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Deep Creek Hot Springs

The Moon is Waning Gibbous (96% of Full)


Re: SC70

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June 13, 2008 08:26PM

Ten unfortunate assumptions of energy addicts

..................Some have pondered what it means for pump prices to get past $4 a gallon and for oil prices to get to $135 a barrel. Continuing to ponder away has, significantly, resulted in no action other than be forced to cut back on some expenditures. Your habits and thinking haven’t changed, but they will shortly. This is a heads-up on what goes on with the oil industry; it might help, for there is more than meets the eye that affects everyone. What’s in store for us all, energy-wise and for our very survival?

“You know something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is/Do you Mr. Jones” – Bob Dylan, Ballad of a Thin Man, 1965

Our collective problem as we see the world sputter out of control for the worse (before it gets better) is largely that so many loud mouths claim to know what IS happening here. Honest and wise assessments of what all is really going on are hard to come by, partly because the corporate media suppress independent voices who may have the background and objectivity to offer clarity.
There are several major assumptions blinding most of those who try, within the confines of the dominant culture and “The System,” to grasp trends and glimpse the future:

1) Oil supplies will diminish gradually now that peak extraction has arrived.

2) Alternative fuels and renewable energy can replace our petroleum consumption.

3) The petroleum infrastructure can last or become renewable-energy based.

4) Technology is the equivalent of energy, and energy is energy (all the same).

5) Today’s population of consumers has something to fall back on if and when petroleum-grown/distributed food and petroleum-pumped water disappear.

6) Government and scientists can see us through this challenge and save us.

7) “The market” and “entrepreneurial innovation” offer salvation for our unraveling social fabric and our destruction of the ecosystem.

8) Climate change will be gradual and be reflected accurately by numerical averages.

9) The U.S. population can cope with anything and is at an advantage over other countries especially as scarcity and adversity mount.

10) The “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are winnable or can be put behind us with elections, and that the waste of lives and wealth on these wars can be absorbed.

Baby, here are the debunking facts on the above, in order:

1. The oil industry and the oil market are, like the global corporate economy, not set up for contraction. Enough of a shortage will sink the whole ship.

2. Petroleum has no substitute, neither for all its uses nor for the cheapness of the bygone days of rising supply. “Unlimited” petroleum created the growth and abundance we’ve known. The main alternatives are just for electricity and have far lower energy yield than the easily extracted, cheap petroleum of yore.

3. The petroleum infrastructure is hard-wired and decaying rapidly. A replacement-alternative needed to be created decades ago to avoid industrial and economic collapse.

4. Energy comes at a physical cost (entropy) and has been exploited according to convenience at hand. Continuing to wish for a free lunch to power our endless consumption may yield gee-wizz technologies, but there are too many weak links in the supply chain (metals, petroleum, uranium). “Externalities” such as environmental degradation come home to roost with, for example, the cancer epidemic.

5. People are basically eating petroleum as part of modern agriculture’s industrialization and scale dedicated only to profit. Ten units of fossil energy are needed today to create one unit of food-calorie energy, and that does not include transportation or food preparation. The average piece of food in the U.S. has to travel 1,500 miles from its point of origin.

6. Government is not really in control of the gigantic, complex systems it has unleashed for its Big Business constituency. Corruption, incompetence and ignorance prevail, and reflect the dominant culture of materialism and private wealth – at odds with any spirit of citizen-cooperation for the public good. Katrina and Rita were only ameliorated by individual and grassroots volunteerism.

7. Making more money and relying on ever-advancing technology is the basis of not only green consumerism but the promise of a “new economy” that is really just more of the same: a disconnect with ecology.

8. Global warming is already out of control, as positive feedback loops have kicked in. The tipping points, accompanied by mass extinction already underway, are inescapable and are characterized over geological time by sudden, total flips to new states not seen on Earth perhaps for the last 55 million years. It has always been true that Mother Nature knows no restraint.

9. The average U.S. citizen has become far softer than our tough forebears who worked the land and could create and repair anything their lives depended upon. Crucial skills have been lost along with community. Most other countries have been called impoverished, but even after being ravaged by corporate and government manipulation, they remain –- compared to Northern Americans -- close to the land, and their peoples retain family cohesion.

10. The cost of the Iraq War alone has approached half a trillion dollars and is projected to cost over three trillion in the long run. Far more significant is the death and destruction that, although tragic and incalculable already, will persist for generations. The use of depleted uranium amounts to a nuclear war that the average U.S. citizen knows nothing about, as if one is not affected on this side of the world...................


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