to write a 1929 magazine article called “Keep the Consumer Dissatisfied.” He wasn’t suggesting that manufacturers produce shoddy products. Along with many of his corporate cohorts, he was defining a strategic shift for American industry—from fulfilling basic human needs to creating new ones.

It was the desire of business to encourage ever-expanding consumption --(your right-wing talking point is not accurate)

"Left wing" versus "Right wing" feather pulling and plucking does not get to the bird's heart of the matter.

The human brain is not evolved to the point of rational thinking (and may never so evolve).

We all respond to our inner reptilian.

We all want more and more.

We all parrot that which we are taught: "Polly want more moolah, Polly want more moolah, ..."

The rest is history.

Well done, and cathartic to read. Barack, you had me at "we need to grow up".

So saying, this much reality could simply not be processed by the citizens of the USA now alive. No way. Nobody is interested in parachutes if they believe that flying like Peter Pan is a viable option... even if they're in free fall with the ground rising fast to meet them.

Actual presidential speechwriters seem to think that presidential speeches these days need to have certain ingredients. These would include

- someone to blame for what's wrong, and what their comeuppance will be
- exaggerating the scale of anything positive going on
- unrealistic promises of optimism for the future
- frequent references to how great the listeners are
- an announcement that the most-recently-aggrieved Americans will be given money
- the forming of committees
- kissing up to supernatural deities

It's a shame, but there it is. We won't be able to process hard truths until after we've experienced heavy personal pain, and in this nation that hasn't really started, even if some think it has. Still, I wish the president had tried. If there was ever going to be a sane energy/carbon tax, now would have been a good time to push for it.

This isn't a criticism of the president per se, though I have revised my expectations for Obama down after his recent formulaic oval office address. (he really phoned it in). It's a reflection of an utterly delusory populace largely insulated from the real world, acting as a herd.

And a "herd" is not a bad metaphor. Arguably we don't need an alpha sheep, we need a border collie.

I don't envy what US presidents currently have to work with. Jeez, you can drop an utter doofus into the position (which experiment was recently tried) and nobody notices. It's not about leadership these days, it's about pretending to arbit the "fair" distribution of perceived wealth and popularity.

Any actual intelligent, caring person who happens to sneak into the presidency will need a functional mental model of the American public as it currently exists, in order to write stuff it can digest. Just this morning while waking up, the model which occurs to me is a police negotiator talking a person off a ledge. "Yes, we have your 747 fueled up and waiting, and the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders are in it, and the governor has pardoned you for keeping those mexicans locked in your basement; now why not come on down and have a cold beer with us in your limosine?" The question is not whether the person is delusional; it's about making certain delusions more immediately compelling. Which seems to have brought me back to Peter Pan.

Come on, everybody, here we go!
Off to Never Land!

Think of a wonderful thought
Any merry little thought
Think of Christmas, think of snow
Think of sleigh bells - off you go!
Like a reindeer in the sky
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

Think of the happiest things
It's the same as having wings
Take the path that moonbeams make
If the moon is still awake
You'll see him wink his eye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

Up you go with a heigh and ho
To the stars beyoond the blue
There's a Never Land waiting for you
Where all your happy dreams come true
Every dream that you dream will come true

When there's a smile in your heart
There's no better time to start
Think of all the joy you'll find
When you leave the world behind
And bid your cares good-bye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

I'm up to my eyeballs in the expressed need for "spirituality" or "god's blessings" going forward.
What is apparent here is Paul Ehrlich's PP = CC (private/political profit is no greater than the cost to the commons/public). Sacrifice, conservation, population growth and the increase in cancer since the industrial/chemical revolution, are the elements of a valid speech buried in the soot of the last hundred years.

Now let's examine what would happen if Obama actually gave that speech. His approval rating would drop to 21%. The republicans would take both houses in a landslide. They would win on a campaign of "we dont need no stinkin librul limits" and we would descend further into idiocracy. Nothing would get done. The economy would contract further. Millions more would move to tent cities. And life basically would go on as it has the last 10 years. Lots of complaining. Lots of fist pounding. But nothing would get done.

Does anyone doubt this is exactly what would happen? The force and weight of this system is almost beyond comprehension.

Yeah, I doubt it. The outcome, not the election.

ya. but wouldn't it be nice if someone actually stood for something? It just stinks everyone puts the issues behind the poll ratings. Re-election is number one for almost all politicians; issues no 2.

Two words: Jimmy Carter.

"Globalized trade was a brief artifact of the now-ended age of cheap fossil energy. "

All I have to say to that is clipper ship.

They hauled Ice to India for crying out loud. Global trade may drop to the point where only high-value cargo moves, (on second thought, they also moved iron ore by sailing ship) but it's not going to stop. A ship load of microprocessors will be well worth shipping across the ocean.

America is the flagship of western civilisation.
Kind of disappointing really.

So many other cultures keen to rush up this silly little industrialisation cul de sac.

Best to get Bob Mugabe to write OBama's speech.

"When you have got people, you have got trouble.
You have got to get rid of the people."
Joseph Stalin.