Friday, March 12, 2010

Its 2015 - 2019

I thank the commenters from my previous post, especially those that could manage to stay on topic and within the parameters of the given scenario.

Let's move the time scale forward.

Oil imports have fallen to 5 million bpd at the beginning of 2015. But time does not stop there, and that isn't that far away... Oil imports continue their decline, though the rate of decline on a percentage basis slow so that by the end of 2019 oil imports are down to 1.5 million bpd, the vast majority coming from Canada's Tar Sands.

Peak to trough, the U.S. has lost 55% or so of its liquid petroleum supplies over a period of 14 years. Personal "Car Consumption" - gasoline, tires, repairs, insurance... is down 80% to 85% in this scenario. Heating Oil supplies are down 45%, while jet fuel supplies are down 80%, and over the road diesel for trucks is down 65% (triage has occurred in distillate fuels). We have invented a 100mpg diesel motorcycle and a 150mpg one seat car, but still have not figured out how to use it move large and bulky goods like food, clothing (cotton, wool), commodities (tomatoes, apples, and oranges) from the field to the rail and then from the rail to retail distribution... but at least you can drive these vehicles back and forth to the mall... will there be anything in the mall to buy absent truck delivery? (Driving around in circles does nor do much for the economy, but moving essential goods and services by truck and rail does.)

Bunker fuel, now supplying 8% of the energy for power plant electrical generation is down 50%.

How much has natural Natural Gas production increased/decreased? Is it sufficient to cover the loss of heating oil and bunker oil? How much Nuclear power electrical generating capacity has been built? Is there sufficient capacity increases in these 2 to support economic growth? If not, what are the economic consequences of the decline in imported Oil over the 2015 -2019 time period? What happens to the US$?

What happens to the population now living in the American industrial belt? Did they find jobs? What about the financial services worker in the Northeast? Has unemployment benefits been extended for 10 years? If not, what are these folks doing? If so, how did the international bond market react? What percentage of the population is receiving food assistance, healthcare, shelter or other service from the various governments? Again, how does the international bond market feel about that (they fund every thing we do)? Has the U.S. defaulted on its debt? Has the U.S. engaged in full scale monetization? If either of the previous has occurred how will essential goods and services be delivered absent energy and money?

How are children transported to school? What about ambulance and emergency services? Police patrols? (motorcycles and bicycles might be decent substitutes for patrol cars, but for ambulances and school buses they seem to come up short).

How are pensions funded? How are criminals punished? How is healthcare administered?

What are the environmental impacts? Is there a single tree left standing in places short of heat and or cooking fuel? Has the U.S. tried to make up for declining electrical generation by increasing coal consumption?

More questions soon. Clearly the solution for everything will not be golf carts and mopeds. I am still looking for more intelligent idea flow; comments remaining on topic will be greatly appreciated.


kathy said...

What occurs to me is that this must be looked at from many different perspectives. There is the global, the national, the regional, the local and the personal effect. As a non-political, non-economist, minivan driving mom, my view is very personal. I think that we can not overstate the impact of population. People will die, earlier and from things that they didn't use to die of. People may well opt not to have kids or to at least have fewer kids. Some cities will be shells of what they once were, especially if they are in places with no water. I think you are wrong about the Northeast. You are assuming that we will continue to heat our homes at the current level. We won't. We will be super insulating, living in smaller spaces and using highly efficient stoves rather than the open fireplaces of our ancesters. We won't just use wood but combinations of wood, coal, corn and water generated electricty. We still have many communities situated on our abundant river systems. The bones of hydro-electric still exist. I think the Northeast is the place to be. We will still have the wealthy and the poor. The middle class will have reinvent themselves. The small business person will rise again.

Donal Lang said...

Couple of points:
Remember the crisis in Ethiopia? Band Aid, all those pictures of startvation?
Ethiopia was a net exporter of food to the West throughout that crisis. Local people couldn't afford it.
At what point will Canada sell oil to China (or anywhere else) at a higher price and in a stronger currency than dollars?

Next, people will move. In Europe we get migrants from Africa, you get migrants from Mexico. During the dustbowl years people moved to find jobs. Blacks moved from the South to Chicago. You'll know better than I where they'll move, but I'd guess you'll have an invasion of productive land as you move back to a situation where, say, 20% of the population are working on the land.

Greg; I don't think you 'get it'. You are underestimating the fragility of the current society. I once knew a guy who was brought up in Beirut. In his childhood it competed with Paris or Cannes; beaches, palm trees, fine hotels, casinos, rich people's villas. his family escaped when it first imploded, with hardly anything. It took, he said, about a month to collapse.

Do you really think the slow decline will happen? Think Rodney King; relatively minor event, instant riots and looting.

I don't know what the trigger event might be, but there WILL be one. Stressed population, no money, underlying panic, men unable to provide for their families.....

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Hey Donal:

I think I get it that a quickie blowup could unwind... I was just trying collect idea flow of stuff I missed. I am going to be making presentations to investors and I did not want to leave any stones unturned, as it were.

As you know, the MS and I have crawled through Jeff's projections - he suppled us with oodles of data and 4 pages of graphs over a year ago - and we think is projections will be borne out. We think it will be borne out OVER TIME but we cannot be certain of that...


I think people will get by in any place where it rains. Places dependent on heating oil will have some folks that can adapt on others that can't. I imagine the same for hot places...

I value your input precisely because you are a "non-political, non-economist, mini van driving mom" we seem to have a plethora of engineers, MBA's College Professors, Geologists and Wall Streeters commenting here at the AEC... and a severe shortage of soccer mom's. Please keep it coming.

bureaucrat said...

Remaining on topic .. I hope .. as I understand it, the topic is to assume Armageddon and that NOTHING new positive happens in the next ten years that would help us. That is doomeristically silly.

However, I will throw out a few things. I continue to believe that the political world will do what it always does: just try to get us thru the day, one day at a time, cutting back what we can and stretching whatever we can. If I lose half of my planned retirement as a Federal employee, I won't get my retirement home in Puerto Rico, but I will survive.

Low oil imports assumes no joy in: continued Canadian sands production, the Arctic is empty of oil, no Venezuelan tar sands production, that Nigeria & Russia are peaked and tapped, no increased Brazilian deepwater production, no massive ramp up in Iraqi oil production, no increase in Mexican oil production (with help from the U.S. -- finally -- I know you think I'm dreaming, westexas :)), and no other new fields found anywhere, costly tho they may be.

And while it takes a lot of effort, capital and materials to build nuclear reactors, we have little alternative. The whole world knows this. Coal and NG supply may be overstated, and China is going to burn a lot already. Dams have already been built in the best locations.

Electricity is almost always made by essentially boiling water. Find a way to boil the water and you get electricity. After that, it's wind and solar. We cool ourselves and warm ourselves as best we can, and move as needed. Coping. :)

bureaucrat said...

Ooops, I forgot. East Africa has no real oil production increases also in a "doom" scenario. :) Maybe, maybe not ..

Publius said...

Quick tar-sands myth rebuttal: the energy required to get black goo mixed with sand converted to oil is astronomical. The ROEI is so low as to be laughable. It will not be sustainable. It is being used now, because there is extra net energy available from other sources. I.e., light sweet crude and natural gas.

It is not the amount of energy available that is important, as the Arch Druid guy pointed out in the past few posts on his blog, but the QUALITY of the energy.

So, there will be plenty of low-quality, non-concentrated energy being used in the future: solar, wind, and water.

These low-concentration energy sources will be incredibly valuable, but will not support anything like the current living and economic arrangement in the USA.

These are facts of physics. The stored ancient sunlight that is easy to get is declining fast. Bureaucrat either doesn't get this yet, or is willfully ignorant out of fear or denial. There is PLENTY of stored ancient sunlight left that is hard to get. But it's hard to get. The energy to get it won't be there, because that energy will be needed to keep us all alive.

The remaining highly concentrated stored ancient sunlight will be used almost exclusively for vital social and economic functions. In cities and regions that come up with a rational and equitable way to ration this precious resource, the emerging social system will be harmonious enough to allow people to reinvent old patters of industry, agriculture, and social life. Some technology from the glory days of the 20th century and early 21st century will be preserved: there is so much electronic junk around that electronics technicians and inventors will keep radio and low-bandwith computer networking going, allowing us to transmit important knowledge and ideas at fairly low cost.

Running a small factory making useful devices of all sorts, of good quality, will be a great investment. Those who start investing in this area now may be a step ahead, if they can avoid bankruptcy before small enterprise becomes viable again.

The giant fishing vessels scraping the oceans clean and destroying marine life will cease to exist, because of fuel shortages. Small fishing villages and fishermen will reappear, providing another hard but respectable way to make a living.

Small grain mills will come back. Buy some land by a fast running stream now, while you can.

Resource wars will attempt to suck up our youth via a military draft, but widespread defiance and resistance will cause these wars to stop.

The penalties for crimes such as theft and brigandage will become much more severe, as stealing from families will actually be a life-threatening act, when there are no insurance policies or governments to aid the victims of theft. The lynching of thieves will become a common sight.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Bur on this one. 5 years out will be the worst of it. Very little can be done today that will help much in the next 5 years. After that, reasonable replacements will start to come on line. Will we resume exponential growth? No. Will we be better off than most here think? Yes. We do not take technological advancement or the effects of huge potential profits enough into account here.


Coal Guy

Anonymous said...

How many people wear clothes dried with electricity or natural gas? How many people keep 50 gallons or more of hot water available 24/7/365? How many people have no light pollution around their homes at night? How many people have been on a train recently? How many have taken any form of public transportation recently? How many kids have walked to school lately? How many people have walked to work lately? How many people heat a 2-3000 SF house that they leave empty all day? Same question for AC. How many people take a doggie bag home from the average 3 meals on a plate US restaurant?
All of this behavior will change without much reduction of lifestyle. It's called waste.
And this list of questions is just skimming the surface of squandering and waste in America.

oOOo said...

ok, I can tell you from experience, as we are currently developing some electric bikes where I work, and are close to bringing them to market, that there are a few issues with the batteries still. They take quite a long time to charge,(although they pop out easily so you can just switch to a previously charged one) last not much more than a year with frequent use and the bikes are fairly expensive relative to normal bikes. Lithium is a finite resource too..
Of course we hope the battery technology will improve and indeed even in the last year and a half there have been some big improvements, but overall you are still better off buying a normal 125cc 4stroke or 50cc 2stroke if you wish to save money and have the bike last a long time. Even if/when the price of oil doubles.

The good news is the bikes are amazing to ride and rival 125 2strokes for power and you can ride them everywhere without noise issues. So, having fun on a dirtbike or supermoto is still going to be possible 5 or 10 years out and you can indeed have fun driving around in circles, or around your farm.

the local farmers around here all have 50cc mopeds with trailers on to carry stuff around, which could be adapted to the electric bikes too if need be, but you get 100mpg on a 50cc anyway. I rode a 50cc on and off for years and there is really no better way to get around a city in europe. 5 euro fillup with 98 octane gas would last me almost 2 weeks even driving with the throttle wide open most of the time. The bike was tuned a bit and I could get 120kmh top speed out of it too.

confederate miner said...

First off I would like to tell you i have read your blog for quite some time. to me your blog has been very educational(and profitable!). It seems that no matter how well I think I have researched and contemplated on a subject you will post something that i had overlooked ormake me look at something from a totally different point of view.
I know you keep well aware of things so I know you have to have some thoughts about physical silver.
I have been studying silver for quite some time and I am convinced that at this point investing in silver a once in a lifetime oppurtunity. Would love to see you focus on silver for a couple of post the way you have tackled peak oil.
Sorry for not being on topic
once again I think you deserve to know that this blog is appreciated and I'm sure I'm not the only one who does.

Bill said...

I think crime is a given. We probably won't see roving hordes like some project but I see no way around having to guard what you do have.

Therefore, community living will make a comeback. I think that's a good thing anyway but it will be more a necessity.

Bill said...

BTW, I'm leaving my anon. status behind. Been around a long while. Am a regular working guy.

bureaucrat said...

(I bought nine 100 oz. bars of silver last year. Ugly metal, but I love them. :))

I don't have fear or denial. Neither does anyone else in the U.S., as the Apocylapse hasn't started and likely never will. Food and energy are cheap and plentiful (today). Things are just going to get more expensive.

In January of '08, the U.S. consumed 22.3 million barrels per day (mbpd) of oil, and our oil supply at the time was the same amount.

Both U.S. supply and demand have been dropping for 2 full years. Today we have supply of 20.2 mbpd and demand of 19 mbpd. We've been dropping our use of oil for the last two years. Anyone notice any threats to human life emerge yet? We can tolerate even more.

(Interesting bit -- in May of '08, with oil prices peaking at $147, supply and demand were consistent for months at 22 and 20.5 mbpd -- there was no oil shortage -- it was all speculation)

Batteries are a concern cause the amount of lithium that you would need to power tens of thousands of "Chevy Volts" is huge (with 220 million vehicles in the U.S.), and most lithium is found in Bolivia (50% of world supply), Chile & China, and all three hate our guts. Without lithium or another "type" of battery, the next peak is likely "peak lithium." And that's gonna save us???

Anonymous said...


A few things;

regarding waste, that waste as it is is still someones job,reduce waste reduces employment. Sure we can make a single trip in our car to fill our needs or instead of five trips.

collapse; if you have no job and no prospects and gov hand outs getting iffy your now in the cycle of the collapse.Okay,well maybe your brother lets you stay at his place for a while,along with your wife and kids. Then he losses his J.O.B. This scenario is playing out NOW in the lower income brackets. Collapse is a micro thing for now,until...

If we are lucky continues over the next decade until the other alts can be tested and tried. The Volt is a pipe dream. Thousands! Try millions if you want to make an impact.

The future be it 5 or 15 years is going to be more small business or bust,if your one of the unemployed what's your choice.


Wayne said...

We will get more efficient in every way. The US Post Office is just now considering five day service. In the future, one or two. Business will out bid consumers for gasoline and diesel. The poor will be worst off. The former middle class will have more family under one roof and maybe even friends. No more fertilizer for the lawn. No more landscaper in the back yard. Immigrants will go back home. The kids will go to local colleges if at all. The summer home is gone as well as the boat. Forget the golf course. The fabric of society will tighten. It may not be wise to go the country home even if you had one as leaving the house empty would not be wise. We will have more home protection. Cooking at home, music, house repair, gardening etc. will become entertainment. We won’t share our backyard apples and pears with the dear and squirrels, indeed it may be risky for the dear to enter my yard. Even with health care being out of reach for some elders we will live longer. We'll walk to the store. Supply will meet demand but it will be colder in the house. We will make technical advances and will continue albeit with more conservative values. We'll adapt.

Dan said...

Over this time frame I think rail will come into its own and much of the outer ring suburbs will revert to farmland. In a metropolitan area you may see people moving into higher density urban cores with the suburbs between the cores reverting to farmland, not the Thomas kinkade picturesque farms, but viable farms nonetheless. In other words there will be a more clear demarcation between urban and rural.

On power, we haven’t even really started producing geothermal power. Drill down deep enough almost anywhere and you have a source of heat that can turn water into steam and spin a turbine. Over this time frame it’s the power source of areas that don’t succumb to anarchy. Other areas, even in the west, will have a more medieval existence. N.b. I am a little biased here because I am currently studying geology part time; accounting is all but doomed and I want another profession I like between me and the job of plowman.

Gregg, it’s a 250mpg two seater. When I wrote yesterday I was thinking of a 150mpg four seater with two somewhat comfy seats up front and two rather cozy seats in back that can fold down, but, what VW has done is amazing! Personal transport is important because most telecommuting requires the viability of large corporations shuffling paper with no real value added, ain’t going to happen. Outside of a few fields the specialist is dead, we are looking at an age of generalists working hands on.

Anonymous said...

Exactly what is the USA doing to earn the import to our shores of over 30% of all global exported oil?

What products are we selling or trading to earn such a high percentage of global oil production?

Are our US Treasuries so valuable and sought after that the oil exporting nations desperately want to trade valuable oil for some freshly printed treasury bonds?

The answer is that the US dollar is currently the world reserve currency and is embedded in most international transactions at this time. It's easy for Ben to print up some "bills"- they will just slip into the global dollar stream and can be exchanged for hard goods- for now. But most nations are desperately trying to evade dollar hegemony- and are slowly getting out of greenbacks. Maybe an event will occur that will suddenly change perceptions and allow a massive collapse of US obligations?

And the other part of the answer is that the US has military bases in 100 different countries. Is this so we can be like Batman or the Lone Ranger and do good for everybody? No. This is ensure that the empire maintains control and gets the best deals, controlled markets, and a cut of the global goods production- and at great prices.

And the rising Asian powers (largest banks in the world are now Chinese)do realize what great uses they could put these resources to in their own economies. As do the ME oil producers who are rapidly nurturing ties with Asia- which will be quite happy to police the Persian Gulf in exchange for more bilateral oil trading agreements.

The empire is over. We need to downsize fast and stop these insane pols from bankrupting the USA in an attempt to maintain eternal US hegemony. Hey it might be nice to sit back and stop trying to dominate the globe for a while?

Regards, Marshall

Dextred1 said...

Well there our many possible outcomes.
1. The dollar collapses due to the increase of spending due to the growth of social programs.
2. One parent stays home to teach the children, prepare food and tend a garden. Although schools could get much smaller. I live outside Ann Arbor,Mich and tons of old school houses that would still work.
3. High school education ends at 10 grade and the states then spend saving paying 1500 a yr for community college instead of 10000 for a yr in high school. Would save 8500 dollars a yr a student. Heard one state was thinking about that. Think Nevada
4. The U.S. due to the rapid increase in oil price would due a crash course in nuke production and oil exploration.
5. Everything would get more expensive, people would do with less. This would cause the cycle to repeat with more losing jobs and cutting back and so fourth.
6. College loans would get defaulted enmasse and leave the government on the hook.
7. The military will pull back to more strategic locations. Russia collapsed but military is still very powerful.
8. At some point the government does a preemptive devaluation doubling the saving in every American banking account causing massive inflation to lower government debt repayments.
9. Cars would be limited to 1 per family.
10. My dad tells me when I was a kid he would get a fire going and when if was hot he would throw a piece of coal in the wood stove and warm the house the whole night. We were poor, but we survived.

Dextred1 said...

I forgot to mention that I think we will still drive. Much less though. Cars a very big purchase and would take a long time to turnover the entire fleet. Just this could take down a lot of the large banks if people stop payments on gas hogs.

Dan said...

Even with telecommuting that isn’t BS, say hiring an engineer halfway across the country or halfway around the world, how do you pay him? Our current system of payments and contracts is based entirely on trust and that trust is under assault with more frauds coming out daily.

It should go without saying he won’t work where he can’t get paid.

tweell said...

I'll focus on law, order and prisons. I think that there's a significant chance of local/regional societal temporary breakdowns. National guardsmen will be utilized along with the Army in severe cases. Security guards will become much more in evidence for decent apartment complexes and office buildings, these will be armed. Harsher laws and treatment will be demanded by politicians attempting to placate their constituents, but the need to put two policemen in a patrol vehicle will keep the coverage at or below current levels.
Penal institutions will make much more use of inmate labor, it will be demanded versus offered to the inmates. Inmate re-education programs will disappear. Still, many criminals will be released early by a government that doesn't want to pay for them. They will find the 'pickings' are slim and that people will be more inclined to defend themselves and their property.

K said...

A 100 mpg diesel motorcycle and a 150 mpg one seat car.... about as useful to society as an improved corset and a modern garter belt.

I foresee these vehicles being used by the uber-rich, government thugs, and Xe mercenaries. They will travel in convoys, because they would be easily ambushed if they tried to travel alone. They will travel slowly so as to avoid the pot holes in bad roads, improvised caltrops dropped on good roads by neo-higway men, and and to maximize fuel efficiency.

Truck delivery will be in convoys for the same reasons. Most shopping malls will be abandoned or converted to other uses, such as housing workers for the new WPA (Works Projects Administration). Those that haven't been will be crawling with armed guards, both in uniform and undercover (posing as shoppers or shop staff, etc.). Truck convoys will run like scheduled train service; badly.

The explosive growth in kidnapping since 2012 has slowed a bit. The victims will be held for ransom, if lucky. Otherwise they will cannibalized, sold as slaves, or used in science experiements testing nano-tech weapons or gene therapy. The slowing in kidnapping is do to lack of suitable targets. The targets now tend to small groups of people; 5 and under, and often they are snatched in their own homes. It is widely considered that the kidnappers wear police uniforms. At least some of those kidnappers ARE police who are moon-lighting (just like in the Mel Gibson movie, Ransom).

Most police contact with people is done in day light by this time, since many people now are willing to shoot first and ask questions later. Most people also booby trap their outer doors and windows. Not many people bar their windows and doors, lest they be fire bombed and can't escape from inside their homes.

Raising and training guard and war dogs is still an excellent business. Dogs with birth defects are a replacement for beef cattle.

Natural Gas production is not enough to cover the losses of heating and bunker oils. Nuke power has not been built though Pilgrim and other defunct plants are brought back on-line. There is no net economic growth. The US$ is replaced by this time by the North American Dollar (a.k.a. Amero).

The population in the indutrial belt and northeast is greatly reduced. Some move south. Some die of old age or accidents or illnesses that were survivable with modern medicine. A lot freeze to death or starve. A lot have been conscripted to 'stabilize' Mexico. Supposedly evil A-rabs have joined with narco-traffikers and neo-communists in Latin America to attack America via Mexico. By this time there have 'bio-terror' attacks by these groups in the US and the rest of the NAU. Naturally the US will have a new vaccine created in record time, most likely well before the attacks happen, since the attacks are really black ops. New 'temporary' security decrees are enacted and spottily enforced.

The Internet is inaccessable to most former users by this time.


K said...


The US, Canada, and Mexico deficate on everyone holding their bonds by dropping their currency for the North American Dollar. The international bond market at first does a Wiley E. Cayote (due to manipulation by large governments). Then it drops like a rock. World trade is off by at least 90% from 2005.

Most of the NAU goes Mad Max by the end of this period due to failed harvests from lack of good water due to crumbling water pipes, empty aquifers, and disruption of the transportation system, and the utter collapse of all non-local markets. Poison leaks from the tar sands strip mines into the neighboring aquifers and farm land. Somehow the water supply of some towns and cities are poisoned so badly that they are abandoned. The poisoning may be due to broken pipes or machinery or fuel needed to run the machinery of the water supply. In some cases it is due to illegal dumping. And in other cases it may be due to sabotage.

Before the NAU goes Mad Max, most kids don't go to school. If they do go to school they will walk to a home or other building in their neighborhood to study.

Ambulance service is by trailer attacked to one of those garter belts or corsets. No fire trucks are sent for individual homes or small buildings that are on fire.

Pensions are funded with worthless paper.

Independant criminals are either enslaved or killed 'while resisting arrest'.

Healthcare done out of homes in a black market.

The government secretly protects forests by using biological weapons (spread in remote forests) or death squads (forests near towns and cities). The patrols the death squads conduct are training and combat patrols at the same time.

Dextred1 said...

K. I hope it does not end anything like that. I have a 1 yr old nad my wife is prego. I think people are better than that, but i am not sure. People get crazy when hungry, poor and in mobs

Dan said...

Housing will not built in any significant numbers for a while but some CRE will likely be converted to residential. Most of the housing built in the bubble era will be scraped, they weren’t even building to code and I don’t mean minor issues. In the bubble years we have a confluence of shoddy construction with; cheap, even toxic Chinese materials; and inefficient design, they were designed to maximize curb appeal and profits. To top it off they are almost all the insipid new American style in tracts called something or another estates, but that is a personal distaste.

When homes do start being built again I think the T shaped farmhouse will make a return, at least in the south, due to its practicality. Living, dining and kitchen downstairs with three bedrooms upstairs and windows on three sides of every room will help keep you cool. Moreover it can be heated with one central hearth in the winter. I think houses will be mostly two stories due to efficiency; you only need half the roof and foundation.

Dan said...

It won’t be total anarchy much past the initial shock, if that. People don’t want to live in anarchy so they won’t, in the absence of policing you will quickly see effective communal action to restore order.

A case in point is our prisons, which tend to be full of people not known for their upstanding behavior. In the 60’s many of the traditional methods of maintaining order were ruled unconstitutional. The result was the rapid formation of prison gangs with inmates joining gangs for protection. The end result is in any prison today there are two sets of rules, one official and one simply understood. Violate the official rules and I will write you misconduct. Then there will be a hearing, opportunities for appeals, etc… the worst you can expect is 30 days in lock (administrative segregation aka solitary), maybe a month of extra duty, losing a year of goodtime, etc… violate the cons rules and there is a good chance that yesterday the sun set on you’re a$$ for the last time, if we find out before you’re done in, you can be placed In protective custody from now on, in the same administrative segregation cell as before. At the very least you will be severely beaten down for your transgression.

As a side note, if you are the overly paranoid type; the T shaped farmhouse has nine firing positions with overlapping fields of fire and 360 degree coverage. Just add some sandbags and you’re good to go.

Donal Lang said...

Interesting experience in France a few years ago. A heatwave killed off lots of old people.No-one 'noticed' until a funeral director spoke to a local journalist and the story was picked up nationally, until there was a public outcry for a gov't investigation. Thousands had died.

What I'm saying is that an increase in birth-deaths, old peoples deaths and accidents won't really show up for years (assuming someone's still counting)

K said...

I forgot to mention that malaria will be reestablished in the US, especially the south, because "about 1,500 cases of malaria are diagnosed in the United States annually, mostly in returned travelers."

Just like you don't need a lot of feces to contaminate a well, you can have chaos caused by a few sociopaths.

K said...

Mosquito nets will be wide spread and very valuable by then.

Stephen B. said...

K brings up a good point about how hard it could be to travel by car or truck in another 10 to 15 years, even if one is lucky enough to be able to afford to use a powered vehicle much.

Beyond the issue of security is the simple fact that the roads are going to be in hellish condition. With tax revenue (gas taxes, but in general most all taxes) cratering, and with road use down, down, down, many roads will get minimal, if any repair and maint. Over time, driving over some bridges will become a death-defying act. Weather will take out bridges, sometimes on interstates, leaving entire sections of roadway out of service. (Given the limited access design of the interstates, it can take several miles to detour around a missing or damaged bridge.) More likely, some interstates will revert to two-way traffic, with one half of a route closed, with the remaining traffic detoured onto the remaining bridges such as is now commonly temporarily done for repairs (only this time the repairs won't be happening.) Years ago, as railroads went into decline during the rise of the automobile and truck on state-subsidized roadways, the loss of just one bridge could force the abandonment of 20, 50, or 100 miles of branch line as the RRs struggled to justify the $$ to repair a bridge on a line seeing declining train traffic.

In areas that freeze particularly, roads will become cratered with potholes and cracks. Bituminous concrete will soar past $100 or more a ton and the equipment used to spread it will become prohibitively expensive to run. Even conventional concrete in warmer areas requires much natural gas to manufacture and then again, equipment to spread on the roadbeds. All this while tax revenues continue to slide double digits as Greg has discussed.

Poorer exurban and rural towns around the country are already picking and choosing which side roads to return to unpaved status. Redundant roads will be abandoned.

Towns and states will struggle to maintain some nice inter-town and intercity roads at reduced capacity and will keep roads around the town passable for slower speed use, but the days of lots of class-I road available for unrestrained motoring are coming to a close. First in freezing areas, but generally everywhere sooner or later.

It won't do the rich much good to have a couple of cars for longer distance use when the roads will be so substandard. It might be akin to having a private railroad car in the 1950s or later after the RRs closed all the branch lines, stopped the passenger trains that towed said cars, and ripped up the thousands of stations and station sidings that hosted private cars on excursions.

I'm still not sure rail makes a huge comeback for passenger use. Perhaps in the interim, we see passenger buses come back, utilizing even the reduced intercity highways and interstates still serviceable. In general rail or not, intercity travel in general will probably fall off a cliff, number-wise. Freight? Yes, I can see RRs making a comeback for that. Two steel rails on wooden ties last a *long* time and require less maint. than four lanes of bituminous concrete.

In short, everybody talks about cars, the lack of cars, and/or cars being powered by electricity and/or natural gas etc., but I don't think enough people have thought about what the condition of the road network will be, for those newfangled cars - owned mainly by the well-to-do, to operate on.

Even gasoline, if one can still afford it, will be harder to find as 1/2, 2/3, then maybe 3/4's of our service stations close.

Even the rich depend on infrastructure being affordable to the masses to an extent and the former cannot support such a network by themselves.

That goes for air travel too. A plane won't do one any good when 5/6 of the airports or the ATC system are shut down, though I suppose VFR operation from private airport to private airport could accomplish something for a while.

Donal Lang said...

Interesting comments on roads; holes and cracks, danger of hijack of freight, attacks to cars, and gas stations closing down thru' lack of business. Perhaps it'll also be a dangerous thing to be a gas station owner?

Road travel could collapse very fast!

Stephen B. said...

Regarding road travel, it really could Donal, at least for the longer distance stuff.

When most of the gas stations have closed or cut their hours back - when one is bumping for hours over a now two-way interstate - never even mind the security concerns, travel beyond, say, half a gas tank from home will become more arduous, arduous enough so that more and more will think twice about doing so. That in turn will cause even *more* loss of filling stations, more loss of highway tax revenue, more loss of emergency road service. I think it'll snowball much like what happened to rail in the 50s, 60, and 70s. Service cutbacks in both passenger and freight caused branch line closures and schedule cutbacks, which caused even more customers to abandon rail service, even though they themselves were still happy with it, which caused yet more rail service cutbacks, and so on.

It costs phenomenal amounts of money to maintain the roads the US (as well as Canada, UK, etc.) has/have in the present condition. Already we were seeing a growing inability to maintain it all as oil prices started climbing. Road budgets are busting. We don't have a chance really to support it all once the "stimulus" printing press is exhausted, which is really the only source of contemporary road repair now. A few floods, a few good freezes, etc. will break the link somewhere, and the roads - some roads at least - start becoming more and more discontinuous, and that will lead to disuse more quickly than many think, in my opinion.

Oh, I just thought of something else: Wait until snow removal in the Snowbelt becomes cost prohibitive and they don't plow anymore, or only plow if there's over 6", or wait until after the snow is done falling to plow/salt, or until the quality of the snow removal becomes otherwise poor. *Some of this is already happening in the more rural parts of New England.* I hadn't thought about this aspect of northern living the other day when Greg was suggesting people will move south. I'm not sure lack of snow plowing on every last snow-covered road would push more people south, but it is something to think about. At the very least, lack of good roads and timely, effective snow removal might drive less sturdy folk back to the cities or inner, more heavily settled suburbs. By the way, excepting major snow dumps, railroads are generally less affected by snowfall compared to the automobiles, especially crowded interstates that don't get to enjoy the benefit of a salt truck or snowplow and now have to deal with the consequences of hundreds of cars compressing the snow into a glazed, treacherous, ice pack.

It won't be so much that road repair, snow removal, etc. won't technically still be possible. Rather, it will be the inability of government to pay for more than a fraction of what high-quality, paved roads it presently pays for. We could see the rise of private, toll roads, or turnpikes again such as the US saw in the 18th and 19th century. But of course, those private roads quickly fell to competition from private canals and then private railroads, as the latter, but especially rail, proved the most cost-efficient, especially when having to exist without the fact of public, subsidy dollars.

I'm beginning to convince myself that we may see rail, even passenger rail, make more of a comeback than I thought, not because private cars will prove so expensive, but because public, paved roads will be so costly compared to rail. It was true in the 19th century, minus oil for roads. It might prove true again.