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You might have heard the news: we're at the end of growth.  Growth of the economy, of consumption, of wealth.  That this would happen isn’t news to those who’ve followed the writings of Meadows, Heinberg, and many others.  What’s different now is that the end of growth may have actually arrived.

On Friday we learned that after only two years of expansion (mid 2009 - mid 2011), the U.S. economy is re-entering recession:

Early last week, ECRI notified clients that the U.S. economy is indeed tipping into a new recession. And there’s nothing that policy makers can do to head it off.

ECRI’s recession call isn’t based on just one or two leading indexes, but on dozens of specialized leading indexes, including the U.S. Long Leading Index, which was the first to turn down – before the Arab Spring and Japanese earthquake – to be followed by downturns in the Weekly Leading Index and other shorter-leading indexes. In fact, the most reliable forward-looking indicators are now collectively behaving as they did on the cusp of full-blown recessions, not "soft landings."

Why is this happening so soon?  What's the bigger context here?

We're not just entering a new recession - we're at the end of growth as we've known it.

We have passed or are near many of the peaks in natural resources, both by drawing down non-renewable resources and by hyperexploiting renewable ones.

For example, here are some points we've passed and haven't looked back (approximate dates):

  • 1979: Peak per-capita gross energy production
  • 1986: Peak grain per capita
  • 1989-1995: Peak wild fish catch
  • 1990: Peak net energy production
  • 2000: Peak fresh water availability
  • 2005: Peak conventional oil production
  • 2011-14: Peak all-liquids (conventional+unconventional oil) production

It's possible to overshoot a resource base - civilizations have done it time and again - but only temporarily.  The list above is a small subset of what we've depleted or are depleting, and many of the critical ones - oil, for instance - have no real substitutes.  Even if there were substitutes, we would have to have started a crash program 20 years ago to transition without economic impacts.  But it's too late for that.

What's the consequence of these constraints?

There's a simple cycle that everyone should step back and observe, because we're going to be stuck in it for at least the rest of this decade if not the next one as well:

  • A recession occurs (2007-2008)
  • Demand falls due to the recession (2008-2009)
  • Oil/gasoline prices fall (2008-2009)
  • A recovery begins (2009)
  • The recovery self-sustains for a short period of time (2009-2010)
  • Oil prices rise due to increased demand (2010-2011)
  • The recovery falters due to increased oil costs (2010-2011)
  • A new recession begins (2011)

When oil prices hit $90/barrel last December, those watching oil prices were worried this would cause a new recession.  In a diary in May I predicted we'd see a recession within 12 months due to the persistent high oil prices we'd seen from December through May.  (My prediction was nothing special - many others who were tracking oil prices came to a similar conclusion.)

How does this lead to the end of economic growth?

As the foundation of oil upon which we've built our industrial system crumbles, we will face direct economic impacts.  Hirsch, whose 2005 study for the Department of Energy on the peaking of world oil production is still the gold standard, conducted further studies to try to understand how oil connects to GDP.  He concluded that there's a 1-to-1 relationship: for every 1% oil production declines, world GDP declines 1%.

How much does he expect world oil production to decline?  Here's what he says:

Best Case Scenario: Maximum world oil production is followed by a period of relatively flat production (a plateau) before the onset of a decline rate of 2–5% per year.

This indicates that in the best case scenario we should expect a yearly 2-5% decline in world GDP, which is roughly equivalent to having a recession nearly yearly (though it's unlikely to be that steady).

The trend break happened in 2005, when global oil production stopped increasing.  We've been on a plateau of sorts since then.  While the graph above is technically about oil, it maps directly to the economy: we've been on an economic plateau since then.

This recently revised chart from Calculated Risk shows that the latest GDP numbers indicate that we're still below 2007-level economic activity once you adjust for inflation:



Now that we're entering a new recession, that GDP is going to head down again before we even made it past the previous peak GDP.  That is, we've hit the end of economic growth in quantitative terms.

Going forward, as I mentioned in previous diaries, it's unlikely that this will result in a constant, smooth decline.  Now that oil production is flat and soon to be declining, what happens?  We hit our head on the oil ceiling, a recession ensues, and as we begin to recover, we quickly find ourselves hitting our heads on the oil ceiling because production is declining.  This has two consequences:

  • After a recession, the recovery that ensues will only be a partial recovery - that is, the economy won't recover to a better state than it was in before the recession
  • Recessions are likely to be more frequent (maybe on the order of every 3 years)

The right priorities and the wrong priorities.

A good rule of thumb is that when there is consensus on an issue in Washington (or Wall Street), it's probably wrong.  And there is consensus among the mainstream left and the right, Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives that growth is good and should be our objective.  What all of the above is indicating is that growth isn't possible any more.  Doesn't matter if it's "smart growth" or "dumb growth" or growth for the benefit of corporations or growth for the benefit of the 99%.  We've reached the long-forecasted Limits to Growth.

What can be done?

To be honest, I don't expect that much can be done top-down or bottom-up.  The institutions we have, and the forms of activism we have, don't work well to address problems like this.  The best approach may be individuals and communities first coming to grips with this situation, and then taking action to become more resilient.

I'm not going to suggest a rescue remedy that will solve the problems above, because there isn't one.

Rather, the point is that this isn't the end of the world and we can live fulfilling lives with less - something we all know, but sometimes forget to implement.

Here are some things (far from comprehensive) that each of us can do to prepare for this new, harder era both by reducing our costs and by reducing our community's dependence upon the oil economy:

Few people have taken all of these steps today - I sure haven't - but I'm working on them slowly and think that there's the possibility of a simpler and fulfilling life ahead if we're willing to adapt to our new circumstances.

Until next time...

Update:

I thought I should add that if you had to read one book that gets into the future we're looking at, it's Bill McKibben's Eaarth.  He might be the only popular journalist today who squarely addresses the economic and ecological limits we face, and does so in easy to understand language.  If you have time for another book, I recommend checking out Richard Heinberg's new book The End of Growth which goes into more depth on a number of these topics.

Originally posted to barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 11:14 AM PDT.

Also republished by Systems Thinking and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  All That is Mainly the Interest of Ownership. (37+ / 0-)

    The people stopped gaining adjusted net worth in the 1970's. The entire bottom 99% hasn't had economic growth since Jimmy Carter.

    Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

    Most people 30 years on still don't know it, but they have spent almost half a life gradually adapting to zero growth.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 11:22:20 AM PDT

    •  Very true. (18+ / 0-)

      We've had two compounding issues - that inequality has been getting worse since the 1970s at the same time as we push further into ecological overshoot.

      It's why Greer made the case that the United States entered its decline in 1974 - the year that the first oil-based recession led to the creation of the rust belt and the first wave of outsourcing and downsizing.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 11:24:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  DOOM!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      GLOOM!!!

      Economic growth isn't over. That's just crazy talk.

      So what if peak per-capita gross energy production peaked? Maybe we were overusing energy. Maybe we decided to improve our engines so that they didn't get 8 miles to the gallon. Maybe we started building more energy efficient homes. Efficiency isn't a bad thing.

      So what if grain per capita peaked? We can grow enough grain for our people. Our government buys excess grain to artificially inflate grain prices.

      So what if wild fish catch peaked? Here in Washington, we've got a healthy supply of hatchery fish that we harvest, so that we can leave the wild fish more-or-less alone. "Hooray for saving wild fish" becomes "OMG WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF FISH! THE WORLD IS GOING TO DIE!!!!11!!1!" Please...

      Fresh water availability peaked? There's something I don't care about. What, some glaciers melted? There is plenty of fresh water in this world. Using it is and has always been an issue of transporting it to where it is needed.

      But by all means, let's start eating local organic produce and canning our own foods and pulling our money out of banks... that will fix it.

      /sigh

      The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

      by atheistben on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 09:25:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ben (5+ / 0-)

        I'm sorry to see you are an atheist. Your attitude is one I expect of the complete religious nutter.

        But you sigh away. At least you'll be out of my way for a while longer.

        Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

        by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:13:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  keep that head in the sand (7+ / 0-)

        Denialism isn't just for Global Warming, we can deny the facts on just about anything.  Apparently some here have learned from the Tea Party to just ignore facts, and deny reality.

        •  Denialism? (0+ / 0-)

          I didn't even deny any of the supporting evidence in the article. I argued against the conclusion the diarist was drawing from them. With legitimate reasons.

          Freshwater peak, implies the end of economic growth? Please. That reasoning is about as good as I stepped on a crack, so my mother's back will break. It's not denialism to argue against that. Nor is it denialism to point out that while wild fish catches have slowed, it's because we're trying to leave them alone by growing hatchery fish. How is that denialism. That's refutation.

          These relevance of the sited data points aren't understood by the diarist, and he's drawing a faulty conclusion because of it. And the solutions presented are just dumb. If you want me to take any of this seriously, you tell me how canning your own food is going to mitigate a long period where economic growth stops then becomes dramatically negative. You tell me that.

          The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

          by atheistben on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:46:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Um... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sharoney, SuWho, pollwatcher
            Freshwater peak, implies the end of economic growth? Please.

            Please point to where in the diary that is said.  (You won't be able to, because it doesn't say that.)

            What it does say, however, in detail, is that oil production decline is causing the end of economic growth.

            You made similar claims in a diary of mine several months ago as I recall, but didn't actually cite any data there either on the main point.

            contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

            by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:53:05 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Here: (0+ / 0-)
              We have passed or are near many of the peaks in natural resources, both by drawing down non-renewable resources and by hyperexploiting renewable ones.

              For example, here are some points we've passed and haven't looked back (approximate dates):

              1979: Peak per-capita gross energy production

              1986: Peak grain per capita

              1989-1995: Peak wild fish catch

              1990: Peak net energy production

              2000: Peak fresh water availability

              2005: Peak conventional oil production

              2011-14: Peak all-liquids (conventional+unconventional oil) production

              It's possible to overshoot a resource base - civilizations have done it time and again - but only temporarily.  The list above is a small subset of what we've depleted or are depleting, and many of the critical ones - oil, for instance - have no real substitutes.  Even if there were substitutes, we would have to have started a crash program 20 years ago to transition without economic impacts.  But it's too late for that.

              It reads to me like the diarist is trying to say that we're overshooting all our resource bases, so we will inevitably crash back down to sustainable levels. That's not the case. I've shown why that didn't happen with a lot of those other ones, and why there is no reason to believe that it will happen soon for them either. For oil, it's going to be a little trickier, but we'll transition to other energy sources. If oil gets up to sustained prices of two or three hundred dollars per barrel, you'll find that we'll shift our energy sources dramatically. It won't be the end.

              And you didn't answer my question. How in the hell does canning your own food help one goddamned thing?

              The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

              by atheistben on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:08:36 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Canning food. (5+ / 0-)
                It reads to me like the diarist is trying to say that we're overshooting all our resource bases, so we will inevitably crash back down to sustainable levels.  That's not the case.

                To say that's not the case is to deny decades of studies by thousands of ecologists worldwide.  Every ecological study says we've overshot the Earth's carrying capacity.  I recommend reading some Bill Rees's writings for a primer.

                How in the hell does canning your own food help one goddamned thing?

                Pretty simply: if you live in any region of the country that can't produce much food in the winter (i.e. anywhere outside of some parts of California, Hawaii, Texas, and Florida), then to be self-sufficient and not rely upon the industrial food system during the winter (which requires trucking / shipping / flying food long distances, often from South America) you'll need to have food stored for the winter, as people used to have even 60 years ago.  To do that, you need to can or dry or preserve the food you grew during the growing season in some way.

                contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:16:55 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well, my point is that we (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  DontTaseMeBro, Pozzo

                  change the carrying capacity of the earth constantly. When we breed fish, we increase carrying capacity. When we take marshland and grow rice in it, we increase carrying capacity. When we make a more fuel-efficient engine, we increase carrying capacity. Etc. Etc. That's what your "thousands of ecologists" are missing. And by the way, are you really summarizing the thousands of ecologists you've read, or are you just assuming they're out there that making that assertion because you read it somewhere?

                  On the canned food issue, I understand the argument for eating local so that transportation costs can be avoided. It's a wrong argument because we have an efficient transportation system where shipping costs do not outweigh the higher costs associated with smaller scale local production. Marginal costs curves are U shaped. Plus there's the whole principle of comparitive advantage being more pronounced when you have a larger community. But at least I understand that argument.

                  What I don't understand is why commerce will fail to the point of needing to can your own food. You don't think you'll be able to buy canned food from a local source? You think you'll have to grow your own, and operate entirely independent of other people? That's crazy. There will still be local economies. Your local economy would have a little factory that cans local food, because it's just to inefficient to have everybody doing it themselves.

                  The end of economic growth won't happen, but it certainly won't happen like that.

                  The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

                  by atheistben on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:41:20 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sigh... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pollwatcher

                    Ok, like the last time you commented in a diary a few months back, I'm not going to keep arguing.  Here's my last response.

                    And by the way, are you really summarizing the thousands of ecologists you've read, or are you just assuming they're out there that making that assertion because you read it somewhere?

                    I've read individual papers / books probably spanning in the hundreds of authors, and have read surveys of the work of many more.  If you've decided that the work of a great many scientists is bunk, feel free.

                    About local food - notice I say in the diary that people should buy food locally.  That doesn't mean you shouldn't also grow your own.  So again I think you must have selectively read what I wrote...

                    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                    by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:46:33 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
                      Grow, prepare, and preserve and can your own food.

                      I guess I selectively read that to mean you should actually grow your own food rather than buy food locally. My bad.

                      The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

                      by atheistben on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:56:37 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Millennium Ecosystem Assessement (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    barath, pollwatcher, behan, divineorder

                    is the synthesis work of over 1000 leading biologists commissioned by the UN and published in 2005. Their conclusion was: "The bottom line of the MA [Millennium Assessment] findings is that human actions are depleting Earth’s natural capital, putting such strain on the environment that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. At the same time, the assessment shows that with appropriate actions it is possible to reverse the degradation of many ecosystem services over the next 50 years, but the changes in policy and practice required are substantial and not currently underway.

                  •  and what about when transport costs keep rising? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    divineorder, atheistben
                    we have an efficient transportation system where shipping costs do not outweigh the higher costs associated with smaller scale local production

                    That is true right now, but what about when the rising costs of fuel flip the situation, so that transport costs more than local production?  It's simple economic math.  In addition, it might be possible to reduce those fuel costs by switching to other energy sourecs, but we are WAY too late in developing those other energy technologies to avoid the huge rise in fuel costs.

                    •  That's a legitimate question (0+ / 0-)

                      First off, fuel costs would have to rise dramatically to offset the economies of scale you get with large scale, industrial food production. We're not talking $6 or $7 per gallon, we're talking much more.

                      Let me give a quick example with strawberries. Strawberries cost about $1.50 per pound. The standard truck can hauls about 22 to 25 tons (I'll round down to 20 tons to make my math easier). So a single truck can haul about $60,000 worth of strawberries. Consider shipping a truck full of strawberries from Los Angeles to Topeka, KS (about 1500 miles). At fuel costs of $4 per gallon, and with a truck getting about 8 miles to the gallon, the total shipping cost is $750 (1500miles * $4 / 8mpg). This works out to about 1.25% of the cost. If fuel was $20 per gallon, total fuel costs for the trip would instead be $3750. The costs would get passed on in the price of the strawberries, so the whole load would be worth $63,000, or about $1.58 per pound.

                      To summarize, fuel costs rising from $4 per gallon to $20 per gallon would result in strawberry prices in Topeka to jump from $1.50 per pound to $1.58 per pound. Hardly a significant enough jump to make you start canning your own.

                      Plus, to get to those high of fuel prices, it's still going to take a long period of time. During that period of time, our transportation system will shift to not using oil. We'll use rail powered by electricity (coming from coal, hydro, wind, nuclear, whatever). We can solve our electricity needs by going nuclear. And if you give the people the choice to either can their own food or build a shitload of nuclear plants, they will build a shitload of nuclear plants.

                      The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

                      by atheistben on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 08:38:11 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You go ahead and pay the extra cost (0+ / 0-)

                        The fuel used in transport from LA to Topeka may only lead to about a 5% increase in cost.  First, that may seem small, but if you're on a tight budget those 5% increases can start to loom large.  
                        Secondly, in this example, what about the cost of energy to refrigerate those strawberries during that 1500-mile trip?  What about the energy of refrigerating them in the grocery store?  What about the cost of the plastic containers in which those strawberries were transported and sold -- which I presume would be made from petrochemicals?  And this is without even considering the costs associated with even more perishable maeterials, like meat and dairy.
                        Thirdly, we must consider that much of the produce we consume now is not even from California, but rather from South America.  How do rising fuel and energy costs look when the distance traveled is more on the order of 3 or 4 thousand miles?

                        I'm glad you're so confident that we will transition to other energy sources before this becomes an issue -- but let me ask you then, what are we doing now?  Or more concretely, what have we done in the past several years, now that fuel prices have basically tripled from their once-normal levels?

                        •  To address the issues you raised (0+ / 0-)

                          Here are the issues I understand you to be bringing up.

                          1) Even 5% increases can have significant impacts to some people
                          This is certainly true. But this isn't most people. Most people do have 5% of slack in their budgets. For those that don't, they'll use less strawberries and substitute with an inferior good. For instance, if I had a higher salary, I'd probably eat king crab 2 or 3 times a week. I love the stuff an almost obsessive amount. But because my salary isn't hundreds of thousands of dollars, I substitute for less expensive meals. The people who would change their purchasing behavior due to the 5% increase in price will find alternative fruits or other foods to eat instead some of the time. But also keep in mind that a 5% increase in price is only achieved with a 500% increase in fuel cost, which I though was somewhat of a worst case scenario in the near-term.

                          2) Additional energy requirements are not being captured in my calculations
                          This is true. My calculations are rough. Refrigeration can be accomplished in a couple of ways. Diesel generators to run refrigeration units or packing dry ice. I can't find good numbers to use for doing calculations. Still, refrigeration for the 25 hours it takes to drive from LA to Topeka shouldn't be a major cost factor. Grocery stores use electricity for refrigeration, which can come from the electrical grid - which isn't heavily impacted by oil costs. We have ways of producing electricity independent of oil particularly, but fossil fuels altogether if the situation calls for it. So costs would not be significantly higher. As for plastics, we can use cardboard or wood products for packaging. A good thing about the internet is that it's caused wood prices to drop dramatically.

                          3) What about shipping from places farther away?
                          The good thing about traveling 3 or 4 thousand miles is that our planet is mostly covered by water, and transport by water is extremely cheap. Moving things over water is about the cheapest way to move things. It's cheaper than rail, and that's saying a lot. Transporting a freighter ship from South America up the Mississippi/Missouri Rivers to get to Topeka is cheaper than the drive from LA. Plus, in large scale shipping, we can transition to using nuclear powered engines rather than traditional fuels if we need to. Some of the big navy vessels have already done this, so we already have the technology.

                          I'm not sure how you want me to answer your question. What are we doing now? Not a whole not, but I don't think a whole lot needs to be done from an economic perspective. Market principles balance all of these forces as we type. We've shifted to using more ethanol in our fuels. We've designed new types of nuclear reactors. We've learned more efficient ways to use tar sands. The market is making liquid fuels more expensive, so people have already begun transitioning away from them. I live a few blocks from where I work, so I don't drive. We're doing things we find practical depending on their cost. And cost of fuel will drive us to behave differently so that we use less of it. Everything does balance.

                          The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

                          by atheistben on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:08:00 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  good luck with that (0+ / 0-)
                            I live a few blocks from where I work, so I don't drive. We're doing things we find practical depending on their cost. And cost of fuel will drive us to behave differently so that we use less of it.
                             This is exactly what the diarist was talking about.  Growing your own food is one of those things that may seem outlandish right now, but will make more and more sense as time goes on.

                            I'm still really impressed by your confidence that market forces will correct all of these shortages, and that "everything does balance."  Certainly rising prices will drive demand for alternative energies -- but you don't think that there is significant lag time in between?  Will these market shifts bring instantaneous change?  We've been building an oil-dependent economy gradually for about 150 years -- how quickly do you think we can switch out of it?  Put in other words, if I had told you in 1990 that by 2011, gasoline would cost $4 a gallon, wouldn't you have expected that surely by then we would have switched mostly to other fuels?  Yet we are still doing the same, and just complaining about the prices.

                            So if I posit that there is a significant lag time, between changes in economic incentives and changes in behavior, then what causes this lag?  How about just plain old resistance to change?  Think about Michele Bachmann and her friends rallying to the defense of incandescent light bulbs (even though they are less economical than CFLs).  Think of people's attachment to their cars.

                            And you think everyone will just happily get on board wth building nuclear plants?  How do you think most people like the sound of a nuclear plant in their neighborhood? -- or better yet, a nuclear-waste dumpsite?  Think of Yucca Mountain.  And for that matter, where will we be getting all this uranium?  How abundant is that?  How long till we get to look forward to "peak uranium"?  If you think that these are all just self-correcting problems with no accompanying social obstacles and hazards, then good luck to you.

                          •  Personally, I think growing your own food (0+ / 0-)

                            will make less and less sense over time. I think the strains on fuel will cause people to move closer to city centers where land values are higher and where population densities are higher. This will result in people having less space (or no space) to grow crops - which can be done much more cheaply via industrial production.

                            When it comes to market forces, I think most progressives don't understand how powerful they are. We often sit through our microeconomics courses thinking about what equilibrium looks like on a supply and demand graph, and we talk about the ways that different things influence the equilibrium like it is some fixed point. But that's really an underdeveloped way to think about economic equilibrium. Economic equilibrium is now. It's yesterday. It's tomorrow. Everything is always balanced by price. Expectations of the future are included in price. So, your lag time issues don't really materialize. If Bachmann wants to use incandescent bulbs, fine. We just need to make sure that the associated costs of using her incandescent bulbs are incurred by her. If energy prices rise too much, she'll change her mind. If they don't, then she pays the premium for buying a more expensive premium product (in the same way I pay a premium for the times that I order my king crab). We can do inefficient things, but in order to be able to afford them, we have to do something that generates a net income flow to get the money to afford those things.

                            People won't happily get on the nuclear bandwagon. But nonetheless, they will choose to get on it if that's the choice to be made. Personally, I really don't think it will come to that. I think we'll find and exploit better energy sources. Hydro, wind, solar. Eventually fusion. Eventually harnessing the power of tides. Possibly mass geothermal down the road. This universe has plenty of energy for little critters like us. We just have to be smart enough to use it.

                            The obvious answers are wrong. That's why we aren't doing them already.

                            by atheistben on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 01:53:39 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  magical thinking (0+ / 0-)

                            You may very well be right about people moving closer to cities, and hence having less disposable space for gardening.  However, that also means that people will have more of a disincentive against wasteful, unproductive uses of space like lawns and empty lots and rooftops.  The present trend in urban gardens is in anticipation of this.

                            As for your bigger point that progressives don't appreciate the power of market forces --

                            Economic equilibrium is now. It's yesterday. It's tomorrow. Everything is always balanced by price.
                             This is one of the most blissfully naive statements I've ever read.  Are you serious?  Who told you that, the economics fairy?  People do not make rational economic choices based on sound calculations -- not as individuals, and not in the aggregate.  Markets are constantly distorted by bad information or lack of information, concerns with social status and prestige, emotion, and just the plain old inertia of habit.  This is chronicled even in such easily accessible sources as Freakonomics.  In the case of energy, consider the pattern of oil companies buying the patents to new solar and other technologies just to sit on them and prevent their implementation.  Is it rational?  I don't know -- but they do it.
                            I agree with you that there are plenty of better sources of energy out there to use.  But it is naive to think that we will transition to them without first facing a serious crisis.  If you don't think so, let's just consider your statement that "your lag time issues don't really materialize" -- aren't we in the middle of that lag time right now?  Shouldn't the rising cost of gas have pushed us into other fuel sources by now?  We've had a decade -- what are we waiting for?
                            Besides, you've failed to consider one of the diarist's central points -- that when oil prices reach a certain level (say $110 a barrel) that still may not push us into other energy sources, which at the time are still more expensive, but instead will drive the economy into recession.  The recession will then diminish consumption of oil, thus reducing the price.  Then the cycle starts over again.  In short, transition to other fuel sources requires a certain activation energy, in the form of oil prices rising higher than the price of other fuels.  If the economy simply goes into recession before the price of oil reaches that level, then how will the activation energy ever be achieved? -- or alternatively, how will it ever be achived by market forces, as opposed to planned, concerted public action in developing those other fuel sources?
                •  Grow it where? When? (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  divineorder, Pozzo

                  Pardon my cynicism, but me and my husband are both working full-tilt just to keep up with our debts. I come home exhausted, and feel like I have to empty whatever resevoirs I have left just to be a reasonable parent to my kids.

                  Most of the hours I have that I don't use for sleep are the property of my employer and the banks we owe money to. And apprently we are the lucky ones. We are furtunate to still have jobs and still have our house.

                  We can't even keep our patchy, weed-infested lawn mowed. And we have a lawn to mow. A lot of people work more hours than I do, and go home to insanely high-rent apartments with no yards and very little room for the storage of home-made jars of tomato salsa, pickles or apple jelly.

                  Sorry to sound bitchy, but you just can't assume that everyone has the resources to live like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Land and living space are also resources that have been over-used and squandered.

                  "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

                  by Reepicheep on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 04:09:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I hear you. (0+ / 0-)

                    I live in an apartment, and don't have much space here to grow anything.  The little I've grown has been in dirt next to a parking lot and in buckets and trash cans.

                    However, I think there is an impression that most people have that the only way to grow things is to put a lot of effort into it.  If I had to recommend one book that really changed the way I look at growing food with minimal effort, it was this one.  Seriously - it's the sort of thing where once you read it the idea of growing your own food is much less daunting.

                    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                    by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 04:19:14 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Maybe your grandchildren will grow their food (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Reepicheep

                    I think these recommendations are intended for the long-long term.  I see them as much as predictions as advice.  The thing is there will come a point when it will make more economic sense to live somewhere where you can grow your own food than to pay the high prices of imported food in the wintertime.  We may not be there yet, but that's what's probably coming.  I live in an apartment as well, but I expect that my lifestyle will probably have to change eventually.

                  •  "over-used and squandered" (0+ / 0-)

                    So much of suburbia, assuming that is where you live, is squadered. The loss of family farms to corporate farming and suburban development is a sad thing to witness. Especially when new development consists of large lots with mowed lawns.

                    How large is your lawn? Maybe growing food instead of non-productive grass is a more efficient way to use your yard. If you mulch properly, it might even be less work, especially on a lot 1/3 acre or smaller. We had 3/5 acre at our former house and grew a large garden on a large part of it. The garden and fruit trees provided food, exercise and were good for the mind. We canned, froze and dried food, all while raising a child and working full time. My job required days and numerous night meetings and my wife worked a demanding craft. I look back at that time as very rewarding and spiritual. Our current 1 acre yard is basically a forest, We enjoy the trees, but I also miss having a garden and so does my wife.

                    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

                    by OHeyeO on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 07:48:40 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Who is paying to raise our carrying capacity? (0+ / 0-)
        Fresh water availability peaked? There's something I don't care about.

        A beautiful quotation.  You should remember it, should you live for another thirty years, and see your water bill rising to levels you'd never thought possible.

        What you fail to understand about all of these resources is that we may not RUN OUT of them for a very long time, but as we have to reach farther and farther to procure them and transport them, they will get more and more expensive.  And you, the consumer, will have to pay more for them.  That's economics.  Even in the case of fish, it might be possible to farm them, but that takes a heck of a lot more work and resources than catching them -- ask an "oxygen man."  It used to be you could lower a bucket into the sea near Newfoundland and pull it back up full of cod.  No more.  Basically, it might be possible to raise the planet's carrying capacity as we go along, but somebody's got to pay for it -- And that somebody is you.

        And in the same line, canning your own food might not seem like a grand solution -- but the thing is, there will come a point where packaged food, especially in the winter, will be so expensive that it will just make better financial sense for you to grow and preserve some of your own.

    •  US peak oil was in the 70's (9+ / 0-)

      and since, the US economy has gone from one bubble to another via deregulation and financialization of the economy.

      •  Maybe Not- Bakken Oil Field in ND (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pozzo

        Not so fast:

        From there, itʼs simple arithmetic. The basin covers about 8 million acres. Hamm figures there’s room for 48,000 wells. If each one delivers that 500,000 barrel average, you get 24 billion barrels. Even then, drillers will be harvesting well less than 10% of what geologist Edward Murphy of the North Dakota Geological Service figures is 250 billion barrels of original oil in place. The Williston basin is churning out 450,000 bpd now. Within four years, says Hamm, it will be producing 1.2 million bpd — as much oil as is currently recovered from the entire U.S. side of the Gulf of Mexico.

        http://www.forbes.com/...

        "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

        by Superpole on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:34:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We weren't supposed to be finding these things (0+ / 0-)

          due to "Peak oil".

          •  It's not a new find. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            letsgetreal, Sparhawk, old possum, OHeyeO

            It was discovered decades ago.  It just happens to be economical now because prices are so high that even marginal quality reserves like shale oil and tar sands are gaining interest from oil companies.

            contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

            by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:39:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Pointing out the major flaw in peak oil theory (0+ / 0-)

              What is not economically feasible today might well be tomorrow.

              •  Heh... (8+ / 0-)

                That's not at all a flaw.

                Peak oil is about production.  Not reserves, not discoveries.  Production.

                Also, peak oil is not the same as the end of oil.  It means that production has reached its peak, but we will probably never run out of oil.

                Jeffrey Brown explains nicely how peaks in production happen regardless of best attempts to prevent them.

                contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:48:09 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ok but (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  divineorder
                  Peak oil is about production.  Not reserves, not discoveries.  Production.

                  You cannot produced that which is not discovered. New discoveries like the one in Norway mean that more can be produced. Plus improved techniques increase the amount that can be feasibly extracted.
                  •  40-year lag. (4+ / 0-)

                    There are a number of reasons that these new discoveries are insignificant.

                    1. The magnitude of such discoveries is small compared to historical discoveries.  We peaked in discoveries in the 1960s globally.

                    2. There's been a historical trend of about a 40 year lag between peak discoveries in a region and peak production in a region.  (1930s we peaked in U.S. discoveries, and peaked in production in 1970; globally discoveries peaked in the 1960s and conventional oil peaked in 2005, etc.)

                    3. We've been consuming far more each year than we discover globally for the past couple of decades.

                    contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

                    by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 07:28:24 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not to mention (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      barath, SuWho, No one gets out alive

                      that discovering more and spewing more and refining and trashing and recycling more is kinda killing the planet, isn't it? Isn't it true that, at least in terms of our being able to live on this planet, that petrochemicals, in the way that we use them, are causing us a lot of harm as well as good?

                      Even if it were limitless, does oil work for us or against us in the way we use it? Not to mention having the United States military take over countries and plunder their people as well as their resources just so a small handful of companies can compete in the style they're accustomed to. That costs us dearly.

                    •  Also (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      barath, old possum, divineorder

                      These 'discoveries' are piddling small and very difficult to develop. So, you put a tremendous amount of effort into developing this painful and difficult tar sands project or whatever, only to have its output just offset by declines from traditional easy-to-exploit oil fields.

                      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                      by Sparhawk on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:51:31 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Avaldsnes moves peak oil back (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk, divineorder

                    40 days, taking the rosiest guesstimates of what they've found. It's a big deal for Norway. Otherwise, not so much.

                    Republican tears sustain me.

                    by orson on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:12:37 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Costlier to extract (0+ / 0-)

                    It is going to take a barrel of oil to produce the energy required to extract every six barrels of of oil from the Canada tar sands. In addition, copious amounts of fresh water will be required to process the tar sands to get the oil. New finds will use more and more energy and other resources just to extract.

                    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

                    by OHeyeO on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:02:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  What? Peak Oil is not also About Consumption? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FG, Linda Wood, divineorder

                  Prior to the financial meltdown, and GM being exposed for the giant, status-quo supporting typical big corporation they are, they were fond of saying: "we can't make money from small, efficient cars". and I'm guessing they were among those initially critical of the Prius- "Oh, that'll never sell!!".

                  Just as we can cut energy use/cost/carbon emissions by building more energy efficient commercial and residential buildings, we can reduce gas consumption via smaller more efficient cars, hybrid cars, electric cars, etc., - thus reducing the demand for oil-- and with recent discoveries like Bakken, push peak oil off years into the future.

                  Of course one can argue this is a bad strategy; i.e. we need to deal with the implications of limited fossil fuels-- no argument there. However, business people like Mr. Hamm are out there, and we're not going to stop them from discovering/exploiting oil-- as long as it makes financial sense (i.e. his company profiting) for him to do so.

                  Want to slow him down or stop him? push for more efficient cars, electric cars, reduce your consumption, etc. if demand for oil drops, the price per barrel drops.. if it stays low, the drillers can't make (enough) money. Mr. Hamm is betting against this, and he's probbaly correct.

                  "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

                  by Superpole on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:50:56 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  I include EROEI as a factor. (0+ / 0-)

                FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

                by Roger Fox on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:29:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Oil is still found, but it worse places (0+ / 0-)

            Actually, as I understand it, the idea of peak oil does expect that more discoveries will be made -- but they will be made in more and more remote and hard-to-reach places.  In the case of these North Dakota fields, they might be producing a lot, but how much depth do they have to go to get the oil?  And hence, how expensive is it to pump it out?  If it's really expensive, then that oil might reach the market, but it will have a big fat price tag on it, which means things like gasoline will still be expensive.

            Think of Deepwater Horizon.  Part of why that accident was so bad is that they were drilling much deeper waters than anyone used to do thirty or forty years ago.  Which means it was expensive and very dangerous.

        •  Peak oil production in the US (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda Wood

          which took away the ability to control global oil prices, set the "need" for greater geopolitical control of oil producing regions, and ushered in the era of the petrodollar with its attending effects on debt and reserve currency.
          Cheap oil largely enabled the spectacular growth of the first 3/4 of the 20th century for OECD nations. Finding additional expensive oil reserves today (or known reserves becoming economical with rising oil prices) isn't going to allow for the same type of expansion.

    •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

      Marx's recommendations for a better system can be disagreed with on their own, however his understanding of the crises of capitalism is beyond repute.

      David Harvey's RSA animation is always a great watch.

      By their fruits shall ye know them, not by their roots. ~ William James

      by chipmo on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:52:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  End of Waste is how I look at it. (33+ / 0-)

    My favorite example :

    I worked in labs for years.
    When I started working in labs (medical, industrial & water) we made our own solutions, medias, etc.  Everything was in glass and we washed it and cared for it even to the point we melted cracked edges and smoothed them so we could continue using them.

    The last water/wastewater lab I worked in used disposables wherever they could. The test tubes killed me to throw away. When we finished with a test we threw out the products of those tests even though they were highly toxic and could through a little work chemicals could be recovered and made less polluting. In thier case resistence was not futile and I watched the trash pile up as we wasted resources. It made me sick because it saved only a small amount of time and that was not really true because all that waste had workers doing the work elsewhere and then paying for transport of the product. THis is where I say Chinas heyday will be short because transport is going to continue to get hugely expensive and we will fall back to local production because transport will make thier products of slavery too expensive.

    Personally I think that a good thing would be for those who are younger to start looking at dumps to recover and reformat what was so cavalierly thrown away in times of WASTE.  And will someone go clean up that damn lake of plastic in the ocean that is killing our fellow planetary occupants.  The only sad thing is the transition period and the battle with those who have seized control of the largest share to let go of what is not needed for thier personal use.  

    That will be the real revolution ... letting go of the need to accumulate and hoard... we have all become hoarder who if we had to flee would leave behind PILES of stuff we got at the world's and other species expense. Accumulations that can only be maintained by increasing the number of our own species we are willing to watch die or enslave. What is freaking moral about that and I am a GD atheist but my morals have nothing to do about telling adults what to do with thier sex organs, encouraging further burden by having an excess of children, and defending the top of the heaps absolute self centeredness.

    Fear is the Mind Killer

    by boophus on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 11:56:29 AM PDT

  •  Really good upto what can be done section (25+ / 0-)

    If we don't quickly change our energy usage we are fucked from all directions.

    We can change energy production, energy efficiency and the way we live to have happier more fulfilling lives in cleaner air with cleaner water and with more social harmony.

    We need a combined high-tech science based approach and a back to local communities approach. Continuing the present direction will result in catastrophic failure.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 12:34:15 PM PDT

    •  Lag time. (15+ / 0-)

      I hope we can and do change our energy system, but the thing that must be reckoned with is the lag time inherent in the system.  It takes decades to change energy sources and transition society on a large scale, so for at least this decade much of the economic downside is baked into the cake, just as the climate will continue warming for at least the next 30 years no matter what we do.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 12:36:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (17+ / 0-)

        Our energy usage will be fixed for us whether we choose to do so or not.

        Once again, this very prescient diary languishes down the "recent diaries" list while the entire rec list is OccupyWallStreet material. Even if OccupyWallStreet accomplished 100% of its objectives (not even sure what its objectives are, but ok), it would do no good because of the energy situation. Too many people, too many demands on resources, inefficient use of the resources that are there, total cluelessness about any of these issues by either the right or the left.

        Not a pretty picture. Expect more OccupyWallStreet type protests in the future as American living standards continue to decline.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 01:17:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks... (15+ / 0-)

          (As far as the diary goes...I was hoping to be "rescued", because I too think more people should be aware that we may now, as of this week be in uncharted economic waters.)

          contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 01:20:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Re (9+ / 0-)

            I hope it is rescued. Even on this web site, understanding of what is going on and why is horribly skewed.

            It's almost to me like right-wingers have fairy tales about the economy, and left-wingers just have other fairy tales. Neither can or want to grasp the implications of limits to growth.

            That's why I'm pretty sure things are going to go on like this, declining living standards, protests, etc. The problem is that the middle class and the poor are just as (perhaps more) enmeshed in and dependent on the energy and economic system as it is today.

            OccupyWallStreet wants change, but I don't think they actually want the kind of change that will seriously address these issues.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 01:30:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It doesn't have to be that way... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cliss, divineorder, NoMoreLies, Odysseus
              That's why I'm pretty sure things are going to go on like this, declining living standards, protests, etc. The problem is that the middle class and the poor are just as (perhaps more) enmeshed in and dependent on the energy and economic system as it is today.

              Yeah, though it doesn't have to be that way.  The basic steps I list above can fairly quickly (say over the course of a year) dramatically decrease the dependence of a middle-class person or family on the oil-based economy...

              contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

              by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 01:42:55 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It doesn't have to be that way... for your family (8+ / 0-)

                For mankind as a whole, I really have grave doubts anything will change until the famines begin and the wars break out.  On a personal level though, you can improve your chances.  e.g. Don't move to Las Vegas or petty much anywhere in the American Southwest.  Not if you are addicted to fresh water.

                •  history validates those doubts (0+ / 0-)

                  That lack of foresight has along pedigree, from Rome to Easter Island.
                  Our focus on economic issues has us tacitly assuming that any 'fix' to it will take, and there will be a happy ending.
                  But the economy is the bird in the cage. We lavish our attention on the pretty, pretty bird, but the cage is collapsing. Without it, we lose the bird. To the cat.

                  Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

                  by kamarvt on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 11:48:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  We agree on much (5+ / 0-)

              Short version: mankind will not adotp the needed reforms until whacked between the eyes by the ol' Cosmic Two-By-Four.  We are very mule-like in the learning department.

              So I agree the future does not bode well for a whole lot of people. The sort of change needed boggles the mond of most everybody - not just the Occupiers.

        •  Totally agree (8+ / 0-)
          Even if OccupyWallStreet accomplished 100% of its objectives (not even sure what its objectives are, but ok), it would do no good because of the energy situation.
          redistribution of wealth is indeed necessary and important, but as long as our society is based on growth, it's simply a case of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

          You can't have perpetual growth on a single, finite planet.

          Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

          by drewfromct on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 06:57:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We are going to have to adapt and learn to share. (5+ / 0-)

            And when I say adapt I mean more than just how we use energy. I think we should consider the very fundamentals of our current systems. Ever wonder why our system always requires "growth"? Here is a great explanation of the technology we call "money" and why systems based on it require constant economic growth, and why they always collapse. It's by an 18 year old Australian guy and IMHO, he is a genius.

            So, doing away with "money" as we know it and it's built in requirement for growth is certainly required.

            I'm sure Buckminster Fuller had a scheme of money which was based on negative interest. That is, the longer you held onto it, the less it is worth. In a quick search I couldn't find what I was looking for. Unsurpisingly because his lifetime's work was huge. But while searching I came across this to cheer this somewhat gloomy thread up:

            Humanity's cosmic-energy income account consists entirely of our gravity-and star (99 percent Sun)-distributed cosmic dividends of water power, tidal power, wave power, wind power, vegetation-produced alcohols, methane gas, vulcanism, and so on. Humanity's present rate of total energy consumption amounts to only one four-millionth of one percent of the rate of its energy income.

            Tax-hungry government and profit-hungry business, for the moment, find it insurmountably difficult to arrange to put meters between humanity and its cosmic energy income, and thus they do nothing realistic to help humanity enjoy its fabulous energy-income wealth. Buckminster Fuller - Critical Path

            "If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth." African Proverb (-6.00,-7.03)

            by Foreign Devil on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:45:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  We were never meant to limit ourselves (0+ / 0-)

            to a single planet.

            When mankind's epitath is written, that will go down as one of, if not our greatest mistake.

            "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

            by Whimsical on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 03:22:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Warming has many amplifiers (14+ / 0-)

        The more we learn about the earth's climate system, the more positive feedbacks we discover. In my opinion we are setting the earth on a trajectory of warming that will take 100,000 years or more to reverse. Warming would be reversible if we rapidly cut CO2 & CH4 emissions, but we're doing the opposite.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

        by FishOutofWater on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 04:54:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, it's sad to see. (11+ / 0-)

          And even worse, some governments will inevitably choose to burn more coal and build coal-to-liquids plants in response to peak oil, in a desperate attempt to keep the oil-based economy running at all costs.  It won't succeed, but in the meantime it'll do even more damage.

          contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 04:57:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nationalizing the fossil fuel companies is likely (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood, offgrid

            the only way to deal with the dangers of their use. Taking the profit out of the equation and factoring in the global damage related to the fossil fuel usage is going to be essential if we're gong to survive as a species.

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:11:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  And fracking. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barath, SuWho

            I had a horrible suspicion that the shale gas under England was extensive when the Tories started trying to sell off all the national forests. Sure enough this field has been in the news frequently as of late.
            Considering it's BP doing the investigation into drilling that shale, the schadenfreude wafting this way from the Gulf Coast will be overwhelming when they trash out the countryside up North. Unfortunately most of the money lives in the South, mainly London, and gas prices have been going up at a rapid clip, so the chances of Blackpool becoming a descriptive sobriquet are pretty high =(

            "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

            by northsylvania on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:15:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Show me the ergs (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk, JHestand, SuWho

      The main reason mankind has not shifted of fossil fuels is because there is not alternative that can deliver the massive amount of E=MC-squared we've grown used to.

      Calls to move off of fossil fuels must be sensitive to teh fact that fossil fuel currently keeps soome3-5 billion humans alive.  Just sayin'.

      •  Right (7+ / 0-)

        There is no apparent way that we can run what we're currently running without fossil fuels.

        We certainly should be cutting fossil fuels out of the picture wherever possible and (especially) be trying very hard to develop local power sources that can survive without external inputs (wind, for example), but it doesn't look good at all.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:22:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Woulda coulda shoulda (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cliss, NoMoreLies, DaleA, FarWestGirl

          Yep. There's stuff to do to limit the impact but you can't turn a global society around on a dime.  I don't see people learning until long after it is too late for the soft landing.

          Me?  I live in a fresh water paradise, but it's too populated. (Between Chicago and Milwaukee.)  So I plan to relocate north, where there are still people but not too many for local farming to support.  And where the global climate change will make the area more habitable.  That's why I am currently learning French.

      •  Almost (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, Quicklund, SuWho

        There is nothing that says the earth has to support the massive energy use we have grown used to.

        The laws of physics and the facts of geology really, REALLY don't care what happens to the human species. And they certainly have no interest in the number of us alive at any one time.

        We can choose to find ways to live within our energy budget or the said laws will kill off as many of us as is necessary to balance that budget.

        Your final statement is correct, but it is one step short of the reality check. When those fossil fuels can no olonger support 5 billion people, then the surplus numbers will die.

        Given a falling energy capability, that number could easily, and very quickly, reach 3 billion. It only takes a few days after the water pumps stop working for a lot of people to die.

        In places where the water pumps never work, they have ways to survive, but in most of our cities, we have zero experience in dealing with that. So we will die in large numbers. Very large.

        Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

        by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:25:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Gasoline powered cars are horridly inefficient (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FarWestGirl, northsylvania, Quicklund

        as is the suburban and exurban sprawl that goes with them.  Driving a Prius has made me aware of how much gas I have wasted over the years, and a Prius is hardly the end all in efficiency.

        Nuclear power could provide massive amounts of energy safely if the nuclear business were run by meticulous, safety oriented people. However, TEPCO has shown that, even in the meticulous Japanese culture, profit oriented management takes deadly liberties with risk. Nuclear power's problems are so disheartening because they have been caused by stupidity and recklessness.

        There is much that can be done by combining efficiency, renewable power and redesign of our living and transportation arrangements.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

        by FishOutofWater on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:50:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Uranium is a limited resource (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          Fission buys mankind a few decades perhaps.  Then we are past peak uranium and back in the same boat.  Stable, contained fusion would be a source of long-term and essentially limitless power.  But there are engineering challenges...

          Yes, there are many ways for mankind to reduce energy consumption.  IMO though, humans as a worldwide group are not wise enough to do so until long after the soft-landing scenario has ceased to be viable.

          •  Re (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Quicklund

            Uranium also can't be used as a transportation fuel. All existing hydrogen and/or electric transport schemes are somewhat viable for a few individual vehicles, but they do not scale well at all. The idea that all of these cars, trucks, airplanes, etc are going to keep running off of battery storage of electricity (either via hydrogen or real batteries) is a pipe dream.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:55:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Dylithium crystals will save us (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SuWho

              They will have to. As you say, regular lithium batteries won't do it.  Instead of a oil shortage we'd face copper, lithium, and rare eaarth element shortages.  Not to mention the mining processes aren't always pretty.

              Root cause continues to be over-population. This will sort itself out. Unfortunately.

              •  But the overpopulation issue (0+ / 0-)

                is like the proverbial third rail. Nobody seems to want to address it, although without addressing it nothing can every really change for the better. I'm not sure why it is the issue that cannot be discussed -- religious beliefs, political beliefs, what? If we could just somehow get people to limit their reproduction to one kid per couple things would start to change for the better. Sigh.

                "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." Anais Nin

                by SuWho on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:31:35 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Dictatorship is the problem, (0+ / 0-)

                  I think, not religion. Italy, arguably one of the most religious countries in the world, has had one of the lowest birthrates for a long time. Wherever there is social democracy and available healthcare, there is family planning, which is used regardless of religion. Wherever there is oppressive government and no healthcare, there is an abundant, desperately poor labor force.

          •  Please look up IFR, MSR (0+ / 0-)

            LMFBR, LFTR.  These nuclear reactor designs can support breeding cycles of U238->Pu (and other transuranic actinides) and Th232 -> U233.  The Integral Fast Reactor is based on the EBR-II that ran for 30 f!king years, so don't tell me this is pie-in-the-sky.  These reactors aren't running now because political decisions have been made to make sure it is so, and remains so.

            Implement close fuel cycle systems and we have enough nuclear power for thousands of years with established, known technology.  

            With regards to safety, I'd like everyone to consider how many people actually died from the Fukushima reactors?
              NONE is the answer.  

            To get any death toll numbers at all requires leaning on the so-called LNT hypothesis that posits that lethality is proportional to the dose, even as the dose approaches zero.  It is ludicrous and has NO scientific evidence, yet this is the yardstick used by governments.  If the same principles were applied to fossil fuel emissions (including NOx, SOx, mercury, arsenic, etc.,etc.) every coal and gas plant in the world would have to be shut down as they dump all their waste into the atmosphere all the time, on purpose.  

            There is plenty of evidence that a threshold exists below which there is no effect of radiation.  Just ask the people who happily live in parts of the world where natural background far exceeds the levels defining the Fukushima exclusion zone without any evidence of increased cancer rates.  The worst a 40-year old plant can dish out under catastrophic circumstances still falls well below what is actually a REAL large-scale danger.

            New reactor designs, such as small modular units with passive safety features (so called walk-away-safe), buried underground, etc. can be profoundly more safe over what are already safe designs.

            Why aren't progressives pushing hard for new, intrinsically / passively safe, sustainable nuclear energy systems?  If we go down the road of energy starvation leading and climate crisis, both leading to economic collapse, everything progressives champion (economic justice, social justice, peace, etc.) will go down the crapper without any options.  Energy is the master resource and the clock is ticking on fossil fuels.

            IMHO, being pro-new-nuclear is a profoundly progressive position based on scientific evidence and rational analysis.  We need to change our personal and collective living arrangements (e.g. electrify transport, more rail), conserve AND deploy the only dependable, scalable energy source that can also be sustainable - and that is new nuclear with closed fuel cycles.

            The intrinsic nature of Power is such that those who seek it most are least qualified to wield it.

            by mojo workin on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:26:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  FOoW, another reason, worldwide, that we are (12+ / 0-)
      we are fucked from all directions.

      is perception management by monied elites.

      As Jerome a Paris wrote recently re the made up debt crisis:

      There is a "euro" crisis only because bond investors have taken the euro hostage, and claim the worst will happen if Greece defaults - and they've managed to impose sacrifice on the hapless Greek population and the other European taxpayers in order not to take any hit on their reckless investments. But this is not necessary (we could let Greece default, let investor take their losses and nationalise banks that fail as a result) - indeed it is economically catastrophic, as we enter a vicious circle of deflation and recession, but it can be made to look satisfying to those who can be encouraged to feel smug about this, because they get others to suffer more than them.

      Again: replace "Germans by "middle class Americans," "bankers and investors" by "bankers and investors", "Greece" by "DoD" and "Greeks" by "Social Security recipients" and you get the idea...

      In other words: propaganda works. And as usual it works by tapping into our worst instincts.

      Substitute energy industry where appropriate.

      •  Glad to see Jerome a Paris is (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, FarWestGirl, divineorder, SuWho

        still posting here. Haven't read one of his diaries for a while. He always speaks a lot of sense. Nice to hear he's come to the same to the same conclusion (through for more knowledge) as me (through a bit of instinct and guesswork) that defaulting and sweeping out the failed banks (bust Goldman Sachs, oh please! in my life time) is the best option. It's inevitable, better sooner than later. It's going to be one hell of a mess. We'd better get ready to share. And yes, the current human polulation is not sustainable. It will be very nasty.

        "If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth." African Proverb (-6.00,-7.03)

        by Foreign Devil on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 03:31:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  My favorite recent book on this: Paul Gilding's (6+ / 0-)

    "The Great Disruption."  Different from all others I've read, in that Gilding does not expect us to act "in time," but does expect us to succeed.

    And always McKibben.  

  •  A simple mantra: Buy Nothing! (8+ / 0-)

    I started this in 01 when they eliminated tech jobs the first time. It was clear to me that the hiring criteria had been changed to exclude most of us older coders. It no longer mattered what your level of experience was it became all about having a CS degree.

    I shop at the farmers market and buy a minimum amount of gas... No coffees, candy, donuts, periodicals or any other corporate consumer product. The only reason I go to a Snakeway or Unluckies is to get milk. When I want entertainment I go to the local dance hall where the door goes to the band. I don't go to movies or buy prerecorded music that didn't come off the front of a stage or the trunk of a car.

    I really have to say this is so much better. It took a while to get used to but there is some small level of satisfaction getting out from under the corporate nozzle.

    •  The hardest for me was books. (6+ / 0-)

      I had a habit of buying books (mostly nonfiction) probably twice a month.  Eventually I managed to stop buying books and instead get them from the library.  Every once in a while I do buy one - I guess my rule of thumb is if I've checked out a book from the library more than twice, it's a sign that I find it valuable and should have a copy.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:07:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  looks like many of us (4+ / 0-)

        are rediscovering our local public libraries as useful community resources. These days when I hear about an interesting book, I check, by default, the online catalog at our library to reserve it if it's available.

        Unfortunately, in many communities library budgets are being cut even though they are experiencing ever increasing usage.

        And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out. --DFW

        by klingman on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 03:03:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I am drowning in books (0+ / 0-)

        and just last week decided that it was time to try a Kindle.  There are thousands of free books on Amazon available, and there is a way to check books out of your local library on it too, though I haven't figured out how to do that yet.  You can also lend out books you own to others and vice versa.  

        I bought the WiFi version, not the new FIRE.  One charge can last for months, when you have the WiFi turned off.  WiFi downloads are fast, so it is unnecessary to keep the WiFi turned on for any period of time.

        I have a bit of a problem with privacy issues and Amazon is not a responsible employer.  And this will impact on the viability of bookstores. So there are drawbacks.  And I will continue to buy the real deal, but it will limit my purchases to those books I truly want...not just impulse buys.

        I fall down, I get up, I keep dancing.

        by DamselleFly on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:21:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Coffee doesn't have to be corporate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho

      I roast my own. Yes, coffee is a luxury item in the scheme of things but it's a necessity for me.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

      by FishOutofWater on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:55:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks Barath for the diary. (10+ / 0-)

    And I agree.  If you lay out our GDP alongside with our oil usage over the decades, you will find that they are 2 lines....and they correlate exactly.  
    Meaning, our "progress" has been determined by our usage of petroleum.  A VERY precarious position to say the least.
    Like someone wrote above, our energy usage will be determined for us, whether we like it or not.

    I for one welcome the new lean dynamics.  The way we've been going in this country, we will need ? how many planets, 2 or 3?  just to sustain the american way of life.  It's about time that came to an end.

    As far as avoidance of the truth, I'm not so sure about that.  I'm about to start teaching a class, it's called "Frugal lifestyle" you better believe we're going to review drastic cutbacks in energy usage.

    I just got the word, we've had so many people sign up for the class, they finally had to close the class.  No more room.  

    •  That's great to hear. (6+ / 0-)

      Do you have a webpage for your class?  I'd be interested to see what you'll be teaching.

      You're exactly right that oil and GDP line up.  And almost every recession for the past several decades coincided with an oil-price spike.

      I'm a firm believer that growing food is key to a frugal lifestyle.  I haven't had much success yet (largely due to the fact that I'm limited in what I can grow living in apartments).  But I'm doing it anyway.  One book that really transformed my thinking on this was a book on home-scale permaculture by Toby Hemenway, where the entire philosophy is to get your garden to produce as much as possible with as little as possible work by getting nature to do the work for you.  (This is standard in permaculture, but Hemenway makes it practical in a way other permaculture books don't.)

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:13:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  end of growth=begin of real fight over what's left (8+ / 0-)

    the flip side of this diary is what we are already beginning to witness here and in other parts of the world...the bare knuckled class warfare over what's left of a dwindling pie.

    It's going to be an ugly fight, and I hope Curtis Blow's smug, irritating op-ed piece in today's NYT was not an accurate portrayal of the Occupy Wall Street movement, because face painting and pillow fights aren't going to cut it.  This will be down in the trenches.  It won't be no disco, no party nor no foolin' around.

    "In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile." Hunter S. Thompson

    by Keith930 on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:10:48 PM PDT

    •  I wonder, though. (9+ / 0-)
      the flip side of this diary is what we are already beginning to witness here and in other parts of the world...the bare knuckled class warfare over what's left of a dwindling pie.

      I wonder if people understand that last part - that it's a dwindling pie.  Far too many folks - and I imagine many if not most among the current protests - seem to be under the impression that we can get back to economic growth if we could just get the corporations in check.  My aim is to raise awareness that economic growth is over as we've known it, regardless of who's in charge and who gets the benefits.  (That's not to say we shouldn't try to make things more equitable - that'll at least make the economic downslope a bit less painful.)

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:17:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Re (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JHestand, Cliss, Odysseus, DaleA, SuWho

      You call it a "class war" as if it's going to be a war between the rich and the poor/middle class.

      However, in the future it is likely that the resources won't exist to support the poor and middle class alone, even if there were no rich people.

      The "war" is going to be between everyone and everyone else, and there may be no winners at all.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:27:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It will indeed NOT be Kumbayatic ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood

      ... group-hugs and mass-meditations won't make the vegetables grow out in my back yard. But if I put in enough hard, tedious labor (punctuated by moments of pure, sweat-soaked glory), in 3-4 years I'll be drawing all my vegetables from my garden. ALL of them. With my hens pumping out enough eggs to supply our protein needs, supplemented with judicious meat purchases from our local farmer, my family will not go hungry. And sooner than many think, that's what it's going to come down to -- can I feed my family?

      •  But then, won't desparate people simply take... (0+ / 0-)

        ...away your land, food and resources?

        I think it's admirable to aspire to living off the land; but I worry that people who don't make that choice will simply roll over you when the shit hits the fan.

        I have the same concern when I hear people talk about relocating to some more sustainable location, say from the arid southwest to the fertile northlands.  That sounds promising; but don't we expect the thirsty, starving hordes to simply pillage their way into the prime locations?

        That said, if you have perfected the agrarian arts, you might at least be useful for some warlord to keep around.

        Full-scale militarization of our society will have to proceed slowly so as not to disturb your consumer haze... -= Austin Cline

        by suburi on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 12:19:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  re: dwindling pie. (8+ / 0-)

    I agree.  The scramble to grab what's left.  That would explain the 'Banksters' how they made heist after heist...as if there was no tomorrow.  The banks going absolutely bonkers, issuing all that bad debt.  As if there was no future to contend with!

    All the corruption, everywhere in every country.
    If you think in terms of the end of growth, and the Knowledge that it was about to end, then everything makes sense.

    I've always felt that the creeps in Washington knew all along what was to come.  They had access to the best research that money can buy.  They knew what was coming!  and they rigged it to their advantage.

    •  The thing is, the data has been public. (13+ / 0-)
      I've always felt that the creeps in Washington knew all along what was to come.  They had access to the best research that money can buy.  They knew what was coming!  and they rigged it to their advantage.

      The Limits to Growth came out in 1972.  Carter told America what was going on throughout his term.  Meadows published two updates to The Limits to Growth, once in the 1990s and again a decade later.  Cambell published "The End of Cheap Oil" in 1998.  And so on.  The research was public.  The difficulty is that few people wanted to hear it.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 05:45:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wilful Ignorance (5+ / 0-)

        Most people did not want to hear it and because they could, for a while, they did.

        Which is why, when they are finally forced to accept the reality that they have tried to deny, they will be doubly angry and looking for someone to blame.

        Those of us who told them years ago that this was coming will cop the first layer of blame because "we should have tried harder to convince them"

        A lot of us are going to get killed because of that. The greens will be among the first and most easily attacked victims of the great anguish.

        Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

        by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:34:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It happened before (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barath, FarWestGirl, Cliss

      that unfettered capitalism lead to outrageous greed and destruction. So, it isn't entirely clear how much economic elites heard the lessons from Limits to Growth.

  •  This could happen. But not in the near future (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cliss, DaleA, FG

    It is true that peak oil is upon us. However, natural gas is still a good way from peaking. In fact, natural gas prices have dropped substantially since 07(?). Nuclear fission could go more than another 300 years. So right there we have two existing technology that will tide us over for quite a few more years. Our energy economy is not a one trick pony. It won't die that easily.

    If there is any advice to be had- buy a CNG car and a fuelmaker which can make CNG off of your gas line at home. This should see you well into your old age before any Mad Max scenerios catches up with you.

    •  Hmm. (12+ / 0-)
      However, natural gas is still a good way from peaking. In fact, natural gas prices have dropped substantially since 07(?).

      There are three fundamental problems of looking to natural gas, especially shale gas, as an answer:

      1. There isn't as much of it as claimed. Here's just a taste of it from the NYT investigation.

      2. It isn't a substitute for oil in our current infrastructure, and it takes a few decades to transition from any fuel source to another.  I covered substitutability and other related issues in a previous diary.  (Nuclear runs into scalability issues, which I addressed in another diary.)

      3. It has many serious environmental issues including polluting groundwater and causing worse greenhouse gas emissions than coal.

      David Hughes has written a great survey of some of these issues.  

      This should see you well into your old age before any Mad Max scenerios catches up with you.

      The most common thing I've heard in response to this is that it's a mad max scenario.  It's not.  In fact, it's far from it.  We've grown accustomed to expect either perpetual progress and growth on one hand or apocalypse and mad max on the other.  What I'm saying is that neither of these is likely.  Instead, we're looking at a slow, griding decline in which the U.S. has a standard of living in 25 years roughly equivalent to Brazil or Mexico today.  That's hardly a catastrophe - just a lot less than what we live on today.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 06:03:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's still mostly a fossil fuel, and methane, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      icemilkcoffee, SuWho

      mined or manufactured still contributes to climate change. Ocean acidification from increased atmospheric CO2 is the game changer, and the thing that too many are ignoring. 70% of the planet is covered by ocean, pH is a logrithmic scale and the ocean's pH has dropped a full 10th of a point in the last 100 years. The sheer volume and magnitude of that change is difficult to comprehend, but it is what's most likely to end the biosphere that we've known and evolved to live in.

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:29:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Preparing for a Steady-State Economy (7+ / 0-)

    The most important literature  about how to comprehend and manage the end of growth comes from Herman Daly.  

    "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

    by oregonj on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 06:24:13 PM PDT

    •  Definitely. (7+ / 0-)

      I've read some of his essays but only recently have started going through his books.

      The one thing I wonder about, though, is that even if say Democrats agreed to adjust to a steady-state economy, what would the transition look like?  It's unrealistic to expect that the current political forces would just give up; I've never read a strategy for making it happen.  (I'd be very interested in one, though.)

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 06:26:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Difficult paradigm change (7+ / 0-)

        The major forces historically underpinning traditional Democratic constituencies do not line up all that well with the 'end of growth' diagnosis and policy path.  I think some Democrats are starting to sense the cost of inputs (ie food and oil) are both impacting job prospects and quality of life, and this will be a permanent shift.

        But it will be over time, I hope, that the prognosis shifts too, the limits on resources are comprehended, and the interests of conservation, and well-being for the middle class, become aligned in party politics.

        First, we need a really good messenger.

        "Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

        by oregonj on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 07:50:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Messenger. (6+ / 0-)
          First, we need a really good messenger.

          Absolutely.  It's unfortunate that talking about these issues gets politicians labeled as "Carter" (which I would think would be a compliment, but most treat as an insult).

          Bill McKibben writes about these issues but oddly he rarely includes them in his talks.  Richard Heinberg is only known in a small circle.  Jerry Brown used to talk about this stuff in the 1970s and 1980s, but I haven't heard him talk about it recently.

          Maybe someone needs to approach the director of Inside Job and ask him to do a documentary on Peak Oil and the Limits to Growth.

          contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 07:54:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Prescient but politically unpopular (6+ / 0-)

          since dwindling resources are going to necessitate forms of austerity (esp. energy usage) which very few will willingly to partake in.  It's no suprise that the A word has become a trigger on both the right and the left to deflect attention to its truer implications.

          I like how Daly get to the heart of what is wrong with growth here:

          The logic of the SSE is reinforced by the recent finding of economists and psychologists that the correlation between absolute income and happiness extends only up to some threshold of “sufficiency,” and beyond that point only relative income influences self-evaluated happiness. This result seems to hold both for cross-section data (comparing rich to poor countries at a given date), and for time series (comparing a single country before and after significant growth in income). Growth cannot increase everyone’s relative income. The welfare gain of people whose relative income increases as a result of further growth would be offset by the loss of others whose relative income falls. And if everyone’s income increases proportionally, no one’s relative income would rise and no one would feel happier. Growth becomes like an arms race in which the two sides cancel each other’s gains. A happy corollary is that for societies that have reached sufficiency, moving to a SSE may cost little in terms of forgone happiness. The “political impossibility” of a SSE may be less than it previously appeared.

          Herman Daly

          Evaluated happiness is a metric rarely discussed in econ textbooks.  Just as conservatives cling to the meme that 'my wealth is not your poverty', all of us living the American consumerist dream believe 'our consumption is not the world's deprivation'.

          An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

          by martinjedlicka on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:01:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mismeasuring our lives. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            martinjedlicka, offgrid

            I've just started reading Stiglitz's Mismeasuring Our Lives which tackles this question of GDP vs. happiness vs. other metrics.  (McKibben's Deep Economy does as well.)  I haven't gotten very far into it yet, but it's a short book and seems worth the read.

            contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

            by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:05:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The stealth factor (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barath, martinjedlicka, redstella, SuWho

            As the factors that govern these things plauy out in our economies we will also find that things that we could not live without will simply fade away and no longer attract us.

            I see it in myself, a tech-head of old who now gets his satisfaction and pleasure from growing his own food, making his own booze, vinegar, sauerkraut, bread etc etc. and growing as many of their constituents as I possibly can.

            Our ability to forget what we once knew so that we can refocus on what we need to survive, will play a sertious role. Whether it will be enough, or soon enough is still the question, but don't forget the 100th monkey.

            Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

            by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:40:35 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  hooray for you (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Linda Wood

              I like that you grow your food and make your own bread, drink and preserves. I do too - or, at least the food, preserves and bread - waiting for the drink.  This is important work! I have always thought of it as learning to live the way the majority of the planet's people live - doing it yourself for yourself. It has become an honest way of life. And, maybe the only way to the future.

  •  Two major problems (9+ / 0-)

    perhaps three, which are the major contributors to our economic growth: 1) waste, particularly in the guise of shoddy goods with a far shorter life span than they should have, plus death dated products and disposables, 2) frivolous and pointless consumption of non renewable resources for totally unnecessary and cosmetic activities, many of which are also harmful, and 3) speculation and gambling, a.k.a known as the FIRE (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector).

    A prime example of the waste is the poorly made HP laptop on which I am typing this comment, ironically the longest lasting of three purchased by/for family members in the past four years. The other two are doorstops, requiring hardware repairs that greatly exceed the value of the equipment, while the one I am typing on has a broken screen as a result of moderate jostling. Strangely, this one is the oldest of the bunch and is actually still partially useful. There is no reason why the components of this equipment should not be built to last over 10 years, as well as being reusable/recyclable. A tax should be put on such shoddy goods and the manufacturer held responsible for the reuse of the components.

    An example of the monstrously wasteful and frivolous activities is the over emphasis on mowed turf grass in the landscape. As I have diaried in the past, the over thirty million acres of lawn are huge consumers of water and petroleum;  up to 30-70 percent of residential water is squandered on these thirsty landscapes, and the typical acre of lawn needs 20 to 30 gallons of gasoline or diesel to be burned to maintain it in a year.

    And nothing more needs to be said about the financial black hole of FIRE. It has redistributed wealth to the richest, produced nothing, and has actively stymied the solving of the problems you have so clearly articulated in your diary. Furthermore, the loaning of money on which this industry depends on a continually expanding economy to pay the interest, and a lot of investors refuse to finance things that are either not conventional (green energy or building) or are not perpetual sources of cash flow like fossil fuels, which are constantly consumed and used up.

    Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

    by NoMoreLies on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 07:54:16 PM PDT

    •  Right on. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NoMoreLies, DaleA, Linda Wood, offgrid, SuWho

      You're exactly right on all three.

      A tax should be put on such shoddy goods and the manufacturer held responsible for the reuse of the components.

      I wonder if a first cut might be an import tariff or a carbon tax (or both).  Since manufacturers seem to outsource to produce their newer (shoddier, cheaper) products, forcing them to make them domestically might improve quality and employment at the same time.

      An example of the monstrously wasteful and frivolous activities is the over emphasis on mowed turf grass in the landscape.

      Definitely.  I've been trying to convince folks I know to put in fruit trees in their yards.  (As a first step to getting rid of the grass entirely.)  After that, converting some area of grass to vegetable beds, etc.  And the remaining grass (if there is any) can be used to provide mulch.

      And nothing more needs to be said about the financial black hole of FIRE.

      You know - above I describe the future recession cycle we're likely to see.  The thing is, one of these future recessions is likely to see the implosion of the FIRE sectors in a way that was averted in 2008 thanks to the bailouts handed out by nations all over the world.  What will happen when governments are unwilling or unable to bail them out?

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:02:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another excellent point of the diary (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, DaleA, barath, Linda Wood, SuWho

    is to use public transportation, preferably rail. Unfortunately this option is scarce, infrequent or absent in much of the country, and the rebuilding of passenger rail is almost universally reviled by the oil-soaked Republican party, who has done everything in its power to cancel or roll back initiatives for passenger rail of all types, ranging from light rail to high speed intercity rail.

    An example is right here in Wisconsin, where the incoming reactionary governor Scott Walker and regressive majorities in the state legislature who were swept in in 2010 managed to eliminate the Madison-Milwaukee high speed rail leg which had already been funded and approved, along with the KRM (Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee) commuter rail line which had also been approved for federal funding. Wisconsin has very limited passenger rail, only the once a day (in each direction) Empire Builder that stops in Milwaukee, Columbus, the Dells and LaCrosse, and the 7x a day in each direction Amtrak Hiawatha that links Chicago and Milwaukee.

    A far cry from the glory days that saw over 270 miles of electrified light rail that linked Milwaukee and its suburbs, two commuter lines from Walworth County to Chicago, 90 mph electrified service from Milwaukee to Chicago over the currently proposed and cancelled KRM alignment, and three railroads that linked Minneapolis to Chicago through Wisconsin that featured crack streamliners traveling at up to 125 mph, with over 10 trains per day total. All gone, thanks to our car monoculture and economy built on waste.

    Unfortunately as far back as 1957, Admiral Hyman Rickover correctly predicted this predicament and advocated for the preservation of our rail system in the face of peak oil, and if his words had been heeded, when all of this infrastructure largely still existed, we would be in a lot better shape today to transition back into a more rail-centric transportation system.

    Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

    by NoMoreLies on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:21:03 PM PDT

  •  Great post. But how to address this (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, barath, SuWho, CrustyPolemicist

    politically?  I can't see anyone running for office on the platform of 'doing more with less'.  Especially when it comes to driving a gasoline-sucking internal combustion vehicle anywhere and everywhere.  Both on the right and left, the American way of life, which is centered around hedonistic materialism, is 'non-negotiable'.

    Cassandras who've been pointing at this horse for years, like J.H.Kunstler, get marginalized as negativistic crackpots.  I expect the Club for Growth to be for, well, Growth, but soon enough you'll see progressives rallying to the flag by insisting that the gods of technology will deliver us from dwindling resources.

    Peak Oil?  We're headed for Peak Water.

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 08:25:32 PM PDT

    •  As the middle class telescopes into (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DaleA, barath, Sparhawk, Linda Wood, SuWho

      the poor classes, the cost of owning and operating an internal combustion vehicle will become prohibitive for a larger and larger segment of the populace. Annual   average transportation costs for the average car, using outdated numbers from 2006 (the price of gasoline then was less than 2/3 what it is now) are north of $8,000 for the typical motor vehicle, or over 1/6 of the median family income. It will only get worse. Who will defend it when only the rich can afford cars?

      Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

      by NoMoreLies on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 09:01:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The problem (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, Sparhawk, maryabein

        is that workable public transport requires pretty serious capital formation. And the days of capitalism are tied to oil.

        Finding, let alone affording, the capital necessary to build the public transport systems we need will be impossible.

        Oh, and then, in a world of dwindling oil supplies, the energy and material resources to build the rail systems wont be there either.

        All of this had to be done 25 years ago. We can't go back and do them now, we will need other solutions to our problems.

        Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

        by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 01:45:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Japanese recently (past couple of years), (0+ / 0-)

          greenlighted a project to build an orbiting solar power satellite. I don't know what the status is currently, but that has promise if we get enough of them on line in time.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:35:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm sorry (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FarWestGirl

            But I would bet that the energy cost, let alone the financial cost, of getting enough up there to make a difference, let alone to solve the problem, will be prohibitive.

            Take the same money and put it into reducing demand and you will get more bang for your buck.

            The overarching problem is that we are now right at the limit of ROI for any of these projects.

            Even a 1% increase in production on an already massive bill is disproportionately expensive. On the other side, a 1% decrease in demand is more easily achieved and has massive effect.

            Of course, as supply falls, the demand part of the equation becomes irrelevant, it WILL fall; chaotically, destructively, perhaps terminally, but fall it will.

            Our choice is whether we try to stay ahead of the curve or wait till it mows us down.

            Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

            by Deep Dark on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 12:46:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  And once you get into the issues (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, DaleA, Agathena, barath, Linda Wood, SuWho

      of congestion, traffic and affordabilty, the family car begins to suck more and more. Rail travel can suck a lot less, and actually be much more enjoyable and faster than driving, particularly in sprawlburbs that have way too many stop lights, strip malls, and idiot/incompetent drivers. Also in the northern half of the US, snow, which quickly renders roads into parking lots, but has much less effect on rail, which usually continues to run unhindered.

      Even my wife, who doesn't understand my obsession with trains, has come to realize that passenger rail is a much better alternative to driving, especially traveling to congested downtown Chicago, and it is much faster and more reliably on time.

      Trickle Down Economics 101: They get the golden parachute, we get the golden shower.

      by NoMoreLies on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 09:09:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I love train travel (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, SuWho, OHeyeO

        We travelled on the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Santa Barbara and return. Amazing train stations at both ends of the journey. Looking out the window was like watching a movie. We were on time at every station all the way down.
        http://www.flickr.com/...

        ❧ to thine own self be true ❧

        by Agathena on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 12:41:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A friend did the Albany, OR to LA leg a couple of (0+ / 0-)

          years ago and got stuck in NorCal for 24 hours. They ended up busing them to LA.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:37:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  AMTRAK has really improved the service on the (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FarWestGirl, OHeyeO

            Coast Starlight. We were stopped on the way home because of caution about a wooden bridge near the wildfires. Once they assessed that it was safe, we were on our way. In the meantime, there was a free supper. The conductor lent us his cell phone to call ahead to our hotel. Our phones didn't have roaming. It was a really great trip and I would do it again.

            ❧ to thine own self be true ❧

            by Agathena on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:27:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  A few ideas. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho

      I think there are a few ways of slowly (and I mean slowly) starting to address this politically and/or using the system we have.

      First, no longer talk about growth.  Instead talk about jobs.  Jobs jobs jobs.  Pres. Obama has started to do that.  In any case, people only care about jobs - growth is supposed to produce jobs, but why not just talk about jobs directly?  It's still possible to have full employment in a contracting economy, so as long as we shift the conversation in that direction, it's possible to make the argument.

      Second, reduce oil consumption by indirect means.  For example, change an obscure safety regulation in the department of transportation and order a safety review of all highways and then when, shock of all shocks, they don't meet this new safety regulation, require that their speed limits be decreased to 55 or 50 mph.  (But not all at once - just one highway here and there over the course of a couple of years.)  Similarly, at a state level, increase carpool lanes here and there by making the leftmost lane for 3 passenger vehicles, the 2nd leftmost for 2 passenger vehicles, and the rest for 1 passenger vehicles.

      Third, at a local level, make a push in every community to buy local organic produce from farmers markets.  Stage protests / flyer outside of supermarkets about some outrage of the industrial food system (and there are plenty, so coming up with one shouldn't be hard), thereby diverting more people to the local farmers market.

      Just a few off the top of my head...

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:49:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And it WILL get Worse, much WORSE (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, DaleA, pollwatcher, SuWho

    If we continue to elect individuals into public office at all levels of government who are still drinking and serving Kool-Aide, rather than telling us the hard truth.

  •  So the pie might be getting smaller. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, NoMoreLies

    Does this mean we settle for the slice that the elites deign to give us?

    "...on the (catch a) human network. Cisco."

    by hoplite9 on Sun Oct 02, 2011 at 10:55:53 PM PDT

  •  We don't know (0+ / 0-)

    that switching to a sustainable economic model wouldn't allow for some growth. Some sectors irremediably dependent on dwindling resources will contract, and consumerism is obviously out but part of the economy could expand.

    •  If we design it right. (0+ / 0-)

      You could imagine (hypothetically) that once the economy were brought down to a sustainable level that you could have "growth" of 3% per year (while ensuring 3% inflation per year).  That way we'd keep the system we have now but wouldn't actually be growing so we wouldn't be running into growth-related problems like we are today.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:40:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's an excellent blog post by a physics prof (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do."

    by FishOutofWater on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 02:21:20 AM PDT

    •  Batteries are hard to beat (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      offgrid

      The first thing to think about when it comes to storage is, how can I reduce my usage so I need less storage.  Get efficient first, and the storage and entire pv system gets a lot easier and cheaper.  I use far less energy than the average household and love my smaller off grid system.

  •  The growth was stolen (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, Superpole, FarWestGirl

    We have a consumer economy. Since the rise of the Republicans with Reagan there has been a huge shift in wealth from the 98% to the top 2%.

    Less income for the consuming class = less consumption = less demand  = shrinking production and employment numbers.

    Now the right is pushing to have the majority sacrifice more for bigger wealth transfers to the top. Which will create another cycle of declining growth.

    Add that to environmental critical points being reached with energy, water and ag resources and you have the recipe for global disaster.

  •  Slight Disconnect - Tightwad vs. "Local Grassfed, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein

    Organic" meat/dairy/eggs.

    I agree, this is the best, healthiest approach, but local grassfed, organic meat/dairy/eggs are more expensive than typical grocery store fare- so the tightwad strategy starts to fall apart.

    You also need a car to get to organic farms/co-ops- you're not going to get there by bus.

    Getting rid of your car, utilizing public transport- doable in an urban environment (some cities have better public transport than others)- not so much in a rural environment.

    Living w/o a car in the boonies is more or less impossible.

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:26:08 AM PDT

    •  A bit subtle... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho
      I agree, this is the best, healthiest approach, but local grassfed, organic meat/dairy/eggs are more expensive than typical grocery store fare- so the tightwad strategy starts to fall apart.

      Really my argument is that people should avoid meat if possible because in their current form they are extremely energy intensive.  But I don't want to make that argument because everyone has their reasons for eating the way they do.

      As far as buying local veggies, etc. I've found that it's often the same price as the industrial veggies, and usually a lot more fresh.

      You also need a car to get to organic farms/co-ops- you're not going to get there by bus.

      There are a lot of CSAs that deliver their produce to a drop-off location that's close to where their customers are.  (I used to be part of one like that a couple of years ago.)

      Getting rid of your car, utilizing public transport- doable in an urban environment (some cities have better public transport than others)- not so much in a rural environment.

      I'd say this depends greatly upon what sort of rural town you live in (and when it was built).  Many small towns in New England, for example, are compact and walkable, surrounded by farmland.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:31:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed - To a Point (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, maryabein, Linda Wood, SuWho

        There have been times in my life when I was a "marginal vegan"; currently I eat almost no beef for the reasons you give. But I'm not going to give up dairy, yogurt and cheese specifically. Yogurt has calcium, protein, etc. and pro-biotics for the gut which make it a sort of super-food. Cheese for protein and calcium. Cheese combined with beans and corn or wheat tortillas gives you plenty of protein and I believe, all of the amino acids needed. Throw in some rice- even better.

        "Diet for a Small Planet" by Francis Lappe is all about combining foods for complimentary protein/amino acids nutrition.

        Veggies- I buy almost all local in the growing season.

        There's no question one can live simply-- but after 100 years or so on the consumer/fossil fuel, car-based economy- living simply will for some take a great deal of work, on top of the work they're already doing.

        The convenience of the current system, more or less everything one wants is at the local Safeway, combined with lack of time/energy to go the alternative route, will make the change to an alternative system tough.

        The reason the slow/simple path worked at one time is because one parent was home all day-- typically mom. but mom is out in the work force now.

        "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

        by Superpole on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:52:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Tyagi (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          offgrid, Superpole

          have written a book apparently on the problems of the Two-income household. I say apparently because I'm still trying to find a copy. It's called,

          The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke.

          I understand their point to be that the second income has just gone to the banks as interest on mortgages and credit cards, to the cost of childcare, and to the cost of an additional car, and that families are worse off, not better off, than they were as one-income households.

          Your point that,

          The reason the slow/simple path worked at one time is because one parent was home all day-- typically mom. but mom is out in the work force now.

          is so important because we largely ignore that the parent who was at home actually performed work that was of value to the family and that the second income hasn't made up for that work or for the value of the well-being provided to children.

          •  I Will Never Ignore/Forget what My Mom Did (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            Dad: blue collar union guy working in the factory. NO domestic skills, kept the cars going, mowed the grass- until I was old enough to do it.

            Mom: stay at home mom, doing everything on the home front, totally there for my brothers and I. we had our own garden. she canned tomatos and tomato juice (great for chili and pot roast in the crock pot over the winter!!)

            We picked apples in the fall, she canned apple sauce for the winter months.

            Heh- her grocery budget? $45 bucks per week! with this a family of five ate very well. steak and lobster? no-- but three good balanced meals a day.

            As you say, the value of this for a healthy family? Immeasureable.

            I miss her and her wisdom greatly.

            "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

            by Superpole on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 11:01:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's POPULATION in the end (6+ / 0-)

    We wouldn't be having this conversation if the worlds population were a sustainable 1 billion, rather than a catastrophic 7 billion.  We can't support an American standard of living for a population of 7 billion with any existing technology.

    As long as China, India, Africa... were economically incompetent, we didn't have to share the worlds resources with them.   But that's changing.  In a world of rapidly diminishing resources, the demand for those resources is growing rapidly.

    Unless we can figure out how to deny resources to most of the rest of the world, the US standard of living is about to drop tremendously.  The era of economic growth has ended for the U.S. and the era of standard of living contraction has begun.

    We've known about this for more than 40 years.  Jimmy Carter tried to set us on a path of sustainability, and Ronald Reagan and the Republican denialists drove a stake in the heart of America's future.

    It's nothing more than a life boat now.  The only question is how many will suffer and how much will they suffer.  And if you sit home on election day, or vote for a 3rd party candidate, I hope YOU are one of those who will suffer.  Every election from here on out will be more critical than the one before.  With every Republican victory, the amount of suffering will increase tremendously, and you may be one of those who will get tossed out of the life boat.

    •  An example of resource competition. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pollwatcher, Sparhawk
      As long as China, India, Africa... were economically incompetent, we didn't have to share the worlds resources with them.   But that's changing.  In a world of rapidly diminishing resources, the demand for those resources is growing rapidly.

      Here's a small example of resource competition.  Jeffrey Brown has done a number of analyses of what he calls available net exports of oil.  Basically take world oil production, subtract out oil that isn't exported, then subtract out oil imports by India and China, and you get available net exports, which is the oil available on the global to the rich nations of the world.  He's found that if trends were to continue, China and India would consume all global exports by 2025.  Obviously that can't happen, so something has to give.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:44:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very nice calculation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath

        That's a very nice way to look at Peak Oil.  It makes you wonder about how many other resources, Lithium, copper, rare earths... could be analyzed in the same way?

        Goldman Sachs just came out with a report stating the U.S. would be the worlds largest oil producer in a decade or so.  The masters of the universe are at it again.  Pump up oil sand companies to their customers, than dump em before the customers realize the energy return on oil sands is dropping fast.

    •  Re (0+ / 0-)
      It's nothing more than a life boat now.  The only question is how many will suffer and how much will they suffer.  And if you sit home on election day, or vote for a 3rd party candidate, I hope YOU are one of those who will suffer.  Every election from here on out will be more critical than the one before.  With every Republican victory, the amount of suffering will increase tremendously, and you may be one of those who will get tossed out of the life boat.

      Do you really have a lot of evidence for this? I'm not sure we really have any evidence that Democrats can or will handle Peak Oil related economic catastrophes any better than Republicans do or have.

      (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
      Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

      by Sparhawk on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:02:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think we do... (0+ / 0-)

        Because unrestrained from political obstruction the parties have very different approaches on such issues.  Democrats have pursued energy efficiency and alternative energy and high-speed rail which while wholly insufficient in the scale they've been attempted, are at least a step in the right direction.  On the other hand, when unrestrained Republicans have pursued more drilling, looser laws for energy companies, cutting funding for public transit and rail, etc.

        The way I see it is that on the issue of energy Democrats are bad (ell, with the exception of Pres. Carter, who got it and spoke the truth on these issues) and Republicans are worse.

        contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

        by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:10:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's a matter of hope (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, Alice in Florida

        If you look at the efforts to transition to an ALT-E economy, they have ALL come from the Democratic side of the isle.  More specifically, the Progressive side of the Democratic party.  The majority of Democrats in congress understand this problem.  The problem is, a majority of one party isn't enough to accomplish what needs to be done.  As long as we have a united Republican party that is sending the country and the world over the cliff, and a big bunch of blue dogs who either join in the effort, or who are too dumb to understand, we're stuck on the life boat.

        Our only hope is to elect enough progressive Democrats so they can implement the resource policies that lead us to a less hard landing.  If we can't do this within the Democratic party, it's pretty crazy to think we can do it from scratch with a 3rd party.

        Hope and hard work is our only chance.

        •  I mostly agree. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pollwatcher, Sparhawk
          The majority of Democrats in congress understand this problem.

          I'm not sure this is true, however.  I sat down with the staff of my congresswoman, who has to be one of the two or three most progressive in the country, and they were clueless about peak oil, limits to growth, etc.  And they were especially clueless about the timeframe - that this was an imminent problem.

          They're aware that oil is bad, and that climate change is a problem, but I think they don't grasp either the severity of the problem, is scope (especially with respect to growth and the economy), and its imminence (they still think it's decades away).

          I swear we need Jimmy Carter to sit down with progressive Dems and deliver the message on these issues.

          contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

          by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:21:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's an excellent idea! (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            barath, SuWho

            Ok, let's do it.  I have a copy of Jimmy Carters global 2000 report, which pretty much predicted that this would happen, a bit early perhaps but not too bad for being written 30 years ago.

            So how can we go about this?  How can we start arranging meetings between progressive Dems and Jimmy Carter?

            Should we start with Diaries asking for people who could put us in direct contact with Jimmy Carter, so we can run the idea by him? Should we write a diary, with a poll, so we can demonstrate there is support among the progressive community to address this critical problem?

            How do we go about educating the progressive's in congress to the fact that they can fiddle with the economic knobs and levers all they want, but if they don't directly address the critical problem of critical resource depletion, the economy will NEVER recover to an acceptable level?

            You've made a great start at informing this community, how can we get many more involved?

            •  I wonder... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SuWho, pollwatcher, Linda Wood, Cliss
              How do we go about educating the progressive's in congress to the fact that they can fiddle with the economic knobs and levers all they want, but if they don't directly address the critical problem of critical resource depletion, the economy will NEVER recover to an acceptable level?

              You've made a great start at informing this community, how can we get many more involved?

              So my approach has been to try to get meetings with my representatives / local officials, but that's slow going and I only ever get to meet with staff (who probably don't pass the word on).

              First I think we might need to get one national Democrat on board.  My understanding is that Tom Udall is a member of the (very tiny) congressional peak oil caucus.  I don't know, though, if he understands the broader limits to growth issues.  Might it be a better bet to find a progressive dem who is energy-conscious and really hammer away to get them on board?  I don't know which approach is better.  From there, they can reach out to Carter to get him to brief them all.

              I remember someone posting this comment that they spoke with Carter at his church:

              http://ourfiniteworld.com/...

              Since Jimmy Carter is much being mentioned here, let me relay a recent crossing of paths with him that I was privileded to enjoy after attending church services at Plains, Geogia Baptist Church.One of the highlights of so attending is to have your picture taken with President Carter and his wife, Rosalyn after the service. Participants are told not to interact with either,and not to touch either, but to look into the camera, smile, click and move quickly on. I could not resist doing otherwise. being in presence of the only President ever to actually try to deal with our energy situation.

              My words to Mr. Carter, “Thank you Mr. President for having the courage to raise the issue of oil field depletion at a time when this country could have still done something about it.” He quickly reached across his wife, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “It’s going to get a lot worse.”

              contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

              by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:34:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  And the obvious conclusion from that is ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cliss

      ... there's going to be a whole lot of dying before this mass of humanity collapses to a much smaller, sustainable size. Like I said before: this is going to suck more than most can imagine.

  •  it's just a lost decade (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, OHeyeO

    Economic growth is not "ending", we're just entering a lost decade.  This is due not simply to bad resource management, but also to bad economic management across the board.  We should expect things to be very hard until the 2020's.  

    Why do I expect things to improve during the 2020's?  Well I have a couple of reasons.  First, trends in solar energy.  

    The amount of energy produced by solar power globally is currently quite small as a percentage of the whole, but that amount of production has been doubling every two years.  Also the efficiency of solar cells continues to improve.  These trends indicate that solar energy will be economically competitive with fossil fuels at some point in this decade, and that world energy could be completely met by solar power in the 2020's.  So we're approximately a decade away from a new era of cheap energy.

    The second reason I'm optimistic about the future in the long run is the ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.  This field as been advancing steadily for decades, and the economic implications of these advances are staggering.  We should expect to see increasing levels of automation in industry over the next couple of decades, leading to lower and lower production costs for manufactured goods.

    The upside to these trends is that cheap energy and cheap manufacturing mean lower prices for manufactured goods, and thus greater purchasing power and a higher quality of life for average people.  The down side, particularly to automation, is the gradual pricing out of human labor throughout most of the economy with effects on the working class similar to what we've seen with outsourcing.  

    The real challenge for our society after this decade will not be finding ways to sustain growth.  Rather the greatest challenge will be to reform our systems of political economy to ensure that growth is more widely distributed,

    When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

    by Thought Crime on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:33:08 AM PDT

    •  Hmm...maybe. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk
      The amount of energy produced by solar power globally is currently quite small as a percentage of the whole, but that amount of production has been doubling every two years.  Also the efficiency of solar cells continues to improve.  These trends indicate that solar energy will be economically competitive with fossil fuels at some point in this decade, and that world energy could be completely met by solar power in the 2020's.  So we're approximately a decade away from a new era of cheap energy.

      The thing is, solar isn't substitutable for oil in almost any of its uses today.  Principally, as a transportation fuel or as an input in manufacturing or agriculture.

      While solar may be able to provide relatively cheap electricity, transportation is what makes our (global) economy work, and that's thanks to cheap oil.

      The second reason I'm optimistic about the future in the long run is the ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.

      As it happens, we're likely to not just hit peak oil in a few years, but also the end of Moore's law.  (I spoke with an expert on the subject not long ago, and he says there is no plan B in the chip industry, so processors will soon no longer get better by leaps and bounds every couple of years.)  This will put a major damper on projections about AI and robotics that depend upon Moore's law.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:38:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And what humans will be doing (0+ / 0-)

      when robots replace more and more jobs. Idle minds and idle hands are the devil's workshop, so the saying goes. Especially in the hands of incompetent and/or evil power-hungry politicians.

      There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

      by OHeyeO on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:45:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  One thing that has always . . . (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barath, Bob Guyer, Linda Wood, offgrid, SuWho

    . . . concerned me (well, terrified me, but in a kind of "oh, what'll happen now" kind of way) is how hitting the limit in terms of exploitable natural resources (oil is a good proxy) impacts the very structure of the world's economy.

    What I mean is that our entire economy requires growth, it assumes growth for every future; credit is possible only because people are expected to pay back more than they originally borrowed, and this is possible only because the economy is expected to grow and produce further wealth than at the time the money was borrowed.

    But without an ever-expanding sea of natural resources to exploit, it is hard to see how this continues.  My best guess is that after we finally come to realize that the physical limits of our global resources means that we cannot continue the current economic/financial system (and, of course, this realization will be reached only after an ungodly amount of human suffering), we'll have to come up with some alternative system based around an idea that does not assume future economic growth but - at best - economic stasis.

    But, of course, I have absolutely no idea what that idea will look like.

    Politics is the neverending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

    by swellsman on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:44:01 AM PDT

    •  You and the German military. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bob Guyer, Sparhawk, offgrid, SuWho

      You've hit the nail on the head.  The German military put out a peak oil study last year in which they came to the following conclusion (very similar to yours).  (To be honest, it's a bit dire, but I suppose there's nothing stopping what they describe from happening.)

      In the medium term, the global economic system and all market-oriented economies would collapse.

      1. Economic entities would realise the prolonged contraction and would have to act on the assumption that the global economy would continue to shrink for a long time.

      2. Tipping point: In an economy shrinking over an indefinite period, savings would not be invested because companies would not be making any profit.157 For an indefinite period, companies would no longer be in a position to pay borrowing costs or to distribute profits to investors. The banking system, stock exchanges and financial markets could collapse altogether.

      3. Financial markets are the backbone of global economy and an integral component of modern societies. All other subsystems have developed hand in hand with the economic system. A disintegration can therefore not be analysed based on today’s system. A completely new system state would materialise. Nevertheless, for illustration purposes here is an outline of some theoretically plausible consequences:

      • Banks left with no commercial basis. Banks would not be able to pay interest on deposits as they would not be able to find creditworthy companies, institutions or individuals. As a result, they would lose the basis for their business.
      • Loss of confidence in currencies. Belief in the value-preserving function of money would dwindle. This would initially result in hyperinflation and black markets, followed by a barter economy at the local level.
      • Collapse of value chains. The division of labour and its processes are based on the possibility of trade in intermediate products. It would be extremely difficult to conclude the necessary transactions lacking a monetary system.
      • Collapse of unpegged currency systems. If currencies lose their value in their country of origin, they can no longer be exchanged for foreign currencies. International value-added chains would collapse as well.
      • Mass unemployment. Modern societies are organised on a division-of- labour basis and have become increasingly differentiated in the course of their histories. Many professions are solely concerned with managing this high level of complexity and no longer have anything to do with the immediate production of consumer goods. The reduction in the complexity of economies that is implied here would result in a dramatic increase in unemployment in all modern societies.
      • National bankruptcies. In the situation described, state revenues would evaporate. (New) debt options would be very limited, and the next step would be national bankruptcies.
      • Collapse of critical infrastructures. Neither material nor financial resources would suffice to maintain existing infrastructures. Infrastructure interdependences, both internal and external with regard to other subsystems, would worsen the situation.
      • Famines. Ultimately, production and distribution of food in sufficient quantities would become challenging.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:53:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clueless talk about inevitable "Globalization" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        barath, Linda Wood, offgrid, SuWho

        in policy wonk world and the mainstream media shows how ingrained the assumption of limitless growth is in our post industrial revolution culture. Several years ago the consequences of limits to growth and our near complete dependence on our current industrial/economic system for survival became clear to me. I was terrified as I started to think through the implications particularly for those of us who are totally dependent (city and suburb dwellers) on industrial agricultural production and earning money to buy our food.

        Amazing that all of this was pretty well thought through by the systems theory folks, Meadows..., in Limits to Growth, many years ago.

        On a deeper level our species has inadvertently stumbled onto a problem unprecedented in biological evolution. How does the ecosystem and evolution manage the achievement of significant power that exists outside the biological entity that achieves that power. The answer is that evolution has no way to manage that power. The species who created it must learn to manage it and avoid accelerated ecosystem overshoot or face the natural consequence of population collapse. All species are hardwired for growth and will take as much as they can get. Our species has not learned how to manage, primarily through social systems, our power in a different way that our biological imperative drives us. Hard lessons and a steep learning curve are upon us.

        Wonderful diary. It is nice to see a limits to growth diary getting some community attention. Good job.

        Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

        by Bob Guyer on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:48:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Holy Crap! That is scary! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cliss

        But I'm gonna click over and look at the rest of the report anyway.  Thanks!

        Politics is the neverending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

        by swellsman on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:49:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped, recc'ed and hotlisted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cliss

    Nice job.

  •  Abraham Lincoln (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SuWho

    had thoughts on the relation between labor and capital that may get us back to basics:

    http://dig.lib.niu.edu/...

    From: Lincoln, Abraham. "Annual Address Before the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 30, 1859."

    The world is agreed that labor is the source from which human wants are mainly supplied. There is no dispute upon this point. From this point, however, men immediately diverge. Much disputation is maintained as to the best way of applying and controlling the labor element. By some it is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital – that nobody labors, unless somebody else owning capital, somehow, by the use of it, induces him to do it...

    But another class of reasoners hold the opinion that there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed... They hold that labor is prior to, and independent of, capital; that, in fact, capital is the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed; that labor can exist without capital, but that capital could never have existed without labor. Hence they hold that labor is the superior – greatly the superior – of capital. They do not deny that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital. The error, as they hold, is in assuming that the whole labor of the world exists within that relation...

    Men, with their families – wives, sons and daughters – work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor of hirelings or slaves on the other... The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This, say its advocates, is free labor – the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way for all, gives hope to all, and energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all...

    The old general rule was that educated people did not perform manual labor. They managed to eat their bread, leaving the toil of producing it to the uneducated. This was not an insupportable evil to the working bees, so long as the class of drones remained very small. But now, especially in these free States, nearly all are educated – quite too nearly all to leave the labor of the uneducated in any wise adequate to the support of the whole. It follows from this that henceforth educated people must labor.

    Excerpt of Lincoln's Speech on Free Labor vs. Slave Labor
    The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, vol. 5. Eds. John G. Nicolay and John Hay. New York: Francis D. Tandy Company, 1894.

  •  "Endless growth" was always a fever-dream ... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood, Fossil, Cliss, offgrid

    ... and now it's time to sweat out the fever, burn the toxin out of our system, and get well. Those who talk about "how do we get growth (real estate/real income/relaxing of credit/pick your metric) going again?" are basically engaging in he same thinking as  a junkie when he says "I need to score some more smack and everything will be fine and dandy," when what the junkie really needs to do in order to get "fine and dandy" is to kick. Will it suck? It will. Is it going to hurt? Yes, more than most of us here can imagine. Is there any way for this NOT to happen? No. What will be left after the pain is over will, best case, be a smaller and more modest "steady-state" society. But we have some bitter waters to cross to get there, and it is going to take years, maybe decades.

    •  Wonderful description (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cliss

      of the situation. Thank you.

      In the hopes of being somewhat more optimistic about the journey from where we are to where we may land, I remember years ago my supervisor, after a year of sweat, toil, stress and achievement, telling me he and his wife had a dream vacation planned to a remote place in a pretty undeveloped country, at a location only accessible by canoe, with no phone, no internet, no television, where they hoped to spend two weeks eating simply and exploring the surroundings.

      I thought to myself, is this what he worked so hard for in the city? So that he could go into the wilderness and live like primitive man? I think most of us dream of having a refuge like that. Maybe we will soon understand what people from Oregon used to tell me, that sometimes less is more.

  •  Time to start redistrubiting wealth for real (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood, Cliss

    then.

    Cause, if I'm being honest, I have to tell you that there is a long, long list of people who are going to have to make do with less before I'd be willing to even remotely consider reducing my (already fairly bare bones) lifestyle; and it starts with traitors like the Koch brothers.

    "The future of man is not one billion of us fighting over limited resources on a soon-to-be dead planet. . .I won't go back into the cave for anyone."

    by Whimsical on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 03:14:23 PM PDT

  •  Growth never did the majority of the (0+ / 0-)

    earth's populations much good anyway.  What we need to focus on is sustenance for organic existence.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuzZQ8LTE2c

    by hannah on Wed Oct 05, 2011 at 05:30:27 AM PDT

  •  Republished to systems thinking (0+ / 0-)

    We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

    by bmcphail on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 07:29:32 AM PDT

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