Friday, December 3, 2010

"Ok, you've made your point"

“Okay, you’ve made your point. So what do we do about it?” John Michael Greer, speaking rhetorically to the Peak Oil "movement", et al.

That's the correct question, isn't it?  Oil has now cleared $89 for every delivery month from February 2010 onward, and is over $90 for every delivery month from July 2010 onward, and this is still technically a "shoulder period" for petroleum demand.  This at a time when nearly 20% of Americans are not working (that is U6 unemployment, not the completely FOS U3).

The debate is over.  Even the IEA has cried "Uncle!" Now what?

Greer was speaking in the rhetorical.  There is very little left to do.  The American body "politic" has shown quite clearly that it is incapable of rising to ANY OCCASION, and individuals have either made their moves years ago... or are going to work around the circumstances that they find themselves in.  As Ruth Gordon of "Harold and Maude" fame (if you have never seen this cult classic, you are operating without a proper education) famously said when asked the secret to aging gracefully - "Money helps".  If you sold your house in 2005 at the top of the market and invested it all in precious metals... good for you!  That does not cover most of us... and for 20% of the population, the "collapse" is already very much here and very real.

To me, this is an intellectual exercise.  Something to bear witness to; a spectacle.  I freely admit I have no idea what I would do if I were in the POTUS's shoes (but I do wish him G-dspeed).

(Any REAL Peaknik, the kind of guy that writes a thousand plus blog posts on for zero monetary compensation, that does not have his doomer homestead stocked and prepped is nothing more than a "poser".)

The following is from my October 17, 2007 post on what Peak Oil will mean to Americans:

1. New Orleans will never be rebuilt, nor will any other future major natural disaster of similar scale (are you listening Florida and California?).
2. American children born in 2007 will not need a driver’s license when they are 30.
3. Your 401k will become a 201k, and then a 101k, and then just a k…
4. Social Security and Medicare will fail.
5. America’s farm labor workforce will be 33% of the population by 2030, not the 1.5% of 2007 (Texas A&M might actually be a better bet than Harvard for junior after all).
6. Student loans will be a future credit crisis. (Borrowing $200k for a literature degree will, in retrospect, not appear to be an intelligent investment.)
7. The luxury car you now drive will be a very nice pottery holder in your garden.
8. But, your milk goat is really going to appreciate those fine leather seats, and your chickens will really enjoy perching on the engraved wood steering wheel.
9. You’ll be using dollar bills to light candles on your birthday cake because they are cheaper than matches.
10. Homes will come with only 1 zone heating and AC - your bedroom.
11. You’ll be thin again!
12. Home cooking!
13. Your wife’s depression/personality disorder, junior’s ADHD, and your alcohol problem… cured, with all that fresh air and sunshine instead of driving everywhere.
14. South Florida’s housing crisis will never be resolved.
15. The Southwest water problem will no longer be academic.
16. You won’t feel so rushed anymore. You won’t be spending time going to the gym, filling up the car, commuting…
17. No problem not fulfilling your new year’s fitness resolution as walking and biking will no longer be optional means of transportation.
18. You will care far more about who is Mayor than who is President.
19. You will get to know the neighbors, one way or another.
20. Conspicuous displays of consumption or wealth will not be good for your health.
21. The response time for 911 is going to be a great deal longer than it is now.
22. The end of Feminism, Liberalism, Conservatism, etc… these were luxuries of the cheap fossil fuel era.
23. No more keeping up with the Jones’. Keeping up will be quite enough.
24. Flush it and forget it will be replaced by compost it and fertilize with it.
25. You will never have to mow the lawn again, ‘cause your gonna need that hay.
26. You won’t have any trouble finding a parking space.
27. No more road rage, you will truly appreciate the use a of vehicle.
28. You are going to look fabulous in designer jeans while working in your garden, fixing your bike, etc…
29. Golf courses will become community gardens or farms and that home on the 9th hole will likely become a home in the Spinach field or pumpkin patch... and you will be working on your swing all right – for your hoe, your scythe, your axe…
30. The demand for lawyers, stockbrokers, accountants, insurance agents, realtors, hair -dressers, massage therapists, psychologists, etc… is going to dry up in ways I am not poetic enough to describe (and I own a brokerage firm).

No, this won’t happen overnight, but that is not the point. The point is that it WILL happen. Things will change, and since “for the better” or “for the worse” is an abstract I have no comment on either. Things will change and some people will be the “winners” in the new paradigm, while others will be the “losers” (sorry, more abstractions), and it is up to you to decide where it is you would like to be and what actions you plan to take to execute your plan.

end of re-post

Not a few of those items have already come to pass, most of the balance are on their way... but there will still be cold beer, great food, and fun to be had.

More soon.


DaShui said...

Ill defend New Orleans. It sits at the mouth of our natural highway the Mississippi. Exporting midwest agricultural goods to the rest of the world. Importing coffee will give NO a comeback.

Dextred1 said...

I am too busy watching football to care about this peak oil stuff :).

Stephen B. said...

While it is true that New Orleans was built near the entrance to America's natural highway, NO really ought to be rebuilt further inland, on higher ground this time around. Delta land naturally subsides some over time when levies don't allow periodic floods to replenish the land, to say nothing about possible future rises in sea level.

As for $90 oil in what is historically a quiet part of the year for this commodity....yeah, the real crunch is about to be upon us.

Football? For the moment, I live about 10 minutes from Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots.) The stadium is well out in the suburbs, reachable mainly only by highway, though the local transit authority does run a train from Boston there too. (It carries a couple of thousand patrons, out of the 60K+ folk that attend a game. The tickets cost a small fortune too. It will be interesting to watch what happens to the economics of pro football and those that support it, never mind Bob Kraft's other enterprise nearby, namely his Patriot Place shopping mall.

bureaucrat said...

Investment of the next century: inner city property in big cities like Chicago.


While fools are moving to the southwest for the sunshine, the southwest is running out of water. Lake Michigan, next to Chicago, isn't.

We have public transportation (which is keeping God-knows how many cities afloat these days) like most major cities.

Heating with natural gas (which for the moment is cheap) for four months out of the year will be a lot cheaper than air conditioning with electricity made by burning natural gas all year round.

We have the gateway for the Canadian Oil Sands running right thru here, while the south is dependent on Mexico for oil, and California is dependent on Prudhoe Bay.

And we have lots of lots available!

Forget farms! Forget suburbs! Forget the south! Forget the west! Come to Gods country!!! :)

PioneerPreppy said...

Interestingly I have thought investing in inner city real estate might actually pay off eventually. Certainly not in the "land of stink" which if I remember right someone claimed is what Chicago means in some North American Indian language.

When peak oil's fist finally closes I imagine what we call the inner cities today will be wasteland as that many people will NOT be able to live in that small a space. I would recommend smaller cities in water rich agricultural areas myself.

I would also add to Greg's list...

You will be your own deputy sheriff and your County Sheriff will be the most important official you will vote for.

Anonymous said...

I just got home from work, but saw that gas prices just went up 10cents locally to $3.09.

I haven't seen prices over 3$ since 2008, oil didn't go up that much lately did it?

Whats gas prices like for you guys?

Anonymous said...

Yup, bur.

Chicago with it's -30F winter blasters straight from the North Pole would be an idea place to live post peak.

Especially with all the ghetto residents in S Chicago who have one of the highest violence rates in the world.

On the plus side is access to the Great Lakes system, tho.

Best, Marshall

bureaucrat said...


Why do you wish the "best" to people when you really aren't wishing the best, when you're just an old grump, as far as I can tell. ;)

This time around I have numbers and real information, because I actually live here.

Chicago gets cold and windy, but not -30. 10 is considered a relatively cold day, and they only happen a few days in the winter. Right now it is a balmy 32 today.

The south side of Chicago has its ghettos, that is true. It also has Hyde Park, full of lots of well-off pinko liberal white folks who aren't violent at all. Some of them became Obama's closest advisors (Duncan, Jarrett, etc.)

Chicago isn't for everyone, but if you value water and practical transportation in a peak oil world, it will beat Phoenix everytime.

Dan said...

There is a pretty good map, here, that’s updated regularly and you can drill down (zoom in.)

It gets nice and toasty in the summer here with several days north of 100° F. However, keeping cool isn’t a problem. Just get wet and sit in the shade. Ponds, lakes, or rivers work great and well water at a constant 62° F. The ground is also a constant 62° F if I want to get fancy and build a basement insulated against the surface; like the Romans did in North Africa.

tweell said...

Bureaucrat has good points. City sprawl and suburbs are possible with automobiles and cheap oil. Take that away, and the inner city will fill back up with apartments just like it was 100+ years ago. Economy of scale will rule with an iron hand, and Chicago's lake access will keep it relevant while my Phoenix suburb home becomes worthless. With limited power for air conditioning, Phoenix will turn back into a sleepy farming community.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

No disrespect to the mighty Miss river nor NO... my point was that fuel restriction will make the rebuilding of an LA earthquake/Miami Cat 5 hurricane impossible.

The realization of that will have myriad effects on those areas.

bureaucrat said...

It hasn't been north of 100 in Chicago since 1988 when I was running around the Wheeling Park District as a "security guard." :) Global warming is nonsense. We have global cooling now.

Thanks Tweell.

I would also add to Jeffers's part on Orleans .. take a look at the plaques in downtown New Orleans, celebrating that Orleans was settled by former slaves and criminals (cause nobody else would live there!) The city should have never been built or rebuilt. Its land is lower than the friggin' Gulf! No wonder it floods.

westexas said...
Net Oil Exports Revisited (August, 2006)


A Proposed Triage Plan

I believe that vast expanses of American Suburbia are going to become virtually abandoned in the years ahead. Alan Drake has noted that a good deal of suburbia was so poorly constructed that a lot of it is biodegradable. Alan has outlined how we can go back to what we used to have: electric trolley cars connected to electric light rail lines.

CBS Sunday Morning, on 8/20/06, had a segment on "tiny houses." They profiled a home designer and builder who specialized in building very small functional homes of about 100 square feet. You can find more information on his website.

What this builder has realized, and what millions of Americans are just beginning to also realize, is that anything over 100 square feet or so per person is not a necessity; it is optional consumption, a want, instead of a need.

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan Drake has described how Swiss per capita oil consumption in the Second World War was about 0.25% of current US per capita oil consumption. They did it primarily by electrifying their transportation system.

I propose a sort of triage operation: "tiny" homes and multifamily housing along electric mass transit lines. In my opinion, it is the only way that we can preserve some semblance of a civilized society. The suburbs are, by and large, a lost cause.

kathy said...

I think it very telling that the promised aid to Haiti never materialized. It is a message to all of us. We will never manage another big crisis like a 7.0 in California, a catagory 4 or 5 in a high population area or a major terrorist attack that damages signifigant infrastructure or causes people to avoid malls and amusement parks.

Dan said...

Historic New Orleans is all along the river and above sea level. It is the part that is still OK and it will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, several centauries at least. It’s the post WWII suburbs built in drained swamps that are ruined.

I see similar follies all around me. There is a new neighborhood of McMansions in the hideous New American Style being built just down the road. The older neighborhoods come down the hill and abruptly stop. Below that there had been nothing but pasture for decades, they don’t even plant crops down there because it floods so much. Now there is gated community down there with a little berm around it that will not accomplish much of anything. The top of the berm is below a typical flood. Based on the pattern over the last couple of decades I’m guessing it will be destroyed sometime in the next 3 to 5 years. And don’t ya know they will be down there promising to rebuild and not be driven out; then demanding the government do something, etc…

Dan said...

I recall seeing something on the canals of Chicago a while back. Basically it is as dependant on the canals and pumps as New Orleans was on the levies and pumps. The gist was that If the pumps go down Chicago floods with sewage.

bureaucrat said...

Not denying what you read -- but they reversed the flow of the Chicago river many years back to send all the treated water downstate, cause all the waste before that was ending up in Lake Michigan and came back onshore. All Chicago area wastewater is treated in the burbs and sent downstate, so I'm not familiar with any canals.

Dan said...

Just something I recall seeing. However, my interest in it was very low because I don’t live there; so it may have been the river.