Friday, March 30, 2007

peak oil is real?!?!

I think we're gonna be doing less transportin'.

There’s a strong possibility that if you stop by to read what I write here you are already familiar with the concept of peak oil. Regardless of whether or not that is true of you, I would strongly suggest taking a peak at what will inevitably be a milestone in history. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released an official report that acknowledges peak oil (If only they had released it earlier on the 15th of March). I am linking to a copy from Hilltop High School who brought you the Hirsch Report when no one else could. Thanks Rick. Here’s the NEW GAO REPORT. (PDF warning)

The guts of the report are a bit wishy-washy. You can get an overview of the report from Energy Bulletin here. It says we might not peak until 2040. In fact it includes studies that say we won’t peak after 2100 which is like saying Hank Aaron might hit another major league baseball home run. It is very remotely possible, but it ain’t very likely at all. Stuart Staniford from the oil drum sums up my thoughts,

I don't endorse exactly where the center of gravity of the report is (My reading of the evidence is that we are more-or-less at peak already, but I also think adaptation is not going to be as hard as some people think). But despite that, just the legitimization of the debate is a big deal.

So it’s important to recognize why this report is so important and why it really isn’t. It is important because big, lumbering government is about to enter into the discussion of peak oil. While it could take decisive action- even effect real change- in all likelihood it will fumble around and postpone its own action in response to this problem the same way it does with most other problems. So it is important not to get our hopes up that now, with official recognition of the problem (please read in a sarcastic voice) the U.S. government will step in and save the day. It won’t.

But we must also be aware of our government’s past history of co-opting fear for its benefit. Beware the tales of terror we might be told in order to enforce foolish, draconian laws in order to save us from the peak (read protect the profits of big oil, big auto and big banking from the peak). We must remember that real social change happens from the bottom up not the top down. Look to your local community, not the federal government, to make changes that might affect your life. And don’t buy into big government fear.

How best then might we use this groundbreaking piece of peak oil legitimization? As propaganda of course. You know that mother-in-law who thinks you’re crazy, “With all your crazy talk of peak oil and the end of the world?” Here’s an official U.S. government report that recognizes peak oil. Point it out to the skeptics. Do your local government officials continue to turn down your invitations to the monthly screening of “The End of Suburbia” at your local coffee house? Here’s another bullet in the barrel of truth. Shoot with this one and you might be able to bag some unbelievers that could be useful to the preparation efforts of your community for all that will be post peak. It’s one thing to point to the vast amount of information available on the dang ole internet about the coming global peak in oil production as eminent. It’s quite a different animal all together to hand a doubter the web address of an official government report that backs you up.

Now, safely inoculate against the possibility of fear induced by our government and armed with the representation of an official U.S. government report on the topic, please get to work in your local communities in advance of the peak in global oil production that is almost upon us. Because a government piece of paper is actually worthless, until the toilet paper runs out.

Oh and enjoi this video of Matt Simmons responding to the report. Thanks to Michael for helping me to learn how.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

away from my desk

In my absence, let me offer a video.

Click the image or click here.

I stumbled across Randall thanks to Rev Sam. Warning: parts of this video are cheesy and it's got some cussin'.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

gas price update

This chart shows the price of gasoline in the Charlotte, North Carolina market over the last year. I've added some speculation because that's fun.

This chart shows gas prices for the same region over the last 2 years. I don't really buy that "summer driving season" stuff. I'm sure it has a partial effect but I think this specific summer wave looks so pronounced because it's sandwiched in between 2 mild winters. No global warming jokes please. It might hit 80 degrees here in Charlotte for the third day in a row... in mid March. Try growing peas in this kind of weather. Anyways,

This chart shows gas prices here over the last 3 years. The trend kinda jumps out at yeah doesn't it? Don't worry, it's only a 53% increase in the cost of auto fuel. My income went up by 53% didn't yours. No sweat though cause core inflation doesn't include luxuries like fuel or food. Sorry, I keep wandering.

The real reason I'm sharing this last graph is to pose a question. What do you think those of us in Charlotte, NC will pay for a gallon of gas this summer? I'm guessing we'll touch $3.25 per gallon. Unless we invade Iran or get whacked by a hurricane or some other unforeseen disaster. Then all bets are off.

Isn't the market or one of our elected officials suppose to notice this stuff too, cause I'm noticing it and I'm kinda busy.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

the negative effects of cellular communication technology on human behavior

(It’s 7am and you're driving to work. Who are you calling?)

The widespread use of mobile communication devices has negatively affected the human race in three distinct ways. 1) It has further destroyed the present tense by decreasing time spent in the moment. 2) It has systematically reduced self-reliance. 3) It has decreased efficiency in the area of time management.

All spaces can be categorized as either destination spaces or circulation spaces. Destination spaces are defined as places where actives of human interest occur. Circulation spaces are the areas in between destination spaces that serve as transit corridors between them. Your kitchen where you cook and your bedroom where you sleep are destination spaces. The hall that connects them is a circulation space. Circulation can be enjoyed but the point is always to get somewhere you are not. The goal is to be somewhere else in the future. Cell phone use further increases the amount of time spent circulating as it transforms destination spaces into circulation ones. It removes the caller from his intended task, be it cooking or sleeping, and transports him to an alternative reality if only for a brief time. Repeated transports diminish the capacity for the individual to focus and enjoy the task at hand. I once listened to a friend on her cell phone chatter to her sister about something she could have told her later that night at dinner. I realized she was missing a beautiful sunset as well as the opportunity to talk to me in person. She didn't have such a realization.

Large emergencies are often mitigated by someone’s ability to call for help. Cell phones increase the ability of an individual to call louder and further for assistance. Smaller problems however are often the tools by which we learn to negotiate the unpredictable world in which we live. Without exposure to these trials, people lose the opportunities they need to learn skills that will come in handy in the future when other problems arise. Reliance on mobile phones therefore can lead to a reduction in general competence in an ever increasing population of specialists. Our world is still far too random to rely too heavily on others for everything. Increased volatility in our world will further necessitate the ability to think fast and solve problems in person. Someone once told me I wouldn’t feel this way if I had ever called the authorities from the scene of an emergency. I responded that I once suppressed a neighbor’s apartment fire with only an extinguisher. There were plenty of people with cell phones calling for assistance. What was equally or even more important was someone with the knowledge of what to do and the willingness to do in the moment.

The idea that cell phones increase time efficiently is a myth perpetuated by specific situations that do not parallel an individual's overall use of time. In certain circumstances, time is saved by the ability to call for directions or add to a grocery list but what is left unexamined is the overall effect this ability has on the time management skills of those who rely heavily on this capability. People dependent on cell phones begin to give less consideration to those details that allow them to operate in a smooth and efficient manner. The ability to talk with virtually anyone at virtually any time causes individuals not to consider prudent planning. This leads to more delays that would have been eliminated through thoughtful planning. The occasional delay that taught someone to be prudent with her use of time is eliminated. Time lost to subsequent delays caused by reliance on this ability occurs in small increments but when totaled up, exceeds the amount of time saved by cell phones. Net loss of time occurs.

Cellular technology has reduced overall focus on life in the moment. It has diluted our ability to do for ourselves and has replaced effective time management with constant, chaotic communication. Throw the damn things in the trash.

On a personal note, I will get a cell phone. I am however waiting for one that can call, photograph, video, broadcast radio, play recorded music, access the internet, allow me to send and receive emails and has a range of more than 95% of my daily geography. An alarm, sweet ring tones and the ability to make a mean omelet should go without saying.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

images of change

As awful as peak oil and climate change and all of the other nasty stuff going on in the world might seem at times, there is change happening. There are reasons to be happy and excited. I don't want to bury all of what I have to say beneath a pile of images but I do want to share more of what change looks like. Couple that with the fact that I've been accused of being a bit angry of late (and staying outside helps keep me happy and sane). So I'll be sharing images from the yard garden farm this growing season and I'll be doing it over here at the acorn ranch. Keep an eye on us. And send me your images if you'd like.

to change our nation

I am very concerned about the coming peak in global oil production. In fact, it's probably happening right now. A growing number of people are concerned about how we will, as a nation, respond to this defining point in human history. And they should all read THIS.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The terrible truth is that the "last man standing" mentality being applied by the bush adminiztration isn't even working.
Before the 1991 Gulf War the country's oil sector produced as much as 3.5 million barrels per day. But after four years of occupation, Iraq has only recently and momentarily managed to reach an output of 2.1 million barrels per day. And it can rarely manage to export more than 1.5 million barrels per day. Iraq's current oil production is concentrated in the north and the south. But since the US-led invasion, production in the northern fields has been almost totally off-line because of constant sabotage: 400 major attacks have been recorded on the pipelines that connect the Kirkuk fields to the Baiji refinery and both of those to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Last year attacks on oil installations and employees killed 289 people and wounded 179. The Nation
I doubt if Iraq will be producing anyway near the 6 million barrels of oil per day Paul Wolfowitz and others predicted the country would be turning out by 2010 as the neocons tried to assure Congress that Iraq would foot the bill for its own reconstruction, not the American taxpayers. Right. What we're seeing is that the oil isn't flowing. The plan, as many believed it, was to invade Iraq on the premise that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the U.S. or he had helped with the 911 attacks or damn... what was the other reason they gave us for needing to invade another sovereign nation? Oh yes, to free the Iraqi people from cruel brutality. Yes the plan was to use some combination of those reasons (depending on the audience of the moment) as an excuse to invade Iraq and therefore secure a foothold in the region of the planet with 2/3's the oil left in the ground before other industrializing giants like China or India got in there. It seems obvious that the plan was at least in part to secure oil through the use of military force. And to me that sort of plan, the plan to use violence to provide ourselves with a temporary extension of suburban life, is an abomination. Remember that part about freeing the the Iraqis from brutality? Read this from a woman writing in Baghdad.
Just know that we never had to tolerate this before. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets. That time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too.

Americans in America are still debating on the state of the war and occupation- are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse.

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, American-trained monkeys. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had. You lost more than 3000 troops. That is what you lost America. I hope the oil, at least, made it worthwhile.
Some of us, it must be pointed out, never believed any of the reasons given for Operation Iraqi Liberation. So whether the rest of America believed that Saddam had WMD's (none) or believed that he helped Osama Bin Laden (nope) or believed that we would be helping out the common folks in Iraq (see above, doesn't seem so) can we please admit as a country that this mistake is a failure? Bush Adminiztration, will you please recognize the terrible tragedy, that all of this, the billions of dollars, the thousands of American lives, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, the rampant unrest in that country, the depleted uranium contamination, all of this didn't even get you the oil you wanted in the first place? You have certainly caused misery in Iraq but you didn't even accomplish your privately established objectives. This war is a failure in every way possible.

Can we now please address the issue of an eminent peak in global oil production? Is it possible for us to focus now on the awfully tough (but enjoyable) work of rebuilding our society with the aim of eliminating our dependence on fossil fuel consumption? They had their shot. But now that the violence of "Last Man Standing" has proven a failure, can we please get on with the reconstruction our world?

Because we just can't afford another appalling mistake.

Please American people, let us keep out of Iran.