DrumBeat: June 24, 2006

Update [2006-6-24 11:21:56 by Super G]: Don't forget to check out Addicted to Oil on the Discovery Channel tonight at 10p ET.
Update [2006-6-24 12:31:53 by Leanan]: The Watt crunches the numbers from the recent BP and EIA reports: For Most, The Future Is Overrated. Lots of rather sobering graphs.

Gazprom: Gas deal review may cause crisis

MOSCOW - A pledge by the woman likely to become Ukraine's next prime minister to review a gas supply deal could re-ignite a feud with Moscow that temporarily disrupted supplies to Europe, Russia's state-controlled natural gas monopoly warned.

Drilling Firm Seeks Favor as Expatriate

WASHINGTON, June 22 — The language in the House measure seems innocuous enough. Tucked into the Coast Guard budget bill, it says merely that Section 608 ( c ) (1) "is amended by striking the second sentence."

But what that language would do is allow one company, Nabors Industries, to gain permanent access to business open only to American companies. The language is needed because Nabors, a big oil drilling company, moved its tax headquarters to Bermuda and its legal headquarters to Barbados in 2001 to avoid American taxes.

Re:  Making Babies

Consider the challenges facing college graduates in future years, assuming that we are transitioning into a post-Peak Oil environment:   large student loans that by and large can't be discharged in bankruptcy; a slowing economy or a recession/depresion; a highly competitive job market; increasing health care costs; high Payroll Taxes, in order to pay for the Boomer's Social Secuirty/Medicare costs (as the feds increase taxes to fund the "Trust Fund" withdrawals) and higher taxes of all kinds to pay for greater welfare costs.

How many of these college graduates are going to be willing--or able--to have children?  Now consider the fact that at they same time that they are being squeezed from all sides, they are going to be taxed to financially help lower income people have children.  This will be especially explosive in regard to taxes paid to support illegal immigrants.

I think that James Davidson compared the welfare states to a group of 10 climbers on a mountain--all linked together--that start falling off the mountain one by one.  As more climbers are hanging by the safety lines, the burden on the climbers still on the mountain increases dramatically until everyone falls.  

I don't know what's going to happen, but I predict some type of explosive response by twenty to thirty somethings--against everyone, their debt overlords, the Boomers and illegal immigrants having kids paid for by US taxpayers.

This is really an example of the problems facing lawmakers in the years ahead.  Politics is going to be a bloodsport as lawmakers are increasingly faced with a range of bad choices.

I wonder if the best thing that Boomers and their kids can do is to buy a small organic farm, as part of my ELP reccomendation.  If nothing else, it might be a way to start transitioning to a barter system.

I think the high starting salaries (in some fields) combined with easy credit to create higher tuitions and higher debt.

Surely other nations still produce good degrees for less $ investment.

I wonder how we can possibly get through this without some sort of economic shock.  For the life of me I see to many ecomonic factors that cannot be fixed easily.  We have become a bit spoiled here in the US I'm afraid.
Shock or adjustment?  Adjustment or evolution?

I read recently that Bill Gates has declared high schools obsolete.  Are universities obsolete as well?  Do we put people in rooms (rather than have them learn on-line) because we need to, or because we can charge more for physical presence?

I would think that a university could be run with about 1/4 the physical presence that was required in my day (1980) with no loss in quality (and that's thinking of Chem, a lab degree).

Meh... I always dry-labbed it a lot anyway (in the 70s). So yeah, you're right about that.
I think a lot is going to depend upon one's historical perspective.  I'm 67 so my view of reality goes back to the 1920's via my parent's statments to today, close to 90 years in total.  Younger people today do not recognize how society has changed.

I think they will not be as angry as you expect, although they might become more radical, but rather simply say, "screw it all."  In other words, do as little as possible in order to get by since there will be little chance for success.  It is likely the lessor educated will keep on making babies while the more educated will have fewer children.

I do see a major shift in education from the sciences toward service stuff like medicine, etc.  Were I starting college today, I'd never major in chemistry as I did in the 1950's.  In fact, having gained some wisdom about my likes and dislikes, I'd go to an Ag school and major in soil science...or, maybe, take the tuition money and become a speciality farmer.

BTW, my wife and I are one of the few non-parents from my generation.  Kids didn't fit in with our lifestyle or personalities.

This from a posting on another blog. Just 100 years.

"Here are some of the U.S. statistics for the Year 1906 :
The average life expectancy in the U.S. was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone. A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11.

There were only 8,000 automobiles in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st
most populous state in the Union.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower.

The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents per hour. The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year,
a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year. More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home. Ninety percent of all U.S. doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION! Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and the government as "substandard."

Sugar cost four cents a pound. Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen. Coffee was fifteen cents a pound. Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used Borax or egg yolks for shampoo. Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason. The five leading causes of death in the U.S. were:

  1. Pneumonia and influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn't yet been admitted to the Union. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30.

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea hadn't been invented yet. There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day. Two out of every 10 U.S. adults couldn't read or write.

Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school. Eighteen percent of households in the U.S. had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.

For the year, there were about 230 reported murders in the entire country."

Thanks for putting things in perspective.  I am not trying to say that things were better back then, but we should keep in mind that our happiness level hasn't kept pace with our affluence level.  I do like the part about 10 mph speed limit, though.

We should also keep in mind that the marginal income tax rate for the rich during the Eisenhower years was 91%.  We have a long way to go before we are "overtaxed".  

The boomers were and are supporting their parents and supported their children. I would hate to think they will be jettisoned when times get a bit tough.  We will all sink or swim together.

It is mostly our greed,materialism, need for comfort and "convenience" that has gotten us into this mess. The only way we can get out of this mess is to relearn the lessons of frugality.  It also wouldn't hurt if we cut back on our population.  If the new college graduates choose not to have children, I say great.  Thus far, I have just one grandchild and I would be happy to keep it that way.  

avalon -

Yes, it is indeed interesting to contemplate all the things that weren't here 100 years ago.

To put a bit of political and societal spin on this exercise, here are a few of my own, in no particular order:

  • No Department of Homeland Security

  • No FBI

  • No CIA

  • No War on Drugs

  • No police SWAT teams

  • No for-profit prisons

  • No surveillance cameras in public places

  • No IRS ( no income tax)

  • No War on Terrorism

  • No (almost) Federal involvement in local law enforcement

  • No government data bases on private citizens

  • No wire tapping, data mining

  • No Total Information Awareness program

  • No AIDS

  • No military-industrial complex and no massive 'defense' budget

  • No powerful Israeli lobby unduly influencing US foreign policy (no Israel)

  • No imported oil and all the problems thereof

  • No SUVs, cell phones, iPods, rap music, etc

I could go on and on, but I think you see my point -
we have gained much but we have also lost much.
You overlooked population.There was 200 million
fewer of us a hundred years ago.
No civil rights existed then either. Women and minorities were second class in many regions.  You give up your philosopy easily.  All the negatives you state above pale in comparison to a lynch mob       ing a black man in the deep south or the child who dies of polio.

No Department of Homeland Security
   Do we not need this?
   100 years ago a       er could flee unpursued across state lines

   We had spies since the revolutionary war
No War on      
    see above
No police SWAT teams
    Special Weapons and Tactics to deal with heavily armed criminals.
No for-profit prisons
    Everything id profit don't kid yourself.
No surveillance cameras in public places
    Why is this bad? If you are not commiting a crime what does it matter?  Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.  Since so many have none this insures someone is looking.
No IRS ( no income tax)
    I don't like taxes either.
No War on       ism
    Chicken or egg?
No (almost) Federal involvement in local law enforcement
   As southern sherrifs turned blind eyes and attended clan meetings
No government data bases on private citizens
    No computers
No wire tapping, data mining
No Total Information Awareness program
   No aliens in roswell either
No military-industrial complex and no massive 'defense' budget

No powerful Israeli lobby unduly influencing US foreign policy (no Israel)

No imported oil and all the problems thereof

No SUVs, cell phones, iPods, rap music

I blame rap

At least one statistic of that blog posting is innacurate. There were 1310 homicides in that year, not 230 (Source: Historical Statistics of the United States). The rate, of course, was still much lower than today's.
Mech Engr made $170,000/yr in 2006 dollars
Coffee cost    $5/pound
If fertility is negatively correlated with education, then we'd better hope that education and intelligence are not positively correlated, because that would mean IQ dysgenesis. It's fortunate that, in any case, race has nothing to do with intelligence, because that would have all sorts of implications, some of them unpleasant or impolite. Gosh, I feel much better now. Thanks, oildrum!
>Younger people today do not recognize how society has changed.

That is a bit of an understatement. While I am much younger than you I still can easily see how far society is changing, and to me the changes are accelerating in the wrong direction.

>I do see a major shift in education from the sciences toward service stuff like medicine, etc.

I see it shifting away from the sciences entirely and into liberal arts and away from education that would provide them real job opportunities. A few years ago there were several articles about how the high school curriculum was simplified so its easy to obtain a A or B average with virtually no academic effort. When these kids reach college they are unprepared to meet the requirements and often change thier major into liberal arts. Today's kids have far more distractions then our generations did. They've been raised on game consoles and 100+ Channel cable TV. Interest in determining a future career is at the bottom of the list.

>It is likely the lessor educated will keep on making babies while the more educated will have fewer children.

This is always been true. When ever I hear about a co-worker or friend that just had a new baby, I find it depressioning to think about that child's future.  I doubt that anyone born today will ever have the opportunity to drive, even less, a decent education.

>I'd go to an Ag school and major in soil science...or, maybe, take the tuition money and become a speciality farmer.

I have one of the top hi-tech careers as you can get and I am in the process of giving it all up and going rural. I remember the oil shocks of the 1970s and I know that our economic system is not sustainable without cheap energy. My career is only as sustainable as the oil keeps on flowing.
In prepation, I have been spending the majority of my free time educating myself to become self-stainable.

"In prepation, I have been spending the majority of my free time educating myself to become self-stainable."

Maybe this will help...
  Todd has thought about this stuff more than anybody I personally know. I've posted some of the papers he sent me...


And a final thought about subsistence hunting...

He's also the guy who told me that, when the Depression hit up here (northern Mendocino County), all the deer were hunted out in 6 months.

Rat thanking Todd

Thanks for posting these;and thanks to Todd. Prep is numero uno!!!                                                                      

Thanks for the thanks.  I'm currently working on a paper entitled Austere Food Production.  The basic thrust is getting away from the idea of "gardening" and seeing it as one might see a business.  In essence, I believe people will waste time and resources growing the wrong stuff in the wrong way if TSHTF.  My idea is to provide a different view of how to do it and what to grow.  And, FWIW, part of it may be high carbon/Terra Preta type soils.

I thought I'd have it done weeks ago but life has been busy.  I'll get it circulated one of these days.



Could you email about this paper? I'd email you but there is no email contact on your profile.

my email is matt@lifeaftertheoilcrash.net




I'll have to reset my email program but I'll get something off to by the middle of next week (there's a long story behind this that isn't germane).  There are a number that Rat didn't post.

FWIW, they are all in Word.  The doc titles are Giant 1, Giant 2 and Giant 3 since I combined a lot of docs into, big surprise, giant docs.  Lots of the formatting was lost in the posts he linked.

Your subject line will be Todd's Giant Papers.



FWIW, my email addy is shown on Rat's first link.  But I didn't think I had blocked it on TOD.  I'll have to check.  In any case, now everyone knows.  Just don't send stuff on penis enhancers since all the email goes to my wife's computer.  I'd add more but this is a family channel.


Whoops. Sorry about that; didn't notice it.
Todd, spammers use bots that trawl the net looking for email addresses. You'll get spam pretty quick now it's out in the open. Just ignore/filter it.
Sounds great.  As a sometimes gardener I've definitely noticed that some crops yield big for low effort.  Other crops may just not be happy in that climate.

This isn't a comment to you specifically, but some in the thread who seem to think you have to leave for the hills:

I really hope that anyone who (a) is ready to go, and (b) already has access to 1/10th acre (and water) has the sense to "pilot" their ideas there first.


As I say below, it's about "urban" homesteading and growing 3 tons of food on 1/10th acre.

... maybe if you produce a ton or two of food in a suburban setting you'll end up less of a pessimist ;-)

My impression is that the pysical changes today are less drastic then for my grandparents. What is internet and cellphones compared with electricity, telephone, radion, tractors, double glazing, running hot and cold water and paved roads with cars?

I expect peak oil to mean smaller cars that are expensive to use, more trolleys, more train travel, far less air travel, expensive food, less cheap toys, more software toys, less printed paper use, less living area per person complemeted with cheap unheated summer living area too feel richer, LED lighting, lots of bicycles and Ipods with batteries and connectors that can be changed at the local electronics repair shop.


And no I do not expect any of the early 1900 technological systems to expire with peak oil with the possible exeption of the rural telephone lines being replaced by radio.

They were built with far less oil input then todays use. They contain a much larger investment today and and require more maintainance but the manufacturing technology is more efficient now.

I do not expect the early 1900s stuff to just disappear when we hit Peak Oil, but I expect most of it will gradually fade away over the next 1,000 years.

Antoinetta III

cheap unheated summer living area

Here in Texas, we're less concerned about heating in summer as well... fortunately, we don't need refrigerated living areas so much in winter, however :=>

I agree with the idea of a local repair shop, however; the importance of repair will surely increase as our unsustainable throwaway culture gets too expensive to continue.

It has not made economical sense to repair a lot of stuff since manufacturing technology has become very efficient and a lot of stuff and toys have had and still have fast paced development.

I think one of the biggest staring points of future repairability is the need to recycle material. Easy manufacturing and easy breaking down favors maintainability and designers learn how to make smarter products.

When things get more expensive with higher energy costs I expect the switch over to maintainable stuff will be quick and follow the market expectations.

My model for this is professional chain saw maintainance shops and the TV repair shops of the 70:s.

I am very qurious about future electronics, motor and battery standards and so on. Some day the development will slow down and the same standard parts will be used everywhere since large scale manufacturing will continue to make sense and redesigning things cost money. But not yet and it would have sucked if the future had standardised on for instance 80:s cars or 90:s battery tools.

This reminds me of 40 year old train coaches and 50 year old two stroke diesel engines competing with modern busses and trucks wicth engines that almost can be used as air cleaners. A long life lenght is not allways a benefit if you neglect to invest in better technology. But it is of course nice when you can not afford to do so.

 "I'd go to an Ag school and major in soil science"

U.C. Davis.

School has a weird knack for pumping out peak oil aware people too.



Westexas, I really do not see how a small organic farm will help, not in the later stages of collapse anyway. Imagine the hoards coming out of the major cities looking for food. Your tiny farm will be overrun in a matter of days, even though you may be armed to the teeth.

But I am optimistic, I believe there will be survivors. It's just that right now I cannot figuer out what stragedy will give one the best chance of survival.

But if you really wish to know why things must collapse, you can do no better than read David Price's great essay, "Energy and Human Evolution".

An excerpt:

Starvation will be a direct outcome of the depletion of energy resources. Today's dense population is dependent for its food supply on mechanized agriculture and efficient transportation. Energy is used to manufacture and operate farm equipment, and energy is used to take food to market. As less efficient energy resources come to be used, food will grow more expensive and the circle of privileged consumers to whom an adequate supply is available will continue to shrink.
As a counterpoint, consider the subtext to this story of Chinese conservation:

The AP has a story on China asking civil servants to forego energy consumption for a day.  They claim that 7 million Chinese civil servants use as much energy annually as 780 million Chinese farmers.

Think about that.  That's telling us that the ratio of energy demands between these two groups of living breathing people is 111:1.

I certainly don't want to sink that far, to Chinese peasant living, but I think it's important to note how far that fall really is in energy terms, and that after it 780 million people are still living their lives.

Pessimists are worrying about us all dying, with far, far, shallower energy shortfalls that that.

Odograph, are you suggesting that the rest of the world, the residents of Calcutta, New Youk, Paris, Hong Kong, or whereever, could just convert to substance farmers and everything would be okay?

Would you care to explain that process, explain where they would get the land, explain how the ghetto dwellers would learn the art of substance farming, and so on?

Simply pointing out that a certain portion of the world's population survives on much less energy than most really explains nothing. It was the advent of fossil fuels that enable the world to support billions more than the world could possibly support by substance farming. It was fossil fuel energy that enabled the green revolution, that enabled one farmer to produce enough food to support 100 other city dwellers.

Coal enabled the industrial revolution. Liquid fuel enabled the automobile revolution, the green revolution, the medical revolution, all of which enabled the population explosion. And when these things are gone, the massive population that they brought with them will be gone as well.

But do you wish to rebut point's made by Price in his essay? If so, then please do.

Even if world population could be held constant, in balance with "renewable" resources, the creative impulse that has been responsible for human achievements during the period of growth would come to an end. And the spiraling collapse that is far more likely will leave, at best, a handfull of survivors. These people might get by, for a while, by picking through the wreckage of civilization, but soon they would have to lead simpler lives, like the hunters and subsistence farmers of the past. They would not have the resources to build great public works or carry forward scientific inquiry. They could not let individuals remain unproductive as they wrote novels or composed symphonies. After a few generations, they might come to believe that the rubble amid which they live is the remains of cities built by gods.
Odograph, are you suggesting that the rest of the world, the residents of Calcutta, New Youk, Paris, Hong Kong, or whereever, could just convert to substance farmers and everything would be okay?

That implies a timeline to which I do not subscribe.  See below the discussion of "centuries."

"Hordes", stripling.
The great "hordes" you speak of will disperse as they leave the cities, by the square of the distance from the city, in fact. Or, if they don't disperse, they will follow known and established routes out of such cities. In either case, you can plan to be in a location that is not likely to receive much traffic. Further, in a depleted energy scenario, how are these hordes going to reach you? By car? With what fuel? Millions of them? This goes back to the old adage about having your retreat more than one gas tank away from major metropolitan areas and off the beaten track. And if you are that far away, they are extremely unlikely to hike 200-300 miles just to find you.

Further, even if they arrive at your location, you assume that a mass of people will continue to push against a fortified position while taking continuous losses. This also is highly unlikely.

Everyone who says rural retreats must be doomed always starts by concocting scenarios that don't bear much resemblance to history. And we have lots of history in the last 150 years alone of how people behave as smaller societies collapse, as starvation sets in, as people respond to crisis. Interestingly, they don't tend to migrate as massive violent hordes at all. Instead they migrate as individuals, and if abandoning the rest of those in the migration path gets one individual an advantage, they tend to take it. The largest group that consistently works together is the family unit. Above that it just varies and is much rarer.

So personally, I think establishing a rural retreat is a good idea and many of the scenarios concocted against such a retreat smack of Hollywood Mad Maxisms.

History is my guide. Historically, when resources have become scarce, people fight over the remaining resources. Read "Constant Battles" by Steven LeBlanc:


But the collapse of a civilization is historically different from normal tribal societies. What normally happens when a government or a civilization collapses it becomes every man for himself. When the Classic Mayan Empire collapsed the common people turned upon and killed the elite, the priesthood and the rulers. The population of the Petan collapsed from about 13 million in 800 AD to about 1 million in 900 AD. Unfortunately we do not know what actions those few survivors took that enabled them to survive.

But in Somalia a warlord took power in every section of the country. The young and powerful of the clan of the warlords quickly found a place in the pecking order. Those on the outside were left to starve, and starve they did.

People, when faced with starvation, unless constrained by a powerful government such as in North Korea, do not just lie down and die. They will fight over every morsel of food. And people do not, as you suggested, set out on their own. I know of no historical reference to this kind of behavior and if you do I would appreciate a reference. Historically the people have banded together in gangs or tribes led by a powerful leader such as a warlord.

These gangs will move only when necessary, but will do so if necessary. And they can easily move 25 miles a day on foot. There would be no need for cars or even horses. To suggest that all you have to do is move a few hundred miles from any large city and you would be safe is simply wrong.

Ted Trainer has advocated "The Simple Way". He has a small organic farm just outside Sidney, Australia. He has cows, goats, chickens, a garden and all that stuff. He thinks he will be perfectly safe if Civilization as we know it collapses. He trusts people and believes people are basically good, even when their children are dying of starvation. I have exchanged emails with him on many occasions trying to explain to him why he will not last a month if the shit really hits the fan. He will have none of it. He had rather believe in the gentle, kindness of his fellow man. They will just sit and watch him live good off his farm while they starve. History tells us that this has never been how starving people behave.

>These gangs will move only when necessary, but will do so if necessary. And they can easily move 25 miles a day on foot. There would be no need for cars or even horses.

Like any force of nature, people will flock to areas that offer the best chance to find resources. Hypothetically if a swift collapse did occur, people would begin to migrate out of the large cities into suburbs. The high density of resources (shopping centers, private residences) will offer them better chances of finding food or other goods they desire. Eventully these resources will be depleted that the will be force to move on to other areas.

Lets suppose that you are a refuge (perhaps banded in a gang) forced to find food and other resources. Your likely to walk to regions that offer the most opportunity while having to walk the least amount. For instance your not likely to go walk ten miles down a dirt road on the chance that your going to score food.

>To suggest that all you have to do is move a few hundred miles from any large city and you would be safe is simply wrong.

It all depends on where you live. If you live close by a shopping center or other potential targets, the risks are high that some one will find your little farm. If you live ten miles down a dirt and wooded road, your risk is much lower.

TechGuy, you are looking a little too close to the start of the collapse, when there are still shopping centers and people can still survive in the burbs. No, step out a little further, to the time when total anarchy has set in.

Starvation, social strife, and disease interact in complex ways. If famine were the sole mechanism of collapse, the species might become extinct quite suddenly. A population that grows in response to abundant but finite resources, like the reindeer of St. Matthew Island, tends to exhaust these resources completely. By the time individuals discover that remaining resources will not be adequate for the next generation, the next generation has already been born. And in its struggle to survive, the last generation uses up every scrap, so that nothing remains that would sustain even a small population. But famine seldom acts alone. It is exacerbated by social strife, which interferes with the production and delivery of food. And it weakens the natural defenses by which organisms fight off disease.


>TechGuy, you are looking a little too close to the start of the collapse, when there are still shopping centers and people can still survive in the burbs. No, step out a little further, to the time when total anarchy has set in.

Its likely that beyond a few years of a collapse a large amount of the population will have died off. At which point the survivors would have developed some form of self-stainability and aren't going to be roaming all over to find that last remaining scraps. Of the remaining survivors, its unlikely that they would trash your farm. Most likely they would tax your farm (aka war-lord style) and offer security in return for food. The biggest worry will probably be the first year or two.

Its likely that beyond a few years of a collapse a large amount of the population will have died off.

Exactly! And this dieoff process is what we are talking about. How would these folks die? What would cause their deaths? And about the survivors. What quality would the survivors have that allowed them to survive? Well, I do not know but I would venture to guess that it would not be an organic farm just outside the burbs.

At which point the survivors would have developed some form of self-satiability and aren't going to be roaming all over to find that last remaining scraps.

Well that's the question isn't it? What quality or characteristic allowed these survivors to survive? Was it the ability to take from others, cannibalism, more guns and ammunition, the ability to raid organic farms? One cannot just say "survivors" without some explanation of why these particular people survived.

Of the remaining survivors, its unlikely that they would trash your farm.

How do you know this? Perhaps raiding organic farms is exactly what allowed them to survive this long. It is likely that the survivors will be grouped together to form a kind of tribe, or many tribes if you will. And at this point they will likely be like all tribes of the past, living peacefully during times of plenty but raiding and killing when resources get scarce.

My main point is this: A small organic farm occupied by a man and his family would be the unsafe place one could be in such a world. There is safety in numbers. The survivors will band together in tribes or clans. It could be twenty or more farmers with a central community that would offer protection. But a single loner. Gad, what a horrible thought.


This topic has been debated endlessly on other forums for years.  There are scenarios where the family has a better chance than being part of a group.  Conversely, it is possible to envision situations where this isn't true. There is no simple answer.

Let me cut to the chase:  Ultimately, it comes down to two choices.  First, being so far out no one can make it or find you and being self-sufficient.  Second, being willing to kill people (men, women and children, LEO's, military, anyone) because they can reach your location and destroy your chances for survival.  This could be either a group or individual action.

Here's a link to a very, very long fictional story of what happens after an EMP.  It has lots of information on weapons and tactics and how people might respond in a crisis.


I assume the above link still works.


above you mention terra preta soils. can you point me to some sources on this? I've looked and can't find.

I have a whole raft of stuff in a binder..but it's bedtime for me.  Try Terra Preta do (or "de", it's sed both ways)in a google search.  There are also papers out of Cornell.  was also an interesting essay at   http://www.newfarm.org  Search for an article on high carbon soils.  This article also has some links.

I'll sort through my stuff tomorrow morning and post something in Drumbeat.  I sent out a list of sites to an email list I have and I'll start by pulling that up.  It didn't have everything but it was a good start.

The damn thing is doing an erase as I type.  I don't know how to stop that.  More tommorow.

BTW, I started doing tests on this in my garden last year.



You ask, "What quality would the survivors have that allowed them to survive?"  You assert:
"One cannot just say "survivors" without some explanation of why these particular people survived."

Why cannot one just say that?  After all, it is the whole heart of the tautological circle that is Darwinism itself!

Question:  Who survives?
Darwinian answer:  The fittest.
Question:  What makes them the fittest?
Darwinian answer:  They survived.

As we know, in Darwinian speak, there is no one quality that assists survival.  Speed?  Then how can one explain the existence of both cheetahs and turtles?
Size?  The how can one explain both the existence of gnats and elephants?
Aggressiveness?  Then how can the world contain both sheep and lion?
One or the other should have won out!

This is very comparable to the human individual in relation to the larger world.  There is no proof that either aggressiveness or pacifist tendencies have an advantage.  The Vikings were aggressive raiders, and faired well in certain times and places, but the ostensibly unarmed early Christian monasteries often outlasted many more aggressive groups, through self reliance, preservation of education, careful planning of allegiances, and a stern sense of purpose.

So much has already been said on the complexities of trying to visualize "survival scenarios" that I will leave this to others, but I would like for people to entertain one or two interesting thoughts:

*How does proximity to American military establishments possibly alter the security/civil order situation in a given area?  Would one be safer near a large military base like Fort Hood TX or Fort Knox KY (just to name a couple of the hundreds out there) so that they could assume order would be maintained by the well armed military, or would one fear becoming a serf to a well armed military warlord type local establishment?

*How would the effect of locally available energy change conditions?  For example, there are areas of the U.S. that still have a great deal of local natural gas and or coal.  These can be converted in various ways to usable power once peoples backs are against the wall.  The photos of ancient buses with giant natural gas balloons on the roof in third world countries are an amusing example of the inventiveness people are capable of.  In WWII, people actually managed to run cars and trucks on wood smoke  (Mother Earth News Magazine had articles in the 1970's showing how it can be done), and coal can be used in much the same way (it ain't clean, but your local area may not have an EPA enforcement office after the big S hits the fan!)

*Seafood and catfish-Will coastal areas and wetlands (Mississippi, Tennessee, Missouri and Ohio River areas) have a different situation due to fish production in relation to food?  If we assume that those cargo planes and big refrigerated trucks will no longer be carrying the coastal region's seafood inland so easily, will the coastal areas be benefited by at least a sustainable amount of seafood for the coastal locals?  What about fresh water fish?  The Midwest and South in the U.S. are abundent with lakes, rivers, and even catfish farms.  

Oh, and on those mass hoards of wandering bandits...given that the average age of the country is now getting somewhere between Geritol and Scoota' Round age, how easily is it going to be for the silver haired ladies and gents to walk miles into the country to conduct pillaging raids on the fearless TOD posters organic rutabagas (or will they use those little scooters they ride in the mall to pillage miles into the country?  

As I sit writing this, I am listening to music.  Beethoven's Leonora Overture No. 3.....what magnificant souring passages!  The great push of human desire, the fearless facing of human destiny in pure sound, the driving desire for MORE, for ACTION, for HISTORY MAKING WRIT LARGE.  Some have said that in Beethoven, one can hear everything that is so right and so grand, and alas, so foreboding and so isolating in the Western soul.....the Sturn und Drang, the pure stress and strain on the Earth and the Human that comes with the whole Western way....but, nonetheless, the HUMAN FAITH in the human WILL is so present in Beethoven, Hyden, Mozart...all alive on the Earth at the same time in the early 19th century....a time of war, epidemic cholera, political unrest, social inequality and instability, an age at the front, at the edge of the Industral Wave that ripped the European culture to peices, destroying long standing powers, throwing out long held belief about human destiny, and completely wiping away a culture that had been CENTURIES in the making.  

How could humans hope to have full and meaningful lives after such a catastrophic collapse of ALL that meant anything?  Would they not be reduced to animals, grubbing about for food, with the loss of the the guiding order of the nobility?  Would they not become lustful beasts able to construct no great culture, but only interested in satisfying their animal desires without the guiding and ruling hand of the clergy?  Who would organize commerce, alliences and diplomacy without the kings and dukes, the only ones who knew how it was done?  What kind of world was coming?

Yet to this day, we listen to Beethoven, and we hear the thunder the of the coming world. In the soaring up of his finales, the blasts of his trumpets, one can almost see ahead of time the birth of steel, of steam, of aviation, of POWER writ large.  Out of a chaotic diseased world, an age of servitude and slavery, a collapsing order, the asthetic of a new age was already underway.

So it is today.  As early as the 1950's, the look, the sound, the art, the feel of a new age was already being born.  From the early voices such as Rachel Carson, R. Buckminster Fuller, and Barry Commoner, to the magnificent edifices of thought that are the works of Alvin Toffler, to the continuing work of Community Solutions and http://www.centerforsustainablecommunity.org/

I challenge one to look at the work of sculptor Barbara Hepworth.
 Allow your mind to expand upon the idea of the "soft" and "organic" forms.  Think of the forms, interwoven, the mix of "in" and "out", applied to buildings, to transportation...think of them as "political" and organizational models, flowing, moving, but seemingly at rest, multifaceted, with visible and invisible topography, the inside sometimes daringly visible, at other times, woven behind other surfaces.

Likewise, the ACTION painting, the sheer CHAOS of the work of Jackson Pollock.  How daring the theory of ACTION for the sake of action, not for the sake of the result, but there would indeed be a result.
Complex, but organic, unlike prior forms, but natural, indicative of a world both on the move,  but retaining a dynamic stability, CHANGE in ACTION.  Humane?  Survivable?  Of course, but not easy.

We now know Darwinism to be a creation myth born for the Industrial Age.  The construction of LIFE and of human existence is far more complex than it could have ever supposed in the Industrial Darwinian age, and also more dynamic, more varied in pace, construction, material and design than the simple Industrial theory of "Neanderthal Man to Range Rover Man" could have possible dreamed.  

And one thing is for sure:  It will take much more than a little shortage of liquid fuel to write the end of human destiny.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Sorry, but my vomit has more artistic appeal to me than a Pollock. And please your art school harangue on modernism? Waxing poetic about something hardly makes it intelligible, useful or meaningful. Modernism and PoMo are no more than desperate attempts to salvage art from commercialism and advertising...

Telegram: It's failed! Dramatically failed!

Art is dead. No one cares about it except rich people who are comparing penis sizes in Forbes magazine, or academics trying to get tenure.

Or maybe I'm just a grumpy young ignoramus, that's probably it...

>Well that's the question isn't it? What quality or characteristic allowed these survivors to survive? Was it the ability to take from others, cannibalism, more guns and ammunition, the ability to raid organic farms? One cannot just say "survivors" without some explanation of why these particular people survived

I don't think a farm piracy would be be a mid to long term survival strategy. In the case of Afrian war lords, they usually protect the farms from everyone else to ensure their gang has sufficient supplies. But, since these people don't have the first clue about farming, its highly likely that they would let you keep on farming, but with a tax. Why would anyone (no matter how ruthless) destroy a source of food in a time of crisis?

>There is safety in numbers. The survivors will band together in tribes or clans.

It all depends on the type of people you band with. I believe there are few people that think an agraculture collapse is possible, and I think you'll have an even harder time finding qualified people. Of course there are the permaculture folks, but most of them seem to operate more as a socialist cult. I would be afraid to band with these people. Plus I have different objective then them. They want to build a sustainable society using 100% organic processes (with no or very little use of machinary or technology). I am interested in self-survival and will use any tool or technology at my disposal to achieve my survival and keep my standard of living as best possible.

By banding into a large group of people, you may be endangering yourself and your property. For instance, there might be individuals that get drunk all the time, want to grow recreation drugs, etc. They might cause a serious accident that damages or destroys your equipment or home. In my opinion, the risks out weight the benefits.

> It could be twenty or more farmers with a central community that would offer protection.

While your idea sounds good, there are several issues to consider:

  1. Purchasing a sizeble piece of land for your co-op. The more people that are part of the clan the more land your group will need. What is the likelyhood that you will find farmers that are willing to uproot (mult-generation farms), or have the capital to purchase their land share?

  2. What happens if there is a fall out with one or multiple farmers. Perhaps some of them have a nervious breakdown in response to the collapse and become a danger to the group.

  3. Banding together makes your group a larger target, since its likely that your co-op will attract the attentions of drifters by word of mouth. Ever see the movie "grapes of wraith" where drifters travel to these farms in hope of work, only to find out that there are a thousand other people looking to do the same.

  4. Pitfalls of socialism. In non-capitalist systems, such as a co-op, people usually begin to do less and consume more and let others pick up the slack for them. Any co-op ideally should include a monetary system to prevent the development of slackers.

  5. Who is the leader of the group? Whats to prevent you and your family from being booted off the co-op if you have a falling out with the group leader(s).

>Perhaps raiding organic farms is exactly what allowed them to survive this long.

I don't see this happening. Overall I expect the number of survival farms to be realitivity small. Few people here are considering it, and most that know about PO plan to move into cities. The remaining working farms will probably be so small that it would be virtually impossible for a farm pirate gang finding enough of them to survive. Either the survivors will quickly develop a renewable source of food, or they perish.

I don't know what will happen. I suppose that your guesses are as good as mine. Since I can't convince hardly anyone that going rural is the best option. I will do my best to make prepations on my own. If I find others later, perhaps I will let the join.

Its also possible that future may not be as dark. Overall all going rural seems the better choice if the other option is to remain in a urban or suburban region with rising unemployment and drug use. Perhaps the gov't might be able to provide enough food to keep the masses at bay. Or the gov't might take miltary action to contain urbanites from tearing up the country side.

I would recommend that you avoid trying to build a 100% sustainable organic farm. If you decide to go the farm route, do as Todd suggested and use fertilizer and any tool or resource to make your life as a farmer easy. It makes no sense to kill yourself trying to survive (pun intended!). Choose a path that provides the best chance for your farm to succeed.

Personally, I would want to remain in control of my farm and land at all times. When it comes to survival I wouldn't want to risk putting my survival in the hands of other people. The stakes are too high for a failure. If you decide to join a farming co-op (assuming that you can find one), you better be sure that it doesn't contain any wackos. Remember Wacko Texas and David Koresh?


Do the math. The area of a circle is related to the square of the radius of the circle. If we identify the center of the circle as the city center from which people are fleeing, the total area they must scour to even find me increases as the square of the distance from the city center.

I am not suggesting that you be a peaceful farmer all by your lonesome but an active retreat, fortified and armed, with a reasonably sized company of adults to do the work and defend the place have a high probability of surviving all but a small army sized attack. And because of distance from the city, the probability that they will even be found drops.

You cannot cover every possible scenario. All you can do is cover the probables and hope for the best on the remainder while having bugout plans if things go bad. I know that I would rather be with a small company of armed persons of similar mindset and philosophy a few hundred miles from the city as opposed to within the city, if things ever go to pieces.

when push comes to shove people will generally revert to their lizard brain mentality of 'us vs them'. next time you are out in the public do this mental exercise. when you see a couple with a kid, imagine the kid is starving along with the parents. now imagine you walk buy while eating something.
chances are the parents will take a chance and attack you for the food rather then spend another day seeing the starving face of their kid.
I think in 2 dimensions it would go as 1/r with the circumference of a circle rather than as 1/r^2 with the surface area of a sphere.  Of course, this doesn't really affect your argument.
Heh, good point. They won't just go shooting off into the sky.
Consider again. The area of a circle is related to the square of the radius. If you are going to talk spheres, it's the radius to the third power. The circumference is just the outer boundary of the map area under discussion. Thus, discussing the area of the circle is completely consistent because that is the land surface under discussion. And no, they won't go shooting off into space so it's the cube of the radius that we don't care about.

Circumference of a circle = 2 * pi * r

Area of a circle = pi * r^2

Volume of a sphere = 4/3 * pi * r^3

I'm sorry, but the relevant concept to be thinking about in this situation is flux (number of people passing my house per day) which does indeed decrease with the circumference not the area.
People will not walk forever.  Some will collapse after 20 miles.  Somre will make 50 miles with what they can gather & carry from home, others 100 miles.  Some few 250 miles.

Some will indenture themselves to a farmer 78 miles out (and add to his self-defense force), others will make it to an old uncle's farm 112 miles out and join up with others there.

So there are area dependent factors as will in the equation as well.  It would be a complex issue.

westexas -

As a Boomer (well, technically a pre-Boomer, having been born in '45) I truly fear for our children's generation and beyond.

Even though my 29-year-old son has a college degree from a good school, I have increasing doubts as to whether  he is going to be able to remain in the middle class if things continue the way they are. I fully agree that things will become very ugly when millions of young middle-class college grads in their late twenties and early thirties fianally come to the painful realization that only a small fraction of them will ever enjoy the standard of living of their parents. Already we have many over-educated and over-qualified people working as sales clerks, telemarketers, etc. With increased outsourcing of good jobs and increased insourcing of technical people from countries such as India, what is going to be left for the bulk of American college graduates ? Which raises serious doubts in my mind about the future value of a college degree.  Might be better to spend the outrageous cost of a college degree on getting your kid started in some sort of modest business.

I fully agree that American politics will get more and more bloody as rival factions engage in endless blame and hysterical efforts to promote hair-brained solutions to problems that don't have any solutions.

But tough times never stopped people from having kids, and in fact there seems to be an inverse relationship between income and number of kids. So, poor people will not become an endangered species - not by a long shot.

"With increased outsourcing of good jobs and increased insourcing of technical people from countries such as India, what is going to be left for the bulk of American college graduates?"

Young people entering the work force are going to simultaneously be asked to pay for the largest projected retirement in history and the costs of supporting a rapidly growing illegal and legal underclass, while carrying the heaviest students loans ever, frequently with large credit card debts.

Imagine a stressed out a twentysomething arriving home after 12 hours of work only to have to hand out half to three-fourths of his/her income to a group of retired Boomers and a group of illegals with a large group of kids.

The phrase taxation without representation comes to mind.  

It's going to be a tossup--whether they are going to be madder at the Boomers or the illegals. Probably the Boomers. Jim Kunstler put this way.  He said the Boomer's kids are going to tell the Boomers that they screwed things up royally, so go away motherf----r and die.  

The boomer's kids are following in their parent's footstep. No generation is without blame.  In my case, I paid fully for my children's college education.  So, do I have to die too?
No generation is without blame.  ... I paid fully for my children's college education.

Actually, you have not finished paying for your kid's "Edge"-u-cation.

You will pay more as we start tipping over the Edge.

As for blame, we are all a product of the educational system that put those hair-brained schemes in our minds --like the mantra about how if only you (1) work hard, (2) get good grades and (3) land a job in a Forbes 100 corporation, you will be set for life.

It was a truism in post World War II America because there were so few college-educated people here and so much empty space for "growing" into. Now we face the opposite kinds of problems. Job markets that call for higher educations are oversaturated with qualified candidates. There are fewer and fewer jobs in the lower rungs of the ladder. So people are caught in a squeeze, with nowhere to go either higher up or lower down on that corporate ladder of "success".

The claims made about immigrants are usually of two kinds (wherever and whenever you live):
  1. Immigrants come to take away our jobs
  2. Immigrants come to live on our tax money

Note how those two are mutually exclusive.
Actually they are not. And the average is probably true for #1 & #2.

If the taxes paid (on labor, on consumption) are less than the taxes paid for providing social services, then both #1 & #2 are correct.

BTW< there are no "jobs Americans are not willing to do".  There are jobs Americans do not want to do at the prevailing wage.  Triple or Quintuple wages offered, and Americans will pick lettuce.


Excellent point.  Or put another way when the buying power of picking lettuce will support your family then we will pick lettuce.  Everything could go down after a crash but physical labor jobs might hold their value better than anything else.

This is an important concept.  I used to live in Atascosa county Texas which used to be the Strawberry capital of Texas back in the 50's and 60's.  All those strawberries were picked by migrants, mostly Mexicans, on a seasonal basis.  When they closed the borders and let all the current Mexican labor gain citizenship those people found they couldn't live year round on seasonal fruit picking wages.  Now the strawberries are grown in Mexico and there are a lot of poor Hispanic descendents trying to figure out how to make a living.  Field labor of all kinds in south Texas is still mostly done by Mexican crews because U.S. citizens (also Mexican descent) can't live on the wages.  Nasty things happen when you refuse to pay people a living wage.

Getting a good living wage will be harder in the near future, as CEO's try to increase their salaries by cutting the labour force, and ask unions to "bite the bullet."

This has led to the situation that CEOs earn 262 times pay of average worker. The ratio of course is much higher if you take the lowest paid full time worker. I think it is somewhere upward of 600:1 Used to be around 30:1 in the 1960's. Here is the top decile income share in the United Sates, 1917-2000. From Income Inequality in the United States, 1913-1998, Pikketty and Saez.

Which sort of immigrants are you talking about?

I work with immigrants every day, they've spent a relative fortune on their educations, had to stand in line at various governmental agencies, ply mountains of red tape and paperwork, and wait 12 years for citizenship. They deserve the utmost respect.

On the other hand, illegal is illegal. And no, I do not hire them to mow my grass; the neighbor's slacker dropout kid can do that. ...

I just turned 30. It's ridiculous to think I speak for my generation as a whole, but I can tell you that many of the age 25-35 people I know feel that following the baby boomers has been a lot like following a herd of elephants: everything good and worthwhile has been either eaten or trampled, and there's nothing left behind but giant piles of shit.

It is not reasonable or correct to blame an entire demographic for our collective misfortune, but sweet baby jesus they're going to do it anyway - with a vengeance. I'm worried by how angry and frustrated people my age (and younger) are becoming. Kunstler has it right, in my opinion.

The blame is somewhat misplaced.Look, Americans bought into globalization so they could get a $19 DVD player. Eventually the USA will have wage levels similar to China and India.It wasn't started by BCR, but half the country voted for these guys (twice) and everyone knew that a vote for them was a vote for overall lower wages. This is democracy in action (I realize they might have got slightly less than half the vote).  
if my parents attitude are any indication they are going to continue as long as it is physicly posible while hoping for the techno fairy to come, wave her spring loaded wand, and solve everything like they think she did in the 50's and 60's

I am a boomer myself and often wonder why those around me aren't noticing that they're trampling everything or that they're walking in piles of shit. After the elephants come the circus clowns  -who will they be?

Cartegran Sweater,

I would tap this anger/rage as a political demagogue, but in my opinion that's more hassle than it's worth.



No. The boomers are their parents. The legal and illegal underclass can be dehumanized and 'swept' aside. You an already see it happening.
ahem.. (whispers) hare-brained


Let's say I had a 17 year old brother and he wanted my advice. I'd tell him:

  1. Forget the traditional "go off to a 4 year school" where you go into debt to finance a liberal arts education.

  2. Do your first two years at a junior college. Take some business courses, learn how to run a small business since you are likely going to have to create your own job.

  3. Get skills/knowledge in the handful of "growth" industries such as renewable energy, bicycles, etc.



Do you know what new book you are quoted in?
So you don't know, or are you just trying to avoid this issue? I would have figured you'd be proud of the exposure. Perhaps you are not so Alpha after-all. Plenty of others will jump on the opportunity, be careful. :)
He knows.
Someone pointed out several days ago that even the renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar depend in some degree on oil/petroleum-based products for both their construction and maintenance.  Several months ago it was Stuart, I believe, who posted a photo of a maintenance worker being lifted up to the top of a windmill with a helicopter.  So, in the face of declining oil resources and competing demands, how long will even these renewables be feasible?  How long will we be able to keep producing the steel necessary to build railroads, windmills and other infrastructure, the production of which requires copious amounts of fossil fuels as well as the continued depletion of iron ore deposits, which, like oil, are finite?  When things get to the point that we cannot make the modern, hi-tech windmills, can we go back to making traditional windmills like the Dutch did starting back in the 16-17th century?  Would such a windmill be able to generate much electricity at all?

In light of the above, I think it important, that when we are speculating about possibilities for the future, we clarify just what future we are talking about.  I think that a lot of stuff that will still be practical in 100 years won't be in 500 or 1,000 years out.  My personal belief is that the year 3000 will much more closely resemble the year 1000 than it will our current situation (never mind some Jetson's type of fantasy) or wherever we are at in 2100.  I expect the deposits of iron ore and the energy necessary to turn the ore into railway tracks and rolling stock will be available in 2100, but will they in the year 3000?  So when we talk about "sustainable", how long are we talking about?  100 years?  1000?  Forever?

Along these lines, the Hirsch Report states that if we don't start acting to mitigate Peak Oil until the moment Peak has arrived, that we will be faced with 20 years of travail, while everything sorts itself out.  But then what?  Hirsch doesn't say; have we after the 20 years found some sort of magical/technical solution, or has society found a new equilibrium at a level, say of the Middle Ages or the 18th century?

Antoinetta III

I think it's realistic to put "no fossil fuels" out a few centuries.  Unfortunately that also puts the "deadline" out past our ability to predict technological change.  We don't know what people will be capable of, or even what they will consider important.  Certainly past centuries did not predict our world.

As far as what we can do in the middle term ... there is no precedent.  We may well be forced into a simple life, with tech.  Who has ever done that before?  The Japanese are a little ahead of the curve from the US perspective, but we don't know how low they (or we) can go as the decades unfold.

Classic peasantry probably shows the energy baseline (100x less energy than a city dweller), but that's not the interesting area to me.  I wonder what tech and practices can make of a good life 2x or 5x lower in energy that the current norm.

'The simple fact is that if anyone is unaware
of the grave problems that threaten the
*survival of life on this planet*,then they
are anthropologically arrogant or just willfully
ignorant".        Paul Watson
There are lots of ways to take that comment.

I certainly recognized problems, and the likely need to reduce per capita energy consumption, above.

On the other hand, people do get frustrated that more is not happening now, already.  I feel that way myself sometimes.  At the same time I have to remind myself that a lot of people are living happy (and some even altruistic) lives on their current dollar and energy budget.

Many people pay out more now for auto insurance than they do for fuel.  Fuel costs may not be the biggest problem in their lives.

I expect to see more action as prices loom larger.

At the moment it is very difficult to imagine what the costs of things will be without cheap oil. Even the economics of coal production will change dramatically without cheap oil. I don't think total energy production will rise for long after peak oil. I would guess 10 years at most and then peak NG and peak coal will make increased energy production hopeless. We will then face 50-100 years of declining energy production before we reach a sustainable level with renewable energy. In a hundred years fossils fuels will be a small fraction of the total energy produced. It will be a rough period and the odds of having a collapse/dieoff is very high. We are doing nothing to avoid the worst case scenario. The TPTB have chosen so far to waste resources on war instead of investment in renewable energy. We have to invest massively in renewables, conservation, and population control while fossil energy is still cheap. This is the only hope of having an humane transition to a non-fossil energy world. I fear that TPTB have already decided that dieoff is the best option with the least impact on their wealth and power. They just reduce populations piece by piece with wars and famines which are completely in their control. Iraq and Afghanistan are just a preview of their evil master plan.
I wonder if the best thing that Boomers and their kids can do is to buy a small organic farm, as part of my ELP reccomendation.  If nothing else, it might be a way to start transitioning to a barter system.

By the way, I haven't thrown this link in a while:


It's about "urban" homesteading and growing 3 tons of food on 1/10th acre.

I don't think we all need to be as extreme as that, but generally every area has one fruit tree that grows like a weed (in my area it's avacados, yum).

>I wonder if the best thing that Boomers and their kids can do is to buy a small organic farm, as part of my ELP reccomendation.  If nothing else, it might be a way to start transitioning to a barter system.

I am curious, have you done any preprations yet, or planning to?

>I don't know what's going to happen, but I predict some type of explosive response by twenty to thirty somethings

I see them turning to drugs and crime as they will lack the skills and desire to adapt. This is why I think living in an urban area is a terrible idea. We have already seen this occur during the 1970s, when drug and crime soared as unemployment rose.

>This is really an example of the problems facing lawmakers in the years ahead.  Politics is going to be a bloodsport as lawmakers are increasingly faced with a range of bad choices.

The boomers still have numbers, especially when it comes to control over US politics. I see no reason for Boomers not to continue to steer gov't to enforce their entitlement programs, at the expense of the greater good. Indeed much higher taxes and hardship is coming in the near future.

I don't recall the author, but there was an interesting article about nations that endured economic collapses. In all cases the population drives the country into further turmoil by pressing for more entitlements and social welfare. This always end in disaster because those that work give up because they are forced to fork over everything they earn in taxes and its easier to just accept a gov't handout. Eventually the store shelves go bare, the gov't collapses, and the population choose a ruthless dictator to lead them to savation. I see no reason why it won't occur again.

For those looking for a lifeboat, Prince Edward Island should be checked out.  Good agriculture, relatively mild climate but minimal energy resources (they are starting to add wind turbines), but they are close to electrical energy rich Quebec.

Causeway to mainland, but that can be "controlled".

Plant fruit/nut trees today and they should be bearing by the time TSHTF.

Too crowded surely?
PEI isn't too crowded at all. It, like many rural areas, has suffered from a relatively population drain as the young and ambitious go off to the cities to get jobs and party. Can't keep 'em down on the farm and all of that.

Additionally, people seem to forget bicycles when they're calculating their "bug out zone". If you're serious about going all Unibomber-In-A-Cabin (Or Dude-On-A-Farm), draw a 200 mile circle around every major city in the US and live outside of the zone.

One of the things that bothered me the most about 'War of the Worlds' (the remake) -- all of these refugees wandering around, having fled New York, and not one bicycle. So stupid.

I've recently been thinking of a solution to the retiree-crisis many Western nations are, or soon will be facing: to engage a 'race to the bottom' scenario. [see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_bottom ]
Note that I regard a 'solution' as one in which we can marginalise those utterly reliant on welfare - something which must be done once this 'party' of cheap energy winds down.

The way to start such a situation would be to completely remove welfare, or 'social security' from the hands of the federal government, and to redistribute the responsibility to state governments. They would be allowed to charge a small tax on personal income in order to fund the scheme.

In this way, States with higher populations of welfare-dependents will be forced to either raise taxes, or to reduce welfare expenditure, in order to remain financially balanced.

Surely many of us agree that 'baby boomer' generations, and those before them, are an economic weight that cannot be sustained post-peak. The above approach to welfare (perhaps only for retirees?) would allow the effective deregulation of the welfare system, a reduction in its public visibility (compared to the current, centralised Federal Government system). The localised welfare system would also allow for the compensation of elders with relevant experience in traditional medicine or farming techniques, for example.

Or, we could just let inflation do its work, and erode the buying power of those on fixed incomes, which is what I suspect will probably happen. However, those people can still 'vote' for 'leaders' who will promise to divert money from productive enterprises, towards social security.

This is an especially critical post-peak issue, due to the heavy labour requirements of 'tradtional' farming (agriculture without cheap oil and gas) - unless elderly baby boomers can provide this labour?

Florida is not going to like this (LOL).
Have you seen Al Gore's movie? Florida is going to be a shallow place in the Gulf of Mexico.
>The way to start such a situation would be to completely remove welfare, or 'social security' from the hands of the federal government, and to redistribute the responsibility to state governments. They would be allowed to charge a small tax on personal income in order to fund the scheme.

Thats not going to happen, simply because no politican would agree to have this power taken away.

>The localised welfare system would also allow for the compensation of elders with relevant experience in traditional medicine or farming techniques, for example.

"relevant experience" is the Key phrase. That would be what, 100,000 out of the 40+ Million americans retired (and 77 Million Boomers elegible soon)? What experience value does an office clerk, lawyer, computer programmer, painter, auto mechanic, factory worker, etc. have?

>Or, we could just let inflation do its work, and erode the buying power of those on fixed incomes, which is what I suspect will probably happen

In such a situation, the federal gov't would raise taxes and entitlement payments to adjust for inflation. Obviously the politicians wouldn't want to alienate their voters. As long as the Boomers remain the dominate influence in gov't they will decide what happens.

>This is an especially critical post-peak issue, due to the heavy labour requirements of 'tradtional' farming (agriculture without cheap oil and gas) - unless elderly baby boomers can provide this labour?

There is of course another option. I am sure you've heard of Military draft. How about a Labor Draft? Scary isn't it?

In pre-revolutionary France, amongst other European nations, the 'Labour Tax' was a form of taxation placed on peasants. For example, the government required peasants to work 1 day a month repairing local infrastructure, such as roads or fences.

We already have a similar system in Australia, known as 'Work for the Dole', however I am unsure of its success. Australian farmers already face difficulties finding enough employees to work on their farms, and frequently 'resort' to luring in illegal immigrants to fill positions Australians can't or won't fill.

I would argue that today's most able "climbers" are shouldering less of the burden than they used to.

I don't have any numbers in front of me, but I suspect that at the moment support of illegal immigrant poor children is not the cause of our substantial financial problems in the US.

West Texas,

Fan-F--king-Tastic point. I'm almost 28, make a solid upper-middle class income and even if I didn't think things were about to go to hell becaue of Peak Oi/Climate Change, there is no way I'd be thinking about kids right now for the exact economic reasons you mention.

I think you're idea about boomers buying a farm and setting it up so they can employ their kids/grandkids and some of their friends is one of the best/most logical ideas I've come across.




If nothing else, it would give your unemployed college graduate something constructive to do.  I've put it this way:  "What is the most basic requirement for retirement?"  I put food at the top of the list. It will also give you something to barter when taxes go much, much higher.  

Good EB article:


A realtor's view from Hubbert's Peak
Dave Hopkins, Energy Bulletin


How will peak oil play out in real estate? ... Shortly before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit our Gulf and southeast coasts last August, we reached, I feel, a peak in real estate values that we will probably not see again in our lifetimes.

. . .the aftermath of peak oil could change things quite dramatically for small farmers, especially organic farmers interested in marketing their produce and meat in nearby markets or at the farm gate itself. With the high cost of oil, you may see more draft horses and less debt from the purchase of expensive machinery. The cost of shipping foodstuffs cross-country or around the world will be prohibitive and this will allow prices to climb to their natural level. Lower land prices will make it feasible once again to expand pasture land or cropland. Then there is the joy, too, of interacting with the people benefiting from your labors, as well as with the land and with your animals.

Farming should be the base of any humane economy. In the more localized economies of the post-peak future (if this scenario plays out), food and the productivity of the land will once again become the main source of value in land. And real estate will, at long last, come back to earth.

published June 25, 2006.

I've thought seriously of turning our 120-acre farm in western Colorado into six little "turn-key" permaculture farms. 120 acres is really too big for me, anyway, and I'd prefer a micro-farm for myself.

Six families could share resources, like tractors and implements, help with each other's harvests and could also provide security and a sense of community when things become more difficult. "Canning parties for everybody!"

There would of course be covenants so that the little permaculture farms didn't become "horse setups," as the realtors like to call them.

Makes sense to me.   If nothing else, you could lease the land out to organic farmers.  
What are wind resources like there ?  Any microhydro possibilities ?  What fruit & nut trees and berries do well there ? (East or West Colorado ?)

An interesting possibility is a common wall "UnAmerican" town home construction.  Saves on heating and makes community easier.  Condominium ownership of water, renewnable energy, etc. is also possible.

Just thoughts.

A friend of mine is offering a $10,000 prize for a study that measures the true costs of a loaf of bread. I thought that some readers of TOD would be upto that challenge. Please go to Sustainable Ventures for more details.
This is reposted from yesterday's thread -

   this seems to tie together a lot of individual strands in my different ways of looking at the U.S., which in the last years have generally been leading to growing incomprehension.

   Now, I think I know why some of what is happening in the U.S. seems so difficult for outsiders (even ones who come from there) to encompass -


WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Americans are more socially isolated than they were 20 years ago, separated by work, commuting and the single life, researchers reported on Friday.

Nearly a quarter of people surveyed said they had "zero" close friends with whom to discuss personal matters. More than 50 percent named two or fewer confidants, most often immediate family members, the researchers said.

"This is a big social change, and it indicates something that's not good for our society," said Duke University Professor Lynn Smith-Lovin, lead author on the study to be published in the American Sociological Review.

Smith-Lovin's group used data from a national survey of 1,500 American adults that has been ongoing since 1972.

She said it indicated people had a surprising drop in the number of close friends since 1985. At that time, Americans most commonly said they had three close friends whom they had known for a long time, saw often, and with whom they shared a number of interests.

They were almost as likely to name four or five friends, and the relationships often sprang from their neighborhoods or communities.


I won't even bother to wander among my various beliefs and obsessions, but it seems as if America has become a fairly unique social construction - and one of such stunning human poverty that is difficult for me to imagine.

And I came from there. Imagine someone growing up in a normal place, something like the America of pre-1985.

And that is the stunning tie-in to me about peak oil and America. By any reasonable measure, America's drive for conservation/alternatives had been run into the ground at roughly the same time a new framework of growing social isolation was taking hold.

This almost belongs in the social capital thread, since at this point, America clearly lacks the normal framework of most other human cultures. Talking about social capital in the face of such stunning results is just more whistling past the looming graveyard.

I still remain fairly unconvinced about die-off in the sense of mass starvation, but my fear of a war led by a resource starved America has gone up another few very quantifiable notches - in a society where 25% seem to have no interests larger than themselves in terms of other people, the appeal of smash and grab for personal benefit likely seems not only logical, but required, since if you don't, another person as alone as you will.

I think Jevon's paradox is possible to avoid in a society with enough self-awareness and interconnections - after all, if you use it, your children can't is certainly one perspective which avoids the paradox among people who care about the future. But in such an isolated social framework, Jevon's paradox is likely to cause all sorts of problems. A tiny glimpse - as the rest of the world conserves, America continues to burn fossil fuels to its maximum capacity - I can imagine an ultimatum from the world's conserving societies (1/3 of humanity? 1/2? with most of the rest in collapsed societies) focused squarely on the dangerous one with an attention deficit. And if the climate was clearly turning into a run away catastrophe, an ultimatum backed by the potentially lesser evil of nuclear war becomes at least imaginable - and now I am too seeing die off, not as a cynical game among the rich/rulers/owners, but as a desperate attempt to preserve some future among those who see no other choice. A nuclear powered powerdown, a truly appalling pun.

Simply from reading about something seemingly normal for most Americans to experience in their daily lives, which was not imaginable to me last night.

No wonder that much of what I write seems so skewed in American eyes. Sometimes, societies turn sociopathic - I live in a place where that happened too recently. And this little piece of information is the sort of fact which likely will be scrutinized by future historians looking at cause and effect.

Three days ago there was a fire in an 1854 brick church in our neighborhood.  Servcies last held there ~5 years ago.  Owned by congregration that that has moved away.

City said it was an immenient hazard and must be demolished.  Leader of congregation wanted in torn down (presumably to sel the land). Neighborhood mobilzed, got a structural engineer out who said only half needed to be torn down for safety.  Got city council person out, Historic Landmark Commission, and several other non-profits out.

I suggested that we compromise and they demolish the agreed upon half whilst we tried to get a buyer that woudl preserve the rest and rebuild condoc there (I also contacted another group with drowned church is case they wanted to rebuild there).

A Dutch couple watching (interesting cultural tourism; watch the disaster survivors scramble to save one bit of what's left) were surprised that the gov't was so disinterested in preservation (in the Netherlands we would rebuild such a fine church, no question) but said that the neighborhood interactions (we were all confused as the heavy crane was unloaded, trying to figure out what to do, a crowd of 20 to 50 perhaps throughout the day) were "beautiful".  

The neighbor living next to the church said that he would move out for days if that would slow things down, etc.

I am leading an effort to raise money to buy the property with the church only half demolished adn rebuild, probably as condos (this is PRIME property on Coliseum Square Park, address 1354 Camp Street in New Orleans).

Any investors out there ?

I am reminded of the "social capital" commenst earlier.

With memories of

expat, I entirely agree with you, and I'm an American.  I too read that article with great interest.  I've lived a pretty isolated life myself and continue to do so.  Frankly, I like it that way even though I wish sometimes it was otherwise.  Wanting to communicate about PO and GW is certainly not helping...
Here's an example from yesterday in the lunchroom at work.  I work with a bunch of pretty rabid right-wingers and I've learned to simply shut up for the most part.  But yesterday there was an article in the Boston Herald (of course...) about a girl locally sitting in a tree to protest her neighbor's plan to cut it down.  Naturally the Herald had "tree-hugger" in the first sentence.  So this bonehead at work is reading this and saying how it made him embarassed to live in this town and if he had an ax he'd go cut down the tree with her in it.  I refrained from pointing out that this would constitute assault or maybe murder and I'd be frankly delighted to see his butt in the slam.  When he turned the page of the paper the article about the NSF GW report was at the top, so I walked by, tapped the paper where the article is and suggested that he worry less about the girl in the tree and maybe pay more attention to GW.  He grunted, or was it some sort of growl?  I walked away...
And this is America these days, I'm afraid.  Polarized, clueless about what it takes to keep our stuff running every day.  And the twenty-thirty somethings are the worst.  Not everyone, of course, but the bar is pretty low.  They won't "rise up" until they run out of juice for their computer games and ipods.
I brought up a couple of intersting energy absurdities in yesterday's thread.

The first was Western Europe, which has a minimal oil endowment, receiving oil imports, refining it and then shipping gasoline to oil-rich Iran.  

The second was coal being shipped both ways on the Ohio River, from West virginia to Iowa and simultaneously coal being shipped from Iowa to West Virginia.  

I just realized a third absurdity.  American post-offices virtually never have a local mailbox drop anymore.  It used to be if your letter was staying in the same zip code you dropped it in the "local" box.  Now even if I mail a letter to someone one block from my local post office, it still goes in a generic mailbox and then it gets shipped by truck 60 miles, it's sorted there and then brought back to my local post office for delivery.  That's a 120 mile round trip to deliver a letter one block.  

Apparently energy is still cheap enough to create absurdities like these.  

Anyway (and here's my real point) it got me thinking that
one mechanism that may stave off a complete economic collapse as energy prices soar after the peak is that if we want to do things like have a postal service or harvest food, human labor will become increasingly competetive.  At some cost of energy human farming will once again be competitive with mechanized agriculture.  We will likely have to accept more physically demanding work and lower wages, but perhaps there will be plenty of jobs to go around.  Not many Americans these days, however, have a sturdy enough constitution for farm work.

The reason farming became mechanized is because machines are more energy efficient than mammals. This is even true of early steam tractors which were only 8-10% efficient.  A lack of petroleum won't end mechanized farming. Mammals must be fed year round not just during the plowing and harvesting seasons when machines need feeding. Large numbers of former suburbanites pulling farm equipment ain't gonna happen. The biggest hazard to our near future food production is the banking system putting the food production experts out of business.
If you are delivering a letter one block from the post office, why not just drop it off at the destination instead of the post office?  Might as well save the stamp.
isn't it illegal to stick non-postmarked mail in a mailbox?
Just want to mention again that TOD's thelastsasquatch had a letter published in the most recent issue of Science regarding the EROI of ethanol. The letter is behind a paywall, but it has been made available for free through the University of Vermont:


It is quite an impressive read to see one person after another coming out and challenging the recent (and misleading) pro-ethanol articles that were published in Science.

Congrats to Nate for hitting the big time. It is a very big honor to get your voice heard in Science.


The authors' reply (in the PDF) to Nate's and the other letters is quite revealing - in part:

These Letters [i.e. Nate's and the others] focus on different questions than did our paper. EROI measures the efficiency of primary energy production, but is not useful for comparing different ways of using fossil energy resources to create liquid transportation fuels, which was the point of our paper. Life-cycle assessments such as ours are not designed to balance mass and energy; they are designed to evaluate environmental
implications of the production, use, and disposal of products and fuels.

This gives away the show, doesn't it? In the original authors' view - and the general politicians' view? - ethanol - and other renewable energy? - is not really about primary energy. Ethanol then simply becomes a Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) or Coal-To-Liquids (CTL) program. Or, really, IMO, just yet another one of our pointless farm subsidies based on foolish romantic notions held by urbanized ignoramuses about an idyllic lifestyle that never did and does not now exist.

The authors (Kammen et al) made this partial admission of error on the January ethanol piece:

In retrospect, we should have labeled our metric not as Net Energy Value but as Fossil Energy Value....

I think we are all on the same team (that being we care about society and the environment) but sometimes see things with different lenses. It is very encouraging to me that a few people with the truth on their side ultimately bring an issue to the forefront. Lets hope the same type of dialogue evolves on peak oil as well.

They don't like the answer so they change the subject.  Total bullshit.
Interesting speech by Michael Economides.


About three years or so ago, Economides took part in a panel discussion in Midland Texas on Peak Oil.  On the "We are near Peak Oil," side were Deffeyes and another speaker.  On the "We are not near Peak Oil" side were Guy Caruso (with EIA) and Economides.  

It's interesting when Peak Oil opponents give speeches like this.

I eMailed Dr. Economides and he invited me to write an essay for http://www.energytribune.com/ on my electrification of transportation ideas.

I admire people who see reality as it develops and are willing to change their ideas (if not 100%).

I am sure that includes a high % of the people on this board.  Which is one of several reasons that I enjoy this board.

Congrats, Alan. Your ideas deserve exposure to a wide audience.


Go for it. In 10 or 20 years, it'll probably be the only transportation still moving.

Alberta's economy scorches the nation
Province driving up inflation, wages

Geoffrey Scotton
Calgary Herald

Friday, June 23, 2006

CREDIT: Mikael Kjellstrom, Calgary Herald

Andrew Whittaker, co-owner of a playground equipment manufacturer in Olds, is shutting down because he can't find workers.

Alberta's May rate of inflation: 4.5%
Canada: 2.8%
Alberta's average annual wage increase: 7.3%
Canada: 3.8%

- - -

Alberta's red-hot economy is starting to burn the rest of the country, bringing about ominous inflation pressures, tight labour markets and skyrocketing wages across the country, two major banks warned Thursday.

"It now seems that Alberta's economic cauldron is boiling over, scalding the rest of the country with higher inflation and putting renewed pressure on the Bank of Canada to keep raising interest rates," said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist for BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.

That will mean higher borrowing costs, as economic gains in Alberta lead to lending rate pains for other Canadians. The Bank of Canada could raise interest rates as early as July 11, a move already priced into Canadian bond markets and reflected by mortgage rate hikes announced by several big banks Thursday and effective today.

The expected quarter-point rise in the Bank of Canada's overnight rate will boost costs for mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards and almost all other consumer and corporate borrowing.

Inflation -- which hit a three-year high of 2.8 per cent nationally in May, led by a 4.5 per cent rate in Alberta -- isn't the only sign that Alberta's performance is making the national economy race, experts say.

Alberta's jobs machine is overheating labour markets across the land, Royal Bank Financial Group said Thursday in a report that warns labour shortages here are now so widespread they are constraining even the energy sector.

"Alberta is draining workers from the rest of Canada at a time when labour markets are tight in most areas," the bank said in a report. "Labour shortages have translated into higher wages that are raising cost-push inflationary pressures."

Those types of pressures are being felt in Ontario, said David Frame, president of the Council of Ontario Construction Associations.

"There is a significant impact. We're having to offer bigger dollars," Frame said from Toronto on Thursday.

"Eastern Canadians are driving right through Ontario and going to the West. They're going to the bigger dollars in Alberta."

Recent economic readings closely watched by Bank of Canada governor David Dodge and his colleagues at Canada's central bank -- on Canada's output growth, national job creation, Canadian consumer price increases and nationwide retail sales -- have all surprised on the high side. And all have been lifted higher by the remarkable performance in Alberta.

A case in point was the latest report on Canadian employment that showed a record-tying 97,000 new jobs in May and produced a 32-year low jobless rate -- backstopped by 32,000 new positions in Alberta.

Another was Tuesday's inflation report that showed core price increases in Alberta are running double those in the rest of the country, while, at 7.3 per cent, Alberta hourly wages are climbing at nearly twice the rate of the next highest province, Ontario.

And on Wednesday came data showing retail sales growth in Alberta, at 17.4 per cent, has more than tripled the national average.

Alberta's influence on the national economy isn't all bad news, however, as strong job creation and government spending in this province is helping to boost incomes across Canada, according to Philip Cross, manager of current analysis for Statistics Canada.

"The strength of the labour market and the 'prosperity cheques' issued in Alberta sent national year-over-year disposable income growth to a five-year high of six per cent," Cross said.

There are also growing signs that a correction in global commodity prices, particularly weak natural gas prices, may take some steam out of the Alberta economy.

gscotton@theherald.canwest.com © The Calgary Herald 2006

Note that the economy of Alberta, a net energy exporter, is growing rapidly, which presumably translates to fast growing energy consumption.  

Looking at North America has a whole, California is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Alberta--a big net energy importer, at the end of the oil and natural gas distribution system, and a very high cost place to do business.  Three big reasons to be pessimistic about California real estate.

More than half of California's oil imports come from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  

From the Energy Bulletin:

California's limited supply options highlight U.S. oil import dependence
Tarek El-Tablawy, Associated Press via Santa Barbara News-Press

Just two Arab countries have supplied more than 50 percent of California's imported oil over the past five years, a dependence that leaves the state more vulnerable than the rest of the country to disruptions in the world oil markets.

The finding, based on an analysis of state and federal crude oil import statistics, underscores the challenges confronting both California - the biggest gas-consuming state in the U.S. - and the country as a whole as lawmakers grapple with consumer outrage over high prices at the pump and a U.S. deficit that has widened on the back of high crude prices.

''We face a very challenging fuel market here,'' said Tupper Hall, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, a Sacramento-based industry group. ''Unfortunately, the increasing reliance on imports is just one of the acute issues we're confronting,'' such as pipeline and refinery constraints.

Between 2001 and 2005, Saudi Arabia and Iraq provided an average of 53.1 percent of all the imports arriving in California, according to California Energy Commission figures. That reliance takes on a particular urgency in a market jittery over Iran's nuclear dispute with the United States and uncertain output from war-ravaged Iraq.
(22 June 2006)

Why do our (Cal) imports come from the Mid East  and not Alaska?
Becausee Alaska is being depleted.  Prudhoe Bay oil production is 19% or 20% of it's peak.  Newer, smaller North Slope finds keep Alaskan production at about 40% of peak.
Warf Rat,

One of the big controversies over the Alaska pipeline when first completed was that most (all?) of the oil went to Japan and not even to the USA!

It was because:
a) Japan needed it.
b) it was a shorter distance than to say California, and for Japan it was certainly closer than the Persian Gulf.

Some of the oil from Prudhoe Bay went to Japan. It was simple economics. It was cheaper to import oil from Venezuela or other places then ship Alaskan oil the short distance to Japan. It was more economical for both the US and Japan to do it this way. Oil is fungible commodity, it doesn't matter where it comes from or where it goes, it is still oil. Simple economics determines where the oil is shipped.
Speaking of Iran,

Thursday WSJ had an excellent article on Ahmadinejad and his reforms.
Some stuff from it noted:

  1. 20% unemployment and thousands of young people entering the labor market.
  2. Per capita income is $2800 a year but rising, along with 14% 15% inflation rate and it is climbing.
  3. Oil income has climbed to $38 billion and should climb this year to almost $50 billion.
  4. Iran's economy the lst three years has grown by a respectful 5% a year.
  5. With subsidies, soon to be changed . . . , gasoline is 40¢ a gallon.
What is frustrating as a Californian is that the state probably could adapt better to a power-down scenario than looks likely. The Bay Area has pretty good public transit in its older cities and close-in suburbs, and the Center for Transit-oriented development identified it as of the "big five" public transit metropolises in the country (the others being New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia).  Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Diego have made a start, at least, in building rail networks. LA got a five-corridor commuter rail network running on existing lines right after the Northridge Quake, and it has been doing fine since then, including adding a line. A lot more rail right-of way could be put to use if need be.

43% of our electricity supply is already non-fossil fuel -- 17% large hydro, 14% nuclear, 11% renewables. Near the coast, well-designed houses need little in the way of summer air conditioning or winter heat. The old municipal water systems (LA aqueduct, San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy aqueduct, and the East Bay's Mokulumne Aqueduct) are mostly gravity-fed, and the LA and SF systems generate a net surplus of electricity. Some of the best farmland in the world is still located here.

Unfortunately, post-war sprawl has endangered our chances at a sustainable future. LA county was the country's top-grossing agricultural county in 1950, but produces almost no food today. In the Bay Area, the Santa Clara valley got buried under sprawl, and the Central Valley bottomlands are disappearing too.

The state has some promising counter-trends as well; LA has a growing open-space movement that is creating allotment gardens in poor neighborhoods, creating a greenbelt around the city, and seeking to restore the LA basin's rivers, creeks, and watersheds. Tree People in LA have developed a great partnership with the LA county Department of Flood Control to capture winter rains in cisterns and underground aquifers for use in the dry summer months; it started with one house, and is now being expanded to entire neighborhoods. If the sustainable counter-trends take off and eclipse the unsustainable dominant trends, we have a chance; if not, it could be pretty grim for us. The state's current politics don't give me much hope for a wise transition.

I recall that Kunstler gave the northern part of the state an even chance, but wrote off Southern California. The presence of immigrants figures heavily in his thinking, but considering that immigrants, by and large, have the least energy-intensive lives, and do much of the state's manual work (agriculture, construction, light industry, etc), it seems that the lifestyles of the state's suburbanites, not immigrants, may be the biggest barrier to a sustainable future for the state.

Rose Selavy,

Living here too makes me think Kunstler objected to their overwhelming numbers. There are too many people in the state. When Ecotopia was written it advocated 1,000,000 max population for California.

If someone wanted to grow and produce their own bio diesel for personal use, what exactly would they need?  Is it simple and would the average person be able to produce all the ingredients themselves?  What kind of equipment would you need and how much land would be needed for each litre of fuel?
if you are serious start here
then check this out
this is a quallity tool
rape seed works for me, what works in your area is probably avialable from your local ag extention
prepare to work your ass off

is a good source on burning bio-diesel.  FWIIW, the 1981-1983 Mercedes 240 D (preferably manual trnasmission) is considered the best choice.  The fuel pump is NOT lubricated by the fuel, but by engine oil and is strong enough to "push pureed bananas".

Same for 1981-1985 M-B 300D BUT they use more fuel and no manual transmissions in the US.

one more thing
to do it sustianably you'll need at least tree times the amount of land you have in production for crop rotation
>If someone wanted to grow and produce their own bio diesel for personal use, what exactly would they need?

Don't bother with Bio-diesel. Either look at fermenting Ethanol or building a Gasifier. The yields to extract oil from plants is obscenely low.

Don't bother with Bio-diesel. Either look at fermenting Ethanol or building a Gasifier. The yields to extract oil from plants is obscenely low.

Yeah, but if you have a source of waste oil, biodiesel is incredibly cheap and easy to make.


there is no reason to try biodiesel at all if you don't use the oilseed twice. turn rapeseed into canola for cooking and waste grease into biodiesel.
Thanks for all the links and advice everyone.  Really helpful.  I'm currently living in Hokkaido in Japan and planning a small organic farm.  I was just wondering how easy it would be to keep my truck running making my own diesel and how much land would be needed to be set aside for the purpose. I don't know a lot about farming yet but I guess soy beans would be the best bet as I think they are grown locally anyway.
One of my rare posts, a quote from the Sydney Morning Herald's website about a new train we are introducing.


'In the past five years, the passenger rail budget has almost doubled as the Government has played catch-up after years of neglect while taxpayers funded the 2000 Olympics. Premier Morris Iemma boasted recently that this year, for the first time in decades, public transport spending would outstrip road spending, in a major shift in priorities.'

I was certainly not aware the public transport spending was beating roads spending in New South Wales, this is most unusual for Australia. I'm not aware of any mention of peak oil by the state government. But perhaps some awareness behind the scenes.


Good news for NSW, but absolutely no-hope for Victoria under the Bracks government. Hopefully the new Liberal Party leader (Ted Bailleau, heard of him?) can put the focus back on public transport, and end our ridiculous expansion (and completely new construction of!) obsolete road networks.
Here's a comment that Step Back just made on another thread. I  thought it deserved more attention.

Too many people here at TOD believe that Hubert's curve (or linearization) is some sort of Law of Nature, or a Fact of Geology when it is neither of these.

Hubbert's curve is a predictor of human economic behavior in the face of geological realities. It is human activity that determines what extraction rate(s) will be witnessed in any given year and at a given field. You want more "production"? Just drill more holes into the trap rock below and suck up more --this of course assuming we have a large enough field so that pressure will not decrease significantly due to a few more holes being bored in. The problem is the cost of drilling those new holes and the economic ROI. Geology per se does not dictate daily production rates.

Does anyone really confuse numerical analysis of nature, with laws of nature?  Seems kind of basic.
By the way, what happens to the global warming controversy if we reject numeracy?
Hubbert's curve is a predictor of human economic behavior in the face of geological realities. It is human activity that determines what extraction rate(s) will be witnessed in any given year and at a given field. You want more "production"? Just drill more holes into the trap rock below and suck up more --this of course assuming we have a large enough field so that pressure will not decrease significantly due to a few more holes being bored in. The problem is the cost of drilling those new holes and the economic ROI. Geology per se does not dictate daily production rates.

But geology does dictate ultimate recovery! As Matt Simmons as well as Catton has pointed out, all you are really doing with more holes and other fast recovery techniques is creating superstraws. You are simply sucking the oil out faster. Catton likens this to being more profecient at filling out withdrawal slips at your bank. Doing it faster and better will not put more money in your account. Drilling more holes will not put more oil in the ground.

Superstraws will simply serve to move the peak date up sooner just as constraining production will move it further into the future. What effect this will have on the HL line is debatable.

it will also make the back end decline that much more steep.
"The problem is the cost of drilling those new holes and the economic ROI. Geology per se does not dictate daily production rates."

I have made somewhat similar arguments.  If we stipulate that a reservoir is not produced at a high enough rate to damage the reservoir, the rate of production tends not to have a major impact on recoveries.  I've compared it to pouring water out of a bottle.  The rate at which water is poured out does not affect the volume of water in the bottle.  

The Lower 48 and Russia had wildly different post-peak production profiles.   Russia's profile was erratic because of the collapse of the Soviet Union.  However, the HL analyses of post-1970 Lower 48 and post-1984 Russian production showed that post-1970 cumulative Lower 48 production was 99% of what the HL model predicted and post-1984 cumulative Russian production was 95% of what the  HL model predicted (using only data through 1970 for the Lower 48 and through 1984 for Russia).  

The world is approximately at the 50% of Qt mark, depending on who does the analysis.   The Lower 48 and Russian case histories suggest that we have about one trillion barrels of conventional (crude + condensate) oil left.  We can produce it at a high rate or at a lower rate, but the Lower 48 and Russian examples suggest that the one trillion barrel estimate is 95% to 99% accurate.

The AP article about Gazprom shows the level of detachment of the media from reality.  Nobody with a clue can claim that $230 per tcm of gas that Gazprom charges is high, yet here we have cold war propaganda about how supposedly state-controlled Gazprom is extorting higher than market prices from poor EU and Ukraine.  As if somehow if Russia opened its pipelines to western corporations the price would be $50.  Brow beating Russia will not get NATO free gas and instead is causing a backlash amongst Russians (not just "the Kremlin").  The EU may end up paying much more than $230 for its gas and North America is likely to have only Qatar as a source for LNG.
Update [2006-6-24 12:31:53 by Leanan]: The Watt crunches the numbers from the recent BP and EIA reports: For Most, The Future Is Overrated. Lots of rather sobering graphs.
Hmm.. the DoE's chart looks sort of similar to Stuart's 'big picture' chart up until about, um, about 2000 or so.
we are so so screwed ...
The electricy per capital graph is interesting. Middle East and Africa are supposed to maintain same per capita usage between 2010 and 2030, i.e. they are not going to remain poor and "undeveloped".
We're down lately, according to Alexa.

I'm getting similar feedback from Matt Savinar. Wonder what's up? Peak oil is not hot until the next major hurricane to roll up the Gulf?

With 2 U.S. presidential election winners warning about Peak Oil in the same month, even a mildy democratic media would be filled with PO talk...guess we'll leave it to Sweden.  
My overall traffic is down 20% from earlier in the year. But my breaking news is the same.

Last june, I averaged 4,000 visitors per day total and 2,000 to the breaking news.  This june, I am averaging 4,600 visitors per day total and 3,500 to the breaking news.

This tells me there are fewer first time visitors but more returnees.

I think two things are going on:

  1. it's summer and people here in the states, where most peak oil traffic is from, want to enjoy the sun not think about the end of the world. My orders are overwhelmingly overseas right now. 50%-60% as oppossed to the usual 10-20%.

  2. whether you're a "alpha doomer" or more on the optimistic side, all of the peak oil sites agree that we are going to have major dislocations in the future. The general consensus also seems to be that living at a lower level of complexity is a good thing to do.

The meme of "major and long term dislocations" and "lets live more simply" will never appeal to more than a certain fraction of the population That fraction will continue to grow as we head further and further along Joseph Tainter's "r" shaped curve. He found that as societies collpase more people got interested in ideas revolving around simpler living.

In the last 2.5 years, the number of people who are peak oil aware has grown tremendously. Witness the yahoo group ROE 2. When I first got on there almost 3 years ago there were only 700 people. Now there are 7,000. That's a growth factof of 10.

However, since this meme will never appeal to more than a fraction of the population, I seriously doubt ROE 2 will have 70,000 people in another 3 years.

On a side note, I predict that the major "wings" of the  peak oil movement will increasingly go to war against each other as the easy hanging fruit (new adherents) has mostly been picked. Each person/organization/group/philosphy naturally wants to expand the number of followers/adherents it has. If there are fewer new "disciples" coming into the mix, the only alternative is to get disciples from other wings. This happens with most social/political movements.

Hope this makes sense. I's gots to get to my street corner, there's be sinners and thems needs a savin! And if The Last Sasquatch best not show his hairy back on my corner it's gonna be prophet-of-doom thrown down time. Unless Jay Hanson comes out of retirement. He was the alpha-doomer but since he's retired, all us former betas are fighting for peak oil doom supremacy.



I'm curious - do you really think the mechanics of fossil fuel extraction will lead to the wings of the 'peak oil movement ... increasingly go[ing] to war against each other as the easy hanging fruit (new adherents) has mostly been picked.'?

Peak oil is not a movement - it may be used as the basis for a variety of things, certainly, but peak oil is firmly a part of the physical world which falls into those human concepts called science or engineering. This is not an exclusionary thought, however - peak oil does have all sorts of perspectives and impacts, which is why discussion is so useful.

At least in most German eyes, climate change is the biggie -  how much fossil fuel is available is a fairly minor consideration when hail has ruined your crops for three years in a row, or it is the 8th year of drought. (Check into the Iberian drought to get a feel for an EU perspective  of such concerns - emergency grain stocks being used for the first time in a generation - but then, the EU at least has emergency stocks.)

So much of the 'movement' you seem to describe is close to people simply rubbing their eyes after having just woken up to look around at the world. Much of the rest of the world is starting to wonder how hundreds of millions of people could have been so asleep.

Most farmers in all of human history have worried about the weather, not the availability or price of fertilizers or pesticides - many, even today, don't care all that much about the price of anything - they aren't really participants in a market economy to begin with, they are just trying to grow enough to survive. This isn't going to change after the 'peak oil movement' becomes part of history.

Maybe this is one of the true dividing lines - those who believe peak oil is a physical reality with incredibly complex implications, and those who believe it is a 'movement.'

The low hanging fruit is that most people like to belong to 'movements' of one kind or another, and very few people ever seem interested in what could be considered the reality around them. That problem is not going to change - it seems a part of human nature.

I'm sure it's as simple as a correlation to rising gasoline prices.  Right now prices are drifting down.
NY Times story on ethanol:

snippet: "Despite continuing doubts about whether the fuel provides a genuine energy saving, at least 39 new ethanol plants are expected to be completed over the next 9 to 12 months, projects that will push the United States past Brazil as the world's largest ethanol producer."

To WestTexas:

I would like to see your analysis on the hypothesis that the Soviet Union collapsed because of their oil production - given the technology available at the time - was peaking in the late 80s.
A good starting point would be to read:


Russian oil production peaked in the Eighties, collapsed and then rebounded.  Those are the facts that we all agree on.  The debate is over why the collapse and why the rebound.

The point of the HL modeling was to determine if the post-1984 production was consistent with the HL prediction.  It was.  The HL method is suggesting a rapid decline ahead for Russian production--at least production from currently producing basins.

IMO, the Russians are very enthusiastic about the oil future the same way that Shell was so enthusiastic about the future of the Yibal Field.  IMO, the Russian are--and Shell was--mistaking high production rates with large remaining reserves, a critical mistake.  

Why the collapse? Because under democracy, there was no investment, so that the means of production could be devalued and stolen from the state.
Why the rebound? Because once the theft was complete, the thieves could see they needed to abolish democracy to make their stolen assets valuable again.
In any case, the post-1984 cumulative production was 95% of what the HL method predicted that it would be.
I don't know what to make of this but its not good news I think


It was the headliner for yesterday's drumbeat.
Hello TODers,

Is Global Warming accelerating? Check out this link:

Glaciers' melt rate surprises scientists

Climate experts have started to worry that the icecap is disappearing in ways that computer models had not predicted.

But across the icecap, the area of seasonal melting was broader last year than in 27 years of record-keeping, University of Colorado climate scientists reported. In early May, temperatures on the icecap some days were almost 20 degrees above normal, hovering just below freezing.

The ice sheet seemed such a stolid reservoir of cold that many experts had been confident of its taking centuries for higher temperatures to work their way thousands of feet down to the base of the icecap and undermine its stability.

Then the ice sheet began to confound computer-generated predictions.

By 2005, Greenland was beginning to lose more ice volume than anyone had anticipated -- an annual loss of up to 52 cubic miles a year -- according to more recent satellite gravity measurements released by JPL. The volume of freshwater ice dumped into the Atlantic Ocean has almost tripled in a decade.

There was even a period of melting in December. "We have never seen that," Steffen said.

In a way no one had detected, the warm water made its way through thousands of feet of ice to the bedrock -- in weeks, not decades or centuries.

University of Texas physicist Ginny Catania pulled an ice-penetrating radar in a search pattern around the camp, seeking evidence of any melt holes or drainage crevices that could so quickly channel the hot water of global warming deep into the ice.

To her surprise, she detected a maze of tunnels, natural pipes and cracks beneath the unblemished surface. "I have never seen anything like it, except in an area where people have been drilling bore holes," Catania said.
Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

I live about 21 feet below sea level. I think I will move!
Hello TODers,

Good Read in NEWSWEEK:

The Politics of Pipelines

Yes, the hoary Great Game is back, pitting Russia, the United States and Europe in a tug-of-war over energy.

Putin's also due to meet Venezuela's rabidly anti-U.S. president Hugo Chávez shortly after the G8 summit. Among other things, Chávez wants to discuss ending Venezuela's dependence on Western majors to export 87 percent of its oil and gas--and he will offer Gazprom a slice of a planned 8,000-kilometer gas pipeline to Argentina.
Consider that every BTU that gets burned in South America is one less BTU that Putin has to worry about fueling American or European military machines, or competing  against Russia's fuel supply economic stranglehood over Eurasia.

Putin & Gazprom would love to control a South American fossil fuel infrastructure spiderweb, and they probably have the bucks to get it done.  LNG tankers and oil tankers heading to North America & Europe could not compete efficiently against pipelines heading south.  Chavez will probably offer land for a Russian military base to protect Gazprom's investment too.  Isn't playing global chess fun?  

Hey America, have you got your scooter and bicycle yet?

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

Hello TODers,

If my previous posts were worrisome, here is some more:


Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, has taken everyone by surprise with a mooted investment worth up to $3bn in Bolivia - just as Western firms threaten to withdraw following the Latin American country's renationalisation of its prized gas assets.

The move underscores Gazprom's growing prominence in the world and is the Russian state-controlled company's first sortie into the western hemisphere, putting it on a potential collision course with the US. It represents another setback in Washington's relations with Evo Morales, Bolivia's socialist president, who has declared his opposition to US hegemony in the region. And it bodes ill for firms - including Britain's BG - that have already invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing Bolivia's large gas fields.

Above all, Gazprom's appearance in Bolivia illustrates how quickly the balance of power is shifting in the world of energy politics. While oil-hungry China looks as far afield as Africa to fuel its growth, gas-rich countries such as Russia are using the clout that high energy prices have given them to plant their flags in parts of the world that would have been off limits only a few years ago.

I will be fascinated at what transpires at the upcoming G8 Energy Security Conference.  From the official G8 website:


G8 news release:
Participation of India and China in discussions on energy security at the summit is a key question for Russia. The participation of India and China in discussing energy security issues at the G8 heads of state summit is a key question for Russia, said presidential envoy Igor Shuvalov.

It seems that the G8 Conf. has only two choices:

A.  Everyone jockeying for the best position to try and  kiss Putin to get a preferential deal for their country.

B. Everyone yelling and screaming at him, then walking out.

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

The key words here are "mooted" and "up to". Those headline numbers are normally high-side aggregated Money of the Day capital (plus maybe operating) cost figures for projects with lifetimes of several decades.

The favorite diplomatic game in Latin America at the moment seems to be to poke Uncle Sam in the eye. Good fun, and probably not even too expensive as no-one seriously believes the current lot are going to be in power in Washington for much longer. Pendulums always swing the other way (cf. the recent election results in Colombia and Peru).

If Gazprom decides to go ahead, well, let's see what happens when they try to raise end-user prices in dirt-poor third-world countries outside the Russian sphere of influence. I can guarantee it won't be a Russian hand on the valve.

I just saw the most amazing ad on TV.

Now a second one, while I'm trying to look up where this bullshit came from - they say the "oil & gas industry."

Tell me the truth about...

Tell me the truth about why I pay so much at the pump.

Tell me the truth about...

Tell me. Tell me. Tell me...



Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. You want the truth, you start with The Oil Drum.

Oh, it's API. Thanks for setting me straight, guys, and providing such an informative ad campaign and website for my fellow Americans. I don't know what we would have done without you. I wouldn't trust anybody but you guys for the real answers to these complexing questions. The straight truth. God knows, you're impartial.

What? You couldn't buy enough Democrats this week? You had to take your message directly to the people? Must be rough these days with a couple of posers in the House threatening to take away your subsidies. How much does a Democrat cost these days? More than 9.9 Billion in a quarter? Oh, yeah, I forgot, you have to ramp up exploration to increase production. Wait. I thought we had enough oil to last us forever. Aren't you always telling us that?

By the way, are the Democrats getting more expensive then the Republicans? Or maybe it is because those cheap whores who call themselves Americans are demanding payment in euros now.

You scum.

Yes, I've been also seeing more & more of these feel-good commercials (propaganda blitzes) playing here in  Northern California. The coal coalition has little kids pitching their clean-coal message. Oil&gas has the "tell me more" messages.

Bottom line is that these large commericial consortiums know the media is the control mechanism.

Send mixed messages to the masses. Confusinate the sheeple and they won't know which way to turn. At a moment of confusion, "stay the course" is usually the path the herd takes because it is emotionally the most "comfortable".

Many at TOD believe we can "intellectualize" to the herd.

Those with the bucks (TPTB) know that the herd does not think rationally. It reacts emotionally, to "tell Me More" Moticons (that's short for emoticons, but triples the Me Me Me alliteration).

You want the truth? You can't handle the truth. "We" are not rational creatures. Tell ME more.

I agree. And I will tell you more. If you people want the truth - open your eyes, open your ears, just watch and listen. But be careful and understand one thing.

If your information trail started with an advertisement - it is most likely not the truth. If that same information trail contains wonderful PDF's full of all kinds of complicated explanations and beautifully produced charts in vibrant colors - It probably wasn't designed with your best interests in mind.

'Syriana' is out on DVD. I recommend this movie. Highly. It may be Hollywood, but it's intentions are clear - to be a movie. Once you understand that you will be able to appreciate the truths it contains.

"My name is Musawwi."

Hi all,

I've been reading the site for quite awhile, but haven't signed up for an account until recently. Hopefully this will be on-topic here and someone will know.

I'd like to have a detailed understanding of how hybrid cars work, down to an understanding of motor efficiency, weight, battery weight, how braking works, cost, the various design alternatives, the electronics involved, the considerations involved in selecting the appropriate torque, RPM, and horsepower for the engines, etc.

Does anyone have a recommended reading list? There are a number of recent books, and some are textbooks so they're expensive. I'm wondering if anyone has recommendations of what to read and what to avoid.

Some titles I noticed:

Electric & Hybrid Vehicles: Design Fundamentals, Hussain

Hybrid Vehicle Propulsion, Jefferson & Barnard

Propulsion Systems for Hybrid Vehicles, Miller

Vehicular Electric Power Systems

There are a couple titles coming in July, which I suppose is a good sign for the future of the industry:

Hybrid & Alternative Fuel Vehicles, Haldrum, Martin, Van Batenburg

Hybrid, Electric, & Fuel Cell Vehicles, Erjavic & Arias

Thanks for your recommendations!

There is plenty of free info on the internet.
The weak link in the whole hybrid scheme is the battery's energy storage density & speed of charge/recharge.

Check out: http://electrochem.cwru.edu/ed/encycl/

Thanks. I hadn't realized that the batteries were so poor: apparently the charging and discharging is only around 50% efficient, so you only recover half what you put in the battery. That sounds like a killer. Compare that to the efficiency of a generator, which is around 95%, and it seems the batteries do contribute most to the inefficiency.

The sources give a wide range, though, so I'm curious what the actual efficiency for hybrids in production is. I suppose this is why there is work done on hydraulics, which UPS is using.


Be wary of single-measure understandings of the world.

The word "efficiency" is a slippery one.
It's an acountant's game.
Exactly what is it that you are measuring as an output quantity versus an input quantity and under what external conditions? Every company plays games with these so called measures.

Some batteries have very high ratios of output charge (coulombs) versus input charge, but only if the charge and discharge rates are very slow and temperatures are highly controlled. Real world road conditions are not so kind.

I would also recommend some good cutting edge web groups.  On developments in the hybrid, and as importantly, the "Plug Hybrid" idea, go to http://www.calcars.org

The companion discussion group is

Fascinating stuff on design of hybrids and plug hybrids, however be forewarned that they are militant in looking pretty much ONLY at the electric hybrid option (discussing other developments in competition with that option such as hydraulic hybrid or pneumatic hybrid will not go over well with them, trust me, I know!)

A little known but interesting small group is

This is an attempt to design a small hybrid marketable auto from the ground up.  While the odds of success are not high, there is some very educational discussion of motors, batteries, efficient gas engines, controllers and drivetrain design, and you can work outward from the links.

On alternative schemes of all types, including gas electric hybrid, hydraulic hybrid, pneumatic hybrid, natural gas, fuel cell and hydrogen hybrids, full electric vehicles, drivetrains, energy storage, waste to energy conversion, methane, on and on, the one stop shop is

There are enough links to technical papers and breaking developments to keep you reading for days!  :-)

In closing, let me do my normal "promo"...despite the early limits of much of this technology, we are getting to the point of confluence in the advancement of efficient and cleaner transportation options.  This is the one area that has cost us so much and and caused us so much concern, and by "us", I am referring to those of us who are aware of the oil/gas depletion issues, BUT, and this is important, have not given up on the human race's desire to be mobile and enjoy the freedom of mobility that has been a human trait since the birth of anything that can be called human.  Humans are not lichens.  We will move about.  We always have.  The technical changes coming are staggering, and the potential for whole new schools of industrial design, art, social arrangements, economic arrangements, are equally staggering.

What do we need, or more importantly, NOT need?  One thing I am certain we DO NOT need:  A gloomy death cult aging generation telling our young not to embrace technical education and advanced design, the arts, the humanities, but instead to renounce technical advancement, our culture, our arts, and to retreat to the woods.  NOTHING could be more catastrophic for our nation.  It would leave us serfs to nations and groups who faced the future, learned, developed, INVESTED, and built, and understood this central tenent: Our problem is NOT advanced technology, it is the habitual clinging to primitive technology and systems.

Roger Conner  known to you as ThatsItImout

Thanks! :) This will indeed keep me busy for awhile.