Global warming, population growth, and food supplies: When will Americans finally “get it”?

by Gary Peters

To borrow a line from Pete Seeger, “When will we ever learn?” If Karl Marx were alive today he would quickly see that television has become the opium of the people, dulling our senses and keeping our minds focused on trivial matters even as the world around us careens further out of control every day. What passes for national news media today is all corporate owned and dedicated to telling us as little as possible, placing virtually nothing in context, and talking to “experts” in thirty second sound bites. What they don’t tell us is often the stuff we really need to know.

My wife and I were having breakfast recently in a small local café. Near us two men were talking loudly enough to be overheard. Their conversation was focused on guns and the main theme was this: “Nobody is going to take my guns away.” One of them stated that he now had more than one thousand rounds of ammunition and was ready for anything. I still can’t imagine what he was getting ready for that would require a thousand rounds of ammunition, but at least in his own mind he was planning for the future as he perceived it. That is more than most Americans are doing! Our nation is suffering through a period of leadership failure that we can no longer ignore.

It may not be possible to predict the future, but we are going to get nowhere until most Americans realize that there are threats out there that we are not only not preparing for but our leaders are trying to keep us as ignorant as possible of. One of these is global warming, which is guaranteed to affect virtually all of us, not just in the United States but virtually everywhere. Even as many of our leaders, especially Republicans, remain in denial and assure us that all will be fine, scientists keep finding more supportive data all the time. Earth’s atmosphere is warming and humans are responsible, so we need to begin to think seriously about what we can do to slow the process and how we can adapt to changes that are coming our way. The ostrich approach that our nation has taken so far has not worked and will not work in the future.

The figure below, from the Oak Ridge National Lab, shows that in 2010 humans added more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than in any previous year. Despite knowing and talking about global warming and greenhouse gases for two decades or more, it is clear that the world is not actually biting the bullet.

China and the United States are the world’s leading emitters of carbon emissions, followed by India, Russia, and Japan. We know that the more carbon dioxide we add to the atmosphere, the warmer it will get. Denial will not change that fact, but it helps put off confronting it. As astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said in an interview a while back, “Science is true, whether you believe it or not.” Powerful interest groups—including fossil fuel producers, mediocre media, and paid-off politicians—have managed so far in this country to keep Americans bewildered about global warming. The fossil fuel industry alone has backed all kinds of misleading stories, tried to confound the science behind global warming, and won the hearts and minds of many Americans by telling them that it is OK to continue business as usual. Hey, folks, it is just a hoax, as such “thoughtful” people as Oklahoma’s Senator Inhofe have told us repeatedly. I agree with Mark Hertsgaard, who wrote, in his book Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth:

Deniers have a right to express their opinions, but it should not be an unfettered right. The U.S. government prohibits tobacco companies from running cigarette ads on television—why shouldn’t it prohibit companies from running misleading ads about climate change? And if deniers wish to testify before Congress, lobby government agencies, appear in the media, or otherwise influence public policy and debate, their audiences should be reminded of their track record on the issue and the deniers should be forced to defend their unscientific ranting. We don’t allow tobacco companies to decide public health policies; we shouldn’t allow fossil fuel companies and their dupes to decide climate policy.

Earlier this year much of the U. S. Heartland roasted; serious to extreme drought conditions across much of the southern tier of our nation occurred and have continued, as shown in the figure below. Withered crops are already visible in many parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and other states; without rain future planting will be marginal at best. Nonetheless, the governor of Texas and now Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry doesn’t think the science of global warming is settled. He did ask Texas citizens to pray for rain, however, but so far that hasn’t helped. With another La Nina developing right now and likely to extend through winter, it doesn’t look good for Texas. It doesn’t look good for Governor Perry either, but that is another story.

Even as extreme drought covers much of Texas and its neighbors, over in Thailand people are still dealing with excessive rainfall that has flooded sizable parts of the nation, including parts of Bangkok. Both of these events, whether directly related to global warming or not, are examples of what climatologists tell us to expect in the future—more weather extremes, from floods to droughts. Devastating recent floods in Italy have gone virtually unmentioned in major American media.

Despite overwhelming evidence that our atmosphere is warming, that it now contains more moisture than it did a few decades ago, that extreme weather events are becoming more common, that glaciers are melting almost everywhere, and that sea level is rising, Americans and most others are doing little to “stockpile a thousand bullets,” i.e. to plan for what is coming our way and to try to slow the process.

We were officially warned in 1988, when Dr. James Hansen testified before Congress about the approaching dangers of pumping more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Since then, not only has evidence of global warming piled up, most of that evidence shows that it has already arrived and is proceeding faster than most earlier predictions imagined possible. The great heat wave that killed thousands of people in Europe in the summer of 2003 provided clear evidence that we were leaving the old, fairly stable, climate regime behind.

The longer Americans and others remain in denial, and the more carbon dioxide (along with methane and other greenhouse gases) that we pump into the atmosphere, the more difficult it will be for future generations to cope with Earth’s changing climate. The asteroid that recently zoomed by Earth missed us, thank goodness, but global warming will not. It is here, it is real, and we should be thinking hard and acting fast both to mitigate further warming and to adapt to the warming that is already built into the atmosphere.

I know that there are skeptics out there, but most have no scientific credentials. Among others, I’m sorry to see some who take peak oil seriously shrug off global warming, in part, I guess, because they believe oil will be used less in the future, so we’ll have less carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere. Though they could be right, we’ve already added enough carbon dioxide to the atmosphere to make sustained warming a reality, but we are not ready. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has increased from 280 parts per million to 390 and it is still rising steadily; much of this is caused by humans and their burning of fossil fuels. In a recent essay on Energy Bulletin titled, “Peak oil: The Five most common misconceptions,” Robert Rapier, a chemical engineer, wrote the following:

So I think as far as peak oil goes, most of us can agree that just as it did in the U.S. in 1970, global oil production will inevitably decline. The points of contention are the timing, the steepness of the decline, the impact on the global economy, and the ability of other energy sources to fill the supply gap. Some believe it will be a non-event, and some people believe it will be catastrophic.

What do I believe? I think of peak oil as supply struggling to keep up with demand, which will keep prices at recession-inducing levels. I think that we will probably eek out a bit more global production, but I will be surprised if the world gets past 90 million barrels per day. I believe that shale gas and oil sands production will continue to rise, and global carbon emissions will continue their upward march.

His last sentence is absolutely correct and one more warning to us all. Whatever happens to oil extraction, when added to other fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas, we are assured that, unless we make positive attempts to curb them, carbon dioxide emissions will continue well into the future, guaranteeing our planet a measure of warming that humans will find hard to cope with. Hard is not impossible, but the time to act is now, not in 2050 or some other future date. We cannot wait until fossil fuels run out before we act.

The simple arithmetic of population growth, without massive changes in how we view humans and their purpose on Earth, assures that global warming, environmental degradation, famines, and other unacceptable threats to human life will continue. Like all animals, humans must have food and water to survive. Right now humanity experiences about 140 million births each year and about 60 million deaths, leaving us with a net gain of about 80 million people each year. Earth’s population has doubled since 1966. This year the human population reached seven billion; it reached 6 billion in 1999, only a dozen years ago.

One disconcerting trend in recent years has been toward high food prices, driven higher by a combination of weather problems, e.g. floods and droughts, population growth, greater affluence, agricultural subsidies in rich countries, and the growing use of crops, especially corn, to fuel vehicles rather than human bodies. The figure below is the latest from FAO; though prices in 2011 have trended a bit downward in recent months, overall prices remain very high.

According to the FAO’s Food Outlook, June 2011:

Halfway into this turbulent year and with new marketing seasons for major food crops commencing soon, this is a critical time to evaluate current developments in global food markets and to draw the early outlook for 2011/12. In a remarkable turn of events, earlier prospects for more comfortable supply situations and stable prices gave way to increasingly worrisome outlooks and to an escalation of international prices to levels not seen in decades. In fact, the FAO food price index in May stood at a ear historical high of 232 points, down only 6 points from the February record. While unfavourable weather was the main culprit, a host of other unpredictable factors negatively impacted stability in the food markets, including the catastrophe in Japan, an unprecedented wave of political unrests engulfing many countries in North Africa and the Near East, another strong increase in oil prices, prolonged uncertainty in financial markets and in the global economy.

Even as weather and other phenomena take their toll on agricultural production, still another variable lingers in the background. Modern agricultural production depends as never before on oil, yet even high oil prices have not recently brought forth large new supplies. The figure below is from a post by Gail Tverberg:

Will all this soon improve? Most modern economic theologians assure us that it will. Those two magic words, supply and demand, will wondrously bring food to the starving, cheap oil to the world, and that magic elixir, economic growth, shall pour forth again. Sadly, throughout the twentieth, and even into the twenty first centuries, a vast majority of people have believed this message, or at least tried to. Pushers, from Wall St. to the World Bank and IMF, tell the poor just to wait a little longer, do the right things, and all will be well. Even as toxic debt piles up in the cellars of banks around the world, the promise remains. Just wait and see!

In a recent post on her blog, Our Finite World, Gail Tverberg wrote:

People wonder what has been happening recently, with wildly gyrating financial markets and government debt problems. It seems to me that we are bumping up against an economic growth ceiling, brought on by a limited supply of cheap oil. As a result, we appear to be headed back into recession. Debt deleveraging can be expected to play an important role as well, and may cause this recession to be much worse than the last one.

Economists have always promised more than they could deliver, spreading the costs of growth around while concentrating the benefits in relatively few hands. If we look at a few other major trends in the world today it should be plain to people that we cannot continue on the path we’re on without experiencing more famines, further environmental degradation, and much harder lives for those already struggling most.

Source: Richard Heinberg, “Sneak Peak: Oil Age Presentation Script”

We could add some additional images to the above, including the following:

Source: United Nations. Note that projection for 7 billion is off by a couple of years already.

The most striking feature of all of the above graphs is their rapid upward trend. It shouldn’t take a nuclear physicist to point out that all of these trends are unsustainable on our only planet. As Kenneth Boulding wrote long ago, “Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”

Unfortunately, there are far too many of both in the world today, arguing even now that the answer to unemployment problems in the U.S. and elsewhere in the struggling world economy is economic growth. Old paradigms don’t die easily.

In an excellent recent post on her blog, Gail Tverberg wrote:

The problem we have is that the world’s population has grown to 7 billion people. If we substantially cut back on oil (or on fossil fuels in general), there is a question as to whether w will have enough food and water to support the 7 billion people alive today. If we had very many fewer people, we would have much less of a problem.

I could not agree more. As we continue to add more than 200,000 people to the planet each day, I cannot think of a single problem that adding more people will help solve. To a considerable degree we’ve burned through precious fossil fuels as rapidly as possible to enrich a few and make life at least possible for billions more; the bottom billion or two are poor beyond anything most people could believe. Historians may look back on the twentieth century as the most wasteful in human history. Warnings were abundant—economic growth was eating up Earth’s resources at an accelerating rate and taking a horrendous toll on our only planetary home. The trends illustrated above, collectively, cannot continue without damaging our planet’s ability to support human life.

For most of us to stand by while our banks, fossil fuel industries, and other giant corporations buy up politicians and do everything they can to continue economic growth on our finite planet, no matter what the costs, is nearly criminal. If we do not raise our voices in favor of changing these trends now, future generations will see us as a generation that put greed and growth above morality.

In the introduction to A Short History of Nearly Everything Bill Bryson wrote that “Survival on Earth is a surprisingly tricky business…we come from a planet that is very good at promoting life but even better at extinguishing it.” Most Americans shrug off such warnings and instead embrace our prevailing cultural myths, especially those of progress and exceptionalism.

I wish every American could spend an hour or two strolling through the streets of Ephesus, a city in Turkey that today is empty and in ruins, a tourist attraction only. People have lived in the region around Ephesus for at least 8,000 years, though the city was founded by the Greeks only about 3,000 years ago, during the tenth century BCE. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. Later Ephesus fell under Roman rule and by the first century BCE was the second largest city in the world, exceeded only by Rome.

What each American needs to absorb while walking those long-vacated streets of Ephesus is this: Nothing lasts forever. Nothing! Each would need to feel for himself or herself not just the depth of time and the human creations of those who lived in Ephesus but the fact that life there could not be sustained, no matter how glorious it had been in earlier times. As Bryson said, for all of us survival is tricky business; the same is true for all of what humans have created in their short sojourn on Earth.

In the Prologue to his imaginative book, The World Without Us, Alan Weisman wrote the following:

For a sense of how the world would go on without us, among other places we must look to the world before us. We’re not time travelers, and the fossil record is not complete, the future won’t perfectly mirror the past. We’ve ground some species so thoroughly into extinction that they, or their DNA, will likely never spring back. Since some things we’ve done are likely irrevocable, what would remain in our absence would not be the same planet had we never evolved in the first place.

Yet it might not be so different, either. Nature has been through worse losses before and refilled empty niches. And even today, there are still a few Earthly spots where all our senses can inhale a living memory of this Eden before we were here. Inevitably they invite us to wonder how nature might flourish if granted the chance.

It is not too late for us to act, but each year that we do nothing or remain in denial about the trends that are all around us we are guilty of putting ourselves above posterity. We are headed toward becoming ancestors that future generations will speak ill of, a generation who kept practicing business as usual in the face of overwhelming evidence that it would be disastrous for the planet, for humanity, and for the world’s various ecosystems.

Gary Peters is a retired geography professor who specialized in population geography. He has taught and written about population and related issues for four decades, during which time the world has added more than three billion people. He also taught economic and physical geography, which gives him a relatively broad perspective on what is going on in our world. Unlike most economists, Peters sees our planet as finite and incapable of sustaining any process that involves physical growth of anything.

Comments 119

  • “The figure below, from the Oak Ridge National Lab . . .”

    Consider the source of your propaganda? The relative risk of climate change compared to some other problems which may be much more hazardous and more imminent suggest that our minds play games with us. All of us have biases and denial, and the worst thing that we can do right is listen to media developed to sell one industry or another. What about the danger of radiation in our food and water, for instance, as electricity becomes less and less consistent? Those who see climate change as the impending problem are failing to set the problem frame large enough around the problem, and are thus trying to solve the wrong problem.

    Nothing goes on forever, because it can’t. It is the change that happens when it stops going on forever that will kill us, not the extrapolation of past habits.

  • Brilliant analysis, and yet the so-called experts among us are not paying attention to such great work or else remaining electively mute in the face of overwhelming research by top rank scientists.

  • (Please delete the prior similar comment: syntax error). Thanks!

    Thanks, (?Dr.) Gary Peters, for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. 

    many of our leaders, especially Republicans, remain in denial and assure us that all will be fine,

    When their continuance in office depends on making the electorate feel good, they will not promote (or even harbor) ideas to the contrary. 

    doesn’t think the science of global warming is settled. 

    Predictive aspects of science are “settled” when viewable in the rear-view mirror. By then of course, it is history. 

    we should be thinking hard and acting fast both to mitigate further warming and to adapt to the warming that is already built into the atmosphere

    If the dinosaurs had the technology, and were thinking hard and acting fast to avert an asteroid impact, I wouldn’t be here to be glad that they didn’t. It is not an impossibility that someone in the future of Deep Time may be glad that we didn’t. 

    Modern agricultural production depends as never before on oil

    And monoculture. An epidemic could wipe out much of the human population, and it doesn’t even have to be a human – or animal – disease. 

    It shouldn’t take a nuclear physicist to point out that all of these trends are unsustainable on our only planet.

    One physicist does, and he is an astrophysicist. His name is Tom Murphy, and his blog is Do The Math

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

    That’s a tautology, in reference to the latter group. 

    Historians may look back on the twentieth century as the most wasteful in human history. 

    Historians – or perhaps the archeologists of a future intelligent (?and) alien species. 

    Nothing lasts forever. 
    That is First of the Three Features of Existence, one of the foundation stones of a pre-Christian tradition, Buddhism. 

  • Gary, excellent description of the problem.

    You say “It is not too late for us to act,” – what exactly would you suggest we do?

  • All good stuff Gary.

    When will Americans’ finally ‘get it’?

    Well, if the US drought monitor remains roughly the same for another year (or gets worse) I guess they will.

    I suspect a severe jolt to the financial system will wake a few people up, probably much more than an ongoing climate predicament.

    Needless to say, the mainstream media will never ‘get it’.

    I was recently reminded of Rickover’s precient warning, given in 1957, which was ignored, along with every other warning given since. Over half a century of ignorance and denial. Now that’s quite something.

  • More disaster as usual from our ‘illustrious leaders’. Once again it is the economy which is the excuse.

    ‘Rising food prices caused by droughts and flooding make progress in global negotiations on climate change more vital than ever, world leaders are being warned today.

    As the annual United Nations talks on curbing greenhouse gas emissions begin in the South African city of Durban, Oxfam said shortages of rice and grain will only increase as wildfires and monsoons affect some of the world’s poorest regions.

    The charity’s call for the conference to agree to a legally binding deal on reducing carbon releases into the atmosphere was backed yesterday by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He called on governments to “step up to the responsibilities only they can exercise”.

    But with the world economy teetering on recession, their calls look likely to fall on deaf ears as it becomes harder than ever to reconcile the 194 governments represented at the convention. Even agreements made two years ago in Copenhagen are proving problematic. In 2009, it was agreed that $100m (£64.7m) a year would be given to the poorest countries suffering from global warming by 2020.

    Now the world needs to agree how that money will be raised. The Kyoto Protocol, which obliged rich nations to cut emissions and is set to expire in 2012, is a still more serious issue. To ensure that gas emissions peak in 2020 before falling as agreed, the EU wants a new treaty including every major economy – including the US, which never ratified Kyoto, and China, which fell outside the remit when it was drawn up.

    Both are resistant, as are many developing nations – who insist the measures outlined in Kyoto are the bare minimum they will accept. And further compounding the issue, Russia, Canada and Japan say they will not sign up to new commitments.

  • OT:

    This is one of those subjects that worries me. We have made just about all the preps that we possibly can. The idea that .gov can find a way to grab your pension or in our case our IRA’s is infuriating. Feel sorry for you British, raising the speed limits and “borrowing” from your pensions to build more roads. How stupid can you get? Mind you we (USA) aren’t any better.

    Would post some other nonsense, but I’m sure most of you have already seen it.

    Best hopes,

  • All debts consist ultimately of promises to redeem those debts in useable items and/or the resources needed to make those items. What we see in the immense (immense = without measure, unmeasurable) debts is wishful thinking run amuck well past the point of paranoia. 

  • We can already see that we have not a long wait to come face to face with what is happening, for we are the ones who are alive in a pivotal moment in human history, when economic and ecologic systems fail, a global empire (like a house of cards) collapses and self-proclaimed masters of the universe (who are primarily responsible for the colossal catastrophe looming before humanity) take off in private jets and yachts for secret hideaways in faraway places….come what may.

  • At the top of this website we see; “Humans have tinkered with the natural world since we appeared on the evolutionary stage…”.

    Scientists, engineers and other “experts” have been trained in discovering new and ever more powerful ways to do just that. They have been indoctrinated in the “faith” that this approach is correct and valuable. Indeed, their egos are heavily invested in the notion that their superior knowledge elevates them to an elite position in society.

    It seems to me that the severely limited skill-set of any conventional expert leaves them without the ability even to think productively about the problems facing us, let alone do anything to improve the situation.

    Meanwhile, that remnant of people who still possess traditional abilities to live peacefully and happily in perpetual balance with nature are marginalized, considered “primitive” and in need of “development”.

    Gary, your essay is well presented and informative for anybody who is in the process of pulling his head out of the sand but all this information has been around for many decades now. I’d like to hear what you have to say about the role of science/technology in creating the problem in the first place and denying it up to now.

    At this moment scientists and engineers are hard at work in the war industry developing more destructive weapons, in the chemical industry creating toxic pesticides, splicing genes for bio-tech, creating horrific diseases in labs…..

    Why is science inherently devoid of rational ethics?

  • Gary, excellent essay full of well-documented data. That being said, is there a solution? By your own account, seven billion people are too many. How can we fix global warming without fixing the population problem? Here’s a thought: since oil is derived from the carcasses of long dead dinosaurs, and we can’t seem to find a way to rid ourselves of all the excess carbon, why not put the carcasses of excess humans in the places where we took the oil? I’m being facetious, of course, but ultimately, that’s what is going to happen – and probably pretty soon. Nuclear war, global warming, famine, fresh water depletion – human extinction coming right up.

  • Iaato, you said: Consider the source of your propaganda? The relative risk of climate change compared to some other problems which may be much more hazardous and more imminent suggest that our minds play games with us. . . . Those who see climate change as the impending problem are failing to set the problem frame large enough around the problem, and are thus trying to solve the wrong problem.

    Umm. The way I understand it, average temperature increase of 6 degrees C is not compatible with human life (or that of many other life forms). See the multiple excellent essays and data sources Guy has presented here. If we are gone as a species, I hardly see how that problem can be framed any larger. I agree that there may be other problems that are more pressing, but as we are seeing effects of global climate change already and will begin to see ever-increasing consequences of this change, I fail to see how any can be more important.

  • I would like to thank many of you for your positive comments; they are appreciated.

    Guy, the piece on the economy may be on the right track. One thing economists still fail to consider seriously is the oil situation. Even though the U.S. and EZ are both doing poorly, the price of crude here has remained close to $100/barrel (just under $98 this evening); Brent crude is higher. The age of cheap oil is gone but many models used by economists were designed during that age. Future economic growth is going to be much more difficult. That in turn will affect debt because economic growth makes it much easier to pay back borrowed money. Without that growth, lots of debts probably will not get repaid.

    Though I think there are things we could do to at least mitigate some of the problems that we face, I see the U.S. in the light that AA focuses o an alcoholic. Before we can help it, it has to admit that it has serious problems, including those I mentioned above. Other countries aren’t much better.

    Unless the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (the U.S. and China) can find a solution together, I don’t expect much to happen in Durban and would guess that carbon emissions will continue to climb. So long as the main goal of virtually every country today is economic growth, I don’t see much progress. It will get warmer, weather extremes (including both floods and droughts) will become more common, as were seeing around the world. This in turn will affect food prices, as will more expensive oil and our decision to burn corn in our SUVs and trucks.

    As for population growth, it is ultimately controlled by the food supply. Right now we continue to add about 80 million people each year to an overcrowded planet. In the short run there isn’t much we can do to stop this growth. I’ve long advocated stopping and reversing population growth by controlling fertility, which seems more humane to me than letting the four horsemen do it. Much current population growth occurs in the tropical latitudes, where global warming is already being felt in the form of changes in the timing of monsoons, desertification, and floods (e.g. the recent one in Thailand). One thing that seems almost certain is that the surplus of people in the tropics will be heading for higher latitudes–they already are and their numbers will grow.

    What I cannot see is sustaining current rates of population growth, growth in energy usage, increasing affluence, accelerating species extinction rates, atmospheric warming, sea level rise, dead zones in the ocean, and a host of other trends. Collisions seem inevitable, even if timing and location might be difficult. Sustainable growth is an oxymoron.

  • Gary. I’m with you all the way except for this:

    ‘Unless the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases (the U.S. and China) can find a solution together, I don’t expect much to happen in Durban and would guess that carbon emissions will continue to climb.’

    There is no solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions that lies outside closing down industrial society throughout the world.

    That solution is politically and socially unacceptable, so I see humanity continuing on its pressent course until it can’t.

  • Fukushima children forced to drink radioactive milk at school –
    Note at the end the Chief Cabinet Secretary in Japan laughing in the face of what he and others are being told. Have they no shame? Kathy

  • YouTube regularly suggests clips to me based on past viewings. This morning they offered up a clip of the tsunami in Japan. Old news. I watched it anyway. It struck me that at that moment as the tsunami moves up the river and then overtakes the flood walls, there is nothing more to do. This is not the time to encourage higher flood walls, better protected nuclear plants, longer backup for loss of electricity. This is not the time to write letters to congressmen. At this time there is but one thing to do – try to get to higher ground.

    I would suggest that as far as peak oil and global warming we are at such a moment. This is the time to get to high ground – ie work on any plans for extending your survival post collapse. It is not the time to put energy into convincing bought out senators and representatives to do something about climate change and CO2. It is not the time to change our finance system. It is not the time to make our country more resilient and sustainable. The time for that was 40 years ago when Limits to Growth came out. The tsunami is coming and will leave devastation in its wake. It will also hopefully leave a bit of salvation in its wake – if the economy collapses soon enough.

  • Gary

    Nice essay. Well documented. I appreciate it’s message. There is, however, nothing more that will be done to significantly change the course of events in the world. As you have rightly said, the big emitters are not going to change their ways, and the world’s population can not be managed without huge controversy – and therefore, won’t be.


    Absolutely correct. This is not the time to write your Congressman. It is the time reach for higher ground. There is no reversing what has been already done, and what has be done has yet to show itself fully – we have only seen the leading edges of it.

  • Kathy:

    I like your phrase, “try to get to high ground.” Both figuratively and literally.

    I recently drove I-40 across Arizona, and stopped for the night in Winslow Arizona. I can’t remember a more desperate and run down town. I thought this is possibly what the future will soon look like in more towns across the U.S.

    One motel had a sign that read, “Sleeping on the Corner in Winslow Arizona.” I thought, “Inside or outside?”

  • Below is a quote from a new study by the FAO.

    “Agriculture is now a major contributor to greenhouse gases, accounting
    for 13.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. At the same
    time, climate change brings an increase in risk and unpredictability
    for farmers – from warming and related aridity, from shifts in rainfall
    patterns, and from the growing incidence of extreme weather events.
    Poor farmers in low income countries are the most vulnerable and the
    least able to adapt to these changes.

    The steady increase in inland aquaculture also contributes to the
    competition for land and water resources: the average annual per
    capita supply of food fish from aquaculture for human consumption
    has increased at an average rate of 6.6 percent per year between 1970
    and 2008, leading to increase demand in feed, water and land for the
    construction of fish ponds.

    The deteriorating trends in the capacities of ecosystems to provide vital goods and services are already affecting the production potential of important food-producing zones. If these continue, impacts on food security will be greatest in developing countries, where both water and soil nutrients are least abundant. Yet in some locations, better technology, management practices and policies (which take into consideration the need for appropriate tradeoffs between environmental needs and agricultural production) have arrested and reversed negative trends and thus indicate pathways towards models of sustainable intensification. The risks, however, are considerable. On present trends, a series of major land and water systems and the food outputs they produce are at risk.”

    There are at least two points worth noting here. First, the UN, unlike the US, understands that global warming is real and will impact future agricultural activities and patterns. Second, continuing to provide food for a growing population is going to stress ecosystems even further.

  • New research shows the Southern Ocean is storing more heat than any other ocean in the world.

    The study, carried out by Tasmania’s Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem centre, has found that carbon dioxide levels in the Southern Ocean will be corrosive to some shellfish by 2030 if current trends continue.

    Scientists say deep moving currents around Antarctica are the reason why the Southern Ocean is warming faster than other oceans.

    “The Southern Ocean occupies about 22 per cent of the area of the total ocean, and yet it absorbs about 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide that’s stored by the ocean and about half the heat that’s stored by the ocean,” climate scientist Steve Rintoul says.

    Dr Rintoul says the warming extends for four kilometres, from the ocean surface to the sea floor.

    He says satellite measurements show the Southern Ocean has been warming by about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade….

    “We used to think that threshold would be crossed in about 2050 in the Southern Ocean. We now understand that that’s likely to happen a few decades earlier, perhaps as soon as 2030.

    full story at

    More proof that things are getting worse faster than previously expected.

  • Recall what I said about drones patrolling the skies of America?

    Here you are:

    An article published Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times reveals that new drone planes could be coming domestically quite soon, as both law enforcement and the agricultural sector are seeing benefits in keeping an arsenal of unmanned planes ready to patrol the skies. For farmers, drones could bring a new method of pumping pesticides into fields of crops from above; for the cops, the aircraft could conduct surveillance over suspected criminals (think police chopper but remote controlled). The Times reports that utility companies see a benefit in drones as well, giving them a new set of eyes to monitor oil, gas and water pipelines.

    But with missile-equipped drones causing thousands of deaths overseas, the installation of a drone program stateside could be detrimental to America as the government all but deems the country fit as a warfront.

    That last sentence is important as the next article I reference will fix that situation esp the phrase: “as the government all but deems the country fit as a warfront.”

  • If the Senate has its way, America will be considered a war front, and all that implies for military action, the people, and the American Bill of Rights.

    The police and the military are likely to become more integrated than ever under this bill. It is a windfall for folks like TurboGuy, who will now have the right to detain INDEFINITELY and without trial any and all of those OWS ‘useful fools’ he desires. He and his fellow officers will have a heyday! They’ll love it. And they won’t even have to justify their actions beyond noting the person as being a suspected terrorist. They can just swoop down on them in the middle of the night, and oila!….no more OWS! All persons can be arrested and disappeared forever. American citizens….Americans…..Home of the Free.

    Think it is an unlikely scenario? Think harder.

  • Cornered by the limits to growth, the animal – the state – bares its teeth. But it cannot escape those limits.

  • More on remote sensors…remember I mentioned drones the size of insects?

  • Robin

    Unfortunately, until the state reaches those limits, it will make life difficult for its citizens. And as it reaches them, life will become bitter and dangerous for most as the beast fights to survive.

  • This article speaks for itself – science gone crazy.

    “It’s just a bad idea for scientists to turn a lethal virus into a lethal and highly contagious virus. And it’s a second bad idea for them to publish how they did it so others can copy it,” Dr. Thomas Inglesby, the director and CEO of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh, told NPR.

    Talk about an effective population control agent….

  • Grossman had it right as to why we are where we are….R.I.P.

  • Victor, if Guy is right and it is litteral lights out in 2013 they have precious little time for total police state. Without electricity they are like fish flopping in the bottom of the boat. If later projections are right we may well see a short span of more police control than we have now. All the more reason to hope Guy is right.

  • ‘(Reuters) – Oil consuming nations, hedge funds and big oil refineries are quietly preparing for a Doomsday scenario: An attack on Iran that would halt oil supplies from OPEC’s second-largest producer.
    Most political analysts and oil traders say the probability of military action is low, but they caution the risks of such an event have risen as the West and Israel grow increasingly alarmed by signs that Tehran is building nuclear weapons.
    That has Chinese refiners drawing up new contingency plans, hedge funds taking out options on $170 crude, and energy experts scrambling to determine how a disruption in Iran’s oil supply — however remote the possibility — would impact world markets.”
    REST at;_ylt=AgYZKsdtQn6ZY1IY2KusI1WiuYdG;_ylu=X3oDMTNyZjNpb2JwBG1pdANGUCBUb3AgU3RvcnkgTGVmdARwa2cDNjFjMWQ5OWEtMzBlNi0zYzkxLTk1Y2YtZDk5MWEwYmZjMjhmBHBvcwMyBHNlYwN0b3Bfc3RvcnkEdmVyA2Q0OWY3NDAwLTFiMzItMTFlMS04ZTdjLWEyMWNlZGI4NWMxYQ–;_ylg=X3oDMTFvdnRqYzJoBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25zBHRlc3QD;_ylv=3

  • Kathy

    My entire analysis is based upon Guy being wrong… ;-) If he is right, then not to worry…at least about a police state…we will worry more about our neighbours under that scenario…

  • On the other hand, the US has made huge progress already towards the police state. They have worked on it for 10 years now and have already disposed of the Bill of Rights for all practical purposes and have worked diligently towards integrating police, military and intelligence agencies. They can place most anyone in indefinite detention without charges. They can wiretap your phones and monitor your communications without a warrant. They can look into your bank and financial transactions with impunity. And so much more.

    The only thing between you and the above is a simple label that is defined by the President at his sole discretion – ‘suspected terrorist’. They don’t even have to prove you are a terrorist, or support terrorists.

    So where else would they have to go to be called a ‘police state’?

  • Oil above $101/bbl in New York. Brent $112.54.

    From Bloomberg:
    “News that the Fed and five central banks lowered interest rates on U.S. dollar swaps weighed heavily on the dollar, with a result of a strong rally in crude oil prices,” Myrto Sokou, a London-based analyst at Sucden Financial Ltd., said by e-mail.

  • i quite agree with kathy. talk of saving civ. reflects ignorance/denial of how advanced and overwhelming the problems it faces have become. more importantly, it also reflects ignorance/denial of how stupid our species has become in order to be faced with such a predicament, and mostly be unaware. imo it isn’t ‘denial’ so much as it is brazen stupidity which insures a tragic collapse.

    i have to disagree with victor or anyone who asserts that the ptb are smart. no way is it smart to undermine the natural forces which allow your kind to live.

    i think kathy has made an excellent metaphor for what collapse will be like when it gets up a full head of steam: a tsunami. however, i disagree with most here quite a lot regarding timing and how long it will take. thus i shall amend something i wrote a few days ago re. preparation for losing the grid permanently. i’ll do so by example:

    for some time now i’ve been concerned about the small burners i use regularly to cook with on my range top. they’re old and pitted in places from much use. i should get some replacements if they can be found, for i expect economic collapse to make purchasing them in the future prohibitively expensive if even possible. i expect this economic collapse is imminent, but i don’t expect it’ll take down the grid permanently. i suspect that will be many years in the future.

    it’s been widely speculated that it would take about 30 years to make any kind of smooth transition from fossil fuels to renewables (of course, society would have had to radically downsize and frugalize in the process). likewise, it stands to reason that it’ll take years to prepare as individuals and small groups for radical changes like losing the grid and dependence upon the corporate ‘global economy’. there are many things to consider and do.

    rather than wasting any further time and effort on the lost cause of trying to radically change mainstream civilization to avoid or mitigate collapse, we should be forming local and cyber-space discussion and mutual support groups (like this blog) to prepare. heading for higher ground, like many endeavors, is best done as a group effort.

    it is in fact rather remarkable that something like the transition town movement only more radical hasn’t been created on a large scale. it’s hard to let go of the idea that we belong to an intelligent, sane species that is in control. it’s hard to accept that we belong to a stupid crazy species that’s certainly about to reap a whirlwind of self inflicted catastrophic consequences known as collapse, die-off, and possibly extinction. yet that’s what must be done to have the proper mindset to properly prepare, if this is even possible.

  • tvt, it is in fact rather remarkable that something like the transition town movement only more radical hasn’t been created on a large scale.

    Based on my own experience, changing the way people think prior to a catastrophic event is almost impossible – they are much more willing to act after the catastrophe. When I speak to people in my own circle or at the local university or to students who come into my clinic, less than 1% seem to really hear what I’m saying, far fewer accept it and start to do something about it. I don’t think the problem is entirely with my presentation skills but rather the topic. People just don’t want to even acknowledge problems of this magnitude. Others here who “spread the word” have related similar experiences.

    When you think about the basics of the problems facing us, it’s not that surprising at all that people have difficulty with acceptance. After all, our problems extend to the very core of our society and way of life. The only solution is to radically change every aspect of how we live and function, including massive reduction in the birthrate. Hell, I can’t get people to make even minor changes in their lifestyle to improve their blood pressure or to reduce their weight; forget earth-shattering change.

    You also mentioned setting the example. I think this is an excellent plan! Josh and I have discussed several times completely severing our ties with the grid. Disconnecting the internet, the electricity, everything. That’s our goal. We want to do it before it gets done to us. We have had some very limited dry runs so far. None have been very successful. But each time we do it, we learn something new. We will likely do it in phases; however, I fully acknowledge that we are moving so slowly that we may not accomplish our work before the grid goes down. Time will tell, I guess.

  • TVT:

    I agree with the need to hook up with like minded individuals. In my area, the chances are slim to none. As and old guy, I have done what I can for my wife and myself. Until the SHTF, and the die off begins, I will not likely identify others until I see who finally “gets it” and is left standing. Assuming I am left standing.

  • Guy, TRDH, et al.,

    I’m dumb as a post when it comes to figuring out what’s going on when “the masters of the universe” come up with some miracle cure aimed at staving off financial chaos. I’ve read the Bloomberg and Zero Hedge articles, and also one from CNN Money. I mostly just ended up scratching my head and saying, WTF?” Then I found this tidbit from John Carney, Senior Editor, He tells us, “Finally, the Fed isn’t lending out “taxpayer dollars” at all. Rather, it is lending out newly created dollars at very low interest rates.”

    When my wife heard that she immediately said, “Oh, they just devalued our dollar.” That seems to be exactly what the Fed’s done, they’ve decided to slow Europe’s slide into oblivion by speeding up our race to the bottom.

    What’s your take on the Fed’s move? Does it speed our rush towards collapse or stretch out the collapse timeline? Does it cushion the shock or change the slide into a long drop? Maybe all it does is make a few rich guys richer.

    What about the similar move China made today? I read that as part of their continuing push to have the yuan replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

    Michael Irving

  • I say, every day brings with it a new way to kick the can down the road…when will they run out of ideas? Quite humorous, I think, but a bit pathetic as well.

  • i’m about to place an order for berkey water filters as a key element of preparation, but i have no experience with water filtration systems so think it’s a good idea to float this idea out here for feedback. although i presently live alone, i’m thinking of getting the royal berkey model which is designed to provide for the needs of 12-24 according to their website, as i figure once i lose access to potable water everyone around me will also be losing access, and thus there will be great demand. i also plan on ordering 6 of them to take advantage of the larger 15% discount and remain within budget, so i can provide them to friends/relatives. anyone have anything to add, any helpful tips such as extra accessories that will come in handy, or advice regarding getting a different size?

  • VT

    I hope you can get delivery of the Berkey faster than we have. My understanding is that they are having trouble keeping up with orders. The Royal Berkey provides for the needs of 12-24 people??? It is not really that large. I am ordering one for the two of us, thinking that we can perhaps fill up at most once a day (2+ gallons?). But I suppose if you use more than that it shouldn’t be a bother for it.

    The only thing I would suggest is that you consider getting the view spout. Otherwise, you will have difficulty knowing when to fill it unless you remove the top for a look-see.

    It is the best filter on the market. And should last a long time if my research is correct. Years if you use tap water. Maybe less if you are forced into using river/lake water. If you use it with river or lake water, it might be a good idea to use a multi-step process, placing the water into a container first and allowing it to sit for a day or so before placing it into the filter – that way you get rid of sediment and keep it from clogging up the filter prematurely.

    Berkey? Good choice.

  • VT

    One more thing re:Berkeys – I would think about getting extra parts, esp filters to store away for later use. When you need them, it would be good to already have them on hand, as later they may be harder to get.

  • Curtis you wrote “I agree with the need to hook up with like minded individuals. In my area, the chances are slim to none. ” Ditto here. I don’t expect to be left standing very long for a variety of reasons – climate change and societal upheaval being the main reasons. But by golly isn’t the show interesting….:) Like as Victor notes, watching the can be kicked down the road (and guessing how many kicks they might have left).

  • A wonderful interview with Gerald Celente. He pulls no punches in this one. Says the whole system is coming down – and soon.

  • Sorry Victor, just had to add this link:

    Looks like those of us who don’t want to be saved can relax.

  • Can anyone here tell if this is what we would call a rocket stove. It would seem to be a great stove for using in the summer to boil water outside.

  • Yorchichan

    You might be right. Time will tell. Either the scam bubble bursts at last, or the process is verified. Turiel brings nothing new to the table – it has all been said before. I prefer to wait until someone has actually had the opportunity to test the device before making a judgement. Until then, I will be keeping up with developments there as it takes little of my effort, and who knows but that someday I might be able to return with a good story. Or not…. :-)

  • Victor

    I know the article said nothing new, but I did think it was very well written. Can you really read that article and retain even the tiniest amount of faith? If the e-cat really worked then I could believe in a vision Professor Brian Cox conjured up of the descendants of the human race clustered around the remnants of the last remaining red dwarf stars tens of billions of years from now. However, I’m very confident our future lies only with the earth and right now it isn’t looking too rosy.

  • Kathy:

    From what I gather, your attitude, knowledge, skills, and situation, leave you well placed to carry on for a lot longer than most. Omega woman.


  • ‘The Royal Berkey provides for the needs of 12-24 people??’ -victor

    here’s your answer:

    upon further review, i think i’ll go with the light berkey instead, as it’s cheaper and lighter weight, and just as good as the more expensive stainless steel models. and instead of getting 6, i may only order 2, and purchase as many extra filters as i think i can afford, since it is they which determine how much purified water u get. once they’re used up and no more are available, the unit becomes just another storage container.

    strange that u say u’ve had to wait to get your order filled by berkey. i called and spoke to a representative today and was told that my order would probably be shipped out the day my check is received. didn’t say anything about backlogged orders.

  • No miracles in science: The story of the “energy catalyzer”
    by Antonio Turiel
    Antonio Turiel is a physicist working at the institute for marine sciences in Barcelona (CSIC) and he keeps the blog “The Oil Crash,” (in Spanish). Here, he he examines the story of the “Energy Catalyser” (“E-Cat”); a device proposed by two Italian researchers, Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi and purported to generate energy from a nuclear reaction occurring at low temperature. This text is an update in English a post published in Spanish on Aug 20, 2010. The conclusion is that the E-Cat cannot be what it is claimed to be; that is, a device that produces useful energy from nuclear reactions. The destiny of the “E-Cat” seem therefore to move to the category of “pathological science,” as the contradictions and the lack of evidence involved in the concept become more evident. However, the E-Cat still enjoys a remarkable popularity in the media and has generated a group of faithful defenders. So, it is important to stress that there are no miracles in science, and the E-Cat, surely, does not contradict the rule.

  • I can see that I am going to take a lot of heat for my unwillingness to dismiss E-Cat technology…. :-)

  • So added to indefinite detention without charges, the Senate is now considering a bill to restore torture as an acceptable practice.

    When is someone going to stand up against this? It’s Germany all over again. No one is saying anything about these changes to law.

    People need to understand that when the military is brought in on something, they have only one mindset – managing the battlefield, identifying the enemy and getting rid of him. And they do so without mercy – that’s their job, and they do it well. And that is why they have never been allowed to operate this way on American soil.

    With these pending bills before Congress, the United States is being declared a battlefield, and the American people as enemies of the Homeland. Amerika uber alles.

  • An insightful post on the problems that beset our collective non-rational mental processes.
    Pepperspraying the Future

  • When I first came to the uS I would explain to people that the difference between the uS and Pakistan/Bangladesh was that in the uS the president was commander-in-chief, and in those countries the commander-in-chief was president. It would seem now that the uS is headed towards a Change in that order.

  • Kathy

    Political cartoon….excellent…. :-)

  • It would seem now that the uS is headed towards a Change in that order.


    It shows that the US is still capable of learning from other countries…. ;-)

  • Yorchichan

    Perhaps I was a bit abrupt with you (my wife says that I am one of the most impatient people on the planet)… ;-)

    If you have a familiarity with nuclear physics to any degree, perhaps you would be interested in the Widom-Larsen Theory that attempts to explain LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). In looking at this theory, you will be pleased to note that the reaction we are talking about is neither ‘cold’ nor is it ‘fusion’. The physics of high energy fusion (or fission) do not apply here, so one can not expect such by-products as damaging gamma rays or uncontrollable heat. The LENR process is apparently a 4-step process carried on a low energy but not room temperature.

    Dr. Turiel has obviously not kept up with physics over the last couple of decades, or he wouldn’t have described the physics of this as he did. (Neither does he realise that there exists no ‘electrolysis’ in this reaction as well!) He is not alone. Most people, even scientists, are not aware of the strides being made in the “cold fusion” area recently – likely because of the reputation of ‘cold fusion’.

    I would suggest that if you wish to know a bit more about what is likely going on with the Rossi device, you should study the following link – a simplified guide to the Widom-Larsen Theory of ultra-low-momentum, neutron-catalyzed, low-energy nuclear reactions.

    For further reading on this subject, you can go to the Widom-Larsen Portal here:

    I suspect that this theory, or something very close to it, will explain the Rossi device internals, if and when that device is accessed for independent study.

    Until then, keep an open mind – it is so much more refreshing…. :-)

  • Victor, With these pending bills before Congress, the United States is being declared a battlefield, and the American people as enemies of the Homeland. Amerika uber alles.

    I wonder what the real motivation is here. Is this just exuberance for control gone wild like a pack of wild dogs? Or is this true fear? The congress and the president are privy to much more information than we mere mortals; have they seen what’s coming and are taking the steps they believe are necessary to keep control? I suspect the latter.

  • have they seen what’s coming and are taking the steps they believe are necessary to keep control? I suspect the latter.


    That is one explanation – the beneficent one…. ;-)

  • Ed,

    (Hoping not to sound like Mr. Know-It-All)

    You probably know that there are many forms of rocket stove. One kind is more or less just a tin can with holes cut in the bottom for air in-take and a frame to hold a cooking pot. I think they are sold for backpacking stoves. The stove you referenced works the same way. There are other kinds of rocket stoves.

    The stove you referenced is not a rocket stove in the form developed by Ianto Evans and others, although it works the same. Also, a rocket stove can be user-made from mud or old stovepipes rather than having to depend on a high-tech, resource-intensive, stainless steel device. The one you referenced is very interesting, however, and seems to function somewhat like other kinds of rocket stove. To be specific, the stove you referenced is in the shape of the letter “I” and is fed from the top and heats directly up the feed stack. A conventional (owner built on the Evans model) rocket stove is in the shape of a “U” but with one upright leg much longer than the other. Wood is fed down into the short upright leg (no burned fingers). The flame is generated in, and sucked through, the horizontal bottom leg (burn chamber) by the draft created in the tall upright leg (the riser). The taller leg acts as a chimney and creates the draw (hot air rising) that pulls the heat through the system. In the Evans design the hot air exits the riser inside, and at the top of, an old metal drum (used oil drum) and then is redirected back down around the outside of the riser and finally exits into a chimney system hooked to the bottom of the drum (up the riser in the center of the drum—down the inside surface of the drum—out into a chimney system connected to the bottom of the drum—[it does a loop–up/down/out]). Cooking is done on the top, flat surface of the drum. The exposed metal of the top and sides of the drum can be used in houses as a source of radiant heat. The chimney can be directed through, and heat up, a cob bench that will then warm a room by radiant heat or your butt by conduction.

    My daughter’s experiments cooking with rocket stoves this summer show that using an “L” shape and cooking on a grill over the top of the riser works really well, too, and is simple to construct. She used a short (approximately 12”) piece of used 6” stove pipe as the burn chamber (the bottom of the “L”) and a 2-foot long section of 8” stovepipe for the upright stack. The cooking is done on the top of the taller upright leg. You would need something solid to support the grill. My daughter used an old piece of tile chimney flu to support her grill. Three stacks of bricks would work. With a couple handfuls of small sticks she could start a fire and bring a pot of water to a boil in little more time that it took to do the same thing on a Coleman camp stove with white gas. The draw was so strong and the heat so intense in the burn chamber that the metal burned up fairly rapidly so bricks or clay is a good alternative. And yes, it sounds like a rocket.

    Michael Irving

  • Ed,

    Of course, if I had just followed Robin’s link before writing to you I could have saved myself the trouble.

    Michael Irving

  • No Michael, your explanation was great. I’ve been reading about rocket stoves for a very long time, but haven’t played around with them yet. I like the idea of using one outside for summer cooking and in a greenhouse. At this moment trying to use one in a house is a big problem since none of them have any kind of certification. Your daughters “experiments” tells me all I need to know. Working with a thermal cooker will allow us to do alot of our cooking outside during the summer months. For us this is very exciting, we have a wood cookstove indoors, but don’t want to use it when it isn’t cold.

    PS: Sounds like a good kid

  • Victor

    “Perhaps I was a bit abrupt with you”

    Au contraire, I have always found you to be the most polite of posters and if you were abrupt I didn’t notice. I did do physics for one year at university, but one nightmarish afternoon spent staring blankly at a piece of apparatus at the start of my second year convinced me an experimental physicist was not what I wanted to be. The next day I was no longer a physics student. I lost my interest in nuclear physics at the same time I discovered the model of an atom no longer consisted of electrons orbiting around protons and neutrons but rather a myriad of exotically named particles behaving in bizarre ways, i.e. when I found out it was hard!

    Still, part of me couldn’t help but be fascinated by your first post on the e-cat and I’ve been following the story ever since. (The fact I find the e-cat so much more interesting than water filters or rocket stoves probably doesn’t bode well for my future.) There was supposed to be a big announcement about the e-cat yesterday (but that turned out to be a non-event) and whilst searching for it I came across the energybulletin article. I thought it was so well written I had to post the link on NBL.

    I don’t know what the consequences of a working e-cat would be. Is the energy potential so great that we would be able to explore the universe? I doubt it. If it was you’d get into that whole “Why haven’t aliens visited us?” argument. The worst possible outcome as I see it is the e-cat provides enough energy for us to continue the exploitation of Earth but not enough to exploit the resources of other planets. I don’t want to believe in that scenario. So you are right that my mind is totally closed on the e-cat. I’ll enjoy reading your links at newenergytimes but I’m sure whatever they say I’ll remain a non-believer.

    PS: How do some of you manage to use italics in your posts?

  • “China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third World War” (subtitles)

  • The worst possible outcome as I see it is the e-cat provides enough energy for us to continue the exploitation of Earth but not enough to exploit the resources of other planets.


    Well, actually, Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist NASA Langley, is quite interested in the potential of LENR for space travel. Whether it ends up being Rossi’s device or some other. No I don’t think space will ever be used for that purpose – for one thing there are too many other issues in the way besides just power. And for another I don’t think we have that much time – Collapse is speeding up a bit now.

    italics – use a bit of html – xxxxxxx (without the spaces)


    WWIII – Bring it on!….. ;-)

  • Try that again….

    without the ‘.’ – xxxxx

  • bloody ‘ell….. third time the charm?

    xxxxx without the ‘*’

  • *groan*

    *i* xxxxxxx */i* Substitute ” for the ‘*’

    html didn’t used to be this smart!

  • LOL…..

    ‘Greater than’ and ‘Less than’ signs

  • Are italics really that important???…. :-)

  • Victor somehow working on the formula for the catalyst?

  • Victor, nicely done whatever you were doing.

    Here’s something we are playing around with and will most likely do. We have been working on trying to build a root cellar back into the hill out of concrete block. Pricing it out was crazy expensive, so for this winter we are going to fill garbage cans and put them in the back barn and put alot of hay bales around them and cross our fingers.

    On our way back from Thanksgiving we passed a metal fab place that did culvert pipe. All sizes and it gave us an idea. We called the local spot (in Bath, NY) and got a price on a 96″ diameter by 7′-0″ high piece of pipe with a man door cut in the side of it. 1,200 dollars delivered. Lots of stuff still to do with it to make it work, but this compares with 5 times more for block or PIP concrete.

    Let’s try to keep getting ready as inexpensive as possible.

    Nicole, first root cellars were in Australia 40,000 years ago.

    Best hope

  • Victor, I should have put a :-) with that.

  • Kathy C From the “about us” section:

    Headquartered in New York City, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television serves more than 100 million potential viewers in China and around the world.
    Founded by Chinese Americans, and rooted in traditional Chinese culture, NTD serves as a unique bridge between the East and the West.
    NTD News, the company’s flagship program, strives to provide insightful coverage of China with the highest ethical standards of Western journalism. …..

    Especially the part ..the highest ethical standards of Western journalism… is a good laugh. Possibly as good as the ethical standards in journalism in general.
    The world is turning ever more Orwellian, “Eurasia has never been in war with Eastasia”.

    How come the news “from China” talking about WWIII are being aired from New York?

    I think it is time to set up a page – and all the war mongering US poodles.

  • Ed,

    Thanks for the comment, it was much appreciated. The “kid” is a keeper, but hardly a kid any more. Her eldest will be graduating from university this spring. I guess you could check out her blog if you wanted to see what she’s doing including adventures with Thermal Energy Generation, light straw clay construction, and adventures with duct tape (the ass-for-hat that helped with that one would be me).

    As I mentioned here before, buried garbage can storage has worked for me. Reviewing your “surrounded by hay bales” idea, I think I would go the extra step of breaking one bale and then packing the loose hay directly around the cans (between the cans and the bales). I also have a friend who made a box about the size of a 2x-thick coffin, lined top, bottom, and sides with 2” blue rigid insulation. He keeps potatoes through the winter in an unheated garage (outside temperatures down to -20°F).

    Also, about the concrete root cellar—In the book “Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture” on and around page 100 there are pictures of various structures dug into a side hill (for cool storage/root cellars/animal shelters) that are made from rock, PIP concrete, or logs. The log structures are especially interesting to me. The logs are sunk into the ground upright, palisade fashion, with a roof made with (almost) horizontal logs. Then he in-fills around the upright logs and covers the top with a membrane or sheeting and a pile of dirt. I think he uses a tree called robinia, but says larch will work too. I suppose cedar or locust would be relatively rot free choices for the US. If you had timber (I do) it might look really good to you, especially compared to the other alternatives (of course if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail). It might be a way to try out your systems. In any case, slip into the bookstore and check out page 100 in Holzer’s book. You might even want to buy it, but I won’t tell if you don’t.

    Michael Irving

  • PS: How do some of you manage to use italics in your posts?

    HTML Text Formatting

  • This may be easier to understand:

    HTML – Italic(s)

  • Robin

    A much superior teaching method to mine… :-)

  • Thank you Victor, Robin and Guy. I think I’ve got it now. Sixteen years as a computer programmer did nothing for my technophobia. ;)

  • Two articles based on an article at Nature (which requires a subscription)

    A snippet from the think progress article
    on Dec 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm
    Back in February, a major study found that thawing permafrost feedback will turn Arctic from carbon sink to source in the 2020s, releasing 100 billion tons of carbon by 2100. That study, by NOAA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center, conservatively assumed all of the carbon would be released as CO2 and none as the far more potent greenhouse gas, methane (CH4).
    But that is unlikely, as this video of University of Alaska, Fairbanks, assistant professor Katey Walter Anthony, suggests:

    A new article in Nature, “Climate change: High risk of permafrost thaw” (subs. req’d) concludes:
    Arctic temperatures are rising fast, and permafrost is thawing…. Our collective estimate is that carbon will be released more quickly than models suggest, and at levels that are cause for serious concern.
    We calculate that permafrost thaw will release the same order of magnitude of carbon as deforestation if current rates of deforestation continue. But because these emissions include significant quantities of methane, the overall effect on climate could be 2.5 times larger.

    The permafrost permamelt contains a staggering amount of carbon, which is starting to escape:
    Recent years have brought reports from the far north of tundra fires, the release of ancient carbon, CH4 bubbling out of lakes and gigantic stores of frozen soil carbon. The latest estimate is that some 18.8 million square kilometres of northern soils hold about 1,700 billion tonnes of organic carbon — the remains of plants and animals that have been accumulating in the soil over thousands of years. That is about four times more than all the carbon emitted by human activity in modern times and twice as much as is present in the atmosphere now.
    As the article explains (see below), much of that carbon would be released as methane. Methane is 25 times as potent a heat-trapping gas as CO2 over a 100 year time horizon, but 72 times to 100 times as potent over 20 years!

  • Watch out Baharain
    “John Timoney’s Journey from Miami to Manama
    David Rovics

    John Timoney, until recently chief of police of Miami and before that Philadelphia, formerly of New York City, where he also was a high-ranking cop, is heading to Bahrain to train the cops there, according to the Associated Press. If you happen to know anybody from Bahrain who might be thinking that hiring this New Yorker could be a step in the direction of less massacre-oriented policing policies, this might be a good time to relieve them of any such illusions.

    John Timoney is a deceitful thug. Here’s the background in a nutshell, for all who might be interested. In 1999 tens of thousands of peaceful protesters shut down the streets of Seattle and more or less shut down the big meeting of the World Trade Organization. Because they were peacefully blocking roads they were violently attacked by thousands of cops with massive amounts of tear gas and other weapons. In another part of town (Nike Town) a couple hundred people destroyed corporate property, were declared to be violent anarchists, and got massive amounts of media attention. The police chased them around but could never seem to catch them. Nobody got hurt in Nike Town other than the violent anarchists.

    At every protest against corporate rule after that one, the corporate media went into high gear terrorizing everybody about how violent anarchists from Seattle were coming to destroy the city. Many people started believing this mythology, and it became a good enough pretext for future violent attacks on peaceful protesters after Seattle. It became a good enough pretext for cities like Philadelphia and Miami to hire police chiefs like John Timoney. They hired Timoney because of his reputation as a brutal man willing to get the job done, no matter how many heads had to be cracked open to do it.

    In Philadelphia in 2000 the job was to keep the Republican National Convention flowing smoothly, with the protesters kept at bay. In 2003 the job was to keep the Free Trade Area of the Americas talks going along unimpeded. By all accounts the RNC protests in Philadelphia were especially notable because of widespread police brutality — both in the streets and in the jails. In 2003 I was in Miami for the FTAA talks, and what I saw from the time I got there to the time I left was a city under martial law.

    John Timoney was the man in charge, and he was telling the people of Miami and his police force that the violent anarchists from Seattle were coming to destroy the city. He took it further, showing his troops artfully-edited video footage that was supposedly of the Seattle protests, where it appeared there were injured or dead police on the ground at the protests (this never happened). These Miami police were scared, and for no reason. Timoney presumably knew they had no reason to be scared, but there was no doubt that many of these cops believed the media lies which Timoney had been exaggerating even more for their benefit.

    Every downtown exit was shut down for days, and almost all the stores and restaurants were shuttered, shop owners made to fear riots that would never happen. Massives fences were erected everywhere, and thousands of police everywhere you looked were wearing the most sinister-looking riot gear, many of them weighted down with an array of “non-lethal” weapons of all kinds, along with the lethal ones there for backup.

    In one arbitrary moment the protests were declared illegal and within moments thousands of mostly young people were being drenched with tear gas and attacked, many of them in their backs, with bean bag bullets, rubber-coated steel bullets, tazers, and clubs. As people ran into the poor, mostly Black neighborhood near where the conference was taking place, people were helpful, and were also informing them that certain people in their neighborhood had been told by Miami police that they should be encouraged to rob the protesters coming in from out of town — any potential criminals were apparently given free reign to mug for the duration.

    Make no mistake, unfortunate people of Bahrain — this man is coming to make everything even worse. But he’ll smile at the cameras glowingly, and tell them how his police are all acting with the utmost restraint and respect for freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It won’t be true, though.

    JT inspired me to verse twice. Here are the songs I wrote in his honor:”

    “Butcher for Hire”

  • And


  • Michael: Link to her blog….

    Thanks for the info on root cellars. I read about Sepp’s root cellar on and originally was going to go in that direction. We can’t get cedar, and locals told me with the locust that there would always be a moisture problem here where we have heavy clay. If you live in a climate with other soils they will work fine. Already going to pack the hay as suggested, and we will layer the produce with feed bags. Got more advice last night from a neighbor. He said, to set the pipe in place first, and then raise it off the ground 2 inches, and then come in a pour your slab. It will set everything in place.

    Thanks again

  • The heavyweights are getting involved…Brian Ahern of MIT has a theory about LENR that might make the physics world stand up and listen:

    This is big, and it is going to get bigger with scientists of this calibre getting involved. Not only practical applications like Rossi’s device or similar, but to significantly widen our understanding of physics and the Laws of Thermodynamics which LENR appears to circumvent. Ahern is apparently convinced that he can get to Rossi’s output level and perhaps much more as the understanding of ‘nanomagnetism’ matures. He will be giving a presentation of his new theory on Dec 7.

  • On a more positive note:

    Thawing permafrost vents gases to worsen warming

    Massive amounts of greenhouse gases trapped below thawing permafrost will likely seep into the air over the next several decades, accelerating and amplifying global warming, scientists warn.

  • Obviously we are well past all tipping points. This is not linear. The problems will continue to come faster and larger. Have a good time while you still can. The majority will be deniers to the end.

  • I suspect it will become clearer to some of us all the time that when we created an economic system that thrived on the competitive nature of humans rather than their cooperative side we created a monster that might finally destroy us.

    Most economists have never accepted the basic fact that the economic system had to exist within the constraints provided by Earth’s ecosystem, not the other way around. Thus the monster had two inherent flaws. First, its appetite, driven by the constant need for growth, for natural resource inputs continued to grow, gobbling up the easiest ones to find first, whether coal, oil, copper, lumber, or whatever. Second, the monster also created a stream of waste outputs, most of which entered our streams, lakes, oceans, and atmosphere.

    Now the monster is totally out of control, yet corporations, economists, and politicians want to keep feeding the beast, even while they continue to try to ignore what’s happening on both ends. Inputs are getting more expensive and harder to find, e.g. oil, which may have reached its peak production or soon will. Waste outputs are even worse because, especially here, they are mostly ignored or treated as fictional. The most obvious of these right now are carbon emissions, along with methane from vast agricultural systems, especially some livestock.

    If nothing changes, the monster we’ve created may be little more than a disguised asteroid, much like the one that ended the world of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

  • The following is a response I made earlier today to a group of people who share an interest especially in human population growth:

    You are right to recognize that neither extreme is real. It is also unlikely that humans will find a suitable, i.e. sustainable, middle ground. As I’ve suggested before, to do so we would have to put away the competitive side of our nature and replace it with the cooperative side, a transition that seems unlikely given our current economic system.

    Virtually all of the growth in our population today is occurring in poor countries, where the ecological footprint per capita is small–according to some estimates a billion or so people in these regions are now starving and another two billion are malnourished. On the other hand, it is the richest billion or so, here, in the Eurozone, and in Japan for the most part, that have huge ecological footprints and will ultimately be most responsible for everything from sustained global warming to the extinction of ever more competing species.

    Population growth is now almost nil in those rich countries, but not economic growth, which remains our greatest objective and worst threat. People need to rethink the global economic system by clearly understanding that the system works like a giant beast, devouring resources at one end (including energy resources but many others as well) and passing them out at the other end (including carbon emissions but also numerous other gases and solids as waste products).

    This system is efficient but not equitable. It is the center of our current predicament, however, and it needs to be overhauled. Corporations should have to internalize all those costs that now are passed off as externalilties, including carbon emissions as well as a variety of other gases and solids, many of which affect both human and planetary health. If the U.S. and China cannot agree on what to do about their carbon emissions, then business as usual will continue until we face something catastrophic. So far, this seems the likely course to me.

    If we wanted, as most economists do, to have everyone in the world live like we do in the U.S., then the world could support only about 900 million to perhaps 1.2 billion. But those numbers would be unsustainable because those people, even if they could stabilize their populations, would continue to gobble resources too fast and emit carbon, methane, and other greenhouse gases that would assure the planet would become increasingly unable to support them in the manner to which they had become accustomed.

    The dinosaurs were luckier than we are because as they sat around on top of the food chain enjoying life at the top, they did not see the asteroid coming that would end their long journey on earth and clear the way for the rise of mammals, including humans. Our misfortune, indeed our human tragedy, is that we see that what we are doing may well lead to our extinction, and certainly to the extinction of thousands, then tens and hundreds of thousands, of our fellow travelers on Earth, but we will do nothing to end the path that we’re on. For the smartest animals ever produced on our planet, we seem pretty damned stupid.

  • Ed,

    I didn’t want you to feel obligated.

    Michael Irving

  • YouTube: LDS Prepper Build A Rocket Stove, Step-by-Step:
    Build a Camping Rocket Stove from Leftover Food Cans

  • I am 61 years old and I have known about the ecological crisis since I was 18 years old. In the time since then, every “change” I’ve seen has been exactly what shouldn’t have been done.

    I’m not going to go into chapter and verse here, although I could. Rather, I am going to say what people who are aware of the perfect storm of disasters just up the road can do now to not only make survival likely but also to make life a lot better, much higher quality.

    Before beginning, get over the idea that individual or family lifeboats are a viable survival plan. They guarantee more suffering than the near-term transition to decentralized, low-energy human settlements needs to entail. Suffering is optional. Hard work at overcoming the social divisions that serve as barriers to cooperation is not optional.

    First, organize local political power in your neighborhood (300 people is a good size for a political unit). Make sure you know everyone in your community, and begin experimenting in exercising power at the most local levels. Get your neighbors on board the effort to make a success out of societal failure. Learn consensus process and get good at it. Include everyone in the decision-making process. The General Assemblies the Occupy movement borrowed from the UN is a good tool for organizing into what you need to be – a group that can make decisions and carry them out, and then examine them to learn how to do things better.

    Second, build local economies that provide what life requires. Get over the confusion of wants and needs, and get over the idea that profiting at another’s expense is a good survival strategy. Learn social ethics that result in no losers and build your economy around that ethic.

    Third, make certain as possible that everyone in your local economy will get the water, food, and shelter they will require. Provide for growing food and collecting water and make what changes need to be made so that everyone has shelter.

    Forth, organize citizen security measures so that everyone takes a turn at protecting everyone else. Train to overcome lethal force. Become adept at using violence to protect your community and expert at healing the damage that doing violence does to the human psyche.

    Fifth, withdraw from the domination paradigm in all your affairs. This is The Problem that required rapid adaptation. It’s unstable by nature.

    Sixth, consciously develop your full humanity and cooperate with others in developing theirs.

    Seventh, restore your local ecosystems so their ecological services can once more be counted on. Leave more than you take, so the resilience of your life support system grows.

    It may not happen in that sequence, and these are suggestions, not rules. Exercise their spirit of becoming the people you could have been all along but for ______________ .

    I learned this OS for thriving from writing my forthcoming novel, not from applying them in the real world. I live in Texas.

  • An excellent prescription, Tommy Tolson! 

    First, organize local political power in your neighborhood

    Actions ( including thinking about those actions) requires motivation. The motivation comes from the non-rational, non-verbal subconscious (the “lizard brain”). Reprogramming that is a sine qua non, but it is the most difficult undertaking by far. If you have an effective prescription for that,  all your suggestions will follow naturally by themselves. 

  • Tommy, those are some good suggestions. In a world of seven billion people it amazes me that economists and others continue to talk about sustaining what we’re doing. I live in CA. Native Americans came here at least 10,000 years ago and lived sustainably for thousands of years, until the Europeans showed up. They left only light impacts on CA’s landscape.

    Today, after less than three centuries of European occupation, CA has at least 37 million people and there is hardly a square mile of the state that hasn’t been altered by these people and their culture. To talk about sustaining what has been going on here is to ignore many signs in the landscape. Despite that, CA is doing a better job than most states in trying to deal with its problems, including both mitigating and adapting to the global warming that is headed our way.

    Will it be enough? I don’t know, but I doubt it, in part because vastly reducing carbon emissions (and methane emissions as well) will require a serious international effort. In turn that would require the U.S. and China to come to their senses about carbon emissions, which seems unlikely.

    As for Texas, go along with the governor and keep praying for rain.