We Regret to Inform You…

Sharon April 22nd, 2008

When climate change and peak oil thinkers run out of other things to worry about, there’s always the endless, inevitable debates about whether we are facing a “fast crash” or a “slow grind.”  And I admit, I’m worried about my fellow environmentalists – because I think they are about to lose their favorite distraction.  When no one was looking, we got an answer.  Fast crash wins.  And we’re in it now.

Wait a minute, you argue – that’s not right.  If we were in a fast crash we’d be well on our way to living in a Kunstler novel.  But we’ve still got cars, we’ve got food, things are slowing down, but at worst this looks like a slow grind – but the crazy lady at the blog is saying fast crash?!?!?

Before you argue with me (and you are both welcome and encouraged to), I’d like to post something a bit out of my usual style – it is simply a description of what has happened with food and energy in the last year – that’s all it is.  Then tell me what you think – because it wasn’t until I began to write this introduction to the present food situation that I suddenly was struck by the fact that even a fast crash doesn’t always look fast when you live it – new normals arise and it turns out we assimilate faster than we panic.

So here we are – the “We regret to inform you that what you have imagined to be “civilization” is now falling apart” post.  See if it strikes you the way it struck me. 

I would also note two things.  The first is that the general political consensus is that neither the food nor energy crisis will do anything but grow more acute anytime soon – we’re really in the early stages.  And that this only covers the first 4 months of 2008.

_______________________________________________________ 

In early 2008, the world’s food and energy train came off the rails.  What was startling was that it didn’t happen either gradually or in a linear way - instead, things simply fell apart at an astounding rate, faster than anyone could have predicted without being accused of lunacy.

It started with biofuels and growing meat consumption rates.  They drove the price of staple grains up at astounding rates.  In 2007, overall inflation for food was at 18%, which created  a new class of hungry, but that was just the tip of the iceberg.  In 2008, the month to month inflation was higher than 2007′s annual inflation.  At that rate, the price of food overall was set to double every other year.  Rice, the staple of almost half the world’s population rose 147%, while wheat grew 25% in just one day.  Price rises were inequitable (as was everything else) so while rice prices rose 30% in rich world nations like the US, Haitian rice prices rose 300%.

Haiti was an early canary in the hunger coal mine.  Desperately poor, by early 2008, tens of thousands of impoverished Haitians were priced entirely out of the market for rice and other staples, and were reduced to eating “cookies” made of nutrient rich mud, vegetable shortening and salt to quiet their hunger pangs.  Women stood on the street, offering their children to any reasonably well fed passerby, saying “Please, pick, take one and feed them.”  Thousands of Haitians marched on Port Au Prince, yelling, “We’re hungry.”  And indeed, the Haitian government was complicit, allowing food relief to rot on the wharves. But Haiti was just the start. 

After riots over long bread lines threatened to destabilize Egypt, the Egyptian government set the army to baking bread for the hungry.  Forty nations either stopped exporting grains or raised tariffs to make costs prohibitive.  Food prices rose precipitiously as importing nations began to struggle to meet rising hunger.  The UN warned that 33 nations were in danger of destabilizing, and the list included major powers including Pakistan, Mexico, North Korea India, Egypt and South Africa.   Many of these hold nuclear weapons.

The crisis didn’t stop among the already-poor, however.  An article in The Economist reported that the crisis extended well into the middle class –  Joanna Sheeran, director of the World Food Project  explained, “For the middle classes,…it means cutting out medical care. For those on $2 a day, it means cutting out meat and taking the children out of school. For those on $1 a day, it means cutting out meat and vegetables and eating only cereals. And for those on 50 cents a day, it means total disaster.”  

Up to 100 million people who had managed to raise their incomes above $2 a day found themselves inexorably drawn back to the world poverty level, while millions of those who called themselves “middle class” began, slowly, to realize that they were no such thing.  Reports noted that many of the supposed middle class in rich world nations were actually the working poor who had overextended their credit to keep up appearances.  And the appearances – and credit access – were fraying

In 2007, a major American newspaper reported the growing problem of seasonal malnutrition affecting poor children in the Northern US – the rising price of heating oil meant that lower class families were struggling to put on the table.  Hungry, low weight children were unable to maintain their body temperature in chilly houses, and a vicious circle of illness, hunger and desperation ensued.  Malnutrition bellies began to be regularly seen by pediatricians treating the urban poor in cold climates.

Shortages were a chronic problem in the poor world, but by early spring of 2008, they began to arrive in the rich world – despite Japan’s deep pockets, a shortage of butter and wheat reminded the rich world of its dependence on food import.   Many of the supply problems were due to climate change and energy issues, as Australian dairy farmers struggled with high grain prices and the extended drought that destroyed their pastures. 

Following up on anecdotal reports of limits at bulk warehouse stores, in late April of 2008 rationing went official. Many Costco stores were limiting purchases of flour, rice, cooking oil and other staples to avoid shortages – and the stores tracked purchases electronically to prevent customers from visiting other Costco stores.  This was the first example of food rationing, but probably not the last – at least one financial analyst was predicting corn shortages in the fall of 2008.

The energy train and the food train were inextricably linked, and indeed directly (as the costs of diesel rose rapidly) and indirectly (rising energy costs created the biofuels boom) drove the food crisis.    They were linked in other, complex ways as well – the housing collapse that threatened to plunge Europe and the US into a  major depression was in part due to the high costs of commuting from suburban infrastructure.  Exurban housing collapsed hardest, while housing closer to cities remained desirable – for a while.

While the food crisis in the poor world made headlines, the energy crisis there went almost unnoticed.  <ore and more poorer nations simply could not afford to import oil and other fossil fuels, and began to slowly but steadily lose the benefits of fossil fuels.  Nations suffered shortages of gas, electricity and coal.  Tajikistan, experiencing a record cold winter found itself with inadequate supplies of heating oil and a humanitarian crisis.  South African coal supplies were so short that electricity generation dropped back to intermittency.

Industrial agriculture, described as “the process of turning oil into food” began to struggle to keep yields up to match growing demand.  Yield increases fell back steadily, with more and more investment of energy (and higher costs for poor farmers trying to keep yields up).  Yield increases, which had been at 6% annually from the 1960s through the 1990s fell to 1-2%, against rapidly rising demand.  Climate change threatened to further reduce yields in already stressed poor nations – Bangladesh struggled with repeated climate change linked flooding, the Sahelian African countries with growing drought, China with desertification. 

All future indications were that both food and energy supplies would fail to keep up with demand. Unchecked (the only kind we’ve got) climate change is expected to reduce rice yields by up to 30%, and food production in the already starving Sahel is expected to be reduced by half.  GMOs, touted as a solution, have yet to produce even slightly higher yields.  Arable land is disappearing under growth, while aquifers are heavily depleted – 30% of the world’s grain production comes from irrigated land that is expected to lose its water supply in the next decades.

Meanwhile the costs of fossil fueled agricultural skyrocketed, with Potash rising by 300% in less than a year.  What should have been a boom for farmers was actually the beginning of an increasingly precarious spiral of high prices, high indebtedness and market volatility.  Agricultural indebtedness rose dramatically.

Meanwhile, the ability of nations to transport food supplies began to be called into question.  Early trucker protests were intermittent and largely ineffective, but real predictions of diesel shortages and a shortage of refining capacity made it a real possibility that food might not reach store shelves. 

 And so how does the story end?  If you were reading this in a history book, what ending would you expect to see?  Because just because the crash doesn’t quite read like a post apocalyptic novel doesn’t mean that we aren’t the new Po-Apoc (like Po-Mo, only darker) generation.

Sharon

175 Responses to “We Regret to Inform You…”

  1. Lisa Z says:

    Beer is getting more expensive. There is a shortage of hops due to all the corn being grown in USA. I have a neighbor who’s a local brewer and he’s having a hard time getting some staple ingredients. Sorry to inform you!

  2. Christina says:

    Hops were once so important in Sweden that the King more or less forced all peasants to grow hops and deliver to the Crown as part of their taxes. Maybe something to think about ;-)

    However, it’s quite easy to grow in your garden. I don’t think we will se a Peak Hops! Well, I hope so, anyway!

    Christina
    Sweden

  3. Jase says:

    another sharon – If ‘this thing we call civilization’ is really so horrible, so abominable, then go right ahead – stop using our medicine, stop using our electricity, stop communicating over our infrastructure, and go out into the woods and shun it all. Go ahead, we can wait.

    Oh. That’s a no-go? Guess it really is civilization then.

    As for breeder reactors, the technology is now mature and ready for deployment. As for peak uranium, first of all even doubling the cost of uranium would only result in a 7% increase in the cost of the resulting electricity. And secondly, the current estimates as to the total amount of recoverable uranium place it at at least 20 petawatt-hours. So we’re talking thousands of years there.

    All the criticism about nuclear power being ‘too’ energy dense? It’s the same thing as firearms. You advocate tools that require a mere few pounds of finger pressure to kill another human being, but when it comes to a source of energy that can power our civilization into the future, it’s ‘too’ energy dense? Something bad *might* happen, and thus trumps all despite the certain – and much, much larger – benefits?

  4. Tony says:

    Yes, Sharon, it is a food and energy crisis.

    There’s going to be much more than a butter shortage here in Japan (where I live) at some point in the future, and the nightmare is that that point may not be very far away – a crash that is fast enough, thank you. More about Japan and its coming food and energy crisis on my website. And if you want to know how your story ends, just look at North Korea. It’s still not well known that the food shortages there were/are a ‘food and energy’ crisis. That’s documented on my website too. The systemic links between food production and distribution (oon the one hand) and energy (on the other) are now becoming apparent. Probably too late to do very much about it…

  5. lydia says:

    There are those who say there is no peak oil crisis. The facts is, whether there is or isn’t – the end result is the same. If Big oil is lying – then they mean to rape us all for billions, which will result in unemployment, poverty and the like. The ultra rich will be able to afford it at any price. So, I think arguing one way or another is ridiculous. Down here in common man land, we still have to eat, regardless. That is the bottom line.

    Costco here in the Seattle area had very low pallets of rice and a little note saying they were having trouble getting in it and please limit your purchase. The neighborhood grocery store that serves the lower income folks had the same thing. A coupon for bags of rice, but limit one only, with a note at the check out that sated the problem. I don’t know about you, but I can’t grow my own rice………or wheat….or meat…..or sugar….or milk…….or?

    A friend of mine just yesterday told me a story of how she went in to work and that afternoon at fifteen minutes before quitting time, 5% of here company was paid off. Boom just like that. Don’t bother showing up to work tomorrow! That company makes big rigs. Well, we all know that truckers are having a very hard time of it due to the high price of fuel. If they go – then all jobs connected to making trucks go. Now maybe the after market parts will be around for a while, but even that will go because they can’t afford the fuel and still keep the trucks on the road.

    Don’t look for any sort of government intervention, however it looks as though all the prison camps they have been busy building make make more sense in light of peak oil. Can you imagine the sort of riots we might have if things get really bad? This will make LA look like Candy Land.

    The media has been giving us bread and circuses for a while now. Now its just the circus…….we are running out of bread…………

  6. Michael says:

    I think what ‘another sharon’ was getting at, jase, is the sad landscape that the U.S. has become (largely thanks to the automobile, I tend to believe). I don’t think anyone would argue that modern civilization hasn’t produced anything of value, but the majority of our natural resources are being sucked up by the construction of superhighways, strip malls, and giant ugly homes.

    I know very little about the pros and cons of nuclear energy. Perhaps it’s not as bad as some make it out to be (James Lovelock is a smart guy and he seems think it’s a good idea). But I have to agree with ‘another sharon’ that what I see when I look around me is indeed a bleak landscape: clueless Americans jumping in their cars to drive four blocks, and hiding away in their energy-guzzling homes watching satellite TV. One has to really dig (and create) to find depth and meaning in this culture.

  7. Vegan says:

    Rhisiart Gwilym:

    Thank you for recommending Livestock Guardian Dogs for serious protection. I’ll look into it.

    ~Vegan

  8. Michael says:

    Oops, I meant to include this link to a Lovelock interview: http://www.ecolo.org/media/articles/articles.in.english/love-indep-24-05-04.htm

  9. Theresa says:

    I’m way behind in reading the comments to this thread, but yes, sorry Jade, it was Jase I was directing my comment to. To which he/she then then replied, in part: “Oh my God Theresa, I can only pray that you are joking.”

    Well, no Jase, I wasn’t. I’m certainly no expert on nuclear power but I do know that everything that humans construct is subject to failure, so I don’t think you can say that any nuclear plant is ‘fail safe’. Nothing is fail safe of course, but the risk associated with some things failing is worse than others. And also, maybe ‘civilization’ (is that what we are? That’s the real joke, I think.) would be over and done with by the time abandoned nuclear power plants would become unsafe, but I’m worried about more than human ‘civilization’ – I’m concerned for the animals, the plants, the planet itself. Indeed the whole universe. It’s the Taoist in me, I guess.

  10. Vegan says:

    To those of you who might be interested, here’s an excellent website on Livestock guardian dogs:

    http://www.progressivefarmer.com/tabid/1364/Default.aspx

    ~Vegan

  11. Kerr says:

    So what happens when we run out of high-grade uranium?

  12. Delpasored says:

    DNFTT. Jase posts controversial and irrelevant messages with the intention of baiting others into an emotional response and disrupt discussion. It doesn’t matter if we agree or disagree with her posts, that is not why she posts.

  13. Vegan says:

    Michael, I became aware that Lovelock approves of nuclear power when I read in 2006 his book “The Revenge of Gaia.” I respect his analysis and research/conclusions on climate change and his understanding of Gaia, but I do disagree with him on this and his approval of industrial foods.

    James Lovelock predicts that if the planet warms up by 5 C degrees, it will be habitable only in the extreme northern regions — Canada, Siberia, Northern Europe. Human population by then would have plummeted to a few millions. Most of the Earth will be scrub and desert. (This is not news to us today, but it was in 2006.)

    To avert this burning of Gaia, he advocates an immediate radical reduction of greenhouse gases. Hence, his approval of nuclear energy to facilitate the almost total elimination of carbon emissions. Lovelock perceives the reality of nuclear power as a scientist, not as a sociologist or a philosopher.

    ~Vegan

  14. Michael says:

    Well, in this article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange) he seems to be saying that nuclear power is merely to help humanity with its energy problem, not to save Gaia. He says, “Global warming has passed the tipping point, and catastrophe is unstoppable.”

    I tend to agree with him. I think what we need to be doing, rather than focus on mitigation of global warming, is bracing ourselves however possible for the mandatory powerdown (even WITH nuclear aid). I’m starting with food…learning to grow it and store it, as it seems like starvation will be one of the primary concerns.

    -michael

  15. I’m actually concerned that the recent banning of exports is the begining of a food war. The U.S. is drownding in debt, will soon be starving for energy and has created many enemies in the world so how long before someone decides that as one of the worlds biggest swing producers of grain the U.S. can basically blackmail the developing world for political or energy concessions in return for access to food?

    How long before less stable nuclear states use that lever to demand tribute?

    While it will never be said in public, I believe the powers that be are more than willing to starve off 20% or more of the worlds population in order to lower competative demand for may commodities.

    As for your article I think it’s right on the mark, we are living a fast crash but the majority have yet to notice the things you have writen about. I’ve been blogging and talking similar themes for a couple of years and while I’ve made a few conections the vast majority still see the issues as temporary or not that big a deal and have writen me off as a nut. Unfortunately until people feel the pain they will not accept the problem let alone buy into a solution.

    Rampant nationalism and isolationism will soon cut off more food supplies, energy and industrial minerals in a way our modern just in time economy will not be able to cope with. As discussed in last months New Scientist Civiliation as we know it may be far to interconected and specialized to survive the kind of major shocks we could be facing.

    As for the thread here, Peak Uranium is probably a little farther off than quoted as Canada still has great exploration potential and many regions were abandoned because of low prices not because of lousy potential.

    There is also the development of a Candu and an Indian reactor design that should be able to use Thorium which is 10x more common than Ur. Not that I’m a fan of nukes, I’m just saying if chosen the nuclear window is longer than often quoted.

    That said the major crunch is coming far too fast for new nukes to have much impact, they take far too long to build and may be out of reach for a nearly bankrupt country. Not only that but the biggest and nearest problem is going to be a liquid fuel crisis, not an electricity problem, no number of nukes is going to make cars work or planes fly. Only an Apollo scale transit program will have any hope of keeping the west functional and cars and planes are soon to obsolete.

    Defence
    As a Canadian our culture is not as prone to guns as America’s so defense becomes a very tricky issue for many people. Dogs, pepper spray and tasers all have their places but the old “don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” always comes to mind. Only you can know what your region is like and what constitutes adequate protection.

    Should the shit hit the fan, group living, multi generational homes and community will be just as important to your security as hardware.

    I often question if the U.S. military will a bigger threat to me in Canada than my neighbours will be?

    For now I constantly add a little extra food to the larder, store frozen open polinated seed, a little silver in case fiat money collapses, and try to convince someone, anyone to join me in buying property adequate to feed a couple of familes.

  16. Vegan says:

    Yes, in the above linked article (2008), he’s very specific in asserting the irreversibility of catastrophic climate change and the inevitability of Gaia’s “burning” which suggests the near extinction of our species. I tend to agree with him on this.

    I find his convoluted non-ethical views on nuclear power repulsive. I still look forward to reading his latest analysis on the development of climate change.

    Happy gardening …

    ~Vegan

  17. jgwiss says:

    “DNFTT. Jase posts controversial and irrelevant messages with the intention of baiting others into an emotional response and disrupt discussion. It doesn’t matter if we agree or disagree with her posts, that is not why she posts.”
    I’ve seen similar style posters in other forums.
    Once you get it, you just skip their posts. Its just a shame to have this nuclear argument clogging a food discussion.
    In the valley where we live there are at least 5 combo mini hydro/solar installations (for seasonal variation). Kale grows great and the deer seem to leave it alone. For carbos we think we just have to rotate the potato beds to reduce the threat of late blight. I’d like to get some Wapato and blue camas for the boggy areas and have already gotten a good response from Jerusalem Artichokes. I’m planning on planting bluegill in the pond.
    Some collapse blogger said that something like 30% of ‘mericans would have to get back to -the farm- for a sustainable future.
    You have to figure out if you are one of those-even like those suburbanites converting the front lawn into veggies. A stroke victim friend, sold on the square foot gardening method, has installed a series of planter boxes at wheelchair height this spring.(light soil mix)
    One thought stream missing here is the cold fusion/free energy angle. Google it before you dismiss it. Who knows?? Another thought is that much littler and more efficient cars are available in other countries like the Kei cars of Japan. Why?? When you think of the single occupant commute syndrome of us cities, just switching to 60+mpg vehicles would stretch out the gas while we implemented already existing technical solutions to the fuel, lighting, and home insulation problems.
    A little fear is good for excitement to break complacency and then a little anger to get motivated. As you coast into local action and community building, you can smile at seeing a future coming where the planet and biosphere will be able to relax and pass beyond this homo sapiens caused extinction phase.

  18. PhilJohnson says:

    Nuclear energy even without all its drawbacks I think is not a good idea. It will enable people to continue to be just as wasteful as they are now. There are other resources besides just energy that can be depleted. Nuclear power, if used on a wide scale, will make sure of that.

  19. Gary says:

    Oh, yes Sahron you’ve got it all right. Of course why didn’t I think of this before. It makes perfect sense I should go live in a cave and “get off the grid” while I still can!!

    In case you could not tell that was sarcasm.

    So if we’re ALL GOING TO DIE!!!!! Why are you so worried? Why not live and not worry about shit that may or may not come to pass. You are not special, you cannot predict the future.
    You and Matt&Matt should get together and swap dieoff stories or something. Honestly I grow sick when I read shit like this. It’s People like you and Matt Savinar and Matt Simmons who make this so unbelieveable because you people insist that this WILL happen and we can’t do anything about it. No one will listen to that shit. You can’t approach people in that manner. As an example when your mother asks if she looks good in a dress that she is wearing you say yes, even though it doesn’t. If you do tell her no, you say it in a way that won’t hurt her feelings any.

    As for this Predicting the future BS, it gets very tiresome. Like I said you cannot predict the future any better than anyone else, it does not matter what kind of Degree you hold or what you’ve researched. Even your little experiences. If we are destined to suffer as many predict we are to. It’s so easy to sit at your computer and point the finger and say this will happen, no doubt. And what’s very funny about all of this is those who have gotten “off grid” yet they still type away on forums all day long with their little “Doomer” pals. That’s some off the grid right there, wouldn’t you say. So many Peak Oil folks say they are prepared and for that they shall survive the coming dieoff. Yeah, right. IF this REALLY happens, they won’t be as prepared as they may think. Once their computers go off and they can’t talk about useing people as manure with their little pals, it will sink in. For that I hope that they all suffer more than any other, I hope they starve in their little caves and get eaten by the wild. I despise people who think they know what will come to pass for us and our future. I am new to all of this, but I am optimistic. Without hope, one cannot hold on. It’s that simple. Noone who was a pessimist ever did anything for civilization, never invented anything or came up with a cure. Optimisim must strive in us all. IMHO I do not think that we’ll “crash” I do think that we will face some very difficult times, but we as Humans will see it through. I do think that this needs to be made more mainstream so that everyone in my Country (U.S.) will be more aware of it. But can we do anything about it. No. It’s easy for those to say we can live off the land and so forth. What about those of us who rely on modern medicine to live. I don’t want to hear some cop out of well you were meant to die anyways…so all is well. What of the millions of people who need meds for MS, Diabetes, Heart related issues, BP meds….etc. I guess we should tell them to just lie down and “Deal with Reality” should we. Oh, sorry you’re going to die, but hey it’s okay because billions will join you soon enough! “Take your medicine son” (From Viggo Mortenson in Young Guns 2.)
    I would if I had some! Seriouly do you folks get off on this shit? I think some of you do, where as some of you try to help, but end up not helping at all!

    I am a Military Historian. But I know some General History as well. People have been predicting the end for ages, Yet it hasn’t come yet, has it? Maybe it will now. Maybe it won’t for another 100 yrs. Maybe in 5 minutes we’ll all just explode or something.
    Perhaps tomorrow, Sharon, you’ll die in some tragic accident. Perhaps I will on my way to work or on my way home. Can you predict that for me, too? Well I’ll tell you something. 50/50% chance
    This has a 50/50% written all over it. All of life has 50/50 on it. Every second I live I could die all of a sudden that has a???? You guessed it 50/50% chance sticker on it.
    You learn of this through, not so much as just going through life, but through going through life and playing a lot of Chess. Life is a Chess game. There are no 80/20 or 40/60. It’s all 50/50. Yet you folks make this “Oil Crash” to be 100/0. Well it will never be until it happens. As of right now it’s still 50/50. And don’t argue this. You know I am correct. Only God will know what will come to pass. You or I or anyone else will not. Therefore we should all just live! While we can still do so. I know I am taking full advantage fo this. Yes I choose to keep “my head in the sand” as some of you call it. But I do check in on it from time to time.

    *NOTE* What I said about how I do not think the end is to pass, is my opinion only, not my prediction, far from it. People who spend their lives trying to predict the future have failed at living. I, however see great impotance in studieing the past.

  20. Sharon says:

    Gary if you are any kind of historian at all, you are aware that “the end” happens all the time – that is, things “crash” – that doesn’t mean that all human life is extinguished, it simply means that the society falls apart for a while and something replaces it that is somewhat different.

    “The end” happened to the Jews of Europe, to the Vandals, to the Picts. It didn’t mean they disappeared – it meant their way of life was utterly transformed, and so was much of the society around them.

    Noticing that you are in such a transformation really isn’t that hard – but not noticing isn’t that hard either. History just feels like life when you are living it. If you notice, I haven’t predicted anything – I have described what *has* happened.

    Sharon

  21. Daharja says:

    BoysMom,

    Please don’t put all the vegans in one basket (along with the eggs, perhaps?)

    I’ve been vegetarian, then vegan, for most of my adult life, but understand that balance consists of humans, animals and plants living *together* in respectfully with each other.

    The problem that we in modern societies currently have isn’t eating meat, or raising animals. It’s that we’re knocking the whole system out of balance, insisting on meat at every meal at any cost, polluting our ecosystems with massive waste runoff from feedlots and factory farms, and draining our aquifers with unsustainable farming practices. We’re strip-mining the planet with our unsustainable, wasteful, insanely meat-heavy diet.

    Most of the vegans I know are vegan because of the damage that modern ‘farming’ practices cause our planet, and the cruelty inherent in factory farming and mass slaughterhouses.

    I live in a situation where I cannot raise my own hens or other animals, and cannot therefore determine with absolute certainty that the eggs/milk/flesh was produced sustainably. Should my situation change and I am able to secure sustainable supply, I may reconsider my veganism.

    But there is no doubt in my mind that factory farming of animals, such that supplies the vast majority of meat and animal products to our population, is unsustainable. Therefore, as (I hope!) a logical person, I will not take part in the destruction of my planet. Anyone who does so willingly and knowingly is participating in psychopathic behaviour.

    I hope that clarifies things a little. With all my heart I want to see the return of family farms, where a small number of animals are kept, treated well, and the products they produce (including their meat) are treated with respect, as is the land that raises them and us.

  22. Shamrockmom says:

    Sharon, thanks for a thought provoking entry. I have to say that I for one am enjoying and appreciating each day more, knowing there may not be many good ones ahead. I went to the grocery store last night and looked good and long at the full, stocked shelves (yes, even the rice). I looked at all the big SUV’s filling up today at $3.75/gal. with no lines or rationing at the gas station. I want to try & remember these as the good days. I watched my son & his buddies at baseball practice and wondered how many of their parents even have 1 clue as to what is happening. Each day I try to look at my kids, home and yard and really, really appreciate how lucky I am to be here & not in Haiti.
    Thanks for helping me not take my life for granted!

  23. goritsas says:

    Gary,

    I guess you must be a military historian because what you know about statistics doesn’t even need the hear of a pin for transcription space. So, the odds on everything that you undertake in life are 1:1? Wherever you derived this postulate may I have some of it to smoke as well? That oil appears finite is certainly a better than 1:1 chance. A lot better. In fact, the odds are so lousy there’s no point in betting. Are the Earth’s material resources limited just a 1:1 bet? I guess not, after all the occasional chunk of space detritus does makes its way into the atmosphere and beyond. Do such irregular additions constitute a material addition to the Earth’s resources? I can safely the odds are far better than 1:1 they don’t.

    As for optimism vs. pessimism, we don’t need either, we need realism. Being cheerful in the face of hard times is one thing. Might as well do as much to enjoy the experience as possible. In a Viktor Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning kind of way. Being the optimist you’ve declared yourself to be, why is it that Nixon’s War on Cancer has yet to lead to a cure for any specific variant? What about the War on Drugs? Are you optimistic that war will ever be won? Then there’s the War on Terror. That seems to be going real well too. What are the odds the War on Terror will actually bring terrorism to an end? 1:1? I wouldn’t take that bet, but you apparently would.

    The life is a chess game assertion is notable for its sophomoric character. Perhaps clinging to such a belief comes from devotion to military history. Since life is a chess game then it stands to reason that war is a chess game too. If that be the case, why is it the U.S. failed abjectly in Vietnam? Why have the Taliban returned to Afghanistan? How did the Mujahideen manage to turf out the Russians in the first place? What about Iraq? Life is far more like a network where the value is in the connection between the nodes and not just the nodes themselves. There are many more potentially useful outcomes in a network than the single simplistic notion that drives a chess game, the capture of the king. There are many more potential allies and enemies in a network than the two opponents found in a chess game. Networks express non-linear characteristics whereas chess is purely algorithmic, hence why it can be played so well by a computer. There are none of Taleb’s “Black Swans” in chess. There are in networks.

    As for your attack on off-grid doomers still using the net, sounds an awful lot more like Greer’s ecotechnic paradigm than your venom filled contempt allows you to see. Off-grid is not disconnected. It is independent of the grid. Thus the grid becomes a non-limiting factor when participating within the wider community inaccessible directly. Off-grid folk need never have their computers “go off.” Since off-grid means local electricity supply, computers may stay up for a considerable period of time. Since shortwave can be harnessed to propagate routed network traffic, internets may very well stay up for a considerable period of time. I just don’t see your vision of off-grid as being blacked-out. But then, I don’t see life as a chess game either.

    Like it or not, we are already crashing. Greer suggests the crash really kicked off with the collapse of the British Empire. Yes, the empire really did collapse. You might even say it crashed. I can certainly appreciate this particular perspective, particularly in the context of his How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse. I’m sure you’ve read it. After all, the odds are at least 1:1 you have. Shall we flip a coin?

    In the end you can rant and rave, much like an asylum resident might, but the treatment is not optimism, nor is it pessimism, it is realism. It’s realism that’s bounded by not only the fact of our mortality but by the desire to ensure our mortality compels us to leave behind the best potential outcomes for those follow, born and unborn. For yes, we all die. And no, it’s not a cop out. The end of oil, or motor gasoline, or diesel, or natural gas, or even coal does not mean the end of life. It does not even mean the end of technology. It simply means, as it has never been more eloquently stated than by Jim Kunstler, we very simply need to be making other arrangements.

  24. alex says:

    So goritsas – I would assume then that all of these ‘off the grid’ people have developed a way to manufacture their computers and internet hook-ups that doesn’t rely on the grid? Sure, their (grid-built) computers may never go off, but when a component burns out, then what?

    If you want to criticize modern technology and civilization, fine – your immunizations as a child can be forgiven, but beyond that you don’t have much of an excuse. It’s downright hypocritical and cognitively dissonant to decry the evils of modern civilization from a computer, hooked into the global internet, protected from disease by modern medicine, with a lifestyle founded on and made possible by the products of the very system you decry.

    If your concerns about the evils of western civilization are to be taken seriously, write them in natural ink from handmade paper and then drop it off on someone’s doorstep before returning to the hut you made starting from a chipped rock. Otherwise thank your lucky stars that the hand that fed you doesn’t slap you away for gnawing on it.

  25. Stephanie says:

    Oh great — are you the same Jace/ aka Alex/ aka several other names who trolled No Impact Man’s blog for months?

    If so, please stick to one name or go find yourself something better to do than troll all the Lefties on the internet. The whole trolling thing’s gotten old already and nobody takes you seriously anyway. Thanks.

  26. Vegan says:

    Daharja,

    Thank you!

    ~Vegan

  27. lydia says:

    Eh, Alex, why are you so critical of Goritsas? Hypocrite?

    I have seen this argument a lot! Just because someone is in support of living as off grid as possible but uses the internet makes them a hypocrite?
    Ah, contrare! Thats throwing the baby out with the bathwater……

    When folks decry the industrialization of our world and the evils of civilization, we are saying EVERYTHING should go? No. I for one like the internet, and I recognize the waste and pollution cause by making silicon chips and hard drives!
    It’s not a perfect system, the point is imopacts can be reduced, and technology can be used to try and reduce those impacts. We do not have to kill each other off with war and such just to reduce the amount of people eating.

    Every modern day industrial product can be used for good or ill, what is our choice? Morality comes into play here. If using my computer means thousands do not get to eat, then fine, I will go online, but I doubt that is the issue.

    And yes, many of us are living almost totally off grid and we are happy to do so because it’s a good thing. Too many people on this blog sound arrogant, angry and ignorant, I am sorry to say….

  28. goritsas says:

    Dear alex,

    Somehow, I just don’t know how, you seemed to missed at least a part of the point. Naw, you missed it all. Being off-grid is not being isolated, it’s being independent of the grid. When you finally realise that, get back to me.

    As for the evils, etc., I think it was fairly clear I’m betting that some rather high level of technology will remain as the days pass into years pass into decades. My expectation is we simply won’t be able to turn back the clock. Whatever we’re going to slide into it won’t be the 19th century. If, for no other reason, we’ve now got Bt corn to contend with, not to mention ICBMs and manufactured anthrax, and, well, you get the idea. Maybe you don’t, but that’s fine by me, ignorance becomes worm food and I’ve just about finished double-digging another bed and my neighbour has offered me the use of his garden shredder and you seem too dim to understand the implications… And the seed potatoes are being readied… Heirloom by the by. That way I won’t need Mr. Monsanto next year, now will I? You and open pollenation will be more than enough.

    As time goes by, I’m sure me and my minions, because I’ll be the evil overlord, obviously, will have taken control of all the best of the remaining motherboards not to mention the best of the remaining shortwave kit as well as all the best Cisco and Allied Telesyn routers and deftly employed them to sucker in all the best remaining IC designers and then, WHAM! I’ll take control of their minds and resurrect the AMD plants in (quick, pick your most beloved eastern hemisphere chip making location here) and we won’t be short of no motherboards no mo, sukka!

    I like you, really I do. Just like I like Mr. K. You’s two are peas in a pod. But, just like Mr. K., you’s make sense only to yourself. The rest of us just look on bemused as you continue to hammer your thumb despite the fact you don’t even have a nail to hand. Keep it up. Carry on, maybe aim a bit higher. In that moment peace will be yours and satisfaction will be ours.

  29. Dana says:

    You need fossil fuels to build nuclear reactors and then you need fossil fuels to maintain them and fossil fuels to get rid of the waste. Let’s just scrap that idea right now.

    http://www.urbanscout.org
    http://www.anthropik.com

    Our best hope, I think, may be to just shoot civilization the collective middle finger. Not humanity, not human *society,* just civilization–and walk away.

  30. Bryan says:

    I can’t find a definition for “fast crash” or “slow crash” and I don’t
    think it matters much.
    It’s not going to be orderly enough to fit either category. There will be tons and tons of Unintended Consequences.
    There is a big problem with our economy — our Economists. Adam Smith never addressed the question “What should be done when increasing the price of a critical resource does not make more of the resource available?”
    Economists will never be able to understand Peak Oil so don’t expect them too!
    I see the first and most destructive crash will be economic. America is a debtor nation occupied by debtor citizens. Fiscally, America will implode and die with a whimper.
    After that not much matters as we are not set up very well for a barter economy.
    I have a bit of money (150K) invested and get some scary (mis)information from the Wall Street experts.
    I believe the end has already started, but because of the enormous inertia in America’s system, the process will take years. The crash should be logarithmic. We will get half way to the end in (my guess) 7 years and the end will be a year later.
    I’ve given up wishing I was wrong.

  31. Sekhmet says:

    A great post, and the comments have been interesting too.

    It really is a bit unnerving to see the dots connecting like they are. My partner & I have been using those dots as motivation to keep working on our goal of living, not off-grid, but as low-impact and low-input as we can.

    On our 1.25 acre lot, we have a laying flock, large garden, fruit trees, berry patch, hedgerows, cross-fenced grazing paddocks for our milk cow (a Dexter, half the size of a “normal” cow) and her baby (that we’re raising for meat). We’ve just decided to buy a bull, since renting one is too expensive over the cost of our cow’s 10-15 year breeding potential. We’ll be adding bees to our stead next year, as well as constantly planting more perennial food plants.

    We both work in town for the state, which is helpful in getting our infrastructure going, but could end with the next round of budget cuts. Obviously, we can’t be self-sufficient, but we’ve made many friends in the area who grow organic hay, work on old houses (ours is an 88 yr old homesteaders “cabin”), are retired farmers with decades of knowledge, and so on. We share eggs, cheese, butter, seeds, herbs, fruit, veggies, beer, mead, cider…all grown or made onsite, for stuff we can’t grow or make onsite. We have excellent neighbors, great guard dogs, guns, and so on. When we make purchases (tools, supplies, equipment) we try to keep in mind that we may not be able to get parts or fuel or electricity someday, and choose lower tech items.

    We also blog and keep a paper log of all our trials & errors & successes, in hopes that we can help other people learn to take care of themselves. And we run a small discussion forum that has allowed us to make new friends, on a similar path, across the country.

    I know it’s a fragile world. One earthquake, wildfire, plague or bad guy, and our efforts could be toast. But doing what we’re doing feels right, and it’s comforting in the face of all this bad news.

  32. Suzo says:

    Can we please all stop channeling the apocalypse? Yes, we are facing a very difficult transition. Yes, people are going hungry and there are food shortages. But people are starving not because of the failure of Mother Earth or even shortages of non-renewable resources.

    People are starving because of bad economic and political policies. The people of Haiti have the capacity to feed themselves. They are starving because of IMF policies and some bizarre theory called “free trade” that destroyed their rice production. They are starving because some folks thought we could grow fuel. Can we please stop that right now?

    The ethanol craze is putting pressure not just on the price of corn, (and wheat and soy displaced by corn production) but also rice. Outside of the U.S., rice land is being switched over to jatropha and sugar cane for ethanol.

    Here in the U.S. we have the capacity to feed ourselves. At the beginning of WWII when we drafted a lot of farmers, people who never had done any gardening learned quickly. We can do it again.

    Some say we have lost the art and knowledge of how to garden. Are their no libraries or bookstores in your town? No garden clubs? Maybe all of you who are sinking into despair can go out and start one. Check out the farmer’s markets, the CSAs, the food co-ops, the community gardens. If you don’t have any, start them.

    Mother Earth can feed us – even all six billion of us. It’s fear that kills us. I don’t want to end up living in the brutish Hobbesian world of a Kunstler novel. So I think I’ll go help my neighbor mulch those new plantings.

  33. katnip kid says:

    Suzo,

    Don’t despair about folks needing to learn to garden. Gardening is reputedly the number one hobby in the USA. The libraries around me are full of gardening books, and there are plenty of gardening clubs. It seems that just about everyone has an interest in this everywhere I look.

  34. [...] This idea was a bolt out of the blue: I was thinking – what would happen to all the cars when Peak Oil hits? Essentially this is the point at which the cost of extracting the remaining oil becomes too costly to justify. The cost of oil has skyrocketed and the cost of petrol (gas) has started to hurt a lot of people’s wallets. As the costs continue to rise, and shortages of fuel occur, will cars sit abandoned? The flip side of this issue is the increasing cost of food (due to large quantities of oil used in food production), and the food shortages which now are not just affecting the ‘traditionally’ poverty stricken countries, but relatively rich countries too, even in the west people are moaning about the rising costs of food and groceries. For a really good, but frightening, analysis check out Casaubon’s Book. [...]

  35. [...] leave you alone because you’re a part of it.A day or two ago a friend directed me to this little blog post, which made me realize that my worst fears–hell, everyone’s worst fears who had ever [...]

  36. Becca says:

    I remember standing across the street talking to our neighbors as we moved into our new home. We were discussing gardening and sustainability as our preparation for “the coming oil crisis.” He snorted and said that such a thing would never happen.

    mmmm. Okay. They’re discussing high food and gas prices now. Guess we weren’t so crazy after all.

  37. Mikey says:

    thanks for this

  38. Dennis says:

    Being a prophet of doom and gloom is not as interesting as it used to be, since it now has gone mainstream.

    Maybe I’ll sell my Prius, ditch the backyard garden, yank out the CFL bulbs and vote Republican this year.

    President Bush is partly responsible for much of this for pushing the production of inefficient ethanol, which is just a way of getting his agro-industry friends some more handouts. McCain doesn’t seem any better – what changed my mind about him was his offer to reduce the gas tax! That would just reverse the decrease in demand temporarily, cause some more irresponsible consumption, and gas prices would rise again with a vengeance. And the lost Federal income would have to be made up by raising income taxes. Why should we taxpayers have to bail out the idiots who bought huge SUVS, pick-up trucks and Hummers. If they didn’t have to foresight to see this coming, then let them pay for the mess!

    Besides, the Federal government does not believe that there is a food crisis. If there really was a food crisis, we wouldn’t be subsidizing crops to prop up prices, would we?

    (Rhetorical question – you can answer at the ballot box instead of on the blog.)

    Let’s see some grass-roots action for world justice. In the name of ethical food distribution, let’s see the blogosphere explode with blogs and comments calling on the United States and European Union to end crop subsidies which just prop up prices!

    For some more gloom, please visit:

    http://www.marylandgreenpower.com/greenpower/2008/05/page/4/

  39. turkey guns says:

    turkey guns

    How does the rss feed work so I can get updated on your blog?

  40. [...] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » We Regret to Inform You… Sobering read. Worth it. (tags: doom food environment society) [...]

  41. Greg says:

    I haven’t had time to read all the posts. I read most of them up to the Chenobyl experiment. Here’s my 2 cents. Read the Life After the Oil Crash site for a pretty interesting doomer and realistic perspective, if peak oil exists. It seems it does, which is obvious, but how much is left. There are two arguements. One that oil and natural gas exists, but we cannot drill for those because of “Capping and reservation” of oil for future use. (Who made the long term decision is unknown, it’s always some kind of secret government limit, perhaps for some future war or generation.) Then there is the conspiracy to keep prices high group which ties to oil speculation. A lot of profit is made in oil and of course there’s a lot of hidden profits in any corporation. Shoe companies for instance may have a shell corporation that has only a half of dozen employees who are on the board of directors of the shoe retail company. And this shell company buys and sells shoes in the hundreds of millions of dollars as a paper go between to raise the prices of the shoes. Who makes the profit, not the typical shoe company that can say they get them for X amount of dollars, but they don’t say that they are not buying them directly from the makers, but instead from the go between company that ramps up the price as a middle man. This kind of stuff goes on all the time. Think about it. If your rich, mega rich and have connections and can make back room deals as the “leader of industry” etc. Your going to have lawyers, folks and all kinds of back room deals to skim profits and make the public companies operate under a slim profit margin. This kind of stuff has to be happening in oil as well, but we rarely hear of it.

    So some of it is due to greed. They are running ads on the radio about 60 million cars and 60 million homes being run for 60 years on natural gas. Where’s that natural gas going to come from? Alaska. The anti-peak crowd apparently is correct in saying Alaska has enough energy to fuel the US for perhaps as much as 200 years on the north slope alone. This is why Palin talks about the $40 billion pipeline project, they are finally going to pump natural gas from Alaska and that can meet about 25% of the transportation and heating needs of America for 60 years. That’s a pretty good break on the fast decline, if and only if we can get that natural gas to the lower 48.

    As far as environmentalists trying to go green without risks and without nukes. Okay let’s do some math. You need 750 nuclear power plants to replace our car BTU usage in the USA. That’s a lot of plants. The Republicans want to start on 25 right a way. That’s not enough. The US likes regular fission reactors. That’s not good. Breeders are the only reactor that can use fuel and reuse the spent fuel over and over again. Regarding safety, well we don’t have it as much as the proponents would say. Although the IFR Fast Breeder Reactor was a breeder and designed to be safe and sits in Chicago abandoned. The USA designed a safe breeder and then thanks to 3 mile island abandoned nuclear. As far as safety and blaming the Russians. Okay let’s talk about that for a minute. I used to work at Service Merchandise as an electronic sales person. I remember a guy coming in and looking at AM/FM cassette radio players back in the early 1980s in Southgate Michigan. We liked and pushed some brands and I was telling him how I thought the GE was a good brand. He said to me, I’ll never buy a GE product. and stated the reason for this was he was an engineer at the Fermi plant in Monroe michigan and had seen to much junk being put into the plant by “GE”. I thought, wow that’s not a very confident appraisal of our nuclear engineering.

    I also worked for a short time with a guy who worked at Fermi for a short time. He mentioned about the Fermi almost meltdown that happened that’s in the book “The Day we almost lost Detroit”. The Fermi 1 reactor was a breeder and they use liquid sodium which is a liquid metal to cool the reator. What happened was a pump that pumped the liquid sodium broke and that caused the sodium to stop flowing into the reactor to cool it. That almost caused a meltdown like the Russian one and we could have lost Detroit. Now Detroit is being faced with a different meltdown, one of peak oil prices either based on supply limits which is a peak of conspiracy or a real peak limit which is a peak of supply and demand reality. In either case we are threatened, that is the American life which is unsustainable.

    To say we can replace all this energy with wind power is a joke, okay. Do some math before figuring out what the best approach is. It’s almost impossible and likely impossible for the USA to sustain it’s BTU consumption level. But you know we will try. And what I think happens is the rich and the USA all citizens are rich compared to the rest of the world, will let the poor slide into starvation and war to maintain their lifestyle. It’s happened in the past with all civilizations, what would make us different. To stop using all the US oil energy if peak is currect will only delay the loss of oil by 10 or 15 years if early peakers are correct. Why? Because we only use 25% of the worlds energy. So even if we could use no more oil, it would not stop the global slide into loss of oil, because the rest of the world would still use oil. What we are seeing is not peak alone, but supply changes being increased to India and China and decreased to the USA. That with a slim margin causes the prices to spike.

    Regarding BTU’s. A typical small car, let’s take a Honda Civic has 110 hp. (2005 civic LX). This is an economy car and Low Emmissions, very green. Gets about 30 mpg all around average. Yet it’s using about 70 hp average while driving around (my estimate). A human can put out sustained 1/10th horsepower. So when I drive alone in my Honda Civic econobox, I’m driving around with the equivalent of 700 chinese rickshaw pullers pulling me around. But I’m no king, yet the American consumer is king, and we all do this. Looking at horsepower is a very interesting hobby to figure out where this is all heading. The elevators where I work use 54 hp to cart 20 people max up and down 15 floors of building. Mostly fat people who are overweight. The building being over 4 stories must have A/C to be usable. A combine from New Holland (smaller sized one) uses about 80 hp. About the same as my civic (This from recollection, I’ll have to check on this.) So each day I drive 10 miles to work, that’s about the same as a combine would use to plow or harvest 10 miles of one row of corn, etc. So I’m using about 200 times more energy that I would need to run my own mechanized farm each day just driving to work. There’s a huge amount of energy being wasted.

    Now lets look at houses. Homes take up 1/3rd our energy. Rather than think smart and smaller, we get bigger ones, cut down more trees, make them roomy for all the crap we buy and heat and cool them while we are away at work often with two jobs and both adults away most of the time slaving for the house, tax bills, etc. This is not sustainable from a farming perspective. Yet our economies of scale and innovation, have made farming and modern farming very efficient. And we can’t easily go back. That is not all of us. For example let’s convert back to a self sufficient life (in Michigan for example). I need a 10 acre woodlot to provide sustainable heat for an average house. So that’s 10 acres. I need 8 acres of soybeans for biodiesal for a single family. So that’s 18 acres. I need other land for food, maybe an acre. Of course if there’s crop failure I’ll need more for sutainable capabilty. I’m up to about 20 acres. Now I can say I’ll put a wind farm on my 20 acres. This only works if I’m in a windy area. My Prius has a 50 kw motor which puts out 41 horsepower, which is not enough for the Prius. I need another 69 hp to make it perform, because it’s a huge fat pig of a machine. My Prius weighs 3000lbs. 300 more than the civic. It’s a wonder of engineering. But if you want it to perform, you need to cut the horsepower down to electric only for real efficiency, to back to the 50kw motor. Cut the weight by 1500lbs and you have a two passenger inline with 1500lbs that will work with the 40hp motor. But that 50KW motor needs to have energy from a wind turbine or something. If we go the Wind turbine route, we can buy a 12kw wind turbine and tower for about $30,000. Average Wind power is about 4 or 5 times the rated kw power per day in a good wind site. So that’s 12kw times 5 assuming a good site. That’s 60kw hours a day. Enough to power my Prius cut in half car for one hour. Giving me a 50 mile range perhaps. If that wind generator is used for my other power needs it needs to be bigger and my car needs to be smaller than 1500lbs. Because if I want a 100kw or 50kw wind tower to match the 40hp motor alone, it’s going to cost me $100,000 for the wind tower and generator. And that is to much money.

    So we have to scale back. And scale back everything. And that will work for a single person or family that has resources and can plan ahead of time and does this, but as you scale back energy use, you become off grid and that takes you off the economic grid which is another nightmare. So you end up with in the “great scheme of things” a future where you have a one room heated straw bale or superinsulated core house, with wind energy. Your vehicle is an 800lb EV with 5hp electric motor that can be ramped up to 4 times the HP for 10 seconds for acceleration. The vehicle is a one, plus grocery vehicle and is enclosed and uses about 1/2 of your wind energy. The other half goes toward eco exchange heat or some other exotic need, and very low power energy consumption devices like a crock pot. You have a spread out rural farmer kind of site, 10 to 20 acre lots. You live in an area where the weather brings resources to you. In other words the southwest is probably out, uniless you want to depend on water being pumped to you from the Great Lakes to Arizona.

    So you’ll end up with a bunch of little farms eco style. But of course your not making anything, your not paying off the GNP that we have created, and your not a world power, so other countries can come in and take you over. That’s the bigger problem with effiicency, it goes against competition that’s a basic fallen trait in the world. We have competition which means wealth and that means energy below that. Without wealth you may have energy and not be able to use it or gather it(stored fossils) with wealth you can get it, but without energy, your wealth is useless, because it’s a fantasy.

    So that’s the crux of the problem. And if you think millions of Americans will give up all their houses, cars, jobs and just roll over to a farm, it’s going to be something that probably won’t happen. What probably will happen is what has happened in the past and that is we will take whatever energy we can find by force of military or proxy armies and that means war. And that has been happening and is why we are in Iraq right now. We must be in Iraq, because the oil is there. We’ll stay there no matter whose in office.

    Also the world has 4 acres per human mouth. So you can see the 20 acres I’m describing above by simple math is impossible for everyone in the world. So even to be a poor farmer and have a homestead and do the ecological off grid thing, we have to talk about being a rich American, it’s not a sustainable life for everyone.

    Expect, more drilling, natural gas use, reactors, conservation, but conservation toward vehicles that are in the supply pipeline to feed the energy companies, that want to sell you natural gas instead of oil. They all have their empires to keep running.

  42. Greg says:

    Another comment to off-grid folks.

    Your never off all the grids.

    There’s more than one grid.

    Oil grid,
    Natural gas grid,
    food grid,
    tax grid.

    All these are types of grids. I like to think of sustainability as levels.
    1. Conservation – saving money.
    2. Oil loss, living without oil.
    3. Electrical grid – living without the electrical grid.
    4. Economic grid – living without the stores, paying taxes, etc.

    Problem is to prepare for each deeper grid failure you need more resources and have to be resource heavy and have them paid off. If your tied into the debt grid/economic grid, meaning your law abiding, you have to be economically sustainable, not just energy sustainable. If the electrical grid shut down for one year and all the stores closed how long would you make it? If all other fossil fuels shut down how long? What about the roads getting worse and worse, and bands of looters. And thousands or hundreds of thousands of neighbours with crying hungry kids, that realize you have a years supply of vacuum packed suvival food in your basement. How long would you hold up?

    Without economic sustainability as a farmer nation, we’d be overrun by any high tech foe that still have enough oil left in their tanks to run us over. This happens with each low tech society when it meets a high tech society. The higher tech societies that use more energy rule over the lower tech closer to earth and more conservation minded folks.

    Case in point, Camel tribesman, riding camels using no oil at all. Meet a high tech nation. Results oil wells, setting up of kings and taking the oil from the “conservationists” camel riding herdsmen, to fuel the UK, US and Soviet empires. It happens all the time. And higher tech and better militaires often take over the lower tech militaries. And sometimes the higher tech one will fail due to lack of energy, take WWII Germany when running out of fuel, even better tanks could not win when they ran out. (Battle of the Bulge). And peaceful earth loving farmers or whatever, non-expansionists next to an expansionist empire, like poor blacks against expansionist Islam in Africa will be killed and starved to be conquered. So it’s a very complex problem. Hugging mother earth, isn’t the answer to many of these complex questions. You can say we all need to hum a matra or something and seek Nirvana, but it’s not going to cut it.

    These are real problems and hiding behind a “the earth can protect us”, mentality isn’t really the answer I hate to brake the news to some of you who want to hide your head in a cabbage patch.

    It’s a big problem, so big, anyone who doesn’t just dismiss “peak oil” as a fraud cannot really get their head around this and the implications. It’s like trying to figure out the problem of why do men or women do bad things. This is just a really big, big bad thing and it’s ramifications are so complex and the ripples and effects are generated by other groups reating, conspiring and planning, that are totally out of the control of any one person.

    One thing however remains good and an easy way to frame and at least reduce the personal pain. That is to cut back on your own energy footprint. It’s not for everyone, because to many fall into the keeping up with the Jones mentality. But a smaller footprint, means you can save more and plan for peak issues better and get used to living on less. This also gives more options should peak be delayed. It’s good to have a small energy footprint. If energy it to difficult to understand, just think in dollars. Spend less and less and your footprint will shrink.

  43. Flu-Bird says:

    Al Gore once told a member of FFA to find another line of work becuase he was going to move farming to other nations and turn our remaning farmland into WILDLANDS just typical of a evil green nazi uner the green swatika AL GORE IS POSITIVLY EVIL

  44. Jim says:

    Note to Jase or whoever that nuclear lobbist is…..I know this is so late time-wise that noone will read it……..but, all the other concerns about safety, economics, etc. that others have brought up are valid and probably enough to nix Nuclear at that……but the biggie is the Nuclear waste.

    Figure out how you’re gonna handle the Nuclear waste BEFORE you f*ckin’ build the plants……IT’S THE WASTE STUPID…..nobody want the shit and it’s crazy toxic.

    We don’t need another “hi-tech” solution……in fact, the biggest problem is that you are right. If nuclear is the big panacea that we’ve been waiting for, then it will artificially extend carrying capacity for an even harder crash down the road!!

  45. Д says:

    спасибо за инфу!

  46. Well…this site never fails in surprising me man.. LOL.. Trusting you are all doing well today. Enjoy the day, and always keep smiling. Then stab someone in the chest as you continue to smile. LOL.

  47. Cross Cut says:

    Reading this i finally took a break from this job. I run a hardware store, and i get kinda stress throughout the day =) this site just gave me a few minutes of relax =] I tried to find a rss feed on your site, so that i could subscribe for some more. Ill be sure to come here more often from now on ^__^

  48. been reading ur blog around a few days. really love your posts. by the way i am doing report about this area. do you happen to know any other good sites or maybe forums where I can get more info? thanks a lot.

Leave a Reply

>