Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Year That Was


Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.

(Ancient Indian Proverb)

Wow and gosh almighty! 2008 was quite a year! Talk about doing it up in the national election! John McCain selected himself a wing-woman to guard his back on the treacherous trip to the gates of hell to get Bin Ladin, which gave us a national debate on the subject of experience and qualification required by a person who is a backup in the event the President is unable to act.

Heated were the discussions on television, coffee shops and breakfast tables across the land on a subject that really is pretty unimportant in most presidential elections. It was important this year due to McCain's age (72) and his status as a four time cancer survivor.

The Salt Lake City Tribune summed it up best with the following:

Out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency. ...

The country desperately needs a new and well-defined road map for the 21st century and leadership that can unite the country behind it.

We believe that Barack Obama can give us both.

Apparently the public saw it the same way. As we all know, Obama won the election, big time.

In the meantime throughout the world, the global economy continued to tank. Not a surprise to anyone who is alive and reading anything in the recent past. A close friend, however, who is a regular reader of this blog, wrote and expressed his concern that we may be losing our central theme of hope for the future. Quite the contrary is the fact. There is a greater necessity for hope today than ever before.

On a personal level, the year 2008 and events in that year lent even more emphasis to hope for the future as we celebrated the arrival of our first grandchild. While the future is dark, hope will prevail as we all pull together in common cause to find a solution to the world's problems. It must be so because a little girl named Madison, who is barely two plus months old, demands it.

The future does require that we be realistic. It is in that sense of realism that we seek to convey a glimpse of the huge problems coming to the fore. The people of the earth are the cause of most of those problems. There you have it. A priori, the cause offers the solution: In this case, the acceptance by our world population of the constraints of the finite nature of the world and its resources. Will that occur?

An answer to this question is close at hand. We and little children around our world see the road of hope as the only avenue. Join us in 2009 as we travel that road. The journey's destination also bears the same name as the road. .



Friday, December 5, 2008


What comes next? This is a question that many are asking today. Energy prices are falling. Isn't this a good thing? Well, it could be a good thing, but it is likely simply another directional signal to the future coming our way or better stated, the way of our descendants. After all consideration is given to the subject, it is indeed all about energy. Consider the following:

Energy has always been the basis of cultural complexity and it always will be. … the past clarifies potential paths to the future. One often-discussed path is cultural and economic simplicity and lower energy costs. This could come about through the "crash" that many fear -- a genuine collapse over a period of one or two generations, with much violence, starvation, and loss of population. The alternative is the "soft landing" that many people hope for - a voluntary change to solar energy and green fuels, energy-conserving technologies, and less overall consumption. This is a utopian alternative that, as suggested above, will come about only if severe, prolonged hardship in industrial nations makes it attractive, and if economic growth and consumerism can be removed from the realm of ideology.
Joseph A. Tainter

For the reader who is enticed by the foregoing quotation, your attention is directed to http://dieoff.org/page134.htm for a very edifying read. If the idea of reading through dry scholarly writings does not have appeal, the simple, but effective, way of broadening your horizons on this subject exists at http://www.dieoff.org/ for your viewing pleasure. Just click at the top of the page on the cartoon media that deals with the subject of your interest.

Now the intricate and immediate details of our present situation revolve around whether employment will continued to fall, will we have a predictable future that meets our needs and the needs of our loved ones, correct? No matter how much we may want to rely on intuition or daily routine, it behooves all of us to broaden our knowledge base on the subject of energy. What is its effect on our lives? What determines its availability? How should our leadership respond to the global crisis before us? It is submitted that a knowledgeable basis of opinion as we seek these answers is beneficial.

In the interim, a path of sustainable and frugal life style appears advisable absent the discovery of the "magic bullet".


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Deflate or Inflate?

Recent economic events have the world and its people in turmoil. Credit markets have frozen. Factories have closed. Unemployment has risen. The new government to be installed in January of 2009 is considering solutions to these difficulties.

Basically, the purpose of this blog has been to ignite discussion and provoke thought by readers as to the cause of this world-wide problem and consider what we as individuals can do at this time. Generally, the theme of the blog thus far has been consideration of whether there is a common denominator to all these problems. The tentative conclusion presented is that, yes, there is a common thread. Nothing is static. Change is constant and knowledge always unfolding. We live in a finite world with ever-increasing demands on finite resources in that world.

Presently we deal with the problems generated by growth's demands for energy. Those energy demands have centered mainly on fossil fuels. Other sources of energy exist and will be tapped by the growing demand. How will that happen?

The Institute for 21st Century Energy is an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A panel of the Institute, headed by none other than General James Jones has just issued its Transition Plan for Securing America's Energy Future. Notably, the preamble to that plan states:

Global demand (for energy) will increase by more than 50% between now and 2030 – and perhaps by as much as 30% here in the United States. We must develop new, affordable, diverse, and clean sources of energy that will underpin our nation's economy and keep us strong both at home and abroad. Our energy future must address growing shortfalls in infrastructure capacity and emerging environmental issues. . . . .And looking ahead, even the most optimistic among us must conclude that we are not well positioned to anticipate nor prepared to meet tomorrow's energy needs.


Everyone should click on the foregoing link of the Institute and go to the Plan. We are indeed at a defining moment in our existence. If our government and leadership simply continue the status quo, life on this planet will become most unenviable in the days to come. The punch line is a lack of preparation for that tomorrow. Chants of "drill baby drill" will not cure the problem. Conversion of food stuffs to fuel for machines will not cure the problem. Providing public funds to financial institutions to permit continued lending (hopefully to qualified borrowers) will work only for awhile. Providing public funding to the automobile industry will put off today's misery of joblessness for awhile.

Eventually, this additional printing of government paper results in that hidden tax on all of us that we know as "inflation". Only when we realize that the issue is finite resources, and the axiomatic changes this realization dictates, will the problem become susceptible of resolution. There are but two alternatives for mankind: Sustainable living (getting by with less and living more cooperatively in a sense of community and mutual self respect); or discovery of a "magic bullet".

Sadly, the basic nature of mankind will prevent realization of the first alternative, sustainable living. As to the discovery of magic bullets that rewrite the laws of physics as we know them, such an event is unlikely. Our basic nature, however, is not limited just to greed and avarice. Many of us also hold deep within ourselves the hope for the discovery of new knowledge that will provide new avenues to economic growth and eventually to the stars.


Sunday, November 30, 2008


Do not follow the siren of dissipation
    She will destroy you and your nation
    Licentiousness is her evil spun snare
     Only parsimoniousness defeats her dare
The practice of frugality frees us all
And spares us from the siren's maw
-don wayne davis


We have just completed the process of selecting new leadership for the future. That new leadership has promised change. Further, Barack Obama has told us that this change must come not from the top down, but from the bottom up.

The philosophical principle known as Occam's razor tells us that we should not assume the existence of more things than are logically necessary to resolve a question or issue. So, we shall keep assumptions very simple here on this matter of change and its up or down direction. Even then, the basic question cannot be ignored: What is Barack talking about? To get a clue, we should examine his statements regarding problems that our country and our world face. Notably, he has repeatedly stated that we in America are only five percent of the world's population, but we use 25 percent of the available energy!

If the suggestion is that available energy needs to be diverted to world populations in a fairer manner, the question must be why? Simply diverting more energy from America to other parts of the world as a matter of equity does not provide the answer to the question. In the present instance, equity is not a relevant question. Energy needs are, beyond population requirements for basic comforts, a reflection of economic growth in the market driven economy of the world. When the world's fossil fuel energy resources are plentiful, economic growth with an accompanying increase in population blooms where ever an economic advantage appears.

Recently the demand for consumption of energy resources reached a new high and the cost of that consumption sky rocketed even as resources dwindled. Those costs rose, and rose, until a large portion of world population could no longer afford the costs reflected in the products obtained by the use of those resources (Note that a significant component to the dramatic rise in the cost of energy and energy producing finite resources was also the greed that is rampant on Wall Street, in corporate board rooms and in the individuals seeking always to improve their position relative to others in society). As a consequence, energy usage fell in the face of faltering economic growth with a resultant drop in the cost of that energy. It is important to note that the fall in prices is only temporary.  If we do not find adequate means to produce the energy we need, or find sufficient ways to reduce energy consumption, it is inevitable that prices will resume their upward climb..

The current economic downward spiral is not limited just to America. It is a worldwide phenomenon: A direct result of increasing and encroaching excessive growth beyond limited resources in a finite world. Financially, banks and similar institutions around the globe are unwilling to lend money to those who operate in the markets with a potentially narrower margin for success. This is understandable when you consider that loaning money to continue profligate ways is a sure path to losing the money so loaned. It is not understandable when we consider that these same financial institutions reaped huge profits during the run-up to the financial crisis and are now looking to the public for a "bail out" for their own irresponsible behavior. This is indeed what is meant by the adage "outsource the profits and socialize the losses."

Yet, we, by our nature, assume that only through continued economic growth will we be able to maintain our existing standard of living. The thought of sustainability rarely enters our lexicon. It is this type of thinking that drives us to seek yet more energy in competition with a growing population in the rest of the world for the remaining finite fossil fuel resources. It is a competition that has grievous costs for all. In fact, those costs almost dictate that none of the world's people will be winners. Nevertheless, it is the fossil fuels that we concentrate upon because that source of energy is the easiest to obtain and gives us the most potential for growth in the future. Just like the rat in a laboratory experiment, given the choice between cocaine and food (or even sex), elects to continue to consume the cocaine to its mortal detriment.

Basely on his previous pronouncements, it is a fair assumption that President-Elect Obama is well aware that the core of the problem is the disengagement of the population of our country from a course of licentious behavior in the consumption and use of fossil fuels and the acceptance of the virtues of frugality that will come with the increasing use of renewable energy derived from wind and solar sources. So, if change is to come from the bottom up, how do we implement this future where we behave with greater parsimoniousness?

Humans, as a group, do not seem to possess the ability to alter the core nature of the group, absent some incentive from the governing power. Then, whether that incentive is one that comes from a fear of reprisal or from a reward for appropriate conduct, change will happen. While many of us realize that "things" don't make us happy, we continue to engage in what, for lack of a better description, has been termed "soulless materialism". We will continue in that mode, knowing we should change, until we are led to carve a new path to a better world. Perhaps the role to be played by our new President is like that of the family practice physician who tells you in the initial interview that he will "be a lot like your mother-in-law "and nag you into adopting healthier life habits. If this is the style adopted by the new presidential administration, the outcome may be uncertain. Usually, history teaches us that it is negative personal consequences that spur an apathetic individual and collective populous to action. 

Alternatively, we can be pretty well assured that Obama is unlikely to be a drill sergeant who will drive us in the proper direction through threats. Such conduct is not supportive of continued occupancy in public elective office. We need only look to what happened to a former president who encouraged spoiled citizens to turn down thermostats and wear sweaters to fight national dependence on imported fossil fuel. No, the lectures and the admonitions must wait for the second term of a presidential administration. We should expect, however, to receive the truth from the new administration in the first term, unlike the mendacity perpetuated upon us by the present administration.

This new president will be as successful as we allow him to be. We know what the problems of our country, our world and ourselves are. He will offer solutions and we should exam those solutions in the most intensive way. There will be a need for change from each of us to reach the goals that are not only possible of our grasp, but also essential to the continued survival of our planet and our species. Licentiousness or parsimoniousness; frugality or dissipation: Our species, to survive, must decide between these two very different behaviors. Come on, enough of the past and forward to a better, brighter and different day.







Saturday, November 8, 2008

America Rose


America rose to her full majesty on Tuesday, November 4, 2008, with the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States.  At a time when the country and the world found itself drifting without direction in the millstream of seemingly endless greed and selfishness, people came to the polls in record numbers to choose a different path. 

  Obama follows a long line of America's tradition-breaking elections when need is great and hope swells in the hearts of its citizens.  From FDR bound to his wheel chair through JFK with his Catholicism, Obama's election brought down yet another political barrier; that of the candidate's race.

   Without a doubt, much, much more is signaled with the election of the nation's first African-American president.  Not only is Obama elected to office as a barrier-breaker candidate, he has been swept into office with a congress heavily weighted in favor of the Democratic Party.   In the face of the rancorous discord of the past eight years, where greed and corruption grew to historical levels not seen in the lives of most Americans, the promise of national redemption looms large. 

  What has brought the American electorate to the realization that things must change?    

  Some would say that the national debt squandered on an unjustified pre-emptive war in Iraq played the most prominent role.  Others would say that the power cliché that seized the government through surreptitious means, inclusive of disavowal of the elective choice of the voters by the supreme court in the election of 2000, brought about the people's response in this present election.  Still others would point to the economy, along with the rampant greed and unethical actions practiced by high officials of giant corporations, banks and others as the force driving the present response of our people. 

  There can be no doubt that ALL these things combined to bring about the election victory of Obama and the democrats in 2008.  It is just another stirring example of the power of democracy when the people are awakened from their normal state of apathy.

  Now we go back to the promise of redemption for our nation and the world. What will it encompass?  Elements include the acceptance by some of our citizenry that redemption mandates an admission, or confession if you please, that greed is bad; that the rights of the individual can only exist in a society where the road runs both ways—to have individual rights, all must accept, recognize and respect those rights for others.  The narcissism of "rugged individualism" must yield to the ethical and rational directive that we are all in this boat together.  That a world of finite resources in order to provide accommodation for all the people must be governed and administered for everyone in a spirit of cooperation.  Competition to provide such cooperation is necessary, but competition to deny such an accommodation must be forgotten as we build a better future.

--Don W. Davis

--Nov 5, 2008


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Our Individual Gardens



A gloomy picture of the future emerges as we view a worsening global energy situation and grow acutely aware of the devastation caused by climate change on our world. Notably, the climate change results, at least in large part, from humankind's lack of stewardship of the earth. The continued use of fossil fuels, especially dirty coal, is particularly worrisome in the future.

    All of the foregoing is doubly exacerbated by the unabated demands of an exponentially growing population driven by greed without regard to the future. Does Earth have a chance? A look at the growing demands of developing economies like India and China for more and more energy, coupled with the refusal of developed nations of the world to recognize these needs leads to a poor prognosis for the future of our species. An article illustrative of the problems that are coming up in India and other parts of Asia, shows that suicides are already increasing greatly in India as fertilizer supplies fail.  This process is referred to as "die off" and will claim billions of people on the planet before it is through. See www.hindu.com/the hindu/holnus/001200808011140.htm

    In my youth, I lived for a couple of years in India in the mid-60s during a bad time of famine and threat of war. I observed levels of poverty that would have been judged unacceptable in this country. At that time, the western world came to the rescue through the supply of surplus food grains and other assistance.

Later with the growing globalization of world trade, India and China, be rift of hard currency, found a market for the major asset they did possess: Labor or sweat equity. The trail has been rough, but both countries have become less impoverished as the global economy has grown. We all know the process. Labor in the industrial nations of the world became expensive compared to the price offered by the labor pools of third world nations. Capitalists reaped profits and destroyed jobs in America and other developed nations as they "out sourced" factories and service needs to what were viewed as "sweat shop" countries.

The energy crisis now looms for all nations big and small. Look at the following website for a perspective: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/2962 and before you say that bio-fuels offer an escape, visit http://www.archive.org/details/Myths_of_Biofuels. We need strong leadership.

As children growing up in a vast land of what appeared to be infinite resources, we were taught that each of us could individually reach for the stars. Now in a world of 6.7 billion people, those dreams have to be revised. Some say that present circumstances portend the arrival of a more autocratic society regardless of protests. The "rugged individualism" that encouraged the greed and boundless appetites of the past will fall.

Others argue that the future is going to be one where we can't do it alone, no matter how hard we work in our individual gardens. We will need each other and the contributions of each other without the additional burden of competition. One thing is almost a certainty: The future will dictate a complete rethinking of how we organize our society. The old way of greed and consumerism is no more.

On a brighter note, into this void of gloom and doom come new ideas you should know about. Many say that vanity cannot be eradicated from human nature. A good compromise may be found at a nifty new shop in Tallahassee, Florida, where the emphasis is on a green world and the value of recycling. The name of the shop is Almost Exclusive. Their stock includes many innovative ideas for saving energy and finding new lives for products previously consigned to the junk pile. Visit the web site at www.almostexclusive.com for more details. Also, what do you think about a magic food to feed the world? Well, kinda like magic. Go to http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html
for more details.



























Sunday, July 20, 2008

What Can I Do?

A recent luncheon date with a couple of young people in fresh possession of their college degrees was very satisfying. They are regular readers of this blog. As we reviewed the world scene and the state of the many constraints that we face in the future to the continuation of our present life styles, one of the young folks asked the question that is on all of our minds. Okay, the world is going to be vastly different. What can I do as an individual for myself and others?

I contemplated the question. I remembered a good quote from my friend, Rube Cretin, who wrote:

Here's the plain truth, folks: Hope is not a consumer product. You have to generate your own hope. You do that by demonstrating to yourself that you are brave enough to face reality and competent enough to deal with the circumstances that it presents. How we will manage to uphold a decent society in the face of extraordinary change will depend on our creativity, our generosity, and our kindness, and I am confident that we can find these resources within our own hearts, and collectively in our communities.

A good starting point to dealing with the future may be found at: http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/list/C61/

As part of this discussion, we certainly should never lose sight of the quotation from Marion Zimmer Bradley, that "the road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination."

Some practical equipment options for use of solar energy is available at http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ItemCategorySubPages/SurvivalStore.html also the home site http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ should certainly not be ignored.

Be aware of the value of a good garden and get busy. A great deal of room is not needed. A small kitchen garden will provide more than an adequate amount of fresh vegetables for most of us. It is, however, essential to have good sunlight and a source of water. "Perma-Culture" farming is a good phrase to Google and learn how to proceed with this effort to make a better life in the future.

A wealth of information can be found on the internet at http://www.motherearthnews.com/ and similar sites.

In conclusion, remember that we are all in the same boat and together we will find greater meaning in exploring the immensity of this new sea than in the yearning for the seashore that may never be visible again.



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Solar Energy At Brief Recess

Brief Recess, my country home where I retreat from time to time, is the greatest place to read, reflect and review the happenings of the world "out there." Here, in the early morning, the wind sings in the pines, the deer and wild turkeys come up to feed and all is right with the world.

Unfortunately, this wonderful isolation is just that. The dial-up connection (remember those days?) to the internet is agonizingly slow. So, sometimes when isolated here at my retreat, I go for days blissfully unaware of breaking news except that which I can get in the evenings via rabbit ears on the ancient console TV that adorns my living room. And all that is fine. Except, when I am compelled to write, a compulsion not much different, I suspect, than a drug addict looking for a fix, the need to input facts and figures invariably rears its ugly head as I am addressing a particular esoteric subject. At such times, one needs to proceed to the "net" and to research.

All of which brings me to the subject of internet access. In contemplating the passing parade of humankind as it struggles to redefine its existence and make rapid adjustment to the manner of living that will be enjoyed by most members of our species in the future, the communication that will be afforded by the internet will become even more indispensable. If you have read this blog from its inception, you may be aware that I have referenced readers to http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Index.html for an introduction to how we survive in those future changing times.

Well, we really do not have to wait for the truly bad, bad times to get here. I am discovering that the availability of fast internet connection through the use of satellite technology is becoming more and more economical. Assuming that access to the satellites will continue as long as they are up there and functioning, we have to consider the source of electrical power for the computer as costs for conventional grid electricity will soar upward and upward. The external power source which I am presently investigating is solar. Electricity from solar panels will hopefully provide the necessary energy to allow me to continue to connect with the world, make observations and absorb knowledge about what is happening. No doubt you will also want to investigate this alternative source of green energy for keeping up with what is happening in a rapidly changing world if you live in a rural area or just think your cable computer provider could do better.

Friday, June 20, 2008


A good book for dealing with the emergence of the present day circumstances has come my way. Earthspirit is termed by its author, Michael Dowd, as a "handbook for nurturing an Ecological Christianity." The book's message is written simply and to the point. Evolution is part of the religious experience. The all of existence, universe, galaxy, animated and unanimated life, continue that march of change to fit circumstances in a process called evolution.


In my way of looking at the doctrine postulated in this book, all living things are part and parcel of a collective existence that imposes individual responsibilities and grants individual freedoms. The story of Genesis is a wonderful tool for presenting the basic creation story to the developing mind. Light, thunder and life begins. The process of evolution on earth has started.


Borrowing heavily from the beliefs of Native Americans, Dowd, through this book seeks to bring the reader to an appreciation of the individual's responsibilities in fulfilling the duties of stewardship imposed by an increased level of consciousness. Particularly enlightening for me was the proposal that the increasing level of consciousness applies not only to us, living and breathing humans, but to the entire universe itself.


At the same time, the book calls attention to the deficiencies of organized religion and its failure to address God's charge to nurture our world and, indeed, our existence. Your attention to the issues set forth in the book is deserved. If given an opportunity, please read it and reflect. Consider whether the real issue is: Do ethical considerations have a place at the table of science? After all, opportunity is a universal desire and one which all of us have within us to create.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You Don’t Know How It Feels

Tom Petty plaintively sings a lyric to a tune in his album, Wild Flowers, with the words "you don't know how it feels to be me." That phrase is so applicable to our world today. We are all individuals and, although we can empathize with each other in regard to a particular experience, we can never truly know the other's deepest feelings.

Unfortunately, some people take this essence of individualism and pervert it. The proponents of this perversion maintain a claim that our basic animalistic nature dictates our behavior; that this justifies the contortion of this essence of individualism to a rule that says our individualism dictates competition. Such an approach is suicidal for our species and, if we continue to follow it, we are lost. Our culture exalted the value of "rugged individualism" in the past during a day and time of what appeared to be a world full of inexhaustive natural resources.

Sadly, the realization is just dawning for some that the emphasis can no longer be on "me" instead of "us." Greed can no longer be justified with the Ann Rand slogan of "the only pure virtue." The tendency to turn to promotion of self interest first has always been wrong. From Buddha through Christ to Mohammed, the word that it is wrong has gone forth and fallen on deaf ears.

Soon now, the continued emphasis on self by an individual will mean that the individual is not only stupid, but will also signal the elimination of that individual's place in the gene pool. Years ago, Clyde Kluckhohn on page 41 of his book Mirror For Man noted the fatal flaw in the prevailing justification of greed or rugged individualism with these words:

Many people in our society feel that the best way to get people to work harder is to increase their profits or their wages. They feel that it is just "human nature" to want to increase one's material possessions. This sort of dogma might well go unchallenged if we had no knowledge of other cultures. In certain societies, however, it has been found that the profit motive is not an effective incentive. After contact with whites the Trobriand Islanders in Melanesia could have become fabulously rich from pearl diving. They would, however, work only long enough to satisfy their immediate wants.

And so, I urge that you consider the words from the disciple Thomas, particularly verse 113 of the "Scholars' Translation" of the Gospel of Thomas by Stephen Patterson and Marvin Meyer, wherein Thomas reports the words of Jesus that "the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the earth,
and people don't see it."

In that same vein, we should never forget the closing words of President Kennedy's inaugural address where he stressed "let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

We Didn’t Start the Fire

The sound reverberated in my head as I walked. Billy Joel sang the lyrics to We Didn't Start the Fire. For the first time, I also deciphered the closing words. "We didn't start the fire, but we're fighting it." With that background, I finished my daily hike and went to my computer and the television where I watched the ominous climb of the price of crude oil rise and rise.

When the markets closed, the price of oil had set unheard of records with predictions of $150 per barrel crude oil by July 4, 2004. Finally the world was paying attention to the problem that so many of us have seen coming for a long time.

Why did this happen? Who do we blame? The "why" is not hard to answer; a finite resource has met an increasing population with increasing demands for energy. Energy derived primarily from oil. The "who" is even easier to answer. We need only walk over to our mirror and look. We must blame ourselves.

I remember my parents. Both my mother and my father were products of the great depression. They worked hard and had a nice home in the latter part of their lives. Somehow, they did not endorse the manner in which I spent my money. I was affronted that they did not share my ability to buy a new car, live in a nice home, and have as high a standard of living as theirs at a comparatively much earlier stage of life.

Now I understand why my parents constantly lectured on the value of frugality and of maintaining a constant vigil against waste of all of our resources. I still remember the constant reminders to turn off the lights when leaving a room. I still remember the "hand me down" clothing from older siblings who had outgrown them.

At this difficult time (and it will be difficult) in the history of our world, I think we take a page from the story of those who came before us. We turn to life in a simpler time. We conserve. We enter into a relationship of community with our neighbors. Only in this way can we preserve a social fabric in which we and our nation survive in a world that faces a truly dark time. My prediction is that hope will prevail. The things that change will enrich our lives not detract from them.

Some day in the future (and we hope it is soon) more efficient ways of utilizing the energy of the sun, the wind, and perhaps gravity itself will present humankind with the possibility of continued survival in an era of co-operation. The only way to stop the fire is to fight it and fight it we must.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cannibalism For A Ride

Over a billion people world-wide are threatened with starvation. The cause: Many fingers are pointing at bio-fuel production to wean folks off of oil to run their automobiles. http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL03622524

The issue arose at a United Nations food conference or summit which opened this week in Rome, Italy. Food is becoming too expensive. The increase in the price of food stuffs is apparent to all of us in this country. To observe it, you simply walk through the grocery stores on a periodic basis.

Yet, the leadership of the greatest country in the world sits quietly with hands folded as this crisis unfolds. Well, you could say that a solution cannot be found, but this is different. We are not talking about just anything. We are talking about a moral imperative that we do not engage in cannibalism. It is no more and no less than just that when we choose to put food in the form of ethanol in our gas tanks while the bellies of children stay empty and lead to their slow and agonizing death.

If urging food for the innocent and sacrifice by the more fortunate leads to my designation as a quack or a screaming liberal, then, although I am neither of those things, I shall wear the label if a solution to that problem can be found.

If humankind is determined to be nothing more than a species of animal, as a lot of folks believe, then we do not have to worry about the future. We have plenty of people, probably too many, and we may just turn to that resource eventually in a classic struggle of the strongest to survive. On the other hand, we can choose to be something greater than ourselves and dedicate our lives again to what our recent commenter Rube Cretin has termed "the greatest vanity." We can dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place and maybe, just maybe, save it.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Hope for Tomorrow

Economic growth predicted for Europe this year will only reach 0.6 percent with a decline to 0.3 percent for 2009. Consumer confidence in the United States is at its lowest in 28 years. This and other dismal headlines are available courtesy of http://www.bloomberg.com/. These rumbling headlines bring to mind the life styles we practiced in that day and age. Times were not that bad. Unfortunately for us today who went through those yesterdays, we were younger, so much younger then. Plus we blissfully did not have the ability to make a comparison to what we would experience in the future.

Consequently, the whole matter resolves around making adjustments to life in an era where we will have to give up a considerable amount of ease. For the older folks, it means not having these good things to which we have grown accustomed. For the younger folks, it will be a more difficult passage to a place where they have never been.

But let us not despair. This new future, somewhat different from the one that most of us had contemplated, will not be that bad so long as economic growth does not leave some semblance of a positive figure. Even if growth "flat lines," folks will fare all right. We will adjust to public transportation and a simpler life style. Maybe even grow a garden and raise some chickens.

The fear comes, and it surely is lurking in the mind of this writer, as we contemplate a minus in the economic growth figure. Can such a thing happen? The answer hinges totally on the matter of energy availability in the future. Expensive energy, slower or little growth and life is merely simpler. No energy and we had better fasten our seat belts.

Doomers offer a stark picture of the eventuality of no energy. Somehow, that alternative seems unbelievable. Humankind is a versatile thing. Folks will find a way. For me, and my house, we will prepare for the worse and hope for something better. I know most of you will also choose this course. Hope is what it is all about.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rube’s Perspective

Are we there? Recession or not? Joe Public with his wife and 2.4 kids thinks it is here. Depending on which economist you read, we may be and we may not be approaching the bad times. A recent conversation with one hermit, Rube Cretin, yielded the following comments which I deem worthy of passing on to you, the reader, with the admonishment that no one knows the future, but it might be smart to start a garden. Rube has bewailed the lack of acceptance by humankind of solutions for the current world situation. Based on his reviews, he proposes that the population of the earth is analogous to wine yeast. Not an original idea, he admits. Read his comments:


It is not my wine yeast analogy.  Alfred Lotka in 1922 suggested the maximum power concept as a fundamental energy law.   Rephrased it goes like this.  "In the self-organizational process, systems develop those parts, processes, and relationships that capture the most energy and use it with the best efficiency possible without reducing power. "   IMHO that's all that is going on.  When the non renewable energy source is depleted and no longer available, fewer exosomatic humans will turn back to those more primitive strategies of survival which were found to be effective in sustaining life in the low energy budget past (If we don't blow our selves all the way back to the star dust from which we came). 


Much of the information and technology available today, which give us our god like arrogance, will have no relevance in a future where only renewable resources, the sun, tides, and wind, are available.   No, I think it is human vanity that leads us to think that we are on an evolutionary path to greater consciousness and greatness.  I don't pretend to know which cultural strategies are the most effective and efficient for sustainability, surely there are more than one, but the ancients were simply adapting to their energy budget and passing their phenotypes on to future generations, which is what all life does, and it's what we are doing now.            


It seems to me the noise emanating from the beast we call humanity is the argument taking place over the mythology of many accepted beliefs which govern our existence.  Much is coming into focus.   In the areas of life by which we divide our interests, discussions are taking place.  These discussions are getting loud and violent in some quarters because as Senator Shelton Whitehouse stated the other day, "This is an existential matter."  People are beginning to figure out that resources are running out and there isn't going to be enough for all 6.7 billion of us.


 We humans are a species of greedy, narcissistic, violent bastards.  Deep down many spend considerable time thinking how they can position themselves to past through the bottleneck that the swift currents tell us is ahead.   Formal governmental alliances are restructuring throughout the world, and informal alliances among groups, families, and individuals are developing among the first to recognize the peril before us.  The corporate owned and controlled news media is diverting the masses' attention from the situation by feeding them a steady diet of bullshit information and boredom killing entertainment.  My god when one thinks about the potential of the total media to influence human activity there can be no other thing going on.   


The large corporations are also vulnerable and the frantic struggle is beginning to prepare for and hopefully survive the rapids ahead which are certain to drown many.   It is here where our future is probably going to be determined, because it is a well known fact that the people can be manipulated into positions useful for the sustainability of the large worldwide financial conglomerates.  Perhaps they are after all the god we all serve, as they represent our evolved best efforts at governance.  Few individuals can handle the fact that they are in reality valueless.  The individual is just another item of inventory, stamped and bar-coded in this world of corporations.    


Perhaps the brain like mechanisms of this thing we call life is being controlled by humans and its insidious effects are analogous to some garden variety mental illness.    


No, it's just hogs at the trough, pushing and shoving to get the remaining feed.   A slight majority believes more will arrive tomorrow, some have been left out and are hungry, a few have noticed that there is no more feed in barn and something is about to change.   

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Laugh If You Will

Not only do some folks like to ignore the unsettling conditions of the world today and what it portends for their existence tomorrow, some folks like to actually giggle and deride those that they consider to be doomsayers. Intent upon their adherence to a method and form of livelihood that will be antiquated in the future, these folks bring to mind the ignorant masses that have sought to block the progress of humankind through the ages. Similar to the grasshopper who refused to store food for the winter, these members of the population will succumb early to die off (http://www.dieoff.org/ ) when the means of survival have to shift from competition to cooperation.

Let there be no mistake about it. Competition or greed is as different from cooperation as night from day. Captain John Smith, surveying the early settlers in his little colony, cut no slack for the greedy that would profit from the labors of others. He pronounced that all must work, if they wanted to eat. There were no special privileges permitted for the white collared folks that thought they should operate the bank and not dirty their hands. It may not have been what we today take for democracy, but it was certainly a more egalitarian way of proceeding than the fabricated untruths fed to folks today by their leadership. Untruths that now bring us to the brink of economic despair.

Because there have always been folks around who saw or imagined bad things coming, and without adequate data, tried to warn the populous, today many now refuse to even analyze or look at the data that undergird present prognostications. No less a personage than the renown Admiral Rickover tried to warn our society of the present energy situation in 1957, but few listened. See, http://energybulletin.net/23151.html . All that can be done now is to continue to present the word to everyone who will listen that things must change. Whether people will heed the knowledge that is presented is problematic. Like the old proverb, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

Change Is Upon Us


Elections continue. Elsewhere, all "normal" activities continue. There is nothing unusual going on, say most folks. Meanwhile in the background of our existence, there is an ominous something that is happening. It is not a happening that we can do anything about, but it will change our lives profoundly.

Yesterday, the cost of a barrel of oil crossed the $130 per barrel line. The question of peak oil is no longer an issue to be debated. The cost of a gallon of gasoline averages $3.80 per gallon. This, of course, is just the beginning. Like animals in the forest that sense the approach of danger, most folks are beginning to look around and attempt to discern what is wrong. Such change in the energy supply is danger, our instincts tell us. Maybe we still know deep down the fear of saber tooth tigers and other predators that concerned us until we found the miracle of fire which permitted our forbears to keep them at bay during the long cold night. The bulk of our population does not know what to expect in the future, although there is a rich bounty of information available upon which we can base some fairly accurate speculation. Begin if you will with an explanation of the problem available at http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Index.html and then proceed with viewing http://energybulletin.net/23151.html  for a historical perspective of an issue that we have for too long ignored.

Whatever you do, don't take my word for it. At the same time, I urge you to take someone's word for the state of things and begin the long journey that hopefully will be just that—long. Continuing to ignore this situation will surely bring on the news related to us in http://www.dieoff.org/ .

Friday, May 16, 2008

Human Kind Is Evolving?

One of our readers, mustard seed, looks hopefully to the future with spiritual evolution as a by-product of the future. This is a good thing. The coming economic difficulties will be such only if we determine that to be the course. The pure physical suffering of others around the globe and here at home will certainly require a modification of mind set to cope with daily issues. Notably I can speak from personal knowledge here gained in the course of time lived in foreign lands as a young peace corps volunteer where I experienced first-hand the lack of sustenance to which I was accustomed here in the good ole USA. They were some of the best days of my life when viewed from the present vantage point.

If population increase and unbridled economic growth bring us to a simpler and more primitive time where there is little of either of them, then the thesis of Echart Tolle may well be valid and our evolvement to a higher level of spiritual consciousness is underway. Evolution is a gradual process that will be registered in the progeny of the future, however, and not in our own time. Perhaps we can fill the gap with The Power of the Collective as espoused by John Hagelin. Certainly meditation alone and with others may hasten the alleviation of strive and turmoil possibly prevailing now and later.

In the end the issue remains as to whether humankind can change the basic nature of itself. Can greed be eliminated and the suggestions of Christ, Buddha, and others adopted so that the world operates from a motivation of cooperation? Or will we continue to be bound to greed which sets soul against soul in a competition for survival? If not the former, then adoption of the latter will continue to lead to our extinction.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Why Things Have To Change


No one appreciates being frightened about anything. So I have decided to switch tactics and ask everyone to be aware of some statistics that have been bandied about. Generally, some folks say, the world on which we live has resources to sustain only about seven percent of the current population. Well, that's a fine howdy do that should have been brought forward awhile back don't ya think? Truth of the matter is that this fact has been brought forward. But folks keep pushing it away. Prophets trying to enlighten the world do not fare well. A good piece of reading on this point is David Korten's presentation at the Seattle Green Festival in April of this year. His presentation is available at http://yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=2640 .

The facts, however, continue to stare us in the face whether we ignore them or not. We cannot get around the fact that there more folks living today than the world can sustain. Just go to http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf
to see the clock there and watch time go by. It will get your attention. Note that the clock shows the number of deaths to be less than the number of births. Note that diseases are increasing. Couple this information with shrinking world resources and I suspect we shall eventually see a change in the rates of birth and the rates of death.

What should we make of this information, you may well ask? Korten says in the article at the site referenced above:

Well, we need to grow strong caring communities in which we get more of our human satisfaction from caring relationships and less from material goods. We will need to end war as a means of settling international disputes and dismantle our military establishment. We need to reclaim the American ideal of being a democratic middle class nation without extremes of wealth and poverty. And we need to encourage and support the rest of the world in doing the same. To do all this we will need [to] create democratically accountable governing institutions devoted to the well-being of people and nature.

It is road that we must travel. We dare not refuse the challenge of tomorrow, les soon there be no more tomorrows.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Look Around You

In the previous post, I recommended the viewing of the most important video you will ever watch. The gravamen of that post was that population will outstrip the finite resources of the earth with an eventual lowering of living standards and ultimately the destruction of the species absent vital changes in the future.
One comment made to me by a friend regarding the lauded professor’s comments is worthy of partial quotation to illustrate the “head in the sand” position that most folks are assuming with regard to the current world problem. My friend wrote to me stating “predictions of eminent peril have been averted time and time again by the ingenuity of man and mother nature. I think only a fool would presume that we are very short on natural resources and very long on population.”
My friend is an educated person. Now many educated people, like my friend, just assume that a solution will be brought forward at some point. Education aside, one is reminded of the old saw that “assume” can make an “ass” out of you and “me.” My friend is committed to the correct goal, preservation of the species. Unfortunately, reaching that goal requires knowing what the problem is or whether there is a problem. One does not automatically assume that there is no problem. Unless we take the time to observe the world around us, we will be incapable of being a part of the solution in any fashion to any problem.
With regard to viewing the world around us, we recommend a very good site for your consideration which exams the need for conservation and recycling at http://www.storyofstuff.com/
To close on a humorous note, cut and paste the following into your browser and enjoy: http://www.kitchengardeners.org/2008/02/backyard_laying_hens.html

Monday, May 12, 2008

Survival Requires Reduction of Economic Growth

The Most IMPORTANT Video You'll Ever See is located at the following address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-QA2rkpBSY. I have just spent the past few hours watching all eight parts of the video. It is captivating and a must view for anyone who uses their head for anything other than a hat rack. If this lecturer is correct, and his math appears to be correct from my very elemental knowledge of mathematics, time is very, very short! Be afraid, be very afraid of what tomorrow, next week, or next year may bring. In a way, it is reassuring that there is definition to the level of existence in which we find ourselves today. The rub comes in the realization that such definition brings added emphasis on the quality of our existence through understanding ourselves and what drives us. We must slow down and ascertain the meaning of life. Our final judgment or conclusion in that regard must embrace simplicity in living and an appreciation for life.

The video referenced above is in eight parts. But I have no doubt that you will want to watch all eight segments after you have finished the first one.

In a previous life, I was the General Counsel for the Florida Department of Commerce. At that time, it became glaringly apparent to me that the key to continued economic growth/prosperity was increased population growth. I reckoned this without a complete understanding of the exponential factor's effect on resources to support that growth. As the lecturer in the video points out (back in 2000 at the time of the lecture), the average individual in the US uses 8 liters of gasoline per day. To have zero growth, he opined that 1.8 liters a day was the amount that was the real individual share.

Today, we rush to and fro in a vain attempt to discern a future of increased economic growth. It is unlikely to happen absent a miraculous break through in terms of energy discovery. Even so, continued growth also brings more pollution of our planet and eventual extinguishment of the species. So, is it hopeless to hope? Well, the thought crosses my mind that maybe our leadership, through devaluation of the dollar, is effectively taking us down from the proverbial 8 liters per day to 1.8 liters through the application of present inflationary policies. The result will be a commensurate increase in cost or, alternatively, a reduction in buying power, to reach "sustainability" or zero growth. It is certainly going to lead to a more simple existence for those who survive in that day

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Is It Over?

So here we have it. A world gone off the track? Or just a simple evolution to a newer level in accordance with divine direction? Are we headed for economic collapse, and, if so, are the causes "man made" or beyond our ability to change? In haste to construct this discussion post, I have probably omitted many central and important points. The goal, to quote the parlance of the life I am leaving as a judge, is to take a "brief recess" and permit anyone (who will take the time) an opportunity to express their views on the future of our existence.

Personally, I view a world that has its finite resources strained by too many people. People who choose not to value those finite resources and provide the stewardship required to sustain the life style we presently enjoy. We are past Peak Oil and the threat of global warming is increasing. Survival in the future, possibly the very near future, will require skills and knowledge that have been lost by many. Through the gateway of this blog, I encourage all who have hope for the future to take a moment and explain why we should not assume that we are simply lost and adrift on the sea of expectation without hope. This question is particularly pertinent in the face of rising oil prices, devaluation of the dollar through inflation, and a dirth of responsible national leadership willing to confront these matters.
I trust I will be reading responses that are lucid, insightful and give me cause to pause and ponder whether hope is truly gone.