Off the Keyboard of RE
My very first Milestone Post came way back in March when the Diner got to 5000 Page Views.
Site Stats now have passed 5000 Page Views! Booyah!
Our 6 Month Site Stats show the following:
|Yearly Summary||New Topics||New Posts||New Members||Most Online||Page views|
As you can see, in the month of July alone, we got 230,917 Page Hits in 31 Days, for an average this month of 7449 Page Hits PER DAY. We also have now exceeded 1/2 MILLION Page Hits total, and in July we had 4 days with 5-digit Page Views, aka over 10,000.
Membership of Diners has also increased exponentially from the original 14 to around 250 today. Of course many are Spammers and Bots, but numerous llving breathing THINKING Homo Sapiens who now contribute posting in the Commentariat as well. To get from 14 to 250 in Doubling Periods, 14, 28, 56, 112, 224, aka 5 periods of doubling. That is what you get in 6 months. EXPONENTIAL GROWTH!
I keep expecting the EG to stop, looked like it was stopping in June to more normal growth, but we bumped it again in July. I doubt it will continue into August, but that does not mean we cannot TRY to make it go one more Month.
So August is Membership Drive Month for Diner. I invite all Diners to go out this month and Recruit at least ONE New Diner each, to Double the Membership of Diners again. August 31st is my Birthday. This is the present I want this year.
My Thanks again to all the Founders from Reverse Engineering that made the Diner Launch such a RAGING SUCCESS! Special Thanks of course to Peter, our Admin Software Wizard who remains MIA at the moment. Special Thanks also to Surly, my fellow Blues Brother Admin here who also just launched the Diner Facepalmpage. Finally, Thanks to all the New Diners who have joined and put up with my Bombastic Gonzo approach to the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.
Go Diners! #1 For DOOM on the Net!
Save As Many As You Can!
Off the Keyboard of A.G. Gelbert
I just signed a petition for a DJ that ICE wants to deport for no valid reason. The kid was raised the U.S. This guy’s dad fought the Khmer Rouge and the kid got here when he was two. Help this kid that is now 36 by signing the petition to stop ICE from their fascist crap.
Quote from RE: “It is a Good Cause worthy to promote.” How about it Diners?
(Note from RE: Damn right it’s a Good Cause. This is beyond STUPID stuff. WHD, this fellow is ALSO from MINNEAPOLIS. You are Designated Point Man for the Diners on this one. BRAZOS Diners!
Save as Many As You Can! )
video in the following news release:
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A popular disk jockey in the Twin Cities fears he’ll lose one of the things he cherishes most in life – his American citizenship. “I can’t think of anything more American than fighting to be an American,” Thisaphone Sothiphakhak said. “It really hurts you when the country you love has denied you, like a stake to the heart.”
Sothiphakhak says if he was deported he doesn’t know where he would go, because Thailand would have no record of him either. He was just a baby when his family left the refugee camp
Target: Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken Sponsored by: Chris Strouth Thisaphone Sothiphakhak is a man without a country. Born in Thailand , he has resided in the US since the age of two, when our government welcomed his family to the US in recognition of his father’s efforts against the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Unfortunately, his father apparently never quite completed the citizenship process–a fact Teace was unaware of until three years ago, when he hit a bizarre bureaucratic glitch in the course of securing a promotion at Wells Fargo. He was 30.Never mind that he’d grown up American, that he has a Social Security number and has always paid his taxes, that he’s one of Minneapolis’s all-time greatest DJs: In the course of a few days, he went from from being a gainfully employed, upwardly mobile worker to an unemployable resident alien subject to ICE lockdowns and threats of deportation to a country that doesn’t have any records on him, doesn’t recognize his existence, and all but guarantees a dismal future for an an American artist who speaks on… more
Off the Keyboard of RE
Another “Official” thread to join the Earthquake, Flood, Tornado and Hurricane threads here in the Diner. Main difference, this thread isn’t in “Natural” disasters under Geological and Cosmological Events, its in the Man-Made category under Energy problemos. OK, I know a few of you think HAARP is causing the Weather problems and a few more than that think the Climate change is Anthropogenic, but Blackouts aren’t open to dispute or conspiracy theorizing. They ARE a man made problem.
Anyhow, to lead off this thread, Newz of the Day is that India had a major Blackout Monday Morning during the Rush Hour Commute, knocking out power to more than 300M people. That’s right, power to approximately a population size equal to that of the ENTIRE FSofA!
According to the story, power was being restored after the grid collapse, but meanwhile for a few hours SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS went offline also. Once the power goes out for more than a few hours, how long do you think it takes for Cholera to spread through Delhi and Calcutta?
Also according to said story, India is chronically short of electric power with 100sM people still not connected to the grid, and has an aging transmission network in need of upgrade, AND needs to build some NUKES!
Who is gonna front up money for India to upgrade here to Electric v2.0? The guys who did the IPO on Electric v1.0 left with the credit and they ain’t coming back here.
Some speculation on stuff not included in this story. What caused the grid to crash? It is unlikely there was a major surge in demand that overwhelmed the transformers, so likely it came from the supply end. All it really takes is for a couple of decent size power plants to go off line and the rest of them become overloaded unless you can adjust quickly by rolling around Brownouts to the customers. I’ll bet a coupleof plants are just FRESH OUT of Coal to burn here and the municipalities running them are FRESH OUT of MONEY to buy more.
So the Indians are getting the grid up again here, but one has to suspect probably 10% of the customers won’t get their lights back on here anytime too soon if EVER. In order to make sure the Delhi trains keep moving and Calcutta Sewage Plants keep processing the shit, somebodies out on the periphery will have to go back to Candle Power.
How long before Delhi and Calcutta go Lights Out for GOOD? Over/Under on this, 5 years MAX IMHO. When they do, call in the Zombie Squad, that’s 30M people easy who also go Offline.
Probably a bit longer before it’s Lights Out permanently on this side of the pond. Make no mistake though, this Show IS Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.
Continue reading the main story Related Stories Indian workers protest power cuts Watch Indian students who study on railway platforms
A massive power cut has caused disruption across northern India, including in the capital, Delhi.
It hit a vast swathe of the country affecting more than 300 million people in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said 60% of the supply had been restored and the rest would be reinstated soon.
It is unclear why supply collapsed, but states using more power than they were authorised to could be one reason.
Mr Shinde said he had appointed a committee to inquire into the causes of the blackout, one of the worst to hit the country in more than a decade.
Travel chaos The outage happened at 02:30 local time (2100 GMT) on Monday after India’s Northern Grid network collapsed.
Monday morning saw travel chaos engulf the region with thousands of passengers stranded when train services were disrupted in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Delhi Metro railway services were stalled for three hours, although the network later resumed service when it received back-up power from Bhutan, one official said.
Traffic lights on the streets of the capital were not functioning as early morning commuters made their way into work, leading to gridlock.
Water treatment plants in the city also had to be shut for a few hours.
Officials said restoring services to hospitals and transport systems were a priority.
Power cuts are a common occurrence in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an ageing grid. The chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets.
Earlier in July, crowds in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon blocked traffic and clashed with police after blackouts there.
Correspondents say that India urgently needs a huge increase in power production, as hundreds of millions of its people are not even connected to the national grid.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has long said that India must look to nuclear energy to supply power to the people.
Estimates say that nuclear energy contributes only 3% to the country’s current power supply. But the construction of some proposed nuclear power stations have been stalled by intense local opposition.
Off the Keyboard of RE
In the Waste Based Society series Part I & Part II, I detailed many of the reasons why it behooves those in control of the resources of the earth to pursue such practices as Planned Obsolescence and R&D as a means to create ever more dependence on Control Conduits themselves ever more dependent on Energy Extraction from Earth resources. For the most part, this Energy comes from NON-RENEWABLE Fossil Fuel sources, becoming ever more expensive to extract from the Earth. If indeed we were able to develop RENEWABLE sources of energy to continue the paradigm, then also Industrialized Society might be a sustainable model. Diner A.G. Gelbert often makes the case that such Renewable Sources of Energy are within grasp, and he also contributed to the Waste Based Society series in Part III. I do not agree with him, but he makes a good case for this idea.
However, what neither of us really covered in that series is what DRIVES the Industrialization Paradigm to BEGIN with. Steve from Virginia who publishes Economic Undertow, one of our Cross Posting Bloggers on the Diner often posits that the choice to live the Industrialized Life is a FASHION choice.
From Steve’s Debt-o-Nomics Part III:
– The productive sector isn’t productive, this is so generally by design. Production answers the dictates of fashion and nothing else. The production enterprises are supported by borrowing. Finance provides enterprise profits, to ‘entrepreneurs’ who are shills. Finance provides essential initial capital without which enterprises cannot be born. Finance provides required enterprise cash flow when it is not natively available. Fashionable enterprises which have no hope of gaining a productive return are supported entirely by borrowing over extended period. Given fashion demand — for supersonic jet fighters, for instance — tens of trillions in any currency can be borrowed without end.
Bombarded as we are by all the Propaganda to buy Automobiles, GINSU Knives and Salad Shooters, every last person in the Industrialized World buys this paradigm because it is Fashionable to do so. Certainly true is it IS much more Fashionable to live this way than to live as a Kalahari Bushman feeding off Grubs, Lizards and Roots in the Kalahari Desert. Crap, the KBs don’t even have Wireless Internet or I-phones! Talk about being Out of Fashion! A KB is like a Beatnik showing up at Andy Warhol’s Factory or a Hippie showing up at Phillips Exeter, Andover or Choate! You just do not FIT IN with the crowd there Dude! Get With the Program!
However, is it REALLY true there as in we are immersed in this Industrial Civilization as simply a FASHION choice? Not at all. In reality, Industrialization is the outgrowth of the Will to Power as a Sentient Species evolves, first just attempting to SURVIVE in a Hostile World where many other species view you as FOOD.
In the beginning, without TOOLS, incipient Homo Sapiens was little more than a modern Chimpanzee. As such, said Great Ape was quite vulnerable to other Predators running around the Savannah once we dropped down out of the Trees to try to make a go of it out there on the Plains, where lots of FOOD for us was available. We are talking Africa of course here, with a wonderful variety of Predators running around. Lions and Tigers with Big Teeth and Big Claws of course. Cheetahs that can run a whole lot faster than the typical small child can run. Pack Animals like Hyenas that will Gang Up on you. Very tough environment overall for a two legged creature with no Claws and no Big Teeth to make a go of it. Not too big either, and for a lot of time there was Mega Fauna around MUCH bigger and stronger than we ever have been. Bears 12 feet tall, that sort of thing.
Given our apparent Weakness relative to the other Predators out there, you would figure that we couldn’t make it. Except we did, for two reasons mainly. Our Hands with their Opposable Thumbs, and our VERY BIG Brains relative to all the rest of those other predators. Smart suckers who figured out how to use TOOLS to lever up an ADVANTAGE over all the rest of them. Just some Rocks and Sticks at first, but always Improving on these Weapons. Spears came along, then Atlatls, then Bow and Arrow. Death at a DISTANCE, something no other Animal in the whole Kingdom can accomplish. For a Lion to make a Kill of a Wildebeest for example, it has to actually JUMP it and sink in the Claws and the Teeth. Wildebeests are not without their own defense here, that got some nice Horns to GORE with, and they can KICK mighty hard with legs strong enough to run that kind of weight around the Savannah. Lion makes Mistake ONE in his attack, he is likely to be STOMPED in a big hurry. A swift Kick to the Ribs cracking a half a dozen of them and puncturing a lung, Lion is TOAST. So it is a relatively Even-Steven Battle between the Wildebeests and the Lions, and a Balance is achieved in the ecosystem, though it varies from year to year in cycles between Predator and Prey. Lions being no complete dummies of course try to prey on either old or young or sick or injured Wildebeests rather than the tough suckers in their reproductive Prime years, but Wildebeests gather together to PROTECT AND DEFEND their weak ones. they are at the Center of the Herd, the tough guys run the Perimeter. Only if a Lion manages to catch a weak one outside this perimeter does he make the EZ Kill. Otherwise, if he is Hungry he HAS to take on a Tough Guy. A relatively even battle most of the time in that situation.
No such danger in preying on a Wildebeest for Homo Sapiens armed with an Atlatl and Spear though. From 20 yards away, HS can easy hurl a spear with an Atlatl so hard and fast even equipped with a roughly hewn Stone Point on it the spear will penetrate toughest Hide and go clear through the unfortunate Wildebeest before it ever knew it was even coming. Not only that, Brainy Homo Sapiens figures out how to Enlist the Assistance of a whole other Species, the Canines. They become Good Buddies, and work together. The Dogs run down the Wildebeests chasing them right into a fucking Ambush, traps laid to break their legs as they run, whatever. HS is now SUPREME KILLER out there, no other higher level Animal can stand up to his tools, his dogs and his SMARTS. Eventually he also enlists the aid of Horses, which allow him to run down all but the very fastest and nimble of other creatures as well.
Once this level is achieved, HS now begins to expand over the whole Globe with the Hunter Gatherer paradigm, knocking down just about all the slow and lumbering Mega Fauna as they go. Quickly enough by Geologic Standards, HS comes to completely dominate the entire Planet as an HG, actually migrating all the way from origins in Africa right down to the tip of South America by around 15,000 BC or so, after recovering from the Toba Supervolcanic Eruption which likely knocked down Human Population to around 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs approximately 75,000 years ago.
It is at this point that the Weapons once used just for Hunting purposes against other species become turned on each other. Why?
Essentially because the H-G paradigm takes a LOT of territory to support a relatively small number of HS, but HS was now reproducing faster than this amount of territory could support, so each group or Tribe of HS is now in COMPETITION with each other for territory. So now the Tribes of HS begin to use their weapons on EACH OTHER, in the attempt to gain or retain their territory. We are now Full UP as can be on Planet Earth for H-G style living, which began to decline probably around 10,000BC or so except for a few areas we were real late in making it to, like the Big Island of Hawaii, the very last pristine environment of good size H-Gs found and colonized around 1000AD.
Despite the fact a form of Warfare has now begun between tribes of Homo Sapiens, it’s mostly a pretty Level Playing Field, all armed with similar Weapons and similar Numbers. We essentially maintain a fairly steady-state in the environment through this period as well, and our numbers Level Out to just what the environment will support in terms of our numbers on a sustainable level.
This all CHANGES again on one Fateful Day when some Homo Sapiens somewhere probably in the Fertile Crescent around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers grasps that many of the veggie foods he eats grow well in his Latrine and Garbage Dumps. He realizes the SEEDS grow well in these well Fertilized locations. AGRICULTURE IS BORN!
This REVOLUTION completely changes the balance in nature for Homo Sapiens, both with respect to the rest of the animal kingdom as well as with respect to other HS stilll living the H-G life. Ag allows for a group of HS to reproduce even FASTER, remain sedentary on a given plot of land and then develop out of the excess population a Class of Warriors, aka an ARMY. The job of the Army is to protect the area already taken for Ag, and also to rid the surrounding neighborhood of H-Gs so that land also can be converted to Ag. Even without better Weapons, the Ag CIVILIZATIONS now developing start to overwhelm the H-Gs just by virtue of greater Numbers. Then it gets still WORSE for the H-Gs. Why?
Reason, now that the Ags have lots of people and no need for all of them to be involved in food collection, they have time to mess around with their Big Brains and they develop METALLURGY! Their new Bronze Pointed Weapons are better than the Stone Age weapons of the remaining H-Gs. Same Metal stuff also makes Ag more productive as well. Now the Ags are basically STEAMROLLING over the H-Gs just in the Bronze Age, but it gets still WORSE when the Iron Age hits.
But of course, the Ag Civililizations themselves start running up against each other here, now fielding some Big Ass Militaries to go up against each other in Full On Warfare we have become all too familiar with over the last few millenia. Again though, for the most part they all are armed with similar weaponry and something of a Balance is achieved with respect to each other, but we are now out of balance with Nature as a whole because Ag is pushing out of existence many other species and also soaking up resource faster than it gets replenished. Desertification begins in some of the areas earliest transformed to the Ag paradigm, the Middle East in particular there. We also run up against another Limiting Factor to further Exponential Growth at this time, the “Beasts of the Earth” in the form of PESTILENCE, or disease vectors.
8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
By around the 1300s, because of increasing population density as well as the practice of keeping so many Domesticated Animals in such close proximity with so many Homo Sapiens, a whole HOST of diseases begin to appear knocking down vast SWATHS of population every time one of these PLAGUES crop up. At this time, the HS population more or less stabilizes again at around 500M Human Souls walking the Earth at any given time, JUST prior to the NEXT REVOLUTION, application of Thermodynamics to Metallurgy which results in FIREARMS. AKA, Guns and Cannon. This preceeds the full on Industrial Revolution by a couple of centuries, but Tips the Balance of competition between the Ag societies towards the ones that made use of this Weaponry FIRST, the Europeans who made the Scientific Discoveries. Together with Sail and Navigation technology this set of discoveries now allows this Civilization to begin overwhelming all the other Ag Societies. The understanding of Thermodynamics leads then to the Steam Engine, from there to the Internal Combustion Engine, and thereafter it is another Total ROUT as the Europeans proceed to waltz all over the world in the colonial era from about 1750 through to 1900 or so.
The process results in Mechanized Warfare which really got underway with WWI, though you can see its beginnings in the War of Southern Secession (aka the Civil War) here in the FSofA . Finally after WWII, the powerful Industrialists are pretty much in control of the entire World, and they have built a HUGE Industrial Plant to build the Weapons of War, but now that they are in control of everything, unless they can put these Factories to other uses, they are malinvestment that will not pay off anymore. To make them continue to pay off, the Bomb Plants are turned into Fertilizer Plants, the Tank Factories are turned into Sports Car factories. The Green Revolution and the Mall Culture is BORN! Here in the FSofA, biggest WINNER after WWII, credit flows out fast and furious as Levittowns are built for the Victorious GIs to come Home and Breed Up the Boomer Generation. Over in Eurotrashland, the Losing Krauts are handed the Marshall Plan to allow them to rebuild what was destroyed of their Industrial Infrastructure, with the SAME folks who owned them before the War STILL in control of them! Together, the Anglo-American Illuminati and the Teutonic Illuminati join forces to turn the world into the Konsumer Paradise of Strip Malls and Ring Roads and Suburban Subdivisions all run on the OIL they now control worldwide, making themselves RICHER THAN GOD, far more wealthy and powerful than any Pharaoh or Chinese Emperor ever was, and really we do not even know who most of them ARE at all.
Industrialization did not arrive because it was FASHIONABLE, nor does it hang around because of that either. It evolved from the Will to Power, a gradual accretion of knowledge over many millenia which first allowed Homo Sapiens just to survive and prosper in a Hostile World where other Predators were Out to Get Him, and then allowed one group of H-S to dominate and squash out of existence other groups.
Where does the EVIL crop up in all this stuff? Tough question to answer, but IMHO it comes once one group becomes vastly more powerful than another group. At this point the Playing Field is no longer LEVEL, and one group can exercise POWER over another group willy-nilly without Consequence to themselves, at least on this side of the Great Divide anyhow. Once nasty consequence to your actions is removed, Evil begins to grow inside the Individual and inside the Society Unchecked. Today, for the top .01%, there are NO nasty consequences to THEM for their actions, only nasty consequences for EVERYBODY ELSE. So they have essentially become completely CONSUMED by Evil at this point.
I still hold out the HOPE that Homo Sapiens can make it through this trial, where Evil has now become so dominant a force in society. If we are to do that, there must be CONSEQUENCES for Acts of Evil. It is up to the GOOD people of the Earth to step up to the Plate now and administer the consequences, or suffer the results of leaving Evil to run amok unchecked in our society.
We talk about the possibility of reducing fossil fuel use by 80% by 2050 and ramping up renewables at the same time, to help prevent climate change. If we did this, what would such a change mean for GDP, based on historical Energy and GDP relationships back to 1820?
Back in March, I showed you this graph in my post, World Energy Consumption since 1820 in Charts.
Figure 1. World Energy Consumption by Source, Based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects and together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequent. The biofuel category also includes wind, solar, and other new renewables.
Graphically, what an 80% reduction in fossil fuels would mean is shown in Figure 2, below. I have also assumed that non-fossil fuels (some combination of wind, solar, geothermal, biofuels, nuclear, and hydro) could be ramped up by 72%, so that total energy consumption “only” decreases by 50%.
Figure 2. Forecast of world energy consumption, assuming fossil fuel consumption decreases by 80% by 2050, and non fossil fuels increase so that total fuel consumption decreases by “only” 50%. Amounts before black line are actual; amounts after black lines are forecast in this scenario.
We can use actual historical population amounts plus the UN’s forecast of population growth to 2050 to convert these amounts to per capita energy equivalents, shown in Figure 3, below.
Figure 3. Forecast of per capita energy consumption, using the energy estimates in Figure 2 divided by world population estimates by the UN. Amounts before the black line are actual; after the black line are estimates.
In Figure 3, we see that per capita energy use has historically risen, or at least not declined. You may have heard about recent declines in energy consumption in Europe and the US, but these declines have been more than offset by increases in energy consumption in China, India, and the rest of the “developing” world.
With the assumptions chosen, the world per capita energy consumption in 2050 is about equal to the world per capita energy consumption in 1905.
I applied regression analysis to create what I would consider a best-case estimate of future GDP if a decrease in energy supply of the magnitude shown were to take place. The reason I consider it a best-case scenario is because it assumes that the patterns we saw on the up-slope will continue on the down-slope. For example, it assumes that financial systems will continue to operate as today, international trade will continue as in the past, and that there will not be major problems with overthrown governments or interruptions to electrical power. It also assumes that we will continue to transition to a service economy, and that there will be continued growth in energy efficiency.
Based on the regression analysis:
- World economic growth would average a negative 0.59% per year between now and 2050, meaning that the world would be more or less in perpetual recession between now and 2050. Given past relationships, this would be especially the case for Europe and the United States.
- Per capita GDP would drop by 42% for the world between 2010 and 2050, on average. The decrease would likely be greater in higher income countries, such as the United States and Europe, because a more equitable sharing of resources between rich and poor nations would be needed, if the poor nations are to have enough of the basics.
I personally think a voluntary worldwide reduction in fossil fuels is very unlikely, partly because voluntary changes of this sort are virtually impossible to achieve, and partly because I think we are headed toward a near-term financial crash, which is largely the result of high oil prices causing recession in oil importers (like the PIIGS).
The reason I am looking at this scenario is two-fold:
(1) Many people are talking about voluntary reduction of fossil fuels and ramping up renewables, so looking at a best case scenario (that is, major systems hold together and energy efficiency growth continues) for this plan is useful, and
(2) If we encounter a financial crash in the near term, I expect that one result will be at least a 50% reduction in energy consumption by 2050 because of financial and trade difficulties, so this scenario in some ways gives an “upper bound” regarding the outcome of such a financial crash.
Close Connection Between Energy Growth, Population Growth, and Economic Growth
Historical estimates of energy consumption, population, and GDP are available for many years. These estimates are not available for every year, but we have estimates for them for several dates going back through history. Here, I am relying primarily on population and GDP estimates of Angus Maddison, and energy estimates of Vaclav Smil, supplemented by more recent data (mostly for 2008 to 2010) by BP, the EIA, and USDA Economic Research Service.
If we compute average annual growth rates for various historical periods, we get the following indications:
Figure 4. Average annual growth rates during selected periods, selected based on data availability, for population growth, energy growth, and real GDP growth.
We can see from Figure 4 that energy growth and GDP growth seem to move in the same direction at the same time. Regression analysis (Figure 5, below) shows that they are highly correlated, with an r squared of 0.74.
Figure 5. Regression analysis of average annual percent change in world energy vs world GDP, with world energy percent change the independent variable.
Energy in some form is needed if movement is to take place, or if substances are to be heated. Since actions of these types are prerequisites for the kinds of activities that give rise to economic growth, it would seem as though the direction of causation would primarily be:
Energy growth gives rise to economic growth.
Rather than the reverse.
I used the regression equation in Figure 5 to compute how much yearly economic growth can be expected between 2010 and 2050, if energy consumption drops by 50%. (Calculation: On average, the decline is expected to be (50% ^(1/40)-1) = -1.72%. Plugging this value into the regression formula shown gives -0.59% per year, which is in the range of recession.) In the period 1820 to 2010, there has never been a data point this low, so it is not clear whether the regression line really makes sense applied to decreases in this manner.
In some sense, the difference between -1.72% and -0.59% per year (equal to 1.13%) is the amount of gain in GDP that can be expected from increased energy efficiency and a continued switch to a service economy. While arguments can be made that we will redouble our efforts toward greater efficiency if we have less fuel, any transition to more fuel-efficient vehicles, or more efficient electricity generation, has a cost involved, and uses fuel, so may be less common, rather than more common in the future.
The issue of whether we can really continue transitioning to a service economy when much less fuel in total is available is also debatable. If people are poorer, they will cut back on discretionary items. Many goods are necessities: food, clothing, basic transportation. Services tend to be more optional–getting one’s hair cut more frequently, attending additional years at a university, or sending grandma to an Assisted Living Center. So the direction for the future may be toward a mix that includes fewer, rather than more, services, so will be more energy intensive. Thus, the 1.13% “gain” in GDP due to greater efficiency and greater use of “services” rather than “goods” may shrink or disappear altogether.
The time periods in the Figure 5 regression analysis are of different lengths, with the early periods much longer than the later ones. The effect of this is to give much greater weight to recent periods than to older periods. Also, the big savings in energy change relative to GDP change seems to come in the 1980 to 1990 and 1990 to 2000 periods, when we were aggressively moving into a service economy and were working hard to reduce oil consumption. If we exclude those time periods (Figure 6, below), the regression analysis shows a better fit (r squared = .82).
Figure 6. Regression analysis of average annual percent change in world energy vs world GDP excluding the periods 1980 to 1990 and 1990 to 2000, with world energy percent change the independent variable.
If we use the regression line in Figure 6 to estimate what the average annual growth rate would be with energy consumption contracting by -1.72% per year (on average) between 2010 and 2050, the corresponding average GDP change (on an inflation adjusted basis) would be contraction of -1.07% per year, rather than contraction of -0.59% per year, figured based on the regression analysis shown in Figure 5. Thus, the world economy would even to a greater extent be in “recession territory” between now and 2050.
Population Growth Estimates
In my calculation in the introduction, I used the UN’s projection of population of 9.3 billion people by 2050 worldwide, or an increase of 36.2% between 2010 and 2050, in reaching the estimated 42% decline in world per capita GDP by 2050. (Calculation: Forty years of GDP “growth” averaging minus 0.59% per year would produce total world GDP in 2050 of 79.0% of that in 2010. Per capita GDP is then (.790/ 1.362=.580) times 2010′s per capita income. I described this above as a 42% decline in per capita GDP, since (.580 – 1.000 = 42%).)
Population growth doesn’t look to be very great in Figure 4, since it shows annual averages, but we can see from Figure 7 (below) what a huge difference it really makes. Population now is almost seven times as large as in 1820.
Figure 7. World Population, based on Angus Maddison estimates, interpolated where necessary.
Since we have historical data, it is possible to calculate an estimate based on regression analysis of the expected population change between 2010 and 2050. If we look at population increases compared to energy growth by period (Figure 8), population growth is moderately correlated with energy growth, with an r squared of 0.55.
Figure 8. Regression analysis of population growth compared to energy growth, based on annual averages, with energy growth the independent variable.
One of the issues in forecasting population using regression analysis is that in the period since 1820, we don’t have any examples of negative energy growth for long enough periods that they actually appear in the averages used in this analysis. Even if this model fit very well (which it doesn’t), it still wouldn’t necessarily be predictive during periods of energy contraction. Using the regression equation shown in Figure 8, population growth would still be positive with an annual contraction of energy of 1.72% per year, but just barely. The indicated population growth rate would slow to 0.09% per year, or total growth of 3.8% over the 40 year period, bringing world population to 7.1 billion in 2050.
Energy per Capita
While I did not use Energy per Capita in this forecast, we can look at historical growth rates in Energy per Capita, compared to growth rates in total energy consumed by society. Here, we get a surprisingly stable relationship:
Figure 9. Comparison of average growth in total world energy consumed with the average amount consumed per person, for periods since 1820.
Figure 10 shows the corresponding regression analysis, with the highest correlation we have seen, an r squared equal to .87.
Figure 10. Regression analysis comparing total average increase in world energy with average increase in energy per capita, with average increase in world energy the independent variable.
It is interesting to note that this regression line seems to indicate that with flat (0.0% growth) in total energy, energy per capita would decrease by -0.59% per year. This seems to occur because population growth more than offsets efficiency growth, as women continue to give birth to more babies than required to survive to adulthood.
Can We Really Hold On to the Industrial Age, with Virtually No Fossil Fuel Use?
This is one of the big questions. “Renewable energy” was given the name it was, partly as a marketing tool. Nearly all of it is very dependent on the fossil fuel system. For example, wind turbines and solar PV panels require fossil fuels for their manufacture, transport, and maintenance. Even nuclear energy requires fossil fuels for its maintenance, and for decommissioning old power plants, as well as for mining, transporting, and processing uranium. Electric cars require fossil fuel inputs as well.
The renewable energy that is not fossil fuel dependent (mostly wood and other biomass that can be burned), is in danger of being used at faster than a sustainable rate, if fossil fuels are not available. There are few energy possibilities that are less fossil fuel dependent, such as solar thermal (hot water bottles left in the sun to warm) and biofuels made in small quantities for local use. Better insulation is also a possibility. But it is doubtful these solutions can make up for the huge loss of fossil fuels.
We can talk about rationing fuel, but in practice, rationing is extremely difficult, once the amount of fuel becomes very low. How does one ration lubricating oil? Inputs for making medicines? To keep business processes working together, each part of every supply chain must have the fuel it needs. Even repairmen must have the fuel needed to get to work, for example. Trying to set up a rationing system that handles all of these issues would be nearly impossible.
GDP and Population History Back to 1 AD
Angus Maddison, in the same data set that I used back to 1820, also gives an estimate of population and GDP back to 1 AD. If we look at a history of average annual growth rates in world GDP (inflation adjusted) and in population growth, this is the pattern we see:
Figure 11. Average annual growth in GDP in energy and in population, for selected periods back to the year 1 AD.
Figure 11 shows that the use of fossil fuels since 1820 has allowed GDP to rise faster than population, for pretty much the first time. Prior to 1820, the vast majority of world GDP growth was absorbed by population growth.
If we compare the later time periods to the earlier ones, Figure 11 shows a pattern of increasing growth rates for both population and GDP. We know that in the 1000 to 1500 and 1500 to 1820 time periods, early energy sources (peat moss, water power, wind power, animal labor) became more widespread. These changes no doubt contributed to the rising growth rates. The biggest change, however, came with the addition of fossil fuels, in the period after 1820.
Looking back, the question seems to become: How many people can the world support, at what standard of living, with a given quantity of fuel? If our per capita energy consumption drops to the level it was in 1905, can we realistically expect to have robust international trade, and will other systems hold together? While it is easy to make estimates that make the transition sound easy, when a person looks at the historical data, making the transition to using less fuel looks quite difficult, even in a best-case scenario. One thing is clear: It is very difficult to keep up with rising world population.
Off the Keyboard of El Gallinazo
When I first heard of the Mayan calendar, I was still plumbing on St. John. Maybe five years ago. My introduction to the subject went something like this:
Friend: You hear about the Mayan calendar and 2012?
Me: No. What about it?
F: It’s suppose to end in 2012.
Me: Well all calendars gotta end. I take it that this one lasts over a year or no one would would be talking about it ending.
F: Yeah, something like ten thousand years.
Me: I hope the Mexican economy doesn’t depend on the calendar printing business. Jeez, maybe I should hang up the new one in the tool shed. But if it’s gotta last 10,000 years, I better pick one with a really good looking siliconized woman who will stand the test of time. I think I saw a picture of that Mayan job once. It was a big round stone with really ugly people and animals with big teeth. No buxom women at all as far as I can recall.
F: There might not be a new calendar.
Me: That’s OK. My watch fell into a septic tank the other day anyway.
F: Some people are saying that the reason that it ends is that the world ends the same day. Thus no need for a new one.
Me: That’s a pretty drastic way to avoid printing up a new calendar. When exactly is it suppose to end anyway.
F: I think it’s Dec 22, 2012. Didn’t get the hour.
I didn’t take this news too seriously at the time. I mean even though I was a lowly plumber, I had been trained at an Ivy League institution as a chemist and had a modicum of self-respect. Though research earlier in life had convinced me that UFO’s were real visitors and involved in a huge government cover-up, and I had been interested since my early 20′s hippy days in Eastern metaphysics (but never hung out at airports), I was not ready for the end of the world. Particularly from some stone age primitives who had spent most of their time wrestling anacondas in their living rooms.
Well, times have changed. As I plunged down the rabbit hole this year, trying to separate the wheat gluten from the disinformation, I have gradually started to take this Dec 22 event a lot more seriously. Mainly because I have learned that human history is not what they teach in the universities and that the ancient Mayans were a lot smarter and more knowledgable than I had supposed in my Western pseudoCiv arrogance. But the main reason I started taking it seriously is that, of the seven heaviest hitters in my batting order of the penultimate truth team, six of them say that the period of Dec 22 to April 1, 2013 will be one of conventionally unimaginable earth changes and astronomical events, which will involve massive tsunami’s, volcanism, earthquakes, super hurricanes, very large meteor strikes, and changes in solar radiation including a hyper Carrington event (if you don’t know what this is, check it out in Wiki), all of which are going to rattle a lot of teeth. Interestingly enough, of my seven great truthsayers, numero uno and batting clean-up, David Icke, says that it is all a lot of hype put out by the Consortium to scare the shit out of everyone. Well Icke is my number one man, but he is still outnumbered 6 to 1, so I figure the odds at well over 50%. Which is not to say that there aren’t a lot of Illuminati flaks flapping their buttcheeks about this purported event as well. One of the stupider and more repulsive, goes by the unlikely name of Drunvalo Melchizedek. He is currently hanging out in Vale CO. Speaks for itself. And I coulda been a contenda.
Along with these cataclysmic earth changes, there are predictions that a lot of really wonderful things are going to happen with the human race in what one might describe as a metaphysical revolution. Many of us will be allowed to graduate from our prison planet. Others may receive a get out of jail free card in the mail. If anyone is interested in this part, research it for yourself.
Then there is the strange anomalies of Illuminati behavior.
1) They have accelerated their global police state agenda as if they are ready to implement a total crackdown before the end of the year.
2) The nations of the world and the central banks are spending money like there is no tomorrow (or at least no next year), as if they are just trying to get to Christmas before the SHTF. Are they really so stupid that they wouldn’t foresee that what they have done since 2008 has increased the eventual problems by an order of magnitude or two. Unless they knew in advance that the global reset was going to be much bigger than anyone outside their select top circle could imagine.
3) All the major powers have been building “secret” underground cities for decades. Actually China and Russia have also been building deep shelters and “subways going nowhere” for many millions of citizens. The USA and Europe has been building plusher cities, as Dr. Strangelove had suggested, much, much deeper and strictly for the political, corporate, and military elite. We don’t seem to be facing an immediate threat of nuclear war beyond Israel and Iran having a get go. It is rumored that some congresspeople have become such whores because they were threatened to get their tickets cancelled. Maybe that is what Obama said to Denis Kucinich on their famous Air Force One mating flight. “Gonna pull your ticket if you don’t tow the line on this vote and that of your lovely redheaded new bride too.” Even if I were 40 years younger, I would rather die on my feet than be locked up forever with these creeps. Even Sartre couldn’t convey “the horror” with a 300 pound Brando playing lead. Interestingly, both the Chinese and Russian construction contracts are considered ultra urgent and have a mandatory completion date of 2012. Apparently there will be an underground spot for every citizen of Moscow.
4) The end of USA manned flight. After 54 years and tens (hundreds?) of billions of dollars, the USA has no way of putting a man into space without buying a business class ticket from the Ruskies. And Putin has been so uppity and ornery since his recent re-election. I guess they just plum forgot to replace the shuttle. Shit like this happens. The director of NASA gave a decommissioning speech for the remaining shuttles and mentioned the great things that USA astronauts were going to do in space. The assistant director whispered in his ear, “You know, we never built a replacement for the shuttle.” After the speech, the Director asked how it came to pass that a replacement was never planned. He was told that nobody ever thought of it. These things happen. It’s like paying your mortgage late and getting a penalty.
5) Fuckyoushima is poisoning the entire northern hemisphere and nobody in any government is even scratching their collective groins about it. When the spent rod pools on the roofs collapse, particularly the one with plutonium in it, and it’s just a matter of time, it’s game over.
So how did the elites learn about our upcoming main event? I heard that they have friends in high places. I recommend that everyone load up on beer and popcorn in early December before the rush. But with a hyper Carrington event in the offing, I guess we’ll just have to pull out the lounge chairs and look up. Don’t forget your sunglasses.
The world has just discovered that folks in finance cheat whenever they can (always): now that the LIBOR cat is out of the bag manipulation is to be seen everywhere including the metals and crude oil (ZeroHedge):
Forget Libor-gate, Oil Market Manipulation Is Far Worse
Since the Global Community all the sudden seems to be preoccupied with Market manipulation even though the authorities knew it was a problem for over 5 years with Libor Rate Fixing. It is high time authorities look at the Crude Oil market which has been manipulated for the last decade and all the sophisticated participants know it is rigged or artificially higher than the fundamentals of the economy dictate. Consumers are paying an easy $35 dollars per barrel over what they would otherwise dole out for a barrel of oil if fund managers didn`t use the benchmark futures contracts as their own personal ATMs.
Everyone needs to get their stories straight. The crude boys accuse market participants of pushing prices up, metal girls accuse the same players of manipulating prices down. Since the aim is to profit from volatility or its absence, both sides of this argument are half-right. Here is another take from Chris Cook by way of Naked Capitalism:
The Dying of the Light
By Chris Cook, former compliance and market supervision director of the International Petroleum Exchange
A generation of markets is dying and the era of the Middleman is coming to an end. The ‘Bezzle’ – as J K Galbraith described financial misbehavior in a boom, revealed by a bust – is now coming to light.
We now see a wave of popular rage against the freshly revealed manipulation by banks of LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate benchmark for interest rates which is the cornerstone of the money market.
This manipulation in the financial world is being augmented by a groundswell of protest against manipulation taking place in the real world. Here, the allegation is that the Brent/BFOE (Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk) crude oil benchmark price, against which global crude oil prices are set, is the subject of routine manipulation by market participants, particularly investment banks and traders of physical oil.
In both cases, the popular outcry is based upon misconceptions as to what has actually been going on. The good news in the oil market at least is that the manipulation which is being revealed is nowhere near as serious in its effects on the general public as is believed. The bad news is that the true manipulation, as yet still concealed, is far more serious than anyone has yet conceived.
The arguments exclude everything that is underway outside of the finance markets. Middlemen trading in crude are not that important because they cannot hold more than the smallest fraction of daily output (from well head). World crude production per day = 75 million barrels per day. There are only so many spare tankers, oil storage facilities and underground salt formations within which to store petroleum. Once these are at capacity the middlemen can only sell or promise to sell.
What traders can do is earn a volatility premium by being virtual swing producers. This occurs when there is an excess of spare capacity and the well-head producers are not paying attention. The virtuals offer their stored crude in the place of that of the sleeping producers’: they gain a ‘volatility premium’ when their sales iron out price swings.
This sort of thing only effects the marginal barrel price over very short time-frames. If more than a few hundred thousand barrels per day are at issue, the producers make the necessary adjustment(s) hanging the middlemen and everyone else out to dry.
Producers can store crude at zero-cost by simply leaving it in the ground. In so doing they easily outmaneuver middlemen, who can only sell what they have (until they sell out) or sell what they don’t (until they have to cover). Meanwhile, the producers or their agents can buy/sell crude- or crude derivatives into the future at prices that remove middleman profits altogether.
Right now, spare capacity is vanishing into the gas tanks of the producers themselves. Once that capacity is gone the volatility will increase. At that point a few thousand barrels-per-day might make a great deal of difference yet these barrels may also be ‘Unobtainium’.
This dynamic explains the drilling interest in otherwise marginal- or borderline plays. If a small field can produce ten thousand barrels-per-day each barrel could conceivably command a steep premium … that would still be far less than the price that would result without the added crude. The assumption is that fuel constraints will always and everywhere produce increased real returns, that there will be industrial demand.
The real manipulation is the fuel-as-subsidy as well as subsidies for use of the fuel. This takes place everywhere both in consumer- and producer countries.
Manipulations include free/cut rate gas (in Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudia, Iran), free highways, cheap credit, home mortgage guarantees/tax advantages, restrictive zoning, free police/ambulance services, mandatory insurance (which spreads casualty costs), depletion allowances, depreciation and write-offs for drillers, capital-loss provisions and direct bailouts for manufacturers (GM, Chrysler) and indirect bailouts (Ford, Fiat, BMW, Daimler, Honda, etc.); the opening of commons to discount leasing/price collusion, military overreach, credit embargoes (PIIGS, France, Germany, China, Japan), invasion threats, irregular warfare, labor arbitrage, etc.
Each barrel of oil really costs +$300: payment is smeared into other categories or kicked into the future.
The intent of the establishment has always been to flood markets with cheap crude (UK selling its North Sea crude for -$20/bbl) to lever auto, house, office tower, highway construction, finance and other related industries. This is manipulation that has taken place since John D. Rockefeller created the modern integrated energy company and built the world’s largest fortune for himself — by forcing prices lower. This took place in the 19th century, which is why analysts ignore it.
Rockefeller was as important to the auto industry as Henry Ford. Standard Oil guaranteed fuel for pennies which in turn guaranteed a market for automobiles.
Sen. Schumer tells Bernanke to stimulate economy before November
Joel Gehrke (Washington Examiner)
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., exhorted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to stimulate the economy before November through some form of quantitative easing or other monetary policy, which Bernanke said could create jobs.
“Despite two false starts, we’re having a much rougher time than we ever imagined getting unemployment down,” Schumer told the Senate Banking Committee. “So get to work, Mr. Chairman.” Schumer said Bernanke needed to stimulate the economy because Congress refuses — “maybe after November we will,” he opined.
Schumer is a political hack. He wants the Fed to do ‘something’ today that would give the economy a lift heading into the election. Chuck knows that the Legislative side can’t/won’t do a thing before November, so he begs Ben to light another monetary fire to help the Democratic cause. I doubt that Bernanke listens to the noise from Senators very often, but Chuck’s words got a lot of press. I’m wondering what Ben is thinking. Schumer has brought politics into the outcome of the August 1st Fed meeting. Whatever Ben decides to do, he will be accused of partisan politics.
Cut to the chase:
(The Fed can make) A cut in the deposit rate (banks’ accounts at the Fed) from a 1/4% to a 1/8%.
a) This appears to be a modest step. As such, it would be less susceptible to criticism.
b) The small change in the deposit rate would achieve something that Bernanke has been shooting for a long time. Returns on short-term money would go negative. Three and Six month Bills would certainly be negative. One-year paper would trade around flat.
c) Germany and Switzerland are already in negative territory. Other, smaller bond markets like Finland and Sweden are also in the red. For the US to follow suit would not be that big a surprise. Bernanke could blunt critics by saying he had done less than Europe – an 1/8th in the US versus 0% for the ECB.
d) The change to negative yields, (regardless of how small), will force money to move around. There are trillions in money market funds, Trillions in short term Treasury paper, and trillions more on corporate balance sheets. All of this is now going to be looking at negative returns.
e) With the first rungs of the yield curve in the bucket, the longer maturities would be dragged down. The Ten-year would move toward 1%. This result would be similar to the (hoped for) outcome of a large LSAP.
f) Bernanke could still say, “The Fed has more it could do”, as the deposit rate could be cut again (to zero) at some point.
Of these options, I believe that #V has the greatest probability of occurring.
I hope that the Fed sits tight, and does nothing. But that seems unlikely. Bernanke knows that the economy is now decelerating, and that his hands get tied after the August meeting. So “something” is more likely than “nothing”.
It’s hard to predict what might happen if Ben pushes rates into negative territory. It could end up resulting in an orderly market transition from cash, to high-risk securities like stocks and junk bonds. The virtuous cycle of higher stocks leading to higher spending and more jobs might be the result. But I doubt it.
a) The knee jerk reaction to negative rates might be positive, but in a short period of time the market will come to realize that negative rates are not going to force people (more) into dividend stocks. Quite the opposite, it will scare the crap out of them.
b) This is not good for the banks (who cares); but the financials are still a big chunk of the S&P.
c) This move will likely cause more “unwanted inflation”. If China or India is faced with negative returns on their reserves, they might be inclined to just buy commodities with the billions of cash they are sitting on. Prices of grains, beans, copper, coal and oil come to mind. Gold would be on the list as well.
d) If three-month bills went from +8bp to -7bp you might think that it wouldn’t matter. The change is so small on a relative basis. I think of it as stepping off the edge of a cliff.
The entire global financial system is based on fiat money and the presumption that the money has “value” as a store of wealth. Nearly every action by the Fed over the past few years has led to the debasement of money. In the final stage, the issuers of money debase it to the point where it is no longer desirable to hold. I see the move to negative rates across the globe as a tipping point, one that will be damn hard to reverse once undertaken.
If the politicians weren’t inept they would not have these money problems. However, they all belong to the ‘prosperous past’, like the character in the Springsteen song, they long for the glory days of high school.
Better leadership by the current (brain dead) bunch would have made it unnecessary to prod the central banker. There really is nothing for Mr Bernanke to do, he cannot ‘print money’, he cannot pull rabbits out of a hat, he’s already lost too much credibility (get it? Credit = credibility?) and does not have any effect on the cost of money.
– Deflation sets the price of (so-called) risk-free ‘assets’ to zero (or less which is Krasting’s concern). This is well known, Fisher described it in 1933. The manipulation by way of reserve rates or whatever has the same limited effect as does the manipulation of crude oil prices by middlemen. The same is true for all of the other finance products’ prices. What sets prices — now as always — are fundamentals, which have now turned against market participants.
– Fuel prices money. Right now money represents fuel-using-activities which have been promoted as highly fashionable by the marketing industry. Coming soon is money representing the fuel itself. We are almost there. The outcome is nasty. Whether Bernanke understands this is uncertain. He is a very smart dude but says little about energy, the rest of the establishment lies through its teeth about energy.
– When money represents energy the various currencies will sort themselves out (or the reverse will happen as with the euro) and the winner will fall out of circulation (hoarded). The other currencies will simply vanish or will buy goods OTHER THAN fuel. Energy availability will plummet, to meet the small amount of ‘good currency’ in circulation available at any given time for fuel purchase.
Think about how much cash is in circulation right now (not e-money) and you get the idea how much fuel will be available. Access to circulating money will be the way fuel is rationed (if not directly by way of fuel cards) the same way access to credit rations fuel now. Needless to say there will be no credit at all.
This is the straitjacket that central banks and treasuries face and there is almost nothing they can do about it. If they ‘adjust’ (depreciate) their currencies they won’t be able to swap them for fuel. The producers will absolutely dominate: instead of accepting false-promises of ‘growth’ in trade for their valuable resources they will demand resources in return. Having a crude tradeable currency means having one that is as hard to find as a one-armed violin player.
The usual response is to insist that the US can trade agricultural goods for fuel. The difficulty with that thesis is that agriculture is itself a petroleum dependency. With insufficient funds agriculture will be less productive, there will be less surpluses to trade. Diminished fuel inputs would constrain output further effecting the fuel trade in a vicious cycle. Soon enough there would be insufficient agricultural goods to trade and less fuel available for agriculture itself.
Another response is that the US and others would seize fuel resources by military- and other related means. Indeed such efforts have been- and are underway. It remains to be seen after ten years of trial that the desired outcome of more fuel output at lower cost can be had. There is also the chance of paralyzing shortages which would be counterproductive.
US produces 1/3d of its current fuel consumption but a cash regime would cut availability to less than 1/3d of of that or 10% (roughly) of current (assuming the government puts some additional currency into circulation). With near- 100% dependency on petroleum fuels for agriculture there is a very real threat of crop failures and famines in the US due to the sector’s shrinking ability to fuel itself. The last time there was non-petroleum agriculture in this country there was 1/4th the current population and almost 6x as many farmers, most of whom were highly experienced.
Cash-currency limitations are not confined to the United States. If other countries cannot gain a tradeable currency they must do without. The worldwide ‘Green Revolution’ is very much petroleum dependent for transport, tillage, irrigation, chemicals and fertilizers.
There is a far better chance of crop failures and starvation in countries that depend on external credit, imported fuel and F/X flows. Vulnerable Pakistan could see its population completely wiped out and India could lose half of its 1.4 billion in a matter of weeks or months, particularly if coupled with a diminished- or failed monsoon. There are simply no food stocks available to shift to needy areas in sufficient quantities … to feed billions. Fuel poverty would restrict the ability of nations to replenish food stocks or create new ones. We are near- or at a food/fuel limit.
Central banks are simply not equipped to handle problems like this. Manipulation can fool investors but have zero- effect on resources which are either available or not.
The real problem with manipulation is the idea that everything having to do with markets is false: that anything the markets might indicate can be safely ignored. Here is the boy who cries ‘sheep’: comes now the wolf and there is no idea how to deal with it or even that it exists.
Comment on this article here.
My weekend plans to check out a potential doomstead having blown up, I found myself on Saturday night at a birthday party for a young Occupier who just turned 30. This is a young man from a neighboring Occupy group who had proven himself to be very intelligent: whenever he opened his mouth, he generally had something to say which was Right. On. Point. So I was happy to be able to attend, and looked forward to spending some time with him and his friends.
His apartment and the area outside was filled with young people, all of them 20- or 30- somethings. (My lady friend and I were the oldest people in attendance, by several decades.) After a long, protracted and frustrating search, the birthday celebrant finds himself working at a restaurant, learning a trade, and diligent in his cooperation with the owner to try to make that business profitable. He is also wise enough to see the self-interest of learning everything he can right now, the better to gain knowledge to apply to his own career, and perhaps a restaurant of his own someday. So he is doing all right, and on his 30th, finds that he has some lift under his wings.
Everywhere within were the faces of earnest, fresh-faced people, full of life and exuberance and party spirits, friendly and willing to engage in conversation. The crazy kid who had recently passed a kidney stone (!), who became the resident paparazzi, taking pictures of everybody with great good humor; the intense redhead in the kitchen, engaged in thoughtful conversation, even with an old guy; the sincere young politico, whose lefty rant made my ears perk up; charming young women in attractive dress and better good humor . . . The sorts of faces that two generations ago I might have encountered at any college party. Some of these young people had completed or attended college, including the local community college. Many others had not.
Many of these young people in attendance were employed sketchily, if at all, in one of a variety of service level jobs. This was not a gaggle of young professionals, secure in their future prospects, educations paid for and themselves well on their way to professions laden with status and benefits. Rather, this was a group of young people who the captains of our economy forgot—working class people. People who grew up in circumstances much like my own.
When I saw last night was a gaggle of thirty-odd young people in various stages of coping with an economy in which all of the money had been sucked away.
Were both of us thirty years younger, what has occurred to these folks would have occurred to us as well. What became clear to us is that we had a ringside seat for the formation of an entire generation denied the expectation of a functional middle-class lifestyle, the first generation in the history of this country without a reasonable expectation of doing better than their parents.
IN 1992, many of us chortled at H. Ross Perot in the TV debates, and wondered what he meant when he mentioned the “giant sucking sound” that NAFTA would create as North American jobs would be whisked to the maquilidoras. Now, twenty years later, we know what he meant. And our children are paying the price for our inattention and selfishness.
Many of us are old enough to remember when it was possible for working-class kids, particular those without a higher education, to go to work, get a job, and make a life for themselves. Own a house, own a car, to maybe own a vacation home or a boat—none of that was beyond the reach of a factory worker making a decent wage. For the young people in attendance at this party last night, the new normal looks like this: part-time work, topping out at 35 hours per week, so as to not incur the obligation of paying for benefits, no health insurance, living either at home, or in an apartment with several other people to share expenses, no car, and an uncertain future.
Yet these exuberant partygoers were vibrant, attractive full of life, and intent on having a good time in the face of all. There is nothing wrong with their work ethic or attitudes. Here’s one example:
One young woman told her story of working two jobs to be able to go to aesthetician school, so that she could work in a shop, and potentially have her own shop someday. She successfully completed the course of study, and began work at what she called her “dream job.” Then she ran afoul of The Law. I did not get the entire story, and did not push for it, but she apparently incurred a fine for a motor vehicle infraction that she could not pay, and lost her license. The next day, driving without a license (yes, I know), at a red light, a cop ran her plates and discovered that fact. The local magistrate who heard her case was not amused, and with little empathy and less humor remanded her to a week in jail. Which spelled the end of that “dream job.” Thus her employment and opportunity at a job she really loved came to grief, and now she works as a waitress at an IHOP, ostensibly to find another way to climb the career ladder.
Barbara Ehrenreich covered some of this ground in her book, “Nickel and Dimed- On (Not) Getting By in America” in which she went undercover as a low wage worker to find out how non-skilled workers make ends meet. The experiment took place in Florida, Maine, and Minnesota, with Ehrenreich finding a job and lodgings in each location. In each location, Ehrenreich worked full time and lived only off the amount of money earned in those low-wage jobs. Her goal was to determine whether or not she could both live off the money earned and have enough money at the end of the month to pay the next month’s rent. One of the things Ehrenreich learned is how easy it is to get in serious trouble with the law because you don’t have a whole lot of money.
In a subsequent interview, Ehrenreich said, “It is now easy to get into serious trouble with the law because you don’t have much money – and then to get poorer and poorer because you get in serious trouble with the law. The classic example would be if you have a broken headlight on your car, but you can’t fix it because that would cost over $100. So you get stopped by the police, and you get a fine of maybe $100 or $200. If you could have paid that, you could have fixed the damn light! Now you have this debt to the government. If you don’t pay that, you begin to be in really big trouble that just builds and builds. More fines and fees are added, and they will all accumulate interest too. At some point, if you haven’t paid, you are very likely to have a warrant out for your arrest.”
While some of us might look down the nose of a young person who continues to drive without a license, I find that our very system of laws tends to concentrate on further disadvantaging the last and the least among us. Not for nothing are our private for profit prisons guaranteed a 90 per cent occupancy by the states that contract with them, and are they filled with people guilty of victimless crimes.
Several partygoers had either attended college without completion, accumulating student loans with little prospect of paying them off in the near term, or have graduated from college, with even more loans trailing along behind, and were unable to find a job by which to launch a career. An astonishing number of these thirtysomethings were living back at home, and for their trouble were hearing from their parents, “Why don’t you show some initiative and go out and get a job?” I assume these parents have apparently have not opened a newspaper in the last 20 years.
After the party, I discussed some of these issues with my friend. She recalled her own experience at the age of 19 wondering, “What should do with my life? How might I make my way? What career should I choose?” And at least she perceived herself as having the opportunity to choose from among a range of options, as did I with the benefit of a university education, and a notion of my chosen field.
So what do we have to show for the forty year class war and dismantling of American manufacturing? We have created a generation without recourse to higher education as a practical matter, because children of the working class have as their only option to finance said education the assumption of massive debt. And assuming you have the risk tolerance to assume said debt, that is a huge bet placed against the prospect of an uncertain future of finding employment in their chosen field. Whether you do or not, the debt, the ruinous debt, remains, and cannot be discharged, apparently even by bankruptcy. What a system.
So what do the facts say? This from May 2010:
In 2007, 5.4 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 were unemployed; the official rate is now 9.0 percent. The number of unemployed high school graduates jumped from 12 percent in 2007 to 22.5 percent. Over this three-year period, the youth labor force (workers age 16 to 24) has contracted by 1.1 million workers, the report found, and an additional 1.2 million more “have become disconnected from both formal schooling and work.”
This 5 percent drop represents the largest contraction for any age group in the population. “For the class of 2010,” the report states, “it will be one of the worst years to graduate high school or college since at least 1983 and possibly the worst since the end of World War II.”
Indeed, the entire US workforce faces one of the toughest job markets in the post-World War II era. Official unemployment currently stands at 9.5 percent, and most economists predict that these high levels will persist for years to come. As in countless countries in Europe and around the world, the ruling class of the US has attempted to avert financial crisis from the stock markets and the banks onto the backs of the working class, both through government debt and through the imposition of social austerity measures.
Such measures, however, put deflationary pressures on economies throughout the globe, increasing the likelihood of a further turn in the downwardly spiraling global economy. This scenario presents the very real possibility that current US unemployment levels, far from improving, are situated to increase, perhaps drastically, in the near future.
Amid this grim economic atmosphere, young workers are compelled to take on gargantuan levels of student debt, and are confronted by the complete absence of even the threadbare social safety net available to other demographics.
Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree from public four-year institutions owe on average $19,535. Undergraduates completing degrees at private four-year institutions now owe, on average, $25,350. In comparison, these same figures in the 2000-2001 academic year were $14,916 and $16,906 respectively.
Most students now finish their degrees in six years, or not at all, due in large part to the burden of carrying a full workload while pursuing their education.
Not surprisingly, a surprisingly large number of these young people are completely disaffected with the consumerist, happy motoring lifestyle, which offers them little aside from low-level service jobs, and are pursuing ways of living that are more sustainable and less contributive to the giant capitalist bloodsucking wealth machine.
As I spoke with these folks and collected their stories, it also occurred to me that a generation without little hope and fewer prospects could be easily swayed to vote for somebody who offers both. Were I in their shoes, it would be easy to listen to blandishments of a Man on Horseback. Recently Endisnigh published some comments in the Forum from Craig Dilworth, among which these stood out:
“As regards free trade, Douthwaite points out that international free trade inescapably leads to a levelling down. It means that salaries and wages will tend to converge at Third World levels, and social security provisions in industrial countries will continue to be cut, since these are an overhead that economies cannot bear if they are to compete successfully with countries without them. Only the owners of the surviving transnational companies and of natural resources will escape the general impoverishment. Already the islands of prosperity are growing steadily smaller in an otherwise sick, dilapidated and hungry world. “
In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. If only there were more and more wealth, everything else, it is thought, would fall into place. Money is considered to be all-powerful; if it could not actually buy non-material values, such as justice, harmony, beauty or even health, it could circumvent the need for them or compensate for their loss. The development of production and the acquisition of wealth have thus become the highest goals of the modern world in relation to which all other goals, no matter how much lip-service may still be paid to them, have come to take second place. The highest goals require no justification; all secondary goals have finally to justify themselves in terms of the service their attainment renders to the attainment of the highest. This is the philosophy of [ social ] materialism, and it is this philosophy – or metaphysic – which is now being challenged by events.
Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 400 – 405). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
So this coming generation may be primed and ready for a man on horseback, offering to lead them to a promised land, the paving stones of which ostensibly come from the clawback of health benefits, pensions, Social Security, and other attributes of the “nanny state” that we use to characterize as the American dream, and which, under the influence of far too much Tea, we now call “socialism.”
Because of Wall Street bailouts, the Bush tax cuts, various scams and other welfare for the rich, the money that used to employ people has been sucked out of the economy. Money is now scant for education, for job creation, training or for social services for unemployed young Americans. Any funding for basic social spending is predicated on austerity, on gutting the living standards of American workers and opening such areas as education, health services and infrastructure to further privatization and profit-taking at the expense of the public.
And we call this policy. It is a crime against the next generation. And this, among other reasons, is why I Occupy.
off the keyboard of RE
I am going to leave the Over The Road series here briefly to cover another portion of my Life in the Age of Oil, which in many respects has much more to do with the Doomstead Diner than my years driving OTR does.
In fact, this period of my life began very early, around the age of 6 years old in Rio de Janeiro on Rua Joachim Nabuco right off of Ipanema Beach. That was where I lived from the age of 5 to 9 years old while my Dad (the Pigman) who worked as a Vice President for Chase Manhattan Bank (predecessor before numerous Mergers & Acquisitions since to become JP Morgan Chase, the Bank currently headed up by Jamie Dimon and still of course primarily owned by the Rockefellers) was acquiring small Brazilian Banks for Chase and also making innumerable Bad Loans to the rest of South America.
Living also on Rua Jaochim Nabuco was a boy named Randy, the son of a fellow who was working for the United Nations as a Fisherie Expert. I’m going to be vague here about these names but if you read through the references later in this article you probably can figure out who I am talking about. The names are in the Newz in the Public Record.
In fact it is pretty likely Randy’s Dad was really working for the CIA, not the UN and I think in those days practically EVERYBODY who lived on Rua Jaochim Nabuco was either a Rockefeller Bankster Apparatchik, FSofA Military, State Department Diplomat, or UN/CIA. From my POV at the time, the Military Brats and State Department kids had it best, they had access to “PX Priviledges”. This meant they could get hold of things like Cheerios otherwise unavailable in the Brazil of the Era.
ALL of the children of these folks went to the same School, “Escola Americana”, run under the auspices of the United Nations. Randy was 3 years older than I was, but we became friends riding on the same bus to school. He was Legally Blind, which impacted tremendously on his life in many ways. One of them was that he became very interested in the Music of the era. At Escola Americana, he actually got his first”DJ”position over the Loudspeaker system of the school in his Middle School years,after I had left Brazil. Before I left though, we spent many days playing the records of the 1960s era Folksingers like Phil Ochs and early Rockers like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in his apartment. Randy also had an old style Reel-to-Reel tape deck to edit music and sound effects and record us. In those days to edit you physically cut and spliced the tape. No digital computers and software to do the job for you.. He barely could see, but whether he was Splicing Tape or Soldering Circuit Boards, Randi would work with the stuff right up to his NOSE, and he was very meticulous. His Gadgets always worked,although he took hours and days often to complete the work.
I lost touch with Randy for a couple of years after that when my parents divorced and I moved back to live in NY Shity, eventually ending up in a McMansion in Flushing, Queens of NY Shity my Mom got as part of the Divorce settlement. That was the House I lived in until I went off to the dormitories of Columbia University. By a sort of Coinkidink though, Randy’s UN/CIA Dad got transferred to NY Shity and bought another Queens McMansion no more than Mile from the one I was esconsed in. It was an easy Bike Ride away for an 11 year old by that time. Randy was then around 14, and was not adjusting well to Public HS in NY Shity. He eventually dropped out.
How Randy spent his time after Dropping out of NY Shity HS was in working in his CIA Dad’s Basement building a Pirate Radio Station. I cannot possibly detail all the battles he had with both his parents over these years, but in the end he mainly won them. He got to the point of setting up a Radio Tower in the backyard, and “WQLB” was born! Later to be renamed Stereo 9, then later an “RNI” afffiliate. It operated at the bottom end of the FM Frequency Band at 88.9 Mhz. Power was such it covered most of Queens when switched on.
By the time Randy got his station Operational, I was around 13 years old. On weekends, I would go over his house, and late at night we would switch on the Transmitter and begin to Broadcast Illegally far as the FCC was concerned. The image you see of the Audio Board in the Pump Up the Volume video is the spitting image of the Audio Board we used at the time. Professional Analog Mixing Boards of this type in that period ran into the thousands of dollars, Randy put his together from Radio Shack parts for less than $100 I think. He was really a fucking GENIUS with this stuff.
My On Air Alias during this period was “Stony Stevenson”, and I did a regular 3 hour show on Saturday Nights from Midnight to 3AM. Played Folky Protest Songs from Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan and lambasted the Nixon Administration of the era. I did that as a 13 Year Old Boy! My voice had already broken and was pretty close to what it is now, very basso profundo. You really could not know from listening I was just 13. I had a nice Fan Club too. Sadly, never got laid by any Groupies, but ego got massaged nicely on air over the Phone Calls we took. Amazing thing in that era was we could actually take said Phone Calls, and the FCC Nincompoops were so dumb and disorganized they could not find us right off the bat.
Anyhow, we were not the ONLY Pirate Radio Station operating in NY Shity at the time, a bigger one was being operated by a fellow Allan and his friend Joseph Paul in Yonkers. We eventually got together and became loosely “affiliated” in a Pirate Radio “Network”. There were many battles though though this period and falling outs between the priniciples. I fell out of this group once I went off to Columbia, a couple of years earlier than normal at the age of 16. Skipped a couple of years through the system of education over the years.
Allan in particular did not stop his Obsession with Pirate Radio and Free Speech though, and neither did Randy. Allan went so far as to buy a WRECK of a cargo ship he named the “Sarah” sitting in a dock in the Boston Harbor. He bought this ship for I think it was $500. It was a good 100′ at the waterline I am pretty sure. Nothing on it worked. The guy who sold it to him I think did it just to get the Docking Fees off his books. He never thought the thing would sail again. Allan fixed EVERYTHING, including the fucking engines. He was an even BIGGER Electronics and Mechanical Wizard than Randy was. He also put up a tower on it to broadcast from, and finally did get the thing Off Shore of Long Island to Broadcast. The FCC of course did shut him down in short order though.
This whole deal was modelled after a similar Pirate Radio adventure undertaken over in Eurotrashland which persisted a bit longer, Radio North Sea International. In the end though, “Pirate Radio”, which was the effort by a few mostly pretty young individuals to take back control over the Conduit of the airwaves without going through Goobermint Channels was pretty well squashed out by the late 1980s.
Here is a short history from one of the principals in the Radio New York Internation Offshore Pirate Radio adventure:
|1987 was a strange year for Brooklyn pirate radio station WHOT. The FCC had paid us a visit in November of 1985 (we didn’t let them in), and we never heard another peep from them. The threat seemed like a distant memory due to the lack of any further noise from our friends at the Commission. At the same time, WHOT was exploding. Listenership kept growing in leaps and bounds, and each show seemed like it was more fun than the last one. We had really honed the “WHOT Sound” – a little bit of everything for everyone. Music, talk, comedy, jingles, reverb and punchy, killer audio. It was infectious to everyone involved – both for us AND the listeners.Spring was around the corner when we were first approached by Allan Weiner with a proposal. Allan had operated several New England-based pirates in the 70s and 80s, and Hank and Jim had known him for many years. He was about to embark on a project of epic proportions called Radio NewYork International – “RNI” for short, as a tribute to the old Radio Northsea International.“RNI” would be the first U.S. attempt to broadcast in the same manner as the legendary European pirates: on a ship, off the coast, in international waters – out of the reach of the FCC. Allan felt that the heart of RNI’s staff should be made up of current pirate operators, and he wanted us to be a big part of it. After giving the project much thought, we decided to do it – if for no other reason, for the adventure. Allan worked towards smoothing over the “pirate disagreements” of the previous year and managed to get most of the New York area pirates on board.The idea sounded crazy, but it also sounded like it could be great. Allan secured an old Japanese fishing trawler to house RNI and turned it into “The Radioship Sarah”, installing transmitters on AM, FM, short wave and even long wave. I wondered if he could actually pull it off…he certainly seemed serious about it.RNI’s eventual goal was to broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a variety of programming. The core of the staff would be “the WHOT Good Guys” along with other pirates – Randi Steele (who had been running Stereo Nine FM as “Ed Armstrong”) was named Operations Manager and eventually others like Johnny Lightning of WJPL, along with a non-defined cadre of spurious pirate folk that came and went throughout the project.Also along for the project was Ivan Jefferies, a WHOT listener who had recently started doing some guest appearances on the air with us, bringing his twisted syntax and genuine good humor to the shows, as well as lending his classic radio expertise to various “special segments”.As RNI neared completion, Hank and I put our lives on hold and traveled up to Boston to help, where The Sarah was being readied for its journey. The studio and transmitters were now in working order, but the ship itself needed a LOT of readying and sprucing up. We spent a large chunk of the early summer sanding, stripping, sweeping and painting. Meanwhile, Jim was in Brooklyn keeping WHOT on the air. Coming into June, the air was thick with anticipation as we closed on the target day to set sail for the waters off Long Island (where RNI would make its home). At night, Hank and I would lay out on the deck and wonder…how will people react? Will the news media cover it? Will people even listen to it?I had never worked so hard on something that wasn’t an actual “job” in my life. As the sail date neared, Hank went back to Brooklyn to take care of some of his personal stuff AND help Jim give WHOT a proper “sign off”. I had already decided to take the summer off and be a bum, so I stayed in Boston to work on the ship with Allan. Those days were rough. I remember hauling two-ton anchor chain in the hot July sun and thinking, “boy, I’m dying…I hope this is gonna be worth it…”.Hank returned to Boston on July 18th with Jim, Ivan and a few other friends that were expected to participate in RNI once it was on the air. That weekend, The Sarah played host to a who’s-who of the New York and New England pirate radio scene, and a party atmosphere permeated the ship’s studio and transmitter room as everyone looked around in amazement…sitting behind the board, fiddling with the knobs and getting themselves familiar with the setup. It was really gonna happen, and everyone was excited! We even shot some video to record the historic moment.On the overcast morning of July 20, 1987, Allan, Hank, Ivan and I left the ‘dirty water’ of Boston’s Charles River and set sail for the waters off the coast of New York City. It was time for RNI to turn the world (and all our lives) upside down. The Sarah had no working engines to sail on it’s own power, so it had to be towed out by this huge towing ship called The Munzer. When we reached the desired destination, we dropped the world’s biggest (10,000 pound) anchor and that ridiculously big anchor chain, and the Munzer was gone, headed back to Boston. We had reached the point of no return!Allan had secured a small Liberty Launch boat to be used as a shuttle / supply boat for going back and forth from The Sarah to shore. Hank and I jumped on it and returned to Brooklyn to prepare for whatever sort of press reaction RNI would get once the broadcasts started. At the start, each broadcast would be six hours – from 6PM to Midnight – carried simultaneously on FOUR frequencies: 1620 AM, 103.1 FM, 6240 SW as well as an experimental transmission on Long Wave. Allan fired up all the transmitters on the night of July 23rd and played some announcer-free music, just to see if everything was still in working order. RNI’s first ACTUAL test transmission took place the night of July 24th, featuring Allan and Ivan. Hank and I sat on the stoop of his house with a GE Superadio and our hearts skipped a beat when the dead carrier was broken at 6PM ET by an RNI promo followed by “Come Sail Away” by Styx. RNI was actually on the air! The media reaction was immediate and tremendous – WAY more than I had expected from just the first night of broadcasting!The following days were spent entertaining members of the press, who came out in droves. The nights were spent broadcasting. Randi and Ivan did a special midday show for the benefit of the assembled media on the 25th, and Allan and Ivan did another six-hour “test” program that evening. On the third day (July 26th) the FCC finally decided to show up. It was mid-afternoon when the Coast Guard pulled up next to The Sarah with several FCC agents in tow. They boarded the ship, looked around, handed some legal papers to Allan and left – but not before promising they’d be back. Since the ship WAS in international waters, we truly felt we were not breaking any laws. To make this point, RNI kept on broadcasting that very evening, with another 6PM test show from Randi Steele and a post-midnight show from Ivan.While this was all going on, WHOT was still broadcasting (around RNI’s shows) so we could say a proper “farewell” to the HOT listeners. We assumed the launch of RNI would mean the end for all land-based pirates for an unforeseen amount of time, so we wanted to say goodbye in a way fitting of The HOT One – loudly, over three nights. We told the listeners to “watch the news, read the papers – we’ll be back”. Both the print and broadcast media were already covering RNI at saturation level, so we knew the listeners would connect the dots and make the connection eventually.Hank and Jim hit the RNI airwaves with another six-hour test show the evening of July 27th (the plan was to continue with the 6PM to Midnight schedule until launching full 24-hour broadcasts on August 1). As luck would have it, this was at the moment that the press coverage was reaching it’s height. Everyone was running around trying to take it all in, while at the same time worrying about what the FCC’s next move would be. I was busy working the phones like a madman and preparing to do MY first show, which was scheduled for the next evening on the 28th.Instead, July 28, 1987 would become a day that would live in underground radio infamy…|
Allan went on to buy a small Radio Station with a License from the FCC in Maine. I don’t know what happenned to him after that. I also lost touch with Randy many years ago, last I heard he had moved up to around Bethel, NY near the old Woodstock Festival site. I had no participation in Pirate Radio after around 1978 or so. I missed being Arrested on the Sarah with Randy and Allan and Joseph Paul, although I did have the chance to go out with them, which sadly I turned down. Hadda be the experience of a Lifetime. My life had gone in another direction by then though.
When the film Pump Up the Volume came out, it was Jaw Dropping for me. So much of that story came from what we did in the 70s it was incredible. I am pretty sure whoever wrote that had contact with Allan and Joseph Paul at least, if not Randy also.
Pirate Radio had many similarities to today’s Blogosphere, though it was even more “edgy” since much of it was explicitly Illegal, at least under administrative laws. In fact, the FCC rarely successfully prosecuted any Pirates, and the smaller ones generally had such sparse listenership it wasn’t worth the expense to try to track them down. Certainly the dramatization in the film Pump Up the Volume is Hollywood Fiction, but it was a fun movie nonetheless, especially for anyone who was involved in Pirate Radio of the era.
Pirates were fighting very much the same battle against Corporate Control of the Media then that Bloggers fight against the MSM now. At the time, Clear Channel Communications was busy buying up every Radio Station in the country with the same packaged Playlists and syndicated Jocks like Casey Casem and Talk Show Hosts like Don Imus. Alternative music only made it onto some College Stations and the Pirates. Far as Newz Commenters on the radio in any way deviating from the Konsumerist Message, they became nonexistent and are so to this day.
The internet has changed this dynamic again, with the Podcasts, the Livestreams, the You Tube Channels and of course the Blogosphere. We do have a chance here again to get the Message Out. I am glad here as I near the end of my years walking the Earth to do once again what I did in my youth so many years ago now in a short career as a Pirate Radio Disk Jockey and Talk Show Host. I once again have the chance to….
PUMP UP THE VOLUME ON THE DOOMSTEAD DINER!
Originally published at Off The Grid In Minneapolis
Discuss this piece in the forum under Epicurean Delights
“Pealing back the veil, looking within, grounding oneself in the earth, and trusting that you are divine.”
I said this to the kulturkritic Sandy Krolick on his blog, offering it as an antidote to the despair that arises, among those who face the full ecological, economic, energy predicament Homo Sapiens is in at this point. He challenged me to say more about the divine. I went to see an old friend too, one of my first friends, who says she reads my blog and wishes I talked more about what I really think about this life.
In my first book, I repeated three times:
A unique, astonishing, utterly beautiful manifestation of the spirit, a divine being, a child of the earth, a child of the sun, Homo sapien sapien, sacred.
Contrast that with a few passages from the Judeo-Christian tradition here in the West (KJV):
The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth… Genesis 8:21 [fragment]
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked… Jeremiah 17:9 [fragment]
Wherefore, as by one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men; for that, all have sinned… Romans 5:12 (I futzed with the grammar to make it readable)
If we are divine, why are we always made to feel so small, so weak, so inconsequential, so incapable of anything but wickedness unless we obey? Why is the watchword obedience? Why are we made to submit, often irrationally, contrary to sense, by our parents, by our teachers, by our employers, by our government? If we are truly divine, shouldn’t we be able to rule ourselves? Why is it such a sin to question Authority?
First, forget everything you have ever been told about spirit, about soul, about an afterlife. What do I mean by divine? I take my understanding not from any spiritual tradition, but from nature, and from science.
As a child, I spent many of my days alone, exploring the lakes, woods, creeks and swamps around my house. It seems my whole adult life has been a search to recover the sense of connection I felt there, the sense of calm, the ease with which all the troubles of my youth were stripped away and I no longer thought, I simply was. Contrasting that, with the madness I found everywhere there were people. The cruel, petty, controlling unaccountable behavior, the crassness, the hypocrisy, the disconnection. I heard a lot of people talking about God, but not a one of them made me feel at ease anything like the way I felt when I was alone in the wild.
I wrote this about the core of being, in a recent post on free will:
Quantum physics has taught us many things, but most of what it has to offer, after one hundred years, has not yet trickled down to the general consciousness. Imagine for a moment: the atoms that are the fundamental structure of your bones, making them as hard as they are – if you inflate one of the quadrillions of atoms in your bones, to the size of an apple, the next bone-atom closest to it, would be a couple of city blocks away. Everything in between is empty space – as is most of the interior of the atom. We conceive of matter as dense. Matter is energy, at it’s core. Quantum physics tells us, the void, empty space, is denser energetically than matter, by an infinitude. Ponder that for a moment – energy vastly denser than what you are, flowing through you now, in every moment…
It’s not simply that everything we believe as solid is mostly empty space. Think about those atoms at the quantum level, how far apart they are from each other relative to their size. What kind of gravitational force could be so powerful, not just to hold these atoms in place, but to be also the foundation for something so hard as bone, or steel, or diamond? Nassim Haramein says the energetic density of the atom, is in fact the same as the energetic density of all the matter in the universe combined, which is to suggest, there are the makings of whole universes in every one of the thousands of quadrillions of atoms in your body. Now imagine the atom, from the second half of my post on governing ourselves:
every proton at the core of every atom is [like] a black hole, with a gravitational intensity that would explain the electrons spinning around it at near the speed of light. Or dual protons in close proximity spinning around each other at the speed of light.
we are beings of light. If you consider too that the DNA strand is an emitter of photons, then it is perfectly in keeping with physics to say so.
Nassim is about as wild as a physicist gets, and with many of his ideas, he verges on charlatanism. But in a way, I trust him more than the average, standard model physicist. What does the typical scientific/materialist/atheist have to say about the universe:
It arose out of nothing, accidentally, for no reason, without meaning.
You arose out of nothing, accidentally, for no reason, without meaning.
Why the incessant need to minimize?
Let’s look at the DNA strand, from my piece on Jeremy Narby’s Cosmic Serpent, Complexity and Wonder:
shaped like a spiral…..There are about 50-100 trillion cells in a human being. In each cell, there are two strands of DNA, one from the mother, one from the father. Each strand has three billion chemical base pairs, like rungs in a ladder, which are arranged in the “language” or “text” required to build the cell. If you remove a strand of DNA from a human cell, it is six feet long, but only ten atoms wide. To put this in perspective, if you were only ten atoms wide shoulder to shoulder, and you were to climb a strand of your DNA like a ladder, one rung, or base pair, per second, it would take you more than 93 years to climb bottom to top – assuming you didn’t stop to rest at any point in the journey.
All the DNA in your body is about 125 billion miles long. The distance from the Earth to the Sun is 93 million miles. That’s a little more than 134 times, to the sun and back.
DNA is the code at the foundation of all life. The code is found in genes, which are sections of the DNA strand where the base pairs form in specific ways, and in chromosomes, which are portions of the DNA strand tightly woven together. The translation mechanism is found in ribosomes, which pull amino acids together to form proteins, which become the structure of the body. Cells are like little factories, taking in energy, transforming it into something else, manufacturing at times exact copies of itself. As Narby points out, it tips to absurdity to suggest that both the language (DNA), and the translation mechanism (ribosomes) could arise by chance together, by accident, out of any random primordial soup.
It’s also worth noting, for fun, that the DNA in your cells is not inert, but endlessly writhing within the nucleus of the cell like a snake, wrapping around itself and the companion strand, in myriad ways. One hundred and twenty five billion miles of DNA in tens of trillions of cells, writhing like snakes.
Of course its not just the cells in your body that have spiraling, ever writhing DNA, nor just mammals, but insects and plants as well. So when you are outside, surrounded by living things, you are surrounded by a writhing, living energetic matrix of profound energetic complexity; and at the same time, empty space more energetically dense than all of that, by an order of magnitude running to infinity, is passing thorough all of it in every single moment.
And then there’s consciousness. Which science pompously attempts to minimize to electrolysis in the brain, basically.
And what has the industrial social model reduced you to? A consumer, disconnected from everything. It’s like the ultimate debasement.
I don’t know what universe you think you’re living in, but the one I’m living in is divine. It is conscious. And feeling that, knowing that, I’m inclined to think, the predicament humanity faces at this point, is primarily a spiritual transformation, however overwhelmingly material it would seem to be. Humanity awakening to itself, people looking deeply into the core of their being, learning to trust what they find there, cultivating that and offering it to the world. I wager, the more you know yourself, the less you need to be ruled, the less tolerant you will become of other’s attempts to dominate you. Religion, government, Institutions, the command and control domination we are so familiar with, is about maintaining social cohesion in hierarchical form, to benefit primarily a few. We are made to feel small, weak and inconsequential because such a people are more malleable, more easily manipulated, more easily controlled. Look around at what that has brought us. What we need now, is an expansive anarchism, self-rule, people taking responsibility for themselves, in relation to the world around them, in respect of and for the inherent connectedness of all life, of all things.
I’ll expand on this theme in future posts, and what one might do to cultivate a deeper awareness of ones profoundly energetic being.
Off the keyboard of RE
In this Chapter of the Over The Road Story, I will try to cover the Highlights of my Year of Indentured Servitude as a Company Driver for Schneider National Trucking following the 3 Weeks of Training I got before heading out on the Open Road of the Eisenhower Interstate to make my living as an OTR Trucker.
Why do I refer to this time as “Indentured Servitude“? Reason is the Contract you have to sign to get the “Free” Training. If you do NOT fulfill your full year of driving for Schneider at the Bargain Basement Price of $0.23 Cents/Mile rate, they tag you with a bill for the Training of around $6000, at least that was the number at that time. So Washing Out of the program once you begin can tag you with a pretty big DEBT if you are DESTITUTE, as I was when I signed up for this.
In fact, even if you do not washout during the Training Period and work for Schneider as an Indentured Servant for 11 Months before decide you can’t stand the life of an OTR Trucker and walk away from your Schneider Tractor, you STILL can be held liable for the entire Training Bill. No idea how often Schneider actually pursues this “Debt” in Court or how often Don Schneider actually can COLLECT on it, but regardless it still hangs over your head like the Sword of Damocles all the time for that First Year. If you do NOT make it through those first 12 Months, just about everything you might have SAVED during that time will be Clawed Back by Schneider in Court. So essentially, your ASS belongs to Don Schneider for that year, if you can make it through it anyhow.
In microcosm here, you see how the Capitalista Class preys upon the DESTITUTE by offering them Credit to hopefully improve their station in life and the society. A few Lucky and Resourceful ones DO make it through and Improve on their situation, I was one of the Lucky and Resourceful who did. Many MORE do not though, they at best end up in DEBT up to their EYEBALLS, or sometimes like my friend Lincoln, they only find their way out when they buy the Ticket to the Great Beyond. I doubt Lincoln’s Debt to Schneider for his 3 weeks of Training was ever collected on, even from surviving family members.
This of course is not a whole lot different than the Student Loans that recent HS Graduates who do NOT come from the Upper Class are forced to take out in order to get a Sheepskin not unlike a CDL which at least in the past would grant you Access to one of the better paying Jobs in the society. God forbid though you choose to study Art History or French Literature instead of IT , Accounting, Engineering or better yet do the Pre-Med or Pre-Law courses of study. Only the outrageously RICH can afford a Liberal Arts education which is not focused on supposedly preparing you for some Real World Job.
Fact is actually that even in such fields as Law if you studied that, you STILL don’t have access to the Super Duper High Paying Corporate Positions. Those are reserved for the graduates from the RIGHT Law Schools, Harvard, Yale, Columbia et al. Same deal with the MBA degrees. An MBA from Northwestern maybe got you into Management at some small to medium size company somewhere, but it did not get you an immediate Ticket into upper Management at say a JP Morgan or Merrill Lynch. For that, you need two things, first a Degree from the Right University, then some CONNECTIONS. Blythe Masters for instance got her position with just an Undergrad Degree in Economics from Cambridge. I got my position at Merrill because of a Columbia Degree and the fact the CEO at the time had gone through the same Executive Training Program my Dad the Pigman went through at Chase Manhattan in the 1950s. They were still good buddies at that time.
For most though, such positions were not available for the Common Folk. However, at least for a while they mostly did get you your Ticket to a Better Life, and not with TOO MUCH outrageous indebtedness. Not true nowadays of course. First off, the debt you need to take on unless you have a Filthy Rich Pigman for a parent is beyond belief now. Costs on this have skyrocketed too WELL into the six figures for even some State Universities, forget the Ivy League. Second, even if you GET the damn Sheepskin in Mechanical Engineering or some other technical field which takes good smarts to make it through, there just ain’t many JOBS out there for you in a contracting economy.
I digress. Back to The Road. As I mentioned in Part II, I was ill prepared and ill equipped for living the Mobile life when I got assigned my first IH Flattop Tractor. All I brought with me to the West Memphis terminal was a bag containing a few changes of Clothing.
The first thing I noted my Tractor did NOT have was a CB Radio. This essential piece of equipment was NOT provided by Schneider at the time,perhaps they do now, dunno. Reason for that from Schneider’s POV should be obvious, with many different Drivers being assigned to a Truck over time, some folks are not as careful with Electronic equipment as others, they BREAK the stuff and it needs then to be replaced. If the Drivers have to supply their OWN CBs, they are likely to be more careful with their own equipment.
Why do you NEED a CB in a Truck? It’s not just to do the “Breaker, breaker, pull back Good Buddy, them Smokies are on your tail” thing. At many Shippers and Receivers, you get your Call to the Dock over the CB, sometimes waiting for a full day for that to come while you Twist in the Wind in the parking lot. No CB, you gotta rely on the Trucker parked next to you, or run back and forth to the logistics office every 15 minutes to check on your status. I did both for my first Month OTR. When I got my first Paychecks and took my first Weekend Break, the first thing I spent my newly earned Buckolas on BEFORE paying back my Retired Mom was a Portable CB Walkie Talkie. Not too good for doing “Breaker,Breaker Good Buddy” while running the Interstate, but mostly pretty good for keeping track of calls to the Dock while sitting in the yard of a Shipper or Receiver.
I actually never did get into the CB thing of chatting with other Truckers while driving. Idiots pursuing Idiotic conversation mostly. I eventually did buy myself a first class CB setup with a Big Ass Antenna , SSB and more range than the Walkie Talkie, but in all honesty it was a Waste of Money, I hardly ever used it. The Walkie Talkie was perfectly good for most circumstances, and I did not have to be IN the Truck to hear it. Remarkably few Truckers have one of them though. The way I began to Communicate with others at that time to relieve the boredom and loneliness was over the incipient beginnings of the Internet, on AOL and Yahoo Chatrooms and Groups. That is it’s own Chapter in this story though, I will leave it for another day.
The CB was only one of NUMEROUS items Schneider neglected to mention you should carry along as your own gear, basic TOOLS for doing Minor Repairs on your Truck was another one. The Toolkit they provided had like NADA in it. Let’s not bog down here in Gear quite yet though.
It was easy getting into the 4 year old International Harvester Flattop that first time, since I only had One Bag, a fitted sheet for the Bunk and Pillow and Sleeping Bag. Threw in my Gear, did the Checklist Pre-Driving Inspection of the Truck and sat and waited for the First Load to come over the Qualcomm. By the end of my Trucking years, it took me a good hour to two hours to get into my truck and get all my gear set up for what usually was close to 3 months continuous OTR driving, punctuated by 2-3 weeks where I took time off. This did not make me exactly POPULAR with my Dispatchers. They LOVED me when I was inside the Truck running, they simply could not GRASP how I could stay out of the truck for such long times, which I was entitled to because the longer you stay out, the more time off you accumulate. You don’t get paid for it of course, but by my 3rd month out on the road I was already flush with savings, even at the Slave Labor mileage pay of $.023 Cents/mile. Schneider however feels they are LOSING money on you when you are not running, since you drive so much cheaper than their Experienced Company Drivers and WAY cheaper than Owner-Operators.
Reason I was so flush by then is simple. First off, I had declared Bankruptcy BEFORE becoming employed by Schneider, so I was free of Debt. Second, I had no Dependents I was supporting somewhere I wasn’t. Third I had no Rent or Mortgage Payment. OK, I had the $35/mo I was paying for a Storage Unit in Springfield which held stuff I couldn’t fit in the Truck and was important to me, mostly for Nostalgic Reasons, as it is to this day. My daily costs on the Road were minimal, 95% of the time I slept in the Truck in Free Parking either in Truckstops or Interstate Rest Areas, or sometimes just on the shoulder of On Ramps to the Interstate. VERY rarely when I was Out of Hours I would take a 24 hour Break in a Motel, and always then in Fleabag Bates Motels at around $35/Night at the time. My food costs even eating from relatively Expensive Truck stops was never more than $15/day, and that was ONLY when I would buy the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet at Petro (the best one), the Flying J (next best) or Truckstops of America, aka TA. OK they changed their Corporate Name to “Travel Stops of America”, but they are Truckstops. The other big chain of Pilot was the Low Class place to stay, with only usually a Fast Food outlet of Wendy’s to get Hot Food. In all cases though, I usually just ate inside the Truck from a food stash I bought at supermarkets. Usually cold food in the early years, I got cooking equipment later. On days I ate that way. cost was more like $5/day.
I eventually had some Communications Bills also, for a Cell Phone and Park ‘n View, an early Cable TV/Internet service for Truckers which I will explain later. My first Cell Phone though was a Trac-Phone which I bought a monthly card for Minutes for $20. I never talk on the phone, so I almost never used up my minutes on that either. Anyhow, all totalled my Weekly costs were maybe $100/wk, but I was taking home usually $400/500 after taxes even then. I just socked the difference away in the bank. Later on once my pay went VASTLY up, I was socking away $1000/wk. I saved a LOT of MONEY for a Working Man.
Back to the Qualcomm and the First Loads. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it was a fairly Primitive form of on board Text Messaging Computer which connected you to your Dispatcher by Satellite. The system also could Track the Truck for Location and determine whether you were Moving or Not, which was important with respect to Driving Hours if you were pushing the Limit, as most Truckers do. The Messaging Battles were enormous always since 9 times out of 10 before you even unloaded in those days you would get a Dispatch with an absolutely IMPOSSIBLE load to deliver on anything but the most abstract calculation spit out by the bullshit Computer Algorithms they were running at the time. The average driver gets completely SANDBAGGED by this, takes the Load and ends up Late on Delivery, which is a Negative Mark on your Driving Record. Not so RE of course, I would run the calculations using REAL parameters and then proceed to Text Message the whole Trip Plan BACK over the Qualcomm to the Dispatcher to demonstrate why the load was really IMPOSSIBLE to Deliver the way it was Dispatched. This takes some pretty good Keyboard Skills to do of course, but again not an Issue here for RE. Needless to say, this AGAIN did not make me Highly Popular with Dispatchers. In fact, by the time I left Schneider after my required 1 year of Indentured Servitude, it is Highly Likely that I held the Schneider Memphis Terminal all time RECORD for going through Dispatchers. I was basically a Dispatcher’s WORST NIGHTMARE. LOL. They couldn’t argue with me though, because I was Fucking PERFECT! I NEVER missed an Appointment in 6.5 YEARS Driving OTR.
Of course at the time of the First Load, these battles were in the Future, and the very First One seemed just fine to me. I had to make a Pickup at a local Distribution Center for delivery to a Retail Sears Outlet in a Mall, as I recall maybe a 500 Mile Load or so. It was highly Fortuitous that this DC was close to completely EMPTY of other Trucks with HUGE Backing area and empty Docks to both sides of my assigned Dock, because even so it took me at least a Dozen tries to get the trailer into the Dock square and lined up right. After getting loaded, before getting underway I took another hour to practice a bunch more times. I STILL SUCKED, and I had to get rolling.
So now off to find the Mall and the Sears Outlet, which was a fairly Uneventful drive most of the way until I got to the Mall. I couldn’t find the right Truck Truck Entrance to the Mall, and ended up entering the Mall Ring Road through an Entrance designed for 4-wheelers. The Radius of this entrance was to tight for my Trailer, and YES I rolled my Tandems up over the Curb to make it through that one. LOL. No Pedestrians there to Crush though fortunately, and No Witnesses.
So now I am circling the Mall on its Mini-Ring Road looking for where the Truck Docks for the Sears Outlet are, and on my first THREE passes around the ring road I don’t see them. I slow to a CRAWL, 4 wheelers behind me are PISSED. Finally I SPOT THE DOCK! It’s in an underground Parking Garage for 4-Wheelers with several entrances. I make another full trip around the mini-Ring Road to get back there and turn into what I THINK must be the right entrance based on how long my vehicle is and how much space I would need to get it into the dock, even if I was GOOD at Backing a Trailer. Sadly, I was WRONG by one entrance.
The problem now is how to get OUT of this situation and into the correct lane. I am in an Underground Garage surrounded by Parked 4-Wheelers, maybe 5 feet to either side of my BEHEMOTH, and the ONLY way OUT is to BACK the trailer COMPLETElY BLIND back out onto the Ring Road! Where 4 wheelers are whizzing around at an average Clip of 40MPH, 10MPH over the official Ring Road speed.
Problem here it was pounded into my SKULL at the Schneider Training Facility you should NEVER back your trailer out to spots you cannot see at all, ESPECIALLY if there is moving Traffic. So I shutdown the Engine, TRAPPING all the 4 wheelers parked to my right and left and walkover to the loading dock to look for somebody who will go out and Spot for me to back out onto the Ring Road. This takes about 15-20 minutes, by the time I get back to the Truck there are 2 EXTREMELY PISSED 4-wheelers wanting to pull out of their spots but cannot because my truck is trapping them. They did not get OUT of them either for a good half hour after that either.
With my Spotter in Place out on the Ring Road stopping the traffic there though, I do back my way out of the WRONG lane of the Parking Garage and onto the Ring Road. Still MORE Pissed Off 4-wheelers of course there. Fortunately none of them were carrying Guns. LOL. Now I have to make ANOTHER full trip around the RR to get back to the Parking Garage and go down the CORRECT lane to make the Dock.
Which I in fact do Problem Free, albeit Sweating Bullets at this time. Getting down the correct lane this time, I now have to figure out how to back in this dock with ZERO Pullup Room and a bunch of 4-wheelers Parked in a line about 70′ or so from the Dock. The ONLY way to do this is to get it ABSOLUTELY PERFECT on the First Try and at the end have your tractor cocked at about 45 Degrees to the Trailer which has to be perfectly square with the Dock. This takes me probably 2 hours to get right, and that is WITH a spotter helping me.
After THAT, it turns out this is one of the Loads I am expected to HELP unload onto the Sears Dock, and its NOT Palletized. Which means it has to be done all by HAND, and takes a good 3 hours WITH the help of several Sears Dock Workers.
So all in all, along with the 5 hours or so of Driving I did, the Hours it took getting into and out of the loading and unloading docks and HOURS of White Knuckle time in bad backing situations in this Underground Garage, I am SPENT! A good 12 Hours of time altogether EASY. What happens IMMEDIATELY after I sent in my Qualcomm Message that I am Unloaded? I am sent ANOTHER load I have to pick up requiring another 5 hours of driving IMMEDIATELY to make the Appointment.
At this stage of the game I am so STUPID though I accept the load and run my ass off AGAIN to go get it. My LogBook still shows enough Available Driving Hours here. This one is Preloaded onto another Trailer in a Drop Yard so I have to find an Empty Spot to drop my Empty Trailer in, then go hook up to the New Trailer with my Bobtail. The Drop Yard in this case did have SOMEWHAT more Pullup Room than the Underground Parking Garage, but not much. Again, it takes me a good hour to wedge the Empty into on of the open spots before unhooking and hooking to the Loaded trailer. A proceedure which in later years would take me about 2 minutes time MAYBE.
So now after finally Hooking and exiting the Drop Yard with the Loaded Trailer, I am already well behind the Eight Ball on the Trip Plan to make the Unload Appointment for this trailer. The ONLY way to do it and APPEAR Legal is to backup the time I actually left the Drop Yard by the hour I wasted and then run a good 10MPH over the Speed Limit. I DO this, I am NOT caught and I MAKE the Appointment with maybe 5 Seconds to Spare. LOL. OK, it wasn’t THAT tight, but close, no more than 5 minutes.
Somehow I get into this dock and fortunately do NOT have to help Unload this one, so after about 20 hours of continuous Driving, Backing, Unloading etc. and SWEATING BULLETS the whole time. I take a Nap in the Bunk for the 2 hours it takes for them to Unload the Trailer. I am also OUT OF HOURS now so Schneider Dispatcher cannot send me another load to Pickup for at least 8 hours. Great! I will FINALLY get some REST here! Right? WRONG!
Issue is this Receiver will NOT allow me to remain on the Property for 8 Hours DESPITE the fact I am OUT OF LEGAL DRIVING HOURS, and besides that, TOTALLY EXHAUSTED. My Trucker’s Guide to Truckstops shows a Pilot Truckstop around 20 miles or so up the Interstate, so I head for that. I will fudge my Log Book later to make that SEEM LEGAL.
I get to said Pilot around 2AM probably, and the place is PACKED. There are a couple of Open Spots in there, but at this point I am too Fatigued and too SCARED to even TRY backing into them. I leave the Pilot without even getting out of the Truck to buy some Food. I have been subsisting at this point for a full day on Candy Bars and Potato Chips out of Vending Machines. I drive BACK to the Interstate On Ramp, and PARK it there on the shoulder and climb into the Bunk, HUNGRY and EXHAUSTED. I pass out completely for the next 8 hours.
Actually, for the next month or so, On-Ramp sleeping is the Norm for me, because until I finally Wised Up to how the whole system worked, I never got to the Truckstops EARLY enough to get a good Parking Spot and eat a decent meal. OK, “decent meal” is stretching the concept there some when you talk about Truckstop Food, but you get the idea I am sure. It is a STEP UP from Vending Machine Food.
When I awaken, the Qualcomm is Blinking Again with a NEW load to go pick up. Which I again I accept , but now I AM getting a little SMARTER finally. BEFORE going to pickup the Load, I head BACK to the Pilot (it was on the way fortunately), and now it is pretty much EMPTY and there are Pull Through spots available so I don’t even have to BACK IN! YAY! I go to the Wendy’s Fast Food counter in the Pilot and proceed to WOLF down 2 Fat Laden Burger/Fries/Coke Super Size Meals. Then I EMPTY the shelves of the Pilot of every Bag of Potato Chips they have to load them into the Tractor. Despite the Exorbitant Cost in the truckstop for these items, its STILL Cheaper than buying the teensy weensy bags from the Vending Machines. I buy so MANY of these bags of chips there is no longer ROOM for me to sleep in the Bunk of an International Harvester Flattop without rolling over them and turning the chips inside into tiny Crumbs I have to shovel into my mouth to eat as near Dust Food. OK, again I am EXAGERRATING, but not by much here either. I was so worried at this point I would literally STARVE while out on the road I decided I had to pack the Tractor with as much FOOD as I could carry. This probably is where my current Food Hoarding tendencies come from even more than worrying about Corn Crop failure due to Drought here in 2012.
Now, to my best recollection, the next couple of loads were not filled with quite so much DRAMA, and while I am still Slow as Molasses in getting Backed into any Dock, these loads did not present the same kind of NASTY Backing Situation the Sears Load in the Underground Garage did. It was not until maybe the end of the Second Week I ran into my next really TERRIFYING situation, after picking up a load of Paper from a Paper Plant which as I recall was in Tennessee.
For many reasons, not the least of which are that they STINK really bad and totally POLLUTE the water supply in the area used to rinse the Paper of numerous chemicals used in the processing and they need vast amounts of Wood Pulp to use for making the Toilet Paper you use daily to Wipe Your Ass AND the Toilet Paper Helicopter Ben prints up Daily you use to Pay Da Bills, Paper Plants are always in pretty REMOTE locations. I do find the place fairly easily though, even before I went High Tech and got my first GPS (a Garmin Handheld Unit I still have), Road Navigation was a Strong Point for me from the Get Go, unlike the Backing problems. It also looks ON THE MAP as a fairly easy trip to get from the Paper Plant back to another section of the Eisenhower Interstate to then head EASILY over to the Reciever, in this case as I recall a Newzpaper printing Plant. I was loaded with HUGE Rolls of Newzprint in this case, right to the LIMIT of 40 tons or so you can carry in a Dry Box. This also has to be Balanced just right over the Drive Wheels and Tandems , which you do by Sliding the Tandem Wheels under the trailer. Many tricks involved in this, but I will leave that for the moment.
After getting loaded I head out of the Plant in a different direction than I came in, taking a secondary road to a different Interstate junction. On the Map this looks to be maybe 10 miles away. It is late at night and no lights on the road except my Headlights. I come up on the Interstate Junction before I realize it and almost miss even seeing it. I pass the on ramp going the direction I need to go. I am too scared to try to Back Up to the on ramp, partly because I SUCK at Backing, but also because Schneider told me never to back up on a main thoroughfare and also it is PITCH BLACK behind me and I can see absolutely NADA in my mirrors.
Next possible choice, this is a 4 lane road with two wide Shoulders, enough room to swing a 53′ Trailer and cop a Uey. Except of course in the process halfway through, your trailer sits sideways across all the traffic lanes and the shoulders also. this is another Safety Violation Schneider told me never to do. Showed videos of 4 wheelers with the top of the car sheered off as it went under the trailer. They did not show the decapitated 4-wheelers though, but you got the idea.
Another possible choice would have been to get onto the Interstate going the opposite direction I needed to go, because that On Ramp was still ahead of me. However, this would have required me to go around 30 miles to the next exit to turn around, lots of extra mileage there.
In the end, I choose neither Door #1 or Door #2 but go for Door #3 which is to keep on going straight ahead to look for a Parking lot big enough to turn around in.
What occurs though right after driving 1/2 mile off the Interstate Junction is the 4 lanes drop to 2, with nothing but trees on either side of the road. I am starting to get NERVOUS again and the Knuckles go White on the Steering Wheel again. I definitely cannot back up now, nor can I turn around at all. I keep on going. It gets WORSE.
The shoulders disappear from the side of the road, and now my trailer is breaking branches of trees to my right. Then it gets WORSE again. The PAVEMENT disappears! Now I am on what I figure must be a Logging Road for the Paper Plant. I am easily 10 miles off the interstate junction by this point. I am again SWEATING BULLETS. I figure now at the end of this road there MUST be a clearing for the truckers pulling the logs out to turn around. There probably was, but I never got there. Another mile up the road, on my right hand side there is a LIGHT! It is a FIRESTATION! I pull into the first driveway of the firestation, figuring if firetrucks can turn around there, the lot is big enough for my rig also. Sadly, no. While there are a few fire trucks as long as a Big Rig, most are not, they are Straight Trucks in the 35-40′ range, not Split Rigs in the 60-70′ range. The Parking lot by itself is not big enough to swing the trailer.
However, there is an Exit Driveway ahead of me, and as I eyeball it, if I use every inch of the Logging Road I will be able to swing the trailer as I leave. The only problem with this is a Drainage Ditch dug out between the two driveways. I begin to slowly inch my way out of the driveway. I keep stopping to get out of the tractor and go out to look. I am almost to the Drainage Ditch when I realize I am not gonna make it. The left side tandems would drop into the ditch, and with the weight I had there of 40 tons of Paper Rolls, the trailer would Capsize immediately. Unlike many drivers, I am pretty aware of the forces of mechanics and how vectors operate, and this vector is pointing DOWN into the Ditch! ACCCKKKK!!! What to do?
Well, remember earlier I told you about how Trailers have Sliding Tandem Wheels that you use to balance the weight out in your trailer? Then the LIGHBULB goes off in my head. I realize that if I slide the tandems ALL THE WAY up and misbalance the load, my radius will be short enough to make this turn. So I straighten the truck up and I do this, and then once again go to make the turn.
In the cab, I am scraping against the trees to my right, rolling over and killing innumerable small trees which never got a chance to Grow Up to be Big Trees because I arrived there one day with my Big Rig.
Back on the Left Tandem wheels, the two outside ones hang over the ditch. The earth is crumbling under the massive weight of 40 Tons of Paper on the Inside Left Tandems. The Trailer Lists, and now I CANNOT STOP. I gun it and Go for Broke. The Trailer Listed to about 10 degrees off the vertical, but it DID NOT TOPPLE! I MADE THE TURN! HALLELUJAH! The Trailer rights up vertical and I am facing back towards the Holy Grail of the Interstate On Ramp I needed to get on to deliver this load!
The FINGER OF GOD!
After making the turn and driving back to the Interstate, the whole Adventure probably took about 2 hours. It did not affect my Delivery, because there was plenty of time on that load. It also never showed up in my Log Book either. According to the Log Book, I left the Paper Plant and got straight onto the Interstate without any detour at all. This of course is routinely done by all drivers to conserve Driving Hours. You don’t record how much time it REALLY took to get anywhere, you record the amount of time it takes if everything goes perfect and there was no traffic and Unicorns Shit Skittles along your route for your truck to glide smoothly over. LOL. The ONLY time Driving Hours are accurate in a Log Book is for the Hours you do at the maximum legal speed on the Interstate. All the rest is total fabrication.
Over the next two months, there were other similar White Knuckle Events, in fact they happenned on about every load during that time for me. Mainly because I did not have enough EXPERIENCE to know how to avoid getting into a bad situation to begin with, but also of course due to my poor Backing Skills.
I learned pretty quickly how to keep the Dispatchers from abusing me by manipulating my driving time and how many hours I would show after the unload. This was a Math Game and easy for me. I learned to go into Truckstops during the early part of the Day after most of the other truckers were out on the road and the Pull Through spots were open, so no Backing Necessary.
In reality, Bad Situations never stopped coming for all my years OTR, just I got better at handling them as my skills improved and my ability to spy a bad situation in the making improved. For those first 2-3 Months though, not a day went by where my heart wasn’t POUNDING trying to get into a dock or a truckstop to sleep or eat.
One day about 3 months out Over the Road in a Railyard in Chicago, that all changed for me. That was the day I met the RASTAMAN.
More about the Rastaman in Part IV of Over the Road.
I’ve always felt the many attempts to paint a picture in which we are not all responsible for our situation, whether in the form of the OWS 99% vs 1%, Illuminati (or Oligarchy, or Elite, etc) vs sheople, or even an epic battle of good vs evil, to be unsatisfactory in their effort to explain our predicament. In my opinion there has to be some element common to humankind that keeps us on the path to destruction. In other words, we’re all part of the problem and in order to correct course there must be a significant change worldwide at the level of the individual.
Is it possible that a fundamental aspect of what it means to be homo sapiens is at the root of our problem, and if so, what are the implications for finding a way out? Or whether it’s even probable that we will find it, and then act on it? If the VCP holds true, is our involvement in the predicament really something to be ashamed of since what we’ve done is in our very nature? William Catton has expressed the same sentiment in arguing that no one group is responsible for our predicament. Catton says, “the conversion of a marvelous carrying capacity surplus into a competition-aggravating and crash-inflicting deficit was a matter of fate.” And while I don’t suggest we absolve the criminal banksters and corrupt politicians of their crimes, or that we discard efforts to affect change, I find a lot of the blaming others and ourselves that’s going on is really detrimental, if not to our collective health, at least to our individual well-being.
This question, and the conclusions that may be drawn by answering it, is exhaustively researched by Craig Dilworth in his timely and important book (which I’m still reading) Too Smart for our Own Good: The Ecological Predicament of Humankind.” The book is described as follows:
We are destroying our natural environment at a constantly increasing pace, and in so doing undermining the preconditions of our own existence. Why is this so? This book reveals that our ecologically disruptive behavior is in fact rooted in our very nature as a species. Drawing on evolution theory, biology, anthropology, archaeology, economics, environmental science and history, this book explains the ecological predicament of humankind by placing it in the context of the first scientific theory of our species’ development, taking over where Darwin left off. The theory presented is applied in detail to the whole of our seven-million-year history. Due to its comprehensiveness, and in part thanks to its extensive glossary and index, this book can function as a compact encyclopedia covering the whole development of Homo sapiens. It would also suit a variety of courses in the life and social sciences. Most importantly, Too Smart makes evident the very core of the paradigm to which our species must shift if it is to survive. Anyone concerned about the future of humankind should read this ground-breaking work.
This book: • Provides the first and only theory of humankind’s development • Explains that economic and political (military) power have their respective biological bases in individual vs. group territoriality • Provides the first classification of human instincts: into the survival, sexual and social instincts • Provides the most inclusive characterization of different kinds of population check yet presented • Explains the importance of the anthropological, archaeological and economic findings of the past 50 years to understanding humankind’s development • Clarifies the preconditions for human life on earth • Predicts what will happen to us in the near future
Dilworth goes into excruciating detail to answer the question “why,” through analysis of the biological and evolutionary underpinnings of our species, and is therefore, beyond the scope of this post. However, Dilworth’s basic premise is based on a principle he calls the “Vicious Circle Principle” (or VCP for short), which can be expressed as the following:
The vicious circle principle (VCP) is both easy to understand and in keeping not only with modern science but also with common sense. Briefly put, it says that in the case of humans the experience of need, resulting e.g. from changed environmental conditions, sometimes leads to technological innovation, which becomes widely employed, allowing more to be taken from the environment, thereby promoting population growth, which leads back to a situation of need. Or, seeing as it is a matter of a circle, it could for example be expressed as: increasing population size leads to technological innovation, which allows more to be taken from the environment, thereby promoting further population growth; or as: technological innovation allows more to be taken from the environment, the increase promoting population growth, which in turn creates a demand for further technological innovation.
My intention in starting this thread is twofold. First, to introduce the book to those unfamiliar with it, as I believe it to be mandatory reading for collapseniks. Second, to discuss the ideas Dilworth presents given the relevance to recent discussions on the Diner. Unfortunately Dilworth comes to the depressing conclusion that humankind is headed straight for the evolutionary dustbin, despite the efforts of the few who are attempting to avert such a result, because we’re dealing with a fundamental trait of humanity unlikely to change any time soon. My opinion has been that we must evolve or perish, an opinion that appears to be supported by Dilworth’s theory. The middle section of the book is very academic and far from light reading which serves as a scientific basis for the conclusions drawn, but the first and final chapter (too dumb to change) is where most of the ideas are presented that will interest the Diners.
What I find most fascinating about the VCP is that it provides an explanation that goes beyond Nationalism, cultural values, religions and the rise and fall of empires, because the theory is overarching in it’s scope. Even if the US Empire collapses and doesn’t manage to take the rest of the world down with it, the VCP will still remain as the root cause of our problem.
Dilworth gives a brief explanation of his work.
Some quotes to get things started:
According to Daly, the appeals of growth are that it is the basis of national power and that it is an excuse for not sharing as a means of combating poverty. It offers – in conflict with the entropy principle – the prospect of more for all with sacrifice by none.
…goods and services that cannot be bought or sold are valueless from the point of view of neoclassical economics.
An attitude to life which seeks fulfilment in the single-minded pursuit of wealth – in short, materialism – does not fit into this world, because it contains within itself no limiting principle, while the environment in which it is placed is strictly limited.
All that is needed, they say, are larger research and development budgets, greater offerings to the Technological Priesthood who gave us the Green Revolution, Nuclear Power, and Space Travel. That these technological saviors have created more problems than they have solved is conveniently overlooked. The mythology of technological omnipotence is by itself very strong, but when backed by class interests in avoiding the radical policies required by the steady state, it becomes a full-fledged idolatry. As long as we remain trapped by the ideology of competitive growth, there is no solution. … The value of growth is rigidly held in first place, and we are trapped into a system of increasing environmental disruption and gross injustices by our inability to reorder values.
Economic growth, so long as it is based on a non-renewable surplus, erodes that surplus at a faster rate than would occur otherwise, shortening the time to its eventual disappearance. And if the surplus is of renewables, economic growth will tend to convert them into non-renewables: their being drawn into the economic system to a constantly increasing degree will mean their being used at a successively higher rate until that rate exceeds their ability to reproduce themselves.
As Schumacher also says, the economic growth of the industrial era could just as well be seen as a measure of the rate at which we are consuming geological capital, while counting it as income.
So the fact that our situation is terribly threatening has been known to decision makers for more than 30 years, and this quite independently of an awareness of the operation of the vicious circle principle. What an understanding of the VCP adds is a realisation both of how we have come to this pass, as well as why we in fact have made no serious attempt to remedy the situation despite our being aware of it. … According to the VCP the individual territorial instincts of the powerful override whatever other instincts they may have as support the well-being of the species, and it is they who determine the course taken. And, it seems to me, there’s not much we can do about it. The revealing of the nature of the situation, such as is attempted in this book, is not going to make any noticeable difference.
Off the keyboard of Guy McPherson
Posted originally on Nature Bats Last by Guy McPherson on Mon, Jul 16, 2012
Television anchor Edward R. Murrow is credited with this expression: “Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.” Murrow understood the power of television to misinform the masses. This strategy has worked brilliantly on every front, but none more pronounced than the all-important issue of global climate change. Seeking “balance” on the idiot box means presenting two sides to a one-sided issue until it’s too late to address the crisis.
It’s too late. By the end of June 2012, the U.S. had witnessed its hottest 12 months and hottest half year on record. Extreme events have arrived: “The kind of blistering heat we used to experience once every 20 years, will now occur every two.”
Even as the sun cools, record high temperatures exceeded record low temperatures by a ratio of 2:1 in the last decade, relative to an expected ratio of 1:1. The ratio hit 9:1 in 2012.
Even mainstream scientists writing in Science have finally noticed that ocean acidification threatens all marine life with near-term extinction. In the very near future, coral reefs will disappear. Think of the deprivation we’ve brought to the world as we rape, pillage, and plunder Earth’s glorious bounty for a few extra dollars with which to purchase
food high fructose corn syrup that’s killing us and toys that titillate. Deniers take note: “Recent warming of the top 2300 feet of the ocean alone corresponds to an energy content of more than one Hiroshima atomic bomb detonation every second over the past 40 years.” This “remarkable warming can only be explained with man-made greenhouse gas emissions.”
According to fancy sensors, those greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for a temperature increase of about 1 C in New England since the beginning of the industrial revolution (graphical depiction is here). The plants paint a considerably direr story, indicating average temperature in the region has increased 2.4 C during the same period. If you trust plants more than human sensors, as I do, this single statistic is sufficient to induce despair.
Climate chaos is only a small part of the big story, though it is among the phenomena poised to cause our extinction within a single human generation. In addition to triggering climate chaos, we’ve initiated the Sixth Great Extinction, and we revel in its acceleration as one more sign of progress. Furthermore, we continue to ratchet up the madness of human-population overshoot on an overpopulated, overheated, increasingly depauperate planet. Environmental degradation proceeds apace as we gleefully trade in living soil for smart phones, clean air for fast computers, potable water for high-definition televisions, healthy food for industrial poison, contentment for exhilaration, decent human communities for hierarchical death camps, and life for death.
All the while, we take truth-tellers to task while looking to corrupt governments for leadership. Truth is treason in an empire of lies, so we don’t protest governments that spy on their citizens and then kill them. The people, largely convinced they are consumers instead of citizens, keep seeking guidance from the television and nourishment from GMO-tainted faux food, all while seeking happiness from exhilaration instead of introspection.
My heart aches to the breaking point. Industrialized humans are destroying every aspect of the living planet with all the joy one would expect from homicidal maniacs. We don’t think about what we’re doing. If we did, we wouldn’t. Or perhaps, driven by a culture of madness promoted by our contemporaries, we would.
I’m guilty, too, of course. Walking away from empire doesn’t mean I’ve done enough to terminate the omnicidal set of living arrangements known as industrial civilization. As I’ve written before, “I’m afraid of change, fearful to cash in my chips. But I’m afraid to stay, too. The thought of continuing to stare, alone, at the world of wounds, causes the terror to rise in me. Afraid to let go of nature’s bounty, as if it’s mine to hold. Afraid what I’m missing by holding onto comfort.”
Haunted by the wonder and beauty of nature and fully recognizing my efforts as insufficient, bitterness nearly overshadows my overwhelming, debilitating sadness. How could I
have been be so self-absorbed? What irreparable damage have I wrought?
Curse your television. Then shoot it. It’s not much, and it’s too little, too late. But it’s a therapeutic start to a much-needed revolution.
I feel nature slipping out of my grasp as we rush to destroy every species on Earth. With no decent solutions, my mind wanders between sadness and madness, between reality and the despair induced therein. Is it possible for a scientist to die from a broken heart?
What a way to go.
If silence is the perfect music, then we’re about to have the (musically) perfect planet. But I doubt we’ll be pleased with the silence as we slip, one by one, into the abyss of unconsciousness.
Off the keyboard of RE
At least according to the Made for TV Movie “The Over the Hill Gang”, BRAZOS was the call made to all Texas Rangers when another one was IN TROUBLE. It was a Call to Arms, a call to all other Rangers to come to his AID in any way they could.
There is I believe some basis in reality to this, there was a Newspaper called the TEXAS RANGER AND BRAZOS GUARD published from 1849 to 1852 in Washington-on-the-Brazos in Texas.
The Texas Ranger and Brazos Guard, also known as the Lone Star and Texas Ranger and the Lone Star Ranger, was published weekly by Joseph Lancaster to promote navigation on the Brazos River. Lancaster, originally from England, moved to Texas in 1836 and served with the Texas Rangers.
Here on the Doomstead Diner there is a Diner IN TROUBLE, and I am putting out the BRAZOS call to all other Diners, whether you are a Mod Squader, a Member of the Commentariat in the Forum or just a Guest Reader. It is time for all the Diners to COME TOGETHER to help Diner William Hunter Duncan.
“WHD” as I refer to him on the Diner (I Acronym most Diners ScreenIDs as a convenient shorthand) is a relatively New Diner, not one of the Founding Fathers here from the Reverse Engineering Yahoo Group. His participation on the Diner is only maybe a couple of months long I think. In that short time though, WHD has brought much value to the Diner Forum, where we discuss the Issues of Industrial Civilization Collapse on a Daily Basis. WHD is Blogger in his own right, currently running 2 Blogs along with his own Website.
WHD and I ALSO recently had a Falling Out over a Misunderstanding which took place as a result of the kind of Visceral Debate which goes on inside the Diner Forum all the time. This nearly resulted in losing WHD as a Diner, but fortunately we were able to resolve this in Emails with each other afterward. The result of THAT was I learned a little more about WHD’s current situation and his state of mind, which is for GOOD REASON very STRESSED right now.
If you read the First Article of WHD’s I published on the Diner, “Born on the 4th of July“, you know that WHD is engaged in a BATTLE with the City of Minneapolis over the VERY REAL possibility his House could be CONDEMNED because WHD no longer has MONEY to pay for the Electricity, Gas and Water that you have to BUY for a House to be considered “livable”. The situation is not quite YET at the Final Stage, but it’s getting close. Good thing it is not yet at the Final Stage, because this does give WHD some time still to Formulate Plans before the Final Hammer comes down on his Off the Grid project. Additionally, it gives us Diners a bit of a Window of Opportunity here to HELP WHD execute a Plan of Action BEFORE the HAMMER comes down from the Eviction Gestapo.
In one of my emails to WHD I Outlined a Plan of Action:
You sound (for good reason) REALLY STRESSED OUT. Try to take a few deep breaths to begin with.
Next, develop some plans.
First I suggest you do ask Dad for some money to buy a month or two of time while you work on the rest of the plans.
Next, file for UE Bennies.
Next, talk to Surly and get in contact with Occupy Minneapolis. Occupy has LAWYERS who work Pro Bono on the Foreclosures etc. I think you could file a Lawsuit on the grounds that the City of Minneapolis is inhibiting your right to live off the grid. The law suit might not win, but again this buys more time. Anyhow, you want the card of a Lawyer to call when the Gestapo show up.
Also you can use the lawsuit to gain Publicity. Write an article yourself for the local Newz Rag, and call up the Local MSM TV Newz crew to walk around your Garden with a Camera.while you yabber about Sustainability.If you get on the Newz BEFORE the Gestapo come, then the minute they show up to Evict you, you call the reporter on Speed Dial who did the first story to get his ass in the Van with the Satellite Dish over to your House PRONTO. At the very least you can use the situation to make TPTB look like the Fascist Pigs they are.
Next, contact Ross. It might be time for us to speed up plans for buying a Doomstead Diner property in WI.
Now on less important misunderstandings.
I use the Bullwinkle Avatar on every post. I figure everybody KNOWS I am Mr. Know it All Bullwinkle. I also have been in a non-stop Napalm Contest with Ashvin. So it just never occurred to me you might think I was talking about you. I only figured it out AFTER you left all pissed off and you never signed back in to get the PM I sent you.
Finally, far as I know I published everything you sent to me or loaded onto WP. I’ll publish anything you write. (Well, almost. Don’t go Unabomber!)
Keep on Trucking Dude, and it’s OK to LOVE your House, but remember you can’t really own anything you can’t carry with you. Love YOURSELF most of all, and when you have to walk away, walk and don’t look back. Not time yet though, you still can fight it, you are not devoid of resources and you do have FRIENDS on the Diner.
WE ARE THE FRIENDS of WHD. WE ARE THE DINERS!
No one of us can Save Everyone. You can only Save As Many As You Can. Frankly, not ALL are even WORTHY of SAVING. IMHO, Diner William Hunter Duncan is WORTHY. Together, Diners can buy TIME for WHD to EXECUTE THE PLAN. So I wrote to WHD and asked him if he was OK with my doing an Off the Grid in Minneapolis FUNDRAISER for him here on the Diner. He does have a DONATE button on his Website, so he is OK with taking Money for his work.. I do NOT have a Donate Button on the Diner right now, because frankly I don’t need the Money. WHD DOES need it, and he needs it NOW.
The case is made by other Bloggers on the Net who promote Generational Warfare that “Boomers” are an Uncaring and Selfish bunch. I do not think this is TRUE, and here I hope to PROVE it is NOT SO. WHD I believe would be categorized as “GenX” by folks who do this sort of arbitrary characterization of Generations. I am a BOOMER, about Dead Center of this characterization by “Generations”. I KNOW also many Diners are Boomers as well. Will you ACCEPT this characterization, or will you go in with me now to HELP a GenXer? If you do not, then I have no AMMUNITION against the Boomer Bashers. Go in with me, I SQUASH them like BUGS. Every Diner KNOWS I can do this with just a little Ammo. GIVE ME THE AMMO BOOMERS!
My Goal is to Raise $1000 to buy WHD some TIME to Execute the Plan. I will of course Contribute to this effort as well, but I won’t be first in the month or say how much either, because I do not want WHD or anybody else to know how much I chipped in. ONlY GIVE if you can AFFORD it, only GIVE as much as you can afford. 20 diners at $50 each does it, 100 Diners at $10 each does it, whatever the Combo is fine, but I think we CAN DO IT!
On WHD’s WilliamHunterDuncan.com website there is a DONATE Button. I put out the Brazos Call NOW to all Diners to go there this month and make a Donation to keep the Off the Grid in Minneapolis DREAM of WHD ALIVE for another day, another week, for a while at least
We cannot fund this in perpetuity, in the end WHD will have to make a go of it if he is to stay there and not Walk Away from the House he Loves. For TODAY though, while the Internet is still functioning and the Diner still exists, we CAN respond. I urge all Diners to DONATE to the Off the Grid in Minneapolis Project of William Hunter Duncan.
Here’s the FULL “Over the Hill Gang”Movie Courtesy of YouTube!
Off the keyboard of Brandon Smith
In January of this year, I wrote an analytic financial piece entitled ‘Baltic Dry Index Signals Renewed Market Collapse’:
In that article I discussed the record breaking low hit by the BDI and its implications for the global economy; namely, that it signaled a steep decline in true demand around the world for raw materials used in the manufacture of consumer goods, and that similar declines in the BDI’s past have almost always prophesized a crisis event in financial markets. The mainstream media attempted to write off the implosion of the BDI as a fluke, tied to the “overproductions of cargo ships”, instead of a warning sign of deteriorating demand. Of course, the past 6 months have proven that assertion to be entirely false.
Manufacturing has tumbled in the U.S., the EU, and Asia simultaneously as orders drop back to the dismal levels last seen in 2008-2009 after the credit crisis first took hold:
Despite the astonishing amount of manipulation that goes into our fiscal system by major banks, there are still a few fundamental rules to economics that never change. The bottom line? Demand around the world is derailing, hinting at a broad spectrum disintegration of public buying power. Where demand goes, so goes the economy.
As I have pointed out in the past when explaining the importance of the BDI, crashes in the index are usually made visible on mainstreet around 8 months to a year after the event. That is to say, the economies of multiple nations move into a widely felt crisis event around 8 to 12 months after the BDI crashes.
There is a strange delayed reaction between the initial exposure of weakness in the financial system and the public’s realization of the truth, sort of like Wile E. Coyote dashing off a cliff in the cartoons only to continue running in mid-air above the abyss below. It is a testament to the fact that beyond the math, there is an undeniable power of psychology in our economy. The investment world naively believes it can fly, even with the weight of endless debt around its ankles, and for a very short time, that pure delirious oblivious belief sustains the markets. Eventually, though, gravity always triumphs over fantasy…
In May, I also discussed the impending disaster in the EU in light of elections which would obviously lead to a clash (or engineered clash) between proponents of austerity and proponents of endless stimulus spending. I suggested that this clash would trigger a possible remodeling or complete breakdown of the European Union in the near future:
Today, I do not think that it would be outlandish to suggest (even to the casual market observer) that the EU has indeed been fractured, though the establishment still strives to maintain the façade.
Spain and Italy have both requested bailouts from the ECB, finally exposing a problem which alternative analysts have been warning about for years. While the mainstream media has been bicycle-kicking the long dead horse of Greece, the much more detrimental problems of the rest of the EU have been completely ignored. Only now are investors beginning to understand that there is no such thing as a “Greek Contagion”; the whole of Europe has been quietly suffering through a debt malaise that surpasses the Greek issue. Still, central banks pushed the idea that Greece was the gangrenous toe of the EU, claiming it had to be cured or amputated, or the infection would invade the entire body. The truth is, Europe has been host to a systemic disease from the very beginning. Greece is just a side-note.
The UK has openly admitted that it has “returned” to recession. Mass credit downgrades have been issued by S&P and Moody’s in primary EU economies, including France and Spain. Italy’s credit rating has been cut only two notches above junk status and its bond sales have turned to Jell-O. Spain has declared austerity cuts which include the confiscation of employee pension funds. Does this sound like an economic body near “recovery”, as was the rhetoric spouted by the MSM a year ago, or, does it sound like the EU has gone off the deep end?
In the meantime, China continues to court their global trading partners with bilateral trade agreements designed to remove the dollar as the world reserve currency, and recent events appear to be hastening this process. With American and European demand faltering, Chinese manufacturers are threatened with an even more severe export breakdown than they saw back in 2008, and so, it is only a matter of time before the BRIC and ASEAN economic blocs fully solidify their trade partnerships outside of the West, and away from the dollar.
The year of 2012 has proven to be the most startling as far as financial news has been concerned. Vastly more startling to me than 2008. In 2008, the illusion of bank coherence and government action was carefully molded for the consumption of the masses. The intimate connections between government and corporate fraud were glossed over with expert care. There was an active and methodical effort to make us believe that the problems of 2008 were peripheral, and that the system at its foundation was sound. This time around, the corruption has become utterly blatant and disturbingly nonchalant. There is no attempt on the part of central and corporate banking interests anymore to hide the fact that the entire edifice is a cheap magic trick. In fact, they now parade their distortions as if they are “helping” the country, instead of destroying it.
When criminals are no longer concerned with hiding their crimes, it is time for the rest of us to start worrying. That is to say, the current behavior of the establishment leads me to believe that a new phase in the crisis is about to arise.
Three recent events in particular (on top of all that has already happened this year) should be noted by those who wish to gauge the acceleration of financial hazard around the world:
Multiple Central Banks Issuing Policy Changes Simultaneously
Only a week ago, the supposedly independent and sovereign central banks of China, the UK, and the EU made multilateral policy changes including cutting interest rates to zero and reinstituting stimulus measure all within the SAME HOUR of each other:
This is a disturbing and open admission by central banks that they not only dominate the economic structure of their host countries, but they do so in a coordinated fashion. In the past, central bankers have made a point to at least pretend that they do not work in tandem with each other and are not centralized around a global methodology or hierarchy. Today, they do not seem to mind if the public is aware of how they really operate.
Some might argue that central banks of individual nations have cooperated in the past, and that this is nothing new. Partly true. Central banks have enacted policy initiatives in tandem with each other before, but usually only after absurd levels fanfare and summits galore. The pageantry of G8’s and G20’s and Davos and any number of other global meetings were a fulcrum point which central banks used to buy political capital with sovereign populations. They had planned to institute these multilateral economic actions anyway, but the pageantry and theater came first. Today, private central banks are taking joint action without ANY public meetings, even fake meetings.
I feel that this is the start of an expedited trend towards full centralization of sovereign economies, and that soon, central banks will act as if single broad spectrum global monetary policy measures and global economic governance are legal and “commonplace”.
Trade Volume Collapsing
The S&P has now generated the worst market volume in over a decade. Small market investors are fleeing in droves away from stocks, leaving only the big players to dominate the field:
This extreme lack of volume will facilitate a return to volatility, and we are about to see the same kind of massive stock spikes and drops that we tasted three years ago. I would like to point out that the Fed, almost religiously, waits until stock markets go into cardiac arrest before announcing new stimulus measures and quantitative easing. They delay until the investment world begs for printing, and then, they give it to them, with a smile.
The Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) Scandal
Like the bankruptcy of Lehman Bros. that heralded the credit crisis, the Libor Scandal has the potential to rock the pillars of the banking world like nothing I have ever seen before. The average person needs to understand three things about Libor:
1) The manipulation of loans and credit swaps through the Libor interest rate mechanism has allowed big banks to hide the true extend of their incredible debts since the 2008 derivatives implosion. Some mainstream economists are actually calling this a “good thing”, because, according to them, the lie of Libor fooled investors into supporting the markets where they may not have otherwise if they had known the truth. They say the lie “averted Armageddon”. Frankly, this is idiotic. Libor has saved nothing, and the lack of transparency and honesty from corporate banks has only postponed an inevitable calamity which will be even worse now because it was allowed to continue on for years longer than it should have.
2) Barclays and other institutions have claimed that they “had to use Libor fraud”. Why? Because every other major bank used it! Their argument is that they had to lie in order to remain competitive. Even if you buy this rationalization, you have to acknowledge the deeper problem here: Barclays is essentially pointing out that EVERY major bank uses Libor to hide the fact that they are in dire straights. In 2012, the system has openly confessed its own insolvency. You do not need a fortune telling gypsy to predict a major collapse for you; the banks have just told us exactly what is about to happen.
3) Finally, regulators and central banks on both sides of the ocean, from the U.S. to the UK, from the Federal Reserve to the Bank Of England, relent that they KNEW about the Libor fraud being conducted by numerous banks as early as 2008, but kept their mouths shut. This shows not only that central banks have been complicit in financial criminal activities, but governments have played along as well. This fits right in with what I have stated for years:
The economic collapse could not possibly be a “random” event. Its culmination requires the collusion of so many corporate and government entities that it would be foolish to call it anything other than conspiracy.
So, what comes next? According to the path which I predicted back in January, the economy is near a climax event. Perhaps an announcement of QE3 leading to ugly dollar devaluation, perhaps another bankruptcy by a “too big to fail” conglomerate leading to a firestorm in stocks, or perhaps even the exit of certain countries from the EU. Maybe all of this and more. The point is, keep your eyes fixed on the financial sector as we move into fall and winter. There is a bleak harvest on the horizon…
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Off the keyboard of A.G. Gelbert
Why They Work and Fossil & Nuclear Fuels Never Did
The biosphere is the global sum of all ecosystems. It can also be called the zone of life on Earth, a closed (apart from solar and cosmic radiation) and self-regulating system.
This is a “Big Picture” article about energy resources and use by humanity. In the article I question the most basic assumptions that have become “common wisdom” in our culture in regard to the celebrated “cost effectiveness” of fossil and nuclear energy products and the view that renewables are not a suitable replacement due to alleged “low” EROI (Energy Return on Energy Invested – sometimes shown as EROEI in the literature). I even question the assumptions used in the EROI methodolgy for quantifying exothermic chemical processes (how much energy is released when rapid oxidation, otherwise known as an explosion, occurs in a given energy product). I will prove that the EROI methodology is, not simply flawed, but unscientifically skewed to narrowly define energy input and output boundaries so as to favor fossil and nuclear fuels and simultaneously delegitimize renewable energy product cost effectiveness. It is most telling that the EROI documents and discussions at The Oil Drum web site are the ones that first show up when you do an EROI google search for fossil fuels and/or renewables. The claim of scientific objectivity in regard to fossil fuels at a web site called The Oil Drum can only be considered acceptable in a country like ours where the oil and nuclear lobbies control much of the narrative and just about all of the governmental policies energywise. Tell me, dear readers, would you consider taking advice on the efficacy of a vegan diet from the owners of a steak house? Do you think they would celebrate the fact that rice and beans provide a balanced protein intake that covers all essential amino acids? Do you think they would, after you provided evidence of the facts, offer chickpeas, which are equivalent in protein density to meat without the fat, as a replacement for the kiddy burgers?
Chickpeas have 361 calories per 100g, and are a good source of protein containing about 20 percent in content, which is equivalent to meat.
Rice and beans are both nutritious yet inexpensive foods that, when combined, form a complete protein.
Somehow, I think you will agree that the steak house owners are just a tiny bit biased in favor of meat and will attempt to undermine the vegan diet by the following reactions: 1) Ignore it. 2) Ridicule it. 3) Attack it with false propaganda. Provided enough people can be kept in the dark about the benefits to the body and the pocketbook of a vegan diet, the steak house owners and the entire chain of profit generating meat production facilities from raising cattle, hogs and chickens to every fast food burger joint in the country can continue to enjoy the status quo and their profits. I am not a vegetarian. I bring this example to you (remember the time Oprah had to back down on her claim that red meat was bad for you because of the cattle rancher outcry? – She was referring to scientifc studies but the beef industry prevailed anyway – truth be damned when profits are threatened is the predatory capitalist motto) simply because it shows how mendacity is used to defend a bias, regardless of the truth. I will prove here that the same mechanism has corrupted, not only our government energy use, subsidy and research and development grant allocation policies, but the very mathematics used by scientists to define energetic exothermic processes. The Procrustean Bed gaming of the boundaries for the EROI methodology is where we begin. I am not a mathematician but I can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Regardless of the calculus formulas or other advanced mathematics and statistical tools used by the scientists doing the EROI math, I will show that every energy cost they leave out favors the fossil fuel and nuclear energy industries in their flawed EROI comparison with renewables. At the end of the article, after having presented the case which, not simply justifies, but requires a switch to 100% renewables in order to guarantee a viable biosphere, I will point you to some excellent videos from Germany (you have to go to the German web site to see them – they are free but they sell the DVDs of the videos for those who wish to spread the word) where renewables providing power to industrial processes, as well as consumer energy demands, are paving the way to an energy future free of disruptions, price gouging from contrived fuel shortages and price shocks/hikes from wars (mostly contrived as well) and/or speculators. Parts of this article may be a bit boring. Please try to remember that your thorough understanding and use for dissemination of the data here to others out there may enable you, after you verify it’s veracity, to effectively counter some status quo victim of brainwashing in the “follow the herd” school of “that’s how the world works and we just have to live with it” tradition. Your efforts to wade through this and digest it’s contents will, I firmly believe, help attain a sustainable future. An unsustainable world is a world that isn’t “working”. What I want is for it to work.
ENERGY RETURN ON ENERGY INVESTED (EROI or sometimes EROEI)
Procrustean bed is an arbitrary standard to which exact conformity is forced.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrustes Measuring the EROEI of a single physical process is unambiguous, but there is no agreed standard on which activities should be included in measuring the EROEI of an economic process. In addition, the form of energy of the input can be completely different from the output. For example, energy in the form of coal could be used in the production of ethanol. This might have an EROEI of less than one, but could still be desirable due to the benefits of liquid fuels.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_returned_on_energy_investedThis is the general formula: EROEI = Usable Acquired Energy (output) DIVIDED BY Energy Expended (input) The formula appears pretty straightforward, does it not? If you get less energy out than you put in then you will get a number below “1″ (i.e. 1/2 = 0.5 EROI not good, 10/1 = 10.0 EROI good). Since the units in this formula are energy units, let’s define those:
Because energy is defined via work, the SI unit for energy is the same as the unit of work – the joule (J), named in honour of James Prescott Joule and his experiments on the mechanical equivalent of heat. In slightly more fundamental terms, 1 joule is equal to 1 newton-metre and, in terms of SI base units:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Units_of_energy What’s a newton-metre? What are SI units? Don’t worry about it. Anybody that wants to do an in depth discussion in the comments of how scientists came up with the units from observing the heat effect of lots of energetic molecules in a measured volume of some gas, liquid or solid is free to do so. In the meantime, readers only need to remember that more Joules (J) = more energy.
So taken with the “fabulous fossil fuels” are some people out there that they have the audacity to start using “barrel of oil equivalent” and “ton of oil equivalent” to measure energy rather than sticking with Joules (J).
In discussions of energy production and consumption, the units barrel of oil equivalent and ton of oil equivalent are often used.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Units_of_energyTo the credentialed scientists in the EROI study published at The Oil Drum’s credit, they appear to have used Joules and MegaJoules(MJ) in their energy units. Use your own imagination as to how objective it would have looked to claim EROI in ethanol and other renewables is too low in terms of “barrel of oil equivalent” units. Okay, so we’ve decided to use “J” units as the input and output energy units in the EROI formula. How do we know how much energy is in a given measure of gasoline? For you oldy goldies here, do you remember leaded gasoline? Gasoline was goosed (increased octane rating) by adding tetra-ethyl lead. Lead hurt the environment and caused serious health issues and developmental disorders for humans (and surely a lot of animals that were never considered in the studies) so unleaded gasoline became the norm with the lower octane rating. The reason I bring this up is because changes in octane rating change the activation energy needed to start the chemical reaction/explosion. A low octane gasoline technically has more energy than a high octane gasoline does because a lower octane rating requires less energy (lower energy of activation) for the reaction to begin. The energy density per mole in a high octane gasoline is assumed to be lower due to the higher energy of activation. This is a half truth. This half truth is used by the EROI experts to claim ethanol, which has a high octane rating, has a lower EROI than gasolene. Simply changing the compression ratio in an engine to a high compression makes ethanol equivalent in MJ/L to gasoline. But, of course, the Hall study arbitrarily stopped at the octane rating “energy of activation” differences between gasoline and ethanol with zero discussion of high compression engines. That was very convenient for gasoline EROI and very inconvenient for ethanol EROI. Furthermore the Hall study studied oil and “conventional” natural gas together in computing EROI:
Oil and conventional natural gas are usually studied together because they often occur in the same fields, have overlapping production operations and data archiving.
.. authors also estimated through linear extrapolation that the EROI for global oil and conventional natural gas could reach 1:1 as soon as about 2022 given alternative input measurement methods
Sustainability 2011, 3, 1796-1809; doi:10.3390/su3101796 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability The authors of the above study made a reasoned assumption that the energy density per mole of global oil and conventional gas is, for all practical purposes, identical. Though one is a gas and the other a liquid, after processing inputs and putputs with similar infrastructure costs, that appears to be a logical approach. The problem with this approach is that the petroleum industry energy density numbers which predictably apply quite well to hydrocarbons result in bad data (low EROI) when applied to a renewable like ethanol. There was a study done at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory: “BIOMASS AS FEEDSTOCK FOR A BIOENERGY AND BIOPRODUCTS INDUSTRY: THE TECHNICAL FEASIBILITY OF A BILLION-TON ANNUAL SUPPLY”, Perlack, Wright, Turhollow, Graham, Stokes and Erbach – 2005. The conclusion of the Oak Ridge study was that the U.S. could meet at least 30% of its transportation fuel needs from biomass sources by 2030 “…with relatively modest changes in land use and agricultural and forestry practices.”. But the Oak Ridge Laboratory study, assumed, in error, that biofuels (speciﬁcally, ethanol) should be compared to petroleum fuels (speciﬁcally, gasoline) on a heat content basis (e.g. British Thermal Units) when estimating fuel efficiency. The Heat Value of ethanol is 65% of that of gasoline. Almost all researchers on this subject assume that ethanol’s fuel efficiency is 65% of that of gasoline. Even the U.S. Dept. of Energy thinks this is a valid assumption. Perhaps this is because so many of the studies pertaining to biofuels feasibility are done by individuals with economics backgrounds. The property of fuels known as the Octane rating indicates a fuels capacity for being combusted under pressure without pre-igniting. This is of great importance because fuels with higher octane ratings can be burned at higher combustion chamber pressures and produce more power which results in more work output (i.e. miles per gallon) than a fuel with a lower octane rating that cannot be consumed at higher combustion chamber pressures. Ethanol has an octane rating of 115. Gasoline‘s is 93-95 for high test gasoline. This means that ethanol can be burned in a higher compression engine or an engine with combustion chamber pressures boosted using turbocharging or supercharging. The Department of Energy continues to base its estimates of fuel efﬁciency (and greenhouse gas emissions) for ethanol based on the Heat Value of ethanol relative to gasoline. This is entirely in error as it does not recognize the importance of octane rating and the characteristics of the engine the fuel in question is used in. The fact is, ethanol’s higher octane rating than gasoline enables it to be consumed in a higher pressure combustion chamber and obtain comparable (or better) fuel efficiency than that obtained with gasoline. This also means that the estimates of how much of the fuel supply we can meet using ethanol are significantly low. The estimate of the Oak Ridge study assumes ethanol can only achieve fuel efficiency relative to gasoline that is equivalent to ethanol’s “heat value” relative to gasoline’s or 65% of gasoline’s. But in actuality, ethanol used in an engine that takes full advantage of ethanol’s higher octane achieves comparable fuel efficiency to gasoline’s and thus the amount of the fuel supply that can be met with ethanol is not 30% but 46% (1/.65). So, returning to the EROI numbers published by the SUNY ESF study at The Oil Drum, you can see that they are way too low (from 1.29–1.70 ) because they low balled the OUTPUT in Joules of ethanol. Output is the top number on the EROI equation. I refuse to believe that these math wizards over there did not know that ethanol’s higher octane rating would result in equal or greater energy output than gasoline given a proper engine combustion chamber. This was a deliberate attempt to undermine the EROI of the corn ethanol renewable in the service of fossil fuels. The EROI number for sugar cane ethanol (8.0) that Brazil has achieved would be even higher if the output energy was corrected to the level of gasoline in the EROI formula. Furthermore, corn is a really poor choice for biomass because it requires so much energy to prepare the ground, fertilize chemically and harvest. This biomass crop may not have been deliberately set up to fail as a bonafide competitor to gasoline, but it has certainly worked out that way. The precise point where The Oil Drum continues to have it wrong on ethanolis this assumption which totaly ignores the FACT that gasoline ONLY has more useable energy than ethanol if you use it to boil water in a lab! In an internal combustion engine the effective MJ/L difference used to transform heat energy to mechanical energy is NEGLIGIBLE:
“New Perspectives on the Energy Return on (Energy) Investment (EROI) of Corn Ethanol,” Adjusting for the lower energy content of ethanol (21.46 MJ/L etoh vs. 34.56 MJ/L gasoline = 0.62), we calculated that the net energy from ethanol is roughly 0.99 billion ‘‘gasoline-equivalent’’ liters.
http://www.countercurrents.org/murphy100810.htm The actual figure, since ethanol’s high octane rating makes it equivalent to gasoline in an easy to obtain higher pressure combustion chamber in internal combustion engines, should be 34.56 MJ/L as a minimum. I say this because ethanol burns much cleaner than gasoline and reduced costs in simpler catalytic converters (or none at all) for cars would, in a sane world, increase EROI for ethanol from cleaner burning and increased mileage per liter. Now add to this the other biomass crops out there like Lemna minor (Duckweed) that grow 8 times faster than corn with no tilling and cheap harvesting as well as many perennial grasses that can be converted to ethanol and you have an irrefutable argument for replacing gasoline with ethanol. But there’s more. Scientific assumptions about energy release during rapid oxidation are surface or substrate dependent as well as temperature dependent. We all know that when you strike a match, the chemicals on the match head increase to what is called kindling temperature. At the molecular level, what is occurring is that the Oxygen molecules floating around the match head combine with the match head chemicals as soon as they are all expanded (that’s what heat does to them) sufficently to combine. Once the “energy of activation” is achieved, the chemical reaction proceeds at a previously, scientifically measured and predictable rate. Think of it as pushing a boulder off a cliff. You need some exertion (small amount of heat) to get the boulder to begin falling and accelerating at 32 feet per second squared until terminal velocity (air friction prevents further acceleration) is achieved (a lot of heat is produced until it reaches a self sustaining oxidation which then proceeds until all the reactants are oxidized). The “cliff” can be a vertical drop (very explosive) or a gentle slope (slow oxidation with a gradual heat release). Rust is an example of slow oxidation. What I ‘m trying to get across to you is that the fossil and nuclear fuel industry never want to talk about is that the reaction can be slowed down or speeded up by controllling the distance from each other and distribution of more molecules of the fuel and oxygen. You can also introduce a catalyst which reduces the energy needed to “push” the “boulder” off the “cliff”. This means you need less heat to get the reaction going. In this case you end up with a higher energy output for a given amount of input. Surely you see how this can affect the EROI formula. But once again zero attention is paid to any renewables using catalysts to increase the energy output by these EROI studies. No, the standard everything must be measured from some thermodynamic straight jacket for a given simple exothermic rapid oxydation. This is ridiculous. But it makes criticizing the current fossil fuel and nuclear paradigm difficult because the numbers are quite accurate for hydrocarbons and also nuclear fission heat release. If a more scientifically broad view of thermodynamics in exothermic processes was embraced, the EROI formulation would have to be modified to favor the separate, but slower energy producing processes of e.g. biomass products from crops that are presently considered waste. The added energy input from using all of the crop for, not just ethanol, but heat from “waste” would raise the EROI. The mono mania with a long hydrocarbon chain like petroleum has pushed the “experts” into always attempting to discard multiprocess approaches to determining EROI for one crop. I don’t think it’s because they can’t count to two or three; I think it is because of fossil and nuclear fuel bias. These people are not stupid; they are compromised by the EROI Procrustean Bed that arbitrarily has excluded inputs that lower fossil and nuclear fuel EROI and included outputs that raise it. I have mentioned only fossil fuels in regard to the gaming of the EROI but nuclear fuel is a far more blatent example.
The SUNY ESF study summarized the EROI of nuclear power from previous studies . The review concludes that the most reliable information is still from Hall et al.’s  summary of an EROI of about 5–8:1 (with a large part of the variability depending upon whether the electricity is corrected for quality), and that the newer studies appear either too optimistic or pessimistic with reported EROIs of up to almost 60:1, to as low as even less than 1:1.
Sustainability 2011, 3, 1796-1809; doi:10.3390/su3101796 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Since nuclear fuel has a foot in the grave and another on a banana peel, I won’t spend much time on it except to say that the EROI is a blatent falsehood. That nuclear fuel EROI can be 1.0 or higher is pure fantasy. In order to run a nuclear reactor, you need to build and insure it. These costs can certainly be converted to energy inputs but are excluded from nuclear EROI. The energy required to store used nuclear fuel rod waste and other nuclear waste generated at the plant and keep it from overheating or contaminating the environment for centuries is not included in the EROI either. Then there’s the energy to mine, concentrate and mill the uranium followed by manufacturing the fuel assemblies with multiple rods and the uranium pellets in them. Nope, not included. The day to day operation of the nuclear plant is included, period. This is ridiculous. Add to that the energy used in cleaning up nuclear pollution and you have an energy black hole combined with a horror story in negative health impact to the population. Finally, there are many studies that have clearly proven that the uranium fuel cycle is not carbon neutral so any attempt to claim nuclear power plants are “green” and CO2 free energy sources is a pure fiction.
A big 1,250 megawatt plant produces the equivalent of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year during its life.
What about gas fracking energy costs? I ask you all reading this who just watched the above video, how do the EROI experts, like the one I had some trouble with when I complained (Stoneleigh – this means you) that she left out aquifer poisoning in her EROI calculations, separate the science from the emotion? How can these people fall back on a formula that so narrowly defines energy inputs and outputs that they can blithely ignore the energy costs of cleaning up aquifers and dispensing health care to cancer victims? WTF is wrong with these people? The article I complained about on unconventional fuels not being a game changer was an insult to the intelligence of any thinking human being that knows anything about gas fracking. Don’t let anyone tell you that gas fracking has an EROI of 1.0 or better. It’s another Procrustean Bed fabrication. Gas fracking is an obsenity.
Alongside the growth in drilling, reports of fouled water, bad odors and health complaints also have increased. In the few places where basic environmental sampling has been done, the results confirm that water and air pollution are present in the same regions where residents say they are getting sick. Last spring, the EPA doubled its estimates of methane gas leaked from drilling equipment and said the amount of methane pollution that billows from fracking operations was 9,000 times higher than researchers had previously thought.
In Colorado, the ATSDR sampled air for pollutants at 14 sites for a 2008 report, including on Susan Wallace-Babb’s property. Fifteen contaminants were detected at levels the federal government considers above normal. Among them were the carcinogens benzene, tetrachloroethene and 1,4-dichlorobenzene. The contamination fell below the thresholds for unacceptable cancer risk, but the agency called it cause for concern and suggested that as drilling continued, it could present a possible cancer risk in the future. Even at the time of the sampling, the agency reported, residents could be exposed to large doses of contaminants for brief “peak” periods.
http://www.propublica.org/article/science-lags-as-health-problems-emerge-near-gas-fieldsHow did we get this fracking nightmare besides the spineless lackeys that do happy EROI calculations for gas fracking? In the video above these frontmen for predatory capitalism were mentioned: Hill & Knowlton. They are famous for the Tabacco commercials in the 50s. Nothing has changed. Fracking and the Gas & Oil Industry
In 2009, members of ANGA (America’s Natural Gas Alliance), a lobbying organization for the gas industry, spread $80 million in funds across several agencies that included Hill & Knowlton to try to influence decisions on the process of gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing Similar to the strategy used for the pro-cigarette campaigns run in the 50s and 60s, the tactic the company is using for the issue is to simply raise doubt in the public’s mind about the dangers of the fracking process.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_%26_KnowltonDo any of these EROI experts figure what the following does to EROI numbers for fossil fuels or is this more stuff that doesn’t fit in the Procrustean Bed?
Duke Energy CEO Bill Johnson resigns after one day, gets $44 million in severance For his eight-hour tenure as top dog at Duke, Bill Johnson made a cool $44.4 million.
http://grist.org/news/duke-ceo-bill-johnson-resigns-after-one-day-gets-44-million-in-severance/I haven’t mentioned the tar sands EROI but these “unconventional oil resources” are estimated by Professor Charles Hall to be abot 5.0 or less. Try a lot less, professor; less than 1.0 when all the energy costs in cleaning up the horrible mess they are creating in Canada come due. Oh yeah, you don’t include that in the formula, do you? What about those huge EROI numbers (up to 100.0!) that the EROI experts claim were the norm in fossil fuels when oil was easy to get out of the ground and you didn’t have to destroy so much land and lop off mountain tops to get to the coal? Yeah, the EROI experts lament all these added MJ/L of energy inputs needed these days and celebrate the good old days. Those were the days before automobiles when Rockefeller would flush his waste (gasoline, among other refinery poisons) products from refining into the rivers at night. Those were the days well into the early 20th century when coal miners worked for slave wages and suffered from myriad lung diseases. Those were the days when miners got shot for wanting to work in decent conditions with decent pay. Those were the days that the heat energy overload on the biosphere began and the CO2 pollution began in earnest. I firmly believe that the huge EROI numbers for early fossil fuel of nearly 100 are inaccurate because many energy input costs, energy extracted from the public in form of subsidies and handed to oil corporations, energy to build infrastructure and energy to care for an increasingly sickened population from fossil fuel pollution as well as energy to clean polluted lands was, right from the start, offloaded from the fossil fuel balance sheets and on to we-the-people. Fossil fuels were never cost effective. The captains of industry stifled renewables in their infancy in the late 19th century. Writers, even back then, were discussing the possiblity of clean and renewable energy from electrolysis of water to use hydrogen as fuel. Sure, the technology needed to be refined and developed but the subsidy money went to oil. There was a real interest in electrification through renewables. Cleveland had wind generators in the late 19th century. Scranton, the town incorporated as a city of 35,000 in 1866 that is now facing bankruptcy from financial shenanigans of predatory capitalism, became known as the electric city in 1880. Electric trolleys were all the rage in many U.S. cities. Had these avenues been pursued, we would not be saddled with this polluted world. Now, despite the flawed EROI methodolgy which produces numbers above 1.0 for fossil and nuclear fuels, some people in the engineering field are waking up to the fact that the writing is on the EROI wall for them and renewables are the future.
Our society faces the colossal challenge of rapidly developing alternative energy sources that generate sufficient surplus energy to replace fossil fuels. Otherwise, material standards of living will decline – beginning with those of poorer people – as ever more resources have to be devoted to generating useful energy rather than to producing other goods and services. EROI figures indicate that the future lies in renewables like wind and solar, not unconventional hydrocarbons.
http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/energy-return-on-energy-invested-2012-06-15 So, to summarize all the above, the following “Energy Expended” inputs (the bottom part of the EROI formula*) have been arbitrarily left out by those EROI experts like Professor Charles Hall and the people from The Oil Scum (sorry, I meant the Oil Drum – really) web site: 1) Energy required to bioremediate pollution impacts from energy resource extraction. 2) Energy required to ameliorate negative health effects due to dangerous working conditions. 3) Energy required to counter negative effects on national GDP from slave wages. 4) Energy expended in wars to defend fossil fuel resources in foreign countries. 5) Energy equivalent in government subsidies taken from the populace and given to fossil and nuclear fuel producers. * If you get less energy out (top of the formula) the than you use to get the finished product (bottom of the formula) then you will get a number below “1″ (i.e. 1/2 = 0.5 EROI not good). Procrustean bed is an arbitrary standard to which exact conformity is forced.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrustes The Procrustean bed “real world” of these experts is, and always was, a predatory capitalist, destructive and inhuman contrived “world” that they and all the lackeys that have benefited at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the human race and the biosphere cling desperately too by claiming it’s “the way the world works and we just have to live with it”. No, (Ashvin, Stoneleigh and Ilargi: pay attention) that is not “the way the world works”; That is “how a predatory capitalist con works”. Any mathematician worth his salt can, given a standard upstream and downstream time frame from energy extraction of e.g. ten years before and ten years after, quantify all the above Energy Expended Inputs in Mega Joules per Liter. But because that would shrink the EROI numbers for all fossil and nuclear fuels to a fraction of 1, well below any justification there ever was for making use of these poisons, they won’t do it. Furthermore the improper use and interpretation of thermodynamics by arbitrarily assuming that things that go boom (rapid explosive oxidation) are the gold standard in defining energy per se, they have made important “energy of activation” and “reaction velocity” variables seem irrelevant. The science of hydrocarbon chemistry and nuclear fission benefits from this flawed view that the more HEAT density in an exothermic process, the greater the potential EROI. That’s certainly true with hydrocarbons and nuclear fuels. That is NOT true with renewables. The best example I can think of is the internal combustion engine. The purpose of this machine is to use the energy of the explosions in the combustion chambers to drive a piston and produce mechanical energy. An electric motor produces mechanical enegy without wasting over 80% of the energy input on useless heat. The internal combustion engine, not only loses massive amounts of heat energy in the burning of fuel, but also must use part of the mechanical energy from the combustion to cool the engine. The EROI experts will certainly acknowledge that an internal combustion engine is only about 20% efficient but they flat refuse to see that the electric motor, because it doesn’t produce all that useless heat energy, can do the SAME AMOUNT OF WORK FOR LESS ENERGY. They may counter that I’m playing thermodynamic games here and the electricity to power the electric motor is coming from a fossil fuel or nuclear power plant so I’m just passing the energy buck, so to speak. Again, that shows the prejudice of these EROI experts to polluting fuel sources. In the subsequent paragraphs I will show how world electrification complete with electric motors being the motive force in industry and transportation, can achieve exactly the same amount of “useful work” (at a minimum) now produced by fossil fuels with less energy inputs because the resource is PV, geothermal, wind and wave. You would NOT have all the useless heat energy now contributing to an overheated planet. Along with all the CO2 and other greenhouse gases, we sure don’t need billions of engines spewing 80% useless heat energy into the biosphere. Combustion has it’s place with the use of ethanol in furnaces to provide heat in winter where ALL the heat energy output is made use of. Biomass ethanol used as fuel in high compression engines should be seen as a step in weening us away from gasoline but the whole approach to energy systems that is married to the “more heat is is better forever!” view is scientifically bankrupt because it refuses to address the damage to the biosphere that waste heat imposes. As I said in a previous article, nature paces living energy systems with enzymes that lower the energy of activation and control the biochemical reactions to avoid overheating living tissue. It’s high time the EROI experts accepted that the future lies in an energy extraction paradigm that does not go boom (explosive, rapid oxidation). We need, for our very survival, to use direct and indirect solar and geothermal energy in a manner so fine tuned that there is zero waste heat. We need to electrify all mechanical energy systems and provide them with electricity from renewable and truly efficient, non explosive energy processes.
Let us now see what our global energy requirements are and how renewables can satisfy them. Remember that our new paradigm has a huge energy debt from all the pollution caused by fossil and nuclear fuels, the chemical industry pollution and many dirty industrial processes. Even as we begin to power the world cleanly, we will need to be expending a LOT of Mega Joules per Liter to bioremediate the mess the dirty fuel industries have left us with. Note: The EROI reference below is stated as EROEI but it is the same thing. The “10:1″ number convention is a way of stating an EROI of 10.0 with a reference value of “1″ as signifying that 1.0 EROI equals equivalent inputs and outputs. All the EROI numbers I have mentioned previously have the “:1″ implied after the number so I have simply left them out.
Given the strong dependence of current technologically advanced economies on oil, Peak Oil may be a distress for entire economic sectors (Hamilton, 2009) if no alternative primary energy is made available during the next decades to take the place of fossil fuels (Hirsch et al., 2005). In a recent report, Heinberg (2009) defined four conditions that a future primary energy source substitute should satisfy: i. must be able to provide a substantial amount of energy— perhaps a quarter of all the energy currently used nationally or globally; ii. must have an Energy Return on Energy Investment (EROEI) of 10:1 or above (see Appendix A); iii. cannot have unacceptable environmental (including climate), social or geopolitical impacts; iv. must be renewable. Moreover, as discussed in this manuscript, an additional requirement must be also considered: v. Must not depend on the exploitation and use of scarce materials.
The above authors are being too conservative. As of this writing, renewables already are at 19% of the global energy pie and that information is probaly somewhat dated due to the several month lag on data collection. Because renewable use and their technical efficiency is constantly increasing through added infrastructure and research and development, while fossil and nuclear fuels are in a state where their EROI numbers, even by the gamed formula standards, are heading below 1.0, the renewable percentage of the energy pie will probably increase exponentially, rather than linearly. The fact that renewables, in the early studies nearly a decade ago, had a mere 1% of the global energy pie is strong evidence that the growth is exponential. For those pathetic, parochial clingers to the status quo ante who arrogantly dismiss renewables and their 10.0 PLUS EROIs with the claim that renewables are a mere drop in the world energy bucket, I suggest you get some metaphorical floatation gear because there is a renewable tsunami coming. Let us now return to the world energy requirements study and how renewables can fill the gap:
All combined, these authors assume that only 11.5 TW (the 68% of the total mean power) should be produced by the renewable mix to satisfy the 2030 demand of an electrified society. This is close to the 2010 production of 12.5 TW. Current electric generation is only 2 TW, so a six-fold increase is required.
The potential primary power sources that remain after this first screening process are wind and concentrating solar thermal (CSP) devices. Besides, the engineering of both technologies is well known and understood and do not actually depend on rare earth elements (REE) and/or scarce materials.
2.1. Wind, water and solar proven technologies Windmills of 3–5 MW are being currently built and installed; this is a proven technology in expansion.The EROEI of wind turbines has been estimated in the range 15:1–40:1 (Kubiszewski and Cleveland, 2007). The capacity factor (CF, i.e. the ratio of the power actually produced to the theoretical maximum) of commercial turbines has improved overtime, from 0.22 for units built before 1998, to 0.30 for units in 2000–2001, and 0.36 for those operating after 2004–2005 (US DOE, 2008, p.27). The EROEI of CSP stations is close to 20:1 (Vant-Hull, 1985). Parabolic trough stations are more extended and proven CSP technology.
From now to 2030, plausible technology developments would permit colonising continental shelves up to 225 m depth with both founded and floating offshore windmills. In addition, two hybrid wind-wave systems could enhance the yield and power stability of offshore wind turbines: (i)attaching attenuator floaters at the base of windmills and (ii)deploying floating platforms with attenuators at the base and wind turbines above. An example of this technology is the Green Ocean Energy Ltd. prototype of 0.5MW (see: http://www.greenoceanenergy.com/index.php/wave-treader). Another example of attenuators is the Pelamis floaters, from Ocean Power Delivery Ltd. (Drewetal., 2009), which generate 0.75 MW with a 120 m long device. An example of the second approach is the Floating Power Plant prototype (see: http://www.floatingpowerplant.com/), designed to produce 10 MW, 56% from waves and 44% from three windmills.
Notice the use of hybrid energy systems to increase efficiency of energy collection. This is a giant paradigm shift from the mono mania that the fossil and nuclear fuel industries pursue with their “one size fits all” approach to the detriment of the environment (this inefficient approach to energy extraction also simplifies EROI math. ). Fossil and nuclear fuel advocates hate hybrid energy extraction techniques. I guess it confuses them or perhaps their predatory capitalist mindset is too consumed by monopolising one energy source in order to achieve price control and then squelch competitors. Whatever their flawed rationale, their modus operandi is unsustainable. Snippet 5;
The three main advantages of hybrid installations are: increased energy return per square kilometre; reduction of maintenance costs of equipments and undersea transmission cables; and compensation of wind generation intermittency, as wind and waves are not necessarily correlated (with the exception of storms).
Fig. 2. Annual average (July 1983–June 2005) of incident insolation on a horizontal surface in kWh/m2/day. Data downloaded from the NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy site (SSE, http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/sse/, release 6.0). Grey and blue dots have twice the real areas occupied by the CSP stations to improve the readability of the figure (see text for details). White lines represent main distribution grid lines. The length scale corresponds to latitude 45°N. (For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
The above jpg shows where we will get much of our energy from renewables. As you all know, the sun, directly or indirectly, is our energy power source. We now have the technology, even in it’s infancy as to achievable levels of efficiency, that is proven, durable and being installed in the high renewable energy extraction potential points throughout the globe. This is no pipe dream; this is real, practical and happening, unfortunately, for financial reasons (cheap reliable energy free of price shocks) rather than our desperate global climate situation killing various lifeforms in our biosphere at an increasing rate. But even if it’s just being done for profit, my attitutde is, “Any Port In The Environmental Collapse Storm”. If the profit motive is needed to have a sane energy extraction standard, so be it. This is a table of the proposed Energy infrastructure: Snippet 6:
|Type||Power fraction(%)||Capacity factor||Rated power (MW)||Units|
|Stirling plants/air cooled CSP||28||0.25||300||50,460|
|Parabolic Stations, 12 h storage||12||0.4-0.75||300||9800|
Table 1-Energy production mix proposed
Fig. 1. Annual average of wind speed at 50 m above the surface of the Earth in m/s. Data downloaded from the NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy site (SSE, http://eosweb.larc.nasa.gov/sse/, release 5.0). Light blue, blue and dark blue correspond to regions where the wind speeds are in the ranges 6–8 m/s, 8–10 m/s and >10 m/s, respectively. The red line delineates the 200 m isobath, representing the continental shelf.(For interpretation of the references to colour in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.) A. Garcı´a-Olivares etal./EnergyPolicy41(2012)561–574 563
In addition to hybrid systems, other techniques are being proposed for power consistency: 2.4. Intermittency constraints The unwelcome power variability associated with renewable sources may be mitigated by: (i) geographical interconnection (Zhou, 2009); (ii) use of hydroelectric power to smooth out supply (Czisch and Giebel, 2006); (iii) using reversible Electrical Vehicle (EV) recharging as grid storage (Kempton and Tomic, 2005); (iv) using other electric storage systems, as for example, water pumping, air compression, batteries, hydrogen production and storage and (v) using smart demand-response management and weather prediction to better match inflexible loads to the power supply (Delucchi and Jacobson,2011).
http://www.imedea.uib-csic.es/master/cambioglobal/Modulo_1_03/Ballabrera_Diciembre_2011/Articulos/Garcia-Olivares.2011.pdfThe study referenced above is thorough. So thorough that it lists every metal used in the energy infrastructure today as well as their uses in wind turbines, PV and CSP to list a few. They even project when these metals will be exhausted at current extraction rates. They warn that the renewable solution requires a steady state economy and not the continuous growth paradigm of capitalism and energy extraction corporations. In other words, it’s time to stop being pigs. We live in a finite world and pretending otherwise for environmental rape and predatory capitalist profits threatens human society and the biosphere. Yes, we can go full renewable and meet today’s total energy demands. Full electrification will reduce the unusable heat polluting the atmosphere from inefficient internal combustion engines that must go the way of the Dodo bird. The savings from newfound efficiencies with renewables will provide some limited room for growth in addition to a lower overall energy load for exactly the same mechanical energy previously used to run civilization because renewables don’t produce massive wastes in heat energy at all steps of the extraction and use process that fossil fuel and nuclear energy products do. Where I disagree with the authors is on their insistence that the renewable energy sources must be scalable. I believe that scalabilty of an energy source, unless it is a government utility (i.e. fully socialized and non-profit), will lead to unscrupulous short cuts and new externalized costs for the populace for the benefit of private power corporations. The promise of renewables must go hand in hand with decentralized power sources. The authors recognized PV panels could make a huge contribution but did not consider them cheap enough yet and voiced concerns with the future availability of the somewhat rare metals used to make them. This issue is being addressed and overcome so I believe the authors will be pleasantly surprised with the massive contribution PV will make to the total picture. The authors discarded alleged low EROI renewables for consideration because of their scalability bias. As I stated early in this article, biomass ethanol, if properly used, has an EROI of at least that of gasoline without the environmental baggage of gasoline. And other biomass products like Lemna minor (Duckweed), that grow eight times faster than corn without heavy industrial chemical fertilization or pesticides will certainly produce EROI numbers far above 10.0. Passive geothermal (also discarded by the authors because it isn’t scalable) and other renewable heat sources such as e.g. placing mirrors a short distance from the north side of house in winter to reflect sun onto the north facing wall to drastically lower heating costs will play a very important role in the picture of total sustainability. In addition, decentralized renewable energy infrastructure provides jobs, not in the feast or famine pattern of ethics free, dog eat dog, vicious predatory capitalist “business” model, but in a sustainable, predictable and humane way. While we are busy bioremediating all the damage Rockefeller and the nuclear nuts have saddled us with, we will be dealing with violent and unpredictable weather for a century or more. Decentralized renewable energy infrastructure has the added bonus that it provides resiliency to communities in the event of a disaster because “something” is always going to be working and neighbors with some working renewable energy infrastructure will be able to help those without access to energy. Embracing sustainability is embracing a caring society and rejecting the mindless and destructive wars and erosion of trust that is destroying our civilization from the evil wrought by corporations and the psychopaths that run them. We must reject these human predators who constantly pit everyone against their neighbor for profit. There are still so many goodhearted, thinking people out there that take the stewardship of this planet seriously. We can do so much to live in harmony with the biosphere if we could only constrain the insanely greedy psychopaths among us. Just look at the beauty and harmony with nature we are capable of:
Germany is the world leader in turning the dream of a world 100% powered by renewable energy sources into a reality. I invite you now to proceed to this German web site and watch the following free videos. These videos are not about proof of concept or pilot programs. These videos are about nuts and bolts applications going on today. To show you how fast things are changing, the largest wind turbine available that is referenced in the above study about a year old has already been increased by over 1MW in energy generating capacity. The switch to renewables is really happening and these videos prove it: There are five videos. They are all immensely enjoyable and filled with details of interest about several renewable energy technologies but if you are rushed for time, the last one on Wind Energy does a good job of putting them all together. Those new Wind turbines are BIG! When you click on the link below, scroll to the following sentence:
Watch the film online! If you are interested in watching the Spanish or French version please change the language-option of this website.
Below that sentence you can click and watch each video, one at a time. I recommend you watch them in sequence from top to bottom as they are listed. You won’t be disappointed.
Solar energy Hydropower Geothermal energy Bioenergy Wind energy
I hope you have enjoyed this article. I am certain there are some people out there clinging to the status quo ante that will not be pleased. What will be the reaction from people with vested interests in the fossil and nuclear fuel bankrupt paradigm be? See the beginning of the article for the reaction of the Steak House restaurant owners to replacing the kiddy burgers with chickpeas. So prepare for the ignore, ridicule and attack sequence. The “Steak House” owners are not about to change their name to “Chickpea Heaven” or something like that. But, if all these people so invested in the horror that is fossil and nuclear fuels would sit down and really think that what they are doing will eventually kill their descendants and much of the biosphere, then “The Oil Drum” web site would morf to “Sustainability From The Sun” web site. And maybe dear Professor Charles Hall and friends would stop their Procrustean Bed mathematics celebrating things that go boom and denigrating passive sustainable renewable energy processes that don’t. A big thank you to the Doomstead Diner web site and those that work it and comment on it. like Reverse Engineer (alias Josey Wales!) and Peter who designed an outstanding forum and thread architecture. Print this and plaster it everywhere you can. The planet Earth is our home and we need to do everything we can to save it. Challenge the deniers to argue the points made here. Demand proof rather than some huffy dismissal about not understanding the laws of thermodynamics, capitalism or free enterprise. Ask them how many Mega Joules per Liter will we expend in dealing with THEIR “GIFT” TO US of 400 parts per million of CO2, increased cancer rates, excess heat from internal combustion engines that are only about 20% efficient, erosion of democracy through monopoly oil corporation price control and purchase of of our representatives and laws and useless wars that get our children killed for their GOD DAMNED profits (no, I am not swearing; I am certain the creator is not amused by humans trashing his garden or those who, like some poor deluded souls, claim that this is the way the world works and we just have to live with it). And tell them to stuff it when they say we-the-people are responsible because we consumed their products. If they return all the profits and swag from subsidies made by big oil and nuclear, then we’ll consider that possibility but otherwise it was THEY who corralled us into consuming their crap so they could centralize riches and power and turn the USA into a plutocracy ruled by ruthless oligarchs. Call them cowards for drinking the koolaid. Force them to face responsibility for ruining the future for their offspring with ther blindness and greed. When the Biased Bums at The Oil Scum claim you don’t know what you are talking about when you claim that ethanol (otherwise known as ethyl alcohol) is a superior fuel to gasoline because it gets better mileage in high compression engines and burns cleaner translating to a GREATER effective EROI than gasoline, push this into their face and ask them why they never got the memo:
Ethyl alcohol in the early 20th century The following excerpt is from a Paper to the American Society for Environmental History, Annual Conference March 26-30, 2003 By William Kovarik, Ph.D. “Studies of alcohol as an internal combustion engine fuel began in the U.S. with the Edison Electric Testing Laboratory and Columbia University in 1906. Elihu Thomson reported that despite a smaller heat or B.T.U. value, “a gallon of alcohol will develop substantially the same power in an internal combustion engine as a gallon of gasoline. This is owing to the superior efficiency of operation…” (New York Times Aug. 5, 1906) Other researchers confirmed the same phenomena around the same time. “USDA tests in 1906 also demonstrated the efficiency of alcohol in engines and described how gasoline engines could be modified for higher power with pure alcohol fuel or for equivalent fuel consumption, depending on the need. The U.S. Geological Service (USGS) and the U.S. Navy performed 2000 tests on alcohol and gasoline engines in 1907 and 1908 in Norfolk, Va. and St. Louis, Mo. They found that much higher engine compression ratios could be achieved with alcohol than with gasoline. When the compression ratios were adjusted for each fuel, fuel economy was virtually equal despite the greater B.T.U. value of gasoline. “In regard to general cleanliness, such as absence of smoke and disagreeable odors, alcohol has many advantages over gasoline or kerosene as a fuel,” the report said. “The exhaust from an alcohol engine is never clouded with a black or grayish smoke.” USGS continued the comparative tests and later noted that alcohol was “a more ideal fuel than gasoline” with better efficiency despite the high cost.”
Ethanol Engine efficiency exceeds gasoline engines, giving greater miles per gallon (MPG) with ethanol fuel: High Efficiency and Low Emissions from a Port-Injected Engine with Alcohol Fuels— By Matthew Brusstar, Mark Stuhldreher, David Swain and William Pidgeon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency size: 70 Kb – 7 pages
http://www.epa.gov/otaq/presentations/sae-2002-01-2743-v2.pdfWhen they fall back on the EROI formula Procrustean Bed with the claim that EROI only deals with energy density in fuels and not efficiency coefficients in different engine types, calmly remind them (hopefully, two by fours will be unnecessary to knock some sense into their heads but you never know) that gasoline is not customarily used for furnaces, room lighting, barbeque grills or to boil water; it’s used almost exclusively in the ICE (internal combustion engine). For these fossil fuel lakeys, water carriers and quislings to refuse to measure gasoline’s EFFECTIVE USABLE ENERGY when it is actually used in an ICE to do work is the height of duplicity. But this subterfuge by Rockefeller’s admirers is not new. As I have mentioned before, way back at the end of the 19th century, Rockefeller was flushing his gasoline waste product in the rivers by his refineries at night. He could not avoid producing gasoline in his refinery cracking towers (about 19 gallons of gasoline for every 42 gallon barrel of crude refined)*. When the automobile came out in the early twentieth century, the early car fuel called benzene had to be eliminated because that hydrocarbon is a carcinogenic. As you read above in the 1906 Edison lab study, ethanol was considered competitive energywise with gasoline. What did Rockefeller do? He lowered the price of gasoline (remember his cost was near zero because it had been a waste product of the refining process) so much that ethanol was priced out of the market**. It was a win-win for Rockefeller. It was only a matter of time before his nasty habit of flushing gasoline into rivers at night was going to get him and his refinery employees facing the wrong end of a shotgun from some irate farmer who noticed his horses and cows getting sick or dying when drinking the river water downstream of an oil refinery. So Rockefeller managed to change the flush operation from the rivers to the atmosphere and make a bundle out of it too. But this predatory capitalist wasn’t done killing ethanol yet. He gave millions to a temperance group that ultimately succeeded in Prohibition legislation banning the production and use of ethanol (ethyl alcohol), not just for drinking, but for ICE fuel as well (and you thought Prohibition was just the fundies not wanting you to get high on booze. Rockefeller USED the fundies to block ethanol competition). The reality was that the “cheap” gasoline was far, far more expensive than ethanol due to the atmospheric poisons introduced. It got even worse when tetra-ethyl lead entered the mix in the 1920s. It wasn’t until about 1973 that the severe damage from leaded gasoline was recognized and even so, to this day, unleaded gasoline is not mandatory in off road vehicles. Now that ethanol is out there and available once again as a competitor to gasoline, the fossil fuel enablers return with the familiar FALSE claims that ethanol is not competitive with gasoline and the poppycock that gasoline gets better mileage than ethanol. Call out these overeducated, Procrustean Bed, creative thermodynamics “geniuses” carrying water for the fossil fuel industry on their lies and distortions. Accuse them of being well aware of the above and deliberately distorting the fuel facts when they are actually applied to their use in engines. Tell them their Procrustean Bed EROI Bullshit isn’t going to fly anymore.
*On average, about 19.5 US gallons (16.2 imp gal; 74 L) of gasoline are available from a 42-US-gallon (35 imp gal; 160 L) barrel of crude oil (about 46% by volume), varying due to quality of crude and grade of gasoline. The remaining residue comes off as products ranging from tar to naptha.
**The gasoline engine became the preferred engine for the automobile because gasoline was cheaper than alcohol, not because it was a better fuel. And, because alcohol was not available at any price from 1920 to 1933, a period during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol was banned nationally as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment on December 5, 1933. In time to produce alcohol fuels during World War II. By the time World War II ended, the gasoline engine had become “entrenched” because gasoline remained cheaper than Alcohol, and widely distributed – gas stations were everywhere.
http://www.americanenergyindependence.com/alcoholengines.aspx Tell anybody with fried logic circuits that claims this is “the way the world works” that the REAL WORLD, not the predatory capitalist hell hole they so love, is the BIOSPHERE. That world has a set of rules and, for most of our human existence on this planet, we followed them. For over a century and a half, a level of insanity not seen in human history has produced a greed fest so blind, so stupid and so incorrigible that it can only be labelled what it is: EVIL. Fossil and nuclear fuel advocates and their pseudo scientific Procrustean Bed EROI happy number formulations NEVER WORKED. The backers of these poisoned energy sources lied about absolutely everything related to their extraction and use from day one and they are lying through their teeth now to sabotage the truth about renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy sources are practical, sustainable and healthy for the planet and humans. Fossil and nuclear fuels have brought us pollution, wars and corrupted democracy.
Renewable energy sources WORK! Fossil and Nuclear Fuels NEVER DID.
Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Edvard Beneš was born into a peasant family in the small town of Kožlany, Bohemia, ca. 60 km west of Prague. … He spent much of his youth in Vinohrady district of Prague, where he attended a grammar school from 1896 to 1904. During this time he played football for Slavia Prague. After studies at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague, he left for Paris and continued his studies at the Sorbonne and at the Independent School of Political and Social Studies (École Libre des Sciences Politiques). He completed his first degree in Dijon, where he received his Doctorate of Laws in 1908. Then he taught for three years at the Prague Academy of Commerce, and after his habilitation in the field of philosophy in 1912, he became a lecturer in sociology at Charles University.
During World War I, Beneš was one of the leading organizers of an independent Czechoslovakia abroad. He organized a Czech pro-independence anti-Austrian secret resistance movement called “Maffia”. In September, 1915, he went into exile where in Paris he made intricate diplomatic efforts to gain recognition from France and the United Kingdom for the Czechoslovak independence movement, as he was from 1916–1918 a Secretary of the Czechoslovak National Council in Paris and Minister of the Interior and of Foreign Affairs within the Provisional Czechoslovak government.
From 1918–1935, Beneš was first and the longest serving Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia, and from 1920–1925 and 1929–1935 a member of the Parliament. He represented Czechoslovakia in talks of the Treaty of Versailles. In 1921 he was a professor and also from 1921–1922 Prime Minister. Between 1923–1927 he was a member of the League of Nations Council (serving as president of its committee from 1927–1928). He was a renowned and influential figure at international conferences, such as Genoa 1922, Locarno 1925, The Hague 1930, and Lausanne in 1932.
Beneš was a member of the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party (until 1925 called Czechoslovak Socialist Party) and a strong Czechoslovakist – he did not consider Slovaks and Czechs to be separate ethnicities.
In 1935, Beneš succeeded Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk as President. He opposed Nazi Germany’s claim to the German-speaking so-called Sudetenland in 1938. In October, the Sudeten Crisis brought Europe on the brink of war, which was averted only as France and Great Britain signed the Munich Agreement, which allowed for the immediate annexation and military occupation of the Sudetenland by Germany.
Neither Beneš nor any member of the Czecho-slovak government was permitted to attend the conference where the little country was sacrificed to Hitler and his mad men. The Euro-powers England and France were unprepared for war, they overestimated Hitler’s readiness and demurred. Czecho-slovakia was sacrificed to buy goods that could not be had: peace or greater preparedness. Out of recession and deleveraging of the 1930s, no country had anything but a transient material advantage over the others.
What emerged instead was a contest of institutional restraints, or between restraints on one part versus their absence on the other. There was the high-minded rationalization on the part of the powers versus the total absence of same on the part of the Germans. The German strategic advantage was set in high relief in Munich by Germany’s reasonable and well-intended adversaries. To outmaneuver whatever obstacles Germany might encounter on its path to geographic empire it had only to react to restraint as if it was acknowledgement of fatal weakness. The Germans would demand everything, to threaten annihilation otherwise, to exceed all limits, to put its army on wheels so that it might be turned loose in all directions, to massacre without conscience … to be unorthodox in all things or appear to be so. To be modern, in other words: restraint was prissy and old-fashioned, bourgeois and incompetent. According to German doctrine, there was to be no place in the modern world for anachronistic little duchies and principalities … Negotiations and conferences existed only to produce surrender documents.
After Munich, restraint was synonymous with cowardice and appeasement along with the word ‘Munich’ itself. Hitler was outraged that the appeasement had cost him a war that he was sure Germany would win.
Neville Chamberlain, British ambassador Neville Henderson, German foreign minister Ribbentrop and Hitler at Munich. By 1946 all of these men were dead, all of the European countries and their economies were destroyed.
Sudetenland was handed over immediately after the Munich Accord, announced with fanfare, the rest of the country was annexed by Germany and Hungary within six months. The accord offering ‘Peace in our time’ was not worth the paper it was written on, like so much else within modernity, it was a another false ‘tomorrow promise’.
After Munich, Beneš fled into exile in Britain, after the war he was part of a brief independent Czech government that was eventually undermined by the Soviets in 1948.
Right now ‘Munich 2.0′ spools out right under everyone’s noses: the Spanish public is sold into the abyss by the feckless government seeking to buy a little time. Like the Czechs and Slovaks in 1938, the people have nothing to say about their own fate … which is determined in the shadows by unrestrained and unaccountable mad men (Telegraph):
Prime minister Mariano Rajoy explains the surrender of Spain to the Anglo-American banking cabal in front of the Spanish Parliament, admits draconian terms demanded by EU financiers. Photo: AFP
Debt crisis: Spain bows to EU ultimatum with drastic cuts
Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy has raised VAT sharply in a humiliating volte-face and pushed through €65bn (£51bn) of drastic austerity measures to comply with a European Union ultimatum, risking a downward spiral into full depression.
In Churchillian tones of blood and toil – even as Asturian miners and their wives clashed violently with police after a three-week march on Madrid – Mr Rajoy called for yet another round of cuts, admitting that Spain was obliged to take “urgent” action under the terms of the latest EU summit deal.
“We Spanish no longer have the choice whether or not to make sacrifices. We no longer have such liberty,” he said.
Hours before, the daily newspaper El Pais had stunned the nation by publishing the leaked “Memorandum” imposed by the eurozone’s creditor bloc as the condition for Spain’s €100bn bank rescue.
The draconian terms include an EU takeover of the Spanish financial system, with calls for haircuts on €67bn of junior and hybrid bank debt, a bad bank to wind down crippled lenders, “on-site” raids by inspectors, and intrusive demands across the gamut of fiscal policy.
The Washington Consensus succeeded brilliantly in Greece, the obvious reason to apply it with more vigor in Spain.
Chamberlain and Daladier ‘understood’ that Germans would not annex anything more than a small part of Czecho-slovakia. Rajoy understood that Spain would not be subject to severe austerity by the finance sector in return for what amounts to a trifling borrowed sum. Unlike the aggressive, militaristic Hitler, today’s mad men are well mannered and abstract. The outcome for the victims is identical, bondage and pillage. Because no one else will lend to Spain, with no great power England or France — or United States — to rescue her, there is no choice for the unimaginative Rajoy but to sell his country down the river.
Like the hapless Beneš there is certain to be a place in the Spanish rump for the elder statesman Rajoy long after the country is a smoking ruin. Like Beneš, he looks good in a suit.
The Spanish establishment does not understand symmetry. There is nothing to compel Spain to borrow under duress, or to prevent Spain from repudiating the odious- and ill considered debts it has already taken on. If the country had a real government instead of a cowardly fake it would behave the same as the mad men, to stand up to them, to beat the bullies and put them in their place. The establishment fails to understand the economic dynamic that is underway. The cost of submission is no different from the cost of non-submission. Putting the costs of unrestricted capital back upon capital is where it belongs. Spain would abandon its costly ‘prosperity’ but would maintain its sovereignty and the freedom if its citizens to act for themselves. By surrendering, the prosperity is gone and so is the sovereignty. The citizens are free to be paupers or emigres. Spain becomes a colony of Wall Street.
The current tragedy in Europe is unfolding with the same sense of dishonor and inevitability as during 1938. History may rhyme as Mark Twain once said, but it clearly is repeating itself, now. The establishments around the world insist on sacrificing others to the mad men. This strategy fails, appeasement makes these men bolder, they cannot be satiated or even evaded. Their ambition and reach has become universal, they are monsters. They must be destroyed, annihilated and all memories of them done away with. Their tools of destruction which they promote as ‘efficiency’ must be hammered flat and repudiated. The steps leading to Munich failed to bring peace but led instead to a great war, the steps leading to Brussels follow the exact same path. It is the cowardice of the good people, the moral relativism of the disinterested who refuse to see it.
The Europeans and their economic ministers and economics do not understand what it underway. Europe is subject to an Anglo-American credit embargo similar to those implemented in Latin America in the 1980s and in S. Asia in the 1990s. The US gains more from Europe’s bankruptcy than it can gain as return on new credit.
Because the establishment does recognize the energy component to their economic troubles they cannot see the potential gains to others … from Europe’s collapse.
Europe consumes 15 million barrels of petroleum per day: by bankrupting the EU 10 millions of those barrels can be exported to the US instead. This is the equivalent to the production of Saudi Arabia, without all the drilling.
The 5% reduction in fuel availability in the West in 1973 resulted in what was the world’s deepest post- WWII recession, excluding the current recession. At issue is a reduction of 70%.
Analysts blame the European problems on corrupt Greeks and others but these countries did not make the loans to themselves: it takes two corrupts to tango. The Eurozone was a pit of predatory lending under false pretenses (for fake, USA-style ‘prosperity’). The euro was — and is — a defective credit instrument similar to a sub-prime mortgage.
No sovereign can repay finance-level debts, such a thing is impossible. Greece cannot repay, Spain cannot hope to begin to repay.
Not only cannot Greece repay, Germany in full flower of industrial output cannot repay Greek debts. The demand for repayment is a charade and anyone bothering to look for more than five minutes can see that this is true.
The rate of change in GDP year over year is the surplus carried forward over the previous year’s expenses. It is this margin from which a country’s debts might be serviced — not retired — the annual increase in German GDP might be sufficient to partially service Greek debts for that year. Anyone who believes that Germany could repay Greek debts believes in unicorns and fairies.
Keep in mind that GDP growth must also meet other expenses besides service of loans outstanding. Almost all debt service is financed along with principal roll-over.
The Germans object to the obligation to repay Greek debts, it is because such a thing is impossible regardless of intentions.
Greece is dependent upon external sources of (borrowed) capital: Germany genuflects in the direction of capital because Germany itself is just as dependent on external capital flows as is Greece.
If Germany cannot repay Greek debts how can Greece be expected to do so, in the face of a credit embargo?
The embargo is effective because there is no European lender of last resort: what passes for one appears to offer unsecured loans to banking clients which themselves are insolvent. A lender of last resort cannot at the same time be insolvent: the one concept excludes the other. When the central bank takes on the impaired loans of its clients it becomes insolvent, it loses credibility.
Because of system insolvency there are fatal bank runs. These are taking place this minute.
Debts are intractable: they must either be replaced/refinanced with more debts or they must be repudiated, there is no other way. When debts are repudiated, the country is de-industrialized as it cannot import fuel, its money is unacceptable.
The fantasy of industrialization and so-called ‘progress’ is what various ‘leaderships’ including Rajoy’s are loathe to abandon. This is even as industrialization destroys the countries’ economies and the countries themselves. Managements cling to the false promises that have been offered for 400 years, that have brought wealth to a handful of thieves in exchange for Napoleon, revolutions. Communism, Hitler, world wars and great depressions. This, then … is the dividend of concentration and economies of scale, leaving out the complete destruction of the very air, land and water upon which we as living creatures absolutely depend … for a few pieces of colored paper.
If the country does not repudiate its debts, its money is unacceptable anyway as the money is proxy for nothing but unserviceable debts.
This non-acceptance is the end of the road … the end of all the roads.
By repudiating the debts all of the associated wealth is annihilated: wealth = debt. The problem is the foolish Europeans want to get rid of the debt and keep the wealth. They do not accept that, a) this cannot be done, and b) there is really no such thing as money-wealth.
What comes this way is the contest between the few, the mad men with their machines and their blandishments, their constant readiness to do the world ill for their immediate gain. On the other side of the contest is the void, a bloated dependent (over)population: here is the reason for overpopulation in the first place! Dependents dare not agitate without risking starvation, homelessness or withholding of institutional ‘benefits’. There is the loss of place, a generalized self-contempt, selfishness and institutionalized laziness. Not the stuff of revolutions or reform.
The mad men inch closer to self-immolation, to take the rest of the world with it. This is the end-game of industrialization, the promise of Valhalla the reality of a wasteland.
Keynes was wrong, in the short run we are all dead.
Off the keyboard of El Gallinazo
No matter how paranoid I get, I just can’t keep up with reality.
-Paraphrase of Lily Tomlin
In my short time here on the DD, I have already come out with some pretty outrageous statements. Not only am I a traditional anti-Illuminati conspiracy theorist, which is rather old hat on DD, but I fall more along the David Icke camp, which adds to the Illuminati theorist syndrome UFO’s and ETI’s (defined as non-human intelligences), the secret space program and breakaway civilization, free energy, and that Icke is right and there is a race of extra-dimensional beings (I would actually refer to them as extra-density beings) that have preyed on the human race for millennia and are really calling the shots. When they tell David Rockefeller or the Rothschilds to jump, they ask how high.
So how did a nice boy from New Jersey come to this sad end? Was I born that way, and not only avoided the Men in Black but also the Men in White all these years? Did I take a red pill I found on the street or did I find one of those nifty sunglasses as featured on They Live!? The truth is that I became disaffected with the establishment at a pretty early age. In the fifth grade, an uncle told me that he thought flying saucers were real and I should read this book by Major Donald Keyhoe to check it out. I was a very scientifically oriented kid and knew how far each planet was from earth. So I found a copy in the library, checked it out and read it. Shortly thereafter I learned that Keyhoe was about to have a debate on national TV with the Air Farce. I was quite excited about it. It was before everything was videotaped in advance. We have this from the Wiki piece on Keyhoe:
On 22 January 1958 Keyhoe appeared on a CBS live television show the Armstrong Circle Theatre to speak on the topic of UFOs. Keyhoe charged that a U.S. Congressional committee was evaluating evidence that “will absolutely prove that the UFOs are machines under intelligent control”. However CBS stopped the audio portion of the live broadcast. Herbert A. Carlborg, CBS Director of Editing stated “this program had been carefully cleared for security reasons.”
Well, I wouldn’t describe myself as a kid with a lot of street smarts, but that little incident sort of put it in the bag for me. Off and on for the next 50 years I would update the UFO scene. It was obvious that there was a multigenerational conspiracy by the shadow government to keep the ET/UFO thing covered up though I was not sure of their true motivations.
About 5 years ago I started to study macro-economics and became active on TAE. After four years of this, I started to connect the dots and realized that the Illuminati cabal was real and running the show, and the people at TAE were really in the dark. This triggered a whole lot of research and things just snowballed.
But when you are sitting in that electrolyte bath, all plugged in, and Morpheus isn’t coming along to offer some Day-Glo pills not to mention (again) those nifty sunglasses, how do you peek past the Matrix. I only know of two ways. One way is through very advanced meditation where you leave your 3D body for little trips elsewhere, or go down to the tropics, hook up with some shamans, and take some DMT botanicals involving lots of vomiting and diarrhea. Haven’t done the shaman route and never got very far in mediation. The other way is to look for anomalies. The false reality bullshit that we are being fed is full of glitches and anomalies, and its fun to find one, and pull on it like a thread hanging off of an arrogant woman’s skirt made of a poorly woven fabric. There is no telling where that might lead in this age of the internet.
And here is a tale of a curious man who did just that – Martyn Stubbs, former director of a community cable station in Vancouver, BC. The following link is the first of a youtube 8 part series. It gets curiouser and curiouser as you go along. Stubbs recently came down with a malignant brain tumor, and it was reported as fact in the conspiracy media that he had died of it. But recently it has come out that he has, in fact survived the cancer (so far), and is keeping his head well below the ridge line now and will not divulge his location or give more interviews.
Stubbs was a professional video man who saw a flicker in the public NASA shuttle download footage (1/30th of a second to be exact) and just pulled on the thread. OTOH, this stuff was hiding in plain sight. NASA could have encrypted it in addition to just hiding it, and Stubbs would never have unraveled that skirt. Go figure.
Which also gets to why I rarely get into ridiculous, long winded debates. Most people just don’t want their apple cart of reality scattered all over the road, particularly when it turns out that Hannibal Lecter is your next door neighbor. The only way people will believe that they live in a thought controlled Matrix reality is for them to become curious and fearless enough to take a shovel and start digging out the truth themselves. No thinking munchkin believes without putting in a lot of personal sweat. Shouting at one’s fellow muppets to Wake Up! just makes them more determined to keep on dreaming. And trying to uncover the Truth is worse than being one of John La Carre’s spymasters. Disinformation and bullshit are everywhere. The last thing that the Consortium (I use that term to reflect the alliance of the Illuminati and their non-human associates) want is for us muppets to wake up. It would be very, very inconvenient for them. And they have all the money in the world, the non-humans have a much higher IQ than us, are usually invisible, and can travel in time to some extent. We stand as much chance as a herd of cattle, which is just how the Predators regard us. Except a typical rancher or shepherd is a lot more empathetic to his herd or flock than the Predators are to us. But the one thing that these peoplepokes don’t want is a stampede. That can get really messy.
So what is the point of watching Stubbs’ investigation? Just pointing out that , hey, there’s is a hanging thread if you want to come pull on it. They are everywhere but this one’s a beaut.
Read Part I of “Over The Road” HERE First
When we last left the Road, I had just graduated the Schneider National Training Institute for LOSERS. After driving my 7 year old Trusty Toyota Tercel 4WD mini-SUV/Wagon back to Springfield and finally passing my Blood Pressure exam, I am given a date about a week away to show up at the Schneider Terminal in West Memphis to continue my Training for a Month with an Experienced Training Driver.
So, after cleaning up my affairs around Springfield, I borrow still MORE Money from my Retired Mom to hopefully last me for the first month on the Road until the first Paychecks can be cashed. During this Training Period, you weren’t Paid by the Mile, you got a fixed $250/week salary. Regardless how many hours you drove the truck for this time, this is what you were paid. Your Training Driver got the Mileage pay for what you drove. Needless to say, this works out to LOWER than the Minimum Wage, but somehow this is Justified in the Trucking Industry.
In fact, if you consider the fact the OTR Company Driver is expected to ALWAYS be available 24/7 near the Qualcomm in his Truck as long as he still has Legal Hours left to drive, he is ALWAYS “On Duty” and because of that you really are paid below minimum wage all the time. You ONLY get paid for the hours you actually DRIVE. You are also expected to NOT LOG hours and hours you spend waiting to get unloaded or even in some cases actually Unloading the truck YOURSELF. You CAN log this time, but if you do so you are frowned upon by your Dispatcher and he returns this by handing you really lousy loads until you Learn Your Lesson.
I am getting ahead of myself here though. Upon arrival in West Memphis, I was not aware of any of these issues, I was just happy to have a JOB. All I had with me at the time was one bag with some clothes in it, I had no clue on all the stuff you should Carry With You to make your life as an OTR Big Rig Driver somewhat tolerable. Would have been nice if somewhere in that 2 week Training Course in Green Bay if somebody had discussed this with the New Recruits. By the end of Big Rig Years, I had a Package of 5 Bags and Containers that included all the coolest supplies and equipment necessary to live the Mobile Life. I’ll list those out eventually also.
So, I do get Matched Up with my Training Driver for the One Month period, except there is a small PROBLEM. They were short of Training Drivers at the West Memphis Terminal, because despite the fact it is pretty lucrative for the TD to do this, it is pretty STRESSFUL to be in the Passenger Seat of Newby Driver. Also, long time Drivers with the Hours required to BE a TD tend to be Loners not comfortable with spending extended time with what amounts to Random Strangers assigned to them.
As a result, instead of being matched up One-to-One with my TD, TWO of us are assigned to ride with him for the month. This in the Equipment Schneider was mostly running at the time, Intenational Harvester Flattops. These as opposed to the more common “Condos” you see nowadays pulling the Trailers on the Interstate. Below is a comparison photograph of the two types of tractors. Everybody went to Condos in the 90s,but Schneider wa sstill running the Flattops for training at that time,and also for most of the Newby Drivers first rigs also. As you can see,the Fairing onthe top of the Flattop gives no additional living space. The Condo Model (In this case a Kenworth T2000) uses that space to allow Stand Up Room inside the Cabin.
In an IH Flattop, you can’t Stand Up to stretch ever, and there is only one Passenger Seat which the TD always occupies if he is not in the Driver’s Seat. Soifyou are 3-up in such a rig, the other Newby not currently behind the wheel has to spend HOURS in the tiny Bunk compartment. You can try to Sleep or Read, but it is near impossible to do either. There is no ergonomically comfortable way to spend hours in a Box like that. Think of it like being in one of those Tiger Cages the Vietnamese put POWs in for Punishment, except not for just a few days, but a whole MONTH. Supposedly.
What occurred in actuality in my case was that this whole situation was so intolerable for all 3 of us that after 1 Week, our TD said “I think you guys are READY” and signed us both off as being sufficiently Trained to go out as a Team of Newby Drivers. I was fortunate here in that the guy I was training with and I got along pretty well during that week. He was a Black Guy from the Bed-Stuy area of Brooklyn named Lincoln, and we had lots of NY Shity stories to share with each other. So I was pretty OK with the idea of spending a few months with him Team Driving.
The idea behind putting two Newby Drivers together as a Team was that they could Help each other along the way. The Passenger doing the Navigating by the Map while the other drove; one of the Team getting out of the Truck to serve as Spotter in Backing into docks which makes it much easier, at least if the Spotter knows how to give the right directions it does anyhow. Not true of most Newby Drivers of course, but over the years I ran into a couple of really GOOD spotters. You did’t have to do anything but watch him in your mirror circling his arm left or right (and he would reverse it for you so when looking in the mirror it was correct for you), and all you needed to do was follow his arm motions and spin the wheel along with his arm while you were backing, and POOF a perfect docking on the First Try!
The very BEST of these Spotters was a man whose name I will never know, but who really probably saved my LIFE as an OTR Trucker. I ran into him at a Railyard in Chicago after about my 3rd month on the road. He was a Rastafarian Jamaican, complete with the heavy Bob Marley accent and the Dreadlocks. More about that encounter later though, I am jumping the Gun again.
After being Certified as competent by my TD, I was all ready to go out on the Open Road with my new Bed-Stuy buddy. EXCEPT there was another PROBLEM. The idea of partnering up complete STRANGERS, both of whom were often long time LOSERS was not working out too well for Schneider. They were getting into fights with each other, blaming each other for ACCIDENTS, stealing from each other, the WORKS. It likely was an administrative and legal NIGHTMARE for Schneider for as long as they pursued this idea.
So they STOPPED pursuing this program, in fact right before we were supposed to head out together on the Eisenhower Interstate to begin making a living as Truckers in the Age of Oil.
Result of that? After a 2 week stint at the Schneider National Training facility in Green Bay, WI and 1 week with an Experience TD where I only got 1/2 the time behind the wheel you normally would get because I was sharing the training time with my Bed-Stuy buddy, both of us were assigned our OWN TRACTORS AS FIRST SEAT SOLO OTR TRUCKERS!
Folks, the normal amount of time and money involved in getting your Class A CDL from a typical Commercial Driving School is around 6 Months, and at that time around $5000 I did not have. In 3 Weeks, at no cost to myself except the 1 year of Indentured Servitude for Schneider I put in afterward at $0.23 Cents/Mile, I was First Seat Solo in charge of my own Big Rig out on the Open Road of the Eisenhower Interstate. I was TERRIFIED.
So also terrified was my friend Lincoln from Bed-Stuy, and he did not make it. His was the Final Washout. 3 weeks out onto the Road, he bought his own Ticket to the Great Beyond in a multiple collision with two other Big Rigs and several 4-wheelers. I guess I was lucky I was not riding in his passenger seat when that occurred. Or perhaps it was not LUCK?
Perhaps it was the Finger of God? I was Saved a couple of other times before that one when I most surely SHOULD have been dead. Other stories from other parts of my life, perhaps a Tale in the Future, not part of this one though.. The statistical chances it happenned the way it did to me over all of them seem small. I don’t know the answer to this, in this life I won’t get it either. I don’t suppose I will know the answer to that question until I buy my own Ticket to the Great Beyond.
How I SURVIVED those early days is the next part of the Over the Road story.
The usual assumption that economists, financial planners, and actuaries make is that future real GDP growth can be expected to be fairly similar to the average past growth rate for some historical time period. This assumption can take a number of forms–how much a portfolio can be expected to yield in a future period, or how high real (that is, net of inflation considerations) interest rates can be expected to be in the future, or what percentage of GDP the government of a country can safely borrow.
But what if this assumption is wrong, and expected growth in real GDP is really declining over time? Then pension funding estimates will prove to be too low, amounts financial planners are telling their clients that invested funds can expect to build to will be too high, and estimates of the amounts that governments of countries can safely borrow will be too high. Other statements may be off as well–such as how much it will cost to mitigate climate change, as a percentage of GDP–since these estimates too depend on GDP growth assumptions.
If we graph historical data, there is significant evidence that growth rates in real GDP are gradually decreasing. In Europe and the United States, expected GDP growth rates appear to be trending toward expected contraction, rather than growth. This could be evidence of Limits to Growth, of the type described in the 1972 book by that name, by Meadows et al.
Trend lines in Figure 1 were fitted to time periods based on oil supply growth patterns (described later in this post), because limited oil supply seems to be one critical factor in real GDP growth. It is important to note that over time, each fitted trend line shows less growth. For example, the earliest fitted period shows average growth of 4.7% per year, and the most recent fitted period shows 1.3% average growth.
In this post we will examine evidence regarding declining economic growth and discuss additional reasons why such a long-term decline in real GDP might be expected.
Connection of GDP Growth with Oil Supply Growth
It should not be surprising to find that there is a close tie between GDP growth and oil supply growth. Oil is used in many ways, from the manufacture of goods (synthetic cloth, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, asphalt for roads), to transport of goods and people, to food production (plowing, harvesting, weed killers, diesel irrigation), to operating construction equipment, to mining. While it is possible to substitute away from oil in some situations, or to find more efficient ways of using the oil, we have literally trillions of dollars of machinery in the world that uses oil right now. Because of this, the rate of substitution away from oil is necessarily very slow.
James Hamilton has shown that in the United States, 10 out of 11 post-World War II recessions were associated with oil price spikes. He has also published a paper specifically linking the recession of 2007-2008 with stagnating world oil production and the resulting spike in oil prices. I wrote an academic paper, Oil Supply Limits and the Continuing Financial Crisis, explaining some of the connections I see involved.
One connection between oil supply and the economy is the fact that when oil prices rise, indicating short supply, salaries don’t rise at the same time. Fuel for commuting and food (which is grown and transported using oil) are necessities, and their prices tend to rise as oil prices rise. Consumers cut back on buying discretionary goods and services, so as to have enough money for these necessities. This leads to people being laid off from work in “discretionary” industries, and a whole host of other effects we associate with recession.
Figure 2, below, shows world oil supply (broadly defined, including biofuels) with trend lines fitted to periods exhibiting similar growth patterns. It is these same time periods that I fit trend lines to in Figure 1, with one small exception. I had consistent real GDP data going back only to 1969, so stopped at 1969 rather than 1965 with GDP.
What we see in Figure 2 is a pattern of falling growth rates in oil supply rates, similar to the declining pattern we saw for real GDP in Figure 1. In Figure 2, the growth in oil supply falls from 7.8% per year in the first fitted period, to 0.4% per year in the last fitted period. The “gaps” that I didn’t fit lines to were periods of falling oil consumption. A glance up at Figure 1 shows that these periods where no line was fit (that is, the places where the black “actual” data shows through on Figure 1) correspond to relatively flat GDP periods–as a person would expect, if high prices/short supply are associated with recession.
A person wouldn’t expect the two types of growth rates (oil supply and real GDP growth) to be exactly the same. The GDP growth rate would likely be higher than the oil growth rate because the oil growth rate is theoretically depressed for several reasons: continued switching from oil to cheaper fuel (often electricity); improvements in energy efficiency; and a gradual change to more of a service economy. (Services use less energy per unit of GDP than the manufacturing of goods.)
If we compare the two fitted growth rates (world oil consumption and world real GDP), this is what the comparison looks like:
Figure 3. World Oil Supply Growth vs Growth in World GDP, based on exponential trend lines fitted to values for selected groups of years. World GDP based on USDA Economic Research Service data. Earliest time-period uses 1969 to 1973 for both oil and GDP for consistency.
Downtrend in Real GDP May Be Understated
The last thing governments want to do is to let their constituents know that the economy is currently doing less well than in the past. There are (at least) two ways that governments can increase real GDP:
1. Understate their inflation estimates. The way “real GDP” is calculated involves first figuring GDP based on how much goods and services increased during the period in question, and then “backing out” the amount of the GDP increase that was due to inflation. There is latitude in figuring out how much inflation to reflect. For example, in the early years, my understanding is that if the price of beef went up, it directly affected the calculation of the inflation rate; now, there is an implicit assumption that they buyer will be willing substitute chicken to some extent instead, keeping the inflation assumption lower and the real GDP increase (as calculated) higher. There are many other things that be manipulated as well–for example, how the cost of housing goes into the calculation. The site Shadowstats gives one view of how changes since 1983 distort reported US real GDP amounts.
2. Encourage lots of additional debt. Real GDP looks at the amount of goods and services are produced and sold, not how they are paid for. If the government sponsors a program to provide mortgages to people who have no chance of ever paying them back, and this results in the sale of more houses, this will help real GDP–at least until the borrowers start defaulting on their loans. Increases in other types of loans work to increase real GDP too, including auto loans, student loans, and government debt.
Besides increasing real GDP, increasing debt also acts to increase employment, since it takes workers to build the things that people who get the loans can now afford. In other worlds, the higher loan amounts increase employment of people who build new cars or new houses, or who teach at universities.
The problem with encouraging additional debt is that it at some point the amount of debt becomes too much for holders of the debt to service, and they start cutting back on other purchases. For example, recent graduates with a lot of debt are likely not to be in the market for new homes unless they have very high-paying jobs. So, at some point, additional debt becomes self-defeating, especially when the economy is not growing very quickly. Too much debt seems to be one of the limits, besides oil limits, we are reaching now.
Other Factors Holding Down Real GDP Growth
We live in a finite world, and this fact imposes limits. The amount of land suitable for cultivation is not expanding over time. There is limited fresh water for irrigation and other uses. In many areas, water tables are dropping. Ores are declining in quality because the highest quality ore tends to be extracted first.
Pollution, including carbon dioxide pollution, leads to attempted substitution by higher cost alternatives. It also leads to the addition of devices such as expensive filters. Both of these add costs, without increasing the amount of usable goods and services (in the usual definition) produced. Peoples’ funds for discretionary goods can be expected to drop as a result, (since funding through taxes or other approaches is mandatory) putting downward pressure on real GDP growth.
There is also the issue of how many new entrants are added to the paid labor force. If, for example, in the early years, many homemakers are being added to the paid labor force, their addition will tend to raise GDP growth, because the goods or services the homemaker creates will be added to real GDP, as well as the cost of daycare for her children, if this is purchased. Once homemakers have been pretty well absorbed into the labor force, that positive influence on real GDP will disappear. If the number of people employed starts declining (because of more retirees, or because people can’t find jobs), or fails to rise as quickly, this will tend to slow economic growth.
Oil Importers are Likely to Have Lower Economic Growth than Others
There are a couple of reasons why oil importers can be expected to have lower economic growth than other countries, especially when oil prices are high. First, oil importers have the problem of needing to pay exporters for crude oil or oil products. The revenue that is spent on higher priced crude oil could have been spent on discretionary expenditures. It is unlikely that the oil exporters will reinvest the money in the economy of the buyer of its oil–they are just as likely to reinvest it in their own country.
The second reason is that oil importers tend to be the countries like the United States and Europe that “developed their economies” early on. Since these countries have hired women in large numbers since World War II, most homemakers who want jobs already have them. If birth rates have slowed, these countries may be seeing disproportionate growth in the retiree population and fewer workers in ages where employment usually takes place.
In the United States, if we do curve fitting (of the type shown in Figures 1 and 2) to the reported number of non-farm workers employed in the United States (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and compare these employment trend rates with the corresponding trend rate in US GDP growth, we find a high correlation:
Note that decreased growth in the number of employees could be taking place for any number of reasons–less growth in illegal immigrants, fewer homemakers going back to work, more people going to college, or more people retiring or taking disability coverage, or just generally discouraged.
It is my observation that the number of workers in the US today seems to depend on the number of jobs available. If jobs in some fields are being increasingly shipped to lower-cost countries–the ones we will see in Figure 7 are now using a disproportionate share of the world’s oil–these jobs will not be available, no matter how many workers might be willing to take them, if they were available.
If we look at the trend in real GDP growth for three major areas (United States, European Union-27, and Remainder = World minus the US and EU-27) , we discover that indeed, all three of the areas show a downward trend in real GDP over time (Figure 4, above). The GDP growth of the EU-27 and the US start from a lower level, and drop off more in the 2007-2011 period, (when the price of oil imports was more of an issue) than the “Remainder” grouping.
Figure 5. Annual growth in world oil supply compared to annual growth in real GDP, both based on exponential trend fits to values for selected years. Oil supply data from BP oil consumption data in 2012 Statistical Review of World Energy; real GDP from USDA Economic Research Service.
One reason why the Remainder-GDP may be doing better than the others is that heavy manufacturing, and the jobs that go with heavy manufacturing, are finding their way to lower cost countries. High oil prices may also be discouraging oil importers from purchasing oil. If we look at oil consumption for the three groups, this is what we see:
Much of heavy manufacturing has been moved out of the United States and the European Union. Figure 7 below shows that the rest of the world is now using well over half of the world’s oil:
We have seen (Figure 5, above) that all three grouping shown (United States, EU-27, and the rest of the world) are showing declining real GDP patterns, similar to the world pattern. GDP growth rates of the United States and EU-27 are both at lower levels than the World and Remainder, for reasons explained.
It is hard to see why current trends wouldn’t continue, with growth in real GDP continuing to decrease for all three groups. Regardless of the hoopla in the United States press about supposed growth in oil supply, the fact remains that growth in world oil supply has been worrisome for many for roughly 40 years, since US oil production started decreasing in 1970. It is hard to believe that the latest “fix” is going to turn things around. The typical pattern in oil supply is for extraction in an area to hit a maximum (or perhaps a plateau) and then decline.
Figure 8 shows (among other things) how steep the US drop in oil production in the contiguous 48 states was starting in 1970. This decline set the stage for the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo, since oil-producing countries now had the upper hand. Production in Alaska and in the Gulf of Mexico eventually helped offset part of the drop, but the Alaska production (not shown) is now declining as well. Change in the balance of power regarding oil production following the decline in US production, and recognition that increased imports would cause balance of payments problems, seem to have influenced the US and Europe’s decision to focus on service industries and on industries with little oil usage, holding their oil usage down (Figure 6).
Figure 8 also shows how new onshore techniques–fracking and other enhanced oil recovery–are affecting US crude oil production. While US-48 states crude oil production has shown a 25% increase since 2006, this production is still only 39% of the 1970 amount, and about equal to 1942 production. Oil production in Canada (which includes the oil sands) is rising, but not very rapidly, from a low base. It is hard for small increases such as those of Canada and the US-48 to make up for major declines in production occurring in Europe and elsewhere. World oil supply would be increasing by more than a fraction of 1% per year if changes frequently noted in the US press were really making an important difference in world supply.
If growth in world oil supply is constrained and may possibly begin to fall in total in not too many years, this adds to the downward pressure on world GDP growth for all of the areas of the world. Thus, re-examination of GDP growth assumptions seems to be in order. Perhaps slow recent growth is not an aberration–perhaps future real GDP growth will be even lower.