Easter Sunday Open Thread

Sorry for the technical difficulties earlier. Hopefully things have been resolved now. Thread away!

[editor's note, by Prof. Goose] And, oil hit $70 briefly today.

Rural motorists running on empty as pumps close

Rural motorists are having to drive farther to buy petrol as more than 600 filling stations a year close.

Small independent garages are being forced out of business by fierce competition from supermarkets and the higher costs of transporting fuel to country areas.

Many pay more to buy fuel from their suppliers than the price supermarkets charge the public and make little or no profit on petrol sales.

...The closures are leaving motorists in some rural areas 30 miles away from their nearest forecourt.

Mark Bradshaw, the chief executive of Garage Watch, which represents 4,000 independent petrol retailers, said: "Between 600 and 700 petrol stations have closed every year since 2000.

"Small independent garages are charged more for fuel than the major companies because of the cost of transporting the fuel."

I suspect that if there are actual shortages when TSHTF, it will be the cities that are supplied, not rural areas.  And not just gas, but food, electricity, water, etc.

In regard to your suspicions:
  1. During the 1970s, when gas was rationed to retailers, rural and small-town areas did fine, while urban stations developed long lines, rage, and occasional gunfights over vehicles cutting into long gas lines.
  2. During World War II, when gasoline was rationed nationwide by coupon, urban folk often put their cars up on blocks--except for those who knew farmers, whose fuel was unrationed. These fortunate people (many of whom lived in rural villages or small towns) had a fine source of extra income selling immense quantities of bootleg gasoline.

History suggests that TSHTF first in urban areas.
what does that mean 'put their car up on blocks'? How much could they bootleg on one tank of gas? unless im misunderstanding..

 Urbanites had ration cards and were permitted to buy X gallons of gas. You were allocated a reasonable amount of gas if you were a doctor or a civic official, otherwise you were allocated so little it made more sense to jack the car up and set the axles on blocks of wood. This lifted the wheels off the ground and prevented damage to tires during an extended period of storage.

 Farmers were not rationed for gas. They could buy what they needed to work tractors etc. They could also buy more than they needed and sell the extra to city dwellers.

They basically put the car to pasture. Putting a block ( rock, wood, steel jack stand ) under each side of each axle and keeping the tires off the ground.  Get a buggy and push it to the nearest friendly farmer and get 10 to 20 gallons of unrationed gas or as much as your push cart tanks could carry. And go sell it to the folks that would otherwise be standing in line at the gas pumps.  

The BLACK MARKET that will crop up in every venue for everything that is in short supply, or even illegal.  Someone will have acess to a good steady supply and/or be able to trade for other items.

This is an interesting phenomenon - stand alone gas stations are losing business to mixed use retailers. Perhaps gas will be the new milk - a loss leader to attract traffic. Or maybe they will lower gas prices for people who are a club member / frequent shopper...

We have also had a few gas stations close here in Manhattan, but that's more because the local real estate market is still booming

There were a couple of stories in local papers during the Katrina spike.  Rural gas stations that closed, and left people to drive 40 miles to buy gas.  It wasn't just Katrina, of course.  They were on the edge anyway, and Katrina just pushed them over.  Gasoline is already a loss leader for many gas stations.  
   the insanity of this should be pretty clear. At the peak, maybe the brain is ruined before going down the slope?

   I actually am not a great believer in Tainter's complexity framework as leading to a society's failure - to a certain extent, the various formulas to describe human ecology are more or less tautological, in the same sense most socio-biology (old fashioned term) is tautological, generally being unable to escape the social/cultural blinders of its practioners.

   But certainly, this would be a shining proof - vehicles and people being run ragged and a finite resource being exhausted so that people can keep driving their vehicles since they cannot imagine living differently.


Tainter doesn't say that people can't imagine living differently.  Indeed, the fact that they can imagine living differently is often the reason societies collapse.
A subtle point about societies collapsing not through the increasing problem of fighting entropy to stay in place, but merely because people imagine another way to live.

I find the aspect of complexity necessarily leading to  collapse a deceptive problem - who defines complexity? For that matter, who defines collapse?

But the idea that finite resources are exhausted in meaningless or counterproductive ways when viewed from outside the context of those engaging in such actions was what I found insane (yes, not exactly Tainter's perspective, but a society without cars will appear to most modern eyes as one with containing less complexity in the sense that Tainter would likely find acceptable). And much like the wooden shipbuilding industry migrated throughout human history, with many of the literal cradles of that craft being turned into stony or sandy wastelands, the fact that resources are exhausted does cause people to live differently, whether they imagined it first or not. In the case of shipbuilding, by ending up with the Industrial Revolution, which ended the problem of trees in terms of shipbuilding.

But burning increasing amounts of fuel simply to be able to keep burning fuel doesn't seem likely to lead to anything but depletion for reasons which will not likely be very comprehensible in the future.

But truly, how many people in America are imagining life without their cars? On the other hand, how many are burning increasing amounts of gasoline because they can't imagine living differently?

I find the aspect of complexity necessarily leading to  collapse a deceptive problem - who defines complexity? For that matter, who defines collapse?

Tainter defines his terms in his book.  

I'll swipe this part of Chris Stolz's excellent review at Amazon.com:

Complexity, writes Tainter, describes a variety of characteristics in a number of societies. Some aspects of complexity include many differentiated social roles, a large class of administrators not involved in the production of primary resources, energy devoted to different kinds of communication, centralised government, etc. Societies become more complex in order to solve problems. Complexity, for Tainter, is quantifiable. Where, for example, the Cherokee natives of the U.S. had about 5,000 cultural artifacts (things ranging from recipes to tools to tents) which were integral to their culture, the Allied troops landing on the Normandy coast in 1944 had about 40,000.

Collapse, then, is the loss of this quantifiable complexity.  Almost always accompanied by a 75%-90% drop in population.

That last is, I suspect, a big reason why complex societies stick with their strategy long past the point of diminishing returns.  They become so committed to their way of life that changing ends up being very difficult and painful...perhaps even fatal.  Hence it is avoided as long as possible.

. . . a big reason why complex societies stick with their strategy long past the point of diminishing returns.  They become so committed to their way of life that changing ends up being very difficult and painful.

"Being committed to their way of life" implies volition and perhaps even a measure of obstinacy. An alternative perspective would view the society as having become embedded in a certain set of memes that permits one course of action and forecloses many others.

There are those of us who remember life before suburbia. There are a far larger number who know nothing but suburbia and cannot conceive of an alternative, or perceive any need for change. This ignorance is very different from committment. A high level of Tainter Complexity would promote this ignorance; milk comes from the corner store not from a cow.

"Being committed to their way of life" implies volition and perhaps even a measure of obstinacy.

Then I'm sorry I used that word.  It's not what I meant.  How about "locked in"?  I don't mean they're being obstinate, and I don't mean they are blind to alternatives.  I mean they end up logistically unable to change without significant pain.

As an example...the oil-fueled Green Revolution has resulted in a lot of problems that weren't visible at first.  With the knowledge we have  now...many of us are now thinking we should never have started down the agribusiness path in the first place.  

But what are we going to do about it?  Agribusiness has allowed us to increase the population to levels undreamt of a hundred years ago.  If we give up agribusiness, how are we going to feed all the "extra" people?  We are locked in by our previous choices.

The idea that societies are best defined by what they exclude is something which occurred to me a long time ago.

This also takes care of the problem of volition - an individual can make choices, but if they go into the territory that society excludes, the individual no longer has any meaningful impact in that society. And stepping outside of society is generally very dangerous - here, you could make a simple natural selection argument on why this is so, but I hate such perspectives.

Not to get into a long discussion, but this exactly what I mean by complexity definitions - more/quantifiable means more complex?

An example could be made of something like aircraft motors - the original models had a fair number of moving parts, as time went one various improvements were made adding more moving parts, and as more time went on, the number of moving parts was reduced, until, at least in theory/practice, something like a SCRAM 'motor' has essentially no moving parts, except for the fuel pumping system.

But the SCRAM 'motor' is much more complex, even if it has many fewer moving parts - but here, complexity comes in the design and development of materials (and airframe), not in the number of parts. Further, after the design and material development phase is over, it is also quite conceivable that the infrastructure to construct and maintain such motors would be considerably less quantifiably complex than that required for the first Boeing 707s in terms of tools, parts, etc.

Complexity and simplicity are often in the eyes of the viewer, and that is what I find difficult when engaging in such discussions.

I haven't even begun to engage the idea of 'simple' or 'complex' language, except to note that most 'older' languages are actually considered more complex in grammar than English.

Or the idea of social roles - personally, I think the entire advertising/marketing branch of our society could go away without any loss of complexity, since in my eyes, that complexity is merely manufactured.

In a sense, whether the solution to a manufactured problem is part of a measure of complexity is the sort of question which would need to be addressed.

I could even further add that this idea of complexity could also be seen as the rise of parasites, with the parasites being considered the measure of the host.

And on, and on. Endless discussion.  

Perhaps gas will be the new milk - a loss leader to attract traffic.

This has been the trend for a long time. The amount of money gas stations make on gas is very low - usually around several cents a gallon from various articles I've read like this one. Thus something like an attached convenience store is needed in order to stay profitable.

There were once five gas stations in my rural California town.  They all did well because a major highway (albeit one lane for several miles before and after the town) runs through it.

What killed them was having to pull their tanks and do ground water testing/remediation if necessary and then reinstall approved tanks and monitoring systems.  A friend of mine had a small station.  He personally did any remediation but it would have cost over $100K to put in new tanks and no one would finance it.

Another friend's father had a major gas company outlet as an independent.  They tore down the old station, which also did repair work, and put in a mini-mart plus pumps.  They had to put up $100k plus take on a million dollar loan.

The son, who actually managed everything, then started a stand-alone repair shop in addition to the station, for even more money.  He eventually sold it to one of his employees for about $500k.

Being the only gas station in the town and the last one for 20 miles, they do alright.

yes this is happening in Reno nv.
the costco in reno now has gas pumps and with a membership card you can get dicount gas. also on the way into reno a gas station that seems to be affiliated with the small casino at border town has the lowest price gas I've seen. maybe    .50 $ cheaper than it is were i live, 70 miles away
I wrote a new essay yesterday, and I am looking for some feedback:

The Future of E85

My contention is that the market for E85 will disappear after next year when the federal ethanol subsidy is scheduled to expire. However, there are a couple of things I wasn't sure about, and maybe someone here knows. I don't the status of various state subsidies, and I don't know whether state and federal taxes will be waived for the ethanol in the E85 blends. Does anyone know the status here? If the taxes are waived, it will offset a big chunk of the loss of the subsidy, but I don't know if this is the case.



2 points on your essay. 1) how much does cellulosic ethanol cost? I know it is futuristic but at some point it's production should exceed corn based ethanol. 2) what about the subsidy to the oil industry in the form of military protection of oil production in the Middle East? If you add that cost, gasoline cannot compete. How much of your taxbill goes to CENTCOM?
Cellulosic is still more expensive to produce than grain ethanol, but it is forecast to be cheaper in the near future.

Regarding the military "subsidy", I maintain that it isn't the oil companies that benefit from this. They benefit if they already have infrastructure in place, but as far as access to markets go, it is the consumer who benefits from lower gas prices. Oil companies would still produce gasoline, they just might pay a lot more for crude oil.

I am not defending military action to secure oil by any means; quite the contrary. But there isn't enough ethanol to replace but a fraction of our gasoline supply, so if we are over there primarly for oil, we would be over there even if we were producing all the ethanol we can produce. Finally, ethanol benefits from this military "subsidy" as well, because it takes fossil fuel to make ethanol. If you look at the price history of ethanol:


You will see that it gets more expensive as gasoline gets more expensive. So it would be a false conclusion to suggest that gasoline could not compete if you added in the costs of the military. Ethanol would also become much more expensive.


The price of ethanol in theory is also correlated to population. If the world had only 1 billion people, ethanol and biofuels could almost totally replace oil for driving...?
The same corn that makes ethanol could have its oil extracted before fermentaion to make biodiesel. A Nasa Tech report told about using vegetable oil as a away of seperating ethanol from water. Just mix them together and the oil/ethanol mix rises to the top and the water sinks to the bottom. What is considered a problem for long term storage of E85 can be used to improve the EROEI of biofuels. A biodiesel/ethanol blend would be a very clean diesel engine fuel. Maybe one day I,ll get a few gallons of B100 and a keg of cheap beer and figure out the best B100 to E100 ratio.
Maybe biofuels can't replace all dinofuel but it could be more than enough to power rural America while urban America goes to electric vehicles.

The hope is the you can harvest junk crops that don't need fertilizer or much fossil fuel inputs to grow. Let's see if that happens.

That said, agriculture is not the most efficient method to harvest sunlight. I favor making hydrogen from bacteria, algae, or enzymes stuck in a polymer. There have been some papers on it recently but we are still years away from commercial system. Hopefully DOE will fund more of this type of research. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fuel cell advocate. I think we could burn hydrogen (ala BMW) or convert it to CNG.

In the meantime, let's bomb Iran, shut down the Middle East and convert our cars to run on electricity. That should create some American jobs.

Currently ethanol is $2.71 per gallon according to this page:


Given that gasoline contains 1.45 times more energy than ethanol the effective price of ethanol is: $3.93

So for ethanol to actually be cheaper than $2.70 gasoline it would have to cost $1.86 per gallon.

I'm not convinced that ethanol is a good solution to anything.

I see all this talk about ethanol and the costs associated with it, and this got me to thinking about the production of methanol. Could 'wood alcohol' be produced more cheaply and in larger quanities? I seem to recall a post somewhere (I think it may have been Energy Bulletin) talking about producing methanol from coal. Is this possible to do on a large industrial basis, cheaply and with the technology that already exists? I have no skin in this game, as it were, and personally I think the use of ETOH as a fuel is problematic, to say the least. I am asking this question merely out of curiosity. I understand that methanol does not have the energy density of ethanol, much less refined gasoline, but the way our society works, I wouldn't be surprised if someone, somewhere, comes up with the "great idea" of producing methanol so that "America can become energy independent."
  What sort of environmental/economic/social costs would the production of methanol on large scale produce?

     Subkommander Dred

I think the ethanol lobby will defeat any measure to support methanol from biomass, but coal-based methanol economics may be hard to suppress.


You can do it, but the process looks a lot like coal gasification; ie, not cheap.
HAHAHAHHA...  the market for E85 will disappear after next year... no really.... HAHAHHAHAHA.  

I haven't read anything so funny in a long, long time.  I guess all that work in Missoruh has just gone out the windo dag nab it!  

RR seems to think that the ONLY reason for producing ethanol is the subsidy.  Tsk tsk.

Ethanol and the Biofuel industry in general promise so many positive benefits i.e. envrionment, security, jobs... that I don't even know where to begin.  

Ok, I'll throw this one out - flex fuel vehicles.

GM, Ford and Chrysler are going to be stuck with massive inventories of vehicles they can't sell UNLESS they convert them flex fuel vehicles.  

In the process, the big three might realize that they can stick it to their Japanese buddies (for a little while anyways) who are busy pouring resources into hybrids and fuel-cell autos.

See the dirty secret here is that Honda knows full-well that its $ million hydrogen pisscutter is a public relations non-starter.  No not because the car is so expensive... rather, it's because the hydrogen infrastructure is not going to be built in our lifetime.

Here's a clue...

See Joe Idiot pump gas in Smallville USA.
See Joe Idiot get shiny new hydrogen filling station in Smallville USA.
See Joe Idiot pump hydrogen in Smallville USA.
Bye Bye Joe.  
Bye Bye Smallville.

Biofuels are the future.  

Ironically it's Ford who knew this 100 years ago.  And yet STILL today, guys like RR are trying to pull the wool over your eyes.

I add my name to the 'wool-pulling' crowd. Ethanol will be here, and for a while, but it is a great mistake to build infrastructure and expectations that corn-ethanol will sustainably replace a meaningful part of our transport fuel.
Wait till drought year or Oglala aquifer requires exogenous energy to pump from deeper if at all.. Wait for soil nutrients to deplete faster than NG fertilizers can replace them. At least now, Hubberts curve gives us 95% of the oil we had the prior year - ethanol could go from X to 30% of X in one year based on crop conditions.
Ok sasq... quick update for you.

1 - Ethanol is the fuel of the future.  Hands down.  Keepsies.

2 - Infrastructure??  We don't NEED to rebuild the infrastructure - that's the sweet part of the whole damn thing.

3 -  Ethanol.  That's it.  Ethanol.  Or SWEET FUEL : ) There are many different ways to produce it, so don't try and break them all down i.e. cellulosic, ecalene, corn-based or what have you.  For our purposes, ethanol is alcohol produced from biomass.  

4 - Ethanol is already here big time!  Demand is SO LARGE RIGHT NOW, that in cerain parts of the country, you can't get a crew to come out and build your town a new ethanol plant.

       ...think about that for a second...

It was FORD (an American dude) who looked out into his backyard and exclaimed, "AND THAT!, my dear Sedgewick, is how we will power the dam thing!"

HAHAHAHHA...  the market for E85 will disappear after next year... no really.... HAHAHHAHAHA.  
I haven't read anything so funny in a long, long time.  I guess all that work in Missoruh has just gone out the windo dag nab it!

What a well-thought out rebuttal! I can scarcely find an argument in your response. One thing is clear, though. You definitely did not read my article, and don't seem to understand the argument. The argument is not that ethanol will disappear, but that E85 will disappear once the subsidies do. Who is going to pay an extra $0.50 a gallon for E85, only to have their gas mileage drop by 8 mpg? Perhaps you can begin by addressing that question.

It's fine to disagree, but a logical argument would do wonders for you.



Well, considering you ignored my last logical argument, I decided that this time I would just make fun of yours :)

But if I must...

"Who is going to pay an extra $o.50 a gallon for E85, only to have their gas mileage drop by 8 mpg?"

Answer - The same people who believed that they could put put a man on the moon.

Well, now you simply aren't making sense. If you wish to debate, you could at least have the courtesy to read the post you are trying to debate against. It is painfully clear that you don't understand my argument, and you have done nothing to rebut it. Here is the really dumbed down version: I didn't say that ethanol was going away. After all, it is mandated by law (or it would go away). I said that the demand for E85 will go away. My calculations show that it will cost an additional $50 for every 1,000 miles of driving if you are using E85. Who will willingly do that?

FYI, I know all about ethanol. I have done graduate school research on it. You, on the other hand, seem to be painfully uneducated about it. Read a few of my blog posts, especially the one you are attempting to address, and learn a few things.


Stryke 1 - Meijer Inc. and General Motors Corp. will announce today, with Gov. Jennifer Granholm, plans to make the ethanol-gasoline blend E85 available at Meijer filling stations.  More than 4 million flexible-fuel vehicles on the road are capable of burning E85 or gasoline or a combination of the two. However, most owners fill up with regular gasoline because of a shortage of filling stations offering the fuel.  GM, which has more than 1.5 million flexible-fuel vehicles on the road, began running television and newspaper ads this year touting E85.

Stryke 2 - Ford has built more than 1.6 million FFVs in the U.S. over the past 25 years and will make 250,000 FFVs this year.  "Ford has partnered with VeraSun Energy -- a leading ethanol producer -- to build a 'Midwest Ethanol Corridor' stretching through Missouri and Illinois," Rippon said. "The corridor will allow FFV owners to travel from Chicago to Kansas City operating only on E85. Ford believes that helping our FFV customers to conveniently find and use E85 is the right thing to do."

Stryke 3 - Toyota is planning to sell ethanol-powered vehicles in the US by 2008 in the latest push by the Japanese carmaker into segments dominated by the Detroit-based manufacturers, a company executive said. It will start selling a flexible-fuel vehicle, which can run on up to 85 per cent ethanol or ordinary petrol, after a surge of interest in ethanol, a fuel made from plants such as corn or sugar cane.

FROM RR - "FYI, I know all about ethanol. I have done graduate school research on it. You, on the other hand, seem to be painfully uneducated about it."

Uh huh...

3 Strykes and yer out dude.

You don't know much about debate, do you fellow?

Stryke 1

Quite irrelevant to the point. Since they are flex-fuel, they can burn gasoline when E85 becomes too expensive in 2008. Ball 1.

Stryke 2

Same as 1. Ball 2.

Stryke 3

Same as 1. Ball 3.

Uh huh...

Ball 4.

You can hop over to my blog and check out my research track record. I have links to it. Or, if you want to engage in an actual debate on the merits of ethanol, we can do that too. But you are going to have to a bit better than you are doing here. You seem to think that because people are making flex-fuel vehicles, which cost little more than straight gasoline engines, there will be a market for E85 when it costs $50 more for every 1,000 miles of driving. I don't see it, and you haven't done anything to challenge my argument.



> Answer - The same people who believed that they could put put a man on the moon.

Those people are dead and buried (many of them were German immigrants BTW).

Their children cannot get their act together.

Disagree.  Their spirit lives on.
Not a chance, mate.  
Try an echo chamber, you are definitely preaching to yourself.
Just an Easter Monday (downunder) thought about cultural inertia.  Ishtar's Spring fertility festival is supposed to be celebrated by outdoor sex in the fields on the first full moon following the Spring equinox.  Then it was about the reported rebirth of a troublesome Jewish heretic.  Now downunder, we are celebrating the Spring festival of rebirth (of either the agricultural cycle or that rabble rouser from Nazareth) in the autumn!

What does this have to do with peak oil?  It is a parable.  People cling to old things long after their original meaning and purpose has been forgotten.  They will repeat old patterns for as long as possible, even out of context when they don't make any sense at all.  Kunstler was right, people will continue business as usual until they can't and then they won't.

Microhydro --

Speaking of clinging to outmoded things here downunder -- at what price of gasoline do you think the hoons will stop their mindless circulations?  As the Christchurch Press article says, this seems to be unstoppable (though political will seems lacking, which is itself a worrisome fact in light of PO).

Even with gas at 1.62NZD/litre, pointless driving shows no sign of abatement.

A great deal of pointless driving is still going on in the Waikato, a lot of it by youths in Holdens at high speed.  Their income stream is pretty recession proof as it is based on "P" (that is methamphentamine in the rest of the world)sales.  My guess is that we need really shocking prices like $3 a litre to change behaviour.
is meth ( that's p for those of you downunder) a big problem there?
it has devistated my portion of northern califoria

I live in Nor Ca myself and refer to areas such as yours as being controlled by "methocracies."

That's my word for "methamphetamine" plus "theocracy."



ok here's what Im doin
with considerable financial expenditure and risk I'm starting a market garden right in the middle of my small town. the population is polarized to say the least. so rather than try to create camp A or camp B I've decided to go it alone and am trying to create common ground. it's worked well, now all i have to do is figure out how to grow food
good luke with your presentation
might i add to that there is no profit in doom
Meth is huge in NZ.  There are some nasty meth gangs in south Auckland and labs out on the farms.  It contributes to a staggering highway death toll.  In 2005 the Waikato had about 100 highway deaths for an area of about 300K population
I did not know about P funding their mindless touring.  I have to give up my hopes to a quiet night's sleep come expensive gas.

I lived in Portland, OR prior to NZ (we're in Canterbury/the South Island) and I perceive drugs to be worse (in terms of inducing property crime and violence) in the US.  That said, the police are far more numerous and control-minded in the US as well.  Hooning just wouldn't happen on the scale it does here.

I've been thinking about something to say about meth????
 it is truely the worst drug I've ever come in contact with. dremt up by the nazis I think. Hopefully an/the oil peak will take it out of the picture. do the folks down under look at problems like this as a medical issue or as a law enforcement issue as is the case here in the states? (law enforcement/police protection a peak concern)
I would defer to Micro Hydro for a  comprehensive assessment of NZ.  Our own experience has been that while there is growing concern over meth here in NZ, as well as a recognition it is a scourge, the prison-industrial complex is not pervasive nor is the general populace whipped up into a frenzy over other drugs (like pot).

It is hard to imagine for someone from the US but you just don't see anywhere near the number of cops here in NZ as you would on any US highway or city street, especially once you get away from Auckland.  We drove for three days without seeing one on a tour in the far South.  

What does this portend for Peak Oil?  Dunno.  Will comparatively low crime rates hold or will NZ be wide open for hoons-turned-Mad Max bandits?  

I know people want police around post-Peak to protect property.  Whose property is the question.  Personally, I suspect police Peak Oil will continue to enfore rules that tend to benefit banks, the wealthy, the powerful, the landed at the expense of the increasing number of Economic Losers, just as they do today.   There'll just be more losers.  Break up strikes, kick people off land, disperse bread riots.  I'd rather have fewer police around.  But that's just me.

Agree, the US is unique in the pattern of destroying lives through punitive incarceration of drug offenders.  Here it is treated as more of a medical rehab issue, although manufacturers are incarcerated.  The US leads the world in total number of people in prison AND the per capita incarceration.  The Kiwi prison population is below 8k or less than 1/500 per capita.  The US prison population is 2.1 million or more than 1/150 per capita, a big difference.  It is very rare to see police in Hamilton (North Island) also.  The crime rate is far below US levels.  My garage side door is all glass, not even frosted, so anyone can see what is inside and break in easily, but that never happens in my neighbourhood.  If necessary, post peak, the culture is quite adaptable to adding volunteer neighbourhood police auxillaries.
The two industrial countries without universal health care, the USA and the Union of South Africa, also have the highest crime rates. Maybe it's just a coincidence.
The similarity is that they both have white populations that control the economic life and who do not want to pay the health costs of the black populations.
Hitler and many other Nazis were into meth big time. This may be before they knew it could induce permanent shizophrenia with just a single dose.
Nazi Germany is a good case study in how a society can hold on to an ideology even as famine and infrastucture collapse grows worse. The "American Way of Life is non-negotiable" ideology will be hard to shake. The "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" of the Superman/Superpower myth is strong even as truth and justice have faded away.
I ... smell ... an urban legend.
From the evidence I have seen, benzedrine was widely used by German troops--and also elswhere by Germans during the Third Reich, but to the best of my knowledge, methamphetamine was a later invention.

Again, to the best of my knowledge, the main use of benzedrine in the 1940s was to gain energy, stave off sleepiness, and also to feel good.

During the Second World War the Japanese also widely used benzedrine for purposes indicated above but also to kill hunger, because often there was not enough food for troops. In other words, benzedrine was used as a substitute for food, as well as a way to manufacture courage and morale and fanaticism.

And, of course, Axis forces were not the only ones to use "pep pills" (as they were often called) during the forties.

Don said:

And, of course, Axis forces were not the only ones to use "pep pills" (as they were often called) during the forties.

Agree.  Still goes on.

US pilots use speed.

Quote at head of article indicates it is nothing new.  

I imagine British marines downing rum before jumping onto French frigates or legionaires gulping wine before engaging Picts are part of the same tradition.  Nothing peculiarly fiendish about feeding stimulants (or inebriants) to soldiers.

A Newsweek story about the ex-generals who are gunning for Rummy:

Anatomy of a Revolt

It includes a brief interview with Eric Shinseki, the only general who publically voiced his concerns before the war (and paid the price).  

But what I found most interesting was the reason given for the sudden spate of public criticism.  Douglas McGregor says it's the "the first salvos in the war over 'Who Lost Iraq.'"  

Of course, that suggests that all those generals involved think Iraq is lost...

Rumsfeld might want to consider getting out now before a military coup makes a spot for him at the soccer stadium.
I think you have it all wrong. Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and others committed great crimes together with certain top elements in the military -- no, not just Iraq, I mean 9-11 -- and this became their omuerta. Rumsfeld therefore cannot be ditched without putting them ALL at risk. The very top of the military consists in people who are intertwined with industry and big money.

The ones complaining are only the ones who actually fight wars. They completely fail to understand that money can be made win, lose or draw -- well, not if you lose too badly.

These guys (Cheney, etc.) have dumped gazillions of dollars into the pockets of the top .0..01 pct. It's not going to be so easy to dislodge them. SOMETHING is going to happen between now and November, of that one can be certain.

Brother, I have to agree with you on this one. Dumping Rumsfeld (preferably into a cell in Guantanamo) is not the answer. The Bush administration, from the CIC on down to the various undersecretary's of Defense and State, are on some kind of Neo-con death trip, and they would all have to go in order to change the direction this country is going. As long as Bush is in office, I fear no meaningful change will happen. It's long past time we had ourselves an impeachment.

Subkommander Dred

But by your own description (which I agree with), removing Bush would not matter.  He's only a figurehead anyway.  These people have been here for a long time, trying (with various degrees of success) to worm their way into power.  They're all cast-offs from previous administrations.  If Bush left tomorrow it would have an effect for sure.  Maybe it would affect the ability to actually carry out their plans, but if the rest were left in place the direction would not change.  
That would have to be plural impeachments. Cheney is the power behind the throne. Rummy was Secretary of Defense under Jerry Ford and has the retreat of Saigon stuck in his cranny. He has wanted to win a war for the last 30 years and being an ex-marine thinks the few, the proud and the brave is all it takes.
Don't know if someone else has mentioned this before now, but the #1 hit on Google for "oil" seems to have evolved.  Huge congratulations to the Prophet of Doom.
Oh, my.  LATOC is above Shell, Mobil, BP, etc.  o_O

That's "Mr." Prophet of Doom to you buddy. =)




Other handle is "U.R. Doomed, Esq."

I'll get it straight next time. :D  Much more useful than the #1 hit is the marketing line that you can accompany it with:

"Go to Google.  Click 'I'm Feeling Lucky.'  See just how justified that sentiment is."

Oh, and something Stu of PeakOil.com discovered last week...put oil news into Google, and the first hit is PeakOil.com.  
 The following is an excerpt from an interview with Colonel Gardiner who was the subject of an Atlantic Monthly article on attacking Iran. Gardiners opinion is that the decision to attack has already been made. The full CNN transcript is available at the URL.

CLANCY: Well, Colonel Gardiner, from what you're saying, it would seem like military men, then, might be cautioning, don't go ahead with this. But what are the signs that are out there right now? Is there any evidence of any movement in that direction?

GARDINER: Sure. Actually, Jim, I would say -- and this may shock some -- I think the decision has been made and military operations are under way.


GARDINER: And let me say this -- I'm saying this carefully. First of all, Sy Hersh said in that article which was...

CLANCY: Yes, but that's one unnamed source.

GARDINER: Let me check that. Not unnamed source as not being valid.

The way "The New Yorker" does it, if somebody tells Sy Hersh something, somebody else in the magazine calls them and says, "Did you tell Sy Hersh that?" That's one point.

The secretary point is, the Iranians have been saying American military troops are in there, have been saying it for almost a year. I was in Berlin two weeks ago, sat next to the ambassador, the Iranian ambassador to the IAEA. And I said, "Hey, I hear you're accusing Americans of being in there operating with some of the units that have shot up revolution guard units."

He said, quite frankly, "Yes, we know they are. We've captured some of the units, and they've confessed to working with the Americans."

The evidence is mounting that that decision has already been made, and I don't know that the other part of that has been completed, that there has been any congressional approval to do this.


a similar article here.
I would think the peak oil crowd would celebrate an invasion. It will create temporary shortages that force us to start reducing our consumption.
only a fool would celebrate war.
Only a fool would stop a war if it meant saving humanity.
the peak oil crowd would celebrate an invasion.

Even if the childern and grandchildern of Congressmen, the Pentagon, the Executive branch, CEOs, multi-million dollar shareholders, oil execs, and whemever else I've forgotten was paid for out of pocket from the rich to trickle down to the poor....such an action's blowback would be a long term problem.   Worldwide.

You are confusing observation (The present energy consumption rate is unsubstainable) and hoping for a reasonable plan (powerdown) with powerdown.

Are you sure in your head you'd rather bankrupt the country rather than go without your cheap energy a bit sooner?

Yes, but how are you going to make people stop burning fossil fuels? Most Americans will not give up their standard of living willingly. If we burn the other half of the remaining reserves, climate change will kill many more people than any war.

On the other hand, if oil gets very expensive and the economy goes bust, we will come up with a new living style and live to see other day.

How many people would powerdown willingly? Perhaps 10%.

From Ireland:

Energy crisis looms large, Govt decides on cut for industries

Oil, it seems, has toppled off the public agenda. But if consumers have grown complacent, that sentiment could not be more misplaced. Experts said that last week's rise could be as significant as the crisis last summer.

Rocketing oil prices are by no means unfamiliar territory, but last week's peaks were exceptional.

Usually spikes in oil prices occur in the summer and autumn, as the hurricane season in the United States hits production, and demand for fuel peaks with the beginning of the driving season.

This time around, oil has hit record highs long before the first hurricane and the world's motorists embark on their summer expeditions.

``In some respects, it is more serious than last summer's peak," said Paul Harris, head of energy at Bank of Ireland.

Oops.  Got the wrong title on that one.  It's supposed to be Rocketing oil prices cause concern.  

Energy crisis looms large, Govt decides on cut for industries is this article from India:

'Will help maintain 8-hour power supply in farm sector'

Faced with energy crisis, the Modi Government has decided to impose from Saturday a one-day a week staggering on all non-continuous HT/LT industries across Gujarat to maintain power supply in the agriculture sector.

Gujarat has been facing power shortage since February last when it stopped receiving 220 MW from the central grid, which has diverted this quota of power to the neighbouring Maharashtra. The present power shortage in Gujarat is also being attributed to the break-down in one of the five Ukai thermal units and in a 200 MW plant at Vanakbori.

Minister of State for Energy Saurabh Patel told The Indian Express on Friday that the one-day a week staggering on industries coming into force from tomorrow would help Guarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) to maintain at least an eight-hour supply in the farm sector, so as to help farmers to save their standing summer crops, mainly in North Gujarat.

ooooh, me likey!!!!  *copies the link for my own blog*
Hello TODers,

I'm curious if anybody can come up with a realistic solution to the following dillema:

Imagine a society in which there are two factions: Faction A and Faction B.  Each faction has 2,000,000 people in it.

The members of Faction A are aware of the various ecological crises it's society is facing. It decides to voluntarily limit its population through things like family planning and birth control. Their program is successfull. Subsequently, the next generation of
Faction A has only 1,000,000 people and the generatioin after that has only 500,000 people in it.

The members of Faction B do not believe in ecological limits and are adamantly against things like family planning, birth control etc. They continue to expand there population. The next generation of Faction B has 4,000,000 and the generation after that has 8,000,000.

Faction B believes it has a divine right to acquire the resources of Faction A in addition to possessing the weapons and willingness to do so.

What happens now?



We are living with the results of that scenario.  There's a reason why we farm, even though agriculture is The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.  It's the reason foraging societies have been relegated to extremely undesirable territory (such as the Kalahari Desert or the Artic Circle).  

It seems the only practical solution is isolation.  It's probably not a coincidence that all the truly sustainable societies described in Jared Diamond's Collapse are on islands.  


funny. the article lambastes the so called 'progressive view' by saying they make too many assumptions without the data to back it up. then it turns around and does the same exact thing.
Ask Malthus.
It depends. Other than a divine mandate does faction B have a U.N. resolution to proceed?

If so... does faction A have nuclear weapons?

Interesting... the MAD defense strategy makes sense (yet again).

hmmm...reminds me of the books "ecotopia" and "ecotopia emerging". And the persuasive method the ecotopians used to break away form the US. For all their idealism, they knew that they needed a big stick.
The Ecotopians (Faction A?) can do what they want but eventually the Robertson clan, will outpopulate the ecotopians, invade their territory, kill the people and take their resources.

Any solutions to this darkness?



"Those who beat their sword into plowshares will plow for those who don't"

I've always hated that quote, and it troubles me, as I cannot refute it.  

I think the problem with this scenario may be oversimplification to the point of being meaningless.  Given the reference to US society, where both groups stem from the same culture with similar technologies, etc, it just can't happen.  As was said, we are not isolated enough, and the two groups will not be able to make such drastically different choices and have them work.  The existence of the Robertsonians will put constant pressure on the Ecotopians, and prevent them from achieving their goal.  

And if you somehow could manage it, it would create a societal "potential difference", which would have to be equalized.

Maybe Korea provides an insight - although they are not divided upon ecological lines, they started at he same place, and the existence of the other fundamentally changes both.

"Those who beat their sword into plowshares will plow for those who don't"

I've always hated that quote, and it troubles me, as I cannot refute it.



Neither can I.  And that's the problem.



That's why the whole world is currently plowing for the 3% of the population who seems to spend 50% of the world's military expenditures. But as a guess, the world won't be doing it ten years from now.

Possibly, the 3% will discover that tanks make poor tractors, and that they have nothing much to offer but the threat of death and destruction. Iraq is a fine example of how well military strength translates into resource extraction - if the European method (you know, Mercedes as 'gifts' to strongmen dictators, not Bradleys as cop cars) had been followed, oil production would very likely be higher, and the number of dead Iraqis arguably comparable.

There are a lot of armchair warriors in America, especially those who make the decisions concerning war. A belief in swords is delusional, regardless of how pithy the observations. I bet the Iranians have their own pithy comments, from thousands of years experience in playing the empire game. Admittedly, they aren't stupid enough to trust in plows against swords, which is a slightly different framing of the issue.

Personally, I bet on European style cynicism and self serving corruption in maintaining a status quo to be a superior plowing model to America and its belief that we live in a MAD world.

But then, the real winners are likely to be the Chinese, who seem to feel culture is the measure of civilization, not weapons. But just like the Persians, I guess a few thousand years of history is trumped by a good sound bite.

Or have you noticed the Chinese plowing for any Mongolians recently?

(And yes, there is a difference between individuals and societies - and sure, in the end, the side with the better gun gets to have God on their side, it seems - which is why, in Gandhi's pithy quote, everyone except Christians seems to understand what Jesus taught.)

So here is my more considered take on it.  Reduced to the most basic level, violence is power - he who has the greatest ability to threaten another's survival wins.  But that's why we have societies and rules.  Then it does not matter if you can kill me with a club, because the rest of the society will in turn get you - and violence is no longer power.  And now things like the ability to grow food (or gather food, for those who think farming was a disaster), or be a teacher or scientist are valuable, and the whole society can advance.  

But as we allow people to amass enough power that they can manipulate and control the powers of the society, then the society (government) itself becomes a weapon, and you're right back where you started.  This is what bothers me about the present trend to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of a very small segment of the population, and the whole "unitary executive" crap.  

But this societal invention just moves the conflict from a person-to-person level to a society-to-society level, because those people in other countries are the "other", they are not under the protection of our laws, and therefore fair game.  This has always been true in the US - it worked well for those covered by our laws - but if you were not included under that protection (either internally or externally) you lived instead at the sharp end of the sword.  At least until you had given up most everything that we wanted.  

The only way to prevent the society-to-society conflict in your original premise is to have everyone covered by the same laws, so that no one is an "other".  

I am starting to doubt that any society can craft rules that are strong enough to withstand the constant, ever-present assault by those who only want unbridled personal power.  As the society gets too complex there are too many ways for clever people to manipulate it.  The US has had a pretty good run, but it is not clear to me how much longer it will hold - especially since we've always had such an abundance of land and resources, but now that inherent advantage is fading.

I cannot think of anything involving interaction between people that works when scaled beyond a certain size - it always fails.  As much as I value this site, TOD will be an example of this - how much longer until it grows too big, and there are too many posts, too many arguments and disruptions?

Well said Twilight, well said.
Faction A might be able to get by, if they:

See what B can't see.
Eat what B won't eat.
Live where B won't live.
Become invisible in the eyes of B.
Be willing to kill to live.
Teach their children all of the above.

Eventually, B will die-off or back enough to not be as great a threat.  Last man (A) standing will be the one that walks out from the shadows.

The only real issue (after A gets their skills/awareness up) is deciding when to slip into the shadows.  Transition is a bear.

Maybe I redefined your scenario too much?

One more thing.

Group A needs to promote opportunistic/covert breeding between A (males) and B (females).

You know, just in case.

You forgot to mention that Faction A tends to favor deliberation over violence (i.e. they're pansies). So, yeah, the picture isn't pretty.

Matt's scenarios recall the underlying message of Hardin's Tragedy of the Commons article (it wasn't about sheep and fields, and it was originally published in Science). Mutual coercion mutually agreed upon is the only way out. (An aside: has anyone ever noticed that the 80's movie "War Games" cribs heavily from Tragedy of the Commons?)

Hardin wasn't too optimistic, so he wrote about abortion a lot as well. He wouldn't dig a Bush Supreme Court.

What if...

Faction A disregarded Hardin and deliberated wisely.
Quietly developed a nasty set of plagues.
Inoculated its membership.
Waits patiently for B's move.


The only solution for Faction A seems to be to develop advanced killing technologies. In other words, they become like your enemies or they die. In either case, the "bad guys" win out in the end.

I'm waiting for somebody to show me how the "good guys" can win while maintaining their peaceful ways. Any "optimists" want to propose some workable solutions, emphasis on the word workable?



It sounds like Faction A's only alternatively would to become insurgents, but that would violate their non-violence clause.

There is one positive possibility...go hide out away from the chaos until Faction B has wiped themselves out.

Then Faction A is free to run the planet.

Non-violence is not a survival trait, Matt. Therefore Faction A has already chosen to not survive. Faction B is just obliging their suicide wish.

Nature doesn't give a damn about someone's non-violent philosophy, about Ghandi's words, or any other bits and pieces of human philosophy. Nature declares as victors those who successfully pass their genes to the next generation. Period. End of story. If some homo sapiens deem their philosophy sufficiently valuable to save and pass on to others, then they must be prepared to fight to ensure their own survival. If they are unwilling to do this, then their philosophy has no inherent right to survive.

You're only talking about biological continuity. Some people would value cultural continuity (ie what they believe in and teach) above the maintenance of their particular gene pool. And that isn't obviously absurd - it's kept Christianity going for 2000 years and made it the biggest faith on the planet.
I personally think Gandhi had much to say of relevance to this, but I'm still researching it.

(Which could be translated into: I'm not yet brave enough to do what needs to be done)

I've noted a trend: people who idolize Ganhdi tend to have  money and/or assets at their disposal. It's not surprising because Ganhdi was actually virulently hated by the poor of India becasuse when it came down to the bottome line, he promoted the status-quo.


Don't know your precise socioeconomic background, but if your're in the US and have the time/energy to be able to post here you're doing fan-f--king-tastic by global standards.  Naturally, your internal Machiavelli would like to maintain this arrangement. Hence the attraction to Gahndi.

Hopefully you wont react to my critique of your attraction to Ghandi as others have: by getting angry which is the precursor to getting violent. (I always find this reaction ironic when it comes from somebody who cites Ghandi.)



"but if you're in the US, UK or other modernized Western state" is what I meant to post.
Given how equivocal my original point was, that's a remarkably aggressive response. I was thinking of two things: 1. the voluntary simplicity and economic elements to his political thought; and 2. the importance of witnessing to something more important than  biological survival, which can sometimes be enhanced by martyrdom. As I said, the second one is rather challenging. I'm still exploring it, and shall continue to do so.
Wasn't intended to sound aggresive, more matter of fact. But he was pro-status quo which means if he was around today he would not be sacking up for those poor farmers in Los Angeles. If you were a Dalit, Ghandi would have shat all over you just like we well-off folks shat all over poor people today .



Matt and all,

I have read all the posts to date below and no one even considers the most logical outcome because we think we are different.

Humans are animals just like the rest of the natural world.  Our population is still under fundamental biological controls.  We have just spent the last 3-6 generations avoiding those controls using energy, disinfectancts and medical care.

Viruses and bacteria can not be negotiated with.  They thrive on concentrated populations of one species.  We are getting to the point where our medical technolology is not going to keep up with the microbial arms race.

The signs are everywhere if we would pay attention.  Aids, hepatitus, whooping cough, TB, SARS, Avian flu, etc.  All these communicable diseases are trying to limit our population.  We are delaying the inevitable through drugs and treatment at enormous cost, both money and energy.

When energy gets a little scarcer and there are very highly concentrated populations in many places around the world we will have major "plague" events.  Don't believe me?  Imagine what will happen when the medical community gets really sick and half the doctors and nurses die and half the work force at the pharmaceutical company is out sick.  

We haven't seen this situation since WWI and think it was a long time ago.  But from a population biology standpoint it was only a few generations.  Bacteria go through more generations, and evolve each time, in one day than we have gone through in 100 years.

We think we are immune to mass die offs now.  We are not.  What really scares me is that we have three things favoring a mass human die off.  Population overshoot, peak energy, and destruction of the ecosystem via global warming.  Any one is bad but all three together is going reduce the human population in the not too distant future.

good post. recommendations?
Reduce population voluntarily and live sustainably.  In just a few generations we could get sustainable populations in the west and northern Europe that fit a very low energy approach.  I don't know what to do for Asia and Africa, the population density is so high.

This is one reason I lean toward greater survival of rural places after peak energy.  Less people density to spread and modify disease vectors.  True lethals kill a small village but don't spread.  In the cities everyone gets exposed in a few days and the vectors spread over large geographic areas very quickly, even without individuals travelling large distances.

With respect to diseases I am convinced (without citical data sets to back me up) that using antibiotics very sparingly is beneficial for populations to maintain natural resistance.  The U.S. likes the high maintenance approach using antibiotics and chemical herbicides.  There are other approaches, particularly northern Europe where the high maintenance is in the cleanliness and labor associated with raising animals (or even people).  Disease rates are the same or less when antibiotics are not part of the feed ration or used as first approach to disease prevention.

Keeping enormous herds of gentically identical animals in close proximity is just asking for a disease outbreak.  Smaller production scale in different environment might make diseases less prevalent.  This means less food which feeds back to less human population.

I see us having a choice.  We can shoot for that sustainable ecosystem, with us in it, or nature is liable to create it anyway but most of us won't be around to experience it.

This is another one of those logic puzzles like peak oil, peak wood, peak fish, etc..  It you work the problem long enough you realize that we can't over consume the resource without having to change in the end anyway.  We can change down to sustainable levels or we just crash and then change anyway by scarcity, sometimes extinction.  I'm always amazed at how people can't see this ahead of time and must go through the crash process for each example to become believers that the same rule applies to all.

If you want a optimistic take on co-operative behaviour, have a look at The Evolution of Co-operation, by Robert Axelrod (1984). He studied the prisoner's dilemma in an iterated form.

For those who are not familiar with the prisoner's dilemma, it is a staple of game theory and is an analogue of many natural situations where two parties consider whether to co-operate and involves two suspects being questioned separately about a major crime the police suspect that both were involved in. Both know the police have evidence only for a minor crime and the police offer each immunity from prosecution if they will give evidence against the other if the other prisoner does not confess. The one who keeps silent in this case will receive 10 years in jail. If both give evidence they will both serve 2 years. If both keep silent they will both serve only 6 months for the minor offence.

 The best mutual payoff is if both prisoners keep silent but this requires each to be confident that the other will also keep silent.

Each prisoner is tempted to reason that if he gives evidence  the worst he can get is 2 years and may go free. If he keeps silent he is bound to go down for six months and may go down for 10 years. On this basis each prisoner considers it is better to give evidence especially when he realises that the other prisoner has probably made the same calculation and decided to give evidence.

At first sight this seems confirmation that nice guys come last.

However Axelrod considered the case of a large population where there are where many opportunities for co-operation between pairs of individuals and where there are the same relative rewards for co-operation and non-co-operation. Axelrod asked what would be the best strategy in such a situation. He set a competition for suggestions of the best strategy and had a computer simulation of a mixed population employing the various suggested strategies.

He had many suggestions, some involving quite devious nastiness but the winner was one of the simplest, named tit-for-tat. This involved co-operating on first contact with a new member of the population but thereafter doing whatever the other did on the last meeting. Co-operation continued for as long as the other co-operated but any defection was immediately punished. Likewise after a series of non-co-operations any repentance was immediately forgiven.

Excellent book and one of the most important, IMO, published during the decade of the eighties--can't say enough good things about "Evolution of Cooperation."
we all practive Tit-for-Tat instincutally. Its just that the decay of reciprocal altruism after no reciprocity can become evident and then its back to every man for himself. With so much oil, travel, transportation etc, we can recycle our tribe yearly if we need to. The future wont be as forgiving and our tribe will remain so for life - TFT will become much more of a realistic constraint
Assuming most of the A/B interaction is at an individual level, then maybe Faction A could borrow a strategy from poison dart frogs.  
The fun-loving and forward thinking Faction A members might take to growing castor beans, a rather showy plant, and spiking a tenth of their food stores.  If  someone from Faction B should poison themselves with misappropriated booty from Faction A, the news will get around. After a few similar encounters, Faction B in general decides that Faction A's hominy is pretty horrible and not worth the trouble anyway.
For efficiency, analogous to colorful but nonpoisonous frogs, many of Faction A might not even spike their stores.  
Assuming most of the A/B interaction is at an individual level, then maybe Faction A could borrow a strategy from poison dart frogs.  
The fun-loving and forward thinking Faction A members might take to growing castor beans, a rather showy plant, and spiking a tenth of their food stores.  If  someone from Faction B should poison themselves with misappropriated booty from Faction A, the news will get around. After a few similar encounters, Faction B in general decides that Faction A's hominy is pretty horrible and not worth the trouble anyway.
For efficiency, analogous to colorful but nonpoisonous frogs, many of Faction A might not even spike their stores.
Interesting (depressing?) note on The Tragedy of the Commons: My Significant Other has been auditing a class in Latin Aerican current events at the Univ of WIsconsin this semester.

During one class, the TotC came up in discussion. She was shocked and outraged to hear that while the students were familiar with the meme, they had a totally different take on it: It seems that their undergrad econ classes teach it as a parable about the virtues of Private Property: the only way to protect the Commons, they claimed, is to privitize them and let the free market value and protect the resource. It seems they must never have even read the actual article and were blissfully unaware of Hardin's own conclusion ("mutual coercion, mutually agree upon").

Sigh, so much for the myth of ultra-liberal universities brainwashing our youth with socialist propaganda!


A Solution or an Outcome?

An Outcome.  
 * Faction B takes over or kills all of Faction in at least the 3 generational cycle. Just by shear need. Then in Generation 4 or 5 collapses because they have out run their resources.

 Analogy## We have 6.5 billion people on the planet and we are Faction B for the most part and soon very soon we will Collapse.  

A Solution.
Faction A secretly creates a Genetic weapon that Prevents women from having more than one child.  They Spread it where everyone of Faction A and B get dosed with it. Then they sit back and watch the results.  Without a given failure rate(( those women not affected by the mutation)) and isolation of the failure rate population the whole species dies out in a population collapse somewhere in the 10 to the 12 th genrations, Not lasting much past the 20th generation if they last that long.

Only known cases are in works of fiction, Sci-fi being the biggest genra.  I don't know of any real world cases, if others do let me know.  Though there is talk about some animal species having this happen, through other methods than the genetic weapon.

After years of research, Faction A devlops the "MBA", and slips a few deep cover operatives into the universities in Faction B.  Ultimately, Faction B outsources all their manufacturing and the society collapes.  If the people of Faction A are especially ruthless, they also deploy the "lawyer" - but they must be careful not to get caught, as world opinion would be very negative.
So basically develop economic WMD's known as "MBAs" and the much feared "Esq"?



Interesting construct? Any historical examples you are thinking of?

If they are part of the same society, then I would highly recommend they separate!

But just to play along, as early as possible Faction A should try to get a society-level agreement on population/resource growth targets. Otherwise the society will be all "B" pretty quickly. I would also seek to co-opt the "B" children and help convince them of the "A" lifestyle

Now if they are two different societies, then you have a different situation. "A" may become more technologically advanced and per capita richer while "B" slides into subsistance living. Then A can defend its resources and higher standard of living per capita through technological advantages on the battlefield.

Are you saying the only solution for the Sustainable tribe is to develop advanced killing technologies?

How do you think  that will go over at the Energy Solutions conference if I stand up and say, "well folks forget activism or preparation. The only way to maintain a sustainable way of life is for you all to become highly efficient killers."



it's one of only two ways group A can beat group B.
group A can't fight them off if they both have the same kind of weapons, sheer numbers of group B will be the deciding factor of the battle no matter how well trained group A. so the only option if they have to fight group B is to develop some new killing machine.
The other way is for group A to isolate themselves via some means.
Why are you so gloomy this Sunday? The solution is obvious and historical.

Faction A becomes the upper class and contols religious organizations and the military and the media and the schools and government at all levels.

Faction B becomes the proletariat and stabilizes its population through a higher death rate, as soon as Faction A gets tired of giving them welfare, aka bread and circuses.

This pattern of differential reproduction and social stratification has happened many times in history. Higher social classes have always had lower death rates than lower social classes.

Note that to a large extent the highest and lowest social classes are endogenous social aggregates.

I'm actually in a pretty good mood Don!

Regarding my scenario: I'm putting together my talk for the Energy Solutions Conference and am looking to have something to tell those in attendance other than "repent sinners, the end is near!" as my 40 foot cutout of a fire breathing Jesus with flaming red eyes rolls across the front of the ampitheater.

Keep in mind the particular audience will not find things like "kill off Faction B with deadly plagues!!!" or "become the rulers and enslave the population of Faction B" as politically acceptable solutions to resource constraints.




If Philip M. or Dan M. are reading this, I forgot to mention that my talk will have a lot of pyrotechnics and you may need to get a permit or two from the fire marshall.

The historical precedent of A lording over B was when the planet was ecologically empty. Now a dieoff will occur and indiscriminately kill off half of each faction. Then we will witness the next stage in human evolution, when our species has SEEN and experienced overshoot and have that programmed in their history (and possibly neural responses).

Hundreds of pockets of strong-from reciprocal altruists will emerge (those that not only punish cheaters but punish those that dont punish cheaters). It will be Postman-lite. Because of long periods of morphological isolation, there will relatively quickly (on evolutionary time scale) be mutations that bring on Homo Ecologicus who will for millenia then be at war with Homo Savinarus

If I breed enough to establish my own species I'll die a happy man.



Well, actually it was Savinar Luggage magnate Herbert Savinar who they name the species after. Everyone became gypsies and the luggage had some new polymer that lasted for centuries.


As prophet of your new Doomsday Religion
  1. All the women must have sex with you to prove they love God and his representative (i.e., You;-)
  2. Faction B will be convinced by the High Priests (your 888 sons) that there will be Pie In The Sky By and By, and that their misery on earth proves that both You as His Representative and God love them.
  3. Faction B must pay tithes to Faction A to prove their piety and worthiness, and from these taxes you and your descendents can maintain your upper class power for many hundreds of years.

Why argue with a winning formula?

With Morality on its side, not to mention all the corrupt intellectuals, the upper class can keep Faction B fertile and poor and subservient.

Marx had some shrewd observations on history and the role of religion. So did Max Weber.

Matt, even if you are not Christian, at least for a purely pragmatical reason (maximizing the number of people that might receive your message) you should show some consideration to the sensitivity of believers.  I for one would walk out of the amphitheater the moment I saw your cutout.  And my explanation of why is actually related to the issue you originally brought up.

The true image for Jesus is as the "Lamb of God", not as a dragon.  He certainly has come "to set the earth on fire" but that refers to the Holy Spirit (Who descended as tongues of fire in Pentecost).  He also certainly said "I have come to bring not peace but the sword" but that refers to his disciples being persecuted and killed, not to his disciples taking the sword themselves.  Mt 5:38-48 is quite clear in that respect.  

Regarding the attitude his disciples should adopt - whether they have become PO-aware and so are in faction A or they still have not and are in faction B (note that good-willed people can perfectly transition from B to A, as exemplified by Roscoe Bartlett, who had 10 children when the Hubbert's Peak issue was in nobody's mind) - the key teaching might be "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land."  That "land" of course is the kingdom of heaven, the real promised land that his disciples must seek.  I.e. physical survival is not the paramount concern for his disciples, as he said: "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."  (Notice "for my sake", not for any other cause.)  That's further clarified in "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be."  So, to eventually be where Jesus is now, his disciple must "take up his cross and follow after" Him.  Thus, an authentic disciple of Jesus is not a wolf but a lamb like his Teacher.

Pssst.  He's kidding about the cutout.
Jesus was a great and a good teacher. Too bad that almost nobody sincerely tries to follow His (or his) teachings.

My point is that organized religion is almost totally corrupt and antithetical to the beliefs and sayings of Jesus. Christianity as it is organized and institutionalized today is, IMO a travesty and a perversion of the genuinely good and true teachings of Jesus.

Ironically, he was a radical-reforming rabbi who got in trouble with the Establishment of the time--who, I am convinced, did indeed cooperate with the Roman authorities to get rid of Jesus.

Incidentally, my argument for the divine authority of the teachings of Jesus is not that I believe he was the Son of God, but rather I am following Plato's line of reasoning in "Euthyphro." In other words, what is good is right because it is virtuous--and that is why pious actions are beloved of God (or the gods). Thus, to judge whether Moses or Jesus or Mahomet spoke with divine guidance (and I think the evidence suggests they all did), the reason I come to this conclusion is because of the quality of the teachings of these prophets.

To reiterate Plato's point: Something is not pious (or moral or good) because God says so. It is the other way round: God loves what is good (or pious or moral) because it is good. Thus our ideas of goodness and morality are logically prior to our ideas about God.

Thus, for example, when Jesus proclaimed the Brotherhood of Man, we know he was right, because the idea is good--not because we think he is merely acting as Somebody's mouthpiece.

Right. Jesus, if he were in it, would turn over in his grave at what has been done in his name. :->
On a bizarre but related note...Last night my wifes cousin, who is a very successful doctor in Sao Paulo, Brazil,(she owns her own clinic, is well known, is considered a very rational person!) put us in touch with a woman who is a channeler of Jesus.  This was completely unexpected and happened at around midnight.  Long story short, i didnt participate in the phone ceremony because I am not christian and feared that my nagging doubts would ruin the whole situation.

My son who is 1 and 3 months old has been sick for about 2 weeks and has stopped eating with the exception of maternal milk. Due to Carnaval and all of the tourists it attracts, he has been sick, off and on, for about 3 months, with the latest illness seemingly a culmination of some very bad karma.
Naturally we have been panicing over this state of affairs.  The channeler said a few prayer´s, and sang two songs, in the languages of Hebrew and Portuguese.  At the end of this session she told my wife that my son would be completely healed when he awoke this morning.  Well the great news (for those who don´t care for population destruction!) is that he is completely recovered, his appetite is back in a major way, and he is once again destroying my apartment!  

Could you ask her to help us find a few supergiant oilfields in the next few years?
If it makes you feel better, I forgot to mention that I have the 40 foot fire breathing, sword wielding cutout of Jesus roll from the right hand side of the ampitheater while a 40 foot fire breathing, sword wielding cutout of Mohommad (sp?) rolls from the left side. The two cutouts meet in the middle and do battle as I yell at the crowd, "repent, repent, repent!!! the end is nigh!!!"



And don't get me wrong. I LOVE Jesus. The guy had women offering to clean his feet with his hair. I wish I had that type of game.



I think that's only the last resort and if they are two different societies. The Sustainable tribe should first try to convince the other side to agree to societal limits to growth. If that fails, then they should try to separate themselves and every independent society should have a good military deterent to protect themselves from invasion (not necessary offensive weapons).

So first we must try activism...

The human race proves that it's an evolutionary failure?

The premises of your thought experiment do not exist in our world.  There is a group of people who wish to conserve and reduce the population voluntarily.  The vast majority breeds and consumes geometrically.  These factions are components of all societies not seperate gavernments who wage wars upoon each other.  China does have the one child policy yet there population still grows.  

On a darwinistic approach it has been said the wrong people reproduce.  The more educated of all walks have less than 2 children while the lowerclass swells.

The answer to "what happens now?" is B takes A's lunch money or A inevitably dwindles away.

Faction "A" is not sustainable. They diminish by 2 every generation.  The solution is "A" agressivly marketing the value of their lifestyle to their "B" counterparts.

Blogging endlessly about Peak Oil to Peak Oil believers = preaching to the choir.

Get out and save some sinners. Start with friends and family they are a more captive audience.

Blogging endlessly about Peak Oil to Peak Oil believers = preaching to the choir.

Get out and save some sinners. Start with friends and family they are a more captive audience


Oil Rig Medic,

Evangelising is not my style or interest. I'll  put an add out (my site) and if people want to come to the sermon (the discussion here and elsewhere) then great but I'm not interested in being an evangelical peak oiler.



"Evangelising is not my style or interest. I'll  put an add out (my site) and if people want to come to the sermon (the discussion here and elsewhere) then great but I'm not interested in being an evangelical peak oiler."

Then your message dies with you, and the world slides down a slippery slope despite you.  If your peak oil theories and assumptions are correct it is your duty to help your fellow human.  If you are not the solution then what does that leave.  And the point is not to make people "peak oilers" but stewards of our enviornment.  2% of society will not make a difference....we need 99.9% of people to care.

I enjoy most of your posts as they are well written and researched, but that last statement frustrates me. Show some pride in your work it is deserving.

I have been taking the End of Suburbia to every venue I can for quite a while. The main reaction is disbelief, head nodding and a few who are vigorously on board. The problem is none of them have changed one whit of their behaviour.

Yeast: Still winning.

  The 99% I speak of lies between you and I in ideaology.  The way to change the behavior of the masses is not criticism or lecture but to demonstrate self interest.  I think I have convinced at least six people in six months to change habits (recycling, minor conservation etc).

I don't think Suburbia must end but it must change.  This change has to occur in who we are on a fundamental level.  At this point enviornmentalism is not "mainstream" but it could be.  Forty years ago our culture was much different. Things that were socially acceptable then are not now.  Matt's Faction "A" must convince the rest to adopt its ways.
Matt Tipton

The way to change the behavior of the masses is not criticism or lecture but to demonstrate self interest.

Well, you certainly have abundant self interest. Your confessed intent to hunt "rich humans" as a food source is one piece of evidence. Your unwillingness to share your recipes is another. Or maybe recipe sharing was socially acceptable then but not now?


thanks. that was funny
"Your confessed intent to hunt "rich humans" as a food source is one piece of evidence."

I believe you misquote me.  I have not "confessed intent" atleast as it goes toward hunting rich humans.  I believe bob asked me a pointed question as to what circumstance would drive me to inflict harm on another for self preservation.  I answered the question (honestly might I add) that in the off chance my ability to plan, farm, beg, borrow, steal all fell through I thought he might taste like chicken.  I was being sarcastic but I have seen people act crazy when they are hungry while in my periods of starvation I have been very methodical and rational.

As to self interest I mean people will drive hybrids to save money.  They will buy solar panels to get the tax credit.  Most people are not altruistic.

Actually, fertility rates are dropping in almost every country on the planet (except for those with already low rates, i.e. less than 2). Seems to me the human race is reacting to the oncoming carrying capacity crunch, just way too slow. Long way between the bridge and the engine room on the big "T" boat.
The reasons fertility rates are dropping are all reasons that might well reverse in the post-carbon age.

They are:

  1.  Education and empowerment of women, including the ability to decide how many kids to have.  Not just birth control, though that's a big part of it, but the economic and social power that lets them use it, even if their husbands don't want to.  

  2.  Urbanization.  Twelve kids on a farm is free labor.  Twelve kids in a tiny city apartment is a pain.  Even China allows rural families to have more than one child.

  3.  Lower death rate.  Parents are willing to have smaller families if they are sure their children will live.  So offering health care, nutrition, etc., will actually decrease the population growth rate, though that seems counterintuitive.  

I fear all three of these will unwind in the post-carbon age.  Which means all the gains we have made in population control will also unwind.
I find the 'Economic Opportunity' hypothesis put forth by Virginia Abernethy to be pretty compelling (I'm chagrined by her racist attitudes, however). There seems to be a lot of evidence to support it. In short, a family will decide to have fewer children if the future looks relatively bleaker in terms of economic opportunities. The reasons you cite seem to be enablers, but I don't think provide the kind of overview hypothesis that demographers like to stick to.

Article on the EO hypothesis

BTW, China's fertility was already dropping fast when the one-child law was enacted:

In short, a family will decide to have fewer children if the future looks relatively bleaker in terms of economic opportunities.

That is not the mainstream view among anthropologists.  And it doesn't explain why people who are socioeconomically successful have fewer children.  If the EO theory is correct, shouldn't it be the Bill Gateses of the world who have 13 children, and not peasants in Africa or herders in Tibet?

I understant the mainstream view -- 'Benign Demographic Transition.' I think it's conceptual basis is flawed. It makes more sense to me to consider the fertility-rate/wealth-level within a given reference group (country) over a time-scale, rather than to take a point in time and compare dissimilar cultures/countries.

For examples:
The US in the 19th century had big frontiers (notwithstanding a few pesky redskins), big hopes, big families. Great Depression era thru WWII had declining wealth, declining opportunities, declining family size. Post WWII had great hopes, increasing wages, increasing family size (baby-boomer speaking here). Up until around 1970 (peak year for other things as well) when median income leveled out and fertility rates dropped to around 2.1. Median income remained essentially flat for the rest of the century as did fertility rates.

Take a given country, plot fertility rates vs economic and social well-being and the correlation is striking. Saudi Arabia's fertility rate shot up sharply in the 80s with the onset of big oil bucks. It dropped somewhat in the 90s. I wouldn't be surprised if it is going up again. Cuba's fertility rate shot up when Battista was deposed, sank lower later. Same with Egypt when the British left.

Find me a country where declining wealth and economic opportunity in a given time frame correlate with rising fertility. I don't think such an example exists. The BDT theory has far to many counter-examples to stand up.

Bottom line for me is that it makes Biological sense. Good times lead to more babies, bad times lead to fewer babies.

Good times lead to more babies, bad times lead to fewer babies.

That makes sense to me as a short-term strategy.  Postponing reproduction to better times.  My own parents postponed having me until after my dad was drafted.  He didn't want to leave my mom alone with a baby.  But eventually, people are going to have their kids, and it's not clear to me that they'll have fewer in the long run.  

How does Abernathy's theory explain the Gaza Strip?  The most densely populated real estate in the world.  More crowded and poorer than the West Bank, with culturally similar occupants...but with a birth rate  25% higher than the West Bank's already high birth rate.

There sre very few examples of a sustained rise in fertility of any kind in history, so you're setting the bar rather high for your opponents in your second last paragraph :-)
Which is probably because the whole concept that having children is a "decision" is flawed.  For it to be a decision requires knowledge, planning, access to contraceptives and the freedom/ability to use them.  In the places where people are poor and families are large, these conditions are usually not met.
That's true.  The Abernathy paper seemed to be taking what others might consider as Malthus' Doom in action as evidence that economic bad times reduces fertility.  If people aren't having children because they're so crowded they're undernourished...well, that's not really a choice.  It's precisely that situation that most demographers are hoping to avoid.

I recently read a paper about the effect of war on fertility in Angola.  It found that well-off, urban women did seem to postpone reproduction when things were really bad.  Perhaps because they had the ability to do so?  

Some societies have traditions that discourage reproduction during bad times.  For example, right now in Kenya, many men find themselves forced to postpone marriage because the drought has made it impossible to for them to raise a bride price.  

But I wonder how long that will continue, if times remain bad.  Eventually, the girls' parents will decide any husband is better than no husband.  

IOW, people's strategies during "temporary" hard times may be quite different from their strategies once they realize things will never get better.  Even Abernathy acknowledges this, obliquely, when she says it's "perceived" opportunity rather than actual opportunity that counts.

There seems to be little correlation between access to birth control and family size within a given country (read the Abernethy link).

Statistics and lies etc. In Somalia the estimated fertility rate is 6.5 (2005) (likely a SWAG, given the chaos there). Given the horrendous infant and child mortality, it may be the case that a woman has to bear 6 children for 2 of them to reach child-bearing age. The high population growth rate would be driven more by the fact that the median age is something like 17, i.e. there is a huge proportion of females of child-bearing age. If this hypothesis is true, and each woman had 2.1 children all of whom survived to child-bearing age, the population would still be growing at roughly the same rate.

It bothers me that so many people subscribe to cultural stereotypes that roughly translate as 'those dark-skinned third world people breed like crazy.' I'll bet if you were to interview families in Somalia or other African countries you would find that couples try to make informed decisions about how many children they have, just as we think people in the US do.

There is a lot more than meets the eye in these demographic and cultural areas, so step carefully.

BTW, another anecdotal piece of evidence RE Bill Gates. Donal Trump has 5 children and may not be done yet.

Why did Garrett Harden have 4 children, when he was a founding member of Planed Parenthood?
Perhaps Garrett just planned on having four.  Why not five?
I would guess it's because by the time he and his wife realized population was a problem, they had already had their family.  Can't return kids for a refund, unfortunately.  ;-)
Ha!  I suppose my son will eventually figure that out, but it gives me some leverage for now.

 Faction B stops selling oil to Faction A.

 Faction A no longer has any mobility and cannot even remember how they got to the corner store before they had oil. Faction A perishes because their emergency kit consists of the full series CD set for The Sopranos.


It sounds like you've been reading Jay Hanson's recent stuff at Energy Resources.


The simple answer is that you have inaccurate information.  We have lots of weapons and we'll kill anyone stupid enought to practice your beliefs.


My beliefs? I'm not advocating anybody practice anything in particular.



faction a is an experiment in commune-ism
we don't do that here
Ok, for a less sarcastic reply:

As someone else implied, faction B will have a limited ability to overrun faction A once the underlying assumptions of their economy/military are rendered false, and faction B certainly won't attack at peak strength. If during the "action" faction A survives at least partly intact, it will be orders of magnitude stronger than faction B going forward as faction B will be rapidly devolving. Eventually faction A overruns faction B across the entire planet, either killing members of faction B or absorbing them into the culture of faction A. Faction B was less fit for long term survival than faction A, thus faction B is relegated to the history books just like many human cultures of the past.

The big question is how well faction A can survive the action - if they end up in a devolving state as well, humans will be in for millennia of feudal society.

What if Faction A is committed to "sustainability" and "peacefullness" and actually follow through their beliefs?

In your scenario, the peacefull members of Faction A become global wide serial killers. I am not prepared to stand up at the Energy Solutions conference in 2 weeks and tell people in attendance they better get ready to kill off people who aren't on board with their beliefs regarding sustainabilty.  



I wouldn't be comfortable telling people to buy guns either if I wanted the kind of people you are talking to to take me seriously. Think about it though - how can something be sustainable if it can't be defended? As far as I'm concerned defense is an integral part of sustainability.

Faction A still needs some % of the Earth's land for their culture to operate at the level they want. That will require "removal" of faction B types. After that, killing off faction B can be limited to those members trying to steal faction A's resources. It can be purely defensive. If your scenario comes to pass, there is no way to avoid these things.

I don't know how you introduce this concept to people. The costs, benefits, and assumptions of the social contract giving the state its monopoly on violence are not consciously considered by many people. A citizen's definition of 'peaceful' is avoiding personal acts of violence. That definition does not extend to a world where governments no longer have the ability to enforce their monopoly on violence or scenarios in which the costs of that monopoly far outweigh the benefits (note that a lot of 2nd amendment defenders argue that is already the case, personally I do not agree).

Wow, this is easily the most right-wing sounding comment I've ever written.

Haiti & Dominican Republic share the same island.  The Dominican Republic is no ecotopia, BUT there are the more responsible society and they are doing MUCH better today.
What happens? Same old crap, different era.

War, disease, famine, pestilence. Just the standard death and dying stuff.

Nature does not care how we decide to sort things out. We trip up and nature simply continues as always. Imbalance spurs balance. Entropy wins again.

As Bob always signs off, "Are we smarter than yeast?"

The jury is still out.

ok I'm not anti sematic
the only real modern day contrast to this scenerio would be Isreal.
my thoughts
A: they've isolated themselves
B: they're the minority
C: they're rich
D: everyone of they're niehbors hates them
isn't that exeacly what you'd end up with? you'd need some nukes, a bad ass millitary and some real tough friends
Couple fussy details..
Do any of the kids from one faction grow up and find they have to migrate to the other faction, by reasons of divergent political ideals, sexual preferences, excess mental capacity (or the lack of any of the above, perhaps)? .. and would that require an adjustment in these birthrate calculations?  

How much can you really use such an example, except as a tool to redeploy the "Watch out, they'll be comin' to get us!" message?  There are too many incomplete assumptions there to take it anywhere useful..

In the ranks of the Religious Right,of course there are going to be Extreme fatalists, just as there are here.  I don't know how much good it does to try to reason with them, to say that there's a better way. That we can figure it out, and keep trying to raise all our kids.  There are a lot of people out there who just don't fit into those homogeneous molds, and if you're worried about what we're going to do about it, I hope one of the plans is to reach across these perceived barriers and start forging some connections.  It's what we need to do anyway, both within this country to be a COUNTRY again, and with people abroad.  One of the worst symptoms of Energy Addiction is that it enables us to live very isolated from one another.  Those Luxuries, like the one I'm using right here to write with, come to be treated as the trinkets of the 'Good Life', while they keep us busy in separate cubes, doing very little to sharpen our key, human skills. (Been dancing lately?)

We need to meet and know all our neighbors, join (create) local groups that can actually hit the ground and be ready to work on some of our contingencies, for energy, for food, for transit, healthcare, mediation, whatever.  But first, we've got to do all we can to remember how to cross those lines, and hopefully start to erase them.  Religious divisions are huge.  So are Racial, Class, Political, Age differences. There are ways to have discussions that don't simply play into widening the divide even farther, but remind each other that our similarities actually do outweigh our differences, and we can help each other.

The latest YES magazine has a list of '10 Most Hopeful Trends' going on right now, including a group called the Nonviolent Peaceforce, a consortium of 93 member orgs around the world..

"In one instance, a group of mothers approached a Nonviolent Peaceforce team in SriLanka after their children had been abducted to be child soldiers. After locating the camp where the children were being trained, NP accompanied the mothers, who demanded the return of their children.  Negotiations continued for several days, until 26 children were released." (Mel Duncan)  www.yesmagazine.org  

    as one example of the work people are doing to oppose the kinds of scenario you presented above.

"Grandson, I have two wolves in me, fighting each other to the death.  One fights for good, while the other fights for evil."

"Grandfather, which one is going to win?"

"Whichever one I feed"

I've been lurking for a month or two here but Mr. Prophet of Doom's question pulled me out of the woods.

Any division of people into camps or factions or parties or cultures or races is a fiction. There are always relationships and continuums that link different sorts of people. Which is to say that change is always possible, indeed always in process.

The fundamental challenge is really one of education. Human beings are products of training, background, education. We're not exactly blank slates when we're born, but still, we are amazingly malleable.

We don't have two isolated systems or N isolated systems, we have a big system with N components. For example, liberals and conservatives actually create each other, each camp recoiling in horror from the absurd excesses of the other camp. Without the other camp to react to, each camp would just dissolve.

One huge factor that I think dominates our modern system is mass media. It's really TV and movies that are the most powerful shapers of our modern global culture. Today these are carefully controlled to send the message "consume".

With the wall ahead of us in the road we're on, something is going to change. The "consume" message will stop being broadcast relentlessly, one way or another.

Anyway, the faction A and faction B fable does prove a nice point. Running away and hiding in some ecotopia is futile. Ignoring connections and relationships is suicidal. The path to success is to surf the connections and relationships, to use them like an artist, to pick up the scraps and junk and weld them into a transcendent vision of harmony.

So anytime you start to see the world as us and them, remember that we are after all the same family, and in fact it's by trading and sharing and comparative advantage etc. that us & them can learn to thrive.

"Kill the enemy" is an even more futile strategy than "consume". Recall the wisdom of Pogo: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

"Any division of people into camps or factions or parties or cultures or races is a fiction."


Tell that the to the Sunnis and the Shia.




People kill each other over illusions all the time. But to understand the behavior of a confused or mistaken person, or to attempt to reorient such a person to less destructive behavior, does not require one to subscribe to their erroneous beliefs.
You propose that stupidity is inherited. On the contary, intelligence is learned and children react to their parents. The sons and daughters of the activists well become the next generation's pacifists. It all evens out in the end. Same muddle.
Fascinating article in Sci Am about Orangutan intelligence:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=1&articleID=000C1E5D-B9BA-1422-B9BA83414 B7F0103

Fits my own bias that evolution may happen faster than current models suggest.

Hello Matt,

FWIW, here is my assessment of a possible solution.
+++++++++++++ Faction A
Faction A seeks sustainability and a daily biosolar lifestyle-- no addiction to detritus, but all the biosolar wealth they can muster, such as Richard Rainwater's biosolar farm.  Please read Jeff Vail's articles on EnergyBulletin for some possible Powerdown strategies:


Consider that two former oilmen, Bush & Cheney, have built small biosolar Eco-tech habitats for themselves--they know detritus addiction is a losing strategy for the long-run.  So they, by their personal actions, are working to include themselves in Faction A.

Earthmarines can protect these habitats from being overrun by detritovores.  The wealthy can already afford this protection: Blackwater Security was first on the ground in Nawlins [a trial run], Secret Service can protect Presidential biosolar habitats.
====Faction B
Faction B, the detritus addicts, understand their hopeless addiction to ancient sunshine and pop. Overshoot, but are willing to fund vast biosolar habitat construction and the essential Earthmarine need, but understand the price of addiction means being forbidden to overrun the biosolar habitat.  They purposely chose to use the leverage of detritus as long as possible, but are willing to accept the logical consequences as the world goes postPeak.
The Earthmarines are sworn to protect the biosolars, but if adequate geo-buffer space is created, most detritovores will succumb to natural processes [thirst, starvation, hypothermia, etc] before ever breaching the biosolar boundary requiring ruthless Earthmarine snipers to halt their progress.

Recall my earlier posting on how a proficient sniper is the most effective extrasomatic detritovore ever created:

There is a plaque on the wall of the Marine Sniper school at Camp Pendleton that has a translation of a Chinese proverb that reads, "Kill one man, terrorize a thousand."

There is another sign at the USMC sniper school that reads "The average rounds expended per kill with the M16 in Vietnam was 50,000. Snipers averaged 1.3 rounds. The cost difference was $2300 vs. 27 cents."

The U.S. Army determined that the average soldier will only hit a man size target 10% of the time at 300 meters with the M16A2 rifle. The U.S. Army standard for snipers is to hit 90% first round hits at 600 meters with the M24 SWS. That is at least an 1800% improvement over the average soldier.
The Earthmarines will be well-paid for their task: initially by the detritovores [recall my earlier post explaining this funding mechanism], then when the output of the biosolar area exceeds the postPeak detritus output-- the Earthmarines will be fully incentivized to protect the biosolar habitats even more.

Just as wolves are the keystone species that can reorder the other species in their habitat, the Earthmarines can be the 'humanimal wolves' that can best direct the other 'humanimals' to gradually move from detritovores to daily biosolars. If we don't do it ourselves with a planned Powerdown--Nature will force us the hard way!

Recall the post about how islands seem to offer a better chance at reaching sustainability.  Earthmarines are the best tool to carve out large 'biosolar islands' in the North American continent.  The secession movements building in the NE & NW sections of the US may be the best place to get this started.  Time will tell.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?


Interesting and very well-thought out (nice twist on Bush/Cheney's ranches) but how do you think the average attendee at the Energy Solutions Conference next week will respond if I start my talk by telling them:

"Well folks, the bad news is oil is running out and the climate is collapsing. The good news is that a well trained sniper can kill a man for 27 cents . . . "

Between starting my talk with this tidbit of positive thinking and ending it by having my 40 foot cutout of a fire-breathing Jesus with sword in raised fist roll across the floor, don't you think I risk alienating a few people?




All joking aside, the conference seems to shaping up quite well. Obviously I'm speaking and getting paid to do so, thsu it's in my self-interest to say that but my fee is already set so it's not like I gain anything specifically by recommending attendance.


One of the things I'll be touching on (that I've hinted in this thread) is how to mentally reconcile where we're heading with maintaining some semblance of a positive attitude.

Hello Matt,

Yep, this is an exceedingly difficult topic to discuss and maintain a positive attitude.  My thinking revolves around how any detritus use creates a demand for more detritus [the pointless hamster wheel effect], and possible ways to harness the remaining detritus to grow daily biosolar projects.

Current trends seem to indicate future desperate internal fighting for detritus resources which is totally suboptimal.  I am picking numbers for my following examples, not scientifically determined.  But let's say if we continue our present course, US population will decrease to 25 million as we totally decimate our habitat nationally.

Instead, imagine if the US was divided into two distinct habitats: one biosolar, one detritovore.  If the biosolars can work unmolested [protected by Earthmarines], and can maximize their habitat biodiverse sustainability over time, then the US headcount may only have to shrink to 50 million-- a 100% improvement!  This is certainly a positive result, a cause for some optimism.

Many TODers say people won't change until they have to, yet many Peakoil first-movers already exist and have made great Powerdown strides.  IF Congress & President just started discussing breaking the country into these habitats, then I think huge numbers of the unwashed masses would start Powering down on their own, saving even more lives and other species over time. If we can somehow create a meme for maximizing biosolar wealth yet minimizing detritus addiction-->this could lead to even more cautious optimism.

My thinking is basically creating another Civil War, but this one will be "very civil" as the Earthmarines will keep the two factions apart. The enemy is not each other per se, the enemy is our genetic tendency to act stupid as yeast.

I believe that the more people find out about Overshoot & Dieoff, the less likely they are to have 2 or more children.  This is the most important path to decrease future violence and optimize biodiversity as fewer births means less demand for both detritus and biosolar goods.

The average detritovore is not going to be willing to invade on foot the Earthmarine buffer area.  If these highly trained, and specially equipped snipers have the vantage points, night & infared equipment, etc-->the wild detritovore mismatch quickly results in the foolish collecting their Darwin Award.  It is far better to cooperate with your neighbors and become biosolar as best you can.

Obviously, this is a simple sketch or outline.  I hope other experts, like Jeff Vail, maybe Kunstler too, can build on this.  We'll see.

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

If you want a strategy to give to the Faction A Sustainables, try this one - bust up Faction B Unsustainables.

By its nature, the ruling elite in Faction B makes life miserable for most of the rest of the Faction.  Naturally, they do their best to blame it all on Faction A.  Because that story's a load of dingoes' kidneys, however, they suffer from certain credibility problems, which therefore need constant management.

The credibility problems of the ruling elite in Faction B can be accentuated by people from Faction A if they cease treating Faction B as an amorphous mass of morons irrevocably committed to their rulers' strategy.  Certainly some of them are, but most of Faction B are suffering from the brainwashing that comes from being immersed in the mainstream media.  The brainwashing, however, is incomplete & contradictory, so actually talking with (rather than at) most Faction B people can actually have results.  Try it one day.  It doesn't hurt.  Just remember it's a dialogue, not a sermon.

Faction A should not expect instant results.  Recruits from Faction B will be insufficient, at first.  The key, however, is to have your message broadly familiar, in an undistorted form, to as many as possible.  This is important because, when TSHTF, the ruling elite in Faction B will face an intense crisis of credibility.  People in Faction B outside the elite will be extremely angry at the people who got them into the hole they're in - and this provides Faction A with the opportunity they need, PROVIDED they have done their groundwork ahead of time.  If they haven't done the groundwork, Faction A might even get the blame.

I don't know if it's the beer but when I read this I all most puked. seriously, the only thing you haven't taken into acount is slavery.
oh my god bush cheney bectell kbr wackenhut adm n mnm my god whose gona work thier fields, suck thier pours, keep thier tiolets flushing
I'm not kidding
nice plan, but has one major flaw.
the earth marines are human.
Fortunately Matt this is unrealistic in the long run

Since Faction A has voluntary birth control, natural selection will take over. After a few generations there will be a critical change in Faction A:

1] Woman will be less able to read a calender, make a decision [do I, or dont I want to wipe sh*t for 4 years?]

2] There will be a general decrease in strategic thinking [what are my needs in 10, 20 years etc] and an increase in short term selfishness and 'divine right justification'

3] Harpies will decide they can forgo male interaction, yet still be babyfarmers etc, etc...

Last book Aldous Huxley wrote before his death, and the arguably the best was ISLAND, which was about just that scenario.  The ending was not happy.  Huxley wrote about (eventual) peak oil and overshoot in POINT COUNTERPOINT in 1928.  A geology professor in the book speaks in favour of social violence if it would reduce the population, similar to Dr. Pianka.  One could say that world population has doubled since Huxley died, so he was wrong, but that would be a mistake, as Huxley was looking further into the future.

The entire body of work of J.R.R. Tolkein also looks at the noble elves being demographically overrun by their fecund human inferiors.  The elves loved nature and nurtured the woodlands as a garden, the humans loved the axe and plow.  And look who inherited the Earth.  The situation has been clear to the wise for many generations.

Hello MicroHydro,

Good points!  If we know we have to go through the Detritus Dieoff Bottleneck, then we should be trying to optimize the 'Squeeze' to get the maximum biodiversity, human diversity, and knowledge through.  Proactively building the largest biosolar lifeboats we can is the optimal solution.

Eventually, biosolar assets will be more desired and valued higher than any gold, IPOD, or HUMMER.  Maybe LOTR is the best religion going forward to help ease the transition.  Except we make the elves win this time.

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

"LOTR is the best religion going forward to help ease the transition."

The hobbits obviously had it right with their underground houses and their love of beer.

I know it is now Monday so no one will probably see this response.
Suppose you styled slavery in the US as a group A and group B.  Group A has no incentive to free group B, and uses group B as the source of their well-being (this applies to both the North and South); group B has no means to overthrow group A.  Therefore, slavery will never end.  However, we know that, against all reason, somehow group B does end up free.  Something similar is possible regarding Matt's A and B.  In 1831 slavery was not even an issue, no one ever even questioned it. Then William Lloyd Garrison started publishing The Liberator.  35 years later it was all over, a moral revolution had occurred and what was once seen as a natural and right way of life was now forever evil.  Something sililar could happen again.  Maybe LATOC or The Oil Drum, could become our Liberator.
However, we know that, against all reason, somehow group B does end up free.

It wasn't against all reason.  It was an economic decision.  

In New York, many slave owners freed their slaves long before slavery was banned.  Why?  To save money.  You have to feed and house a slave, even if he's sick, injured, or too old to work.  Better to hire him, pay him a pittance, and throw him out on the street when he can't work.  True, you can't breed paid laborers and sell their offspring, but the constant influx of immigrants in the northeast made that unnecessary.

Slavery ended throughout the American hemisphere before the end of the 19th century.  Not for moral reasons, but for practical ones.  In some cases, there was violent uprising.  In others, a law was quietly passed with little fanfare.  Slavery simply became more trouble than it was worth (in part due to the industrial revolution).

It is certainly true that economics played a large part (as did a devastating war), but surely you're not claiming that there was NO moral component in the decades long struggle to end slavery (or civil rights, or Ghandi's campaign in India)? The real push to end slavery began with 12 abolishionists meeting together, and eventually swelled to hundreds of thousands of abolishionists spread across the northern states.
The South seceded to preserve slavery, but the North fought not to abolish it but to stop them seceding.
I think economic considerations mold morality, rather than morality molding economics.
I think in the short term they interact.  People will do some fairly uneconomic things in the name of morality, like voting based on abortion and gay marriage while their jobs are disappearing.  I had my car serviced last weekend, and the mechanics wanted everyone to sign a petition against Ford, because they advertise to gays.  I would think an American auto mechanic would want Ford to sell as many cars as they could, to anyone with money, but they felt that complaining about Ford's disregard for their version of morality was more important.
Oh, I think individuals do things for "moral" reasons.  When I said economics shape morality, I meant on the societal level, not on the individual.

Your mechanic simply performed a cost-benefit analysis at the subconscious level. His subconsicous probably noted he would gain more social capital from other members of his tribe (the homophobe tribe)by having people sign the petition then he would lose in financial capital by petitioning against Ford.

He traded 1 unit of financial capital for {X x 1} units of social capital.



I'd say the entire homophobe tribe is willing to lose financial capital in order to spite the homosexual tribe.
You don't think people had been meeting in small groups to abolish slavery for millenium?

Whay did these particular 12 succeed and the countless predecssors and others had failed miserably?

Could it have something to do that those 12 came along at a time in which it would soon be profitable to replace human power with machine power?

Ghanid (as I stated up top) would have been an A-1 ASSHOLE to you if you had been poor:


Like George W. Bush, Ghandi was only interested in your plight if you had some money or were positioined in the upper class. It had little if anything  to with morals or ethics. If it had, he would have sacked up for the Dalits instead of lobbying to prevent them from being able to vote.



Adams noted that he never saw a jury rule against a slave claiming that he or she was not a slave. The owners couldn't force their slaves to work by threatening to punish them, so they liberated them all across the North because states would allow you to liberate a slave before he got old and therefore avoid responsibility for supporting him in his old age.
The end of slavery in the South is well documented. The end of slavery in the North is not nearly as well documented because mostly it was done by intense social pressure on the slave owners.
Faction B's tanks run out of fuel crossing the arid steppes that were depopulated by faction A's decline in population. Obviously faction A has conserved its resources for essential things while faction B has squandered resources in true American Style. When faction B runs out of fuel, faction B is in deep doo-doo because its people don't know how to survive without plundered wealth having survived for so long following the Viking raider maxim 'Never earn by sweat what you can take by blood.'
    We are aware of the problem you mention. Have you considered white nationalist ecofascism?



Not really. The me being half-Jewish thing might be kinda problematic.

My apocalyptic religious cult is going to be multi-racial. It's the only way to mix the genes up enough so that some of my children have genetic immunities to the various plagues TPTB will be unleashing upon us. (See Don, I've thought this baby through!)

Why only have this:


when you can also have this:


and this:


. . . in order to maximize the spiritual sustainability and other such and such of the community?



I agree 100%. Sailors have long traditions of being nonethnocentric when it comes to relations with women: All single women, regardless of race, creed, color, age, religion, former condition of servitude, or political affiliation are young and beautiful and highly desirable.

BTW, if a woman says she is single, then she is;-)

When does your cult/denomination/sect/survivalist- nonprofit-corporation get going? And what are you going to name it?

I'm actually talking with some people about what it would cost to have them maintain my site so that I can spend time pursuing other things like learning skills and getting my cult started.  



Just curious... what do people think about the latest report on energy usage from the EIA.

Total US energy usage actually went down last year and it has been relatively flat since 2000. Have we broken the link between economic growth and energy usage?

Also, any comments on the continued decline of energy intensity. How much of this decline can be attributed to moving energy consuming activities off-shore?

We have cut energy intensity  by 50% over the last 30 years. Can we cut it an additional 80-90% over the next fifty years?

Flipping burger, painting nails, financial investing and running up a trade deficit uses much less energy than an auto factory worker.

How long can we keep printing dollars to fund our "growth"?

Free trade has moved a big chunk the manufacturing sector to other countries. This doesn't reduce the world's energy consumption. It means China needs more energy. It doesn't take much energy to create mortgages and churn real estate.

I think the ratio of GNP to the total cost of energy is going down. It is best to use the ratio to cancel out raw price inflation.

We may have cut our energy intensity but has that reduced our overall consumption?



All that you have to do is look at per capita energy consumption in the United States to see that we are exactly the same as we were 30 years ago.  We have done nothing to reduce energy usage, just shifted the proportions used from different sources.  
If we the methods of measuring inflation that they used in the 70s then there has been no economic growth since jan 20,2001.
In case you don't spend enough time on TOD, you can often find links to nice doomy articles on 321energy, including this one, and 321gold.  Gold is up ~$8 at the moment.
Another article telling how oil sands, oil shale etc will save us.

The Oil Rush
How high-tech prospectors are trying to squeeze fuel--and fat profits--out of the earth while transforming the petroleum market



I'm not a brain surgeon but I read widely.  Scientists have recently discovered  the base of faith in the brain.  They've named it the Oblongata Oy Schmangelica after Herman "Oy" Schmangelica who noticed dramatic increases in piety as well as extreme denials of reality whenever the OS was electrically stimulated.  

But here's where my plan for the A folks comes in.  Autopsies have shown that as one wallows for  months drifting into years of faith-based thinking, the Oblongata Oy Schmangelica grows dramatically - and becomes a sort of not-so-benign tumor that essentially crowds out all reasoning areas in the brain.  

I think it would therefore be possible to create schmetro gevalt viruses (first developed by Bernie Gevalt Schmetro) that would preferentially destroy the Oblongata Oy Schmangelica, resulting in a. either the death of the individual or b. his intellectual renaissance--a win for the A's either way!

Easter Prayer for bombing. A miltary strike on Iran would surely drive up oil past $100 and force Americans to think about alternatives.

Can you think of a faster way to reduce climate change?

 Bomb LA

..and good thing there'd be no side-effects!

No, sorry.  We'd be preoccupied with how much of Europe would be having back-room chats with Russia, and whether Al Quaeda would be making their IPO the next monday, with all the new recruits and their dowries.

I guess a nuclear winter might do the trick. :-P
Prejump the Peak, prod a terrorist?
You act as though terrorism is a bigger threat than climate change.

We are on the titanic heading for the iceberg. What is more important turning so we don't hit the iceberg or catching the guy that stole your wallet?

Not at all,   I can see a case for prodding a terrorist to throttle oil production.  This might be the most expeditious means by which an individual or small group could influence the global scene.
My idea is that if things really get bad and instead of society becoming more sustainible it becomes even less sustainible and people start cutting down all the trees, depleting all the soil and emptying the oceans and lakes of all life and so forth small isolated communities may be a solution. Find a place where no one is likely to go, even when things go all to hell, and find a way to survive there.

Society's like the inuit will likely survive, possibly others, can't think of anyone else right now.  

   thought I'd add some more information about spring time in the Caribbean.

   I don't have a link to Der Spiegel article, since I have a subscription. The article is on page 108, 'Ärger auf der Insel' from 10.04.06, and is somewhat less than obvious about Dutch troop numbers in the text -

Um den irrlichternden Präsidenten vor möglichen militärischen Abenteuern zu warnen, veranstaltet Den Haag in den kommenden Wochen das große internationale Militärmanöver 'Joint Caribbean Lion 2006' in der Region - bereits über 4000 Soldaten sowie 'Leopard'-Panzer wurder entsandt.

This is followed by more information about America sending ships, including the carrier George Washington.

Admittedly, apart from being in German, you have to read Der Spiegel with certain skills, much like reading the Washington Post requires its own set of skills.

The translation, more or less -

To warn the erratic president [Chavez] against possible military adventures, Den Haag has arranged the large international military exercises 'Joint Caribbean Lion 2006' in the region - more than 4000 soldiers have already been sent, as well as Leopard tanks.

As said, reading Der Spiegel is a skill - notice that it is Chavez that is threatening - he called the Dutch Defense Minister Henk Kamp an 'American lackey,' for example and the Dutch are only responding to an erratic figure who buys weapons as pointed out earlier in the article, including 33 military helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikovs. Der Spiegel is part of the Western media, after all. (Great car ads, for example, mainly German and French models.)

The number of soldiers is open to intepretation - the Leopards are decidely Dutch equipment, but the number of soldiers 'already sent' for the exercise is 4000, not that it is necessarily 4000 Dutch soldiers.

Glad to offer some more information and background - these things do tend to be complex - buried little articles here and there. Apart from the facts as less than clearly reported, keep in mind that Der Spiegel essentially approves of Her Majesty's government protecting Royal Dutch (it is a pun, sort of) property against an erratic military figure.

Chavez is a problem in a number of ways, and I am quite certain that neither Dutch, British, nor French oil companies are any more happy with his style than American ones. (As a guess, Chinese and Russian oil companies have a lot fewer problems.) Regardless of what many Americans seem to be believe, the West is still a functional political unit/concept. Oil, for example, seems to have the same value for Japan, Germany, the U.S., as for Sweden or Poland - some things transcend petty barriers.

But interesting to see someone else's exercises this spring - I guess the Dutch regularly practice with tanks on Curacoa or Aruba because the soldiers need a good tan after the gray wet winters. Or something.

If I had any respect for the talent of the Bush Administration in foreign affairs, I would think they are planning to knock Chavez off while the world is focused on Iran, and in relief that America ratcheted down its threats to the smooth delivery of 40% of the world's shipped oil, no one would be bothered that the U.S. did what it has done for generations - replacing a South American government with one Washington finds acceptable.

But truly, imagining that level of talent and skill is just not possible in the face of the facts. Shame to see how far America has lost its skills - it used to be able to knock off dangerous people like Allende with panache. I bet Carter is to blame, with all that human rights and democracy talk, and CIA hobbling, and giving the Canal back. Strange - many South Americans actually seem to believe democracy means respecting the wishes of a majority of voters, and that democracy is worth defending. It is still a wonder that this occurred in America's own backyard, considering the last 100 years or so. I mean, there wasn't even a Panama when the U.S. decided to finish the Canal, for example.

Hello TODers, especially the terrific data freaks!

As I am not an professional engineer or statistician: I am asking for help from those more familiar with the science and required analysis to work up the facts and graphs.  Consider:

  1.  Warmer winter than normal because of Global Warming [GW] effects.  Reduced national requirement of detritus to heat buildings.  Key assumption: warmer winters will continue due to GW.

  2. Also due to GW, we will be experiencing ever hotter spring, summer, and fall temperatures.  This will make detritovores turn on the A/C units to cool their cars, houses, and workplaces much more frequently.  Key Assumption: longer national timeframe of burning energy for A/C than just the winter heating season.  Potentially a national cool/heat hour ratio of 3:1?

  3. Due to our low national birthrate, this will cause a rapid shift to a larger, but older populace that requires A/C to prolong health: excess heat is a rapid killer of the elderly and sick.  Thus, as we go postPeak, more and more elderly will be willing to pay heavily for A/C.

  4. Heating an enclosed space is more energy efficient than trying to cool it per degree.  Burning natgas or heating oil can heat air more efficiently than using electricity [adding another entropic process] to remove heat.  Any kind of equipment adds heat to an enclosed space, but this creates an opposing force when trying to A/C cool this space.

  5. Continued migration and pop. growth to the American Sunbelt adds that much more pressure on detritus energy to provide electricity for A/C desires.

So, if 1-5 are considered for total aggregate effects on detritus demands: it seems to me that as we go postPeak is when we will also be seeking the maximum energy burn rate trying to stay cool.

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


People might find this of interest, as it confirms the arguments made about shortage of rigs.
'With the wall ahead of us in the road we're on,
something is going to change. The "consume"
message will stop being broadcast relentlessly,
one way or another.'

History suggests that self-destructive behaviour
does not cease when reality begins for bite.
Indeed, there are numerous examples of self-
destructive behavour becoming more self-
destructive as dysfuntional systems face
meltdown... particularly when those in control
are paranoid, are megalomaniacs or have so-
called religious convictions. Take Japan over
the period 1944-45 for example. As previously
conquered terrritory was lost and the mainland
became increasingly under threat, rather than
seek an early political solution, the Japanese
leadership called for ever more sacrifice.
Even when it was perfectly evident that Japan
had no chance whatsoever of holding back the
tide of Allied Forces and ciites were attacked
(by air) on a daliy basis, there was no
talk of compromise. Only in the face of total
annihilation did the leadership relent. Germany
of 1944 was much the same. In WWI it took
something like 90,000 casualties and a revolt
amongst the ranks before the French generals
changed their tactics at Verdun (and then they
had several dozen of the 'desserters' shot,
just for good measure.

All that would suggest that in the face of
economic meltdown, environmental meltdown,
military meltdown etc. those with a vested
interest in maintaining the status quo will
devote ever more energy to promoting it. Is
that not exactly what we are witnessing right
now? Thus TIME magazine's 'Be worried, Be
very worried' was followed on the very next
page by an advertisement for gas-guzzler.
Oil companies, faced with stagnant oil
production and criticism on the global
warming front, create elaborate deceptions
around natural gas, suggesting that
burning methane is somehow good for the

Here in NZ, I do not see any indication of
political leadership toward a sustainable
future. The higher the price of fuel goes,
the more politicans and city councils press
for more motorways. Just recently we were
treated to a radio discussion on town
planning on National Radio: there was not
no mention of energy depletion nor
environmental degradation  -just
delusional mantra about economic growth.
There are groups pressing for more marinas
and foreshore development at a time whan the
informed scientific community is warning of
substantial sea level rise in a matter of
decades. As I write, construction is
underway of the biggest shopping mall ever
contemplated in NZ (with acres of mandatory car
parks of course. This at a time when the nation
is suffering a massive balance of payments
crisis (8.9% GDP), a stagnant economy or in
recession, stagnant or falling house prices.
On the international front, the initiatives
are for more free trade -the argument that
sees NZ export wine to Chile, so that
we can import Chilean wine. It is all
quite bizarre. But those who oppose the
insanity are simply ignored.

In reality, there is a very real prospect that
the entire globalised consumer society will be
severely challenged, if not actually start to
fall over within year or so. It could even be
in a matter of a few months. We simply do not
know how much oil/gas production in the GOM
will be knocked out this summer, when Russia
will decide to limit exports, when Mexicao
will be unable to export, nor which
nation will be next to have problems with

I desperately hope I am wrong, but something
tells me the last Joules of energy before the
grid goes down will be used to advertise sell
fast food or gas-guzzlers, rather than to
promote something of benefit to society.

So maybe the 'one way or another' will be
system failure.

There are indications that it is going to
be wideranging extraordinarily severe
weather incidents, as much as actual inabilty
to pump oil, that is likely to cause system


... something tells me the last Joules of energy before the grid goes down will be used to advertise fast food or gas-guzzlers...

Along the interstate in the desert North of Las Vegas there are billboards with lighting powered by solar panels.  That's what I call "appropriate technology"!  :-)  :-(

Way behind reading comments after the Easter holiday, so this may have been noted already.  NPR Morning Edition interviewed Kevin Phillips (American Theocracy) who spoke at length about the Republican party's strategy, since the time of Nixon, to align themselves with energy interests.  He actually used the words Peak Oil and described it as running out of oil by the 2010s or 2020s.

He said the modern history of Iraq was always about oil, even the maps emphasize oil over populace.

Today's shows aren't posted online yet, but I'll try to find a transcript.

I've seen lots of news articles about Iran pledging $50 million to the Palestinians, but how about Qatar pledging the same amount?

Qatar, of course, is a huge US ally.  

Will the Saudis step up next?