Campfire Open Thread - What I Learned This Week

This has been a busy week. I had started a longer Campfire piece on Democracy and Gresham's Law but didn't finish. Instead, lets share 3 things that we learned this week. How about '2 facts and an insight'?


1. I was hiking Tue-Fri in the Porcupine Mountains. I learned that Lake Superior contains over 10% of the worlds fresh water supply (and the Great Lakes in total over 21%). Thats pretty amazing if you think about it. The average depth of Lake Superior is 600 feet and the deepest is only 1000 feet.

2. I learned, via ZeroHedge, that US tax receipts are being matched, and then some by an increase in foreign borrowing and Fed balance sheet expansion. I am well aware we are in debt overshoot zone and that financial reset is the first likely bottleneck ahead, but this graph opened my eyes, yet again, to the role increasing government debt plays in maintaining our current situation.

3. Now an insight. This thought has been swirling around in my head for some time, waiting to peek its ugly head above the grey surface. It struck me this week after having some discussions with some Wash DC inner beltway types, someone at the IEA, and someone at the Fed, that there exists no institution that is going to take a leadership role addressing our current problems. The tea leaves are too disparate and threatening to the status quo. There also is no individual or natural demographic of individuals that on their own can reframe our value systems going forward. At a minimum, it's going to take a) education b) a 'hitting the bottom' moment and c) hard work and sacrifice from people that have the skills and passion to effect change. But most of the people that are effecting change now are not thinking about the Federal Reserve death spiral in the coming 5 years, and what that implies for social stability and the future of global energy supplies and interconnected trade relationships.

My insight, in a nutshell, is that shouting to the world about the problems, isn't not working because people are afraid, or ignorant, or feckless, but because they don't know what to do. And this especially includes institutions. As such, my insight this week is that neither individuals, policymakers (current) or institutions are going to mitigate the energy/economic/environmental tsunami coming our way. There have to be new institutions, flexible and with urgency, formed to address

a) How to get through the financial bottleneck, and

b) How to move forward with different value systems other than growth/debt based models.


What did you learn this week? Try to be pithy, educational and keep your 3 items broadly related to energy/natural resources.

P.S. Next week's Campfire will be 'On Democracy, the Internet, and Greshams Law', which I didn't finish for tonight. Note: I have learned long ago that in order to short circuit my steep disount rated playboy mentality, I need to formalize a social contract. Its not ironclad but it helps. So next week then...

Nate, your insight was excellent. I'll think about it, answer later.

I continue to learn that humans still think that we humans (or some humans) are still in charge of our futures. We are not, perhaps we never were. As individuals we may control some aspects of our future. As a species we most likely control very little of our future. The non response to peak oil and the non response to climate change should convince us that we as a species cannot recognize the threat we pose to ourselves or if recognized act together to do anything about it. Globalized we must act together or we decline or perish together.

Heh- you mean a Dunning Kruger species?

Intersesting, but actually I mean that the highly competent in some fields got us into this mess and are stuck on a direction of salvation through more and better technology, while the peasant farmers of the world who are looked down on as incompetent farmers (but who in fact are highly skilled) might be the salvation of the species if it is to be saved. It is not about competence but rather about hubris (or perhaps just about being stuck in the wrong rut).

There are peasant farmers all over the world who are poorly skilled as well.

Take for example skillfully using the available water supply. All over the world there are peasant farmers using ditches to irrigate crops. A wasteful, costly, practice. Sprinkler's represent a multifold increase in water productivity, and drip irrigation requires even less water per unit of product. The soil, moreover, benefits from less salination. In areas of scarce water, as Israel and Jordon demonstrate, more land can be brought under production, increasing the amount of solar energy captured by the economy. Better yet, there are only tiny amounts of energy consumed by drip irrigation systems. And guess what, areas that require irrigation are sun rich.

So here we have a case where better technology (an improvement over ditch technology) increases annual productivity and cumulative agricultural productivity (more land, less salination), not to mention the benefits of labour redeployment), or increases the capacity to maintain levels of production in the face of increased water scarcity.

What is needed is a financial mechanism to support the introduction and maintenance of this technology. Development aid is one mechanism. Direct investment is another, preferably under rules which allow the return on investment to be earned solely on the increase in production. Financial mechanisms are, of course, another form of technology, of design and construction.

What is also needed, but remains unlikely, is an end to taxpayer supported farming in the US and Europe because of the insidious tendency to overproduce and consequently periodically dump surplus production on world markets, which denies the peasant farmers a better level of price predictability, making them less likely to commit to infrastructure (irrigation system, etc.) investments.

Another in the long line of benefits waiting to accrue from declining fossil fuel availability, is that it will mitigate the dumping problem.

While agricultural technologies that are promoted to benefit the bottom line of some corporate entity should make us wary indeed, there are many technologies, including some of 'theirs', which can increase the productivity of inputs and increase output, with minimal entropic degradation occurring. And with growth in social wealth.

Those of us who knew Africa and other parts of the peasant world in the 1970's, when communication from centres of accumulated knowledge could only be disseminated at a snail's pace, now look on in amazement as the internet drives the dissemination and interchange of technical knowledge towards warp speed in those places. Which is not to predict the speed of the cultural transformation engendered by the revolution in communications, though it is already everywhere observable.

I don't deny that local peasants have knowledge, valuable knowledge. It's wonderful that technology is serving to integrate that knowledge with the body of accumulated knowledge. One of the wonders of the new communications technology is how it enhances and accelerates the dialectical process that continues to characterize technological innovation.

Food production uses very little of the world's daily fossil fuel consumption, and, as a product for which demand is sustained by the state when individual resources are exhausted, can count on an increasing proportion of the declining production of fossil fuels. Nonetheless, introducing technologies which reduce fossil fuel use, directly or indirectly, in agriculture is wise given its opportunity costs.

Tinfoilhat, what peasant farmers know how to do is how to farm WITHOUT complex technology. I know that with machines and specialized equipment of all sorts the world can produce (at least temporarily) more food (and thus more humans which puts us on a vicious treadmill). What peasant farmers know how to do is irrigate from a ditch, plow with a mule, etc. I am not and will never say that they can outproduce a modern farmer who can feed 80 people from one farmer as long as that modern farmer has access to inexpensive fuel. What I am saying is that when all the fertilizer and equipment for that way of life is gone or stands idle for lack of fuel, a peasant farmer can (if we don't ruin the climate totally as far as farming is concerned) feed his family and produce a little extra.

Fuel used for food production and transportation (necessary if you are to do monoculture) are actually greater for modern agriculture, even though they don't use the bulk of the fuel used by the world. The only reason 1 farmer can feed 80 now is that fossil fuels have been so relatively cheap in the last 100 years.

The energy ratio (energy out/energy in) in agriculture has decreased from being close to 100 for traditional pre-industrial societies to less than 1 in most cases in the present food system, as energy inputs, mainly in the form of fossil fuels, have gradually increased.

If you don't think industrial civilization is going to collapse then the peasant farmer is irrelevant. I happen to think that industrial civilization is on life support and will collapse in the grand tradition of all civilizations only with a bigger thud than the world ever felt before. What's more I think and hope it will be within 20 or 30 years. I hope it will because the collapse of industrial civilization is perhaps the only way our human species will survive. Sometimes I hope it won't because I am not sure the human species is worth saving. But mostly I see our hope in an early collapse before we do much more harm to the world that supports us.

Before discounting the wisdom of ditches and swales, it's a good idea to study Bill Mollison's and David Holmgren's exposition of their enduring value and wisdom, and of swale and pond water management systems more generally, in their permaculture writings.

Moreover, though they advocate doing these large-scale, once-only earthworks at the start of converting a holding to permaculture methods by using big diesel-powered machines (whilst we still can), they acknowledge -- as who wouldn't -- that massive earthworks have always been possible simply using the Mumford megamachine of organised mass labour with simple hand tools. They envisage that the earthworks will in any case be maintained by such human megamachines, even if initially created by big mechanical earthshifters. The Long Descent seems to pretty well guarantee that.

I think that I'd question the assertion that spray and drip-feed techniques are inherently more efficient and productive users of water than the subtle, multi-effect permaculture earthworks which Bill and David -- and many others -- advocate; not when all the systemic pluses and minuses in each method are added in. That's not to say, though, that some peasant techniques aren't very inefficient. But then, I assume in those cases that those farmers haven't been allowed to get at the developed insights of permacultural practice, and haven't been allowed either the access to the upfront resources which they'd need, not just to learn such methods, but then to install them.

The first recorded modern practice of permaculture as a systematic method was by Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer in the 1960s, but the method was scientifically developed by Australians Bill Mollison and David Holmgren and their associates during the 1970s in a series of publications.

I not sure at what rate peasant farmers are attending permaculture workshops or are downloading permaculture handbooks. I kinda think its a pretty small percentage.

As my inlaws basically are peasant farmers (although I will admit with about 3 hectares they are at the wealthier end of the spectrum) I think I can speak to that. They answer is they neither know nor care about permaculture. Nobody is trying to teach them about it either. They don't use the internet, and they don't speak English so it would be rather pointless to do so anyway.

Further, most of the permaculture information you find on the internet relates to temperate climates, while most peasant farmers are located in tropical or arid climates. But the killer for all the fancy ideas about drip irrigation systems and such?

Price. Food is simply too cheap. It doesn't matter how productive or efficient upgrading their infrastructure might be, the fact is it doesn't pay for itself. You want to grow rice, you flood the paddy because the price of rice does not support the effort necessary to weed the field by hand. That is just the way it is. If this means that resources that could have fed 100 now only feed 10, well at least the farmer gets profit on those 10. If he tried to feed 100, he'd wind up in the red.

Peasant farmers do not innovate, but they are quick to copy anything that works. Open trench irrigation is used because it works, is cheap enough to be implemented, and it doesn't require much in the way of maintenance. If you want a drip system in the current environment, you will have to A) legislate it at the government level, B) pay to have it implemented over a wide area, C) offer them training on how to recognize problems with it, D) maintain it for them until a generation has gone by that grew up with the idea, and E) live with them full time to make sure they do what you want. Finally, the peasants better get more money at the end of all of this than they do now, or they'll simply call it a stupid idea and go back to open trench irrigation which was easier and proven. All of this translates into dramatically more expensive food. And you have to find a way of keeping the large factory farms from undercutting them on price for a couple of decades while this new drip irrigation and permaculture technique takes root.

By the way, there is a system that can accomplish all of these objectives. It is called feudalism. Unfortunately, modern thought requires that all these countries implement "democracy" instead of more appropriate forms of government. The very, very first thing you will need to do away with if you want peasant farmers to adopt advanced permaculture techniques is ridiculous ideologies which are not suited to their lifestyle. It won't happen at all until the stranglehold of democracy is lifted and patronage societies are once again allowed to flourish. There was a reason the world evolved that way in the first place. It is the only way that truly works in the long run.


Your realiostic and well informed remarks are a breath of fresh air in a room full of smoke.

It took me a second to grasp your meaning in respect to partronage societies versus democracies, but they are quite possibly correct-we have all heard here by now the old story about democracies lasting only until the citizens discover they can vote themselves free benefits.

Why would you entertain any discussion of the suitability of political systems without considering the implications of the communications revolution: which as I'm sure you're aware, involves the movement of people and goods (the container being one of the hallmarks of the modern communications revolution) as well as information.


There's a way to change your peasant farmer ways: raise the price of water and carbon. Peasants are frugal, not stupid.

what peasant farmers know how to do is how to farm WITHOUT complex technology. I know that with machines and specialized equipment of all sorts the world can produce (at least temporarily) more food (and thus more humans which puts us on a vicious treadmill).

More food does not produce more humans. More humans produce more food is more like it. If the availability of very cheap food of excellent flavour produced more humans, then the population of Europe and Japan would be going through the roof. Instead we watch the population skyrocket in Africa where surplus food is scarce.

Drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation systems do the same thing as a ditch irrigation system only with less water and less environmental degradation. What is your problem with improving people's lives and improving the probability that land will remain agriculturally productive long into the future?

The energy ratio (energy out/energy in) in agriculture has decreased from being close to 100 for traditional pre-industrial societies to less than 1 in most cases in the present food system, as energy inputs, mainly in the form of fossil fuels, have gradually increased.

I see you are being mislead by a truly silly opinion piece which has made a ridiculous comparison between the energy ratio of pre-industrial gruel and meat and a modern food basket in an affluent country. Here's an idea: come back with a current energy ratio for pre-industrial fare, but purchased in a grocery store if you like, and then, let's play "let's compare".

But mostly I see our hope in an early collapse before we do much more harm to the world that supports us.

I've often observed that doomerism is characterized by wishful thinking.

Still, your logic escapes me. Collapse, especially of the doomer version, promises to be pretty brutal on the 'world which supports us'.

More food does not produce more humans. More humans produce more food is more like it.

Is that true just for humans?
Is it true for yeast?
Would less food produce less humans?

"More humans produce more food is more like it".
Chicken and egg crap.

Yep. Anorexics stop having periods, ie people who severely limit food intake become infertile.

Starving babies tend to die. I watched that in the Children's Home in Port-au-Prince Haiti - many were too starved for the nuns to save. Starving adults die too. Food deprived people become weakened and get more diseases. In fact babies born to food deprived people are weaker. Previous famines may have made the population of Europe more susceptible to the plague per some researchers.

You cannot raise a family of 8 on enough food for 4. Yes the ability to raise more food allows more humans to be born and survive unless birth control is readily available and culturally acceptable.

Now thanks to oil and the green revolution we have more humans but those more humans are going to have a harder and harder time raising more food as we are cultivating most of the arable land and the ability to get more food out of one piece of land is getting harder and harder. We (as with oil) have tapped all the easy ways of increasing production (fertilizer, pumped water for irrigation, plant breeding). Limits are about to be seen and when rising food no longer matches rising population the lack of food is going to be a limiting factor on humans. Its called famine. It kills.

More food does not produce more humans. More humans produce more food is more like it. If the availability of very cheap food of excellent flavour produced more humans, then the population of Europe and Japan would be going through the roof. Instead we watch the population skyrocket in Africa where surplus food is scarce.

It is well known that people who reach a certain level of affluence and education usually limit family size. It is also know that human that die of starvation or disease due to poor nutrition before they are able to reproduce do not reproduce. Japan is at the one end. Some countries in Africa are at the other end. Much of Africa and other places with rising populations are in the middle - enough food to reproduce at rates higher than replacement but not enough wealth to encourage voluntary limiting of family size.

The facts are that food is necessary for life and reproduction and this holds true for humans as well as all other creatures. Populations will increase when food increases and decrease when it decreases. That is why population on planet earth tracks the use of fossil fuels and the increase of food.

So perhaps the answer is to use sustainable technologies to raise the standards of living of as many people as possible above the fertility threshold instead of pushing more below it.

Yeah, I know, this is the nightmare closet, pipe dreams are under the bed. But there is still a non-zero probability that we might beat the curve on this one (even if it gets lower every year we don't.)

That is a nice thought but there is a problem "If everyone in the world lived like the average U.S. citizen-that is, had similar eating, transportation, living, and consumption habits-we'd need 5 1/3 planets to support ourselves; the planet has about 4.5 biologically productive acres for each person in the world, and the average ecological footprint in the US is 24 acres"

Since we don't have 5 1/3 planets we cannot raise everyone to our standard of living. I live pretty simply for an American but when I did the footprint quiz I found that my level of living would still require 2 planets for everyone to have.

Further voluntary limiting of reproduction, even to 1 child per family, would still take several generations to stabilize and then reduce population. China after many years of 1 child per family still has a rising population. Part of this has to do with what age you are when you have children. Deferred parenthood helps although deferring parenthood also increase the chance of genetic defects. Rising standard of living in China has also had a negative effect on their ability to stabilize population - the elderly live longer now.

The population will be pared, but I doubt if we will like how nature does it. Nonetheless the sooner it is pared the more livable planet for the next generations. "Good" and "bad" are intertwined.

You make a good point, but I note that the upper fertility threshold is considerably lower than current US consumption averages. I'm not sure exactly where to look for hard figures, but my gut-feeling from world demographics (and usage in other regions of the world) as well as historical US demographics vs. energy consumption seems to indicate that the actual figure may be as low as a quarter of US average consumption.

I realize that using the Planet Green numbers that still leaves a gap, but none of us are getting out of this gig alive anyway. The best we can hope for is to try to leave our descendants an option other than perpetual descent.

Failure is of course an option, but to not try is to guarantee failure.

Yes, survival is not an option, although extended survival may be (although extended survival is not always what it is cracked up to be). I am not sure that perpetual descent back to hunter gatherer lifestyle is bad at all for the species (most of our programs in our brain and bodies are optimized still for HG lifestyle) although it is certainly not going to be much fun for anyone on the way down.

Even if the numbers on footprint are off, they are calculated for a planet before depletion. Even if we moved all 6 billion to a lifestyle that would promote active use of birth control and thus stabilized or reduced the population if we did that at the same resource consumption that we are now at through equalization of wealth, we would still be depleting our water, phosphate and fossil fuels at the same rate and that is unsustainable. To both equalize wealth and drop consumption would mean further cuts.

I once did a back of the envelope calculation based on average first world earnings and the calculation that 3 billion people live on $2 a day. To equalize for all people now living would put us at about $8 a day per person.

Sometimes I think not trying to fix things might be best. Hubris informs us that we are the planet's fixers and can know what is best. The evidence proves otherwise IMO. Unintended consequences lurk everywhere. :)

Sometimes I think not trying to fix things might be best. Hubris informs us that we are the planet's fixers and can know what is best. The evidence proves otherwise IMO. Unintended consequences lurk everywhere. :)

I don't think any such thing is proven yet. There is evidence pointing both ways.

Though I do figure that the solution is not going to be to the tastes of most of the people looking for a solution, but that's life.

@Dave: Thanks for the link.

Hi r4ndom,

I'm not sure exactly where to look for hard figures,

A fellow TODer turned me on to this site that has a great variety of statistics:

I have argued endlessly here that birth/fertility rates are just one component of Growth Rate which is the only statistic that really matters. (and, be sure to follow the link that explains the definition of Growth Rate)

The basic problem is that an affluent country like the US can have a lower birth rate but still has a strong growth rate. Affluent people with few children have a predictable tendency to use immigrant labor to perform the work their children refuse to do. Some folks here on TOD like to blame the immigrants for our population growth. This is nonsense. We have immigrants because our citizens (in one form or the other) want cheap labor. The solution is not to hate immigrants but rather to address a whole slew of basic issues related to "free enterprise" and related labor issues.

Hi oxidatedgem,

Thanks for the link - it should be required reading in every classroom on the planet. It is astounding how the only real counter to Paul's analysis is "faith" in human's capacity for innovation to solve big problems. I guess it explains why Los Vegas exists.

There is one underlying problem with producing more food. Many others have pointed this out. If we produce more food we will produce more people. Producing more food without having an accepted one child per family policy in place worldwide unfortunately only makes all of the other the problems worse. The developed countries should be taking the lead on this issue.


I have more firmly relearned the fact that credibility is everything when it comes to ideas. And what people don't expect, they often don't accept. My Tripe System Report is very good stuff. As far as I can tell no person on the oil drum list has read it. One person said they read part of it. The Tripe System is what we will solve global warming with and the energy crisis. I wish you folks could be open enough to read it. Critique it please. Then we'll be off and running. Please no cranks that can't read an 11 page illustrated report of new systems designed to interface fossil fuels with renewables, and to phase down the pollution. What can it hurt to read an 11 page report? I don't know. Maybe you could tell me. It is at (Tripe=Track+Pipe) + effort = problem solved. Thanks. I have learned you folks just don't learn.

Good post oxidatedgem. You are wise.

As far as I can tell no person on the oil drum list has read it. One person said they read part of it.

ROFLMAO, which is OK since I really needed a good belly laugh tonight. I'll make that two persons but only for a mercifully tiny part of it. Two real hoots just for starters:

(1) Tripe System Report. Can it be possible for someone to be, as claimed in the PDF, from Cape Cod - which last time I checked was still in the USA - and yet title a document so as to suggest that it's ... as they say in USA slang ... a load of tripe? That just seems ... er ... a bit fishy to me. It might be well to reconsider the title, even if it takes a bit of floundering around to improve it.

(2) That little diagram showing a train running on a pair of pipes that double as rails is the funniest-mechanical engineering hoot I've seen in years. Rube Goldberg never did any better. Repeat after me ... metal fatigue. Again, please ... metal fatigue. Based on flagrant, well-publicized recent examples, pipes seem to break well enough all by themselves, even without extra help from train wheels running on them and pounding them to bits.

Well, that's more than enough for now and for ever. Thanks again for the laughs. 'Bye.

Hi Steven,

The rails/pipeline for your trains/transport of energy, ..

Each of the two pipes is 48” wide and constructed of a fiberglass reinforced plastic (GRP) and a plastic impregnated bamboo/wood fiber composite. The center conduit measures 24” in diameter and is surrounded by a strong and purposeful matrix of twelve smaller (2.5”) super strong carbon fiber conduits embedded in epoxy and fiber

Have you estimated how many tons of oil are needed for the polymers in the FRPs (fibre reinforced polymers), the plastics, and the carbon-fiber if it's a world-wide solution? Also, at around $40/kg of carbon fiber, how cheap does a km of your pipeline turn out to be? And 100km? 10,000km? (it may be the reason high-voltage cables are a winning technology).

Just what we would do with piped compressed air and oxygen rich compressed air is beyond me.It is far cheaper to produce compressed or oxygen enriched air on site-if there is any need for either- with electricity transported by conventional means.

There is no mass market for hydrogen gas, and no means available of producing it to economic advantage in any case.If and when fuel cells get cheap enough to be widely used, that could change of course.

It would be good policy to pass a federal law eliminating property taxes on unused right of ways so that they can be maintained whole and unbroken rather than abandoned and the sunk investment made in them lost.

Somebody else has already pointed out the ridiculously unfortunate name you selected for your system, but given the quality of the graphics, the good grammar, and so forth, it seems that you might not just be pulling our leg;it must have taken a good while to compose your piece.

If you can raise enough cash to make some significant donation to your local congress critters, they can probably get you a grant to do development work on your concept;your cash return on bribe invested -CROBI- could easily go as high as a hundred to one.

I want my little footnote in history, being as vain as the next person,of course.

If "CROBI" becomes part of the language,historians will sfaik be able to track it back to this post. ;)

Hi gang. I've been largely absent from posting due to taking on the project of settling my mom's estate and refurbing her house, which has left little time for active involvement here.

I didn't learn anything this week. Make of that what you will.

But I will do an offhand comment on Nate's Insight.

My insight, in a nutshell, is that shouting to the world about the problems, isn't not working because people are afraid, or ignorant, or feckless, but because they don't know what to do. And this especially includes institutions. As such, my insight this week is that neither individuals, policymakers (current) or institutions are going to mitigate the energy/economic/environmental tsunami coming our way. There have to be new institutions, flexible and with urgency, formed to address the a)how to get through the financial bottleneck and b)how to move forward with different value systems other than growth/debt based models. WHERE ARE THOSE INSTITUTIONS??

Yet again, I'll note that incremental enlightenment is not all that useful at achieving significant societal change in a given direction. It simply feels as though it should be.

New institutions and arrangements will certainly happen; but they will be responses to the new environment and not really all that subject to 'intelligent design' beforehand. The exception to that would be when the system is subjected to steered collapse, so the new context is more knowable in advance. (I don't mean that in a sinister way; an airplane landing is a controlled crash).

I'll probably create an institution or two on general principles, but they will be templates rather than end products, in the tradition of Hari Seldon. I think the actual entities which evolve will be products of a necessarily unpredictable confluence of accidents, happenings and perceptions. We will get to them the way a pilot makes an emergency landing; a seat-of-the-pants running prioritization of which sorts of crashes would be less immediately acceptable.

and now, back to house repair....

What I Learned This Week

#4 -

Yet again, I'll note that incremental enlightenment is not all that useful at achieving significant societal change in a given direction. It simply feels as though it should be.

I learned that the roots of Eucalyptus trees grow very fast much faster than one would think. I planted 20 of 40 seedlings.

You have to harvest Eucalyptus seeds before they fall from the tree.

Oak acorns meed only a minimum or water to sprout.


Enjoyed your comments about Lake Superior. Until 10 days ago, I hadn't seen the North Shore of Lake Superior since the late 50s. It's still beautiful and I'm glad I checked another box on my bucket list.

More to the point, now I'm back home, worried whether future generations can enjoy even a snipet of what I've enjoyed in the past 60+ years. What I fear most, beyond the buffoons that deny we have any problems, is that among our best and brightest, nobody has a clue has to how to proceed with addressing the myriad of problems that we (globally) are confronted with.

The thing that is interesting about Lake Superior is that it has warmed considerably. When I was a kid you just didn't swim there - it was just too cold. Most people couldn't even go in up to their knees. Some places had warnings about "dangerously cold water" to discourage people from trying to jump in.

These days it is different.

Lake Superior reaches record temperature

Last week, Lake Superior, which is bordered by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, recorded its highest average surface temperature ever, a balmy 68.3°F. People seeking relief from a very hot summer have been flocking to the shores and beaches and actually swimming in the lake! That is so unlike the Lake Superior I remember growing up in Duluth. Sure, we liked to spend a day on the sand beaches of Park Point or lounging on the rocky outcrops along the North Shore but swimming was usually not an option. On average, Lake Superior’s overall temperature is barely above freezing (39 °F), and back then it seemed you couldn’t even wade in ankle-deep without having your breath sucked out of your lungs and thinking your feet had fallen off. Standing knee-deep in the water for even a short time was unbearable and a true test of endurance. And for guys, going any further was just plain crazy, unless you wanted verifiable (and excruciating) proof of Costanza’sTheory of Shrinkage.

Hi ericy,

I grew up in Duluth in the 40s and 50s and lived a very short distance from the shore of Lake Superior. I lived near Lester River which used to be the northern (eastern) end of Duluth. We swam in the lake almost every year - on the occasional warm days in September. In Sept, if the winds were right, warm water piled up near the shore. The odd thing was that if you treaded water your feet might be 4 or 5 feet below the surface and could give you quite a shock as they moved into the colder layer below.

Actually, Park Point could offer nice swimming temps throughout the summer - the trick was to find a day when the winds piled up enough warm surface water to make this possible. Most of the time it was pretty funny: a picture perfect beach that could rival anything in the Mediterranean - with not a single person in the water - just too darn cold even if the air temps were in the 80s.

Yeah, but it was so nice even a decade or two ago to be able to cool off most of the summer just by sitting next to the shore without having to get wet...

Regarding your assertion that our fellow citizens and humans have no idea what to do seems spot on with regards to an episode that occured to me earlier this evening. I went out to dinner with some friends, a couple I've known for quite some time, and during the course of the meal they mentioned they had attended a zero point energy presentation recently and have come to believe that among other things perpetual motion machines can and do work, as well as believing that an engine can run on simple water. When I tried to explain to them all those modes of energy production or use violate the laws of physics as I understood them, they accused me of having a closed mind and not thinking 'out of the box.' I then tried to explain the simple issues of resource contstraint and overpopulation (ie 6.5, soon to 7 billion people on the planet, all of them wanting to live like suburban Americans). When I specifically brought up the energy needs for all those billions of us, one of my friends interrupted and made of joke of what I was talking about, stating I was just some doomer and in that case, we should all just kill ourselves. When I asked her if she ever thought about what sort of condition this country or even the planet will be in over the next 5 to 10 years, she replied that at least she had 'hope.'As well as accuse me of just rolling over and playing dead.
Now, besides the fact I have been living my life the past 5 years in ways that seek to significantly reduce my impact on the planet as well as learn new skills like gardening and carpentry that would provide a chance at my surviving what's coming a little bit better, I think it important to point out that for many folks, facts and figures are something can be ignored if you have a good enough story. My two friends are not morons...they are smart, otherwise educated people. If I get that kind of audience with people who are close to me, I am pretty sure no stranger is going to want to have that kind of conversation with me. I would like to know if any of you had something similiar happen.

Pete Deer

I've had a few similar conversations with friends or acquaintances who likewise seem "otherwise educated" but nevertheless are waiting with seemingly boundless optimism to be saved a la Gore's frog in water coming to a boil. I ask them what they mean by hope, they generally cast about unsuccessfully for a suitable answer, and I suggest that it is "a desire for a future over which you have control." (I first saw this in Jensen's Endgame, I think; not sure of the original source.) This has halted the doomer accusations, and twice led to thought-provoking (for them) discussions that may yet lead to scales falling from eyes.

I've had multiple conversations along those lines, and at times not even in such a straightforward context.

For instance, I made a joke about turning New Orleans into a water park (sorry Alan), b/c the gulf was going to flood the place eventually. My friends wife said; "I wouldn't believe everything scientists predict. Back in the 60s they said the world would be completely overpopulated by 2000."

I shrugged, had another drink, and went back to went back to playing boccie. Similar to your situation; this woman is highly educated and generally intelligent. And maybe it'll turn out that she's right.

Her husband, on the other hand, agrees that the population is in over shoot, but thinks we'll science our way out of the problem. I have managed to get him thinking about long term sustainability through the context of emergency preparedness, so i guess that's a step in the right direction.

we'll science our way out of the problem in the fallacy that Nate points out - that someone is in charge (a Magic Sky Daddy of some variety or other).

It is ironic that people are more worried generally about the Powers That Be taking taking more than their share or imposing some unwanted rule upon us, than they are about them either not existing at all or of having no real control over anything.

or of having no real control over anything

"They" have control over the hearts and minds of the sheeple

Until all the cows fail to come home, that's all you need.
You can fool most of the people most of the time --nuff said

"The People" tend to be fickle. "They" have control only as long as they deliver the belief that they can make life better. When they fail The People turn elsewhere.

If that doesn't hit the nail squarely on the head!!

No institution with the power to "change" or "correct" the mess we have gotten into could exist unless it also had the power to command everything -- and of course, take more than its "share".

Hence, I suppose, the oscillation recorded in the history of our species -- the scriptural traditions, Homer, English history -- all the rest-- between a search for freedom, and a respite from freedom in the security of knowing that the King is in charge.

This week I saw Henry IV, Part 1 at Ashland. I learned that originally the play was supposedly intended as a "history" story about Hal's father, and his tribulations as King, and only later was recast as a story about the freewheeling Prince learning to control the levers of power -- the "coming of age" story we now tell.

I guess I agree with Nate that people don't really have large enough individual spirits to allow all other individuals the freedoms they want.

Hi delawaresooner,

re: "I have managed to get him thinking about long term sustainability through the context of emergency preparedness,"

That's great. I'd really like to hear more, as it's something I've talked about (here on TOD - 'though it's been a while). And would like to work on.

Could you possibly expand on this, perhaps writing a guest post? Or, please get in touch with me (contact info is listed)?

Hi Aniya! Just updated my profile to include my email -

I could expand on the idea, for sure. Send me an email with something about TOD in the tagline!

Hi Pete,

she replied that at least she had 'hope.'As well as accuse me of just rolling over and playing dead

It seems this is the latest denial strategy. I constantly hear and read about mankind's amazing history of meeting new challenges with totally unexpected creativity, innovation and ingenuity. PO/GW/etc are just challenges de jour that will most certainly be fixed in surprising ways by the enduring spirit of humans.

Because of my bicycle advocacy and fund raising for MS, I meet a wide assortment of people. This past week we spent some quality time with a very nice couple that have no financial limitations and generally support rational causes. They are very well educated, very intelligent, and pretty free of ideological bias. We talked about PO/GW/etc - they were polite and listened to my explanations. The wife did not evidence much interest in the details. The husband attempted a brief summary of my thoughts and then basically (very politely) dismissed them all as being fairly irrelevant to their daily life - something that national leaders need to sort out before the average person can take any useful action. After this discussion we got into their luxury SUV and drove 20 miles for pizza. These are very nice folks that honestly try to support (give money, vote) for the more rational politicians and policies. Any yet, they see little relevance regarding these issues and their personal lives.

I've said many times here: the problem is that very few people understand/accept the problem.

Evenin', Dave, (Or, morning here, now that I notice),

Many points and congratulations on your courage! For introducing "the topic" and for engaging in what sounded like at least one round of give-and-take.

Something to keep in mind, (which I'm sure you know, but I'll say it anyway): sometimes people need time to absorb new ideas. It sounds like they didn't have an immediate context for it. So, while you may not have gotten a response now, you might in the future (or, etc.). (They wake up in a cold sweat and think of you.) :)

BTW, I feel like I've come up with a multi-level approach that gets the idea across every time. I have about three tacks I can take. They are very simple things to say, and yet they do work. At the same time, people say "I never thought about it before" - or something along those lines. I like the concept of "machine food" and machines that form a layer between us and the natural world. etc.

re: "...something national leaders can sort out".

BINGO! Did you bring up

Not that leaving to national leaders is "right" (of course), just that - even if people don't "understand/accept" as you say - it doesn't matter! They can still demand their Congressperson direct the NAS to do the dirty work.

That needs going. (Did you happen to say this?) :) Just thought I'd mention it.

re: "These are very nice folks that honestly try to support (give money, vote) for the more rational politicians and policies. Any yet, they see little relevance regarding these issues and their personal lives."

They don't see relevance now.

But this is exactly what Nate is saying. What to do? That why I like the idea of a clearinghouse, such as the NAS "options" section could become, in terms of policy responses.

In terms of "support" and politics: the point is, as I was told by my local Congressperson's office staff: The Congressperson knows and will not do a thing until her constituents tell her to.

Not the noble stand, but the one my Congressperson has assumed.

This leaves a very doable action for your friends. Get the petition, gather some signatures and voila! - someone, somewhere is doing something.

And if they'd like to give money for organizing...I know just the place for it. (sigh.)

Seems like the usual conclusion to draw here: Never underestimate the power even of the brightest -- no ESPECIALLY of the brightest -- to fool themselves and live in total denial, whenever it's still comfortable to do so.

Seems that all the denizens of the over-rich countries -- particularly USAmerica -- are still too comfortable to be forced to start noticing the real world, and the alarming things it's doing now.

Remember that most of the writers and commentators here are Kassandri, and undergoing the exasperating fate of the original Trojan princess; meaning that we see something of what's happening and of what's coming, but no-one believes us, because -- for the time being -- denial is still possible, and it's much more comfortable. We, humankind, really are that feckless, beneath all the surface glitz and polish.

You might want to recommend or loan Jarod Diamond´s ¨Collapse¨.
Perhaps when people realize there are examples where hoping does not work that they might make a breakthru.

The thing about "Collapse":
Here we are, despite all those failures.

Not to say the future will be happy, but worrying about human extinction seems a bit premature to me.

"Collapse" isn't really about the extinction of the human race. Its about societal adaptation to a changing environment.

they had attended a zero point energy presentation

Rule #1: Gather thy sheeple into a meeting hall

Rule #2: Dimmed lights lead to dimmed minds

Rule #3: Put the pedal to the metal on the Power Points Slide throttle, You don't want to leave loose time around for any critical thinking questions

Rule #4: Plant a stalking horse Yes-man or two in the audience

Sister Judith: Let's Go, Something's Actually HAPPENING, Reg!

Brother Reginald: Right! This calls for immediate discussion!

- Life of Brian (Paraphrased)

Of interest on the topic of hope, Derrick Jensen writes in his article Beyond Hope:
"Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth."
---------------------------------^ works better

"When I specifically brought up the energy needs for all those billions of us, one of my friends interrupted and made of joke of what I was talking about, stating I was just some doomer and in that case, we should all just kill ourselves."

this is exactly the response I received when I gave a Peak Oil talk to a local Rotary Club in early 08.
The talk was tabled on TOD and there was a lot of subsequent discussion on just how one should go about giving such a talk which I found very enlightening.

But the interesting thing was the reaction of the audience. At the end of the talk there was an awkward silence then one guy piped up with "I think I'll go and throw myself off the end of the jetty now." This provoked laughter. Some-one else said "I think I'll join you." More laughter followed and thus the mood of dismissive patronizing tolerant amusement was established.
They decided collectively that I had a screw loose and that they were obliged to politely humor me as their guest speaker but no more than that. I got the impression that the guy who invited me along to give the talk ( a client of mine) was mortified and has never mentioned the occasion since!
During the talk, and based on the premise that energy is wealth, I predicted a deep rolling recession which would soon arrive and be very hard to escape- a commonly held view on TOD at that time.
Subsequent events confirmed this prediction and I sometimes wonder whether any of the Rotary club members think back to that evening before the global financial crisis and remembered my words and thought "Maybe he wasn't such a crackpot afterall?" - but somehow I doubt it!


I think the remembrance of your talk is probably quite different than you suppose. Not better, just quite different. They might remember the talk, but they will not remember the specifics of what you said. They remember a crack pot talking about wild ideas. And they think what is happening now is something entirely different from your wild declamations. If you were to confront them and say 'I told you so' they would say you weren't talking about what is actually happening. If you were to ask how is it different? They would say 'In lots of ways...' No Rotarian ever admits he wasn't really listening, even to a crack pot ;-)

Hi fingolfin,

Much empathy for what must have been a feeling of...surprise? hurt? and...then...what to do?

Not to repeat the earlier discussion, just in case it's any help, I read somewhere (and sorry don't have the ref. handy) - that "bad news" should be sandwiched between two pieces of "good news."

"What you can do" - a list of things would tend to support a feeling of empowerment in the audience. Perhaps include what steps you yourself decided to take.

Also, my view is that it's important to share the emotions...say, for eg., ones you yourself experienced when "it" hit you (if there was such a turning point). A bit of warning, in other words.
(Dunno, really. Just trying to be helpful.) :)

Education doesn't mean we're critical thinkers. Edward deBono called it the intelligence trap, one can become increasingly good at debating but not thinking or dialogue (understanding context instead of debating and point scoring). Many of our intellectual skills go unchallenged - habits, patterns and conditioning. People don't want to follow leaders who either look or say they don't know.

Its anti social to use certain language such as 'I've a problem' the politically correct thing to say is 'I have a challenge'.

When people use the word doomer I can only assume they either know something I don't know, magical thinking regarding solutions or haven't looked at the systemic mess we've made of the human sustainability. Is disaster and catastrophe the default position - no - but one would need to admitting the present economic and political structure is a fundamentally flawed. How many people want to believe their children can't have what they've had or admit their using resources that make it very difficult for future generations (and our own most likely)..... Smile or Die: How Positive Thinking Fooled America and the World

Kia ora Nate,

A very good read as always. I thought I'd chime in before the comments skyrocket and ask, what do you imagine these 'institutions' to look like? I ask because I'm funded by the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation to create social enterprise projects, with an adaptation focus, that foster future-relevant skill development of youth, therefore increasing their personal and community resilience to the challenges of climate, energy and economic change. I'm currently working on establishing a post-peak food production education centre that diversifies wealth into the human, social and environmental capitals. Soil remediation, seed production, skill and method research, human-powered machine development, and most importantly, food!

I'd love to hear you're thoughts about how to mainstream projects like this, or any insights you may have in this area of diversifying wealth. Cheers!


Sounds like you're on the right path. As Greenish pointed out above, there is nobest path to take - we just feel like there is such a path. Its pretty easy to glean that living standards, on average, will decline (given fewer energy inputs per capita and a reset of global claims being highly likely). Given that backdrop, a focus on the basic needs (as opposed to esoteric/marginal wants) will make sense in almost any scenario: food, water, shelter, media, medicine, information, entertainment, sourced with local/regional inputs as much as possible, etc. seems to be a logical place to start. And young people need examples on what to aim for - when I grew up it was the bankers and financiers that provided the environmental cues of 'what to do when you grew up'. That time is passing and given that we are entering an era where human labor will substitute for fossil fuels instead of the other way around, investments into building human and social capital are pretty wide open to the imagination.

Educating young people, not about collapse or dire consequences, but just about the rudimentary basics of life (as you say, soil, seeds, research, machine development, etc.) makes sense to me. Not as a core curriculum necessarily, but as part of a well rounded education. The problem is that other than community/school gardens, the trajectory I just outlined has no common boundaries with the current one we are on, so people like you will just have to forge ahead. Good luck to you..!

It is quite the challenge to teach young people, and adults, the value of the rudimentary basics of life when over a billion, 412 in 2008 US, is spent every day teaching them, us, just the opposite. From a quick google search

Well I learned something shocking this week:

Natural Gas is NOT a fossil fuel, according to minister for economics afairs Maria van der Hoeven in the Netherlands. (economic affairs deals with energy)

It's not that I believe her, but it's the reconfirming that we have the most incompetent person inmaginable doing this job. And somehow people are still supprised when I tell them that we are one of the, if not the least sustainable country in the EU...

Ohh, and in response to the question about institutions: I think you can imagine with a minister like this... My best bet for when TSHTF is to go accross the border to Germany, or almost any other EU country for that matter...

Hi pc, I was shocked by your post regarding my minister of economic affairs (under resignation). Are you completely sure she said this? I did some googling on her and did find out ( that she said:

'Aardgas wordt volgens haar ten onrechte gezien als een fossiele brandstof die bijdraagt aan het probleem van het broeikasgas.'

which basically means:

'Natural gas is according to her wrongly seen as a fossil fuel THAT ATTRIBUTES TO THE PROBLEM OF GREENHOUSE GASSES'.

Don't know whether she's correct here, but at least she acknowledges there's a problem with human made greenhouse gasses and is not at all disputing the claim that natural gas is a fossil fuel imo.

'Natural gas is according to her wrongly seen as a fossil fuel THAT ATTRIBUTES TO THE PROBLEM OF GREENHOUSE GASSES'.

I can understand where this confusion comes from. NG is being promoted as a partial step to CO2 emissions reduction. I.E. if we can replace coal with NG, our emissions will decrease. So on the one hand it is being promoted as a solution. On the other hand, it still contains carbon, and its combustion does produce CO2, just not as much per BTU. Many people have to have a binary thought process, either it is wholly good, or wholly bad. But, most things are more complicated, but that requires fuzzy logic.


2nd paragraph "isn't not" double negative.

Regarding: #3 Good (but unfortunately reaffirming) insight IMHO. When an ocean-liner takes 2 miles to stop and it's at full speed inside a mile and a half diameter harbor, a mile and a half looks decent from the far side - for awhile ";-^) Could be tough in the near future. Just a WAG. g

Double negatives are highly underrated.

You can say that again and I stand corrected with an apologetic kneel to Nate. I don't want to go on as to appear like I'm going off ";-^) g

Nate - A few dissensions from your Campfire:

1- "There have to be new institutions". Replacing institutions has to be a very lengthy process in our current political system. Do you seriously propose to, for example, 1) abolish the Federal Reserve and then 2) create "Federal Reserve The Next Generation", a new institution with new people, new ways of doing business, new values ? This will take how long ? I assume that you attempt to start this revolution before the existing institution is carted off to the dustbin of history. After that, it is of course easier, but also a little bit late. And the same argument goes for any of the alphabet soup that governs our lives.

2- Why are the new institutions any smarter than the old ones ? If the existing institutions do not know what to do, how is it that the new ones will ?

3- Finally, the existing institutions "don't know what to do". I think the problem is one step further back than this. Any one who has read TOD for a while should be able to suggest something to do - IF people share the TOD "view" of our situation. Problem is, the TOD view is NOT universally accepted. Existing institutions do not have a view of our situation from which they believe they can act with confidence. That, I think, is a more precise understanding of their paralysis.



I will do you one better..the "TOD View' isn't universally accepted among TOD posters.

One step back from that: I am not sure what exactly 'the TOD View' is.

The TOD editors/contributors do not share common views on all the issues.

I will take a stab at a one-sentence summary of the what I think may be the primary, fundamental 'TOD View':

Oil is a finite resource and there will be a year in the future when an all-time maximum flow rate of oil extraction is achieved; after this event, the yearly extraction rate of oil will always be less than the maximum.

Of course, we raise all sorts of intelligent questions such as 'what is counted as oil'? and 'What is we can (in general) greatly increase oil recovery rates' and 'what if there is another 3 KSA's-worth of light sweet crude under the Antarctic ice cap" and 'what if we develop nuclear fusion' and so forth.

Don't get me wrong...I think that challenging assumptions and having reasoned debate is essential.

It is just that it seems that the general populace or even the leaders will not realize that we are on the down-slope until we are well on our way down the down-slope.

Are we on the down-slope?

Even if not, is it not logical and prudent to make preparations to become more energy efficient, do less with less, and develop alternate energy resources?

The answer is (for many folks): No, not if the down-slope occurs after I am dead (or maybe when I am in the rest home or rocking in the chair on my kids' porch).

All these folks have to do is believe that science and circumstance will hold the line for another 10-50 years or so...

"The TOD editors/contributors do not share common views on all the issues."

It seems that population overshoot as a "shared common view" is fairly well established in the TOD community.

I learned (confirmed):

1. Many educated mainstream folks understand and accept that, globally, we are in overshoot concerning population/resources/environment and that it is likley going to mean big problems for future generations. Many accept decline/collapse as inevitable.

2. These sames folks have neither the hope nor energy/time to change things, either as individuals or groups in meaningful ways.

3. They have made a concious choice to accept #1 as "the way it is" and continue down their BAU path without guilt or concern beyond day-to-day coping, "let go and let God...".

Insight: #3 is our biggest problem.

I think #3 still allows plenty of room for well-directed conversation, as it represents more a giving up out of lack of alternatives and helplessness than anything else.

Not that I have any wonderful record of model conversations myself, but in discussion I try to focus on two things: first, talk about positive things that can be done rather than the negatives of inaction or wrong action, and second an emphasis on how the quality of life can be improved in spite of decline. Most people are dissatisfied with the present conditions and the direction things are going, and at least somewhat open to a positive idea of change if it is small understandable steps toward a goal they already have in mind.

I too have my doubts of top down subsitutions; however, I think of things like "berkshares" as bottom up replacements for say federal reserve notes. I'm wondering if some organization will eventually back their shares with gold or say gold and wheat.

This week I learned:

1. John Deutch, (MIT professor who has held numerous governmental posts and was keynote speaker at the symposium I attended) thinks our energy policy is going absolutely nowhere. We have no energy policy, and no prospect of getting one anytime soon. In terms of GHGs, we have no way of convincing China and India to make changes that might affect these gasses, even if we make changes ourselves. In terms of technology, we have no at-scale solutions for our energy problems. With respect to Carbon Capture and Storage, we are nowhere. His conclusion is that we are not making any progress; we need a new approach. In his view, the new approach should come from the executive branch. Most of this is not really new information, but hearing it from someone who comes from government /academia was a surprise.

2. Kurt Yeager, past president of the Electric Power Research Institute, explained why our electrical system is so bad. It still relies on analog electro-mechnaical control, which is very slow. There have been no fundamental advancements in the electrical grid in 50 years. There has been no standardization of standards in electricity--there are 47 different systems, each with its own standards. Kurt claimed that we are now a "world follower" in electricity, with everyone else having more reliable electric service. Calling what we have a grid is misleading--it is really a radial system. Businesses are going elsewhere to set up their businesses, because our electricity is so unreliable. We don't even count outages that are less than 2 or 3 minutes. The current rules pit the stockholder against the customer. He believes a $400 billion transformation is needed. What is needed is not just money though. When he claimed that a change could be made in 5 to 10 years, I asked how that could be, with things organized the way they are currently. He then indicated that more fundamental changes were needed. Continuing on the road we are on will get nowhere, even over a much longer period, with more money added.


1. The Patchwork Quilt Analogy. Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, spoke in defense of the patchwork quilt approach to solving problems, such as our energy and CO2 problems. Back in colonial times, people put together patchwork quilts with bits and pieces of what they had, and even made beautiful designs from what had been cast-off garments. In Mary's view, the only way we have to solve our problems is in a piecework fashion, looking at what will work locally. Mary is an advocate of states working together to solve problems. I am not sure that this will really work--solutions to our current problems may have to be on a smaller scale that individual states. And some problems, like our electricity problems, probably cannot be solved with a patchwork quilt approach. It is not clear that they can be solved at all.

Hi Gail,

I'm so happy when I read about the contacts you've made and the work you're doing - and thanks for sharing it.

re: Your "learned 1."

I haven't gone back to see if you responded to my comments about the NAS study. (And I'm not saying this to be pushy or smart, either.)

John Deutch's desire to have the executive Branch, well, um, lead...this is exactly why asking for an independent investigation for the facts "works" politically. (Or, would/(could?), if they would do it.)

If this was an incoming asteroid, (I've often wondered), would we see the same issues? I don't think so. Why? Because there are too many so-called amateur astronomers, and the truth would be out and nothing much anyone could do to stop the information from being known (if they wanted to).

Then, it becomes a matter of "options."

But the thing is - without such a weighing in, by the NAS in particular, there is nothing the leaders can point to with confidence. (Is what I observe, anyway.)

re: Your 2.

I'm curious about the changes Kurt sees as necessary and desirable. Do you have the impression that he understands the "peak oil" issue? Because, just on the surface, the different "systems" might be more desirable, if it leads to redundancy, more local and/or multiple sourcing or something along these lines. Can he write a guest post?

re: Patchwork.

The patchwork quilt analogy: The quilt had an overall design, did it not?

re: Solved at all. I think they can be, in the sense of a way forward, perhaps not exactly as "solutions."

I'm sincerely mystified when people seem to automatically (not that you do this) make a local v. non-local distinction.

These need not be mutually exclusive.

I guess I just get frustrated when I hear the "solutions must be local" line of thinking posed as an argument *against* the effort to form a national policy, as per...outlined above (

A recognition of the problem and it's scope; some analysis of the impacts; some laying out of policy options, and an approach. We all know some of our local favorites. :) This is doable.

Kurt was one who asked quite a few questions after my talk. He seemed to be quite interested in the subject. I am not sure how familiar he had been with it before.

I think you have a good point about the patchwork quilt having an overall design. One can end up with a pretty poor patchwork quilt, with no design.

If the people concerned have similar tastes, design emerges.

Some of the most beautiful patchworks are crazy work.

If the NAS conducted a study and declared that the sky was a particular shade of blue, and if this information conflicted in any way with the corporatist goals, then the Becks and Limbaughs and Palins et al would have the conclusion shouted down and marginalized in the eyes of enough sheeple as to allow the corporatist BAU to roll along.

Hi Heisenberg,

I know you are a thoughtful commentor and I often agree with you - but, I disagree with your foregone conclusion that a NAS study is destined to be marginalized and therefore (presumably) not worth pursuing.

One of the few tools we have to help mitigate the worst consequences of PO/GW/etc is public education. NAS was established specifically to provide for rational discussion of scientific matters that may affect public policy. It is about as open and democratic a process as we are likely to find.

Certainly, I expect the folks you mention to perform exactly as you suggest - but, that does not automatically mean they will prevail with their POV. I think we owe it to future generations to exhaust all the realistic options we have to cast a little light on the issues we care about. I think NAS is one of those options - even it it is not perfect.

Hi Bicycle Dave,

I think you are a thoughtful commentator as well and I respect your views!

Sorry, I became too much of a Debbie Downer there...I fully support the idea of NAS conducting a study of PO, energy supplies in general, and LTG/sustainability for that matter.

What I am trying to spread is the warning that the forces of ignorance and corpratist BAU will do everything in their power to discredit any studies which conflict with their advocacy and World-View.

They will lie, cheat, and steal and attempt to destroy people and institutions.

And we all need to prepare ourselves to deal with that.

I guess I cannot emphasize enough that I move in circles which are well-populated with government, military, and MIC scientists and engineers with more pieces of paper hanging on the wall that you can shake a stick at, and almost all of them discredit (and will discredit) ANY information from ANY source which conflicts with their views and interests.

These folks (Senior Executive Service Level folks, GS-15 folks, Colonels, Generals, Captains of Industry, etc. are in a weird alliance with a whole lot of under-educated low-information voters...these folks I work with are verging on 100% believers that human-influenced global climate change is not only a non-issue, but a conspiracy by lefties,eco-nazis, socialists, etc.

The folks I have interacted with by and large have the same attitude about Peak Oil...leftist plot, etc.

I am not making this up. A disturbing number of these PhDs listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as passionately as the Joe lunchbucket crowd who are fans of these charlatans.

And these folks close ranks and droves.

The disturbing thing is that a lot of our elected politicians are in thrall to these BAU evangelicals:

Q: You say you're sure she has experience, but again I'm just asking for an example. What experience does she have in the field of national experience.

McCain: Energy. She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.

The 'she' in question was/is Sara Palin. McCain is still an influential Senator.

Can't wait to hear her critique of a future NAS PO study.

Vote for folks who have the greatest chance of doing the right thing, or at least not going overdrive into obstructionism to serve the corporatist BAU interests.

The source with the quote:

Hi Heisenberg,

these folks I work with are verging on 100% believers that human-influenced global climate change is not only a non-issue, but a conspiracy by lefties,eco-nazis, socialists, etc. The folks I have interacted with by and large have the same attitude about Peak Oil...leftist plot, etc.

I share this concern. I'm retired now but the last part of my working career exposed me to the world of high flying major venture capitalist and global corporations. In general (with a few significant exceptions), I found this elite group of folks to be extraordinarily selfish and greedy with little to no regard for the broader issues we discuss here on TOD. Many of the public figures we tend to admire in the business community are some really self-centered people if you viewed them from the perspective of being a beneficial member of your local community. Of course, this is just my experience, not a scientific study.

Somehow, we need to get beyond the current paradigms embodied in the general culture of western nations. Not really sure how this can happen.

Of course, this is just my experience, not a scientific study. ...

I found this elite group of folks [these really self-centered people] to be extraordinarily selfish and greedy with little to no regard for the broader issues we discuss here on TOD.

It is not "just" your experience.

Remember Little League? (Or some other competitive event you were pushed into when young?)

You were told that "competition" is good.
Good because it encourages people to do their best.
Those who "deserve" to --win; and as for the "loosers" -well let's just say they too get their just desserts.

That explanation sounded plausible.

When folk who felt themselves to be "winners" were competing at the bottom of the pyramid system, they got the impression that everything was just as advertised.

However, as they climbed higher and higher up along the pyramid scheme, they either discovered how be ruthless; how to cheat and climb higher be stepping up on the dead bodies of their 'compettion' or they became the dead bodies.

When you get to the top of the pyramid, you are dealing with the most ruthless of the ruthless. It's not "just" your experience. It's the system.

I was talking to my kids about just that pyramid in the context of how it wasn't always such an advantage to be rich, particularly in our economic environment.

We live fairly well and relaxed on my income, near poverty level but well arranged and comfortable. My job skills are still good enough to gain employment at my income level about anywhere. As I told my daughters, the surplus of the labor of several people like me generates one "rich person" of the next tier up, who in a way stands above others because he stands on our shoulders. The excess of several of his type support another richer person, and so forth. The higher up you go, the more precarious your perch and the more people you depend on; the higher up you get, the less the guys at the bottom really have any use for you. I wouldn't want to be one of those guys on the top in hard times myself.

Heads do roll more quickly as you get closer to the top
That is why those who get there AND STAY there have to be way more ruthless than your average joe

This is the beauty of the "competitive" market system
It almost guarantees that only the most ruthless will rise to and stay at the top

(I can't think of any Grimm fairy tale that directly teaches this lesson. Maybe Jack and the Beanstalk?)

It's not just a system or "the system" that puts the ruthless at the top;it's evolution.

What the rest of us subordinate monkeys are going to do about it , other than wring our hands and mutter threats well out of the hearing of the alphas is questionable-but I for one intend to hold onto all the equalizing technology I can put my hands on.

Fortunately, evolution has also ensured that the biggest ape also has the shiniest coat.

Go for the gold :)

One thing which might get both the right and the left to reconsider their thinking is to play back responses from each camp reflexively blaming the other for the peak oil story. If the left hears both itself and the right blaming the other camp and vice-versa, they might get the idea that it isn't a plot at all, but more a hypothesis worthy of investigation.

Is there an actual left in the U.S. To me it looks like different flavors of right from bearly palatable to 5 alarm hot.

Hi Heisenberg,

Thanks for responding.

re: "I fully support the idea of NAS conducting a study of PO, energy supplies in general, and LTG/sustainability for that matter."

The NAS is doing and has done many studies. They just finished a four-year study of US energy supplies that specifically omitted any look at global oil supplies, while, at the same time, it covered potential energy extraction technologies (i.e., so-called alternative energy).

So, this omission may be an example of what you're pointing to.

When I looked at the overall agenda of the four-year study, it seemed influenced by the views of the current Energy Secretary, as critiqued by Dave Cohen here:

OTOH, filling this glaring topical gap - is entirely doable. The NAS simply must be directed. (Please see for details.)

So, does this mean you'd be willing to help promote the effort to have the NAS do such a study? (Yes!)

I was thinking a "letter of concern" from scientists might help. what do you think?

re: "...The folks I have interacted with by and large have the same attitude"

What I'm thinking is: we don't have to necessarily aim for those folks, although I think there's an argument to make that goes as follows: 1) This may happen. 2) If it happens, and you do nothing, not only will you personally suffer but your "side" may suffer. 3) If it happens and you have weighed in on the project of an objective scientific look, then...oh well. (You get my drift, I think.)

So, yes, the agenda(s) certainly exist.

However, "peak" and people who see it as an event of significance also exist, as do those who are simply uneducated. Also, people need concrete and specific things to do. The "options" section can provide those.

For people who might (just might) make decisions based on available information, we owe it to them to have the information available. (Is kind of how I see it.)

Some refs for the current related NAS studies here:
“Project Title:
A Sustainability Challenge: Food Security for All PIN: PGA-STS-09-01
Major Unit: Policy and Global Affairs
Sub Unit: Science & Technology for Sustainability Program
RSO: Koshel, Pat
Subject/Focus Area: Agriculture; Environment and Environmental Studies; Food and Nutrition; International Issues”

I'd encourage people here to write in with their concerns and facts concerning the relationship between any of the given current topics and "peak oil."

The panel members accept and consider information submitted.

These folks (Senior Executive Service Level folks, GS-15 folks, Colonels, Generals, Captains of Industry, etc. are in a weird alliance with a whole lot of under-educated low-information voters...these folks I work with are verging on 100% believers that human-influenced global climate change is not only a non-issue, but a conspiracy by lefties,eco-nazis, socialists, etc.

That is pretty much the thesis developed by Naomi Oreskes:
Merchants of Doubt

This week I learned:

3. How our politics is cooked by the Koch brothers oil cartel: Politics of Oil

Additional reading:

New Yorker Mag shines spot light on Koch Influence Pedaling

Wiki low down on Koch Industries

The right wing is having rallies to "take our country back". But they already have our country. Step one is to take our country back from the Kochs of the world. Until we do that, all else is fruitless.

Our leader, Mr. "yes we can" is silent. Because we can't.

Yeager and Galvin's book:

The consequences of this unreliable electricity service
grow greater with each passing day, since an electrical infrastructure
inflection point is coming at a time when the very
nature of electricity demand is undergoing a profound shift.
While the current system was designed to serve analog devices
such as lights, motors, pumps, and such—which work just fine
despite varying electric loads—today’s personal computers and
other “smart” digital devices with microprocessors inside are
highly sensitive to even the slightest disruption in power, as well
as to variations in power quality due to voltage surges and sags
and harmonic changes in the alternating electron flow. Such
interruptions and disturbances—measuring less than one cycle,
or less than 1/60th of a second—can crash assembly lines, computer
servers, intensive care and life support machines, and
other microprocessor-based equipment.

That is only because they have been designed to be as cheap as possible and have a life of 18 months. What would it cost to reduce the sensitivity of a PC, just a few dollars, is that acceptable to a company only interested in returning the best profits to the shareholders - absolutely not. Even a microwave oven doesn't have the ability to keep the clock time during a short blackout. As for intensive care and life support, they have a different standard and, given the higher cost, there is no excuse. I do not believe that part is true.


It looks like a massive US coast to coast grid isn't going to happen.
That's bad for big wind and good for fossil fuels/nukes.

The fall back is natural gas.

The US consumes 23 Tcf of natural gas per year, 6 Tcf of which goes to produce 25% of grid electric power. Here a massive investment in wind CAES would pay a significant dividend. Studies of CAES in the Southern Great Plains have shown that using CAES/gas generators to smooth out the spikes in wind. Powerlines from CAES would get downsized and natural gas pipelines rather than power lines would move energy about.

1 GW in North Texas paired with 500 MW of CAES generation
would require 18 bcf to produce more or less stable electricity to produce 4 Twh of steady on demand grid power using 18 bcf/yr of natural gas.
Likewise 300 GW of wind/CAEs would produce 1200 Twh of electricity(30% of US electricity consumption) for 5.4 Tcf(large enough for current gas network) versus 22% today for natural gas.
To replace all coal and current NG generation with natural gas/wind CAES would require 14 Tcf of natural gas and 750 GW of wind.

Then the question becomes how can we increase our natural gas supply--again Peak Gas.

I am highly skeptical about the estimates for US unconventional gas so we probably have 900 Tcf left(1200 in 1995 per USGS), a 45 year supply.

Beyond that there is coal gasification which produces about 1 mcf for every 125 tons of low cost lignite coal at Dakotagas at Beulah in North Dakota. The US has lignite reserves of 100 billion tons which works out to 800 Tcf of synthetic natural gas, effectively doubling the supply to 90 years at current consumption rates. At this plant, 8000 tons of CO2 is captured per day(50%) and is piped to a remote field in Canada for oil recovery--technically 90% of that CO2 could be shipped out with a larger pipeline. If that were done basically the US grid would be natural gas, nukes and hydro, which coal CO2 being captured.

If this CAES, nuke, hydro grid electricity system were used grid CO2 emissions would drop by 70% of current levels and overall emission would drop by 15%(if we could also substitute cellulosic E85 for gasoline in cars and light trucks overall CO2 emissions would drop by 45%).

The next low hanging fruit--passivehouse energy efficiency in buildings would get the US well under 50% of current CO2 emissions.

Here's your plan, Gail.

Much more massive wind coupled with CAES, lignite gasification to avoid Peak gas w/ CCS in remote areas, keep natural gas consumption to current levels, move to E85 for personal vehicles---overall should cut CO2 emissions by ~50% while supplying the US for the next 90 years.

While I have experienced over a hundred electrical power failures in my lifetime I have never experienced a natural gas supply disruption. Such disruptions are quite rare so I have speculated that It might be better to have nat gas fueled generators in every building instead of an electrical grid. Capstone's microturbines have had some success at this task. Having the engine in the basement or back room makes using the exhaust heat for heating or even cooling a simpler matter than trying to created a underground network of hot water pipes all over town.

We can try to create this so called smart grid in the belief that digital controls are better than analog or we can mass produce small cogeneration systems fueled by a system already in place. The current grid could still be kept in place but mainly as a backup for when the home generator may need service.

Backup Generators (BUGS): The Next Smart Grid Peak Resource,
April 15, 2010

Tomorrow’s smart grid will accommodate and enable a wide variety of generation and storage options. Today, there is a large untapped resource on the consumer side of the meter at many commercial and industrial customer facilities. Consumer backup generators (BUGS), which are distributed generation (DG) units for either emergency or standby applications, are plentiful and well distributed. BUGS can play a significant role in flattening the utility load profile to the economic and environmental benefit of utilities, consumers, and society. Properly integrated, BUGS can have an environmental as well as economic benefit because they are well distributed, quick to startup and shutdown, close to the point of consumption, and more responsive than large, traditional power sources.

The low asset utilization of standby and emergency applications represents 170 GW of untapped capacity suggesting they could potentially serve larger loads, certainly at peak. This 170 GW of BUGS capacity represents about 22 percent of the peak and 36 percent of the average load in 2009 and could be available to address the peak demand. This could be a significant benefit to consumers and utilities. A Portland General Electric (PGE) demonstration showed a significantly lower conversion cost per kW as well as a 30% or more reduction cost per KW over simple cycle gas turbine costs. The key to increasing the capacity factor of BUGS is interconnecting them to the grid and using them to serve larger loads.

The generators within the emergency power are predominately diesel fueled reciprocal engines. At
first glance the environmental benefit of this resource may not be apparent. However, preliminary calculations indicate there is a reduction in CO2, NOX, and SOX compared to gas turbine peaking units.

Given the constantly falling real price of electronics,and the expectedconstastly(long term) rising price of fuiel, I expect that grid tied generators may become very popular with homeowners.

A smallish generator capable of putting out only five or ten kilowatts could be mechanically or electrically connected to a heat pump, getting a very fine energy return on the fuel burned, considering that if properly designed the waste heat of the engine could be caught by running it's cooling water and exhaust pipes thru a large water reservoir, thereby saving it for space heating and domestic hot water.

With smart meter technology, the utility could remotely start such generators during times of high wintertime peaks;they should be treated just like wind and solar as far as subsidies and feed in tariffs are concerned.

Of course there would not be enough hot water needed in summer or year round warm climates to justify running such a system very much, but in places with long heating seasons the generator could be sized so that it could run quite a bit, making good use of the ( no longer) waste heat.

Whatever juice is not needed on the spot immediately could be feed into the grid or used to top off a battery storage system of charge an electric car.

In terms of GHGs, we have no way of convincing China and India to make changes that might affect these gasses, even if we make changes ourselves.

In terms of GHGs, we have no way of convincing China and India the red half of America to make changes that might affect these gasses, even if we make changes ourselves.

In terms of GHGs, we have no way of convincing China and India and the red half of America to make changes that might affect these gasses...

The assertions are not mutually exclusive. And they even apply to a good portion of the blue half of America as well, since the implied impoverishment would make many of their entitlement-dreams very bit as impossible to realize as a lot of other red-half, Chinese, and Indian dreams. At the moment the blue half seem to be convinced they can have it both ways (veto every conceivable sort of energy production and yet still expect to have a rich society that can afford limitless multimillion-dollar per client medical "care" and special "education", lavish civil-service retirement at 45, etc. etc. etc. etc.) and that's at the very best only very partially true.

It still relies on analog electro-mechnaical control, which is very slow. There have been no fundamental advancements in the electrical grid in 50 years.

1) The tax law doesn't support rapid change with rabid writedowns.
2) For over 1/2 of the last 50 years there have only been mechanical ways of switching high voltage/high current. And for the kind of currents "in the grid" - mechanical is still "the way". Costs of mechanical VS solid-state still favors mechanical.

Part of the alure of AC is once your voltage goes to 0 the switching is simpler. One of the factors that killed DC, when you switch off 100 (or more) amps your switch will see some arcing.

Businesses are going elsewhere to set up their businesses, because our electricity is so unreliable.

Let businesses write down solar and wind on 179 and you'll see the businesses that "need" reliable power will make their own power.

And if you were going to re-locate you'd want to be in a spot where you can be fed from 2 or more power plants.

I relearned through my current corporate livelihood once again, that humans are short-term orientated. "We have budget this quarter" so this phase of the project will proceed.

#2. That the fed + Ben et al, are likely to come to grips with the term "Pushing on a string" soon. Coming soon to an economy near you. Peak oil demand coincides with peak credit demand. (Supply and credit are two sides of the same coin, and it takes two to tango eh?

#3 - Mitch Albom is a great storyteller. I knew this before and if you read any of his earlier works or his columns, then you know this. Just finished his "Have A Little Faith" book. We need more Rebs in this world, and we will get them, it's just going to be a hard road from here to there.

What I learned this week:

In my continuing research on the link between technology and the economy I read Mass Production, the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression by Bernard C. Beaudreau , which talks about Henry Ford’s assembly line and the gap between income and productivity before and during the 1930’s depression.

I also read My Life and Work by Henry Ford: Ford’s book is highly recommended, especially the parts about how mass production was developed. Surprisingly, Ford’s autobiography contains some of the best business advice ever written, especially when it comes to his philosophy of providing high quality affordable products, backed up by good service. Smil (below) discusses the 1914 article in The Economist that called Ford’s doubling the assembly line worker’s pay to $5/day and cutting their hours from 9 to 8 “the most dramatic event in the history of wages.” Ford talks about how he provided work for unskilled workers, many of whom were immigrants and who did not have to be able bodied and who were only expected to be productive enough to “pay for the amount of floor space they occupied.” $5 in 1914 is $110 in today’s dollars, more than minimum wage today and probably more than similar people in Europe made in a couple of weeks at that time. I have a whole new respect for Ford, despite the fact that we are running out of oil.

Also reading Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact by Vaclav Smil who has written some of the best books on technology and energy. Smil says that the great innovations like electricity, internal combustion and the chemical industry, unlike the First Industrial Revolution, were based science like thermodynamics and Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory.

For those who are interested in the link between the economy and technology see:

Peak GDP growth occurred from 1895-1910. So much for Computer/Internet/Information Technology/Knowledge Economy.

We’ve read the story of life written in the languages of physics, biology and chemistry. We stand on a summit in the future and watch the expanding populations approach the chasm in the valley below. We yell, “slow down, single file, no pushing”, but no one can hear us, they are blind to what we can see, a single, narrow bridge crossing the abyss. We know that if they followed our advice, everyone could make it, but they keep surging forward. Then we wake up and we’re no longer on that comfortable summit, we’re in the middle of the great masses of the uninformed with our families beside us. It's no longer a comfortable intellectual exercise. We warn again, and explain that we’ve been to the summit and that a bridge exists. But it’s too late, their money is gone, traded to false prophets for pieces of paper that promise a cornucopia of future returns. They move in lockstep towards almost certain impoverishment and perhaps death.

What should we do? Continue to try and convert those that have bought the cornucopian dream? Get in the business of selling worthless promises of future returns? Move our families towards the bridge before the inevitable panic begins?

What did I learn this week? That it's time to hasten my escape from the herd, the difficult days of reckoning are fast approaching.

This week I learned how to make a pleated skirt - which seems one of the easiest things you can make without a pattern, I think. My younger daughter had one that was slightly too tight, so I took it apart more or less, modified the pleat spacing, added to the waistband, and resewed it. In the process learning how it was made and how to replicate it.

I also found a book at the library on shoemaking - the single book they had in our large library on the subject. It was from 1977 and rather funny on some dated points, but a good start. Making a pair of shoes would be quite a project...

And I dwelt quite a bit on one point that Nate made - that no one is in charge, or that there is no one and no group with a grasp of our situation actually steering an effective course. Both parties verge on what Greer would call "revitalization movements", and politically things become more depressing and disconnected from reality as the election cycle ramps up. The level of stupidity promoted through the media seems unprecedented...but probably it seems that way every time around.

I am also re-reading Gurdjieff, who I recall being fond of 25 years ago, in a different life. It is an interesting thing to revisit old writers and philosophies and see how they have aged, held up against the world as things are today.

1. I did a mental survey of my co-workers/colleagues, all of whom have strong scientific backgrounds and are highly analytical and nerdly. I could think of only a few who have awoken to the predicament we are in. It is frustrating trying to get these scientists to think more broadly, let alone take any mitigating action. Fact 1 is that scientists are entrenched as much as any other person in the current paradigm.

2. Deleting TV from one's life leads to increased happiness. A fact and a recent insight!

Insight: I need people like here on TOD in my life...i feel like if I could only know a few of you in person I'd feel better about things. I, like many of you, have nobody to talk to concerning these subjects.


Hello Mr.,

re: your 1.

I feel like saying: Please send them my way! Although you are so right, everyone is entrenched and I often think the key is something akin to what I call "emotional capacity," and that apparently does not correlate with anything that goes with anything. (in the normal sense.)

re: your 2.

TV free is the min. necessary for sanity. (IMVHO.)

re: Have you heard about the ASPO conference? There are also the "transition towns" folks around.
Also, some TODers are happy to meet others. (I am one of them.)

My name is Oldfarmermac and I have been television free for around thirty two or three years now. ;)

Before that I was a true social watcher-indulging in the company of others to be agreeable.

Consequently I have had time to read roughly fifteen hundred MORE good books, and think about the contents of the same, than otherwise would have been the case.

Pop music and television are the true opiates of the masses, having long since displaced religion.

survey of my co-workers/colleagues, all of whom have strong scientific backgrounds

Mr. Fixie,

Most important thing to understand is that none of us is rational, not you and not even me (although of course I tend to heavily discount the latter:-)

Mr. Fixie,

I agree with your first point. My experience is with folks in the U.S. government or its employ, most of whom are PhDs, have multiple Masters degrees, etc in science and engineering.

Most of these people do not have the slightest concern for PO/sustainability/LTG issues.

It is due to a combination of their belief in science, the 'free markets', might makes right (take what we know is ours!) and their religious beliefs.

Most of these folks are making 80-150K USD per year...that may help explain their lack of, being concerned about these types of issues is NOT the type of work they are charged with doing in order to pay their mortgages.

Do not think for one minute that the U.S. Government Agencies are chock full of scientists and engineers who are aware of energy constrains and are working on constructive approached to cope; most are indeed working on destructive approaches to try to ensure that the Worlds' superpower maintains access to resources under other peoples' grounds.

Interesting...your comment reminds me of a short talk given by someone high up in the Center for Naval Intelligence, which I attended about a year ago. Also present was the Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. She more-or-less acknowledged that the US Navy is positioning itself to assert influence over Arctic waters as the area becomes ice-free in the summer(and to protect shipping lanes which are already opening up). AND, more importantly, she let it slip that the US intelligence services have been aware of our predicament for some time. My guess is that this "community" has been asserting its influence since the mid-late 1970s! This is evidenced by the day-to-day posturing we would see if we watched TV, as well as the numerous efforts to secure energy supplies and transport routes throughout the world. As we all know, numerous countries are doing the same thing, with perhaps Russia being the most worrisome. Let us not forget those bellicose Canadians and Danes! hahaha

my best to you all...

btw, I live in Seattle, and the 1st pitcher is on me!


I have always wanted to visit certain parts of Oregon and Washington states someday..Olympic National Park looks like it would be a great place to hike!

Seattle doesn't have any good micro-breweries, does it? :)

Well, if you go to the Olympic Mountains, bring your best rain gear, that's for sure.

I've done two backpacking trips there and it rained 100% of the time. First trip was cut short because it rained so hard our stream crossing was impassable and we had to hike out a different way (which made for an interesting trip). Second trip I had to leave early (on day 11) because I got trenchfoot.

That said, it's not an experience you will ever forget. Very pretty and the place is a zoo, with bears and elk and grouse and fish and mountain goats and on and on.

Maybe you'll get lucky. I've heard they even have dry days there sometimes, though I haven't seen one.

You might tackle Mt Rainier first - excellent hiking up to the summit and all through the area. There's also the Pacific Crest Trail that crosses through the park and traces an amazing route through the mountains north to Canada, beautiful all the way.

Hi Heisenberg,

re: "most are indeed working on destructive approaches to try to ensure that the Worlds' superpower maintains access to resources under other peoples' grounds."

Do they realize this, though? That's the question (one question).

Could it be they themselves believe one or more of the follwing:

1) They *are* working on constructive approaches;

2) It's the "American public" and/or "politicians" who decide the approach (the research version of NIMBYism, only it's applied to ethical considerations);

3) Their work is strictly for "defense."

What I'm saying is: point well taken.

At the same time, the idea of "concern" (as in "they do not have the slightest concern for") is often one that is cultural and can be influenced by others.

I've been reading about John Maynard Keynes.

1. I read Robert Skidelsky's book Keynes: The Return of the Master. I almost put it down when the author shortchanged the idea that resource shortages (e. g. of oil) have anything to do with our current financial crisis, but kept reading and a very good thing because I found it very interesting. A key idea of Keynes' view of uncertainty in economics -- not "risk" which can be calculated and which markets can deal with, but just plain old flat-out uncertainty, when we don't even know the basic parameters. Uncertainty for Keynes drove people away from investment and towards cash (thus the Great Depression).

2. Not in Skidelsky's book but on another forum someone directed me to Keynes' ideas for an International Clearing Union, which would attempt to balance imports and exports, by penalizing countries with either a net trade surplus or a net trade deficit. (As opposed to, say, the creditor nations controlling all the levers of power in the IMF.) Surplus or trade would be based on "bancors," a unit of currency based on a range of commodities (which could include oil, coal, gold, etc.).

3. Insights -- if oil prices are volatile, and the whole economy is running on oil, then that creates uncertainty in the economy which will propel us to a depression (or keep us there, depending on your point of view). But, an international clearing union might allow us to stabilize the economy by focusing on commodities and natural resource shortages, sort of like the oil depletion protocol extended to all natural resources (a platinum depletion protocol, a wood depletion protocol, etc. etc.). Just an idea, not really an insight.

Well, so far this week, I've been learning to cook (I made crabcakes, two stews, and egg foo young) and learning how to play Japanese mahjong. The second part isn't really relevant, except as being one of the pastimes I expect will still be around in some form or other no matter what occurs.

The cooking, actually, has a point and was caused by a realization of my own semi-uselessness in the kitchen. I don't normally think of myself as a useless person, and certainly by the standards of the day I am fairly competent - I can handle computers and fixing them up to a degree, I can change a tire and change my oil - but in the kitchen I realized that, while I theoretically knew how to use the tools, I couldn't make much more than eggs and sandwiches. For people of my age, 29, this actually isn't that uncommon. There are an awful lot of people lacking basic skills (myself included), on top of which a lot of goods are unfixable or at least harder to fix today as well. We've specialized ourselves in a way that has rendered people dependent, and I think that is a direct result of fossil fuels. In a time of declining resources and high unemployment, a lot of people are going to have to learn a lot of things. This is fairly obvious, and many people have talked about this in depth, but it brings it home when you learn a basic skill for yourself.

Also, cooking from semi-scratch (I'm not at the stage where I make my own stock yet) as opposed to either buying things from resturants or making recipies from ready-make boxes really brings home how much of the "food" out there is factory produced. I read "In Defense of Food" and knew theoretically that shopping in the produce section was a good idea, but that's not the same as being able to do it and make something from it. We're really not all that far from the society of E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops". You know, I know the machine is harmful, but if it stops we're really in trouble.

As for the third thing, I was talking today to someone of political view very different from mine (commonplace enough), and we both saw the same problems (in housing and economics), and even many of the same solutions... It strikes me that the political game is almost entirely a distraction and way to divide people. Perhaps this is a game that plays itself, that is, you can realize it's a game but there is nobody directing it - the elites of Wall Street or Big Oil or whatever may not have the self-realization to know that they are playing the role of, well, privledged elites in the respective realms of economics and energy.

Like in mahjong, forces beyond our control determine much of our actions and what effect they have.

Cooking is a wonderful skill.

Just yesterday I canned some Pickled Peppers, which was a first and certainly qualifies as something new learned. I'll learn even more in a couple of months when they are "pickled".

I also learned it is probably a good idea to not leave boards with nails sticking out of them in the yard -- especially if the weeds get high and you often go barefoot. Which leads directly to my third and insightful lesson...

Our health care system is highly flawed. Once I finished ranting at myself over #2 above, a tetanus booster seemed like a good idea since I've no idea when my last one was. I had a doctor up the street (I'm in Northern Virginia just outside Washington DC) but when I called to make an appointment a year ago they had "dropped" me since I'd not been by in the last 5 years and I could not get an appointment in less than 5 days. So I still have no regular doctor and no obvious option to get a tet booster in a country where some claim to have the best health care in the world.

Cheers -- BS

There are lots of walk in , pay , and walk out medical clinics in Va-I find it hard to believe there isn't one within convenient distance from any place in the burbs of Northern Va.

We even have them in four and five stoplight towns down here in the mountians.

But I do agree that our medical system is in altogether to many respects a very bad joke.

adamx: There are 3 really good books to get you going in the kitchen. The first one is: An Edge IN The Kitchen by Chad Ward. It is about knives, how to use them and how to maintain them. There is a lot of ignorance about knives, even in the culinary world. The second resource is: Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques. Very comprehensive,and lots of photos! The third book I would recommend is The Joy OF COOKING. Its just a good, all round cook book. If you have one, please remove glass cutting board from kitchen and discard!

GLASS cutting board!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why, for goodness sake?


NAOM: Yeah!! I am surprised how many people use them! I ask why it is and they answer that it is easier to clean, or looks pretty!!! I always tell them they are going to meet the great satan hisself, if they dont get rid of it!!

Thanks for the recommendation of An Edge In The Kitchen. That was actually one of the first things I discovered - all my knives are pretty dull. I'll check out the other two as well.

As for glass cutting boards... Even with my limited knowledge I'm not that stupid. The one I'm using is made of bamboo.

I define a sharp knife as one that can easily shave the hairs on my arm.


NAOM: That is pretty sharp. I take an old telephone book, tear a page out and fold it very loosely, edge to edge, so that it is a rounded fold on top, then put the edge thru it.If the knife slices thru, from heel to tip without tearing, it's pretty sharp. Saves on band-aids. You can also put it to your fingernail, the same way.

adamx: No insult intended. I hope none was taken? Just checking. Another good book is by Harold McGee: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore Of the Kitchen. As far as knives go, to sharpen them, I use either a water stone, for tune ups, or a Tormek sharpening system. A King waterstone has given me good service thru the years. So has the ol' Tormek. Go to the Epicurean Edge or Northwest Cutlery for a look at good knives,reasonably priced. If, like you say, you made stew, you can certainly make stocks, of all kinds. The trick is to skim, skim, skim the scum off then add the mirepoix- the vegetables,and simmer at the faintest of ebullition! Very many people need to learn how to cook from scratch, as in the future, the raw materials will be all we have. Doncha know?

A typical question I get asked in the local wallymart "Where are the TV dinners". When I explain to them that we don't have those I watch their jaws hit the floor, legs go weak and they cling to each other in horror at the though of oncoming starvation, in the next few days. I swear, one day, I will take the to the veg counter,drop a limon, a jitomate and an avocado in their hands and say 'there you go'.

Heh, well the sharpest knives are for carving, the rest vary. Out of interest, what angles do you generally use on kitchen knives?


NOAM: On chef's knives of a western make: Forschner, Whustof,etc, I use about a 21 to 22 degree bevel angle on EACH side. This would be about a 45 degree INCLUDED angle for the edge. Does that make sense? For Japanese knives, I like to put a compound bevel on the edge. I start real shallow- 11 to 12 degree on both sides brought down to the burr. Then, I rock it up to about 15 degrees, somewhere about 2 quarters underneath the spine of the knife sitting on the stone I guess. Take that down to the burr on both sides. Dont forget to strop on leather, or draw it thru a piece of soft wood to remove the burr at each stage. To sharpen a serratted edge all you can do is hone the flat side of the knife flat again. It removes the burr caused by use on the backside of the serrations. Clear as drilling mud?

"US tax receipts are being matched, and then some by an increase in foreign borrowing and Fed balance sheet expansion. "

If those are cumulative, then it's not all bad ? the Tax receipts,
are only 1-2 years behind the cumulative debt ?

Or, put another way, Tax receipts need only increase slightly, to start to pull pack the debt.

Well, it used to be that our tax receipts, individual and corporate would pay for our government spending.
But now - total net debt since September 2008 increased from $10.025 trillion to $13.38 trillion (an increase of $3.35 trillion. And net tax receipts from individuals was $2.5 trillion and from corporations was 210 billion for TOTAL of 2.7 trillion.

An increase in tax receipts might pull back on NEW debt but not existing debt. This is a runaway train.

However, the Office of Management and Budget officially projects that receipts as a % of debt will go from 15% back up to 60% by 2015. (This is a real projection)

I think you have got (above comment) your billions and trillions in a twist, but I guess I know what you mean

You're freaking out, dude.

You're including Social Security and debts that the government owes itself.
The debt it owes actual public creditors was 8.717 trillion, 60% of GDP as of July.

The 2009 deficit was $1.4 trillion dollars, the 2010 deficit was $1.17 trillion and the 2011 deficit will be $533 billion.

The expectation that debt will level off at 100% of GDP in 2015. If you want it to go down, you'll need to raise taxes('Like hell you will!).
Only $164 billion dollars goes to pay interest on the debt.

If you made $100k per year could you afford a $100k house, given that you are also the bank?
I would guess you could.

One other point I just learned of is that demand for US bonds has been so strong that the interest rate is substantially lower now, in effect making the cost of those trillions much less than it would seem.

1. Modesty in all things
2. Max Keiser is a revelation
3. Avoid foods that contain numbers for ingredients

Author removed

Thinking a little more about "the financial bottleneck" - in spite of the seriousness of it, I can't bring myself to actually worry. The reason for that is that we have managed to levitate amidst an almost steady state of impending economic catastrophe for three decades at least. I have been reading hair-raising mind-boggling predictions of economic doom since the early 80's, all based on solid evidence, well-constructed models, history and reason. The juggler can't possibly keep those balls in the air for any length of time - its physically impossible and disaster is certain to come at any moment; yet check back in a month and not only has disaster not occurred, but now there are even more balls in the air! Year after year...

Not that I question the basic fact that the whole misconstrued edifice must come down, I just have no idea how it has gone on this long, and so no prediction as to how long it can be kept up.

On new institutions

By definition, it can't be any of the existing institutions, all of which have settled agendas, inertia, habits and stakeholders. One shouldn't expect radical change from AARP or NEA, for example.

Glenn Beck's "Back To God" platform is a step backward, more or less negating whatever ill-defined potential the Tea Party movement may have had. One pines for a Ross Perot or Jesse Ventura, but I think it's too late for that sort of common sense breakthrough phenomenon. It's anachronistic. Larry King retired and nobody watches CNN any more. Likewise newspaper op-eds, paid advertising and spam are useless in a mobile i-Pod i-Phone Facebook Twitter era.

In the 1960s, we were inspired and energized by music. Lyrical music is totally gone today, except geriatric rock, country and Christian ballads. Hip hop and techno are not lyrical. I don't think they can count past two, so debt monetization is wa-a-a-y over their heads.

Maybe the solution is staring us in the face. Not exactly a "new" institution, but a fairly new, mature institution -- the blogosphere. People who read and think and retransmit. For instance, Seeking Alpha has 500,000 users, of which 10,000 apparently follow whatever I infrequently post. Gregor Macdonald has a huge footprint. So do you, sir.

The new institution is us.

Maybe we could organize a virtual world government online.

I think you give too little credit to rap music as an entire genre, besides which I am confident that most of the successful artists are very capable of counting. Especially the ones that sold drugs at some point in their past (and escaped that life through rap). Jay-Z was famously seen as a marker that the Euro had "made it" and the dollar had issues when he put the big Euro bills in one of his videos back in 2007 - the fact that he did in the first place is not the mark of an uneducated man unaware of larger things.

That said, what's popular today is very much pop - it's like disco all over. Political music is not the in thing.

Managers and promoters count. Besides, it's the audience that's lobotomized.

The thing to do is Blog Outreach, connect with small town bankers, young professionals, doctors, day traders, LEOs, anyone with a responsible job who is capable of rational thought. That integration hasn't happened yet, but it could.

My mother always said I was an optimist.

Morning Avon, pretty dull over at the well, so I will poke my UK nose in here.

I have learnt that Americans can't play football (soccer); but, they are experts at kicking the can down the road, economically speaking. Americans have a federal government that has solved the equation that is, "you can fool all the people all the time".

"Viruses of the Mind" by Richard Dawkins, should be a compulsory text in all American schools; followed up by extensive study of "Memetic Theory". All American 24/7 news channels should be switched off.

Stop following Keynes, start following Mises. You need some New Radicals; like Ron Paul? And a new anthem; I suggest;

If you get to the point where you want to do a Howard Beale; . Read MISH first .

Americans have a federal government that has solved the equation that is, "you can fool all the people all the time".

That is a false equation.

You only need to fool 50.1% of the people

And only on one day:

election day

Caveat: 50.1% of the people in some voting districts means a majority of the "voting people", where this number is far smaller than the actual population

In other districts, 50.1% of the people means a majority of the electronically tabulated votes

Or as President John F. Kennedy famously said:

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ..." for it doesn't really care.

"Viruses of the Mind" by Richard Dawkins, should be a compulsory text in all American schools; followed up by extensive study of "Memetic Theory".

Hmm. I have the book "Virus of the Mind", by Richard Brodie (The New Science of the Meme). Have you conflated authors, or do you refer to a similar book/title by anyother author? In either case I heartily agree with your suggestion. The book seeks to free us from being controlled by whatever memes happen to affect us. We should learn to be master of our memes, rather than let the memes be our master.

EoS. See following:- The Selfish Gene is probably his seminal work.

How strange to put bankers and rational thought in the same sentence.

That said, what's popular today is very much pop - it's like disco all over. Political music is not the in thing.

"Buddy, Can You Spare a Trillion Dollars?" by Roy Zimmerman

"The Sing-Along Second Amendment" by Roy Zimmerman

And a little parody might help cheer you up too.

BEARISH - song parody from about THE ECONOMY

Glenn Beck's "Back To God" platform is a step backward

Hey. Not fair!

I thought I owned the trademark on back stepping to the ledge


Two steps forward and then slide wee wee all the way back home

Thanks, Nate,

I wanted a place to share this!

I just heard a little bit - not the whole thing - of something that's short to begin with, namely, a re-play of this piece from "This American Life."

"Act One. The Family That Flees Together, Trees Together.
The Jarvis family, a group of eight, goes on the run from the law—for seven years. They live on a boat, in a treehouse in a swamp. They escape capture time after time. And how do the kids turn out, living a life outside of society, as fugitives? Surprisingly great. (22 minutes)"

Several things struck me about the snippets I heard, and my final thought was: "This is a family that will survive peak oil!"

The kids, according to Ira Glass, have in common a devotion to each other. (No animosity, jealousy.)
The Mom sounded really nurturing, the Dad as well - (let's leave aside the reason to "fugit") - and the kids grew up learning and loving to learn and create.

Ira to one of the daughters: Was it hard to make friends? (This is a really, really interesting part.) She said "No, I never thought of myself as inferior to anyone." (This, despite their obvious "outsider" status and their obvious poverty.)

Another thing: they sounded genuinely, extremely happy! To be alive. They also sounded fairly incapable of being upset about their surroundings, because being together, laughing, joking and learning is what made them happy. A lot of love, is what it sounds like.

Like I said, I only heard part of it. And, of course, the Dad regrets his breaking the law that led them into this in the first place. But it sounds to me like the positive aspects would have been there, had that not happened. And those are the things that I responded to.

The update mentioned the next generation (Grand-kids), and that the now-grown kids are saving up to buy a large piece of property so they can all live next to each other.

1. I learned that education has become the new Untouchable Sacred Cow. People are now worshiping at the altar of education the way they used to worship at the altar of money. Education is the new Magic Carpet Ride that is going to miraculuosly save us all. LMAO

2. I learned to check the carton when you know damn well there's a massive egg recall going on, before you eat the stupid French Toast.

I was too busy puking to have any insights...

You mean.... you don't keep chickens? I'm shocked.

No, but oh how I wish I could! They're just to noisy to be able to sneak into your typical anti-livestock municipality.

Support C.L.U.C.K.!
(Citizens for Legal Urban Chicken Keeping)

Buff Orpington, Araucana, Sussex Spotted, Blue Jersey Giant...*sigh*

a)On an individual level a financial bottleneck will be bad if you lose your job. And if you dont lose your job your going to have to support those that do through taxes to prevent unrest. Everyone is going to have to get used to living on less wether they like it or not. I've noticed a few European politicians have started to adress this problem. President Sarkozi in particular has made several speeches about replacing GDP as a measure of economic growth with something that incorporates wellbeing. David Cameroon has also made similar moves in Britain.

b)Two major hurdles must be crossed before some sort of steady state economy can be formed. The seperation of state and corporate interests and the reduction of the current economy to a level that can be supported by the environment. How to do that in time I havn't got a clue. But new institutions can form or existing ones can adapt rapidly in emergency situations. At the start of WWII it was the Ministry of Agriculture which took over rationing in Britain. What about FEMA in the US?

You mean the FEMA that was created as a way for some Americans to survive a nuclear war? Or the FEMA that is under the thumb of the Department of Homeland Security? Or the FEMA that gives trailers that emit toxic gases to disaster survivors?

I'm not American so dont know the details on FEMA but wouldn't they be expected to step up to the plate if a financial meltdown took place?

All new construction emits toxic gasses these days. "engineered wood products" donchaknow.

Lessons I have paid dearly for.

1. Handle your own money. Never trust anyone else with it. Not even Pension Funds. (My Gratuitous advice. Get out of debt.. Now.)

2. Family cannot be replaced.

3.It takes a lot longer than you think to make anything. Better get started.

Fun facts:
We are all walking ecosystems. (Swamps if you please). There is no barrier between me and Gaia. I am a subsystem of the planet.
Even my mind is permeable. Do other peoples thoughts not occupy "me"? Is this thought not entering "your" mind?
"Mind" is divisible and emergent.

My God is the God of the Yawning Chasms.
(Don't ask me what it is all about. I am as lost as you are.)

Thank you, Arthur.

This is beautiful.

Insight: reading a splendid essay in a dutch newspaper this weekend about the psyche of the meat-eater, also has relevance on the topics discussed on TOD (it is the same psyche as the coal-burner). It discusses the fact that most people with some education should know what is going on the intensive bio-industry. But that doesn't stop many from buying the cheapest piece of pork possible any ways. The author claims this is because humans tend to avoid any unpleasant of diffucult situations, it's just not part of our instincts. We know we should quit the habit, but it just tastes so damn nice.

Also the fact that the relation between the individual and the collective has become diffuse and anonymous doesn't help us either. If we would still live in little communities of say 50 people and would have to smell the pig-dung each day, do the butchering ourselves etc, before the meat would end up on our plate, the fact that it just tastes so damn nice would become less relevant straight away. In our modern life, we just see the nice piece of meat on our plate, and can completely forget about the misery of the animal, the strain it puts on the soil and climate of our earth etc. We all do it without shame because: we all do it. The consumer thinks: "what can I do about it?", the farmer thinks: "well, why don't they buy the meat of the pig that had a better life" and the politician doesn't do anything about it since he knows that the voter cares much more about what he/she has to spend than animalrights, environmental issues,3rd world etc.

The author claims we all live in a state of "pluralistic ignorance". We all think that if it was really that bad, someone else would take up the task to handle the problem. Psychology calls it the bystander-effect. The more bystanders witness an accident, the less chance you get that someone will actually get up and help the wounded.

The author ends with a citation of Edmund Burke which has stuck in my mind straight away. I translate freely: 'Evil only needs thing for victory; good and willing people doing nothing'. And boy, this problem (society eating the cheapest meat possible, cheaper than catfood usually) seems to me much easier to fix than to move to an society free of oil and coal burning.

This article from the Netherlands rings a bell for me.
I don't know whether it is still true but back in the 1980s the Netherlands was reputed to have more pigs than people and imported most of the primary protein to feed them as Soya from Thailand. (Soya was then a very recent product from the tropics and from areas previously largely rain forest, ( the technical problems having been solved in the 1970s). An added problem for low-lying NL was that for technical reasons the pigs grew faster if their food was laced with copper salts, and disposal of pig manure was then an even more tricky problem. I seem to remember that regulations forbade just dumping at sea.
Anyway, nice that the author chose cheap pork as his example.

I live in a very small, pretty much middle of the road community in the mountains of Colorado. Over the last couple of years, a community center was formed. This is a big deal if one understands the isolationist nature of many of the people here. Each week, they have potluck suppers with music. About 50 people show up on average, which is a big deal considering the size (about 400) of our community. Historically, one would expect heavy emphasis on meat in gatherings of this kind. Oddly, about 95% of the food is either vegan or vegetarian. We are vegans, and can find plenty to eat at these gatherings.

I don't know what these people eat at home but apparently some sort of ethos has developed where people attending pot lucks here avoid the meat and make that very clear as each item is accompanied by a label with a detailed list of ingredients.

Do all these people care about animal rights? I do not have a clue but wonder if all these efforts to create a community here have had an impact on the way people feel about their diets and their impact on the world.

Food for thought, so to speak.

Hi tstreet,

What is the type of music? Live? Do people dance? Who organizes the potlucks? How did you form the center and does it have it's own physical space?

Inquiring minds wish to know. :)

Very interesting. Who is the author?

Have you seen Melanie Joy's recent book on "Carnism"? It explores the same problem.

The essay is called "'t is rot, maar vlees is zo lekker" (it is a bloody shame, but it tastes so damn nice) written by Roos Vonk ( Roos Vonk is a professor in psychology at the university of Nijmegen The Netherlands. The article is in the 28th of August copy of "de volkskrant" one of the biggest dutch newspapers. A copy of the article can be downloaded here:

I ran it through babelfish, but it translated into jabber or how you guys call it, but you could give it try yourself.

There's an english article about the professor's fight against factory farming though, on:



p.s: I'll have a look at your suggestion btw.

2 facts:

1) I've wonders what part of "law" the phrase "possession is 9/10ths of the law" came from as I'm working with various parties WRT their real estate.
The system in the US of A is based on common law.
The 9/10ths comes from Admiralty Law.
2 different systems - can't really square that circle unless the wack-jobs with their gold fringe flag crap are right.

2) Just popped up on the radar - it seems the quest for a lack of microbe exposure claims another. Seems that hyper-clean water prevents a layer o slime from forming in the copper pipe and that layer helps prevent pin hole leaks. Joy - so much for copper pipe being a 'lifetime' solution.

3 - Insight. Meh. Most of 'em have been re-affirmation of what I already know. (I guess the closest is non profit I work with needs more 'adults' watching the 'children" who are board members.)

I (re) learned this week that money runs the United States and unfortunately, these players, like the Koch brothers, have usurped what is left of our democracy for their own selfish ends. These ends are completely antithetical to doing anything about global warming, peak oil, or endless, destructive growth in general. The deck is stacked worse than ever and the Citizens United case has sealed our fate for the upcoming elections and beyond.

People could take to the streets but they would be under surveillance from thousands of cameras. People have given up their freedom for security.

This week I have reached a new low of doomerism.

Are these the same "monied interests" that Thomas Jefferson complained about 200 years ago? How is that any different than when the Robber Barons proudly proclaimed how many Congressmen and Senators they were bribing? To varying extents American democracy has always been an illusion pounded into us since kindergarten. Any group of 40 Senators can block what hundreds of millions of voters want. Any group of 5 Supreme court justices can overturn laws enacted by the majority. Democracy is any less corrupted at the state and local levels where construction company executives are the major financiers of election campaigns. And don't forget that freedom of the press (and by extension TV networks) applies only to the owners of the press. As we learned back in 2000 in Florida that just because you cast a vote does not mean it will be counted.

How is that any different than when the Robber Barons proudly proclaimed how many Congressmen and Senators they were bribing? To varying extents American democracy has always been an illusion pounded into us since kindergarten. Any group of 40 Senators can block what hundreds of millions of voters want.

IMHO it is getting much worse. The driver is mass media, and the influence of money on it. And for the politician the need for large sums of money to use the media to win the next election. But, the near monopoly the mass media has in forming opinions in the mind of the average citizen has become pretty astonishing. And, these media, like the politicians can only survive if they attract large advertisng revenues from the big money interests.

The 40 senator (actually it is 41) thing is a modern tradition, it is not part of the constitution. Obama's greatest mistake once it became clear that the Republicans were going to operate to block anything and everything, in an attempt to make the Democrats seem useless. Instead of going to resolution on all important legislation, he has played nice guy. The old saw about "nice guys finish last" seems to apply here. So it looks like obstructionism works. The average voter doesn't pay attention to the details of how government works. They only know they elected Democrats to make a change, and change was not made.

I thought we were a representative republic.

"People have given up thier freedom for security".

I agree.

This tendency is one of the aspects of the modern liberal mindset that scares me more than a little.

We need govt to protect us from the excesses of business, but once we TURN TO govt as the SOURCE of goods and services, we essentially are putting our future into the hands of politicians more interested in getting elected than in doing the right thing.

Damened if we do;damned if we don't.

A couple of things:

1, We have the biggest sockeye run since 1913 on Johnstone Straits....apparently 7,000,000 + estimated. I have no idea where this 1913 came from because Fisheries and Oceans are a joke with pretty much everything they do. But there are a lot of fish.

2, They are at times fickle to bite, and yet sometimes are voracious lure hunters. We can pretty much predict the bite window by the tide. It lasts no more than an hour for the most part.


Wistfulness felt at the inevitable decline. It feels like things are going very well as my wife and I put our lives together in a deliberate way. I am contented and marvel at the beautiful place we live. The shadow is one of sadness for want of a better word, or a sense of loss. However, the small things are precious and I now make an honest effort to cherish, enjoy, and not waste time doing and feeling negative....

Yesterday, as I was fishing from my small boat, 3 orcas swam under (I could see them), and surfaced 15 feet ahead. Wow. It was pretty neat and I just wanted to share it. A few years ago I would have been pissed off and muttered, "How many of our fish have you eaten today"? Not too many years ago commercial fisherman shot them on sight. There are positives.

in response to Nates insight....

I think people and institutions addressing these problems have a creative failure in coming up with ideas or solutions again stems from the inability to plan or think in long term time scales..

some institutions already in place could be made more effective if they had a mandate of 50-100 years rather than 5-20

squaring that with current political practice looks an ask

the one things i learnt and my insight

1. behavioral economics is tainted by an observer syndrome where peer oversight skews the result in favour altruism and experiments designed to test altruism produce more self interested behavior as the potential gain increases

2. At first glance this suggests self interested models of individuals is perhaps not a dead concept but ironically suggests to me that deregulation increased oppurtunity to steal only increases theft rather than promotes societal good by default... so while Lists new insights into behaviorism is touted by the Hyack crowd as "told you so" it really demonstrates why that self organizing model needs to be controlled by just oversight and why it does't work..

I mean if it was all self organizing and altruistic it should be a just world...yet increased deregulation increases the opportunity to steal from your fellow human beings.

moral oversight is cultural.. this universe will be what we make of it..there is no excuse for crumby behaviour

Great post Nate.

I think the solution requires a change in scale - revert to a human scale. Too much power has been centralized in government, business, the wealthy, the fed, energy sources, etc. Diversity is more sustainable. Smaller scale is more sustainable.

So the answer is to help the public realize that their lifestyles are not sustainable unless they embrace self-reliance and sustainability. This means moving closer (physically and in our heads) to our water and food sources and learning to live with less (junk). If the majority lived truly within their environments resource means, the whole would become less reliant on central power structures and our civilization would become naturally more sustainable.

This is one of the core reasons I blog about tiny houses.

We (bloggers) must find a way to make these ideas and information palatable to the main stream, show them how it's a better way to go anyway, in order for the majority to jump on board.

I say bloggers because the main stream media is run by a central power source which has been naturally corrupted by advertising dollars. No conspiracy here... the media has simply succumb to the forces of economics and has to make news entertaining in order to stay in business - so they tell the news people like to watch in a way they like to watch it.

We can't rely on any central power source (like our government) for the same kind of reason. They are a product of a chain of events and the core problem. They can't fix it because it would require a complete reinvention of everything they have become. In other words they would need to revert back to a more primitive state.

As you point out above nobody is going to choose this path.

So the natural conclusion is that this gigantic ponzi-economy is going to collapse. There is no force that can stop it now. The Fed is proposing unheard of changes and if congress bites may give it a few more years - but the end result is the same.

This is why the only thing that can keep the peace is all of us. If we all chose to live immune-to-economic-collapse lifestyles and lived closer to water and food and in homes just big enough for us to maintain ourselves without oodles of oil we'd become the anti-bodies to their virus.

-Michael Janzen

We are thinking about similar things. I find myself this weekend writing about institutional fatigue, and noting how the economic descent is becoming a convenient explanation for individuals in policy making roles. You hear it from the FED, you hear it from Treasury, you hear it from the White House: "don't expect us to control all outcomes." More broadly, an old social dynamic is coming into play even more forcefully: socially it is better to fail conventionally, than to try and succeed uniquely. You can tell that everyone from the President, to pension and university endowment managers are progressing now towards that view. Post-war economic declines, such as was seen in Britain, are instructive here. There's a kind of rigor-mortis that is fated to set in, as the alignment finally breaks down hard between the performance that clients or the electorate would like to enjoy, and the risk that an individual would need to undertake to achieve that. In a no-growth world, all current position holders/job holders convert to a new incentive: just hanging on, and hugging, the average. Accordingly, at a time when they system needs increased risk-taking, risk-taking also declines. Perhaps this is why these periods are fertile ground for fanatics or other very-passionate individuals: they are able to arbitrage malaise and the shortage of risk-taking to their own advantage.


An institution that I think will emerge are those that can develop single person transportation vehicles, somewheres between a velomobile and a smart car.

Learned: a bit of a refresher on sanitary engineering.

The sanitary sewer running down the street in front of my house is an 8" vitrified clay pipe from 1913. It's holding strong. The side sewer connecting to it was installed in 1929. It's a series of oversize cement Lego tubes. Each is 31" long with a straight end and a bell end. The bells give it a little flex.

The business end, running under the sidewalk and across the street, appears to be fine. The house end was not fine. The sophisticated low tech design failed due to insufficient sand under the pipe, not tamped and not enough, and the massive root ball of a Douglas fir tree that was buried near the SS line when the house was built in 1929. The tree was burned and the root ball just left there. Being Doug fir, it lasted a long time. The ground must have moved a bit, because the near sections of Lego tube were back falling, deteriorating, and causing problems to propagate towards the house.

Repairs at the house end in 1957 and 1994 were also rotted out.

Insight: Low tech is fine, hand dug SS is fine, but the engineering has to be right. They should gotten a horse team and pulled the stump right at the beginning.

Not so much learned brand new, but was reminded of some things in reading through the comments.

An institution is an organization which manages a collection of programs, in the Daniel Quinn definition, each of which is stick planted in the middle of a raging torrent in an attempt to re-direct it. Do you want a new set of sticks, or do you want some sort of dam or trenching, which confounds and obstructs the flow? We already have an invention that stops and redirects the flow of everything that comes at it: government. Government is so effective at confounding and obstructing flows, it will even confound and obstruct itself, unfortunately making it impossible to wield as a tool from the outside.

At this late stage of the game, inventing and creating a new institution or a new governmental body would be like knitting a parachute after you've jumped out of the plane. Knitting a parachute might be a great idea, later, if you survive the fall.

Another thing I was reminded of is that fun is under-rated. Doing something fun, just because it's fun, isn't a waste of the limited time we have left.

I learned:

1) Do not go to the bank on Friday afternoon (Valencia, Venezuela). It seems that the crowds of construction workers go to cash their pay cheques on Friday and armed robberies happen all the time. Since the robbers hold up the people in the line, not the bank tellers, the manager does not call the police, notify mall security or interrupt his lunch for long. (Insight: We all sit round buying handguns and installing security cameras yet they don't seem to prevent anything)

2) You need a good electrical system to make CF bulbs work well. I spent a month being nauseous until I switched to an incandescent bulb, most likely because the old old electric system in the house I rent makes the bulbs flicker and emit a sickly light. In one room the CF bulbs simply will not turn on at all when an incandescent will.

3) Insight: If you care about an issue and no-one else does you might beat your forehead bloody banging it against the wall of people's indifference. BUT you still get further than if you give up and stop caring too.

I've learned that while we have a rather good grasp of trends, what we know about how people are responding and may likely respond to coming dislocations and constraint is...not much. What we seem to have is:
- a lot of anecdotal evidence of various sorts of denial from people we meet in the circles within which we move (and I doubt anyone among us would claim the TOD readership, whatever we are, is anything like a representative demographic);
- extrapolation of known patterns and relationships, which is fraught with error (a most hilarious example of which is the National Lampoon feature years ago on the 1939 New York World's Fair - what people thought the future would be like; one was a diesel typewriter);
- some insights from cognitive psychology, anthropology, history (how people have dealt with tough times, expected or not), etc.;
- occasional startling realizations like Nate's, or what Gail reports of John Deutch, that no institutions are developing to deal with what seems to be coming.

I generally find myself following Tainter. As the trends we collectively foresee here strengthen, people are going to start withdrawing support of large scale institutions in ways they can and can get away with. Effects will play out strongly by social class position and by region; elites will try hard to profit from the collapse, but may find themselves in the crosshairs. The poor will almost certainly take the brunt of it, but may find they have unexpected resources of social and cultural capital. As bricoleurs, people will utilize cultural materials to construct what they can to deal with the problems they encounter. It will be creative, desperate, innovative, destructive.

On a lighter note - I also learned, because I finally took the moment to look it up (in this wonderful digital age, the best of all possible worlds) that "Olly olly oxen free" is thought to derive from "All ye, all ye 'outs' in free". I can sleep at night now.

This week I learned what most of the people I know really think of people like me, even if they are still too polite to say so to my face.

This week I learned of another native tribe not yet completely contaminated/destroyed/absorbed by industrial cilivization.

My insight, in a nutshell, is that shouting to the world about the problems, isn't not working because people are afraid, or feckless, but because they don't know what to do - they are helpless, ignorant creatures.

I realized they do not know what to do because they are Adult-Sized Children completely dependent upon their collapsing industrial ecosystem.

I realized Adult-Sized Children of a failing industrial ecosystem can be extremely dangerous when they do not get their kibbles.

I realized I better leave the land of adult-sized children before they turn rabid and begin consuming anyone that does not look, smell, sound, feel and taste like them.

Hi there Aardvark.

"Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me,
Think I'll go out and eat worms."

I read some of your hate mail. What a hoot!!

Systemic Paralysis-

OBI:Don't just stand there - Do something!

Benny: What?

OBI:I dunno, anything. Print money. Borrow. Lend. Default. Whatever, but look busy and like you know what you're doing.

Benny : And if TSHTF

OBI: It's your funeral bro, but we'll all be going down together anyway, so don't be too upset.

Benny: You'd just say it was my idea and have me canned. Why don't you let the congress do the dirty work, I'm sick of being the point man...What you laughing about man? You need a doctor? Talk about dying laughing. OK now seriously maybe you could just declare martial law or something like that, I mean, they could only impeach you.

OBI: Are you wired or something? Is this a trap?

Benny : I'm totally serious and no I'm totally clean, no cables. Desperate times need desperate measures.

OBI: I ain't no Texan.

Benny: Since when did Chicago boys suddenly big have moral scruples? Get your *ss in gear!

OBI: I can do without pep talks from finance profs on how to take care of things.

Benny: You're just squeamish. I totally expanded the sense of my power in the emergency to the tune of trillions just like the last guy in your office understood legal limits in a very flexible manner.

OBI: He had congress on the run. They were kissing his *ss. They won't give me the time of day.

Benny: Patriot act and all that are still on the books. Just say that banks are unpatriotic potential terrorists and have to lend money to small business and little guys at 0% for thirty years or go to Gitmo.

OBI: They'd rather face the firing squad. Why don't you just send a million bucks each to all the poor bastards in America so they can buy more junk?

Benny: That's my worst nightmare. Giving money to the poor. Maybe Timmy could bring it over himself, he worked in the 3rd world. Besides, the stores would just up their prices overnight, just like the French shops on the Champs Elysee up their price for a croissant according to the dollar course of the last five minutes.

OBI: You're right. God this job gives me such a headache. Man, like I shoulda listened to my Mama and become a preacher. All that Harvard stuff and politics is a crock of s**t.

Benny : Yeah like my Mama wanted me to be a dentist. But I wasn't into pain. Now I think maybe there was no difference.

I finished reading Odum and Odum's Prosperous Way Down this week, and was generally disappointed. What I haven't figured out is exactly why I was disappointed. I think it was because the whole thing felt inconsistent to me — the pieces didn't fit together into a consistent whole. Or at least they didn't address several critical questions that need to be answered to make the descent "prosperous".

For example, they write about the need for rapid electrification, and that the long-term sources will be hydro, fission, and the rest of the coal. It is difficult to reconcile burning the world's coal reserves with the environmental stewardship pushed elsewhere. The question of electrifying agriculture seems to be ignored, but maintaining a fission level of technology requires (again IMO) that it be done. Either that, or it requires a two-tiered society, with a largish population of peasants producing the food, and an elite group reaping the benefits of nuclear-level technology.

Perhaps most important is that here are two Americans writing about social changes, but nowhere summarizing that they have proposed a government that is enormously more intrusive than currently. They propose (or at least imply) radical restructuring of employment, education, and medical care, along with very significant restrictions on the goods and services to be produced. If the intended mechanism for implementing these changes is not government coercion, than they beg Nate's question of what institutions can be expected to accomplish it?

what I learned this week:

to begin, I'm a first time poster... been reading/ appreciating TOD for years now though, all through graduate school as embodied energy is a huge concern in archtiectural studies. now an intern architect, I'm excited about new cultures possible with new arrangements of space...

I understand more clearly each day of each week that what Nate said is true: people see the problems, they even want to fix them, are willing to sacrifice... but don't know what to do or how to start working toward the positive future of our imaginations. that goes for everyone in my observation, from the highly educated, well financially situated, to the other end of the spectrum.

Not knowing is an education issue. Inability to act, seems to me, to be largely a liability issue. People are tied down to the obligations of the system and it's bills... all sorts of golden handcuffs, time commitments. Inventing and living out a different culture requires not only the ability to live into that new future, but the capital and resources to create a way of life which frees them from the obligations which hold them in the status quo in the meantime, while they transition over.

The good news is, the education is happening: the conversation I share with friends in west texas on this saturday morning is to the tune I seem to hear everywhere I go these days... a shift away from demand for the jet set, the speed, the glamour of the young, mobile, individual... there seems to be a renewed interest in rest, leisure time, family time, meal time, quality, not quantity etc... Could it be that all the young americans traveling the world ( like myself ) return home after their travels to the middle of america with a different set of cultural outlooks/ possibilities in mind? Could it also be that in the wake of the recent recession, people are spending their unemployed, less employed downtime remembering better times, back when america had neighborhoods and shaded sidewalks? I also think that some invisible threshold is being crossed by the mass media in regards to how much baloney the masses can be force fed. I see a skeptical attitude toward the news and digital media realm all around me. so thanks to these phenomena and more, people in west texas are talking about: farmers markets again... organic local food sources, biking, walkability, yoga, ( and our 5a state championship high school football team...), but I mean, yoga too... ya know?

finally, I've learned this week that three solar panels is barely enough energy ( but enough ) to live in a tiny house with yachting appliances as long as I do my cooking outside ( the wood stove is a bit too much warmth in the summertime ). anyhow, the tiny house is a prototype on a scale that makes it entirely free of liability ( no bills ) and gives me more time to lay around outside in a hammock ( less house cleaning ) and invent. besides ( I thought as I abandoned the idea living a "normal" american life ) I guess I've lived enough interesting places in the world that american suburbia has lost all appeal to my senses. here's the blog about how I'm working toward a sustainable, alternative reality where I grew up:

a friend of mine used to say one thing when I told him about the world's problems: "be the change" - pretty annoying...

How many watts of panels are your three? (Just curious)

Have you planned on setting up any Solar Heating as well? (Your blog mentioned that winters do get harsh.. but what do I know of Texas, I'm in Maine.. was only down there to film Clay Walker a couple times.. but we did make it to Abilene once.)

As you talked about Cooking, and being an architect, it got me thinking about schemes I've been having for 'Building Integrated Solar Cooking'.. instead of these portable things that have to be slid around on the ground. Heck, even those would be nicer set up onto a Chest-High Pivot-Post for easy access and aiming, and to keep them out of people's shadows..

For 'Micro Living' like you're trying out, another solar cooking thought that has been on my mind, is that a Built-in solar Oven/Crockpot sort of deal would be there gathering heat whether you're cooking or not, and so could be supplementing your building heat (in heating seasons).. or your hot water supply, giving this sort of installation multiple values. You'd probably also want to divert that heat outside during summertime, of course.

Welcome, and thanks for posting!
Bob Fiske - Portland Maine


You and I have a lot in common when it comes to working on energy and conservation problems with whatever we can put our hands on.

My domestic solar water heating system will be finished in a couple more weeks at a total cost in cash of less than a thousand bucks;I could have done it considerably cheaper by taking longer to scrounge materials but I am getting impatient.

I have started work on a wood burning cook stove/grill/oven intended for outdoor use that promises to be incredibly fuel efficient when it is finished.

A section of sixteen inch steel pipe eighteen inches long mounted vertically , with a welded on steel bottom, will form the combustion chamber.I have salvaged a partial roll of boiler insulation, and will wrap it with the insulation and cover that over with a hand fabricated shell of 18 gauge galvanized sheet metal, everything except for the fuel door and circular top cooking surface.There will be a rim to catch/retain grease and liquids an inch high all around the top, so I can actually fry eggs or burgers or whatever directly on the top.

ALL the removable parts will have handles that don't get hot.

I will make heat trapping top covers out of more galvazined sheet metal with holes in them to fit around cooking pots-a pot eight inches in diameter will call for a top cover with an eight and an eighth inch hole.

With the top cover off, I can lay on the conventional welded wire grilling rack, and a second and third easily removable rack mounted lower lower down in the chamber can be used convert to a moist smoker to cook items at least as big as a football or soccer ball with the lid put back on.

Draft control will be via a two inch steel pipe nipple and gate valve bought for two bucks at the salvage yard by the pound, where I got ALL the materials except the insulation for fifteen cents a pound.The exhaust vent will consist of salvaged three inch pipe and elbow welded on back side and tall enough to conveniently keep cook out of the smoke.

A second section of twelve to fourteen inch pipe (not yet found at very low cost) will be left open on one end and the other end closed and similarly insulated and wrapped with galvanized sheet metal.Placed open end down on the top cooking surface, it will serve admirably as an oven when making any recipe not to sensitive to modest temperature variations.

Except for my oxyacetlene torches and electric arc welder this project will requires only hand tools most well equipped handy men already possess;and hiring the larger pieces cut to measure should cost no more than fifty to seventy five bucks for anyone without them.

But boring holes for all the necessary small bolts and rivets to needed to avoid welding would be tedious and very time consuming.

This project will cost less than seventy five dollars cash, excepting the insulation.

Since I am using quarter inch thick steel, it will last just about forever if kept dry."Straight thru" construction time will be a couple of days.

The beautiful thing is that I expect it( having conducted previous preliminary experiments along these lines) to stay hot enough to slow cook beans or stew at least twelve hours on a single charge of almost any kind of small pieces of scrap wood;and it will get hot enough long enough on a large grocery bag full of waste paper to cook burgers or fish.

I see no reason why it will not be safe to leave it unattended, given the way the fire will be totally enclosed and the outside surfaces coolto the touch-excepting the cooking surface and exhaust pipe of course.

And I expect to be to be able to choke off the fire once the wood is burnt down to coals and harvest light flaky fast lighting, fast burning charcoal suitable for a little fast cooking of hamburgers on a conventional grill.

This stove might turn out small quantities of charcoal suitable for terrapreta for the home garden while silmantaneously cooking if loaded with suitable organic materials such as leaves and twigs plus a little wood and the draft and burn time properly regulated. ;)


it's great when your stove makes food for now and later ( terra preta ) simultaneously... have you photo documented the construction process of these creations?

Hi texarch,

I should have kept a photo record during building in case somebody thought looking at the pictures worthwhile, but I don't know how to post them anyway.

There is absolutly nothing new in what I am doing, except possibly stretching the envelope a bit beyond normal design parameters and substituting some cast off items such as automobile radiators for the uber expensive copper tubing and sheet copper usually used in solar collecters.(Incidentally three of the six salvaged radiators I'm using ARE constructed of copper and brass-such radiators were commomly installed up thru the sixties and seventies and sometimes into the eighties in Armertican cars and trucks-any radiator with a metalas opposed to plastic top or side reservoir is likely a copper radiator.All six are connected in series with ordinary automotive radiator hoses.)

The only real difference between the stove I am building and and hyrib between a good bbq grill and an old ordinary airtight woodstove is that I am going to enclose every possible part of it with fireproof boiler insulation covered with sheet metal-which is pretty much sop construction for any boiler .

It will burn a really long time-COMPARED to an ORDINARY stove -on a very small amount of fuel simply, first, because the only place exposed to the air to cool it and radiate the heat away will be the cooking surface AND ,second, because the relatively large combustion chamber will hold a lot more fuel than most cookstoves.

The fuel simply can't burn in a hurry due to a lack of combustion air-gauranteed by airtight welded construction and a good inlet air control valve.

It will undoubtedly emit a ferocious amount of carbon monoxide and some other partially unburned gases when operated in the long burn low heat mode, but so does traditional manufacture of charcoal and terra preta..

When operated in an ordinary cooking mode, that is to say with a very small charge of fuel frequently replenished by the cook using it, as is the case with conventional wood fired ranges such as the one my Momma cooked on most of her life,it should burn about as efficiently as any ordinary non catalyst wood fueled stove.The cook won't be able to warm himself beside it cery effectively if at all during cold weather, but the very positive flip side is that he will not be dripping lots of sweat into his food during hot weather. ;)

Any handyman with metal working skills adequate to get on as a beginner in an industrial shop and a basic knowledge of such things as stoves and solar collecters-plus a reasonably complete set of metal working tools- can duplicate these projects easily without pictures or drawings.

hi jokuhl,

they add up to a bit over 400 watts... it's a mini off grid system
with a pure sine inverter. I use a yachting fridge ( stirling engine )
, led's, laptop cpu, small fans, all things that don't require much
energy at all.

passive heating, cooking, cooling etc is definitely the goal.
with each new project i try to explore another
passive technology... integrating it into the architecture. one
of the main ideas in
the world of true "sustainable design" is to resolve as many
lighting, thermal comfort, energy issues with passive technologies,
( solar heat gain, ground source temperature, natural ventilation
etc ) before adding the active strategies:
solar pv, wind, parabolic trough... to do the rest. You want to
design for the minimum energy load in any location before you
size an active system. all this to say, I have a solar cooker sitting
in my shed and I think it's turn is coming up real soon.
i think
the idea of concentrated solar rays into heat gathering spaces
is a brilliant one... and bound to be cost effective if there is
adequate thermal massing to store the heat... and if
implemented at right latitudes and altitudes. the tricky part
about these solutions is that every location on the planet
is slightly different... and the design may vary drastically with
site conditions.

Well, I was going to make a solar cooker for beans but the rainy season has been so bad I have put it off until after. There just has not been continuous hours of sun. Likewise I have not been rushing to put my solar panel together.


Real nice, texarch,

Is there any way I might contact you WRT a potential project? (my info is posted.)

It wasn't a good week for learning truly new things. But I did just realize that the clause:

There have to be new institutions, flexible and with urgency...

seems utterly unintelligible in this context. "With urgency" strongly suggests a hidden dimension of scale since a mere handful of people acting or reacting in private, no matter how rapidly and urgently, wouldn't alter even a single pixel of the Big Picture. The trouble is, the combination of "institution", "flexible", and "at scale" seems a good match for the clichéd trio "cheap", "quick", and "excellent" - in either case you may be able to pick as many as two, but not all three.

An even worse trouble might be the additional hidden dimension of coercion, inasmuch as many of the supposed mitigations commonly bandied about in academic and similar circles simply aren't going to happen on their own on any significant scale. Specifically, people are unlikely to vote to commit the sort of economic suicide that seems regularly to be called for by some who apparently cannot perceive on-the-ground reality from the vertiginous heights of the ivory tower. And usually it's government that's called upon to form directly (or actually to become itself) the institution(s) of large-scale coercion. That clashes violently with "urgency", since it's pretty hard to imagine anything in this universe possessing greater inertia and rigidity than government - save perhaps for neutron-star matter.

I suspect existing institutions will get you 75% or more toward where you want to go. It's a matter of getting them in your grasp....

...which I think is what yawl are working up to. One hell of a thrust to get yer little grippers on the machinery of the state.

That kinda struggle used to worry little ol' me. Could be like being trapped in a pen with elephants that hate each other. And have boils.

But then I realized:

We remain alert so as not to get run down, but it turns out you only have to hop a few feet to one side and the whole huge machinery rolls on by, not seeing you at all. -- Lew Welch

But go ahead. It's destiny and will make quite a show.

Not sure if I've had any startling insights this week. Many of the things I've read above I've gradually come to believe over a period of time, so there's rarely an "aha" moment to look back on.

I do fear the debt bomb. But I think it is artificial, basically paper promisies of future payment. Not the same as real physical needs of society, like energy, food, etc. So I think we can find a way to muddle through these issues. Money, and debt are just ways to motivate others, not an intrinsic thing actually. But the fear that government debt will get us is paralysing itself. We need to make major investments in energy transition, but that will cost more money -so we will put it off because we fear the financial consequences. So just when we need physical investment in different infrastructure, we are most reluctant to organize the many unemployed to do it.

I learned this week that my wife loves the Saturday auctions around here in southern Iowa. It is amazing how low some things are sold for. A gas furnace for $5. 100 feet of fencing for $20. A chest freezer for $15. Sometimes your stuck with buying what you don't want to get what you want. My wife wanted some tackle boxes for her sewing stuff but had to take all the junk inside it. OTOH some folks paid $50 for an antique I wouldn't give a second look. A lot of folks are like that. The real fun she has is she knows what a bargain some things are which most folks don't notice. Still looking for a band saw to complete my shop.

>most of the people that are effecting change now are not thinking about the Federal Reserve death spiral in the coming 5 years, and what that implies for social stability and the future of global energy supplies and interconnected trade relationships.

If these predictions carry weight, we should bear in mind that USA exports constitute sixty percent of the global grain market.

A collapse in these exports from any cause might make trouble for many people.

bollox mate... If the US 'collapses' then the USD will be in the toilet and importers of America's exported grain will snap up a bargain...

What I learned:

1. If one has a perfectly decent recipe for Jamaican vegetarian bean curry which has provided tasty meals for many evenings don't go improvising and expect to enjoy one's evening meal. Improvisation is for the laboratory; real world needs - such as my evening meal - require proven recipes.

2. Having some dodgy Arab come along and buy Manchester City FC, inject £500m (yes, £500 million) to buy the world's so-called 'best' footballers (translation for you Yanks: Soccer Players) does not mean City are immune from Sunderland's dazzle - who have a squad 'valued' at acorns to City's Oak trees.

Sunderland 1 - 0 Man City.

Money ain't everything!

3. My insight: democracy is a self-fulfilling delusion. We the sheeple are being fed 'democracy' by the main parties (on both sides of the Pond) as our God Given Right. Personally, I'd rather settle for less of modern day 'democracy'. This weekend the EDL (English Defense League) which is purported to be a non-partisan group, held a rally in Bradford. The label the media gives them is 'far-right'. I will hold my own council on that one. Never the less, the reason the EDL are protesting is because of that old chestnut, you guessed it, immigration. Just as thorny an issue in Yorkshire as in Arizona. More particularly the EDL does not wish to see Islam spread further throughout the UK. So parallels there with the goings on at Ground Zero in NYC.

The delusion of democracy is that these groups, the EDL, BNP etc are being portrayed as something sinister to the 'proper function of a democratic country'. I will go out on a limb here and say that the rise of these groups is totally democratic, utterly in keeping with free-speech and should be a wake up call to the closet elites who are all pervasive at the top of our so-called 'democracies'. Don't like the way the people react? Then don't get involved in politics. Politics is not about fund-raisers and d!ckheads like Obama and Cameron smoozing the cameras. It is about action in order to secure our children a world worth inheriting. We give them the trappings of power. We can always take it away. By force if need be. The American Constitution is not kept in the National Archives, DC. It is kept under pillows at night and strapped in holsters on men's belts during the day. As a Briton, my defense against the politicians is limited to my fists and my refusal to assist their storm-troopers, the police. I will never aid a police-nazi in their 'investigations'. They work for the state, for the rich elite. Not for me. And for the time being, my defense against the crooks in power is a little old lady resident in SW1A 1AA, London who has always held this country together. God help us when she is no longer there.

So, my insight of the week is: democracy stinks. Unless we take back our democracy from the utter dross 'leading' us to their own betterment, we will fulfill Wells's prophecy and become nothing more than the Eloi to Big Capitalism's Morlock. And maybe we need to go through a period of dictatorship before we get to the other side.

FACT 1 -The sun wanders around in the sky! Proof- I stuck my super cheap solar water heater in exactly the right place on my near flat roof in April, and then I had to move it in July, and now, dad-blame it, I gotta move it again, what with all those really big trees all around our house doing their evil best to throw shade on my water heater.

This is flat out dangerous, what with my eyesight and erratic balance-- I could fall off to the patio and mess up the bricks. Why wasn't I warned?

FACT 2- Solar is the way to go if we want to save the planet. Proof- The current issue of Caltech E&S mag. has a good summary of that Great Book, Sustainable Energy without the hot air. By David MacKay. He says solar will do it, and shows the usual squares in the Sahara and Saudi Arabia that would be needed.

The reason this is a Great Book is that MacKay agrees with me. And he also does what I have urged forever- put all energy units into kW-hrs, and make them PER PERSON, so we get rid of all the stupid meaningless huge numbers that people cannot even name, much less think about.

INSIGHT. It is hopeless cubed for me, a mere atom of humanity, to even think of bringing into action a new heat engine. Every thing having to do with energy-how much we use, how much we spend on fuels of one kind and another, and so onandon, are way too much for me. MacKay says the average person in the USA uses energy at the rate of 10kW! (I came across that same number in the Sept 1990 Scientific American). Flabbergasting! But true; I see proof when my offspring visit and all the lights stay on all over the house.

So. Quit the stirling nonsense, and go for the automatic bike transmission that is out in the shop almost ready to hit the road. We are gonna drive the shift bike into the museum, and dominate the hundreds of millions of bikes business for the next century.

PS. MacKay says a bike gets 80 times the distance per kW-hr as a car does. And, in my case, its fuel comes out of a pot on the stove every morning. And tastes good.

PPS. Humans are NOT heat engines. They are fuel cells.

FACT 2- Solar is the way to go if we want to save the planet. Proof- The current issue of Caltech E&S mag. has a good summary of that Great Book, Sustainable Energy without the hot air. By David MacKay. He says solar will do it, and shows the usual squares in the Sahara and Saudi Arabia that would be needed.

are you on crack?

David Mackay says nothing of the sort. And as a Briton, if I had to choose betwix Putin's gas, some North African non-state's rays and Saudi's sun-juice I would choose the commie bastard's methane every day of the week, and twice on Sundays. The Rusky's are a dirty bunch of sods, and we shouldn't trust them further than we can throw them, but at least they are our kind of dirty sod.

Commie bastards! the only communists in Russia now are two little old ladies waving photos of Stalin in red square on his birthday.

MacKay says something exactly of the sort. Go read the book. He even uses GB as an example to show it's "doable", using lots of numbers. Note the quote marks. I would quote him more fully but I just lent the mag to my bike mechanic.

There are a number of really great comments above mine. Unfortunately, the pooch is screwed. The past is never coming back and few want to accept this. Neither Permatculture nor Biodynamics nor any other magical thinking is going to change the outcome.

I'm not going to go through the usual list of stuff - we all should know it by heart. You, and I mean you who are are reading this, are screwed. I say this because I am "better prepared" than many people and I have spent a lot of time considering the future...and even I will have a hard time knowing how I will respond as it all crashes.

Good luck.


Todd, dude.

At least have a beer before you top yerself!

Here's the number for the NYC branch of the Samaritans :

Before you top yerself, give them a bell would ya?


Get the up and fight! Are you a human or a mouse!

Hi Pal,

Let's start with "Get the up and fight! Are you a human or a mouse!" One of my insights is that I don't give a crap about what people or society do(es).

There are any number of essays that say it ain't coming back.

Again...good luck.


Thanks Todd,

My motto is: Life is the leading cause of death.

So in that sense, I agree with Todd, but choose to live in a way different from what he espouses. Let me lift myself up, so that I am in a position to help others, and not be a part of the problem(s).


I'll bite.

We humans seem to be ready to do anything for a good scare. The movies are getting scarier, the cars go ever faster, roller-coasters go higher and turn you upside down. How much does a bugatti veyron cost?

But when the scare concerns reality, we just don't want to know.

We can happily watch cowboys killing cowboys, cowboys killing injuns, cops killing robbers and robbers killing cops, psychopaths eating young ladies or inventing ingenious machines for killing people slowly and gruesomely.

But we never think of our own demise. We never think of drowning in one's own mucus, burning and suffocating in a fire, the pain of your organs slowly giving up, the agony of hunger or thirst. The best we can come up with is going to sleep and not waking up. Or at least a fast, merciful end. How many people do not go so pleasantly?

I do not think it possible to have a meaningful conversation about collapse with someone who has not come to terms with his own mortality.

I find that regarding my own death as a subject worthy of exploration and investigation gives me enough of a clinical distance to be able to contemplate collapse without collapsing myself.

Which brings me to a surprising conclusion. As worrying about death usually comes with age, were societies where elders had a bigger say better organized?

I have/am learning to hunt predators. Predators that kill my chickens that I can legally retaliate against (some I can't), i've learned some of their moves. For instance plush toy rabbits that vibrate will be taken by hawks and carted off to be used in their nests (for insulation?), that foxes will definitely come back to a chicken that they killed earlier. I've learned that falcons are unbelievably fast. And I've learned I don't really want to hunt them, so tomorrow I am going to start building a 3600 sqft aviary with my crew and completely enclose my free range chickens with plastic fencing (including on top).

I've also learned (again) how desperate people are getting when they think about where they are going to be in a couple of years when X,Y,Z runs out that they use to have a bunch of and how they have no trust in any government system to be there shortly. I also continue to find out that saying that they can just bring their trailer to the farm and we will make a hookup for them bring a sense of relief, not being homeless, a nearby friend or family member, and an ability to raise some food makes a big psychological difference.

I learned this week that the Economist editors think that Earthlings do not have to worry about being able to produce sufficient food for the next several decades...

[Truth-in-advertising] I re-posted this from DrumBeat..I almost never have done that..apologize to TOD if I transgressed...but this article is so contrarian to many of the views expressed on TOD that I thought it was worth wide dissemination here...

The Economist article has provided proof support that the Brazilians have created successful, large-scale agriculture, without much government subsides, and using huge-tract monoculture:

This article has a graph of in-service vs. fallow/credible potential farmland which indicates that only as little as ~ 40% of the World's farmland is in-service. Brazil is shown to have more unused, reserve potential farmland than the next two highest-ranked countries combined. Brazil is represented as having plentiful water, smart productive farmers and farm industry, including a talent at remediating and building soils and cross-breeding crops such as soya to adapt to tropical temperatures and the acidic soils of the Cerrado.

The Economist article implies that Brazil's prowess could be applied elsewhere, such as in certain areas of Africa.

What say everyone?

Barring a nuclear exchange or asteroid strike, doom-by-famine is not in the cards, even at the 9-10 Billion human population level forecast for ~ 2050?


there is more chance of your buddy Shrodinger being arrested for animal cruelty and possession of radioactive materials than is there that 60% of the world's arable land lies uncultivated.

Of course, we will have no way of knowing until we look at that land in question, at which point the denizens inhabiting it will start to plough, sow and hoe and we will be left wondering whether they were always doing so..


I think this is important enough that I shall transfer my answer from DrumBeat as well:

This "farmland reserves" is just exactly like "oil reserves": I think all TODers are well aware that reserve numbers are just that, numbers, mostly dreamed up out of thin air by some corporate or government grunt worker, whose job it is to lie convincingly enough to fool the rest of the world into complacency.

Motives, think like a detective. What is the motive? Follow the money. The Economist, eh? I will admit I don't follow this particular publication, but just its name suggests it would have a vested interest in promoting anything that gives the rosy-thumbs-up to BAU.

Brazil is shown to have more unused, reserve potential farmland than the next two highest-ranked countries combined

I don't suppose that "potential farmland" could also be what is sometimes known as the "Amazon Rainforest"?

FWIW it seems to be in the Cerrado, which is to the south. Irrespective of the worth or non-worth of the article, Brazil is a huge country, much more than just Amazonia.

The Cerrado Wiki.

Wouldn't it be fun to just leave it alone? I need somewhere outside of the city to breath easy.
National parks with all their regulations just don't cut it.

I am human, dammit.
I was made for a different planet than the one that is coming.
How many people are enough?
How many rats can a cage hold?
How many cats can you put in a sack?
Homo sapiens. Yes
Homo domesticus. No

Three things I learned this, in a simular tuesday thru saturday moment. Are, 1 I can't solve your problems. 2, I have a solution, but it only works for me.

The insight to the above and what is your post Nate is this. I can deal with me and mine, I can eat what I grow on my own land, all be it a small hunk of land, I can get 20 pounds of Rice Locally, Riceland Foods being a BIG Arky thing, and I can get half a hog from a local CSA and milk and chickens too from the same group of local Arkansas farmers. This being the HUB city for anything in the region inculding the delta, which is things east of here into the Mississippi river system.

I can live on less than 1/6th an acre, I know how to do it, have proven to myself if not to others that I can handle the rainwater, for everything, even in a year that is still 7 inches below normal. In a year when the skins of the fruits were tough and half the fruit trees in the area were sickly with something or other. The fellow next door has some good figs, or will be good whent hey are ripe.

Pardon my dyslexia, I am getting the ones I see, but if I miss them, you know why.

Anyway, I know I can live on the land, so if I can do it then others can too. If they say thay can't that is their problem not mine.

As to wit about the FED, I am planning a trip to Washington state likely the last one my mother makes if I don't force her to make the effort. You see when you are a selfish person, if you really are selfish is the good kinda way you want people around you that you like, I like my parents.

My dad worries that my mom will be too lazy for her own good, and get in a funk and die on him, and then he'll be alone, now he is the type that won't die without her.

But she is one that will die without him, so keeping her fit is keeping him fit and keeping me fit is keeping them both fit and healthy, as we all tend to have to look out for the other.

The joy of not caring wht the FED has to have to have done is that we have most things paid for, in a year we'll be debt free again, the windows and siding and a few other bills set us back a bit. But We are getting other people out of the helping hand of ours( we still help the homeless, but now we have helped several to the non-homeless status).

So all that being said, one trip to go, by car, because I can't stand a long flight, blood clot risk, neither can mom, and dad likes to drive and so do I. More hassle or less, I'd be able to take the five tons of knives and the steel shells for bom boom booooom practice and all that, that flying would hassle us to death with.

Plus none of this. "Joey I want to get out and walk a bit dear, okay maude, stop the plane my wife needs to get out now, Land darn you, puts gun in pilots ear, and then...... " See the issues here?

Hugs from an Arky((( snickers, I loved it once I saw it)))

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.
Arkansas is not the center of the world, but don't tell Clinton that!


You’ve raised some interesting questions, but I think you’re looking in the wrong direction for answers.

Institutions promote, organize and develop ideas/concepts that originate with individuals. Too soon however, an institution will degenerate into a life form with self preservation as its primary purpose. Individuals within such institutions are all too often frustrated and defeated when they try to introduce new ideas and concepts.

Energy independence, for instance, is an absurd concept. Just as we don’t look under the street lamp for things we’ve lost, but where we might have lost them; so too do we look for energy sources where they might exist, not where we would like to find them.

Cheap energy must be seen for what it is; the greatest boon civilization has ever experienced. First coal, then petroleum and now, despite vociferous objections, nuclear power is the only viable path open to us.

Stephen Hawing, an individual, has proclaimed that mankind must move out into the universe. Given that the world’s population doubles every 40 years (very conservative estimate), Earth’s population will exceed 1 trillion souls within 200 years. Hawking is very obviously correct. Our self preserving institutions however, are pushing wind farms, solar energy, ethanol and population control. Those ‘solutions’ will result only in disease, starvation, war and genocide.

No, institutions are not the answer. Individuals are now, as they have always been, the only answer. Organized institutions implement solutions; they are never the source.

Stephen Hawing, an individual, has proclaimed that mankind must move out into the universe

Yes. Agreed.
Has the window of opportunity closed already? Will we be forced to follow Dr Gerrard K O'Neil?


Would it be so bad?
Perhaps. But compared to what?

To dieoff.

I learned from Time Magazine (Sep 6) that single family houses are a very BAD thing - potentially the ruin of our fair nation. Did anyone else read this article?

On one hand, I think this is a subject that really merits discussion; on the other hand, I had some very serious disagreements with the general direction of the article: for example, the use of GDP as such an important metric.

I really took exception to the idea that most US citizens should value employment mobility over home ownership (which might limit their mobility). This implies that one of our highest values is to serve the needs of global corporations. Strengthening local communities seems to be a secondary concern.

However, my biggest concern is what they did not mention: the whole issue of private homes being managed as "community assets" whereby the current owner is viewed as a temporary occupant who may or may not have the "best interests" of the local taxing authority as their first priority. This mentality leads to all sorts of laws, rules and regulations as to the building/lot size, appearance, connection to utilities, construction timeline, trade licensing, and a ton of other restrictions and penalties. It all comes down to getting the initial building permit and then the final "occupancy" permit. All of these laws force the kind of stupid mortgage/investment paradigm we see in the vast majority of US communities. Note: I think basic building codes that address legitimate safety issues, are a good thing.

Over 30 years ago, we were very lucky to have started our home ownership in a sleepy backwater where all of the above rules were very lax or non-existent. We built our home primarily with sweat and very little borrowing - we took a long time to build our house and never worried about it being "finished". We could not repeat this experience in our community today. Today, we would be forced into a conventional builder/banker paradigm.

Curious to know if anyone else read the article and your thoughts?

My reaction is this:

Any attempt to ban private home ownership, no matter how it is reasoned or justified, is nothing less than a thinly veiled attempt to put us all back in chains again. To transform all the nation into a rootless mob of corporate serf labor, homeless, helpless, defenseless, useable, disposable.

Efficiency? Oh yes, twenty people to a room in the tenements of the turn of the last century was a highly efficient way to warehouse the slaves wageworkers.

Elimination of homeownership is also an efficient way to make the slumlords filthy rich ungodly fast too, endless rent increases and no escape.

Heck, rent those beds by the hour, the day shift leaves for work and the night shift returns and collapses into the same beds, sheets still warm from the previous occupant! Now there's efficient use of resources, by golly! (For those of you who might not be aware, this was an actual practice, it really happened like this in places.)

Those who forget history are doomed to relive its misery. Lately it has become fashionable to forget why our great-grandparents were so focused on owning their own home. They did not suffer and scrape and struggle to get out of the city and out of rent-thralldom because it was so wonderful.

Good evening.
This is your Captain.
We are about to attempt a crash landing.
Please extinguish all cigarettes.
Place your tray tables in their upright, locked position.
Your Captain says: Put your head on your knees. Your Captain says: Put your head on your hands. Captain says: Put your hands on your head.
Put your hands on your hips.
Heh heh.
This is your Captain-and we are going down.
We are all going down, together.
And I said: Uh oh.
This is gonna be some day.

Put your hands over your eyes.
Jump out of the plane.
There is no pilot.

- "From the Air" (abbreviated), Laurie Anderson, 1982 (f/the album: Big Science)

After spending a week behind The Orange Curtain, and clubbing in LA, what I have learned is no one is thinking about these things, and it isn't even available to reject.
We are truly screwed.
Also Nates insight on an elite or agency taking a stance and guidance -- it does not exist, and this process is leaderless and random.

Nate you talk about institutions as if they themselves can fix things.

What you might fail to have thought of as most people seem to think of this in this manner is that there is not anything on Earth that is not made up of Humans. Companies are Humans, homes, and churchs and anything else tht comprises the stuff that we call institutions (sp) I am not going to be picky today and fix my spelling errors.

I am part of the problem I am a go between person, just like Ethan Hawke is in Gattaca, a non-valid living in a valid only world.

I just spent a few days behind bars, oh the nice kind the ones labeled for people like me, the mental ward of the newest one on the block the State Hospital's newests cell block, fitting that it has been what Jan 2007 and Aug 2010, I did a whole year and 7 months without being in a mental ward and this time it was only because I was having a bad day at the races.

I was trying to get money together for a smoke( tobaccoo )Was going there when I was acosted by the same two dogs that have been a bane on my walk to the store all week long. The guy who owned the land must have changed hands with it, or got himself two new dogs or something, I was told that some guy's uncle owns the dogs, but some guy I have no clue about is nothing to me. I thought I was top dog in this block. Yes I howl, yes the dogs on my block know me, I can pet most of them, most of them and I have a working relationship, I protect the place and so do they.

I have been a dog person longer than I knew I was, Told that I have a way with animals longer than most anything I have ever heard told about me.

The dogs in this yard are afraid of me. When I am out there with them out of their fence, they back off if I look at them, and bite at my heels if I look away or turn my back on them. But they back off when I turn and growl or approach them so they aren't wild dogs.

I have only met one wild dog and he backed down, don't know what a pack of them and I would have to deal with, I can howl awful darn loud, firemen love to hear me howl, they kinda like the presentation I can make. My friend the Wilderness EMT knows I am good that way, LOL, I slid down a hill the last time I was in his park, and was laughing and asked him a serious question, because of my well mental condition and the other facts most of which he knows about more than anyone on this list even those whom I privately write to. He said, they'd say, Charles is in the Park. Then again I also know his bosses, They did not know me at the time, I am sure it'll get back to them, but they had been giving him a tough time the day before and I wanted to put in a good word without them knowing me first. Tough days for park people, he is the only full time employee, for a park that ranges over 2.5 miles and is as wide as 1/2 a mile in places. Every grss blade I am sure he knows about, that day over 2 weeks ago on monday or tuesday next, ie in the morning of this post or the next day, So it's tuesday, then, ah memory of where I have been in the past.

Anyway the things we call man made things, are man made, so if a man were to say I stand here this is the line in the sand and no one crosses it or I kill maim, or legal draw them out, if they cross it. Then you might get something done.

I say,

You it!


You aren't it?

I be it on my block, only people that can stop me here and now are the cops, next year it might be josh next door killing me with his pistol or rifle cause the cops not be in charge, but then again if the cops not be in charge, he won't be here in town he'll out hunting elsewhere and I'd still be it. HUmmmmm Thinks. Doomers might come and go, but I am here to stay. So if the doomers all flee, then it is me and whomever decides to envade the burbs and we are kinda at the edge of town still, and then there is Camp Pike and Camp Robinson still just over the hill. They know me, I stand and salute them whenever I see them, don't have too, just do it, gives them a heads up to where I stand. They ahve also heard me howl, and seen me smoke, and breath fire too.

That's me a fire breathing human dragon kinda guy with a walking stick that I know the police call a Ninja Stick in the offical documentation, and by the way they also know about my website, I heard them chatting about it the other night. YOu be the judge.

Nate I love you. TOD hugs, if we are to be a change we have to be the change, you can't pass the buck, you have to stand.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, one day at a time.

I used to know a guy who came to realize everything we talk about here back in the eighties-I just haven't thought about him for a long time.

He lived on an isolated farm and raised a few black labs.

On a moonlight night he would go out and sit down and start howling at the moon and very shortly his dogs would join in.

I wish to god I had recorded that music.

He double majored in chemistry and biology, and he was a science teacher for a while;and of course since he always said what was on his mind and true, he was assigned to teach science to the illiterate fifteen to seventeen year olds who were nominally in the eighth and ninth grade and was eventually fired.

He came to believe life was entirely pointless in any cosmic or higher sense and that therefore the most reasonable thing he could do was spend his life having as good a time as possible.

He died of a combination of acute alcohol poisoning and drugs in his forties in a fishing camp somewhere in the backwoods of Georgia.

Then it tawherent me, I can't tpye like it sounds because I have been up to long with out dream sleep.

I helped my friend Kevin Pride, on a pro bono job for the city of Little Rock to help me sleep, but I got a good sun burn, now my face is reflecting light back into my eyes which kinda sucks. But hey I get this feel God is telling me what he told Paul all those years ago.

I have a skin disorder, disease or some such that from my knees on down I can get almost 3rd degree burns before I'd notice it If I am not paying attention, the itchy legs kick in when I am tried beyond reason, I have worked hard aall day nigh on 12 hours, hard sweat dripping off my nose work till I have had to change 3 shirts just to smell decent.

So am I tired yes , can I sleep, nope. I put my Ninja stick on my forhead, then zoned, but that only made my legs itch more, the bed is a new sheet, the sheets have no soap on them at least not much, I never use soap, I use cold water, and a lite dry cycle. Dad has been telling no one but no one can use our trailer the kids are barking at my heels.

I am glad all my kids are grown and gone and I only had three of them called step kids and two of them my brother actually takes care of off and on, though only one did he sign away is life to in a judges office, so hey.

I can howl so loud people send the police after me if I am in the city, LOL.

FireAngel rules this area, I hunt, I seek Nad I quite them down, babies sleep on my block and one guy if I get near his house, he'll try to shoot me dead, good luck dude.

Hugs from Arkansas, I'll be doing more Landscaping in the morning after noon latter, in the day,


I think the most interesting thing Keynes said was

"Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally"

Add to that more integrated and complex systems and you have the making of an absolute disaster. I think we need to stop spending time on figuring out how to avoid the problem and more time on how we are going to survive it. The same thing is true about climate change-we will not be able to stop it so lets figure out how as individuals and communities we are going to survive it. Would be interested in hearing peoples thoughts.

My top suggestion- lets start building the large wall on the southern border to prevent it inevitable flood of climate refugees and start hardening our hearts to the inevitability of having to turn away hundreds of thousands of refugees.

All are US centric comments:
1) the amount of fertilizer used per bushel of corn is trending down

2) the amount of fertilizers other than NPK is increasing

3) the correlation between GDP and population is freakishly high


A friend forwarded me in an e-mail this thread. Here is what I wrote to him that I thought I would post here.

Hi Ron,

Nate's thread was good as so many of his are. This realization that there are no institutions to turn to for mitigation is something I have thought about for the past couple of years. It is actually really frightening when you can no longer blame corporations or the elite or conspiracies or the Chinese. As long as there was a villain out there steering the ship the wrong way then you only needed to get rid of the villain. But when the problem is that there is no one steering the ship, never has been and no existing entities that even know where the steering wheel is (!) then that is really a frightening reality.

But also kind of hysterically funny also in that corner of dark humor.

7 billion urgently going NOWHERE. And yet believing they are.

We are funny fucking monkeys aren't we?


What I learned this week:
Make music, even if you stink at it.

There is no substitute as support to the mind, body, and spirit.

Hi gang.
I have been very naughty.

Despite your advice, am investigating LENR

It is true. There is an excess of energy.

Look at this

You can be naughty too.
Isn't it exciting?

About as exciting as watching a bird fly into a window.


Don't worry.
Methinks you will be having all the excitement you can handle .

A thing I learned. The difference between wet barrels and paper barrels on the NYMEX and how much gambling really goes on there. Choice quote "“Everybody that works in this business has a little bit of a gambling junkie in them – otherwise, you wouldn’t be here,” says Remy Wagman, president of RJM Energy and a 14-year NYMEX veteran."

Another thing I learned. The tentacles of Koch Industries extends far deeper than I ever expected

An insight. My country, Canada is a little saner than the rest of the world for banning BPA.