Jason Bradford/Stuart Staniford interview.

Jason Bradford (of Willits Economic Localization fame) has taken over as host of a show called The Party's Over on KZYX, which is the public radio station in Mendocino County, California (where Willits is). Jason recently interviewed me on his show for an hour. We had a good talk, and then took various callers. Jason gave me an MP3 of the show, which I've placed on the Oil Drum.

Warning: it's a 25MB MP3 that runs for an hour. Ok - I want to listen anyway.

Just finished listening, great show.
I'd like to pick those final callings and ask you oil drummers to open a thread on population. Thanks.
I agree about discussing population.  

"And what do you want, Crow?"
"I wanna decide who lives and who dies."
"Oh, I don't know."

Even though it gets unsettling in a hurry.

It was nice to hear your voice, Stuart! Also, I found very interesting the phenomena of people coming from very different backgrounds that end interested in peak oil. Perhaps this is one of the things that, in an intuitive level, reassures me that P.O. (whether it results in a crash or slowdown) is a very important topic, perhaps  the most.
I find hope in that as well, Peaknik.

Take me for example; I am a stay-at-home mom right now (my kids are 2 and 8 months). I once completed over half of the coursework to become an elementary school teacher. Circumstances in my life at the time made it tough to continue my education. But, I come from a highly educated family (mother is a teacher with a masters, father is a college professor with a PHD, brother is a city planner with a masters) and I certainly don't lack the intelligence.

From what I can see I am quite different from the posters here - however, I really believe we must all band together to start initiating positive change. This is an issue that affects us all across the board, and it will take real cooperation of an unprecedented nature if we hope to increase our chances of a 'soft landing' for the human race.

I became aware of PO after my husband handed me The Long Emergency (quite an introduction to the subject!). I have been reading and learning from TOD (and elsewhere) for about 6 months now. I know mothers care deeply about the world we are leaving to the future generations. How can I look at my children and not be concerned about the future beyond next year, next decade, even next century???

Nice interview, great to hear your voice Stuart. Thanks for your work and sharing it.   I still don't see how a slow squeeze won't crash the U. S. markets. I worry all our debt will look to be a loss. I am a novice re economics and trying to make plans for retirement and help our  kids we are launching. A slow economic decline is a lot different than Great Depression type collapse where stocks lost 89% in U. S. Perhaps your U. K. context is a factor.   It seemed Jason wanted to ask your thoughts in this area but utilized callers instead.
Excellent job, Stuart, you showed well compared with the host and continuity person. A couple of things occured as I listened...

Totally agree on decline rates (probably worse than currently modelled).

Oil / energy peak may have a more dramatic effect than you currently feel since its recognition and occurence is likely to break our present economic system.

The latter is most likely to exercise you, and everyone, in the near future. I've been grappling for a year or two about how the global and US economic imbalances will correct and how that might interact with PO. It could be short term constructive or negative, and that could be long term the other way round. I don't yet know but feel/think it is critical.

On the population thing: yes, problem, but will correct. Means are the big issue, overkill / underkill an issue too. After-effects important.

Thank you Dr. Staniford. Your interview was most enjoyable and very infomative. Thanks for being there to help keep us informed. Your work is deeply appreciated!
That's the show that got me to this site!  I was impressed by your level-headedness and technical approach.

Having fun looking around the site, and looking forward to an education.

Welcome to the site. You can read my past pieces here. (In general, you can click on anyone's name/handle and get a page with links to all their comments, stories (for editors and contributors, etc).
I really enjoyed the interview.  I did not know your background or that of the others that edit this site.

Funny how these sort of things end up in a population debate.

Stuart, could you recommend any blogs on economy?

I agree that blogs are much more informative than reading the newspapers.

Very interesting show by the way!!

Not got many economic blog links, I Find Mish pretty good though I disagree with him on some things:

Non blog resources I find useful...

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/economy/economic_calendar.asp?siteid=mktw  (Marketwatch weekly US economic data)
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/default.asp?siteid=mktw  (minute by minute market news)
http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/  (US gasoline prices)
http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/commodities/cfutures.html  (commodity prices)
http://www.dailyfx.com/  (forex)
http://www.financialsense.com/index.html  (lots! excellent)
http://www.bea.gov/beahome.html  (US BEA)
http://www.gillespieresearch.com/cgi-bin/bgn  (exposing the fiddles in US ecomonic data)
http://www.safehaven.com/index.cfm  (articles on current US economy)
http://landru.i-link-2.net/monques/mmm2.html#MODERN  (long article on money and banking)
http://www.kitco.com/  (gold)
http://www.kitcometals.com/  (base metals)
http://www.morganstanley.com/GEFdata/digests/latest-digest.html  (Morgan Stanley latest articles)
http://www.morganstanley.com/GEFdata/digests/digests.html  (MS article archive)

That should keep you busy a while, if there is something specific you want, ask, I probably have links.

Thanks Agric and Stuart!

Indeed, that will keep me busy for a while :-)

Funny way of saying "controversy" ...

Actually I enjoyed it immensely.  Willits seems to have a good percentage of intelligent and informed callers.

I think the WWII questions were the most thought provoking.  As I (a peak oil moderate) watch things, I get the current relationships between oil and economic progress.  I accept that a crimp in supply would most likely lead to a downturn.  At the same time, I think a game-changing "mobilization" could lead in another direction completely.

I guess it would take a striking series of events to really move the public in the direction of mobilization.  It's probably more likely that we'll hunker down and suffer oil shocks in succession.

Or, as I think I've said, mobilization will follow an acceptance cycle similar to that in the tech industry:


We are still early adopters, approaching the chasm.

Stuart: Well done young chap
(funny, you don't read as British)

It was good to attach a voice to a net "pseudonym" and also to learn about your academic background.

nice job. Extremely diplomatic. You've done your homework. You come off as very easy-going and personable. You know how to stand off and let your host be the moderator. You know the value of the words, "I don't know."  You could be President.

My only concern is whether you have an "attack" mode. Certainly you know you are going to be needing one soon.

one of your biggest supporters

It was a great pleasure to have Stuart as my first guest on my first radio show!  I chose wisely.

I am waiting for Global Public Media to post this interview.

Monday is my next show at 9 am PST.  If you are interested it can be heard as a streaming audio from www.kzyx.org

I will interview Brian Czech, President of the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy and author of a great book titled "Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train."

As promised, the show on Jan 2 will deal directly with population issues.  I will interview Prof. Virginia Abernathy.

Thanks again for having me :-)
Someone mentioned in the show that in times of economic difficulty the migration is towards the cities rather than towards the countryside. This contradicts everything else that I have read about how to prepare for a PO-induced depression. Wouldn't you be far better off out in the country where you can grow your own veggies and even forage if need be?
There are a lot of myths and bad assumptions about rural areas. Let me see if I can make it any worse :-)

The country folk, hereafter referred to as hicks (no disparagement intended) will indeed be in a better position to plant a little garden, at least from a dirt point of view. My own experience is that very few currently able-bodied hicks ever have planted one. They drive to the supermarket just like you do, only it's 15-20 miles away.

Forage? It's not the garden of eden out there. Back home they used to shoot at people stealing watermelons. What homeless people know is that the foraging is much better in the cities.

And there's the question of where everyone would be doing all this gardening and foraging. Small towns are, well, small. The available homes will be gone before the great migration even got a decent start. If a landowner has a really crap piece of dirt that will barely support a good crop of weeds, that's what they will sell you.

Actually, there is a very good possibility that rural North America will be absolutely devastated by peak oil and gas.

I think they mean that jobs are going to be nearer the cities.  As factories close we're already seeing jobs leaving rural areas and the smaller cities.  
Eventually people will choose between staying in the countryside with no wages or crowding into slums for low wages.  I can't find work in my small city, so I spend my weeks closer to DC.  I wonder how many men do this now, and how many will leave their families in the suburbs to work in the city as jobs grow scarcer?

I grew up on the remnants of a working farm, about seven acres.  We grew our own veggies, raised enough chickens for our own eggs, that sort of thing.  We had a small tractor for tilling.

That was me who made that comment, and I live in a rural small town.

In the long run I think large cities are going to have major problems.  They are resource sinks and pollution concentrators.  That suggests country life is the best.

However, in the short term it is much more efficient to transport and distribute goods into cities than into the rural landscapes.  

If you are close to self-sufficient in a rural area then fine, but I haven't met someone like this in North America yet.  I am sure a few exist, but most rural areas I have visited are just as tied into the global economy as downtown San Francisco.  

I do know a few farmers who have CSAs and could probably feed themselves and their families if they had to.  But what about their neighbors?

I would expect cities eventually to become Dickensian places surrounded by shantytowns (like Lagos perhaps?), where the wealthy live behind high walls and employ armed guards. After all, this is what it is like in third world countries today.

Rural areas are likely to have their problems as well though. In many unstable countries, rural areas are rife with banditry, or worse (Sierra Leone a few years ago?). People without the capacity to produce and store a surplus can be driven off their land by one bad growing season. People with that capacity also have to be able to protect their surplus through strength in numbers or armaments or both, as they will become targets.

Small towns surrounded by farmland provide strength in numbers and may lend themselves to cooperative efforts better than larger aggregations of population would. I would expect them to be the best compromise. Personally, I live on a small farm run on renewable energy just outside a small town surrounded by farmland. I don't expect things to be easy, but I've tried to build in enough flexibility to cope with a range of contingencies in an uncertain world.

Well, you Oil Drum peeps are certainly contrarians. Everyone else seems to believe that a small town surrounded by friendly farms will be best for survival. I can't help but think that life in the city will be a lot like that portrayed in Cinderella Man (set in the Depression). I recently moved to a town with 165K people. It's 55 miles south of one major city and 100 miles north of another really big city.

What do you think of the anthropik.com crew? They see a fast collapse followed by a massive die-off with the few survivors living as hunter/gatherers. I spent a few weeks there and got bored with their schtick. You can't convince them that there may be a scenario other than Stone Age 2.0 which unfolds.

Personally I don't expect a decline back to stone age levels without extreme non peak oil events, and I seem to be one of the more 'doomy' here.

More likely, I think, is going back perhaps 50 to 100 years in levels of technology, population, comfort.

Being a good distance from really large centres of population is a good idea. 165K is perhaps a bit larger than ideal for a home town, I would suggest 50K to 100K, but will be better than where most people live. Decent local resources like food, water, electricity, wood, coal are worth considering, too.

I know the authors at Anthropik personally, and there is no way you can lump them all into one group with one belief in one scenario. Jason is probably the only one that thinks hunter-gatherers will be the only ones will survive, he just happens to be the most prolific writer and that probably gives you a skewed perspective. Generalizations about other authors who contribute there based on one author's perspective are pretty foolish.

That being said, Peak Oil is only one of the upcoming problems for civilization and if you're not looking at the entire picture you're missing the point. With Peak Oil, the Holocene extinction, global warming, and many other facets of the problem of the diminishing returns of perpetually increasing complexity, we see the end of industrialization. Without industrialized drilling and mining for metals, there would be no new excavation of metals. Without new supply, you're stuck using and recycling existing metals. Over time these metals will degrade and without metals you're basically at the Stone Age. I don't think I could explain it more simply than that. What exactly are you disagreeing with in this argument?

Will the interview with Czech on the steady state economy be made available online for those who missed the airing?
I'll look into it.  Will give Stuart the ftp address for the file and he can decide if it warrants space on TOD.  

I also send these to Global Public Media, but they apparently have a backlog and don't get them up quickly. They need more staff probably.

I'd still love to hear this interview.
Apologies to all for the lateness of my response- Jason's interview with Brian Czech is now online. Jason is partially right, we do have quite a backlog, but we have enough staff to cover it. The trick is getting them to do so! Thanks for your patience and interest.