Monday, April 14, 2008



In some previous posts I have made some generalized overviews of what appears to be happening in our world. I think it is easy for us to become immersed in details and focusing on single issues and not see how it all fits together or to become submerged in the enormity of what we consider the negative events swirling around us. So I attempt to step back once in a while and take a snapshot of all the information that I take in and put it together to make some sense.

Right at the top of the list is the oil problem. Unless one wants to have a heartfelt belief in the validity of anaerobic oil, we have to realize that oil is a finite resource. The probability of it ever becoming available in the huge amounts we had originally on this planet is zero. Even if the anaerobic oil concept proves true, it contains a whole list of problems that aren’t addressed, namely, rate of replenishment. So from my perspective, it makes no difference. We are going to/ are running out of oil. In simple fact, the rate of production is not keeping up with rate of increase in demand, and is thus going up in price. Obviously, prices will increase until there is that thing called demand destruction that takes hold. If you can’t afford to buy it, you aren’t going to use it. There are already some poor countries that are out of the bidding for oil, although I cannot again find that article to give specifics. (My main computer with all the bookmarks and articles stored were lost when the mother board went down and I haven’t had the time to try and rebuild the hard drive to extract the data) Regardless, if the price continues to rise, the poorer parts of the worlds population will be priced out of the market, including people in the United States. Despite the reassurances of the CERTA report and the economic gurus, we will run out of the stuff at our present and escalating usage worldwide. Currently the U.S is using 20+ million barrels of oil per day and usage is going up, not down, and no indication that will change in the near future. When it is realized how much modern life is dependent on oil, it becomes obvious that a really big social change is on the way.

The greening of the economy and reducing or eliminating fossil fuel usage is big in the news today. All sorts of ideas, inventions and public policy suggestions are sprouting up. Not only does all of this have impractical to impossible usage, but, some of it has outright damaging effects. Most of my research into these ideas shows there is little interest in computing the final costs for implementing such ideas.

  1. Ethanol has the most obvious of the detrimental effects. It is an impossible substitute for oil. It costs ultimately more in energy to produce than can be used, and is dependent on fossil fuels for its production. We were warned about this when it was suggested years ago, but the warnings were ignored and the government subsidies were put in place to implement large-scale production. It is proving to be a disaster. New ethanol plants have been shut down and cost of food has dramatically risen as a direct result of these policies.
  2. Electrical generation without direct fossil fuel usage is being heavily promoted. Wind energy is one of the biggies today. Few if any studies have been implemented concerning the trade offs in its wholesale use for producing electricity. If electrical usage were to be cut back drastically world wide, wind energy could conceivably have a value. At our present rate of electrical usage, trying to substitute wind for fossil fuel generation at just 25% is not possible due to the tremendous use of fossil fuels to create the production infrastructure. This does not even start to address the centralized power grids that are in decay and need updating for increased carrying capacity in that change over. And, as I have mentioned previously in posts, the ecological cost has not even been addressed, much less thoroughly investigated.

3. Wave energy is being looked at to a far lesser extent. Again, little is being addressed concerning maintenance, fossil fuel usage to implement it and its environmental impact.

4. Hydroelectric generation has reached its zenith. We have dammed up about as much as can be dammed for generation, and with tremendous ecological damage to boot.

5. Free energy concepts are prolific. None of them are addressing the cost in resources, fossil fuels and infrastructure needed to implement them if they prove to be workable.

6. The hydrogen economy has been shown to be not possible. In the first place, the
Infrastructure is not going to happen and its energy in ratio to energy out is unacceptable.
It isn’t going to happen.

7. None of this address how we are going to keep modern transportation going on electricity alone, nor produce plastics, nor electronics. Haven’t heard of a means to fly a plane on it yet. Face it, we have nothing and there is not on the near time horizon, any substitute for fossil fuels and we have built an empire and western civilization on having cheap plentiful fossil fuels. If we had started looking into these kinds of issues 30-50 years ago, we might just have been able to come up with some alternatives. We were warned back then and the warnings were ignored by all but a few of the tin foil hats among us.

Food production for the world is another biggie. The farming developments of last 100 years are very heavily dependent on fossil fuels. This has directly spurred huge population growths worldwide with the expanding food production. There is a limit of how many bushels of anything can be grown on an acre of land. With increasing costs of oil, we are going to experience from that alone increased food costs, worldwide. Throw in diverted food production to ethanol and bio fuel production and it will get worse. The squeeze is on as evidenced by food riots taking place in many areas now. As oil prices go up, there is going to be a lot more riots. Ever wonder when riots over food will begin in this country? Put into these observations the continuous degradation of crop land, the near disappearance of some critical elements in the food, (selenium is the first to come to mind), the ever expanding usage of farm land for housing and highways and we have some severe problems with food coming at us.

The world economics is currently a mess. There is a high probability of a big melt down of world wide economic systems and institutions. Over all, nations and most of their populations are poorer than they were 15 years ago. We can’t claim national or personal wealth when 80% of the worlds wealth is held by individuals that are only 20% of the worlds population.

Resource depletion is becoming very apparent now. Water has finally become forefront, right next to fossil fuel depletion.

The urban infrastructure is deteriorating fast. We have put so much capital into spreading out from urban centers that they are capital traps now, that is, their value is down and no way to recover the capital investment. Instead, inner city slums are now proving to be a good capital investment. Neat huh?

Governments around the world are becoming increasingly fascist, that is, under the control of corporations and big money interests. Corporations have become literally a government unto themselves with no restraints whatsoever.

That we are experiencing climate change is not a contention, but the raging debate over what is causing it goes on. Climate changes, no matter the source, are going to have huge implications on nations and societies.

This is a fairly good overview of what I see happening without going into a lot of specifics. You may be tired of seeing the down side of everything by now. I got to admit I do get tired of it also. This next section is by Freeacre and will have more of an optimistic outlook.

“Half Full” Perspective….by Freeacre

With certain notable exceptions, I am the designated “half full” person, while Murph takes the cake in the “half empty” category. So, it falls to me to present some positive news in this overview of the demise of “life as usual.” Here’s what I have come up with so far. Feel free to add to my list.

With the oil shortages and the resulting rise in the price of fuel, coupled with the devaluation of the dollar, imports of many goods will be curtailed. This will lead to the collapse of the Big Box Stores (yea!). To my mind, this is good in and of itself.

Once they are out of the picture, those people out of work due to recession/depression lay-offs, will be able to pick up the slack making useful things at home or close by to sell or trade to their neighbors. Everything from fence hardware, household supplies, clothing, toys, and on and on will be needed. Second hand stores will supply a lot of things for while, but innovative people will be busy filling in the gaps. Flea markets and farmer’s markets will thrive. This will lead to many more conversations among community members and add to a sense of neighborliness and connection, which will be emotionally satisfying.

The tax base for state and county governments will shrink, as the real estate is devalued and taxes fade from decreased incomes. There won’t be enough money to continue to incarcerate citizens for victimless or non-violent crimes, like smoking pot, or even selling it. This will be a good thing to reduce the suffering of a lot of people languishing in the prison cells now, and also lend itself to a wider distribution of herbal medicine available for people to relieve physical and/or emotional pains. From the sixties, after all, we hearken back to those words of wisdom, “Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.”

Once people begin to grow gardens in their yards, and replace their lawns with switch grass to feed their animals, they will be eating organic by necessity. This will lend itself to increased vitality and health. Since fewer people will have medical insurance, reliance on medications like anti-depressants, and behavioral modification drugs for children, like Ritalin and anti-psychotics for childhood “bi-polar disorder” and the like will be severely curtailed. “Hyper-active” kids can be put to work in the garden, or cutting grass with a scythe. They can ride their bikes to the grocery store to pick up things for mom and the neighbors, like a kid should be doing anyway. Once they get away from the tube and the Gameboy, they may find that their ADHD goes away…

As people start taking a closer look at their surroundings and stop thinking of a “season” as a new batch of television programming, rather than what is growing around them from year to year, interest in Permaculture will thrive. I don’t know anything about permaculture yet, so I can’t be real specific. But I know it will be big. Trees will be planted that produce nuts and good, useable wood, like walnuts and pecans and hazelnut trees, etc. Edible plants will be identified and cultivated. Poplars to take up nitrogen in the ground can be relied on to help keep the water clean. Berries and fruits will be harvested and made into jams and jellies and pies. Maybe we’ll inspire a bunch of neo-Johnny Apple Seeds to go around and plant random fruit and nut trees all over the place for the common good.

Self-expression and creativity will be encouraged and supported, as people rely less on Target Stores and Bed, Bath and Beyond to furnish their homes. People will make their own folk art, ceramics, quilts, gifts, furniture, etc. People will stop buying corporate sponsored brand name and sports paraphernalia, and regional differences will once again add to the wealth of diversity in our country. It will get a lot more colorful and interesting.

The same goes for music and entertainment. Local musicians, and artists of all sorts will have a broader audience. Community theaters and choirs, and music and dance groups of all sorts will thrive again.

The newly laid back and medically marijuanaed folk might be amused by watching the former yuppie (scum) who used to ply the most traveled roads to that they could be observed by the most neighbors in their neon jogging outfits and carrying outsized plastic water bottles, pulling rick-shaws or carts on regular routes to the grocery stores or Farmer’s Market to make a little extra cash. I know this would amuse the heck out of me… Their McMansions will also make pretty good communes, as we dense up our suburbs to make them survivable.

The good news is that as the corporate influence is curtailed, people will matter more. As we drive less, neighborhoods and towns will no longer be something to stare at from the windows of our cars. Things will get more real. We won’t just be all for public transportation – we’ll actually get on a bus or a train. We will get to know our neighbors and communities because we will really need each other again in ways that we have forgotten.

I admit that I look forward to the end of the soulless corporate culture that sickens, exploits and controls us today. As this abomination dies, I have hope that more freedom, ingenuity, and health will prevail. It won’t be easy, and a lot of us will not make it through the transition. But, in the end, there is the possibility that things will be good.


Anonymous said...

'I admit that I look forward to the end of the soulless corporate culture that sickens, exploits and controls us today. As this abomination dies, I have hope that more freedom, ingenuity, and health will prevail. It won’t be easy, and a lot of us will not make it through the transition. But, in the end, there is the possibility that things will be good.'
this statement has all the earmarks of wonderful written in it as far as this one is concerned,bring it on!! of course there is going to be a massive amount of disbelief and the embedded denial programs will have a fucking field day as the clash of ego wills line up and start staking out their territory because after all would you want to be a cop surrounded by well armed sheep? it is going to be a living hell for a while, but so what? this is a nation of living hell anyway. and as the attitudes of folks go from one end of the spectrum to the other the things that were once thought as ''no not me'' ''i would never do anything like that!!'' will more then likely become commonplace. its nothing new really, its just more out in the open and will after the initial shock wears off probably become therapeutic in a sick assed kind of way but what has really changed, ? not a god dam thing.
i can only hope you are right freeacre but this country was built on exactly the same thing that exists now, and what was this country built on? death, thats what, death to every thing that got in the fucking way of ''well i'm gonna git mine jed, know what i mean?'' ''fuck them that don't look like me''. awwww shit, anyway its all speculation and it really won't matter to much to those of us that have prepared as much as possible to withstand god only knows what's actually in store. i asked bug about this scenario and all she said was,
''one might seek the place where neither agreement nor disagreement would enter into the equation, truth spreads its own legs and needs no comfort from this one''
excellent thoughts p&p.
love you guys the talking stick is alive and well.

Anonymous said...


I love you.


Dave said...

A minor nit here: did you really mean “anaerobic” oil? The usual term is “abiotic” oil. Overall, though, it’s an excellent overview. Although people don’t know the source of growing global anxiety it’s as you describe: the general unsustainability of our systems of food production, energy consumption, and finance. All are coming to a head now and driving people and countries mad. Matt Simmons just posted a nice series of slides that show some pretty dramatic declining production graphs of various oil wells ( ).

As for the disappearance of “big box” stores, it’s starting to happen. Several retail chains have already simply gone out of business; many more, including Wal-Mart, have scaled back expansion plans. I think next year those “scaled back” expansion plans will morph into “store closure” plans.

Due to a shrinking tax base, governments are starting to rethink the prison-industrial model. Let’s hope they continue on that path and not capitulate and resort to overt slave labor camps, ala Halliburton. The problem is that if chaos erupts, those people who are comfortable might demand a harsh crackdown which would legitimize the mass incarceration of the economically disenfranchised. There is a phenomenal piece titled "Dillon Read & the Aristocracy of Stock Profits" ( ), which I can't recommend highly enough. It's lengthy but a fantastic insider's view of the extent of corruption seething in government today. What's pertinent to the discussion of prisons is that Ms. Fitts describes in extensive detail how prisons in America became profit centers.

I absolutely look forward to the end of the soulless culture! When I travel from Kentucky to California to visit my family during the holidays I’m amazed and saddened at the sameness across the 2,000 mile journey. I pass through town after town and they all look the same! The same type houses, the same stores, the same corporate icons. Who wants that?

murph said...


Your right, the used term is abiotic, that is, without bacterial action. That's what comes without very carefully editing every word. sigh. My mistake.

I took a look at a few of the essays at Excellent stuff.

Thanks for the comment.

murph said...


I reckon we are in the minority big time, hoping for the take down of this corrupt system we are living under. When it happens I project that it will be a rough ride. Sure wish we lived closer to each other. sigh.

Anonymous said...

I tend to subscribe to the abiotic theory due to gas and oil being detected on several planets and moons in our solar system -and I somewhat doubt that those icy worlds had millions of years worth of plants and dinosaurs as part of their crust. But, that doesn't mean we're NOT running out. The California gold rush ran out, so can the oil and gas in Saudi Arabia.

I also believe that everything that is happening has been planned by the PTB. The falling of the dollar makes the price of oil go up, which prices the poorer countries out of oil purchases, thus, causing prices for food to skyrocket and causing food riots and starvation.

"The farming developments of last 100 years are very heavily dependent on fossil fuels. This has directly spurred huge population growths worldwide with the expanding food production. There is a limit of how many bushels of anything can be grown on an acre of land."

Right. And if we were to have developed another inexpensive form of energy, the population growth would be enormous. We're already destroying everything in our path and causing the extinction of countless plants and animals.

I would really, really, really like the world that freeacre describes to take the place of the sick one we have now, but since I am of the "half empty" crowd, I'm probably going to be stocking up on ammo 'cause a "Mad Max" kinda world could last for a good long while before a kindler, gentler world surfaces.

And for those "half-empty" folks out there, there's a great website called, "" where I got a glass coffee mug that has a line in the middle of it that says, "This Mug is Now Half Empty." The site has a ton of hilarious "de-motivators" in the form of posters and calendars and such. Enjoy -


freeacre said...

I love! I ordered a whole calendar of ball-busting pictures and quotes. Ha! I'm going to get that cup for the Murphinator.

murph said...


You bring up a good point. Is this planned or have events gotten out of control and the PTB are fighting fires. That one I can see both sides of. If it is planned, are we giving more power and smarts to the PTB than they deserve?

RAS said...

Murph, couldn't you have just said we are screwed ten ways to Sunday and leave it at that????? LOL.

I have this recurring dream. Civilization is gone, or the world as we know it has ended, whatever. Anyway, I wake up to discover this and that I am one of the few people left alive. The strip malls and the fast food joints are closed; the streets are silent. I find a rock, heft it in my hand, and then throw it through the window of the nearest fast-food place or outlet store. I go on like this, breaking windows and skylights, damaging roofs, and then take a jackhammer to the pavement (don't ask me how the power works). I pull up big slices of concrete and plant saplings. I put ground covers in the cracks in the roads. I throw the concrete into the culverts to help dam them up and bring the streams back aboveground. I find ways to start cleaning the air and water. Then suddenly I'm in charge of the kids that are left around here, and I teach them how to grow food, how to plant trees, and so on. And I spend the rest of my life doing that.
Strange dream, huh?

RAS said...

P.S. There's a huge scandal going on here. A local old man started making recycled art several years ago after his wife passed on. Really cool things, like he took the frame from an old VW, cut it up, and turned it into one of those giant windmills. He build a really lifelike crocodile out of scrap metal and put it under a cast iron bridge (also built himself) over a stream on his property. His work is famous, and people come from all over to see his work. Musuems have tried to buy his stuff.

Well, the city has noticed. They have uniformly lableed his artwork as "junk" and said that it is all trash whould must be removed from his property and taken to the dump. He's refusing to do it, so the city is planning to do so. They are threatening this poor old man with thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. WHAT KIND OF SICK SOB PUTS AN 80+ YEAR OLD MAN IN JAIL FOR MAKING ART?

As you can see, I'm a little POed.

freeacre said...

Let that be our dream for you, too, ras. It will be up to you and your generation to make this vision come to pass. I wish we could be there with you, Kiddo.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Murph.

I mean, they put a 26-year-old in charge of the Iraqi stock market after we shock and awed 'em, so it didn't seem like they were too serious about helping the Iraqi economy much.


They haven't built-up the Iraqi army, roads, buildings, schools, hospitals, etc, etc. But, it's been a big success in that the CEO's of the top defence contractors cleared over a billion bucks in salary and bounuses.

And, according to Isreal, it's a tremendous success. Iraq is in pieces which is exactly what they wanted. Now the U.S. is gonna attacke Iran -for Isreal. Probably due to all of the holders of duel citizenship who make policy in our gov. -Leiberman, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Chertoff, Mukasey, Feith, and the list goes on.

If you look at all of the Bush/Dick administration's countless actions from the war, to the environment, the economy, Justice department, etc, and the scandals involving money, well, things are going pretty darn good -if you're part of the filthy rich. Hell, you got Alan Greenspan telling the dictators in the Middle East to drop the dollar, like he's on a mission to tank the economy -and nobody says a word.

Anyway, I think the Rockafellows, Rothchilds, JP Morgans and the like are all pulling the strings that are "culling the heard."

Hey ras, cool dream. Hope it comes true. Mine are sorta like nightmares that "The Postman" with "Mad Max" with "I Am Legend" with "The Running Man." It's no wonder I chew my fingernails.



mrs p said...

I was just saying to the Mister yesterday, "Remember those neighborhoods that had a little corner grocery store every so many blocks?" When you've been in a big city as long as I have you can actually name some of them that aren't there anymore. I actually lived upstairs from a small grocery store once. And I remember several others in some of the older neighborhoods. One is still there, still hanging on. I told the Mister..."maybe not tomorrow but soon, you're going to see those little markets coming back and they'll have LOCAL PRODUCE, and LOCAL PRODUCTS." And I don't mean 7-11 or Circle K. I mean real old fashioned corner markets owned by the people who live there. Change is good. What's the worst thing that could happen? I may be crazy but I'm banking on my "energy" lasting forever even when my body is dead and gone. What we have now utterly sucks. Like that lame ass crapfest debate last night. America is bleeding to death and they're talking lapel pins and playing gotcha trivia. Good riddens. Evolvment is coming with or without us. Some will never evolve with their anal egos.
mrsp (today the p stands for pissed)

mrs p said...

And as for that poor old chap who's art is being threatened on his own property,...there must be something we can do! Where do I write to protest? At least it should be sold to a museum before it's hauled away to the dump. What evil lurks in the minds of city planners who roll over and play dead when the big corporate money comes to town. mrsp

freeacre said...

I'm with you, mrs.p! Since I don't get ABC, I couldn't watch the "debate." But, I don't think I could have sat through it anyway, from what I read. What a thoroughly disgusting example of what passes for journalism today. I'm still voting for Ron Paul in the primary. But, all the self-serving criticisms from Hillary regarding Obama just serve to talk me into voting for him in the general. More and more, she reminds me of Nixon. She just may be the first female prick. I don't care if she is a woman. I guess for a woman to be successful in politics, she has to turn into a monster (with exceptions like Cynthia McKinney).
Sorry if I offend any Hillary supporters out there, but I just can't stand her, and I used to be one of her most fervent supporters.
Anyway, regarding those little neighborhood stores -- way cool. I'd love to see 'em come back with local food. In 1967 Toronto, there were little ethnic bakeries on just about every corner. You could get about 20 kinds of cheesecake. yum

Anonymous said...

Freeacre.I would like to think that your 1/2 full theory is the one that we will end up with,at least for a while.Strangely it occurs to me that i was there before.The western prairies of Canada,in small towns,was very much of that feel in the fifties.Russell in Canada.

freeacre said...

Nice to hear from you, Russell. I think it was a lot like that in a lot of small towns before Marketing and Global Corporations and International Finance got everything engineered against us.
It will be difficult to go back, now that the resources are so depleted, the country is bankrupt, and the population has tripled - and many of the people couldn't find their butts with both hands...

Anonymous said...

Geez, what's the deal with the stock market? It seems to be going crazily up -and up!


stoney13 said...

Murph & Freeacre,

Damn good post! BOTH halves!

I'm hoping for the "Half-full" scenario, but the PTB are a fucked-up bunch, and they're not going to give up their "McMansions", and Bently touring sedans without a fight! Unfortunatly the government seems to be on their side, so revelution will have to come from the bottom, (like it always does), before the top gets cleared away.

The "Mad Max" scenario will happen next, and the "Haves" and the "Have Nots" will BOTH have to deal with the "I'll kill your ass and take your shit" crowd, and that will go on as long as the ammo holds out.

After that, pieces of steel will be fashioned into swords, knives, spear points, arrow heads,and whatever other sorts of sharp, and dangerous impliments of death that the survivors can come up with.

After all that shit runs it's course, we'll get back to the tribal type of living that I always felt mankind was supposed to live in the first place.

I fervently hope that THIS time around, we'll have the good sense to preserve as much knowledge as possible, and not go back to making the same tragic mistakes as yester-year.

Of course if you wish, and hope in one hand, and shit in the other....Aw fuck it!!! Everybody knows how that one ends!

freeacre said...

I'm no economist, but right now, despite the fact that gold is down $23, oil is up higher than ever ($116 per barrel), the Dow Jones Industrials are up $223! Plus Citibank is writing off a huge amount in unrecoverable loans... does this make any kind of sense? Only when you factor in the manipulation of the Plunge Protection Team.
Don't be too surprised if it goes over 14,000 eventually before it drops like a rock in the fall.
I only know that whenever the stock market goes up, it's an indication that things just got worse for the working class.

Palooka's Revenge said...

murph's analysis of the present and FA's vision.... control vs freedom.

taking everything murph has observed the modus operandi is to control and the form is weapons and money. taking everything in FA's vision the modus operandi, the underlying driving force, is for freedom.

one might argue the latter force is for survival. but one can survive under control. we do a pretty good job of this all by our lonesome. what trumps survival is the will to be free.

who will win the battle? in the words of third world warrior, kris kristofferson.... "there ain't no chain as strong as the will to be free"........

You can't defeat him - he's fighting for Freedom
That's all he wanted - that's all he needs
You'll never beat him with weapons and money
There ain't no chain as strong as the will to be free

Maybe his colors are driving you crazy
Call him a commie - maybe it's true
Lure him away from his home with your money
Give him the work that you don't want to do

You can't defeat him - he's fighting for Freedom
That's all he wanted - that's all he needs
You'll never beat him with weapons and money
There ain't no chain as strong as the will to be free

See how we honor the struggle for Freedom
They needed vision - we gave'em war
See who is patiently watching in silence
The crucification of El Salvador

You can't defeat him - he's fighting for Freedom
That's all he wanted - that's all he needs
You'll never beat him with weapons and money
There ain't no chain as strong as the will to be free

freeacre said...

Great song, Palooka! Yeah, I think you are right about the control vs freedom response to peak everything. It's all grist for the mill, isn't it? One of the important things is that we don't need to wait until the tide is taking us out to sea before we implement the changes that we want to see. We need to make it happen now, so that there is some infrastructure for what we want to be happening before it is a true crisis and it is too late. For those of us inclined towards miracles, it would be prudent to haul out that old copy of A Course in Miracles or read Eckhart Tolle or some other inspired writer and meditate to create some extra space and silence so spirit can come through. We are going to need all the help we can get.
On the warrior front, more ammo...
On the farmer front, more seeds.

murph said...


Dead right man, the issue is freedom or control. If simple survival is the only option, we might as well give in right now. It is obvious to me that the PTB attempt to settle things by guaranteeing security at the expense of freedom is an accepted concept by most people. You can't have freedom in a condescending patriarchal hierarchy. As I've said before, we need a whole new way of social organization and that is not going to be easy. Large groups of population will never be really free if history has any truth to it. A conundrum?