The race is on

Everywhere I turn, I read and hear about $200 oil in the near future (here’s one recent example, from somebody who should know better, here’s another from hyperinflation guru Gonzalo Lira, and here’s another from historian Niall Ferguson. Investors are being sucked in, too, and at least one pundit fool has jumped the shark, calling for $350 oil by July of this year. And of course Jeff Rubin is still banging this drum). The per-barrel price of crude oil might hit $200. But I doubt we’ll know about it, since the lights will be out before we get there: Considering the fragility of the industrial economy, I cannot imagine we’ll have fuel at the filling station, food at the grocery store, or water coming out the taps within a few months of oil hitting the $140 mark.

And we might not break the $120 mark, considering the impending hard landing for the Chinese industrial economy (improperly termed a black swan here) and the associated reduction in demand for crude oil. We might see Dow zero before the per-barrel price of oil hits $140. Whether oil soars or China swoons, the race to the bottom is on, with 2011 looking a lot like an ugly version of 2008 for the industrial economy.

Even the vaunted killing machine known as the U.S. military, with its essentially unlimited budget for bodies and technology, cannot maintain the flow of crude oil into the country. Military and political constraints are slapping the U.S. around already, and we’ve only begun to fall off the oil-supply cliff. A bunch of those military personnel and contractors are about to find themselves stuck in unfriendly territory without so much as a bicycle or fraudulent passport to aid their escape.

The oil-price trigger on which most folks in the echo-chamber are focusing is turmoil in the Middle East, and the demise of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia certainly could accelerate a price spike. But, as I’ve pointed out before, we’re due for a spike this year even without unrest in the Middle East. That’s what declining global extraction rates (e.g., Iraq) and increasing global demand does to the price, even if our vaunted military manages to conquer Libya for its oil. Even Forbes knows what most media outlets are afraid to reveal: Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil, has no spare capacity.

Or maybe this time is different, and a spike in the price of oil won’t bring the industrial economy to its knees. The ever-clueless cabal of economists at The Economist suggest an oil shock this year will transform the world economy. I agree about the transformation, though not in the direction they think.

In response to the good news about skyrocketing oil prices, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency finds itself in an uncomfortable position. Seems one of their spooks killed a couple of the wrong people in Pakistan, and subsequently was found with embarrassing documents in his possession. The documents indicate we’re trying to “ignite an all-out war in order to re-establish the West’s hegemony over a Global economy that is (sic) warned is just months away from collapse.” So the best measure we can come up with, in terms of preventing collapse of the world’s industrial economy, is to provoke global nuclear war? That’ll almost certainly slow the warming of the planet, but I’m still unconvinced it’s a good idea. Talk about curing the disease by killing the patient.

Although western pundits have completely misjudged the situation in Saudi Arabia, a big war hovers even without meltdown of the kingdom. So predicts noted trends forecaster Gerald Celente , financier Marc Faber, and former Goldman Sachs technical analyst Charles Nenner. World War III would be quite a sequel to the final Super Bowl.

That big war might take American minds off the ongoing global insurrection, which otherwise is coming to the United States, in part because of our capitalism-for-the-poor, socialism-for-the-rich political system (also see this analysis at Zero Hedge). Alas, that’s one of the many consequences of expensive oil and food, not to mention horrific inequities between the wealthy and the rest of us: riots.

On the other hand, we might not need the war to destroy ourselves. Ongoing nuclear issues aren’t restricted to Japan. Rather, the entire Pacific Rim is vulnerable. This is the stuff of nightmares, and it haunts my waking hours, too: a nuclear event, whether or not it results from war, and the subsequent release of radiation into the atmosphere.

As the industrialized world comes apart at the seams, I’m about done waiting for people to get it. Increasingly, it’s becoming a matter of waiting to see it get them.

Next-day update: Upon request, I submitted a brief essay to Transition Voice yesterday morning regarding the disaster in Japan. It’s on their website today.


This essay is permalinked at Island Breath.

Comments 172

  • here is a link to the history channel…prophets of doom…nate hagans of theoildrum said they were told the title would be ‘the Future’ something; & he would not have participated if he had known how they would present it. it has a fella who specializes in Water quality….to reinforce dr. house’s point.

    btw where we are ..part of a metro area…there is a ‘matal that can’t be removed; & is above limits acceptable in some states; & we own a lot/building 90 mi. away; village like place, & there one of 3 wells is now contaminated from a previous business there.

  • Before WWII some Jewish people could see the handwriting on the wall and got out of Germany. As we know many millions did not. No doubt those who stayed told those leaving that they were viewing the world in apocalyptic terms. Even when on the trains to the extermination camps the rumors of gas chambers did not believe that death waited them at the end of the ride.

    Of course some people one time expecting an apocalypse that does occur does not prove that all who expect it are always right. Of course Christians have been doing that for two thousand years and have always been wrong. The difference is that Christians base their ideas on interpretations of obscure texts, and often, although they would not admit it, on good old fashioned numerology. Predictions of the end of industrial civilization are based on the depletion of the source of energy used by that civilization which has been plentiful and is unique. Alternative energies to date have not replicated its pentitude and uniqueness. Nor have any been produced without using oil in their production. Promised salvations come and go, making no dent in the future trajectory we are on. Fusion power stubbornly remains behind the corner it was said to be just around about 50 years ago. It is not really hard to come up with some prediction of apocalypse for the end of the age of oil just based on what we have left and how long it will last.

    As Dr. House points out water is vital to human life, and clean water to human health. How many people would know where to get water if the local water plant shuts down. We here live 2 miles from water that flows all year. Hand dug wells dried up years ago, and people are now having problems with water supply with drilled wells. Local water has reached many residents so that they have stopped thinking about water. In a local town near us people are not allowed to drill for water on their property. People in the past all knew where their water came from and how to get it. No one settled in towns and cities where there was not accessible water for the people. That is not the case today When the power to water plants goes out all hell breaks loose.

    When the plague hit Europe and wiped out 30 percent of the population, the remaining population was able to continue life as before, just with less people. The knowledge base was intact, the tools remained and there were more tools per person, not to mention more land per person. The infrastructure to support their lifestyle remained intact. Blacksmith shops still existed etc. Our first and second world population are going to have the wrong knowledge base, lack many of the tools to live a more simple, electricity free lifestyle, lack the appropriate infrastructures for a simpler lifestyle. Our infrastructures include roads which will be useful but without powered equipment they will actually quickly become less passable than a dirt or gravel road.

    I could write scenarios of all sorts of changes when we no longer have oil and other fossil fuels that I am confident would be very close to accurate. What is more dicey is predicting when in the next 30 years it starts to all fall apart. The empire is certainly doing everything it can to hold it together. The whole capitalist economy needs growth to work. Growth is not possible with oil declining. At some point it collapses and the more oil, coal, uranium, natural gas left in the ground unused the better. If we burn it all we are surely toast.

    The idea that some of us here believe in total collapse because it is some popular delusion is bunk. That some people in the peak oil movement have some doomish wish, or are just infected with a popular trendy idea is likely true. Lots of data has been put forward by Guy and others pointing to the likelihood of an early collapse.

    I suppose in a way it is like getting free of religion. Things that you are told seem sensible when you are in the grip of religion. After you break free you look back and say “how could I have ever believed that”. You find yourself stunned by the world view you held that you now know is a pile of crap.

    I think that most of the planet is in the grip of a strange religion called capitalism that says we can have infinite growth on a finite planet. Others are in the grip of industrialism, the fruits of which are so tasty that they cannot see the devastation wreaked on other humans and the planet. Unfortunately those people will not have the luxury that I had after I got free of religion. They will not be able to look back and say “what silly beliefs I had” because unlike religious beliefs which can be discarded without any physical consequences (except that Sundays become free for other pursuits), the events that discredit the trust in capitalism and industrialism will be discredited only by collapse of the global civilization we live in.

    To echo Guy’s comments above “As the industrialized world comes apart at the seams, I’m about done waiting for people to get it. Increasingly, it’s becoming a matter of waiting to see it get them.” That may sound harsh, but it reflects the deep frustration in trying to convey the direness of the situation, the nearness of disaster. Unfortunately when collapse “gets” those who don’t get it, it takes the children as well. I don’t talk much about my grandchildren because that hurts too much. They will not have normal first world lives. They likely will not have very long lives. The idea that I predict a future in which that happens because I am afflicted with a current popular delusion is rubbish.

  • Victor.

    BTW, I don’t think “doomerism” is popular at all. Most people laugh at us. ‘

    He who laughs last laughs longest (loudest).

    Why do we laugh? I believe it is an adaptation of the chimpanzee appeasement signal melded with the fear signal.

    I have noticed a significant number of ‘visitors’ who come for a short time and then disappear. Presumably there aren’t enough happy chapters in this narrative. Yet collapse of the currrent corrupt, inefficient, omnicidal, suicidal system is actually the best news we could possibly present.

  • Kevin

    ‘Yet collapse of the currrent corrupt, inefficient, omnicidal, suicidal system is actually the best news we could possibly present.’

    I know I can always count on you for my daily dose of over-flowing optimism…. :-)


    You describe our world as one in which human living is abstracted from Nature. In virtually every aspect of our lives, there is a “middleman” between us as individuals and nature. The hospital for birth. The water plant for potable water. The supermarket for food. The home builder for shelter. The power plant for heat. The Industrial slave for clothes. The employer for fiat money. Government services for waste disposal, police and fire protection. The transport system to move ourselves and our goods.

    Most people have no idea how to live without these middlemen. Actually confronted with Nature, they would panic. And I include myself on that list!… ;-)

  • @ Kevin.
    … people disappear…
    Concerning myself, I keep on reading, although this page and the replies are some of the hardest, most “cruel” and then most credible in arguments that make sense, to be found. To me it is hardly a place to cheer up, but I want to know more, understand more, even if it does not make one feel better so far.
    for months now I have been thinking if ( in theory) this homo “sapiens” could think of a scenario , where homo sapiens sapiens was able to bring down this system without crashing it (and immediate collapse)
    when trying to do so.
    I know science fiction, but I’d like to have a glimpse of illusion.

  • Most people (and I don’t include you, Guy) that say there’s no way oil could get to $200/barrel maintain some sort of faith in the fairness and value of money, that in times of calamity things such as property rights will be honored, debts paid, etc.

    They also assume they’ll get to keep driving, eating out, eating, period.

    By the time we get aroung to QE 7, you might be telling your great grandkids about the day that gasoline was only $8/gallon and everyone had a car.

    Chuck Bowden once wrote a book called Juarez: the laboratory of our future. Even Chuck fails to realize how prophetic those words may be.

  • kathy
    [btw i don’t like writing this but it needs to be reinforced]
    ‘How many times can we avoid nuclear war? ‘

    two things came to mind when i learned of peak oil. the grid, & nuclear war.

    orlov says that we will likely have such a loss of technical capability quickly that nuclear war[a big war] will be averted. let’s hope…& perhaps he is right as my scenario is that the disadvantages of nuclear war are evident when there is still hope for collapse being temporary…which will be rampant for many politicians. the military usually sees the clearest when these the chips are down so they may see collapse for what it is sooner…though.

    when i let the possibility of nuclear war in..mentally …i got physically ill…a powerful but thankfully short term stress related illness. the thoughts of our children, & grandchildren haunted me. [i get hot typing this…i did have on a down jacket].

    one other thought is that a serious regional nuking[possibly the middle east] might create a stumbling block…mentally to using nukes between the major powers.

    this issue…like saving the planet may well be reason to hope for a fast collapse.

  • I get confused. Some people talk about civilisation collapsing and those remainig returning to hunter gatherers. Some talk of returning to the Dark Ages. I’m hoping desperately that it’s the Dark Ages because I just can’t see myself as a hunter gatherer. Maybe it depends on how soon the Collapse happens and how severe Climate Change is. I’ve been gathering items to set up a blacksmith’s forge with an old timer to teach me. Farmers who live around here heat their forges with charcoal that comes from their wood fire. I’m also trying to find examples of successful regenerative farmers who live in areas that have much lower average annual rainfall than we do (650 mm per annum). I found a wonderful, inspirational and educational story about a small farmer in Africa in a book called “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond” by Brad Lancaster. I wanted to write it out for this blog, but then found it on the web. Here’s the link
    The book itself is well worth reading and should be in every small farming communities library.

  • Kevin,

    Well said, in reply to Gary. I live on the western edge of the Chicago area. Within a long walk of hand pumps in the forest preserves. How long will that line be for the only safe source of water?

    His attitude will be, “Gee, I didn’t think it would be that bad!”.

  • Black swans are on the rise, according to this article in today’s Business Insider.

    I have plenty of company with my prediction of light’s out in American Empire by the end of 2012, as I pointed two months ago. In fact, my forecast is conservative relative to the 60 or so people referenced in that essay. As of a couple weeks ago, we can add Mac Salvo and a couple of his friends to the list.

  • kathy
    enjoying my chickens…i left the gate open into another acre for them & they took 2 weeks venturing far, but did finally yesterday, & are out there very early, & eagerly this am…hope those hawks don’t get one. our rooster[& a few hens]seem not so adventurous possibly due to his near death experience with our boxer/aussie.

  • Guy,

    The graph in the article that you cited above shows two trends. Though it does show a rise in natural disasters, it also shows a fairly stable level of large events, the ones that might mean serious trouble for us. As for the rising graph, the author himself suggests that it may result more from better reporting than from any real change.

    Also, this graph looks at a short period of time. I’m not sure what a longer view would show.

  • Nicole, my guess is that we will go down the way we came up only faster. Maybe some people will be able to fashion some semblance of Dark Ages and hold there at least for a while, maybe it is all the way back to the Stone Age. So my advice is pick a way of living that is as simple as you can imagine yourself living in or one that just appeals to you and prepare for that by doing things that give you pleasure. A blacksmith’s forge and instructions from an old timer sound pretty interesting so why not do that and just don’t worry about where we will all end up. It may just be that the powers in the world will get stuck in the last man standing game and let all the nukes fly. Wouldn’t it be sad to have made preparations for something that you don’t like and then whosh we are all ash?

    But you might also find enjoyment in learning what wild plants are edible. I have gotten great pleasure out of learning about chickweed and lambsquarters and encouraging them in my garden. They are so hardy and largely free of pests. Each time I learn a new edible plant it gives me pleasure. While I will never make it as a hunter gatherer I have enjoyed my little bits of gathering.

    Sam, oh lucky chickens, a new pasture to pick and graze in. I will invoke all the gods of chicken protection for your birds. :) Yesterday am we had a rain, and right after the birds were out pulling worms to their hearts content. Nice sight.

    Re the Japan nuke plant I heard they were planning to drop water from helicopters to try cool one of the plants but the radiation was too high so they abandoned it. Oh well if they have a unihabitable zone such as they did in Chernobyl that will be one area they don’t have to rebuild.

  • According to the headline of this article, “Melting Glaciers Trigger Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanos: Geologists Say Global Warming Expected to Cause Many New Seismic Events”

  • @Guy
    truly makes sense.

    A link, just how is it possible that people can write such rubbish, are we as mankind that insane?

    This piece actually is not worth reading, on the other hand, yesterday and today there was a woman – some expert from UK – telling on TV that the (so far) outcome of the nuclear disaster actually was proof of the superior quality of engineering.

    When the hammer has smashed a finger, this is just proof of the superior quality forged hammer?
    What makes people argue like this?

  • Guy.

    It’s a pity the graphs only go to 2007. I’m sure most of us have the preception the frequency and magnitude of disasters has been very high over the past three years …. thinking of the disastrous fires in Victoria, Australia, followed by inundation of much of eastern Australia, the heatwave in Russia, the Pakistan floods, the droughts in the Amazon and Argentina, tornadoes in the US in January, Christchurch, and now NE Japan ….. many events being symptomativc of a warmer planet. And apparently belief in global warming in the US has hit a new low! WASF, as Ted would say.


    ‘I think that most of the planet is in the grip of a strange religion called capitalism that says we can have infinite growth on a finite planet.’

    I said something very similar to that to the local council three years ago. They didn’t get it because they didn’t want to. Indeed, they don’t get anything I said over a period of four years because they don’t want to.

    I have conme to understand that the general populace of all western nations are trained from an early age to believe in industrialism. Belief in industrialism is a kind of mental illness and it is pandemic. Such is the degree of brainwashing that most people have become unreachable (Jensen). Industrial disease is treatable but the victim has to want to be treated. And most don’t.

    However, there is a tiny portion of all industrial populations who can think for themselves, so we might diirect our efforts to reaching them.

    Another way of looking at it is this: most people living in western societies are not aware of the extent they have been lied to. (I always have diificulty constructing that sentence – Most people are unaware of the extent to which they have been lied to?) The lives of most people living in western societies are immersed in lies and consist of acting out the lies of the empire. Anything which falls ouside the complex amalgum of lies is rejected.

    It increasingly seems that, like the Jews who were transported across Europe, people severely afflicted with industrial disease will only fully understand the nature of their predicament ‘when the gas canisters start releasing the contents’.

  • Kathy/Kevin,

    According to Harris and others, about 16% of a population are religious non believers. Most of them probably have things figured out. Most of the rest, probably not.
    Critical thinking and acting in concert with it takes too much time, energy, and responsibility. I like to think that being a heretic is a survival trait (it can also be fun.) As Guy says of the deniers, just wait to see them get it.

  • Curtis, I am just now reading the section in Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds on witch hunts. It was asserted by one prosecutor that since proving someone was a witch was so hard in court, any accusation should be considered proof or otherwise no one would be convicted. Interesting logic. Then there was the proof by water – if you sunk and drown you weren’t a witch, if you didn’t drown you were and were burned. And of course the favorite proof of all time, proof by confession given after torture. Funny that one we still use.

    Since I think we will see some of the crimes of the way up repeated on the way down, announcing you are a heretic might be dangerous :) I have questioned myself, could I go to church, fold my hands, sing the hymns to avoid being labeled a heretic if it comes to that. I know the hymns, know the proper things to say, but I think I couldn’t do it. So I hope we rush back through that stage very very quickly.

  • Japan’s Kirishima erupts after the Sendai Earthquake

  • Kathy,

    Thanks, I have considered the risks and don’t make full public disclosures.
    Harris also has some interesting stories about witch hunts. The estimate is about 40 – 50 k witch victims over about 400 years. It got to the point that some of the accusers were accused of being witches, at which point it started to taper off.

    I went to a Catholic university(’61-’66)! In one particular philosophy class I raised issues and made comments and objections that even then the loving Christians wanted to burn me. I would not back down, and gleefully kept poking them.

    You should love God.
    Suppose I don’t.
    But you should.
    But suppose I don’t.
    Then God will punish you.
    Ho, ho! God’s gonna get me!

  • Kathy,

    You have triggered my memory.
    When I was in 7th & 8th grade, I lived across the street from a mental institution named, Midwest Bible Academy. Some of may school friends went there on some weekday evening. The attraction was some group games, and a “root beer relay”. The savages mostly were running in and out of all the doors and around the parking lot chasing each other and whooping it up. After they were exhausted and sweaty, the organizers would round them up, sit them on folding chairs in this big room, and close and guard the doors.
    Then a leader would say, ‘let us bow our heads and pray”. I looked around and thought, “Curtis you made a big mistake”. I almost threw up all that root beer.
    This was a good demo of sub-human behavior.

    Thanks for getting me to remember that. I have been laughing as I was typing.

  • Victor,

    Thanks for your detailed response. I didn’t fall asleep. I don’t have much doubt that much of what you suggest is not just possible but likely, though I don’t think it will happen as quickly as you and others do.

    Guy began this post with comments on people talking about $200 oil; even $350 oil, but oil right now is $97. There is no doubt that oil extraction will one day start a permanent decline; before that exports will decline as producing countries keep more for themselves. Our difference, I think, is about timing. Barring a catastrophic event in the Middle East that drastically reduces oil production, this process is going to go on for a while. Most countries would start to adapt, though how successfully I don’t know. Right now Americans are using about 10% less crude than we were in 2007, partly because our economy remains depressed, partly because cars are becoming more efficient.

    As gas prices continue upward, if they do, then demand will decline. Americans waste lots of gasoline, so could cut back if need be. If things got worse, the government could step in and ration gas, make sure diesel is available, etc. It isn’t like everything will freeze up if oil gets expensive, unless it takes a horrendous jump all of a sudden.

    That doesn’t mean that things won’t deteriorate–I think they will, no matter what. I would like to see stringent controls on reproduction, but those aren’t coming either. Reproductive freedom is disastrous, but no one likes to talk about it. I agree with you and others that economic growth is unsustainable, but I don’t see anyone stopping it. Most economists fail to understand the very model they worship, which is why I pay little attention to what economists say and refer to the growth model as Ponzinomics.

    I would not argue with anyone that Earth can sustain more than about one billion people, if that. A friend and I talk about BTOB (back to one billion). I would just like to see us move in the right direction before it is too late. I know many on this blog think it already is too late, and you may be right.

    Kathy or someone talked about the grid going down, but there isn’t “a” grid. The distribution of power is a bit more complicated than that.

    I’m glad you didn’t add in global warming, but you would find no argument with me, I suspect.

  • Discover Magazine insists that the so-called supermoon didn’t cause the Japanese earthquake. I’m not usually prone to leaping to conclusions based on my own meager scientific education, nor am I the conspiratorial sort, but the certainty of the dismissal seems to me unwarranted considering how poorly earthquakes and volcanoes are understood.

  • Brutus,

    When the quake happened, the moon was at 90 degrees (approx.) to the sun, 3rd quarter. So, there was not the additive effect that you get at full and particularly new moons. From what I have read, the slightly closer perigee is not significant.

  • Gary, I know in the US there are multiple grids. If one grid goes down it can be repaired. When I talk about the whole grid going down in the US I mean all the separate grids going down at the same time or one by one until none is left standing. If lack of energy and repair take them down they will likely go down section by section, bit by bit. If an EMP attack or extra strong solar flares are the immediate cause they can go down all at once. I am sorry I didn’t clarify myself.

    You will note that most of the workers on the nuke plant in Japan have been pulled off. One person who used to work in the industry says that they needed all 800 to deal with just one plant. Pulling most of them out he said was tantamount to giving up. If grid collapse is gradual I can envision a point where the problems become so multiple that people just give up.

    I have read that some of the electric lines that run under NYC are almost 100 years old. Of late people are getting shocked and manhole covers blowing off when sparks and gases in the pipes mix.
    ‘ATLANTIC CITY — Manhole covers blew high in the air for the third day in a row Tuesday, putting pedestrians and motorists on edge in the resort – and leaving some residents without power.
    Fire Chief Dennis Brooks said he was giving an interview to WMGM-TV 40 on Tuesday about one of the bizarre underground explosions on St. James Place when another of the 200-pound manhole covers on a sidewalk near him shot 10 feet in the air trailed by a yellowish-orange arc of electricity.
    Brooks said an electrical short from one of the underground utility boxes apparently caused the arc. And just as the sound of thunder is caused by the rapid expansion of superheated air from lightning, the resulting electrical explosion created a deafening boom…And in New York, these explosions have occurred with such regularity this year that New Yorkers merely shrug, the Huffington Post’s columnist Tom Bisky wrote in July.
    “We appear to be creating a Gotham-specific layer of new meaning for the acronym IED: Ignorable Everyday Disaster,” Bisky wrote.”


    chris martenson sending out an alert… a good read on how financial impact of the nuclear disaster may be a weight on the global economy..

  • Gary

    Timing is indeed a issue. The two main questions for me in that regard are:

    When will oil production begin its terminal decline in earnest?

    How long will it take for the events I described to happen?

    Both these questions are as yet unanswered, as you have rightfully surmised. However, I would remind you that though America, and Europe as well, have reduced somewhat their oil consumption, that reduced demand is being more than offset by consumption in the Asia/Pacific area – China, specifically – and the Middle East where oil producers must contend with the growing needs of their own burgeoning populations.

    And whilst, due to recessionary pressures, oil demand growth is either slowing in some countries like even China, or reducing in others like the USA, yet demand is expected to exceed supply over the next decade. And if demand approaches or exceeds supply, we can expect more price spikes and recessionary cycles.

    But it must be pointed out that even if world oil production levels out year on year, we are yet producing some 60-62 mb/day (crude oil, not equivalent liquids) all the while with only limited ability to increase production – indeed, many experts are coming around to the position that we can no longer increase production at all – which, of course, is why prices are so volatile in recent years and getting more so.

    The point here is that even the IEA expects significant drop-off of production between 2012 and 2015. Naturally they say other oil will come on line to make up for that shortage, but many question that. If all goes according to current graphs, the world should need over 1 full Saudi Arabia in new production by around 2017. That is simply not going to happen.

    And it might well be pointed out that there probably exists a discretionary oil consumption v a non-discretionary oil consumption rate; i.e., I believe there is a minimum level of oil consumption beyond which we cannot move without serious harm beginning to occur. What I mean by that is that during a recessionary cycle, we will experience a downturn in demand, but only to a point – probably something less than a 5% cushion. That is significant. It is like unemployment. During the Great Depression some 20-30% of the global workforce was unemployed (depending on the country). But what that is saying is that 70-80% were employed – doing jobs necessary to keep life as known functioning – only the discretionary bits of industry were affected. Same with oil consumption. Start biting into that 95% non-discretionary and bad things start happening.

    And it is likely worse than I have suggested, because a lot of the oil we consume has a high EROEI. And much of that is being rapidly consumed and being replaced by oil with a much lower EROEI, which means that we not only have to pump more at a higher cost to get the same “bang for the buck”, but we have to expand our refining facilities around the world to handle “dirty” oil. That is not happening. So the outlook is rather grim over the next few years.

    What we will probably see sometime in the period 2012-2015 is a significant cut into that 95% non-discretionary production rate, causing disruption and turmoil across the world, thus triggering the vicious downward spiral I previously mentioned.

    No, we can’t predict it with accuracy yet, but such a scenario has a high probability in my mind.

  • Now this starts “The strongest effect may be on the fairly significant portion of the environmentalist public that had come, in recent years, to grudgingly support more nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuels, with their concomitant chemical and particulate pollution and their devastating greenhouse-gas impact.”

    This is part of the insanity. The majority of the “evironmentalists” don’t know shit. Do they really think that the only thing you can do to save the planet is substitute one power (supposedly cleaner) for another and continue BAU with the world saved? Do they know how much “unclean” power is needed to build and feed uranium to nuclear plants? Do they think about all the waste fuel still not “permanently stored”? Do they not realize that CO2 is not the only pollutant they should be worried about? Do they think that in an age of lower ERoEI we will do a better job of keeping nuclear safe in the future?

    Orlov has a post on the subject – He concludes “And now I will say it again: Shut it all down. All of it. Now. Please.”

    Now is not soon enough. OK early morning, read the news rant over. Sadness sets in.

    “However, CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod reports that a handful have stayed on the job, risking their lives, to try to save the lives of countless people they don’t even know. The exact number of workers is unclear and has been reported to be anywhere from 50 to 180.

    Although communication with the workers inside the nuclear plant is nearly impossible, a CBS News consultant spoke to a Japanese official who made contact with one of the workers inside the control center.

    The official said that his friend told him that he was not afraid to die, that that was his job.”

  • To support the assertion that things are rolling out of control and heading towards collapse, one can use the changes in writing from those analysts that have been calmly reporting peak oil up to now. Here’s another, Tom Whipple, former gov’t analyst says:

    Events seem to be moving faster and faster these days. Perhaps it is due to the new ways of communicating that are now available. Or maybe it is the speed of travel or even that there are now nearly seven billion of us running around on the earth making more things happen. Anyway it is coming to the point that one’s world outlook has to be modified every few months as the old ways of looking at things are changed by events.

  • The typically unflappable Chris Martenson, who charges his clients $500/hour to tell them they have many years to prepare, hits the panic button:

  • The latest from Greer, Still can’t bring himself to say, “imminent collapse”, but worth the read. Gets into goofyland at the end.

  • Curtis, you beat me to it – I was going to mention Greer and his ability to point out the strange beliefs of others while hanging on to his own delusions. But I was too busy appeasing the gods with a sacrifice of chickens and after I boil the meat off the bones, later in the day I will toss the bones to see if they tell me the future :)

    Whew this processing of your own meat is work!

  • Kathy,

    Greer has been on insulation advice of late, that you can get from Home Depot.

    He looks too much like a clansman in that goofy outfit.

    Did you read my religion related postings from last afternoon?

    Teaching bone tossing may be a valuable skill in the near future. Love that. Is that like the priest swinging the smoking lantern?

  • Somebody is getting it…..

    Martenson does indeed seem to be a bit on the excited side…perhaps he needs an increase in membership? You know people actually PAY to get access to his site (and lofty advice). Also Mike Ruppert’s site is going ballistic these days. FEAR everywhere! You have to pay to get his fear as well.

    At least your fear is free…. :-) And your advice – priceless!

  • Kathy/Curtis

    I understand your feelings about mainstream religions. Since the beginning of time, they have been run often by very corrupt people leading their followers in many acts of mischief. This is well documented.

    But I might also add that a person’s religion is quite often their source of strength and hope in an otherwise dismal world, regardless of how others might perceive it.

    To constructively criticise religion is acceptable. To ridicule it is quite another thing. It offends people of faith, and in the end does no good whatsoever for anyone, including your own esteem.

  • Regarding probability of scenarios – here is one from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – : As to the likelihood of a severe core melt accident, in 1985 the NRC acknowledged that, over a 20-year period, the likelihood of a severe core melt accident to be basically 50/50 among the 100 nuclear power plants—there’s 104 now—in the United States. As reported by Karl Grossman, investigative journalist and professor of journalism at SUNY College at Old Westbury. He is author of several books on the nuclear industry.


    jim rogers thinks something is going to happen with ‘the dollar’; & he may buy it…but if it heads down he thinks it is all over for the dollar…which he thought would be true on a few years’ basis; now one way or the other in a few weeks.

    [my ramble] the US financial giants can all lean to one side; & bring the markets[global] down [imo]& create flight to the dollar…i presume… rogers points out that the dollar should be going up with the ‘fear’ but isn’t. maybe not enough fear. then perhaps we get stoneleigh’s [of automatic earth] scenario; or a bond market/dollar crisis; anyway seems the financial folks sense something too…a lot going on.i wish i didn’t care how or what happens; but i still have some major maneuvers to make!

  • sam

    On the financial scene, it is really hard to tell where things are headed yet as concerns the dollar. I wish I had a clear view, but like everyone else, I find myself waiting.

  • Brent crude is nearing $115…

  • Victor,

    I understand your criticism, and am aware that many people seek comfort in it, often without apparent harm. To use the term mischief is an understatement. Countless people have suffered and died for their beliefs and those of others. Not only perpetrated by the corrupt, but more often by true believers. All well documented as I am sure you know. Today in the U.S. the true believers are a major hindrance to social, and political progress. Creationism and other nonsense should not be treated with the respect of just another opinion.
    The politicians consistently treat the believers as gullible, and cynically exploit them.
    As it is rational thought often takes centuries to make a single point.
    I would never advocate force, as many religious people seem to want, but when confronted with a push, I push back and think ridicule is a better defense than force.
    Better philosophers than I, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris and others, have used this technique.
    Countless, writers, poets, and comedians have also.
    All counter arguments are welcome.

  • Victor,
    Re: turning points.

    Many will only be seen in the review mirror if they happen to someone else, unless they are what we have seen this last week. The ones that change our own behavior, we will notice immediately.

  • Curtis, I read your religious posts last night, went to bed and forgot about them. You seem to have come to your senses earlier in life than I did. And been more gutsy about speaking your mind :)

    Victor, sometimes the only way to deal with religion is to ridicule it. Its not just that people dress up in fancy silly clothes. They also use the planet’s resources to do so. (The pope and his men being the worst offenders) Then, they use the respect they get from being in fancy clothes to hold sway over others, sometimes to the point of buggering altar boys. Wise people don’t need fancy clothes to spread their wisdom and know that that is so. Nor do they need incantations to speak truth.

    Religion gives some people hope and comfort, but what is often missed is that it can give them false hope and comfort that abandons them and even puts them at fault for the problems they face. Yep, I belonged for a time to a rural church where members said if someone was sick it was because of a sin. Churches have nice mother’s day sermons where the all holy mom is praised and children told to obey. Well what if your mother is abusing you – who do you think is at fault if the church says mom is always saintly. I had a friend who was baptist – she told me every year at lent she would put up a picture of Jesus and give her Sunday School students a rope and tell them to lash Jesus. When they would refuse she would tell them that they were lashing Jesus every time they disobeyed their parents. Some sensitive kid probably took that to heart and beat themselves up internally because of it. I had a neighbor who was very religious. She used a belt on her 2 year old to prevent him from going astray as saving his soul was more important than his psyche.

    Because of religion I was myself driven to the brink of suicide – I could never find myself good enough because I made the mistake of taking religion seriously. Had I been surrounded by people who poked fun at religion perhaps I would have not gotten into that state of mind.

    There are other ways to get hope and comfort and solace than religion. Some sessions with a cognitive therapist for instance. One can care deeply about the earth without invoking Mother Gaia. One can feel connected to nature without believing that you have a soul or that nature does.

    If it is not OK to poke fun at religion it is not OK to poke fun at anyone unless you actually believe there is something valid about religion. In fact we could extend it, saying it is not OK to poke fun at anything that some other people respect or get hope from. John Stewart and Colbert would be prime offenders . No ridiculing Sarah Palin (who gives hope to the T-partiers) or Michelle Bachman (who gives hope to the climate deniers) or Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, or Bill O’Reilly.

    Sorry for the long rant, but you hit a really sore spot there. I spent too long berating myself for not being good enough to let myself be chastised for poking fun at religion.

  • Curtis

    I see where you are going with your position, but to me you are making a mistake common to us all at some point – you are generalising. All believers are not rabid fundamentalists. All believers do not advocate violence and seek to burn witches at the stake. All believers do not attack evolution – I do, but that’s another story… ;-)

    Many believers are hard-working family people who have a simple belief in their God – whatever form that God might take. They rely heavily upon their faith and would not harm anyone. They don’t make a lot of noise where others do – it’s the same for Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and so many others. Throw your darts at specific people – not a whole group – and you’ll have no argument from me at all… :-)

  • Curtis
    Sortilege (cleromancy). This consists of the casting of lots, or sortes, whether with sticks, stones, bones, beans, coins, or some other item. Modern playing cards and board games developed from this type of divination.

    too late for Extispicy (from Latin extispicium) is the practice of using anomalies in animal entrails to predict or divine future events.[1] Organs inspected can include the liver, intestines, lungs, or other major organs. The animal used for extispicy must often be ritually pure and slaughtered in a special ceremony.[citation needed]

  • Kathy,

    Certainly humour plays a part in getting a serious message across. And I am sorry that you have had such a poor experience in life with these people (though I must say I find it hard to believe that they are representative of believers everywhere). But to throw up such examples of vial people and say that justifies such vitriol against all people of faith is to me unfair.

    I think to single out an entire group of people is the wrong example to set. I believe we should stick to the issues, not engage in personal attacks. If I disagree with Sarah Palin or the Tea party over an issue, I will discuss the issue – not resort to calling Palin or the Tea Partier names and attacking their persons.

  • Curtis/Kathy

    Apologies for the outburst – that was unfair and should have been taken off-line. I’ll try not to do that again….though I must admit to a miserable record on personal pledges… ;-)

    I must be having a bad day….maybe tomorrow will be sunnier.

  • Victor,

    I do not wish to monopolize this space with this one topic. Your point of generalization is valid to extent that many religious people are often Sunday believers and don’t give it much thought the rest of the week, and are therefore not aggressors.
    I recently worked for a manager that I would describe as a “foaming at the mouth christian”. He would try to interrupt the work I was being paid to do by the company we were working for, and I would either ignore him, or say, “I have to get this done”.
    The lesser force of religion has been hard earned by heretics across the ages. The religious are more tolerant because they have learned that we fight back. My experiences were in defending myself in an open classroom. I raised what I thought where valid issues. All of my classmates could not handle the issues and became threatening to me. In that case, I gave it my best defense, a smart mouth. They threw the first punch. I don’t go looking for fights. This was an undergraduate ethics class taught by a lay professor who was probably too fair and did not last long. He did not force us to drink the kool aid.

  • Victor,

    No apology necessary. A lively exchange. We all learn something.

    Thanks for getting us to expand and clarify our positions.


    I reserve the right to call Cheney, evil.

  • Victor, I hear your point, and perhaps drawing attention to the Archdruid’s clothing was unfair but I have found in life that taking on titles (in JMG’S case surprisingly close to Catholic titles) and clothing that separates you from the “flock” as the important one, the knowing one, the leader, are dangerous precedents. Such people tend to get inflated with their own importance. JMG writes some stuff of worth about the problems we face but then dilutes it with hopeful scenarios. I think his religious bent leads him in that direction, and his presenting himself as Grand Archdruid AODA might lead his followers to think he has more wisdom than others. Dangerous.

    I wrote my strong post not just in response to you, and I apologize if it felt like an attack back. It is just that I have come to believe that religion is NOT innocuous. And it is not just harmful in some of its more vile manifestations, but the whole premise of prayer and incantations reinforces the magical thinking that we humans are so prone to (knock on wood). And despite the good done in various religious names, despite the good people who practice religion, and despite the more earth friendly pagan religions that have reappeared, I find the whole enterprise to be overall dangerous to the planet. The pain I have felt and I know others have as well added to the intensity of my post.

  • PS Victor – did you know George Washington was a Mason as were others who founded the US – a thing many have worked hard to forget and to prevent young student from finding out. Can a poke a bit of fun at King George Washington in his Masonic apron?
    And a close up with all the symbolism explained
    :) ?

  • Kathy,

    Wow! You are a wealth of knowledge about the weird. Seriously. Thank you.

    I second your last post.

  • I have been saying for about three years that it’s surreal ‘out there’. Surreality has just been taken to new heights.

    I don’t watch much television, but it is useful to occasionally hear what the proles are being told.

    Amid the deepening crisis in Japan and talk of repatiation of funds leading to worldwide financial instability (that on top of numerous Europen nations having recent credit rating downgrades and suffering from very high levels of unemployment, and in the US numerous municipalities going broke), we are told that most markets have risen on the basis of recovery and high levels of confidence in the US and Europe. Even the Nikkei fell only a little as systems failure in Japan was there for all to see.

    We know it’s all a rigged game, but unfortunately most people still believe the nonsense churned out by the mainsttream media.

  • Kevin,

    I get the feeling that the stock market numbers are arrived at not by honest calculation, but by some troll entering them.

  • thanks kevin
    i guess as jim puplava says too much printed money sloshing around looking for a temporary home. his saying is the fed used to lower interest rates til something broke; now they will print $ until something breaks. yes surreal.

  • Maybe they use divination to come up with the stock market numbers?


    jamrs rickarts interview….midway…”we don’t have markets; we have theater”

  • Another panic button moment?

    (Independent UK)

    Emergency G7 meeting called as yen hits record high

    By Sean O’Grady, Economics Editor

    Friday, 18 March 2011

    At the worst possible moment for Japan’s economy, the yen has surged to all-time highs against the US dollar and other currencies, making life for its hard-pressed exporters, already battling with disruptions to supply chains and power, even more difficult.

    Finance ministers of the G7 group of leading economies discussed last night how they might ease the situation, with market expectations mounting that there may be a campaign of direct intervention by the world’s major central banks to drive the yen lower in these extreme conditions.

    The yen rocketed to 76.25 against the dollar during trading yesterday, in effect its highest-ever level, and hovered around those peaks for much of the session. The immediate cause is “repatriation” – some of the vast funds held by Japanese households and businesses abroad in dollar, euro, sterling and other currencies now being sold and converted to yen to pay for reconstruction and repair work at home.

    Traders also said that speculation in advance of such moves had also driven the Japanese currency higher. An unwinding down of the yen “carry trade”, where Japanese currency is borrowed at ultra-low interest rates and invested in higher-yielding Australian and New Zealand dollar funds has also contributed.

    The unhelpful trends in currency markets have developed despite strenuous efforts by the Bank of Japan to flood the system with yen, through successive bouts of quantitative easing, which usually has, as a side effect, a profundly depressing effect on the value of a currency.

    The Bank of Japan yesterday morning offered emergency funds for a fourth consecutive day, offering ¥5 trillion (£39bn) to the banks, and a further ¥1trn in the afternoon. On Monday the bank pumped ¥7trn into the system. Taking all operations into account, the bank of Japan has offered a total of ¥55.6trn in short-term funds in the past three days, helping to allay fears of a “credit crunch” and financial crisis to add to the natural and nuclear disasters that have overwhelmed her.

    Glenn Uniacke, a senior dealer at Moneycorp, said: “Everyone, from the man on the street through insurance firms to the central bank, has foreign-currency investments. Now, with homes and towns and power stations to rebuild and massive insurance claims to settle, they need their money back.”

    “So holdings denominated in dollars and pounds and euros and rand are being repatriated. That means buying yen. And nobody is selling, so the price goes up. The last thing Japan wants or needs right now is a strong yen but, for the moment, it looks as though it will have to live with one.”

    After a shaky start, equity markets in London, Europe and New York followed the lead from Tokyo’s stock marret bounceback.

    DETROIT (AP) — A shortage of parts from Japan will force General Motors Co. to halt production at its pickup plant in Shreveport, La., next week, the company said Thursday.

    We will see more such connections fail I expect.

  • This will probably be a sneak preview, with the main event still to come.

    Just consider, a week ago to suggest a scenario of this past week would have been outrageous. Now this is the new norm.

  • ‘Countless people have suffered and died for their beliefs and those of others. Not only perpetrated by the corrupt, but more often by true believers. All well documented as I am sure you know. Today in the U.S. the true believers are a major hindrance to social, and political progress. Creationism and other nonsense should not be treated with the respect of just another opinion.’ -curtis

    agreed. dogmatic, puritanical religion narrows, twists, and closes human minds. mother nature, it’s time to take out the trash.

    ‘Because of religion I was myself driven to the brink of suicide – I could never find myself good enough because I made the mistake of taking religion seriously. Had I been surrounded by people who poked fun at religion perhaps I would have not gotten into that state of mind.’

    i can relate, kathy, and again totally agree. as we approach ‘the end times’ perhaps, at least a few of us have gained the sense and grown the balls to tell the truth about this bullshit which has gone on too long with impunity. schools and religious institutions which serve elite interests must go! we cannot accomplish this, but collapse can!

  • Terry,

    I think most here agree that collapse will make wide spread human violence of all kinds very difficult or perhaps impossible. At 67, I like Guy, am willing to experience the chance to see a turn around in the path of destruction.

  • Kevin

    Looks like the big holders of the Yen are holding out to cash in on Japan’s misery by the sounds of it. Isn’t predatory capitalism wonderful?

  • Kathy

    Connections indeed! Many more will come out of the woodwork before this is done. What happens in one part of the world will significantly hurt other parts. This is a very good example of that. Equipment and parts suppliers and foundries keep the Global Mechanisms moving. Kill the parts industries and you kill civilisation. In my estimation, as I have indicated before, the parts/equipment factories/foundries of the world are not only among the 20% of the 20% but are economically among the most vulnerably exposed.

  • victor
    Looks like the big holders of the Yen are holding out to cash in on Japan’s misery by the sounds of it. Isn’t predatory capitalism wonderful?

    thanks…enough of an economic nubie that your way of putting this connected dots for me.

  • i appreciate u’ all intense discussion of religion!

  • Anybody tracking the fact that the tsunami that devastated Japan was not a typical sesmic event, in that there were no foreshocks at all? Ben Fulford thinks that the earthquake was caused by a nuclear detonation from a bomb buried miles deep off shore, drilled by a specialized sea vessel. This was done to extort Japan into surrending or folding in its monetary wealth into the western central bank regime. Japan has not buckled, and they are being threatened with a repeat performance – something to keep a watch for!