Friday, May 25, 2007

summer reading

I’d like to share with you 3 short written works I’ve recently read. All seem to have ‘stuck’ in a manner that suggests they will simmer on my back burner and perhaps inform my perspective as it and I continue to evolve. Or maybe I just liked them a lot.

The first is The Semiwarriors, by Andrew J. Bacevich, published in The Nation.

Referencing Presidential Power, by Crenson and Ginsberg, Bacevich says,

As Americans increasingly embrace a minimalist definition of citizenship, their ability to influence government policy diminishes. With its "weak political parties, its partially demobilized electorate, and its citizens transformed into mere 'customers' of government," they write, contemporary America "is made to order for presidentialism."

He argues that the transgressions of the Bush administration are not only nothing new but also only a symptom of a sickness the U.S. contracted decades ago and one we are unwilling to treat.

In an age of the citizen as consumer-spectator, Americans care enough to complain, but not nearly enough to act. Long live the emperor.

I think he’s right. We are comfortable in our collective television comma. Need more evidence? Spend 10 minutes talking to someone unfamiliar with energy issues about the way we live our lives and in response to the suggestion that oil is running out they will inevitably say something like, “They’ll think of something,” or “Technology will save us.” We have handed over our autonomy and our children’s future to the very men who sold us our industrial way of life; our empire of mechanized, fossil fuel dependant, pollution laden way of living. Instead of a popular backlash against those who have dirty our air, our water our soil and our souls, and sold our future to the highest bidder, we are more than happy to cling to the idea that these same folks will save us from the mess they've made.

We are begging for a monarchy to save us from the foolish aristocracy. Why else would we allow the following from our leaders?

Justice Department memos justifying torture; the blizzard of "signing statements" in which President Bush claims the prerogative of selectively disregarding the law; domestic surveillance implemented on a scale without precedent; the open-ended imprisonment of "detainees"--including American citizens--without charge; and a program of "extraordinary rendition" that secretly delivers suspected terrorists into the hands of foreign intelligence services for interrogation.

Bacevich brilliantly points out that our most recent march on Baghdad proves that the American people are willing to accept a particularly dangerous lie.

The Big Lie propagated by the architects of the Iraq War is not that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction nor that he was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden; it is that they possessed a secret formula for keeping America safe, the essential ingredient in that formula being a mandate to engage in open-ended war.

And so the building of our empire continues at great cost to others everywhere and at great expense to our own souls.

Next up I recommend Change or Die, by Alan Deutschman. Now before you say, “Come of Aaron, that sounds incredibly depressing, especially on the heels of an article about our loss of citizen sovereignty.” But do not despair. This one has a bright side. Yes the article begins by pointing out our lack of willingness to change even when facing death.

We're talking actual life or death now. Your own life or death. What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn't, your time would end soon -- a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most?

Yes, you say? Try again. Yes? You're probably deluding yourself. You wouldn't change.

Don't believe it? You want odds? Here are the odds, the scientifically studied odds: nine to one. That's nine to one against you. How do you like those odds?

Many people believe a change in the non-negotiable American way of life is impossible until times get tough. Plenty of people with a fairly good understanding of just how destructive we are as a nation to our environment and towards the people of other countries have given up on real change until the hardships of peak oil and climate change set in. But will that even work- leveraging crisis as an effective catalyst for a new way of living in America?

The conventional wisdom says that crisis is a powerful motivator for change. But severe heart disease is among the most serious of personal crises, and it doesn't motivate -- at least not nearly enough. Nor does giving people accurate analyses and factual information about their situations. What works?

Apparently making people happy works.

…a new vision of the "joy of living" -- convincing them they can feel better, not just live longer. That means enjoying the things that make daily life pleasurable, like making love or even taking long walks without the pain caused by their disease. "Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear,"

People, especially unhappy people, don’t just want to hang around on Earth a while longer. Sure you can scare them into short term change but it won’t last. In the article Dr. Edward Miller of Johns Hopkins says, “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle.” Faced with something as terrifying as death many people will make short term changes, but impending death is too hard to cling to as a daily motivator. Eventually most of us bury such scary prospects and with that burial comes denial of the problem and a return to destructive behaviors. It seems that long term change is better accomplished by providing the positive feedback loops associated with real pleasure. Popping a pill to lower cholesterol doesn’t make a patient feel any better but exercising and eating better do. Because of this the patient is more likely to adopt positive behaviors as long term changes to life style.

I think as Americans we’re facing the equivalent of a heart attack. Popping pills (or driving hybrids) to ward off our impending demise isn’t going to improve the overall, long term health of our nation. We must replace the systems and behaviors that are making us sick with new (sankofa - sometimes old) systems and behaviors that will not only save us from an early death but make us feel better, make us a happier people.

Several months ago my friend Sharon made to me the argument that fast change is easier than slow change. Intuitively I disagreed with her. Or at best I thought fast change was only easy for some people like her. But I am rethinking my position on that idea. In “Change or Die’, Deutschman describes the radical health program of Dr. Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. In a 1993 study, Dr. Ornish made sweeping changes to the lives of more than 300 patients with clogged arteries. He introduced a very different diet along with aerobic exercise, mediation, yoga and other major life alterations. The results were improved health conditions but also a very high rate of the changed behavior continuation. After 3 years 77% were stilling living their new life. This compared to studies that show, “two-thirds of patients who are prescribed statin drugs (which are highly effective at cutting cholesterol) stop taking them within one year.” Maybe its not that we don’t have enough time to change. Perhaps its just that we can’t comprehend what fast, radical change could do for us as a nation.

…sweeping, comprehensive changes are often easier for people than small, incremental ones. For example, [Dr. Ornish] says that people who make moderate changes in their diets get the worst of both worlds: They feel deprived and hungry because they aren't eating everything they want, but they aren't making big enough changes to quickly see an improvement in how they feel, or in measurements such as weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. But the heart patients who went on Ornish's tough, radical program saw quick, dramatic results, reporting a 91% decrease in frequency of chest pain in the first month. "These rapid improvements are a powerful motivator," he says. "When people who have had so much chest pain that they can't work, or make love, or even walk across the street without intense suffering find that they are able to do all of those things without pain in only a few weeks, then they often say, 'These are choices worth making.' "

Imagine if America could make the sort of change that made us all feel better fast because of a radical change in the way we live our lives.

My last recommended reading is an essay from Jason Godesky entitled, 'The Savages are Truly Noble'. Godesky says that printed out it would be 59 pages long, so you might want to set aside some time for this one but its worth the read. In it he says,

The "Noble Savage" has long been the straw man beaten by those who would hope to continue beating the drums of war and empire, just as Crawfurd and Hunt did, the white supremacists who revived the term as we have it today. In our Romantic fervor, we take it entirely too far.

He sets out to examine 5 aspects of the idea of the “Noble Savage”.

  1. The Ecological Saint. The Noble Savage lives in harmony with nature.
  2. The Gentle People. The Noble Savage lives without war or violence.
  3. The Honest Injun. The Noble Savage lacks guile or deceit.
  4. The Super Human. The Noble Savage possesses uncanny physical health and senses.
  5. The Wise Indian. The Noble Savage has an innate wisdom and spiritual connection.

And comes to the conclusion that,

Primitive peoples have an impact on their environment, it's just a positive one. They fight, they simply fight less. They deceive, they simply have communities and ways of relating where deception is impossible. They get sick, just less often. They're still human, they just know what that truly means. At times, the "Noble Savage" seems to make primitive people out to be perfect in every way. That's absurd. They are still people. What differs is that they still remember what being a person entails. It's not a perfect life—it's just a vast improvement.

I personally have felt out of touch with this culture of materialism and consumption for quite some time. Perhaps because of my modest measure of Cherokee heritage or an over-romanticized view of preindustrial societies, I have said before that I was born out of order; in the wrong century. I have falsely imagined myself out of place in our world when it is our world, this culture we have created, that is out of place with the needs and wants and offerings of the human existence. It’s not so much that I would feel better in another era but rather that our era has strayed so far from what we enjoy as this human life. Instantaneous gratification and temporary physical pleasures have replaced our connections with nature and each other and the satisfaction of both our interdependency as individuals and our autonomy as a nation of neighborhoods and towns and cities, a nation of community and solidarity and strength through hard work and care of others. I’m not the one out of place. It is this culture of fantasy that is so screwed up.

Godesky’s essay is a wonderful walk through the ideas of what it means to be human, to be savage, to be civilized, and how we compare to those that have come before us. I won’t say it contains great insight into how we might recapture our essence as a species, but I don’t think that was his intention. It is well referenced, enjoyable, eye-opening and I think that’s enough.

The preachers of progress today have become as shrill as the Inquisitors of old. The "disease of the mind" inevitably spreads, prompting us to finally question recieved truths, when such grand projects fail to fill the void we still feel gnawing at us, reminding us that we have lost something essential, something crucial to the human condition.

Happy Reading.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

So Why Is Gas So Damn Expensive?

Well, actually its not. One gallon of gas does the work of one adult male working for six weeks (pretty cheap for the cost of $3) but for the purpose of this publication I'll be discussing the recent price rise relative to the historic price of gasoline.

During the Christmas shopping season of 2001, Americans were paying, on average, just a few pennies over 1 dollar for each gallon of gasoline they used to cruise from the shopping malls to their office parties. Today the cost of our favorite fuel has soared to an historic height above any previous price, $3.22/gallon as I type. The now-broken record of $3.15 (adjusted for inflation) was set back in March of 1981, six months into the Iran/Iraq War. And we saw really high prices again in the autumn of 2005, after Hurricane Katrina beat up on the Gulf Coast and a large amount of our oil infrastructure concentrate in that part of the country. But this time there has been no new supporting crisis...

Read the rest of this HERE.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

another contamination

This time its beef.

A meat company is recalling 129,000 pounds of beef products in 15 states because of possible E. coli contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The beef products were made between March 1 and April 30 and were shipped to distribution centers and retailers in Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Spinach, Peanut butter, Pet Food, Beef… The answer is not additional regulation, increased pasteurization or irradiation of our food. The answer is a return to local eating. The good news is that America might be waking up to this.

Read More

E. coli History Map

Thursday, May 10, 2007

are we listening?

You might remember that back in March 2006, The Oil Drum put together a great summary analysis of why it looks like we are peaking in global oil production right now, at the very beginning of the 21st century. Stuart Staniford said,

This post is for the benefit of those readers whose friends or relatives just spat out their coffee over their morning New York Times in surprise that oil is starting to run out and nobody warned them before now. If you are looking around for more background information, I would like to summarize a series of arguments and analyses that have led me to the view that peak oil is most likely occurring about now, give or take a year or two. My personal coffee-spitting incident occurred about a year ago, and this is some of what I've figured out in the meantime.

He went on to offer supporting explanations like no spare capacity in Saudi Arabia and faulty Middle East reporting on reserves.

Then last November we got this press release from the OPEC saying it had decided to cut production by 500,000 barrels per day. That after cutting production one month earlier in October by 1.2 million barrels per day to, “halt a 10-week, 25 percent price decline.” - a decline that had seen oil prices crash… to about $60 per barrel.

Now we get this coming from Saudi oil minister, Ali al-Naimi,

"Our feeling now is that with the thrust and push for conservation, for efficiency of use, for use of alternative-sources energy, we probably need not go beyond 12.5'' million barrels a day, the capacity projected for the end of 2009, Naimi said."

That’s right, as reported by Bloomberg and carried by Energy Bulletin,

Saudi Arabia, holder of the world's largest oil reserves, may not need to increase its oil-production capacity after 2009, the country's oil minister said, because conservation and alternative energy sources could curb the consumption of oil.

Hooray! In two years the world will have conserved its way into voluntary energy descent! Seriously, this country makes billions of dollars a year and has developed a completely unsustainable society on that income, and now they're telling us that they think oil will just be less necessary in 2 years and therefore they probably won’t need to raise their production level? Is anybody believing this?

Again America, this is a warning. The Saudis have peaked. They won’t be able to turn their faucet open any wider. They are trying to tell us in a way that doesn’t instill fear and panic that we don’t have to go home but we have to get the hell up out of there. We must, as quickly as possible, move towards the exits of the oil era and create alternative living arrangements that aren’t totally (and increasingly) dependent on oil.

The question is, are we really listening?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

educating the little ones

The following is from a recent Newsweek interview, ‘Teeny Tiny TV Watchers’, with Frederick Zimmerman, associate professor of health services at the University of Washington and coauthor of "The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television Work For Your Kids.” Emphasis added is mine.

Zimmerman: We did phone interviews with more than 1,000 parents with kids 2 months old to 2 years old. We asked them about time use, essentially how they use their available time to interact with their children. We asked about the toys the kids played with and how often a parent reads to a child. And we asked about TV and videos and DVDs and whether parents allowed their kids to watch this type of media.

Newsweek: What did you find out?

Zimmerman: Much to our surprise, 40 percent of infants are watching about one hour of TV, DVDs or videos every day, by 3 months of age. By age 2, 90 percent are watching some type of programming for about 90 minutes a day.

Before our children have even fully functional use of our language, we are giving them over to others, including advertising agencies and their corporate sponsors, to teach them what those people and companies would like them to know. More…

Zimmerman: Nearly 30 percent of these parents told us they believed that TV, DVDs or videos were beneficial, helping with a child's brain development. Others believed their infants or toddlers enjoyed TV. Some parents use media as an electronic babysitter so they could do other things.

Newsweek: The American Academy of Pediatrics is clear in their recommendations for a media-blackout for kids under 2 years of age. Why the disconnect between those recommendations and what parents are doing?

Zimmerman: Most parents don't believe that TV is potentially dangerous to their children at such a young age… Plus, marketers of infant-directed programming have been much more successful than the academic community in getting their message out to parents that their products are supposedly helpful. But there is no research that says television viewing through the first months and the first few years of life is beneficial.

The research shows no benefit and the doctors say no (zero) TV before two years of age. But then again, that message is aimed at a generation, “who grew up with TV in the household and they seemed to be very comfortable using TV in their parenting.” I believe we’ve been brainwashed.

big oil ain't no dummy

It is quite common to hear “experts” explain that the current tight oil markets are due to “above-ground factors,” and not a result of a global peaking in oil production. In reality, geological peaking is driving the geopolitical events that constitute the most significant “above-ground factors” such as the chaos in Iraq and Nigeria… -Jeff Vail

The mass media is back at it, trying to explain high prices at the pump to the average American. If their lack of understanding weren’t so scary, we could all have a laugh. This time its being blamed largely on problems at petroleum refineries. We Americans do like simple answers. If prices at the pump rise rapidly, we assume there must be an easy explanation. It couldn’t be a more comprehensive problem with the way we use energy and our reliance on a finite resource.

How about this question. If you knew, as the supplier of a finite resource like oil, that the oil you sell was about to become physically less available each year forever, would you continue building refineries? Of course not. Any industry that understands it doesn’t have a long term future will act with blatant disregard for it’s long term well being in favor of greater short term profits. I think big oil is doing just that and it points out peak oil like a tattletaling two year old.

This includes failing to plan for any expansion in refining capacity over the last 30 years. Of course now I’m over simplifying the answer. As Alexander says, “Refineries are not particularly profitable, environmentalists fight planning and construction every step of the way and government red-tape makes the task all but impossible.” So there are other reasons not to build but I do find it interesting that that last new refinery came on line in 1976, just six years after U.S. oil production peaked. Like I said, why build ‘em (and go through all that trouble) if you know you won’t need ‘em.

Of course an industry that understands its days are number might not worry about properly maintaining important infrastructure either. Why does that sound familiar?

North America’s largest oilfield remains shut down for a fourth day and it could remain shut down for several months. Up until this week, the Prudhoe Bay oilfield in northern Alaska produced 400,000 barrels of oil a day… The oil company BP closed the oilfield on Sunday after discovering what it described as “unexpectedly severe corrosion” of the oil pipeline… Two years ago, a longtime oil industry watchdog named Chuck Hamel warned BP about corrosion problems. But his warning appears to have been ignored. Link

And they wouldn’t be especially concerned about having enough equipment to adequately supply enough oil if they knew it was peaking in availability.

Each piece that is needed to find, drill, pump, carry, refine and ship hydrocarbons has been stretched by years of underinvestment. Today, just about everything between the wellhead and the gas pump is in short supply. Link

And an industry whose time is up because of irreversible decline in feedstock would neglect to plan for skilled workers in their industry.

As an aging generation of workers retires, industry experts say the resulting shortfall in skilled labor could lead to an increase in delays and problems on mega oil and gas projects… the manpower shortage could cause production problems in the future. But equipment shortages and the rising costs associated with the lack of resources are more fleeting. Link

Some people are easily convinced that the oil industry is just stupid and has done a poor job of managing the most precious and most profitable energy resource this planet has to offer. I think there’s another, simpler explanation. Big oil knows its days are numbered and its just not willing to spend big bucks to maintain infrastructure, purchase needed equipment and train skilled labor. And yes it stands to reason that they are also not interested in building refineries because world wide oil production is peaking.

When will the mass media and the public recognize that the cough is a symptom not the sickness?

Monday, May 07, 2007

not all who wander are lost

My apologizes. It been over a week since I posted anything and that was just a rambling video assortment of vaguely peak oil oriented talk. It's planting time here in North Carolina and as usual I am behind. Its bad that I am behind because I would do well to take full advantage of the growing season and get food from the yard onto my table as soon as possible. But its good because part of the reason I'm behind is the fact that I have been offered two other growing spaces in my neighborhood and they've both taken the first steps towards becoming community gardens. So yesterday, while my chamomile and mibuna seedlings were begging to be transplanted into my front yard, I couldn't hear them because I was a block away helping Jodi and her mother plant corn, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes and a few peanuts. And the shed's a mess and the mushroom logs aren't all inoculated yet and my wife is going to throw my out is I don't get the mudroom roof replaced. She says it's not suppose to rain indoors. So life's a bit crazy here. And that's ok.

All of this got me thinking about motivation. I was reading Albert Bates' book The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, and while I haven't quite finished it, I can already say I recommend it. Perhaps a more formal review later. As I was saying, while reading this weekend, I came across a passage that described the changes necessary, post peak oil, as overwhelmingly mental. That is, we will have to make physical changes to the way we meet our needs and acquire our wants, but those changes are possible only after a change in mindset. Until we adapt to the idea that the future will be fundamentally different from the past, we will keep tripping over mental baggage we've been lugging around with us all our lives. It encumbers us and makes for a pretty miserable experience when faced with the realities of peak oil. It has the potential to trap people into a banging-head-on-wall mentality that is at worst unproductive and at best wasteful and dangerous. The sooner we wake up to the change the better we'll be able to make the mental adjustment and realign our perspective to real reality, not the kind shown on TV.

Ran Prieur has been hosting a running conversation about motivation. If you don't read Ran by the way I highly recommend him. His view is a very refreshing one. He has some great essays and an interesting blog style that is less a projection and more a discussion. Plus his recommended reading is often excellent. But again I wander... I mentioned motivation. Ran recently labeled different types of motivation as follows (emphasis mine):

1) Motivation by Love is what we have as kids, but then in school it gets crushed out of us and replaced by 2) Motivation by Obligation, which makes us reliable servants of a centrally controlled system. Also there's 3) Motivation by Community, which was more common in the past, but even now is the main thing that keeps people from totally sandbagging at their jobs. Also, as Joy mentioned yesterday, there's 4) Motivation by Need, which is very strong but only appears in a crisis, which is why we create and look forward to stressful situations. Finally, when we try to return to motivation by love, we often end up in 5) Motivation by Desire, in which we're always trying to "get motivated" to achieve culturally programmed goals of material wealth, hedonistic pleasures, and social status. This includes the "alternative" status of, say, having a popular blog and building a cabin. The only way to get our love back is to practice noticing and following it even when nobody appreciates us -- in fact, if we find ourselves admired, we should be suspicious!

When I think about either my motivation towards making change in advance of peak oil, or the motivations of others, I consider the last four regularly. 2) Motivation by Obligation is a large stumbling block for many people. They can't (or think they can't) learn to live differently, let alone outside of the formal economy, because they feel motivated to oblige others. This ranges from keeping the desk job that "pays the bills", to leaving the front yard as lawn because the neighbors wouldn't want to see corn growing there. These obligations stand to change in light of peak oil though. I think relationships and expectations will facilitate such a change. Consider 4) Motivation by Need. If you're having trouble buying enough food for your family you might make time to learn how to garden and you might not feel obligated to keep the lawn looking nice for the neighbors. And of course hungry neighbors might not care, as long as you share your corn with them. You might even feel obligated to do so. ;-)

Then there's 3) Motivation by Community. I think as peak oil requires our way of life to change, it has the potential to change what we view as important communally speaking. This could be good as it might lead to a more democratic discussion about how resources are used in local communities. Many hands make light work and if those hands can work together towards reasonable responses to peak oil, they might lead towards communities motivated by moderate self sufficiency, cooperation and interdependence. I think community is key and the motivating factor associated with group behavior is one reason why.

4) Motivation by Desire is not necessarily a bad thing I think. The perceived social status of driving a BMW is an example of one such desire I think is an awfully stupid motivation. But my desire to grow good snow peas motivates me to work towards a yet-to-be-accomplished goal that might well be an impossible waste of time. So far I've found it difficult to grow them here in NC. The unpredictable late winter/early spring weather has joined forces with a several other factors with the end result being a couple of handfuls of peas for quite a bit of time spent. I would probably do better to concentrate on spring greens and starting summer seeds but I want to grow peas even though I don't necessarily need them. Now it's almost a mission. However, the desire for really tasty tomatoes could get people out in the yard. The desire for more time could be the motivation behind tossing out the television. The desire for a great sex life could be the motivation behind flowers picked for my wife. Desire must be evaluated but this can easily turn into a discussion about meeting needs and wants as we move into the future. Deep down I still think most people want to enjoy life.

The first factor mentioned in the quote above is 1) Motivation by Love

The only way to get our love back is to practice noticing and following it even when nobody appreciates us...

This is where I was headed. I can remember when a few of my posts at this site were first recognized and linked by larger distributors of Internet information. My audience expanded and a funny thing happened. I started to feel obligated to post (#2 Motivation by Obligation). I started to be concern about what other would think (#3 Motivation by Community). And I started to consider what others might want to read concerning more traffic on this site (#4 Motivation by Desire). Of course I obviously don't post very often or on a set schedule. I don't mind ranting even if I wander off of my self described focus of Southern U.S. peak oil preparation and I don't decide to write about certain subjects just so Adam and Bart will link to them. I am still doing this mainly because I enjoying doing it. But those ideas, those other motivations didn't even enter into my head when I was just writing for fun; to get out all the thoughts in my head surrounding energy descent. Then it was just for me and it felt a bit different.

Of course I enjoi being a part of the discourse and that means focusing on topics and researching issues and participating in activities that might not be my first choice of activity at any given moment. For instance, this book will not get written if I write only when I feel like it about only what I feel like writing. But I think there's something to this idea of paying attention to 1) Motivation by Love. I think its the cornerstone of a lot of really special projects. And this is where me and Matt Savinar, among others, disagree. I do not believe the best ideas necessarily come out of paid projects. Sure, one must earn a living. Being able to purchase the ingredients of life is important because few, if any of us, will ever be total 100% self sufficient. Do you know how to smelt metal? But my point is that out of 1) Motivation by Love comes the best and brightest of ideas. They radiate with some special force that can't be duplicated by other motivating factors. I think it is no accident that so many authors write their best book first, that so many directors make their best movies early on in their career or that the music industry is full of one-hit wonders. I think it is really easy to allow other motivating factors to creep into a success and forget about the importance of being motivated by love.

And so I think it is important to "practice nothing" on occasion; to follow on a path whose outcome isn't even considered; to be rather than to try to be. Its hard for those of us who have been taught to "get motivated" but I have a hint that spending some time trying to just doing what we love is not only important but necessary if we're going to stay happy and fulfilled. So while this post might seem to have nothing to do with peak oil preparation, in my humble opinion, it would be a mistake to think so. During the coming change we will all need to be open to new ideas, even those of us who speak out regularly about what we think the post petroleum era will look like, and excellent initiatives aimed at peak oil problems will be of utmost importance. It look likes dreaming them up might require us, at least some of the time, quite literally to do nothing.