Drumbeat: June 24, 2010

Venezuela to nationalize U.S. firm's oil rigs

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela will nationalize a fleet of oil rigs belonging to U.S. company Helmerich and Payne, the latest takeover in a push to socialism as President Hugo Chavez struggles with lower oil output and a recession.

A former soldier inspired by Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chavez has made energy nationalization the linchpin in his 'revolution'. He has also taken over assets in telecommunications, power, steel and banking.

The 11 drilling rigs have been idled for months following a dispute over pending payments by the OPEC member's state oil company PDVSA. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said on Wednesday the rigs, the Oklahoma-based company's entire Venezuelan fleet, were being nationalized to bring them back into production.

Ecuador set to submit new service contract model

Ecuador Energy Minister Wilson Pastor plans to submit to private oil companies next week the new service contract model that the government hopes will allow it to reach agreements on new contracts.

Expert Q&A: How secure is our energy supply?

Q. Businesses are worried about the impact of energy price rises and the subsequent impact on supply chains but there's also a lot of uncertainty about what's going to happen to energy prices. What's your perspective?

A. We're seeing greater volatility in energy markets. A trend towards higher prices for fossil fuels. But at the same time you've got potential for disruptions due to supply crunches, as the demand from developing countries rises, and due to insufficient investment in new oil & gas supplies and infrastructure over the last 20 years.

John Michael Greer: A pathless land

For those of us who have been trying to get the message of peak oil out for the last decade or more, the spreading cracks in the great wall of denial can give rise to a certain intoxication. When pundits insist that there’s enough oil in current reserves to last 800 years, or that oil discoveries have more than kept pace with extraction rates all along, or that the only limits to the amount of oil we can get out of the earth are economic – all of which statements have appeared in the media in recent weeks, and all of which can easily be disproved by readily available figures or, in the last case, by plain common sense – it’s hard to miss the desperation in their words. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” Gandhi said; at this point they’re fighting, and some of the peak oil community are starting to think about what victory might look like.

Policies of Scarcity in a Land of Plenty

Various legislative and other proposals have promoted policies that would tax or place a price floor on petroleum-based transportation fuels such as gasoline because as President Obama stated in his recent address, “we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.” Their object is to spur conservation and promote the manufacture of more efficient vehicles, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase national security (by lessening our dependence on foreign oil), and decrease congestion. But such policies assume that oil is unduly scarce, even though current worldwide oil reserves are the highest ever. And those current reserves include only a small fraction of the potential oil resources in the U.S., not to mention other areas around the world where technology is unlocking new resources.

Petrobras Says New Well Confirms Light Oil in Tupi

(Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, said its seventh well in the offshore Tupi field confirmed the potential of light oil in pre- salt reserves.

FACTBOX-Russia's relations with oil and gas transit states

(Reuters) - Russia is the world's largest holder of gas reserves and the biggest gas exporter so its often stormy relations with transit states have become a major cause for concern among its European customers.

Richard Heinberg - Deepwater Horizon: the best-case and most-likely scenarios

What would make the difference between the worst and best cases? That difference would flow not just from a single factor, but from a confluence of many through three main tributaries: luck, competence, and courage.

Energy and environment

An unrelenting gush of oil into the Gulf of Mexico with no end in sight is a globalisation nightmare – a dark spill killing marine life and livelihoods along the US coast.

But when the crisis abates – and hopefully it will someday – it will have transformed energy, environment and trade politics in places far from the Gulf coast.

BP stock punished, hits new low

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- BP's stock price hit a new low Thursday, amid a sell-off in the broader equity markets, as investors remained wary about the Gulf of Mexico debacle and strength of the economy.

The troubled oil giant's stock fell 2.9% to $28.78 a share, breaking through the 52-week low set on June 9. The stock is now down 52% since April 20, when its Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 workers.

Blaming BP

Scapegoating a big, rich oil company may make for better television, but it does nothing for responsible policymaking.

BP's Only Hope For Its Future

So why did it keep doing the same thing, drilling in ever more dangerous locations at ever higher cost for ever less yield?

Because the company couldn't help itself. BP was the victim, like most businesses, of focusing on existing best practices. Of building enormous internal bias into its decision-making processes in order to defend and extend the ongoing business, even as everyone knew the risks were going up and the rewards down.

Aquarium exhibit on Gulf to have no sea life to highlight oil-spill effects

DES MOINES, Iowa — A new exhibit at an aquarium in Iowa that had intended to showcase the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico will instead be void of life to underline the environmental impact of a massive oil spill in the ocean basin.

Galleries and museums face summer of protest over BP arts sponsorship

The summer season of events at Britain's most prestigious galleries and museums will be picketed by artists and green groups intent on portraying BP's arts sponsorship as a toxic brand.

Bangladesh: Energy crisis impedes growth by 2%

Electricity and gas crises are severely hampering economic development to the tune of 2 percent loss in GDP growth.

They also cause production loss of around $1.33 billion to export-oriented industries every year.

Hard figures on US oil spill impacts are scarce

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Even with high-tech aids like satellite images, the U.S. government is finding hard data on the amount of shoreline affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill hard to come by.

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the top U.S. spill official, has repeatedly pledged to provide a more detailed accounting of shoreline impacts from Louisiana to Florida.

Ban on deepwater oil drilling moratorium upheld

A U.S. federal judge in New Orleans has refused to delay his decision to strike down a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Whip cracked for oil tankers to report

Cracking the whip against all oil tankers under contract with the Indian Oil Corporation, Imphal Depot, the Deputy Manager (Ops) on behalf of the Senior Depot Manager, Imphal Depot has issued an instruction to all the transporters to report to the IOC Depot, Chingmeirong latest by 2 pm of June 25 today.

DPR To Seal Off Stations Hoarding Fuel

Fuel shortage has led to hikes in transport fares in Lagos, prompting the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to say that it will seal off petrol stations hoarding petrol in anticipation of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry.

Pakistan: Promotion of solar energy ‘to resolve electricity crisis’

The government is providing all possible assistance to local industry for promotion of solar energy that may help resolve energy crisis in the country, Minister for Environment Hameedullah Jan Afridi said on Wednesday.

Living and dying in Pakistan

Something really sad happened last week: Akbar Ali poisoned himself, his wife and three of his six children because of poverty. The man and his daughters are dead, while the wife is still alive. Only God knows what he must be thinking before he decided to take the toxic pills and leave his younger children to suffer alone. But this is something we will never know. Akbar was a worker at a garment hosiery factory and lost his job because the factory closed due to the current energy crisis. His problems compounded because he had a large family to support.

Congress ready to OK new penalties against Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guard and imports of gas and other refined energy products in legislation that would strengthen U.S. penalties against the Tehran government over its suspected nuclear weapons program.

The House and Senate planned to vote Thursday on a measure intended to punish foreign companies that sell Iran goods, services or technology that benefit its energy sector.

The power of nightmares

AT FIRST sight, China’s proposed sale of two civilian nuclear-power reactors to Pakistan hardly seems a danger sign. Pakistan already has the bomb, so it has all the nuclear secrets it needs. Next-door India has the bomb too, and has been seeking similar deals with other countries.

Yet the sale (really a gift, as Pakistan is broke) has caused shudders at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an informal cartel of countries who want to stop their advanced nuclear technology getting into the wrong hands. They are meeting in New Zealand, for what was supposed to be a quiet and nerdish rule-tightening session. But their efforts may now fall victim to China’s rivalry with America.

Botched Smart Meter Roll Outs Provoking Consumer Backlash

Over the past several months, as utilities have rolled out smart meters in homes throughout the country, they’ve been met unexpectedly with consumer backlash.

With the roll-out, consumers got a muddled message. Some heard that “smart meters will save you money;” others got no message at all; and many came home to find new meters in their homes without warning

Then reports starting surfacing that consumers were getting a noticeably higher bill the very next month.

NeoCon 2010: Overcoming Barriers to Green Building

Commercial real estate has been notably ahead of residential when it comes to green practices — with office buildings leading the way. The most successful examples frequently involve owner occupants and multi-generational real estate families that have a long-term view.

Sweden’s gold medal winning eco-town

In contrast with more bottom-up approaches, where environmentally conscious citizens band together to live sustainably, Hammarby doesn’t rely on the environmental awareness of its citizens.

Even if citizens are not eco-conscious when they enter Hammarby, they will be after living there.

AEP says ruling won't stop Arkansas coal progress

HOUSTON (Reuters) - A unit of American Electric Power Co Inc said on Thursday that a negative ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling won't stop construction of a $1.7 billion, 600-megawatt, coal-fired plant that is 28 percent complete.

BP Is Pursuing Alaska Drilling Some Call Risky

The future of BP’s offshore oil operations in the Gulf of Mexico has been thrown into doubt by the recent drilling disaster and court wrangling over a moratorium.

But about three miles off the coast of Alaska, BP is moving ahead with a controversial and potentially record-setting project to drill two miles under the sea and then six to eight miles horizontally to reach what is believed to be a 100-million-barrel reservoir of oil under federal waters.

All other new projects in the Arctic have been halted by the Obama administration’s moratorium on offshore drilling, including more traditional projects like Shell Oil’s plans to drill three wells in the Chukchi Sea and two in the Beaufort.

But BP’s project, called Liberty, has been exempted as regulators have granted it status as an “onshore” project even though it is about three miles off the coast in the Beaufort Sea. The reason: it sits on an artificial island — a 31-acre pile of gravel in about 22 feet of water — built by BP.

The Science Behind Deepwater Oil Drilling

"One of the things I learned is that this particular well that had the blowout wasn't really unusual. ... But one of the things is, it really goes back to our need for oil and not just for cars but for pretty much everything — plastics, fertilizers and society," he says. "And the problem is, is that the easy oil has basically been gotten: the oil from land, the oil from shallow off-shore wells. So going forward, we're going to have more of these wells drilled in extreme conditions. So, in a way, there's potential for more disaster in the future and it seems to me, that if there were ever an argument for pursuing alternative energies, the argument is being made now in a pretty hard way but it's being made."

With all eyes on BP, others are busy drilling deep elsewhere...

Few outside the oil industry have heard of Cairn Energy, but those who have keep a close eye on the Edinburgh-based explorer. Cairn has made some smart bets in the past, striking oil where other, bigger, outfits swore there was none. Next month it will start drilling off Greenland, in a stretch of sea known as Iceberg Alley.

Drilling ban: The jobs at stake

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- There are as many as 10,000 people that work on deepwater oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. These are jobs that could soon begin to disappear because of the temporary ban on such drilling.

But not only those jobs are at stake. From helicopter pilots to offshore catering chefs, another 25,000 jobs could be affected by the six-month ban imposed by President Obama while the investigation into the BP accident is underway, according to David Dismukes, a professor at Louisiana State University's Center for Energy Studies.

Apparent suicide shows oil spill's emotional toll

The Baldwin County, Ala., coroner's office called his death an apparent suicide and said Kruse didn't leave a note. There's no way to be sure why he would have taken his life. But his friends see the tragedy as a clear sign of the BP spill's hidden psychological toll on the Gulf Coast, an awful feeling of helplessness that descends on people used to hard work and independence.

"We're helping cover up the lie. We're burying ourselves. We're helping them cover up the [expletive] that's putting us out of work," said a 27-year-old deckhand who was working for Kruse on Wednesday and spoke on condition of anonymity.

N Sea oil & gas investment recovering - industry

(Reuters) - Investment in the British North Sea oil and gas industry could reach 6 billion pounds ($8.99 billion) this year after dropping off last year, the chief executive of industry group Oil & Gas UK said on Thursday.

Lights will stay on without new nuclear -Huhne

(Reuters) - Britain's lights will stay on even without new nuclear power plants replacing the ageing reactors which are set to close in the next few years, energy secretary Chris Huhne said on Thursday.

Offshore Insurance to Shrink as Providers Flee BP-Like Risk

BP Plc’s rig explosion that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history is set to curtail insurance coverage for offshore drilling, forcing companies to self-insure or exit deepwater fields.

BP’s leak in the Gulf of Mexico is “a market-changing event,” said Dieter Berg, senior executive manager marine at Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer and among those exposed to losses. “Buyers and sellers of coverage will be reevaluating their appetites for offshore energy risk,” said Berg in a June 11 e-mail response to questions.

BP Demise Would Threaten U.S. Energy Security, Industry

Oil spill aside, U.S. energy security will suffer if BP Plc goes under or is significantly reduced in size.

New Drilling Agency Will Have Investigative Arm

WASHINGTON — The new director of the federal agency that oversees offshore oil drilling told a Senate panel on Wednesday that he would create an investigative unit to root out corruption and speed reorganization of the office.

Dubai's Oman Crude Futures Is `The Shot' at New Gulf Benchmark, Vitol Says

Rising Chinese and Indian demand for Persian Gulf crude is increasing the need for a new Middle East oil price benchmark to add transparency to eastbound sales and reflect Asia’s market influence, a Vitol Group executive said.

Phil Flynn - The Energy Report for Thursday, June 24, 2010

According to Bloomberg News, the International Energy Agency estimates that annual demand growth will shrink every year to average 1 percent in 2015, or 940,000 barrels a day, from 1.9 percent, or 1.62 million barrels a day, in 2010. Total consumption will be 91.93 million barrels a day in five years compared with 86.39 million barrels a day this year. Not the type of outlook that inspires peak oil talk.

Oil's 100-Day Mean May Send `False Signals' on Rally: Technical Analysis

Crude oil’s 100-day moving average above $78 a barrel, currently the first line of resistance on technical charts, may send “false signals” about the market’s ability to rally, according to Societe Generale SA.

Belarus says could resume full gas transit today

(Reuters) - Minsk will resume gas transit to Europe within 8-10 hours if Gazprom fully pays its gas transit fees, the country's First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Thursday.

Gas row between RF and Belarus absolutely groundless – Lukashenko

MINSK (Itar-Tass) -- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday the gas row between his country and Russia was absolutely groundless.

“It is an absolutely groundless dispute. But the main thing is that it arouse when Gazprom owed us a transit fee of 260 million U.S. dollars (which is generally traded off with gas supplies to Belarus), while our debt was 190 million U.S. dollars, even 187 million U.S. dollars. They acknowledged it and we have already paid these 187 million U.S. dollars,” Lukashenko told in an interview with the Euronews TV channel.

BP's Gulf Oil Spill Response Based on Outdated Government Model, WSJ Says

BP Plc and other oil companies were required to base their approach to a potential spill in the Gulf of Mexico on U.S. government guidelines that were last updated in 2004, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The faulty government models expected oil to evaporate quickly or get broken up by waves or weather, the newspaper said. They also didn’t expect oil to reach the shoreline even in after much bigger spill than the current one, the Journal said.

NOAA: Undersea oil plumes came from BP well

After four cruises into the oil-stained waters of the Gulf of Mexico, a team of federal scientists Wednesday released a report confirming what other researchers concluded weeks ago: ``The preponderance of evidence'' points to BP's ruptured well as the source of massive undersea oil plumes.

But after two months, what's happening with the diffused clouds drifting beneath the floating goo, sticky tar balls, and shimmering surface still remains murky. It could take several more months for the federal agency in charge of assessing spill damage to simply get a good grasp of how much oil remains drifting below.

BP Puts Gulf Well Manager on Leave Pending U.S. Investigations

The BP Plc manager who oversaw the well that erupted in April has been placed on leave while at least four federal agencies probe the disaster that killed 11 workers and triggered the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Donald Vidrine, the well site leader aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded and sank nine weeks ago off the Louisiana coast, said in an interview yesterday that he has been on administrative leave since the incident.

Concerns Grow Over Long-Term Health Effects of Oil Spill

More than two months after the April 20 BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, experts are still trying to determine what the health effects will be on the workers who are struggling to clean up the biggest oil spill in American history.

There are concerns that some workers could suffer lung, kidney and liver damage from exposure to the volatile organic compounds found in the oil.

Boycott BP? Feels good, but it hurts the innocent

BP owns fewer than 200 gas stations in the USA, and consumers would be hard-pressed to distinguish them from the nearly 9,800 others that are owned or leased by dealers. All have long-term contracts to sell BP gas — contracts not easily jettisoned without paying a hefty fee. While BP makes money from these sales, they are a minuscule portion of the company's worldwide revenue.

Opposing view on disaster in the Gulf: Send a message

It is not true that BP is indifferent to a boycott. It benefits directly from sales to distributors of gasoline for BP stations. And, more than any other oil company, it cares desperately about its public image. This is the company that has sought to rebrand itself as "Beyond Petroleum."

East Timor Plans Study on Gas Plant as It Clashes With Woodside on Sunrise

East Timor plans to spend $3 million studying the option of building a plant in the country to process gas from the Sunrise project operated by Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said.

The Southeast Asian nation has already commissioned a report which found that a pipeline stretching from the Sunrise gas fields to East Timor’s shores was “technically feasible,” Gusmao said in a budget speech e-mailed to Bloomberg today.

Rosneft seismic 'threatens whales'

Scientists working with the International Whaling Commission (IWC) today warned that exploration planned for Russia's Pacific coast pose a serious threat to gray whales in the area.

Putin upholds idea of producing gas from coal seams

NOVOKUZNETSK (Itar-Tass) - Prime Minister Vladimir Putin upholds the idea of producing gas from coal seams in Russia.

Speaking at a meeting with coalminers here on Thursday, he recalled the existence of methods to produce gas from coal and shales. The latter technology is applied in the United States.

Petraeus Is Now Taking Control of a ‘Tougher Fight’

KABUL, Afghanistan — In late 2008, shortly after he had helped pull Iraq back from the brink of catastrophe, Gen. David H. Petraeus prepared to turn to that other American war.

“I’ve always said that Afghanistan would be the tougher fight,” General Petraeus said at the time.

Now the burden falls to him, at perhaps the decisive moment in President Obama’s campaign to reverse the deteriorating situation on the ground here and regain the momentum in this nine-year-old war. In many ways, General Petraeus is being summoned to Afghanistan at a moment similar to the one he faced three years ago in Iraq, when the situation seemed hopeless to a growing number of Americans and their elected representatives as well.

Thomas L. Friedman: What’s Second Prize?

My bottom line: The president can bring Ulysses S. Grant back from the dead to run the Afghan war. But when you can’t answer the simplest questions, it is a sign that you’re somewhere you don’t want to be and your only real choices are lose early, lose late, lose big or lose small.

Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for Transport in Urban Life

NEW YORK /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a publication released today, visionary urbanist Jan Gehl and Walter Hook, Executive Director of the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), together set out ten keys to building successful cities. "Our Cities Ourselves: 10 Principles for Transport in Urban Life" shows how cities from New York to Nairobi can meet the challenges of rapid population growth and climate change while improving their competitiveness.

Richard Branson - A new source of energy: Entrepreneurs

Part of the problem is that the decision to continue relying on oil has always been portrayed as the lesser evil of a difficult choice between continuing on along the profitable path of "business as usual" and that of sacrificing profits to develop expensive new alternative technologies.

This is wrong. Environmentalists and business leaders should never have been at odds over this issue.

The Electrification Coalition releases survey showing strong support for Electric Vehicles

Perhaps it's not surprising for a group named the Electrification Coalition to release a survey showing support for Electric Vehicles. Indeed that is what they have done today (June 23). This sort of result is in agreement with other observations, for example that a large majority is in favor of environmental sensibility, a result which would be served by electric vehicle adoption. The survey was conducted between May 26 through June 1 and was a nationwide poll of 1000 voters.

An LED That Mimics an Old Standby

The ubiquitous 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs are supposed to be in their last few years of existence; a phase-out of incandescents mandated by the federal government begins next year with the 100-watt model and works its way down to the smaller bulbs in 2014.

Bulb manufacturers are working on a variety of replacements, including halogens, which, like incandescents, make light by letting current flow through a filament. Others will be replaced by compact fluorescents. But in August, Osram Sylvania will introduce another lamp it hopes will take a share of the market, using light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.

Vermont Gives Hydro Quebec Renewable Energy Label

It was not surprising that, only weeks after the Vermont legislature voted to close the state’s 40 years old nuclear power plant, Vermont Yankee, Vermont’s largest utilities announced that they were in negotiation with the utility giant Hydro Quebec over a new long-term power contract.

Belgian regulator wants carbon windfall profit tax

(Reuters) - Belgium's electricity regulator CREG recommended on Thursday that taxes should be levied on the windfall profits electricity producers have reaped by passing on the cost of carbon emission permits they were given for free.

An Invader, Near the Great Lakes

CHICAGO — After months of worrying over hints and signs and DNA traces suggesting that Asian carp, a voracious, nonnative fish, might be moving perilously close to the Great Lakes, the authorities here have uncovered the proof they did not want. They caught a fish.

Endangered-Species Status Is Sought for Bluefin Tuna

Fearing that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will deal a severe blow to the bluefin tuna, an environmental group is demanding that the government declare the fish an endangered species, setting off extensive new protections under federal law.

Career planning and peak oil

While participating in a panel sponsored by RePower America yesterday night, I was reminded of the importance of values-based career planning, or the ability to explore and compete for opportunities that match both your career values and skill set.

Bottled Water Ban Vexes Concord Vendors

At the Cheese Shop, a sandwich place in the town’s retail district where bottled water is a top seller, employees predicted that thirsty shoppers would buy fewer healthy drinks if bottled water wasn’t available. “Why ban water but not soda and juice bottles?” asked Armine Roat, 48, who said she brings her own reusable water bottle to work every day. “That doesn’t seem right.”

Saving Time and Stress With Cooking Co-ops

Cate Bruce-Low, 32, of TriBeCa, is part of a monthly swap among a handful of families in their neighborhood. Swapping has saved time in her household. “It does take extra time to make that one meal for so many people,” said Ms. Bruce-Low, who teaches cooking classes for children. “But then you have the luxury of having a stockpile of food. You get extra time to hang outside with your kids and not have to be home early to scrounge up dinner.”

She added that households whose community-supported agriculture memberships leave them overwhelmed with too much of an unpopular vegetable “can find a recipe that will use all of it up and avoid five nights of collard greens in a row.”

Joe Barton & the Coming of Peak Oil

Under the "no new taxes" banner, conservatives in recent years have been content to watch the rapid erosion of state and local government services as withering revenues and inability to print or borrow money has forced unprecedented cutbacks. The ideology behind all this is that the economic growth that has been with us as long as anybody can remember will return soon and all will be well. Missing from this scenario of course is that for the last 150 years economic growth and the consumption of increasing amounts of oil have been inextricably linked. Take away steadily increasing oil supplies and the bedrock of conservative economic theory becomes a fantasy.

Oil supply crunch would leave us all in deep water

The bell is tolling again now, this time for the imminent end of cheap and plentiful oil. Last week, Lloyd’s – in collaboration with think tank Chatham House – issued a White Paper, Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business, which explicitly warned that we are heading towards a global oil supply crunch and price spike – in other words, “peak oil”.

As the Deepwater Horizon disaster continued to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico, Lloyd’s analysts said: “International oil prices are likely to rise in the short- to mid-term due to the costs of producing additional barrels from difficult environments, such as deep offshore fields and tar sands . . . This would create a price spike prompting drastic national measures to cut oil dependency.”

Oil supply heading for record

Oil supply from outside OPEC is headed for a record next year after showing unexpected growth.

The surprising forecast from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 28 industrialised countries on energy, follows analyst predictions last year that the supply had already peaked, with some putting the production apex as far back as 2005.

Oil Trades Near Lowest in a Week on Strong Dollar, Higher U.S. Inventories

Crude oil fell to near its lowest price in a week as growing U.S. inventories reinforced doubts about the economic recovery, while equities fell and a stronger dollar against the euro reduced oil’s investment appeal.

The U.S. Energy Department reported yesterday crude stockpiles rose more than analysts expected. The International Energy Agency, an adviser to oil-consuming nations, said that growth in world oil demand will slow in the next five years as the pace of Chinese consumption moderates.

Forties Floating Storage Falls To 2 Million Bbl On Destocking -Trade

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The floating storage of North Sea Forties crude oil has fallen by half to 2 million barrels after destocking occurred in one of the two supertankers, traders and shipbrokers said Thursday.

The Very Large Crude Carrier BW Lake, chartered by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, is anchored off Wilhelmshaven, Germany, after floating off Southwold, eastern England, for nearly a month, traders said.

India May fuel sales up on higher auto fuel demand

NEW DELHI, (Reuters) - India's annual domestic oil product sales in May rose 6.3 percent, its highest jump since October, to 12.38 million tonnes, on higher demand for auto fuels, government data showed on Thursday.

Shell: Saudi Arabia May Benefit From LNG Imports

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- Saudi Arabia, the world's largest energy producer, may benefit from importing liquefied natural gas to boost domestic supply and maximize profits from oil exports, a Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) executive said Thursday.

"In an environment where much crude and fuel oil is being burnt up for power, there's a strong case to bring in more gas and free up some of that [oil] for export," De la Rey Venter, Shell's global head of LNG, said at the National Oil Companies congress in London.

Russia-Belarus energy feud rumbles on despite payments

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russian gas giant Gazprom resumed gas flows to Belarus on Thursday after Minsk settled its debt, but the bilateral energy feud rumbled on as Belarus threatened to cut off transit to Europe.

Containment cap again collecting oil from leak

NEW ORLEANS - Engineers reattached a cap on the gushing well in the Gulf of Mexico late Wednesday night after crude oil spewed uncontrolled into the water for much of the day.

BP is really sorry ... up to a point

To a nation frustrated by the Gulf oil spill, BP's attempts at damage control have sometimes been infuriatingly vague. But from a legal standpoint, that's exactly the point.

U.S. administration appeals decision blocking drill ban

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration on Wednesday appealed a court ruling that blocked its six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling after a judge said it was not adequately justified despite the crude oil spill from BP Plc's leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration also asked District Judge Martin Feldman in New Orleans to put his ruling against the moratorium on hold pending the outcome of the appeal or until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit can consider a request for a stay.

House Democrats drafting oil spill legislation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats in the House of Representatives have begun drafting legislation to tighten oil industry practices, especially in deep-water drilling projects like the one that has left millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Spill hurts Obama rating as storm season starts

WASHINGTON/LONDON (Reuters) – The Gulf of Mexico oil spill piled pressure on Barack Obama on Thursday as the hurricane season closed in and voters angry at his crisis management hammered the U.S. president in a poll rating.

BP was able to restart one of its containment operations on Wednesday after a delay caused by an undersea collision of equipment, and coastal fishermen, cut off for weeks from the rich Gulf fishing grounds, were allowed back in some waters.

Oil sludge washes in Florida, dolphin stranded

PENSACOLA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) – Florida saw its worst impact yet from the BP oil spill as thick oily sludge washed ashore on Pensacola Beach on Wednesday and emergency workers found an oil-covered dolphin stranded on the shore.

State emergency workers said the pudding-like mixture covered 3 miles of Pensacola Beach, a barrier island that is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

AP check: Shoddy disposal work mars oil cleanup

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) - A leaky truck filled with oil-stained sand and absorbent boom soaked in crude pulls away from the beach, leaving tar balls in a public parking lot and a messy trail of sand and water on the main beach road. A few miles away, brown liquid drips out of a disposal bin filled with polluted sand.

BP PLC's work to clean up the mess from the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history already has generated more than 1,300 tons of solid waste, and companies it hired to dispose of the material say debris is being handled professionally and carefully.

A spot check of several container sites by The Associated Press, however, found that's not always the case.

Fired up: Indiana energy adviser argues the merits of coal in an anti-carbon climate

SOUTHERN INDIANA — It doesn’t take much for Indiana energy adviser Marty Irwin to spark a heated debate with advocates of climate-change legislation. All he has to do is say that coal is not a four-letter word.

At a time when the burning of fossil fuels is under attack as a major cause of global warming, Irwin argues the unpopular position that burning more coal may be good for the economy and the environment.

Poland 'needs more time' to meet EU climate target

As 94% of Poland's electricity comes from coal, the country says it needs ''more time than others'' to meet its CO2 reduction targets outlined in the 'Europe 2020' strategy. Polish industry is even more critical of the goals. EurActiv Poland reports.

Japanese told to go to bed an hour early to cut carbon emissions

The Japanese government has launched a campaign encouraging people to go to bed and get up extra early in order to reduce household carbon dioxide emissions.

The Morning Challenge campaign, unveiled by the Environment Ministry, is based on the premise that swapping late night electricity for an extra hour of morning sunlight could significantly cut the nation's carbon footprint.

Australians agog as Kevin Rudd crashes and burns

Sydney - Kevin Rudd, ousted leader of Australia's Labor government, wept Thursday as he ticked off his administration's report card.

The achievements were not meagre for less than three years in office.

As prime minister, Rudd signed the Kyoto Protocol on fighting climate change, apologized in Parliament for all the wrongs done to Aborigines, introduced the nation's first paid maternity leave scheme and dragged the economy through the global financial crisis without falling into recession like every other developed country.

What spelled the end for Rudd Thursday was that he delivered so little of what he had promised.

There's an op-ed piece "Toward Sustainable Capitalism", in today's WSJ. What makes it interesting is the first author , Al Gore. Given that he has taken on the mantle of first promoter of renewable energy and action to mitigate Global Warming, his view point is curious. He writes:

Before the crisis and since, we (and others) have called for a more long-term and responsible form of capitalism—what we call "sustainable capitalism." Sustainable capitalism seeks to maximize long-term value creation. It explicitly integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into strategy, the measurement of outputs, and the assessment of both risks and opportunities. Sustainable capitalism challenges us to generate financial return in a long-term and responsible manner.

The big question in my mind is this: "Is this view of the future actually obtainable, given Peak Oil?"

E. Swanson

"Sustainable Capitalism" is an oxymoron. Until you understand that you do not understand a thing.

Capitalism is the only economic system that has "evolved" into existence. All others have been imposed by kings, dictators or some other type of ruler. All economic systems, left alone will eventually evolve into capitalism. China and Russia are good examples. Oh I know they are not fully there yet, but they are well on their way. That is they are evolving into capitalism.

Of course it is not sustainable in the long run, as nothing is sustainable in the long run.

Those who believe there is some perfect system, a system that is sustainable and best for everyone, are living in a dream world. Human nature will always win out in the long run and humans, by nature, will always look out for number one. And that is capitalism.

- The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialization, 'Western civilization' or any flaw in human institutions. It is a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate. Throughout all of history and prehistory, human advance has coincided with ecological devastation.
John Gray, "Straw Dogs"

Ron P.

Quite a number of other systems have also evolved, and some much more naturally than capitalism.

Potlatch, disaster socialism, hunter-gatherer, kibbutz, Democratic Socialism and many more.

Your world view is too limited if you think capitalism is the "only natural way".


There is no direction to the adaptive process we call evolution. That some commentators, say for example Karl Marx, insist on inevitable outcomes, only reveals that they haven't understood Charles Darwin.

This may have been posted previously, but here is link to a short video on 'collaborative consumption' - bike sharing, car sharing, freecycling, etc - whioh appears to a strengthening adaptation to both waste and scarcity. Predictably, new technology, in this case electronic communications technology, is playing a central role in our species' adaptation to new conditions.

You may want to watch it twice as the creators seem to think that everyone is a speed reader.


Neither Marx nor Adam Smith had the benefit of either chaos theory (or the economic work of Nash, and others, for that matter) a one-two punch which pretty much killed the theory of reliable prediction and reliable central planning.

See also the classic work by Frank Knight, RISK, UNCERTAINTY, AND PROFIT.

The more the uncertainty, the more is the opportunity for profit--or loss. Even high risk activity such as drilling for oil will tend to produce higher profits than industries that are relatively low risk, such as supermarkets.

There is no direction to the adaptive process we call evolution.

That is debatable. Many biologists have accepted Robert Wright's position that evolution is a Non-Zero sum game. To get from cyanobacteria to two billion years ago to Homo sapiens today was definitely in one particular direction. Wright is definitely a Darwinian.

It was Stephen Jay Gould who insisted that evolution is a random walk. In fact most biologist disagree with this position including Richard Dawkins.

Ron P.

To get from cyanobacteria to H. sap. does not imply directionality. It implies contingency, which most students of evolution understand implicitly. It could have gone any number of different ways.

This is not to say that evolution is a random walk - just that it has no goal, no particular direction.

You are coming close to saying that whatever happens was preordained to happen - I doubt you meant to come across that way, but "to get from cyanobacteria to two billion years ago to Homo sapiens today was definitely in one particular direction" sure sounds a bit teleological.

Sgage, I think we have a difference of opinion as to what the word "direction" means. In my opinion it most definitely does not mean goal oriented. In fact it does not mean in any particular direction. It just means in a positive direction. Evolution happens only when there is something to be gained. That is a survival or reproduction advantage is gained, otherwise it would not have happened.

Of course evolution can regress, but upon closer examination this regression gains something. Fish lose their eyes after a few million years in the darkness. But eyes, when they have no use, are a liability. By losing them the fish gains. It no longer has something that is easily damaged and can cause death when infected.

And by the way, my statement did not even come remotely close to claiming preordination. That came completely out of left field on your part. I sometimes reach a little too far myself but never that far. ;-)

Ron P.

Yes, your statement came close - nothing came out of left field. I only posted because I knew you don't mean "goal oriented". You presumably know what you mean, but we only have your words to go by, and you were skating close to the edge and I wanted to clarify.

Sheesh, you are the prickliest, aggressive-yet-quick-to-take-offense, most logic-chopping character on TOD. I mean that affectionately :-)

And you often go very, very far indeed ;-)

The words "positive direction" are rather strange in this context. What do you mean by "positive"?

The words "positive direction" are rather strange in this context. What do you mean by "positive"?

Well for instance is moving from the typical brain of a Cambrian animal, a trilobite for example, to that of the brain of a human moving in a positive direction? Is the fact that we can contemplate the universe or the meaning of life, (presupposing that life has a meaning), and the trilobite could not, positive?

By positive I mean something is gained? As Robert Wright stated, evolution is a non-zero process.

Ron P.

Well for instance is moving from the typical brain of a Cambrian animal, a trilobite for example, to that of the brain of a human moving in a positive direction?

I don't think it's either positive or negative. It's more complex, but that is not always a positive.

I don't think it's either positive or negative. It's more complex, but that is not always a positive.

Now, if people would only come around to the idea that the evolution of science and technology follow that same principle....

Now, if people would only come around to the idea that the evolution of science and technology follow that same principle....

Really now? The telephone gains nothing over the telegraph? The plow was not a positive development, we should go back to pointed stick planting for all the positive advantage it gives us?

Chemistry evolved from alchemy, nothing positive there. Modern medicine evolved from primitive medicine where people died from simple diseases. They had no knowledge of microbes and had no ideas or rules about sanitary conditions. Most thought diseases were caused by evil spirits.

Okay, modern science, modern medicine, modern technology is not something positive. We should return to the dark ages where life was hard cruel and short. Nothing positive has come from the evolution of science and technology.

Ron P.

Ron, your definition of positive is human centric. For the pine trees (if they were sentient) the telegraph and telephone are definitely not positive as they involve long poles such as pine trees provide to make them useful. They would think the drum a better form of long distance communication.

But then even from a human standpoint long distance travel and communication promote family groups being more willing to live distant from one another. Depending on your mother-in-law this can be considered good or bad. But the fracturing of the basic family group and the "tribe" is not necessarily a good thing for humans who did most of their evolving in tribal living.

Given that we are about to possibly extinct ourselves and certainly extinct many more species before we run out of fossil fuels, the idea that more complexity is better has to be questioned. Yes we have modern this and that, but if we extinct the human race what to do we humans end up having - nothing.

Nothing positive has come from the evolution of science and technology.

Oh my Ron, all or nothing as an argument? You can do better than that.

Ron, your definition of positive is human centric.

No, that is not correct. It does however acknowledge that only humans can feel sympathy for other forms of life. But I do not have sympathy for pine trees. Beetles kill far more pine trees than is used for poles. Pine trees are grown on pine tree farms. If it weren't for humans the pine trees would not exist in the first place.

Given that we are about to possibly extinct ourselves and certainly extinct many more species before we run out of fossil fuels, the idea that more complexity is better has to be questioned. Yes we have modern this and that, but if we extinct the human race what to do we humans end up having - nothing.

We have had this discussion before. No, we will not go extinct, there will be survivors.

What happened was just the natural process of a very successful primate doing what comes naturally. But for awhile we had it very good, and we saw many of the secrets of the universe. That happened and that cannot be erased from our history. It was good. Regardless of what comes next it was good while it lasted.

Oh my Ron, all or nothing as an argument? You can do better than that.

No, I was responding to someone who implied that the evolution of science and technology was neither good nor bad. I simply think that is really foolish and I tried to express my opinion, perhaps a little too forcefully.


If it weren't for humans the pine trees would not exist in the first place.

Say What?

Don't you mean that pine tree farms would not exist.

Pine trees evolved in areas where hardwoods don't grow, usually higher elevations. Though man has spread their range, just like man has spread a lot of other plants and animals.

But You can't say that without us Pine trees would not exist, as a general statement.

Sorry Ron, I just had to step in and say something about that.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, Hugs from Arkansas

Try a hot cup of Pine Needle tea, for your Vitamin A and C, next time you get a craving to try something new.

Pine Trees exist because Marty McFly didn't run over both of them

Now that is a scientific fact ! ;-)

Marvin Harris used to say that the only positive thing to come out of science and technology was birth control.

Sure, the plow is better than a pointed stick...but farming in general is a hard life, as Jared Diamond pointed out, that created inequality, overpopulation, and all the nastiness that goes with it. The biggest mistake in the history of the human race.

The evidence suggests that first horticulture and then agriculture were adaptations to overpopulation. When hunting and gathering societies developed either the spear thrower or the bow and arrow, overhunting occurred and population outgrew the meat supply. Later, horticultural societies either evolved into agrarian societies or they were conquered by militarily superior agrarian societies. When there were too many people on the land to farm and herd sheep in Britain, they migrated to the industrial cities of the nineteenth and twentieth century and transformed society from almost all rural to mostly urban and suburban.

What gave rise to the great rise in world population during the industrial revolution and going on to this day is the declining mortality rates that came with modern societies that have good public health measures (such as compulsory vaccinations and good water) and modern medicine--especially antibiotics.

Clearly the growth of population beyond say, a billion in the world, is a bad thing--but it was not an outgrowth of agrarian society but rather industrial and postindustrial societies. Purely agrarian societies never have very low death rates--nor could they have the industry that underlies the Green Revolution.

But they aren't sentient. A world of pine trees (and other similar objects) absolutely, utterly fails the "so what" test...

But they aren't sentient.

True, but in a way they can steer human, or any other organism's evolution...


The domestication of plants is one of the first steps in moving towards a full-fledged agricultural economy, although the process is by no means a one-directional movement. A plant is said to be domesticated when its native characteristics are altered such that it cannot grow and reproduce without human intervention. Domestication is thought to be the result of the development of a symbiotic relationship between the plants and humans, called co-evolution, because plants and human behaviors evolve to suit one another. In the simplest form of co-evolution, a human harvests a given plant selectively, based on the preferred characteristics, such as the largest fruits, and uses the seeds from the largest fruits to plant the next year.

Bough down to your pine tree overlords...

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!
Du grünst nicht nur
zur Sommerzeit,
Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit.
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum,
wie treu sind deine Blätter!

O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!
Wie oft hat nicht zur Weihnachtszeit
Ein Baum von dir mich hoch erfreut!
O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum!
Du kannst mir sehr gefallen!

True, but in a way they can steer human, or any other organism's evolution...

Fred, Have you read Michael Pollan’s “The Botany of Desire” covering the same theme?

Yes I have! Plants have created Monsanto and Phillip Morris ;-)

And some people here were arguing that they aren't sentient, right...

Oh my Ron, all or nothing as an argument? You can do better than that.

Yes. Notice how Ron completely ignores the phrase "not always positive."

I believe we have to give the alchemists credit for being the chemists-real ones-of thier day, although this flies in the face of conventional wisdom.Here and there you can find a historian or philosopher who thinks this way; I am not altogether alone in holding this opinion.

They experimented, they kept records(privately, it is true), they discovered a number of things.The fact that thier theories turned out to be in error cannot be rationally held against them.

Just because they were pursueing goals THEN we NOW know to be impossible , within the context of ordinary temperatures and pressures , does not make them any less the scientists of thier day.

We have lots of people pursueing goals in laboratorys all over the place that may never be realized, or that may become actualities only after the passage of another century or two.

I doubt if the people working in corporate and university labs today on the stuff that doesn't happen(be successfully demonstrated by experiment) would be amused because thier grandchildren a few centuries down the road are amused by thier gropings in search of knowledge just because a hundred years from, or two hundred years from now, now somebody STANDING on the shoulders of all the seekers who came before discovers fatal flaws in CURRENT DAY theory.

Now, if people would only come around to the idea that the evolution of science and technology follow that same principle....


Chemistry evolved from alchemy, nothing positive there. Modern medicine evolved from primitive medicine where people died from simple diseases. They had no knowledge of microbes and had no ideas or rules about sanitary conditions. Most thought diseases were caused by evil spirits.

Okay, modern science, modern medicine, modern technology is not something positive. We should return to the dark ages where life was hard cruel and short. Nothing positive has come from the evolution of science and technology.

This whole thread went off track right here.

The telephone did not evolve from the telegraph; it was designed with conscious, active intent.

Chemistry did not evolve from alchemy; conscious minds tested the phlogiston theory and found it wanting. The Microbe Theory of Disease that underpins the stunning advance in medicine since the 18th century did not evolve, either. Conscious minds set out to discover the cause of disease.

Nothing whatsoever has come from the evolution of science and technology, because they did not evolve.

To argue otherwise is to admit Intelligent Design as the cause of evolution, and that I will not do.

Scientific theories and technologies were invented, tested, improved, selected, combined, and replaced by conscious intent. The results have been of great benefit to humans.

Unfortunately, both the benefits and the knowledge appear to be temporary. Time will tell.


Waiting for Bilski (and the next step forward/ backward in evolution)


Step Back, like Gregvp, you need a good dictionary. Culture evolves, biological organisms evolve and science and technology evolves.

Ron P.



In the country I live in (USA), science and technology "devolve".
It's been happening for quite some time ---ever since Biz Schools started pumping MBA's in mass out the door.

(What's in your Capitalism 101 brain?)

Saccharomyces powered abacus ;-)


Sorry I couldn't quickly find an image of a calculator whose answer always is "42"
This is the best I could do on the run (BTW it talks! to kids! says: Drink Brawndo, it's got electrolytes)

An abacus requires a user with a brain
Where are you going to find such a consumer in the USA?

Better to tell them the answer is always 42


How many years of oil do we have? A:42
If Washington was President number 1, what is number of current President? A: 42
If I am 22 years old today, how old will I be in 20 years? A: 42

It's always 42

p.s. bye bye and thanks for all the fish

Gregvp you are wrong, dead wrong here! You are trying to get too smart, way too smart here. But you completely outsmarted yourself in thinking that evolution only means biological evolution.

Dictionary.com - Evolution

ev·o·lu·tion –noun
1. any process of formation or growth; development: the evolution of a language; the evolution of the airplane.

2. a product of such development; something evolved: The exploration of space is the evolution of decades of research.

3. Biology. change in the gene pool of a population from generation to generation by such processes as mutation, natural selection, and genetic drift.

4. a process of gradual, peaceful, progressive change or development, as in social or economic structure or institutions.

The dictionary gave 10 definitions, I quoted only the first four. Science and technology did evolve. Obviously!

Evolution basically means change over time. Biological organisms evolved but also did the automobile. There is biological evolution, there is cultural evolution and there is the evolution of science and technology. And, I could think of a few more.

One of my high school teachers once told the class: "There is no such thing as a revolution in the mind of man, there is only slow eventual evolution." Meaning of course all men and women, not just one man and that the change must evolve over time, slow and deliberate. (This was during the civil right movement and his meaning was obvious.)

Ron P.

Okay, modern science, modern medicine, modern technology is not something positive. We should return to the dark ages where life was hard cruel and short. Nothing positive has come from the evolution of science and technology.

Ron, I'm shocked at how contradictory your posts have become. Out of one side of your mouth, you state how "die-off" is an inevitable result of our "progress." Then comes the above.

Of COURSE I think modern medicine is "positive": As Dr. Bartlett said, "As long as it's my life expectancy that's increasing."

You know damned well each and every "advance" comes with a cost.

Never forget the Red Queen.

Mike, there is nothing contradictory about my post. Yes the die-off is inevitable but I do not desire that die-off. I would much rather not return to the dark ages. We are living in the gilded age. Enjoy it while you can.

And I deeply hope that the survivors of the die-off carry some of that modern knowledge with them. I hope something of our age survives other than just people. I hope science and technology, and modern medicine, evolves very fast after the die-off. I would hope for a return to this gilded age, but with a much smarter population.

That last part about smarter people is not very likely... but I can hope.

Ron P.

I happen to love science.

I like it that my partner survives due to insulin produced via genetically-modified bacteria.

I like it that I can spray captan and malathion on my plants to keep them healthy.

I like my tractors and my rototiller.

But your original response to my comment implied that I was some Luddite who wants to go back to the Dark Ages.

That's disgraceful. It puts words in my mouth that I never even implied.

If science and technology are an evolutionary processes (which, as a Universal Darwinist, I believe they are), then no values--"positive," "negative"--need be applied to them. We will reap benefits and suffer consequences.

Mike, advances may always come at some cost but the cost does not always equal that gained. And I disagree that changes are not positive. Every evolutionary change in biology is a gain for the organism acquiring it. Otherwise it would not happen.

I can do no better than recommend this book.

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

That is a very good book but honestly I liked one of Wright's earlier books much better:

The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology

Oh, sorry if I misread your earlier post. I will try to do better next time.

Ron P.

Thank you. Always appreciate your insights.

Those books are already on my shelf!

I don't think it's either positive or negative. It's more complex, but that is not always a positive.

Well, I explained that by positive I meant something is gained. I think that is a pretty good definition of positive. So I take it you would say nothing was gained by the evolution of the human brain from the brain of the trilobite, or whatever Cambrian creature we did evolve from. (Probably not a the trilobite.)

Anyway I would respectfully disagree. I think there was something gained.

Regardless of what others may about the age in which we live I think it is wonderful. We know more about the universe than Galileo ever dreamed. We have access to great books that describe the wonders of life and the mysteries of science. I listen almost daily to great lectures by great minds via the internet. Such wonders were brought about by the workings of the human mind.

It may all soon come to an end but it has been my great luck and privilege to live during such wonderful times, during times when such great knowledge was ours for the taking. We can pick wonderful books and shows, by great minds, like picking apples from a tree.

Past civilizations could not do that. Cultural evolution, like biological evolution, is a non-zero process. Is that something positive. In my opinion, damn right!

Ron P.

So I take it you would say nothing was gained by the evolution of the human brain from the brain of the trilobite, or whatever Cambrian creature we did evolve from.

Depends on what you mean by "gained." From an evolutionary perspective, I think you have to use species success as the barometer. While it is true that trilobites are extinct and we are not, that's not a useful measure. There are arthropods very like trilobites still crawling about, which suggests their brains are good enough for what they do. And there's no guarantee we would have survived the kind of mass extinction that killed off the trilobites (though we may get a chance to find out).

Regardless of what others may about the age in which we live I think it is wonderful. We know more about the universe than Galileo ever dreamed. We have access to great books that describe the wonders of life and the mysteries of science. I listen almost daily to great lectures by great minds via the internet. Such wonders were brought about by the workings of the human mind.

I don't think that's a particularly useful measure. It's completely subjective.

There's also the fact that you, by virtue of where and when you were born, are living at the top of the heap. Not everyone has access to wonders you describe; it might even be argued that you have that access only because you are supported by the labor of others. Taken to an extreme...is one person living a glorious life on the backs of millions of others living in poverty and desperation "better" than a more egalitarian but less wondrous situation? If you're the one on top, maybe so.

Everyone wants to place qualitative appellations on their personal favorite results. The thing about evolution is that it, well, evolves. And, that while it goes in directions, those directions either succeed or not, and if not another species is extinct. Good, from an evolutionary standpoint, is success/survival. The thing is that no one can say whether or not we are successful. Only that so far we seem to be involved in extreme overshoot of a type seen before and in prior species leading to extinction.

Now, as compared to certain other species co-existant with h.sap., we seem to be doing better than they. At least the ones which we have exterminated already (passanger pigeons, anyone?). In the longer run, it is just as likely that we will be exterminated by some virus or bacteria. And, if not, it is doubtful that, in a few tens of millions of years, whatever sapient species is walking, flying or crawling around planet Earth would recognize homo sapiens when looking at his descendents. We will have evolved, even if we survived, into some new species or perhaps several.

Looking back at our ancestors, I have no confidence looking forward in making any predictions whatever. And, whatever has gone by in the long run is neither good nor bad, neither better nor worse. It was, it is, it will be, and it will have been.

Welcome to the stochastic mean.


You get it.

There's nothing in particular driving evolution toward increasing complexity. It seems that way because it started from a simple base. But some species have been unchanged and successful longer than we've existed, and it's often the complex (more adapted) organisms that die out while simpler ones survive.

Judging from our DNA, we came very close to extinction in the past. If we had, maybe there would be no intelligent primates on the third rock from the sun.

There's nothing in particular driving evolution toward increasing complexity.

I have a strong suspicion that there is a statistical bias towards greater complexity. In h sapiens, we have also added culutural selection (selection of sexual partners based upon social norms), and it seems to have lead to much greater capabilities in thinking/speech/music than is needed for strict hunter-gatherer survival. So I think the statistical bias towards greater complexity is pretty robust. Where it will lead is anyones guess. My guess is the h sapiens will cause such an extinction event that complexity will be set back by several tens of millions of years.

Everybody, be careful here.
Evolution does not necessarily lead to greater complexity.

The human skeleton is significantly LESS complex than the skeleton of a 375 million year old lobe finned fish. This is especially true of the skull and particularly, the dentary (lower jaw). In the lobe fin fish the lower jaw is a very complex structure made up of many bones. The human dentary is a result of evolutionary processes which have resulted in its being reduced to only ONE bone.

The discussion of whether or not contingency has resulted in a "direction" for evolution, or not, is very interesting. But inevitably, this becomes a highly philosophical discussion (no less interesting for that).

In the longer run, it is just as likely that we will be exterminated by some virus or bacteria.

It's not hard to picture a bunch of intelligent cockroaches having this same discussion in the far off future as they ponder over h.sap fossils just as we ponder over dino fossils

I don't think that's a particularly useful measure. It's completely subjective.

Of course it is subjective! All our feelings, desires, loves and joys of life are subjective. When Kepler figured out that all the planets sweep the same area of space, from the sun, in any given amount of time, he was overjoyed. He danced he hugged himself and wept. "Nothing holds me" he said, meaning that nothing could hold his joy at that moment. Probably similar to the feeling Archimedes had when settling into his bath, he suddenly realized that any object displaces its own volume in water. He ran through the streets shouting Eureka!

But that is what evolution hath wrought. And I say it is good. But that is just my subjective opinion.

All my opinions are subjective Leanan, it cannot possibly be otherwise. And whether you realize it or not, so are yours. And here's why:

Perhaps the most important advance in the behavioral sciences in our times has been the growing recognition that the perceiver is not just a passive camera taking a picture, but takes an active part in perception. He sees what experience has conditioned him to see. What perceiver then sees what is really there? Nobody of course. Each of us perceives what our past has prepared us to perceive. We select and distinguish, we focus on some objects and relationships and we blur others. We distort objective reality to make it conform to our needs or, our hopes, our fears, our hates, our envies, our affections. Our eyes and brains do not merely register some objective portrait of other persons or groups but our very active scene is warped by what we have been taught to believe, by what we want to believe and by what we need to believe. It is impossible to reason a man out of something he has not been reasoned into. When people have acquired their beliefs on an emotional level they cannot be persuaded out of them on a rational level, no matter how strong the proof or the logic behind it. People will hold onto their emotional beliefs and twist the facts to meet their version of reality.
Sidney J. Harris


"I don't think that's a particularly useful measure. It's completely subjective."

No, Leanan, it is not completely subjective. To say that something is subjective means that it is essentially only a matter of personal opinion or taste. "I like peppermint bonbon ice cream; Abby likes chocolate"--these are completely subjective statements. "I think Islam is the highest form of religion" is another subjective statement--something that cannot be proven.

Darwinian's statement is something that observers who do not communicate with one another can agree on, and generally do agree on, whether one is looking at philosophers, scientists, or the general population. Thus it is an objective conclusion, not mere subjective taste or opinion.

Another way of saying what Darwinian said (and practically did say, in another comment on this thread) is that evolution moves from the less complex to the more complex. (Now someday we may become too complex, but there is no evidence that we humans are anywhere near that point.) More complex human societies can achieve greater truth in its scientific findings than less complex ones; that statement is objective truth.

This thread is amazing. I am astounded at the level of discourse here on TOD. Where else can you find such arguments?

My sincere appreciation to all contributors. Thanks for the head-shaping discussion!

I've been thinking the same thing all day! It's just gotten better and better on this whole thread!

Kudos to all!

I am more struck at how Darwinian has comported himself as of late.
Ron's posts are always worth a read, whether they be agreeable or not.
Even though he claims to be an old guy, his posts have taken on a new sense of maturity.
Probably more than most, Ron has grasped the impact of the BP Spill.

Ron is a doomer who truly wishes the world were a better place.

..."better place"...BP...not intended...

No, Leanan, it is not completely subjective.

Yes, it's all subjective....every word or symbol used to describe the world is subjective because it isn't the thing itself being described.

We add a layer of meaning onto everything. Inherently, the universe has no meaning until we use words to assign it meaning. And even then it has meaning only to us, the creatures who have access to language.

So, once again, everything expressed with language is subjective. (And yes, I'm precisely aware of how broad a statement I'm making.)

I'm not getting into the whole objectivity/subjectivity "circle of hell" but... if you're thinking of subjective, don't forget that your subjective (mine too of course) is both conscious and unconscious. One you're aware of, the other not. I think Wittgenstein thought a lot about language and realized we can't even convey everything we can think. And that language itself shapes how we think. So that too....

Yes, that's a different thing to talk about...but it all starts with the universe has no inherent meaning.

This troubles many people because they make it mean something that the universe has no meaning. But whatever they make it mean, it doesn't mean that, either.

Being able to think in picture, and sounds, and smells, tastes, emotions and feeling of the smoothness of the cue ball as I toss it down the table top, only to hear it hit the floor on the otherside. I can get you to think about how I am thinking, if I can find the words to discribe something. But if you have never ever seen a cue ball, what have I gained?

Some of my poems are just stepping stones in my mind's eye's dance around a room full of packing peanuts, but are there hidden objects in the room under the blur of white?

I used to always say that if I could film what I think, I could be happy, but I have run out of film stocks, and the camera is taken apart on the table.

I wonder if Our DNA even allows telepathy?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
So cool to be able to hug you all from over here in Arkansas, can't feel the warmth and love!

now where is my drawing paper feed port to my head, I really want to print off some neat drawings.

your subjective (mine too of course) is both conscious and unconscious. One you're aware of, the other not.

Speak for yourself (selves?).

I (we-zum) is/are aware of my/our many cognitive centers

---the verbal, the visual and the non-verbal/ non-visual ones

Do you take the extreme position of Bishop Berkeley (pronounced "Barkeley"; the city of Berkeley, CA was named after him)? It would seem so. Or perhaps you take the position of David Hume; it is hard to say exactly where you stand. In any case, you have fallen into the fallacy of extreme subjectivity. The fallacy goes something like this: Because science is done through human observers it is therefore all subjective. NONSENSE! Science is objective because it is not all a matter of opinion; it is a matter of theory tested by observation and experiments. Math is correct not because I think it is, but because it works. Over thousands of years and hundreds of different cultures the agreed-upon mathematical facts, formulas, models, and methods of computation have become agreed upon--and there is no question that they give the same answers, regardless of subjective opinions about math.

By the way, I taught Logic and also Introduction to Philosophy for over twenty years. That is why I know so much about fallacies, the objectivity/subjectivity debate, and particular philosophers.

I would have to review both of their works to see where my thinking is with respect to them. They don't quite address precisely what I address, I think. Nietzsche's perspectivism seems a whole lot closer.

In any case, the view I operate from is that all symbols are merely opinions of the world, whether they be math or literature or paintings — because they aren't the thing themselves. That you can execute reproducible, internally consistent operations on the symbols so that you get what you would call "accurate" representations of the universe they represent doesn't change the fact that they are, when all is said and done, just symbols. They are merely "opinions" of the world.

There is what is (the world) and then there are the symbols we use to describe the world. There is nothing in between no matter who hard you look for it. You won't find math in between there, you won't find words in between there.

ofm says it well below:

Anyone who truly understands biology will understand instantly that words such as good,bad, sympathy, and evil,have no place in the discussion of it, technically. Nature doesn't recognize such concepts or work along such lines. These words and the concepts they represent are the fruits of our own biased perceptions of reality.

For an example, witness the arguments that people often get into here with other posters. Arguments are simply assertions that one set of symbols is more correct than another when really even our notion of what is correct is itself a perception i.e. they are subjective. It's really quite insane when you finally "get" what we do. It leads to the whole world operating the way it does. Symbols are useful in many cases but mistaking them for the truth really gets us into trouble.

This is a much more fundamental distinction than what you are referring to when discussing math. This distinction is between math and the world.

P.S. To see how caught up you are in this web of symbols, just look at how you reacted when I said something that disagreed with your internal symbol set ("NONSENSE!"). You're so very caught in the web but can't see it (yet).

I think your position resembles that of David Hume, one of the most influential philosophers of the last 400 years. His stuff is readable--give it a shot. Or perhaps you might like to read a fat book on the history of philosophy. Your position is also close to that of the Greek sophists: "Man is the measure of all things," a quote that goes back to (I think) Protagoras, a contemporary of Socrates.

Plato said that knowledge was true justified belief, and I agree with Plato on this definition. I'm mainly a neo-Aristotelian and neo-Stoic in my own personal philosophy.

Can you say more about what Plato meant by "knowledge was true justified belief."

I get suspicious every time I hear the words "true" or "truth." I think truth is an interesting concept but, with some rigor applied, can at best be translated into "the closest correlation between a symbol set and reality of all alternatives considered."

Truth: You can't HANDLE DEFINE the truth. ( See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarski%27s_undefinability_theorem ) lol.

Maybe usefulness is more important than truth. An interesting question would be: Is truth useful?

I used to lecture for one hour on Plato's concept of knowledge as true justified belief. Here is a short version.

Plato distinguished between mere opinion (or belief) and knowledge. Everybody has opinions about everything, but none of this is knowledge, it is just mere belief or opinion. Some people have true beliefs, but they are not thereby justified. Suppose for example somebody says the earth is nearly spherical because humans have arches in their feet to accommodate the earth's curvature. That is wrong, and hence there is no justification of the belief. On the other hand, suppose you are Aristotle who observes that the shadow of the earth on the moon during eclipses always shows a portion of a circle, no matter the location of the observer on earth. If you think about this for a while, you'll see that it is a solid justification of the earth being approximately a sphere. Thus Aristotle had true justified belief--knowledge--about the shape of the earth.


It is a flat plate disk around which the sun and the moon rotate
(and all of us stand on only one side of the disk, Ha)


That's a valid model once one is playing inside the symbol set (language).

However, the distinction between language and the world still holds, however (in my view, which is, of course, just an opinion).

Now you sound like Bishop Berkeley more than you do Hume; and also you are clearly in the camp of the ancient Greek Sophists. If you haven't taken one already, I think you would like classes in Logic and also in Introduction to Philosophy and probably also an Ethics class. All three were among my very favorite courses to teach, and the students liked them a lot too; my classes were always full.

Given your deep knowledge on the subject, why not put the lecture together into a web version? I never made it to the study of Formal Logic, given the amount of course work to complete 2 engineering degrees. I've often wished I had made it that far, but that would have been a part of graduate level course work and I dropped out along the way.

E. Swanson

Anyone who truly understands biology will understand instantly that words such as good,bad, sympathy, and evil,have no place in the discussion of it, technically.Nature doesn't recognize such concepts or work along such lines.These words and the concepts they represent are the fruits of our own biased perceptions of reality.

"Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so." paraphrased, iirc Shakespeare, but he cribbed it himself, I am sure.

There is a sort of built in" bias" towards complexity in evolution, but it is mechanistic;it is not value driven, unless one defines survival as a value-which in my opinion is THE ONLY case the use of the word can be justified in a biological context.

Complexity emerges because there are many niches available wherein a more complex organism can outcompete a simpler one, and the entirely "blind" process of mutation and selection creates more complex organisms impartially -there is no "intent" involved.When the conditions that make the survival of a complex organism possible change greatly to its detriment,it generally goes extinct , either locally or altogether.

The most complex sorts of organisms are often capable of adapting to change faster and therefore often survive rapid environmental change;a species such as the gray squirrel will probably survive global warming by simply moving father up mountians and farther north along with the trees that provide its food and shelter.

A species of grass adapted to hot weather would be considered by most observers a simpler organism;the grass cannot move under its own power but it might survive anyway, as birds might spread the seed, or grazing animals.Or it might successfully evolve in place if the change in the climate is slow enough.

This is equally true for simpler organisms,if they have become overspecialized and thier niche disappears.

The process works in both directions "impartially".

A fish species with eyes stranded in a cave environment will over evolutionary time gradually tend to lose its eyes ,a bit at a time, because worthless eyes that are costly in terms of energy better used for other purposes and possibly injuries or invasions by competing organisms (bacteria, parasites)tend to reduce rather than enhance evolutionary fitness.

The best single book ever written on the subject of evolution is in my opinion Dawkins "The Blind Watchmaker";it is entirely accessible to any reasonably intelligent layman and a joy to read.

Most people will not have the time or the inclination to dig deeply into this subject but this one short book is enough to get the basics;and a good understanding of evolution is absolutely critical to a good understanding of reality in the broader sense of the word.

That we have two different methods at our disposal for destroying the ecology of the planet, and humanity with it, is darned good evidence of having become overly complex. Or is actually destroying the ecology the only acceptable measure?


Evolution is all about trying all possibilities simultaneously. The winners win.

Nope. Potlatch is not an economic system. Hunter gatherer? Are you serious? Kibbutz did not evolve, it was planned, organized, then carried out. Disaster socialism? What is that. Democratic Socialism did not evolve either. It was originally started by a dictator then people reelected the dictator. Venezuela is a great example.

What evolves is what happens when nothing else is enforced. A farmer with a fruit and vegetable stand is a capitalist. Capitalism is what happens naturally when no other system is enforced by law. Capitalism is the default position.

Ron P.

So Ron, where do we put Altruism? Is it evolved or is it something different?

I saw a Plant yesterday that I have been wanting to have in my yard. Now I could go and buy it from several sources online, at a low cost. But I could just go back to where I saw the plant and take a shovel and get the "free one". Now I have gotten something for free from nature.

But what if I take that plant and grow it till I can divide it, and give away the new plants. I have done this in the past. I have Lemon Balm in my yard, Which I got for free from an older Church member back when I was in High School. So it puts it over 30 years ago, I have been giving away the kids of that plant for decades now. It is spreading my capital, but without askign for anything in return.

So is that still Capitalism in your mind? Just giving away something for free!

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future. By the way I give my advice away for free.
Hugs From Arkansas.

Chuck, altruism is a figment of the human imagination.
The church loves the concept of altruism and prey on people like yourself, they want you to work for them.
Like the 72 virgins offered to the "martyrs" the church offers you your "reward" in the next life.

Religion and the church has "sold" that reward for centuries. This is the best book on the subject bar none.
I doubt very much you would read it though.

I'm sure Charles is already solid with this.. but I'll voice my disagreement anyhow.. There are a great many people who simply do things for others. It gets dismissed as empty feel-good actions, but who cares? People volunteering at Boy's Clubs, neighbors doing things for each others' kids when they clearly don't have to. Countless people going abroad to help out in devastated areas. Good Samaritans. They're all over the place. This is Altruism. Sorry you haven't seen any real examples of it, but it's really happening.

You are like a terrier at the cuff of my pants:-)
Cherry picking does not make it real.
If altruism was real there would be no wars, there would be no homelessness and massive inequality.

There would be no discrimination, rich and poor.
You mistake cooperation for altruism. We cooperate because there is something in it for us or our family or even church or maybe it's simply money in the bank.
There is always an ulterior motive, it can be subliminal and it can be undisguised.

We cooperate and call it altruism but it is simply a survival mechanism.
We need the concept of altruism to help us deal with our ultimate brutality and destructiveness.
But in the end, self preservation is a normal human (animal) trait.

Stand in a burning theater with one door of escape then count the altruists.
You will find the woman and children trampled over at the door by the heroes and altruists.

Sorry I disagree with you. The guy who jumped into the river to save a kid, then when it was over dissappeared into the crowd, It was a news story a few months ago, on Yahoo.

I have helped, where nothing would have been to my gain, none whatsoever.

If War were the only answer there would be no altruism is what you are saying. yes or no?

By the way, my dear departed cat was named Bandit.

Do you only show up when I use Christ in a post? Go look at some of my recent posts, I didn't even mention Him.

We should get together and play pool sometime, and talk about vector machanics, and chaos theory.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas.

We cooperate and call it altruism but it is simply a survival mechanism.

Yes, it is an evolved mechanism that has conferred survival advantages to many species including primates.

We need the concept of altruism to help us deal with our ultimate brutality and destructiveness. But in the end, self preservation is a normal human (animal) trait.

Logic fail! While self preservation is indeed a normal animal trait, there is no such thing as "needing the concept of altruism" for dealing with our brutality. We are what we are, a product of the sum total of our evolutionary process. We have evolved complex brains that have developed emergent properties such as high level abstract reasoning and the ability to conceptualize. We also evolved to be altruistic, it just happened that way.

We no more have a need for conceptualizing about altruism than sewer rats...

I recommend reading this essay...


The Sacrifice of Admetus: How the Evolution of Altruism Reveals our Noblest Qualities

But could the roots of altruism go back even further? Apparently yes, as suggested by an additional study appearing in PLoS Biology on July 3 by Claudia Rutte and Michael Taborsky at the University of Berne, Switzerland. In a study entitled "Generalized Reciprocity in Rats" the Swiss biologists constructed a similar cooperative task as used for the chimpanzees. A baited tray was attached to a stick that one rat could pull in order to bring food within range for a second, unrelated rat's benefit. Rutte and Taborsky then conducted subsequent trials to see how often rats who had benefited in the past would be willing to help other rats in the future, the Rattus norvegicus version of the movie Pay It Forward. On average rats were 21% more likely to help strangers if they had received such help themselves.

These findings seem to fly in the face of previous theory suggesting that individuals wouldn't perform an altruistic act unless they could expect such acts to be repaid. Known as reciprocal altruism, it has traditionally been held that an individual (human and non-human alike) would only be likely to help another if the recipient had previously shown they wouldn't take advantage of such generosity. This meant that only group residents whom the individuals had previous experience interacting with would warrant their aid. It was solely among kin members, depending on the frequency of shared genes, that individuals would behave altruistically without reciprocation. However, in both PLoS Biology papers, altruism was being displayed for the benefit of total strangers. And in the case of rats the decision to offer anonymous help was determined by how much anonymous help they'd already received. Rather than contradicting reciprocal altruism, what these studies instead suggest is an expansion of the evolutionary social contract. In an environment of cooperative strangers it pays to be cooperative yourself.

Ain't science great?

Reciprocal altruism is an oxymoron. If it's reciprocal it's cooperation.
Altruism is usually instinctive, its found throughout the animal kingdom, warning cries etc.
A parent often will sacrifice themselves to save a child, place themselves between danger and the child, it's about preserving ones personal gene pool.

But cherry picking individual acts over a population of nearly seven billion does not make an altruistic race. Look around you, look at the world. Will you swap places with a penniless person, give them everything you have? Are you altruistic? Will you give up your seat on the lifeboat to a complete stranger?

No, you (and me and 99% of everyone else) would like to cite and leave all the altruistic behaviours to others.
Altruism works in small groups but fails miserably as the tribe and population grows.
As a famous general once said, you don't win wars by dying for your country, you win the war by making the other poor bastard die for his.

In other words, If Christ Was a real Person, Only he could have been Altruistic, in that he Was willing to have died and gone to hell for all mankind.

But being God, he was only out for his own best interests, so by your way of thinking he fails at being Altruistic.

Yet Greater Love hath no man than to give his life for his brother.

When all men are brothers(mankind, check out DNA and Evolutionary Biology, There was a link to the video about all men being brothers, a few weeks ago Porge posted it.)

I'll have to agree to disagree with you on this.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs from Arkansas

If Christ Was a real Person

I for one don't think he was real.
If he was god what did he have to fear from Hell? According to the bible he performed many miracles to prove he was a god.
But you nearly understand why the church and religion promotes the concepts of altruism. The most successful religions promote the afterlife. Keeps 'em donating and coming back to worship.

You are a good man Charles and the world would be a far better place, if there were even just few more like you but you are incurably infected with the god virus, a Christian eye specialist who makes more posts than a season of Hollywood Park horse races:-)

Charles, Chuck is my dad,

I am willing to do this without a reward after I die.

Christ said that won't get you into heaven. You have to do it, for the right reasons, not getting into a reward if you do good system.

I don't fear death, and am not "Child Like" in that manner as the Author seems to think only Adult people can come to grips with death.

I know that any image I or anyone else has of death is likely to be wrong, or for that matter heaven if you believe in a heaven. Just like we could picture what the mealstorm inside a Star is like, but could be imagine what being an Atom of Hydrogen is like? Some things can not be thought of by the human mind.

If I only turn to dust and am nothing more than a breif candle flame, would I still help my fellow man?


Enough said.

I'll check out the book, I can only get bits of it through the amazon site. Enough to know why it was written and to know I won't agree with it, but I'll still check it out. I am not your average Christian.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, even if I get nothing out of it but a smile.
Hugs from Arkansas.


Understanding Altruism is to understand oneness. Helping another makes (usually/hopefully) their life at least a little better. Living around others with a better/happier life tends to makes our life better/happier...

I'll try a much more narrowly-defined view. Societies which support cities of 50,000 people and up (a somewhat arbitrary figure) tend eventually towards broad private ownership of the means of production. There are a number of factors that come into play:

  • Food production by whatever means is efficient enough to generate the surplus calories needed to support the cities.
  • Cities of that size both allow and require specialization.
  • Cities of that size generally require some degree of technology to survive; technology implies production using equipment which can be owned.
  • Authority finds it difficult to own and manage all of that equipment.

Potlatch and hunter-gatherer don't meet my condition. I would argue that the kibbutzim are small organizations who "privately" own a bunch of productive land/equipment within a bigger system, but individually would not meet my condition. Social democracies have, over time, tended towards private ownership of production. Assuming you're using disaster socialism the way Paul D'Amato does, I would argue that it's a temporary state; as the disaster-stricken cities recover, they will tend back towards more private ownership. Eg, Rebecca Solnit's example of 1906 San Francisco after the earthquake.

Of course, private ownership doesn't have to mean American corporatism.

Well, remember that capitalism is about capital. Physical capital is about improvements we have made to improve productivity. In semi-primitive agrarian society terraces and irrigation channels would be the principal stores of capital. Later on we have machines that aid in transport (roads wagons, canals, rafts, ships), and capital that aid in the production of goods. If the per capita volume increases the society grows wealthier. If it turns out that those city states with more private ownership accumulate capital faster than their neighbors, they are likely to eventually overwhelm them. So we have a sort of Darwinian selection of the principles of social control. Note, that no value is involved here, as in evolution whatever wins, wins. The winner is not necessarily the society with the greater average level of happiness. If say piracy and kidknapping win out, it is because it is superior in the Darwinian, not the moral sense of the term.

Kibbutsim are certainly not evolved. They formed ex-nihilo, by Jewish migrants who had read up on the secular socialist ideologies being proposed by intellectuals in Europe. And more importantly, they are not evolving. The kibbutsim were founded, essentially, by orphans who needed a surrogate for the family bonds they had lost to pogroms and tuberculosis, and the rules and arrangements they set up have been rubbing against the bonds of the family from the very first generation of children born in them. And since the kibbutz way of life is not derived from the Jewish religion, Israelis are not especially attached to the institution, and so it is dying out.

Christian communes, however, have been around since the days of Saint Paul. There is a great variety of them, and the Anabaptist varieties (Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites) are more stable, and have more to teach the casual observer on how to enlist people to a common goal.

Monasteries. That's a good example. We talked about it last week. They've gone on for centuries. Doesn't have to be religious. But they offer an example of small communities living a simple life, building for the ages, valuing tools, communal life, working for the good of all. It's an example, not something hard and fast, but something to learn from.

Capitalism has never existed without a strong central state, form when it arose in the Italian City States of the 14th Century, to the current system enforced by Global Elite's, and has always enforced its rules, often violently.
While I very much enjoyed Straw Dogs, Gray is as much a product of his own conditions as the world he is investigating, and assumes reality from that point.
Capitalism rewards and admires sociopaths. Not all economic relationships do this.

But reality is about to kick some butt. "Take away steadily increasing oil supplies and the bedrock of conservative economic theory becomes a fantasy."

So when the end of the day happens say in 50 years, will capitalism go by the wayside because we have all become hunter gatherers again, and share a lot of our food with our tribes?

I can see groups of people who are pushing for anti-capitalism in the world today, more of the commune mindset, though not a like Russia, and China pushed. They still did not live the dream of a true commune lifestyle in my mind. Too many fat cats, ruling over the common people, not enough everyone is equal.

How long before another mental disease becomes the rule in a society?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future world, today.
Hugs from Arkansas.

First we had to contend with "straw man" arguments and now we have "straw dog" arguments. Who'd a thunk it?

What's really charming is how much Straw Dogs start looking like their Straw Men after they've been together a few years!

The other thing about how 'Natural' our current form of Market Capitalism behaves is its strong inclination to push products that consumers don't really need, but will get hooked on.

Candy, Electronic Toys, 'Best Grampa' Statuettes, Silly Bands, Cigarettes ...

.. it makes me think that Capitalism is addicted to addiction and over-consumption. Might be natural, but it isn't healthy!

Bob - The new standby appears to be the cynical belief that Capitalism in it's current form is the only possible system

The story goes: If you have a group of peaceful hunter gatherers (or not so peaceful) occupying a particular habitat their population is restricted to whatever limits that area can sustainably support. A growing agricultural community sees those vast tracts of "undeveloped" lands as a misuse of resources which might support their greater numbers. The agricultural society with its greater numbers will always overwhelm hunter gatherers societies murdering and eliminating that society. Pretty soon all you're left with is this "dominant social paradigm".

So forget about silly notions like humanity, mercy or compassion. It's all about me and you so don't be a sucker. Get as much as you can for yourself before you're dead.


I and I am sure a few others have been trying to get rid of the current "social paradigm". There seems from studies and people who have been doing it for over 30 years that you can have both a hunter gatherer and planting culture. You don't farm like you own the land and want to beat it into your shape. You shape the landscape with the mind that you are working within the natural order, but you are using knowledge gained from a global database.

We know that kudzu grew in Japan without being a problem, but when we brought it over here to the US it became a problem. Why? Well Japan is mostly tended areas, even though some of them are still wildish, they aren't totally wild, like most of the USA is. Just think about a wild vacant lot in the city. If you do not go into it and tend to the plants, they will take over in the natural system that is always in play, though a bit influenced by man being nearby.

Kudzu was used as an erosion control, when they could have used better landscaping methods and solved their own problem, they took an easier route and added a plant they only knew a little bit about, to a new place.

Swales are a method, and a rather old one at that, that changes erosion patterns, and can increase water retention( anti-erosion) and allow an area to utilize a given amount of rainwater. In the natural world swales don't happen often by themselves. Man coming into the picture to change his environment to suit his needs.

So given what we now know, we don't have to be hunter gatherers only, or farmers only, but a combination of both, as well as better caretakers of the natural world around us. We don't have to be Growth Only capitalist, which breeds the "me first, you last" mindset.

Do I have to get my soapbox out yet again this week, and tell you( generally speaking) that there is a better way? If I start a school For BioWebScape, call ourselves BioWebScapians, and don't change for the classes, could we last more than a few years, until the founder dies( me )?

I once wrote a short story where the main character did just that, though it was before I cam up with the term BioWebScape, but the mindset is there, teach people for free, to teach others for free, so that you can spread the ideals to those that might not be able to afford things otherwise. Though in the story money was gained from the sale of food, at a cheaper price than normal and other creative tricks , seeing as it was fictional in nature.

Just because others don't think there is a better way, does not mean there is not a better way.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas

I’m replying here after reading about half the thread...


Images of man - his intrinsic characteristics, his necessary (or not) relations with God(s), the Universe, Nature, his fellow man, or usually woman, and his constructs (e.g. Law, be it secular or divine...) change over time. Plato’s Man, St. Augustine’s Man and Sarah Palin’s Man (no, not Todd) are different creatures. Nate Hagens does not dish up interpretations of human predation in terms of ids and egos and superegos, but serves up something called ‘neuroscience.’ Well, this is an obvious banality.

We all tend to think that our present visions are the most correct ones, superior to others, past or present (e.g. in some other culture.) In a way, we are right, as our present vision encompasses not only ‘innate‘ (if such a thing exists), fundamental, timeless, human characteristics, but includes, or is built on if one wills, a host of other principles, constructs, ideas, pieces of knowledge. In a deeply religious society, God is a presupposition and shapes and forms what man’s nature is, or should be. So we are stuck with our constructs, they are the ‘best’ we have, because...they fit.

Today, we feel we have Science on our side when we grapple with such questions, and we consider ourselves superior to those in the past who used only philosophical, moral, religious considerations, and/or based themselves on personal observation only. (Locke, for ex. was a great observer of his fellow humans and bears re-reading.) I don’t believe we are any better at defining ‘man‘ today - not because we don’t know more - but because we can’t escape our zeitgest.

Social Darwinisn (for ex., in my eyes) is a somewhat crackpot mishmash of some evidently operating ‘natural laws‘ (see, I am a prisoner of other’s devices!) and perceived human characteristics such as greed and a competitive, domineering streak. To mention only those. It seems to arise from the need to render natural, in the sense of inevitable, inescapable, built-in, one economic system, generally rather vaguely designated as ‘capitalism’, as the arguments proffered here show (in part.) (In fact, the US. for example is very highly ‘socialist’. Palin’s children get free health care under the Indian act, trivial ex. who knows.)

If I give money to a stranger, as I did last week, expecting no return, and it wasn’t a small sum either, am I altruistic? I would say yes; others might argue that my act only served to make me feel good about myself. Virtuous! Kind! Generous! Etc. However, if my act is nothing but a feel-good boost (equivalent to, say, downing a nice glass or two of prime cognac), from where or why does the feel-good come? It comes from my view of the mirror that society holds up, my imagined, self-reflexive image. Society considers giving noble, and i just performed a mini-noble act. On the other side of the coin, embarrassment and guilt spring form the same source: the mentally constructed eye of the other(s). Feelings of virtue and guilt are not the same in different cultures, as everyone knows.

Why is this so? Man is a social animal, and survived, evolved, because he lives in groups, and set up ways to coordinate member’s actions, and that of the whole group - from small groups in the Paleolithic to football teams and BP corporate culture. Some even attribute the emergence of articulated language to this deeply social quality, though of course both poles - social life and meaningful communication - will reinforce each other. I knew I would get to birds and bees...

The bedrock of man’s nature is cooperative. Bringing up human children is impossible without cooperation (however it is instituted - with role division in hunter gatherer societies or day care centers paid for by the tax payer), without some self-sacrifice that must be shared. Altruism can either be seen as a sub-category of cooperation, giving and helping are simply essential to survival of the group, or, by extension, as a ‘human quality’ (present in many animal communities as well.) In structured social groups, competition plays a role, of course. Decision making has to centralized in one way or another so that the group can act in concert, and competition between people, ideas, and ways of doing provides not only space for new ideas, innovation, but also a new consensus. Competition, however, is always a managed behavior - most societies condemn and punish murderers for ex. Competition is regulated by cooperative principles - see today Science or Sport for ex.

Long enough for now!

If I give money to a stranger, as I did last week, expecting no return, and it wasn’t a small sum either, am I altruistic? I would say yes;

Well you wrote about it here so I would say absolutely not. I gave to the Salvation Army, like you I could have given more, I could have given everything. If I leave a part of my meal that I was too sated to consume and someone else eats it, does that make me altruistic? What about the millions starving to death every day and the food YOU throw away.

Would you offer to take the place of a condemned person if you believed they were innocent, or would you just pray for them?

Like I said altruism is a concept, it's not real.
Donating shows we understand that we could one day be in the need of a handout. It's cooperation but not altruism. To alleviate our guilt, we invent the concept of altruism. We are animals though, if a behaviour has a positive affect in expanding the gene pool it will generally be adopted. It does not make humans "good' though, we are what we are.

Altruism is SACRIFICE without the possibility of a return, whether it be the passing on of genes or reward in the next life. Religion loves altruism and the concept is promoted constantly, the martyrs of 9/11 thought they were altruistic but of course their reward was their "belief" in 72 virgins and the next life.

I think wars would be far less violent if religion did not take a hand, offering salvation and a position in the "next life".

What innate trait has the greater possibility of passing on genes, altruism or self preservation? In a panic situation what wins out? Who are the altruists in acts of genocide, is it the victims or perpetrators? Maybe with the killers it's the man with the machete letting his friend hack the next victim.

I understand that a disbelief in altruism is akin to a disbelief in god so very few will agree with me.

I understand that a disbelief in altruism is akin to a disbelief in god so very few will agree with me.

God cannot be observed. Altruism can.

Regardless of the inner motivation for them, altruistic acts are commonly observed between people, animals, and even inter-species altruism has been observed in the wild.

Dolphins have nothing to gain from saving sailors from sharks, as an example.

So it's rather more like a lack of a belief in lust or anger.

The other thing about how 'Natural' our current form of Market Capitalism behaves is its strong inclination to push products that consumers don't really need, but will get hooked on.

I am not sure of the definition of "Market Capitalism" but I do agree with the point about wants versus needs.

It is my opinion that anywhere in the world where there is advertising, we are often asked to believe in the perceived need for products and services.

It is also my opinion that creating a perceived need is usually the marketing goal of advertising.

What do you call the Amish? Are they capitalists?
I guess the ones who sell quilts are, but how about others?

So, hunter gatherers would naturally evolve into a Capitalistic system?
How about Feudalism?

We spent a few days in Amish country in Pennsylvania, the most surprising thing was poking my head into one of the horse drawn carriages at an outdoor museum to find it was made of fiberglass. The Amish use loads of technology - but they don't produce the technological products they use. They also grow tobacco, which I think was a very strange thing for them to do.

No matter the now negative calls against Tobacco, as a plant in its pure form, it is not all that bad. Compared to other plants that humans eat or drink, or even smoke.

Where cigarettes get the vileness these days in all the other chemicals present in the manufacturing of the end product. Resins, glues, dyes and extenders found in the packaged item is amazing and scary too.

The plant, is cut, dried, cured and made into most likely pipe tobacco.

If you don't smoke it a lot, you won't get addicted to it, like most people think you will(you also have to get over the taste of burnt ash in your mouth). Natives of the Americas used it long before Europeans got here.

The brain can produce some odd chemical reactions to smoking if you use tobacco on only an occasional basis. If you use it more often those chemical reactions change, because your brain rewrites the chemical pathways.

Though they could be using it as an insecticide too.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs From Arkansas.

Of all the demons I have encountered in my life, none have exacted a toll so painful and precious as tobacco has.
Rest in Peace, Dear Brother. Not a day goes by that I not feel your loss.

My uncle died of Lung Cancer due to smoking. I understand how you can feel.

But I said if you don't smoke it regular like, you won't get addicted. Once a person can not stop, or will not stop, there is not much you can do about it.

My Dad's sister died yesterday, to drink. Though she had been semi-sober, even that is a life long struggle once you get it past a certain point.

Sorry for your loss.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future world.
Hugs from Arkansas.

But I said if you don't smoke it regular like, you won't get addicted.

They found nicotin the most addictive drug in mice, more than cocain and heroin, so it's not sure what you write is true.

And I am sorry for your loss.
Two very destructive legal drugs that are self administered.

I've noticed that, too. Their clothes look old-fashioned...but they are made of polyester.

The Amish do not avoid technology the way many think. There's a lot of variation among Amish communities, with some more strict than others. In general, though, they are accept modern medicine, including vaccines for their children. They may not own cars, but they freely hire or borrow them. Some communities allow phones, but only if they are outside the house. A tractor may be allowed if you are infirm, or if you hitch a horse to it. They might use propane powered farm equipment and appliances.

Some of these things sound silly, but I really like the underlying philosophy. Each community decides for themselves whether a technology will hurt or help the overall community. It's the community that counts, not the individual. That is why some allow tractors if you hitch a horse to it. They worry that a farmer will get greedy if he can plow faster than his neighbors, and expand his farm at their expense. Hitching a horse to the tractor ensures that he won't be able to plow faster than his neighbors. Similarly, a phone outside the house allows people to make calls in case of emergency, but doesn't allow the family to be interrupted when they are at home.

Overall, though, I think the Amish are in as much trouble as the rest of us. Half of them work ordinary jobs now (such in RV manufacturing plants), because there's not enough farmland for them all. Their large families mean they can't keep subdividing the family farm.

Note that while the Amish are in trouble, the Hutterite communities are doing fine. They have communal ownership of property, all work hard, the women have many children. When a Hutterite community gets much above 150 people, then some of them hive off to start a new Hutterite settlement. I find the Hutterians to be one of the most interesting subcultures in the U.S. They are quite distinct and different from the Amish.

Have you ever drove through Amish country on a Saturday? Almost everyone of them has a stand selling everything from roasted peanuts to lawn furniture, birdhouses to beans. They are definitely capitalist.

Feudalist overlords, like southern slaveholders, were capitalists. Capitalism is the default system. If you grow and sell, or manufacture and sell, or buy and sell for a profit (capital), you are a capitalist.

Ron P.

The key prerequisite for capitalism (after the rule of law) is that the means of production--land, buildings, forests, farms, fishing boats, business computers, tools, machinery, mines, oil wells and refineries--be held in private hands. Another prerequisite is a free market for labor; in other words, no serfdom or slavery or binding tradition that keeps a family on the same plot of ground for generations.

See especially THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION by Karl Polanyi for an account of the social and economic impact of the Industrial Revolution in England--a fundamental building block to understanding what happened to create modern industrial societies.

What do you call the Amish? Are they capitalists?
I guess the ones who sell quilts are, but how about others?

They are quilt selling, communal survivalists, adapting to their local economic environment.

How many Amish have created global corporations? Have you ever heard of an Amish bank?


About the only time the Amish use credit is when they buy a farm. Such a large purchase requires bargaining, and means working with a banker. There are no Amish bankers, no Amish-owned banks, so they turn to local banks for help. In this community, one banker stands above all others: Bill O'Brien.

Banking <> Capitalism

Bingo Christian!
A completely superstition based system.
Capitalism has been very resilient, in that it mimics survival traits that have provided fitness for humans, such as discounting the future, base reality on story and myth, thinking heuristically rather than critically, etc.
These are now liabilities.
Resource restraints will bring down capitalism.

Resource restraints will bring down capitalism.

And just what will take its place? Communism? Communism requires a strong central government, something akin to a dictator, to force everyone onto an equal plane, whether they like it there or not.

Resource restraints will more likely bring about anarchy or total chaos. Every man for himself. It will be a dog eat dog world. Everyone will looking out for himself and the hell with everyone else. That is default capitalism.

Ron P.

Communism attempted to solve the more fundamental problem of concentration of wealth which happens in basically every society. Aka inequality of wealth.

This in the end is the fundamental problem because the saying it takes money to make money is more basic than the nature of the financial system. All one needs to do is substitute power or influence or position for money and its clear that any inequality can be leveraged to increase the inequality eventually leading to concentration.

Somehow this problem will need to be solved and as far as I know its solution will be and artificial constraint of some sort.

So you are saying that no matter how hard I try to form an equal free society, someone will come along and take the leadership role and become the free societiy's king, or ruler. Crashing my we are all in this together atruistical commune!!

See above for the ideal.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas.

I guess we can write a story about that huh?

Well it seems any society that includes the concept of stored wealth eventually has issue with concentration of wealth.

Even something as simple as grain or cattle still can result in a serious concentration problem.

Think about a big bag of gold held by someone who is well off in good times he can add to his hoard of gold in bad times he can use that gold to buy up property at a fraction of its former perceived value. Rinse and repeat.

The problem is stored wealth itself can be leveraged through economic cycles to result in a relentless net gain in real wealth.

Only societies that don't have the concept of store of value are immune. Even in a communal like setting people maneuver to be more equal than others and exert control over any stored wealth even if they don't technically own it.

The only solution I could come up with is to make everyone wealthy enough that cycles did not happen therefore the stored wealth itself became useless past a certain point. Its a combination of smoothing the cycles and making inherited wealth large enough that people really did not want for anything.

To some extent I think the slow rate of change in ancient societies may well have been the result of this actually happening in the upper classes. Certainly you had slaves and all kinds of issues below but at the top it was a sort of deadlock condition with inherited wealth insuring that all the land and money if you will were locked up tightly all money just about was old family money.

In a modern world it seems to do the same thing without the travesty of slaves one would have to employ robots.

Thats not to say there would not bee a lot of jockeying at the top but its a BMW vs Mercedes thing. No real intrinsic change in value just perhaps a sort of social circulation.

Now with that said I'm not convinced such a society is good even if it was achievable seems to me it devolves into a lot of worthless rich kids pretty quick and loses its way.

Its a bit funny given that many people think equality is the nirvana but if you considered if everyone lived like a billionaire with computers removing using humans as the underclass you get a stagnant society. If you have equality and expansion of wealth then you would eventually end with that sort of result.

Which bring you back to the human concept of stored wealth and ownership etc. In the end it seems that those concepts can never result in a society thats healthy even if you assume equality its still not enough it simply seems to result in everyone eventually suffering from the bad effects of being at the top of the wealth concentration pyramid.

And I assure as far as I can tell the truly wealthy suffer enormous problems and would even if the slaves where robotic and not human. One would imagine such a society would eventually create "robotic" slaves that where in every sense equal to a human. So one would imagine at some point the only real difference is that the thinking slaves would have robotic roots instead of human. What good is it being super rich if no one is envious of your position.

If a billionaire was alone on and island in his huge house would anyone really care ?

Somehow in the end as I said the concept of wealth itself becomes the real problem esp the stored kind.
And as far as I know people are infinitely greedy if we had star travel I'm pretty sure we would have people that would want to rule entire galaxies.

So in the end our species is a failed experiment eventually we need to either modify ourselves to remove our problems or evolution will do it assuming we don't go extinct.

As a species we seem to be fundamentally flawed.

Not unexpected given we are it seems the first experimental model of and intelligence species. Later variants will of course have our flaws fixed.

It does mean of course that evolution itself would have to act effectively at this new mental level its created and that is really really fascinating. But perhaps not all that different from spiders being genetically capable of spinning webs. Evolution obviously already can act to select for pretty complex inherited behavior.

And Homo Sapien has not been around all that long give it a million years and lets see I'm fairly certain that Homo Whatever a million years from now would have a hell of a time understanding our crazy institutions much less using them.

Indeed assuming no population pressure its fairly easy to consider an number of societies that could exist in and area of abundance without ever considering wealth or wealth concentration there simply would be no need for the concept.

If America for example had a population of 10 million and we where still technically advanced why on earth would you even need the concept of wealth ?

I'd think people would be more interested in making sure mundane things like homes etc where artistic and beautiful and very long lasting so they could explore other areas.

Physical stuff would simply just be there no one would even think about it. Even with our species its possible to consider a society where such a situation could arise as long as the situation made physical stuff relatively unimportant.

You buy the land, I'll design you a nice house.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas.

I think one of the problems, if not THE problem, as well as the ultimate life-force, is that nature (and therefore us) has is that we want to be more then we are.
Yeast wants to split and copy itself. A bird wants to lay eggs and make more of itself.
We want to have more / be more tomorrow than we were yesterday. Nobody wakes up in the morning and hopes to lose some possessions or know less, understand less than he/she did the day before. It is in our DNA.
We are all reading and contributing to these threads because it adds to our lives, it doesn’t take away.
And if we weren’t built that way we would not exist.


It is in our DNA.

Our cousins with the other kind of DNA (not wanting to excessively reproduce) don't exist anymore.


Inequality is only a problem in agricultural societies. (Basically, societies that grow grain.)

Stored wealth isn't a "concept" - it's a physical reality. The foods we evolved to eat could not be stored for long. That limited inequality. Sure, you could "invest" your food surplus in luxury goods like jewelry or fancy clothes...but in bad times, those goods had no value. If food is actually scarce, people won't trade it for items like gold or beads.

Grain changed that, as it can be stored, for years if necessary. That's what allowed wealth accumulation. And yes, I think inequality is inevitable once you can store food.

Inequality is a problem in both horticultural societies, industrial societies, and post-industrial societies. See HUMAN SOCIETIES: AN INTRODUCTION TO MACROSOCIOLOGY by Nolan and Lenski. Any edition will do, but I like the eighth because it has a comment from me (as a reviewer) on the back cover. For an example of a pre-agrarian society, consider the Chinese of 2000 or even 3000 B.C.: They did not have plow agriculture but instead relied on labor intensive horticulture (gardens) instead of oxen or horse-drawn plows, and they had lots of inequality--and a fairly large and effective army under the earliest unifiers of the Chinese into a single empire.

It will be a dog eat dog world. Everyone will looking out for himself and the hell with everyone else. That is default capitalism.

Ah I see we don't have real capitalism now because there are rules of behavior. So when resource restraints cause the present system to fail we will evolve into the real capitalism where there are no restraints - each man for himself. And per you this will be right and good? Just what are you trying to say?

"De-facto capitalism," what we actually have, is as you say. Some purely theoretical forms of freedom, which most who defend "capitalism" are really defending, may still be supported. I don't consider expectations of unlimited free trash disposal, (which serves as a nice catch-all symbol for externalizing liability) a basic tenet of any desirable form of capitalism.

Can freedom remain in a state of sustainability? I have not found any good reasons why not. Except freedom to reproduce ourselves without limit. That's the elephant in the living room, which liberals have known about for a long time. Oddly, obscuritant denialists are curiously reliant on science to pull their asses out the fire while hating science itself. The parallels between Bin Laden and Palin are obvious to me.

Our problem is that people like Palin, might not really know what they are talking about, they get air time, and spread a form of misinformation (if you think you know what you are talking about, but you don't really and no-one tells you otherwise, you don't know you are spreading a falsehood). It is the mindset of some people that I know, that will let others walk all over them, because they are afraid of losing something if they speak out, all because the other person is a bully.

TheraP, I am sure you have seen these types of people. Though maybe not, most people who do not seek help have not the mindset that they need help, even though they might need it.

Palin, could be falling prey to no one telling her that she is wrong( she expects her enemies to do this, it has to come from her peers). Though even if your peers tell you, that you are wrong, you might not listen to them.

It just goes back to our talks about how people are not talking about the population problem, and how as the resources are constrained, the needs of the many will not be met. For that matter aren't all met even now.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Few of the many comments which followed this thread have focused on the subject of my first post. That is, can capitalism in a traditional sense survive in a sustainable form? There have been many who have written on the subject, using such terms as "sustainable development" and "Steady State Economics". These concepts do not allow for the sort of BAU version of economic activity, described in Gore's sentence:

Sustainable capitalism challenges us to generate financial return in a long-term and responsible manner.

The problem is that "to generate financial return" implies producing more "wealth" or "value" than was tendered to start the capitalistic activity. That's a prime definition of exponential growth and exponential growth is the problem we face on this finite Earth. Gore appears to be dancing around this problem, promising the business oriented readers of the WSJ that their world view can continue, if only they were to switch to "sustainable" capitalism.

It's another empty promise. Either Gore doesn't see this problem or he is just blowing smoke to promote his agenda.

E. Swanson

What I wouldn't give to be able to take a global sneak peak 100 years into the future to see what will happen. My greatest two fears are the "food shortage/hunger" factor and the "kill or be killed/turn on your neighbour" aspect of human nature. The doomer in me wakes up and I keep thinking....what's the point in preparing, in starting communities, in learning gardening skills among other things, when all your efforts will likely be "interrupted" with by desperate people, blinded by hunger with nothing to lose. I look around me and see people who would most likely kill me, instead of forming a "team", if it would provide the means to find a way to feed their children or loved ones. That scares the **** out of me. Like the scorpion on the toad, it's in our nature, right?


You point to one option for how humans might respond to shortages. The other is that cooperation can occur. And consider that mostly governments are formed for the purpose of maintaining order and guaranteeing peace and security. Your nightmare scenario is certainly a possibility in isolated places. But by and large I believe that if such events occur, the vast majority of people will organize to make sure that violence does not prevail. To my mind, and in view of how desperately people will want law and order to prevail, the danger of some type of fascist system may be more likely than your nightmare scenario. Of course fascism is another nightmare - in my view. It would guarantee order. But at a price.

I'd prefer a middle ground myself. A version of the current system, but guaranteeing food, shelter, and clothing for all. Then again I rarely get what I prefer....

Just my take of course.

Yes, I agree cooperation can occur and that a fascist state would rise out of the situation, depending on how long government can maintain any control. If the government loses its influence, I think that people would band together for security but in small to medium tribes/groups, which would lead to conflicts between each other over space, resources etc.

Not sure what you mean by the govt losing its "influence" - so I think you'd need to clarify if you mean some kind of coup, in which case there would be another type of (revolutionary) govt put in place. So maybe you need to specify what you mean... because it sounds like you're imagining a reversion to tribes of people ... and how would that occur? Without much of an explanation (but only a supposition on your part), it sounds (to me) like this is more based on what you imagine than on a realistic series of events. So please explain if you can. Otherwise I'm left with what sounds like a philosophical or fantasy-based scenario you're positing.

When I mean "influence" I refer to the general population's willingness to obey, accept or follow governmental policy and law. That is, if there are a series of rules are established to maintain order, but the population has neither the trust in the current government or due to their personal circumstances find no immediate solution or benefit to their worst problems in these rules, then they won't follow them. Now that I think about it, there would be a coup and a new form of government (revolutionary) be established.

When I refer to tribes, I mean "small to medium groups of people that have banded together with very similar ideas, values and problems". This can be a community, which I think of as a modern tribe. But I also think there are darker versions. I think about street gangs, especially younger members. They are like a tribe, of people who live in poverty, have had issues with family and require acceptance and support and/or have the need to have power and influence. Unfortunately, due to questionable morals are openly prone to confrontation so as to insure their own survival, even though there are alliance, however unstable they may be.

I'm just speculating that people will band together with others in similar situations. This may generate a large number of groups that due to mistrust and desperate crisis situations will be more likely to find another group to be a threat.

I also know that adverse situations can cause people and groups with different ideas and values to band together selectively so as to insure individual survival. You know..."a strong group means a strong me".

I have a fertile imagination and unfortunately the tendency to look at things in a pessimistic manner.

Ok, I hear several things from what you've written. And thanks for explaining.

A. You can foresee that if people don't trust their govt, indeed that could change - through a coup (or could be electing new people, changing the constitution perhaps - I'm throwing in these options).

B. The idea of tribes - doesn't have to relate to A at all. In effect it's already operating, as you suggest - in both positive and negative ways.

C. Maybe you want to consider redefining your pessimism as an ability to see and foresee problems. "Problem-finding" is a skill. And very helpful actually. Even if some people call you a pessimist.

Seems to me you have a mind that is agile and able to consider various alternatives. And I suggest you keep on expressing yourself and being open to discussing - as you seem to be - and that will help you refine your ideas as you think more carefully about them along with others.

Best wishes!

I'd prefer a middle ground myself. A version of the current system, but guaranteeing food, shelter, and clothing for all.

Ah, the slippery slope. You can't just guarantee something into existence... food, shelter and clothing have to be grown, picked, or made by someone, and the resources have to come from somewhere. Sure, it would be nice to wave a magic wand and have everyone's needs be met, but that is utopia, not reality. How much food, what quality, steak and lobster or white rice, and who provides it all? How big a shelter/house, in what neighborhood, how many rooms, how much land, and who builds it? How many outfits, shoes, who made them, what quality, and who makes it, etc. While we are at it, why don't we guarantee sufficient oil to meet everyone's needs forever as well?

Contrary to what lots of people want to believe, you do NOT have a right to something, which creates an OBILGATION for someone else to provide for your needs. You have the right to your life... no one has the right to TAKE it from you. You do not have a right to a house, because that would require someone else to build it for you. You have the right(freedom) to find, grow, buy or raise your own food, you do not have the right for someone to provide it to you with no effort of any kind on your own part. Every fake "right" or "guarantee" that someone dreams up, creates an obligation on another person... where does it all end? Is Bill Gates then obligated to live in a shack and eat only rice until every other person in the world can be upgraded into a studio apartment and given 1 chicken a month as well? Think of how hard you personally would be willing to work if all of the fruits of your labor went to nameless, faceless individuals somewhere else, whereas meanwhile your own kids were starving because their own needs were not being met.

The world is not a utopia. You might consider picking up a copy of one of the best selling novels of all time, "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand to have your eyes opened to a new perspective. Rand was in no way perfect, she had many personal flaws, but "Atlas Shrugged", as a novel, is second to none.

You and I are on very different political ground. I'll leave it at that...

You are correct. I believe you have to prepare and provide for yourself and your family. What you have posted implies that others should be obligated to provide for you. I have no problem with charity, or working together with your neighbors to meet each others needs, forming a community, etc. Where I draw the line is where we start talking about obligations. I am not obligated to provide for the needs of the guy standing at the end of the freeway offramp with the cardboard sign (and cell-phone, clean clothes, expensive backpack, new shoes etc.). I will do my best to help others when I can, but they shouldn't expect this help. A world of shortage doesn't have a lot of room left in it for those who aren't willing to work.

I believe you have to prepare and provide for yourself and your family. What you have posted implies that others should be obligated to provide for you.

So you don't use highways or hospitals or anything else created by group effort? You don't have a phone or an internet connection? You inspect all your food yourself? You tell the fire truck to "buzz off, I can handle this" as your house burns? oh yeah... you didn't ask anyone to be part of our society.

If you had lived on a desert island with no technological inputs or outside help for the past 50 years, you would have a supportable position. Your current position can be re-framed as "I don't care that we have shared the benefits of the past 50 years. Water under the bridge. I will not share the hardships with you. Excuse me while I get my shotgun."

Sure I use things created by group effort. I also pay for them. I pay property tax, income tax, insurance, gas tax, etc. etc. I pay for both my phone and internet services (and there are taxes on my bills for those as well). My property tax bill also has a special section for fire protection services. In spite of the taxes I pay, I had to pay additional money to actually use the hospital that I am already paying taxes for when my daughter was born, and thats ok with me as well. Despite all this, I do not complain about my taxes... I complain about the fact that as a nation we can't balance our freaking budget even with the multitude of taxes that we pay. I fear the breakdown of our way of life due to the inability of our leaders from both political parties to understand that you can not perpetually spend money that you do not have. And yes, I would pay more in taxes and get less "benefits" to get our country out of crippling debt and leave a better nation for my 2 year old daughter.

Regardless of all of this... most of the "benefits" you stated are collective in nature. I don't see how forcing someone to build and then allocating a house is a collective benefit. Nor is choosing if one indiviual can eat or not. Nor is a piece of clothing. All of those are indivdual benefits. Redistribution of farmland in Zimbabwe didn't work out for them so well either. I work, I pay taxes, but I am not a slave to the collective. You do not have the right to force another person to provide for your own personal needs, unless of course you feel that slavery is the ideal replacement system for the hated capitalism.

And you paid your parents to raise you.... How much did they charge? At what interest? And you're doing the same with your children?

Actually, I had a covenant with my folks. Like the movie, its simply pay-it-forward. Their gift to me was to love and support me in my endeavors until I was capable of doing so on my own. Their parents did the same with them. The obligation I was given is to follow the same road with my own children. So far, I've been keeping up my end of the bargain.

Regardless, family "obligations" are hardly the same thing as forcing a complete stranger to pay for your food, housing and clothing...

Regardless of all of this... most of the "benefits" you stated are collective in nature. I don't see how forcing someone to build and then allocating a house is a collective benefit. Nor is choosing if one indiviual can eat or not. Nor is a piece of clothing.

The building materials to build the house came on public roads (in Canada, probably from Crown Land.) The feeding of others provide manpower for the police and military. Clothing everyone provides economies of scale, without which your wife would be sewing in the back of the cabin with needle and thread.

Your position denies how interconnected our lives are. We created this problem together; we should deal with it the same way. (And I am aware this increases the chances of my dieing sooner.)


What about all those people willing to work but no one is willing to hire? There are currently 6 people for every job available. what are we going to do for the other 5 willing workers? What about those who are near retirement but have seen their investments disappear due to the shenanigans of the filthy rich? The filthy rich have been very good at exporting or automating jobs which is made possible by government services and public infrastructure. They have benefited from recent tax cuts more than everyone else. It is only fair to let those tax cuts expire and make them pay more for the benefits they disproportionately receive.

I recommend a negative income tax to support the long-term unemployed. This idea is spelled out in CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM by Milton Friedman.

No way can we transition to a sustainable economy and society without income redistribution. We need higher taxes on the wealthy and a better break for the destitute.

Feudalism can sustain itself. It's not very productive, but that is not it's goal, it seems almost designed ( though it wasn't ) to deal with limited resources. It seems to be what happens when people become less valuable than means of production, and what is made irrelevant when means of production become abundant relative to population levels.

Note that feudalism implies serfdom, and that feudal estates were often either making war on other feudal estates or undergoing sieges. The Dark Ages were dark for a number of reasons. Note that feudal lords rule by samurai swords (Do you know how samurais used to test their new swords? Edifying.) or by mounted and armored cavalry, as was the case during the European Middle Ages.

I do not think that feudalism is sustainable, because eventually it will be destroyed by larger centers of power--the city-state, the kingdom, or an empire. Eventually capitalism, gunpowder, and cities will destroy feudalism, and thus I do not regard feudalism as sustainable.

The one thing about feudalism that is sustainable is primogeniture. The first son gets the farm (so no subdividing land to the point were each farm is too small to feed a family of four). The daughters must find husbands. The younger sons must find, er, something. No sex before marriage. No marriage before the bride and groom have a household to put together.

It was cruel. But it was sustainable.

That system worked because of the church. The extra kids were sent to monasteries or nunneries! That was sustainable too. But without the monasteries, the primogeniture would not have worked. Well, some younger sons likely went to war as well. That allowed for bringing home booty... and maybe a wife later. But none of it occurred in isolation.

I want to note that I was not *advocating* feudalism. I regard it as something to be avoided if possible.

I don't think feudalism is mutually exclusive with high technology or cities however. Maybe it is, but I'd I can't think of an obvious reason why it should be.

Because there is little trade in feudal societies they cannot develop much specialization and division of labor. Hence high technology is impossible in feudal society. Once you get much trade you can and will develop city-states, nation-states, or empires.

But why *must* there be little trade or specialization of labor? Useful techniques were not lost during the dark ages. Some stuff stopped being useful and so was lost, but some things continued on. We didn't go back to the bronze age for instance.

There was very little money in circulation and very little trade during the Dark Ages. See any textbook on Medieval History. Then, starting around the 13th century, trade and money and cities all started to revive. See the books by Henry Pirenne on these topics, especially on the rise of cities.


I've been recently reading a series of *fictional* books by Ken Follett that portray life in Medieval Britain.

One of them is called "Pillars of the Earth" and soon will be televised as a mini-series on cable TV.

Follett focuses on exactly the kind of questions you ask, i.e. why do are few people educated and why is knowledge lost in a region that has no paper, no printing press and trade guilds who keep their crafts as deep dark secrets?

So let the tax cuts expire... I'm not standing in the way of that. Everyone is going to have to suck it up and contribute a bit more if we are ever going to get out of debt as a nation. However, that still doesn't mean that someone owes you a job. Look at CEOJr1963, he doesn't make boatloads of money, and lives with his folks... but he MAKES it. Why does everyone seem to think that they are entitled to the best in life without having to lift a finger? If you are really willing to work, I bet you can find a fast-food job available within your town... it might not be glamourous, but it pays the bills. Work your way up the chain of command and you can actually make decent money doing it.

It depends on where you live...but jobs are really scarce in many communities. Even fast food jobs.

Look at all the young people who can't find work this summer. They're kids, they're happy to work for minimum wage at fast food joints or at the mall. They can't get a job.

I think you're projecting. Sounded more like he said he was willing to help pay for 'charity' (welfare) for those less fortunate, not that he personally wanted to sit around and pick up his welfare check in his Cadillac every week.

Thanks Neon9... yes, I give to charities, and I have no qualm that others sometimes end up in circumstances that they need to depend on the charity of others. I pay into the system, I don't currently, and hopefully never will, need to depend on it myself.

I suspect that's the fundamental difference here. Some people think they'll never need help (and don't see the help they are getting). Others think that "there but for the grace of god..." or see that they owe much of what they have to the taxes paid by others.

In the U.S., you better hope you don't get sick. Even the wealthiest people with the best insurance find themselves bled dry if they or their children end up with a serious or chronic illness.

One way to keep people fed, clothed, housed, and healthy is for the government be the employer of last resort. This country needs to fix or replace much of its infrastructure as well as creating a renewable energy supply system. No business is trying to maximize the number of employees it has. People are in business to maximize profits and doing so with as few employees as possible. The business cycle if left on its own as it was in 19th century America causes large swings in the unemployment rate and since the government started supporting the unemployed the swings in unemployment levels have been much less than they were in the 19th century. Social support programs provide customers for private enterprises and indirectly have prevented much higher unemployment levels. Private enterprise has been very good at producing the goods we all use but very poor at providing essential services such as education and health care.

Atlas Shrugged has for its hero the inventor of a fantasy energy source based on of all things static electricity. Without this energy source its magically hidden capitalist society somewhere in Colorado would not be possible. In effect Ayn Rand says capitalism is dependent on cheap energy supplies.

Look at the WPA and CCC. Though they might not be able to be used today, something like them would be better than handing people a check every week. Get a return on the money we are helping the otherwise unemployed with, but having them do things that their skill set will be able to do, all for the betterment of society in general.

If Obama really wanted to help people, he'd get cracking on something along those lines. Otherwise, just handing someone money and telling them it runs out in x number of days because it is a freebie, limits the amount of money you have to give out.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas,

The government does not create jobs... every government job is supported by taxation, or unsubstainable borrowing. When you take money from people through taxation, you destroy jobs in the private sector that would have been created, and replace them with jobs in the government. Of course businesses aren't trying to maximize the number of employees they hire... that would be foolish and put them out of business. Only governments can get away with stupidity like that, as if creating employment was the goal and not creating goods and services.

We could have full employment in this ocuntry if we outlawed long haul trucking and required all goods to be hand carried across the country by porters... does that sound like a good idea?

As for Atlas Shrugged, the reason it is one of the most important books ever written is that it spells out exactly how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Ayn Rand is a fascinating individual, who in spite of her flaws, experienced first-hand the "communist revolution" in Russia, escaped from it and wrote about her experiences with the hard-won knowledge that she gained. "We the Living" is another great novel for those who think that government should provide for the basic needs of all citizens...

In my mind, Gov't should not provide for everyone, unless they have paid into some system that was set up for that manner, Social Security, which only pays a % of your last few years highest wage, out of the fund that was supposed to have been set up with your name on it. But that is not how it happened, money got put into a collective pot, and other Gov't agencies took from that pot and now the system is broken, because of that and other issues.

If instead of paying My dad and Mom and Me,(them retirement, me disability, I worked over 25 years and paid in to the system), they were to offer me a chunk of arable land( I'd take at least 30 inches of rainfall a year) Say one to two acres. Then gave me the checks for 5 years afterwards. I own the land, and pay a small tax on it to the local gov't, and can build anything I want on it, within reason. After 5 years, I am on my own. No more checks, no more medicare, a pay as I go health system( whatever they have set up after all this redoing of laws and such). I'd be fine with that.

I can't speak for all people who have worked and now are considered disabled, not all of them would be able to take care of the land, or themselves. But if I were totally able bodied, I would not be disabled, now would I? Laughs sickly.

Of course the program I saw where the truckers were moving 125 ton loads, that is an awful lot of human legs and arms to move that over land,, Geee Aren't their some big hunks of stone somewhere that they can't figure out how humans moved them?? Maybe you have hit on the idea we need to relearn.

I figure to be able to pay the taxes on this place, and all my other needs, without a car, I could get by for under 5k a year. If I lived alone in a 3 bedroom house. If gov't failed, then I might have to pay money to the local warlord, but I might get to keep the place, or I might be BBQ.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from BBQ country.

Ayn Rand? Puh-leeze. So help me out here, is Tony Hayward a "producer" or a "parasite"? "Moocher"? Maybe a "looter"? I get confused. What about little babies? I'm glad my parents weren't Objectivists (of course I was quite a "producer", even as I parasitically mooched and looted). If Ayn Rand's narcissistic, adolescent, intellectually bankrupt justififcations for being a selfish ass are the end-all be-all of human existence, then I'm the mother-f--king Archbishop of Canterbury. Which I am not, by the way.


Thanks for that!

Just sayin'...

I have read TOD for quite a while now and simply lurked. Your comment inspired me to create an account. This is one of the finest descriptions of objectivism I've seen in ages.

The problem with objectivism is that it requires its adherent pretend that the past did not exist.

Welcome to TOD!

Objectivism? I wonder what you mean by that "-ism." If you use the term to mean that only objectivity can establish truth--well that statement is true for science and math and improving technology.

If you mean by objectivism that only objective facts are important, well that statement is manifestly false.

Or by objectivism are you referring to the philosophy of Ayn Rand? That is a narrow perspective lacking in a knowledge of history and sociology and even political science and economics.

Given that our new TOD friend was replying to 7String who used the word Objectivist with reference to Any Rand (if you look at who 7String was responding to), I think we can safely assume your last option.

Hey scimitar! I lurked here on a daily basis for the past three years or so myself. The Rand-y's always seem to make me break my silence on the interwebs. Damn you, Rand-y's! (shakes fist at screen)

The truth is, Ayn Rand would have called BP criminal. Why? Because in spite of her flaws when it comes to issues involving the environment, which I don't dispute, she would have argued that pollution of property that you do not own is a trespass of the property rights of the property owners, in this case, both the private property owners and the collective government owners. I don't argue that this is the best interpretation, but her view was basically that you can do anything you want to your own property, but when your mess spills over onto your neighbors property, then you have overstepped your rights.

As for being having Objectivist parents, I can think of a lot worse. Must be horrible to have parents who teach a growing kid the value of work, and that money doesn't grow on trees. Much better to teach your kids to mooch off the labor of others because life in the US has been so unfair to you.

Ah, the slippery slope. You can't just guarantee something into existence... food, shelter and clothing have to be grown, picked, or made by someone, and the resources have to come from somewhere. Sure, it would be nice to wave a magic wand and have everyone's needs be met, but that is utopia, not reality. How much food, what quality, steak and lobster or white rice, and who provides it all? How big a shelter/house, in what neighborhood, how many rooms, how much land, and who builds it? How many outfits, shoes, who made them, what quality, and who makes it, etc. While we are at it, why don't we guarantee sufficient oil to meet everyone's needs forever as well?

In my BioWebScape design system, the houses would be grand a full of light and have nice temperatures, but they would be small compared to most houses today in the USA. More on the line of tiny homes, just not as small as 200 sqft for a family that some places have to live in.

One pair of foot wear, one or two sets of clothes, about what you would be able to pack up and hand carry if you had to move. In my mind is good enough, we have been led down a rosy consumer path for a long time and our mental landscape sees plenty goods as plenty to survive, when it is only plenty food/water that leads to survival.

So taking TheraP's side, if everyone had a full belly, and a house, and something to wear, things would be better.

What and where we live is a totally different place. In America we have people with no place to call a roof over their heads, some who go to bed in a house, but have no food. And the laws that say if you have no clothes a place in jail will provide you with clothes, till you get released from jail and we give you some freebies.

In a land of plenty we have poor people, and that is one thing you don't often see on the nightly news, and when you do, it is short and the anchor bemoans and forgets about it, till the next headliner.

We don't have to live the way we do, we know how to live in a better world, just look around you, there are people who do all they can to change the status of the hungry and homeless.

I don't think grabbing what Bill Gates has is going to solve anything. Changing the ME FIRST attitudes of people will go a long way toward changing that, but it is not an easy battle.

I don't expect to feed everyone, and I do expect some people to help with things, though not everyone can build the house, or plant the seeds or tend the sheep. But they can tend the kids, stay with those who need company the sick and old that can't work, can do other things, each person is of value, finding that value and using it inside the society is not an easy task, but it can be done, and could be done today. If more people got off their "Me First" attitudes. If you can't get rid of that attitude, fine, go elsewhere, come back when you can get with the program, here's a meal for traveling, and a bed roll and a walking stick, for the wild things, bye now!

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs from Arkansas.

Not to worry TheraP get yourself a copy of When Life Nearly Died by Michael Benton http://www.amazon.com/When-Life-Nearly-Died-Extinction/dp/050005116X and console yourself with the idea that we well may extinct ourselves.

Or get a copy of Postman by Michael Brin and see how he envisions mankind recovering from disaster.

I go with Brin if we don't extinct ourselves. The default mode for humans is tribal hunter-gatherers and regardless of whether anyone thinks that is better or worse it worked for several hundreds of thousands of years. In a depleted environs human tribes will be scattered far an the enemy to fight will be nature. The allies will be your tribe.

Lot of people will die before it settles out, but everyone of us now alive today is going to die anyway because we are mortal. Modern death is often inhumane and cruel (but hidden) as people go through the agonies of cancer treatment, years disabled by stroke, years of losing one's mind, crushed or burned in auto accidents, years disabled by toxins in the environs etc. We just look the other way and pretend we all will die quietly in our sleep. A quick death from a bullet or knife is preferable to what I have seen going on over years and years in nursing homes because in part of our death denial.

I've always be curious about what/who would become the dominant species after homo sapiens should we become extinct.

Now with this idea of reverting back to hunter-gatherer tribes is interesting. After that will they evolve to where we are now? Will the errors of the past and present be inscribed into our genes so that future versions of us are more energy conscious? Or will we eventualmente repeat everything, get to where we are now, collapse again then rinse and repeat?

Oh if I could see the future...don't know if I'd be intrigued or horrified...

Have you read Greer's Solving Fermi's Paradox?

On another level, though, Fermi's Paradox can be restated in another and far more threatening way. The logic of the paradox depends on the assumption that unlimited technological progress is possible, and it can be turned without too much difficulty into a logical refutation of the assumption. If unlimited technological progress is possible, then there should be clear evidence of technologically advanced species in the cosmos; there is no such evidence; therefore unlimited technological progress is impossible. Crashingly unpopular though this latter idea may be, I suggest that it is correct - and a close examination of the issues involved casts a useful light on the present crisis of industrial civilization.

Others, such as Fred Hoyle, have had similar thoughts.

We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.

I have doubts that humans, at the moment, are the most technologically advanced manifestation of life in the universe. I know that unlimited technological growth is only possible with an unlimited, cheap and easily accessible energy source to fuel it and due to this many civilizations have grown exponentially, become advanced and subsequently collapsed. I thank you for reminding me of Fermi's paradox.

I think that maybe we are relatively low tech to be aware of other civilizations many steps ahead of us and most likely we won't get to that point as we're probably at our curtain call or at least a massive "system restart". I remember Dr. Michio Kaku using the example of us building a large 8-lane highway beside an anthill. The ants may be organized and advanced insect-wise, but in terms of complexity and scale they may not have the ability to be aware of what's happening next door.

Then again here I am a complex human and I got dive bombed by a mocking bird, because I was too close to their nest while out picking blackberrys the other day.

We can't tell is the ants don't give a flip about us, or that they aren't able to understand us. But if an animal dies on the highway and lays near the ant nest I am sure they will take advantage of it, either way they think.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs from Arkansas

There are much simpler solutions to Fermi's paradox: Suppose that it is unlikely that life will arise, even a a favorable environment, such as earth; that would solve the paradox. Another possibility is that it is easy for single cell life to evolve, but the jump to multicell life is exceedingly difficult. If memory serves, for the first three billion years or so of life existing on earth it was all single-cell life, very primitive forms of life. To this day, I don't think biologists have a clear idea of how or why the jump to multicellular life happened; it could have been a rare fluke.

Thus I find the idea that high-tech civilization is unsustainable to highly questionable. I prefer to focus on the simpler (according to Occam's Razor) explanations of the Fermi paradox.

Technological progress tends to be one way: How long we can travel this one-way street is questionable too. IMO, in the absence of excessive population, technological progress can be sustained for at least a thousand years. After the world population crashes down to a population of half a billion or a billion or thereabouts I expect technological progress to resume, though at a slower pace than happened during the twentieth century.

I think it would be great if a good chunk of current scientific and technological knowledge could be recoverable should technology continue after a population crash. This way one wouldn't need to re-invent or re-learn but find a way to reproduce a result in a relatively sustainable way. It would be interesting if future people (given the crash won't drive us back to a almost primitive age) will have a way to recover all the posts from TOD, I think it would be very useful for them.

I don't think anyone will want to do research on TOD posts a hundred years from now. What would be exceedingly valuable is a 1911 edition of the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, the last edition before it was dumbed down. An unabridged dictionary is of great value, too bad the Merriam Webster Third edition has not been revised into a new edition since 1961, but both Random House and Oxford have more recent big dictionaries. Textbooks, both introductory and advanced, may be of great value a hundred years from now. Indeed, nonfiction books in general can be of value, and those printed on acid-free paper will probably survive (at least a few copies of the useful ones) for one hundred or two hundred years.

On the other hand, nobody is going to be able to read the floppy disks on which most of my books have been kept. My one textbook, ECONOMICS: MAKING GOOD CHOICES, sold over 60,000 copies, and I daresay a few of them will be around in a hundred years, even though the floppy disks I used for the text and the accompanying student guide and the instructor's manual probably will not be around in 2096, a hundred years after its publication.

Of course I could be wrong. Maybe floppy-disk readers will be around for a long time to come and not be completely displaced by other means of data storage. But how long will a floppy be readable? I don't know the answer to that question.

I dunno. Have you read "A Canticle for Leibowitz"?

I have read "A Canticle for Leibowitz" several times; it is one of my favorite works of science fiction, and I've been a fan of science fiction since 1949, when I read Heinlein's ROCKET SHIP GALILEO and was thrilled by it. In the good old days I subscribed to "Astounding Science Fiction," "Galaxy," and "The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction." Ah, to be back in 1953 again, when there were at least twenty different science fiction magazines on the newstands--each at a price of 25 cents per copy. I still remember my shock and dismay when prices for mags and paperback books went from 25 cents up to 35 cents due to the inflation of the mid nineteen fifties.

One answer to the Fermi paradox, is that there is a limit to the advance. The most obvious hard limit we think we can understand is the speed of light. So even if civilizations can advance to the spacefaring stage, their reach into the greater cosmos is actually very localized.

Of course I am really pretty pessimistic these days. We have a sample size of exactly one planet that evolved complex life. And but for different reasons than Fred Hoyle, the planet blew the opportunity and generated a destructive clever -but definitely NOT intelligent species, which will with high likelihood eliminate the chance of this planet evolving true intelligence. And, given that we got where we are today via evolution, what are the odds of a planet evolving a clever species that is wise enough to avoid self-destruction? Perhaps intelligent species are very very rare in the universe, and the nearest is perhaps a billion light years away, and we will never meet them.

Maybe we are killing them, thinking they taste good as whale burgers.

Though their world wide web is being polluted with our sonar and other noises.

BioWebScape designs for better fed and housed world.

As I understand it...Fermi's paradox doesn't necessarily refer to UFOs landing on the White House lawn. If they're out there, we should "hear" them via their electromagnetic emissions. We are broadcasting our own existence via radio and TV, but haven't found any evidence of others doing the same. With one possible exception.

I find that especially chilling, because it suggests that societies don't last long past the point of TV and radio...or perhaps that many collapse before they get there.

Perhaps--and perhaps not. To me, Fermi's paradox ("If there are extraterrestrial intelligent beings, where are they?" or words to that effect) suggests the following:

1. Life is relatively rare in the universe.

2. Multicellular life is exceedingly rare.

3. On many planets multicellular organisms did not evolve much intelligence. For example, suppose the dinosaurs had never been wiped out on earth; in that case mammals would probably have remained small, marginal, and numerous--like squirrels and rabbits, but not much intelligence and definitely no self-awareness.

Using Occam's Razor, to me these seem to be the simplest and best conjectures.

1. Life is relatively rare in the universe.

2. Multicellular life is exceedingly rare.

You might enjoy a slightly different perspective and view of the universe...

'A Universe From Nothing' by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009


In a nutshell, the universe is huge and old and rare things happen all the time, including life!
But life ain't special...

You are still figthing against time via lightspeed.

If the species evolved at the same time frame that we did, say within the same generation of our own Star( the Sun) then they could be a few thousand or so years more advanced. But then if they are only 25,000 light years away, we'd not see them yet.

If they were in another generation of stars, say 5 million years ago, anything further out than 5 million light years, would out of range.

We can't say yes or no to them being there or not.

Then again we may never know for sure. If we were to lose the ability to see the signals in the next 20 years, knowing they are there will be useless.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Right now we have 20 different cell phones available. We are wasting time in this You have to have 20 instead of only one, that can be advanced on its own. If we just change some things by a hair, we get a new patent, if we were working more toward bigger steps while dealing with the simple things we now have, we'd be saving a lot of the energy we seem to be wasting.

Why do I need 50 suits in my closet, or 500 pairs of shoes (Marcos), on and on they go, the need for having more of things, has to end or else we won't advance very far with all this wastful junk we are collecting.

I rarely buy a book now, because if it won't advance my knowledge library, why have it. I buy food, but I try to buy as many useful for the long term things as possible. Seeds and plants being something to spend money on, I can seed save and cultivate more plants.

The question is, can we run a DNA testing lab on Wood?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.
Hugs from Arkansas

How is it that you have this particular link on hand?

I didn't, but Google did. :-)

As we have only now in the last 50 years gotten to the point of finding exo-planets and only see the things happening as they were in a very limited bit of our skies, and we have only scratched the surface of our universe's knowledge threshold, I don't think that can yet be said to be the end of that search for others in the universe.

Just because we have not seen them up till now, does not mean they aren't yet to be seen to be out there.

Just because we did not know that there were creatures on our own world that did not need sunlight to live, (think thermal vents) does not mean there were none to begin with, until we saw them.

Paradoxes are paradoxes because you can not wrap your mind around them, but just because you can't do it, does it mean they don't exist.

I don't know what will happen in 10 days, Will we get word on some study going on, that was being done in a secret lab in a DARPA project, that made certain things available for use, and is just now being talked about? It is all those things that we don't know about that can pop up and make all those things we have assumed to be facts go away.

What we don't know about is far bigger than what we do know about.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Planet A, otherwise known as Arkansas.

If only one per galaxy were the case, then Fermi and we could not have seen each other. Also as the speed of light is a known value, and if it is set that an advanced race were say only 10,000 years off of our own time line, then they would be visible only after a given amount of space from us.

We know things about the universe that says in certian regions, the radiation is high enough to kill almost all life as we know it. We are just now seeing deep details of the nearby space, under 5,000 lightyears.

I say we still have a lot of questions to be answered before we can assume that Fermi was right, Light speed being a limiting factor. And our ability to detect what is still unknown out there.

Rather than imagining what would happen if lots of us die, I'd like to focus on your last paragraph: That we all will die.

If we begin with the acceptance of our own death as well as the loss of all our possessions, and if we could get many, many people to also accept those realities, then we might get groups of people more willing to deal with loss, even to plan for it. To plan to downsize and simplify our lives, to share resources in order to do that. In the long run, since we will ultimately be dying, many of us want to pass along wisdom and guarantee, to the degree we can, a workable set of social institutions for those who will come after us.

I think it's possible to find better ways of working together (cooperating) - which is different than coming up with new technologies. To some degree this is already happening - at places like TOD. Where we can discuss issues, philosophies, etc. - mostly in a civil manner. We're learning. We're helping others to learn. And without realizing it we may be building better social skills and new ways of fostering community.

I don't have ready-made answers. And I realize there are selfish, greedy people everywhere. Nevertheless there seem to lots of altruistic, generous, open-minded, people (able to learn from each other) and it's this group, this mentality, that I'm counting on.

You used the words "tribal" "hunter" "gatherer" - but we live in a world of not only language and practical skills but science, books, a whole lot of history and research to make use of. And that offers us mental stimulation and expertise that tribes, hunters, gatherers did not have. So we have to add that in too, along with all the social skills inherent in your 3 words that I mentioned just above. We're talking philosophy here and many other technical areas of study and learning. And people exposed to a wide variety of fields and experience able to discuss and consider options. Again, it's way more than your average tribe, hunter, or gatherer had available. So we make use of our social abilities and our vast collection of libraries and learning of all types. We put it all together. Ideally for our common good.

Just some thoughts to ponder....

You used the words "tribal" "hunter" "gatherer" - but we live in a world of not only language and practical skills but science, books, a whole lot of history and research to make use of. And that offers us mental stimulation and expertise that tribes, hunters, gatherers did not have. So we have to add that in too, along with all the social skills inherent in your 3 words that I mentioned just above. We're talking philosophy here and many other technical areas of study and learning.

We also live in a world where cross cultural pollination is a fact of every day life. We are continually exposed to powerful memes and assimilate technology and in turn our brains are rewired and our gadgets become extensions of our consciousness.

I have become fascinated by the implications of the thesis proffered by Lambrous Malafouris of Cambridge University with regards his cross disciplinary research in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and archaeology.




The mainstream approach to cognition holds that it happens in the mind and that material culture is nothing more than an outgrowth of our mental capacities. Archaeologist Lambros Malafouris is challenging this deep-seated idea with a radical new notion: the hypothesis of extended mind, which posits that material culture is not a reflection of the human mind but an actual part of it. Take, for instance, a blind man's stick. "Where does the blind man end and the rest of the world begin?" he says. "You might see the stick as something external, but it plays a very important role in the perceptual system of this person. It extends the boundaries of this human—the stick becomes an integral part of the cognitive architecture."

If material culture is an extension of human cognition, our engagement with it has actively shaped the evolution of human intelligence, Malafouris argues. For example, ancient clay tablets that allowed people to actually write down records were not mere objects, he says. Instead, they became integral adjuncts of the human memory system. The invention of such a technology "changes the structure of the human mind," says Malafouris, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge. Rather than happening wholly in the head, he argues, cognition develops and evolves through the interplay between intelligence and material culture.

My question is, what might be the cultural consequence of the collapse of capitalism? Since it was based on access to cheap fossil fuel and it has allowed human culture an unprecedented and relatively sudden development in cognition via completely unprecedented and truly mind boggling information networking capabilities via computers and the internet, which allow us to be having this very conversation here on this site. Are we possibly going to mature and evolve into a new cultural state and chose to jettison the automobile and other energetically onerous consumer artifacts in favor of maintaining a new social and cultural network?

Some food for thought. Will we Perhaps eschew NASCAR entertainment in exchange for being able to log on and watch high enrgy collisions live at the LHC, which will allow us all to begin to grasp quantum chromo dynamics and participate in multi lingual and multi cultural discussions? Or will instead continue to desperately cling to a vacuous meaningless unsustainable materialist existence of Walmart purchased plastic crap and and industrially produced fast food "Happy Meals"?

Here's to hoping we can finally grow up!

"...watch high energy collisions live at the LHC..."

Huh???!!! Nothing to see. Nothing to hear. Just bunches of numbers accumulating in the (very sophisticated) data loggers. The interesting stuff is all in the post processed statistics which don't even exist until many, many collisions (sometimes over weeks, months or even years) have occurred!

Paul, I didn't quite mean that literally, I'm more interested in the cultural exchange of ideas and how things like grid computing are changing our consciousness. The LHC is a multicultural enterprise that depends in part on grid computing.

# High energy physicists are using grids in their search for a better understanding of the universe, relying on a grid of tens of thousands of desktops to store and analyze the 10 Petabytes of data (equivalent to the data on about 20 million CDs!) produced by the Large Hadron Collider each year. Thousands of physicists in dozens of universities around the world want to analyse this data.


Those scientists are able to log on and have access to the data you mention and have real time discussions about it. If you go back to my reference to Malafouris' thesis, having access to the technology of something like grid computing might actually have a role to play in physically changing the human mind, and consequently effect human cultural evolution. That's what I am referring to.

Otherwise we may as well go back to watching cars going round and round on big screen TVs...

I will follow up on your links. I have a great interest in cognitive psychology. Indeed, I was thinking earlier (re that discussion on "complexity" upthread) that although our brains process complex information, the more adept we are at processing certain kinds of info, the more our brains find "simpler" neural networks - so that the brain saves time and effort by "imaging" complexity more and more simply.

I also agree with the basic premise you've stated about how culture or the external world becomes co-extensive with our brains. Simple example, using this oil crisis: When people were watching those robots trying to do this or that, many people found themselves trying to "will" the robot to do the task more efficiently or accurately. Thus, the minds of the watchers were literally in sync with what the robots were doing. So .... at the same time as the robot "manipulators" were doing their task, those watching ALSO felt mentally connected to the robots!

And this brings up the whole idea of "mirror neurons" - which actually fit with this line of thinking happening right in this little section of the web tonight. Mirror neurons, and I happen to think that some of us have particularly sensitive mirror neurons (and the reverse, of course), are neurons that fire in the brain when we see someone do something (and I suspect when we imagine that as well). And guess what? When you see someone do something... let's say hop up and down... then your brain reacts to seeing that as if you were doing the same identical action. From that you get empathy (the more so, if you have these really sensitive mirror neurons).

So to follow with this idea of archeology and neuroscience, could it be that seeing another culture (even its remains) fires these mirror neurons and thus expands our experience, because mentally to see it is to "experience" it.

Gregory Bateson who was an anthropologist has some interesting things to say about how minds work - and extend beyond the physical "mind" - so that our selves feel larger than just our bodies. And maybe people who do that especially well are being stretched by what they've experienced or read or seen, etc. And so the more we "travel" via multiple pathways, even inner pathways, the more we stretch our minds.

And yes, it's conceivable that this kind of communicating over the web, cross-fertilization of different fields by people open to learning and growing... could ultimately change and affect those of us doing it together. We can't predict how that growth will occur - for each of us is different (and the mind does that for us automatically in a way). But we can predict THAT it will occur. (It's like systems theory... if we're all part of a dynamic system, like this one.)

People will definitely need to find alternate forms of entertainment... as the fuel for gas-guzzling toys and car races ...... drains away....

Human capital! That's what we need to think about. Neural capital. If we are going to make positive changes, it needs to come from an inner type of development, I think. Or at least a great many of us need to aim for that. Cross fertilization. Interdisciplinary. Allowing all that complexity to form into those wonderful networks of simplicity as the information "gels" - and our brain does that naturally... it takes complexity and forms patterns which become more and more "simple" - like the idea of a "picture" worth a thousand words.

Many neurons firing here!


To have stated what you did, you have grown up, or at least are on your way to further maturity.

I think at times that most of the world is still kids playing in the big sandbox, and not yet getting out to design a better sandbox with their minds instead of sand grains.

I really liked the thought picture of the LHC, getting out the beer when your favorite element takes the 14th turn and crashes into your friend's favorite element, and getting excited about no one dying on the track for the crashes going on.

Tips back his glass of green tea to you, sir.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Hugs from Arkansas,

If we begin with the acceptance of our own death as well as the loss of all our possessions, and if we could get many, many people to also accept those realities, then we might get groups of people more willing to deal with loss, even to plan for it. To plan to downsize and simplify our lives, to share resources in order to do that. In the long run, since we will ultimately be dying, many of us want to pass along wisdom and guarantee, to the degree we can, a workable set of social institutions for those who will come after us.

Better said than I ever could.
But there are so many working against that premise. So many that do not understand that the basic problem is too many of us. Their solution is to preserve the continuance of human expansion with the machines of consumerism and BAU.

I don't think pessimism should be confused with negativity. Chamberlain was an optimist, so was Hitler, he could have ended it at Dunkirk and was an optimist nearly to the end. That optimism cost the lives of millions.

There are many "truisms" we have lived by, I don't think they necessarily apply anymore....sayings like: "nothing ventured, nothing gained", "the world is your oyster", "there is no such thing as can't", "if you put your mind to it, you can do anything". Those sayings and many more like them (http://www.desktop-quotes.com/positive-sayings.html) are meant for the age of exuberance which ended nearly two hundred years ago.

My neighbor is an optimist, he is certain the downturn is finite, certain that there will be an all encompassing technological substitutions for petroleum, certain personal vehicles will be a part of the foreseeable future and beyond, certain that population and food supply will be solved with education and innovation, certain that the problem of AGW, soil erosion and degradation will be solved, certain that species extinction, over fishing and pollution are a "beat up". He's a positive thinker and has "faith".

Many of your truisms would still apply if your journey/your endeavor is an inner one, not an outer one.

If you wanted to learn meditation "nothing ventured, nothing gained". Your "inner world" - could be your oyster. In your imagination there is no "can't". You can do anything "in your mind". (For example, I am a great golfer - in my mind. I used to be a ballet dancer - in my mind. I honestly view myself as having "multiple career paths" - in my mind.)

Indeed, the older you get, I find, the easier it is to live in your mind. The more agile it is in a way. The more deeply you can think. (Either that or I've gone off the deep end... but I'm having fun doing it!) ;)

I do get what you were discussing, however. And many people will simply continue in the same mental groove... even when events have totally turned against them. oh, well... what can we do?? Blind faith cannot be argued with!

When you say he has faith, I'd ask faith in what?

I agree with most of what TheraP said in the quote you picked.

We aren't supposed to worry about death or the grave, and we can't take anything with us, so why are we worried about it. The only thing that anyone will have left when they are gone, if you can say it that way is the fleeting memory of them in the minds of others. I would hope that someone after me would get use out of the stuff I have, most of it of a practical nature.

As soon as the internet goes bye bye, anything that I have said on here is toast anyway.

I want a personel vehicle, I like the camel, but the roads around here would just be the pits for him/her, so I'll take a trike and wagon for getting places. As to a car, I can't afford one.

If the camel and the trike are out, I have two feet that will get me a few places. Your neighbor sounds like a lot of people most of us know, that will be disappointed.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs from Arkansas.

Our nature has (at least) two directions to go, and we do get some choices for where to turn.

Some disasters bring people together, some tear them apart. I believe that it will be different all over the world with regard to peak oil and related crises. Different regions have different cultural ways, different resource alternatives, different population loadings.. all these things.

To some degree, I think the amount people have started preparing will affect the reaction. I also think that the 'Personality' of the particular culture you are in is simply critical.. and I don't mean 'American Culture' or 'Western Culture' entirely with this. I'm in Maine very consciously because of the culture up here.. and it's got problems, like any of the Euro Colonies, the Protestant Vile-Sinner Ethic and the retaliatory and jealousness in the 'Keepin' up with Joneses' bits of Western Materialism, but it has positives too.. enough that I think there's a chance for it to be fairly resilient.. *(With Cut-out Routes Available if that doesn't happen to work out so well)

Just don't forget that a key part of human nature is also 'I need allies' .. people do clearly look for friendlies, and will be generous to them in order to create a support network. It IS self-serving to acknowledge that we are stronger and safer together. This could be seen as 'little factions and armies forming' for those who have to turn everything into some military equivalent.. but I think that's frequently driven as much by anxiety as it is by logic or history. It's easy to find examples of it.. and then it's easy to find other solutions people have developed too. It depends on what you're looking for.


If you feel you're just getting bombarded by the negative stuff, and want to see some examples of people working things out in positive ways.. take a look here,


a Snippet from a top article at the site today..

Food in Dry Times
An old North Dakota farm is a laboratory for growing food when water runs short.

...I learned how to make compost from Bob Steffen, a farmer in Nebraska. David Vetter, my former student, helped me think through crop rotation strategies. I made plenty of mistakes. But eventually, I devised a crop rotation that helped us control weeds, recycle nutrients, reduce disease, and find a niche for our crops in an emerging organic market. We began to see the quality of our soils improve.

By 1988, when we experienced one of the severest droughts on record in North Dakota, our soils were able to absorb and retain enough moisture to sustain our crops. Our fields managed to produce a 17-bushel-an-acre average yield while conventional fields around us dried up, yielding no harvest at all. ...

Poor Bob Steffen was composted? I guess that's one way around a shortage of cemetery space.

Problem is we have now reached and passed Peak Bob Steffen...

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

I may not change my pessimism, but it'll sure brighten my day and sustain my hope.

There are several very good examples of dryland farming techniques. We will not starve due to a lack of knowledge, but due to a lack of will and the selfishness and stupidity that prevents the dissemination of the knowledge.


Interestingly, our luncheon discussion group* restarted this past Tuesday and your question was raised - why prepare. My own feeling is that first, I want to be proved right in my perception of the future. This is obviously just an ego thing. Second, I want to survive even though I'm getting pretty old. Third, I really wouldn't have any problem whacking people if it came down to that since they had the ability to prepare and did nothing. And, FWIW, people don't have to bankrupt themselves to prepare. I've recommended this before but people should print out a copy of the LDS Preparedness Manual available at http://www.green-trust.org/freebooks/Preparedness.pdf 200+ pages of excellent information

Finally, what is the alternative? Sit around and do nothing? To me, this is the central problem with many of the issues we face. Energy efficiency; why do it when Jevon's paradox means someone else will just use the power. Why grow food; it takes more time then it is worth. And so on.

In my view, our society is full of whimps who believe someone else should do it.


*If you are in the northern Mendocino County (California) such as Ukiah, Willits or Leggett, we meet at Harwood Park in Laytonville at 11:30AM in the picnic area twice a month. Our next get-together will be July 6. Figure two hours of discussion. Bring a brown bag lunch. If you want more info you can email me at detzel at mcn dot org. Include a phone number and I'll call you since I don't like (and have time for) email "conversations."

"Finally, what is the alternative? Sit around and do nothing?"

Subway Ad in NY for ABC-TV ..

"Don't just sit there! Well, ok. Just sit there. ABC."


Thank you so much for the LDS Preparedness Manual link! I've seen other LDS material on food storage, but most of it has been relatively worthless, short summaries like the perpetual "All is Safely Gathered In" pamphlet. I have a fair amount of preparedness books in my library, but I've always suspected that the LDS church had to have more information available then I had previously found. The "Book of Gomer" parable right at the beginning is priceless in and of itself, even to a non-Christian, non-LDSer like myself.

Hi Rune,

I'm not LDS either - but I know good stuff when I see it. One thing they state in the beginning of the book is that it (the book) isn't an official LDS publication.


Go try to buy a 50 lb. bag of good dry field corn. Go ahead. Or 50 lbs. of oats. Not so easy, at least at double what the farmer gets. It's fairly easy to do it at 10-20 times the farmer's price.

I get reasonable prices on dry field corn and other stuff at the local feed mill. I used to live only three or four blocks from the feed mill and could take the corn or whatever home by rolling it along on my folding dolly--a good thing to have post-Peak Oil.

A central tenant of Mormon theology is we are not to withhold giving to beggars who have failed to prepare for hard times. There is no way to know what may happen to each of us tomorrow which could turn us into beggars.

Interesting point.

BTW, the word is "tenet" (that which is held), not "tenant" (one who holds).

An interesting tidbit for the non-LDS is that anyone is allowed to utilize their local cannery to purchase dry-pack food for home storage, but you will have to can it yourself though. My experience is that the LDS prices are often less than half of internet/catalog food storage businesses. Wheat is about $6 for 25 pounds and oats are about $8 for 25 lbs (more if you want to can them), much cheaper then mail order but I have to admit I have no idea what a farmer would get for it. Here is a price list/link to what they carry:

Family Home Storage Center Products

And a reference for where your closest "Home Storage Center" is located.

Home Storage Center Locations

Call them up if you are interested in starting a storage program. You don't have to be Mormon, they have the equipment on hand to help you out, and you can make contacts with a community of folks who share a common purpose.

If while we have a stable, to a point, world, you prepare for the times ahead, you might be able to stave off the depression you are now feeling.

I rationalize that if it comes to people willing to kill other people for food, I will give them my food and ask to be let go on my way, without food or even the clothes on my back. I can find food on my own in most cases.

If death scares you, then you need to figure out why and talk to someone about it, be they a religious person or a secular one.

Here is where preparing for a crisis pays off, if nothing happens, you are ahead of the game, and all is good. If something does happen, you are ahead of the game and can help others, and yourself. Doing nothing, leaves you with nothing in either case, and you'll be the one needing help.

Learning all you can about how to survive in your area or any area you might be in, is always a good thing, knowledge in this case helps you, even if you never need to use it.

Up above I mentioned Pine Needle Tea, giving Vitamins A and C, just one of those survival bits of knowledge I know about.

To get over some of your fear you might consider taking up a martial art, or something along those lines. Though most martial arts, are really a long lifetime process of learning, it all depends on your teachers too.

Humans can fight their bad sides, if they want to do so. We don't have to act like a pack of wolves, they might not be able to help themselves, but humans don't have that excuse, IMHO.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, Hugs from Arkansas,

I train with a stave, if you ever get this way, I'll show you a few moves that are easy to use, and might help you feel safer.

A Personal Note (but related to Peak Oil)

A well known international organization is preparing a blueprint, with numerical analysis (i.e. more than hand waving) on slowing Climate Change and the related economic benefits of doing so. This is done nation by nation or region by region and I will be listed as a contributor. Deadline this November. My involvement is related to a chain of events that started on TOD.

A well known national organization is now preparing a plan to get the USA off oil ASAP, as much as possible. I was asked to contribute, but I offered more than they anticipated >;-)

They were unaware or very vaguely aware of the efforts of the international organization and I have proposed some complimentary efforts.

Also trying to work the National Security angle of Efficient Non-Oil Transportation in other venues.

Sorry to be vague, but there are issues of confidentiality.

Best Hopes,


The best of luck and may this project be fruitful.

Hi Alan

Just a curious question - are these organizatons deliberately non-partisan ? I think their success, particularly in the US, where every darned thing is politicized, will depend on how "independent" - used in a non-partisan sense - they appear to be.

Especially their leadership.

They are going to have to stand up to a very large, very well-funded force of "business as usual" advocates. Not meaning to suggest they won't be successful, just wondering.

Officially non-partisan, but traditionally conservative Republicans have looked at them both with suspicion.

Of course, conservative Republicans have looked at EVERY organization to the left of the US Chamber of Commerce and API (hint: there are not the two) with suspicion.


Ok, so I'm counting AEI out, then..

Good luck with it Alan. Let us know if you need any support!


But I am running the National Security angle by someone with the Hoover Institute :-)

Something for everyone :-)


Alan - I want to applaud your efforts. For as long as I've been reading TOD you have been a source of light.

Yesterday there was an open thread on The Oil Drum entitled "The Road Not Taken" discussing the event of President Carter placing solar panels on the White House in 1979 and President Reagan removing them in 1986. I had assumed that 30 years later we could easily see the folly of the refusal to accept limits. Even on a progressive forum such as TOD there was little consensus. I think I would have renamed it: "The Failure Of Metaphor". The ad hominem attack of Carter's programs was in fresh display. How do you argue with character assassinations?

Today spicy, confrontational opinions are valued more than facts and good sense. There was hope that President Obama would be that leader who would lead America to a brighter promise. Now many are disillusioned that he is only a politician and a mere man with feet of clay.

What is clear is in the absence of leaders and national movements there will be very little done to mitigate the existential disaster coming with Peak Oil and the "Tragedy of the Commons".

The Peak Oil and transition movements don't need Messiahs. They do however need leaders to organize and inspire effective strategies. The popular reluctance to follow dangerous political paths (it used to be called the "cop out") isn't courageous nor inspiring...quite the opposite.

"The full round, the norm of the mono-myth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet, or the ten thousand worlds."

Joseph Campbell, "Hero With A Thousand Faces" Ch III The Return: Part one: The Refusal of the Return

Good luck! Joe

They do however need leaders to organize and inspire effective strategies.

Leaders also need people who can be mature adults who don't name call and can act collaboratively rather than always competitively. The average age of most conversations in the public sphere is probably no more than that had by (young) teenagers. Often the conversational age is even lower, perhaps six years old ("No I didn't!" "Yes you did!").

We ask our leaders to lead a bunch of squabbling children, in my view. No wonder they can hardly get anything done. Just watch how two people who used to love each other begin acting during a divorce. They regress to the age of five-year olds.

Our society calls people "adult" when they reach a certain age but to me it seems to be a poor indicator of maturity.

That's doesn't mean we should give up trying to act collaboratively but, boy, we don't make it easy on ourselves.

Someone on DeLongs blog had a very excellent comment. It claimed the source of difficulties is the mismatch between the positive sum game of compromise, and the zero-sum game of politics. In the later game, there is no such thing as a win-win, everything is win-lose. And the very people we ask to solve our problems are embedded in this zero-sum game. So if they see a way to win by making the other guys look bad by failing, they go for it.

Ah, good to know there is at least one corner of Conservastan where sanity is allowed.

Let us hope that blueprints and plans don't just lie around gathering dust. Best wishes in this endeavor. Hang onto your principles! May your health and energy continue as well. :-)

In the upper corner of TOD, one of the quotes (paraphrased) is "US Energy Policy has only two modes; complacency and panic".

"We" may take small steps in the right direction (or big ones in the wrong direction, see 2001-2009) till panic hits, but the major changes will likely require panic.

My strategy is to pre-position the best possible plan so that when panic hits, it will be the chosen strategy. Such a plan likely has to be "fresh and new" as well as being the highest visibility with most credibility and most diverse and strongest stakeholders of any competing plan (see Pickens as an example).

Good plans take time to design and work out. Underlying memes need time to spread. This is what is being worked on now. Nearly complete drafts that can be rapidly reclothed in a crisis as "The Best Solution" for everybody !

One part of of this is at:

pdf warning

Other bits and pieces are coming together.

Best Hopes for Preparing the Ground,


Thanks for laying out the goundwork for this plan. I agree that it has little chance of being implemented unless panic hits, but it's still important that there are prexisting plans ready to deal with an energy constrained US. Keep up the good work!

Alan, good luck & godspeed with the work ahead.

I ask this question knowing that you can only tell us so much. Curious, though, will this work in progress eventually cross the desk of the president or key legislative players? In other words, besides being a strategy of preparedness, will it garner the attention of chief American policy makers?


Sounds exciting!



I predict that we'll be in the panic mode by 2020.

I've started reading it, Allan, but I must admit the argument for doing this in order to be sure the military gets its oil is not one that excites me one bit. I myself would love to starve the military of its oil. And focus on world peace instead.

As for this rail idea. I like that a whole lot! (I'm even within walking distance of a railroad.)

With regard to military "needs" for oil, I realize you're out to sway certain folks... And I can even make some guesses who those folks might be. (So I cut some slack due to a need to convince some folks here.)

Nevertheless I'll keep plugging away at the article. In hopes of finding myself more in agreement with your points as the pages go on. ;)

My city has been s-l-o-w-l-y putting in light rail. The curious thing is, the city is covered with rail THEY AREN'T USING. The state leases it to Big Rail, who won't give any up. So the city pays a half-billion for all new properties, builds it up to the strength of cars carrying scrap steel, and sets nice electric trains on it. Contractors make bundles and the Looters - big capitalists - rape the populace.

Rail is an excellent solution. It needs to happen. Keep your eyes open, though, people.

From Alan's pdf:

France could be used as a model of Non-Oil Transportation development with the ongoing
and recently accelerated build-out of TGV high speed passenger rail, trams in almost all
towns of 100,000 or more population, electrified railroad lines with a goal of 100%
electrification by 2025, widespread rent-a-bicycle programs such as “Vélib’”i and support for
walkable neighborhoods serviced by Urban Rail.

France averaged 1922.15 kb/d consumption 1984-2008 according to the EIA. Compare 1986.26 and 1874.78 for 2008/2009. The 2009 drop in consumption was #12 among European nations, out of 42 listed.

France's conservation measure have arrested growth at around 2 mb/d since 1998. This has mostly been obtained by shaving away gasoline and resid use while slightly increasing other streams, and having motorists switch to the alternate means of transport Alan has detailed.

More important than 2010 French oil consumption is the fact that an option now exists (or will soon exist) for Non-oil transportation that did not exist in, say, 1979 during the last oil supply crisis.

A worker in Mulhouse (pop 110,900) now has the option to take a tram to work. He may have to walk (or bicycle) 7 blocks to the nearest stop, wait for the tram and then walk 4 blocks on the other end. Say 23 minutes all told, vs. 9 minutes driving, parking and walking.

Today, he or she may drive, but a shift to non-oil transportation post-Peak Oil will be relatively easy and certainly possible. Compare that to the comparable average American worker.

At work, supplies and products may come and go on a mixture of trucks (most) and freight trains (some). The freight lines are being rapidly electrified and, with slower transit times, the factory can continue to operate mainly with electrified train freight.

Likewise a visit to family in Grenoble. Today, the extra time to go by train may make driving there more appealing. But next year, a new TGV line will reach Mulhouse and make the train faster and more appealing. But a non-oil alternative exists today.

Measuring what % is non-oil today is part of the story. The rest of the story is what % could be non-oil transportation post-Peak Oil when oil supplies become "constrained".

Best Hopes for an Efficient Non-Oil Transportation system in parralel with our existing oil based one,


If you desire peace, then prepare for war. This idea goes back at least to Plato and Aristotle, who were concerned that a city-state have enough warriors (all male citizens 18-48) to defend its walls. The best defense is a good offense, so offensive capability is needed in addition to the Maginot Line or its modern equivalent.

I favor Universal Military Service, as the Swiss and the Israelis have now. When was the last time Switzerland was at war? The invasion by Napoleon: After that invasion the Swiss improved their military to the point where, man for man, it is one of the best in the world.

There is a story about the Swiss which may be true. In 1912 Kaiser Wilhelm visited Switzerland and asked the Swiss president, "What would you do if I sent an army of 750,000 to attack your army of 250,000?

The reply by the president: "I would order each man to shoot three times."

Kaiser got the message and did not invade Switzerland. Neither did Hitler. Preparation is a key prerequisite for peace.

You know, Don, I agree with you on universal military service. And why is that? Because then war falls on the backs of all Americans. And that is a powerful disincentive to knee-jerk invasions, along with a brake on any thoughts of the military taking over our govt. (So if we have to have a military, let it be universal service. But I'd still starve them of oil!)

Incidentally, Mr. TheraP, long ago, was in the military service of another country... where everyone had to serve. But... to conserve gas, the recruits had to "push" the military vehicles!!! How about that for saving on oil? And that was in the 60's. ;)

In terms of peace, however, I think the best protection is not to be an imperialist, warlike nation. We're pretty big and I'd much rather see us trying to settle all problems via diplomacy and working together with other nations, not via belligerent policies like preemption. (Not that I'm accusing you of belligerence... you seem a pretty peaceable person to me.)

Recall the many years of the Pax Romana; empire can guarantee peace between feuding ethic groups and peace between the countries ruled over by the empire. When the British ruled India and much of Africa they went to considerable efforts to guarantee peace--which was good for business. Indeed, even the Boer War can be seen as an effort to consolidate peace between the Boers and the descendants of the English settlers. Also, Britain prevented much vicious tribal warfare among various tribes in Africa; there were no massacres of Tutsi by Hutus when the colonial powers were in control. I do realize that Belgium, and to a lesser degree, the French and the Spanish and the Arabs committed mass atrocities in parts of Africa, but Britain's record was good. And Britain was the Imperial power.

Wars and debt have also broken empires. And in our case wasting oil (on war) is another kind of "debt" taken from the future.

Look, I know my view on war is not popular. But I hold it nonetheless. And I won't fight about it either! ;)

Incidentally, Mr. TheraP, long ago, was in the military service of another country... where everyone had to serve. But... to conserve gas, the recruits had to "push" the military vehicles!!! How about that for saving on oil? And that was in the 60's. ;)

About 35 years ago I lived in Denmark, where they had universal military service, and I remember some of my Danish co-workers talking about their military service and how they passed around a hat to collect money for fuel for real exercises when everyone was tired of sitting in the barracks doing nothing.

That was about the time the Progress Party, which was for a while one of the larger parties in the Danish parliament, proposed replacing the Danish armed forces with an answering machine which said "We surrender" in Russian. They claimed this would be just as effective as the armed forces and much cheaper.

But starving the armed forces of resources is nothing new. I'm currently reading Pepys' Diary, and much of his private diary consists of dismayed comments about funds being diverted from the Royal Navy for other purposes, leaving the navy unable to pay sailors, buy supplies, or repair ships. Samuel Pepys was a senior official in the English government, on the Navy Board. His diary runs from 1660 to 1669.

Mr. TheraP's military service paid next to nothing! They did get fed and uniforms were supplied. Beyond that they got about 10 cents a month "pay". That's taking it to extremes. ;)

I favor Universal Military Service, as the Swiss and the Israelis have now. When was the last time Switzerland was at war?

Thats great for the Swiss but what about Israel?

Israel survives and thrives though it is surrounded by a hostile population, and in the Mideast the Israelis are outnumbered more than 40 to 1 by their enemies. Of their traditional enemies, only Egypt has made peace with Israel, though they do get along with Jordan, mainly because the minority ruling Jordanians hate the Palestinians just as much or more than the Israelis do. I'd say that today you are safer on the streets of Israel than you are in most American cities. Their wall worked to keep out the majority of suicide bombers. And it is likely that Israel will win the next war they have against Arabs, and also the one after that. Perhaps Iran can use an A-bomb against Israel, but then there is the question of whether or not the Israelis will permit Iran to develop a bomb mated to a delivery system. My guess is they will not.

For a country eternally at war with their neighbors, having a universal military service is essential.
If US support for Israel fades, their days are numbered, regardless of any internal manipulations.

One of the biggest impediments to progress on the oil/energy front is the bloated defense budget. We do not have a shortage of capital; we have gross misallocation of capital. It is not based on valid defense needs, but a perpetuation of the totally entrenched military industrial complex. That Obama has done virtually nothing to change this paradigm is one of his biggest failings. Sadly, he is not the change we were waiting for or needed.

The best way to reduce the military's need for oil is to shrink it. Let other nations waste their resources trying to acquire or defend depleting resources.

During the last two hundred or one hundred years of their existence, empires tend to spend a higher portion of their diminishing GDPs on the military than they did in earlier years. For examples, look at the Roman Empire (severely decreased GDP after the plague of 166 C.E.) and the British Empire during two world wars.

Thus I expect the military portion of the U.S. budget to increase as we invade and occupy countries to keep control of oil in Iraq, Venezuela, and eventually Saudi Arabia. On a brighter note, I'm pretty sure we will be smart enough not to invade Russia to get their oil.

tstreet, may I shake your hand? I'm with you every step of the way!

Yes, it's insane to waste the very resources we're trying to "control" via the (wasteful) machinery of war!

Don't we have a defense budget larger than that of all other countries combined? Or close to that. That's what's bankrupting us - and wasting resources. And getting us into debt. And many empires disintegrated after getting themselves into the same jam!

There are 75,603 military personnel in Germany.


My friend who was stationed in Germany said it was good duty and absolutely necessary for the US to be there. Huh?

BTW: Today the price of regular in Reno NV went to 303.9 from 299.9 yesterday.

I`ve come to a conclusion about society: it isn`t rational when it is collective. It can`t be. It might seem like the most logical thing in the world to reduce your oil use, but collectively it isn`t a winning option----then someone else will take the oil. I think the US military just defines and epitomizes the collective strategy. Get our hands on as much oil as possible and lock others out.

I myself want to live simply but it is quite a hard thing to manage. For one thing I think my husband would hate living in a rural place unless his job will disappear. He wants to compete in the arena with others using the complexity society has developed. Well, everyone I know feels that way. "I will stay until things fall apart. I will use the oil until its gone---or someone else will." People want machines, nice clothes, books, plastic packaging.


While world peace is a nice goal. Walking softly and carrying a big stick does work a lot better. I can't say that is how our current miltary is going about things. But even though I am a Christian I try not to delude myself that in certain places I have to be seen as not being a weak person, even if I don't carry a gun or stick into those locales.

World peace is a good goal, but without something to back you up, getting rid of our military would be a bad thing, just wait till someone thinks our fruited central sections are good for them to have. I am not sure China would stop if we did not have a gun ready to stop them, if push came to shove in a food war, or a water war, and we had mothballed the navy, army and marines, etc.

Peace comes slowly to some places, because they have never known it much. When you can convince people that just because they have different histories they can still be trusted, or that they are from a different tribe. You'll be on your way toward peace.

Peace is something that can't be made to happen by force, it has to be each person willing to not be mad at another person. Peace between family members, nieghbors, and even rival political parties are the starting grounds, to learn from.

When you can take all the police off the streets of any US city and keep them off, for a year, without crime happening. Then we will be heading into the right direction. That is where peace on Earth will have to start, mostly in each person working toward it.

TheraP, if you would like to discuss this more, email me.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, with a lot more peaceful days and people.
Hugs from Arkansas.

I'm having trouble seeing the point of your post. Ego boost? Keep-your-chin-up boosterism? Bored?

What I do know is that there are ZERO top-down solutions to what we face.

I'm curious, but that is all. Hopefully an interesting idea or two will come of it.

Thanks for your efforts, but till you get past BAU Green, you're spitting in the wind.


Brazil Hesitates on Deepwater Drilling

But the oil (Tupi) lies approximately 5.6 miles from the surface of the ocean, under 1.2 miles of water, 3.1 miles of solid rock and another 1.2 miles of unstable salt deposits. By comparison, the Macondo field currently spewing into the Gulf is under less than a mile of water.

Last week the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA) named Tupi one of the 10 most dangerous offshore sites in the world, the Guardian reported.

So Brazil is having second thoughts. Is it any wonder? 5.6 miles is about twice the depth of the lower limit of the normal window. That is the point beyond which oil is normally cracked into gas because of the high temperatures at that depth. So they are likely to get far more gas than oil. And the pressure at that depth must be tremendous, much greater than Macondo.

And then there is the salt factor. As the article states the oil lies under 1.2 miles of unstable salt. Why do they say it is unstable? Because salt, like ice under pressure, flows! Flowing salt could shear a drill pipe like it was a matchstick. Of course the salt flows very slowly and it does not flow without a reason. But it often has a reason. If there is a salt dome in the area then the salt would flow toward the dome as the dome pushes up. Of course it would only flow by inches per year but that would be enough.

Ron P.

Tupi oil deposit, here in Portugal, in my opinion, is presented as a huge find, a capitalist's dream...especially by GALP (national oil company) and the MSM. Oh if only the people knew how uncertain and insignificant it really is.

I don't think they're really having second thoughts. The issue is price.

Your temperature vs. depth idea misses the fact that the water temperature at the bottom of the ocean is at roughly freezing. That temperature constrains the curve such that the temperature at the depth below the bottom won't be as high as it is in Texas, where the average surface temperature is higher. This implies that drilling may go deeper below the bottom of the ocean than on land before temperature becomes a strong limit.

E. Swanson

At last year's ASPO in Denver, Marcio Rocha Mello explained that the salt layer moderates the temperature due to its high thermal conductivity. Thus, the temperature down there is not as high as would be expected for its depth.

Actually, the BP Macondo deep water well has a temperature of 162 degrees at about 11000 ft depth, and is increasing at about 40deg F/2000 ft. The well continues to about 18000 ft. I sure don't know what the temperature might be at 28000 ft subsalt but temperature at sea bed will not be a large factor.

Also, I think you might find that the subsurface soil temperature in Texas is probably about 60deg F at a 100 ft depth, as it is in most places on this planet. Temperature at ocean floor is pretty close to 34 deg F almost everywhere.

From past experience I can tell you that at 18000 ft Macondo bottom hole temperature is somewhere in the range of 257f/125c to 302f/150c degrees and possibly even higher.

When you see wireline fiberglass circuit boards where the epoxy in the glass has turned black you know the temperature has surpassed 200c (South Texas)

BTW my water well at 230 ft has water temperature of 68F Houston area.
Water wells In Nebraska have water temperature in 55f range.

Enraged customers fuel a disturbing trend

Though the problem of customers registering their complaints through violence is not of epidemic proportions, the number of killings committed by angry clientele now roughly equals those by disgruntled employees.

Twenty-five years ago, it was virtually unheard of for a dissatisfied customer to seek murderous revenge against a company or service provider. However, economic resentment is now felt not only by aggrieved employees, but also by unhappy clients and customers who seek to avenge perceived mistreatment by restaurants, stores, hotels, law firms and hospitals.

The cause is supposedly worsening economic conditions and increasing frustration with the technological barriers put up by corporations. ("Please press one...")

I remember one of the examples the article mentions. A man shot two deliverymen because the furniture was late. (Never mind that he wasn't home when they tried to delivery it earlier.) Worst of all, the shooter was a policeman and a homeland security official. He tried to claim the deliverymen invaded his home and assaulted him. The jury didn't buy it; he got 45 years.

Never mind that he wasn't home when they tried to delivery it earlier.

Arguably, "the customer is always right", but as my grandfather would have said, "that boy needs a lesson in proper manners and a swift kick in the arse."

There seems to be no tolerance for inconvenience. Rudeness is going postal.

That's sad. That's really sad.

Not too long ago a client shot his financial advisors in Dallas.



You'd kind of think that more would go gunning for them.

Joseph Stack Suicide Manifesto


A little dated at this point, but I felt it was relevant.

Some years ago I worked for a man whose son and another man ran a used car lot in Richmond , Va.

Thier reputation for standing behind thier product was somewhat lacking to say the least and people tend to get REALLY UPSET when a used car for which they paid a premium price at a high interest rate breaks down immediately,only to find that the thirty day warranty is all exclusions and no coverage.

Somebody beat the two to death at the carlot.

I have always thought a thoroughly teed off customer was responsible.

I cannot understand why this is not a lot more common than it is-the explaination may be that when a working redneck is cheated blind by a white collar crook he doesn't realize just what happened and so does not take his revenge as he would if he were to catch his wife cheating with his best friend.

If somebody such as Bernie Madoff stole my elderly Daddy into the poorhouse I would feel morally obligated to hunt down his sorry carcass myself.

Obviously the LAW has never struck enough fear into such people to keep them honest;and when they are caught the punishment is trivial in comparision to the crime.I know people in jail for twenty years for stealing less than one part in a million of what he stole.

I do realize the difference between giving bad advice and outright fraud of course;most of the people who give bad investment advice are actually sincere in my opinion.

IMO, most people are going crazy, just at different rates. My friend Harvey agrees with me.

And as I previously outlined, I tend to be a very friendly driver, based on the following operating premise, to-wit, most pickup drivers in Texas just lost their job, their wife and their dog, they just left a bar and they have a loaded handgun in the seat next to them.

Your friend Harvey wouldn't happen to be a giant rabbit, would he?

:-) (obscure Jimmy Stewart movie reference.)

I'm with you - I am a most courteous driver. People are becoming rather tightly wrapped these days...

I tend to view it more like radioactive decay: people can seem, to an external observer, to be completely fine handling life's real problems reasonably well then, suddenly, they're semi-rational. That's the problem with all the justificatory pontifications: they're phrased as if such people always reliably "go after" the entities actually responsible for the big problem in their life, whereas precisely because they're not rational the choice of who they'll take the life of is pretty much random depending on who happens to be in their consciousness when they snap. (In the UK about a month ago we had a gun-enthusiast shooting various people. There's a not a lot of evidence for definitively figuring out his motives, but amongst other things he appears to have chosen to shoot the solicitor who drew up the will codifying his mother's intentions rather than actually shoot his mother.)

That's what really worries me about a catastrophic economic collapse: not that agrieved people will inflict retribution on those who "deserve it" but that they'll inflict it on whoever's around long after those who actually responsible have moved out of range.

I agree completely with you, it scares me to death.

An Invader, Near the Great Lakes

CHICAGO — After months of worrying over hints and signs and DNA traces suggesting that Asian carp, a voracious, nonnative fish, might be moving perilously close to the Great Lakes, the authorities here have uncovered the proof they did not want. They caught a fish.

Endangered-Species Status Is Sought for Bluefin Tuna

Fearing that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will deal a severe blow to the bluefin tuna, an environmental group is demanding that the government declare the fish an endangered species, setting off extensive new protections under federal law.

If we have the technology and capability to completely deplete global Tuna stocks I'm sure we can do the same with Asian Carp. All we have to is come up with a fancy name for an Asian Carp sushi roll and I can guarantee that we will quickly catch all the carp...

My suggestion, btw, same as below and substitute Asian Carp for Moat Carp...

High-Quality version of Carp Sushi: Yahata Sushi

Sold from: (Price: 648 - 792 gil)

* Ness Rugetomal (Windurst Waters, Standard Merchant)

Made from Recipe:

* Main Skill: Cooking (54 - Journeyman)
o Crystal: Dark
o Ingredients: Tarutaru Rice, Rock Salt, Moat Carp
o Result: Carp Sushi
o HQ #1: Yahata Sushi
* Main Skill: Cooking (54 - Journeyman)
o Crystal: Dark
o Ingredients: Tarutaru Rice, Rock Salt, Forest Carp
o Result: Carp Sushi
o HQ #1: Yahata Sushi


It would be a great idea if Asian Carp were sushi-quality. Unfortunately they are full of floating bones, which makes them good for boiling or soup.

Having said that, innovative marketing is able to make people eat some pretty awful, unhealthy stuff - maybe they could dream up a fish-burger sandwich, or something...just add a famous cartoon character...

Miso-fish soup! Yummy!

Thanks for posting on this issue.
I appreciate your attempt at humour.
Unfortunately this is the biological equivalent to the Great Lakes as the BP Spill is to the Gulf.
In no way do I attempt to minimize the suffering of the creatures who inhabit the Gulf environs.
However, I would like to point out two very disturbing facts.
1. Even though the the Great Lakes have been the unintentional playground for those on both sides of the anti-exotics debate, the introduction of entirely new species to established eco-systems has rarely proved beneficial to the present inhabitants of said established eco-systems. Google Asian emerald ash borer.
2.This situation, as well as the BP Spill, was entirely avoidable and is a result of failure of leadership for the common good. The SCOTUS saw fit to back a small contingent of pro Obama backers (Google American Waterway Operators Assn. )over the lawsuits filed by Michigan, environmental groups and other states. Canada has also expressed great support for this action.

Believe it or not, the entire ecology of the Great Lakes depends upon the political arrangements of a few, well-placed contributers.

Believe it or not, the entire ecology of the Great Lakes depends upon the political arrangements of a few, well-placed contributers.

I know, Spaceman, I know! Unfortunately those well-placed contributers have not even the most basic understanding of complex dynamic systems...or tipping points.

The issue is a very complex one, now, for Chicago.

Closing the locks has a similar impact to the drilling moratorium. People are put out of work and companies are put out of business. Since I supported the drilling moratorium, I would have to support the lock closure for the same reason.

However, this has a connection to the Peak Oil issue since river transport is a big alternative to road transport, and I'm in favor of barges over trucking.

If the lock closure results in people getting rid of the Asian carp by any means at their disposal, including an innovative marketing campaign for fish-burger sandwiches, if only to get the locks back open again, we get to the correct result.

It could be viewed at "patriotic" or "for homeland security" to eat Asian carp.

I don't think it's going to be so easy, though. Those fish are aggressive travelers and voracious eaters. (kinda like H. sapiens). The Great Lakes must look pretty attractive to Asian carp as a resource. I doubt the lock closures will stop them.

Addendum :

"The Illinois and Michigan Canal link Great Lakes, Mississippi River
" (1848)


"Despite the railroads, lumber and many manufactured goods continued to move west on the canal, and much grain moved east. Traffic on the Illinois & Michigan Canal peaked in 1882 at more than 1 million tons but dropped sharply after that, although western portions remained open for decades. Sections of the canal have been preserved for their historical value and for recreational uses. Bicyclists, for instance, have turned the canal's little-used towpaths into well-traveled trails."

1 and 1/2 billion dollars equivalent through the lock system vs. 8 billion in commercial and sport industry(est) in the entire Great Lakes plus the loss of whatever is left of a totally unique ecosystem.
I don't share your confusion.

John Michael Greer: A pathless land
Followed by:
Policies of Scarcity in a Land of Plenty
This is an interesting juxtaposition.


Two down, four and six to go [low].....

New York State Assembly Follows Senate and Approves Low-Sulfur Heating Oil Bill

Legislation that would lower the sulfur content of home heating oil in New York state passed the State Assembly on Wednesday by a vote of 87 to 24, the New York Times reported. The bill passed the State Senate last week and needs only the signature of Governor David Paterson to become law.

Lowering the sulfur content of no. 2 heating oil, the grade of heating oil most commonly used to heat residential buildings, to the same 15 parts per million limit that already applies to on-road diesel would reduce pollution that is harmful to the environment and poses a threat to public health. However, opponents of the legislation say the new requirement would do more harm than good by causing fuel shortages and skyrocketing prices for heating oil consumers.

See: http://www.heatingoil.com/blog/new-york-state-assembly-follows-senate-an...

But it ain't just the oil that's dirty:

Accusations Fly Over New York State’s Low-Sulfur Heating Oil Bill

New York’s State Senate passed a bill last Thursday that would lower the sulfur content of home heating oil, but the fighting over the legislation appears to be far from over. Opponents of the bill are looking ahead to the next election and attacking senators who supported the low-sulfur mandate, while the bill’s supporters accuse their opponents of being in the pocket of big oil.

Voters in Sen. Darrel Aubertine’s upstate district have received automated phone calls that tell them the bill—which Aubertine voted for—will raise their heating costs by $900 this winter, reports the Watertown Daily Times. He’s not the only senator facing opposition. Senator Suzi Oppenheimer of New York’s 37th District was criticized sharply by Senate candidate Bob Cohen, who called Oppenheimer’s vote “inexcusable” and claimed it could raise the cost of heating oil by as much as 90 cents per gallon, according to a press release found at NewRochelleTalk.com [http://www.newrochelletalk.com/node/2123].

See: http://www.heatingoil.com/blog/accusations-fly-over-new-york-state%E2%80...


So Venezuela thinks to go steal some rigs, rather than pay bills?

I refer to my statement yesterday, sooner or later the US is going to have to take control of their production. Soft or hard, they cannot allow that resource inside their sphere of influence to threaten not delivering its oil to the US. Unlike Afghanistan, there is some point to such an action.

Brazil had better play nice as well...

I think the U.S. will probably invade and occupy Venezuela rather than Iran. For one thing, Venezuela has a lot more oil reserves than does Iran. And Venezuela is a lot closer. Most important is history: American oil companies discovered and developed most of Venezuela's oil. See the excellent film, THE WAGES OF FEAR for some commentary on U.S. involvement in their oil industry around 1950. It isn't an anti-American film particularly, but it is negative toward the oil industry and the measures it took to develop and produce Venezuela's oil. That country is never mentioned by name, but it is pretty clear that the "South Oil Company" is actually Standard Oil. From distances to various cities mentioned in the film's dialogue it becomes clear that the country has to be Venezuela.

Just viewed this film via Netflix a couple weeks ago. It was excellent. The issues are as relevant now as they were then: Disastrous accident at an oil well, oil company engaging in shady practices, etc.

The problem is our reach exceeding our grasp. While I suppose we could seize oil fields, the key problem is being able to ship oil, via tankers, that other countries are willing and able to buy, probably at a higher price than we are able to pay. Oil tankers are very tempting targets for everything from submarines to sabotage from divers.

Which is one of the reasons why they are going to need control of any oil within their sphere of influence. Transoceanic shipping will become problematic in a post peak context.

Since German submarines were sinking tankers in the GOM in the Second World War, I don't think that Chinese submarines, or divers, will have any problems. I think that it is a complete fantasy to think that we can use force to bring oil to our shores.

The U.S. and Britain lost a lot of tankers to U-boats during the early part of World War II, but then effective convoying and other tactics improved defense against the German submarines from the second half of 1942 onwards. The U.S. Navy does need more ships suitable for convoy duty, but it does have some. I think that despite various wars that we get into the U.S. and British navies will again be able to provide protection for convoys of tankers against subs and divers and frogmen, and mines. The U.S. needs far more minesweeping capability than we now have; we had to rely on the British and I think it was the Danes, too, for minesweepers during the Gulf War.

Incidentally, a sign of the times. . .

I stopped by a barbeque joint yesterday to buy some food to go. While I was there, a twenty something young man asked the manager about a job application he had dropped off two days earlier. He wanted to know if anyone had looked at it yet.

The manager responded that it would probably be September before he would even look at the stack of of applications; he pointed to a foot high stack of two page job applications. The manager said to check back with him after Labor Day.