Sunday Open Thread

Subtr4t, you're famous!

Jerome a Paris made your graph into one of his "Countdown to $100 Oil" diaries:

And it was picked up by Energy Bullitin:

If anyone is interested, I originally posted the graph Jerome uses and Subtr4t posted originally here on March 6 in Predicting Future Oil Prices. This sort of memory stuff used to drive me crazy but I'm over it now. I think its just the nature weblogs to be mostly ahistorical.
It's a4 Fiph of the same thing, but a different graph, yes?
Yes, it's different.  Subtr4ct's graph goes back to 1990, which is what makes it so striking, IMO.  The futures price was the same for so long...then shot up so fast.
Yes, it's a slightly longer history but part of the point of my original story was that from 1986 to about 2002 or so, the 5 year futures price fluctuated between $18 and $21 and never deviated from that range. So Subtr4ct's graph confirms that back to 1990 instead of 1998.

I'm not annoyed about this or anything. Just thought I would point people back to my original story since it's relevant to this thread.

a glitch turned "a graph" into "a4 Fiph"
Earlier in the development of wind, almost half of Danish wind turbines were owned by co-ops.  Some my farmers (always easier to see a wind turbine when every few revolutions means another krona in one's pocket), others by city dwellers.  Today, AFAIK, about `/4 are owned by co-ops.

I am just wondering if there is enough financial support at TOD to develop our own co-op or corporation for some sort of renewable energy to displace oil or natural gas in some market.

Any thoughts ?

For awhile, Jerome a Paris was trying to get DailyKos members to join together and invest in a wind farm.  I'm not sure if anything ever came of it.  IIRC, it was a pretty significant investment.
 It would be interesting to try and develop a more formal proposal for a wind farm, or other solutions. These proposals would be available on TOD for review and further enhancement. Such an initiative and the resulting repository would accomplish a number of things:

 1) The amount of knowledge that "erupts" here is significant. At present there is no way to capture the key elements of a debate or expose them to later critique. Development of a "project" page, or an resource composed of "working papers" would avert transitional loss of intellectual capital.

 2) We often see the invocation of the "technological fairy," some technological fix which, if immediately applied, would resolve everything. The recent debate on Fusion power is one example. It would be just as worthwhile to identify technological dead ends as it would be to identify possible lines of solution.

 3) EROEI is a valuable concept. I had not seen this applied outside of anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer practice until I came to TOD. It would be worthwhile to do formal EROEI studies on such topics as fuel ethanol so that they can be revealed as bogus soluitions if that is in fact what they are. Such a resource would help prevent public bamboozlement and pork driven political decisions.

 4) The availability of working papers would help prevent us  from reiterating the exact same debate six months later. Xaxat recently provided an image which perfectly illustrates this lack of progress here:

 5) The compiled working papers would be available for public distribution as PDF or similar. This would help communicate the issues to a broader public.

 6) If a working paper indicates a solution that may be of economic significance then the co-op could coalesce around it. It would also be helpful to provide economic studies that highlight the technical, economic, or social roadblocks to a possible solution. Another reader may be able to innovate around those roadblocks and transform a "dead end" into a viable solution. I am taking for granted here that our bottom line is a search for viable solutions rather than individual economic return. Both would be nice.

 7) The working papers repository would provide a collection of studies that TOD might rework into publication form for general sale. This would both get the word out and provide economic sustenance to the TOD project.

 8) I am sure that there is an item 8 and equally sure that some other TODder has it on the tip of their keyboard. :-)

BOP for your windfarm proposal what if capital was put forth by a group to say put a solar power system on JOE BLOWS roof.  Then He pays into the Co-op what he would normally pay the power company at the original KW hour price.  The Co op uses his wasted sunlight (or wind same priciple) and he secures constant price of energy.  since his system would be based on his need everything is god. A few years down the line when his system pays for itself he gets say 25%off. The Contract would have to attach to the deed and carry with a sale.

Against point #2 you can't rule out a dead end except in rare occasions (alchemy) some things are possible even though thought otherwise. I might be wrong fusion might not be possible but at this point I think it is not proven so.

I am pretty sure if a company like BP funded this they would get green credits or something like that for the project. I forget what the term is when a corporation cuts pollution somewhere else and gets to increase their emmissions a percentage of the reduced value.

Also If TSHTF the panels are on your home their yours.

I think a special section of "Working Papers", with comments and suggestions logged, revisions made, etc. would be a worthwhile addition to TOD.  What to include and what not would be made by the editors of TOD.

I see my paper as the missing section/addendum to Hirsch's paper.

Best Hopes,


 Alan -

 The amount of work you have done is impressive. But a lot of it is scattered through a wide range of posts. Having the information formally gathered in one place would be very helpful. My locality is seeking to expand light rail. Being able to educate myself, and/or provide a comprehensive, accurate resource to other concerned parties would be invaluable.

 I note that the NA car dependency arose in part due to the citizens blind acceptance of a development path espoused by vested economic interests. The entire US Inter-urban railway system was abandoned and in many cases this was due to oil or tire interests purchasing and then shutting down a potential competitor.


I cut my teeth locally with working to expand the streetcar system, and make sure expansions "worked".

Please eMail with where you are from, how much you want to get involved, some idea of any technical background, etc.

Best Hopes,

Oilrig Medic is right.
The Gas Diffusion process plant in the Manhattan Project almost didn't work because they couldn't get a filter that had the right size and range of holes to separate the two isotopes by their different relative velocities.
The technological fix to make it work was development of a way to make a filter with very small holes. I've heard from a family member that that technique was what started the Pall Corporation. You've probably seen their filters behind your plant, if you run a plant.
A napkin with some writing on it is the difference between a dead end technology and something that changes your world.
There may be companies doing this already, but if not, a logical idea for an IPO would be for a company whose sole business plan is to install wind generators.   This also makes it easier for individual investors to pool their capital.  

This goes along with my recommendation that Baby Boomers take a hard look at buying small farms and perhaps leasing them out to organic farmers.  The ideal situation is a farm coop arrangement, where people make fixed monthly payments to farmers in exchange for weekly deliveries during the growing season.  

Food is the most basic requirement for retirement, and it's a win/win proposition.  You can simultaneously make money from Peak Oil, while having a positive impact on your community, and while arranging for a reliable food supply.

How does a wind farmer sell his crop?  I know that in the past it was a fairly political negotiation with regional power companies ... but now there seem to be more end user arraingements.

I suspect that the Danes have a guaranteed buyer arraingement.

Peak Oil Action Plan & Peak College Enrollment--a Looming Crisis?

After laboriously typing out my comment, I found myself at the bottom again, so I'll move to the top of Sunday.

Peak Oil Action Plan
Two plans for action that address a lot of concerns and that make sense together:  (1)  Alanfrombigeasy's rail electrification plan and (2) scrap the highly regressive Payroll (Social Security + Medicare) Tax and replace it with a fossil fuel and/or liquid transportation fuel tax.

Peak College Enrollment--a Looming Crisis?
In regard to education, the New York Times had an interesting article today on the problems with retraining programs. They frequently don't work, in the sense that once airline mechanics are laid off from high paying jobs, it is unlikely that they will ever get their old lifestyles back.

The article also discusses the reality that the number of college graduates is growing faster than the number of jobs for collage graduates.  This results in a lot of people graduating who find that they can't find a job that will pay both their student loans and their cost of living on their own.

This situation will only get worse, especially as we approach Peak College Enrollment.  I believe that the all time record high peak high school enrollment is going to be around 2007-2008, leading to the all time record high college graduation a few years later, right into the teeth of the Mother of all Energy Crises.  

I have noticed a fascinating situation regarding even Peak Oil aware parents and  their own kids.  When I explain the new reality for Baby Boom Echo generation, invariably the response is "But there will still be a need for policy makers."  Translation:  it's okay for your unemployed college graduate to work in agriculture, but my college graduate will have a cushy white collar government job.  I don't think so.

Parents and prospective college student are making tragic mistakes right now.  They should be looking at technical schools that will give them practical training, with a special emphasis on repair work and agriculture.  The last thing that you want to do is to go into debt to release another unemployed law school graduate into the marketplace.  

Of course, law school applications are headed toward record levels.

When I graduated high school (class of '63), it was received wisdom, particularly among working-class families like my own, that if you just got that college diploma, the American Dream would automatically be yours.

Though such a mindset seems hopelessly naive today, it wasn't all that far from reality during that time period, for when I subsequently graduated from engineering school (class of '67), the members of senior class had an average of of something like 4.3 job offers each, and not one of the 270-odd graduates was without a job offer. No one thought that to be particularly remarkable at the time.

Today, as is so painfully obvious, a college degree has far less value, particularly if it is a liberal arts degree rather than one of the 'trades' like engineering or business administration. It is quite sad and disturbing to see so many college graduates doing menial jobs for which they are far over-qualified.

 And getting more education can only make it worse by making you even more over-qualified. If you want to ensure that your son or daughter remains permanently unemployed, have him/her get a PhD in something like particle physics. I think many young people in graduate school are there because they couldn't find a decent job and feel that they are at least doing something positive by being back in school.

I really think that once this reality sets in, we are going have some very angry young people in a truly ugly mood. I also think that colleges are now getting close to the peak of a bubble, much akin to the real estate bubble. So many of the large universities have embarked on outrageously expensive expansion programs, largly consisting of impressive but marginally useful physical facilities, the main purpose of which appears to be to improve their status, lure the better students, and provide a justification for obscenely expensive tuititions. Universities seem to compete among each other in much the same way that posh resorts do. I think it's going to come down, because our economy just doesn't need all of these college graduates, particularly with increased outsourcing of white-collar jobs.

The American middle class will continue to shrink.

As it happens there was a C-Span show on college costs and debt yesterday.  I caught the last half of it.  this is it.

A couple interesting factoids stick with me:

  1. The age of college students has increased in recent years, to mid 20s.

  2. Most students start within a year or two of high school graduation, if they start at all.

  3. The time-to-degree is longer, with 6-8 years becoming common.

  4. The first generations in families to reach college tend to go for the more practical degrees.  The "trade" oriented degrees.

  5. The more secure second/third generations going to college go for the less practical liberal arts.

(How "rational" #5 is may be in they eye of the beholder.  It was painted as reasonable by the presenters, but I think those affuent kids are the ones who get the rude surprises.)
Oh, the moderator painted the bottom line as "since a degree at a state school can be had for $20K, and can be financed by loans, it is still (in today's world) a relatively low cost investment."

I think someone else pointed out that the average state college education costs less than the average new car.

$20,000... which state school was he talking about?  I might transfer there.  I'm at UTexasSA and my yearly tuition is around $8000.  Add to that the money you take out for cost of living, which you really do need in order to make it day to day, and it jumps considerably.  I average about $12,000 a year in loans.

So much for affordable education.  

Sorry, I keep thinking of these things one by one.

Another interesting factiod was that either Australia or New Zealand had a policy of charging less tuition for practical degrees and more for liberal arts.

I think that is a good policy (that would be unlikely to fly here given the entrenched control liberal arts exert on our campuses).  It certainly drives home to the student what is a "luxury" degree.

That's a poor assessment.  I'm a first generation college student, and I'm double majoring in political science and psychology, two of the most useless liberal arts majors in existence.  The difference, and this is what you left out, a grad school is usually the next step for a liberal arts major, where they learn a profession like law or finaince, or they work for their PhDs, which while they're becoming more so, are definently not useless degrees.
One of my formative experiences was hearing of a newly married couple.  Recent college graduates.  He, with a history degree, went to work selling furnature at Levitz.  She, with an english degree, went to work selling clothes at Broadway.

Should they have become lawyers?  Perhaps.  I suppose the rubber meets the roads in the stats - the precentage of liberal arts majors who leap to high income professions.

I'm sorry but my patience with the cracks on liberal arts majors and lawyers has worn thin. Both groups are absolutely essential to a civil democratic society. It is unfortunate that the current employment market undervalues those with an education designed to provide the tools for rational and reflective thought, a historical perspective, and the ability to use language fluidly and with precision. Would anyone here really appreciate a society only run by engineers? The trains would run on time, but much of the Constitution would be lost in the bargain, as it is inefficient and costly.
Of the founding fathers how many were engineers and how many were political science majors with a double major in art histrory (after they changed majors 2 other times)  

Universities generate new knowledge through research. Vital function.   We have more lawyers percapita than any other country.  This is the reason nobody coaches little league and OBGYN's are hard to find.

Legal representation is neccesary. But we have more than enough.

Oilrig Medic -

I must inform you that during the time of our Founding Fathers the profession of engineering did not exist, at least not in any formal sense. There were surveyors, and people who learned how to build things and who learned about machines. It was mostly learning by doing.   But you did not go to college to become an engineer, because there wasn't any engineering curricula at the time. Engineering as a formal profession is relatively young, largely getting its start in the mid-19th Century.  

Most of our Founding Fathers were well-connected and well-educated aristocrats, the elites of the day, if you will. While there were exceptions (such as Ben Franklin, one of the most capable and versatile geniuses of all time, right up there with Leonardo), our Founding Fathers were not middle class people.

I was joking, there were not BA students who spent seven years in college then either.
I'll remember that the next time one comes seeking my legal services: "I'm sorry about your car collisioin and the fact that the insurance company is only paying a small fraction of your medical costs, but you see ... well, there are too many lawyers . . ."

Lawyers work in a very competitive market and if there isn't the work they don't eat. Private clients hire attorneys to advance their goals and defend the rights.  More than any other profession, it's a self regulating one.  Unlike the medical professions they do not work together to limit their numbers.

The Bar bears substantial responsibility for the growing disconnect between what lawyers do and how the help society and market efficiency and the increasinly majoritarian view that they're leaches or pilot fish, sucking the life blood of the body politic and the market economy.

Incidentally, no other Presidentail administration has been as hostile to the legal profession and the Bar and had so little regard for the rule of law as that of George W. Bush - and it became apparent a few days before the 2000. election.

Ah well you see, I think a liberal education is possible, desirable, and practical ... in those "trade majors."

But unfortunately there is confusion now between a liberal education and a liberal arts major.

Put another way, I got my chem degree and went to work engineering medical instruments.  I then started reading good books in the evenings.

That made sense to me.  More sense than reading the books first, and worrying about the job later.

my patience with the cracks on liberal arts majors and lawyers has worn thin

Actually the "cracks" (and by the way, that is a Freudian slip-wise, well chosen word) are not aimed at liberal arts or legal studies per se; but rather at any specialization in education which leaves out the need for studying other areas. It is because we subdivide ourselves into spealized areas that things slip between the "cracks"; very important things, like no one worrying about how the whole thing comes together. We all are taught to believe that some invisible being --often called the invisible hand-- will make everything work out. But it doesn't. The markets don't provide. Your underemployed college graduates are "evidence" that the markets don't provide.


Would you prefer to live under a socialist system where everybody is employed in spite of being useful?  The market is a dynamic feedback system, fluctuating between the extremes of chaos and routine.  

It seems obvious to me that we all are born with a specialized talent, i.e. musician, writer, engineer, mathematician, biologist.  I know you are aware that the division of labor is especially evident in other species, i.e. bees´ and ants´.  What does this tell you?  My guess is the DNA "masterplan" produces x percentage of engineers, poets, writers, lawyers, and musicians in order to promote sustainablity.  Insects have been around for hundreds of millions of years.  

P.S. Thanks for posting the picture last week.

My message was nothing of the sort. Instead, it means that all of us need to get educated in each other's specialties. The economist needs to learn some basic thermodynamics AND APPLY IT to the theory of economics. The engineer needs to learn politics and APPLY IT to the decision making process that determines which projects are funded and which are not. Politicians need to learn how real science works and to stop pretending Global Warming is not real because it is politically inconvenient. Most of all, all humans need to learn how their brains work so they do not become easy prey for mass media manipulation and smiling propaganda faces on the MSM news networks. We are herd animals and we are irrational, fearful and easily manipulated. The sooner we admit it, the sooner we can start seeing how we are all blindly following the main herd towards the edge of the cliff. The sooner we can learn that "stay the course" is not about loyalty but rather about irrational behavior.

p.s. what picture?

Late in the game but..

I went to two colleges, The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Mississippi State Unitversity.  I was classified as and Un-decided at UALR and as A Landscape Architecture Major at MSU.   While at UALR I took any class I wanted to know about.  I worked part time, Kept a Garden at my parents house and Helped with other things, Even helping them pay some of thier bills. I did all the same chores I ever did growing up and a few more.   I took classes that interested me.  I disliked when I was told you need this or that to get your degree. What degree I was going there to learn things, not to get a degree.  I did decide I really liked Landscape and designing the world around me and When my younger brother was heading to college.  We looked at only the schools in the nation that had his degree AeroSpace engineering, and L. A.  at them, about 20 at the time.  We sent out the apps and Mississippi Picked both of us, and off we went, roommates and brothers,  we were there to help each other and be family in school and he had a better college going to class ethic than I did, till he failed to make the grade and Lost his 4 year Scholarship.  He did get his degree after 6 years.  But me, I got the same run around, do this, do that and you will be better. I never liked folks telling me what I needed to learn.  I like learning what I want to learn.  I slowing got down to where they would not let me stay on campus, so I moved off campus, my brother was living with his girlfriend and future wife.  I got a great deal on a great house, and we slowly went to classes and I left for other places.  He finally got his degree, early in my first marriage.   I never got a degree,  But I loved learning what I wanted to learn.

  Jobs.   I have worked a whole range of jobs, from the 3.35 an hour to 15.00 an hour and done things I have really enjoyed.  If I did not like the job, I did not stay there long.  

 With My VERY well rounded education, I am going off to Re-build my Girlfriends Free and Clear paid for House.  I will be in charge of all fixs and Landscaping, and make it What we both want, but also What I know we will need with the coming events of PEAK OIL.  She does not need to worry about PO just yet, I can handle that detail just fine.

I have Always said, that a college should not be where you go to learn a career it is where you go to learn things that you want to know about, things you don't know, anything about.   To learn the well rounded information that some of the practical work experience can't teach you.

 Hey, my family thinks I am a failure.   I write books, Stories, Poems, Children's stories, and have as much fun every day of my life as anyone I know.   I have no worries. but my brother is uptight about money all the time, and Is in debt up to his eyeballs while he is standing on his wife's shoulders!!  Me, no debts,  No worries and able to do anything I want to do.

Fletcher -

Of course we need lawyers; but do we need so MANY of them?

The last time I looked countries like Japan seemed to be gettingt along just fine with but a tiny fraction of the lawyers per capita that the US has. A well functioning system of law, of course, is absolutely essential for a civilized society and free-market commerce.  However, the legal system can become a drain upon society when it becomes an industry onto itself and the society becomes more and more litigious.

Asain societies, Japan and China, have very diffent political cultures. Neither have tradions supporting the Western view of individual rights. To be sure Japan adopted a constitution imposed by General MacArthur, but their political, social, and economic culture favors the sciences and engineering. In that balance, note that inidivual intiative and individual expressive rights are not as highly valued as in this country. That explains in part the fewer attorneys.
Do you suppose there might be a "feedback loop"(*) between the number of lawyers in a society, and the litigiousness of that society?

* - to borrow a term from an "engineering education"

Most definitely.  I might add that everyone's in favor of alternative dispute resolution and mild cooperative attorneys until their attorney plays nice with the other side.

It is my view that effective lawyers will become especially important and necessary as energy resources decline.

Fletcher -

Well, now why would that be? Are we going to sue our way into energy abundance?

Our legal system, both civil and criminal, has become truly grotesque. Laws and regulations are passed by lawyers largely to make more work for lawyers. (It's called featherbedding.)  That is why I can say from firsthand experience that excessive legalism is the reason why  the environmental field has become so screwed up.

 Our government is largely run by lawyers, and look what a wonderful job they have done. Lawyers, as far as I can tell, have absolutely no sense of cost-effectiveness. They do pro bono work to assuage their consciences against all the negative things they have done. They produce nothing.

No, I would not be at all proud to call myself a lawyer in contemporary America. And please don't give me this crap about lawyers protecting our rights, etc. A lawyer advocates that which his client pays him to advocate, be it torture at Guantanamo or illegal search and seizure.  Lawyers are the instrument by which a totalitarian state paints a thin veneer of legitimacy over the cold crimes they are committing.

As it has been since the beginning, lawyers largely serve power and money. And I don't think you can deny that. Public defenders are a joke, and plea bargaining is the way most criminal cases are settled. If you have lots of money you have a shot at justice; but if you're lower middle class, you're dead meat and at the mercy of the system.

No, as an American, I no longer believe in the American legal system.

"Public defenders are a joke, and plea bargaining is the way most criminal cases are settled."

I worked at the San Francisco Public Defender's office all through law school. I'd trust my life with most of the attorneys working there.

There's a great pbs documentary about the office:



lawyers largely serve power and money.

You cannot deny the truthfulness of the above block quote (Id. :-). The "Invisible Hand" forces most lawyers into having to chase after where the money is. TV paints a false picture about what real lawyers actually do. The poor and downtrodden do not get fair access to legal expertise. Neither do the middle class. It is only the rich and powerful who can afford a lawyer.

Lawyers cannot afford to burn their billable hours doing work for clients who cannot and never will pay. The rich & powerful fool the common folk by canning misleading messages like "tort reform" when instead it is about letting wrongdoers off the hook while leaving the bag in the hand of the wronged, of the victims. Doctors do f*ck up. Hospitals do screw up. They know when they do it and they give you a deceitful, we're to help you smile as they do it from behind the white coat. It's all about maximizing profits.

It is a good thing Matt, that you and a number of other lawyers here at TOD (Fletcher & who knows how many other esquires here) have caught onto the Peak Oil phenomenon. It shows you are able to break out of the mold. You've grown beyond Marbury v. Madison. You've discovered that Mother Nature is the Supreme law of the land. Kudos to you.

My sister is a lawyer.  She actually went into law after finding her career as college professor wasn't making as big a difference in the world as she'd hoped.  She is not chasing the money.  She likes things like environmental law - sue the big corporations and force them to clean up their pollution.  Or protecting poor people from slumlords.

She can do this because she was careful not to rack up a lot of loans.  This is not easy in the law field, but she chose a relatively low-cost law school, and she paid for a lot of it with her savings.  Many are not in the position to do this, and end up having to take the high-paying corporate positions, just to pay off their loans.  (One of my friends ended up working as a lawyer by day, and moonlighting as a mall sales clerk at night, just to pay off those loans.)

My sister was warned she was "ruining her career" by not going to a pricier, more prestigious law school, like Berkeley, but she didn't want to get into that much debt.  It's looking like a pretty smart decision now.  

That lawyers would be especially important and necessary if energy supplies are contracting is about as smart as stating that therapists will be especially important if people are starving. Could be nice to have while dying but they dont help with the solving the basic problems, do they?
Well, yes, but if I state your same opinion another way it sounds alot different:

While they don't help to solve the basic problems, therapists are useful to help soothe the suffering.

Under your logic, we would never treat soldiers returning from war with PTSD because we can never end war.  Same analogy goes for lawyers.  

True, even very poor societies have priests that among other things try to sooth suffering.

But if you have a crisis and limited resources it is better to minimize the support function if that can solve more of the problem. To take a military example, is it best for a small country in risk of being attacked to buy field hospitals or anti armour weapons? They need both but if they cant afford both they will have to accept more deaths from wounds to win the war.

Lots of lawyers could help in times of economical turmoil if their work results in a much quicker redistribution of resources from unproductive and failed enterprizes to new enterprizes. But I expect them to have the opposite function. That the legal system and lawers will try to keep old companies, old money and "intellectual capital" that could be masscopied living on the new enterprizes that do start. And in the process keep machines, facilities and "intellectual capital" unused while people battle for the value left in them.

I'm willing to admit that the majority of lawyers are into it for power and money.  These kind of guys tend to come from the upper middle class and they will sell their soul to the corporate machine in order to rise above their parents, fulfilling that ever-more-elusive American Dream.  They will advocate pretty much any opinion they are told to with a swiftness and logical force that completely blindsides the unexpecting.  They are damned good at their job, it's just they've lost their ability to derive moral pleasure from their job.

But, there's also the street lawyers who often make less than their clients do.  Sure, that's a much smaller part of the population, but are they not doing the good work?  I guess I'm resistent to the idea that being a lawyer means automatically prostituting yourself, as people can stand up and take the harder route.  

I guess I'd like to say that I'd take that harder route, but I can't be certain I will.  Even now I'm already having the arguement in my head, "Well, you could be a patent and IP lawyer and come out of school making nearly a hundred grand a year, but that would require advocating a position that you're against, and you'd be lieing to myself.  Or, you could do something pithe like become a human rights lawyer and make perhaps $30,000 a year and be paying off student loans for 40 years.  But at least your work would be good.  But who really wants to live that poorly?  Nobody really likes to admit it, but money has an important impact on your family and social life.  Whatever, as long as it's not an actual trial lawyer, as that sounds like the shittiest of shitty specialization.  Oh, wait.. you forgot about the damned Peak Oil thing, and none of this really matters as you have at most 10 years of normalcy left, but more like 3 to 5.  Well... that sucks."

Sorry, I went a little Stream of Consciousness on you.  Since Saturday evening I've slept about 5 hours total and I'm kind of in a weird subconscious state right now.  It sucks because this happens about every 6 weeks, that I'll spend about three or four days completely intuned to Peak Oil, reading nonstop, and then crash from the horrible hours I've kept and not really pay attention for another 6 weeks.  I haven't really learned much more in the year since I first learned about PO and went on the first crams.  And I never walk away with any sense of advancement.

So tell me, Internet friend, what's the thing here I'm not getting?  

Do not let one crisis take all your time.
"Do you suppose there might be a "feedback loop"(*) between the number of lawyers in a society, and the litigiousness of that society?"

Yup. And with system of only positive feedback. Althought the term in general use does not have a positive connotation, there is something to be said for "dithering." :-)

"Fletcher, proof-read and then do it again," and my one minor excuse for these lapses of my fingers was that I too was cooking dinner - for my daughter."
Biting my tounge big time, big time.. I actually know Fletcher and the quality of his work.
Look at this link ( America has 281 lawyers for every 100,000 people, compared to Britain with 94, 33 in France and a mere 7 in Japan. France is among undisputed western societies even from your standard. As the author of this link pointed out, it seems to me that lawyers are among big factors draining wealth from US economy.
IMHO, the need for more and more lawyers has to do with the transistion from a government by, of, for the people to one by, of, for the corporations.  The people get pissed off from time to time and try to access their rights through the law, and it takes a lot of lawyers to protect the corporations. That should peter out soon though, as you don't need as many lawyers when you own the courts and the law makers - it's much more efficient.
This is EXACTLY what everybody says right up until the point they find themselves in a real pinch and need a damn
good attorney to save their ass.



Well, Matt and Fletcher are doing a fine job explaining why my profession isn't as useless as most people think it is (until they need one, as Matt points out) so I think I will not jump in, except to point out that people who come to see me are REALLY in trouble and seem to appreciate my efforts, for the most part.
The better course may be a more liberal education for technical majors.  I took a hard course in Roman History, Russian and several other interesting (but not so hard) courses in my education.  A pretty good intro course in Economics in my public high school.  (Don Sailorman would NOT have been dismayed at the discussion of Keynesian theory and Milton Freidman, that elasticity curves often have a time dimension, the inverted demand curve for potatoes during the famine, etc. in high school).

A technical degree does bring with it a degree of intellectual rigor that is useful in the liberal arts, IMHO.

The Constitution is what keeps the political locomotive from blowing up. It's inefficient not to keep the safety valve tied down and your engine running at less than full load, but you don't sink as many steamboats that way.
The steamship companies had the political power to override the safety committees, and did, till they lost too many steamboats and locomotives, and then they didn't.
The US armed forces are now getting a very expensive education in what happens when you don't abide by elections or exercise restraint in exercising power as an elected government.
It's funny, but despite the fact that the armed forces are more conservative than the people of the United States, our armed forces have no interest in overthrowing the government here because their job is to go in an clean up when someone else has screwed up on democracy and consensus politics. The lesson keeps getting reinforced.
Latin American armies have to learn this lesson the hard way because they rarely leave their country. Maybe we should finance them to do peacekeeping missions more often as a way to build democracy in Latin America?
Quite a lot has been hung off my post above, as if it was critical of lawyers.  Actually, if you look closely you'll see that it is not, and is in fact about statistical outcomes for liberal arts majors ... well, to repeat:

Should they have become lawyers?  Perhaps.  I suppose the rubber meets the roads in the stats - the precentage of liberal arts majors who leap to high income professions.
Re:  Welfare & Immigration

Baby Boom Echo kids entering the work force, increasing illegal immigration and overseas competition for jobs will drive down hourly labor rates --just as the economy contracts because of Peak Oil and because of the deflationary effect of our explosive increase in debt.

This will result in what used to be the middle class having a more and more difficult time being able to support familles.  What then happens as the formerly middle class continues to be taxed in order to financially support those on welfare who are having children--especially illegal immigrants having children?  

I think that you will see an explosive increase in resentment toward those on welfare and toward illegal immigration.   It may not be too far  in the distant future that unemployed college graduates will be competing with illegal immigrants for agricultural jobs.

Which brings me back to the organic farm idea.  At least it gives your unemployed college graduate something useful to do.  

We've deported illegal immigrants before. Sometimes the legal ones, too. And the Republicans that want illegals in to lower wages and raise rents are now in increasingly acromonius conflict with the Republicans who've figured out that illegal immigrants have legal kids who require schooling and medicaid.
Bush Jr. wants to make it so we get the workers in to lower wages and raise rents, but not their kids. He wants the kids not to get citizenship and therefor not get education and medical care. He's trying to get a bill that lets him make a "signing statement" to that effect, regardless of the wording of what passes. He only wants unskilled workers are technical workers, too. No middle class types, and especially no lawyers or MBAs.
The Democrats are dead set against it. Either we don't let them in, or we treat them like Americans. Specifically the Democrats want to fine employers that hire illegals. The Democrats figure that if we are going to lose our privacy to the TIA, we ought to arrange for the illegal immigrants to lose their privacy, too.
I think immigration is going to be the other big issue in the next election.  (Along with energy prices.)  Immigration is something the voters care a lot about, and neither party supports the popular view.  The people want a crackdown on illegal immigration.  TPTB do not.  The Republicans want the cheap labor.  And immigrants, legal and otherwise, are a key Democratic demographic.  Yes, even the illegals.  One, they have friends and family that vote, and two, the census counts all residents, not just the legal ones, so illegal immigrants - generally in Democratic-leaning areas - increase Democratic electoral votes.
Westexas - you and alanfrombigeasy are among the most profound posters on this list that I so much enjoy reading and find inspiration. I think Alan's frequently repeated analysis  deserves better exposure here on Oil Drum.The reading audience to give serious consideration to building and implementing real alternatives to automobiles for personal transportation and to replace commercial interregional truck and aircraft traffic with an electrified rail system.

Alan posted

'My approach (which is also the Swiss approach) results in one to two orders of magnitude reduction (1:10 to 1:100) in energy consumption without a decline in the standard of living (actually an improvement I would argue)using VERY mature, well proven technology.
Electrify freight railways (add semi high speed service in limited corridors), build Urban Rail wherever anyone wants it, and put in trolley buses on busy bus routes.  Simple, relatively cheap and major steps can be finished in ten to twelve years (more in twenty years, still mroe after that).'

I have looked at the analysis of other people who also support this viewpoint. It is such an obvious conclusion than we need to discuss why this option has not been put on the head of our collective action list for PO transition methods.

It is highly significant that the Hirsch report did not even include this option , not even on the radar. To 'Electrify freight railways (add semi high speed service in limited corridors), build Urban Rail wherever anyone wants it, and put in trolley buses on busy bus routes.' will require  courage from our leaders and enlightenement  of the people.

Now is the time to start.

1.    It's boring.  No technology fairy (love that!) is needed.  

2.    Electrified rail is pubic transportation.  We don't like public transportation - we are only interested in liquid fuels that will burn in our cars so we don't have to change our lifestyles.

3.    It is easier to consider technologies that are a long way off - closer to the theoretical stage.  Something fairly simple technologically that can be implemented now is intimidating, because there are too few handy excuses for not doing it.  It requires getting into the messy stage of actually doing something.  And of course those things will require changes in lifestyle.  Then of course, we begin to see the ugly reality of what large scale implementation takes, why we aren't doing it, that we probably won't do it, which in turn leads to unpleasant possibilities......

Isn't light rail the antithesis to the exurban American dream?

I live in Buffalo. IIRC, 5 years ago it came to light that the suburban mega-mall refused to allow any bus service to its doors.  They relented after a lot of pressure, but obviously regarded requiring the ownership of a car as a necessary screening mechanism.  Not being anywhere near public transportation was a feature, not a bug.

> Isn't light rail the antithesis of the exurban American dream ?

One would think so.  But exurbs north of Dallas have figured out recently that Light Rail may be a necessity.

Quote from one of several articles about DART plans 2015 to 2030; "City leaders in Richardson, Addison and other northern suburbs recently began a major public relations push to get light-rail trains on the Cotton Belt".

The Cotton Belt is a railroad ROW that DART bought decades ago.

Light Rail going from exurbs towards Dallas is already part of plans till 2015.  Now they want a light rail route that crosses north of Dallas towards DFW airport, and are spending hundreds of thousands "studying" it and lobbying DART (which prefers another Dallas-centric route).

So the North Dallas exurbs want Light Rail connections between them and to the airport.

An excellent change in attitude !  :-)

I remember a story on just that subject from some years ago. It seems some poor soul who had the pleasure of a minimum wage job at said mall was killed trying to cross the usual 4 lane to get to a bus stop to go home after work. Saints forfend a bus might have stopped at the employee's entrance. Thank you, Google. 1 or all
Thanks for the kind words.  I am literally sending Alan's stuff to everyone to everyone I can think of, and I am posting it all over the place.   One of the fascinating things about the Simmons/Kunstler event in Dallas last year was how Matt and Jim's views on Peak Oil had basically merged (they had never met until the Dallas gig).  They both heavily emphasized the importance of rail transport (I have forward Alan's stuff to both Matt & Jim).  

BTW, at the Simmons/Kunstler event last year, Matt Simmons said that if we don't start taking some kind of concrete action to address Peak Oil, "Jim Kunstler (listed as Defcon One on TOD) will turn out to have been an optimist."  

Also, in the FYI department, the May issue of Outside Magazine (on newsstands around 4/15) has a long article about Jim Kunstler and the Simmons/Kunstler event by journalist John Galvin.    Apparently, I play a minor supporting role in the article.    The three of us--Jim; John and I--had a memorable road trip around Dallas, when I took them on a tour of the New Urbanism sites in the Dallas area.  Basically we have little islands of sanity surrounded by a sea suburban insanity.

Jeffrey Brown

Hi Jeff,

We met at a Peak Oil event promoted by yourself and sponsored by the Sierra Club in early 2005.  I remember your comments on planning for the Simmons/Kunstler presentation.

To jog your memory, I was the audience member that challenged the SMU professor to get real which quite disturbed the genteel Dallas audience.

I wonder if that same chapter of the Sierra Club has embraced Peak Oil or are they still stuck in the mud of denial?

Keep up the good work.

This topic has came up before, but I've noticed that there's a lot of people from Texas here.  We should really look into forming a state TOD, so we could coordinate things like speakers, events, etc.  I would have loved to see a Simmons presentation, but I had no idea it was going on.  Plus, it's always a nice thing to counteract the idea that everyone in Texas is an oil baron.

What do you think?  Email me.

I've had some discussions about another Peak Oil presentation, but nothing definite yet.  Check out the following website:

This is a demonstration project West of Fort Worth.  They will be doing tours in April.  It's a 2,000 square foot home, with a construction cost of about $100 per square foot, and total average energy costs of about $15 per month.

But, let's look at this rationally.

Yes, the home may be built efficiently, but it's a very good possibility that it's carbon footprint will be larger in the long run because of it's exurb location in the Kingdom of Sprawl known as DFW.

The Hirsch Report, with the overlooked option of "Electrification of Transportation" is precisely the target of the paper that I wrote during my summer evacuation. Link (for any newbies) I have eMailed Mr. Hirsch with drafts without response and called Mr. Hirsch twice at his home (during business hours) and "he was too busy ATM" each time. I would like to convince him that Electrification of Transportation is a viable, and preferred, policy option. I believe in the "make no enemies" approach to lobbying. I also beleive in broad based coalitions. I have discovered in New Orleans that cityscape improvements are the largest single driver for more streetcars. Not transportation, not Peak Oil, not Iraq, not Global Warming, but "they look nice". So be it. A City Public Workd engineer and I worked out a cityscape on North Rampart that EVERYONE bought into (after out-of-town consultants spent 8 figures & failed). The City of New Orleans would rebuild North Rampart (one traffic lane, one bicycle lane each side, 36' wide neutral ground in center with two grass running streetcar tracks to replace two traffic lanes each side). This would be the first half of the Desire Streetcar Line. Mayor Nagin was going to announce this ~45 days after Katrina and it would be a key to his re-election campaign. Per RTA chairman, this plan ahs survived Katrina and is still planned. We get a major link in a future streetcar system. Why ? Because it looks nice.
Photos at my Yahoo Group, Streetcars Desired Everywhere. Hope it works (I need to learn HTML :-(
Re: Peak College

Yes, interesing article. And all too true, training for what? For many, college and univ is a big scam -- money spent that won't ever be recovered.

After taking a corporate buyout, I did a little adjuncting at a local college for more than ten years. What a shock! Most of the students graduating college wouldn't have been allowed to graduate from my high school back in the late 50s.

From the corporate point of view, a college degree is required just to get, possibly, basic literacy. It used to be absolutely guaranteed by a high school diploma or less in my grandparents' day.

I got a liberal arts degree back in the mid 60s, (an MS in math after). Anthropology, philosophy, lit, many, many things that are still with me and are part of my life to this day. There was no thought in my head of training for a career! I (and others) were interested in the world, all of it! Eventually, I dropped out the PhD program, joined a Marxist group, tried to overthrow the existing order, failed (I used to say: luckily--now I'm not so sure) drove a truck for ten years, etc.

What is it now? Training, NOT education, and training for what? For jobs that aren't there all too often. The students today have NO idea what it was like to go to school to learn about the world, no idea what it could possibly mean.

Between undergrad and grad school, I joined the Peace Corps, taught math in Nigeria. I'll never forget one incident. I showed the students a proof. They thought it was so beautiful they threw their books in the air! It was the purest and most exuberant expression of intellectual curiosity I would ever see. A few later, these same students would have the exuberance beat out of them, when faced with life and death determining exams at the end of 6th form: follow the syllabus, Master! They were right. Those that failed would have next to zero job prospects.

Today's students are deprived of a true education, to the point that they have no idea whatsoever of what it is they didn't get, and are instead given training for that which doesn't or won't exist. The one thing they do get out of it is a mountain of debt.

And I wonder what the appropriate education will be for today's youth.  It's more than an abstract question for me, as I have a 12 and a 7 year old.  My father is a professor, so naturally I've always assumed a college education would be the only way to go.  But now I truly wonder, both if it will even be possible financially, and what areas of study would make sense?  Have to find something that cannot be easily outsourced!  I'd lean toward environmental sciences, climatology, etc, but I really don't know if it would be possible to make a living that way.  Probably better off in studying organic agricultural techniques.  
Obviously there's no simple answer. Neither of my kids has finished college, both grown. One is a networking guy, the gal lives on a commune. My nephew is in construction, my niece I think actually got a degree and teaches art to young kids. My kid brother did 8th grade three times, and stopped. Has his own greenhouse (which his employess run for him because he can't read!), has an endless queue of construction work people want him to get to, etc. Doesn't do a damn thing he doesn't enjoy doing.

My other brother got a degree in architecture, got arrested for trying to overthrow the state of Louisiania (60s - innocent, he was trying to overthrow federal gov't), only now has Bush done it for him, is an artist, does art shows, did very well, but the art show circuit is collapsing now because even wealthy people are scared shitless.

There is no simple answer -- but it is certainly not impossible to survive without an academic degree if one has the right non-academic skills. The times are, however, much, much less forgiving than they were when I was young.

The only thing I would say is: don't waste money making them do something they don't want to do.

"The only thing I would say is: don't waste money making them do something they don't want to do."

Heck no, they will pick what they want to.  My job is to brainwash them before they get to that point!  They already know their parents think a little differently than most folks they know, by then it should be clear if we were right or just nuts.  

How climate change could ruin the economy

In his new book, "The Winds of Change" (Simon & Schuster), [journalist Eugene] Linden traces cycles of climate change and how civilizations have responded throughout history. He reports that these shifts tend to be abrupt and catastrophic "flickerings," not the gradual warming we've generally expected. And while Linden acknowledges the controversy and contradictions in the science of predicting global warming, he says: "We know enough to realize that this is a very big deal, and we know it's happening much faster than we expected."
And climate change is Time's cover story:

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth.

Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial melts, the global climate seems to be crashing around us.

The problem -- as scientists suspected but few others appreciated -- is that global climate systems are booby-trapped with tipping points and feedback loops, thresholds past which the slow creep of environmental decay gives way to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse. That's just what's happening now.

CNN has been covering the dispute between Gray and Curry today, too.

I think the time is coming when we should, perhaps, consider building an ark.
Herewith my short list of books to help understand Peak Oil and transform our personal lives while making the world a better place:
1. By far the most essential book IMO is by Garrett Hardin,
"EXPLORING NEW ETHICS FOR SURVIVAL: The Voyage of the Spaceship Beagle." In this highly readable book the famous biologist elaborates on his "tragedy of the commons" concept and answers critics.
2. How can we simplify our lives, use less fossil fuel and spend way less money? The following books by Earl Proulx and the other editors of "Yankee" magazine answer these questions. For ROI, I think it is impossible to do better than to buy and study:

Also I highly recommend the 1998 (and probably reprinted since then) booklet by the eiditors of Yankee Books, "Don't Throw That Out!"

"CBS Sunday Morning" had a program on clutter.  

They said Americans don't use don't fully use 80% of the stuff they buy, e.g., Americans only wear 20% of the clothes they buy.  

CNN has been doing this as well.  They interviewed people for whom clutter collecting is a OCD.  One man had not allowed anyone in his house for 16 years because he was embarrassed at the mess.  He had so much stuff stacked everywhere that he could not even use his kitchen.  One woman had so much junk she could hardly move.  One of her kids moved out at age 14, telling her, "I wish you were a drug addict instead, because then they would take me away from you."

Me, I am trying to de-clutter.  Clutter must be maintained, and I don't want to spend time or money doing that.  I regularly give away stuff via Freecycle.   Though I am keeping stuff I might otherwise give away, due to peak oil considerations.  Like my mom's ancient sewing machine.  They don't make them like that any more.

That is one of the reasons for such great bargains at Goodwill; I just bought a pair of perhaps once-worn Levi's 550 for $8.

Why buy new clothes when used clothes are so cheap?

Most of us have way way too much stuff.

     Sad, ain't it?  And now I have five more books being shipped in from used booksellers because of your previous post.  Damn.
Nice list, Don!  Thanks for that.  I like the practical stuff as much as the pondering of the crystal ball!
During the collapse of the cities when that volcano brought down every civilisation on earth but one fifteen hundred years ago, we didn't forget how to make
or pretty much anything else that was usefull.
We did forget how to make concrete, some pigments, and the pyramids.
So don't worry. We will still need engineers. What I worry is a war big enough to kill enough people to bring us below the level of maintaining a 2005 level wafer fab. That's probably around the level of one hundred million people. A 1980 (64K DRAM/68000/Mac) level wafer fab is around ten million people. We have some specialist technologies that simply didn't exist back then that are needed to make advanced chips of today's levels. Not just the tools, but the tools to make the tools.
And hey, go into politics. Know why? Because after the shit hits the fan people are going to be looking for people with solutions, and it isn't going to be the guy there now they will be looking for. Consider laying the ground to be mayor or county supervisor, if it's government you have your heart set on.
But politics is a people skill. You have it or you don't. Welding is a craft skill. You can learn.
But going into craft work like automobile mechanics and welding pipe is definitely going to be a good career move over the next ten years. Just don't assume that beaucoup overtime and high wages is going to last more than the first five years for everyone and the next five years after that for the people who got in first and got the connections and experience to be the last ones laid off during the postboom bust in the reindustrialisation of America.
So, a couple of barrels of beans and sugar in the basement in case of war, and the tools and skills to actually make something in case of peace. A law degree is usefull if you want to actually start a business around the third year of the boom, and accounting, ditto. An MBA degree isn't really usefull to a small business. Just read the books.
Hello TODers,

Consider the recent EnergyBulletin article espousing possession of a 323 page State Depart. document whereby the Topdogs purposely seek to hoard the Iraqi oil for themselves in the future:

In other words, they are intentionally choking back Iraqi production so super-addicts can burn it later!  Please contrast this with my earlier post where I proposed choking back production to finance the growth of non-addicted biosolar habitats.  Let's make the addicts pay for the bootstrapping of those who want to get together in a contiguous area and Powerdown!

IF Greg Pallast is correct, this Topdog plan is just another brick in the wall against the proles of the world.  My plan would allow, for example, the NW & NE parts of America to secede from the rest of the US to establish the first biosolar habitats.

From the Friday Open Thread [reposted again]:

Hello Oilrig Medic,
I think you are forgetting the profit incentive.  If the oil, gas, and coal companies were allowed to keep 33% of the increased profits from shutting down half their operations during a temporary 'choke' period, and the other 66% was used to fund a bootstrapping of initial biosolar habitats-- billions of bucks to kickstart Powerdown could be raised.  The detritovore desire for ancient detritus can be used to leverage the desire of those biosolars who wish to break their addiction by powering down.  Jevon's Paradox says any excess energy saved by the biosolars will be eagerly used by the addicts anyways.  All we have to do is make the addicts pay heavily to the biosolars by a financing function of letting the oil companies profitably tighten the screws by reducing demand.  Let's find out just how inelastic energy demand really is.  Stockholders make money short-term-->no big deal, what really counts are real assets like food, water, ecosystem health.

My usual disclaimer: I am no expert, would more learned TODers please evaluate?

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

"All we have to do is make the addicts pay heavily to the biosolars by a financing function of letting the oil companies profitably tighten the screws by reducing demand."

What percentage of the population are you willing to impact financially when you make them "pay heavily" to fund these "biosolar habitats"?  How much economic pain are you willing to make them feel, apparently against their will?  What percentage of the people will benefit from such a program in the short run and the long run?

The problem I have with these kinds of schemes is that they almost always have a strong undercurrent of moralizing--I know better than the economy how our scarce resources should be allocated, and punishing the wasteful consumers is fine if I get to fund even a small number of people doing the right things.

Unless you can come up with a plan that the majority of people directly affected will support, you don't have anything viable.  Currently, we do all sorts of taxation to shift resources and encourage certain types of economic activity and discourage others, from fuel taxes to cigarette taxes to renewable energy subsidies.  But those are, generally speaking, broadly supported tradeoffs; I don't like paying more for gasoline, but I would support increasing the gasoline tax substantially to fund the building of more wind turbines that would make supporting mass market electric cars (coming soon) much easier and cleaner.  That would cause short-term economic pain, but it would also deliver a very broad-based benefit.

Hello LouGrinzo,

Sorry for the delay, but I needed some shuteye after posting here and elsewhere all last night.  Sorry, I am no expert for specific answers to your questions, but if we can get other TODers to really flog this issue some surprising results might turn up.

Please reread your last paragraph-- you already mostly agree with my proposal!  Now stretch your thinking to fund initial biosolar habitats [NE & NW areas?].  Richard Rainwater is thinking of doing this for profit!  I suggest we help him to vastly accelerate the shift to the new postPeak paradigm.

Your Quote: "The problem I have with these kinds of schemes is that they almost always have a strong undercurrent of moralizing--I know better than the economy how our scarce resources should be allocated, and punishing the wasteful consumers is fine if I get to fund even a small number of people doing the right things".

Please consider the lamentable lack of moralizing by the super-addicts currently in charge.  The choice to build military might to wage resource wars is a decision totally removed from any processes of Adam Smith's Invisible Hand.  More like a highly Visible Fist.  I am trying to conceptualize a profit-based paradigm, like Richard Rainwater, whereby the fist is transformed into a friendly and gentle handshake.

"We see the rising floodwaters, secretly hoping the others drown" is not a valid model for unstoppable postPeak decline.  Induced energy crunches, properly controlled, will create a huge detritovore demand to fund those brave pioneers willing to build and man the first truly sustainable 'ecosystem lifeboats'.

I am in favor of letting the producers periodically choke back production, ONLY WITH SPECIFIC CAVEATS, to facilitate a changed mindset to Powerdown.  After Carter's Sweater Speech, just imagine the societal progress the world could have made if repeated energy crunches occurred every three years over the past thirty.  The failure of subsequent world leaders to continue Carter's biosolar jumpstart has made things much worse.

Yes, the oil producers would have made more money, but if the majority of this profit increase had gone into Powerdown research and biosolar habitats [much less to military and exurb sprawl], it might have delayed and transformed Hubbert's Peak into a plateau-- society would have time to adapt and assure ERoEI > ERoVI.  Kunstler would have been a gardener, instead of writing and giving speeches to huge crowds.  AlanfromBigEasy would be writing about actually riding plentiful urban rail, instead of pleading for the building of it.

Ancient detritus can only be burned once to perform useful work.  Is it better to burn fuel to lay asphalt, or build railroads?..... and a million other choices.  Repeated induced energy crunches is the best way to alert the masses and dissolve Denial, and CONSERVE WHAT IS LEFT.  Little doses of pain are much better than letting TSHTF at full-force.

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

I've just read the Palast article and the piece posted at the energybulletin.

It may be true but I don't know. Keeping Iraqi oil off the market to keep spare capacity low to keep oil prices high. Therefore, the oil companies and the Saudis benefit as does every other oil producer. Especially compelling is the theory that the Saudis have become poorer over the years and have a disenfranchised population. The view is that with high oil prices, standard of living can now be increased there making radical Wahabi revolt less likely.

This is one of the more "far out" theories I've read. I am going to have to think about this one. But I'll tell--I don't dismiss out of hand this kind of stuff anymore. The world is getting weirder and weirder and making sense of it is getting harder and harder. This may be post-worthy.

When I read the Palast article a couple of days ago, my reaction was that the gross profiteering of the oil majors was helping to convince people that the whole PO concept is wrong, and that it's all a scam.  It is possible that that's the motivation, but I doubt it.  From what I can see, it was all laid out pretty clearly in the PNAC document, and it's following along straight and true.
Hello Twilight,

So let's turn the tables on the Neocons!  Recall the Fortune article on R. Rainwater and his $500 million dollar cash stockpile.  I surmise his future goal is not so much pointless dollar profits [it is all gonna crash anyway postPeak], but sustainable ecosystem survival profits!

His goal with his farm and hired horticulturist, PV eco-tech home, etc, is to optimize his surrounding habitat in natural resources, not detritus dependent infrastructure.  He is probably encouraging his friends to repeat his example, contiguous to his land, so the area can continually sustainably expand the other lifeforms for future harvesting and ease of defending from infiltrators.

Recall the wise EnergyBulletin post that argued that isolated Arks will be hopelessly overrun postPeak, the only answer to this is for people to be induced to create huge biosolar habitats.  Relentlessly decreasing reliance on detritus addiction, relentlessly increasing reliance on PV, wind, tidal, etc; a biosolar addiction to maintain some modernity.

Currently, 99.9% of American addicts do not have the desire, knowledge, or wealth to do the very hard work required in proper biosolar living.  The easy-living leverage afforded by detritus combined with reflexive denial will preclude most people from ever choosing this alternative path until they find themselves and their families hopelessly trapped.

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

Keeping oil off the market to support high prices is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. What is surprising is for one group to do it so that everyone else benefits from the high prices. Normally you would expect everyone to do it.

Why would someone keep oil off the market instead of selling it today? How about, if they think it will be more expensive next year? In that case it's perfectly reasonable to keep some oil off the market today.

In fact not only is this reasonable, it can be shown that it is the economically optimal thing to do in terms of maximizing the total future value of the oil. So we should be happy when this happens. It drives up the price and promotes conservation and development of alternatives.

Amusingly, we see complaints about this in the same thread where others are proposing that we need an energy tax. Some people think prices are artifically too high and others think they need to be made artificially higher. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that people cannot be left free to make their own decisions about what prices to buy and sell at, even though that is the economically optimal solution.

Amusingly, we see complaints about this in the same thread where others are proposing that we need an energy tax. Some people think prices are artifically too high and others think they need to be made artificially higher. The one thing that everyone agrees on is that people cannot be left free to make their own decisions about what prices to buy and sell at, even though that is the economically optimal solution.

That prose is pretty ripe.  Everyone agrees that people cannot be left free to make their own decisions about what prices to buy and sell at?

Actually I'm sure that is false.

Well, sure Lou, you're right here. But keeping oil off the market should have the usual decreased demand response which should lower prices, not raise them -- Economics 101. So a proper balance must be maintained to keep sufficient oil on the market but not kill the Golden Goose. This is the Saudi policy.

The Palast theory says that the US invaded Iraq to prevent Hussein from flooding the market--which he was not in a position to do in any case due to lack of investment, poor maintenance & damage that had occurred during the sanctions years, the war with Iran, etc.

I'm sorry, but all of this is making less and less sense to me. Only if oil consumption is completely inelastic would it make sense to deliberately withhold oil from the market and arrange policies to do so. Thus demand would not be significantly affected and prices would stay high. But of course there has to be a tipping point when it becomes too expensive to do energy-intensive business or travel and so-called "demand destruction" occurs.

So, this question appears quite complicated to me and I can't see what's really going on. No chrystal ball here. And anyway, what I believe is that Peak Oil and possible daily production rates are driving available supply, not political or business policy. This would include geopolitical "above the ground" stuff like in Nigeria.

So, really, what are you getting at?

I remember last winter it appeared there was some demand destruction going on with oil was mid-$60s, but I'm not sure.  

Personally, I don't think we've came close to demand destruction, and I really wouldn't be surprised if there was no demand destrcution were it to go up to $4/gal.  You forget that America's second biggest addiction is credit, and the gas companies love handing those things out like candy.  People need gas, because they're far too successful to be forced to take public transportation, only poor people ride buses. ;-D

> Only the poor ride public transportation.

Our local billionaire, before his death a year+ ago, would often take unair-conditioned, loud, "bumpy" public transportation in a vehicle older than he was (built 1923/24).

He rode our beloved St. Charles streetcar line. (One Shell Square, 51 stories, was built between the tracks with steps for waiting for the streetcar in the afternoon).

Our local half billionaire did as well till his retirement.

There is a "class" issue with rail vs. bus.  The reasons have been debated in other forums extensively, but it exists.

People will build "Transit Orientated Development" (the other TOD) around rail stations (see One Shell Square, Dallas, etc.) but never around bus stations.

"People will build "Transit Orientated Development" (the other TOD) around rail stations (see One Shell Square, Dallas, etc.) but never around bus stations"

Yep.  I take the light rail to work downtown, but I would drive rather than take the bus.  It is (a little) a class thing, but the most important difference is, when you are in a bus, you are still stuck in traffic.  On the light rail, you know you will get to where you are going.

I said Lou when I was actually responding to you, Halfin. My apologies.
Your heart is in the right place. Unfortunately, you have confused "quantity demanded" with "demand."

Keeping oil off the market does nothing to the demand curve. What it does is shift the supply curve downward and to the left. Thus quantity demanded is reduced as prices rise.

Economics 101, yes. I taught that course more than 100 times, and I was voted best teacher by the student body--but fewer than half of my students learned to distinguish "demand" from "quantity demanded."

To look on the bright side, some of them did learn and have gone on to become engineers, biophysicists, doctors, and teachers.

You win some, you lose some.

I believe that when I said "demand", I meant "quantity demanded". This is not the sort of distinction I would normally make, not being an economist. And I believe this is the assumed normal usage of the word here at TOD. Now, as I understand it, "demand" itself is not affected by reduced supply, it just results in a new equilibrium price.

I have just read this page Supply and Demand to help myself understand your distinction. However if global "demand" goes up, as it has been, and supply goes down, there is a new equilibrium price at some unknown "equilibrium quantity" according to my source shifting the equilibrium point upward and to the right.

The equilibrium point is the price: It will go up as supply decreases and as demand increases. Whether it moves to the left or the right is indeterminate, because we do not know whether in the short-run demand or supply factors will dominate.

In the long-run, one of the few things of which we can be certain is that fossil fuels will become more costly to produce, and hence (almost regardless of technological advances) the supply curve for fossil fuels will shift to the left over time.

There is this core of truth in economics: At sufficiently high prices for fossil fuels, people will be forced to conserve and to find substitutes.

This process of change will be painful, may be extremely disruptive, but it will happen. In most (not all) cases, rationing by price is more efficient and more effective at achieving needed changes than are other approaches.

Clearly. economics is not the only nor always the best approach to understanding Peak Oil, but one should not underestimate its power because of some fools who happen to have degrees in that discipline.

Also, doing some self-editing
But keeping oil off the market should have the usual decreased [quantity demanded] response which should lower prices, not raise them....
Only if oil consumption is completely inelastic would it make sense to deliberately withhold oil from the market and arrange policies to do so. Thus demand [quantity demanded] would not be significantly affected and prices would stay high.
I actually should have said "prices would go up".

From the Peak Oil view, daily supply is now constrained and can not go up much which thus puts a ceiling on daily consumption.

But, how about you chime in and tell us what's going on? Predictions about prices? Etc.

To clarify some confusing points here:

Economists draw supply/demand curves with the X (horizontal) axis being the price and the Y (vertical) access being quantity (barrels of oil, or whatever). People can not afford to buy as much when things get more expensive, so the demand curve slopes downward to the right. Suppliers are eager to produce more as their products get more valuable, so the supply curve slopes upward to the right.

Increasing demand moves the downward-sloping demand curve up; reducing supply moves the upward-sloping supply curve down. The effect of both of these, as Dave asks about, will definitely be to move their intersection, the point at which supply equals demand, to the right, which means that it gets more expensive. Whether the quantity will increase or decrease is indeterminate and depends on which factor is stronger. But both of these will tend to make oil more expensive, and in conjunction the impact will be even greater.

And going back to Dave's earlier question, if you reduce supply of course the price is going to go up. If demand doesn't change, then quantity demanded (and supplied) will go down. But this does not represent a drop in demand and it will not cause a drop in price. The price will still be higher than it was before; quantity demanded and supplied will be less, but in the economic sense the demand curve has remained the same. That's what happens when something causes supply to be reduced.

It not entirely clear when this supposedly secret document was made, so I may be off here.  I think the conclusions in the Palast article are a bit dated or outright wrong at the present.

There was an expectation that prior to 2003 that Iraq's production could be easily ramped up to about a 6 million level after a year or two or investment by US companies.  I'm not sure that was a good assumption to be made but it is what they thought.

It was also put forth by the GWB administration that the Iraqii occupation would be paid by oil revenues only.  But if there is no oil, there are no revenues.  The possible $1 trillion cost in this decade of the Iraqii occupation will go down as one of the worst blunders in military history.  It just takes time for people to accept the awful truth.  But meanwhile I guess there will all sorts of historical revisionisms such as this.  


Why doesn't anybody here talk about Nigeria?

Ongoing Unrest in Nigeria's Delta State Has Slashed Oil Production There by 26 Percent. In 2005 the CIA ranked Nigeria as the world's 12th largest oil producer, pumping 2,451,000 barrels per day and with estimated reserves of 25 billion barrels. ... Last weekend an explosion on the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline, owned by Italian multinational Nigeria Agip Oil Company, reduced the country's export capacity by 631,000 barrels a day.

26% is the highest estimate of shut-in Nigerian oil I've seen quoted.

Also the "12th largest oil producer" shows up as "8th largest" elsewhere

Nigeria: Militant attack leaves soldierd (sic) dead ... Nigeria ranks eighth amongst the world's oil producing countries. ...

I'm sympathetic to what you're saying. The occasional reference is made in a post or comment but there's not much discussion here at TOD or even on the major news services. Surely US imports are being affected by the MEND insurgency there but I can find little information about it.

There are new disruptions going on there daily and more and more of Nigeria's production is shut-in due to the sabotage. Use the Google search box to search TOD for references to Nigera. There's Nigeria Militants Report Clash, Vow More Oil Worker Kidnappings from Bloomberg and few other stories (from Google news). But not much and not in proportion to the seriousness of the situation there. Africa tends to get the shortend of the stick as far as reporting goes.

And Big oil and the troubled waters of the Niger Delta. Also,
"If Nigeria were to become a failed state, it could drag down a large part of the West African region."
Which means also Angola and the other Gulf of Guinea states where much of our new supply is supposed to come from. Again, I am mystified as to why this doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Yes Dave, Africa gets the short end of the stick with reporting. Nigeria itself is, off course, a dangerous place for Westerners and/or journalists. Many, many more African countries are. Many with violent conflicts. Many other sorts of crises.

I happen to believe Africa gives a lesson in early stages of die off.

Africa is huge, and many places also flourish, but viewing the continent as a whole with geographic eyes there is little hope for the near or medium term future.

Hello BabyPeanut,

I have posted for approx. two years about the problems in Africa in the Yahoo: AlasBabylon forum.  I think many TODers could draw conclusions about what is happening there will eventually happen here if we don't jumpstart wholesale mitigation plans as suggested in Hirsh's SAIC report.  Recall M. Simmons recent video interview on CNN's 'We were Warned':  "We should be helping China move to a different mode of living instead of emulating our lifestyle", or words to that effect.  We should be doing the same throughout Africa.

My speculative proposal of jumpstarting biosolar habitats could yield significant breakthroughs, that if transferred to Africa could help prevent the violence.

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


in response to

Too serious questions. Sorry, my English isn't so fluent to answer in detail.
So shortly:

The non BMW driving crowd in Russia is not so poor actually. The cellphone services penetration is around 90%.  In February 2000 I was paying my workers $231 a month, in February 2006 the average monthly wage in my company was $1013 (and notice, the utilities are still very cheap - around $50 a month for the average apartment). So the crowd (as it seems from the window of my BMW :))  is dumb and happy (as you call it). Though there are huge regional inequalities, especially in some non-Russian ethnic republics.
No, I don't think Russia is going to emulate the US. We are too different peoples.

Yes, I feel that the tactical (not strategic) alliance with China is generally accepted in the decision-making circles. The projected oil pipeline to China is just a carrot in bilateral talks. Though Russia indeed needs the eastern routes to be able to redirect the oil and ng exports from the west to the east and vice versa.

Yes, I think Kremlin counts oil is a weapon. As I have said earlier Russia is flooded with money so it doesn't make sense to receive a few more tens of billions of dollars. Today the situation is such that Russia could do well without Europe but some European countries without Russia couldn't.

Yes, I think Kremlin is well aware that the natural resources are not infinite and yes, I think the government will restrict export when the production starts to decline. No, neither I nor (I feel) Kremlin are concerned by the dire fate of the western or eastern consumers. The security of the foreign consumers is not Russian business.

And the last. When you've got enough bread and butter you need "The Ages of Empires" to make yourself happy.

So The New Big Game begins.


 Your English is positively brilliant in comparison to my Russian. Thanks for responding.

 Over on this side of the world everyone chuckles over how "we" won the cold war. As the future unfolds I think it will be you and your fellows who will have the last laugh.

 The fact you are awash in dollars and do not want more is a situation I suspect is being repeated in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. I think my friends to the south are in for a rude awakening when they discover no one wants to hold USD.

 In Age of Empires how many points do you get for learning to print money?


Oil and natural gas are peaking? Good.

Oil and natural gas are fundamental to our lives now because they are cheap and easy to use. Soon that will no longer apply, and we will have the opportunity to move to other things. For every good or service in the market today that uses these fossil fuels there is a replacement waiting to take their places. These replacements vary from country to country but here are the ones in the country I know best, the USA:

Plastics and Synthetic fibers

Natureworks LLC is already producing 126,000 tons of 100% corn-based plastic in Blair, Nebraska. Natureworks LLC started as a Cargill-Dow joint venture before Cargill bought Dow out. Production started in 1997, before the price of oil started to spike and now it is even more profitable. The plastic can be molded into cups, plates, forks etc. and has the added benefit of degrading completely in compost in 45 days. Another division of the company turns the plastic into clothes, pillows, mattresses etc. Other companies like ADM are following suit. This is a new technology but just think about the fact it already competes with normal plastic and synthetic fibers without the decades of R+D investment that fossil fuel-based plastic and synthetics has had.

Vehicle Fuel

Ethanol works as a fuel mixed with gas in all car engines at a level of 10-20% and for some engines at a level of 85%. The only added equipment for the 85%-capable engine is a fuel sensor and different fuel lines and gaskets. These costs less than $200. Ethanol already displaces ~3% of gas in the US but this can easily double every few years ( In the US, we don't have to displace 100% of our gas right away anyway. We are still one of the world's largest oil producers, we just need to match production decline. You say it is heavily subsidized? So are oil and gas, the difference is ethanol is getting cheaper to make and oil and gas are getting more expensive. You say that oil is necessary to make the corn to make the ethanol? Well why not use grass ( or willow ( that don't need fertilizer. Or make the fertilizer from coal (

Speaking of coal, in North America there is an estimated 300 years worth (60% of the world's supply) of coal to make diesel using the Fischer-Tropsch process. Even without investing the huge amounts of R+D resources that the petroleum industry has done over the years, 1 ton of coal can produce 1.5 barrels of diesel at a cost of less than $1/gallon.

Electricity and heat

Coal and nuclear already produce most electricity in the US so this is not a problem. Even so, it is interesting to see that solar is booming and wind produces electricity at less than 4 cents a kilowatt hour. If they receive the same R+D that coal and nuclear have received these may be significant additive sources of energy in the future.

Is the peaking of oil and natural gas production a crisis or an opportunity?

Many of the current alternative technologies such as wind, solar, fuel cells/hydrogen, methane gas, coal liquification etc. are profitable in niche markets without the massive investment that oil and natural gas has received. In the days of steamships, sailboats and the horse and buggy, oil and the engines that burned them were considered alternative. Replacing these now-dominant fuels will usher in a new era of investment, low unemployment, innovation, environmental stewardship and energy security.

  I like fischer-tropsch but the real problem there is the enviornmental impact of continual CO2 production.  Besides coal would be a nice feedstock for chemical production lasting several hundred years.  To waste it as fuel seems wrong.  I am irritated by those who say there is no hope but agree america needs a culture change on energy use.  What I'm saying is instead of developing sustainable energy while utilizing the F-T coal method we would probably spend all our money at the candy store and have a Peak coal Blog in three hundred years. I think stewardship of the last big fossil fuel would be a better path.  I agree though with your idea that this could (large public works project) signifigantly lower unenployment and provide a growth opportunity.
You will not be getting your plastics from corn or other food crops. That is ridiculous. Because something can be done does not mean it will be done. How are we going to shift all of our energy needs to corn and coal? Quit eating? Maybe we can produce a huge amount of synfuel with coal. Why not? The Nazis did it. But then we will be at least quadrupling the use of coal to make the fuel, and the feedstock formerly derived from oil. And, of course, natural gas is running out. The electrical plants will need to burn coal or nuclear. If coal, then there is an additional burden on coal. That 300 year supply of coal suddenly becomes a thirty year supply and as a bonus we get to choke the planet with carbon, mercury and arsenic.


I guess I should never say never. The one thing the elites do not care about is our health, our environment, or our country. But one thing is for sure, there will always be a few monkeys on the lower rungs who think they will get to climb up into the penthouse with the super rich if they collaborate and screw the poor, the environment, and the country. So, yeah, we will probably be all driving synfuel cars, wearing the latest gas masks with designer logos and waiting for the next brilliant idea to patch up the crappy mess we have managed to screw ourselves into and the coming peak coal.

Such smart monkeys.

At least Dr. Bartlett taught me that when anyone says "___year supply,"  I must immediately think, "at what rate of consumption..."
Hey Cherenkov,
Give me a break.
Do you sit in dark rooms and cry all the time?
I suppose you would have me bend reality to make myself happy and others happy.

Hey Keithster, (was that what you called yourself in high school?)

Weeee!!! We can keep growing ad infinitum. Weeeee!!!

Pollution is yummy!! Weeee!!!!

The rate of coal use will not go up if we use more!!! Weeee!!!

Sorry. Guess I can't act like the village idiot like you.

People who point out inconvenient truths are often villified.

It reminds me of high school when the jocks and thugs would beat up the smart kids for, well, being smart.

Not going to happen now, thug. Your high school tactics will not work with me.

I am a little confused today (perhaps more than as usual) but could somebody explain to me the difference between the US Marine Corps of 2006 and the Das Reich Division of the Waffen SS of 1944?

I know this is a blogsite about peak oil, but since oil and blood now seem inextricably linked in Iraq, I think it is now quite pertinant.

In the Iraqi town of Abu Sifa, Women and Children were executed By American Forces. Herded into a room, they were machine gunned to death. Other , similar instances have also finally surfaced. Reports of blind rage and rampaging USMC are slowly leaking out

Can somebody please explain the difference between this (and say) the Das Reich Massacre at Oradur sur Glain on June 10th 1944?
It is here that French civilians were massacred, mostly because the DS - SS were unable to find the Maquisards who shot up the DS-SS column as it moved north to Normandy and so the frustrated DS-SS took it out on the nearest town.

To quote from one of the bereaved of Abu Sifa: '' The American forces gathered family members in one room and executed 11 people''.

All sounds depressingly familiar to students of European History. Though I have no doubt it won't make FOX or CNN.

And once you were regarded as the ''last , best hope''...

Please enlighten me.

The SS was the working end of a tool designed to murder and ENTIRE race and worked actively to do so.

The USMC save these isolated alleged occurences are an elite group of soldiers.  I was Army and I tell you the joint operations I conducted with Marines were impressive.

How many positive things are done every day. How many children vaccinated. How many schools have been built.

To quote from one of the bereaved of Abu Sifa: '' The American forces gathered family members in one room and executed 11 people''.

Lets see some documentation.  Pictures of bodies. American .223 rounds extracted.  You dishoner yourself and any antiwar cause proliferating such statements.

Ask Nicholas Berg about attrocities.

''The SS was the working end of a tool designed to murder and ENTIRE race and worked actively to do so.''

And your point is?

An SAS tropper recently refused to return to active duty since he was appalled at the behaviour of Americans towards Iraqis. He said 'they treat them as untermenschen'.

He was given an honourable discharge.

Sources re the Massacres: Sunday Times, Time Magazine,
Knight Ridder.

It will all come out in the wash as they say.

And no sir, I dont dishonour myself. The United States of America dishonours itself daily and has done since the start of this war:  Gitmo, Abu Ghareib, Extraordinary rendition.

Are these the same people who landed at Omaha Beach?
I dont think so. And you know what? I think those boys would be revolted by your nations current behavior.

You really have no clue as to just how much your once brilliant beacon of hope is now regarded as degenerate and loathsome.

And this is the real loss. The one nation that offered true hope to humanity  (by ideal and example) is now nothing more than yet another money- grubbing empire.

How many schools built? - Less than you blew up
How many kids vaccinated? - Less than you starved over 10 years

> How many kids vaccinated? - Less than you starved over 10 years

Less then Saddam starved, he could have used the oil-for-food program money to buy food.

So Saddam was a tyrant who starved his own people?


What we dont like is that USMC/US Gov behaving in the SAME WAY!

Why? After what you did in 1944, (to the eternal thanks of Western Europe) do you think you can get away with this shit?

Your equivocation does not justify what the USMC and US Gov is allowing in Iraq. Replacing one murdering bastard with people who kill unarmed non-combatants does not make it ok. It is not a numbers game.

You completely miss my point: Once upon a time the USA was universally admired and respected. There are streets in Europe named after Eisenhower, Kennedy, Patton, Middleton.

You wont even get a dirt track named after Bush.

Yours in despair.

As I said before, you have to give George Bush credit for telling us the truth.  He said he was a "Uniter not a divider."  He has succeeded in uniting the world against us.    We just didn't understand what he meant.  

I am reminded of a recent cartoon:  a woman is at a travel agent's office, and she wants to travel abroad.  She asked the travel agent to send her to the country that was "least mad at us."  

BTW, I advise everyone to read "Cobra II."  

From Amazon:

Book Description
Informed by unparalleled access to still-secret documents, interviews with top field commanders, and a review of the military's own internal after-action reports, Cobra II is the definitive chronicle of America's invasion and occupation of Iraq--a conflict that could not be lost but one that the United States failed to win decisively. From the Pentagon to the White House to the American command centers in the field, the book reveals the inside story of how the war was actually planned and fought. Drawing on classified United States government intelligence, it also provides a unique account of how Saddam Hussein and his high command developed and prosecuted their war strategy.

Written by Michael R. Gordon, the chief military correspondent for The New York Times, who spent the war with the Allied land command, and Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and former director of the National Security Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Cobra II traces the interactions among the generals, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush. It dramatically reconstructs the principal battles from interviews with those who fought them, providing reliable accounts of the clashes waged by conventional and Special Operations forces. It documents with precision the failures of American intelligence and the mistakes in administering postwar Iraq.

Unimpeachably sourced, Cobra II describes how the American rush to Baghdad provided the opportunity for the virulent insurgency that followed. The brutal aftermath in Iraq was not inevitable and was a surprise to the generals on both sides; Cobra II provides the first authoritative account as to why. It is a book of enduring importance and incisive analysis--a comprehensive account of the most reported yet least understood war in American history.

The current situation in Iraq reminds me profoundly of Philip Caputo's excellent book on Vietnam, "A Rumor of War."    Caputo went to war as a gung ho Marine.  He describes his gradual realization that the war was tragic waste of lives on both sides.   He also descries the pointless patrols where they go out and "pacify" a village, only to come back and have to do it all over again a week or two later.  

He also describes the morally ambiguous situations that the soldiers and Marines were placed, with no clear objective, no clear enemy and no end in sight.  The goal, in both cases, then and now, is to try to avoid getting killed and to try to keep your buddies from getting killed.  The true fault for mistakes made by soldiers and Marines in the heat of battle should be laid at the feet of the civilians--Bush; Cheney and Rumsfeld, et al, now--Johnson & McNamara in Vietnam.

A customer review of Cobra II on Amazon:

This is a profoundly sad story of brave, resourceful soldiers led, with exceptions, by some of the best commanders America has, but directed by a clutch of supremely incompetent civilians. This is an important book for persons concerned about the Middle East and America's leadership in the world.

Douglas Wilson

You really have no clue as to just how much your once brilliant beacon of hope is now regarded as degenerate and loathsome.

    With few exceptions, I do not think the American people understand this point at all. They are as much in denial on this as most of the population is on PO.

    There is a tectonic shift taking place with regard to America's place in the world and the Americans are blind to it. It will greatly narrow their range of response to PO and magnify, not ameliorate, thier experience of the problem.

There is no valid comparison between the SS and the USMC.

Attrocities occur on both sides of every war, again any isolated (ALLEGED UNDOCUMENTED) actions of a few is not comparable to ushering three generations of a family into a gas chamber.  To shaving the heads of 10,000 prisoners to make sweaters for U-boat sailors before killing them and robbing their mouths of gold teeth.  Go watch Schindlers List and tell me the USMC has 1/1000th of what the Germans did.

How many noncombatents have been beheaded after torture and humiliation ON CAMERA proof with claimed responsibility.

I have stated before I am against this occupation, but your ridiculous statements would have gotten you whisked away in Nazi Germany.  I am glad there are fools like you.  The watchdog aspect keeps Big Government straight. I support your right to free speech.  You are still an Idiot.

Part of my family took part in Shindlers list
Not the movie, the real thing.
Then you of all people should know the Holocaust the jewish people endured was a wholesale slaughter.  Discounting whether or not it is achievable we are trying to free Iraq.  If journalist were so imbedded in the Military in WWII more american attrocites would have been documented.  This is a highly visible highly covered war.  My grandfather walked to Auschwitz.  His unit got there 2 days after the first allied forces. He gave an elderly woman a ration and it killed her.  

Are there incidents of individual soldiers making mistakes. Yes.
On the otherside is it policy to kill any Jew, Christian, or Westerner. (note other-side=terrorist, not Iraqi)

This is a clash of ideologies. The terrorist are not Iraqis...they are dejected youth from all walks of muslim life.  Iraqis for the most part want to move on with the future.  I see their children in pictures sent by my cousin smiling eating chocalate bars (I have an almost identical on of my Gramps and a french girl).  I see pictures of inked fingers raised with national pride.

What if counterculture had badmouthed the US Military into pulling out before D-Day would you be here?

I am a trifle nervous about venturing into this emotive and explosive discussion, but here goes.

Members of my family have been soldiers for a long time. They have done quite a lot killing and fighting, too much in my opinion.

During the last two great wars they were involved in, WW1 and WW2, they fought on opposite sides, both times! There wasn't much ideology involved I'm sure. I don't even think they knew what the world meant. It was more a question of where they were born, where the borders ran and what their friends were doing.

In WW2 I had an German uncle in the Luftwaffe. A polish uncle who was supposedly in the S.S. Another uncle in the Red Army. A father fighting with the British. A grandfather in the British Army in India. It was a strange blend indeed!

The guy in the S.S. didn't have anything in particular against Jews or gypsies. He was just unlucky, to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time and he looked like an Arian God. He disappeared somewhere in the Ukraine and never came home. He wouldn't have recognised the place anyway as it was leterally levelled to the ground in a Nazi reprisal.

My grandmother and her two young daughters were found in a ditch beside the cart they used to drag around from farm to farm and hiding place to hinding place. They had a route and sold food and traded with Jews who were on the run or gone to ground. One day they just got unlucky. Ukrainian irregulars retreating with the German army killed them, so it was said.

Why am I writing this? Well, wars are dirty, nasty things and seldom easy to understand. They can also be very complicated not very rational. Young men who start out one way can change into something else quite quickly. This isn't because they are evil or monsters. Circumstances have a habit of playing nasty tricks on us. Wars are brutal and they brutalise us all, especially soldiers at the sharp end of the conflict.

Comparing the Marines to the waffen S.S. is hardcore stuff. It's shocking. Fighting against partisans is very wet work. Guerilla warfare is bad too. Soldiers get tired, they get scared, they see their friends cut in half and they get angry. If they can't get the enemy, often, they get the next best thing, the enemy's family or friends or just the ones who look like they might one day become the enemy, or who are unlucky like my grandmother and her daughters.

Atrocities and warfare go hand in hand. Historically they always have and they always will. I'm not in the least bit surprised that these stories about U.S. troops deliberately killing unarmed civilians in Iraq are coming out. I was just waiting for it to happen, given the nature of the war they are involved in. One of the reasons I was opposed to this Iraq war was precisely because I didn't want to see ordinary young Americans turning into monsters and killing women and children.

Many of these stories sound credible, there are bodies with holes in them, there are photographs, there are witnesses. The Iraq war is not a pretty war. It is very destructive and brutal and it is getting worse not better. Not every S.S. killed Jews and liked it. The German army was a big, complicated beast and the Eastern front was an ugly war. Not all U.S. troops kill civilians because they want to or like it. But civilians in enormous numbers are being killed in Iraq, that much is clear.

I'm not attacking anyone here. The soldiers have been put in a rotten position, in a rotten war for oil. But I am attacking the war and what it inevitably does to people. Unfortunately I fear these stories are going to come back again and again, and some of them are going to be true.

Again, intriguing post.  

I'm not sure if you saw my response on the other thread, but I would like you to shoot me an email.


Its the idiot here!(I will change my monicker forethwith)

As far as this dialogue goes:

  1. It does not matter how many Iraqis Saddam murdered
  2. It does no matter how many Jews/Slavs/Gypsies/etc Hitler murdered.( He got about 70 of ours, and uncle Joe got 2 at Katyn)

Comparing who was most/least nasty to humanity and quoting numbers is not the point.


You just dont fookin get it do you?

Whatever the USA has done in times past (eg help save western europe)she is now losing all credit.

Can you imagine a world where such an icon as the USMC is so tainted?

You are supposed to be better than your enemies. Once you were.

If you are not, then whats the point?

Dear Muddlogger,
   You did not answer my question...would you be here (earth) if USMC did not take Europe.

US soldiers are tried in court for breaking ROE.  Fair trials a novel concept we are trying to gift to Iraq.

It does matter this "numbers game".

You obviously have no experience in war.  I found a 9month old in the Balkans with a nail through his mouth to the wall, parents forced to watch then executed.

I saw the bodies of 2 french tourists in Columbia who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

War is hell.

Don't write any more about makes you look stupid when you use words you don't understand.

At the end of the day:

We are talking about the USMC in Iraq and the possibility that they are committing war crimes on non-combatants.

I really do hope it is not true. I hope its not true because it will just re-affirm what a lot of the world thinks at present. If it is true then that will be a sad day, not just for the USA, but for the rest of the world.
It will be a sad day for all those who one day wish to hear chopper blades announcing that civilisation/protection/food/medicine is arriving

If the USA (of all the peoples on the earth) cannot lead moral behaviour then who can?

My point is this: In a situation like Iraq, you cannot be less than squeaky-clean.

You promoted yourselves as the Boy Scouts of the world.
Now you have to live up to that reputation.

You chose this war. It did not force itself upon you. Whether right or wrong does not matter now as much as how the USA conducts itself in the eyes of the world.
How the USMC conducts itself with regard to the Iraqi population will count more with the world than how quickly 'shock and awe' was acheived.

You have awesome ancestors to follow.

Live up to them.

... possibility that they are committing war crimes on non-combatants.

So we've gone from "fact" to "possibility" just like that, huh? You've destroyed your entire argument(if you had one at all) with one word. Try again.

You guys know how to use the web - there is no way that data/evidence of the caliber some are looking for is going to be available.  One may safely continue to believe whatever one wants to.  But there are plenty of reports getting out from serious journalists - and by definition that does not include anything that that starts with "officials say".   Look at the pictures too, if you can stand it.  

I do not equate the US forces to the SS, but then that's an unfortunate distraction.  What does it matter how much worse their atrocities were than ours - it excuses nothing.  Same goes for the cretins that are beheading civilians, blowing up markets, etc. - that they are barbaric does not excuse blasting cars at checkpoints, firing on ambulances, dropping bombs on houses in crowded civilian areas, firing white phosphorus into areas where civilians are known to be, the massive use of DU, etc.

But none of this was a surprise - it's what you expect when you put a bunch of kids with guns into such a situation, with the entire endeavor based on obvious lies and no mission worthy of justifying any of this carnage.  A fish rots from the head.    

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

While the comparison of the USMC to the SS is tragically flawed, the fact that we even have to ask ourselves that question shows the decline of respect for the USA and it's actions.  And that's a shame.  As for USMC, I've never figured out why they let Marines battle insurgency.  Marines are hardened killing machines, and most of them are slightly psycho once they're done with their services.  You'd have to be to do their work.  They should let Army hold Baghdad.  Army, it seems, has a bit more tact.  

"How does it feel to find out we're the Evil Empire?"
-Bill Hicks
I understand what you are saying. All I want is that the dialogue take place at least on the level that you are conducting it. Were are talking about life and death. I just don't believe that more lies and false accusations need to be leveled at anyone. It cheapens what needs to be a serious debate. Yeah, I can look at pictures. I can see and I can see fine.

Let's be serious, though. White Phosphorous means smoke grenade. It's not some diabolical chemical weapon. Most of these issues can be looked at from at least two different points of view. I'm aware of all of them. There are more than two sides to this story and every side has its unique way of spinning whatever it wants to.

Firing off a few paragraphs on Iraq in a blog about oil. I don't know, when it comes down to it, I think there may be too much of it going on lately. Not sure what purpose it serves. No offense to anyone, but I think we may need to change the focus, a little. At least talk about the oil in Iraq, instead of the war. I certainly am not shy about it. I have to hold back, in fact. But let the media do it's job, the soldiers and politicians theirs, and likewise the historians. We can do our job by talking about oil. I'm going to stop now.

Yeah, I try to fight the temptation to get involved in these.  The relationship to oil is there, as that is why we went to Iraq, but the details of how the war is prosecuted have more to do with other things.  And it does not help us much in the effort to understand what makes sense in terms of future energy production, societal changes, that we all face.  Will try to stay on topic more.....

Here you go:

The Sunday Times - World

The Sunday Times March 26, 2006

Iraqis killed by US troops `on rampage'
Hala Jaber and Tony Allen-Mills, New York

Claims of atrocities by soldiers mount

THE villagers of Abu Sifa near the Iraqi town of Balad had become used to the sound of explosions at night as American forces searched the area for suspected insurgents. But one night two weeks ago Issa Harat Khalaf heard a different sound that chilled him to the bone.
Khalaf, a 33-year-old security officer guarding oil pipelines, saw a US helicopter land near his home. American soldiers stormed out of the Chinook and advanced on a house owned by Khalaf's brother Fayez, firing as they went.

Khalaf ran from his own house and hid in a nearby grove of trees. He saw the soldiers enter his brother's home and then heard the sound of women and children screaming.

"Then there was a lot of machinegun fire," he said last week. After that there was the most frightening sound of all -- silence, followed by explosions as the soldiers left the house.

Once the troops were gone, Khalaf and his fellow villagers began a frantic search through the ruins of his brother's home. Abu Sifa was about to join a lengthening list of Iraqi communities claiming to have suffered from American atrocities.

According to Iraqi police, 11 bodies were pulled from the wreckage of the house, among them four women and five children aged between six months and five years. An official police report obtained by a US reporter for Knight Ridder newspapers said: "The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people."

The Abu Sifa deaths on March 15 were first reported last weekend on the day that Time magazine published the results of a 10-week investigation into an incident last November when US marines killed 15 civilians in their homes in the western Iraqi town of Haditha.

The two incidents are being investigated by US authorities, but persistent eyewitness accounts of rampaging attacks by American troops are fuelling human rights activists' concerns that Pentagon commanders are failing to curb military excesses in Iraq.

The Pentagon claims to have investigated at least 600 cases of alleged abuse by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to have disciplined or punished 230 soldiers for improper behaviour. But a study by three New York-based human rights groups, due to be published next month, will claim that most soldiers found guilty of abuse received only "administrative" discipline such as loss of rank or pay, confinement to base or periods of extra duty.

Of the 76 courts martial that the Pentagon is believed to have initiated, only a handful are known to have resulted in jail sentences of more than a year -- notably including the architects of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

Most other cases ended with sentences of two, three or four months. "That's not punishment, and that's the problem," said John Sifton of Human Rights Watch, which is compiling the study with two other groups.

"Our concern is that abuses in the field are not being robustly investigated and prosecuted, and that they are not setting an example with people who cross the line," said Sifton. "There is a clear preference by the military for discipline with administrative and non-judicial punishments instead of courts martial. That sends the message that you can commit abuse and get away with it."

Yet the evidence from Haditha and Abu Sifa last week suggested that the Pentagon is finding it increasingly difficult to dismiss allegations of violent excesses as propaganda by terrorist sympathisers.

It was on November 19 last year that a US marine armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb that killed a 20-year-old lance-corporal. According to a marine communiqué issued the next day, the blast also killed 15 Iraqi civilians and was followed by an attack on the US convoy in which eight insurgents were killed.

An investigation by Time established that the civilians had not been killed by the roadside bomb, but were shot in their homes after the marines rampaged through Haditha. Among the dead were seven women and three children.

Well its another dawn and another working day.

Now remember: You need to get through another 20 million bbls by midnight. Go to it Amerikka, you know you can if you really try.

I appreciate you posting this. It deserves full comment. I don't have the time right now to devote to it. I do have a number of issues with the story, however. I will do my best to respond by tonight.
I am proud to count a number of U.S. Marines as my friends. But if memory serves, most of them were occupied in the Pacific, taking horrendous casualties in amphibious assaults during World War II.

To the best of my recollection, the defeat of Germany owed a great deal to the geniuses at Bletchley, Winston Churchill, the R.A.F., the Royal Navy, the Desert Rats, the magificent Soviet Army, and also the insane Soviet air force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, a number of Poles who fought with incredible bravery, the Yugoslave partisans, the partisans of Vila, and many others--but not especially to the U.S. Marines, who, IMO are the finest group of fighting men ever assembled in the history of the universe.

Don you are correct I was using USMC in place of US Military.  Angry typing you understand.


Nah... we were never really that good.  We just use to be alot better at convincing other countries we were.
Well, when all is said and done, its Mothers Day.

So just be the boy that your Mother just wanted you to be.

Dude, you made my heart literally skip about four beats.  I thought I had forgotten about it.  And then I realized that the UK has a different Mother's Day then the US.

Evil bastard.

No, seriously though.  The USA has a long history of claiming moral superiority where it doesn't have the right to do so.  Our forays into Imperialism with the Phillipines are absolutely barbaric.  That's why I cannot stand when stupid people start rattling off a bunch of American exceptionalism bullshit.  We're not a superior moral force in the world.  We've committed genocide, participated in several hostile wars, systematically kept minorities down, and pillaged all over the world to satisfy our intense greed for wealth.  From pretty much our beginning we've claimed domininion over all of North and South America as our sphere of influence, without actually having done anything to earn this, and there has been dozens of times we've abused these same countries without being provoked, just because we could or we needed to (Nicaragua, maybe?).  And while this is all horrible, and I always try to work for pro-peace candidates, it doesn't really bother me too much.  The plain fact is that this kind of action is common to hegemonic countries.  So while it's not excusable, it doesn't keep me up sick at night, as long as I remember China, England, France, and the Netherlands have all acted the same way during their turns at the mound.  The source of anti-Americanism is not our actions, those just provide ammunition.  The real source is American exceptionalism.


 This issue was also argued here:

 Same poster, same outcome. The SS also had their apologists.


You should read Robert Kaplan's piece on Iraq in this month's Atlantic Monthly, you might learn something. Personally, I'm beginning to find alot of this unsubstantiated America-hating tedious. Remind me again how many people Saddam had executed during his 30 years in power, for the sake of "stability." Americans executing women and children. Yeah, OK, buddy. Again, I challenge you to read Kaplan's piece. You will be embarrassed by your comments after you have.


Don't even bother until he sources a single word of his claims. It's always the same BS. "He said," and,"reports." The false Nazi comparison is the oldest ploy in the book and it never fails to belittle the actual victims of the Nazis. Shame on Mudlogger.

  Honestly though conspiracy theorists and those that would make such comparisons do provide the function of setting the bar very high (where it should be) for America.  Any indiscretion by government is scrutinized.  Saddam killed people for scrutinizing him I think some other guy did to...Oh yeah HITLER. I was wrong there is a comparison.
Thanks for the post. Thought I was all alone there.


 The problem is that the USAuses relatively untrained troops in an IW (Irregular warfare) situation.

The troops are trained to kill or defeat the enemy. European troops are less kinetic, they have a history of troops being used for political aims, garrison troops and so on. The emphasis of Garrison troops is to keep the peace, to defuse situations.

A recentposting on Truthout explains clearly why the Americans are failing in Iraq.

Colonel Gilles Rouby, of the French infantry summoned up the statements of British Brigadier (General) Nigel Aylwin-Foster, who served in Iraq up until November 2004 under American command and whose testimony was published in the American Army's magazine, Military Review.

Shooting civilians, using napalm or a napalm equivalent, using white phosphorus in 'Shake and Bake', or Artillery on civilian occupied housing does neither assist in winning the war or enhance the reputation of the USA.

Clausevitz's lesson that war is an extension of politics needs to be learnt.

You can 'win' the battle of feluga and kill a few thousand Iraqis (because they KILLED FOUR CONTRACTORS) but you inevitably will lose the war.

The actions of the Americans copy the tactics of the Israilis. There are many other examples where restrained and thinking military force has been used effectively, and created peace and security.

Contrast that where a few British military police were killed. The loss was regretted but accepted, the method of searching Iraqis changed to be more successful, and above all the situation was calmed.

Why does this happen, possibly it is a commentary on North American media. It does not exactly have a World view.

The relevance to Peak Oil is that the terrorists have been strenghened and trained by greater experience in IW. Futher  if there is a backlash to this war in America, then future US governments may be discinclined to use military force in support of our western society if future events make it necessary.

Foreign Nations will remember the suspension of human rights, the torture, the doctrine of pre-emptive strike and act more circumspectly but with less or no trust in the policies and morality of the USA. They will also act with greater determination in their own interests.

All in all it is very sad. The end of part of a dream of enlightenment.

  Great post this is what I am talking about.  We need to pull the white guys out of the Muslim neighborhoods and go after actual targets, ie known terrorists. weapon caches etc with SEALS SAS Rangers Delta what have you.  Work at night and don't harm a single civilian.  Work with ME governments to allow raids on terrorist camps and support an active Hearts and Minds campaign.

So many of my arguments are line-item quoted to make me pro-Iraq war.  I'll say it one last time and promise to never speak of Iraq again. The War on Terror is a good cause. Terrorists are an enemy to Islam (whose beliefs they defile) and to civilized nations everywhere.  Unfortunatly a large portion of oil bearing countries are crawling with them.

Here's a comment in a forum run by a retired US Navy SEAL. It's some of his observations concerning the use of Special Forces in Iraq.  
His comment is from December 2004 after he had spent what appears to be about a year in Iraq working as a private contractor.

Excellent link I concur wholeheartedly.
Try the Sunday Times. Not normally known for stories about Elvis being kidnapped by Aliens.

Funny isnt it? Whenever I see the word 'Herded'in the context of human beings in a news paper or book  , I know that within a paragraph or two, some innocent people are going to get it in the neck.


''they were herded into a church, the doors were locked and grenades tossed in'' ( Orador Sur Glain 06/44)

''they were herded into a barn. They set fire to it and shot all that tried to escape'' (Wormhoudt 05/40)

''they were herded into a room and shot'' (Abu Sifa 03/06)

Stories such as Abu Sifa are coming out and they will not go away. You can say they are young kids under great stress.
You can make as many moral equivocations as you like.
You can say on balance that Iraq is a better place after Saddam. You can say that democracy is being mid-wifed by the USMC , you can say all you like but it will never expunge these words:

''They were herded into a room and shot''.

I wonder why we stopped supporting Saddam when he invaded Kuwait? He was doing a great job of keeping the oil price high by restraining their production, and it got him closer to being able to attack the Iranians again.
I get the feeling that there was more going on than I understand in our policies in the Middle East. It's not that I don't agree with them, it's that I don't even understand them.
This whole question, why did we invade Iraq when Saddam was on our team for so long is hard to understand. I had an uncle involved in construction in Iraq in the seventies. He built hospitals, schools, a lot of infrastructure. Towards the end of the seventies Iraq had the best education system in the Middle East. The best hospitals. A developing higher education system. A high standard of living in other words. Saddam and his party were not universally hated. Sure the Kurds hated him and the Shia, but he had a lot of support from the Sunnies, Iraq traditional elite.

Gosh this sounds like I work for Saddam! That I think Saddam was a great guy! I do not think Saddam was a great humanitarian or democrat. He was a military dictator. This is provocative I know, but Saddam has been demonized out of all proportion to his actual misdeeds in my opinion. Isn't there a pattern observable here? We demonize all the guys we go to war with don't we? Suddenly they all morph into Hitler and their crappy little armies magically turn into the Wermacht legions. If that's true how come we whip them so easily? They can't both be a threat to the world and they role over in a couple of weeks can they? Does all this propaganda add up when/if we really begin to scrutinize it objectively? Personally I think we're being conned over and over again, in order to justify our wars.

Maybe the people who took the decision to go to war don't know either! Historians will spend their entire careers writing about the invasion of Iraq. It's hard because the "facts" don't fit the rhetoric or the justifications given at the time. Vertually nobody believes the reasons that were given at the time. So why did the United States invade Iraq when the official reasons just don't hold water and never did? My guess is, it was mostly about oil and really not much else. I think I'm right in saying this is the concensus most people have around the world. They may be wrong, but that's what most people think.

The tragic thing for me is, I think the longer the war in Iraq goes on and the longer we fight the war on terror in the wrong place with the wrong tactics, the worse the longterm effects will be for the U.S. and that really concerns me. I think these type of wars will pollute and rot the soul of America until we won't even recognize the place anymore.

I have some skin in the game.  Two nephews in Iraq.  One USMC near Falluja, the other Air Force, who has been in various places in Afghanistan and Iraq for a very long time.

My dad was in the USMC before he left to become a right wing Fundamentalist Protestant minister in the USA.

One of my college majors was History, but more than that I've always read widely -- before, during, and after graduating college.

Historically speaking, Saddam was the USA's Son-of-Bitch in Iraq, just as the Shah was in Iran and the House of Saud is in Saudi Arabia.  Who is in charge in Pakistan, again?  The same strategy of placement of brutal proxy dictators has been repeated around the world.

Read Chalmers Johnson's excellent and well-documented work on the most recent development of the American Empire for good background.  "Blowback" and "The Sorrows of Empire" are a must read for background info.

The USMC is a mixed bag just as any military organization is.  However, the notion that abuse is "exceptional" and not systematic and widespread in Iraq is absurd.  The more evidence comes out, the more I am convinced that our military there has been unleashed in a way that none of us would care to know about.

I've not asked my nephews about it -- I've been in touch with my brothers, and of course communications need to be discrete and our hope is that these guys will come home soon and alive and not be ruined by the time they do.

The War in Iraq is brutal and illegal, and is the end-game of many years of policies which were genocida -- or very nearly so -- in Iraq.  Note the writing of those who were in charge of the Oil for Food program and other UN programs who quit in disgust -- not with Iraqis, nut with the US.  Top UN officials have declared that the US war in Iraq is illegal.  Top US officials have noted that torture is acceptable and systematically practised.  The Geneva Convention has been thrown to Hell by the USA long ago.

As I've said, the key is to learn the context of this.  None of it is simple, and simplistic arguments won't achieve anything.  Careful research and careful discussion might.

What do we want?  I want our troops out, but I doubt it will happen ever.  We are building permanent bases for a reason.

Chalmers Johnson makes excellent arguments in his "Sorrows of Empire" that the US is in extreme Imperial overreach.  I think that our (US) President will likely use WMDs to intimidate the world into submission.  We cannot maintain hegemony with conventional weapons and economic clout.

Meanwhile, as Johnson notes, increasing Imperial brutality abroad demands increasing repression at home.  So far the fist of Martial Law is gloved in the US, as it must be.  The Executive Branch signs laws to limit itself and simultaneously issues statements declaring that it will not be bound by those laws.

Americans are kept distracted, duped, and drugged as needed.  This is cheaper and more effective than open oppression.  Open oppression may be needed very little in the "Homeland" until things get pretty bad.  By then the compliant population will be all to happy to see dissenters dissappeared.

God save us from ourselves.  We need to stop sleepwalking.

I really hope that your relatives make it back safely.

The problem is that an outrage such as Abu Sifa makes it all the more difficult for them to get back safely.
It puts them and all American forces even more in harms way.  

This (reportedly) is an extract from the police report:

''4. Coordination Center of Balad

At 230 of 15/3/2006, according to the telegram (report) of the Ishaqi police directorate, American forces used helicopters to drop troops on the house of Faiz Harat Khalaf situated in the Abu Sifa village of the Ishaqi district. The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people, including 5 children, 4 women and 2 men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals (map coordinates 098702).

They were:

Turkiya Muhammed Ali, 75 years

Faiza Harat Khalaf, 30 years

Faiz Harat Khalaf, 28 years

Um Ahmad, 23 years

Sumaya Abdulrazak, 22 years

Aziz Khalil Jarmoot, 22 years

Hawra Harat Khalaf, 5 years

Asma Yousef Maruf, 5 years

Osama Yousef Maruf, 3 years

Aisha Harat Khalaf, 3 years

Husam Harat Khalaf, 6 months


Staff Colonel

Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf

Assistant Chief of the Joint Coordination Center


"Children of Abraham: Death In the Desert" is an excellent flash presentation related to this.

It is available online at:  

Multiply this by the number of prisoners abused in US prisons, and by the number of babies and children killed by the US forces, and you have some idea of the seeds of absolute and undying rage we are sewing in Iraq.

Recall, too, that the people in the Middle East are well aware of who is behind the brutal dictators and governments who have dominated the region for some time.  This is not a new problem.  It is just now bearing fruit.  In order to deal with the fruit of the first terrible deeds, we now plant the seeds of many more and faster-growing problems.

As hegemony wanes, US political leaders may very well decide to use WMDs to render large areas "barren" of opposition, and to intimidate the rest of the world by making an example of how opposition to US hegemony will be treated.

This would be a fool's game ending in apocalypse.  But consider the person in the Oval Office and the state of mind of many "good Christian" Americans.  American Christofascism uses the mythology of the Bible to weave a tale of Good versus Evil.  "They" are all Evil while "we" are all Good.  We will rid the world of Evil-doers through violence. "If you are not with us, you are against us," and that sort of thing. "God is on our side."  "God told me to strike....and I did."  This is the propaganda most important in American politics today.

Combine this with politcal focus on issues of human sexuality and fear-mongering about dark-skinned people over-running the USA, and we have a perfect mix of issues to play upon the prejudices of very many Americans.

This is the fascism that Vice President Wallace (Roosevelt's middle VP, I believe) warned about in an article on the future of fascism in the NYT in 1944.

Thom Hartmann wrote about this here:  

So have we come full circle?  You tell me.

Yes, each alternative energy source has its problems but you all missed a main point of my post. The era of natural gas and petroleum interrupted or delayed the development of all of these. The first oil well was drilled in Pennsylvania over 150 years ago and since then, it has been all fossil fuels all the time. Now that these are running out, massive amounts of research and development will be directed at solar, wind, ethanol, clean coal etc.

We have a chance to do build a new worldwide energy infrastructure but this time we understand the environmental and sustainability requirements.

See, there is the problem.

You think that saying it will be so, makes it so. It's kind of like me saying: I am going to put four thousand people in that Buick Skylark.

Sure, it can be done, but at what cost. If I ignore the very plain physics problem that my proposal entails, then what I say may seem perfectly rational to me. But others might say, "Hey, won't that kill those people? Won't the car burst?"

Then, if I were you, I would attack the person by saying, "What, you sit around crying in the dark all the time?"

If I were reasonable, I would examine their arguments and think, "Hmmm, they are right. If I put four thousand people into that single vehicle, they will die."

Then, being a rationale person, who is tired of the illogical nimrods who populate the planet, I would agree and refine my proposal.

My basic premises are simple. The more we extend the crutch of cheap energy, the more the population will grow (and suffer), the more the planet will suffer, and the less likely that we will have a functioning ecosystem that we can use in a sustainable fashion once we have exhausted the fossil fuels and implemented all of the tech dreams proposed here.

I am not just thinking about the next twenty years. I am thinking about 100 years from now, 200 years, 500 years from now. The seeds we plant now can either be seriously destructive, or they can be helpful.

I say let's think long term and globally and act for the long term locally.

Obviously, there will be a transition. Yes we cannot just turn off the tap of cheap energy. Does that mean we should not transition? Does that mean we should wait till everything has been completely ruined before we transition?

A thinking person will see that there is no technological way out. There are too many constraining factors including: population, arable land, water, global warming, species extinction, war, famine, disease, fascism, and pollution.

If you create a technology that enables the continued growth of the population, you are going to decrease arable land and water. There will be more famine, more war, more pollution, more disease, fewer species, and increased global warming.

Is it doom and gloom? Only for those who intend to continue the technologist's paradigm no matter the cost. Yes, I would doom their dream of talking robot servants and infinite growth. Your dream of continued happy motoring is actually a dream of doom and death. It is the equivalent of speeding up the Titanic in order to water ski. I am against your doom filled scenario.

I am for my scenario of life. Of a planet that is green and sustainable. A planet that is not toxed out. I know that we will not have utopia, there never has been one. My hope is that we will somehow wise up and use the resources we have left to bring population down, decentralize, to form a Manhattan project of nature study where we figure out how to build sustainable villages in whatever environment.

Of course, many will point out in the typical hateful fashion that people who feel threatened often resort to that I am a utopian, that I am a crunchy granola person, a fag, a communist, an anarchist, a Pollyanna, a whatever, but what they won't do is examine the premises of their technological fantasy all the way to its roots and all the way out to its logical conclusion. No. Because their argument is like a religion. It is self-contained logic. Ex. We will build nuclear power stations. Then they leak tritium and strontium. Well, we will fix the leaks. Then the patches leak. We will fix the fixes.

Do you see? As long as you believe that some techno fix will always fix the problem and that all the unintended consequences can have yet another techno fix and that the unintended consequences of the unintended consequence fixes have fixes, you will forever be locked into your circular logic.

I don't anticipate that anyone will agree with me. I have seen, too many times, a geologist standing in the middle of a ruined field grinning from ear to ear at the money he's going to make from his thirty-second to believe that this species has the intelligence or self-control to actually plan ahead for a better future.

Not going to happen.

Oh, well. Now I will go work on the communal farm with friends and laugh at the technos and cry with my friends knowing that the technos have the power and that they will, with great messianic fervor, keep pushing the techno fix even as the planet goes down the toilet.

Cherenkov, I share your dismay at the focus on technological solutions to enable continued energy profligacy. These don't fix the system that is destroying our once green and healthy planet.

I agree with your sentiments.

I was pondering the ethics involved in this hypothetical postPeak scenario.  Assume the whole world was aware of Overshoot & Dieoff.  Every country, except one defiant state, had instituted a voluntary cultural norm of one child per family.  It seems to me, that it is entirely and morally just for these other countries to mutually declare war on this defiant country until their numbers are greatly reduced, or they finally accept the one child policy.

The inverse of this above scenario is to wage violent resource wars since time eternal because there are just too many of us.

It would seem that if this Overshoot & Dieoff FACT could be taught to all:  violence would never be a problem as we would live in a land o'plenty and PEACE.  This lack of simple comprehension and acceptance by the majority of the world just boggles my mind.  Have all the sex you want, just don't procreate!

I recall the recently posted speech by the late, great Isacc Asimov [posted on EnergyBulletin]:

"If the world's population starts getting too low, we just spread the word for people to make more kids.  It is what we do best!".

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


I believe the reason many people do not want to "get" Po is because they are very afraid of a future that's not going to be very pleasant.  I have made the PO pitch to every member of my family and I can tell you that is does scare them, although they won't let on.. Can you imagine trying to accept PO while looking at your children?? What kind of a future does a world with less oil have for our children?? Nobody knows for sure but thinking of one just scares people..

People might be interested to read this, which is a profile of Vinod Khosla in the latest Economist. "Just starting another Sun doesn't do it for me any more" he says - he wants to shift California off oil completely.
 Khosla makes a distinction between corn ethanol and cellulosic ethanol. I believe these are the EROEI calculations he uses here:

Energy Balance (Energy OUT vs. IN)

"Corn" ethanol numbers ~1.2-1.8X

but reality from non-corn ethanol is...

Sugarcane ethanol (Brazil) ~8X

Cellulosic ethanol ~4-8X

Petroleum energy balance at ~0.75

I have located a PDF which may be a version of the Powerpoint presentation mentioned in the Economist profile. It can be found here:

Well, I'm brand spanking new to all of this. I picked up a Fortune magazine  one day and saw that the end of the world was on top of our civilization. The news kind of ruined my butter pecan ice cream. So, I read the articles and went to Matt Savinar's website (yes, I did a name drop) and I emailed him my concerns. Surprisingly, he emailed me back and suggested I post my letter, and his answers, on this website it is:

Me: I'm a 24 year old college graduate (Mechanical
Engineering Technology), just getting out of the "where
I'm going on spring break is the most important thing I will decide this year" mode.


Matt: Ah yes, the good old days. I reminicse myself about the days where figuring out how to piss in the street on
the way home from a party without getting arrested was
my biggest concern of the week.


Me: I just relocated to Houston, Tx. with no
job...yet. Then I happen to stumble across  Fortune
magazine while browsing through a bookstore( if you're
not doing anything of importance-might as well learn
about money. A subject I seriously lack in) and I pass
by the Richard Rainwater Prophecy article and
the websites he checks  out every morning, which led me
to you...


Matt:My guess is you half-wish you hadn't picked up that
issue of Fortune. But you "can't unring the bell" as
they say.


Me: and now, young and stupid, I'm trying to figure out how
much time  I have to, basically, get my shit straight
before the american economy really starts feeling the
blows to the kidneys.  


Matt: I generally refer to it as "the greatest economic
bitchslap of all time." But "taking it in the kidneys"
works too.


Me: I've checked out some of the articles and
preparations mentioned on your  website, but I still
need some advice..if you don't mind.


Matt: Clearing up the debt seems to a generally agreed upon
first step. Obviously, that is easier said than done.

Coming up with a comprehensive long-term plan is next
to impossible given all of the uncertaintly and
X-factors present in our predicament. If you remember
the Fortune article, even R. Rainwater doesn't seem
sure as to what to do. The fact that a guy with $500
million sitting in cold hard cash isn't sure exactly
how to respond to this siuation should tell you
something: nobody does.


Me: You made the statement that each persons preparation depended on age, location, etc., etc.    
Name: Gina  
Location: Houston, Tx.  
Status: Single (Just can't seem to hook them)  
Financial status: Grim. In the north of being $40,000 in debt. Student loans are a double edged sword,let me tell ya!!  
Employment: Very soon. I'm in an Oil
and Gas state and from what I hear the work is piling up on them, thus they need more hands on deck.  

   So, from those pathetic looking stats on myself,
what would be the course of action? I know  #1 would be
to get rid of debt. Can't argue with you there!! But
also, I'm loading up on information and even
 getting The Dummies Guide to Investing.


Matt: "The Coming Economic Collapse" is pretty decent, imho.
Obviously, I sell them so I'm somewhat biased but you
can purchase it pretty much anywhere. "Your Money or
Your life" looks really good, although I've only read

There's a lot of peak oil books on the market these
days, I think Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" would be
worth the price for you. Probably can get a used copy
on Amazon for $10 if you're short on cash. I would not
recommend you read beyond TLE and The Coming Economic
Collapse. Those should be enough to sufficiently flesh
out the situation out for you. Beyond that, you will
run into diminsihing returns. (More anxiety than
productive understanding.) There are other books that
are just as good, but I think TLE would be the most
profitable read for somebody in your shoes. Just my


Me: I don't want to have my eyes wide shut on this subject.
It's time to stop thinking like a kid (bye, bye
neverland) and start thinking like I actually had some
education (for $40,000 I better of !!)      Another big
question of mine is how much time to I have to get  my
act together?


Matt: That's a question pretty much everybody, including
myself, ponders regularly. I've found it's not too
profitable too think about it very much as doing so
only serves to heighten one's anxiety. Try to focus on
something else if you can such as how did Barry Bonds
managed to f. up his life so bad or whatever the
celebrity scandal of the week is.  Michael jackson just
got kicked out of Dubai so I'm sure he'll be back in
the news soon.


Me: The dates when it will get really bad seemed to vary
from 2008 (2 years from now) to 2012 (6 years from
now). Even though I'm routing for the 6 years mark,
what is you thought on the time frame?     I saw on the
blog people talking about eco-villages?? Would you
retire to one of those places, because for a woman who
TRULY adores her concrete metropolis, I can't quite
imagine my self "throwing dirt over my #2" after going
to the bathroom. Can you?


Matt: Not really, I like my amenities as much as anybody.

What you will notice in our "movement" is that people
tend to advocate courses of action which they were
advocating PRIOR to finding out this information. In
other words, people who were into ecovillage living
find out about peak oil and then offer ecovillage
living as the best response. It might be for some,
probably not for others. There are 300 million of us
here in the states. Not more than a handful are going
to be able to move to ecovillages.  People who believed
in densely packed urban cities advocate that. People
who were into agraian rural homesteading advocate that.
People who were into Star Trek prior ot finding out
about Peakk Oil think colonizing space is the solution.
(I shit you not.) I was into fitness and being a
cheapskate and, lo and behold, I advise people to get
themselves in shape and get their finances together.  

Were I in your shoes, I'd probably take the highest
paying job I could find and pay off the debt as my
number one priority. Start exercising if you don't
already and maybe find a relevant hobby. Strive for as
much flexibility as possible as that is always helpful
in times of great change.

You're probably much less screwed than you think as you
have a highly marketable degree in an area where
business is booming. There are lots of folks who rack
up $80,000 in debt for a public relations or
communications degree. And if you're a woman who got
through mech. engineering (a very male-dominated course
of study) you're probably much more resislent and
resourcefull than most folks. If worse comes to worse,
you can always make a living syphoning gasoline.

So there's my letter. Have a Nice Day.

Hello Gina,

Good. A young woman being PO aware. Most people are in other age categories. Mechanical engineering will prove very valuable, so don't worry about that.

Getting out of dept is always good, and Matt(he also posts here, by the way) is right that there are to many factors to correctly predict timing and nature of events. Another advice is keep studying the subject and the evolving events.

Take up sailing with a university sailing club--great lifetime skill to learn, plus you'll meet a lot of shy and single male engineers and physicists and geologists and other interesting guys. O.K., maybe not the most glamorous, but definitely brainy and intersting guys, including probably an number of foreigners.

Also, read widely. Hang out at the Barnes & Nobles stores with a stack of new books (which you need not buy) or haunt the public library and get to know the librarians. They know what is good.

If you have the opportunity to travel, grab it.

You like urban living, hmmm. Take a martial arts class. Fencing is my favorite, but most of them are good. Builds self-confidence and keeps you fit.

Take up serious biking and go for longer and longer rides. Maybe take up being a bike mechanic as a sideline. One of the most interesting people I met recently in England is a former doctor, a woman who dropped out of medicine to become a supremely happy and useful capable master bicycle mechanic.

Or, here is a radical idea: Join the Navy, and let the world see you:-)

Apparently Sailorman you missed the MAJOR point of my letter.

Let me rephrase my earlier statement in the letter. It's not that I have trouble hooking them, it's more like I scare away the boys and the REAL men are no where to be seen!!

I'm not your typical engineer. I don't look like one, dress like one, and especially don't act like one.  These traits many teachers and colleagues pointed out  to me NUMEROUS times. But undoubtedly, it's still GOOD to be ME.

However, thank you for the advice. Eventhough, I am usually QUITE active and extremely social, me joining the Navy has been noted (shrug?) and I will consider the  notion.

Okay I'm done and  no.

But thank you again. It's apparent that you put much thought into the comment.

Thank you. Peace, love and chitlin juice

You are not alone in having trouble in finding intelligent people to talk to of your own age.

I've noticed that often the most interesting, most intelligent and confident women I know scare 99%+ of the men away. It is a sad truth, but I hope not an eternal one, that most men run away from a woman that they perceive to be their intellectual equal or superior.

However, look at the bright side: You wouldn't want to have anything to do with the guys you scare off, because they are basically boring and insecure.

Personally, ever since the second grade, I have made it my policy to hang out with people who were smarter than I was, be they male or female. Of course, I was an extremely weird kid and extreme smartass. Some say I still am;-)
P.S. The smartest people I know are mostly physicists.


The smartest people I know seem to come from all walks of life. You know the best  thing about  being a bartender? The people. You meet the most intriguing people. They all have a story to tell and they all have something to teach you, even  if you don't  necessarily get the lesson right away.

Sorry I snapped at you as well. I'll try to keep my sly remarks minimal.

I like to hang around smart people or even I should say, intelligent people as well. Someone could do the dirtiest job in  the world, but they could be a philosopher or an astronomer, a historian...

I like to stay open minded about the potential of man. I don't see the point in  everyone trying to be ordinary anyways. All it does is hinder everything about ourselves that is extraordinary.

Oh and the smartest person I ever met, and he still holds the title for me, is a guy I met in the 3rd  grade. He is phenomenal...

I've tended bar, cooked for large numbers of people, washed dishes, and worked with sociopathic teenages convicted of homicide. What you learn from people is far more important than what you learn from books, and when the excrement hits the turbine blades, the most important thing for you will be your network of family and friends.

BTW, one especially good thing about fencing as a martial arts sport, from my point of view, is that it is similar to knife fighting, except you do not get bloody. Competitive fencing is almost nothing like what you see in movie swordplay, which is "dramatic fencing," the main point of which is not to accidentally poke out the eye of your fellow actor.

By way of contrast the main point of any martial art is to develop self-discipline, concentration, agility, strength, knowledge and stamina. Also, if you've ever been to, for example, a Tae Kwon Do exhibition, some of the musical routines are almost like ballet, they are so graceful and beautiful. Furthermore, when you get good enough, you can be a master and teach the art to others. If you are more into cooperation than competition, take a good look at Aikido--a couple of the happiest people I know have Aikido as a main focus of their lives.

Oh, and in regard to investing, forget about the "Dummies" book and instead get a copy of "The Intelligent Investor," by Benjamin Graham from the library. First pay off your student loans before you even think of putting anything into stocks. If you get a 401(k) plan or something like that, try to put all you can into an inflation-protected mutual fund, because it is the only alternative that guarantees both your capital and gives you some income.


I have to agree that Aikido is a wonderful martial art.  I've been interested in studying it for some years, but it's one of the more rare forms, so the few dojos that offer it charge more than I could possibly budget.  From what I've seen $100 a month is about the average price. But it seems to be the most artful and meditational of the forms.  And who couldn't use some mental peace WTSHTF?
Hey, Aikido or pistol whipping someone upside their head. One of them HAS to work. Hopefully, you'll find martial arts cheaper somewhere. Good Luck.  
Sorry it's taken me a minute to get back to you. Job searching and all...

I've taken Tae Kwon Do and couldn't stand it...well, except for the free sparring. That was fun. But it didn't really teach me anything that I could use in an actual fight. I would resort to Foxy Brown moves, and crack someone upside the head with a chair, before I would do Tae Kwon Do. There are a few dojos around Houston that seems to teach you the art of improv around your surroundings. They didn't say anything about weapons training as well, but I'll take what I can get.

Oh and thanks for the book recommendation. I bought it from and it should be here within a couple of days. I read some of it's reviews and it seems intense on building up your knowledge. Do you know of any books that build up your business psyche? So you do business with no feelings at're at equilibrium, thus you make sounder judgements?

Whattup cool slice,

Thanx for the reply. You are one of the few who DID NOT offer advice on how I should get a boyfriend. And to clear that up, I think I wrote that statement in wrong.

My problem is that "I scare away boys and REAL men are nowhere to be found."

I hope that suffices ANYBODY ELSES appetite, who tries to give me anymore advice.

So anyhoo...PaulusP!! Yes, I'm quite used to being the lone  warrior in SOME group. Mechanical Engineering Major (1 of 3 females in my graduating class. Less than 10 in the whole program, and mind you, we were a pretty big school), being the youngest one in an organized group (I like real estate seminars whenever I can go), or even  being the only black person within a 20 mile radius(that's just  regular). So being one of the lone few in the age bracket of being aware of this cataclysmic collapse is no surprise there. Just lonely at times.

The thing I am most worried about is  time. I feel like I'm playing catchup and I am too far behind to outrun the bull.

Reading all these books and articles have made me reasonably paranoid to the fact that the end of the world may be coming and I'm not  prepared. So, I'm doing crammig. I'm trying to learn as much stuff as possible (some will have to wait till I get a job):

Debating on working for Habitat for Humanity (You do good by building someone a house BUT you also learn a new trade. Anyways, I love powertools), martial arts (I always knew, early into the 1990s, that something big was coming and I  was going to need to know how to fight), gardening ( I can't  even keep a goldfish alive without it committing suicide, but this metropolis beauty  better makea deal with the  dirt and  at least try), and maybe even learn how to make beer and wine (that will just be fun).

You also have to kind of worry about the society as a whole. People by themselves are calm  and rational, but in large groups unpredictable and violent.

Are you afraid of anything?    

Sorry for the ramble. Peace, love and chicken grease.

Welcome, Supa6999,
Advice Matt and others have mentioned is off debt as fast as possible, build emergency fund, practice skills (sounds like you have some already) and gradually get used to living on less (although you probably do this now, just getting out of school).  Realize that, as Matt said, no one knows the exact timing of this thing. My personal preference is the study of future production/reserves done by ASPO Netherlands, which predicts peak somewhere between 2012 and 2017.  Perhaps that is too late for some, too early for official government agencies, but I'm persuaded by the reasoning. Incorporating the knowedge you get from here and other places will naturally suggest to you actions to take in response.  Again, welcome and good luck.
Thanx Seadragon,

I know the advice everyone is giving me is sound, however I can't seem to shake the feeling that I am WAY LATE in the game. It's almost like I'm playing catchup and trying to get ahead before the bull runs my ass over. I know that I am being productive now, but I still feel like I have SO MUCH more preparation to tend to. I'm trying to learn how to invest (what's a P/E ratio?), looking into martial arts schools (single, black and extremely cute female...oh you know I have to learn how to pistol whip some asses!), learning new skills like how to build a house (Habitat for Humanity seems nice), learning how to garden (I can't even keep goldfish alive) and one major thing that I think will never lose it's and wine (that's just going to be plain  fun).

One of the major things I'm worrying about is how chaotic the cities will become. I'm thinking that riots, rapes, murders and complete mayhem will ensue and everyone will resort back to their most primal states. Hence, the martial arts. I AM A SURVIVOR and you can ask any of my ex-classmates, I'm one HELL OF A FIGHTER, however, I'm just curious on how much fighting I will have to do. Also, in what directions it will come at me? Not the  physical danger, but the mental and emotional wear. I figure I'm going to have to put myself out there all directions.

So with that in mind and roughly 6 to 11 years ahead of  me, I guess it's time for me to put in my mouth piece, put on my brass knuckles and open a book or 20 and get this rumble going.

I know we're going to be part of the struggle Seadragon, but you, me and everyone else apart of this...we're  going to make this look easy.

Thanx. I think I'm going to go get some ice cream now.

There's a big debate about which locations will be safer in a hard crash...some say that the country will be, because of the rampaging hordes from the city, others opine that cities will hang together because of their "centeredness" and easier access to goods, etc.  Most agree that the suburbs are unsustainable.  I hear you about being late to the party, though...I only started studying this last year, so am still learning.  I'd also look at Dmitri Orlov's series at Fromthewilderness (dot com) for a more realistic look at a collapsing society.  If you need more references, just ask!
I can't keep goldfish alive and I'm expected to learn how to grow a potato? I'm doomed.

But there is always hope...I hope, even  for the funky shade of greenthumb like me.

Good luck with your studies. I took alot of books from the back of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and bought them off of for next to nothing. And someone on this website also suggested I get the Intelligent Investor. I ordered it and it looks  intense. Almost as if everything I need to know will come from that  one book. I wish it COULD be that easy.

I still need to debate on which state I will thrive in and  if I will be isolated or in the center of the other groups. I wanted  to flee from the U.S. but that might not be an option. Tuscany was looking so DAMN pretty too.

Hope you read this reply supa6999

As a geographer I am certain that the world will not end; civilization as we know it probably will in our lifetime.

Let me sketch my present situation:
I'm almost 36, married, 3-year old son, 5 months old daughter. I make a living serving the shipping industry and have a Euro 150000 mortgage. My mother, 68, lives in our coastal town, 60000 inhabitants, too. Her house is mortgage free. We have a backyard with some fruit and we rent a 100 square meters of vegetable garden (for the symbolic amount of Euro 25 per year). I plan raising rabits, and I catch quite a few fish for the table, from the shore. So we provide almost half our food ourselves. So far so good.
OTOH we live in Holland ( running short on NG, will freeze over, will flood, after China, India and Bangladesh the most densily populated country in the world; IOW we're f*cked).

This is what I envision for the future.
We are in the fortunate position that my wife comes from a rural community in Central Europe and that is probably the only chance for my kids to have a future, which will be harsh anyway.

This raises exactly the question of timing, which also bothers me. To be more specific, will civilization dissolve gradually, or more suddenly? When do we get out of here? And will we be able to make that move? What about my mom? Can we sell our house? Without leaving debt? Will we be allowed to leave in times of crises? Will my kid be drafted to fight resource wars(The draft in Holland is suspended, not abolished)?

I'm mostly afraid that we'll keep postponing some very difficult decisions that will have to be made.

Of the Peak Oil related subjects I'm not afraid of having to live with much less energy, but I'm really really scared of Global Warming, and to no lesser degree to Global Dimming.
Next comes fear to Orwellian measures governments implement.

Wine or beer making is an excellent choice, as even in times of crises it is important to keep faith. Celebrating something with friends or relatives becomes important. And wine will always be a valuable commodity which can be traded.

You can sent me an e-mail if you'd like to discuss things further.

I can see right now that you and I are going  to stay in touch as long as possible.

I just sent an email to Seadragon, one of the others who responded, and I was just telling  him how I am worried how every major city in the world will resort to primal attitudes and begin to destroy everything and everyone in sight. Riots, murder, rapes and overall complete destruction and mayhem. Which leaves the question you brought up, will  civilization desolve suddenly or gradually?

One of my favortie quotes of Einstein: "Two things that  are infinite in this world: The universe  and human stupidity, but I'm not sure  about  the universe".

And also as you mentioned, where should we go if the threat becomes unbearable? Well, definitely out of the city. But into the hills? Rural areas? If the military tries to round up everyone and stick them in a  superdome or something,I'm going to have to make a covert escape, jump on a motorcycle (one of the next purchases) and go...well, elsewhere. But then what? I'm thinking I might have to go somewhere that's in "the cracks of the cut"... but near a river...mmmm...lots to think about.

Your situation seems pretty grim, but I don't think your giving yourself enough credit. Apparently you ARE debating the tough questons and when the time comes you will make that tough  decision  that  you were hoping you wouldn't have to make. Tough decisions take time to sort out, don't rush it.You'll make the right choice, this I'm sure of.

I'm hoping that draft doesn't take place either. Again, jump on that motorcycle and do an incognito-peace-out.

Hey, if push comes to shove I'll send you some homemade wine to toast away to the survival of civilization. Hit me back anytime.    

Before you buy a motorcycle, let me suggest you look at

In particular, check out his outstanding article, "Good First Motorcycles."

Also, be sure to get some expert instruction beyond what you need just to get the motorcycle license or endorsement.

BTW, I wear a $500 helmet and $1,000 of body armor whenever I ride--and I suggest no less for you.

extremely paranoid motorcycle rider since 1957, riding on two wheels since 1946 and not hurt yet;-).

Ooohhh...FINALLY a motorcycle enthusiast!! I know I'm going to be JUST as paranoid of a motorcyclist as you are. I already know that I'm going to wear the body armor everywhere and that I'm going to take EXTENSIVE lessons on how to ride. I'm pretty freakishly clumsy so I know I will need some one on one with the instructor and LOTS of practice. Especially if I want to be as good as I want to be. High Expectations  of myself. I'm going to check out the website and see what you are talking about. Thank you so much Sailor!!
Step One might be considering what your goals are.  You stated "Getting through this with as little pain as possible" (quote from memory).

I readily admit that the first human reaction when they discover a new danger is "How can I protect myself ?".

You clearly define your own character, and do not simply take what society gives you.

May I suggest an alternative ?  

Move to New Orleans and help out.  Certainly not the safest place or the most comfortable place, but also certainly the best food in the world, a unique culture with a very high level of comity, great music, a great living example of "Old Urbanism", sky high levels of civic involvement now, heat & humidity and so much more ! :-)

Alan, I've thought to ask you this...from a PO standpoint why rebuild NO in a hole?  Why not make it a wetland again or a landfill.  It does not make economic sense to build below sealevel.  How much energy does it take to control rainwater, and in the of chance sea levels do rise what then build bigger levees. People talk about coexistin with nature, trying to beat the ocean is not coexisting.  I understand peoples homes were destroyed and I work for Acadian Ambulance I've seen it.  Why not pull back above sea level?
The engineering problems of living where we are relatively easily and cheaply solved. F*A*R cheaper than to rebuild 'elsewhere'.  Just the criminal incompetents of the US Army. couldn't do it !

"Pulling back" will create a "New Phoenix" (UGHH!) and N*O*T a new New Orleans.  (See the typical American city of Baton Rouge).

Most American cities are fungible, interchangeable.  New Orleans is the least fungible, and culturally the most valuable of them all (New Yorkers and SF might disagree, but their food is not as good as ours :-)

New Orleans is a "Necessary City".  It is at the lowest energy point for transferring the most energy efficient means of transportation (pipeline is most, then ocean shipping, then barges, then frieght rail).  New Orleans is the closest point on the Mississippi River for ocean going shipping, it is where the Intercoastal Canal crosses the Mississippi River (both are barge "superhighways"), New Orleans, St. Louis & Chicago are the only places served by 6 of the 7 major North American railroads (I was told) and we have superb pipeline connections nearby as well.

I am relatively unconcerned about abandoning the post WW II parts of New Orleans (NO East, LakeView) and the post WW II suburbs (Metairie has no redeeming value, Mandeville, Covington, Chalmette, newer parts of Gretna, etc.).

Buy up the unflooded homes of Mandeville, tell the people to move elsewhere that is more sustainable (like New Orleans) and bulldoze their McMansions !

The core of New Orleans was built to a truely supurb "Old Urbanism" design that New Urbanism copies rather badly.  We could enhance that if we are not strangled.  The living model can illustrate this better than anything else to the New Urbanism model.

Homes were built up until the 1950s to live without a/c (high ceiling, fans, transoms), heating requirements are truely minimal (most years never below 32 F/0C), transportation energy was minimal before Katrina for residents of NO (we were tied with NYC for lowest miles/resident, suburbanites not counted).  The core area is about 10 miles wide and 5 to 8 miles wide.

The energy requirements to lift rainwater 8 or 10 feet are not that great.  The Louisiana Hydroelectric Project should produce significantly more energy than that annually.

One addendum.

The Mississippi River brings down many millions of tonnes of sediment with it each year.  The US Army now sends this out over the Continential Shelf (except a third down the Atchafalaya) into deep water.

This water with sediment could be used to rebuild the wetlands destroyed by the Oil & gas industry and the US Army.  A natural means to create miles wide "levees" that would slow down any storm.  If sea levels rise, just spray more Mississippi River sediment around and preserve the wetlands at a higher elevation.

Louisiana has been lobbying for a small fraction of our oil & gas offshore royalities (now get zero, feds get 100%) to be used for this remediation of past damage.  Just got the first 1/2 billion a few months before Katrina (Royalities were $5 billion in 2003, before oil prices rose).

The US spent tens of billions to preserve the Everglades and Chesepeake Bay.  Why not south Louisiana and New Orleans ?

Alan with all due respect, I know this area and my question to you was "Why from a PO standpoint" would you want to build NO below sea level?

Hurricanes will get worse. Global warming or cyclic storm patterns meteorologists agree.  Sea level might rise. even if it is a few inches, NO is already underwater.  If they are going to rebuild the lower floors should be open air parking on concrete stilts with living areas above sealevel.

I understand your sentiment, its your stomping ground but to say NO is the most culturally valuable city? What about Nashville or memphis, Detroit.  That is a subjective statement based on what culture you value.  The question "Does it make sense from a PO standpoint to rebuild NO?"

Huge risk to life and property.
Cost of maintain levee's and Improving to >Cat5.
Cost of rebuilding onsite
Potential for sealevel rise.

The mind says no but your heart says yes. Thats OK but know when (not if) NO floods again, have a canoe in your attic.

Excuse me if I go into Bush-speak here, but I think it warrants it.

There is extreme justification from a PO standpoint of rebuilding NO.  I understand that this board tries to focus on the geological facet of PO, and the moderaters probably get a bit pissed when it diverts from that (sorry Prof. Goose!), but the reality is that to us, as human beings, the geological aspect of PO is a negligable afterthought.  The real important issue of PO is sociological and psychological; the response of societies to disaster, and the response of the human mind to societal collapse.  Those two issues will then extend out to influence all the political, economical, moral, religious, and philosophical questions that come as afterthoughts to the main events.

This is where the Bush-speak comes in.  The reason to rebuild NO, especially the symbolic parts in the most dangerous areas, is the same reason we have to rebuild the WTC; it affirms the fact that we won't go softly into the night.  Rebuilding now symbolizes that resolve and captures that spirit.  </Bush-speak>

I just really appreciate people like Alan who are down there actually working on the hard choices.  It's been a half year since the near complete destruction of your entire city, and you've already begun to rebuild it with resolve.  It's been nearly five years since 9/11, and those cacs haven't even settled on a freaking plan.  

Well Alan from the Big Easy. You are definitely a patriot of your town. I can't stand where I'm from, Virginia. I liked the people, but I couldn't STAND the state.

As much as I would like to go to the Big Easy, the funds are not allowing it. Reminding you that I  don't have a job yet. However, I have heard that Habitat for Humanity does travel, and you are my neighbor, so who knows, when I join maybe they'll send me  over to your neck of the woods. If they do, you'll be one of the first people I'll let know.

Old Urbanism...mmmmhhh..sounds nice.

What are your goals Big Easy?

My goals ?

To do as much good as I can, when and where I can, within my limitations.  And enjoy life while doing so.

My only "selfish" prayer as an adult has been for "A life worth living".  Let God figure out what that is.

Welcome to TOD, Supa6999,

You are young & smart, Matt Savinar is young & smart too.  According to the concepts inherent in the Thermo-Gene Collision, you would be doing very well to try and hookup with your generation's best potential postPeak future AlphaMale.  Email him back and invite him to visit!

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

As you will read in other comments I responded to,THIS  ISN'T ABOUT FINDING A BOYFRIEND!!

All I want to do is talk to some AMBITIOUS, THINK-OUTSIDE-THE BOX, INTELLIGENT  people who are my age, who are worried about this economic collapse and who are developing their own strategies to make this as painless a transition as possible!!

Apparently, that IS alot to ask for!! Except you PaulusP...

But, I'm not even going to take your statement into consideration...

Hello Supa6999,

I realize that your joining TOD is not about finding a boyfriend.  My post was a humorous attempt to pique your curiousity about Jay Hanson's Thermo-Gene Collision as explained in his reams of material at  Peakoil is only the beginning... wait until you study Genetics to see how really challenging things will be on the Hubbert Downslope.  I am still welcoming you for being a new member, and I apologize if I inadvertently hurt your feelings.

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

Well now I just feel bad!! I'm sorry totoneila, it's  harder for me to read people in letters than  it is in person. My apologies for snapping, I'll try to keep the sly remarks under control.

So "thermo-gene  collision" by Jay Hanson and genetics? I hope were not all going to mutate....ooh, unless I turn into a really kool X-men. I think I want to be the Phoenix. She was bad ass...hands down. Or Cheetara from the Thundercats...she was a bad ass who was woman  and who COULD roar.

Okay, I'm sorry I'm having too much fun now. I'll check out the website and the article. I never even considered genetic  implications. I'm thinking about it now, and  I can't  seem to find any real correlation. I WILL chex it out.  

Bob are you nervous about any of this? Oh  and by the way, I think humans are  smarter than yeast. Give us some kind of credit.

I welcome you too, supa.  

As I think I've inadvertently made obvious over the past couple of days (honestly, guys.. I really respect your generation as I posted before.  It's just such a frustration situation that sometimes, like everybody else, the anger spills over and becomes more painful than I meant or actually felt myself), I feel that there needs to be alot more of us younguns around to remind these older folks that peak oil is ultimately our generation's problem and not theres.  And that decisions being made by them now are really going to effect whether Peak will come as a bump on the road, or as a semi.  And, on the other side, we would do well to keep an open mind and listen to what they are saying, and maybe they will bequeath us some of the knowledge and wisdom that we will need to continue this weird ~16,000 year experiment.  

And Wolverine would totally kick Phoenix's ass.  And I think we can also spare the board this flamewar.  Email me if you want to disagree. ;D

Well this is starting to get serious. I'm also in such an age that I have to make choices that may affect the rest of my life, and I'm not sure that PO awareness may not lead me to the wrong direction.

What I've come up for myself is that absolutely nobody knows how this will play out. It might be a disaster or a minor hichup - it all depends on a set of factors it is simply impossible to predict. Currently I've reached to the following conclusions:

1) There will be inflation. Lots of it. Our current financial system is built this way and the powers that be have always picked this one as an easier option. The alternative is such a severe depression that people will almost certainly revolt. In this regard I've always been suspicious about this "get out of debt" thing. Is this really that wise? Unless you are so unwise to maintain a significant credit card debt or taken a floating interest loan, your mortgage or educational loan will most likely be wiped out by the inflation in the next decade or so. In fact going into debt now (when interest is still low) makes more sense than the opposite.

One may argue that we can lose jobs and then the debt may fall upon you - for this I'd say that the whole economy will probably be in such a sh*thole that the defaulted debtors will most certainly get away with it, because the lending institution themselves will go belly up.

But I do recommend keeping some $10-20K emergency fund just in case (if possible of course). Preferentially at least part of it in some other currency than USD or in some assets with internal value.

  1. On a personal side I intend to go on with my life as usual and don't think about it too much. Whatever comes we will muddle through. Even if I lose everything I'll still have myself, the sun will not stop shining or the world spinning, right?

  2. About the timing: who knows? Basicly the forces that are about to toss us around the next decades are already into play.
Yea, that all sounds great.  I'd love to see my $30,000 in debt vanish into thin air.  I just worry that for some completely confounding reason that the one time the world will see a major deflationary spell will be the same time I decide to go on a credit spree.  Then again, very few people feel moral obligations towards creditors; they only pay them because while it may make the difference between putting $200 in savings or putting nothing, it doesn't really make a difference between feeding the family or not.  It'd be interesting to see so many fish go belly up at the same time.  The government could hardly afford to prosecute the millions that will default on loans, because they'll be defaulting on their taxes as well.  Perhaps everything is on the up and up.  

As far as an emergency fund, I would love to have one that size, but we're talking a full year's income there.  And I wouldn't recommend keeping it in any fiat currency as they're all tied to the dollar and will fall with it.  I recommend, and I know alot of people disagree with me here, keeping it in gold.  The upside is that gold is headed north with no signs of stopping.  One would imagine this will continue indefinently as more and more people start to come to terms with PO and look into securing their finances.  The downside is liquidity and weight.  $15,000 divided by the market price of $550 per ounce right now equals about... 27 ounces.  Ok, nevermind, that's not a good example.  That'd probably actually make a pretty good makeshift weapon though.  

I think the truely smart investor would want to invest heavily in gold right now and, letting that invisible hand guide him, feel the downturn about 6 months out and then transferring your investment plus a hefty profit into cold hard supplies; tools, long-storable food, guns and ammo, water purification kits, etc etc.  I'm sure you remember playing Oregon Trail back in elementary school like the rest of us.  The bastard traders were always the ones who raped you because you didn't properly ration your food and you ran out of bullets because the damn buffalos wouldn't show up.  

The goal is to be one of those bastard traders.  

"Cole died of dysentary."
Since energy goes in the price of everything the only way a deflation would happen is through slashing company profits or lowering wages. Both things would lead to a cascade of bancrupcies and a collapsing economy. Meanwhile energy prices may drop but the self-reinforcing ripple effects will continue - high unemployment - more bancrupcies - higher unemployment etc.

They will not want this to happen. They will try to be walking on the middle road, hiding the real inflation and fighting it with IR, but not that aggressively to wreck the economy. High inflation, high interest rates, moderate unemployment.

I don't whether this article is genuine as I don't live in the US. Can any TOD members verify this is happening in some rural areas?

High Commuting Costs Push Rural Property Owners Past the Tipping Point

"Then Katrina hit in 2005.  Gasoline prices skyrocketed. Most of the people in the area commute to the city for work.  The cost of gasoline made that commute much more expensive.  When I moved here gasoline cost about $1.20 a gallon.  Recently I filled up at $2.69.   When I moved here, $400 a month was my budget for gasoline.  The same amount of fuel would cost me close to $900 a month.  Just to commute.  Because of the added commuting cost, people are not buying property out this far anymore.  Real estate sales slowed to near nothing.

"Soon after, the house of cards really started to fall.  One local builder went bankrupt, unable to sell over 20 homes he built in a development.  Those 20 houses in foreclosure fed the buyer's market, driving prices of other homes for sale down farther.  Then another builder went bankrupt, then another.  In the past three months, six builders have filed in the area.  The number of houses in foreclosure is staggering.  They can be had for next to nothing.  Banks are jumping through hoops trying to find people to buy them.  The local newspapers all have classified ads reading 'Builder's inventory Reduction Sale.' "

I suspect it's completely accurate for several reasons:  (1)  why would the author make it up? (2)  it makes economic sense and (3) we are beginning to see similar stories elsewhere.   Also, the savings rate went negative last year for the first time since the Great Depression, as Americans were desperately trying to hold on to their, $500,000 mortgages, their $50,000 Hummers and their 50 mile roundtrip commutes.  

The WSJ had an article earlier this year about the problems that rich/celebrity owners were having trying to sell their trophy ranches.   Once the rich/celebrity owners were resting in the quiet solitude of their Montana ranches, it began to dawn on them that they were a million miles from nowhere, and that it was impossible to get the Sunday New York Times and a Starbucks latte.

What you want to own is a small organic farm close to a small town or close to (some) major cities.   Even if you don't work the farm yourself, you can lease it out to someone that does work it as a farm.

Oh, and what sort of vehicle would you be driving to rack up the quoted commute costs (1hr 20min commute, $400 p/month cost if gas $1.20)? Must be a real guzzler...
She said she was in the horse-boarding business. So presumably the 60 or 70 mile commute was only a part of the 330 gallons she and her husband guzzled every month.

A horse-boarder will have a truck with a heavy duty suspension and large V8, to haul a trailer around so these oversize pets don't have to get too much exercise ;)

I'm guessing her fuel bill is much less now that she's given up the boarding business.

 Business Week had a major article in the last six months that echoes much of what you present. I cannot bring the BW reference up on a search but home heating costs doubled as did commute costs. This was for an upper middle class exurban location not rural.

 Even though family income was high, people in this class had overcommitted with respect to housing on the assumption of continued exponential growth. They were now on a financial knife edge trying to heat 4,000 sq ft and that wonderful cathedral ceiling. The key takeaway was their further exposure due to variable rate mortgages and how this entire class of buyers would be in dire straits in the event of an interest rate rise and the knock on effects with the banks and other lenders.

 I don't think you will see much mainstream coverage of this. This kind of bad news undermines the American Project and is not something you want to make too widely known. When it finally can no longer be supressed everyone will ask "how come we didn't see this coming?" Probably blame it on Bin Laden and the Iranian mullahs and send in the MSMC to defeat.

The story might be genuine but the expectations were a bit extreme. The writer bought the house on 40 acres in 2000 for $140,000. Last year decides to sell the house on 20 acres for $390,000 and sell the other 20 acres in 5 acre parcels for $60,000 apiece... or $630,000 total.

Now claims the market is in free fall because she believes she can only get $250,000... a 79% appreciaton in 5 years.

Yes, this sounds genuine to me.

Last week while food shopping the man in line behind me told me that his gasoline bill is $600/mo. He lives about 25 miles out of town. I told him that mine is about $6/mo (I drive only about once per week) and that I saw this coming, and  he said, yes, he was tired of it, and looking to move closer in.

I don't have much sympathy for those gasaholics who are paying a fortune for their transport luxuries. They could have chosen like I did. It was an extreme financial hardship to pay big bucks for a decent dwelling close to everything but I bit the bullet and did it, although at the time it would have seemed to be much cheaper to get a few acres out in the middle of nowhere and commit to driving a lot for the littlest thing.

Yikes.  $600/month sounds extreme.  25 miles is not that long a commute, as Americans judge such things.  He must have a family of Hummer drivers or something.  
Some folks who live 25 miles from work also live many miles from the grocery store, the movie theatre, the favorite mall, and that sort of thing.  Actual work communitng may be a small part of the total driving they do....?