Moving from Spectator to Participant

If an outsider were to pull back the covers and show people what is going on, what would be said of The Oil Drum and its contribution to society? How is the content perceived by others? Has the effort led to a better understanding of issues, to new government policies, to strengthened communities, to resilience, to better relationships, to creativity? Are we achieving our goals?

The answer, of course is, it depends...on the way you think.

I’m a learning junky. I attend dozens of conferences each year on a variety of subjects. The most recent was a seminar on Thinking about Thinking, and it has certainly gotten me thinking.

I’ve been thinking about this website and its future. I’ve been thinking about what would make The Oil Drum more sustainable. I’ve been thinking about what unites us and what divides us and whether an awareness of the way we think could lead us in a better direction.

If we are aware of the kind of thinking we are applying in our discourse, it might lead to different or better answers. For example, consider the continuum thinking involved in sorting. We sort everything: fruit, utensils, cans on a shelf, partners, toys, cars, music, art. We stand in front of a pile of perfect bananas and sort for color, defects, the slightest imperfections. Humans also categorize: black/white, democrat/republican, us/them, capitalist/socialist. Categorizing is absolutist. It helps us quickly choose between a bear and a deer.

We rarely ask under what conditions or in what context one type of thinking is more appropriate than another. The drilling ban is a good example of category thinking. Applying category thinking, we either place it in the good column or the bad column. Continuum thinking, on the other hand, might ask, “Under what conditions should drilling be permitted or banned.” This kind of question opens up opportunities for thoughtful dialogue and consideration of complex problems. It places the issue into the context of the system in which it operates.

Which takes us to another kind of thinking--systems thinking. Dr. Russell Ackoff does a superb job of explaining the difference between analyzing (understanding the parts of an object) and synthesizing (understanding an object in the context of the system in which it operates). As he points out, you cannot explain why a nation drives on a particular side of the road by studying the parts of a car. You have to understand the system in which the car operates. Systems thinking reveals the world to be a pattern of interdependent relationships. While Oil Drum regulars are very familiar with systems thinking in terms of energy issues, how would we apply it in terms of the organization, and the relationships with its readers and contributors? Are we creating an environment that values participation or turns participants away?

The last kind of thinking I want to mention is that of spectators and participants. Spectators know the data, understand the theories, listen and take notes. They sit in the back of the room with their arms crossed looking for cracks in every foundation. Participants are those putting their knowledge and understanding (whether flawed or not) into action. They are the risk takers, experimenters, entrepreneurs, who have moved from spectator to participant. Spectators may seek reformation but they never have to accept blame because they are a spectator. Participants are seeking transformation and by virtue of participating in problem solving are often the recipient of blame. It is evidenced in innumerable comment threads here and particularly in our politics. Would a better understanding of our style of thinking move people from spectator to participant?

The point of this missive is not to say that one type of thinking is better than another. Instead, the point is that it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the way we think, and the impacts that our way of thinking has on achieving our goals, on minimizing our losses, and on developing creativity.

Until this moment, I had not read the goals of The Oil Drum. They are:

Raise awareness
Host a civil discussion
Conduct original research
Create a global community

I am now thinking we could be so much more effective if we spent more time thinking about our thinking. What do you think?

I'm a 24-year-old first grade teacher who has recently become aware of peak oil. I struggle a lot to understand what my role should be as a participant.

I have begun a continuing effort to educate my friends and family, and have plans to begin a community garden at my school. Before long, however, I hope to move to an eco-village in Oregon that focuses on educating others about permaculture and eco-village design.

In these weeks leading up to school, however, I am thinking my hardest about how to deliver this message to my children and their families, who are all low income black families in New Orleans. I agree with you that we need to think more about how this information is distributed.

Frankly, I believe that teachers are perhaps the group of people who can have the most effect on the future of the globe. Early education and grassroots efforts are the MOST important thing that those in the know can be involved in. If every person who reads the oil drum and believes in it took their message to their local schools, they would see that children are the people who will be MOST receptive to the idea.

Please consider visiting your local schools and offering yourself as a speaker on sustainability. Schools will JUMP at the chance to have you visit their classrooms. This may be the best way for us to spread the message.



I wish you success.

However, please steel yourself for criticism, and even more important, outright anger and hostility, from parents and potentially from community figures and politicians and the media.

Heisenberg, Indeed, and in my experience you soon get resolutions passed against you for (supposedly!!!) breaching codes of conduct, disrupting meetings, being an antisocial troublemaker (= 'troll' in internetspeak).....

I incline to think that working on one person at a time, more intesively, might be a more successful way forward. Or alternatively sometimes a problem doesn't have a solution. Even here on TOD one sees a fair amount of denial of the near future. I'm coming to the view that even higher IQ fails to produce higher wisdom because it merely enables more sophisticated specious rationalisations (such as Steven Rose's "reification" nonsense).

"even higher IQ fails to produce higher wisdom because it merely enables more sophisticated specious rationalisations"

I've come to much the same conclusion.

By the way, that lead picture really redefines "campfire"!!

I thought I recognized that fire. It was the Myer department store in Hobart, Tasmania from Sept. 2007. Interestingly, despite being the largest retailer in the city, the site is still an empty lot and I don't think there are even any plans for it today. Times are actually pretty good in Tasmania these days but still confusion has been the order of the day and nothing is getting rebuilt. Gives real insight into how things could go when it gets really tough. Eventually stuff breaks and burns down, but it just doesn't get replaced. An eerily similar thing happened in a small town near us. The bottle shop had a fire, the building was torn down, and now it's been replaced by a few trees and a bench, despite being right on the main street.

Hi Daniel,
I have spoken to students (mostly college age) and will be speaking to a group of high school students on Tuesday. I am re-thinking how I present this information. Most people resist the concept or rationalize it away. A very few act on it. Most people feel it is outside their control and so do nothing.

Debbie, I incline to think that the best approach is to provoke [re]thinking via questions which start off from the listener's present interests. For instance one might start with "Are you envisaging to be alive in five years time?". I've not yet had time/energy to gain much experience about this, but some further development of the concept can be seen at Would you care to try that out? Any potentially better suggestions for questions?

Thank you for that link. The socratic method is a good way to teach. Russell Ackoff says that the person who learns the most in the classroom is the teacher. We should have students learn subjects by having them teach.

I find that it takes quite some time to move people away from deepseated mental frameworks (i.e., "The US has inexhaustible natural resources, how could we ever run out?") to one that challenges those mindsets, especially if those people are exposed or immersed in a propaganda environment that trumpets denial, and promotes the kind of thinking that has led to I'm Human, I'm American, and I'm Addicted to Oil.

I find I have to plant a seed with most Americans (I'm one myself), come back and water it a little, (rinse and repeat) until I'm able to convince people to give peak oil due consideration. Of course, in the April to July 2008 timeframe, a number of people contacted me to review our prior discussions because "you might just be right". But that number dropped off dramatically after the price of oil dropped back down to a 'normal' range.

I'm very much a systems thinker (goes with being a systems engineer), and moved to the role of a participant some many years back;

plant a seed ... come back and water it a little, (rinse and repeat)


The notion that each man/woman can be turned into a one tree island is quaint.

But none of us is an island.

We are creatures of a social herding kind.

I suspect that one thing troubling the "glaze-in-their-donut-eyes" crowd (Why does my friend not see it, especially now?) is the notion that the BP Spill is an opportunity and somehow we are again failing to capitalize on it.

The trick is to find some sound nibble that resonates with the crowd.

Take the concept of Pandora's Box (please).

The BP Spill is a kind of opening of the box.
The unending quest for oil (even if hard and dangerous to get) is another.

If somehow we could get the mob to think of the Box-of-Pandora every time they see or hear the letters: BP, that would be a start.

But then we would have to shift the imagery of the Box-of-Pandora (BP) over to oil in general; and also to "clean" coal and "natural" gas as well.

Maybe the better approach is to say that BP is secret code. Read it backwards and it spells out Pandora's Box? Hard to say what will resonate with the mob.

The trick is to find some sound nibble that resonates with the crowd.

I have no problem with you doing that - good luck on getting mass media to promulgate your sound nibble and then have it stick longer than 15 minutes.

I'll continue to spread the word through consistent, measured, reasoned discourse over time.

To Debbie (good top post), Daniel, others:

It is traditional to think that disseminating information and understanding of a problem, a state of affairs, new discoveries, or anything that challenges the status quo, BAU, and the general principles, mind-sets, pragmatic schemas that ppl use to navigate their daily lives, is a first step to changing behavior, affecting actions, and generally speaking, creating a new perhaps better state of affairs.

It is very difficult to argue against this pov: after all, if ppl don’t cognitively possess ‘facts’ how can they possibly act in consequence?

A sort of ‘bottom-up’ view of behavior built on a particular image of decision making, viz.: take on facts, review understanding > fit to external circumstance > adjust behavior (insofar as possible) to new view seems a no-brainer.

A good example of this kind of mechanism working is the discovery of minuscule pathogens and the following simple procedures and methods implemented in the hygiene of doctors offices, hospitals, homes - toilets -, food producers/sellers and so on. Which, according to some, have been one of the prime (or even only) factors in improving longevity, along with the invention of antibiotics, which kill some of those very same pathogens. The understanding or scientific advance was necessary for changing behavior, which followed on imperfectly but steadily. It is still troubling us today, despite our thorough knowledge - how many die in hospital because of infections they caught there?

An example of a different kind, is the acceptance of homosexuals as non-criminals, according them ‘rights’ similar to that of heterosexual ppl, in the West. What ‘facts’ contributed to changes in behavior, attitudes, consequent legislation, proper public behavior? None at all. Here we see an example of major social change, in a very short time span. Oscar Wilde is practically a contemporary, but served a stiff prison ‘hard labor’ sentence for his sex life, and died at 46. How this attitude change was accomplished I will leave aside, not for TOD.

Now I live in Switzerland, CH, which was the first to switch from coal to electricity (ww2 blockade, amongst others, to bowlderize history.) I know many young ppl (15-25) and many older people, 50+, and there is not one man jack of them who doesn’t know that oil (or FF generally, etc.) will run out. They all, in their own way, believe in ‘Peak Oil’. Half of them are ‘greens’ in some way - they may belong to a green party, all are for ‘ecology’, don’t use plastic bags, pay for district heating, etc. etc. I need not go on. However, how they view it exactly (their knowledge of the numbers may be weak) matters not. CH - which is also the most hands on democracy in the world - has absolutely appalling stats. in car / oil / nat gas / use.

Imho, there are a few areas in which CH performance is good: offering public transport (+++) and slowly setting up more ‘organic’ (etc.) agriculture, this is done through subsidies, which are massive, and perpetually attacked by the EU, the US, etc. Paid for willingly by the tax payer, of course. So the Swiss sorta hide what is going on there. And it costs them a lot. Accusations of protectionism, embargoes, fines, etc.

For the rest, CH is a rich country, it will pay for resources, and pay more. Car cos. are doing great. Car sales are up! Snazzier, smaller, more fashionable models. Too cool!

Basically, ppl don’t care; they know the facts, and either say party while the time is right, or we will manage once the unwind hits. CHs past history, it is felt, attests to resiliency and robustness. That feeling is not unjustified but what ho, we will see...

Grass roots orgs can have stupendous effects but when dealing with energy (a global market involving a large % of GDP for many countries, wars, embargoes, arms race, etc.) the number one issues to be addressed are political.


Washing one’s hands regularly or accepting gay couples for dinner are not good models, though I mentioned them for some comparison purposes.

I wish we could drop this Bushie phrase 'addicted to oil" for good.

It's not appropriate or helpful in dealing with the public.

Are we addicted to air?
The perjorative term 'addict' dehumanizes.
Telling people that they are addicted is wrongheaded.
They have free will and can choose to change.
Addicts can't(they disappear if no longer addicted).

It also suggest we lack the character to get off oil.

People live in a world powered by energy.
The fact is we have to figure out how to get by with much less energy.
Energy reduction should be a challenge, even a sport.

+10 Majorian.
Good insight. Thanks

addicted to oil

I think it is more akin to a bad marriage. We need a divorce from oil. And it is gonna be a bit messy.

Debbie -- Divorce...rather extreme. Maybe a trial seperation where we just "hook up" occsionally as needed but try to live with less contact as we go along. LOL. Actually these occasional oil price spikes could offer a taste of such a trial seperation. Unfortunately the public is often offered alternative reasons for these "rough spots" in the marriage other than the bottom line: PO.

Just gotta be careful of who ends up with the kids..

Good comments Majorian. I like the idea of making lowering energy use a sport, as we seem to be very sports minded people. Though I personally don't watch sports as they are on the world stage, at least the team efforts.

I like things that are sometimes labeled adventures ( climbing, caving, hiking, diving, sky diving, hang gliding, ballooning, and the like). But I also like playing pool, but it is mostly one on one play.

But my own efforts for the last few years has been seeing how I could wean myself off of city water, and lessen my personal water usage. Furthering that to getting most if not all my water from Rain. Right now I have to deal with a house that is still hooked up to the city's grid. So any tap water use, I also pay for sewer use, even when the water goes to water the outside world. One reason why I want to start fresh with a small piece of land somewhere nearby, so I don't have to travel by car to it.

The L.E.S.S. games (Least Energy Spent Sport) Could be held yearly or monthly in some areas with prizes of arable land to build your own better set up on, so others can reap your knowledge base as well.

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

Today I saw the new exhibit on Climate Change at the Field Museum in Chicago. It's a production of the American Museum of Natural History as well as others from the US and around the world. It leads off with a timeline showing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from 1600 onward. The various displays bring together the interaction of the ocean, the atmosphere and the gradual increase in temperature, explaining in one panel that the ocean expands as it warms - and this is only one change taking place among many. Several are covered in turn - melting ice caps, destruction of corals, acidity increase.

There will be a 3-hour walk-through and program specifically for teachers on Monday, July 12, so school groups coming next fall will be guided by teachers who have toured the exhibit and made plans to capitalize on the many facets covered in the display panels.

Among the full scale exhibits are a "living wall," an Atlas buoy, an ocean glider from the Webb company for collecting samples, a portion of a solar array and the tip of a wind turbine blade. People are challenged to find ways to conserve water and energy in all their activities, so it does prompt visitors to think and to act. I do not know if the exhibit will travel to other of the sponsor cities.

There is a system in place to update the content of the panels if needed: a large, yellow asterisk is added, with all the revisions posted together near the end of the displays.

Great ! It's on my to-do list.

Some of us do. Most students don't like it, if they realize that's what they're doing.


I just finished a three hour argument with a Green Party organizer about the need, if any, for parties at all, since I find them to encourage tribalistic thinking in a world which needs less, not more, of group thinking.

Systems thinking, contextualization, seeing the big picture?

How about this: Think globally while acting locally.

There really isn't any place but local, since we're each one person, right? If not, call me.

Consider this?: People are all different, not all like you. A bunch of them, unlike you, are tribal thinkers. Would you rather lead them yourself, or see them led away from your position?

"eco-village in Oregon that focuses on educating others about permaculture and eco-village design."

Care to share the location ? I'm interested in checking it out.

Why doesn't anyone ever say that when I talk about permaculture in Detroit?


ccpo, now that's witty! :-) Nothing creates thinking like good wit...thanks for the smile...:-)

Sadly, I wasn't being witty.


Because Detroit is not the Promised land. Oregon and other Pacific Northwest areas has this gleam of being the new best place to live. It helps that some areas are like RainForests getting loads of rain and having decent winters. But As I asked in my comment to Daniel, Why move to Oregon when you can set up what you want where you live now.

I would be interested in hearing your stories of what you are doing, email me, while we are thinking about it.

Central Arkansas has had an upswing in talking about CSAs and more mindful local organization plans, though at times it still seems like the dark ages are just around the other corner and no one wants to talk about the change happening. I guess locally we got a big push, having had a POTUS from the state.

Detroit is trying to change the rust belt dying city look to a more, we can be better than we once were, mindset. I do see where Little Rock has had some changes in the past few years, trying to get rid of the slums it has. There are still areas of North Little Rock where there are nothing but boarded up houses for blocks, and vacant lots with no trees and nothing much to do but go somewhere else, those are the poor sections of the city though. Some cities have this inner blight where sections just have dead rotting areas where no one wants to talk about the issues, and everytime you think something is going to be done, the money gets spent elsewhere.

I have seen lots for sale where the prices were dirt cheap, but around them everything is poor run down, and no one wants to buy and build anything on them. As soon as I can get the funds saved up, (living on less than $9,000 now, means not very fast) I want to buy a lot or two and eco-village it. Though I am also working on finding others of like minds that will help in the project, that is slow going as well.

CCPO, keep your chin up.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, one step at a time.
Hugs to all.

Besides, the whole "Eclipse" series is set in the Pacific NW!! Coooooool!!

(Sorry--father of a 14-year-old girl.)

Hey hey meltbrain,

I believe Alan Drake (AlanFromBigEasy) has said that of the people he talked to about peak oil the low income black folks in New Orleans were the easiest group to reach. Easier to reach because they are presently getting the short end of the stick in most regards and thus have less visceral or psychological desire to maintain the status quo. Where as Nate's former investment friends, who are near the top of the food chain, have a knee-jerk rejection to a concept that threatens a system in which they enjoy a privileged position.

So, while we're thinking about thinking, what's the best way to surmount the brain's emotional override of cognitive functions. The knee-jerk:

That can't be true because I don't like it.

children are the people who will be MOST receptive to [whatever] idea [is taught]


Our only hope is to understand the human brain, how it evolved, how it works and how to explain its promise and its perils to the younger generation.

Children are taught certain models about how the world works.
The education starts way before 1st grade.

But certain models get re-enforced in 1st grade and afterwards.

Is ours a country of "vast" resources, amber waves of grain and freedom to do "anything" we please?

Or is it part of a finite and tightly interconnected ecological network where what we do here affects them that don't like us very much "over there" (e.g. Bhopal)?

Does the government dictate what you may or may not say to your pupils?

I'm told that in most states teachers are on a very tight leash.


Hugs, and welcome to TOD. I have one question, why move to Oregon to join an Eco-village, when you could do the same thing in New Orleans, as you are already in the area?

Alan (From the Big Easy) Drake I am sure would welcome helping you connect to others in your city on the same path. While we are where we all are, we should do as much as we can to promote our ideas in the places we live. Even if we do plan on moving elsewhere in the future, we can leave behind the efforts to improve our current places.

Unless you plan to go study an Eco-village for a while, then move back to New Orleans and promote one there with what you learned in Oregon.

Personally I am saving up funds to Buy a chunk of land to use as a building site for some of my house designs, at the same time I am changing my parent's yard into a edible landscape, more so than it ever was before. Long ago I had over 1,000 square feet of garden space that has been reduced over time, and changing plant growth, and building of 3 sheds. I might never be able to save enough to buy land outright, and might have to use any savings to keep this land and house when my parent's die, so plans might change at a mouments notice.

I am always telling people of what I am doing, and giving away harvests of produce, and finished foods to friends, relatives, neighbors and strangers alike. Children are the future, but adults that have learned something new are as much a part of the future as the children.

Though Peak Production of Oil is scary on the one hand, you having a heads up to the issues at hand, gives you an advantage.

Keep up the good work.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

If you would like to meet some time, my eMail is in my contact (click on the name).

Or decipher Alan_Drake at Juno dott conn

New Orleans is where I have pitched my tent, come what may.

Best Hopes !



This is the first time I have attempted to comment on the oil drum. Rather than being one of those spectators who, armed with all the facts and figures bla bla , really just don't want to make stupid comments. But stupidity be damned and here we go.

I can understand your wish to gravitate towards living in an Eco village but I think you may be mistaken. Although Eco villages seem to engage in the problem I am not sure that they represent a wholeheartedly positive response to resource depletion and rather could be seen as vehicle for retreat from the ‘real world’. Where you’re currently at is probably the best place, an opportunity to engage. Of course it’s easier to succeed in a self-selected group but to disregard the rest of humanity would be disastrous unless of course the great die-off is the plan.

Changing attitude is a very long term hope and maybe things have got to get much worse before driving a 4x4 to the shops is considered anti social but people with your outlook and skills, engaging with the people in your current community is more important. Its going to be useless doing this or that in an Eco village if all those people who traditionally get left out of the loop are wondering around looking to raid your ideal Eco world.

I live in a poor area full of such people (perhaps I am one of them) and sometimes it seems pointless even to try against the constant struggle just to get through the day but try we must. So many people, rich and poor only see success in terms of consumption and it's sad but what can we expect with wall to wall advertising of that notion. I don't know how but in some way we must make it work on the ground, where we are, in the place we live and not where we would like to be.

I think your idea of a school garden is great. So many activities, learning experiences can be centred on such a project (as I'm sure you’re aware). On that subject I would like to take this opportunity to point you and interested others to a great site with at least three Podcasts on the subject of gardens in education.

Agroinovations, like the oil drum is a wonderful site full of fantastic information that covers a wide range of subjects related to conservation, current and future food production and technology that I feel many on this site would be interested in.
Full Podcast section)


(crear Research Station-with-mark-feedman)


Although Eco villages seem to engage in the problem I am not sure that they represent a wholeheartedly positive response to resource depletion and rather could be seen as vehicle for retreat from the ‘real world’

This is a great first comment. I wholeheartedly agree. While ecovillages might have been viewed as worthwhile pilot projects previously while we were waiting for the world to change, the time for mainstream change is now (or never). And we will succeed or fail together. Separating important ecovillages, or role modeling, or ideas into silos or ivory towers where they are not accessible to the system at large defeats the positive feedback loops that create change. I watch the change agents start to step up in my town of Anchorage with in-your-face bravery (BCA, that's you) and wonder where we'd be if leaders walled themselves off in Randian isolation. As we've discussed this week on TOD, that might have worked when the global population was less than a billion. But now, there is no "there."

Swimming against the current bread and circuses culture takes bravery, and those of us who can see where this civilization is headed need to jump in, no matter the fear, and start swimming against it. One gesture at a time, observed, talked about, and perhaps copied. After a while the feedback loops start to add up and go exponential. Keep talking, TMax.

Why not start here:

The Third Culture
A Conversation with Jonah Lehrer

The paradox of modern neuroscience is that the one reality you can't describe as it is presently conceived is the only reality we'll ever know, which is the subjective first person view of things. Even if you can find the circuit of cells that gives rise to that, and you can construct a good causal demonstration that you knock out these circuit of cells, and you create a zombie; even if you do that... and I know Dennett could dismantle this argument very, very quickly ... there's still a mystery that persists, and this is the old brain-body, mind-body problem, and we don't simply feel like three pounds of meat.

And since I have been fascinated by language and culture most of my life, here is subtitled ASL/English version of a Jonathan Coulton song - Re: Your Brains - ASL, a song that illustrates how different cultures are almost impossible to adequately represent by translating language devoid of context.

Disclaimer many many moons ago I did technical and scientific translations...which adds a whole nuther bunch of layers of complexity to the language cultural barrier.

This is an excellent post because I believe we never do enough "thinking through in depth" of many of the issues we face in life.

A couple of comments

1) TOD is an excellent site and its discussion platform ensures strong analysis of the energy issues of finite resource problems. Thank you to Gail, Leanan and all the other dedicated major contributors

2) TOD is achieving its goals. IMO


The last kind of thinking I want to mention is that of spectators and participants.

This is not a criticism but TOD is a "spectator" site despite many members individually being active participants in acting on the looming energy "transition" problems. IMO though this will have almost no effect on the large global problems about to engulf us. But if it improves your survival chances go for it.

If TOD wants to become a major "participant" it has to become a major political player. The easiest way to do this is to create on line petitions and send the results with signatures etc to the politicians.

Heaps of petitions on all the subjects TODers are good at. ELM, PO data, Energy Transitions, Net Energy, Scale ups, Renewables, EROEI, etc,etc

Grass roots political power is very very possible through the power of the internet.

Power to the People. Let's get the message to the ruling class.

Interesting idea, but realize that the TOD readership has diverse views, opinions, theories, narratives, and perceptions of reality.

Out of crisis comes opportunity. As diverse as the TOD readership may be we think differently after we are here a few days especially if we view the site more than once. The newbies keep coming and keep coming back. I came here looking for fresh food for thought. The general presentation by the media is quite stale and has been for a long time.

Heisenberg. Hi. True, BUT,despite the uncertainty of "opinions and perceptions of reality"

The general consensus of TOD participants including yourself is

* civilisation is in an energy transition

* the transition is to a lower more expensive net energy future

* transition will be non linear

* civilisation (governments) are doing almost nothing to navigate this thereby increasing the risks of chaos in the transition

IMO we have to become more politically active. Continuing to preach to the converted will have minimal effect on influencing policy.

civilisation (governments)

In a decadent civilisation, governments ("dominant elites" in Toynbee's terminology) are about as antithetical from civilisation as it is possible to get!
As for "influencing policy", forty years on from The Limits to Growth we are already going down the shute and the world's "leaders" will still be relentlessly denying the existence of the iceberg even as the Titanic of corporatised globalism disappears below the waves. A double-dip sinking anyone?

In a decadent civilisation, governments ("dominant elites" in Toynbee's terminology) are about as antithetical from civilisation as it is possible to get!

Yes. Sadly, you're probably correct.

Increasing further the likelyhood of collapse instead of managed decline.


Hi back!

I agree with you. We all should know we will be pushing the boulder uphill for a while.

Very few people I know (even in my immediate and extended family) brook any discussion of resource limitations.

"Power to the People. Let's get the message to the ruling class."

I just checked in to see if there were any tech comments on the subsea status around Macondo and caught this story.

When I first came here, only a few weeks ago, I was directed via a link on another website. When I made my first posting, my heart pounded, my hands were sweating and I was sure I'd be banned by the TOD Gods as a trespassing upstart. When I found out that my questions were heard and treated with respect, I began to sing the TOD hymn to colleagues, friends and family. The rest is history. The NYT spotlighted TOD, the all net users paid homage to the Masters, new servers were necessary, and here we are today.

Yes, TOD has become a major participant and assumed a position of leadership that brought it into an arena far beyond the parameters of peak oil. A significant number of people are trying to deal with an ongoing crisis that is not an academic or intellectual exercise. From the beginning of its involvement, TOD has provided factual information and stability to people who would otherwise have remained in ignorance and been falsely led, at best.

The most delicious aspect of this scenario is the fact that by virtue of education and economic status, the Old Guard at TOD may be viewed as "part of the ruling class"-a fact which has thus far protected it from being perverted or silenced. TOD may never have dreamed it would be handed this role but has stepped up to fill it admirably. An who said God, in whatever form He is perceived, doesn't have a sense of humor?

How fine a thing to see on the eve of Independence Day, that despite the fact that "our seas have been plundered, our coasts have been ravaged and the lives of our people destroyed," that Spirit of '76 flourishes here, (

Happy Fourth of July!

"Let's get the message to the ruling class"

what would that message be ??

A middle finger?

"Let's get the message to the ruling class"

How about (as noted above)

* civilisation is in an energy transition

* the transition is to a lower more expensive net energy future

* transition will be non linear

* civilisation (governments) are doing almost nothing to navigate this thereby increasing the risks of chaos in the transition


A middle finger?

Just to let em know what we think of em!

Until the average Joe/Joan realizes he/she *is* the ruling class, or should be, you may as well be spiting in the wind.

To avoid that spittle hitting you in the face, get to making the changes you want. The solutions will only, and can only, come from he bottom up. Those of the "ruling class" have far, far less incentive to change things as they are more insulated from the problems, at least for a while.

Also, their ideology is based in acquisitive behaviors. I think that's pretty much all you need to know.


I posted a documentary for someone to watch regarding some of the issues around GMO's. To which they responded "I base my opinions on facts, not videos. Yes, that documentary is a video. What would you call it, a scholarly article?"

Yes, that was spitting in the wind. And it is the prevailing trade wind.

I am quick to stop speaking with people about these issues now. And it makes me think of this scene from "The Matrix":

And THAT makes me think of:

I don't think *every* effort is necessarily spitting in the wind, but without making our own changes, it is. But realize I was speaking of the wider context of large-scale change. I simply don't think technology can fix this (Diamond, et al) nor do I think the Pols will until we force them too. The obstructionists have huge amounts of money, we have our feet and hands and votes.

The very simplest thing we could do would be to ALL register as independents and set about voting in the very closest thing to a Mr./Mrs, Smith (Goes to Washington) we can lay our hands on. Now back to reality...

The truly simplest thing we can do is start building up our own resilience and community, acting as an example of money and mouth being in the same place.


I was thinking a lot along the lines that you talk about when I read the comment you answered, ccpo.

The people that we commonly refer to as TPTB are not really head up on changing anything, otherwise they would have gone down a different road and we would not need to be talking about informing them, as if they do not already KNOW this is happening.

What has happened over the years since the founding of the USA is a forgetting of who we were. We seem to have bred into the general population a lazy attitude of why get off the couch, when I can just get by with what is going on right now, and besides there is a good show on in ten minutes. If the revolution had to happen today, we'd still be part of England 20 years from now.

Today I talked to several old timers (over 80 years old) who are disgruntled that the Two Party system, has devolved to a one party system, and they are looking for the change to get back what they see as having been lost. We did not get more involved with issues, that will come later,(time was limited). But the public at large is not happy, you can feel it in the air around here(real world, not online).

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs to all.

Yes, especially systems thinking is needed, since it has been largely missing. I created a permaculture commuinity garden on my own property, work with neighbors to transform our neighborhood into a close-knit village, and am a co-founder of Transition Bloomington (Indiana) — all areas of my life that depend on and arise from — systems thinking.

As a graduate student in philosophy 40 years ago I was always blurring edges — into sociology, depth psychology, development psychology — and getting roundly trounced for it. My professors wanted me to do a dissertation this way: "pick a small topic, something so small that all you have to do is research what others' have said and then say something else." But my problem was the history of (western) philosophy itself, and how it has split everything into parts without bothering to put them back together again. Humpty-Dumpty.

Welcome! I and Keith are "friends" on FB. Please look me up there.


Reading about Chaos Theory back in the '80's changed my perspective on everything. Reading other systems- and cycles-related writings solidified the effects of having been exposed to Chaos. Now, I'm very very weak in math, but that didn't matter even slightly; it was the concepts that cut through the fog.

Once you see the world systemically, and I don't mean the (misunderstood) Gaian ideal of everything literally being one entity, but the more prosaic reality that everything truly is connected. Go far enough down and the boundaries between one object and another become so much space, no? The electrical impulses of the brain extend upwards of ten feet out from each of us, thus making the possibility of ESP quite realistic... like telephone lines...


But the greatest disconnect of all systems is humans from the natural. Of course, saying we are *not* part of the natural system us silly to begin with. But we do attempt to dominate the natural system we are part of, thus sending it massively out of balance, out of true, and to wobbling terribly.

The only answer I've found to this is the set of principles and ethics that frame permaculture. I posit it is literally impossible to design unsustainably if one successfully follows them. It's amazing that permaculture is really nothing more than the collective wisdom of old knowledge and new techniques gathered into one place and time. But it's simple: design systems with all inputs having outputs, and all things having multiple functions, and nothing being a waste product by extension... virtually impossible to design unsustainably. (Of course, there are a number of other principles/ethics, which just make it all the more true.)

This is not to say that the framing of permaculture is the only way to get to this sort of thinking, but when you look at systems that are sustainable, they could be labeled permaculture designs.

My point here is not to promote permaculture, but to reinforce that a different way of thinking *is* necessary, and that way of thinking need not be beyond the realm of the average person, need not be promulgated by a bunch of Ivory Tower residents or "intellectuals." The greatest chance we have at getting through all this is to take approaches that empower all.

Think tanks are great, if you want to find the most complex answer you can. We are at a place and time were simple solutions that are at once resilient and efficient. (Funny how human-designed systems are virtually always one or the other; nature is freaking brilliant.)

So, let's do change our thinking, but more philosophy of how and why we think is a moot point. Time is short. We can draw down carbon with trees and soil. KISS.


Very interesting ccpo. I got hooked on Chaos theory also. And I'm no math wiz either. But observing systems as opposed to predicting how they were suppose to work in theory came naturally to me. While there is a lot of science backing up petroleum geology we also depend heavily on pattern recognition. Just as in Chaos we might not be able to clearly define all the contributing factors. But I’ve seen that XYZ pattern before and I not sure how it developed but I think I see the same pattern developing over there. But as I became more involved in drilling ops I began to see similar unexplainable patterns. Even saw it in human behavior around a rig. I can watch a hand just going about routine work and see a pattern I find untrustworthy. Maybe insufficiently skilled, careless, slacker. I suspect on some level many of us do the same with those around us even if we're not conscious of it. On the last well I drilled I ran off a total of 5 hands before the well was done. And the driller that finished the well was one of the best hands I've had in a while. Yet he had just gotten out of prison just 5 days before he went to work on the rig. My judgments aren't always 100%, of course. But I haven't been responsible for one lost time injury since I began handling operations. Always some luck to that but as some say, the harder you work at something the luckier you get.

You won't be surprised to find that developing your "pattern eye" is a significant part of permaculture, nor that the patterns drawn from are drawn from... nature.


ccpo -- Exactly. Nature's fractals begin showing up in oil patch discussions about 10 years ago.

nice work on the safety aspect Rockman.

i did rappelling/whitewater programs for a few years; big safety focus i likewise was very committed too, & i was often considered a 'pain in the ^ss' in that regard.

& i guess that sixth sense in such endeavors is as you & ccpo say 'pattern recognition'...sometimes beyond our consciousness.

Speaking of safety, that seems to be one area we could have had a few more discussions about here.

The first tragedy of the Gulf Gusher was the death of the 11 workers. The immediate hazards to the lives and health of those who extract our precious fossil fuels would be a good way to bring our discussions back to the everyday, sometimes grim, reality of our topic.

The other area that, certainly now in retrospect, we could have had much further discussions about was the immediate environmental hazards of oil and other ff extraction.

We talked a lot about the increasing difficulty of getting more oil as we round the top of the slope, about the increasing monetary costs and the decreasing EROEI.

But, IMVHO, we have not been deliberate enough about discussing the immediate threats of oil, gas and coal extraction from their immediate (and sometimes not so immediate) surroundings.

I hope that such issues become regular topics of main posts from now on.

Hey, Rockman, it sounds to me, like you have accumulated a lot of what I call, experience, it's priceless!

If You have ever thought about what Prison does to people, you can see where doing a good job could come out of it. Not everyone is the same, and not every person that went to prison was a bad bad person. Prisons are not only those places we put people for breaking the law of the land. We also make prisons in our own heads, and put ourselves in them more often than it seems sane to do so.

My dad sees the patterns of things so fast that most people who have worked around him think he is a miracle worker, and superman to boot. Knowing how to see the world around you is a gift, and sometimes it can be taught to those willing to learn. Sherlock Holmes was protrayed to have been able to solve the complex unanswerable problem, by seeing the things others missed.

I have worked a bunch of years with my dad, and even though I am amazed at some of ideas he comes up with, I have also had him tell me, after I come up with an idea, that he had not thought about it that way. As I am reading and posting to this thread, off and on we have been discussing redesigns of the house, and designs of our rain water catchment system and even some of these posts. All the while I remember the conversation I had this morning at church with two people who have worked with my dad on chruch projects. Both being amazed at how my dad was able to handle problems, as if he was a miracle worker and superman. He has stayed within 20 pounds of his weight when he went into the Army at 17, now at 74, 145lbs. He might not be able to hike all day with a pack on his back, but most healthy young folk, can't keep up with him.

Some people can just see how far it is from here to there and tell you the number of inches it is. I have done that in the past, and I have had people tell me I was wrong, only to have them apologize after they used a tape. But there seems to be a fuzzy line where some people can see around the corners and know what is about to happen, even though no one else knows. Something that you can't test for, if you have it, was it in your genes to begin with, or was it a pathway made by having a head injury. All we do know is that there is more under the sun than we have questions to ask, and everytime we get one of them answered, ten more pop up on it's heels.

I know from my own experiments, that strange things happen when you mess with your normal sleep cycles. For me to tell you what my normal week is like is for me to ask you, What do you mean normal? My sleep/wake cycle has been chaotic for so long that I can't tell you when it was ever set to a certain time table. I do know that I have this past year not been able to stay up longer than about 3 days(72 hours), in my mid 20's I was pushing 100 hour stretches, even in my late 30's I was able to go over 120 hours without sleep. LOL, and now you all know why I act the way I do, you say.

I used to play a lot of partner Spades, and was very good at weighting what I had in my 13 cards, with where the other cards were in the other three hands. Playing with 52 cards, first trick out was low club from everyones hand, Nil was 100 pts partner needing to take 3 min, lowest pair bid otherwise was 4. I became known as the King of going nil with the King of spades in my hand. At times I just knew I'd have the king of spades in my hand before anyone had picked up the cards. I could look at my cards once and know I'd get nil, even when I had the king in my hand, and no bids had been made. It became a game of sticking Charles on his nil hands, I've even had a few partners to try to get me. I can't say where it came from, that odd bit of ease at playing card games. I never did pay attention to the odds for or against something, just did it by feel.

I know that, not everyone has the same feel for things, and that makes this topic of thinking about thinking so neat of a subject. Another great campfire post, thanks Debbie.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs to all, anyone ever in my neck of the woods, pool or cards both games I have a knack for.

When I was little, I used to wonder why we flushed the toilet into our water. I wondered why we let outboard motors spill gasoline into our lakes. So much seemed so WRONG.

I so agree, ccpo. Nature IS brilliant. We were given plants that take our CO2 and give us Oxygen. Plants that love poop! It was made to work so well together, as it has for millenia in providing for simpler tribal peoples.

But the need to suck maximum profit from Nature upsets the formula. I call it stealing from God. Even our own manpower and resources are not enough for us. So we go overseas for more on which to make more profit.

If we were only willing to support our own lifestyle, there would be plenty of work to go around.

Instead, we spit on Nature. We defacate in our own drinking water supply. And our hunger for oil will mean nothing in the face of our thirst.

"Water is the most precious, limited natural resource we have in this country...But because water belongs to no one - except the people - special interests, including government polluters, use it as their private sewers."
-Ralph Nader quoted in Water Wasteland by David Zwick & Marcy Benstock, 1971 *

So we go back to old wisdom.

Before enlightenment,
Chop wood
Carry water.

After enlightenment,
Chop wood
Carry water.

-Zen saying

Only it's not that simple anymore. Now we will need to create more pure water first. That is what our next energy formula must do in order to bring us back into balance with nature.

Though not all rainwater is great to drink, it can be closer to pure than almost any other water source currently available to some people. That is why I am doing the design work I am, based on using mostly rainwater for all the needs of the house and garden. Some foods will have their own water in them so you are drinking the fluids which your body will filter the water out of, and complete the cycle.

We in America waste more water, and pollute it more than I care to think about. I don't know what other nations do, as much as I know about the one I live in, so you all might be able to judge them better than I can right now.

Several ideas that have recently cropped up online have been pushing the awareness of water issues to the forefront of the MSM and Online Media.

In another thread just in the last day we were discussing the LifeSaver Bottle from a TED talk, and how other people pushed their own favorite filtering systems. But what if every human on earth had their very own handy dandy water fitler hooked on their belts( backpack, purse, etc). Keeps reminding me of the StillSuits from Dune, why can't we make them like they had them in the movie/books? We have weaping rubber hoses for drip watering systems. We have Scuba suits for divers, We have the filter media for the bottles and jerrycans and pump bottles, why not a StillSuit?

But even without StillSuits we can have a handheld water filter in every hand on the planet, if we can have a cell phone in most hands.

I vote for what I came up with elsewhere. L.E.S.S. Least Energy Spent Sports. Come up with games that teach us how to use less, water, energy from fossil sources, etc, and still have a happy lifetime to enjoy the gift of this nice planet home.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, Hugs to all.

Gaian ideal

Gaia is an ideal in the same way that Evolution is an ideal.
It is not.
It is a description of how things are.

If you describe it as an ideal we will have fundamentalists all over us like a rash.

I was referring to the misinterpretation of Lovelock, who didn't speak of Gaia in the way many people think he did, as a single organism.

From Wiki:

Margulis dedicated the last of eight chapters in her book, The Symbiotic Planet, to Gaia. She resented the widespread personification of Gaia and stressed that Gaia is "not an organism", but "an emergent property of interaction among organisms". She defined Gaia as "the series of interacting ecosystems that compose a single huge ecosystem at the Earth's surface. Period."

Lovelock has said that by naming his theory after a Greek goddess, championed by many non scientists[1], the Gaia hypothesis was derided as some kind of neo-Pagan New Age religion. Many scientists in particular also criticised the approach taken in his popular book "Gaia, a New look at Life on Earth" for being teleological; a belief that all things have a predetermined purpose. Lovelock seems to have accepted this criticism of some of his statements, and has worked hard to remove the taint of teleological thinking from his theories, stating "Nowhere in our writings do we express the idea that planetary self-regulation is purposeful, or involves foresight or planning by the biota." – (Lovelock, J. E. 1990).

Among permaculturists, there is a bit of a split among the more "Gaian," or teleologically-oriented, and those that take a more pragmatic view. This mirrors the problems Lovelock has faced in clarifying what he meant. Count me as very much in the pragmatist camp.


Margulis dedicated the last of eight chapters in her book, The Symbiotic Planet, to Gaia. She resented the widespread personification of Gaia and stressed that Gaia is "not an organism", but "an emergent property of interaction among organisms". She defined Gaia as "the series of interacting ecosystems that compose a single huge ecosystem at the Earth's surface. Period."

Lynn Margulis, that is an empty statement.

I would argue that I am an emergent property.(no Period)
A Walking Swamp.
All life is an emergent property.

I am guessing that she made it appease the Reductionists. No matter, they will soon be gone.

The danger in such appeasement is it leaves room for the archaic notion of exceptionalism.
I am exceptional, earthworms are is exceptional.
Humans are exceptional?
Why, certainly. So what?
So we have to find a valid niche on Gaia or it is curtains for us.

Thanks for you response ccpo

Either you didn't understand what she said, or I don't understand what you said.


"not an organism", but "an emergent property of interaction among organisms"

(Extracted from previous blockquote)

A living organism is an interaction among organisms.
Hence my reference to being a walking swamp.
The mitochondria in my cells were an infection that turned into a symbiot.
My intestines are a riot of rampant fauna, flora and uninhibited sex.
Trees are an extension of my lungs.

Life is self-similar on different scales, all the way up to the planet itself.

No. You are repeating the error she and he seek to correct. You are only fractally correct, but not literally. Besides, the issue was and is not merely of the nature of living organisms, but the idea that the Earth and all its biota form a single *living* entity.

That's where it really gets of into theology. Since it is their concept, you simply can't define it for them. You may choose to formulate your own conception of life, but that is a different matter.


You are only fractally correct, but not literally..

How so?

Lynn's definition is hollow, devoid of content, because she tries to draw a distinction between Life and an emergent property. How can she when life is an emergent property?
She holds in her hand an empty statement.

I am a deist,and I understand the difference between a tree and God. And in the same way I understand the distinction between a little living rock floating in space and God. How on Gaia did you manage to conflate the two ideas?

But I am boring our readers, so in summary.
My corporeal being extends inward to microbes and outward to the planet. I am Gaia and speak for us.

You do not speak for them. That is the point. And she did not say life is not emergent. She said they are all emergent, but not one thing.

Yes, boring. Again, it is their concept, not yours.


ccpo, Arthur Robey,

Both you guys are onto something profound, and both can be considered right within different philosophical contexts.

In the Western tradition, our skin is what seperates the "us " from the world;in the Eastern tradition, it is what joins us to it.

Profound? Whoa! Nice! Heck, I'm just trying to help clarify what they think of their own work.

How one views connectedness is ultimately completely subjective, thus not very interesting to me except in that it helps me know how to frame discussion with people. The debate itself? Like watching paint dry.

My, I have gone over to the uber-practical, uber-problem solving side of my brain, haven't I? Where is that masked counselor/teacher/massage therapist man?



Oh boy.

Try this video from TED (Most favorite all time)
Find out how our brains are crippled by loss of endocrine disruptors try Left in the Dark by Tony Wright

Not gonna look, and you can't make me!


Ann.K, Welcome to TOD, glad you like the place so far.

I found something like what you are talking about in the School of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University. Where they did not want you thinking outside their box, also if you were not a pet student of theirs they advised you to go elsewhere. I came into the program with a lot of my own ideas, not being fresh out of highschool, and had been doing drawings of houses and gardens since I was so young I don't remember when I started. I had over 12 years of growing plants by the time I got there as well.

I have worked for Landscaping firms that all they were concerned about was making sure the grass was mowed every week, and half the weeds they wanted gone were also edibles, keeping the grass lawns even and weed free. All the while green grass species they want aren't even good for sheep, let alone humans. I am almost an Anti-grass lawn person. Though I do like the feel of Saint Augustine on my barefeet, but then I also like to walk barefoot in clover( yes I watch for bees).

We here just had this conversation.
Mom.. Would Somebody fill my water mug for me?
Me.. If you see Somebody, you tell them they are not doing their job right.
Dad.. Somebody hasn't been doing what I told them either, I think I am going to stop paying them.

There are so many little bits of information in the world from so many different disciplines taught these days that getting a full view is out of the hands and heads of most people. In some of my own thinking I like to see how much of a deep field view of everything working together I can get. Like the threads in a vast tapestry, how each person thinking about something and where everyone is today and what are they all doing. Those kinds of thoughts, which tie into a story I wrote about 2 years ago, where someone is slowly adding minds to a vast information gathering network, instead of just using cameras everywhere, why not all the eyes in the world tied in together, into the same system. But it was not designed to take over the world, it's early formation was for a special ops unit created by a non-governmental company, that supplied help to the US gov't, but stayed in the hands of a private individual. But later became a safeguard from an alien invasion when the person in charge found aliens mounting an attack on earth. Sci-Fi reading and writing being another thing I do.

Once you open some thinking doorways, it is rather hard to close them again. People are always trying to "trounce" others for their thinking. I hope you did not let them.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, one idea and person at a time, Hugs to all.


I think this is exactly the kind of question to ask in order to achieve a better result.

Cutting to the chase, here are my suggestions: Instead of posting long, multi-subject dialogues on one article, sort threads into folders of several different categories which are really aimed at solving specific problems. I think it might help make the line toward the goals a bit more straight, and the solutions more timely.

Such as:

1. Solution to Imediate Problem Discussion (STOP oil spewing)
2. Solution to Long-term Problem Discussion (clean-up oil) (transitioning to a sustainable economy)
3. Policy Discussion-Politics
4. Legal Discussion
5. Investigative Discussion-Right to Know (questions for BP, etc.)
6. Renewable Idea Discussion and Brainstorm
7. Ideas For Entrepreneurs (free investment ideas, which may generate better cash flow for the site depending on what the IRS says)

Then posters could provide resumes and categorize themseves into contributor categories such as:

a. Creative Thinkers - Futurists
b. Willing to Volunteer
c. Scientists
d. Engineers
e. Oil Industry Experts-Technical
f. Oil Industry Experts-Global
g. Geologists
h. Biologists, etc.
i. Resources ($) to Offer
j. Existing Technologies to Offer

That way, everyone knows who they are speaking with. Assignments can be given. For example, I am a journalist and creative thinker. Someone could give me a research assignment looking for current stories as reported on the Web. And questions could be posed to the people most qualified to provide technical answers, Results could be cross-checked with other like-minded folks. Creative solutions could be team-generated and team-developed. Sooner or later, this non-profit might generate a lot of revenue, and even have some jobs to offer some of us, if we bring real value to the discussion. (no promises, of course.) ...A co-operative?

And there should be a way to message others separately so as not to waste valuable space when kanoodling technologies or idea feasibility. (provide emai?)

Heck, you could even make a doomsday section!

Your post represents good thinking, and more of it could only make this site even better.

Then posters could provide resumes and categorize themseves into contributor categories such as:

I know you mean well and intend that comment in a constructive way, however as someone who has never been able to comfortably fit into anyone else's preconceived categories, I'll just place myself into the, "Completely outside all boxes and other categories", category. >;^)

Some people find it difficult to herd cats... imagine getting them to wear little scuba tanks and school like fish.

FMagyar-I think my post does sound a bit bossy. But I really like your category "Completely outside all boxes and other categories." Maybe we could call that one: "Uncategorized" or nothing at all. The list I produced was just a stream of conciousness example. I otherwise abhor coloring inside the lines, unless, in this case, it would add synthesis and help move us forward. Such motoring also makes it easier to see who is not interested in moving forward. But ultimately, I'm with you. People should never be categorized.

Duplicate deleted

I think solving the looming energy crisis might even be MORE challenging than teaching cats to scuba dive.

No, teaching them to scuba dive is the easy part! It's getting them to participate in schooling behavior that's the hard part.

We are then, in some luck that it is just human behavior that has to change. It will be the intra-species battle of reason over convenience and greed.

Thank you for your ideas Fritzie-Borgwardt (sounds like a name out of the Lord of the Rings). I love your enthusiasm. I am also pleased to see a lot of new names posting comments. There are a couple of ways we inadvertently thwart creativity such as yours (they are in part what motivated me to write this post), seeking perfection, and avoiding risk. I believe that TOD needs to take risks with its structure and its content. It will upset some folks but you never know where a risk might lead you.

TOD needs to take risks with its structure and its content.

Ooh, I'm not so sure. The editors declined to publish my article about sudden collapse which I had carefully written for this site. I think the real reason behind their flimsy excuses was that it would have triggered a global panic and premature Armageddon. In retrospect I'm inclined to agree with their judgement!

Fritzie-Borgwardt (sounds like a name out of the Lord of the Rings)

Definitely a troll (hah)!

declined to publish my article about sudden collapse which I had carefully written for this site

Did you publish it? Where?

Interested. I think the possibility of sudden collapse is growing.

There's since been some interesting other arguments to same outcome on TOD, from Gail and possibly others. Some are right now arguing elsewhere that the sovereign debts already cannot be paid off. I wish we (I) could have a guaranteed 2 years (or preferably 2 decades) in which to prepare for such a turn.

I should add that since I wrote that, TOD has published an article suggesting that there may be a huge increase of Iraqi production, sufficient to set back any decline by up to a decade. Would be nice to have some update clarification about that burning question.

Thanks. Pulling it up now.

Gail (I think) leans to sudden collapse despite sometimes mixed messages.

"Sovereign Debt" argument by Ilargi & Stoneleigh on The Automatic Earth is pretty compelling (read Frightening).

And "Iraqi Production" whatever the amount, will probably not match export declines projected from Iran & KSA (and other ME sources).

Not lookin good!!!




Good article. Don't see why it shouldn't be here on TOD.

Try again.

Hah, but I've already explained the reasons for not publishing it (on a prominent influential site such as TOD) in one of the lines just above. Re-reading it myself just now, it can hardly be accused of excessive cornucopicity. I think they also feared that the resulting comments would cause the server to explode. -RobinPC

I too thought the Ilargi & Stoneleigh article was pretty compelling (even without the added grits raised by my own article).
But the TOD discussion of whopping increase from Iraq came over as indicating that it really could be sufficient to cancel out a decline for the next perhaps decade. I'd desperately like to see an update/revisiting of that article here a.s.a.p.!

Where exactly did you see a discussion on TOD of Iraq production setting back the peak to say 2015, or 2025, was it in one of the Drumbeats??

Darwinian who is one of my go too soruces of clear thinking on peak dates and facts and figures (Waves to Ron), Laughed when he saw the article I am sure. I missed July 1st's Drumbeat, and have not read much of the last several days worth, though I posted in them a time or two. Too many things happening for me to pin down when the Article passed my eyes. And I missed several of the other key posts all together.

But I don't think personally, Iraqs increase in production, will much move the Peak anywhere out of where it is already, which I think was near to 2005 and floating not much up or down to today in 2010, Soon as ELM (Westexas) kicks in all bets are off for having a new date for peak oil production.

I'll read your article when I get time, Can't Speak for anyone but myself and even then I tend to wonder if I am not really a slow sundial, so tread lightly on what I say at times like this( humorous thoughts running in my head, I need your camera's Jokuhl, got to many stand up acts streaming while I am also posting serious stuff.)

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

The discussion of Iraq giving an extra ten years partying was the subject of a major article in January, here: Note that there's an important commentary towards the end, which argues that the OP is if anything actually underhyped. We really need an update on this please! --Robin

If that's your real name, RP, I am sorry we cannot make fun of it. If it's not your real name, why not be brave and use it? I am all for using real names (unless we are revealing sensitive information that could harm us) and leaving all comments available as opposed to voting them down and off this site. Our First Amendment Rights are evaporating all around us. It would be nice to know we can honor those rights here at least, without fear of censorship.

If someone posts something truly stupid, someone else will construct a suitable reply. It's the only way to know that all is being revealed, and that there is no agenda, other than TOD's stated mission. In establishing and maintaining trust, the APPEARANCE of objectivity is nearly as important as objectivity itself.

Hi Fritzie-B, That is my real name. And I just posted above a few minutes ago my full first name Robin. I share your view that we should have no censorship or denial here but unfortunately that certainly isn't the case. Some here will appreciate that I previously had an account here in the name of RobinPC. But then I posted a comment that challenged a serious very prominent falsification of history, which was extremely pertinent to that very thread. A hail of abusive, information-free flames resulted to which I responded only with further reasoning and evidence. But to no avail, and my comment was disappeared and account was closed down. But as Debbie says elsewhere on this page we have to work with the people (and sites) we've got!
P.S. There are good positive reasons for some people hiding their real names here.

There is absolutely value in anonymity for some sources here.

However, I similarly find that the angry flamers sometimes reveal more about their agendas and who they are than real names would, and that's not always a bad thing.

Robin I remember very well the incident of your ID and debate clearly.

At that time I quit reading TOD until the oil spill occurred.

To this date I very frequently create a POST but and I have considered creating KEY TOPIC Posts ....but in the end I most always delete them out of remembrance of the thin skinned 'personal' censorship of some of the TOD staff.

I now rarely comment and more often tend to skip many many comments by others. Sometimes even whole topic posts.

Much of this is due to the new 'flag as inappropiate' method. I detest it and it cannot be judged as to its merit since its all very much hidden. The numbering method(flag up/ flag down) was far better and one could see how many members were full of hate enough to disparage very good comments. This was very insightful in itself and many times I found that the comments given the negatives were far better than the ones given positives. Strange but true.

Reason being that many members here exhibit 'herd instinct' and delight in savage attacks.

The attacks Christianity or Christians is a prime example.

Lately TOD has been invaded by a vast new membership and the good qualities of TOD were suddenly submerged as the newbies did not play game fairly but saw TOD as their personal sandbox to play in.

The Campfire series has never gotten off the ground also as it somehow refuses to face the truth of the future and instead pursues banal subjects that matter little.

I find TOD to have diminished in value. At least for me and I have been reading(not full membership) almost since it was first created.

Of course all the newbies here will reject my views but they do not have the far vision and live mostly in the immmediate past and not the long view.

Whatever is posted here unless it clearly goes beyond the mission SHOULD remain and be subject to a critique by the membership via a good flagging method instead of a personal delete by a staff member. Personal being a key word.

IOW...'I don't like what he said so I will summarily delete it'. That I find abhorrent. If the deletion occurs at least there should be a note in its place as to WHY it was deleted.

Instead it passes into oblivion when it might have had great , but unpopular, merit.

Thoreau and many other great authors suffered the same fates. Some of the best IMO posts,from the heart, have and will not see the light of TOD because I simply do NOT trust the readership or the staff to allow it to remain,even though it may not break some rule and those 'rules' IMO do not exist in any written form but instead in the mindset of the staff.

Yet it is their site and to do with as they see fit but excuse me!! Do I not see pleadings for SUPPORT by the membership? Quite often too.
On the internet without your members you are the emperor without clothes. You do NOT have a site except for your own personal use.

If TOD wishes to remain a class act it need badly to field a far better moderated method. The current one simply is too hidden and most deletions I am certain are personal ones by the staff and therefore have no transparency in the least.

I am viewing your site Robin. I remember you well from the past. Many I find of the older members are no longer present on TOD. Very very few. Some of the best I have ever read were by those missing members.

I don't remember the incident, but I do have a general recollection of RPC. I would caution against the assumption implicit in your comments that all the "good" posters who are gone were driven away. Leanan has observed any number of times the life cycles of these sorts of sites. Essentially they go through the same series of evolutions repeatedly. Most people who move on are doing just that, moving on. No conspiracy needed to explain it.


please read carefully


NOT a negative vote. We don't need that.

The "flag as inappropriate box" is certainly the privilege of the blog admins.

I want to be able to encourage good posts, not put down opinions different from my own. If I have a difference of fact or evidence, I can post.

Uh... I didn't address that issue. To whom did you intend to respond?


This is an excellent example of why categories would be a great thing. The word is focus. If someone is off topic, or arguing a subjective point back and forth, they can debate the format all they'd like elsewhere on this site. If someone wants to talk only about stopping the oil flow, that's where solutions begin.

"Wisdom I know is social. She seeks her fellows. But Beauty is jealous, and illy bears the presence of a rival."
Thomas Jefferson

Passingby - Thanks for your comments in support! But I don't think it is often a matter of hate that causes others to downflag or censor comments. Rather they are motivated by a sense of righteously striving to correct error and eliminate evil falsehoods.

The sad thing is that a majority of people are actually taken in by elements of propaganda from powerful interests, such that they believe certain modern whopping myths to be Sacred Truths and that only evil, hateful people challenge these Sacred Truths.

TOD editors have previously explained that they struggle to moderate the site, being a small number of unpaid volunteers faced with a huge throughput of comments. With zero moderation you would surely get some very low quality drivel such as predominates on the heavily "~moderated~" (more accurately heavily censored) site The TOD editors put a lot of work in and reasonably wish to defend it against abusers. The flag system enables them to be alerted to any inappropriate posts.

I'm not aware of any other censorships apart from that one of my own, and that was an exceptional case of iconoclasting (with my usual excessive clarity) probably the most sacred of Sacred Myths of the post-ww2 west. That Sacred Myth of the Holy War Against Evil is very much pertinent in the context of ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan, even though I personally respect the current efforts of the militaries in those theatres.

It seems that all institutions decline in quality over time, and especially when enlarging. But there's still huge high quality here, and some of the worse commenters have also dropped out.

My first name on here was this one, though I lost the password and couldn't figure out how to get it back and created another one, Dan Ur. Which is a character in a book I wrote, unpublished, though some short stories of his exploits have made it into D&D fanzines, and it's the name on my Blogspot account, and several online game sites.

I regularlly post that I am a Christian, just think of what kind of hornets nest that can get going online. Take the flames with a bit of salt and a wire stick and BBQ fixings and go on about your day. I have always been able to face life with a bit of humor thrown in, I think God has a handle on funny things, I mean look at it this way, if Jesus was fully human and Fully God, and we are like him, and we have a sense of humor, then wouldn't God?

But all that aside, where was I, Looks back up post, ah yes, real names and the internet ability to hide from the real world, or hide your real self behind a curtain. Memories of the Wizard of Oz, or Capped masked men of ages past. I have been online as it was way back in 1981, when it was just simple stuff via colleges, I knew about computers and things of that nature from my father's work in the Military. I really hit the online scene in 1988 and haven't left much since then. Hiding facts from people seems like good spycraft to me at times, but nothing is really hidden if you happen to know the right people, almost anyone can be found out unless they are very good at computers, and that is not as easy as it looks on TV/moives.

But I figured a long time ago, why bother hiding just be yourself and find out if people will like you for who you are, or not. Nothing to worry about if you ever meet them face to face they got a taste of the real you, by the tone of your words and how you use them.

The scary fact is that, an honest honest man, can tell a lie and get away with it, but once he is caught in a lie, everything he says from then on, truth or fiction will be seen as a lie. Gaining that trust back takes years and sometimes you never get it back, so why lie if know this pearl of wisdom? LOL, because we are humans and we do the silliest of things at times. Even online.

I have talked via email to many people on TOD and on the phone to a few, and have my picture on my blog, link in my TOD profile, you can google my name and find things about me, so once you put your comments online you are leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that stay around for a while, not many net birds out eating them gone. So if you want to stay a secret you have to work at it. If you do want that, as I know several people on TOD do, cheers to you, waves, if you ever met me in person, you'll know me, and I might not know you, but better to not talk to me, I am good at finding the crumbs left by people.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, where people are free to be themselves without worry.

Excellent summary.

I have never spoken for the TOD, and I am not now, however I think you are over-estimating resistance to your thoughts, and under-estimating the goal of TOD to allow only a certain number of key posts. At least that's what I believe being a regular poster here for five years.

I am no stranger to the idea of sudden collpase. In 2005, I appeared on British TV stating that it was possible that the US dollar could suddenly collpase in value - for one or more reasons, among them loss of oil sources, sell-off of dollar reserves by certain countries with vast dollar reserves, and possibly as a result of these reasons, or just happening over time as a result of peak oil, loss of dollar value through accelerated inflation or hyperinflation.

The kind of collapse I am looking for still has not happened, the financial crisis and high oil prices of 2008-2009 is just a taste of things to come.

Having said that, collapse does not look to be immeadiately ahead (within one year).


I agree with you about the next year: The dollar is likely to get stronger as oil prices continue to decline and other major currencies grow weaker.

For 2012, a Presidential election year, I think we'll see massive fiscal stimulus and a continuation of low interest rates. Hence, probably no collapse in 2012, as well as none during the rest of this year and in 2011.

On the other hand, much depends on the price of oil, and there are too many "unknown" unknowns to make any firm predictions more than a few months out--and even those have to be heavily qualified because of the ever-present possibility of wars or revolutions in the Middle East.

Charles, it is very important that the usage, that is the meaning intended, of the word "collapse" is not mixed up by conflating with "reduction". When you say collapse of the dollar you merely mean sharp reduction of its value, a decline of that value. The Collapse word needs to be reserved for something more terminal, which is what I meant. "Collapse of the dollar" should only be used to denote that the dollar ceases to have any value as money. But unfortunately the world is rich in professional hack-writers who find most profit in hype language!

I am also pleased to see a lot of new names posting comments....I believe that TOD needs to take risks with its structure and its content.

I strongly endorse innovations in structure.

What is signal to one reader is often noise to another. The noise of an expanded membership can turn success into failure, while excluding that “noise” would choke growth and discard value.

The best response to this kind of problem is to add differentiated communication channels that serve a range of legitimate purposes: news and analysis, but also chatting, brainstorming, arguing, chewing on a perennial tangential topic, and asking newbie questions. I short, respond to the flood not by blocking it or drowning, but by channeling much of the flow into harmless and even productive directions.*

To the extent that the main channel looks a lot like the traditional, successful TOD (and I think it should), there’s little downside risk to TOD, yet a high-likelihood benefit of helping to keep it functionally intact. Innovation in support of stability, in other words.

* Extensive off-topic discussion in discussion threads is within TOD norms in part because (1) the off-topic content often serves the community’s general purposes, and (2) there’s no other good outlet for it.

About the off-topic problem, here’s a concrete suggestion: Let readers mark a comment by clicking “Flag as off-topic”/“Flag as on-topic”. When “off topic” has 3 net votes, the effect is to fold a comment (and its reply thread) to display as a one-line-only outline. Not gone, but out of the way. This display mode could be a default, yet optional.

I’d expect a vast improvement in the perceived quality of discussion threads, and without telling anyone to shut up.

For extra flexibility of expression, let readers mark a folded comment as “Must-see”, with the effect of highlighting it’s displayed line. This would ameliorate the problem of burying high-value off-topic information, and the related semi-problem of mainstream thinkers burying semi-legitimate controversial arguments.


I like tha idea a lot. But I do not think the off-topic ideas should be tossed. I think they should be moved to an off-topic folder with a link to their original position. As someone who's watched information juxtaposition all my life, it would be an interesting experiment. The final result of the off-topic pile might be the most instructive of all.

Otherwise, the site requires too much reverse osmosis when trying to advance. For those of you who are into artificial intelligence design, that is exactly what we are doing here ....parsing the way real intelligence works.

Good intelligence will be rewarded and directed toward a result. The other stuff is the poetry that is essential to the whole, and which might spawn other, more philisophical ideas. That which is not rewarded, will eventually go away,

Three BF quotes from:

"All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move."

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."
Benjamin Franklin


fritzie-borgwardt, it is interesting to note that in a discussion with the central topic of "thinking about thinking", or the philosophy of the peak oil and energy decline issue, in all your catagories to recruit for this mission, there is not one mention of philosophers!

All the catagories you list are technologists or scientists (with the possible exception of "Futurists", a catagory as yet somewhat undefined...we are all "futurists" whether we like it or not because that is where we will spend the rest of our lives!)

I take it your not a liberal arts time for those wasters of resources such as poets, musicians, painters and sculptors, architects or philosophers, and who would ask those who think most about thinking to contribute, what can those esoteric eggheads contribute? Such is life, and such it will always be...


Not at all. Democracy is all about philosophy. THIS is an art form, albeit a new one.

I'll have to side with Fred above, But you need one for me as well. Class me as an "Abnormal Pocketwatch".

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs to all,
See another post in this thread about my sleeping schedules.

Just a word of appreciation from someone fairly new here. I was drawn to TOD to learn more about the oil spill, spent some time lurking, and even posted a few comments which were kindly tolerated by old timers here.

There are a couple of trends in our society that I fear will be the undoing of us, even more so than the oil spill. First, the concept of truth supported by evidence, once self-evident, seems to have been forgotten and replaced by a culture in which whatever idea is asserted the most vehemently wins. The internet has played no small part in this shift. Second, the polarization between left and right, red and blue, is so intense that intelligent debate of social issues seems almost completely a thing of the past.

I have been happily surprised that the discussions on TOD manage to avoid succumbing to both of these trends, better than on any other forum I am familiar with. For example, you have intellectual left-leaning types asking and respectfully appreciating the opinions of right-leaning Texans. Where else do you see this these days?

So you must be doing something right, and I wouldn't be surprised to find the importance of TOD growing dramatically in the next couple of years.

"which were kindly tolerated by old timers here."

IMO there are very very few 'odltimers' left here on TOD.

I speak of those that were present before the GOM event and TODs coverage of that event.

Why there are gone is something I have long pondered. Perhaps for the same reason I read it less and less and only recently have commented on this observation.

A huge amount of content and experience left when they departed. Sad.
Some are still here but post very very infrequently.

Perhaps their accounts still remain but I no longer hear their voices.

Who are we considering the 'old timers'? I've been reading TOD since 2008 (just started posting recently), and the cast of characters seems to be pretty consistent, with an uptick in 'newbies' since the BP spill.

I've seen similar comments posted by others about how the quality of articles and comments has declined over the year (reservegrowth made this comment recently).

When, (or did) the content of the site change significantly?

Is it natural for a group of people that (generally) think decline is just around the corner to lament declines? (wry observation)

totoneila is gone, airdale left, Nate is much less involved, and Don Sailorman has just returned. And now apparently Roger is leaving.

On the other hand, WT, Alan, Ron, E. Swanson, and others are still here educating me.

Toto was for personal issues, if my foggy memory serves - and it often doesn't. Nate seems to be busy with research. Airdale is still here, under assumed name, or someone is plagairizing him.

Stuart is definitely gone. Don't know what's up with Euan and the Europeans... gone, too, or just dormant?


I can see that the noise to signal ratio must have increased quite a bit since the good old days before 4/20. On this 4th of July, how about TOD honor the founding fathers' concept of representative rather than actual democracy, and grant special status to posters who, by virtue of their resumes, actually know what they are talking about. Each comment could have a special icon indicating either "this guy is has actual knowledge of the field," or 'this guy probably just likes to sound off because he has nothing better to do, so you can regard his comment as optional reading." I would fall into the latter category, so would have to be extra careful to say something worthwhile if I want anyone to read it. Just an idea.

Airdale had or has a very recognizable personal style, and while I sincerely hope he is alive and well and reading TOD,I do not see anything at all to indicate that he is still posting comments.

There was a story of his posted literally word-for-word, or nearly so in the last couple of days by a "new" poster who also in the last few days complained about people assuming your time registered = time at TOD.



The one I really miss is totoneila. He was really a big part of the heart and soul of this place, and the drumbeats are not the same without him.

Yeah, Toto was all over NPK before I got so excited about it. Wish Toto were around now, I could use the knowledge and insight.



I saw that, and you are right about it looking like something airdale would have posted.It could have been airdale disguising his own old style a bit,or a copycat, or just somebody from the same cultural and geographical background who thinks like airdale.

I would have to put the two comments side by side to decide-not worth my time.

Names I consider old timers, not in any order, Darwinian, CEOJr1963, Twilight, Tstreet, Step Back, GreyZone, Westexas, Heading Out, Hamster. Of those I know have posted in the last week, I don't know where to look if it is even out there to find out, how many people logged names in the first year of the site coming online, but back in 2005 There was a lot of things going on that year for me, and in the world. Darwinian and I were on several yahoo group discussion forums together and for a time he and I lived in Huntsville Alabama at the same time. But for a while I did not spend a lot of time on TOD, I don't think it was anything the site did, life pulls you away from some things and you then fine the time later to go back to old habits or place you used to hang out.

When was the last time you went to the most favorite hangout of 5 years ago?

When was the last time you played an online game, if ever?

Some folks have blogs, which they rarely post new content to, I am one of them that used to post every few days to mine, and sometimes I write a long hand short fiction thinking I should just get online and post it, or write it there, and don't. I am sure I lost half my following of local readers just because I see them now more in person than I post to the blog.

5 years is a long time to spend at anything besides a job, or a marriage, and even then those two are usually hard to make it up too as long as 5 years, that being the hump that means you might actually last longer. TOD just turned 5, so old timers means what to you, 5 years, or anything before April 20th 2010?

Go to the Sitemeter and look at the last 12 months, pretty solid 500,000 per month page visits up until May 2010. So the readership is about stable for a long time frame, those don't tell you each person that reads, where they are and whom they are. Something out there the data might exist, but then again it might not, and unless you go back into the archives and check you might not know one way or another if what you feel to be true is really true or not.

As I said above, and Leanan has stated, people have lives beyond TOD and can have needs that take them away, for no fault of anyone, just part of life.

Hopefully not many users have died out, It has happened in some of the online games I have played, so everything is possible, in fact one game I used to play with my second wife, will never be the same having her name come up on the list, and knowing she is having fun in heaven instead.( your opinion of this last statement may vary, flame away, I have BBQ fixings ready).

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

Names I consider old timers, not in any order, ...

Staying with TOD for any length of time can get depressing.

After you see one angle of hope versus the next get crushed
(i.e. Technology will save us, The Market will ...)
by rigorous technical debate, the pickle jar we are all trapped in gets less and less attractive ...

until one day you say to yourself: I don't want to look at the ugly truth anymore.

But then you tune in to the MSM happy headroom channels and that gets nauseating. You've swallowed the RedPill from The Matrix and it's too late to unswallow it. So you come back from time to time for a dose of harsh reality.

It hurts.
But the pain let's you know you still have one toe in touch with reality.

So why did you post to Alternate Reality link? Just an idle thought going through my mind, but if you don't want to reply here, send me email. I'll tell you the real story about a series of books and short stories I have on the theme I call Alternatives. It might actually warp your mind when you find out what it is all about.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, even in the dark gloomy nights of reading tod, you have to laugh at the cats you find feral in your garden in the morning.


I was just hunting for a visual for the RedPill thing and ran across the Alternate Reality site.
Usually, when I borrow a visual from some outside site I include a hyperlink to their posting so they feel like they are getting some free publicity as opposed to somebody just using them for their picture.

RedPill represents one of the Alternate Realities.

I think most of us live in worlds of Alternate Realities.

Our consciousnesses jump from suspending disbelief about one reality to suspending disbelief about a next so-called reality and so on.

This morning on CSPAN's Washington Journal they had a happy talk "economist" on. (IIRC correctly his last name was "Rose" in honor of the glasses through which he views his current reality.) He was predicting that the happy times singularity (or "The Rebound" as he titles his book) by summer of 2012.

There was no comprehension of Peak Oil, Limits to Growth, etc. in his economist happy talk framework. That's his alternate reality. The good times are just ahead of us, as always they have been.

I get that people 'grow apart' from all kinds of things. Thanks for the info.

TOD I think serves an important educational function. I have gotten more of an education here than in undergraduate and graduate school combined. I really feel that TOD has made me into an informed citizen, and not just a mindless Consumer.

I came here in 2008, concerned about the national security and economic consequences for the USA in relying on so much imported oil, especially from the Middle East. Since that time, I have learned about Peak Oil, climate change, and all of the other topics discussed here. I give a lot of credit to TOD for shaping my worldview.

I really hope that TOD stays in a form where it can provide this experience to others.

TOD I think serves an important educational function. I have gotten more of an education here than in undergraduate and graduate school combined. I really feel that TOD has made me into an informed citizen, and not just a mindless Consumer.

Couldn't agree more! +10

yes, TOD is an excellent information source that I have often used to help inform our legislators and area thought leaders, business associates, friends, etc. about energy, economy and environment. This information is also very cutting edge, and up to date. TOD has helped to educate us all.

Great post Debbie. It is always a good time to pause and ask what we're doing here, and how.

As an aspiring politician, I (we) are always grasping for the means to turn spectators into participants, to turn, as one commenter has already said, conversation into grassroots action. TOD does just that. Many of the spectators here will remain just that, until one day perhaps, they enter the voting booth and all that reading and learning throws a switch in their brain and the hand ticks a different box on the ballot paper. For most people, and most TOD readers, that will be the highest level of activism they will reach, and so what? Most people aren't foolish enough to want to change the world via politics, most are just too busy getting by, and that's why we have a representative democracy. I think TOD raises awareness, hosts civil discussions, offers me original research and heaps of links to chase in order to make up my own mind, and gives me a sense of community, reassuring me that I am not the only one taking these issues seriously. What more could I want?

Rock on TOD!

I am a doomer of the Darwinian variety. I began to prepare for economic collapse prior to the dot com bubble collapse because in 1988 while dosing in a NASA seminar at the Johnson Space Center I had an ephaney. Our economy was destined to fall to the level of the third world standards due to off shoring of manufacturing, implementation of automated processes, and legal and illegal immigration.

Accordingly, I retired from a senior executive position and moved my family (wife, SIL, daughter and 4 grandchildren) to a remote rural valley and began to prepare for the inevitable economic collapse which is now in full bloom. My son is still working as an IT manager but will retire in 18 months at age 55 and join us in the valley.

About thirty months ago I stumbled on to TOD. It added a new dimension to my concern and planning/action for the future. I use TOD as the primary source for my monthly Economic Analysis news letter to the community, letters to the editor of the local daily newspaper, and comments on the daily local talk radio program.

Significant awareness and action has resulted from dissemination of this information. Recently I conducted a four hour leadership seminar for my community at the invitation of the volunteer fire department Chief. The seminar was attended by about 10% of the community. This is an important step in preparing other community leaders.

I do not have the eloquence or vocabulary to express my gratitude to TOD, its amazing staff, and most of the regular commenters.

As an aside, I would suggest that the gratuitous comments of some commentators relative to political conservatives, Christians, and those of us who lack university credentials are counter productive. At age 77, from an East Texas share cropper heritage, I just ‘Consider The Source’ and mentally delete, but others may be turned off and we loose another convert. We need all the converts to TOD and Peak Oil that we can acquire.

Thanks again for the most valuable Internet site to date.

What building / city is that photo of?


Well at least a small island hanging off the lower south east coast. (Tasmania)

(sorry! couldn't resist)

Oops, sorry. A cursory glance at the header.

Well, Hobart to be precise.

And yes, it is Australia and a delightful little city too.

Perhaps one you might consider moving to in the chaotic years ahead.

Fairly isolated, a rich agricultural island, very low population density, lots of fresh water, a well managed and viable southern ocean fishery and the weather will warm up with AGW.


NTM the world's biggest legal opium crop!

Oh. Shame on me. How could I forget.

Hobart the home of The Cascade Beer Brewery. IMO Australia's finest.

Start packing.

My bolt-hole is Auckland, NZ. Fairly isolated, fairly csomopolitan, TWO breweries (resilient where it counts)and a magnificent harbour. Weather already warm and not likely to get much warmer unless we get the venus syndrome, due to isolation in the middle of the Pacific. Gotta love it.

I thought the Maori had first dibs.

At least you guys run on a very low FF economy now. A definate advantage in the very near future.


I feel the same way about TOD. Don't you wish we could map out all of the information that has been passed forward because of this site? And I agree with you regarding the flame throwers. My hope is always for thoughtful comments that don't leave people feeling like they don't want to participate. As one of my favorite instructors said, be "tough on issues, tender on people."

But when some people here put a lot of effort into trying to persuade to their (subtly unsound) point of view and then others fail to agree with them, it is intensely frustrating and disturbing, and errors and misattributions can occur (such as I did the other day myself). Yes we should strive to be "tough on issues, tender on people" but we should also develop a thick skin.

but we should also develop a thick skin

Over the years I've seen that stated more than a few times in comment threads. If you have ever known a sensitive person, you may realize that you can't tell someone to grow thick skin any more than you can tell a lion to grow stripes. But it has been my experience that if you want to reach someone, you have to accept them as they come, not as you would like them to come. If you have found that telling someone to grow thick skin and offering your middle finger is working for you, then far be it from me to tell you otherwise.

Hmm, firstly it wasn't me that proposed the middle finger message.

Secondly, I think you are substantially correct on those two principles that (a) the sensitive person cannot change, and (b) you have to work with people as they are. But from there I move to a different conclusion of the implications.

A number of times I've read on this site people saying they can't get their family members to share their perception of the future. My reckoning is that a high proportion of these people simply don't have what it will take to remain functioning when the cotton wool of "modern life" gets blown away.

The first thing we have to come to terms with is that most of our best friends and relatives are not going to make it to the other side. And sadly it seems that it's the nicer, more kind-hearted sorts who are more hopeless in this regard.

However I do happen to know of a well-researched technology for converting the sensitive person into a hardy one. I know because I've successfully massively transformed myself with it. But others don't believe there's any shortcoming in their psychology anyway and you can't help a person who doesn't think they need that help anyway.

I guess I have been around that block a long time, I used to do a lot of talking in a public setting, reading from books, doing small stage acts(mostly one man skits I had created) and have been able to get my butterflies under control and just do it for a long time, since I was in my single digits.

I have a thick hide, I got picked on as a kid, and that tends to thicken you up or break you, I know a few that it broke. But As I said in another post, when the flames come, get out your marshmellows and BBQ fixings and pop a beer, or other drink and roast away as they flame you. I kinda am a pyro too, so fire was always something I understood a lot better than the average person. I taught myself candle making, through experimentation and discovered some neat things about controlling small fires and how to make a limited amount of fuel last a long time.

So if someone throws rocks at you, take your vector mechanics and eye hand coordination, and build a nice house for yourself to also build a fireplace in, as they switch from stones to flames, you'll have made something out of their free gifts, input and outputs the cycle of the systems.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, do unto others as you would want them to do undo you, give everyone a warm hug.

For better or worse, I, and many others, helped turn TOD into a meat grinder of ideas. An intellectual whetstone for those good at it, a painful experience for those not so good.

Not only an on-line peer review, but a bit of a sharp one.

Either bring an "A" game with your arguments or stay away.

This stills makes room, and a welcome, for those honestly questioning and seeking to learn. But it also makes for an intimidating atmosphere.

For Better or Worse,


Hey hey Alan,

I think meat grinder/grist mill/information clearing house is TOD's best function. The breadth and diversity, the scope and depth, the expertise and knowledge, and the level of civility and discourse on this site is amazing. TOD is an excellent venue to learn about numerous topics from the broad 'thinking about thinking' to the ultra-specific tech talks 'Coal Mining - Mechanized Room and Pillar Mining' as well as an online peer review whetstone for honing ideas and concepts.

I don't think TOD needs to be changed in any meaningful way. Dissecting, digesting, and disseminating information is what this site does best and should continue doing. Organizing and advocating for change does need to happen, but I don't think it should happen here. Retasking TOD for a purpose other than meat grinding could have many positive benefits, but it would hamper the grinding.

That said, I think we do need other to build additional forums, just not at TOD. I feel that TOD has the resources to found additional sites for community mobilization that are "tough on issues, tender on people." But that mandate is incompatible with the TOD grist mill which is, and should be, thick skinned and insensitive to anything but merit and veracity.

Hopefully, the deliberate spinning off of additional sites will avoid the break that happened with Ilargi and Stoneleigh. Though I'm not privy to the details I feel that the break was both regrettable and avoidable.

PS Debbie, just in case their is any confusion, I fully support what you are doing. I met you at the ASPO 2007 conference in Huston and went to your brake away session. Up thread you said:
"I believe that TOD needs to take risks with its structure and its content. It will upset some folks but you never know where a risk might lead you." Which IMO is tactically mistaken.

Peak oil is sufficiently mainstream to support an additional site to rock the boat. Doing it at TOD would detract from TOD's core competence. At the conference you said something that stuck with me: (paraphrasing) "when peak oil gets here, you'll want to have something to contribute other than saying I told you so" Which is the reason, I believe, that you want to rock the boat at TOD. As an information clearing house TOD is primarily and 'I told you so' site. But, informed action is only possible after the 'informed' part has been satisfied.

So, in keeping with the topic of 'thinking about thinking', I think that it is important to realize that 'informed' and 'action' operate under radically different philosophies. And rather than rock the boat here at TOD you should do a couple of posts to sequester ideas for optimal spin off sites.

As I discuss above, some changes in structure could reduce the ongoing risk to the established long-term value of TOD, helping to restore its focus without stifling new (and less professional) voices.

One approach I discuss has a lot in common with your suggestion of new sites, but more integrated.

"Bring your A game."

The problem Alan is you believe in and espouse a 'city' life style for the future.

Light rail in your mantra. When someone disagrees you do not like it.

Cities are death traps but you solidly refuse to acknowledge it.

The beam in is YOUR eye. Not the survivalists eyes.

Not a 'A game' because it denies your A GAME?

This is the way repartee and debate works. Except for DMatthews and Hothgars all comments should be allowed.

Even Debbie Cook espoused that she thinks politicians NEED lobbyists. Such a view is way way off track for most voters yet it is her viewpoint and I point out that she has not as yet denied it. That lobbists satisfy a great need of the politicians!!!!

Wow!! Yes they supply perks and money and other favors. They defeat the rights of the voters in our system of representative government , BY THE PEOPLE..and NOT by the LOBBYISTS.

A corporation is NOT A PERSON. The judges or courts who spew this garbage need to be removed from the bench.

"Cities are death traps but you solidly refuse to acknowledge it."

So now you are the one being dismissive of others' positions.

Saying "cities are death traps" does not make them so.

ALL area will be severely tested. There simply is no "safe place" for the future we are facing.

Havana. Self-sufficient in food production within something like 30 miles or some such...

Detroit could be. I've run the numbers.


Hi ccpo. Could you point me to good sources on what is happening in Detroit?

Sure. Me. Good start.




Your account...

"Accordingly, I retired from a senior executive position and moved my family (wife, SIL, daughter and 4 grandchildren) to a remote rural valley and began to prepare for the inevitable economic collapse which is now in full bloom. My son is still working as an IT manager but will retire in 18 months at age 55 and join us in the valley."

I can understand why you would be a doomer, please allow me to express my condolences on how horribly your life has gone and how savegely postwar modernism has treated you and your offspring...may you grandchildren be spared from such a horrible fate.


I can understand why you would be a doomer, please allow me to express my condolences on how horribly your life has gone and how savegely postwar modernism has treated you and your offspring...may you grandchildren be spared from such a horrible fate.

I think it says more that a man who has the means to make a wide variety of choices regarding his living arrangements has decided to integrate into a small community, pull his family together there, and assume a leadership position, while you take the side of Taleb's turkey on the day before Thanksgiving.


I guess I have been what I would call a spectator, at least in the political process. I have always voted, but that was about it. This year though I am, due to the influence of TOD and other web sites, I have decided to help in a campaign of a candidate for US Congress. I would strongly urge others to do the same as you can help effect more change than you can with your one vote.

Good for you Rio. I ran for Congress in 2008. Win or lose, you will make great new friends, meet interesting people, and find countless opportunities to spread the word.

I have a generally different POV than most, but here goes:

KUDOS to the management for allowing technically proficient people in a variety of fields contribute to the real knowledge of the leak, oil wells, geology, etc. For instance, Rockman, but not to leave out all the others who also contribute, but whose names I'm not able to recall. It is for those tiny gems of knowledge that I troll the vast expanses of political dross I find here. Obviously, I am not a fan of big government, socialism, mixed economies, or in much of the "modern progressivism" so prevalent here.

As a former moderator of a national forum and then regional forum, one that grew from 1000 members at the start of my term and over 15,000 when I no longer had the time to volunteer to it, I can appreciate that the sudden influx of a wide array of particpants changes the nature of an online forum. While all came to the forum for a specific interest, nobody has ONLY that interest. Apparently, this change of nature has affected TOD, which I cannot say of my own authority, since I only read the site about a month ago for the first time, but others have said it has. First, there's roughly 4 major user types. The most numerous are those who read, but never do anything else. Second, there's the temporarily interested ones, who come in, read, perhaps even participate, and then move on. Third, there's the seriously interesed, who stay around long term and participate and become part of the biosphere of the site. Lastly, the 'agenda driven' who meander from site to site, to promote whatever, and leave without meangful discussion.

From what I understand, this site has gone from being a very specific interest site, to one of much broader, due to the influx of people. Many of the participants remind me of the "Ron Paul" activists, who have only one mission, and that's to advocate for something, and they do it everywhere. And, the "peak oil" people are definitely the "in" crowd here.

Having said all that, a forum does not convert people from observers to participants. Either they are, or they aren't. Either you are creating activists for a political cause, or you aren't. Nothing I read says this is the stated goal here, and my observation says it's not. Just posting or speaking would make you a "technical" participant, but posting to a relatively closed environment doesn't make a change in the world, ergo, my generalized observation that TOD does not make spectators into particpants. Such motivations are found elsewhere, be it the character or nature of the people themselves, or in some event motivating them to be.

Many complain that the signal to noise ratio has worsened by the influx of people. Maybe. There's more of both, but you have to define what signal is defined as signal and what signal is defined as noise... and what's just noise. The earlier analogy of the Ron Paul activists... They have a small, tightly defined signal, advocating RP, and all else is noise. Some see everything not related to peak oil advocacy as "noise". Others find signal in almost all postings, and find little to be just "noise". Personally, I have been involved in online forums for nearly two decades, and long ago had to learn to calibrate my own sense of noise vs signal and to the point where the noise doesn't bother me.

Sadly, most people just consider what they don't agree with as "noise". Too bad. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

For me, the signal to noise ratio has been a different problem. There are some very obvious (in hindsight) trolls trying to wind people up, being very emotive, using OMG the world is going to be destroyed tactics.

But then there are people coming into this for the first time, into a complicated subject, that may be confused, scared, mis-informed, but importantly VERY genuine and honest people.

Trying to tell the difference between a troll and a genuine poster is difficult at times.

Trying to tell the difference between a troll and a genuine poster is difficult at times.

But perhaps that difficulty is because the concept of "troll" is just a delusion in your mind. No one has ever specified objective criteria for the concept. And nor have they provided a coherent rationalisation for why these supposed "trolls" are motivated to put so much effort into "trolling". I put it to you that in reality you are just practicing the very common denial mechanism of blaming the messenger for messages you can't cope with. It's so much easier to just bring out a nasty word of ad-hominem abuse instead of engaging. Of course there are many extremely irritating people who go on and on expounding their particular unsound opinions. That doesn't mean they are "trolling". It just means they are saddoes with those strongly-held dud opinions they wish you could agree with. That's life. At least they aren't ordering you at the point of a gun!

Sorry. Trolls exist, and its not just a difference of opinion.

tabby, The existence of a wikipedia page doesn't prove the validity of the thing decribed. Parts of Wikipedia are severely deficient in various ways. Quite possibly such people do exist at some sites but I don't think I've ever encountered one on TOD even where some claimed to have encountered them. I think you'll find that far more often than not the term is falsely attributed by people who just don't like having their false beliefs challenged. Can you show us more than a minimal of real evidence of trolls (rather than (a) sincere fanatical ohsessives or (b) "doomer" people who occasionally post things you are allergic to) posting here on TOD?

tabby, The existence of a wikipedia page doesn't prove the validity of the thing decribed. Parts of Wikipedia are severely deficient in various ways. Quite possibly such people do exist at some sites but I don't think I've ever encountered one on TOD even where some claimed to have encountered them.

That's a perfect example of trolling!

As for disparaging Wikipedia...

Wikipedia uses peer reviewers — people who sign up to edit articles — to find mistakes and make corrections. Editors, like authors, are also peer reviewed and build their reputations upon approval and accuracy of their work...

...Wikipedia should be judged by the standards of any other Web source by looking for signs of accuracy, research and verification, Groom said.

No Troll

There may be parts of Wikipedia that are deficient. It's definition of "TROLL" happens to be on the money!

Wike in all its forms should never be used as a 'source' when a 'source' is asked for.

All attributions to a WIKI of what ever form need to be clearly stated up front.

MSM quotes as well.

Personal experience IMO should be stated as such and is empirical. Can be accepted on face value by readers as they see fit and judged on its own merit.

Personal experience is what took us to where we are currently. For a return to a far and earlier existance of survival will require huge amounts of personal 'experience'.

In fact it may soon become all we will have.

Learn from others experience and your own. That is my rule. You can create your own rules but no one needs to base their own lives on them.

Its all depending on the veracity and belief based on the one who is sharing the knowledge.

In this case I disregard most all of what FMagyer states in his many postings, as I find it mostly to be of very little value and mostly contentious to a great degree.

In this case I disregard most all of what FMagyer states in his many postings, as I find it mostly to be of very little value and mostly contentious to a great degree.

As far as being contentious, if this is your definition:

causing, involving, or characterized by argument or controversy: contentious issues.

I agree that I'm guilty as charged... I don't know of any other way to shake most people out of their complacency and try to make them think.

As to the value of my points you are well within your rights to dispute them.

Specifically, to argue that Wikipedia is not a valid source for a definition of "Troll" as used in just about every internet forum, that I'm aware of, is beyond ridiculous.

BTW, I see you've been here all of 4 weeks and six days.

"BTW, I see you've been here all of 4 weeks and six days."

How often will that be stated?

Time lurking means nothing? I was viewing this site likely before you were a member.

Being a 'member' just means having an account and that is all.

So what does that have to do with anything?

Pehaps I had another ID? Perhaps I forgot the password and created a new one?

Perhaps my PC died and with it my data?

I get tired of this type of statement? Do you garner more points for the longevity of YOUR account?

Phullllzzzeeeee. You apparently did NOT read any of my comments above or anywhere else?

Hmm let me see, been here four weeks and calls himself passingby and doesn't post any contact information... dunno. Perhaps, que ca, que ca!

Fred, you can make less of a fool of yourself than this.


Granted that the time here as a member might not be a good litmus test, but you can click on the name, link to the profile, then link to the comments by said person and get a list of them.

Freds spans over 102 pages of listings. all the way back to sometime in 2007.

Archiving is a great feature of TOD and helps us find examples of our points to this or that issue.

Goes off to check how many he has made....
Trundles in his shopping cart and baggy clothes, Don't mind me, just your normal homeless internet zombie...

49 pages as ceojr1963 and 17 as Dan Ur. oh well maybe I could be post king in another lifetime in the zombiesquad forums.

As I stated in another comment, and it ties in here again, maybe a tagging for lurkers, just a little hatpin to say hey folks, I have been around here for a long time, I have read 10,325 posts in the last 4 months, and just now am posting one of my own under this new name I just invented for this forum of yours. Some way to validate people, or maybe we should just limit our own filters for if you are a newbie poster we don't listen to you as much as we would someone we have been yakking at for 6 months. Ah there it is again, this also happens in the real world. A friend of a friend of a cousin of someone's nieghbor from the old hood, just told me about a great deal on parking lots for sale. Who do we trust? We Trust people we know, usually first before we trust strangers.

I find that a lot in the homeless community, and having hung around them a lot, they trust me, but other people who see me with them, class me as homeless, for a while there in mid 2006, even the homeless people thought I was homeless. Maybe I just look like a lost puppy at times. But business owners knew me, as a non-homeless person, at some of them anyway. I tend to trust everyone at the same level, first time I meet them. I adjust that level as I get to know them and have experiences with them. I tend to treat everyone I meet face to face as a friend, first. Call me naive if you like, but I am a pretty good judge of people after only a little while of being around them, though I usually hold my opinions of them to myself. (online is a bit different in all this, when I think of how I'll let you know)(maybe you might have to remind me of that statement).

So that all being said, can't we all play nice again?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs to all.

The "troll" moniker is properly applied to someone who does not converse, but who assumes or otherwise posts for the sole purpose of stirring emotional outbursts. They are people for whom the substance of the discussion matters none, merely the reactions they can cause.

Of course, the "troll" designation is dramatically over-used, as the real 'trolls' are very few and far between. They're totally narcissistic, antisocial types who seek nothing other than to annoy others. And, as I said, they're few and far between. Instead, the "troll" accusation is commonly used to displace, silence, or otherwise get rid of people who are inconvenient, in that they refuse to accept commonly held opinions or hold views which are uncommon, and won't back down or change. Basically, it's the refuge of the weak, to shout "TROLL!" at everyone who won't conform. That is pretty much normal MO for political sites.

It takes serious moderators, ones with experience, to know the difference between a "troll" and someone who is merely annoying to a segment of the users. Most moderator staff tend to simply ban people who stir controversy... and that's not the definition of a troll. That's just someone who asks the hard questions, or takes uncommon stands and is willing to argue for them. Trolls will take intellectually contradictory stands, or even flip-flop just to keep the arguments going, because they don't care about anything other than stirring anger.

Very well stated. Though you missed out the point I stated some way above, that accusations of "trolling" most often tend to be due to the phenomenon of "blaming the messenger" when a message is received that the reader has a denial problem with. Specifically tabbycat explicitly indicated her notion that it is "doomers" whom she considers to be trollers, indicating that in her case it's her way of rationalising away those (so-called) "doomer" messages.

I've been following PO since '99, was even a subscriber to FTW back in the day. I'm acutely aware of the problems faced in the future and could, if I wanted to, out doom any of the doomers out there. And this 6'4 200lb gorilla doesnt scare easy. I've been working in IT for over 30 years and have been using the 'net since, well since it began (almost), so I'm reasonably sure I know the correct usage of the word "troll".

I've kept my claws in, so play nice, hugs from tabs.

One great popular fallacy is that if someone has been doing (/believing etc) something for many years, then it must follow that they are experienced experts and their conduct or belief is validated thereby. A notable example is the "experienced" cyclists who've proceeded all of many years according to the conventional-wisdom fallacy that close to the curb is safest and note that they haven't been crashed into in all these years. Just in reality the vast majority of cyclists don't get crashed into anyway, but those who do the curb-hugging are by far the most at risk. But tend not to be able to tell you their experience about it afterwards.

As a long time poster on TOD, As a person who has conflict resolution background, and as a person who has had conversations with Fred(Magyer) off list. Your post reeks of the very nature of being a Troll. The term was formed a long time ago when IRC and Telnet were the foundations of the online(internet) world, all text based. Pretty pictures were in binary format off Usenet or ftp servers, had to convert them ofline.

But go ahead and not read what you don't want to read, but be nicer about it than you are doing.

TabbyCat had a point that was valid, there are a lot of new people and the people reading posts, might not know the differences of the known facts peer reviewed by the general TOD family of posters, and those that are using the forum to just bang away at the keys and post noise. Sometimes noise and signal look the same until you learn more about the way the waves are flowing in the spectrum.

There have been many a troll in the time I have been around, some of their posts get deleted, while others start whole discussions for days on end it seems. But they have been here as well on many other sites I have been on, even on the site Me and my first wive created in the early 90's, when the WWW was a baby in the world.

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

Many large corporations and governments either maintain their own print and Internet Reputation Management gurus, or hire someone to do so. This IRM can cost millions, and there are a lot of people who are paid to post disinformation without having a real opinion of their own. It is a form of spam, but insidious, since these people don't have to identify themselves as paid IRM posters.

Those posters are pretty troll-like to me.

Paul you make a very important point, but those corporate shills are more often sufficiently sophisticated to avoid being labelled as trolls, but instead pass off as competent informed experts. Indeed there are whole websites run by these corporate charlatans such as "Bad Science" and "Quackwatch", not to mention half of Wikipedia.

I reckon that most people labelled as trolls are in reality sincere true believers (on serious sites such as this) or just casual jerks (on more 'popular' sites such as the MSMedia) whose idea of fun is to make an asinine splash writing rubbish they wouldn't have the nerve to say to people's faces (i.e. they are real trolls).


You make an excellent point.
People come here ‘virgin’, afraid, and need to know. They ask questions that were answered months ago. We do our best not to roll our eyes and wonder why they simply don’t do more research, before commenting or asking, what to us is the obvious.

We need to be gracious. People will come here for help. Even though we may suspect the motives of some, we should simply tell it as we see it.

And, the "peak oil" people are definitely the "in" crowd here.

You think?

"And, the "peak oil" people are definitely the "in" crowd here."

To which "bruce from chicago" asked, "you think?"

Was that a jest or do you think not?


Boy Roger, you don't have much familiarity with modern usage. See:

Bruce, this is an international site and so language usage should be made appropriate for more than just your own urban "in" crowd in Chicago (wherever that town is?), innit.

It is for those tiny gems of knowledge that I troll the vast expanses of political dross I find here.

Perhaps you didn't intend to use that word?

"Having said all that, a forum does not convert people from observers to participants. Either they are, or they aren't. "

oldgeezer, once again, I'll have to disagree with your black and white assessment of things. IMO, to be a more whole person, one must strike a balance between observing an participating. The best posters here have done this.

IMO people "should look before they leap", be an observer first. I have increased my participation in activities and discussions since observing and learning things, here and on other forums. I submit that one cannot be effective at either without incorporating the other into their personal growth. It occurs to me that our society has too many participants that don't understand the value, or don't want to do the work of, observing first, yet they consider themselves 'experts',,,, 'qualified'.

I said that forums not change people from spectators into participants. You disagreed, but nothing you said addressed that argument.

As you said, smart people never stop being spectators, because there is more to gain from seeing other points of view than just looking at your own.

Still, just posting to a forum does not change you from a spectator to an engaged participant. For instance, a forum about some issue does not make a person into someone who proactively acts, even if they do post comments. If the forum is about weight control, and they never actively seek to control their weight - ostensibly the reason they are there - they are still mere spectators. There is MORE to being a participant than just words.

"I said that forums not change people from spectators into participants. You disagreed, but nothing you said addressed that argument."

Forums like this one allow folks to test their level of knowledge and ideas, provide sources of new information, can build a level of confidence to the point where the spectator feels that they have the tools to become a participant. Forums such as TOD provide a safe, more anonymous yet open environment to test oneself prior to becoming active in the "real" world. I submit that participation in various forums has led many folks to move on to being an activist, blogger, teacher, writer or participant in some way. Early chatrooms and email exchanges encouraged me to get involved educationally and physically in RE projects that I never would have considered otherwise. Early lurking here led me to the point where I have spearheaded a community garden and actively encouraged others to do the same. So, in that sense, TOD has converted me from a lurker (spectator) to a doer (participant).

"In a sense"? No, you made the decision to make the transition from spectator to active participant all on your own. That you used a forum or blog or other media to inform you is simply a RESULT of that decision. You may have used information to you found, or tested your ability to debate on a forum. Neither of these was the defining factor in your decision to actively promote an agenda, or engage in pursuit of something. It was something you found along the way you used to carry out a decision you'd already made.

I'm sorry, but I don't happen to believe that INFORMATION changes people. That's what we find on the printed page, or web page, whichever you may prefer. Emperical evidence backs me up entirely on that. Of course, for ever rule, there's exceptions, but they're very few.

For instance, how many of you know you're overweight? How many of you know you should not eat red meat, and very little of any other? How many of you know that caffiene is not good for you? Same with alcohol? Can we add sugar, fat, salt, tobacco, and a whole list of other things as well?

You know all those things harm you, yet, you continue to do what you do. Knowledge does not change you. Instead, internal processes of assigning weights and values to things leads you to make proactive decisions, which then changes you from just an idle spectator to someone proactively engaged. If you choose to seek knowledge, it MAY help you... or may not. The decision to apply it is purely up to you, and no forum is going to change that.

Instead, here's what we DO know. Relationships between people change people. Dramatic events change people. The process of maturation changes people. Mere knowledge does not.

Ghung, I have to admit I read the lead post, collapsed the thread to see how many people posted to it, then pulled up your answer first. I agree with you.

I like your thinking on some issues, that and your solar array pictures are cool.

I like the turn of phrase "Strike a balance" it reminds me of my own attention getting habit at times, that annoys my parents to fits. Standing in the driveway, waving to people who drive up the street, or neighbors I see, while standing there with a six foot iron pipe balanced on my head. There is a Hispanic family two door up that run a daycare out of their house, mostly other hispanics use it, but several other people as well. And I have a following who whenever they see me they honk and wave, some even point to their heads, especially when I don't have the pipe on mine. Most of these people I have never talked to, just friendly waves from across the streets. I have made it a point to go visit everyone on the street, about a dozen houses, whenever I see them outside and I am free to go chat with them. maybe they won't call the cops when their friends come by talking about the crazy guy with a pipe on his head LOL.

My parent's have been here the longest of anyone one the street now. Everyone else that was here when we got here, moved off, or died out. I feel that I am part of the anchor to this place. When I moved in with my parents back in 2006, my parents had a few sour comments about the people living here abouts, and I was kinda shocked to hear them talk that way. I made a point of smoothing things down and getting my parents back to the way they taught me to think, I still have to remind them that not everyone is the same and people come from all walks of life and live in a new setting, and fear of their neighbors might be a hold over of bad happenings in the last places that they lived. We can't grow as a race( we are all one race, HUMAN) if we keep putting up dividers. We can't solve our big issues if we let the small ones divide us.

I mean, right now I want to go tell the nieghbor kid( early 20's ) that sure it is the fourth of july, but running his motorbike up and down the street while most folks are trying to sleep is a bit annoying. Though I am awake right now and I might not have heard him if I was in my bedroom asleep. But I have to say what I am thinking with a grain of salt, because his dad fixed our AC, a month ago, same day service. Dad walked over there and 5 hours later we had a new AC up and working. It is a blue collar area, half the folks still working own their own businesses, with 3 retirees in the bunch, us and two others.

Nothing is black and white bisides a few critters Zebras come to mind, TOD has all shades of posters, and readers.

Oh and I do consider myself an Expert, I am an Expert in being Charles, though at times I fail to qualify for the title, so you'll have to treat that statement with a grain of sand( salt is needed for my retirement fund( the old way to pay salaries)).

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs to all.

Thinking... Yes. In many cases the best thing to do is Nothing, for a time, at least. Lord Rutherford (New Zealand, the Atom etc) once said "We didn't have [research] money, so we had to think."

As a way to think how high the hurdle is to encourage We The People to think 'sensibly' I always remember my dismay at the result of the 1960 USA elections. My dismay was not that 'only' 49.7% supported J F Kennedy, but that 49.6% of Americans supported Nixon, who on matters of global and presumably national importance had diametrically opposed views.

In terms of Thinking then we must consider how the outcome of our thought processes is to be applied. In the case of the Kennedy/Nixon race, the ultimate outcome of all the people's thinking was compulsorily boolean - vote for either/or. This is a serious misuse of all that thinking power.

Likewise with Peak Anything, Climate Change, and other global issues, our whole top-level decision making process is incapable of accommodating ranges in preference - it is stuck with What will get me Elected Again as the key determinant of Policy, and hence of meaningful action. A local absurdity is a mayoral election poster that declares: "Build a Strong Local Community, and Improve Transport Links" which of course gives rise to the diurnal social disaster of exporting the local community to work somewhere else every morning, and importing thousands of strangers with no interest in our community at all, and reversing the process in the evening.

In writing this I also came to appreciate how hard it is for ordinary humans to do the right thing, even at the personal level. My first cup of coffee this morning had milk and two sugars in it. Three evils for my geno-type. My second skipped the milk and sugar, 'Honestly mommy, I won't do it again!' I assured my aging body. Yeah, rite!

So we have 'domestic' and Society-wide difficulties to address in the Way we Think.

Our fight-or-flight wiring does make us very good at avoiding obvious incoming dangers, like a spear coming our way; but when (as is the case with these global issues) that spear in only moving very slowly, then our fight/flight response is not invoked.

Its difficult to get the adrenalin flowing about something that is impossible for one to perceive such as the ebb and flow of global mineral-energy supplies, or is only moving at millimetres a year, or about the number 389.91 carefully written in sharp 2H pencil in a spiral-bound notebook on a reagent-stained bench in a small laboratory on a mountain on a Pacific island, being the results of a titration, in parts per million.

So we have a lot to think about....

Hi nigwil, Nice thoughts of the fight or flight response of the issue on TOD, that a lot of us older thinkers of the subject matter have forgotten about thinking about it that way.

I balance things on my head and walk with them there, a 6 foot stave, wood, or iron being the eye catching ones. The little subtle movements to balance it there takes a lot of concentration for some people, I have had the knack for most of my 46 years of balancing things, on finger tips, my head and walking on thin rock faces. But when I talk to people with a pipe on my head, you can see the look of watchfulness in their eyes, wondering when they are going to be surprised, and have to jump away from me. But that look is mostly in the adults, not the children, the kids are amazed and forget almost everything else going on around them.

As most posters to this site are Adults, your filters are tuned differently. Maybe you can take a time out and try to see the world though the wonder of a childs eyes, they seem to see things in a different light, and when you ask a child what they think about the world they see, you are likely to get an honest answer of being scared for the future. They see the subtle changes in the adults around them and can notice things that we adults have had time to filter and block out of our way of seeing the world. Getting into more discussion with people with kids, on these issues might be a way to help focus the adults on the needs to change things for the better. Especially if you can include the kids in the lessions, by asking them how they feel about the world around them. But then again western parents have a tendency lately to sheild their kids a lot more than you see other cultures. Looks for the Movie "Babies" it points that out a lot.

I have scared more adults with a stave on my head than I have kids. Teens are the ones you have to prove yourself too though, they don't believe you can do those kinds of things, when you do them, they rank you in the high numbers though. I did that just the other day, reminded Miles next door that I could do it, his friend said prove it. Went to get my Iron pipe, stood, placed it on my head, took my hands away and smiled, then starting walking forward and talking too, reminding Miles , and staring at his friend. Proof is in the pudding as they say, Have to taste if to find out if the recipe worked as you thought it would, in this case proof is in the doing. I don't know Miles' friend's name, but he won't soon forget the pipe on head trick.

More thoughts to ponder.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, circus tricks and designs free to those interested, Hugs to all.


what would make The Oil Drum more sustainable.

(with apologies for my capitals there)

And glad to see that wisdom prevailed against the ratings system that was trialled some months back (albeit it did generate some very funny jokes from one opponent, Partypooper I think).

while i fully agree we should think about our thinking & this post helps with such, something i have been wanting to say for a long time is:

even more so i believe we should think about... and focus on our feelings; and instincts.

most decisions are i believe instinctual/feeling driven. Nate especially has done lots for us in these areas.

while i find... as most of TOD's gifts is it's talented intellectual prowess; however sometimes we'll miss the 'main ballgame' if emotion and our drives/instincts are not focused on ..perhaps even more than 'thinking'.

i believe the title of tonite's post..'spectator to participant' is very much to my point & actually we are all participants, some just...supposedly just looking on intellectually.

"...even more so i believe we should think about... and focus on our feelings; and instincts."

Absolutely! Good one creg.

Although thinking about thinking is critical when trying to grasp the bigger picture, it is also critical that we focus on WHY we think the way we do.

Once we understand how our emotional response colours our intellectual response we become more empathetic towards other points of view. The key here is recognizing that there are really only two drivers that determine emotional response: pain and pleasure.

No matter the level of complexity and nature of the discourse, all intellectual responses can be linked to pain and/or pleasure.

As Countess Erzie Karoli (from the Freudian era) once said when trying to shed light on the power of propaganda … or more politically correct: public relations …, “If you examine yourself [why you think the way you do] you would have to put other things into question. Your society, everything that surrounds you.”

And once you’ve done that “Your faith created empire would have fallen to bits.”

thanks KWD

i like your linking feelings to something so basic as 'pain/pleasure'. never heard that idea...though it connects with a no. of basics i have learned about feelings.

& your quote is i believe true that once you explore the whys of your feelings/instincts/actions/thoughts/beliefs your

“Your faith created empire would have fallen to bits.”

i come from a lot of work using similar ideas to these...[a quick search as i haven't researched this on the web before]

'There are four basic feelings: mad, sad, glad and scared. All other feelings are variations or combinations of these four.
Feelings are not good or bad, right or wrong; they simply are — and acknowledging what you feel is OK, i.e., I’m upset. I’m frustrated. I’m angry. I feel good. I like you. I am sad.'

Read more:

edited to add another intro i found;

'Learn how to help your children identify and express their emotions. Give kids permission to feel. Show them what to do with their feelings.'

& of course we as adults [especially males] often need to relearn this as we were taught to 'not feel'. this i believe is so against our 'nature' that we develop thinking/intellectualizing patterns that goes along also with intractable beliefs.

Thanks creg,

You might be interested in something I posted some time back. It gives a bit bigger picture of where I'm coming from.

Rather than repost, I'll provide a link:

We really need to come to grips with understanding something as basic as how pain and pleasure guide our lives and our interactions with the world around us.

very good info on your link/post. this stuff is right on the heart of what we all need to continually learn about ourselves. i don't have time now to study -mesh with my belief system in this arena- what you say... but i will.

Yes, some are taught not to feel. But we should not make the mistake of letting our "feelings" control us. We are intellectual beings, we should not let our emotions rule us, make our decisions. Emotional decisions, about things that are not emotional, are always a mistake. Far too many let emotions control their politics, money, parental decisions, etc. Those cannot be emotional, they must be rational, and we must recognize and understand our emotions - our feelings - and then ensure they don't influence those decisions that must be made rationally and calmly.

theoldgeezer says, “But we should not make the mistake of letting our "feelings" control us” and it's a noble goal.

But humans are social animals and few, if any, can live their lives without the influence of other humans. And it is because of this fact that our thinking is shaped and coloured by emotion.

If we really look closely at how that collective “unconscious-brain-body-context system” we call the brain works it becomes clear that what appears rational is actually shaped by our personal history of feelings we have experienced during our lives, including time spent in the womb.

It’s one thing to try and stick to rationality … one plus one equals two, eat your broccoli because it’s high in vitamins C, K and A, and unprotected sex may be harmful … but humans are not robots, we experience pain and pleasure, and when we do it often overrides rational thought.

This should be common knowledge, but what isn’t so common is understanding how we arrive at the judgments (like good, bad, right, wrong etc., that are directly linked to emotions: pain and pleasure) we use as we rationalize our way through life, and how those judgments are established, reinforced and come to replace reality.

still tight on time; & i am a very slow typer.

kwd i question your directly connecting scare -like you do in your link- to pain. certainly fear is uncomfortable...most strong/intense feelings are such; & at times painful. the key to a feeling not being ...'clogged up', & painful is to flow with it re it's message/need we are having, & address such. even joy needs expression!
& as you say above we are social at our core.

i do buy that all feelings/thoughts/beliefs are physiological and we separate them out for language/construct/action purposes. in feelings workshops i have done the first focus i do is bodily identification. tis complex & i'm still thinking thru that, & other ideas.

creg, thanks for taking the time to think this through.

The linkages in the NSR are components of a complete package that won’t function if some components are missing. A time piece does not ‘tell’ the time if the hands are missing. To use Debbie Cook’s jargon, it’s an example of continuum or synthesis thinking..

The reason fear is directly linked to pain is because that is what takes place when we are very young and haven’t developed the ability to think abstractly … which allows us to “flow with it”. We are quite able to do this later in life but for the most part people get hooked by judgments and labels … cues … that cause the mind to recall past events that contain the same judgments and labels. The process is self-reinforcing.

The singular purpose behind the layout of the architecture of the NSR is to show the beginning to end process that fools us into thinking judgmental cues are reality.

' for the most part people get hooked by judgments and labels … cues … that cause the mind to recall past events that contain the same judgments and labels. The process is self-reinforcing.'

i agree that fear is probably our most basic feeling---along with joy.

i presume the quote above... is usually very unconscious for most of us. your description seems similar to cognitive behavioral therapy's; forming a belief.

a campfire post on this would be great; & helpful.

I was never told not to cry, as a male, I have found that I am more in tune with females than other males I know. Though not my dad and not my brother, who all have the same traits, having learned them from my dad and mom both.

But there is this mindset that males, are this and not that. How many men do you know that can cook, sew, clean house, wash the diapers, make the kids laugh, change the engine out of the van/car/ dump truck, fix the leaks in the roof, the sink, the floor, and still have a smile on his face after it all, oh and teach his sons how to do the same, as well as being respectful of other people, just to name a few things my Dad taught me.

Though I am not a sports follower, I enjoy some sports, baseball being the favorite of my mom. I play pool which my dad introduced to me, as well as card games, and puzzles and throwing spears and climbing, and darts and a few other non-team sports.

I am rather more emotional than my brother is, but I am also rather ego centric too. In that list above, mad sad glad or fearful(scared). I am mostly glad all the time. Though I am sad, I try not to get mad, and I have battled the scared part by immersing myself in the fear makers to the point of not being afraid when they show up in life. I once was attacked verbally by someone that told me I smiled too much and I had no right to be as happy as I was, because he found nothing in life to be happy about. It made me sad that I couldn't help him get over his anger over whatever life was hitting him with, then I realized, if I let him steal my happy, then I was as bad off as he was.

I tend to be calm in the middle of a storm, the person people turn to when things get rocking around us all, at least in my family and amoung my friends off line, but also online amoung some people that know me through long talks and conversations about life.

I wonder if I can hunt down some spare DNA of mine and clone me, Naw, it'll turn into an orange headed cat creature with 5 legs, and not be anything remotely human looking.

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

nice charles.

sounds like you are a bit of a clone of your dad/mom... at least re feelings in a good way.

an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process.

According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.

And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by various credits. These companies’ returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before.

“The flow of revenues to oil companies is like the gusher at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico: heavy and constant,” said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, who has worked alongside the Obama administration on a bill that would cut $20 billion in oil industry tax breaks over the next decade. “There is no reason for these corporations to shortchange the American taxpayer.”

As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Billions From Subsidies

That's an interesting observation (and link) that needs to be pointed out to more people here in the USA.

Most folks are under the impression that the US economy operates as a 'free market' which is manifestly not true. Some of m fellow MPA students here understand that, but not many other people I talk to about energy issues.

I rarely use the phrase 'peak oil' unless someone else brings it up. My reasoning is that most people regard the concept (if they are familiar with it at all) as some kind of doomsday scenario and shut down. Plus, while we may have reached peak conventional oil, so far non-conventional oil production is coming online in enough capacity to keep bbl/day production rising. I prefer to talk about resource scarcity and net energy, since these concepts seem to stick better.

Jet fuel is also not taxed.

I've been visiting TOD for almost a month. I've found it to be the most informative site, relative to the BP oil disaster and energy issues in general. I'm most impressed by the general tolerance for opinions that come from both extremes of the political landscape. Sadly, the American culture, and the English language lead us into viewing almost every issue in terms of black/white, right/wrong, dumb/smart, etc. In reality, every issue is far more nuanced than being able to be reduced into simplistic fault/no-fault answers.

My career, in the defense, industry began in engineering and ended in organizational development and facilitization of inter-organizational workshops. As an aside, the defense industry has been more denigrated, by media and society at large, and subjected to more government scrutiny and oversight that the oil industry has ever been. After 33 years, I came to realize that there were an equal number of competent, diligent committed government employees as there were bureaucratic, self-indulgent managers in the industry itself.

What I learned, in the latter years, was that every individual brings something to the table. No single academic discipline has the answer to any problem. No one individual life experience provides enough answers to solve the problems either.

Having had some basic training and limited experience in "Systems Thinking," I recommend that we all take a deep breath, make an effort to expand our horizons, educationally, experientally and politically.

TOD is providing a wonderful forum for each of us to do that. Yes, there will be the fun distractions of comedians (which I'm prone to do from time to time). Yes, there will angry polemics from the poorly informed, from both extremes of any issue. However, as we learn to sort the wheat from the chaffe, we will all leave this site a little bit smarter and more prepared to face a very difficult and problematic future.

After 33 years, I came to realize that there were an equal number of competent, diligent committed government employees as there were bureaucratic, self-indulgent managers in the industry itself.

Completely agree.

Actually meaningless without numbers, but why start now?

excellent point!

"I came to realize that there were an equal number of competent, diligent committed government employees as there were bureaucratic, self-indulgent managers in the industry itself."

I was introduced to the bell shape curve early in life, by my 10th birthday I was on my 3rd continent, 4th language, 8-9th culture and 2nd coup d'etat, figured out that majority of every group were fairly good (that usual mix of good and bad in different levels) but you also had the extra good and the extra bad. Have never found a group/country/economic system/religion that didn't have some good as well as some bad and as my father used to always tell me .. "don't think you will unless you get rid of humans".

Been and on and off lurker for 3 or so years, but for the past year not as much until recently with the "spill", and also have been quite impressed with the tolerance and the variety of information. The only problem I have with the site is the addictiveness of it, is there a TOD rehab?

is there a TOD rehab?

Well, you could try "Peak Oil Debunked", if you can stand the tone of the writing there. (No, I'm not going to provide a link).

If you want rehab through action, Peak Oil Blues is a useful resource for people who don't want to analyze things any more. So is the Transition Towns movement.

But I don't want to push you away, or anything. ;-)

Thanks, Debbie,
I think learning effective modes of thought, and propagating those modes is the sort of activism most needed. I'm glad you mentioned systems thinking. This seems to be the most sorely lacking kind. Mostly people are stuck into partisan modes, "does such and such support or refute the aganda of my political tribe". After that, we have the how does it affect me, viewpoint. Then we have the up close and personal emotive storytelling way of seeing the world. All of these common modes are very susceptable to following wrong conclusions.

So yes. Promoting, logical, and data tested judgements is a key. Also we need to get people comfortable with at least some math, otherwise we are unable to judge conflicting effects (of any proposed action). Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? This boild down to a math problem, as well as a values problem. But so is thinking about the effect on the overall system to which we all belong.

TOD's ok, but the technical is getting drowned little by little with kneejerk political and economic comments. Just my opinion, of course.

I constantly recommend it since it's the best on the oil spill and on peak oil

On survivalism, not so great, pretty pollyannaish. I'm what is called a doomer, which means I note and comment on overpopulation, human nature, the deficits of democracy and resource failure (not that hard a call.) People are afraid of that.

I'd really like to see, as longterm habitue of forums, some way to express my approval (only) of posts, such as a simple check box or "like" click.

I congratulate the editors for their forbearance and wisdom. Suck, suck...:-)


I agree with you about kneejerk reactions--I move on down the road.

It hasn't been my perception that anyone much cares whether someone puts themself into a category of doomer or pollyanna. I do care about placing someone into a category so as to dismiss them. In addition, discussions of beliefs that are held so strongly turn into what my father used to call, "just a lot of who struck John." Two people could look at the exact same landscape and one could see beauty and the other see destruction. Seems to me the important thing is to nurture the relationships.

"A simple checkbox or "like" click"

A rating system was tried and extensively discussed a year or so ago--and very wisely dropped. At the end of the day, there's no substitute for thinking critically for yourself. And certainly not half-baked counting of "me too" bleats.

Indeed, one of the best things about this site is that at each comment you have to think "is this sensible expertise or unhinged rubbish?". And then the next comment down proves your judgement wrong anyway.

This is like what happened when living things first developed photo-receptors.

"All we do is just end up pointing toward the light! What use is that!? Light is too confusing, and there's too much of it. Get rid of these receptors, we don't need no stinking light. We're better off blind."


I personally preferred the Flag UP /Down systems. I often found that those flagged down were better than some of the UPs.

Today the system used means a whole string of comments disappear mysteriously.
This allows rule by a small majority of those who have quick fingers and a desire to eliminate conjecture the dislike.

Better to leave the conjecture for all to judge than just a very very tiny number of members dislike. Very tiny that is. What? 6 or so? Who knows?

passingby, Per my incorrect comment further up re this system, I agree with you that this is far from satisfactory. I thought it depended on the editors first sanctioning the disappearance. I think it should be changed to either that editorial factor, or else instead of disappearing, the "offending" comments are merely collapsed down. Or like youtube in the past, a system of optional filtering.

Unless you are tending a garden of 2.5 acres or more, I would suggest you find a local farmer to help your raise some basic staple foods.

As a former high school agriculture teacher , I say getting younger people back to the land and farming is going to be interesting.

Our local school district received a most generous gift and still there is the BAU attitude and the students do not care much.

Finding that amount of area in NOLA would be difficult, and farms are not that close. However urban "farming" has been practiced in cities and towns for years, my grandmother grew enough in a 35" X 40" lot (which also housed the chicken coop which supplied meat and fertilizer) to feed a family of 4 with leftovers to trade. In France our flat came with an approx. 10"x20" quadrant of garden area per flat which supplied each family with most of their fresh and canned vegetables. Since vegetables and fruits are fairly expensive to buy the ability to grow them is a major budget saver. And with a 10 month growing season as we have in the gulf coast, even without canning, you can have vegetables year around. Lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli are winter crops, and two seasons of tomatoes if you haven't burnt out after the first crop comes in.

"my grandmother grew enough in a 35" X 40" lot (which also housed the chicken coop which supplied meat and fertilizer) to feed a family of 4 with leftovers to trade"

Sorry , but there is not enough photosynthesis on that size of land to do what you claim.... even if it was feet not inches

Min. - 2.5 Acres/ adult ... no animals

Patently false.

Up to 6k lbs. on i/8 acre or so. This is just one example.

What is typical is not what is possible. Regenerative practices that build soil fertility and structure can achieve magical things. One simple metric: 1% organic matter can hold 35 or so gallons of water per cubic yard/meter, while 5% can hold 130+ gallons. (I hope I have the volume right on the soil.)

Typical FF-based farms have around 1 - 2% organic matter, using far more water than organic methods.

Think differently.


Sorry I hit inches instead of feet, the total lot size 50' X 100' but there was a house and garage as well, and I thought I had specified her family vegetables needs, not grain, fats, or all meats. The majority of meat was from the chicken coop but was also supplemented by bird hunting and purchases of a beef roast a couple times a year, but being immigrants from Italy they did not always eat meat daily. However the chicken coop is why my mother still does not care for chicken to this day. But yes my grandmother did buy flour, cornmeal, salt, butter,olive oil and such and during the winter some citrus fruits. The pear tree and two apple tree on the sides of the house were their main fruits and of course during the summers they picked wild berries. She did not have vegetable beds in the front yard And my grandfather with two other families bought a boxcar of grapes every year for their wine and vinegar. Did not mean totally self sufficient, but enough tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce,etc. and 3-4 types of beans that during the depression they never bought vegetables, except for dried fava beans (did not grow well there) in the store. However after the depression my grandmother did also add tomato paste as an item purchased and lettuce during the winter months.

None of the urban gardens I've seen were beef lots or grain fields. The ones I have been around were touted as being for improvement in diet and reduction in grocery costs and for myself produce is one of my highest costs in grocery shopping. Now admittedly I probably eat more produce than an average american as it is no problem for me to meet that 5-6 servings daily. And I have only been around urban gardening in cities. Some of the inner city schools in Houston have gardens for teaching kids how to grow and there are some community gardens as well. When I lived in the country we only ran a couple head of beef for the write off, sort of like the refineries and chem plants do in Texas.

I wouldn't of imagined that 2.5 acres would be enough for self-sufficiency, I guessing that you would be using goats and chickens for your meat, milk,and fats and the majority of land would be in grain of some sort.

Well, let's do a bit more specific and careful. One, I don't ever discuss self-sufficiency, but relative self-reliance. I do not expect anyone to be an island. I always think in terms of realistic conditions, such as being part of a community, whether like-minded or not, and that trade will exist in some form.

On as little as three or four city lots - typically 30/35 x 100 here in Detroit - a family city can be self-reliant in veggies and fruit and proteins via, yes, chickens/goats and/or nit trees as part of a food forest. That last is really vital long term. (I've not run the numbers, but I have come to suspect a food forest is vital to long term self-reliance.)

The Dervaes family - four adults at this time, is largely self-reliant in veggies, herbs and fruits, I believe, and manage to also make a living of 30k a year on something like an 1/8 acre. They have produced 6k lbs./yr. Apparently the average American eats 160 lbs of veggies (and fruit) a year, so you can easily see this is hardly fantasy.

One thing we must realize is that buy in will come for most either because reality is simply hat terrifying or because we can frame the future as *looking* fairly similar to the present while also being fundamentally different.

And, I am, by default, speaking of systems designed with the permaculture ethics and principles practiced intensively, which makes a huge difference in maximizing output while minimizing inputs over time, particularly human work. A well-designed system will reach a point where maintenance is virtually he only input. As you can imagine, that leaves a lot of time for other forms of work, pleasure, community, etc.


I think you fail to comprehend how much space it actually takes to grow things like wheat, oats, rice, and how much we consume each year. It is NOT possible to live, while consuming normal amounts of these things, to do it on less than at least 2.5 acres. Sure, you bought flour at the store in moderate quantities, but the amount of land required each year to grow enough wheat to get you even 50 lbs of flour is FAR FAR beyond 2000 square feet. I don't now anyone who can raise a family of 4 or 6 who does not consume more than 100 lbs of various grains, be them rice, wheat, oats, barley, etc.


You all are certainly protective of your ways of doing things. Tell me, good sir, where I even mentioned grains in that post?

Now, to do things how *you* do them, hell, could well take *more* than 2.5 acres. The way I would do them wouldn't. I wouldn't:

Plant mono-crops
Deplete my soil
use chemicals
let my water dissipate or flow away
leave my soil uncovered

I would:
grow a food forest
build my soil, allowing me to grow more in smaller spaces
use vertical space
capture and store water
capture and store solar energy
extend my growing season
use co-planting
grow protein alternates, such as nuts
grow edible "weeds"
grow local varieties
mulch, mulch, mulch
compost, compost, compost
use compost teas (fertilizer, fungicide, insecticide)
use edge
design for max efficiency *and* resilience
focus on perennials, which would leave me more than enough time for an extensive kitchen garden
use a Fukuoka-esque rotation, if growing grains
use cover crops
use small animals (chickens, ducks, goats most likely candidates)

Etc., etc.

You done telling me what I *can't* do, with no basis in fact, or even the slightest attempt to research and understand what exists outside your experience?

Please do at least minimal research on natural/permaculture methods. Start here:

And here:
Skip to about 5:45 for the money quote. Hint: Your way? Hours a day. Our way? Hours a *year.*

And here:




At 2.5 acres per person you have the current world population using 27.3 million square miles to live on, with no animals. Those numbers don't even fit for the arable land available currently.

Masanobu Fukuoka used far less to feed a family of 4, I think the number is 10,000 square feet, getting two grain crops per year, in Japan. Barley and Rice.

But not everyone can grow like that on the first year. So you have to look at other things, and there are a lot of them.

75% of the edible acorns on the tree next door were not eaten last year by anything. The tree is huge, a good years crop is several hundreds of pounds, but each year is not a good year.

Eating like most americans do, at over the 2,000 calories a day, won't happen in a food constrained world, But an acre is planted with as many edible species as can be done for that climate type, can produce a lot of food, and feed a lot more people than just one. It does take thinking outside the box we have been in for a while. And it is not totally without risk, or without having some of the comforts of our present age.

Passive Solar structures, built right, can do a lot toward limited needs of outside energy sources. Rainwater collection can go a long way toward your needs for water.

Think about this for a second.

On an acre of land that falls in one rain storm on average one inch of rain, equals a total of a bit over 27,000 gallons of water. Now think about collecting only what you can use in a year for personal use, cooking, drinking, waste removal/cleaning. 1 gallon to drink, 2 to cook with, 3 to wash with, and do the dishes. 5 if you must have a shower instead of sponge bath. at 6 gallons that is 2,190 at 8 it is 2,920 gallons, per person. One rainstorm you need to collect from a bit over 1/9th of an acres worth of land.

Clearly we can do this simple thing of using just rainwater to have all the water we need to live a decent life. Just think of all the other things you could come up with if you thought out of the box.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Today out in the rural farmlands I find that almost every youth I see is NOT interested in farming.

They are covered with tattoos. They have 'attitudes' of total unconcern and a huge 'I don't give a s**t , in your face, I drive a big pickup , look at me.

They will NOT make 'farmers'. They have no care or
concern. They are just copies of their city cousins. The most farming they might do it a local pot plot out in the weeds somewhere they can reach with their ATVs late at night.

I find there tracks later since they are so stupid as to think they leave none. Watching for their ATV lights at night is also a clue since most hunting laws cease at sundown. Jeez.

Most youngsters in our local schools are just putting in their time. They learn NOTHING. Most cannot do basic arithmetic. Most do NOT read anything. Most have very poor skillsets. Most are my kin and thats why I know.

God help us.

I'll tell you what skillsets they DO have: first-person-shooter video games, and the morals they inculcate.

Pretty useful when society breaks down and you're doing a modern version of Quantrill's Raiders.

"Unlike other border areas in Maryland and Kentucky, local conflicts, bushwacking, sniping, and guerilla fighting marked this period of Missouri history. "When regular troops were absent, the improvised war often assumed a deadly guerilla nature as local citizens took up arms spontaneously against their neighbors. This was a war of stealth and raid without a front, without formal organization, and with almost no division between the civilian and the warrior."'s_Raiders

The Oil Drum is a marvelous place both for conversation and technical content. Many times I have sent links to others for their attention, or copied graphics that make powerful statements of our situation.

Your concern that TOD be the best it can be is admirable, but for all that this forum does and for all the truth in the information here and elsewhere on the internet concerning the dire situation, there is one and only one thing that will change things and that is a steep increase in the price of oil.

We can be involved and giving our all but the great mass of American consumers will not budge until the "real" price hits home. I'm amazed that even now people consider a car a must and will go into debt to buy new when used is readily available. A fill-up for my partner's car is $40 and that floors me. But people take it in stride. I can't get her to ride the rapid transit, though the station is within easy walking distance at both ends of her route.

(See also obesity - a clear danger to life and health, but Americans keep getting fatter)

We've come to see the wild consumption that is practiced all around us as normal.

Oil spills, wars are fought for oil, and we keep driving. $5 to $10/gallon gas is all that will break the spell. May it come sooner rather than later and along with it the fantasy that there is a "right" to cheap gas.

And so there will be a $4/gal economy and a $5/gal economy etc. etc..... until there is rationing and so on ....

I happen to agree that raising the price of oil is the most effective way to encourage people to use it more wisely.

What I find interesting is that we are subsidizing the price of oil. Making it cheaper, not more expensive. Some examples of this are: oil exploration and drilling tax credits, under-market royalties on government land production, non-allocation of defense costs to the costs of Persian Gulf oil, etc.

Though the policies behind the actions above had admirable intentions, more domestic production to reduce dependance on foreign oil and realizing that oil is an economic-national-security issue, the final result has simply increased our consumption due to the low cost of the product.

Raise the price and the improved efficiencies, inventions, and alternate transportation ideas suddenly become "affordable".


Hi gang.
It is all happening here in Australia
(This is a report on our own rig explosion and gusher.)

The ship is definitely turning.
People are beginning to think the unthinkable.

I am now thinking we could be so much more effective if we spent more time thinking about our thinking. What do you think?

H.Sap lives in the here and now. He lives in a little bubble of three spacial dimensions and one time dimension.
It is our job to stretch that bubble, and to expose simple salient points.

Ah ha moments.
I hang around the drum for them.

I also read books on the brain,and on philosophy. After all, what is doing the thinking?
Some ah ha moments from my reading.
1 I am programmed to worry.
2 what I focus my attention on is controlled by my astrocytes.
(From The Other Brain)
I benefit greatly from exposure to the drum.

Though I can't contest the point #1 of being programmed to worry, I am often told by people that they can't stop worrying. I have found that I can stop and don't do it very much if at all. I took so advice from a guy from 2,000 years ago, who said, you can't gain a day of life by worry, so basically, why do it.

Oh yeah, you might know him hinted at as Jesus. Telling his disciples that they should discipline themselves and not worry about things, and if they must, to pray to God for help concerning it.

I am always telling other people who say they know who Jesus, was about that passage and getting at times a surprised look from them. Maybe I get the same looks from people in general about being happy and not worrying about things.

The advances on the study of the human body, especially the brain is a bit like reading a science fiction book discribing a wonderful world, only to realize it is really fact, and that every time someone discovers something new, more questions are asked.

Almost everyone I know of has something that pains them, in the body, not the mind or emotional sense. Understanding how the brain handles the pain of the body, can lead to better treatments to solve the issues of chronic pain and those I am issues I am well versed in, through the bodies of 3 wives, all of them suffered from pain issues, and most of the pain has, or had no way to be relieved, when drugs stop working, you get kinda put in limbo.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,hugs to all.

OK, some off-the-cuff thoughts:

This site used to be much more about peak oil, prediction of the peak, analysis of the state of various fields, etc. That focus has tended to go away over recent years, both because the individuals that addressed these areas have moved on, and because the date of the peak has tended to converge on a date about now.

In its place have come less focused articles, culminating on the recent BP spill. For all this is of current interest, its really not very important to the question of peak oil. It's only relevance is with the likely overreaction of the politicians and the consequent impact on production/imports. People are focusing down on the details and missing the big picture.

Also, when the post peak world is considered, it tends towards the idea of the pastoral idyll, when its not doomer crash. That's in part because of the people this area attracts - but neither actually describe a world that's sustainable from a standpoint of our society. There is a gaping hole in reasoning about sellable alternatives and viable no-growth economies.

I'd suggest its become fairly obvious by now that politicians are unwilling to take peak oil seriously; partly because there's no easy solution, and partly because politically it's not a vote winner in the short term. We can be fairly certain that they understand it, but as for pushing that understanding into action and information - well I think we have our answer from their actions.

That lack of attention, coupled by the generally poor state of journalism, means that the majority of people will not really recognise peak oil until its consequence is upon them. There is little more that this site can achieve in informing people. Making the basic information available in a digestible form is enough. Instead the question really needs to be to define a viable set of information for when its too late, and we are in the post peak world of decline. In reality that's the only time people are going to listen.

Systemic Thinking
I'd agree that 'putting it together' to understand the behaviours of a post peak world is a missing element and something that could usefully be achieved. In general the thinking here is simplistic and not at all 'connected'. Answers and solutions, even expected behaviours are painted in broad brush statements, ignoring the interplay of forces and the evolution of behaviours which will vary by geography, wealth, knowledge, etc. Stating the US will collapse *sounds* good, but the real question is the shape of that collapse.

Post peak will change quite a few of the rules of commerce, politics, etc. at a base level. Understanding those changes, and rippling through the consequences is the first step to charting a path through this upheaval that is viable. Now maybe the doomers are right and there is no path, but that only becomes clear once you've looked; and we haven't. The game being played WILL change.

Finally, I'd suggest what understanding we have arrived at here isn't practically actionable for most people. While some of the issues are highlighted, the actions suggested tend to be those that we already know won't work because they require everyone/politicians to do them, usually ahead of time. Practical action is small scale, and resilient to the realities of how a real world post peak will play out. We have few examples.

Now the arable survivalist/econut tendency would say that yes it is actionable, that we should return to the behaviours of a past age. Well it doesn't take too long considering the reality of that scenario to realise its something of a dream world. Not only will most NOT, most CAN'T and a few real world realities of scavenging put paid to it as generally viable.

We need to pay much more attention to the 'so what' question.

Thank you Debbie for this interesting and provocative post.

One of the reasons I have continued to work so hard for this community was in the hopes that it would educate, propagate, and spawn new bigger, longer-term, systemic thinkers, activists, and science here in the US and around the world.

To accomplish this, we had to deviate from "reality" in few interdependent ways.

First, the community was constructed (not consciously, but perhaps as a reflection of the predispositions of its contributors) with a different set of norms than the one you see in society, based on science and empiricism, or "reality-based," grounded in reasoned, probabilistic discourse and an understanding of our multiply and conjuncturally-causal world.

I don't see this on that many tv or radio shows out there, or in the media, or in our politics--but if it were, that in and of itself would be progress, because then more people might be able to hear these arguments, and think in the longer term. This mode of thought is perhaps most prevalent in our educational systems, which explains why many around here have the technical, scientific, and methodological chops to understand complex systemic reasoning.

Even so, the influence of officeholders by that reasoning, especially at the federal level, is especially difficult unless a) you have a group that can marshal a large number of voters (think NRA, AARP, AFL-CIO, etc.) and therefore electoral influence, b) or can make large campaign contributions (through PACs) or other political activity through your own 501(c)(4-6) or 527 political organization. These are the actors that have the most influence, and they are very ideological in nature, which I will discuss further below; but keep in mind that this movement neither has the cash, the ability to mobilize large portions of the electorate, nor the ideological affiliation to align ourselves with either party as currently constituted--instead, all we can do is count on the ability of a congressperson to be able to digest science and fact in a world where there are many actors throwing science and fact at these representatives on a daily basis, and many of those pieces are being written by folks with a much more cornucopian disposition than those here.

Moreso, politicians position themselves in their votes to win office in their next election in their constituency. For House members, that means running for reelection almost constantly (every two years), presidents (every four years) and senators (every six years). That means that House members especially are worried about the issues in front of us now--and constantly so. The Senate is perhaps the more moderate and longer-looking institution of the three branches of the US government, but even it has been riddled with ideological polarization (see below).

Further, the focus on empiricism here and in this group of systemic thinkers moves the debate away from being grounded in the forces of ideology. This does not mean that the solutions here proposed by many are not ideologically based, but at least the first orientation is empirical fact, followed by ideology, and not ideology first.

As a scholar of American elections and political parties, I understand the role that ideology increasingly plays in our polity, but I also see the ideological polarization that has resulted (in fact, it is one component of my research agenda) in the party in government and the electorate in the US, of which there are many causes.

The point is that the polarization that exists out there is disenchanting--in a recent Gallup poll (, around 50% of Americans said that the Democrats were too liberal and the Republicans too conservative. This turns many reasoned-people off to getting involved in the first place.

If you look at voting records of congresspersons, they too are more polarized than ever (McCarty, Poole and Rosenthal 2006). E.g.:

(Source: -- McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal's very interesting site, scroll down for many other interesting charts like this one).

The point of all of this being that issue activism (like what we try to do here at TOD) that is empirical and not ideological is rarely heard in this polarized environment because many officeholders are MUCH more ideological in the past as you can see from the chart above--what is left in the middle, even if it is factual, is perceived by ideological officeholders as moderate noise if it is heard at all, or heard by disempowered moderates who play less and less of a role in party leadership and decision-making.

Further, most extant interest groups are constituted of the most ideological activists involved in politics and are focused on one issue, and they have resources, people, and time to focus and spread their perspectives and points on an issue that are ideologically grounded FIRST, and then the empirics, if present, are second. (On the other hand, most around here already have a job (*raises hand*) and does all this on volunteer time and the generosity of others, which in turn facilitates our ability to reach out more, as well as encourage others.)

We have tried to be something different, by focusing on our shared perception of the problems at hand first, and in that we have never really done a good job with the ideological activism side (and are aware of, and perhaps proud of, it), but that is because we have tried to keep it, as Nate says, "down the middle."

Perhaps that is why we do not have an "activist" feel, but I can assure you that this is still activism...and it may also be why The Oil Drum continues to be a rare and special place where folks can come to escape the polarized reality that exists here in the US and talk about the energy reality that faces us.

Still, Debbie is absolutely right. We hope you get your education and facts here, but we also hope that you will go out into your communities and make a difference.

I won't speak for everyone else around here, but that's why I do this: my point all along has been the more people we can prepare to be conversant with a higher level of discourse on energy and our future, the better off we will be. This continues to be the best mode I can think of to accomplish that (other than perhaps the university environment), even with its frustrations and limitations.

This is only my second post here, but I have to say that I came here to learn more real, factual information about the oil spill, and I stayed because the emphasis not on ideology, but on data, not on anecdata, but on empirical data. In this day where everyone seems to be seeing everything through ideology, and fact and truth be damned, it really was refreshing. And scratched an itch I really needed scratching.

I'm sure I'm not alone.

Prof Goose,

I wonder about the way we vote. Is 50% + 1 the best method of "deciding" what to do about the question at hand?

To me democracy centres around the discussion before the vote. If there is no meaningful discussion/debate, my sense is that democracy has not been served. A 50% + 1 vote, in my opinion, does not promote an adequate level of debate because the vote is terminal and supports no need for the compromise that is almost certain to be required for democracy to prevail when multiple voices are present.

I would like to suggest a different voting outcome.

My suggested voting system would have a band in the "middle" ( Nates' middle ) say from 40 to 60% that would be declared "undecided". The vote would not be definitive and would have to be taken again after reconsideration.

The outcome could be interesting because in a highly polarized situation it would require the two poles to address each other's concerns because, without such consideration, the result would always be near 50%.

The inability or unwillingness to compromise would result in a permanent stalemate that would either be unacceptable to the public at large or would bring the "government" to its knees.

Either way the politicians would soon be under significant pressure to "be democratic", put some water in their ideological party lines, talk to each other and get on with the job they were elected to do.


The politics have us stuck in my view, only because of a lack of viable new ideas to replace the old to which the politicians and ideologues are wedded. If some planet-saving, creative, and profitable ideas were developed here cooperatively, the political support could be rallied from among both "sides." I for one, like brainstorming as a team. And make no mistake. Survival of the plant will require teamwork.

My Belief

Divine Intervention.
This is why we grace the planet.
This is why the internet was invented.
Like brain cells, we will integrate into one mind.
Like brain cells, those who don't join the conversation will perish.
This is apoptosis.
It is necessary and healthy.


I appreciate your constant attention to trying to moderate the discourse. I think the intent of my post was missed on most people. I'll use your Gallup poll citation as an example of where I would like to see more diversions on the part of readers. What was the context in which the questions were asked? Under what conditions would a respondent have changed an answer? Before asking someone for their truths, perhaps we should ask them about their doubts. If we want to go beyond the "polarized reality" then we have to be able to understand the way we think. That would not only get us beyond the "he said, she said" noise that is contributing to dysfunction in society, but it would allow room for more creativity. As someone suggested to me recently, there are no poets in the BP war room. How does our thinking contribute to the us/them world for which Gallup polls exist.

A previous commenter suggested I wanted to "rock the boat." A few years ago there was a Time (maybe Newsweek) cover that asked, "Can Anything Stop Toyota?" Indeed there was and it was recently suggested that it was too much western management and no self-correction. TOD has been very much about my personal self-correction. The hope is always that people and organizations will be inspired to seek constant improvement.

There are plenty of reasons to do nothing. TOD gives us reasons to do something. But today I'm going to hop on my bike and ride to the "longest running 4th of July parade west of the Mississippi." Wish the entire TOD family could join me.


Debbie, thanks for bringing up this important structural question. Gary, you make some great points, so I will respond here.

The TOD format hinders systems thinking, and that is probably the main reason that I have not posted here previously. A poster who typically has an axe to grind posts a commentary, then responders splinter that initial idea into many details, kind of like a genealogy chart; everyone ends up in their own personal cul de sac at the end of the day, arguing with themselves, at a very small level of details. It also fosters competitive behavior in the form I call “boys peeing on trees.” At the end of the day everybody gets their own little kingdom at the end of a thread. This behavior may perhaps also discourage the women from participating, as many view the peeing behavior as an anathema, and not conducive to building community. The large scale systems thinking that needs to go on first and foremost gets immediately sliced up by skeet shooters with agendas, most of whom are reductionists rather than generalists. This results in no cohesion and no consistent message and a lack of big picture thinking.

Perhaps one solution to the problem would be to create a wiki at the top of the comments to enable or enforce large scale thinking first. That adjustment would not require too much adaptation for habituated members, but it would begin to foster cooperative behavior and mandate big picture thinking first, before digging down 4 levels of scale into details. Systems thinking can be taught; one has to be insistent on moving the brain up one level of scale to the larger scale, consistently. The wikis would generate consistent policy messages, and the comments could hammer out details. Those who insist on ownership could do so in the cul de sacs. Once a consistent message was developed, it could be passed on to politicians. Just a thought.

Catastrophes such as hurricanes and the GOM bring in new eyes, but even on threads devoted to current events, a wiki would begin to teach the importance of system thinking. Our financial, political, and cultural systems are getting ready to come apart at the seams. People will be looking for leaders in their confusion, and TOD could be one if it had a coherent message. Currently there is too much noise.

The ephemeral, transient nature of the web is problematic for long term storage of information. This has been the one of the biggest fears of futurists. What would happen to the ideas embodied by the TOD if the power went out tomorrow, for good? Is this just mental masturbation in that case? Think about it. And the future will be local, disseminated, distributed. This future is coming quickly, and relocalized communities may not be looking for global conversations as much as answers to local adaptation. How does a globally connected website adapt to that future?

And maybe someone should stand in the comments section with a cattle prod and zap people who go over their basic allotment of posted oil supply curves, making them instead state, “Hi, I’m (John or Susie), and I’m an Oilcoholic.” Ha. I’ve just about decided that we need to preface most of our conversations here by starting with our current emotional state—“I’m Iaato, and I’m currently sad and bargaining,” for example. Then at least we know where peoples’ agendas are when they start to talk. I currently have to do a lot of reading between the lines to figure emotionally-driven agendas out.

Thanks again to the editors and TOD denizens for allowing me to join this conversation and defuse some pent up anger and sadness regarding the tragedy in the Gulf. But I won't be here long if the big picture gets lost in the maze. It would be great to have some sort of wiki site or other way to create a cohesive message to create meaningful change. But in the meantime, taking potshots at clay pigeons is very, very therapeutic. Perhaps a bird-rabbit pair for the team next time? Pull!

The TOD format hinders systems thinking, and that is probably the main reason that I have not posted here previously.

But this is why Campfire was created. Main TOD has a purpose. Some of us agitated for a solutions discussion, which must necessarily be systems-oriented, and some staff were of a similar mind, and - poof! - Campfire.

Use the tools you've got, I say.


What would happen to the ideas embodied by the TOD if the power went out tomorrow, for good? Is this just mental masturbation in that case? Think about it.

In that case man has all been for nothing.
I think I shall put my head where the sun don't shine on that one.
Please don't say it again.

Re: "We hope you get your education and facts here, but we also hope that you will go out into your communities and make a difference."

TOD is one of the first places I read in the morning--before heading into work and then heading out into the community for even more work ;-) As someone who tests 100% Intuitive and does right-brained, lateral thinking by nature, I am all for systems thinking, but personally, thinking about thinking is a luxury I am not interested in. We're beyond out of time---taking action and trying different approaches (Greer's "dissensus") is far more appealing.

In Seattle, we're trying both grassroots and local government partnerships:

In 2010, the Seattle City Council established carbon neutrality as one of its sixteen Council priorities. Transition Seattle and SCALLOPS (Sustainable Communities ALL Over Puget Sound) agreed to help other neighborhood groups around the city who are interested in and working toward the City's goal to "adopt a carbon neutral goal for Seattle with specific milestones and implementation steps, along with a plan for adaptation to the effects of climate change.

That adaptation plan is essentially an Energy Descent Plan.

I would have never created my website without TOD. Certainly TOD and others may live to regret the encouragement, but unequivocally, this site has greatly increased my participation in the unfolding of events here at Alabama's Ground Zero. TOD has verifiably helped increase the awareness of many people in my area directly or indirectly impacted by the Macondo event. People and organizations. Go to my local newspaper's site at Type in TOD then the oil drum in the search box. Forget trying to count the pages or references. These folks here are the 'real deal'. Alabama saying again; Evander Holyfield is from Atmore, AL about 90 minutes from here. Thanks TOD, you just may help stop the untreated dumping of oil laden waste in our landfills. See for more information if you have not seen it yet. the Prof., Gail, and Debbie too rock.

Gotta love the reduction of the use of dispersants that BP has been doing. ( Will the BS never stop from these guys?

I posted this the other day very late in the thread and discussion was soon closed, I thought it would be worth re-posting. I would suggest reading just to see the timeline for benzene effects on workers near an oil spill.

With all the oil spilling into the Gulf, I had to ask myself if there were any health concerns for the residents of the Gulf. One of the first things I noticed was the presence of benzene in crude oil. Here are some of the things I found out about benzene.
Benzene is known to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence in humans. The short term breathing of high levels of benzene can result in death, while low levels can cause drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heart rate, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. (
The major effects of benzene are manifested via chronic (long-term) exposure through the blood. Benzene damages the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. It can also cause excessive bleeding and depress the immune system, increasing the chance of infection. Benzene causes leukemia and is associated with other blood cancers and pre-cancers of the blood.

There are only 23 chemicals known to cause cancer in humans (not just suspected of, or linked to, but a known cause), benzene is one of them.

But the big question is about the exposure from an oil spill, not if benzene is toxic.

I looked that up and found that during exposure from an oil spill, the initial concentrations can be well over 1 ppm (the safe level as determined by OSHA for a healthy person during an eight hour workday.) but initial concentrations decrease rapidly over time and concentrations should drop below 1 ppm within 6 hours. Gulf residents exposure would be 3 time greater then the OSHA numbers as they would breath it for 24 hours and many are not healthy and fit as most workers would be. So looking at the data from the paper cited below is not exactly correct in considering what a resident on the Gulf might be exposed to.

That study was looking at single spill event, not a continuing one like the what is happening in the Gulf.

This concerns me as some Gulf residents might be exposed to harmful levels of benzene as 6 hours is plenty of time for the wind to blow the fumes far inland and the exposure would be 24/7 not just eight hours a day. A 20 MPH wind could blow the fumes 120 miles before the benzene breaks down. Some studies suggest that even parts per billion can cause cancer.
I could not find any data about how dispersant’s might affect the evaporation of benzene, but I did find this, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s approval of BP’s use of oil dispersants to break up unsightly oil slicks could increase levels of carcinogens like benzene in the Gulf’s food chain”.
Needless to say, I would be very concerned for the people working out in the Gulf.

By definition, overshoot is a condition in which the delayed signals from the environment are not yet strong enough to force an end to growth.How,then, can a society tell if it is in overshoot? Falling resource stocks and rising pollution levels are the first clues..........

my bold
Limits to Growth, the 30 year update.pp176

Systems thinking is the strong point here, I think, and where this site seems head & shoulders above most others. A large gaggle of competent folks with extraordinarily diverse expertise has assembled itself here, and organized a real-time peer-review system which functions quite well. I'd be careful about changing anything.

In terms of "participation", I've noted in the past that I'm a risk-taker who tends to engage the world. This site is the ONLY one I post on, and that will be winding down probably. Intellectual loneliness is probably what brings me back when I have the time; it's nice to experience an oasis of relative non-delusionality just as a personal indulgence. A little lotus-eating between projects.

I don't consider the site particularly useful for engaging the world, but then I never expected to. I do think it may help some people hone their ideas and conclusions, and I have recommended it often to people I think might "get it". Even so, most people will not actually engage, but I'm glad the site exists.

Looks like you have done an excellent job of securing your site. The email addresses posted for the editors are not valid addresses and no means is available whereby one can contact The Oil Drum or submit content articles unless you are already on the editorial staff?

I've successfully contacted them at those addresses. They get an excess of article proposals so best play it cautiously.

Well, one could also take the POV that The Oil Drum has done its job and it's time to move on. All things have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm not saying The Oil Drum is now finished, and the Big GoM Gusher and Spill are an example of how handy the site can be to muster needed technical discussion, but as someone, perhaps it was garyp, noted above, it's only a tree, albeit a big one, in the forest of Peak Oil.

Regarding teaching PO and its many ramifications, my methods have been to produce the facts as accurately as possible, and keep them updated in this fast-moving debate with its many developments. For material, I have used The Oil Drum more than most other online sites, and for that I am extremely grateful to those who post here. As for the students, they seem to take the bad news of PO remarkably well, better in fact than many fellow faculty that, although intelligent, have largely locked their minds in their own little rooms of denial. It's quite remarkable, actually, and makes me wonder if sociology or psychology were dismissed too soon as fruitful avenues of academic pursuit.

The old Chinese proverb/curse of "may you live interesting times" comes to mind when I visit this site and related ones. And my my, is it not just getting more and more interesting all the time?

I joined TOD about a month before the big Gulf spill. I had been lurking pretty regularly for two or three months before that. I first became climate change aware; then the reading I did on that led me to peak oil. It was in searching for believeable figures and graphs on production numbers that I stumbled across TOD.

I think TOD is fine just the way it is. Many of the newbies who came because of the Gulf spill will wander away over time; some will stay.

The name of the site says,"Discussions about energy and our future". It doesn't say "PhD theses about energy and our future". It doesn't say "Laypersons need not apply". I have a PhD, but make a strong effort never to use that elitist, exclusionary language in my posts. Regular folk are the ones who need to know this stuff, and a nose-in-the-air attitude will just turn them off, maybe to the entire subject. There's orders of magnitude more regular people than there is PhD's out there. They are the ones who need a place they can come to get this.

I read the keypost to my wife and her first reaction was, "someone with too much time on their hands; I mean come on, thinking about thinking about thinking??" And I agreed; after reading it twice neither of us was certain just what exactly the author's point was.

This is a shining example of what the folk around here call "Eduspeak"- a thousand words, without ever actually saying, clearly and concisely, what it was that was bothering her, what she thinks needs to happen, or what she wants done. Skirting around the edge of a matter with a fancy dance of words does nothing.

Does the author think TOD is being too elitist? Then she should say so.
Does the author think TOD is being to hostile and confrontational? Then she should say so. And she should state exactly what she thinks needs to change.

Myself, I thinks it's pretty fair fine. The level of civility is better that most places online these days. If anything, I might put a front page that has separate sections for certain things; like a separate section/header/folder/whatever for the Drumbeats, one for the Campfires, one for Current Events (like the GOM spill), one for more scholarly works...just to organize the front page a bit better. And perhaps a sticky post up top explaining the arcane secrets of the posting system...the difference between 'reply' 'reply in new window' etc, and how to interpret all those lines running down the left side- many newcomers are very confused by these little quirks of the system and a sticky would be a friendly gesture for them.

I count TOD as one of only four sites I go to near-daily for solid information. Keep it coming!


I actually found myself wondering why Debbie was chosen as a contributor. This is not personal, I just don't have a sense of her producing much of interest. There are posters here who produce tons of useful info that are not contributors.

This post by her exemplifies the reason for my ambivalence. Here, in a context in which increased complexity is almost certainly a bad thing, we're asked to contemplate our navels to a greater degree of detail? I think Nate has that niche well covered.

It will be interesting to see what comes next, eh?


+ 10

TOD will change as the times change. When PO is firmly felt and affecting our society in more ways imaginable, then TOD will probably address different issues. I think it will go far beyond "I told you so".

I like to read and lurk, but also know that many fine minds refuse to contribute. Perhaps they have been dumped on in the past, or perhaps someone has already expressed their thoughts. However, I am absolutely amazed at the depth of knowledge and spirit of most contributors and I thank you daily for my learning addiction.

Teaching the ideas of PO is admirable, but leading by example and having people ask, "why do you do...." seems to be stronger. Your family and friends know, and the message does get out.

I have really appreciated learning about finding and producing oil. About 35 years ago my college roommate became a geologist. I dropped out to become a pilot. I flew geologists for years and always wondered why I didn't go into rocks? It is so fascinating. TOD has been a piece of education I missed along the way, because you can't do everything I am finding out as I age.

Thanks for being here. Corny, but it is wonderful the way it is. Can't be all things to all people', right?

V Tech,

Your views express mine very very closely.

However TOD once had a large number of posters that had much to offer and I no longer see many of them anymore. Perhaps they have absorbed the 'lessons' and moved on to implementation of the items they learned and therefore no longer are heard from.

But this comment,"I think TOD is fine just the way it is. Many of the newbies who came because of the Gulf spill will wander away over time; some will stay."

may better serve in that as vast numbers of newcomers as a result of the spill now are creating an immense number of posts and it could be that the older members have decided to no longer participate and have moved on.

I did also but again one finds that the level of conjecture on most blogs and websites is heavily flavored with incredible stupidity and lack of knowledge.

Yet I rarely have time to post and when I do create one I find it disappears in the huge massive postings of current TOD activity and therefore not actually worth the effort.

My experiences are far different than most here and perhaps they simply do not appear cogent and of value. I can understand that the newcomers in many cases are rude and disruptive and I end up just signing off.

Perhaps THIS particuliar Key Post was created in an effort to better understand the membership and how they react with TOD, hence my several posts in it.

I find little time in my day to day activities so I miss a lot of what passes here.
I will likely be visiting less and less except to try to understand what really is happening in the GOM.

I see this as a sea-change in our world. We will never be the same. After 9/11 one would have thought we would become better citizens and a nation but instead the financial center(ground zero) treated us to an economic meltdown as a way of saying 'Thanks for your effort and now we will squeeze you dry.'

Pity but that was the sea-change and far the worst at that. Far worse.

What will be the other side of this major event? More shenanigans? I think the politicos are learning a lesson and will apply it our dismay and furtheronce of loss of liberties and control over our lives.

Sure we all need more politicians telling us what to do!

Maybe saying "I am pondering about how I think about the world, and how I might change what I think about it, by looking at new ways within my thinking processes as a way to change those old thoughts of the world."

Thinking about thinking is common when you think a lot. I know that sounds so odd, it is because we are using thinking to discribe thinking( we catch ourselves at times in a loopy form of saying what we are thinking in a language that can't all the time get the finer points of what is in our heads out to the rest of the world in an understandable image).

I have vast stories in pictures and conversations and vast designs of the ships and the thousand years worth of living in my little stories, all rolled up in the brain cells in my mind's eye. How do I take the words of English and press them out as fast as I can think of them. A picture is worth a thousand words, but what if that picture is not on a canvas, but locked up in your head, a billion pinpoints of light and color and sound and taste all inside the human head, now take the time to disgorge it all into a meaningful composition for someone else to see in the same span of time it took you to see it. As yet that is near on impossible.

At times when I am in gear, I can type prefectly 120 words a minute, But even then I can't download my thoughts fast enough. So I have Thought about thinking differently, with a computer linkage chip I'd have to design myself and get someone to implant it, to test it out, don't want to make a mistake on someone else, I am not that kind of person. And if it fails, Okay I lose my mind to a mistaken thought, but I have harmed no one else in the process. The one reason that telepathy is so tantalizing, just so I can get my ideas clearly to another person. But alas I am stuck in here, looking out on a textbased world, and pictures that I want to show people but can't download the files from my server.

So yes Debbie can talk about thinking about thinking and on one hand it seems like a kooky idea, but on another it makes prefect sense.

I hope my fancy dance of words, got my point of view across, but if it did not, maybe I need to re-log-the-dislodged third eye from it's storage case next to the lunch counter in the control room in my head. Only 2 brain cells on duty tonight/this morning, one is trying to pull me outside to water the garden and the other two are chatting about the pondscum they found in the coffee mugs this morning.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs from a crazy TOD poster.

We have freedom to choose what we read, what we write, and to perform most legal actions. TOD posts are interesting and informative, but it's the subsequent discussions that illuminate subtle aspects of the lead article that I enjoy reading.

Those discussions depend on knowledgeable people generously sharing their thoughts, and I thank them. Posters often also provide explicit sources of information, making TOD a gateway to further knowledge, should I choose to explore.

Changes?. It's your site, so you can decide when change is required.

The Apostate Drummer

(yes, it is long...but if I succeed, it should be the last long post I do on buck it up, hopefully relief is coming to my long suffering audience...IF I succeed)

Apostasy is an archaic word, a word not even known to many young people today, but the word still captures an important concept. Apostasy is defined as:
"Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause."

That sounds very negative, but notso much as some definitions which define apostasy as essentially treason. Every movement, every cause, every religion, even scientific and cultural ideas, have their apostates, those who once were "bought in" to the cause, to the ideas, to the very heart of the message, but who have since had a change of heart. These can sometimes (not always) be engaging people to speak to and to listen to, because they bring a one "true believers" heart to the discussion, but then must explain, at least to themselves, why their heart changed: Was it something in the message of the cause they once held so dear that somehow just did not ring true? Or did the apostate himself simply change, and no longer could feel a need, no longer feel the usefulness that the cause once provided? Did the apostate simply find a far greater cause or structure of thinking that led him to see the old cause as now somehow more marginal? Or did the apostate simply renounce the cause out of a deeper desire for comfort, love, success, status, in effect taking up (or returning to) the pleasure seeking cause of Hedonism for whatever time may be left to enjoy it?

Only the apostate knows his or her motives, and even he/she may be confused, or delusional, in the popular word used here on TOD, a "denier". All causes, all cultures, have what they consider "deniers", those who simply never did or no longer share the central premise of the cause as they once did, as almost all important, as the structuring belief system of their intellectual world view. Perhaps a less perjorative term would be "disaffiliation" or "estrangement" from the cause. I wish to speak of the ones (like myself) who have after much soul searching, after years of research, after thinking, reconsideration, and constantly re-examining of their own thinking, have become in many ways apostates to the core importance and the core message of "peak oil" per se. To use another outdated word, this can be considered my "apologia", a Greek term for "answer" or "defense".

I have not posted on TOD for the prior 14 days until today, July 4th, 2010, probably my longest absence since I became a registered poster here 4 years and 20 weeks ago. Even more astounding for me, I have very intentionally not read TOD for that period, for the same reason the alcoholic does not visit bars: I am still addicted to the sheer sport of discussion, argument, rhetoric and polemic, some of the most addictive of all human activities. The string of posts concerning the offshore oil leak has helped me in my efforts to wean myself from TOD: Due to the technical complexity of the issues being discussed, I knew I had nothing to offer, and felt no desire to argue about technology that was alien to my experience and study. The challenging TOD discussion are the ones discussing thinking, philosophy, what we are and what we want to be, and why we think as we do and do what we do. As is indicated by my post here, now, I am addicted to this line of inquiry wherever I find it, and it will be these type of discussions that lure me back into my old addictive patterns.

But for now we should return to the core message: What is that has broken the spell of "peak oil" as the arena of my thinking, what dispelled my belief in the validity and usefulness of the whole peak oil and TOD topic, what "marginalized" in my mind this once most important if not critical cause? It is a process that has taken time, and one I have commented on before, but the big events still stand out in my mind, and I will briefly offer them here:

-Anthropological aspects: Peak Oil as a classic story of success, materialism, followed by the aesthetically/psychological desire for guilt, self loathing (misanthropic) self "flagellation", to be followed by redemption through self denial, punishment and suffering, to be followed by the elect and pure being redeemed to a "utopia" or more pure and "right" path.

My apologia: With each passing post on TOD since I arrived 4 years ago, "Peak Oil" has come more and more to describe not a scientific idea or set of discoveries but a morality story; I have nothing against morality plays and nothing against parables of religious prophecy of punishment for excess (they are as old as the human spirit and are valuable to all races, tribes and nations), but they are not science, and should not be passed off as such.

The "peak oil" thinkers are now for the most part writing a story of what they see as corruption (described as materialism, consumption, consumerism, free enterprise, "fractional banking", "fiat currency", division of labor, "bourgeoisie", "style" and status, etc, etc. This is portrayed as the "evil" of Western culture, which must be atoned for, and the punishment must come, which come it must in "Darwinian" terms..."die off", "collapse", "decline". This will be followed by a period "tribulation" (which just as many of the "Apocalyptic" religions believe, has already began) after which the "elect" and right living will be saved, to live in a sort of a bucolic, pastoral existence, one without the "evils" of modernism as described above. Just as most of the apocalyptic religions do, many peak oilers, in particular the fundamentalists, believe few will survive to see this redemption, only the most prepared, right thinking, disciplined...after the "die off" only the most truly correct will survive ("narrow is the road, and few there be that find it")

Of course, this reduces the Peak Oil discussion to one of faith...either you find it, or your a "denier". This is not a realm that can be hashed out by argument or discussion..."science" is only seen as useful in so far as it fits and supports the philosophical/aesthetic position of the elect. In matters of faith, you either have it or you don't. In this case, given the core tenants of this faith...I don't.

-The "cubic mile" of oil: There is nothing more perception changing than finding something in the core texts of a faith that literally cuts to the very core of the acceptance of that faith, undercuts it. On Feb. 27, 2007, I read on The Oil Drum what has become the most important post I have ever read on TOD, and one of the most perception altering essays I have read in my life: The post was called "That Cubic Mile" by "Engineer-Poet":

The post made one very simple, but one very astounding point: in 2007, the total oil the entire world burned was one cubic mile per year.

It is almost impossible for me to describe what a staggering revealation this was to me. At that time I had been in the field of media and market research for 10 years, and so astonished was I by this new knowledge that I surveyed my smartest coworkers, friends and family, many of them very alert and professional level technicians, some of the directly involved in higher mathematics ad calculation. NOT ONE person guessed, when asked, that the volume of oil burned by the worlds humans could be that small...most estimated the consumption at well over a hundred cubic miles, and only the most conservative ones took a number as low as several dozens of cubic miles.

One cubic mile! We are told by the oil industry and its supporters that the amount of energy provided by oil is so vast there can be no real contemplation of ever replacing is oil, or it is catastrophe. All the energy the earth can provide (and in fact does provide everyday by natural biological processes, all the sun falling upon the earth cannot possibly hope to provide for the human consumption of oil it is said to be so vast...and here on TOD, the very priesthood of the movement was accepting that it was ONE CUBIC MILE per year. One of the most perception altering revelations of my life, concerning both the amount of energy needed to fuel modern society, and about the total amount of carbon release that one cubic mile could possibly has changed my thinking from that day forward. Will Western modern civilization essentially end due to the lack of one cubic mile of oil? My doubts became pronounced, more so with each passing day.

-The carbon issue: If one accepts the problem of carbon release...and accepts the projections of the "James Hansen" climate models (and most peak oilers do) it essentially renders the peak oil argument as esoteric at best, and completely useless at worst.
The current number for carbon in the atmosphere is given commonly as about 392 PPM (parts per million). It is stated that to avoid catastrophic outcome, the level must be reduced to 350 PPM, this with the Chinese still building dozens of coal powered plants, and with a still increasing world population. If we accept the above contention (and again, many peak oilers claim to) then we know one thing for sure: To avoid world catastrophe, given as some of the most catastrophic outcomes in human history, we would have to completely halt the use of fossil fuels for all new energy production. The importance of this on the logic of the peak oil debate is so profound it changes not only the nature of the debate but even the justification for it all. And remember, we are talking about bringing down the consumption of not only oil, but also coal, natural gas, tar sand oil, heavy oil or any other carbon releasing method…i.e., the very concept of “burning” as a method of releasing energy would have to stop.

The carbon issue has now become the cutting edge of the energy debate and in fact of the debate over the future of the planet…not only the human race, but the planet. For those who support the climate change model, and believe the outcomes predicted by climatologists, “peak oil” is simply a waste of time, a minor discussion off to the side of the real challenge to life on earth…essentially fiddling while the earth burns. If I were to use my energy on the energy debate, and accept the James Hansen climate models, I must join the cause of reduced carbon released, and peak oil be damned, the sooner it can get here the better my ever decreasing hope of salvaging the planet becomes. If you accept climate change caused by human release of carbon, your only logical position is to hope and pray for peak oil and rapidly declining oil (and coal and natural gas and tar sand oil) production, complete stop on any attempt to develop sub sea methane hydrates, and a complete ban on attempting to release shale oil. Climate change by carbon release essentially ends the peak oil debate.

-American and Western delusions of grandeur and importance: This is one I have stated many times on TOD, but that Americans in particular and the Western modern nations refuse to accept: The developed nations are marginal players when it comes to carbon release and oil consumption and becoming more marginal by the minute. As a percent of total oil consumed, and total carbon released, it is the wealthy Western nations who are essentially flat and/or declining, even before any real sacrifice or effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption is began. Given current trends, the only way the Western wealthy powers can seriously affect the outcome of peak oil or climate change would be to force, and with great authority and risk, force the developing and third worlds to accept their current level of consumption or less. This would have horrific effects on the peoples of those nations, and would almost certainly lead to great geo-political strain if not war.

If we accept the oil depletion models commonly given on TOD by Colin Campbell, Matthew Simmons, Euan Mearns, Ken Deffeyes and others, we could stop every motor vehicle in the United States and burn it where it sat, and it will still have no real effect on peak oil. Once again the argument becomes about aesthetics, punishment, and “right” living, not about energy, because if you lay aside the self delusion of the wealthy nations, you realize that the type of vehicle you buy or how much you drive it has zero effect on peak oil and absolutely marginal effect on carbon release worldwide, and with the rising consumption of fossil fuels in developing and third world nations, matters less with each day. Reduced American consumption does have possible implications for wealth and national security, but that is not a peak oil or climate change discussion. Once the realization of Western marginal impact on world energy consumption is accepted, peak oil becomes an esoteric and marginal debate.

-Taking sides and my refusal to disavow my culture and all it stands for to me: This one is important, and personal: We are asked in many ways to accept that the culture we were born into, the culture we were taught by, the culture that has taken about 4000 years to create must be effectively dismantled if we are to combat peak oil or climate change. The discussion on TOD almost always moves from an attack on oil consumption and into a philosophical, moralistic, aesthetic attack on almost everything modern scientific Western culture is built upon. At the end of the day, we must look at the evidence, make our choice, and decide which is worse. I say this without animosity: The future as envisioned by most peak oilers as “desirable” and “pure” and “correct” holds no appeal to me, and is in many ways one which modern man has struggled and even died to avoid. The return to some type of “medieval” bucolic, pastoral existence is abhorrent to me in almost every way. We are told “you WILL accept it” or you will die. Guess what? I will die anyway. We are not discussing that, we are discussing how we wish to live, how we wish to think, what we consider “human” in the truest sense.

I speak only for myself…I do not desire to return to an animal existence laboring behind an ox or mule. I frankly do not believe at my age and in my health I could survive it anyway. Without modern medicines, I am a dead man, so it profits me personally to defend modernism to the last breath, since the alternative is death, and no need to wait for it.

(I am leaving aside the absolutely clownish discussion one sometimes sees on TOD about returning even to a time before agriculture and animal husbandry, to an age of "hunter gatherers", literally disavoing literacy, settled cities, art and culture in any way known to 99% of the human race)

Again, for all of these and several other reasons, the peak oil argument is essentially over for me. Peak oil will occur, of that I have no doubt, but it is no longer a concern to me. It is not something I can change when it does occur, and the whole discussion of it has now morphed into a worldview argument about guilt, self loathing, punishment and hoped for redemption. I can read St. Augustine and get a better debate on those issues. It is now essentially a religious debate. But I still love to write, love to discuss, love to debate and love trying to solve puzzles. I will simply have to find somewhere else to do it, because for me, the peak oil puzzle has been solved. Like tic tac toe, it end in deadlock, a tautological discussion, and I have been around the track for too many years to still find it interesting.

I will NOT disavow the people however: I have great regard for the posters at TOD, and envy the challenging way you present the issue, the mathematical virtuosity shown in calculation, and the spirit of research and debate many of you are so fond of. It will remain a fun group of people to know, or to have known, as the case may be, and I only pray that all of you achieve the goals and aspirations you have set for yourself, whatever they may be. Thank you all for years of interesting discussion, thought and online fellowship! :-)

Thank you, Roger Conner

Wow, Roger..........Fair Winds!

Classic Roger Connor post.

Roger keep the faith.
Something is out there.
I swear by it when I sit in the woods like a Thoreau and suck it up.

I have shed tears of shame over a dead possum.
I have tried to put a young fledgling back in its nest and failed.
A young deer I hit looked at me with eyes that haunt my soul as it slid across the blacktop after contact with my bumper, to this very day its haunts me still.

I know not its name or its cause but if one seeks one finds.
It can lead and show.
That's enough for this country boy but I wish peace were that easy to find.
Its hard in these days yet I hang onto a semblance of faith as best I can.

As to laboring behind a mule. I can do that. Not easy but I can. I have.
I have hidden somewhere a single walking plow and some mule gear. A small harrow and some odds and ends.

Well, you certainly write well. You've made a rather interesting, though insufficient, imo, comparison of the discussion as essentially theological/religious, and seem to have decided there is either what we have or some scene out of Shakespeare, but less refined. I find it all a bit odd.

Let me refocus a bit here, not having your way with a keyboard. What I believe I have read you to be saying is, in part, PO discussion is irrelevant if one accepts climate change is a real phenomenon. This is a false dichotomy. The ability to engage in change requires energy, in the 2nd Law sense. Thus, the amount of energy has some relevance. *How we use* that energy even more so.

For example, a continued emphasis on automobiles vs. mass transit has enormous implications for both FF and non-FF resource depletion. The time resource is also greatly affected by this choice, as the longer the public is allowed to believe the current pattern of human structures is tenable, the longer the shift will take to accomplish. But time is in short supply, both in terms of not tempting fate by assuming bifurcations/tipping points have not already been passed and/or are not imminent, and in the sense expressed within the Hirsch report regarding the time needed to transition.

So, the solutions are important and worth discussing. Vital to discuss, in fact.

Another point is, though I personally believe we have passed tipping points wrt the ecological balance of thee planet, specifically wrt the Arctic, I cannot prove it and may be wrong in my assessment of the time we have to transition before disruptions become so great the very process of adjusting becomes so difficult that entropy overtakes change. If I am correct, your disengagement may be wise - for you. Were I not the father of a 2 year-old, I would likely take a similar tack, despite possibly being a fair bit younger than you are (though much older than most first-time fathers.)

If there is time, then the debate matters.

Lastly, your characterization of the possible outcomes as a return to non-modern ways of life I find to be a bit of a cop-out. We are now back to he original issue raised by Debbie: thinking differently.

Let us not pretend I am not a Doomer, for I am. I am exceedingly pessimistic about the ability to move enough people in similar enough a direction to avoid some pretty serious disruption. However, since I now think differently - systemic, sustainable approaches - I know there are **really simple solutions.** Thus, I have hope. The problem I see with your essay is your mis-perception of that bucolic life is that you see a difference in how we *live,* rather than in *how* we live.

E.g., in a lower-energy world, must we give up theater, or might we engage in local, as in neighborhood, theater in community spaces we create in lieu of megaplexes? Might we stop buying CDs and make music together? Might we collectively choose to keep the internet intact, though with far fewer nodes, and use it to keep abreast of changes, developments, technology? Might we have electrically-powered mass transit in denser areas of population, but also animal-powered in some places? With advances in materials/textiles, might we not be better at making textiles, even if by hand, such that we can have fairly comfortable clothing?

I understand that for some adaptation is impossible. Some simply cannot accept the scope of change. Some are too aged for it to be relevant. Etc. However, I think it a bit early to determine what the scope of change must eventually be, and see value in remaining engaged in the discussion, regardless of age.

To come back to thinking differently, if a learned person such as yourself chooses to apply their knowledge, experience and wisdom to encouraging a shift in how we think, would that not be a good use of your time? Of course, you may have to step away from characterizing the debate as an exercise in theology to see the value. I certainly do not see the discussion that way. For me it is a pragmatic discussion of survival. Yes, there is discussion of values and belief systems, but this is an issue of dancer/dance. How do you create a different tomorrow without a set of beliefs, values and ethics?

When assessing what has ultimately not worked - despite seeming to have worked spectacularly up to that last minute for the yeast in the petri dish - there is a natural tendency, in fact, a need, to do some assessment. Where the forces that created the environment in the petri dish were willful in their abuses of resources, of people, of power, etc., that should be examined. There is a difference between contextualized choices and willful disregard.

That said, at this point the utility is in discerning what failures to not repeat rather than flagellating. (Though I am all for plenty of flagellation, should the opportunity arise; the law should not exclude the powerful, though it obviously often does.)

Back to those values. I leave you, and whatever other eyes may wander over these groupings of letters, with a thought experiment. Take any element you wish in the necessary changes we must face and apply the following parameters:

Care of natural systems
Care of people
Reinvest/share surplus

* Long/extensive observation over action
* Create useful relationships via careful placement
* Catch and store energy/keep energy where it captured
* Every element performs multiple functions
* Every function supported by multiple elements
* Least change, max effect
* Small-scale, intensive systems; build into larger systems
* Optimize edges to increase diversity and production
* Use succession; (grassland > forest)
* Use biological and renewable resources
* Turn problems into solutions
* Design for (long-term and short-term) yield
* Be creative
* Mistakes are opportunities to learn

(Thanks to Mollison, Holmgren and Hemenway.)

Now, design a home, homestead, farm, factory, city, bicycle, arbor... anything you like, and see what you get. If you still want to disengage after this exercise, it probably is time to.

*This* is a change in how we think.


Meanwhile in the Big Apple with the worm in it...

NEW YORK – Hot dog!

Competitive eater Joey Chestnut has held on to his title at the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at New York's Coney Island, but one of his biggest rivals tried to crash the celebration and has been taken into custody.

Chestnut chomped down on 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes on Sunday to win the annual Nathan's International Hot Dog Eating Contest for the fourth year in a row.

Go Joey!

Watching from the crowd was six-time champion Takeru Kobayashi (tah-KEH'-roo koh-bah-YAH'-shee), who has not signed a contract with Major League Eating to be free to compete in contests sanctioned by other groups.

But Kobayashi went on stage after the competition. Police officers grabbed him, and he tried to hold onto police barricades as they took him into custody.

So what do you think, ccpo, does Takeru Kobayashi give a ground up rodent's arse in a F'ing hamburger on bun about sustainable farming or not?! How about all the J6pks and their obese ho's who rode up in their monster big wheeled pick ups to watch this spectacle and are egging him on?!

Here on TOD we may quibble about conservation and ethics but at the end of the day what passes for normal and acceptable out there is pretty F'n sick... We here don't really have much of a chance do we?

Sometimes, to be honest, what I really want to do is pick up a monster flame thrower and just scorch em all and then vomit out the bile in me until I have nothing left but my utter contempt for a society that thinks this is acceptable entertainment and sport.

Then I remember I have a son and I need to give him at least a fighting chance, if I can...

I moved into a neighborhood chock full of unaware people. Figure no point in moving in with the true believers, which we explored, since we'd actually have a chance to impact people here.

Our garden is getting attention. It's a start.

But that's just me.



Humans can be so preverse can't they. Pig out contests when half way round the world food is a daily struggle, or places like homeless alley in a city near you, where a few huddle in a small area wondering if they will make it through the night.

But I was out trying to air root lanky tomato vines, Dad is sorting some of his piles of things, Paints, and mom is reading. And I am debating taking a nap after 30 hours up.

Go figure, protect your family and let the masses be their own reward, or go and tell them rome is burning to get ready for the day of the .........!

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs to TOD.

"If you accept climate change caused by human release of carbon, your only logical position is to hope and pray for peak oil and rapidly declining oil (and coal and natural gas and tar sand oil) production, complete stop on any attempt to develop sub sea methane hydrates, and a complete ban on attempting to release shale oil."

Yes, exactly.

The carbon issue has now become the cutting edge of the energy debate and in fact of the debate over the future of the planet…not only the human race, but the planet.

Is the planet in peril?
If so the moral position is to find where the carbon is coming from and cauterize it.
(Nuke It).

That's pretty much where I am now. If there was a rational response to this existential threat by a major power or a few of the major powers it would be--stop dooming our collective progeny by UNsequestering carbon, or we will stop you by any means necessary.

But I am not the head of any major power, and all the major powers are pawns of these extractive industries and those that depend on them (ultimately, all of us).


My hat is off to you, dude.

I do believe you have packed more serious thought into the meaning of the peak oil question for each of us as an individual into this one comment that any single keypost or lead article I have read here by a factor of ten;and I have read virtually everything on the site for the last year.

Wow! I only have one disagreement:

Due to the technical complexity of the issues being discussed, I knew I had nothing to offer, and felt no desire to argue about technology that was alien to my experience and study.

You have a great deal to offer. Good luck!


Good post.

I am reminded that as a Christian I have found a kind of peace that some people still seem to be searching for. It all boils down to a matter of faith. Do you have faith that tomorrow the sun will rise in the east or the west? Do you have faith that your soul if you have one, will go on somewhere else, or you will powder out to dust to never be seen or heard from again, when you die. For whichever way you look in almost all bits of life, you have faith based choices. You trust what you have seen with your own eyes, not what someone tells you to have happened.

Peak Oil is a cool attention getter, that I really don't talk much about anymore. But I use it as a stepping stone to other ideas that I have had for long years. We never did need to trash and burn the planet we live on, and we can live better happy lives with more than we can create with our own two hands, but we need to be able to help each other and live within a certain framework of understanding.

Yes, I know it all sounds like I am trying to get us all back into Eden and stave off the fireants biting at our heels. But we can live like that, if one person can do it, here and there around the globe, why not more and more of us? Someone said if you are going to dream, dream big. Seek and you will find, Seek what and find what? And where do you seek and who will answer you? I can give you my idea, but you have to answer these on your own terms.

If you Roger choose to go and leave the place of forum, have fun, let us know if you need anything, and keep in touch. I have my email and phone number listed, so an open invite to you is made, call me if you need anything, even if it is to tell me I am silly for where my faith is placed.

God go with you and may you find peace.
BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, hugs.

I stopped being a participant on TOD, and may stop being a spectator, because TOD is no better than any other topic-centered discussion board.

I read down through comments on this story. I found about 5 actually relating to the story, what Prof Goose would call "signal". The rest are "noise".

For a site like this be meaningful, comments must be closely policed and "noise" comments must be deleted. This is not happening on TOD.

Another problem with TOD is moderator bias. Views disagreeing with one or more moderators tend to be deleted, even though on-topic and relevant. Moderator mentalities appear to be childish, more concerned about feelings than facts.

This is especially true on the companion IRC forum, #theoildrum, where moderator mentalities are very childish, behaving like little snot-nose Nazis throwing their weight around.

The concept of TOD is good. Execution is the problem.

Most people have "mental blocks" about certain subjects - you know, the person who goes blank when you mention mathematics, for example. They are perfectly ok with a topic well within their understanding and everyday experience - but the curtain comes down when you talk about something outside of their experience.

There is a curtain of lack of understanding for most people about how the world itself works.

I talked to my sister about Peak Oil - her response - "They'll figure something out". They ???

Case in point, from my own experience :-

I have the kind of windows in my house that have a catch (tilt latch) at the top which allows you to pull the window forward in order to clean the window on the outside.

I am trying to move from a mode of "call the repairman" (externalizing the responsibility) when something goes wrong, to "do it yourself" (owning the responsibility). When one externalizes the responsibility, the problem remains a "black box".

Well, last year, (yes, a whole year ago), both of the tilt latches on one window broke, and I have been unable to open the window. Finally, yesterday, I happened to look closely, and became aware that the tilt latch has two screws on it. "Lightbulb Flash" - it is made to be replaced, therefore there are spare parts for it.

Sheesh...I felt pretty stupid after buying a $5 replacement part at the hardware store, and switching it out. Voila - I can open my window without having it fall out ;)

My point being, that sometimes the discussion falls so far outside of a person's experience that the curtain comes down, and all you get is the blank stare, until somewhere there is an "Aha!" moment, and the person starts to internalize the responsibility for getting something done.

The next step would be understanding how the part works in case I ever need to make my own ;)

My dad is known as a miracle worker for being able to figure out the complex device, see the fix and fix it all in a bit of flashforward seconds. He has been doing that since he was a kid. In his book no topic was off limits of me asking him for an answer to a question. I though starting asking him questions that he did not have the answers to, or know where to find them and I got a set of World Books in '73. I read almost all of them cover to cover, and read a lot of them outloud to practice my verbal reading skills and public speaking voices, and little kid voices and just read outloud for hours.

Often times the subjects that seem to draw down a curtain for people, just need to be put into their thinking patterns and then they are the light bulb of understanding. Change the words you use, be able to explain the complex in a simpler way, think outside the box as often as you can.

For your part issue. Take one out, and look at it, take it further apart if you can, if you break it, 5 dollars gets you a new one. The bible has Jesus saying. Ask, seek, knock and so forth you get the answers from God. But you can still take that same advice and move it to the world around you and not have to Pray to God for the answers, but using your own mind to discover them. Ask, seek and knock for anything that you don't understand, work to the edges that you do, and then dig a little more, ask around, maybe someone can give you an easy answer, or maybe you have to ask several people, learning as you go along.

I guess I was blessed to have a dad and mom who were willing to let me ask the odd things that came to my mind, I have a story on my blog called Curiousity(though it might be named something different) it was all about how I was wondering what a noise was once while in a restroom, and the story popped into my head.

I am always curious. I used to call myself an information junkie, but I cured that real fast, when I started collecting too many piles of junk( old junks in hong kong only get used as trailers on the ocean..)(bad humor day). If in doubt, email me, call me, and I'll help you the best I can.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, even for the cat and her kittens under one of our sheds.
Hugs to all.

Hi Charles

My dad was something like that, too, and my brother can take anything apart and put it back together with parts left over, and still have it work.

I grew up learning how to use basic tools - saw, hammer, spirit level, drill, wrench. From my mom I got all the "home economics" skills - cooking, sewing, knitting, tapestry.

Living in a 100-year-old house for the past 5 years has really been a huge learning experience in terms of basic household systems - furnace, water heater, drywall, electrical - especially after growing up in other countries where building is very different. I'm still having "duh" moments over certain things.

It's getting better, though - this weekend I sanded and painted my front steps, replaced those pesky tilt latches, replaced some old weatherstripping, and am going to fix a leaky crack in a concrete wall in the mud room. I learned how to repair drywall after a dead-squirrel episode in the roof of my front porch, and I have some finishing work to do there.

Knowledge keeps expanding, one small task at a just has to open the door a crack and let the knowledge in ;)

I think systems have become so complex - example being car engines over the last 30 years - that many people just cannot get their minds around it.

VIDEO: BP & Coast Guard bans all media access to spill, boom, cleanup sites and workers
By Yobie Benjamin / San Francisco Chronicle
Under threat of a federal felony, National Incident Commander Thad Allen HAS BANNED ALL MEDIA ACCESS to boom operation sites and clean up sites. Allen's orders effectively bans all media - print, television, radio and Internet bloggers from talking to to any clean-up worker or to even come close to take pictures or videos of booms, clean-up workers, oil soaked birds, dead dolphins, dead marine life, burned and dead endangered sea turtles.
Allen has issued a blanket order that bans anyone from getting close to any spill clean up site, boom site, areas where there are clean up workers or any other oil disaster related area or persons effectively shutting down the first amendment rights of the media. The zone of exclusion is 65 feet. There was rumor that Coast Guard bosses wanted to impose a 300 feet exclusion zone but later relented to a 65 feet no trespass and exclusion zone.

More at

For me the strengths of the website are:

1. Selfless willingness to educate
2. (Mostly) genuine evidenced based approach to presentation of concepts
3. Willingness to engage with criticism
4. Facilitation of a constructive debate.

I have been intuitively a "peak oil" worrier (inverted commas because I don't actually associate myself with the Peak Oil term) for 20 odd years and have worked in energy for more than 12 years, but I have still had plenty to learn from reading these pages, much of which I value enormously.

For me the weakness of the website is the same as the weakness of the “Peak Oil Movement”. Too much emphasis on the problems and not enough on the solutions. Whatever the drivers for this, the result (for both Peak Oil in general and TheOilDrum in particular) has been the popular perception of an intrinsic link with "End-Is-Nigh-ism" and (worse) Survivalism.

Survivalism is basically the following philosophy: "there's a problem so I'm going to do things that will make sure I personally will survive – you (or they) can do the same if you like or else burn, but I don’t really care either way". I hate it - and as a survival strategy it is also doomed to failure, as Jarred Diamond describes brilliantly in Collapse. I suppose my strong feelings mean this comment is not very objective, but whether you dismiss it or not, please don’t ignore this: a massive swathe of potential "participators", people who could help solve the coming problems for humanity, have been turned deaf to the issues because they encounter a community which they cannot identify with - one which ultimately ends up presenting itself as a group of social discontents.

That seems unfair to many of the frequent contributors, but the point is that Survivalism is either encouraged or tolerated by TheOilDrum to the point where it can hardly be separated from what should be the main message - that society must act now to deal with the unavoidable issue of declining energy returns.

I'm not suggesting that Survivalism shouldn't be discussed, that would be against the ethos of what I have already identified as the strengths of the website. The challenge is whether this community is prepared to genuinely examine itself in this regard and use its powerful accumulated knowledge and wisdom to become a facilitator of mainstream change. In a sense, to save the world.

Or will members of this community instead prove interested only in saving themselves, and hence be doomed to fail?


We must be reading different TODs. I almost never see Survivalism discussed here. Darwinian states that his philosophy is to help himself and his family get through this, but other than that, I think almost all of the discussion here is on societal solutions, and/or on the problems themselves.

Survivalism is basically the following philosophy: "there's a problem so I'm going to do things that will make sure I personally will survive – you (or they) can do the same if you like or else burn, but I don’t really care either way". I hate it - and as a survival strategy it is also doomed to failure,"

There is a range of definitions for survivalist:

Main Entry: sur·viv·al·ism
Pronunciation: \sər-ˈvī-və-ˌli-zəm\
Function: noun
Date: 1928
: an attitude, policy, or practice based on the primacy of survival as a value

So if I save money and keep my pantry well stocked for hard times, am I a survivalist? I wear a seatbelt. Am I a survivalist? I keep a gun for self defense. Am I a survivalist?


A survivalist is a person who anticipates a potential disruption in the continuity of local, regional or worldwide society, and takes steps to survive in the resulting unpredictable situation.

No-one can ensure their survival. Then again, if TSHTF and I haven't prepared in any way, what am I then? A fatalist? Lazy? Stupid?


a person who makes preparations to survive a widespread catastrophe, as an atomic war or anarchy, esp. by storing food and weapons in a safe place.

How different is this from:

The DHS wants you to prepare for the worst.

Many Christian's believe that the end is nigh, are preparing their souls, and don't care much, as you say, if "you (or they) do the same if you like or else burn" (in hell in their book). In a sense, aren't they "survivalists"?

IMO survivalism is part of our genetic code, the need to continue the specie and all that. "Hate" seems like a strong word to apply to it.

In this case I am speaking strictly to Survivalism in the sense of Peak Oil. Apologies if that wasn't clear. I'm talking about people who are expecting societal collapse as a result of Peak Oil (decline in returns of net energy, as I prefer to call it) and deal with that by taking steps that they believe will see themselves survive somehow, while at the same time doing nothing to help prevent the fall of society in the first place. It's easy to see why people have the instinct to behave that way, I don't hate those people, but I do hate the concept, because I want people to devote their energy to helping prevent collapse in the first place rather than to a doomed attempt to insulate themselves from the rest of the world.

Although I do believe that returns of net energy are already in decline and will continue to decline for a long time in a way that have huge implications for society, I do not believe that it is inevitable that society will collapse as a result - unless of course most of the people who are aware of the problem fail to do anything about it except try to save themselves.

If you want to help please consider Mycelium Running by Paul Stammets.
How Mushrooms can help save the World.
The reason that the per capita industrial output falls off a cliff from now on is that we will have to divert capital from industry into agriculture. (Limits to growth)
Agriculture will be the future.

If survivalist is bad, the opposite of survivalist must be good.
What is the opposite?


We all practice a type of survival every single day - we get up, go to work (those that can), earn money, in order to eat - iow, in order to survive.

I think what you really mean by "survivalist" is a non-main-stream individual preparing for a future you don't think is going to happen.

The problem, as I see it, in preparing for an unknown future, is understanding exactly what path to take. If one is going to prepare, how should one do it ?

The idea of heading for the hills, ordering 3 years of dehydrated foods and boxes of ammo, gets a "survivalist" label, because the majority of folks wouldn't see themselves doing it.

So then, what are the rest of us going to do ?

What you end up doing in preparation depends a lot on how you see things playing out - fast, hard crash with anarchy everywhere, versus long, slow grind to the bottom over many years, and a whole spectrum in between.

Most people, I'd guess, myself included, trend towards growing a portion of their own food, and making some alternative arrangements for energy or water supply, "off the grid". Whether you call
this "survivalist" or not, it offers an alternative to our dependency on the gas-station for mobility, the grid for power, and the supermarket for supplies.

Try and build a bit of resiliency/redundancy into day-to-day life support systems. I think of it being a kind of "buffer zone" between external events and my world.

I'd say there are a few areas one ought to be looking at, if one wants to reduce dependence on fossil fuels :-

1. Access to transport other than by car/truck
2. Access to work opportunities within walking/biking/transit distance
3. Keeping in good physical health to reduce dependency on medications and medical treatment
4. Grow a food garden - if nothing else, you'll have the joy of fresh fruit and vegetables, most of the year
5. Learn about food preservation
6. Find a means to store water , even just a rain barrel
7. Add a few alternative-energy supply mechanisms if you can e.g wind/solar. Last time my power was out, for a whole week, a solar lantern/radio, solar oven and cell phone/computer charger added substantial quality of life, even while using candles to light the house.

I've finished a part of my basement as an alternative living space, in the event that natural gas supplies become unpredictable in the winter, or summers start becoming unbearably hot - it is easier to heat in winter, and easier to keep cool in summer.

As far as most people are concerned, it's just a great addition of living area, with a very practical purpose.

Although, I have to report that many of my friends no longer come to visit. I guess my "environmentalism" is too much for some folks.

I don’t think TOD should attempt to move from Spectator to Participant.

TOD does what it does very well. It observes events, and reports them as accurately as it is able. It also provides a ‘college environment’ where all can glean quality information about subjects we all need to understand better as we hit the down slope of Peak Oil. Also, its campfire discussions are unique, and allow ‘the informed and the feral’ to connect in a way that other forum type environments don’t.

I’ve been Peak Oil aware for about 4 years now. Initially I visited every site I could, to get as much info as quickly as possible. It made me dizzy and depressed. I’m down to about 4 sites now. Why? Because I worry ever so slightly, when someone has a new book to sell, or a year’s supply of freeze dried food, or the ‘must have’ water filtration system. Also, I often find that my chosen few sites ‘cross pollinate’ at some stage broadening the network of knowledge.

The structure of the TOD web site is not fantastic, but that’s not the issue. I come here to get quality information I trust. I also get to hear the views of lots of people from different walks of life and different parts of the world in a kind of ‘Virtual Transition Town’.

As for getting the message out, I’m all ears on how to do that. Sadly, my close friends and family are unmovable, from the comfort zone of a TV screen that tells them what they want to hear, and not what they need to know. This is probably the most depressing part for me. The only people that ‘get it’ are virtual friends that I’ll never meet.
My only hope is that more will ‘get it’ in time to do something collective about it. In the mean time, all I can do is simplify my life as best I can, and stay reasonably fit, and marginally sane.

Is TOD perfect? No, but it’ll do, until perfection can get its ass out of bed.

Until then, keep the drum beat steady and constant. More are listening every day.

As for getting the message out, I’m all ears on how to do that. Sadly, my close friends and family are unmovable, from the comfort zone of a TV screen that tells them what they want to hear, and not what they need to know. This is probably the most depressing part for me. The only people that ‘get it’ are virtual friends that I’ll never meet.

I think there are a lot of us who feel this way. I recently went to a Transition Meetup (from in Minneapolis, and it was really cool. Of course nothing really got done, but it was just great to be able to talk about this stuff with real people, and not have them think you're crazy.

Meeting up with others who understand, would be like a breath of fresh air.

Good Luck to you.

Not always. Where I am, what active resistance we meet is from supposedly like-mindeds.

Go figure.


Can you expand on that?

Probably not the best of ideas. If our efforts here fail, perhaps then.


What is the origin of the photograph? Is it from an actual event? Or a from a movie? Or what?

I do feel that TOD serves a purpose by just being here, giving a place for people to discuss/debate a relatively wide area of topics. For myself I have used it for years to gleen data and also to now and then get that feeling of "its not just me". If you enjoy the site, turn others on to it. No you will not get everyone, but if you get one out of 10 to start opening their eyes/minds it is better than nothing.

It has never been the majority that makes the changes, it has always been the small group. The history of the U.S. has shown us that. It was not the majority that wanted to separate from England back in the 1700's. It was not the majority of the US that made the decision to integrate the military in the '50s that helped bring about the Civil Rights laws of the '60s.

It can be small movements that bring us forward.

I check Leanan's post every day. It's a great compendium and she gives both sides of the story. Very level headed work. And her comments are always interesting. She has a "let's take it as it comes" attitude that is never shrill and goes down like good Vodka.

Gail gives good editorial guidance in her selection of lead stories. Not to mention the good quality of her own submissions.

Heading Out has helped me understand the process of hydrocarbon extraction.

As far as the Kunstlerian ranting and raving in the comment section - it's tiresome, irritating and depressing. I seldom even visit the comments any more. It may just be in the nature of groups like this that the most obnoxious seem to pontificate themselves to the top of the heap. I end up with unwanted advice about when the recession is ending or what graduate school was best (usually back in some Methusaleh's day).

I strongly doubt TOD is making "participants" out of "spectators." It's one big peanut gallery from where I sit.

It's one big peanut gallery from where I sit.

It's a battle of the memes.
It's why we humans developed our superpowers.

I also don't think I have read the Goals of The Oil Drum, until I read them in your post. But seeing them I see that I have been thinking that way for a long time, long before I ever came to this site, which is close to 5 years ago.

As a regular poster, I have been part of the discussion on a lot of threads and a lot of topics, I am opinionated, and egotistical, which I try to temper because in the real world people tell me that I lecture a lot, instead of actually have conversations with them, at least a few people say that. Online in this kind of forum you get to lecture, and ask questions and read responses and read other lectures, and the flow patterns are different than they are in a face to face dialogue.

So there is that give and take still, but keeping a real world conversation going takes an effort that can be used online as well. Not getting so bent out of shape when someone else has a different opinion than yours, when they stand by their opinion to the point that you think they are wacky and tell them so online, something that you might not do in a face to face conversation. So I and we have to temper our tones in the words we use, and how we say them so that those people we are talking to, and those people who will read this after the fact, are not offended by our text. That is the Civil part of the Discussion, something that has been at times going down hill in the offline world, and reflected that way in the online world.

We have to think how what we say would be heard by someone we really care about, if we said the same things to them instead of a faceless person online. I have always been a stand up actor, I would say comic, but not everything I say in my stage/ stand up acting is funny. As a young child I was telling stories to my mom, later to my brother and/or to my mom, sometimes to my dad. I also read outloud a lot, it helped me speak better, I had problems as a child saying some words, and somewhere someone told me to read outloud, even if no one else was in the room. So one of my habits is to really think about what I am going to say long before I say it, or at least have a better idea about how to ad-lib a story telling or standup show.

The one thing I enjoy is hearing other people talk about what they are doing in their world concerning all the things we discuss here, as well as personal stories and current projects to improve their living arrangements and those of others around them. Their successes help fuel my thinking and positive outlook, even when the world seems so gloomy and down cast.

Hearing about what other people do and think, helps me in my own projects, though I rarely call it research, I do do a lot of digging around databases and information collections sites with regards to plants. I also design drawings of houses, gardens, and systems that tie to two together into an interwoven mesh so that a piece of land is not just a place to put a building, or just a garden or other landscaping, but a whole picture of both as well as a living space for more than just the humans that might live there.

Too many times in the past I have seen designs that totally forgot that other creatures were going to interact with the space, and that makes for a poor design in my eyes. It stems back days gone by and even recently of taming the natural world to fit man's need for an order he can understand. Forgetting somewhere along the way that order is the only way that anything outside of mankind happens, without the order of DNA we'd be nothing but minerals and water. So in my own designs I use a lot of intergration between the human needs and the natural order of things, so that they mesh without us trying to pound a square block into a round hole.

I am not sure I have much Original Research under my belt, because everything I see has had someone elses hand on it first be it God or Man. From my own opinion being a Christian does not limit me from understanding that the world around me has an order that spans billions of years. I can read a science paper, and still have faith in a creator God, the two ideas do not cancel each other out. If you want to debate that idea send me Email. But saying it in the first place, lets you know that I am also willing to discuss the issue.

Which takes us back to the point of the keypost, how do we think about thinking of the issues of our day. We think about them with as much of an open mind as we can, otherwise all we do is choose sides and go off into the corners and really do nothing to help change things for the better.

TOD I am sure has a lot of readers who never post anything, in fact there have been a lot of first time posters saying just that recently, "long time reader, first time poster". Maybe a sign on the outside should read, >> free to read, create an account now, so we'll know when you first started reading, for when you post sometime in the future, you'll have that out of the way already. Lurking welcome, we are tracking you anyway, might as well register. <<

As I posted a few days ago on another thread, we should all be involved in our local regions, friends Romans and countrymen as it were. For even if you don't think your actions change much, they do influence other people even when you don't see it on the surface.

I joined a discussion about someone else's father today at church. She was showing concern for her 75 year old father still doing thtings that might at his age harm him, like getting up on a house roof and fixing damage. When I mentioned that my own father was 74 and did some of the same things, the other person in the conversation spoke up about how unlike his age my father was. I had never heard this man talk about my father like that to me, he held my dad in great esteem for his ability to do things that other people saw as impossible. Then the lady piped up about her own stories of my father's actions, likewise telling of how amazed she was of him. I kinda was surprised at the fact that they thought that way. I know it myself and take it for granted, but his actions have touched other people a lot.

So too can your actions when you least expect them, touch other people and you might never know that they did. While it is still readable, posts on TOD are read by not dozens but hundreds and even thousands of people daily, if not millions over time, so what you say, is important. Be mindful of that before you say it, and know that others are always forming opinions and stories about what they see of You on this forum and in every walk of life. You might never know how you touched another life, but be sure that you do.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs From Arkansas,
I like giving hugs in person, people being hugged feel better afterwards.

Off to view the explosions (banned over the oil) that symbolize Democracy. Looking for that quote that says something like, "Those who see tyranny and say nothing are guilty of tyranny themselves." Couldn't find it. Found this instead:

“The Framers [of the Constitution] knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.”

Hugo Black quotes (American Jurist, Lawyer and Politician best known for his absolutist belief in the Bill of Rights as a guarant, 1886-1971)


Can the willful refusal think about and discuss scientific evidence, even in the face of its potentially profound implications, be construed somehow as a good thing?

Absolutely Steve.
I call it the Darwin Position.

"Head in the sand, Bum in the sky,
Along comes Darwin, fingering his fly."

Their contribution, while modest, has always been appreciated.

Sounds like UN-natural selection to me. Be careful. In your next life you could come back as a bottom feeder. ...Or be condemned to troll when the inevitable happens in our infinite universe and Hell freezes over. Who'da thunk we'd make it happen right here on Earth?

And in Darwinian terms, where will the guys with all those the young virgins be?

This oildrum post is a really good place for a newbie to start.

I do not know if I am right or wrong to ask directly and repeatedly for truth, as each of us sees it, to be spoken loudly and clearly so that people can share an understanding of the global predicament looming ominously before humanity. But, it does appear to me that if people with knowledge lose faith in God's gift of science by denying its presence and remaining electively mute while selfish, shortsighted leaders go forward unsustainably on the basis of specious, preternatural thinking, then the human community has no chance whatever of responding ably (ie, in sustainable ways) to the human-induced challenges before all of us.

I am trying to encourage the lighting candles because the darkness enveloping the "primrose path" many too many so-called leaders are so adamantly advocating and recklessly pursuing is anathema to me.

As this information is educational so this site has been added to my RSS feed for later browsing.
[ marathon training tips ]
[ how to run a marathon ]
[ run a marathon in under 4 hours ]

Perhaps the moral offense is most egregious in moments when the 'brightest and best' people with knowledge, wealth and power willfully choose to remain silent and, thereby, consciously deny extant, unchallenged scientific evidence of human-induced threats to human wellbeing and environmental health.

Many thanks to Professor Emeritus Gary Peters for being a participant, not a spectator of events, and for fulfilling what President Barack H. Obama (quoting former President Abraham Lincoln) asked of us earlier this year,
"We are not bound to win but we are bound to be true; we are not bound to succeed but we are bound to live up to the light we possess."

Gary Peters is true and living up to the light he possesses. He is providing stand-alone analyses of vital matters, that is to say, looming global threats to human and environmental health already visible to humanity on the far horizon.

It is not clear to me why so many experts have chosen not to follow Dr. Peters' example, but instead choose to remain electively muted spectators of what is happening. Willful silence of experts who possess knowledge derived from the best available scientific evidence strikes me as a tragic anomaly, one that has unfortunately become a dominant, widely shared characteristic of many too many human population professionals in our time. How are we to address and overcome human-forced global challenges when population experts with appropriate expertise fail to acknowledge certain scientific evidence, however unforeseen and unwelcome, by hiding the evidence in silence?

Keep speaking out loudly and clearly about what is true, as best you can see it, Gary.



Thinking HUM! People seldom do much thinking before they vote. The people we elect often do to much thinking, about Party Politics, RE-Election, and who they can get a buck out of. They seldom think of what's best for Country and People, but what they believe, and they believe that what they believe can never be wrong.

We are a people who gives everyone a voice if they so wish to use it. On the Media we have every type fool there is giving their opinions, and everyone of them would tell you what they think and say is right. So many people thought before the Iraq War that Sadam had nukes, and they just didn't think it, but went out and proclaimed it.

So thinking can be the most dangerous things there is, if one doesn't have the intellect to do it, or has the wrong ideology, or believes they know all the answers it can lead to disaster.

Participating Can be wonderful, but also can be disasterous. We believe one person one vote, and want everybody to vote. Yet if everybody voted, and only a small percentage would take the time to know who they were voting for, the devil himself could get elected. We have people voting with no education, can't read or write, and don't have the cognizance to pick candidates with to vote for. So Democarcy sounds good, but it has it's draw backs. Hamas in the Gaza strip, Karsai in Afganistan, and hundreds of other examples where the people to often put their trust in the wrong people. In this Country our own Senate, that is the best example there is of where totally useless People keep getting elected and re-elected.

It would be wonderful if everyone could, "think," and do it intelligently and constructively, and participate to work together to make everything better.

The preverbial snow ball in hell come to mind, when one thinks of everybody being able to do this.