Peak oil, the new boom-bust cycle and gold

by Mark Motive at Plan B Economics

The world is experiencing the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. So why is oil hovering around $100/bbl? And as a gold investor, why should you care about oil?

Some might point to developments in the Middle East as the reason for high oil prices. However, I believe the root cause of current Middle East angst is the steady depletion of easily accessible oil and, consequently, government revenues needed to quell the population. Everything that is happening across the Middle East — citizen revolts, government crack downs, production disruptions and oil price inflation — tells me the world may have crossed the point of peak oil.

I don’t think the world will run out of oil anytime soon. However, based on the advice of expert geologists, I do believe that a) the world is running out of inexpensive oil and b) global demand is pressuring oil prices.

Given these pre-conditions, it is my view that the world has entered a new boom-bust cycle driven by oil prices. Oscillating oil prices — as opposed to credit cycles — will repeatedly stimulate and crash the highly levered global economy. Governments have not recognized this new cycle, and as part of a fruitless effort to retain control over deteriorating real growth and rising unemployment central banks will print more and more money, risking a hyperinflationary depression (stagflation at best). The only respite for many investors is gold.

The 2008 Financial Crisis was the First of Many

During the last thirty years debt has spread like a cancer throughout the developed world. Today’s consumption was financed by tomorrow’s higher revenues, creating a vicious cycle between growth and the need for debt. This system worked as long as growth needed to repay expanding credit could be subsidized by inexpensive energy.

Unfortunately, rising oil prices have stealthily and persistently chipped away at the foundation of our heavily indebted financial system. Ultimately, in 2008, oil prices and total debt passed the threshold beyond which the economy could not operate, and the financial system came crashing down. With collapsing demand, oil prices fell.

Many mistakenly point to sub-prime mortgages and CDSs as the cause of the 2008 crisis — I believe they were merely the transmission mechanisms. In reality, rising oil prices eroded the weakest links in the increasingly levered global economic system.

Enter the Central Banks

As we’ve witnessed repeatedly since Richard Nixon suspended dollar convertibility into gold, the Federal Reserve solves all economic problems with the monetary cure-all. Either by using the proverbial helicopter or the Treasury as an intermediary, central banks have repeatedly pumped liquidity into the economy and bought bad debts from the private sector. This effectively transfers the bad debt to the taxpayer by way of liability and currency debasement. In addition, fiscal policy (which is often the hand maiden of monetary policy) adds additional public sector debt in the name of stimulus. In whole, debt burdens and money supply rise. Of course, all this is done under the assumption that the economy will somehow be able to repay these new debts through future growth.

In the new boom-bust cycle driven by oil prices, the central banks are unknowingly impotent. As the economy crashes, they print money to stimulate economic activity, but it is short-lived and inflationary. More stimulative is the lower oil prices caused by the crash. However, any renewed growth and inflation sends oil prices back up towards another threshold, once again breaking the weakest links of the economy…and the default-bailout-growth cycle repeats.

Right now, oil price inflation is most noticeable when we fill up our gas tanks. But as high oil prices become pervasive throughout the economy the destruction of aggregate wealth will intensify. This will increase the number of weak links throughout the economy. It will also increase the sensitivity of those weak links to higher oil prices — another vicious cycle.

Consequently, as the default-bailout-growth cycle repeats and rising oil prices become more omnipresent, periods of economic growth become weaker, and periods of economic bust more frequent and persistent. Eventually, as the cycle repeats, the sharp economic contrasts of boom and bust blend together becoming a permanent shade of economic grey.

Saved by Gold

As they did in 2008, central banks will print money to bail out collapsing financial infrastructure and support a growing mass of unemployed. While each cycle may begin as a deflationary shock, causing gold prices to decline, the eventual monetary response will destroy currencies and send gold prices soaring. This has already started to happen.

Unless high ROI replacement energy sources are found, over the long-run this cycle could turn into a hyperinflationary depression, as central banks naïvely fight a losing battle. Savings could be wiped out as the value of paper currency plummets, and in the new boom-bust cycle one of the few ways to protect wealth over the long run may be to own gold.

Mark Motive is the publisher and chief author for, a contrarian source for economic and market insights. Contact him at

Comments 73

  • Mark, a well-written explanation of the economics behind the current peak-oil situation. Perhaps you weren’t wishing to include too many variables in your analysis, but I don’t believe that this topic can be considered thoroughly without also including overpopulation, global warming, and, at a minimum, peak agriculture and peak fresh water. While your suggestion that gold may be the only way to preserve wealth may be appropriate in the very near short term, it’s important to remember that you can’t eat gold.

    The value of gold is similar to that of fiat currency except that instead of a government declaring it has value, the world at large does – otherwise, there’s no difference. Once the general populace no longer recognizes any worth in it, gold becomes worthless. That’s where we’re headed.

    When you consider how many people there are in the world, each of whom requires daily food and water, and then combine that with the rising cost of oil (used in all aspects of food growth, production, and distribution) and the depletion of fresh water, you have a catastrophe in the making. Add in the global warming dynamic and the catastrophe morphs into worldwide collapse. All the gold in the world can’t help in that situation.

    Imagine this scenario: the price of oil continues to rise to the breaking point for the economy. Then, when the economy slows down, instead of the price of oil also going down due to decreased demand, the increased costs of obtaining and producing that oil make producers scale back production, thereby making it scarcer, not cheaper. (As you allude to in your essay, we’re seeing aspects of that now.) Then, imagine that all the petroleum byproducts used in agriculture become scarce as well. As the economy tanks, credit becomes so tight that farmers can’t get any money to buy these items even when they can be found. Add in a widespread drought similar to the one going on right now in Texas and you have total crop failure. A hundred years ago, there was enough wiggle room in the world’s ability to feed its population that we could accommodate this type of situation. Today, that wiggle room is gone even in the years of plenty. In years of lean, people starve – lots of them.

    What can an ounce of gold do to help a hungry mother looking for a scrap of food to feed her starving child? This may seem preposterous by today’s standards, but that’s almost certainly where many billions in the world are headed in the near future.

    Savvy investors should be buying land on which they can grow food. They should be learning the skills that their ancestors took for granted. They should be investing in a practical education that teaches them how to survive without the modern industrial agriculture. They shouldn’t be doing these things to “increase their wealth” but rather for their very survival. If you truly want to give your clients “contrarian” advice, drop the bit about gold and give them the whole picture.

  • I agree with Dr. House completely. We are educated in this system that we can do anything with money, but if food and resources are not available, what are we going to buy with gold and money?. Best investment is community, land and skills. I also have to say that the financial analysis that makes most sense to me is at The automatic Earth site.

  • Gold will continue to play a role in a post-Collapse economy. Its small size will facilitate large economic transactions, such as sales of land, herds, and cargo vessels. This is how it was done, historically. True, it will be of much less practical value to nearly everyone; and everyday transactions will probably involve silver, copper, and nickel coinage, as well as (probably to a majority extent) barter. The phrase “Gold is the money of kings, silver is the money of gentlemen, barter is the money of peasants, and debt is the money of slaves” describes a feudal monetary system, into which we are already sliding back.

    That being said, I agree with TRDH and Sergio, at least as regards the majority of people: buy land if you can, learn practical skills, and help strengthen your community. (I suspect the latter will happen anyway, as the top-down enforcement of social order continues to break down. We will actually see less crime, I believe, as TPTB are able to exert less and less influence, and people realize that they alone are responsible for their safety.)

  • Christopher, love the phrase about “Gold is the money of kings . . .”

    I agree that gold will most likely have a role of some sort as long as we have an economy. When we go back to hunter-gatherers (if we survive that long), then it will have no function of which I can conceive. Of course, we’re speaking of physical gold. The type of gold that most investors “own” isn’t real. It’s a piece of paper which states that they own a portion of some gold stored somewhere – not much different that the old “gold/silver certificates” that we used to call money. Oh, the gold is supposed to be real, but I doubt much of it is. In the same way that there isn’t enough money in the world to pay off all the debt, I suspect that there isn’t enough physical gold to meet all the obligations for that which has been sold.

    Myself, I own a little (very little) physical gold – primarily so that when the money system collapses I can continue to operate – at least for a little while. It will take some time before everything comes grinding to a halt after fiat money goes away. During that time, workers will still want to be paid, etc. But, my guess is that it won’t take long at all before most people begin to realize that bartering for day to day goods is the only viable option on the local level.

  • If we’ve had a boom at any time since the financial crisis of 2008 then I must have missed it. If GDP was calculated using true inflation rather than the fictitious figure provided by governments then we have been in a deep recession since at least 2008 (in the Western industrialized nations at least). Following a financial crisis the oil price will never again remain low enough for long enough to enter a period that could be described as boom. So talk of a boom-bust cycle is misleading; from now on there is only bust and worse bust.

  • TRDH – ditto would be enough but I will write a bit anyway. BTW you have some excellent trade skills – birthing babies, sewing wounds, setting bones etc. will be high value trade skills.

    Money, whether paper or metal is still based on trust. You accept money for goods or services in the belief that someone else will give you what you want for that money, and they likewise have to trust that someone else will give them what they want for that money. Without trust no money is useful. Guy has predicted literal lights out in 2012. If that prediction is correct, when the grid fails, chaos will ensue and trust will be hard to come by. People will trade for what they need or what they are sure someone else will want. Booze might be a far more worthwhile coin to hold than money. Cigarettes and chocolate have been common trade items in war zones. But food will be tops perhaps. Everyone needs it.

    If people want to keep gold they risk having it stolen, whereas skills such as farming, fishing, birthing go with your body and if people want to appropriate it they have to keep you alive. With gold they may figure better to kill you to steal it. At any rate I would at the time of collapse remove all rings from your hands. Fingers have been cut off just to get a ring.

    A slow collapse is of course different, but I think this collapse will not be slow, or gradual, and that involves a whole new way of looking at trade in times of chaos. The book One Second After is about the US after an EMP attack cuts all electric power. I think people can get a fair idea of what the coming world is going to look like from the book.

  • If the story of money we have been told is correct, goldsmiths held other people’s gold in their vaults for safe keeping and issued promisory notes.

    If the Russians, Indians, Chinese, Iranians, Venezuelans etc. do in fact have cruise missiles capable of low-level flight at around three times the speed of sound it could be all over for a lot of people before they even hear it coming. Indeed, it doesn’t even take a supersonic missile for it to be all over before you hear it coming: 600+ in the Phillipines obviously never saw it coming (or didn’t have time to move). By the way, the Nelson/Tasman region of NZ has been the latest to be hit by nature, though nowhere as badly as elsewhere in the world. Nevertheless, each incident requires the expenditure of declining energy and resources to facilitate a cleanup and attempt a restoration.

    For the moment most people around here remain oblivious to financial collapse, energy depletion and environmental degradation amd still think that current economic arrangements will continue indefinitely.

    It does rather look as though the awakening will come some time in 2012.

  • *.pdf download (free)

    One Second After

  • @Kathy C wrote: “Booze might be a far more worthwhile coin to hold than money.”

    It’s been an off-year for pears. We just finished giving a cider-making workshop this afternoon, in which we pressed 40 litres of our own juice and another 40 for participants from fruit they brought. I’m now warming our pear juice to ~20C in preparation for pitching yeast tonight. (Don’t want to temp-shock the little buggers.)

    But last year, I got over 120 litres of juice from the same tree. We drank some in the past year, but last week, I put 80 litres of organic estate perry in Grolsch bottles after ageing nearly a year, so the barrel would be ready for today’s juicing. (Wow, did we really drink 40 litres before it was ready? :-)

    What’s it worth? In dollars, nothing. It cannot be legally sold, and the authorities are quite adamant about that. But as far as “tradin’ stock,” it’s money in the bank.

    I just took a goat to a buck to be bred. Normally, they’d want $3 per day boarding – $42 for the two-week stay — but they knew I didn’t have any money. They asked for half a bag of grain and two bales of hay, which I didn’t have, either, since we use chopped silage, not bales. So I offered them two litres of perry, and they took it.

    So by that measure, the juice from our pear tree (plus 79 cents worth of yeast) is worth $21 a litre — almost as much as 40-proof alcohol from the liquor store.

    But I can’t get $21 a litre cash for the 80 litres I bottled last week. That’s where the “trust” that Kathy C writes about comes into play. These people know I’m there for them if they need some help with their goats. Next year, it might be me boarding theirs during breeding season. Or I might be milking for them if they have to go away. That is what turns pear juice into valuable goods and services — trust and relationship.

    So if you think food-bearing land is worth more than gold — and if you want to get into the local trust and relationship business — we could use some help. We need mid-six-figures to secure this wonderful 43 acre spot (growing zone 8+, where kale and chard can be harvested year-round) so we can continue with this social experiment that may be tomorrow’s social necessity.

    If wisdom comes from experience and experience comes from making mistakes, we’re on the way to genius status here. Come help us make mistakes while things are still forgiving, so we’ll all have the experience and wisdom when times really get hard.

    Now I’ve gotta get back to working on that still — for herbal essential oils, of course. We all know pear brandy is worthless next to gold.

  • Investing with Jan would certainly be far more worthwhile for the future than gold….

  • Thank you, Mark Motive, for your analysis.

    The comment by some readers, “you can’t eat gold” draws

    attention to the fact that with progressive contraction in the

    availibility of “needs & wants”, everything gets prioritized to

    the basics: hydration (adequate potable water), nutrition

    (adequate food), homeothermy (maintenance of body

    temperature: adequate clothing & shelter). Community can

    mediate the exchange and acquisition of all the preceding, in

    addition to providing some measure of security.

    The “economy” is the means of exchanging and making more

    accessible these “needs & wants” vis-à-vis the claims to them.

    These “needs & wants” derive from the primary economy,

    natural resources. These have to be converted into usable

    items, such as food/potable water/clothing & shelter. Together

    with services (to effectively use some of the usable items: for

    surgical instruments, a surgeon; for a forge, a blacksmith)

    these constitute the secondary economy of “needs & wants”. It

    also includes the use of skills needed to convert the natural

    resources into the usable items, such as carpenters, masons,


    A critical item in the conversion is energy. Hunter-gatherers

    had available to them endosomatic (from within their bodies –

    their own muscle power) energy; the harnessing of fire made it

    possible to cook (in a sense, partially predigest and sterilize)

    food with exosomatic (from outside their bodies) energy.

    Agriculture and animal husbandry contributed to food and thus

    to endosomtic energy. “Beasts of burden” and draught animals

    directly harnessed exosomatic energy, as did later sun, and the

    energy of wind and water in motion.

    Fossil fuels were the wellspring of seemingly limitless power

    (power = the flow of energy over time, the concentration of

    energy) to convert natural resources into usable items. The

    narrative attributes to technology the primacy in effecting this

    conversion. A closer approach to reality would be the

    recognition that technology was and is the modus operandi for

    exploiting this ancient and concentrated sunshine.

    The rest of the economy – the tertiary economy – consists of

    symbols purported to represent values in the primary and

    serondary economies. There are a whole hierarthy of such

    symbols, from primary symbols – pieces of paper bearing green

    pictures of dead presidents – to higher order derivatives. Each

    order represents the claim to convertibility into the next lower

    order, with the primary symbols representing convertibility

    into natural resources and usable items. A mortgage on the

    creditor side represents convertibility into pictures of dead

    presidents (or alternatively – as a backstop – into a house), a

    CD represents convertibility into the pichures, a CDO

    represents convertibility into the credid side of bits and pieces

    of multiple mortgages, etc. Even stocks, while purporting to

    represent a fraciton in the physical assets of a

    business/corporation/etc. are more commonly viewed in terms

    of their convertibility into the pictures.

    These symbols are supposed to serve as a medium of exchange

    and as a store of value. Both attirbutes depend on the trust of

    the holder of the symbols in the good faith of the counter-party

    who has to pony up whatever the symbols represent when the

    time comes due to redeem the symbols. Of course the

    redemption can be postponed by accreting more symbols to

    the total as the cost of the postponement. Such an accretion

    when lending the symbols in the first place is considered the

    cost of renting the symbols for a period of time, and termed

    “interest”. This presumes that there will be a comparable

    increase in the primary natural resources and/or in the

    secondary usable items & associaed services (the ultimate base

    for the entire hierarchy of symbols) over that period of time.

    To the extent that this presumption is divorced from reality,

    the proliferation of symbols incommensurate with the primary

    and secondary economies is possible: such relaxation of

    constraints is even welcomed. But when a higher-order of

    symbols (such as derivatives) have proliferated past the point

    where they can be exchanged for a lower-order symbol (such as

    the pictures) at the stated rate, the higher-order symbols lose

    their value. Unless of course Big Ben steps in creating more of

    the lower-order symbols to exchange for the highel-order

    symbols, the exchange rate of the lower-order symbols for

    resources/goods & services be damned – which is inflation.

    The stores of fossilized ancient sunshine being finite, must

    deplete. A return to prior exosomatic sources may ameliorate

    the situation somewhat, but the two factors that provent those

    sources from effectively replacing the fossil fuels is their

    concentration (power, the amount of energy that can flow over

    unit time), and the amount of Energy Returned on Energy

    Invested (ERoEI).

    To increase the conversion rate from resources to goods &

    services requires not only adequate reaining resources, but

    also increasing energy flows so as to keep up with the

    presumed value of the interest on loans and the putative

    “growth” in the higher-orders of the symbolic economy. Instead

    the shrinking energy flows will cause the entire hierarchy of

    symbols to wither: larger numbers of higher-order symbols

    chasing smaller numbers of lower-order symbols means that

    more of the higher-order symbols will be needed in exchange

    for a given number of lower-order symbols. Pumping in more

    freshly-created lowest-level symbols (the pictures) will and does

    provide an appearance sans substance of sustaining the system:

    but this is a temporary respite: the denouement cannot be


    The use of symbols that cannot be created at will – gold &

    silver, may provide a backstop, with a store of value and a

    medium of exchange. But when the resources, goods &

    services available for exchange decline below the quanitites

    needed to maintain the putative rate of exchange, even the gold

    and silver will be chasing smaller amounts of resources, goods

    and services: but this will be very many orders of magnitude

    less than the mischief wrought in the domain of symbols that

    can be produced at will.

    A new and “limitless” source of enorgy such as Low-Energy

    Nuclear Reactions (LENR) and/or Liquid Fluoride Thorium

    Reactors (LFTR) – if they pan out – will power the conveyer

    belt from resource to product to garbage dump. One of the

    cardinal features of technology is (unsustainable) linear flows

    instead of closed loops fourd in natural systems. Despoilation

    of the resources will continue, with the limiting factor

    becoming a more severe depletion of non-energy resources. Not to forget that limitless galactic scale energy has the potential to fry the earth.

    The “conquest” of space could be considered a possibility with such a limitless source of energy, opening up realms with limitless natural resources. The gravity wells and times taken to travel the distances may still be a limiting if not aborting factor. And there are other considerations also.

    There is no substitute for proximate attention to the basic biological needs: hydration, nutrition, homeothermy, and as a mediator in securing them through creation and distribution – communtity.

  • For NBL readers interested in accuracy, Rachel Maddow’s piece on prolonged detention (posted by Guy last Thursday, December 15th) was actually video-taped on May 21st, 2009, not long after President O took office. He had just given a speech on National Security.

    A transcript of his entire speech (11 pages, 6500 words) is located here:

    You’ll have to peck around for Rachel’s extracted sound bites because none of them are contiguous.

  • Great comments from everyone. They opened my mind to areas where I can develop and clarify my forecast.

    Allow me to provide some context to the article…this article is more about gold vs. cash/financial assets than gold vs. other real assets.

    I say this because as the booms (more like inflationary booms, not real economic growth) and busts worsen, they will be met by by increasingly desperate reflation attempts by central banks. I think central banks will destroy currencies with failed attempts to re-boot the system.

    Generally, (as many comments point out) real assets (including gold, farmland, skills, food) will probably outperform financial assets (fiat currency, stocks). I do agree that gold won’t be a panacea and may under-perform other real assets. However, like any portfolio, people shouldn’t place all their eggs into one asset that they assume will outperform. I believe maximum utility is derived when an individual a) minimizes risk to wealth (e.g. what if farmland in the particular area you buy turns out to be a bad bet?), and b) maximizes flexibility (e.g. if a quick escape is needed transporting $1MM in gold is possible, whereas real estate would have to be left behind – we witnessed this in WWII Germany).

    If one has surplus wealth (i.e. already has skills, gun, food production, etc.), or simply needs to diversify, gold is a good alternative to fiat currencies. Anyone holding cash as this devolution takes place could get slaughtered.

    Gold has been viewed as a store of value for thousands of years because it is indestructible, compact, portable, fungible, divisible, measurable and not printable. Also, the fact that gold has no utility is what makes it a good store of wealth. Other real asset prices fluctuate with industrial supply/demand. Gold’s price fluctuates with its perceived value as a store of wealth and its availability relative to other assets.

    Even if we did return to a barter system, after the dust settles many would become frustrated with the system’s extreme inefficiency (imagine trying to barter for a farm). Like our ancestors for thousands of years, we would again seek a currency with which to trade.

  • I have to say one more thing about gold. As TRDH is saying, the only valuable thing would be to have the physical gold, not the paper gold as an asset. Here in Mexico gold mining in the last decade left the town El Cerro de San Pedro in state of San Luis Potosí devastated, it’s hill, It’s soil, it’s water, and it’s people, because of all the dynamite used, cyanide for the lixiviation beds, all the water mixed in to it and the runoff to the soil, the illness of their people who are dying at their 40’s. So our “security” of having physical gold or silver for the increased population, is also screwing big time some one else and ourselves later on for the damage on the planet, just one more beauty of industrial civilization.

  • This talk of physical gold reminds me of the scam that was exposed a couple of years ago whereby blocks of tungsten coated with gold were being traded as gold. (The density of tungsten is extremely close to that of gold).

    In a world full of deceit, especially in the financial sector, one has to wonder how much of the gold in circulation is actually solid gold.

    That said, even tungsten coated with gold looks to be a better long term investement than paper or digits in computer systems:

    (Is this setting the tone for the markets for the week?)

  • Investing in gold equities is not such a great idea today unless you actually take delivery of it and put it somewhere safe. Most of those folks who do not have actual possession of their gold will likely find their investments are mere vapour after the markets collapse as there simply is not enough real gold to cover all the purchases. And Kevin makes a good point about phoney gold…even if you actually take delivery, how do you know it is real? Have assessed? Yes, but then what if it is fake? Think you are going to be able to exchange it for the real thing? By the time you take delivery, it is too late – no gold, no money. So if you order gold, make sure you know the seller and can trust that company. Otherwise, invest in land…at least you can visit land before you purchase.

  • Mark, you are still looking at the future as if it will be somewhat like the present with gold and its performance compared to other assets. Most here are of the mindset that what we need to know is whether ducks outperform chickens, pole beans outperform bush beans, what bow saw or axe performs best, etc. I don’t think you quite grasp that most regular posters here think utter chaos with a large dieoff of human population is the scenario for the very near future. I suggest you find a community that needs a worker and begin to learn to use your body to supply the energy your body needs. It is not something you can learn overnight

  • Rex Wexler has an article about Odum’s work on Energy Bulletin this morning. Quite appropriate to this discussion

    brief quote which echoes Robin’s comment:
    “Real wealth has no money flow until humans impose one. All non-human societies and human societies for most of human history consumed Nature’s real wealth without money. Modern human societies, for example, pay loggers and fishermen to harvest Nature’s embodied energy. Inside the human system, money can expand exponentially, but “real wealth” remains limited by energy, materials, and biophysical processes.”

    Full article at

  • Kathy C

    I suggest you find a community that needs a worker and begin to learn to use your body to supply the energy your body needs.

    Do such communities really exist and, if so, how do you find them? Even if you could find them, unless you have the skills of TRDH or the mid six figure sum Jan mentions would you be welcome?


    See the question I just posed to Kathy. Would you welcome somebody to your community if they had nothing to offer apart from a willingless to learn and work?


    Nobody here is going to disagree that real physical gold is a better bet than paper gold, cash and shares. True also that it is a good idea to diversify and hold physical gold if you can afford to. However, I suspect that those who post here who are fortunate enough to have some land and to have achieved some degree of self sufficiency would rather die than be forced to leave, whatever wealth they have in their backpack. This is due to the effort already invested, having nowhere to go and the fact most posters are too old to start again. (Sorry if I offended anybody there, I am perhaps only projecting my own feelings onto others.) Even Guy has written that should he be driven from the mud hut he has a plan to re-take it.


    Thanks for the pdf link.

  • Yorchichan, no offense taken, but yes I am too old to pick up and move. Done too much of that in my life. Have 15 years invested in my garden soil and I would not abandon that for all the gold in the world.

    I don’t know how helpful it is but there is a communities directory to try link people with communities at

    At the top of this page is a link to NBL classifieds

  • If you plan for Financial Collapse:

    If you plan for Cultural/Social collapse:

    “I am very sorry because i have to destroy some popular opinions on some things, but i just have to do that. When i said and keep saying “no rules” i mean that…
    So again on bartering and gold and silver:

    No, gold and silver was not like second money, or second value during SHTF, it was not even worth like in normal times, and in most of the cases it was dangerous to have it…”

  • Kathy C: I think most would agree that none of us can predict the future with certainty. I do see a distinct probability that it looks like the pre-18th century world, but I also recognize that there is a wide range of possible futures. Even if one of us is right, our timing could be very wrong.

    I think all of us need to prepare so we can mitigate the judgement errors we will inevitibly make.

  • Mark, oil is expected to deplete at 3% a year – which in 30 years means we have 10% of the oil left. We can’t turn to coal because we need oil to get it out, the easy to get high energy coal is gone. The old growth (high energy density wood) trees are mostly gone. The fertile soil is eroded (when man made or mined fertilizer fails we will find out just how eroded it is). Add to that climate change progressing ever more quickly than the most pessimistic scientists predicts and I find your future impossible. However I have noted that most who predict the future after peak oil predict a future they think they could imagine living in and never predict the future that the facts on the ground clearly point to.

  • Yorchichan

    As for community, send Guy and email and ask him to put you in touch with Adam in the UK who is forming a community in Wales.

    Good luck to you.

  • Yorchichan Says: “Would you welcome somebody to your community if they had nothing to offer apart from a willingless to learn and work?”

    We do it all the time, particularly in the summer.

    But we strictly separate capital from operations. Some people come here expecting “sweat equity” for producing current income. That doesn’t work, because it dilutes existing shares. So guaranteed tenure on-site is going to require some cash input.

    We’re listed on the ATTRA site that Kathy C mentioned, and also, and a few others.

  • Victor and Kathy

    Thanks for the community advice, but I was really asking from a general rather than a personal perspective. If I was planning on staying in the UK I might be tempted, but I find winter in the UK bad enough even now when we still have affordable fuel to heat our homes. Despite the good soils and plentiful rainfall in the UK, I don’t agree with you, Victor, that the UK will be a good place to be if the bottleneck can be survived.

    I checked out communities near Chiang Mai using the link you provided, Kathy, and there is the Pun Pun project ( in an area I am considering living in. I had actually heard of this and considered visiting before, but it will be strictly as a day visitor; paying $11 per day for the privilege of working is not the sort of relationship I would want to have with a community and only encourages my cynicism.

  • Jan

    I understand that you could not let strangers come join you and have an equal ownership of the land simply from doing a share of the work. Things could possibly have worked that way a few hundred years ago but not now and in the future even less so. Perhaps that is my point, that those who are disenfranchised now have little opportunity to achieve security.

  • 3/4 way through One Second After. Grim, but reality will probably be worse.

  • I read One Second After earlier this year. I thought it was very well written and quite realistic except for one important omission: nuclear power plants. But if you think of what’s going to happen to those post-collapse … well let’s just say there wouldn’t be much story to write about if those were included.

  • ‘Investing with Jan would certainly be far more worthwhile for the future than gold….’ -kathy, in response to jan steinman’s appeal to join his (i think jan’s male, not sure) ecovillage near vancouver canada.

    i’m thinking the same thing. too bad we’re (jan and i) a continent apart. maybe i can find something similarly intriguing about 5,000 km to the east.

    re. gold as an investment, i think mark, victor, and kathy all make good points. gold is definitely a better currency than fiat money for the short term, as fiat money is likely to undergo hyperinflation. the question then becomes at what point does collapse become chaos, and in the mean time, even possessing physical gold could be dicey considering it could be counterfeit or make one a target if it’s known u have some when virtually all your neighbors are watching their fiat money rapidly lose value. thus trading it for something of surreal value like a place in an eco-community preparing to survive collapse (at least as long as possible/desirable) seems a good idea.

  • Terry – yes there will be chaos. A saying that is perhaps not incorrect is that we are “9 meals away from chaos” I have changed the final word to avoid another discussion on the actual word used there :) We may be even less number of drinks of water away

    We could conceivably go back to some simpler time if we first found some easy, non-violent way to get our population to that of that time or less (maybe the rapture will solve that in the US?) and if we could magically recreate the infrastructure of that time overnight. But instead of preparing for such a time and say breeding mules and donkeys, teaching skills for forging and leatherworking, we are twiddling our thumbs. It is thought that earlier times being simpler we modern humans can just adapt, we being more sophisticated. But most US humans haven’t a clue even how to grow food, much less train a mule to the plow. Our houses are ill suited for simpler lives etc. – so it goes….

  • Curtis – not to worry, like most novels One Second After has a positive ending – well as positive as one can make out of total disaster. But like TRDH says it does not account for all the nuclear plants going belly up. Perhaps the best way to pick a location is not climate or soil but distance from nuclear plants – Siberia looks good



    The devil is indeed in the detail… ;-)

  • The story of U.S. Army Ranger John Needham
    Disturbing video, but well worth watching.

  • Thank you all for that much information, links,etc.

    Gold. The most useless single human enterprise ever done. Maybe followed by sparkling/ coloured stones. Gold? Homo sapiens being impressed by somewhat shiny but next to useless metal? Claiming more intelligence than a magpie, that one likes to add something shiny into its nest. So does the wisest life form in universe?
    All mining activities, at least concerning gold, should be banned and shut down immediately to avoid further destruction on biosphere for something that incredibly useless. Have a look at Bougainville, Lihir, Yanacocha, the Amazon, Turkey, Romania and 5 dozen other places around the world. Destruction of habitable biosphere, land, water and, in a lot of cases, utter destruction of sustainable living arrangements of humans, murder not being an exception to get rid of the natives.

  • Never thought I’ll ever ask a queen or some adequate player to add something to their speech;-)

  • Watched the John Needham video. The concluding passage is the standard fodder for the human livestock about the rule of law. The basic nature of the state, INITIATION of force against non-compliers, even peaceful ones, is overlooked. That is the nidus of the cancer from which all the rest fructifies. The mischief in war zones is no different in kind from what passes for “law enforcement” at home: the difference is only in degree/intensity. It is the height of ridiculousness to ask the state to “enFORCE” it’s dictates in the guide of “the rule of law”. 

  • Full article and video at
    Snip below
    “Top Legal Expert: “President Obama … Says That He Can Kill [Any American Citizen Without Any Charge and] On His Own Discretion. He Can Jail You Indefinitely On His Own Discretion”
    Posted on December 21, 2011 by WashingtonsBlog
    Government Says It Can Assassinate or Indefinitely Detain Americans on American Soil Without Any Due Process of Law

    I’ve previously noted that Obama says that he can assassinate American citizens living on U.S. soil.

    This admittedly sounds over-the-top. But one of the nation’s top constitutional and military law experts – Jonathan Turley – agrees.


    Is the second most cited law professor in the country
    Has worked as both the CBS and NBC legal analyst during national controversies
    Ranks 38th in the top 100 most cited ‘public intellectuals’ in a recent study by a well-known judge
    Is one of the top 10 lawyers handling military cases
    Has served as a consultant on homeland security and constitutional issues
    Is a frequent witness before the House and Senate on constitutional and statutory issues
    Turley said yesterday on C-Span (starting at 15:50):

    President Obama has just stated a policy that he can have any American citizen killed without any charge, without any review, except his own. If he’s satisfied that you are a terrorist, he says that he can kill you anywhere in the world including in the United States.

    Two of his aides just … reaffirmed they believe that American citizens can be killed on the order of the President anywhere including the United States.

    You’ve now got a president who says that he can kill you on his own discretion. He can jail you indefinitely on his own discretion”

  • Robin I agree with your comments. The state is not the answer but the problem. Thus I would say (again) that hunter-gatherer lifestyle is the only safe one for humans. And the best way to keep us from forming civilizations is to so deplete our environment that only small bands of humans can survive. We seem to (unconsciously) be doing just that…. Of course more than likely we will go too far and eliminate human life entirely. We have no clue what we are doing.

  • American citizens can be killed on the order of the President anywhere including the United States.

    The NDAA sections that acknowledge this “authority” are merely a formality – a ritual that adds another fig leaf to cover the state’s nakedness exposed by the Internet-mediated Age of Information: only a few decades ago they could surreptitiously indulge in the same mischief. The spectrum of violence is a seamless continuum from the kernel of the state to the killing zones of war. And a terrorist is anyone seen as a possible interference with that continuum. 

  • Robin, one book I read about Hitler and his relationship with IBM (Edwin Black’s book “IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation”) noted over and over that the Nazis would attempt to put a veneer of legality on all they did. What do you think makes them try to put the legal veneer on? Is it in the hope of keeping the masses happy – yet the uninformed remain uniformed regardless and the informed see through it all so how could it matter. Is it to salve whatever conscience they have? It puzzles me.

    At any rate we are all (potential) terrorists now.

  • Not content to sit idly by while the U.S. parks a sophisticated missile defense system in Europe, Russia has come out with two interesting announcements.
    Pravda reports that to “preserve parity in the field,” Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces (SMF) will be renovating their Topol-M and Yars RS-24 missile systems and constructing an enormous new 100-ton ballistic missile to replace the RS-36 Voyevoda ICBM, known in the west as the Satan missile.

    Read more:

  • kathy, the story and video on the john needham case u provided a link to above surreally hit home with me. what a nightmare we live in when those around us fond of promoting ‘morality’ love ‘authority’, support militarism, and decry personal freedom to the effect that supposedly nowadays everyone can just ‘do their own thing without regard to morality’ (this is a quote from a relative of mine who is an ultra patriotic ‘social conservative’). it does make me think that perhaps hell is surreal and i’m in the midst of it, wondering for what possible ‘karma’ or ‘sin’ such a hellish existence was created.

    this all takes me back to some of the basic notions of christianity: inherent human sin, divine judgement, eternal damnation. seems to me that the mere fact that such a heinous belief system is popularly approved and promoted as true and ‘moral’ is evidence of residence in hell. pure evil. pure evil. it cannot end soon enough.

  • ‘Kicking so many cans down the road’ and denying responsibility for our reckless overconsumption, relentless overproduction and rampant overpopulation activities today can fulfill nothing more than the promise of a disastrous future for children everywhere tomorrow. Choosing now to live outrageously greedy lifestyles that are soon to become patently unsustainable provides all the wrong lessons to our children, who must learn to live sustainably before it is too late for human behavior change to make a difference.

  • perhaps hell is surreal and i’m in the midst of it, wondering for what possible ‘karma’ or ‘sin’ such a hellish existence was created.

    this all takes me back to some of the basic notions of christianity: inherent human sin, divine judgement, eternal damnation. seems to me that the mere fact that such a heinous belief system is popularly approved and promoted as true and ‘moral’ is evidence of residence in hell. pure evil. pure evil.

    There are a couple of billion people on this planet who would gladly exchange their places for that of ANYONE living in the uS of A.

    Wondering about ‘karma’ is pointless. A plant or animal does not wonder about its circumstances: they make use of what they have in their internal and external milieu, the environment and the genetic endowment.

    The tradition has it that there are three sources of karma: a storehouse from the past, called “sanchit karma”: it is considered to be quite enormous, both good and bad. A miniscule portion of that germinates to become the second source, manifest karma, “prarabdha karma”, again both good and bad. Once germinated, it must follow its course, even if one “becomes” fully “enlightened” or “liberated”. This storehouse of karma is equivalent to what is called “original sin”.

    The third source of karma is future karma, “agami karma” that is creaded as one goes along. Some of it may become manifest in the present embodiment, and the rest accretes to the storehouse. However, is only created when thoughts, speech and actions are performed with attachment to (to be distinguished from anticipation of) the expected results. When the same thoughts, speech and actions are performed without attachment to the expected results, no new karma is created. Such actiors are non-volitional, “prabapatitam karyam” (actions fallen into): all the actions of “enlightened” beings are of this kind, but in is also the inherently natural/”enlightened” state of all sentient beings.

    This is what is referred to in the saying “before enightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water”.

    And upon “enlightenment”, the entire storehouse of the “enlightened” one’s unmanifest karma disappears: because in reality all karma exists only in the domain of ignorance.

    The attitude to karma should be to accept the manifest karma without attraction or aversion (since such attraction and aversion in themselves create new karma), and to strive not to create future karma. One should also be aware that the manifesting of good karma does not necessarily lead towards “enlightenment” but can also lead one away from it; likewise manifesting bad karma does not necessarily lead one away, but may indeed lead one towards enlightenment. The details of the sufferings of so many Catholic saints are examples of this.

    The “Incarnations” of the Divine have no storehouse of karma to draw from for the manifest karma of their embobiments: they will the necessary karma into the manifestaiton pertaining to that embodiment. This corresponds to the Christian doctrine that Jesus Chirst was born without “original sin”.

    Choosing now to live outrageously greedy lifestyles that are soon to become patently unsustainable provides all the wrong lessons to our children, who must learn to live sustainably before it is too late for human behavior change to make a difference.

    Yeast cells in a vat of sugars do not choose to live outrageously greedy lifestyles that lead to overshoot and dieback. They act in accordance with their environment and their genetic endowment. Some simple species have gone through so many cycles of overshoot and dieback that they have adapted to that lifestyle by producing hardy cysts or spores that are more likely to survive the dieback until more amenable conditions return.

    Humans are the first species on the planet blessed/cursed with sufficient intelligence to exploit its resources like no other species before them. But the evolutionary process has not endowed them with the collective wisdom towards stewarding those resources appropriately. Like a yeast with a mutation that enables it to use a resource that is unusable by other microorginasims in a vat, humans are crowding out the others in the process of overshoot that will lead to dieback.

  • Kathy C:
    “What do you think makes them try to put the legal veneer on? Is it in the hope of keeping the masses happy – yet the uninformed remain uniformed regardless and the informed see through it all so how could it matter. Is it to salve whatever conscience they have? It puzzles me.”

    ” Most people prefer to believe that their leaders are just and fair, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which he lives is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one’s self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all.” Michael Rivero

    Hope that helps, Kathy!

  • ‘The third source of karma is future karma, “agami karma” that is creaded as one goes along. Some of it may become manifest in the present embodiment, and the rest accretes to the storehouse. However, is only created when thoughts, speech and actions are performed with attachment to (to be distinguished from anticipation of) the expected results.’

    that last sentence is a surreal mystery to me. are u suggesting that people/sheople should not be ‘attached’ to, should not care about the results of our efforts? that’s how i understand it.

    where is the wisdom in living without passion or caring (as opposed to anticipating???) about the results of our efforts? whenever one attempts to do anything it’s purposeful behavior. it’s behavior designed (perhaps poorly) to achieve a desired result, such as to obtain food or a mate or anything having to do with self-preservation. of course we’re going to care, to not only anticipate, but to wish for or desire or have ‘attachment’ to the intended result. how can we not and continue to live?

    ‘Such actiors are non-volitional, “prabapatitam karyam” (actions fallen into): all the actions of “enlightened” beings are of this kind, but in is also the inherently natural/”enlightened” state of all sentient beings.’

    i’m going to quibble with u here. for an action to be entirely non-volitional, it must be purely instinctual, such as one’s reaction when touching something very hot, no thought involved. so it seems to me that u’re suggesting we should stop thinking (as if such a thing is possible) and simply behave instinctually at all times.

    this accords with the idea(l) of living as a feral (compared to a civilized sherson) hunter-gatherer living in communion with nature. this is an intriguing romantic idea, but i think our species has become too cerebral for a complete return to a wild state. we can’t stop thinking, reasoning, wanting to understand why and how things are, and to use whatever knowledge is gained to make our lives better and more secure.

    philosophy and science aren’t evil. dogmatism is, imo. it’s being closed/narrow minded. dogmatism manifests a poverty of thought/reflection in a group or individual, or perhaps a basic flaw of some sort that impairs reasoning ability. whatever, it appears epidemic, inflicting a vast majority of our species for perhaps at least as long as we’ve been civilized, tamed, hierarcherized, and propagandized. it appears to be a surreal nightmare which may only cease with our extinction, or at least the utter collapse of the current culture.

  • that last sentence is a surreal mystery to me. are u suggesting that people/sheople should not be ‘attached’ to, should not care about the results of our efforts? that’s how i understand it.

    The statement is:
    However, is only created when thoughts, speech and actions are performed with attachment to (to be distinguished from anticipation of) the expected results.

    Attachment is positive or negative, attraction or aversion.
    Anticipation comes from comprehension and planning. It does not imply attraction or aversion.

    where is the wisdom in living without passion or caring (as opposed to anticipating???) about the results of our efforts? whenever one attempts to do anything it’s purposeful behavior.

    The question arises from dualism: “I” and “not-I”. At the source of the “I” and the “not-I”, the distinction betwenn the “I” and “not-I” does not exist. There is no distinction between the carer and the cared for, and no space between the two where one can discern the “caring”. But to those seeing it from a dualist perspective will see all the caring, the carer and the cared for.


    As is said: “The abstinent flee from the objects of their desires, but they carry their desires with them. When a man enters Reality, he leaves his desires behind him”.

    for an action to be entirely non-volitional, it must be purely instinctual

    Volition is the making of a conscious choice. This refers again to conscious awareness at the level of the “I”, where there is a distinction from the “not-I”. When one’s awareness is established at the source of the “I”, the “conscious choice” continues to be made by the “I”, in the realm of the “I” and “not-I”. But while the volition is appanent to others, there is no volition at the source of the awareness.

    The source of the “I” has been described as “The One without a second”. Some think of that as a description of G_d, but the system of G_d and believer is a dualism, one with a second/another. The One without a second is neither G_d nor the “I” although it includes both. It is even referred to in Kabbalistic Judaism, in the Sefer Yetzirah, Chapter 1 verse 7, which is where I came to be better aware of it, although the Indian scriptures are replete with references to it.

  • no6ody and Kathy C,

    The courtiers of ancient times knew how to play “the game” just as well as those who play it today. When you study the actions of those players long ago and compare them with the players of today, you realize that it’s not about morality or fairness or what’s legal or illegal, it’s about playing the game within a certain set of rules. These rules don’t have anything to do with the written law, rather are just the rules of “the game”. Everybody knows what’s going on behind closed doors, but as long as you play the game well, then there is nothing but respect for your adeptness. It’s when you mess up and forget the rules of the game (Bernie Madoff, Jack Abramoff, Richard Nixon, Charles Keating, etc., etc., etc.) that you are shunned and hung out to dry. Ah, the wonder of the human animal!

  • Terry you wrote “this accords with the idea(l) of living as a feral (compared to a civilized sherson) hunter-gatherer living in communion with nature. this is an intriguing romantic idea, but i think our species has become too cerebral for a complete return to a wild state. we can’t stop thinking, reasoning, wanting to understand why and how things are, and to use whatever knowledge is gained to make our lives better and more secure.”

    All the things I have read about people who have lived with relatively untouched hunter-gatherers is that they think, reason, and work to make their lives secure, but that they find their lives good and not in need of “bettering”. This may not be true of all hunter-gatherer tribes. I suggest you read Dan Everett’s “Don’t Sleep there are Snakes” – someone here introduced me to him (Navid I think). They appear to live fully in the now and smile and laugh most all the time. They enjoy using some items from civilization but don’t require them. They managed to turn a missionary into a non-believer, in part by being so happy without his message of Jesus. I would say that what prevents us from being feral humans is our lack of skills and lack of the right knowledge and the damage done to our bodies by our lifestyle.

    Jared Diamond believed that the hunter-gatherers he knew were more intelligent than western humans because they were still be culled by nature for lack of intelligence.

    I think there is some deep fear in modern humans about the natural state. People keep saying we can’t go back but never offer any proof of that. Certainly in the early years of settling this country many Europeans did leave civilization and join Indian tribes. Have we evolved so much in 300 years that we are now unable?

    Many times dogs, pigs and cats go feral sometimes. Dogs may have been domesticated longer than civilization has been around. They have had body changes of quite a stunning nature selected for them as well as behavior changes being selected for.

    At any rate the “we can’t become hunter-gatherers” is usually a personal assessment which may be right, but is unlikely to be right for all humans. Younger humans in third world countries, living closer to the land and already doing some hunting likely can.

  • no6ody I understand what you are saying, but I still would say that the bulk of Americans wouldn’t know if some law is being broken by TPTB or not. For instance I bet there is not more than a few people in my neighborhood that could tell you what habeaus corpus is or why it is important. Thus they would hardly know the difference if a court case or law took habeaus corpus away or if it was violated without a law removing it.

    Nor do they care about indefinite detention being made legal for Americans for it would never cross their minds that it might apply to them. Legal or not is irrelevant to them. They believe our police always arrest the right guys and a trial is hardly necessary. In this country, when a person incarcerated for murder is proven innocent by new analysis of DNA, I never hear about the case being re-opened to find the real killer. Nor is there any hue and cry from the populace that the police got it wrong and are not trying to get it right.

    I still believe that the legal cover they seek to get is unnecessary for the general public’s acceptance, and perhaps they get the legal cover because of their own internal conflict, to soothe their minds that they are doing right. Perhaps it is like the parent who beats their child until they break bones, turning to the Bible’s assertion that sparing the rod is spoiling the child. They are evil and they grasp at any justification or in the case of politicians create the law that justifies their actions.

  • People have the need to believe that their government and the PTB who are in charge have their best interests at heart and are there to protect the people. This is the social contract between the elite and the people. Governments and TPTB must always assure the people that they are looking after their interests since this is part of the rules that must be played – even if they are not, but instead are looking after their own interests. There is an instinctive knowledge that the REAL power indeed lies with the people, and messing with this power outside of the ‘rules of the game’ is not healthy, nor is it necessary as long as the people are controlled properly.

  • I think I understand your question a bit better, Kathy C.

    Do you recall the famous Milgram experiment? He demonstrated that there are some crazy situations that will cause nearly every person to flip a switch that supposedly would (450V DANGER SEVERE SHOCK) a total stranger. There are other situations in which nearly every person rebelled against flipping the same switch. The big lesson here: in a really stupid situation, nearly everyone does really stupid things. Social psychologists call this ‘situational awareness.’ The Stanford Prison Experiment is another fine example.

    The dominant culture is a really stupid situation, in my opinion. Everything in the M5M is there because a wealthy someone thinks they can make a profit from it–ads, product placements, or just plain propaganda. Add in a very insidious mind-numbing device called TV that sedates and captivates no matter what Fauxic schlock or fear-inducing bloody crap is being broadcast. Is it any wonder that denial is the #1 coping mechanism? That’s what the ‘legal’ cover is for–to enable denial.

    “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Frederic Bastiat

    “Our real enemies are not those living in a distant land whose names or policies we don’t understand; The real enemy is a system that wages war when it’s profitable, the CEOs who lay us off our jobs when it’s profitable, the insurance companies who deny us health care when it’s profitable, the banks who take away our homes when it’s profitable. Our enemies are not several hundred thousands away. They are right here in front of us.”
    – Mike Prysner, for speech of 5 min at

    “Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.” Stephen Leacock

    “A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.” Joseph Pulitzer

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge – even to ourselves – that we’ve been so credulous.” Carl Sagan

    I believe that every person thinks of him or herself as a good person, smarter than average (the Lake Woebegone effect). I do not believe that anyone thinks of themselves as evil, even the rare nutcases who beat children. What you see in the people around you is what the dominant culture does to people, especially susceptible ones, like children, or those deficient in social psych training. :-) Sadly, there is no immediate profit in education.

  • I’m always intrigued by competing arguments that we can’t eat gold vs. we will always need a medium of exchange. Both are obviously true and not mutually exclusive. But proponents of one view or another tend to see the issue through a filter bubble and become doctrinaire, trapped inside their worldview and eventually just talking past each other. I can’t mediate the discussion and don’t have recommendations except to reinforce the idea of diversification.

    Kathy C’s conjecture on the state of nature and living a feral HG lifestyle are tuned to my thinking of late. However, that future, if it develops, is likely a long way off. We postmoderns tend to think in purely material terms (buy gold!), though some of us are increasingly recognizing the role mentality plays in the quality of everyday life. Whole branches of philosophy and sociology arose in the early part of the 20th century that were meant to address the soullessness of the machine age, but they have been overwhelmed by infatuations with technology and economic fairy tales. Again, I can’t solve anything, but as Kathy C says, I try to understand it, which may be in the end cold comfort.

  • For those who are snarky this holiday season, you know who you are:

  • Thanks Curtis, I was having a really hard time thinking of what to give some people on my list :)

  • Where there is trust any marker will serve as currency, ie a promise to pay. A mark on a piece of bark can be a promise to pay. Where there is no trust even gold can be suspect. The longer distance and more intermediaries the more trust plays a part and the more distrustful one must be. Barter trade may still involve some trust but the smaller the community the more one must be trustworthy. When my ex and I moved to a small town in Appalachia we stayed with a local family for a while. They had given some animal to another person and were to be re payed with a redbone hound. While we were there a red puppy was brought in payment of the debt. I noticed it was full of fleas and offered to wash it. As I washed the water got redder and redder. At first I was worried that it was bleeding, but it turned out to be shoe polish. Trust betrayed eh?

    The reason the economy may collapse suddenly and severely is that trust on large scale has to be shored up with regulation and enforcement. The more fraud that is exposed the more trust disappears. A run on a bank is nothing more than failure of trust which often exposes that the loss of trust was accurate and the trust that propped the bank up was deluded.

    In the words of many cheerleaders “the bigger they are the harder they fall”. I expect things to fall apart quite spectacularly in the near future. But if you expect to trade gold in the coming collapse of industrial civilization a good set of scales might be a wise purchase. Can’t trust what someone says about the weight of the gold :)

    However you can actually eat gold “The wealthy in Abu Dhabi have another way to enjoy gold: eating it. An article by Bradley Hope in the National says the Emirates Palace hotel served up five kilograms, or about 11 pounds, of edible gold to its dining guests in 2008. “That amounts to 5,000 one-gram bottles of gold leaf flakes from a German distributor, which each go for about $100,” the article states. The edible-gold budget for the Emirates Palace, which prides itself on its gold theme, could be as high as $500,000 a year.” So here is a question – does the hotel attempt to get any of the gold back by filtering their sewage?

  • Glittering dingleberries?

  • thanks for the everett book recommend, kathy. my library has a copy and i have it on hold.

    thanks for the many thought provoking quotes, nobody. are u any relation to the ‘nowhere man’ that was a beatles song of the 60’s? ‘he’s a real nowhere man, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody’. are u that nobody, or is that a different nobody?

    curtis, i laughed so hard at your ‘snarky’ contribution i had to partially disrobe to avoid sweating. now i maybe in danger of losing my virginity. thanks a lot.

    merry scary solstice, all.

  • Tipping Point

    In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

    “Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said. “I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them.”

    Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tonnes of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

    Dr Semiletov’s team published a study in 2010 estimating that the methane emissions from this region were about eight million tonnes a year, but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the phenomenon.

  • Hallelujah corporations – must watch!

  • Kathy

    Corporations – Absolutely brilliant!

  • Russian oil rig sinks.

    “Environmentalists first raised their concerns when Gazprom announced in August that it was sending its platform to the Arctic for exploratory drilling in the Pechora oil field, which holds some 6.6 million tons of oil”.

    Lets see: One ton equals 7 barrels, so we have about 50 million barrels! We’re saved!

  • Lets see: One ton equals 7 barrels, so we have about 50 million barrels! We’re saved!


    Yep….saved for about 16 hours.

  • I’ve posted a new, self-indulgent essay. It’s here.