DrumBeat: October 16, 2006

[Update by Leanan on 10/16/06 at 9:19 AM EDT]

A Power-Grid Report Suggests Some Dark Days Ahead

Companies are not building power plants and power lines fast enough to meet growing demand, according to a group recently assigned by the federal government to assure proper operation of the power grid.

The group, the North American Electric Reliability Council, in its annual report, to be released Monday, said the amount of power that could be generated or transmitted would drop below the target levels meant to ensure reliability on peak days in Texas, New England, the Mid-Atlantic area and the Midwest during the next two to three years.

Norway warns on energy transparency

Norway’s foreign minister has warned that achieving financial transparency in the murky world of oil and other national resources has become more important, but also more difficult in the past two years.

As the oil price has trebled, governments of oil-rich states, Russia, Venezuela and Bolivia, have wrested more control over their precious resources from international companies, and willingness to disclose the revenue stream they have created has diminished.

Rising building costs pose threat to oil sector growth

ABU DHABI - A surge in building costs is threatening expansion projects by oil producers and could cause long-term problems for the industry, Arab producers said.

The news and the markets

Global oil production appears to have hit a plateau at 85 million barrels per day. This confirms the peak oil theory that the production of the world's easily recoverable hydrocarbons has, in fact, peaked. So what comes next?

Nuclear Energy — What Future for Oil?

The commodity markets' old saying that prices that go up like a rocket, come down like a bomb, seems to be nearer to the truth .... Energy security is of paramount importance today, as the success of global and national economies is more dependent on a consistent and timely supply of energy. At the same time, there is an increased sense of energy vulnerability and concern about the future availability of reasonably priced energy. The social, economic and political impacts associated with either natural or man-made disasters in the energy sector are vast, allied with a realization that energy infrastructure and supply chains are becoming complex and globally interrelated.

Beware Russia, energy superpower: Putin’s control of oil and gas may bring the West to its knees

Shell CEO says Sakhalin issues fully addressed

Royal Dutch Shell has fully addressed all ecological issues at its Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project and is confident it can resolve outstanding matters with Russia's government, its chief executive said on Monday.

Closing the Book on 2005: EIA Revises 2005 US Oil Usage from Decline to Gain

IEA chief surprised OPEC worried by price fall

"I am surprised OPEC is worried about the level of prices," IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil said in an interview with La Tribune newspaper released ahead of publication on Monday.

"Of course, (prices) have fallen significantly over the past month, but they had reached completely absurd levels," he added.

OPEC lowers oil demand forecast for 2006

EPA relaxing environmental rules for ethanol plants

CHICAGO - As President Bush promotes ethanol as a green alternative to gasoline, his administration is quietly relaxing environmental rules for dozens of new corn-to-fuel refineries sprouting up across the nation.

The Other Oil Threat

In 2006, OPEC's trade surpluses will match those of developing Asia, at a time when the U.S. is vulnerable to financial machinations.

World’s Largest Carbon Sequestration Project Approved

Branson asks Brown to cut duty on fuel to power green trains

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Trains business is close to winning a concession from Gordon Brown that will launch the UK's first biofuel-powered rail service.

IEA chief: Europe and United States should import ethanol from developing world

Very important news. Finally someone with some authority is saying it: instead of producting it themselves and subsidizing it like mad, the United States and the European Union should import ethanol and biofuels from the developing world. Making it themselves is not good for the environment, nor for the economy as a whole, and even less for individual consumers. These are the words of Claude Mandil, chief of the International Energy Agency.

Indonesia dumping sludge from mud flow

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesia began dumping mud surging from a gas exploration site in central Indonesia into the sea on Monday, hoping to minimize destruction from the disaster that has submerged entire villages and displaced thousands.

Algeria agrees oil windfall tax

Groups question nuke plant terror risk

JACKSON, Miss. - Environmental groups opposed to expanding a nuclear power plant accused federal regulators of failing to publicly address whether the project would increase the risk of terrorism.

General Motors says China sales rose 36.7%

Thousands of small generators

TORONTO - Leonard Allen, who runs a small solar panel company here, finally has something good to tell callers, he says. For the first time, he can promise it won't take 50 years to recoup the money they spend on a rooftop solar system.

Unholy trinity set to drag us into the abyss

We are about to experience the convergence of three of the great issues confronting humanity. Climate change, the peaking of oil supply and water shortage are coming together in a manner which will profoundly alter our way of life, our institutions and our ability to prosper on this planet. Each is a major issue, but their convergence has received minimal attention.
Don't Worry.  Bush is Satan and Allah and his merry band will take care of him.

We are a world of antz in smoke, and our "leaders" fear or worship imaginary monsters no different than the greeks or romans did.

Things do not look good for the home team...  (any home team).


Iran leader in Bush 'Satan' claim  

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reportedly delivered a scathing attack on US President George W Bush, saying he is inspired by Satan.

Speaking to a group of supporters, Mr Ahmadinejad said he himself had inspirational links to God, Iranian media reports...


Bush's "Petro-Cartel" incompetent ?



WASHINGTON [MENL] -- China has been preparing to explore for crude oil in Iraq.

An Iraqi executive said Chinese companies have dismissed security threats and plan to drill for oil in Iraq. The executive said Iraq approached China to participate in the project.

Dathar Al Khashab, general manager of Midland Refineries Co./Daura Refinery, told the American Petroleum Institute annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas that China was approached after U.S. companies refused to work in Iraq. Al Khashab did not provide details of the oil exploration projects offered to China.

"Please help," Al Khashab told U.S. oil executives. "Please be brave enough to go to Iraq. Don't just sit there and wait on the opportunity."  


China is the 800 pound gorilla, and nobody messes with China. That being said, China probably plans on a gazillion mile pipeline to send the oil straight to the Homeland, and having the worlds largest army, will post troops every half mile or so to protect it.
I've had my kill-a-watt monitor for a while, and wrote some on-line cacluators to go with it:


It's the cat's pajamas when it comes to understanding your energy use ... as this excellent article illustrates:


The author comes to an intesting conclusion with regard to conservation for co2 reduction.

found by way of:


 Just got a Kill-a-watt myself.  Great little tool!  

I would like to see a panel in the house that just displays all the current running down at the box.  It's so easy to let the power just run invisibly, but if you have an intentional, in-your-face reminder that you're actively spending money through everything that is on, I think it would be a great reminder to shut stuff off.  Sounds like one more gadget, and it is.. but I think it could be a worthwhile one.

  There was similar talk some months ago about a display on your dashboard, telling you how efficiently you are operating your car, just like the Hybrids have.  Don't you think this would almost become a game that (some) drivers would play, keeping that consumption down?  I think a lot of people surely love to buy, love to consume, live 'Big',.. but so many of us are also essentially cheap bastards, and go to lengths 'for a discount', 'to get a deal..'

My answering machine cordless only draws 2 watts standby, and 4 when the speaker-amp is on.. >> now, that times the 4 years or so that this one has been plugged in nonstop..  priceless!

The ScanGauge is compatible with most cars and trucks made after 1996 and will display your instantaneous and trip MPG:
Fine looking device.  Not bad for $165!

You use one?

"I would like to see a panel in the house that just displays all the current running down at the box.  It's so easy to let the power just run invisibly, but if you have an intentional, in-your-face reminder that you're actively spending money through everything that is on"

  I have one of them thar things. Actually, the meter, which runs both ways and tells me how much I am producing or consuming at the moment.  There's another meter on the solar inverter, telling me how much I am making.
  You're right; getting the readings from the inverter has prompted me to change some habits, trying to get the meter to move backwards. Easiest thing to do was to put all my entertainment stuff on a switched surge protector, which easily gives me the option to kill all those stand-by lights....
Even turning a television off completely rather than leaving it on standby can save a significant amount of electricity -- and with it money, Lawrence said.

"That little RED dot is costing you a lot," she said
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061006/sc_nm/environment_life_dc_1;_ylt=AvSpf2LUfL6Npwz1Oshsn11rAlMA;_y ...

 I also figured out that I didn't need to play my TV thru the stereo. It became a habit to have both going, but who needs to hear Keith Olbermann in 6 channel surround sound? TV sound is good enuf for that. Only need sound to shake the house when I have a concert DVD on.


You can not tell me watching Black Hawk Down (won the award for best sound that year) is the same sound on the TV as the 5.1?  Feeling explosions just does something more than hearing them.  One thing I know I will miss is high fi audio equipment for both cars and the home.
One thing you may gain is live drums from close proximity - I've had the chance to hear and play (with) some large taiko drums - talk about feeling the music!
"You can not tell me watching Black Hawk Down (won the award for best sound that year) is the same sound on the TV as the 5.1?  Feeling explosions just does something more than hearing them"

 No, I can't. Nor Lord of the Rings. Nor any outer space show.

  I won't miss high fi, cuz I have solar, and I have concert DVDs. (And lots of other, less high tech, forms of stored music. Even something from the last century called  "records".)

My folks live about as close to ground zero of that earthquake that hit Hawai`i yesterday as you can get and still be on dry land.  It was 7am local time, but they were already up and about.  My mom was at the gym.  My dad was outside spraying petrochemicals around, trying to get the yardwork done before settling in front of the TV for football. (Due to the time zone difference, Sunday football starts at breakfast time in Hawai`i - at 8am.)

Dad noticed the earthquake.  Everything swayed, and tons of leaves flew off the big lichee tree in the front yard.  But he's a little hard of hearing, and apparently didn't hear things crashing in the house.  He didn't even go inside to check it out.

The power went out when the quake hit, so Mom came home from the gym.  (Guess you can't exercise without electricity.  ;-)  She pulled into the garage and saw everything on the garage shelves had fallen off.  

Then she went inside, and found total chaos.  In the kitchen, all the food had fallen out of the fridge and cabinets.  Dishes and jars were smashed.  Pictures had fallen off the wall.  There was cracking along the base of the house walls.  The closet doors had fallen out.    

Of course, the biggest problem, from Dad's POV, was that with no power, there was no football.  However, the electricity did come back on in time for the Sunday night game (an afternoon game Hawai`i time).  

O`ahu, where most of the population of Hawai`i lives, was without power a lot longer.  Apparently, the problem was software that shuts down the entire grid when there's a shortfall.  Though only two generators (out of 11) actually went offline due to the quake, all of them were automatically shut down.

Because Hawai`i gets its water from artesian wells, without power, there's no water, either.  Tourists were in a bit of a panic, rushing to convenience stores to buy bottled water.  Many of the locals stood in line for hours to buy food and drink from lunch wagons. Home Depot was one of the few stores that stayed open; guess they just fired up some of their generators.  They sold out of batteries right away, but reportedly still have propane and charcoal.  

Airplanes were allowed to land in Hawai`i, but could not take off.  Without power, the security machines couldn't run, so no one was allowed to board outgoing planes.

Some buildings partially collapsed, including the hospital where my sister worked part-time when we were in high school.  A structures engineer said the shaking had turned some concrete into powder; he described it as a "mini 9/11."  

Highways are closed due to rockslides, and as many as 170 bridges on the Big Island may be damaged.  Engineers are being flown in from the mainland to inspect them.  Hotels have been asked to keep tourists as close to the hotel as possible, since the roadway infrastructure may not be safe.

Only a few gas stations were open; they attracted long lines.  Many limited purchases to $20, and/or accepted cash only.  

Some grocery stores opened for emergency purchases.  People were escorted in one at a time, guided by an employee with a flashlight.  Hundreds lined up outside.

No lights in Honolulu last night, except from cars
Thanks for that fascinating report, Leanan.  Remarkable that your folks were so involved, glad they're OK.
And I know that you know this, but I always like to point out that Global Warming makes earthquakes more likely in a shorter timeframe because of the shift in load structure on the continental plates as the glaciers melt into the oceans.  Rock n' Roll...
Interesting report, Leanan. I have still not heard from my own sister there, although I'm sure she's fine.

A bicycle-riding poor person (as I was there for a few years) who had some food and water stored wouldn't sweat the situation. But almot everyone has to have their STUFF and their football or Life As They Know It has come to a stop or something. Almost everyone there is determined to be even more nature-hating and oil-guzzling than on the Mainland.

Looking at my earthquake and hurricane experiences, I sweat stuff like this a lot less than younger people who've never done without STUFF, and some of the old-old folks, who were through WWII and worked on the plantations as kids and all that, probably no sweat at all. I think of one old math teacher who wanted us to, if he had his way, run a couple miles before class "for discipline" and who spoke Pidgin so thick I often had to translate for the girl who sat next to me.

One more very interesting day of news stories, Leanan.  WSJ section is preaching conservation of gas and electricity, power grid failures are imminent in the MSN, another big US natural disaster in this earthquake, ominous Arab concerns over new oil project development costs, and grassroots electrical generation looking to be the answer.  Thanks for your personal report concerning the earthquake and good luck to your family as they go forward.  Why I keep coming back to this website is to confirm in my own mind that this is really happening and thanks to all of the contributors here, day after day the evidence is there.
Thanks.  I was really surprised that all the food fell out of the refrigerator.  Fridge doors generally don't just fall open.  But they weren't the only ones.  Apparently, a lot of people had all the food fall out of their fridges.  Must have been some shaking.  

Thanks for the "on the ground" reporting, too.  Can't get that kind of coverage on the MSM.
Doors frequently open in big quakes. Appliances and furniture can actually walk across the floor during a big one.
i have some friends on the big island in the same area. i heard the usual stories of broken glass, cracked foundations, and flying t.v.'s, but the most amazing story i heard was from a gentleman on a morning walk on paniolo ave. in waikoloa village , about 10 miles from the epicenter. he said that he heard this low frequency roaring sound that originated from the ocean to the southwest, like a loud, very low flying commercial jet. the sound increased , and came towards him. when it seemed to be overhead, the shaking commenced. i've heard of roaring noises associated with earthquakes, but have never heard of this approaching roar before an earthquake.
I heard just such a sound before a ~M4 temblor on the Hayward Fault in the SFO Bay Area. Very frightening. It's as if the ground is some sort of roaring monster that is about to pounce. The tension is so high that, when the shaking hits, one is compelled to leap through the roof (figuratively, of course, though I suppose the roof could drop onto you! ;o).


The 1987 swarm of quakes in SoCal were interesting, I got used to aftershocks that would have made the news on their own. I had an apartment and could not afford a bed, so I slept on the floor, I remember one aftershock kind of rolling me around on the floor, and I could hear grinding noises below me. I kind of half woke up and noted I was rolling around with no effort on my part, and that the grinding noises were from below, and fell right back to sleep.
   Leanan, We are in kauai and the shaking was so intense i turned to my wife and said there is no way this was on the Big Island. We are 500 miles away! Shows how much I know. It must have been intense locally.
Is Bush getting ready to cut and run?  Should we all be looking to buy some land in Northern Paraguay?

Bush Buys Land in Northern Paraguay

Buenos Aires, Oct 13 (Prensa Latina) An Argentine official regarded the intention of the George W. Bush family to settle on the Acuifero Guarani (Paraguay) as surprising, besides being a bad signal for the governments of the region.

Luis D Elia, undersecretary for the Social Habitat in the Argentine Federal Planning Ministry, issued a memo partially reproduced by digital INFOBAE.com, in which he spoke of the purchase by Bush of a 98,842-acre farm in northern Paraguay, between Brazil and Bolivia.

The news circulated Thursday in non-official sources in Asuncion, Paraguay.

D Elia considered this Bush step counterproductive for the regional power expressed by Presidents Nestor Kirchner, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Evo Morales, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

He said that "it is a bad signal that the Bush family is doing business with natural resources linked to the future of MERCOSUR."

The official pointed out that this situation could cause a hypothetical conflict of all the armies in the region, and called attention to the Bush family habit of associating business and politics.

ef ccs tac rmh


  My guess is that Bush is looking for a hidey-hole where he can't be extracted for war crimes. According to the Lancet, the British Medical Journal, there are 655,000 Iraqui war dead since the invasion with all of the reasons for war discredited as lies. And Paraguay is most famous for being a sanctuary for the German National Socialist war criminals.
   With the Neocons it is necessary to watch what they do, not listen to what they say.
My guess is that Bush is looking for a hidey-hole where he can't be extracted for war crimes.

Spot on.

Move in next door to Mengele's kids. That should be safe.

I'm reminded of Steve Sailor's (www.iSteve.com) comments on the probable future of the US when I read about this.

Steve Sailor feels the US is simply going to follow the trends of other American countries, a trend that's proceeding south to north: a widening of the rich/poor gap, wealth being concentrated by a small wealthy elite, and a majority brown-skinned populace with the elite being white.

His writings are worth reading, he talks about trends where the white working class in the Americas tends to marry whenever however whoever, which leads to a blending with other working class people of whatever race, leading to a sort of homogeneous, blended, brown or brownish, working class. Meanwhile, the elite are marrying for the establishment of power links and for elite-group purity, hence a preservation of white european heritage and even a "whitening" of the ruling class.

His stuff is really worth checking out.

Personally, I feel Brown Is Good, except for far northern regions, melenin is a good thing to have. I have some but wish I had more.! I'd much rather look forward to a future where if races live in the same geography, they'd tend to blend, rather than the predicted racial caste system Sailor talks about. Sailor is dismissed as a "nazi" by some I think, because to talk about race at all in the Empire gets dismissed as such. But I think things like this are important to read and discuss, because I think Sailor correctly forecasts that the class stratification in the US will become worse, not better.

Also probably lots of biofuel opportunities in the tropics...he will probably have his own ethanol plant contructed.
correction:  "constructed"
Think they can still get Gregory Peck to play him in the miniseries?  "The Bush Boys from Brazos"

It's all gud.. now get the heck outta Maine!

I read this early this morning and got nothing out of it. They want to buy land in Paraguay and that's it.  All the other hyperbole is useless.  

We can speculate on what's the motivation, but that's about it. Either they intend to be sitting on some valuable natural resources, or they want to live there when they quit politics (yeah right), they want to sell it later in pieces and make money, they will flee there when TSHTF.  I know I missed a bunch of them, but what does this really tell us?

Anyone in the MSM picking this one up?

Is it hyperbole, or conjecture?

If it looks like a 'Duck and Cover', and sounds like a 'Duck and Cover' It might BE a fleeing would-be war criminal ..and it might not then be so useless to test your intuition and keep it working.

"now Besides Witches, what else floats in water?"
Arthur: "A duck!"

Im curious for sure.  When Bush gets away with the BS he has already, whats moving to another country to guarantee his safety really matter?  The damage is done.
"Burn her!"
One thing was leading to the next
I bit off more than I could chew
I had the power to sign the cheques
It wasn't difficult to do
I couldn't stay and face the music
So many reasons why
I won't be sending postcards
From Paraguay

I robbed a bank full of dinero
A great big mountain of dough
So it was goodbye companero
And cheerio
I couldn't stay and face the music
So many reasons why
I won't be sending postcards
From Paraguay

I never meant to be a cheater
But there was blood on the wall
I had to steal from peter
To pay what I owed to paul
I couldn't stay and face the music
So many reasons why
I won't be sending postcards
From Paraguay

Mark Knopfler
Postcards from Paraguay

Two men say they're jesus - one of them must be wrong
Theres a protest singer singing a protest song - he says
they wanna have a war to keep us on our knees
They wanna have a war to keep their factories
They wanna have a war to stop us buying japanese
They wanna have a war to stop industrial disease
Theyre pointing out the enemy to keep you deaf and blind
They wanna sap your energy incarcerate your mind
They give you rule brittania, gassy beer, page three
Two weeks in espana and sunday striptease
Meanwhile the first jesus says Id cure it soon
Abolish monday mornings and friday afternoons
The other ones on a hunger strike hes dying by degrees
How come jesus gets industrial disease

   A little Knopfler music..

'It's time to get out of here'
Kathy and Jim Radke have a dairy farm next to the Scotford Upgrader north of Fort Saskatchewan, and they will soon by surrounded by more upgraders.

Dairy farmers Kathy and Jim Radke are bracing for the worst.

Their farm north of Fort Saskatchewan is just two kilometres east of the giant Scotford Upgrader, due to begin a $5-billion expansion in a few months. Directly north of them, the new Heartland Upgrader is under construction.

This area, dubbed Alberta's Industrial Heartland by the municipalities that govern it, is undergoing rapid change. As many as six bitumen upgraders could go up in the coming decade, bringing boom times to the Edmonton area but making life difficult for the Heartland's rural residents.

"We would like to get out," said Kathy in an interview in the family kitchen. "We just don't have the funds to do it."

For the Radkes and others, air pollution is a central cause of concern.

An emission from the Scotford Upgrader on Sept. 12 sent residents inside their houses for hours, after getting a call from Shell. The Radkes said their throats were burning so badly they left the farm. Bad air also drifts across the river over from a fertilizer plant, which could soon have three new upgraders as neighbours.

Kathy Radke said her daughter Shelley was able to throw her asthma inhaler away after she moved to southern Alberta.

"It's time to get out of here," echoed Maureen Chichak, who lives on an acreage in the area. "It's far too dangerous."

The Radkes said their cows have started sickening in the past year. They've lost about 35 cows since last fall and are down to a dairy herd of 100. The herd has been tested and cleared for mad cow disease. Jim Radke thinks a combination of environmental causes, including the air pollution, is killing his cows.

There is a whole section in today's Wall Street Journal on energy.  The lead story is Less Power to the People: Ten innovations that will reduce the amount of energy we consume.

It looks like many, but not all of the articles are free at the public area of the WSJ web site.  The main page for the section is here:


U.S. at 300 million: 'Heaven on earth' to 'uncharted territory'

The 300 millionth American will be born early Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau says. The United States has become a "supersize, metro-nation with a fast-growing population, and supersize appetites for housing, land and resource consumption," one expert says. The U.S. is now a vastly different nation from the one where the Baby Boomers were born.
...and they are driving longer and alone...

  Commuters facing longer, lonelier rides

WASHINGTON - More and more commuters are leaving home earlier, traveling farther and driving alone, says an analysis of commuting trends reported Monday.

The "Commuting in America" study by the Transportation Research Board also found that more commuters are traveling from suburb to suburb -- rather than the traditional commute from suburb to city.

"As more employers move out of cities to be closer to skilled suburban workers, the suburbs now account for the majority of job destinations," the report noted.

The board, part of the National Academies, has analyzed commuting trends since 1986, largely using Census data.

According to the latest analysis, the number of new solo drivers grew by almost 13 million from 1990 to 2000. The number of workers with commutes lasting more than 60 minutes grew by almost 50 percent over that period. And, compared with the previous decade, more Americans are leaving for work between 5 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.

More than 4 million people now work from home, and a growing number of those over age 55 are doing so, the report said, a trend that is expected to continue.

I heard that on the radio this morning.   Something about the average American leaving for work at 6am.  Ye gods.
The Industrious Nation.
If I ever routinely get up at 6 am to go to work (aside from morning chores at my place that is) someone shoot me. Please.
They must be getting up earlier than 6am, if they are on the road by 6.

I used to do that.  Took the train into the city - a two-hour commute, via commuter train and subway.  At least I could sleep on the train.

Im up at 5:30, but then again I get out at 3:30 so I beat traffic all the time.  That will change next year though.
I always chose to live where I live because I can sleep late.

I wake usually at 7h30 when I dont have breakfast meeting.  I read the news then go to work, I'm there at 9 o'clock.  It takes me 8 min. from my house to the office.  I know, it's way too long!

I bought my actual home 8 years ago.  At this time I had to walk to go to work, using the car would have take more time.  I was at a 15 seconds :) walking distance (maybe 10 seconds running distance)  It's as close to work as it can be!

LMAO. That's about when I am getting home from work.
When I was a worker bee I sure left for work at 6AM, in fact this was consistant for almost all of the jobs I had, there were a couple, and only a couple, of exceptions: a supermarket where I worked weird shifts, and a museum that didn't open that early.
My Dad used to say "You mean there is a 6 AM?!!"
That picture is the very definition of insanity...I find myself agreeing with Derrick Jensen in this regard (sigh).
I am visiting LA from Wisconsin for work. My coworker and I were driving through Hollywood taking in the "sights" and he said to me "This place must have been something in the 50's." I'm not sure what the basis of his comment was, but I took it to mean that Hollywood was probably an enjoyable place to visit in the 50's. Now it's just a "manufactured" experience with so much traffic that it is a chore to visit.

The picture of traffic above really drives home my contention that the US is an empire in decline. Life is not getting better here. The standard of living is indeed declining and mobility is just one example of this. Better cars, more roads, but less easy to get around. Yuck.

Tom A-B

300 million US consumers make an outsized environmental mark

The United States, the only industrialized country with strong population growth, now has 300 million people whose lifestyle makes a disproportionately huge mark on the global environment, experts say.

The world's third most populous country behind China and India, the United States has five percent of the world's population. But it consumes -- alone -- more than a quarter of the world's natural resources, more than any other country, according to the National Report on Population and Environment, put out by the US-based Center for Environment and Population.

"The nation's relatively high rates of population growth, natural resource consumption and pollution combine to create the largest environmental impact, felt both within the nation and around the world," the report read.
"The US population has the largest ecological footprint in the world," it adds.

The United States emits almost one quarter of carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gases -- emissions that are expected to soar 43 percent by 2020.

With more than 237 million vehicles in 2006 (up from 98 million 40 years ago when the population was 200 million) the transport sector alone accounts for a third of CO2 emissions. The average US driver spends some 47 hours every year in rush hour traffic jams compared to 16 hours 20 years ago, according to the CEP.

And the size of typical American homes has ballooned even as the number of people living in each home has declined from 3.1 per household in 1970 to 2.6 in 2000. "At the same time, the average size of new single-family homes increased by more than 700 square feet," the report says.

The taste for super-sizing homes has driven up the amount of natural resources used in home construction as well as the amount of energy used to heat them in the winter and cool them in the summer. Overall, taking into account the space given to housing, schools, roads and commercial areas, each American uses 20 percent more land than in the mid-1980s.

Americans also use an average of three times more water than the average planet resident. Pollution has left roughly 40 percent of US rivers off-limits to fishing and bathing.

Every day, US consumers toss out 2.3 kilos (five pounds) of trash -- an average of five times more than people in developing countries.
Their food consumption, one third of which is animal origin, tops the scales at an average 136 kilos of meat per person compared to 72 kilos for a European and 27 kilos for a resident of a developing country.

With a growing population and a mushrooming demand for resources the country's infrastructure is vulnerable, said Carlos Restrepo, a research scientist at the Wagner School's Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS). One sign of straining infrastructure is that there have been some 400 blackouts between 1990 and 2004.

Given the interdependence of production and electric distribution systems, and water supplying and oil or gas supplies, breakdowns are taking longer to fix, Restrepo said.
"Those levels of energy consumption are probably not sustainable," he said.

Hunter-gatherers threw out 0 kilos of trash because there's no waste in Nature. Take a crap? High grade fertilizer! Throw out an old breechcloth? The beetles rejoice! And so on.

And it's natural for humans to eat a lot of meat, hunter-gatherers ate a lot of meat/fish/bugs (and lots of veggies) and it was never a problem. It's not eating a lot of meat, it's that there are BILLIONS of us that's the problem.

Lots of other articles floating around this middle week of the month.


``If you told me I had to go long or short today, I would go long,'' betting on higher prices, said Pickens, whose Dallas hedge fund is up 120 percent this year. Gas may reach $10 this winter if cold weather depletes inventories, he said on Oct. 11 in New York. He declined to predict when his fund might get back into the gas market after exiting earlier this year.

I know many here highly regard Pickens, and his fund is up 120% this year.  Holy crap!


Credit Suisse Group, Switzerland's second-biggest bank, lost about $120 million on South Korean derivatives in the third quarter, an undisclosed stumble by equity traders struggling to catch the leaders in the securities industry.

Derivatives are dangerous when not used correctly.  Do you think there's more shake out coming?  I do.


Corn production in the U.S., the world's largest grower and exporter, will drop this year because farmers sowed less than they planned and drought damaged some fields, the Department of Agriculture said Oct. 12. The amount of corn used as animal feed and to make fuel has exceeded production in six of the past seven years, reducing inventories to the lowest in two decades.

``The world is just beginning to confront the issue that it has not been able to produce enough corn,'' said Dave Marshall, a market consultant in Nashville, Illinois. ``Farmers the world over have not had the incentive to produce bigger crops.''

My favorite is that last quote.  Farmers are going to magically alter drought conditions.  Right.


DALLAS -- A building boom that would add scores of coal-fired power plants to the nation's power grid is creating a new dilemma for politicians, environmentalists and utility companies across the United States.

Critics, however, say the company is driven by the profit motive and is rushing to beat more stringent federal restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions in an era of escalating concern about global warming. Texas already produces more carbon dioxide than any other state, a fact that worries big-city mayors downwind of the proposed plants.

OK LA times piece.


In early March, executives from Movie Gallery, a big movie rental chain, held a private conference call for their lenders to talk about how disastrous 2005 had been for the company. A string of Hollywood flops had kept customers away. More people were recording movies from television instead of renting them from a store. The executives said they needed more time to fix the problems, which included more than $1 billion in debt.

Most of the roughly 200 lenders were not bankers, but hedge funds. And what they heard was supposed to be confidential: it was inside information, as valuable to investors as a tip about an imminent takeover.

During the next two days, though, Movie Gallery's shares were heavily traded, and its stock plummeted 25 percent.

I'm beginnning to firmly believe it will be a hedge fund that does break the camels back.  This article is important as it shows the power of hedge funds.  I've read that increasingly upwards of half of the business is settled at JP Morgan and Sachs.  Increasingly debt is what hedge funds own as assets.  We all know these aren't assets.  When the domino starts falling, there will be no one to stop it.  

Personal opinion, but a basic finance principle is risk/reward.  For increased risk, you demand (and usually get) higher returns.  There's a reason these funds return stellar results, in business cycle peaks, and there are reasons they will be DOGS in the coming recession.  These are not true hedge funds as they were orignally coined, but as Janszen posits, Unregulated Investment Pools.  Increasingly more people are jumping on the debt based bandwagon (pension funds, insurance, any business with spare cash laying around).  You've got one sector of the financial community controlling close to 1/6 aggregate GDP.  Nice.

Farmers are going to magically alter drought conditions.

No, Tate, it's not the farmers. If the Market demands more corn, then the Invisible Hand will make it rain.

Yep, and if we need to do something to give the feedlot pigs more exercise, the Hand will give them wings too!
If only I had this econ humor.  I'm sure I would be loved in more in econ circles.  LoL...thanks for keeping it light.

That aquifer is already being depleted at an incredible rate.  Like Plab 2.0 said, they won't know there is no water until the day it happens.  Ok, so sit back and wait.
If market forces don't work, there's always water-boarding...
On Saturday, there was some discussion of the movie Oil, Smoke, and Mirrors. Also, Bob Shaw provided a reference to a presentation by Professor Steven E. Jones. Both of these relate to a conspiracy theory relating to 9/11 and peak oil.

After thinking about it, even if the conspiracy theory should happen to be true, I think that it may be best if peak oil folks stay away from pursuing this issue. Some considerations:

  1. Where would such a conspiracy theory lead? Suppose it were true that there was some involvement of the Bush administraction in 9/11. Both the US population and overseas oil producers (and others) would be outraged. We need a functioning US government and we need other nations to be happy enough with us to continue selling us oil, in order to have the framework to continue at a reason level, as long as we can. Thus, disclosing this information would likely make the country worse off than we would be otherwise.

  2. Bush and his compatriots will be out of power in a little over two years, regardless of what information is disclosed. Perhaps the elections in November will reduce their power.

  3. Those involved in peak oil have enough other issues to deal with. This issue doesn't really add to the solution.

I'm all with you on #1, where the US needs a functioning gov't.  Do we have much more than the shell of that now?  I mean, the 'outer functions' of government are happening, if only through momentum, but how do we rebuild the core, where it seems like it's getting dismantled, or just forcibly decayed?

  I have to wonder if the Neocon's PNAC is so centrally disdainful of the thought of 'good government', even (maybe especially) in the homey, idealized view of it as 'all of us doing some of our biggest jobs together', that this resentment is eroding the system..  Their idea that 'government should be so small you can drown it in a bathtub' still seems to be in play, but instead of shrinking the government, they've been content to just 'Supersize' the bathtub, be it Climate Change, Energy Policy, or International Relationships.

  It's almost a perversion of one of the fatal flaws I've experienced with Left-leaning orgs, where our well-established 'AntiEstablishment' attitudes have let us immediately suspect, scorn and sabotage any system that we've tried to establish..  Some part of the American attitude of "Leave me alone..", or "If you want it done right, do it yourself!"

  John Calvin would be so proud.. but then he'd also immediately be mad at himself for having such a good feeling.

- Obey your thirst!



Great points and all of them I've reasoned through in my PO awareness.  I often call PO a rabbit hole.  Not 6 mos ago somehow I stumbled on LATOC.  From then on I have been waking up to the reality around me.  I shit you not, it feels like the matrix at times.

I find out about PO.  Life really sucks for awhile(stages of acceptance).  I wander into the hole further and find out about food issues tangentially related to depleting water tables - related to PO but now we're talking the doomer part.  Not to say it's going to happen, but it's a 99% possibility in my mind.  So I'm looking at more expensive gas to the point I need to give up my car, and I will pay a lot more for food to boot. WONDERFUL!

Then I REALLY start to back away from things and look at world connections and I find tidbits of info on this PO/9/11 connection.  While I think there's truth to it, I think it's more passive than active sabotage and like you said, it doesn't matter now.  If we owned up to that one, can you imagine the world ramifications?  Me either, so

I'll file the facts away and avoid discussing it with anyone who is not versed in the details.  I started going on rants with my mom trying to tell her this stuff and even my mom glazed after getting to this.  I realized then I couldnt talk about this.  Some things you've got to hold close even if you a reasonable person working through things logically.  People are mostly illogical, impulsive, & emotional creatures who use feelings in spite of facts.

Don't go to deep into that hole its dark and damp in there. Stay out in the sunshine and try to figure it all out. If you keep track of it you can see most of it coming before the fact. Just stay alert and prepare. When I was a kid we used Zero ff and PO would have had almost zero impact on our life. MY Father used to tell me when he went to a dance in a buggy all he had to do was untie the horse and take a nap on the way home. The horse new exactly how to get home. He played trumbone in a band at the turn of the previous century. He told me a lot of stories that you young bucks will never hear or know. If you would like to find out how much BS is in the current books and articals, try reading some stuff written back in 42 and 43 about the war. Its like a different history, written before all the facts were known.


Any recomendations of things to read written in that period?

On a tangential note, how many Indians did we slaughter when we came to the new world?  My history textbooks always made it seem like there were just a couple of little Indian camps, and a few skirmishes, and then we won.  It's all just glossed over.

What was the real number of Indians in North America say in 1600?  100k?  500k?  1 million?  2 million?  More?  How many did we kill?  

It's the winners that right the history...

That's a good question. Recently there have been strong arguments that by the time we started colonizing North America that the worst of the damage had already been done. Small pox and influenzas brought by the spanish and french may have wiped out as much as 90% of the populatio in areas.


By conservative estimates, the population of the United states prior to European contact was greater than 12 million. Four centuries later, the count was reduced by 95% to 237 thousand.

12 million.  Wow.  I wonder how accurate that is?

Some also believe that Teotihucuan was the largest city (both population and area) in the world at the time that Cortez landed.
The populations were about equal in number, Europe and Norh America, when the whole party started.
The populations were about equal in number, Europe and Norh America, when the whole party started.

Population of Europe in 1450:  50 million

Population of North America before contact:  0.5-12.5 million

So, no, historical evidence suggests the populations were not equal.

(Interestingly, the European population had fallen by about 25 million over the previous 100 years, due to disease and warfare.  Life being "nasty, brutish, and short" seemed somewhat endemic to the human condition at that time.)

Your link for pre-contact population goes to restricted access.
Anyone proposing a lower limit of 500, 000 for the native population of North America or the 48 states is laughable and who cares if they restrict access.
Not accurate at all. Colonists were intent on destroying evidence. One of the more telling examples I like is that the Indians felt sorry for the dirty filthy sick underfed English, both at first contact and in many locales, for the next hundred years. Until the end of the eighteenth century colonists were destroying solidly built Iroquois stone homes with imported glass windows because they could not tolerate the notion that the heathen Indians lived far better than the English did.
12 million for the territory of the U.S. is probably low but the data is thin.
Yep there's more and more evidence coming to light that the Amerindian population was quite high, and it was the Europeans' diseases that wiped them out starting in 1492 - most colonization started quite a bit later. Groups that were farmers became roving hunter-gatherers.

Europe had its Black Death, will what happened in the New World become known as the White Death?

In any case, the teeming game and birds etc in the New World remarked on by early European explorers may well have been due to something like 90% of the aboriginal population being cut back.

A good read is the book '1491' which goes over the evidence for the 'high' count of Western Hemisphere population. Too much in the book to comment on, but just an example is the hypothesis that the huge bison herds were actually a post indigineous native die-off population explosion. IOW the bison herds were kept in check before the mostly disease-related decimation of the native population. The book is a real paradigm shifter, highly recommended.
Hey that reminds me. Back when I was in about 9th grade, we went on a field trip to the Lincoln Museum of Natural History. Besides all the dinosaurs there were photographs of piles of dead natives being graded into a deep ditch by horse-drawn wooden dozer blade. I've been back since and asked about the missing photos and they think I'm a nut case. It's all revised history for the younger generation. In my days the history books had a lot of convenient truths, but also a lot more ugly facts. The pictures were taken somewhere out in the sand-hill region of western Nebraska. Anyone else remember seeing them? A few years ago a number of Pawnee (hundreds) were dug up in Oklahoma and reburied in a cemetery near Genoa, Nebraska, their native home. I wonder what happened to the guys in the sand-hills? I believe they were Arapahoe-Sioux.
Could it have been the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 in the Pine Ridge?  (300 Lakota were buried by civilians in winter weather.)  21 medals of honor were given after the massacre, but by the end of the 20th century many considered it one of the most grevious atrocities in US history.

Morrill Hall

Wounded Knee Massacre

As far as books go I would have to research, my short-term memory is not that good, for the last 20 years, however what brought up the subject was a book I read by some retired army general. He was pushing for more heavy bombers and fewer aircraft carriers for the Pacific Theater in 42. I don't think after the fact that heavy bombers sank a single Japanese ship. Any way read newspaper and magazine op-eds from the library archives it's a real adventure.
The big push in the WWII Pacific War was to sink oil tankers heading to Japan by hook or crook - hence "unstricted submarine warefare" which is against the Aricles Of War (may still be!).

Pacific sub operations were all about finding those juicy oil tankers and sinking 'em. They knew how to beat the Evil Empire of the time.

I think the Atlantic campaign must have been much the same, although Germany had overland sources of oil and so I"m not sure if it was a matter of sinking tankers.

Fighting an Empire is like fighing a tumor; cut off the oil (blood) supply.

Daniel Yergin covers this in 'The Prize'.

Hitler was critically short of oil: only Rumania was a producing country in Europe.  (Libyan oil was not yet discovered yet).  Hence the duel prong drive towards Stalingrad and the Caucusus Mountains, and Rommel in the Western Desert towards Palestine and Iraq.

The Allied air bombing campaign broke into 2 parts:

- us (the Brits and Canadians) who had bombers that weren't armed and armoured enough to attack by day.  Since night attacks were necessarily less accurate, we evolved a strategy of mass aerial bombing to destroy cities.  In the cases of Hamburg and later Dresden we actually triggered firestorms that killed 10s of thousands of people-- melted them in their bomb shelters.

Kurt Vonnegut describes this very well in Slaughterhouse 5-- he was a prisoner of war in Dresden at the time.

- Spaatz's 8th Air Force attacked by day with heavily armed B17s.

8th AAF went through a number of iterations attacking 'vital' targets:

  • aircraft factories
  • ball bearing plants (without sufficient fighter escort)- The Schweinfurt raids nearly led to the cessation of operations, casualties were so bad
  • one suicide mission on Ploesti, the key Rumanian oil refinery-- the bombers flew from Southern Europe, and most didn't make it home.  They did a lot of damage, but the germans made very quick repairs
  • transport - in the lead up to D Day, the USAAF hammered every rail line in Western Europe.  The Germans got very good at doing quick repairs, but the disruption did slow them down in the critical weeks before and after D Day

Finally in the summer of 1944, after D Day, it was decided to attack oil production and storage facilities.  By this time, the USAAF had proper fighter escort (long range P51 Mustangs).

The result was devastating.  The Luftwaffe was forced to curtail flying hours, and Germany's rising war production was often stuck a long way from the battlefield, with no fuel to get it there.

The Germans responded in part by building coal-to-oil plants (they invented the process still used today, the Fischer-Tropsch process), some of them in underground caves (they used slave labour).  However this took time, and Germany never overcame its oil shortages.  By the time of the Battle of the Bulge (December 1944) the Luftwaffe had something like 10 days flying fuel left.

One of the great unknowns of WWII was if the USAAF had attacked Germany oil production and storage facilities 9 months earlier, whether the war would have been shortened, or whether the Germans would simply have adapted (as they did very well to all the other aerial strategies used against them).

The same strategy of attacking oil facilities was tried in Operation Rolling Thunder against North Vietnam in the 1960s.  It didn't really work for a whole host of reasons (not an industrialised society).

If the Japanese had attacked the large oil depots  during the Pearl Harbor attack and nothing else, the US fleet would have had to be fueled and based out of San Diego.  The Japanese went to war over the interference by the US in it's supply lines of oil and steel yet couldn't see the strategic advantage of destroying the stores and oil facilities on Pearl.
Excellent Points. Recent historical work suggests the allied bombing campaign was ineffective as it was largely aimed at civilian populations.

The Germans ran out of oil because the Russians over-ran Romania, not because the allied bombing campaign disrupted distribution on the Western Front.

Interestingly the most success the allies had in this regard(hitting oil-depots, etc.) occurred after the allies landed on the coast and had tactical as well as strategic command of the air on the mainland.

At the same time, it was the pressure the allies put on the left flank that allowed the Russians to move on the right. As well as the massive aid provided Russia by the Americans and British.

Tate, Jared Diamond's previous work before "Collapse," addresses this--"Guns, Germs and Steel." Try it, you'll like it.
Thats probably the fifth time I've seen it on here.  I'll make sure to put it on the xmas list.  My mom asked me what I wanted to other day and I told her a Kill a Watt.  She wanted to know all about it.  Now my step dad found out about this and I think he's going to buy one too.  Funny how these things work.
Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee is also good.
You need to read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. In the book he talks about the Spanish, lead by Columbus, coming to the Carribean and wiping out the Arawaks almost completely, either through murder, disease, or brutal slavery. And that was just the beginning of the genocide of Native Americans.

Tom A-B

"After thinking about it, even if the conspiracy theory should happen to be true, I think that it may be best if peak oil folks stay away from pursuing this issue."

I profoundly disagree.  Truthfulness has an intrinsic value that transcends all purely practical considerations.  It is morally binding upon us all to be truthful, regardless of the consequences.

Moreover, a lot of the foreseeable problems associated with Peak Oil are greatly exacerbated by the LACK of truthfulness on the part of powerful actors with vested interests in propagating lies - something that every regular TOD poster knows.  It is hypocritical to decry these vested interests for their scorn of the truth, but then turn around and be equally scornful oneself towards other truths (or at least very possible truths, in the case of 9/11)for purely pragmatic reasons.

"Truthfulness has an intrinsic value that transcends all purely practical considerations.  It is morally binding upon us all to be truthful, regardless of the consequences."

LMAO!!! Dude, our brains evolved to seek survival not to seeke the truth! How much evidence do you need to see that? A few billion people who believe their sky god is gonna kick the ass of the sky-god of the other billion people?

  Our survival might just hang on finding out some truth, here.


"Always tell the truth.  This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."  Mark Twain

.. and Matt, I'd be hard-pressed to choose between hearing more of your version of Evolution or studying Intelligent Design.

  Nothing personal, Phil.


Matt, I kinda wonder whether you've read Sam Harris lately:  "The End of Faith" or "Letter to a Christian Nation." Both very fine.
Seadragon, Sam Harris is one hell of a guy. I had a chance to speak with him after he presented at a conference we go to every year. http://poptech.org

You would be amazed at the number of death threats he's had.

For more ground work and setting I also would suggest  Varieties of Religious Experience by William James, and of course Eric Hoffer  '"The True Believer"

Working now on Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. He's going to present next week when we go. We've also got Lester Brown of Plan B 2.0 speaking so I'm very excited.

Don in Maine

I think he mentions in Letter to a Christian Nation that the most violent threats he receives come from Christians...they are the most intolerant of criticism.
I'm in the MIHOP camp but I believe your point #3 is dead on.  Who is going to care about what happened on 9/11 if the grid is down and we're all starving?
Who is going to care about what happened on 9/11 if the grid is down and we're all starving?

If the grid is down and we are starving....there will be lynch mobs.  It is in my enlighted best interest that said lynch mob has something to do.   Chasing the 9/11-evil do-ers strikes me as a FAR better thing for them to do than to chase me.

Mundus Intelligibilis

Alexender Cockburn has a nice piece on conspiracy theories and specifically the cult of 9/11.

By the same token, I'm sure that the Bush gang, and all the conspirators of capital, are delighted at the obsessions of the 9/11 cultists. It's a distraction from the 1,001 real plots of capitalism that demand exposure and political challenge.

"The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness", Adorno wrote in Minima Moralia. "The veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it ... The offal of the phenomenal world becomes, to sick consciousness, the mundus intelligibilis."

I suppose as the world faces a growing series of challenges to our present beliefs and to our  reality, and events ever increasingly are in the saddle, the mundus intelligibilis will become ever more irrational.

What about the other possibility - if it is decided to 'hang someone out to dry' - Bush and CO being blaimed for causing 9/11 would be quite the sideshow.    With some 20% of the population saying "this is being made up as partisan revenge".

Keeping the LIHOP/MIHOP alive makes the next sideshow simpler.


For some background,  pick up "Crossing the Rubicon" by Mike Ruppert.  It's on Amazon.  

Kyle: "Anybody who thinks 9/11 was a conspiracy is a retard."

Cartman: "Oh, really? Well, did you know that over one-fourth of people in America think that 9/11 was a conspiracy? Are you saying that one-fourth of Americans are retards?"

Kyle: "Yes, I'm saying one-fourth of Americans are retards."

Stan: "Yeah, at least one-fourth."

Kyle: "Let's take a test sample. There's four of us and you're a retard. See? One out of four."

People take as historical fact  - Governments have done nasty brutish things to their citizens.

So somehow, the nasty brutish thing of 9/11 isn't exactly what was said in the published report?

The only 'cure' for the 'consiracy theories' is an open, honest government.   Instead of a call for open honest govenment, you have 'anyone who thinks government officials would lie is a retard'


Saying that "there is inadequate evidence to leap to the conclusion that the government set up 9/11" is not the same as saying "the government would never do nasty brutish things to their citizens".

I am sure that the US government and other governments would do horrible things if left unscutinized. I do not think governments should be trusted to work without question on our behalf. I think the citizens of the US would benefit if the US government were under greater scrutiny.

I don't think there is any convincing evidence that the US government was behind 911 despite an evident eagerness and predisposition in many people to believe they were. Clearly those who believe conspiracy theories are not retards.

However they do seem to be willing to accept certain things at face value. In that regard, they are gullible and willing to see each new event as a manifestation of their preconceptions - much like the people who say the government would never do it.

By trying to claim that people who believe the conspiracy theories are the only critical thinkers and alone in questioning authority, you are slandering the larger and more important body of people who question authority and question conspiracy theories.

Saying that "there is inadequate evidence to leap to the conclusion that the government set up 9/11"

"the Government" is here to help the citizens and is empowered to act on behalf of the citizens.   So, of course, "The Government" would never do anything bad....right?

I believe the line is "I'm from the Goverment and I'm hear to help you".

Nobody said that.  You aren't addressing Jack's argument.

Isn't it a reasonable position to be skeptical of both the government and of conspiracy theories?

Read Jack's reply.  'isn't that what I said'

In Jack's world you have no reason to be skeptical of the government.   Becasue of a lack of what he would call evidence.

I think he was agreeing with your sarcasm, not with the literal meaning of your words.
Didn't I just say the same thing?
The real 'conspiracy' about 9-11 is why, with so many warnings at so many levels, the US government did nothing to respond to the warnings.  And why it then used that event as a pretext to invade Iraq.

It might violate the American (or any civilised nation's) sense of its own invulnerability, but yes, Virginia, a handful of determined men with knives and a few hundred thousand dollars can do untold damage and kill 3,000 people.

As for the collapse of the WTC, any structural engineer, (my father is such), knew what had happened within a few minutes of the collapse-- steel loses its tensile strength when it is heated up.

As for the collapse of the WTC, any structural engineer, (my father is such), knew what had happened within a few minutes of the collapse-- steel loses its tensile strength when it is heated up.

The WTC - Singular?  

When one sees orange liquid metal leaving the side of the building.....that indicates more than just 'simple loss' of tensile strength.

Firefighters and fire engineers have a different view:

An editorial in the Jan. edition of Fire Engineering, a respected fire-fighting trade magazine with ties to the FDNY, calls the investigation of the World Trade Center collapse "a half-baked farce" and calls for a "full-throttle, fully resourced" effort. The piece by Bill Manning, editor of the 125-year-old monthly, protests that steel from the site was not preserved for study. "Did they throw away the locked doors from the Triangle Shirtwaist fire? Did they throw away the gas can used at the Happy Land social club fire?... That's what they're doing at the World Trade Center. The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediately." The editorial also said a growing number of fire engineers theorize that "the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not hot enough to bring down the towers."

No one suggests the impact brought down the Towers.

They were designed to withstand a 707 crash (biggest plane at the time).

What is obvious, at least to the structural engineering fraternity, is that when you heat steel enough, it loses its tensile strength.  The trusses lost the ability to hold the floors up.

And so the buildings effectively folded in on themselves.  As each floor with its concrete collapsed, it increased the weight on the floor below.

WTC7 was brought down by a diesel fuel fire, I believe.

Although the scrapping at Fresh Kills was a rush job, one engineering professor did manage to XRay a lot of the structural steel that was left.

If they could pull it off, or did pull it off, then #2 fails the taste test, They might not loose much by staying in power in the wings.

If they pulled it off, and you let them stay there, as you suggest in #1, then normally that makes you also a murderer like them at least that is what the TV judges say you are if you let the crook get away, knowing they are a crook (steal, murder or whatever the crime they did).

I though do agree wtih #3.  It does not do us much good, though Peak Oil will have the label as soon someone in the MSM decides to follow the flight plan laid down by the big bosses in the Corporate CEO chairs.

Face it, It's a no win scenerio.  We can't get a message out to the people they are to glued to What Hollywood Ideal, Nascar driver,  Sports star, You name it book author, Or anyone not really important to their real gut level wellbeing is doing today.  MSM in most cases puts blinders on most everyone we know.

Some of us regular posters have voiced a mistrust for the people in charge of things in the USA, recently we have had runs of posts just looking at where we know things have gone on in our own lives that we knew should not have been going on.  Don in Maine, and Oldhippie, remind me of the reams of documents I filled out about 6 years ago. I had to sign away 14 to 20 items in my past in front of a fellow, and again twice more before I was let go from my previous employer.  I regret taking the job. But I can't change a damn thing once I blink the past into the past.

There are no easy answers, there might not even be answers that we can even think of to get us back from the cliff edge we as a whole race of humans are moving sure and steady toward.

Best of luck in your travels and

Charles E. Owens Jr.  Known to you as just another poster.  

Thanks for your comments. I'm sure there is room for differences of opinion. Regarding #1, I don't see things as the TV judges - God is the ultimate judge, and we don't necessarily have to sort everything out here. We can't solve all the world's problems, even if we would like to.



"Thanks for your comments. I'm sure there is room for differences of opinion. Regarding #1, I don't see things as the TV judges - God is the ultimate judge, and we don't necessarily have to sort everything out here. We can't solve all the world's problems, even if we would like to.



This (the above by Gail the Actuary) is the kind of mindless
jabberwocky that one gets and expects from the worthless pulpits ,pundits, Oprah et.al. Three..no four  canned auto-responses.

Its a non-thinking response.

This shows exactly why you stated that its ok to lie and that takes us right back to PO and GW. Lies and jabberwocky.

With this kind of response and attitude we can only fail...oh wait..we have already failed.

Unless We Embrace Change

This link on the Unholy Trinity posted by Leanan this morning was extremely revealing. The Unholy Trinity is peak oil, climate change and water shortage.  The author almost acknowledges that we are already in overshoot:

The weight of scientific evidence points to the fact the globe cannot support its present population, let alone an additional 2.5 billion, unless we embrace change.

In fact the above statement is entirely incorrect. We are already deep into overshoot and no way can the earth support, long term, 6.5 billion people no matter what changes we embrace. But I find those last four word, in one form or another, repeated by peak oilers, environmentalists and just about everyone else who is aware of the terrible mess humanity is in. In fact, Lester Brown has written an entire book on just how we can get ourselves out of this mess.  Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble.

But we will not embrace change. We will not embrace Lester's Plan B. We will do absolutely nothing until it is way, way too late to do anything that will make any real difference. Why? Simply because it is not in our nature to do so. People who give rescue plans, or plans for their idea of Utopia, or any kind of plan that requires most everyone to behave in this manner or that, know absolutely nothing about human nature. Only a tiny percentage of people are ever convinced by argument. The vast majority of people, perhaps in excess of 99%, are only convinced by events. People, as Francis Bacon pointed out, desire to believe what they desire to be true. Doomsayers, even doomsayers who offer a plan of salvation, are simply laughed at by that vast majority. Very few will believe the well is running dry until the day they can pump no more water. Few will believe in climate change until the rains no longer come, or come every day. (A few in Australia are beginning to believe however.;-) And a very few will believe in peak oil until years after the actual peak.

And even when these events actually happen, especially the peak oil event, few will still embrace the fact that it is truly because of depleting oil fields. They will find someone to blame for their predicament.

So people, the statement "Here is what we must do" is totally meaningless. We, the population of the earth as a whole, are not going to do one damn thing. Catastrophy must happen first! Then we will swing into action in a big way. Yeah! Of course then it will be way too late.

Ron Patterson

The mass of mankind is ruled not by its intermittent moral sensations, still less by self-interest, but by the needs of the moment. It seems fated to wreck the balance of life on earth - and thereby to be the agent of its own destruction. What could be more hopeless than placing the Earth in the charge of this exceptionally destructive species.
- John Gray, Straw Dogs

In the quote:

The weight of scientific evidence points to the fact the globe cannot support its present population, let alone an additional 2.5 billion, unless we embrace change.

doesn't the "unless we embrace change" bit undercut the traditional definition of "overshoot" a bit?

i thought overshoot was too many people, even with changes?

He addressed that in his comments.  (He did say "almost.")

I think he's dead right.  We aren't going to "embrace change" until TSHTF.  

You've got one filter of dark and smokey glass there ...

and I quote:

Solutions require that we move beyond narrow national self-interest, take a global view and place our society and economy on a genuinely sustainable footing. Sustainability, "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs", encompasses the entire basis upon which global society operates, not just the environment. It requires realigning our ethical framework, moving away from the winner-take-all individualism which has created so many of the "commons" problems, to a more co-operative individualism, where managing the global and local "commons" is paramount.

... but let's all reduce that to "it's too late"

in true doom club tradition.

If "doom club" means "reality," then I agree.  

As your quote shows, most of us know what we should be doing.  But we aren't actually going to do it until we're forced.

Prediction: Australia will be the first "high-profile" country to be humbled by AGW.

The research I've done over the last week into Australia's fix shows that the exodus of those who know and can afford to get out has begun--what Howard's gov't. is calling a "brain drain." 75% of the populace lives in New South Wales, Victoria and the "Gov't.[Canberra]" provinces, which happens to be the region the drought's impact is highest. The situation warrents close scrutiny, as it appears the Howard gov't. is in high denial of the why.

I wonder if other nations will take a lesson from it?

Probably not.  We don't think Easter Island applies to us, so we won't think Australia does, either.

"Well, you know those Aussies, they probably deserved it anyway. So what's on the TV tonight?"
Aussies projecting the Murray-Darling reservoirs (New South Wales) 100% empty bone dry by next May and still no political action. No practical action. Denial and spinning wheels in place until the party is over.
I thought the "Brain Drain" was due to the attraction of higher-paying specialised jobs overseas? Would GWPOWS (Global Warming, Peak Oil, Water Scarcity) have already had that much of an economic impact on Australia over the past few years that we can blame it for the "Brain Drain"?
Odograph quoted:

Solutions require that we move beyond narrow national self-interest, take a global view...

And just how are you going to convince everyone to do that?

It requires realigning our ethical framework, moving away from the winner-take-all individualism...

Exactly! Which means changing human nature. And we are going to do that right? Sure we are. Nothing to changing human nature, just inform everyone that they muct change or they are in deep trouble. And everyone says "Okey dokey". Problem solved.

Go to any library and you will find hundreds of books on how to improve the plight of humanity, on how to achieve Utopia, on how to end hunger in the world, on how to stop all wars and how save the world from this or that problem. And they all say something to the effect: Here is what we must do!

And what, as a result of all these books have we done? Absolutely nothing! It is simply not in the nature of Homo sapiens, as a whole, to take any action that requires that we dramatically change our way of life.

People, before you attempt to change human nature perhaps you should study human nature a little closer. We all have a different version of reality and that version is not about to change because you, or anyone else, says so.

Again we, the population of the world as a whole, are not going to do one damn thing until TSHTF. It is simply not in our nature to do so. Check the quote by Sidney J. Harris below. Harris was a journalists who wrote mostly for the Chicago Tribune.

Ron Patterson

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

As for what has been done with all those wonderful ideas - sure they don't all get implemented - but what about something like the United Nations?

It certainly started out as just such an idea. Perhaps it hasn't stayed true to its vision. But, you know, there are lots of differing and competing interests that try to use the instutution to their own end. So perhaps it is not a suprise that it hasn't live up to its possibilities.

Strikes me that maybe thats how lots of things work, competing values, visions, etc. Maybe they even compete within the same person. Certainly our current culture has gone a long way down one path and has become extremely "convincing" (in the sense that it commands widespread belief), but that doesn't mean it is inevitable.

Indeed, to that end, I don't interpret Mr. Harris' quote in quite the same way you seem to. To me it argues against what you are saying. That doesn't mean I'm in agreement with Odo, he has is own brand of pornucopianism that I can't understand. But your dogmatism in defense of no solution strikes me as severely limiting, as if our choices as individuals is either to desire to save the world as it is or to rant about collapse. Is there no middle ground?

"Pornucopianism"?  LOL!  You have a way with words...

I don't think it's necessarily human nature to always subscribe to "winner takes all individualism."  But I do think in our current situation, it is.  

wouldn't that mean that every human subsribed?

No.  It's human nature to eat when hungry; the existence of dieters and anorectics does not disprove that.  

Jared Diamond talks about what it takes to create a sustainable society in Collapse.  (I actually found that part of the book a lot more interesting than the parts about societies that did collapse.)

To avoid "the tragedy of the commons," you need a society that's small enough that everyone can understand the problem, and small enough everyone has a stake in the solution.  

You run into trouble when the society becomes too large.  People may understand that it would be a mistake to cut down all their own trees and pollute their own water, but are perfectly willing to do that in the next valley over.  That's not "our" valley, "our" trees, or "our" water, after all.  Such societies tend to collapse in internecine fighting.

The other way to avoid collapse is to have a strong central government, and a king who gets his wealth from the entire kingdom, and therefore has incentive to protect the entire kingdom for his heirs.  

Unfortunately, we are long past the point where option A will work.  And option B - a world dictator - has its own problems.

"It's human nature to eat when hungry; the existence of dieters and anorectics does not disprove that."

I see some sense in saying that its human nature to eat. Just as it is human nature to walk, get sick, defecate, see in stereoscopic color, etc. I'm not sure that tells us anything, though.

Hunger, on the other hand, is a little harder to wrap my pea brain around. I get hungry and want to eat. Is that the same as the smoker who gets a craving and wants to smoke? Is it then human nature to smoke? And yet, the dieter still eats, just tries to ignore the hunger. The anorexic who doesn't eat gets sick - do they experience hunger? How is their not eating related to hunger? I don't know. I've read that people who are starving to death no longer experience hunger. I know that when I have fasted for extended periods of time, after about 48 hours I no longer experience hunger. When I start eating again, it is for reasons other than hunger.

The societal size question is interesting. What you are describing would seem to support my thinking that the first "wrong" step we took was irrigation based mono-culture.

On the king of the world issue - an old friend use to say, "the best governance system would be a world dictatorship with me as dictator, short of that I don't want anybody in charge."

The societal size question is interesting. What you are describing would seem to support my thinking that the first "wrong" step we took was irrigation based mono-culture.

Diamond would probably agree.  He did call agriculture The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.

Damn, TOD is sounding more like Dieoff Q&A every day


The whole process would seem to have been filled with such hubris. I mean, depending on who you believe, there were between three and five "original" unrelated civilizations - everyone of them involved somehow controlling the flooding process of a significant river. What possessed these people to  even think they could do this? Amazing, really. But what hubris!
The "pornucopian" think may be fun, but I'm afraid all it does is give up a little bet more on rational conversation.

How many times do I have to say "power down" before it is remembered as somethin other than cornucopian?

And, returning to the original article, to read it carefully for the third time, I still do not see this as the "no solutions" piece many of you did, yesterday:

Unholy trinity set to drag us into the abyss

and I quote:

Rather than the negative, focusing on supposed job cuts and fear of change, we should focus on the positive: we have a unique opportunity to set humanity on a new course, built around an ethical renaissance and sustainable societies. Undoubtedly there will be pain in the short term as conventional politics, economics and business models are turned on their head. However, the tools and technologies to solve these problems are available, the cost is less than we have been led to believe, and the benefits greater. Further, change can be achieved rapidly given the right impetus.

did you, really, focus on the positive as the author intended?

or did you jump all over me, as a "pornucopain" for attempting just that?

i'm sorry, but i still see what i saw yesterday, a piece written for solution and change, held up as a proof of doom by the doom club.

have fun in the old clubhouse today ...

How many times do I have to say "power down" before it is remembered as somethin other than cornucopian?

You can say until you're blue in the face, and it won't matter, as long as you go around tarring everyone less optimistic than yourself as a "doomer."  That is why you are labeled a pornucopian.  

did you, really, focus on the positive as the author intended?

Nope.  Authorial intent is dead.  Has been since the '70s.

Seriously...why does what the author intends matter?  Jerome Corsi "intends" to convince me that abiotic oil will save us; do I have believe him?  Or should I judge his arguments on the merits, and not on what he "intends"?

Authorial intent is sure as heck what I was responding to, up a few levels in this converstational tree.

And yeah, if there is a theme of repainting that article as something other than was intended, I think the shoe fits.


And yeah, if there is a theme of repainting that article as something other than was intended, I think the shoe fits.

What you see as "repainting," I see as taking a critical view.  Dunno about you, but I'm not a passive recipient when I read or view something.  

You can try moving the goalposts, but that just looks so weak to me.

If you had read, understood, and disapproved of that article, you would have criticized it.  You would not have held it up as proof a position it did not state.  You would not have gone off on me for not being a "realist" and missing the point, and I don't think you would have gone off on me as a "pornucopian" for following the article.

I mean, by the logic of yesterday's thread, that article was written by a "pornucopian."

Did I miss such criticsim of the article yesterday?  Where?

If you had read, understood, and disapproved of that article, you would have criticized it.  You would not have held it up as proof a position it did not state.

Umm...how can you say what I would do?  You can say what you would do if you read, understood, and disapproved of something.  You can't say what anyone else would do.  

I often hold articles up as proof of positions they don't state.  For example, I hold up Corsi's articles as proof he's an idiot. A position he never stated.

I mean, by the logic of yesterday's thread, that article was written by a "pornucopian."


Did I miss such criticsim of the article yesterday?  Where?

Darwinian posted some, which is what started this whole discussion.

No one's moving any goal posts.  

Shorter: the doom club went off on me because I read that article without their filter.  i read it as intended, and did not lie down with the club to roll in some other, hidden, meaning.
Ummmm.....okay.   You just keep telling yourself that, if it makes you feel better.
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."
Chinese Proverb

The thing doomers are focused on is the problem.  They heckle the moderates optimism because they themselves refuse to hold onto any hope for a change for the better.  There are efforts starting up to counter the problems of energy demand and global warming.  Are they enough at the current moment?  No.  But are they a start?  Yes.  Solutions to this scale of problem don't happen overnight, but when solutions are being tried and implemented, rather than a pat on the back and a "keep it up", the doomers will instead slap it down, and say "its not enough", or "too little too late".

The thing "pornicopians" are focused on is an illusion of maintaining the status quo.  They ignore the impact their actions have on our planet and even our local environment.  They have unrealistic expectations of what a limited resource can accomplish.  They look at the solutions being presented by moderates to counter GW and PO and laugh at the "foolishness" of it all because it is less efficient than their high powered gasoline paradigm.  

The moderates are stuck in the middle.  Seeing the warning signs of problems facing us, they have decided to meet the challenge and sieze this oppurtunity.  Will they succeed?  Who knows?  Derided by the doomers, for having hope, and derided by the "pornicopians" for being overly worrysome, the moderates have an uphill battle on two fronts.  They have to prove to the doomers that there is hope and something worth working towards, and at the same time, they have to convince the "pornicopians" that there is something to worry about and that action is required.

I count myself as a moderate with a doomer asterisks.  I believe the world cannot go on under the current oil hungry paradigm as it has for the last century and some.  But I do believe a new paradigm can arise to replace the old one and allow a technological society to continue.  Will there be some rough spots in the transition?  Probably.  Will there be tragedies on a global scale?  Again probably.  Like the pruning of a tree, there are times when the dead and decaying must be culled to make room for new growth, preferably growth in a new direction.

As I've mentioned before the problem is Peak Oil, not Peak Energy.  There are abundant amounts of energy out there to be harvested.  We just need to figure out how to harvest and store it til needed.  The technology is being worked on, and solutions are arising.  I'll grant its a race against our remaining reserves, but considering even the doomers can't agree on when Peak will or even has occurred, I'd say its premature to say game over.

But consider this, if the doomers are right and we do nothing we will end up with a severely reduced population, that has a reduced quality of life and a return to harsh agricultural or worse lifestyle.

If the doomers are right, and we do something but it turns out to be not enough, then the end result will be the same.

If the doomers are wrong, but we do nothing and stay the current paradigm, then the end result will be the same.

BUT, if the doomers are wrong, and we do something about it, then it is possible we will avoid that scenario.

We've everything to gain for trying.  We everything to lose for not trying.

Here's the problem.

- Peak Oil we can absolutely beat.  Civilisation didn't end when whale oil ran out, nor when England ran out of trees for charcoal.

The planet has enough energy resources, if we are sufficiently creative about how we use them.

The problem is the speed at which Peak Oil comes on.  If it's now, we are in trouble.  If it's in 20 years, there is much that can be done.  Peak Gas is in some ways much scarier (because the only alternative to gas is coal).

- Global Warming is the man in the woodpile.  We cannot beat Global Warming with business as usual.

Global Warming is potentially at least as big as anything we have ever faced.  As big as World War III between the Superpowers.  Or bigger.

It's possible Global Warming is the reason the universe doesn't seem to be crawling with space travelling intelligent races-- the conditions for life are plentiful, but maybe the nature of competitive evolution is to create species that destroy themselves?

I see peak oil or global warming as presenting problems only. They are symptomatic of a deeper underlying problem with the way we live. If you want to "fix" peak oil by finding lots of replacement forms of energy, or if you're going to control global warming by implementing some sort of carbon tax, or any of the myriad suggestions that are aimed at the symptom, you are to my mind a pornucopian.

We must find a different way to live on the planet, within the confines of nature. That's all there is to it, from my perspective. If you aren't addressing this issue, you're contributing to the problem. If you want to keep your current life (or even some pathetic shadow of it), you don't understand the seriousness of the circumstance were in.

Now, for most of you that's going to make me a "doomer." But you know what? I don't think this life we've got now is so all fired wonderful. If you like material crap I suppose it does okay - but even that has its price. But if you see life as having value beyond the material, the american way is pretty pathetic. I, for one, won't consider it a great loss when it passes away. (Though I am concerned about the billions who will die before there time over the next century - most of them will never even have participated in this "wonder" we the american dream.)

'splain this to me.  if i have already endorsed carbon taxes, powerdowns, and opposed consumerism, expanded energy consuption, and the hedonic treadmill of American life ...

how the fuck do i get classed as a pornucopian?

to me, it is an example of mob rule, attempting to enforce a world view on the tiny corner of the world that is TOD.

odo, my friend (and I consider you one as much as is possible in this electronic form), I attached that label to you in jest. Please don't take it so seriously.

I think some folks think of you as overly optimistic because you have come down on the side of various technical solutions. I, for one, have seen your positions go through a great deal of maturation over last weeks and months. That's one of the best things about this forum, we get to hone our visions against the stone of other people's blunt assessments.

It is hard to lose those original labels, though. And to be honest, neither doomer nor cornucopian is a real warm and fuzzy label. They get tossed around a lot here, as if everyone were one or the other. And yet we all know that the world is shades of gray, not b&w. Maybe its a sort of gallows humor, I mean, we're engaged in conversation on some pretty heavy stuff, perhaps we need these goofy labels to help us laugh at ourselves.

I don't know, I might just give up.

I'm up for whatever changes we (society, humans, whatever) need to make, but this forum is too much about accepting that none of that will matter, and accepting our ultimate doom.

I'm hardly the zeitgeist of this forum, but I am certainly in your camp.

I don't even know if 'Peak Oil' is real, as in a 2006 event as opposed to a 2026 event or a 2050 event.

Global Warming I think is now, and all too real.

I sometimes feel like a white middle class person from the 1960s, though 'I never met someone from Orange County before' ;-).

Like your technology posts a lot btw.

odograph, what difference does it make if a label is attached to you or not?

If the "doomers" call you a cornicopian take it with a grain of pride that you still care enough to fight, and are willing to shape yourself towards that fight.

If the "cornicopians" call you a doomer, take it with a grain of pride that you are wise enough to realize that there are some problems with the current paradigm.

Perhaps I'm misreading the emotion behind some of your posts, but it almost feels like you are looking for acceptance from a particular niche. (forgive me if I mis-read you as text is horrible at conveying emotional)

Instead, be yourself.  Come at the problem with your world view, and your experiences and your emotional, logical, rational and irrational beliefs.  We don't need another davidsmi, RR, AlanfromBigEasy, WestTexas, Leanan, or the other several dozen persons that frequent this site.  We need you, and we need every other individual each with their own view point on the matter.  Conformity of opinion is not going to get us anywhere.  Topics need debated, ideas need to be hashed out, and critiqued, and opinions need to be formed and reformed.  As davidsmi points out, we will change our opinions, come up with new ideas, counter arguments in debates, and all the while we will become more proficient, and more honed through these exchanges.  As is the way in most things competitive, the skills needed for the debating of ideas will be improved by engaging in debates, just as soccer players become more skilled playing soccer, or martial artists become more proficient while sparring.

The main piece of advice I can offer as far as labeling goes though, is try not to rise to the bait.  I've had a few people try to insult, and belittle me and my opinions, and in exchange I would press them for explanations of their side, and proof to back it.  More often than not the tirade of names comes flowing right back at me.  To me that shows the weakness of their view, and the smugness of their own position.  Ultimately they will be the losers.  They will be the ones unable to grow in their ideas, beliefs, and skills because they refuse to consider their opponent's arguments on their merit and either refute, or consider them for inclusion into their own growing world view.

Stick to your guns odo, if you get beat in the arena of ideas, go lick your wounds, find more ammo and come back with a new argument.  That is how the best ideas are made...  they don't just come out of nowhere, they usually are hammered, forged, and tempered in a bath of fiery dialogue.

The main piece of advice I can offer as far as labeling goes though, is try not to rise to the bait.  


And I'd go further.  If you don't want to be called names, refrain from doing it yourself.

Key distinction:

Have you now, or ever, said "I am a doomer"?

What I think we have here are people who embrace the label, but then don't like it used to generalize ... across those very same people who have embraced the label.

So the latest fad is to make up much nastier labels, and apply them to people who never made the self-declaration.

Actually the fun is to ignore what I say ....

Have you now, or ever, said "I am a doomer"?

No.  But you've called me one.

Well Leanan, if that is not what you intended I am honestly sorry.  I thought I remembered you telling me that your long term expecation of catabolic collase was a "long range doomer thing."

I could not find that looking, so maybe my memory is faulty.

FWIW, this is the kind of thing that made me bridge the gap, from what you've described as long term collapse, and group it with "doomerism"

Leanan on Thursday September 07, 2006 at 7:57 AM PST


They also allow for a lot more damage to be done to the environment.  Catabolic collapse means all resources and capital converted to waste...and hence an eventual crash to way below the carrying capacity and level of technology that existed before the complex society arose.  

IMO, a long, slow catabolic collapse is actually the most doomerish of scenarios.

But you do not consider a catabolic collapse to be "doom," because it doesn't necessarily involve a dieoff.  

And while I think catabolic collapse is our most likely fate, I don't think it is certain.

That makes me "not a doomer" by your definition, does it not?

I could not find that looking, so maybe my memory is faulty.

Hey, I don't expect you to remember every word I've typed here.  Heck, if you did, I'd think you were some kind of creepy stalker or something.

But similarly...you can't expect everyone to remember every word you've said.  You remembered I was more pessimistic than you, hence, I'm a doomer.  Others remember you are more optimistic than they are, hence, you're a cornucopian.  (Or pornucopian, since you apparently object to being called a cornucopion. ;-)  

My point is...you are doing unto others exactly what you complain others are doing to you.

go ahead, find my self description of moderation as "the most cornucopian of scenarios."
Moving the goalposts again?  That just looks so weak to me.
Leanan, if you don't "go for the kill" you'll never get rid of odograph.  
Well, actually the only way to get rid of odograph would be to find a way to cut his funding, why should he care as long as he is fed?

You know I was starting to wonder where you went.
I am just no more much amused with this, Jay Hanson turning into a cult leader is funnier:
BTW, the dear AMPOD is a faithfull devout: Why are most peak oil authors men

You know, I have never even said that success is likely, by any measure.

This whole thing revolves around whether collapse (and for many people die-off) is likely boardering on certain.

Why did you drop that "pornucopian" word on me again?  Merely because I think success is possible.

Thank you editor of "The Oil Drum: Discussions about energy and our future."

I'll try not to let the door hit my proverbial ass on the way out.

I'm not an editor of TOD.  Contrary to what some seem to think, I can't delete posts or boot anyone. Nor do I want to.  I just post news stories to DrumBeat threads.  
My parting hints:

when you describe your views as "the most doomerish" people might think that puts you in the doomer group.

when the sidebar says "DrumBeat Editor: Leanan" some people might think that makes you an editor.

... but then i've self-criticised myself as pedantic before ...

bye bye, and (calming myself) best wishes

An editor, but not a TOD editor, which is what you called me.

The editors of TOD are PG, HO, and Stuart.

i think others have said that they interpret the side bar differently.  maybe you should ask an impartial bystander.

on another level, if PG, HO, and Stuart think we have a possibility for success in the post-oil energy transition, i think they should get off their bottoms and make it a strong editorial theme.

their site is heading somewhere else entirely.

This is just my opinion, mind.  I haven't actually asked them.  But my feeling is that they don't want to control where the site is heading.  At least as far as the doomer vs. cornucopian thing goes.  
BTW, while you might think "doom club" was unfair .. it is probably important to remember that TOD has become, in part, a place where people with various expectations of collapse meet, and reinforce those views.

We are, all of us, susceptible to group-think, and that is IMO one reason to be very careful about what groups you choose.

IMO too much energy here goes into either the doom-group-think or defending the mere possibility of success with our energy problems.

I'm thinking that TOD is not useful to me, and not something I'd really recommend at this point, for that reason.


Oh, in one of my old-style tripple posts - remember those here who are "shocked" by the "cornucopain" views in other comment groups?

There it is.  All that remains is to decide for yourselves which comment groups have been feeding on themselves, and which have become divorced from society (in a bad way, and not with "the one true clue").


can you see this porcucopian?

If it were truly "human nature" to (e.g.) subscribe to winner-take-all individualism, wouldn't that mean that every human subsribed? Clearly that isn't the case.

David, were you of the opinion those characteristics that are attributed to "human nature" must be present in equal strength in every human being? To use your own words, clearly that isn't the case. Every characteristic of innate human behavior exists in different levels in every human being, and in some not at all. Most men desire to make love to many women but some desire only one, or none at all. You could say that about absolutely any characteristic of personality.

As for what has been done with all those wonderful ideas - sure they don't all get implemented - but what about something like the United Nations?

Surely you jest. Do you actually believe that the United Nations can dictate human behavior?

Certainly our current culture has gone a long way down one path and has become extremely "convincing" (in the sense that it commands widespread belief), but that doesn't mean it is inevitable.

What on earth are you talking about? That doesn't mean what is inevitable?

Indeed, to that end, I don't interpret Mr. Harris' quote in quite the same way you seem to. To me it argues against what you are saying. That doesn't mean I'm in agreement with Odo, he has is own brand of pornucopianism that I can't understand. But your dogmatism in defense of no solution strikes me as severely limiting, as if our choices as individuals is either to desire to save the world as it is or to rant about collapse. Is there no middle ground?

What Harris is saying is that we filter our beliefs through our emotions, not our reason. We believe what we need to believe. We see the world through rose tinted glasses. Nothing really bad can possibly happen to drastically change our way of life. We need to believe there will be no mass famine, no dieoff. We can talk until we are blue in the face but no matter how sound our logic, people will go on believing what they already deeply desire to believe. That was what Harris was saying.

As far as middle ground goes, what middle ground are you talking about and how do you propose to get us there? If we are already deep into overshoot then there is nothing on earth that can change that. That has already happened and one cannot change the past. If saying that is dogmatic, then just label me as dogmatic. And when you are already deep into overshoot then there is nothing we can do but suffer the consequences.

Ron Patterson

Thanks for the response Ron. Here I am again at the point I get to every time you and I have an exchange - either I'm a real poor communicator, or you're a real poor reader. And I think I'll just leave it at that
See, I can understand (and appreciate) both of you, and I can't understand why you are talking past each other.
odograph -

Well, what would you surmise is the most likely  final outcome of the Bush regime's de facto energy policy of securing oil resources for the US via an attempt to militarily dominate the Middle East and central Asia?

Could such a policy lead to any other outcome than continual and increasingly dangerous resouce wars?

If global cooperation and a massive commitment of capital and human resources to solving our energy problem were to magically come about this very day, it would still be very difficult to pull ourselves out of the collective hole we're in.

 But with countries like the US spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on military adventures such as Iraq, Afganistan (and quite possibly Iran),  and every crappy little country neglecting its own people so it can buy the latest military toys, the chances of 'solving' the global energy problem before TSHTF appears to me to be remote to non-existent.

Is that being a doomer or being realistic pessimist?  

i see a very messy response, but a response nonetheless

challenging me that the response should be more perfect, or even that human society should be more perfect ... seems like a punt to me.

... let's imagine a world in which we are all different ... ok fine, back to reality.

the fact is that we do have top-level world-wide recognition of these problems, and some good and some bad actions are coming out of it.

is it fair to call it all bad, or to dump on the mere idea of a solution at this point?

odograph -

I'm not saying there is no response, only that our attempts to fix the problem will likely be far too little and far too late.

The reason, and the main point of my initial comment, is that as long as something close to a trillion dollars a year are being spent globally (or pissed away, depending on your point of view) on war and the means of making war, there is never going to be enough resources directed at THE problem.

We are engaged in a global game of resource musical chairs, but the difference with this game is that the people left without a chair are going to try to knock over those already in a chair and then take the chairs for themselves.  And while we are all fighting over the remaining chairs, the things that need fixing aren't going to get fixed.

I think it will be next to a miracle if the world gets through the next 25 years without a horrendous war caused directly or indirectly over a struggle for energy resources.

The Scandinavian countries seem to be headed in a positive direction.  I would argue that the Japanese have had it figured out for the past 30 years and should be OK except for grain import problems.  However, they have plenty of tradable goods with which to buy grain.  It seems like except for the possibility of the North Atlantic conveyor shutting down, Europe could pretty quickly make any changes needed for oil peaking and climate change problems, but they have population problems and they're close to many population powder kegs.

Certainly, if we all wanted to, we could deal with the early part of peak oil pretty easily.  I'm not so sure about mitigating climate change problems, especially that pesky drought problem, but we could reduce GHG emissions pretty easily as well, if we really wanted to.

Khosla got one thing right.  The trajectory is a significant hurdle.  Many of us have said many times that the problem is how people react.  Odo seems to think that the pessimism is unwarranted, and others think that same pessimism is otherwise known as reality.  In my book, this is probably the biggest known unknown, and our adventures in the Middle East don't bode well for our likely response as a nation.

There are no solutions, only strategies.
You know Odograph your quote could have been taken out of many a Lutheran Sermons I have heard in the past 30 years.  Jesus never said take from anyone, he taught help thy neighbor, die for another.  If you frame the message with we all have to live within our means and share our riches with others, You preach Christ.

Few will see that, looking only for the negatives that man has heaped on Christians over the years by their witch hunts and rantings forgetting that love thy neighbor as thyself is the RULE not something we can ignore.

That is Why I can't stand Idly by.  You might skip my posts, oh well.  But I have knowledge of how buildings should fall and how they can fail, I was trained as an Architect.  I have been a mainline Pyro for years.  I really never paid much attention to the 9/11 towers failing,  I was busy at work and had no TV at home to watch.  I read a few stories and Blew them off as fishy, but I just went on about my life.

Then it hit me the other day watching a few movies, seeing the real time and slow motion explosions, Knowing what can and can't be done.  Who Knew I have no clue, but someone did and they likely will never talk short of torture.  Peak Oil, Global climate change, Over fishing, Polution all over the place, over 6 billion mouths that want to be fed every day, Not many of them can I do much about on a global scale,  I can on a personal level though.

Will it solve any of the problems to post here.  NO!

But I am sure it makes a lot of us feel better to have someone to talk to that understands what we are going through.  

So Keep on posting, keep on talking, keep on getting the message out, every littel bit helps.  Just remember you can't walk a mile unless you pick a foot up and take a step.


Some of my outlook might be shaped my my Lutheran upbringing as well ... but there are sports analogies as well: it's hard to win if you won't show up for the game, etc.
I also agree that we aren't going to "embrace change" - and probably not even when TSHTF. There will be blame fests, uproars, riots, etc., but will we, as a society, even recognize what the problem is? For most of us the initial stages of this are likely to involve things like, loss of our jobs, inability to "make ends meet," drops in our standard of living, etc. Will we recognize these for what they are - symptoms of a wider problem?

However, lamenting our inability to recognize a problem should not be the end of the issue. Given that there are many of us who do recognize the problem would seem to put the nix on Ron's remark that it is in our nature. So, if we are not condemned to make this same mistake over and over, what do we do - those of us who understand what's going on?

Clearly we're not going to "change the world," so what can we do? Giving up hope, the doomer creed, is not in my character. So I look for what is possible, not just to survive, but to add little positive "themes" to whatever might come after. That might be through my children, my work colleagues, my yoga students, my writing, etc. The day may come real soon where we should all consider building monastaries - not neccessarily for buildings for religion, but enclaves of people to keep alive ways of being in the world that are not based on growth economics.

I strongly disagree that giving up hope altogether is "the doomer's creed".  The key to all our responses is in how we define the portion of the situation that is unsalvageable, and whether we accept that the portion that is unredeemable is in some sense "all there is".  I know of few pessimists who would say that it's all over, for some encompassing, overarching definition of "all".

There are many hues in the pessimist spectrum.  They range up from the belief that humanity will get the incentive to reorganize around sustainability once we have irrefutable evidence (gained from the deaths of some multiple millions from starvation) that this is real.  At the other end of the spectrum is the understanding that human beings are just DNA's way of making more DNA, and as long as DNA survives, the universe is unfolding as it should.  But even holding to that latter belief (as I do) doesn't preclude you from working on mitigation.

Most of us will not go gentle into that dark night, but will come up with all kinds of possibilities, from relocalization to Depletion Protocols to Guns 'n Ammo.  IMO pessimists like me have simply accepted that industrial civilization will end, many will die in the processz, and the Brave New world will bear precious little resemblance to the old.  That emphatically does not mean that we have given up on the value of either our fellow man or the idea of civilization.  It's just that we have looked at the sinking Titanic and have decided that saving the velvet chesterfield and the silver tea service is simply not going to  be possible.  That doesn't mean we have stopped pointing people towards the lifeboats.

GG - you are correct, of course. One of the difficulties of this sort of written conversation is that "tone of voice" and facial expressions get lost. I should probably have put the <sarcasm></sarcasm> html tags around that passage.

On the DNA question - perhaps DNA is just human beings' way of making more human beings'? Causality direction, I'm just not quite sure I get it. Sure, we experience time flow in one direction, but why?

The fact that DNA underpins all life on earth implies that human beings are more an effect than a cause.  I'm most of the way through the Reg Morrison book "The Spirit in the Gene" (required reading alongside JHK to keep your doomer card in good standing), and have just ordered the equally obligatory "Straw Dogs" by John Gray.  Human beings are a fluke, an accident, and not a happy one at that. I'm quite sure the world would achieve a better balance without our meddlesome presence.  It wouldn't be nearly as much fun, though.
"The fact that DNA underpins all life on earth implies that human beings are more an effect than a cause."

Care to go into this any further? I'm not sure how the conclusion follows from the assumption. It would seem to suggest that the essence of the human being is its physicality - which might fit the science, but not all of our philosophies.

Your reading list looks a little stilted, at least to my tastes. I've got an alternative for you, will get you the citation when I get home (or at least I will endeavor to remember to do so).

I think it is unfortunate that two of the primary gateway internet sites are stuck on this DNA connection. I suspect we lose a potentially large audience when we start talking about genetic inevitability and the failures of what it means to be a human animal. Its not that I don't understand the arguments, just don't think they are very complete.

I apologize - that last paragraph should have read;

I think it is unfortunate that two of the primary gateway internet sites for the peak oil topic are stuck on this DNA connection.

There's nothing very deep in my suggestion.  It's just that DNA has been around for 3.5 billion years or so, starting with the prokaryotes, and that the human expression of it has only been around a couple of million.  That suggests to me that there's nothing particularly special about the human "DNA transportation capsule", and that the DNA itself is the point of the exercise.

I don't put too much stock in philosophies.  As they are overt products of the human mind and statements about reality as perceived by the human mind, they have always struck me as inherently circular or self-referential.   Likewise, the large audience that is incapable of accepting that there may be some things about us that are immutable is  not that interesting to me.  They are the standard-bearers for human exceptionalism, and I don't think the world can stand many more of those.

I'd be very interested in alternative reading matter. Please post it when you find it.

I understand your reservation about philosophies. Now the hard question, you do (naturally) also include among those philosophies, science, right?

Of course, how you answer that has a whole hell of a lot to do with how much credence you put in this DNA as the purpose of the universe stuff.

I don't include science as one of those philosophies.  The reason is that to me "science" simply describes a method of reliably determining the shape of reality.  The sorts of philosophies I have little patience for are ones that attempt to directly elucidate that shape.

I agree that there's a problem of self-reference even with the scientific method, in that the design and results of experiments are always interpreted by humans, with all of our cultural, experiential and genetic biases.  I still think that the fact that science, at least in the methodological sense, makes no direct conclusions about reality places it in a different category than other philosophies, even Logical Positivism.

Not sure I agree with you. I don't see a whole lot of difference between "determining the shape of reality" and "elucidat[ing] that shape."

You correctly point out the epistemological difficulties of science. But a good scientist is aware of these difficultues and makes of them what s/he can.

The real difficulty I have with science is the ontological assumption. It is essentially a correspondance theory of reality, that what we observe in some experiment corresponds to some underlying reality. This may or may not be the case. Certainly I am not capable of answering that question. But my diffuculty with science is that it does not even ask it. The concern with this is that through time our understanding of what constitutes this "underlying reality" has changed pretty dramatically. Did the reality itself change?

I understand that there is a discussion about the iterative process, but there are also significant junctures that interupt that process.

Many philosophies also share this lack of questioning about their ontological committments and have problems with the epistemological ones as well. Perhaps it is just that its all human thought anyway?

Don't want to take anything away from science. As a tool to predict physical level phenomenon it has a pretty decent record. Unfortunately, way to many people take that success and then want to apply it in places it just isn't designed for.

The distiction I draw is that science (aka "the scientific method") is one step removed from its conclusions.  Science itself draws no conclusions about the shape of reality - that shape is limned only by the experimental results, which are not in themselves "science".  Philosophies, by contrast, are intended to directly describe reality.  Their expected  output is a map of reality.

The problem many have is in confusing the experimental results with the underlying method, because they are both sloppily called by the same name - "science".  Worse than that, the results are themselves interpreted by humans, and even the output of that process is labelled "science".  That this confusion is so prevalent indicates a severe shortfall in our teaching about science.  Because most of us only care about (or even hear about) the final intepretations, we take that for science, with all the epistemological and ontological difficulties you describe.

I think that's a pretty fair statement of the problem. I can't argue with it. I wonder, though, how many practitioners would make the same distinction. Most of those I know who are scientists don't always understand (or even care to) the distinction you are making. And when it comes to lay people the problem gets even worse.

On another note. I promised to get you a reference for a book - It's by David Abram, entiteled "The Spell fo the Sensuous" - here's an Amazon link
Definitely not light reading, but I felt it was well worth the time and effort.

Nice discussion on science, Davidsmi.  There can be an assumed arrogance of indisputability amongst scientists who perceive all as "black or white".  That is unfortunate.  Yet, science is my favorite of "the philosophies".  And that is why physics can be fun--they admit they don't have the answers and keep asking the big questions.
Was just thinking about your "DNA transportation capsule" and thought I'd encourage a thought experiment.

If humans had not come along, who would have defined what DNA is (was)? Can DNA truly be said to exist without our definition/description of it? Would DNA have known about itself without us?

Um...DNA doesn't know about itself.
hmmm, than how can it have a purpose? you know, like perpetuating itself? You wouldn't, per chance, be suggesting that these notions are created by human beings, would you?
Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say it has a function, rather than a purpose.
care to tease that out for me?

I'm guessing - function is mechanical, purpose ideational?

Who decides which is which?

"Purpose" implies a reason, a goal, a plan.

Natural selection has none of those.  As GG said, it's random.  It has no purpose.  As Stephen Jay Gould liked to point out, if we reran the history of life on earth, humans likely would not evolve again.

Who decides which is which?

Who cares?  Not the DNA, that's for sure.

I think I'm on board with you. GG was suggesting some telos, though - that the DNA itself was the "point of the exercise."

I've always thought the science of important junctures is kind of interesting. Not only were humans unlikely given what we know, but consciousness was not only unlikely, but couldn't even have been guessed at. Indeed, the start of life itself would seem to have defeated all odds given our state of understanding about life. And if you go back even further, the odds were against the big bang (I mean its a singular event in an huge set of possibilities. Funny - the things our science has the most trouble with
   - why did the universe start
   - why did life begin on earth
   - why did consciousness arise
Once these events had passed, we can explain the results pretty well. It's just the events themselves we have a hard time with. We can explain how they happened, post hoc, but not how they happened in the unique circumstances that existed. Its like I can say I burnt my tongue on the coffee because it was hot, but can't explain why I was drinking it in the first place.

I lean toward thinking so-called "important junctures" are human artifacts more than anything else.  It's something about how the mammalian brain is designed.  We pick out one point and say, "That...that's important."

The classic example is "When does life begin?"  Conception?  Quickening?  Birth?  Age 35, when you can run for president?  ;-)

Scientifically speaking, it doesn't really begin at a particular point.  It's a gradual continuum.  Some points along it are more interesting than others, to humans, but from a scientific POV, there's no way we can say, "Life begins here."  

Discover once had an article that basically argued that life begins before conception.  Something like 80% of seemingly healthy eggs are in fact too defective to develop into babies; that is, something like 80% of fertilized eggs will spontanously abort, usually before the woman even knows she is pregnant.  Their fate is determined before conception.  It caused a huge brouhaha.  Though supposedly a science magazine with scientifically-minded readers, obviously what everyone was really arguing about was when does a ball of cells become human - that is, when does it have a soul?  That will never be a question science can answer.  

And if these big junctures are human artifacts, what of the lesser ones? Indeed, who other than humans, is making any of these distinctions, borders, lines, seperations, etc.?
I have a feeling other mammals make similar distinctions.  Birds?  Maybe.  

But they don't matter.  They're just the way we filter the universe and try to make sense of it.  There's no meaning to it beyond that.  It doesn't matter, except to us.  

Like the political borders we draw on maps.  The lines mean a lot to us.  But nothing else cares.  Birds, fish, worms, weather, etc., just ignore the lines we draw on the map.  They couldn't care less. The world would continue, whether we mapped it or not.

I think I would agree with you. There is a fabulous passage in Nietzsche's "On the Use and Disadvantage of History" in which he attempts to describe the non-consciousness of a wild herd animal and the consciousness of humans. I won't try to recreate it from memory as I won't do it justice. But it is a brilliant literary depiction of what consciousness is. He is, of course, dead wrong about animals not possessing it, but brilliant in composition.

Anyway, I especially like the idea that "It doesn't matter, except to us." I think that really nails it. We are meaning producing animals. We tell stories. These stories (be they fairy tales or rocket science) are for our own consumption. There are those, of course, who believe there is some superior intelligence that set this all in motion. Hard for those folks to show that's not just another story with out recourse to the story itself.

One last thing I wanted to say. I'm going to log off soon for the night, but I wanted you and GG to know that I have really enjoyed our exchange today. It was the best of what this sort of forum can be. You two really made me stretch some mental muscles that haven't been exercised in a while.

(And I hope your parents recover okay - they live in my favorite part of Hawaii. I tried real hard to find farm land on the Big Island back around 90, but just couldn't afford it. Best place I found was a combined coffee/mac nut farm not far from the coffee mill near Kealakekua. Just don't ask me why I left the islands. I lived their for 10 years and its still more "home" than anywhere I've lived.)

We are meaning producing animals.

We have certainly carried it to extremes, but I don't think we're unique.  The mammalian brain is designed to draw connections, find patterns.  And faced with randomness, it finds patterns where none exist.  For example, "superstitious behavior" among rats.  

We mammals seem to need at least the illusion of order and control, or we go crazy.  

Kona is not the same as it was when I lived there.  When I got my driver's license, there was only one traffic light in town.  It was very rural.  The hardest part of learning to drive was learning to stay on the extremely narrow, winding, unbanked mountain roads.  When I first moved to the mainland, I kept getting forced onto exit ramps, because I'd never driven on a multilane highway before.    

Now, there are traffic lights and freeways everywhere.  And the traffic is still bumper-to-bumper.  The growth the past 15 years has been insane; it's the fastest growing area of Hawai`i.  Like that Pearl Jam song goes, they've paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

I wonder if its only mammals - perhaps only mammalian brains have the excess capacity to do the pattern recognition?

I first visited Kona in '84. Had more than one light, but it was still pretty laid back. None of those monstrosities north of town had been built yet.

Wasn't that a Joni Mitchell song? (are we dating ourselves?)

I didn't know Bob Dylan did that song.

The version I'm familiar with is not by Pearl Jam, as I misremembered, but by the Counting Crows.

"But they don't matter.  They're just the way we filter the universe and try to make sense of it.  There's no meaning to it beyond that.  It doesn't matter, except to us."

I'm not convinced that it is an accurate assessment to suggest that "It doesn't matter, except to us." Fundamentally, humanity is part of the Universe (a key discovery of science, if not other philosophies), not separate from it. This is where things get kind of tricky. Since human beings are integral to the Universal structure, the distinctions we make could, arguably, matter. Our thoughts probably matter beyond ourselves. It isn't like they happen outside this Universe--information, to the best of our knowledge, has physical form. It exists within the Universal framework. Knowledge can affect things and be affected upon. I suggest reading "The Bit and the Pendulum: From Quantum Computing to M Theory -- The New Physics of Information," by Tom Siegfried.

That's the funky reality about human existence (and an idea that I'm still grappling with). People are the Universe as much as anything else can be said to be. And, realistically, it's why things like Peak Oil matter--humanity is tied into the chain of phenomena that make up the physical reality of the Universe. Humanity can not separate itself from the Universe and escape this reality, escape things like FF depletion, ecosystem function, the nuclear reactions going on inside the Sun, etc.

For example, our borders do matter to many other living things. Take a look at the sharp boundary between, say an old-growth preserve and an actively managed industrial stand, boundaries that are largely dictated by people. Roads define boundaries--boundaries that can mean life or death for many animals and plants. Notice how deer tend to migrate to areas where shooting is outlawed during the hunting season. The list is huge. These living things may not perceive the boundaries in the same manner that we do, and, indeed many are likely not even consciously aware of them, but, in the end, the boundaries do, indeed matter beyond those who may have imagined them in the first place.

I enjoy your posts.


My use of "point of the exercise" was an anthropocentric colloquialism.  I didn't intend to imply that I think there is a meaning to the universe or any of the things that go on in it.  I emphatically do not believe that.  What we see around us is the end result of uncountable random events, shaped and constrained by the underlying physical structure of the universe.

Man is a meaning-seeking animal, and if there isn't a meaning to something, we'll damn well just create one out of thin air.  That's why I object to your use of the interrogative "Why" in your three questions.  Science can tell us "How", but "Why" is one of those suspiciously anthropogenic philosophical inquiries.  I agree that singularities and inflections are fascinating, but I think it's more productive to simply ask what and how, rather than why.

My apologies if you felt I was nitpicking. That wasn't my intent. Indeed, I was pulling out the "anthropomorphism" precisely because that is how we (or at least most of us) think, all the time, science or not. We remind ourselves that there is no telos, and then say that a planet revolves around a sun because of gravity (like I go to Starbucks because I like coffee).

I agree completely with your observation about meaning-seeking  and it is precisely why I find problems with science. You were right to object to the why question. Science can't answer why. However it's practioners insinuate a why all the time. And here, ultimately is why I lump science in with other philosophies. It is a framework we use to think about things - nothing more, nothing less. Once you start to attribute anything more to it (like a unique relationship with "reality") you are on the path to faith.

You were right to object to the why question. Science can't answer why. However it's practioners insinuate a why all the time.

I challenge that assertion! I read science all the time. It has been my experience that most scientists eschews the "why" question like the plague. In fact, those that do not avoid the question, usually state flat out that there is no "why". Richard Dawkins comes to mind. The late science writer Isaac Asimov was another who was fond of stating that there is no "why" to be found in nature.

Of course there are a few who just love to give you their idea of "why" this or that happened. Paul Davies comes to mind. But such people as Davies have a religious agenda, not a science agenda. Davies sees himself as a crusader for "reasons to believe" in God. And others like Michael Behe (Darwin's Black Box), are nothing more than creationists trying to disguise themselves as true science investigators.

Ron Patterson

If nature were kind, she would at least make the minor concession of anesthetizing caterpillars before they are eaten alive from within. But nature is neither kind nor unkind. She is neither against suffering nor for it. Nature is not interested one way or the other in suffering, unless it affects the survival of DNA. It is easy to imagine a gene that, say, tranquilizes gazelles when they are about to suffer a killing bite. Would such a gene be favored by natural selection? Not unless the act of tranquilizing a gazelle improves that gene's chances of being propagated into future generations. It is hard to see why this should be so, and we may therefore guess that gazelles suffer horrible pain and fear when they are pursued to death--as most of them eventually are. The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there is ever a time of plenty this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored.
- Richard Dawkins: River Out of Eden, page131-132.

Bravo for having the guts to challenge the question!!

We are programmed by formal schooling to expect the teacher to always ask the right questions (why this? why that?) and then we must answer.

But what if the question is full of wrong presumptions?

Example: Why did the Universe start?

  1. How do you know there is one Uni-verse instead of many parallel Multi-verses?
  2. How do you know there was a "start" to this one Uni-verse? When did you as a human being start being aware of your own existence? When did that "start"? What exactly does "start" mean and can it be applied to development of the space-time continuim in our neck of the woods?
  3. How do you know there was a purpose to justify the "Why?" part of the question? What if multiverses randomly come into and out of being and "time" is a self-contained circular dimension within them?

One very simple question and it can be oh so full of errors.
True...if the comets, volcanoes, virus, or whatever had not wiped out the dinosaurs, there could have very well been a Velociraptor sitting here with glasses on, typing away on this very PC today.

Much of evolution occurs merely by chance circumstances...being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

...or conversely, the right place at the right time with the preadaptation that allows you success.
Leanan, keep in mind that although these are statements reflecting the currently dominant biological paradigm in evolution, by no means are they the only ways of looking at the issue. Even SJ Gould was flirting with 'neo-Lamarkianism' at some points and recent readings in epigenetics and symbiogenesis (ala Lynn Margulis & Carl Woese et al) have intriguing evidence that evolution is directed in some measure by environmental influences on the genome.
Our behaviours are always a combination of our genes and our environment. It is almost never 100% of either one but a mixture of the two.  There may be inevitability that the planet cannot contain 6.5 billion people but all the proclamations  of genetic destiny are false. Neuroscience now shows that adults grow new neurons and dendritic spines, and change behaviour through LTP (long term potentiation of synapses) from learning. Even if some violent few at the top choose war, there are countless examples of people who work at ending war. The human condition put forth by John Gray in Straw Dogs is true, but only part of the picture - we have equally strong evolved genetic algorithms for cooperation (reciprocal altruism). For anyone with time/money, I highly recommend the lectures on tape from neuroscientists Robert Sapolsky, which delve into many of these issues.

The future is certain to be difficult, but I think at this stage of our complex evolution, to precisely predict how we will behave is impossible. I can with virtual certaintly say that some places will be violent and degraded and others will be cooperative and sustained. When doomers (I guess I would consider myself one) talk about the future, remember its the  surviving and succesful model we should focus on. If the hard core doomers (which I am not) are correct and there will only be 1-2 billion of us without electricity one generation hence, then we should spend our time figuring out the trajectory that best gets our friends and family into that  number. (read TOD for hints)

Alternative reading matter:
Marilynne Robinson, The Death of Adam; Essays on Modern Thought. Especially the opening essay "Darwinism".
It is very well known that Darwin reached all his conclusions before bothering with fieldwork. Medelian genetics stand up to practical tests but 'evolution' is hopelessly tainted with ideologic constructs. What Darwinian calls Darwinism I would call Americanism
Very well said.  I especially like this bit:

That emphatically does not mean that we have given up on the value of either our fellow man or the idea of civilization.  It's just that we have looked at the sinking Titanic and have decided that saving the velvet chesterfield and the silver tea service is simply not going to  be possible.  That doesn't mean we have stopped pointing people towards the lifeboats.
I accept that the fate of the human species in not in my hands.

Even so, I attempt to do "my bit" where I am.

The big picture is as grim as can be.  Even so, I pedal my cargo trike and pedicab and learn to garden as though that will make a difference.

I talk with people as I try in my wobbly way to "walk the walk."  Sometimes I talk to groups of people.  Tomorrow evening I will talk to the Minneapolis chapter of the Izaak Walton League.  I hope to find a group there that is already somewhat up to speed regarding population overshoot, overconsumption, pollution, global climate change, resource depletion, and resource wars.

I hope to encourage these folks to follow my lead and begin to design their lives and our community to rely primarily upon active transportation (walking and biking) and raising food as much as possible.  

The transformation of our little area to a continuously productive urban landscape would not save the world, or even our part of the world.  But it might open possibilities for changes elsewhere, and it might provide a good way to live for awhile --who knows how long?

I find that I must ultimately focus on my own lifestyle and building consensus for immediate and radical change in my own community.  I am very aware that my only power comes from recognising my smallness, and working out of that awareness.

The outcomes are out of my hands, but I do not throw my hands up in the air and do nothing.

If enough people do their best to change and encourage change, we might see some good come of that.  We might see some good suprises.  Or not.

Meanwhile, I must decide what I'd like to do between now and whenever I die.  That's about all that any of us gets to choose, I guess.  We may not get what we choose, but we can choose and try to do what we envision.

I am a doomer's doomer.  I am also aware that we are ephemeral clowns, wisps of smoke, fragile flowers.  We are here for a tiny span of time, and our actions perhaps have impact like that of a butterfly flapping wings.  

So I try to look inward and ask myself what I really want to do with my next breath.  If I have week, a month, or a year, what will I do?  I try to muddle through by really asking myself why I do what I do, and whether or not that's what I really want to be doing.

So I am a doomer, a dreamer, and a do-er.  On a pretty small scale.  Cheers!

What must a man do? A man must do what he can.  What a man can do, he must do.
Partly true, but deep down we must do what we like to do, and what feels right. That will mean something different to everyone. Saving ones genes is just what has come before. That legacy left us with algorithms primed for inclusive fitness. Our inclusive fitness meters are out of whack right now because we are in the liminal space between two paradigms. The old model says we should make money and climb the social ladder. The new model says we should have a low footprint (not to save the planet but so we can accomplish things without wanting), grow food, have local community, macgyver skills etc. How we choose to incorporate those mixed signals and stay happy is really the purpose of life.
Predicting the future regarding Peak Oil is a "wrestling with jello" problem.  The number of unknowns FAR exceed the number of knowns (and the confidence in many of the "known" facts & relationships is low).

A very large number of assumptions must be made in order to calculate a prediction about the future.  So many assumptions that several will be wrong, enough to totally skew the resulting prediction.

OTOH, predicting what will make a bad situation better is relatively easy.  I have a high degree of confidence, for example, that electrifying our freight railroads, building more Urban Rail, building more wind turbines and other renewables and even more pumped storage will "help".

We were once able to build a massive rail network with "coal, mules & sweat".  If we build one now, we can at least maintain such a system with limited energy and decent social organization.

In fact, the common realization that "we" need to maintain these rail systems may be the rock that keeps away anarchy*.  (On the old Natchez Trace, travelers were often robbed.  But the unarmed postal dispatch riders were left alone.  Their service were seen as too valuable to bother disturbing).

So I chose not to spend much time divining the future, but working towards something that will make the future better under any scenario.

Best Hopes,


* The day after the Great San Francisco earthquake, trolleys were running on most routes.  Roughly cobbled together rails, wires & supports, often with volunteer labor "just doing it".  Transportation was seen as essential to relief & recovery.

The anarchist ruled city in Spain in the 1930s STILL kept their streetcars running, despite the war, etc.

 "The day after the Great San Francisco earthquake,..."

  A lot different than NO, eh?  This, in a time before TV, satellite communication, airplanes,...
 Thank God for the Coast Guard.

One of Funston's earliest telegrams received by the War Department in Washington at 11:40 p.m. on April 18 gave only a hint of the sweeping actions the general already had taken.

"We need thousands of tents and all rations that can be sent,'' reads the telegram, now housed at the National Archives in Washington. "Business portions of city destroyed and about 100,000 people homeless. Fire still raging; troops all duty assisting police. Loss of life probably 1,000. Best part of resident district not yet burned.''

A few hours later, another message arrived at the department giving a fuller picture. "I shall do everything in my power to render assistance and trust to War Department to authorize any action I may have to take," he telegraphed.

At 4 a.m. Eastern time the next morning, War Secretary and future President William Howard Taft wired back. "Of course, do everything possible to assist in keeping order and saving life and property and in relieving hunger by use of troops, material and supplies under your orders," he wrote.

One thing San Francisco had on April 18, 1906, which it has lacked since the military base closures after the end of the Cold War, was a big collection of Army and Navy bases. By noon on that day, about five hours after the epic quake, Funston had 1,500 troops on duty in the city, along with about 600 military cadets from UC Berkeley.

The Last Time America Lost a City
by SensibleShoes
Mon Sep 05, 2005 at 12:22:26 PM PDT
[Promoted from the diaries with minor edits by DavidNYC.]

This post is actually by my brother, CaliforniaShoes. He's comparing the government reaction this past week to the government reaction the last time an American city was destroyed - San Francisco, April 18, 1906.

The earthquake struck at 5:13 AM.

By 7 AM federal troops had reported to the mayor.

By 8 AM they were patrolling the entire downtown area and searching for survivors.

The second quake struck at 8:14 AM.

By 10:05 AM the USS Chicago was on its way from San Diego to San Francisco; by 10:30 the USS Preble had landed a medical team and set up an emergency hospital.

By 11 AM large parts of the city were on fire; troops continued to arrive throughout the day, evacuating people from the areas threatened by fire to emergency shelters and Golden Gate Park.

St. Mary's hospital was destroyed by the fire at 1 PM, with no loss of life, the staff and patients having already been evacuated across the bay to Oakland.

By 3 PM troops had shot several looters, and dynamited buildings to make a firebreak; by five they had buried dozens of corpses, the morgue and the police pistol range being unable to hold any more.

At 8:40 PM General Funston requested emergency housing - tents and shelters - from the War Department in Washington; all of the tents in the U.S. Army were on their way to San Francisco by 4:55 AM the next morning.

Prisoners were evacuated to Alcatraz, and by April 20 (two days after the earthquake) the USS Chicago had reached San Francisco, where it evacuated 20,000 refugees.

Of course, the technology of the day was fairly primitive, and the U.S. was a much poorer country. No doubt we could move more quickly today.

Source for times and dates.

The US Bataan was the only US naval vessel in the Gulf of Mexico when katrina hit.  She could have been docked behind the Convention Center (cruise ship terminal) or the USN base bordering the Lower 9th Ward (edge of Upper 9th Ward) by Tuesday with 600 hospital beds (more doctors & nurses woudl have been needed), massive amounts of MREs, ~600 Marines (forgot exact #), couple of dozen helocopters, ability to generate 100,000 gallons of fresh water/day.

She could have rendered aid to Plaquemines Parish (first relief there drove from British Columbia, Canada; FEMA later said they got no requests for aid, so noen was sent) on the way upriver and every day thereafter she could have gone downriver for some hours.

Water, food and a place to evac hospitals to.  Troops on the ground, etc.

Instead she was sent to the Mississipppi Gulf Coast by the Commander in Chief, where her commander later stated that she was "underutilized".  Picked up about a dozen for hospital, delivered some water and food, but limited quantities.  No marines deployed.

The former head of the Republican Nat'l Committee is Governor of Mississippi and Mississippi has two senior Republican senators.  Louisiana has just one freshman R senator.  Easy call to make.


 A letter from the doc I was with in NO...

Dear Cindy,
My name is Stuart Leeds - I'm the family practice MD that you met at the storage facility shortly before we all caravanned to Algiers today.

It was a great honor and delight to meet you! I'm also pleased and somewhat relieved to have the opportunity to give you a brief report on the state of affairs visa vi the medical relief effort in the afflicted areas.

In short strokes: people are not getting the help they need, because our government, through the agency of FEMA, has totally politicized the relief effort. I'm sure you've already gotten wind of the reports that the Bush Administration is handing out huge contracts to favored vendors, much as they have done in Iraq. But what is not widely known is - and I can verify this personally - that FEMA is preventing certain groups and individuals from participating in the relief efforts. Here's a quick synopsis of the experience I and my companions (my wife, and two respiratory therapists) had today, in our attempts to offer our services to the Red Cross operation in Covington, LA.

We got a call from an official at the Red Cross that the Vets for Peace were being invited to send doctors to Abita Springs, a nearby community.

When we got there around 9 AM, some of director Dr Rachel Murphy's assistants welcomed us, and started making lists of materials we would need

Suddenly, a man wearing a Homeland Security shirt came over and rudely asked us to leave. He brought a local cop with him, and their body language was pretty threatening. We explained that we were coming at the request of both Dr. Murphy and the mayor of Covington, Candace Watkins. He (whose name was Rodney Hart) would hear none of it from us; he forced us to leave immediately.

We went to Mayor Watkins, who called Dr. Murphy and arranged for us to be allowed into the Red Cross center. We decided that only my wife and I would go - realizing that the other gentlemen, who were wearing VFP T-shirts, would be less than welcome at the center.

We met Dr. Murphy a little after noon, and she was very friendly. She told us she would find a place for us to work - I as a physician, and my wife as an organizational specialist. However, midway through our tour of the facility, she stepped into the office of Mr. Hart, the Homeland security rep, and there were some tense words exchanged between them. She repeatedly exclaimed that we were not representing VFP, and finally there was a long period of silence. Mr. Hart apparently made some gestures we couldn't see. She sighed, and turned to us, and abruptly suggested we get some lunch in the basement. As we ate, she started talking about how the Red Cross was pulling out of her parish within a week, how there were already an excess of docs, and that our services wouldn't be needed.

She also explained that the reason that VFP was not welcome with the Red Cross (or indeed, within the entire parish) was because of a series of allegations that we had already heard from others in the center. We had heard several conflicting versions of these stories: that someone with VFP had stolen $15,000 worth of medical supplies, and that he turned out to be a child molester; that the Vets for Peace had come to one center and were taking over, and bringing cameras into clinics; that VFP was illegally collecting Red Cross donations on the Internet.
We could not substantiate any of these rumors, and indeed, I think it's unlikely that there was truth to any of them.

Clearly, FEMA and/or Homeland Security is trying to keep "political undesirables" from lending a hand during this catastrophe. Perhaps they are marching to orders from Bush's political hacks to preventing peace groups from upstaging the administration in the relief effort - which would hardly be difficult to do, on anything like a level playing field.

It is so sad to think that the Bush machine would put politics in front of the safety and security of human beings, even in a the wake of a natural disaster of Katrina's magnitude. But in the eyes of this physician, I believe that is exactly what is happening. And it will continue, as long as the responsible government agencies can get away with it..

We must hold them accountable. But more importantly, we must let people know this is happening, and thus bring such pressure to bear on these obstructionist agencies that they can no longer keep VFP, or indeed any group of caring citizens from pitching in.

Thanks, Cindy. And keep up the great work.

F.Stuart (Skip) Leeds, MS, MD

Let's say we do have massive dieoff on the order of magnitude of, say, 5 billion people. And let's say this dieoff is due to food scarcity, disease, oil depletion, other resource depletion, drowth, and global warming, all arguably interrelated. But let's also, say, that our perspective is millions of years rather than a couple of decades or even our puny lifetime.

The Earth can repair itself over millions, maybe even hundred of years. Presumably, humankind will have the historical perspective of not just a few societies who collapsed but a whole world which is collapsed. There will be obvious lessons if history is somehow preserved.  For one, we will learn that the Earth can only handle so much carbon dioxide before its life support systems are severely compromised. This will not be a matter of speculation, but of history.

After all this, after the future dieoff, and assuming there is anyone left, will this knowledge be passed on and will it be heeded.

I am a pessimist with respect to the current crop of earthlings who, even if capable of a certain degree of learning and foresight, seem incapable of taking the necessary actions to thwart disaster. Given our inability to take the necessary voluntary actions, nature will impose its own dieoff in order to have a chance to repair itself.  Mass extinction is nothing new, but this time, however, it is the human race that is at issue.

Perhaps there is no hope. No hope, however, is sometimes a prerequisite for spiritual liberation.


Here's something to consider along the line your going down.

How long did it take europeans to learn how to build an arch after the downfall of Rome?

Knowledge is gained and lost all the time. What will we pass on to those who follow us? Will we let it be random, or will some of us step up and say "this is important, I will teach it to whomever will listen"?

I dunno, but Tainter said it wasn't until 3,000 years after the Minoans collapsed that flush toilets and the printing press were invented again.
When all the computer servers fail, there will be little knowledge left to pass on to anyone.
Never seen a server with any knowledge. Lots of data, but no knowlede ;-)
Your general point stands of course, but there is so much misinformation floating about (still, after one and a half millenia)concerning the Roman Empire and how great it was that I need to point out that in fact nobody ever forgot how to build an arch upon the collapse of the Empire. Most technical knowledge was preserved: what was lost was the elite culture (the literature, the social structures of Imperial patronage and politics, and, as far as technology is concerned, only those forms of technology with very limited and specialist application, such as scalpels for eye operations performed on the very wealthy).

The truth about the collapse of the Roman Empire is that most people didn't care at all and may even have been better off, from the absence of extortionate taxation. It is generally forgotten that many people in the Empire chose to go and live with the 'barbarians', so much so that one of the Emperors passed a law enabling for the interrogation of people recovered from the 'barbarians' to determine whether they had gone over to them of their own free will or otherwise. There is even a recorded instance of a mid-ranking Roman preferring to go and live amongst the Huns, because he considered their society was more just! And as a final tidbit, I believe it was the invading Germans who finally put an end to gladiatorial contests, which had continued without cease even under the 'Christian' Romans.

Rome was not this fantastic thing that left the world in darkness upon its passing. For almost all people in the territories of what had been the Empire, life continued almost exactly as before (and in terms of technology, quite exactly). Heavens, they had all been enserfed long before the collapse of the Empire anyway.

It may often be true that social collapse brings technological bacwardness, but in the case of the Roman Empire this did not actually happen.

Hmmm... the Romans raised the floor of the Colosseum with steam power, something not achieved again until the 18th century.

The Roman system of municipal waterworks was not duplicated again until the 18th century.

The Crossbow didn't reemerge until the 11-12th century.

There was an almost complete collapse of trade and population across the Mediteranean world in the 6-8th centuries.  The Saxons, when they came to the ruins Londinium, (London), thought it must have been built by Gods, so large were the stones.

Much of what was retained of the Roman knowledge was retained by the Arabs and returned to us via that channel, rather than remembered in the Dark Ages.

Consider also that future generations will not have oil and gas resources to tap.

Whether a different kind of civilisation, based on wind and solar energy directly, might emerge, I don't know.

I wouldn't count on much knowledge being handed down.

Most of what we know about the Romans came from other civilisations: knowledge the Arabs (and to some extent the Byzantines) preserved in their libraries, that was then fed back to the West as Medieval and then Civilisation emerged.

Virtually every other extinct civilisation in history, we know only a tiny fraction of what we know about Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

"I wouldn't count on much knowledge being handed down."

I would also think that a whole lot of what we take for granted as "knowledge" will be pretty useless in a lot of potential futures. We can build 100 story buildings, will they ever be needed again? We (okay some of us) can program a VCR to record TV programs? Will we even want broadcast entertainment where we're going? The list could go on and on.

I think a lot of the effort of the next century (in North America) will be in attempting to relearn things that were common knowledge to our ancestors just a few centuries ago.

If we are about to go backwards then I agree.  By and large basic scientific principles aren't that well taught or understood, any more.

Highly skilled semiconductor engineering will be less important than what granddad knew about where, and when, you could grow crops.

There was a wonderful series of books about life in the Appalachians 'The Foxfire Books'.  I wish I had been able to keep a set.

I strongly disagree that giving up hope altogether is "the doomer's creed".

GuildedGuider, before I could comment on that statement you must first explain exactly what it is you are hoping for.

Ron Patterson

Actually, the vagueness of the word "hope" in that sentence is one of the things that makes me disagree with the statement.  One can give up hope only for particular and specified  things.  The notion of giving up all hope implies a collapse into nihilism that even a hardcore Peak Oil Doomer would have a hard time sustaining.  If the original phrase had read something like "giving up hope for the survival of industrial civilization, the doomer's creed" I would have agreed with it.

I have personally given precisely that hope. This doesn't mean I have given up hope for the survival of the human species, or even for some form of civilization, though what either will look like after a trip through the bottleneck is quite beyond my powers of prediction.

typo:  "given up precisely that hope."
GliderGuider, I agree with your point here. I don't think there is much of a chance that humans will go extinct. There are just too many of us in every niche in the world. There will be survivors. How many? I haven't a clue. But if I had to guess I would guess more than 100 million but less than 1 billion. Or one in sixty at worst and one in six at best.

The next obvious question would be: At what point in time do I, or you, expect this population minimum. Again, I haven't a clue, but I would guess around 2100, give or take half a century. The near guess would apply only if resource wars break out all over the world.

But of course this is all just speculation. I could be off by a country mile. But I will never know, for obvious reasons.

And I, like you, would not venture even a guess as to what kind of civilization will survive.

So if I obviously know nothing about nothing, why do I even speculate? Hell, I have nothing better to do.  ;-)

But I must add, the one thing I think is obvious is that we are already deeply into overshoot. And that means there will definitely be a collapse. But beyond that?????

Ron Patterson

If ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere gets anywhere near 1000, then we are likely to get the methane and hydrogen sulphide release, similar to the Permian Extinction.

http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=could_global_warming_be_worse_than_you_t&more=1&c=1&am p;tb=1&pb=1


At which point, all bets for survival of creatures on the surface of this planet are off.

On current rates of CO2 release, and growth in CO2 release, 1000ppm would happen some time in the 22nd century.

More problematically, we do not know at what level the earth's absorption systems for CO2 become release mechanisms.  Scientists were saying a prudent danger level was 550ppm, now some are saying 450ppm (v. 380ppm CO2 now).  Others I know are saying we have already passed it.

As CO2 rises, plants become less effective capturers of CO2.  Once the temperature passes a certain point, the permafrost starts to melt and methane is released-- there is enough methane under the permafrost to boil the planet (estimated 100 gigatonnes, and methane has 20 times the greenhouse impact of CO2).

Once CO2 levels pass that 'point of no return' anthropogenic forcing (hate that term: man made CO2 increases) ceases to be the factor making the world hotter.

At which point, we are in the downward spiral that ends in extinction.

No one knows whether we will reach that point, or whether some other force or factor will save us.

But it is almost certain that if we continue with our current course for another 100 years, which we could do given that we have the coal resources to do it, then we will have made it impossible for human life to survive on the surface of this planet.

If the world's 1 billion richest people lowered their standard of living to that of the average person on this planet, then there would be more than enough resources.

42 trillion dollars of GDP is on the order of $750 each.  Pace an average GDP in the USA of nearly $40k per person, or Europe in the low 20s.

The problem is, of course, that that is not how world society works.  We have the firepower to defend our position, and we will.

Overshoot?  Maybe.  But it's the bottom 2 billion or so who will die first.

Even within our societies there will be stratification, with some groups surviving far better than others.

Hope is the last ill to leave Pandora's box.  Contradictory to common sense, you say?  Well, consider that hope replaces fear which, unlike hope, is a STRONG spur to action, and, voila, hope is an ill!
More than one person has suggested that Hope was actually the worst of the demons released by Pandora.
Hello Leanan & fellow TODers,

This is bound to be a controversial reply, but here goes anyhow:

Yep, hope is a big problem.  Everyone should read this.  The question arises: how violent will people get for a hopeful tomorrow?  My recent post touched on protest differences between biosolars vs detritovores.  Does being intimately connected to the soil create a desire to expire without harming others?

It is easy to deal with obtuse abstractions by posting away, but make it real in your mind-- when it comes down to personal hopelessness--what will you choose?

WTSHTF, and I believe we will all experience this personal choice in the years to come--what will be your reaction?-- Have you predecided on the violence level you will accept?  Will you help send people to die in the desert as the Turks did to the Armenians?
The great bulk of the Armenian population was forcibly removed from Armenia and Anatolia to Syria, where the vast majority was sent into the desert to die of thirst and hunger.

Will TODers participate in killing other TODers?  It is easy for me to imagine a young TODer like Tate423 or AMPOD killing me in ten or twenty years when I am 61 or 71.

In my locale of the Asphalt Wonderland: I already tell teenagers that they will probably choose to kill me, steal my last food, then give it to their adorable little offspring.  They all initially say, "No way, dude!"  I find this to be an excellent way to get them thinking about Peakoil and Overshoot.  I then refer them to Dieoff.com, LATOC, EnergyBulletin.net, and of course, TOD.

Will the youngsters of today be willing to cooperate postPeak? Or has their steady diet of videogames and violent TV & movies succeeded in precluding their participation of moving 60-75% of us to relocalized permaculture?  Young men bearing guns is a lot less work than the same young men bearing shovels, sledgehammers, and hoes.  What would you choose? The future always belongs to the young--will they choose to be philosophic like Socrates and partake of the hemlock?  Or will young Turks rule the world?

When bicycles are more valuable than a Hummer: will TODer Beggar shoot the person trying to steal his worktrike?  Will AlanfromBigEasy willingly be in charge of a forced slave-labor army racing to rebuild RRs and Mass-transit?  Will TODer R-squared lead violent attacks on ethanol plants so that more food will reach the tables of America?  Will TODer Expat be encouraging Putin to not ship FFs to America because he doesn't want to freeze to death?  Will I be postPeak encouraging the millions of Southwesterners to invade Cascadia in a desperate gambit for survival?  Will Dave Cohen, MicroHydro, SelfAggrandizedTrader, Oil CEO, and Darwinian be willing to forego profitable investing to instead lead and finance protests against infinite growth and the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario?  Will female TODers like Leanan & kjmClark let their children and/or young relatives be Drafted, or will they sell nearly everything to relocate, with their youngsters, to Costa Rica, Tasmania, or Greenland?

Will TODer ThatsitImout shoot me for my little scooter if there is no plug-in HEVs?  Will Oilmanbob & Westexas hoard secret stores of propane and natural gas knowing that Don Sailorman and Don in Maine are freezing to death up North?  Will TODers Todd and Don in Colorado welcome twenty other TODers showing up at their doorsteps, or will they instead greet them with fusilades of gunfire?  Will TODer Hothgor insult some other TODer by screaming, "The flesh of your mother sticks to my teeth"?  Will Vinod Khosla & Richard Rainwater pool their billions to make sure All of US TODers are the first inhabitants of the American Gulag?  Are we the vanguard force for optimizing the bottleneck squeeze, or will we be our own worst enemies?

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

P.S. Nate Hagens and I, both being 6'5", get first dibs on the longest available bunks in the KBR workcamps.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob .. too funny ..

"Young men bearing guns is a lot less work than the same young men bearing shovels, sledgehammers, and hoes.  What would you choose?"

Under those circumstances I'll take the hoes <gg>

Triff ..

Great post Bob!

I dont think it's controversial at all.  It's reality and to be honest, I know I can be brutal when it comes down to me or the next guy.  That's in the worst case scenario though and only circumstances will allow me to decide.  Kinda like crossing that bridge when I get there.  I would keep you around though as long as I could pick your brain; not literally though. LoL

BTW, a while back someone posted a survey you could take to determine what type of person you could become in ANY TSHTF scenario.  I can't remember what I scored but I remember it told me to find cult members.


That's in the worst case scenario though and only circumstances will allow me to decide.

You are making a basic mistake if you really want to survive.  That mistake is to allow circumstances to dictate your action.  And, since you will have made no provision for action, the odds a low that you will survive.

Here's a short, true story of a "simple" survival situation.  There are a lot of lessons here:


I've been pretty open as to my plans and course of action (it is inadviseable for even two TODers to try to camp out at Todd's place).  I haven't done it out of bravado or to seek "status."  Rather, my purpose was to demonstrate one approach to survival if TSHTF.  It may not be the best one for everone but it works for me.

Todd; a Realist

I understand your point.  I don't agree.  Life is about adapting.  When situations warrant action, then I'll take it.  I'm not saying waiting for something, situations are dynamic and changing.

I will check out this link when I get some time later today.

I don't think that is at all funny. After all, isn't this what we TODers are doing right now - as mostly white privileged males - to the mostly dark starving children around the world? I still drive a car; I pay my bills doing electronic commerce - helping clients ship trinkets overnight by FedEx. I (we) prosper because our boot is on their neck. So much for democracies not going to war; we are all the more ruthless in our killing and destruction for this conflation of capitalism, growth and democracy. In this Petri dish we are the strongest culture and we will prevail over all others, suck out all the nutrients, then perish ourselves.

Morality and ethics seem to depend on one's being rich enough to afford morality and ethics. I imagine the tipping point will more likely be sudden - not slow. Once people start hacking at each other, there will be no recovery. Because it won't be a rising tide, or a zero-sum game, but a "who is going to lose most" game.

Alan's POV, that we know some things that will certainly make outcome better, that's the only approach seems to make sense.

cfm in Gray, ME

I'm just sorry I wasn't featured in that litany...oh well.
Bob, Bob, Bob, if those little ratty kids get you, you will be missed. Your words charm and engage. Some days I shake my head, others I laugh out loud. This is as it should be.

The one thing I've learned that has served me very well, is always listen to that lone voice. Did that for 20 years and now people send me checks every month. I'm in the bio-solar camp, but can't quite afford blackwater troops yet. The compound and cross bows will have to suffice.

Don in Maine

Bob Shaw,

Great post.  I always appreciate your insights and your links.

Will female TODers like Leanan & kjmClark let their children and/or young relatives be Drafted, or will they sell nearly everything to relocate, with their youngsters, to Costa Rica, Tasmania, or Greenland?

What makes you think it's only females who don't want their kids to be drafted? I daresay a lot of men would object, too.

FWIW, I voluntarily joined in the military (in order to pay for college).  It was a good choice for me, and might be in the future as well.  In Vietnam, a lot of people joined before they were drafted, so they could choose jobs that kept them out of combat.  You know, like Dubya boldly defending the skies of Texas.

Hello Leanan,

Yes, no disputing that on my part, the Draft will strongly effect a parent of any sex.  Please forgive me if you feel I singled you and kjmClark out. I just picked various TODers from memory for my original posting, and I just wanted to be sure I included some TODer women in my posting to be overall fair.  Other TODers were disappointed that I did not include them in some scenario.  I try, but I can't make all the people happy all the time....

By-the-way, Big Kudos to you for your military hitch-- this is never underappreciated by me.  Thank You for your Sacrifice & Service.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

"Will Dave Cohen, MicroHydro, SelfAggrandizedTrader, Oil CEO, and Darwinian be willing to forego profitable investing to instead lead and finance protests against infinite growth and the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario?"

I can only speak for myself. Profitable investing bored the shit out of me a long time ago. You do your homework, buy low, and sell high. It's not even gambling. You make more money when you take more risks. You take more risks when you get greedy.

"lead and finance protests against infinite growth..."

As long as I don't have to be in the front lines or spend time in jail. I don't like the idea of tear gas. Plus I'm doing all the thinking. I should get some perks. More to say about this later. (I'm absolutely sickened by some of the attitudes espoused by certain doomers here - not you).

Bob. You need to read "The Road." Once you do that you'll never refer to Three Days again. It is a great movie, though.

I also agree that we aren't going to "embrace change" - and probably not even when TSHTF. There will be blame fests, uproars, riots, etc., but will we, as a society, even recognize what the problem is?

What echos in my ears is the 'poor' saying "I'm gonna do what I have to do".  Many times tied to threats of violence, or as justification for some action like robbery, drug selling et la.

Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose

As more have 'nothing left to loose' - I fear the 'freedom of expression'.

from my MSM watch:

Two interesting pieces on CNN this morning:

  1.  A good story on the water woes in the west.  They pointed out that Lake Meade is down 50% (yikes!).  The drought continues.  No direct GW tie-in, but it was kinda "hint, hint", like they do.

  2. And a good one on the coming electricity crunch based on that report saying potential trouble in 2-3 years.  They discussed building new plants, pointed out NIMBY problems, and admitted that coal is still dirty and "clean coal" is  unproven and simply not available yet.

"Topics A" slowly bubble to the surface.  It's like watching that mud volcano in Indonesia, which continues by the way...
The numbers are not all in yet, but last year the world was at the 54 days of grain supplies in surplus for emergancy use only.  With Australia down and the USA going to make fuel out of grain, and other numbers we know are bad, while some are also good, where will that leave the world's surplus grain supplies?

54 days seems like a lot but its not really.  

I really don't think we have till 2020 to decide what to do about Peak Oil?  I don't even think we have till 2010.   It is only 3 years away you say!

In 1999 some people thought the end was going to be 2000, I didn't not a enough systems were likely to crash totally, though COBOL was a big thing,  I did pull myself out of the 401K I was in, only because I felt the market going south for the company I was in, and I lost my jab in said company when they lost contracts.

But would any of you have guessed that 2000 would be a dud, only to have 2 towers go POOF the very next year?

3 years in not that long away. 54 days surplus emergancy grain supplies is not that many days.  And we are going to gas our speeding habits with grain, and party like its 1999!

I just turned in a small paper for one of my classes.  I researched the farms product industry and focused on risks associated to it.  I covered terrorism (even though the risk is low), depleting aquifers, & I touched PO, but only in a econ/biz sort of way to demonstrate cost increases putting people out of biz.  I read Plan B 2.0 and it read like revelations in a way.  
Dan of UR(of the Chaldeans?)asks,
"where will that leave the world's surplus grain supplies"

Glad you asked Dan. Been wanting to say this since I noticed the huge capital approaching ethanol and biodiesel plans and the runup in grain prices.

IMO we are set on a course to starve the rest of the world. Beginning with the 3rd world countries and right on to the rest. We will be using our grain to supply our own needs and convert the rest to a usuable form of fuel energy.No more exports or free food aid. As our induced global warming continues ,it might be a welcome relief, versus slow death by starvation and lack of water or else being flood by too much.

We will turn a blind eye to the worlds starving. We will sell some of our grain but likely at a very very dear price and that won't be enough except to salve our consciences.

We are already starting the processes that will ensure this occurs.

Russia is doing the same if they don't starve first.

We have brought all the other countries inhabitants out of the jungles and outback where they could have possibly survied  and sang our siren song of cornucopia and now they will die like flies as a result of our empty promises.

Ah you generation of materialistic vipers. Now comes the trying times. Dare one say the Abomination of Desolation?
Nah,,,not to be heard or remarked upon ,forsooth its not the spirit but the fat-ass that reigns over mankind in the richest nation-state on the 3rd planet outward of the sun.

The fat-ass that empowers a Oprah or Dr. Phil or displaces real animal life and vegetation as our asinine leaders lead the asinine people to the tubs of electric kool-aid. The acid test approaches. We will fail it.(K.K.)

We could have been great(as some mouse character stated in some inane animated kiddie flick)....yep ,we could have. We chose fatasses and big SUVs instead. We squandered the largress of our planet and pissed it away into the wind.  

Don't make the mistake of thinking that the people who own the mega corporations that are undertaking these projects have any allegiance to a nation. They will make their decisions based on profit motives. That might include buying certain gov'ts, it might not. But they sure as hell don't care whether the poor or middle class in this country survive. They need a certain amount of "market" in the world, that's all. If it comes down to choosing between you and some equally financially endowed canadian, brazilian, chinese, indian, etc, you will have no special place in their plan simply because you are american.
They can make all the decisions they wish BUT  we (us farmers) here in the 'heartland' have the grain and the soil. They do NOT.

Besides many ethanol distilleries are coop or farmer developed and funded. Sure they want to get into it. But they still have to buy the grain here.

What? They are going to build a plant somewhere else and then ship the grain there? Then ship it back to sell it here?

Get real.

We have the money and we (collectively) are their market. Not Bangladesh(sp?) for sure.

No offense intended, Airdale, but if you honestly think that farmers in this country have anything more than the slightest influence in modern corporate farming, than you're bonkers.

Oh, and that shirt you're wearing? Cotton grown in Mississippi, shipped in bulk to Taiwan where it was turned into cloth. The cloth was then shipped to Thailand where it was cut and seen into a shirt. That shirt was then shipped to the U.S. where you bought it.

The "market" is whoever has money. The corporate world doesn't care where that money is.

The name Ur does come from the reference from the Old Testament of the Bible, which was an actual ancient city.  The charactor's whole name is Tharle dan Ur, in my short work of science fiction, I label the word dan to mean "Prince of" so he is Tharle or Tharl Prince of Ur.

Being Science Fiction, everything else is the story means nothing much to anyone but the dust jacket the pages are between.

But I have used Dan Ur as a handle dozens of times, or variants of it.

On to your post.

Maybe the guys in the white office towers guarded by the special rent-a-cops will not care what happens tot he starving in America or whereever, but I will be out here showing people what little I know about getting food from the wilds around them and helping whenever and whereever I can.

It takes only one drop to get you wet, but a lot of drops to fill your cup.

UK Times piece detailing the financial position USA has painted itself into.


It is this fiscal situation, this unwillingness to rein in spending so that the boom in tax receipts can be used to provide support for American diplomacy, that has made it impossible for America to have an effective foreign policy. Indeed, it is arguable that George Bush has presided over the largest decline in America's ability to influence world events since ... well, since the 1920s, when we decided it was in the nation's interests to let the world take care of itself while we partied at that era's equivalents of today's discos -- the jazz joints and speakeasies that offered solace to the Wall Street crowd after a hard day of share-price manipulation.

North Korea was confident that America would not use force to eliminate its nuclear facilities, or to bring its long-range missile programme to a halt, or to stop its counterfeiting of $100 bills -- counterfeits so good that they are dubbed "superdollars" and can be detected only when they turn up at Federal Reserve banks. After all, even that country's cloistered politicians can see that the Bush team is unwilling to commit the resources needed to bring the Iraq intervention to a successful conclusion.

China owns us.  Damn.  Who owns Canada?


Why gas prices dropped:  Trust us. It wasn't OPEC or Republicans trying to influence midterm elections.


According to Joel Fingerman of Chicago-based OilAnalytics.net, between the peak of $77 a barrel in August and the October low of just under $58, traders dumped nearly 40 million barrels (a 20 percent drop) from their long positions. The volatile gasoline market showed an even sharper decline - with traders cutting long positions from 32 million barrels in midsummer to just 1.7 million in October.

"Whatever you want to call it - speculators, fast money, hot money - a big part of the drop in crude that we've seen this year is because of selling by hedge funds," says Merrill Lynch technical analyst Mary Ann Bartels.

I thought the hedge dump had only been in NG.  Is this the first print saying crude positions were dumped as well?
Supply and demand fundamentals are unchanged to bullish - oecd stocks are at a ten year low - so how else did crude drop below the three year trend band?

Sweden: Rethinking the IKEA Syndrome

Call it the IKEA syndrome. The constant battle by business to get around high labor costs is evident everywhere in Sweden. Here, the gap between high and low salaries is much narrower than in almost any other modern economy. The typical Swedish waiter, say, makes €23,000 a year, or about a quarter of what a Swedish CEO takes home. In Britain, the waiter would earn much less (€17,628), the CEO much more (€164,788). In the United States, the gap would be wider still. Thus, in IKEA-syndrome Sweden, the restaurant world looks very different. McDonald's thrives, according to a recent McKinsey & Co. study, but its fast-food competitor Pizza Hut, with bigger tables and larger serving staff, struggles.

Until recently, most Swedes liked the idea that life in their country was more equitable than elsewhere. But global competition is now persuading many to rethink the whole issue of employment. McKinsey warned in August that the high cost of doing business in Sweden would force companies to "move 100,000 to 200,000 jobs offshore in the next 10 years." Sweden has enjoyed outstanding economic growth, but it came in part because companies shed jobs to boost productivity. In the run-up to last month's general election, the independent National Institute of Economic Research suggested that Sweden had hit a growth ceiling: unless the labor supply expanded, GDP growth would slow.

The thing with Sweden is there is room to manoeuvre.

On the one hand they have high hidden unemployment. On the other, they have a declining work force due to aging demographics.  They have a very successful healthcare system (and a lot cheaper than its US equivalent).  They use relatively little energy per capita for such a rich country.

Swedish unemployment insurance replaces 80%+ of lost income, whereas in the UK it is less than 40%.

So Sweden can bring its social security costs down, without causing enormous havoc.  This is more or less what the new government has promised to do.

Sweden has problems, but it has coped very well with a changing world.

November 2006 issue of Popular Science page 12 has a picture of a giant wasps nest inside a classic 1955 Chevrolet that was built in about 6 weeks. Many of these giant wasps nest are starting to show up in Alabama and Georgia and the magazine article attributed the arrival of these giant nests to global warming.

And on page 24 of same issue they have a full page article on the new Skystream 3.7 wind generator from Southwest Windpower (www.windenergy.com). 1.4 kw generator that outputs 240 volt AC current to easily attach to household/utility power. Under $10,000 @. It certainly is tempting. These could become real popular in rural areas.
Current magazine on their web site is still October issue, but I would imagine in the next few weeks these articles will be available on the Popular Science web site (www.popsci.com)

Nice, but remember that hotter climes have much lower steady winds and much greater storm winds.  Maybe wind won't save us either, except for coastal communities.
I think Mish's blog is one of the best around.  Check out an email he received from a Florida Mortgage exec.

Mike Morgan:

With so many "experts" out there singing the praises of the housing market, I think it is time for me to once again poke my head out. I had an email exchange this week with Jim Cramer, and it was hard to believe he is as bullish as he is. I hear from too many analysts and Wall Street gurus that don't take the time to get out of their offices and get on the front line here in Florida, as well as Arizona, Texas, California, Virginia, etc. I also hear from the analysts and hedge fund managers that are visiting the corporate offices of the big builders. Unfortunately, they're drinking the Cool Aid. It's potent stuff that clouds rational thinking and it is probably just what is needed to wash down a few hundred stale donuts.

Do you remember my analogy of housing to donuts? A year ago I said this was like the room of 1,000 donuts. Even if they are warm Krispy Kremes, how many can you eat? Three? Maybe four? And even if you come back the next day, and the donuts are now half price, how many can you eat? Same thing with housing. We only have so many people in the US. But builders built houses like donuts. They sold houses to non-users. They sold houses to the greedy masses that bought multiple houses to flip. Now we have the inventory, but there are not enough people to occupy these homes. Moreover, with interest rates rising and mortgages becoming tougher to obtain, we have less and less people that can buy these homes, even if they want to.

Since my recent article in Barron's, I have received dozens of calls from builders, bankers, buyers and investment groups perched like vultures. Let me give you a sampling of a few calls.

Public Builder - Called me to find them bulk buyers with the ability to buy out all remaining units in developments they cannot sell. They are willing to sell at cost. I told them they were about 10% over the current distress market, and they didn't even hesitate. They said, fine. Drop the price 10% and we'll pay a 5% commission to you. Just help us get rid of this inventory.

Condo Developer - They have a 600 unit project that is 100% up for resale. This means no one is going to close when the building is completed in January. Every single buyer will walk from their 20% deposits. The developer will simply going to turn the keys over to the bank. And the bank will take a massive hit that will have the Feds on top of them in the blink of an eye.

Townhome Developer - Asked me to resell 132 units that they had sold a year ago for an average of $400,000 a unit. All of their buyers have notified them that they will not close. Unfortunately, even a year ago in the heated market these units were only worth about $250,000. Now, the units will not command more than $175,000 . . . if they're lucky.

Real Estate Agent - She sold 10 of the 132 units I just mentioned to her friends, family, banker and co-workers. They're all going to walk away from their $40,000 deposits, so they don't lose $250,000. The developer will be stuck with 132 units that are not worth what it cost to build them.

Homeowner - This one really hurts, and this is the next wave of the massive tidal wave hitting this industry. As surfers know, the third set is the biggest. This homeowner purchased her home for $390,000 plus $15,000 in closing costs. It is now worth maybe $300,000. Their interest only ARM is scheduled for refinancing. The bank told them they need to come up with additional cash to cover the drop in equity. But they don't have the $75,000 the bank wants. And even if they sell for $300,000 and clear $280,000, they can't pay off their $390,000 mortgage balance. You see, their mortgage was 100% and it was interest only. They are going to walk away from the house and give it to the bank. The bank, if they are lucky, will sell the house for $300,000 less commissions and expenses. Maybe they will net out at $280,000. The math is simple. The bank, at best, will lose at least $110,000 on a $390,000 mortgage. That's a 28% loss . . . IF they can sell at $300,000. Back to the donuts. Maybe they can sell a few of these homes at market prices, but as foreclosures mount, prices will drop further.

The Third Wave - This massive tidal wave will effect all aspects of our economy. Some banks will fail. Other banks will suffer the worst liquidity crisis since the Depression. And there is no way to stop this wave. This wave not only effects current mortgage holders who can no longer afford to live in their homes, but it devastates the new home market. Buyers with contracts are finding it tougher to qualify for mortgages. We can't forget that rates are also up about 18% from a year ago, so buyers cannot afford the same home they could have a year ago.

I will wrap up with a statistic from a recent FDIC presentation.

"Bank exposure to mortgage and home equity is now at peak levels, having risen dramatically. If you look at 1998, the total exposure to mortgage and home equity loans was about 25 percent. In the last quarter, the third quarter, it had risen to 37 percent."

And here's the why this tidal wave is a killer. The 25 percent exposure was during a period of rising home prices and low inventory levels. The 37 percent follows the first two tidal waves of the highest inventory levels in the history of the United States and prices falling with equity disappearing daily.

I sold three homes last week for one public builder. Each of these homes sold for 40% less than the same homes sold a year ago. How about all of those neighbors when it comes time to refinance? The appraiser is going to look at current sales prices, and the bank is going to ask for additional funds to meet the equity requirements. Ouch. Where's the Kool Aid?

Given that the current economic mess is unprecedented, and adding to that the spectre of Peak Oil, what do TODers suggest to do with one's money (if any)?

  1. Get out of highly leveraged real estate (Duh)

  2. Get out of all real estate completely

  3. Get out of most equities, except for energy, hard assets

  4. Get out of all equities

  5. Put everything in cash (Money Markets)

  6. Put everything in govt. inflation protected bills

  7. Get out of the dollar

  8. Put everything in gold (inflation)

  9. Get out of gold (if deflation hits, look out)

  10. Relax, buy a big screen TV, and watch the World Series


I have very similar questions.  I don't know the answers, but can share my philosophy:

1.  Real Estate - Own a small home or condominium (Fixed 30 year mortgage, that you can afford) within walking distance to work.  Mass transit is an exceptable alternative to walking.

1a. Insulate attics, walls, ductwork, and basement ceilings.  Install a clock thermostat.  Install Solar hot water, or an On-demand hot water system.

  1.  Debt - None except the mortgage.

  2.  Personal Savings - 3 to 6 months living expenses.

  3.  Investments - Diversify.  10% Gold, 10% Silver, 20% Energy, 10% Cash, 10% US Equities, 10% Foreign Equities, 10% US Bonds, 10% Foreign Bonds.

That's 90%.  Feel free to chase whatever you want with the remaining 10%.  Maybe you'll hit it big.  Gold and Silver should be in personally securable bullion.  The 10% cash can be held in various currencies.  (IE a portion can be put into a Canadian Bank)

5.  Relax, buy a big screen TV, and watch football.  :)

Good solution re general personal finances.

If you must own a car (most must) then own a high fuel economy micro car (a 2 year old model is probably the optimum point at purchase for low depreciation expense plus deferred maintenance expense).

To my mind, that portfolio has way too little equity.  60% of the average person's portfolio (assuming you are under 45) should be large cap equity (I would value tilt using a value index fund): say 40% US, 20% overseas.

I wouldn't have more than 5% in precious metals: either bullion or stocks.

If you are worried about Peak Oil, then 10-15% in energy: a mix of big domestic natural gas producers (Encana anyone?), possibly Uranium (Cameco), oil sands. I'm not sure which of the international integrateds is best: Chevron? Total?

Obviously the mix I suggest above will vary from person to person based on age, and risk tolerance.

My 20% energy is VGENX - which is mostly large cap, so that adds a bit of equity to my mix.

I also have a chunk of exposure to PM equities - OPGSX.  PM equities (from my personal experience) are a real mixed bag.  It's really one crooked deal after another and I couldn't in good faith recomend it to anybody.  At least bullion is real and tangible and will have value in a collapse.

I think the above mix, or something like it, should at least match inflation, and possibly give you 2-3% above it.

It's what I like to call a get rich slow scheme.  :)

The only problem with 'big cap' energy is the one Deffyes points out-- those companies are themselves running out of oil.

His solution (second book) was to buy some Canadian oil sands trusts (but they have tax implications for US investors-- not my area).  

XEG has a good weighting of oil sands and natural gas producers-- breakdown of the top components as follows:

NEXEN INC.  NXY  5.24%  

Suncor and COS-U are both oil sands plays.  CNQ has a big oil sands project in development, so do some of the others. Encana has the largest natural gas reserves in North America (I think).

One thing I don't like about Canadian oil stocks is that Americans have discovered them ;-).  They used to be nicely overlooked, but they don't look cheap now on any basis.

In practice, if oil goes to $150/bl, your VEGNX will be a good hedge.

Agree with you re the dodgy corporate governance of precious metals companies-- as with their environmental record (cyanide leaching etc.-- Jared Diamond is very good on this) that kind of mining seems to attract the worst kinds of people.  I remember there was that Canadian company in Bulgaria which poisoned a whole chunk of the Danube River...

I have lived my whole life with jeremiahs (not calling you that!) predicting stock market disaster.  The only time they were right was 1987 (but then the market recovered) and then in 1999 when the dot com boom was at its peak.

For what it's worth, I don't think that the market is in any phase like that of excessive exuberance.  US big cap stocks are on 15 times earnings (PE ratio), European big caps on 13 times, the US ones make more than 40% of their earnings outside the US, they are paying dividends they haven't paid in 20 years.

Real estate is in a global bubble.  Small cap is at the very least not cheap, and possibly significantly overvalued.  Commodities look really toppy to me.  Tech still looks vulnerable especially the likes of Google.

But US big cap stocks?  They look fine to me.  Especially the non financial ones (and the financial ones are cheap).

I'll have to take a look at a large cap mutual fund.  Maybe move a little money that way.  Vanguard must have something.  Thanks for the thoughts.

As far as PM companies - I agree - environmentally they are horrendous.  They are also notorious for issuing more shares and devaluing your holding - which really pisses me off.

I was very pro much into the Canadian oil sands a couple of years ago - but the environmental disater they are causing up there really has turned my stomach.  I also think they are going to be having a natural gas shortage problem sooner or later.

On another board I'm on someone who was a large investor actually went to Alberta to do due dilligence, and what he had to say was not pretty.  I'll try and dig up the comments later today.




for discussion of Canadian stocks.


a really excellent primer on personal investing, albeit from a Canadian viewpoint.


Vanguard Windsor II fund -- exactly the sorts of stocks I was talking about


VTSMX the grandaddy of all index funds.


value index fund -- similar to Windsor II.


global value fund


international stocks for tax paying accounts

don't know why the links didn't come through, but they didn't.  If you paste them into the browser, they should still come up.
I couldn't agree more about oil sands and environmental problems.

I try to take a view that some of the profits from my investment decisions will go to ethical causes: World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, etc.  But to make my investment decisions on as risk-return oriented basis.

In all likelihood the world will not end.

If Global Warming goes where it might, then the world will end.  In which case there's not much you can do about it (but owning uranium producers would be good, and airlines would be bad).

But the US deficit is bad, but what it will mean is the US dollar will fall 40%, and interest rates will rise by 2%.

Generally avoid real estate and mortgage backed securities in that scenario, as well as banks which are heavy lenders to real estate.

So short and medium bonds not long bonds.  And do a Warren Buffet and have at least 20% of your investments in non USD assets.  Actually Buffet's company (Berkshire Hathaway) probably isn't a bad bet-- rock solid financials, and increasing non US exposure.  The B Shares are about $3500 each, I think.

I like TIPS as an asset class (index linked bonds) but they play hell with your taxes, as I understand US tax law, because you get taxed on the appreciation of the face value, not just the income you receive.

I am expecting deflation and a liquidity crunch. Under this scenario, the price of (almost?) all assets would fall (ie a bull market in cash). I would therefore recommend cash and cash equivalents as well as paying off all debts if possible.

I wouldn't own leveraged real estate at all (unless perhaps the mortgage was extremely small relative to the value of the house and the means to pay it was essentially depression proof). Renting is much safer if you can't own something outright - think of it has paying someone else to take the house price risk for you.

Owning real estate outright is a form of hedging your bets. In a deflation you would lose value, but if you can afford it there may be other benefits to being established somewhere (ie the chance to have developed measures of self-sufficiency).

I wouldn't own equities at all as I think the stock market will crash in the not too distant future. The degree of complacency at the moment is simply staggering.

I wouldn't buy gold as I think owning it is dangerous in difficult times. It could be confiscated without compensation as in the last depression. Even if it isn't, trading something you are not legally allowed to own for something you need can be problematic.

I would (and do) own various pieces of equipment that would allow me to provide for as many of the essentials of my own existence as possible - a wood furnace for heat and hot water, a water filter (British Berkefeld), a solar cooker, solar-powered battery chargers, rechargeable batteries, a pressure canner and other canning supplies, gardening books, a heated greenhouse, a grain grinder, a wind-up radio, some stand-alone LED lights, a battery bank and some renewable energy generation capacity if you can afford it without going into debt, a generator and fuel supply, hand tools, a wood stove for cooking, firewood supplies etc... Most of those things aren't even particularly expensive, although some certainly are. www.lehmans.com is a good place to look for non-electric equipment - they serve the Amish.

Lastly, I would invest time and money into learning important practical skills as it is likely (IMO) to become more difficult to be able to pay others to perform basic services in a world where money is scarce and credit non-existent.

I wouldn't buy gold as I think owning it is dangerous in difficult times. It could be confiscated without compensation as in the last depression. Even if it isn't, trading something you are not legally allowed to own for something you need can be problematic.

That's a unique perspective that rings true concerning gold.

I would (and do) own various pieces of equipment that would allow me to provide for as many of the essentials of my own existence as possible - a wood furnace for heat and hot water, a water filter (British Berkefeld), a solar cooker, solar-powered battery chargers, rechargeable batteries, a pressure canner and other canning supplies, gardening books, a heated greenhouse, a grain grinder, a wind-up radio, some stand-alone LED lights, a battery bank and some renewable energy generation capacity if you can afford it without going into debt, a generator and fuel supply, hand tools, a wood stove for cooking, firewood supplies etc... Most of those things aren't even particularly expensive, although some certainly are. www.lehmans.com is a good place to look for non-electric equipment - they serve the Amish.

This is an excellent list of material things to own in any type of power down situation.

Lastly, I would invest time and money into learning important practical skills as it is likely (IMO) to become more difficult to be able to pay others to perform basic services in a world where money is scarce and credit non-existent.

Once again...great advice.

What's annoying is, I will never own a house. The gap between rich and poor is widening more quickly than any effort of mine could close it, and I'm used to the idea by now, I'll never own a house. The alternative, my only choice, is to be a lifetime renter. And I could really use a house - a traditional house with a yard and the white picket fence and all that shit. I could use the space. One room or the garage for a workshop, powered or after TSHTF pedal-powered, a yard to grow/raise stuff in, you get the idea.

But people like me are not supposed to have houses, we're supposed to rent to make the ruling class rich and never grow or produce anything of our own because that might step on the toes of ADM.

I would relax on house ownership, at least in most of the US right now.

US houses on any measure are at an all time extreme relative to incomes, rental income etc.

History says this will revert back to historic averages-- there have been some good charts in Barrons and The Economist on this see also Calculated Risk blog.  

Boston had 40% price falls in the early 90s.  Adjust for inflation, more than 50%.  It always takes a time (people stop selling houses, so the market dries up, they don't accept (at first) the lower prices).  A friend of mine bought condos in Boston in the early 90s for 20 thousand dollars a piece!

Toronto the situation was actually worse, and it took much longer to recover.

Other parts of the US have never experienced these corrections, but the bubble is so big in some places (Miami, Denver, Las Vegas) that they may well, this time.  there has been so much speculation, so many people buying houses as 'an investment', so much condo flipping, that there will be serious egg on faces.

The condo market is the one to watch, it usually swings much further than the house market.

I agree about gap between average person and the very wealthy.  The data shows it is the top 1/10 of 1% of Americans (ie those making more than $350k pa) who have had most of the real income gains in the last 20 years-- exception being the last Clinton years.

However I also believe democracies can be self correcting.  There is a new wind blowing, and if people band together and work together, doorstop to doorstop, the US can tackle issues like the problems of healthcare insurance, etc.

Other US markets have never experienced these sorts of swings, but they could, this time.

In Germany there are already trains running on bio diesel

The locomotives are quite old types (from the 1960ies), gone through extensive refurbishing.

The Cubans made real headway in the early 90s, designing new wave steam trains that ran on biomass.



Of all the 'power down' examples, Cuba is the most interesting.

North Korea starved (is still starving).  Up to 1 million people died of starvation.

Zimbabwe is one step short of cannibalism (it may have started, for all we know).  Somalia is without government and the islamicists are winning.  Afghanistan got the Taliban (and is again).

But Cuba survived a 60% fall in oil consumption, over a very short time period, as an intact society.  Not pleasantly (the average Cuban lost 20 lbs).  It was (and is still) a totalitarian state with neighbourhood spies and political prisoners.  But survive it did.  See:


It suddenly strikes me that, of course, you can run a steam train on coal.

Which is great for a world of Peak Oil.  For a world of global warming it is of course disastrous.

We may yet, again, see the steam train.

And Switzerland survived a six year, 100% oil embargo with ~10 months in storage; and remained a Western industrialized democracy with a decent quality of life.

I see the Swiss as better models than the Cubans.

Best Hopes,


The two articles below, both posted by Leanan, deserve attention; they reveal the reality of ethanol. It's just making matters worse.

The first indicates that US domestic production will be a messy, polluting industry. Any claims of ethanol being "carbon neutral" ot non-polluting can now be thrown out. The pressure from industry, investors and politicians drives us towards disaster.

The second article, quoting devil-incarnate Claude Mandil (can we put him under permanent house arrest in Paraguay?), spells out another side of the mess: the rich should use the poor to grow their fuel (the benefits of open markets). That means more palm oil (great EROEI, right?), less tropical forest, increasing forest fires in Asia and the end of the "man of the woods".

It also means Brazil will be pushed towards an overkill of sugar cane (yeah, yeah, great EROEI), which means less Amazon forest. The myth that sugar does not affect the Amazon must be put to rest: sugar cane is largely grown where there used to be soy, and soy where there used to be trees.

EPA relaxing environmental rules for ethanol plants

There already are questions about whether ethanol is good for the environment. The fuel additive releases somewhat less carbon dioxide than gasoline - reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that are making the planet hotter. But the EPA recently reported that pumping more ethanol into cars and trucks is expected to increase the amount of chemicals that create smog.

Existing clean-air rules consider ethanol plants as major sources of air pollution if they emit more than 100 tons of toxic chemicals a year. Those that do must go through an intensive - and time-consuming - permitting process. They also must install equipment that burns off most of the emissions.

Under the proposed changes, ethanol plants wouldn't be subject to the stringent federal requirements unless they spewed more than 250 tons of air pollution. Most of the new refineries are expected to emit a few tons less than that.

IEA chief: EU and US should import ethanol from developing world

According to Claude Mandil, "ethanol produced in Brazil, even when it is imported by Europe [taking into account the energy needed to transport the fuel across the Atlantic] makes sense. If the United States and Europe are serious about biofuels, they must turn to the South for their supplies". The South has the land available, the climate and the crops. Mandil does not deny that careful planning must be undertaken to limit environmental damage, though.

Claude Mandil warns that the United States and Europe do not see the larger picture. They are confusing agricultural policies and energy policies, mixing them up in a cocktail that "has no advantages", Mandil concludes. Implicitly, he is referring to both President Bush and President Chirac's recent announcements that they are going to support biofuel farming in the US and the EU.

No mention of Duncan's Olduvai Gorge theory?
Its a theory :P
Wow. You're right. It must be a full day since we have gone over the Olduvai Gorge Theory. I'm starting to get withdrawal symptoms. </sarcasm>
Leanan, great story about the power grid at the top of today's report. Nowhere did it mention how mass use of plug-in hybrids might effect the already-strained power grid. I'm not sure whether anybody's considered that.
Also consider the potential effect of large numbers of people switching at least some of their heating from relatively expensive natural gas to electric resistance heaters, as electricity prices are regulated and natural gas prices are not.
Plug-in hybrids are an issue for fuel availability*, but off-peak charging does not pose an issue for grid capacity.  The grid's problems are mainly in meeting peak demand, and if the curve can be flattened it can transmit much more energy than it does now.

* For NG-fired capacity (unless generators switch from NG to oil, which the greater efficiency of PHEV makes feasible).

How do you restrict recharging to off-peak ?

VERY un-American behavior !


How do you restrict recharging to off-peak ?
Time-of-day rates and interruptible outlets.
In most US locales, time-of-day is a decade or two away.  And many Americans will not pay attention to time of day rates.  They will come home and plug in their car.  Might need to get a pizza or "who knows" so get ready "just in case".

I would expect low adaptation rates to anything other than plugging in as soon as they get home.  Some will, but less than 50% IMHO.  Worth changing everyone's electric meter, yes.  But I expect widespread use of EVs and/or PHEVs to raise the peak grid demand significantly.


I think you'd be surprised.  Ohio has differential rates, and IME, people are aware of it, and it does affect their behavior.  For example, my friend, who is quite well off and lives in a pretty tony area, waits until after the rates go down to run the dishwasher.  It's got a timer, so it's easy.  
How many non Tony homes have timers on a dishwasher.  I calim no expertise on the matter, but I haven't seen too many timered dishwashers, or am I just missing a whole lot?
How many would enter the market if differential rates were implemented.

Same thing could be done for EV chargers or a host of other applications that don't require time sensitive power availability.

The other thing you could do, and would be easy to set up a monitor for would be a graduated scale of power usage.

A "thermostat" style device in the hall could give a read out stating what your current usage rate is.  Along with that it could have a scaled system where by if you stay below a threshhold you will pay X amount for usage, or you could choose to go over the threshhold and pay a higher amount.  The threshhold could change throughout the day, and the "thermostat" (Electrostat? maybe) could be notified by the power company when a change in threshhold and rates occur.

This would provide the customer control over their power usage.  Creeping close to the threshhold?  Turn the AC off, or flip the lights off and watch TV in the dark.  Wait on that load of laundry or save the drying for another hour.

Better yet, put it outside and let it flap in the wind.
... time-of-day is a decade or two away.  And many Americans will not pay attention to time of day rates.  They will come home and plug in their car.
Which is what you want them to do.  The car will charge when the utility turns the power on, or the car may perform vehicle-to-grid services 100% of the time it is plugged in.
Might need to get a pizza or "who knows" so get ready "just in case".
If there's gas in the tank, a PHEV is always ready.  Or if you have a REAL market in electricity, people who want their cars charged soonest can pay a premium and the people willing to wait for the off-hours will get discounts.  With V2G, the latter may even get paid to transfer energy to the former.
I expect widespread use of EVs and/or PHEVs to raise the peak grid demand significantly.
If that peak demand is supplied from e.g. concentrating Stirling generators over the vast expanses of parking lots across the Southwest, nothing but good can come from it.
I'm thinking about trying out some solar power systems (to play with as much as anything, and I'd actually like to get into solar power long term). I live in an apartment, though, which means I can't bolt panels to the roof or bolt electronics to the wall in a closet inside. I was thinking about a 50W or 100W panel I can set on the deck on occasion (south side of the building, thankfully) and some sort of 12V battery system inside the house that I can use to run the laptop, a lamp, etc. I'm an electrical engineer so I'll probably skip buying an inverter and rig up whatever DC-DC converters I need myself depending on what I'm running.

Any ideas on books or where to buy this stuff online? I can find plenty of 100W panels online but I'm not sure if I am missing someone with good prices (as panels that size aren't cheap) and I'm not sure where to start looking with the battery/power storage system.

www.wholesalesolar.com is where I bought my system.

The internal impedance of a solar panel is quite high - the more current you draw - the lower the voltage. A 12V panel typically as an open circuit voltage approaching 20 volts.

You will probably find that most DC/DC converters dont work well with only the solar panel - you will need some sort of battery to handle surge currents.

You also can optimize the power you draw from the solar panel by adjusting your "draw" voltage depending on temperature, solar radiation, etc - some "maximum power point tracking (MPPT)" battery chargers are smart enough to do this.


thanks for the link! Lots of toys there to play with...
FWIW: PV systems have several short commings:

  1. Battery life. A typical Lead Acid Battery is good for about 300 cycles. A top of the line Lead Acid with a Glass mat is good for maybe 500 cycles. Discharging depletes the lead plates and charging sulfates them.

  2. PV Life. PV panels only provide maxiumum output on a clear sunny day with the sun rays directly pointed at the panel. Unless you have a tracker ($$$), expect an average of 5.5 hours of usable power in the contential US (ie summation of 8 hours of daylight). PV panels lose efficiency over time. The constant thermal cycling causes micro fractures degrading the output. When a PV manufacturer promising a 20 year guarentee, be sure to read the fine print. PV panels are also vunerable to the elements (Hail, Ice, hurracanes, acorns, or other wind born debrie) which usually aren't included in the guarentee either.

  3. Inverters. Not all are equal. Some have poor efficiency and less than desirable lifetimes. If you're using low voltage panels (ie output voltage is less than 24V), you want to place the inverter near the panels to avoid conduction losses. You also need to be careful wiring high efficiency inverters. If you reverse the polarity on these inverters inputs you will very likely destroy it. High efficiency inverters do not use blocking diodes to avoid the diode voltage drop (especially important on low voltage pv systems). Some inverter models may use a relay for reverse polarity detection, but not all.

I think at best you might get 10 to 15 years out of quality PV panels and inverter before something goes. Batteries are a big iffy since it depends on numerous factors such as how much power is withdrawn, the temperature, design, etc. I think the best you probably get out of them is about 7 years if you maintain them properly (I am assuming that you will draw down at least some power near every day from them).

Best of Luck

In my opinion PV systems are not worth it, if you expect to maintain a system beyond a decade with out any replacments. The big question is, will you be able to get or afford replacement with the time comes. One option would be to buy the components now and store them until you need them. You can store the batteries indefinately if you keep them dry (no acid). PV panels and inverters degrade from thermal cycling. If you store them an a cool place they should not degrade, unless electrical insulation, seals or other materials degrade (ie oxidize, dry out) with age and exposure to atmospheric gases (oxygen and pollutants like ozone).

I would also recommend purchasing higher voltage PV panels and inverter to avoid access input current. But don't go for the high voltage panels that operate in the 70V+ range since they can be a shock hazard (ie when you move your panels indoor when a storm approaches) and I am not certain how well they will cope with microfracturing over time.

Finally before investing in a PV system, I would consider investing in a solar hot water system, which will provide you more bang for the buck. A solar hot water system can provide both Domestic hot water and heating (and possibly cooling with sorbent chiller $$$). I would also consider investing in better insulation if applicable. You can't go wrong with better insulation no matter where you live.

Fine print huh?

For example,

Our Schott 165 watt panels have a 25 year warranty:

Complete replacement if they fail to provide 90% of the minimum outout within 10 years.

Replacement of the panel if output drops below 85% of the minimum in 25 years.

I think you are propagating anti-solar propaganda (hopefully) inadvertently. Otherwise show me the data.

No real exceptions in the fine print.

They are working great and we are very satisifed - I plan to get more.

I don't disagree with your further comments and considerations in general (especially regarding batteries, which still have to catch up. They are still using deep-cycle lead-acid, which are outdated).

add to that sensible advice, buy a more efficient car (if you can) even if you keep the old one for emergencies-- some of these micro cars get over 40mpg (US).  In 2 to 3 years, if high efficiency diesels are available, and with refinements in hybrid tech, there should be some cracking cars out there.

Better insulation and tighter windows is a no brainer for most people.  There are some heat reflective glass types out there which make a huge difference without making the house too dark (keeping heat in in winter, out in summer).

Compact Fluorescents are a cheap no brainer, of course.  The LED lights are looking pretty impressive too-- big savings.  Of course the usual about turning off everything at the plug, so you don't waste power on the 'instant on'.

Ground Source ('geo exchange') heat pump is a fantastic technology if you have air conditioning as well as heating.  My aunt installed  hers in Ontario (midwestern climate-- 90 to 100s in summer, minus 25 with windchill in winter,) in the mid 1990s with a 10 year payback.

The cost is digging 200' of trench or a 50' hole in the ground.  A heat pump system should last 25 years before the pump itself needs replacement.


In practice, electricity rates have gone up 40% and her payback has been far far faster.  They previously heated with electric baseboard (which they kept the heaters for emergencies) and with wood.

If the grid did somehow fail, for heat she still has the wood fireplace (air tight) and one could install a PV system (heat pump runs on 120V AC, not sure what the watts is, but it will be big).

I think at best you might get 10 to 15 years out of quality PV In my opinion PV systems are not worth it,

yawn   Not alot of actual use, a lot of "I thinks".  

There are some crap solar panels out there.   nd some of the new solar ideas won't be known as crap 'till they have had a chance to be proven in the field.

 consider investing in a solar hot water system, which will provide you more bang for the buck. A solar hot water system can provide both Domestic hot water and heating (and possibly cooling with sorbent chiller $$$). I would also consider investing in better insulation if applicable. You can't go wrong with better insulation no matter where you live.

There is some actual useful advice.

I think it's a very good idea to have a panel or two 'in the hand' in any case.  I can't see PV prices dropping in the foreseeable future (contradiction in terms that it is)..  unless we hit a huge economic sinkhole, then you'll be scraping the couch-nickels together for peanut butter..  But with supply strained and demand strong and interest growing, they are prob not getting any cheaper.  Even as a basic investment, panels are durable, and their resale could turn out to be very favorable, in an unfavorable energy situation.  

One really good deal at Harborfreight.com for a 45 watt system $199, with a chg controller and 2 5w dc Comp Fluo lamps.. total sys price under $3/watt.. unheard of!  (Panels are made in china.. who knows.. mine are still in the basement, awaiting installation)

East Coast supplier I've used is Altenergystore.com (Worcester, Ma) , and Northern Az Wind & Sun ( windsun.com ? ) out west.  There is a cheapish line of MPPT chargers by BZ products.  I have the MPPT-250, I think it's called that, and the 250 is for the max watts it takes.. *(handles 12-48 volts or so)

I'm thinking of trying to ramp up my 'payback schedule' by renting panels out to local filmmakers who need power on location.  the Standard .08/.12 cents per KWH rises substantially when you're talking about remote power.  There are rechargables all over film sets now.. Laptops, Phones, Audio, Camera gear, etc..

Bob Fiske
Portland Maine

So much for math..  $4.42/watt for the HarborFreight system, but with the add-ons, it's a deal.. if it works .. for more than a day..

Good Luck!

Hey Bob, wanted to jump in and confirm your strategy. We're about 3.5 hours north of you on the coast.

"Even as a basic investment, panels are durable, and their resale could turn out to be very favorable, in an unfavorable energy situation."  That's right on the money.

We're doing the same thing. Everytime we can come up with some spare cash I stockpile another one of these.

http://store.altenergystore.com/Wind-Systems/Wind-Turbines-Electric/Southwest-Windpower-Turbines-Par ts/Air-X-Wind-Electric-Turbines/Air-X-AirX-Marine-Wind-Turbine-12V-400W/p1430/

I've been watching the price climb for a couple of years.

We head down to Camden frequently, and you can sit and watch the sails roll in and out of the harbor. It's amazing how many have these little Air X machines on their bows.

We live about a mile from the coast and generally always have a sea breeze. I'm not really "hoarding" them but I think it's a really nice investment.

I also buy about 2 AGM batteries every couple of months. Nice big deep cycle, that ship easily.

Don in Maine

Oh no! Another Don!  Where are you Don Sailorman?
I think his current paramour is holding his harddrive hostage!
Yeah I know, it must go with the name "Don" I've got the same libido. I can cook, and brew as well. We are all going to die, but life is good.


Don in Maine

  Good to hear that!  I've been collecting a few since last winter's 'Simmons' Peak'..  I've been gradually assembling these and some solar Heat systems to get up to the roof, but it's taking me an age to do it!  (Hot Air Boxes, and a Tracked Mirror for Daylighting a sunbeam down a retired Chimney Shaft)  

Also trying out my 'WinterFridge', a well Insul. box which runs coolant to an outside exchanger when the nights are cold enough.

People seem to think the north states are out of the running, but Casco Bay is very sunny, and the PV is actually more efficient when it get to run cooler.

  People don't seem to appreciate Solar Electric, it seems to me.  They are truly fantastic.  I figured out the price for a KWH in AA and C cells once.. just to get past the assumption of cheap, abundant current.. not a pretty sight.  But even those little dashboard panels meant to trickle up your car battery can keep your radios and flashlights sourced, when all you've got is a nice, quiet day..


Hey Bob, because of our location, a little glade in a lot of woods, wind is better for us. Tracking it through the years our sea breeze is actually increasing. I chalk it up to GW. The water is warmer up here than it has been for years. So we put the wind machines on the thermocline. I only have one running right now. I am storing the rest. I did broadcast engineering for years, climbed towers, etc.
Where we are the towers are feared, there is never a quiet day. That juncture between ocean and high land mass always creates a differential. The differential is increasing.

But that is an energy differental that I can harvest. Older son is down by you folks in Portland, up here we really do not consider Portland part of maine.


Don in Maine

'Not really part of Maine'

Yeah, I know. I'm used to that.  Grew up in Bethel, but spent many years (Cameraman.. 'nother kind of broadcast engineer) in NYC, which many people don't really think is a part of America.

Glad we're all in the same boat, just wish it weren't so close to that waterfall...

"I want to die quiet in my sleep, like Grampa.. not Screaming in Terror like his passengers"

Hey Bob, one more thought. Your comment on the north eastern states.  I have an concept of hypothermia. We will be discarded quickly when it hits. We are the first to go. The militia will cordon the big cities and control the food and hence the population.  We are not big enough to warrant that, to big an area to police. Just like hypothermia, we will give up the fingers and toes to protect the core.

The resources will not be there, or the infrastructure, to help us. We are really on our own. Anarchy, or just more of the same up here. We have town meetings and I don't see those going away. The same family has been the whole crew of selectman for generations. Seems to work to me. We all have a say in the way our town works. We don't have a police force, we have a volunteer fire dept. We have two roads leading into town and we can block those quickly.

We had some drunken idiot from Mass, out here hunting deer.
well his trip through the woods found him a big black bear.
He was so freaked, he shot at it, and wounded it. So now we have a drunken mass hunter and a really pissed off bear.

The local phones rang off the hook, get your kids inside. we have a bear that's mad out there.Then a bunch of us went after the bear. We got the bear, it really was not the bears fault. I suspect most of us would have rather taken the drunk from Mass down.

I don't think there is much that can be done to the "folks" up here that will really worry us.

Most of the times we leave each other to be just what they want to be, with no judgement. fire and bears etc bring us all in line.

So adding to the continuing doomer or what thread, I'm a doomer, but it is like real life. Doctor phil and oprah don't even have a clue people like us still live here.

Don in Maine

Damm, sounds like a bad country song from the glory days of the 1970's, the last time the world ended....:-)

The preacher man says it's the end of time
And the Mississippi River she's a goin' dry
The interest is up and the Stock Markets down
And you only get mugged
If you go downtown

I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke too
Ain't too many things these ole boys can't do
We grow good ole tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Because you can't stomp us out
And you cant make us run
Cause one-of- `em old boys raisin ole shotgun

And we say grace and we say Ma'am
And if you ain't into that we don't give a damn

We came from the West Virginia coalmines
And the Rocky Mountains and the and the western skies
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

I had a good friend in New York City
He never called me by my name, just hillbilly
My grandpa taught me how to live off the land
And his taught him to be a businessman
He used to send me pictures of the Broadway nights
And I'd send him some homemade wine

But he was killed by a man with a switchblade knife
For 43 dollars my friend lost his life
Id love to spit some beechnut in that dudes eyes
And shoot him with my old 45
Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Cause you can't stomp us out and you can't make us run
Cause one-of- `em old boys raisin ole shotgun
And we say grace and we say Ma'am
And if you ain't into that we don't give a damn

We're from North California and south Alabam
And little towns all around this land
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive
Country Boy Can Survive, by Hank Williams Jr.

(I never could figure out where he aimed to get that gas to run the 4 wheel drive and pull that plow though, some of the moonshine maybe? (an ethanol pioneer!) :-)

Ahhh, the '70's, what a time....:-), (he said with dripping sarcasm!)

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Ahhh, Hank.

  See?  That's why I can't be a doomer.  It'll get nasty sometimes, and even downright depressing.. but many of our vulnerabilities are also our strengths.  That we're spread way out into the back country linked by cars will isolate many people, but insulate them at the same time.

"When I first came to this land, I was not a wealthy man,
So I got myself a farm, and I did what I could.

"And I called my farm, 'muscle of my arm'
But the land was sweet and good, and I did what I could..

  I'm right with you.  I came up to Maine to have our girl with some of those same ideas in mind.  Fertile, not overworked landscape,  'off to the side' of America (Though we're at the cool end of the Northeast Corridor), local culture is already 'somewhat' into the basic ideas of Self-reliance, but work together as neighbors, too 'somewhat'.  Geologically considered pretty stable.  (How's Cadillac Mt. doing this month?  Heard there were some rumbles..)

  Too bad about the bear..  well, too bad about the drunk Massaholic, I mean.

  The nut I want to crack (which is of course the hardest one), is the class divide in this state.  I don't pretend it will go away, but I think we can try to find venues where we can meet and get some things done.  I was always very aware in growing up of the 'Country Club' crowd, and the working class folks.  There is a lot of resentment, a lot of brutal treatment of one another, both within and between the cliques.  The 'get things done' for me is mainly making sure we have food security, warm housing and jobs.  (Don't vote for me, I'm not running)  I appreciated your link to MainlyEnergy.com talks about food security.  That your site?

OK, Back to work.
Sorry for the incomplete '5-step plan for Maine'..

These trucks at Black Thunder coal mine in Powder River Basin, WY pass every several minutes. Shot Tuesday October 17, 2006 morning: temperature 29 degrees, wind.

More than impressive. Totally scary!

If anything goes wrong [like the two train derailments in 2005] then electricity may go off in some of the US.

Back in Albuquerque after essential non-gas-wasting North Dakota pheasant hunt.

Two blasted out of the air ... but both escaped on foot. Lots of hunters but no bagged pheasants seen.

Sunday October 15, 2006 between Wyndmere and Milnor, ND.

On to other stuff.