Monday, January 28, 2008

The Vision, Intoduction

"The Vision" is a narrative based on the assumption that the power has been lost in North America. Many of the concepts from my, "Royal Flush in Spades" series (found in the January achieves) are incorporated to bring forth this scenario. I first described this last year over at BNB (
All trails have a beginning and a end. The beginning of this trail can be found under, "Collapse or Decline? Or Just Another Day?" By reading your way upward you'll be actually going down this trail with me.
"The Little Sisters" series, is a story about the spirit world I encountered while being in the backwoods of Northern Michigan.
I'll try and answer any questions that you might have, good luck!
Thanks, yooper

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Royal Flush in Spades, Part II, Adding it up

After reviewing many of the concepts I've presented here, it's my hope dear reader, that you might add a lot of these up and make something of it as you see fit. Many writers when describing a scenario have themes of Peak Oil, Climate Change, Financial Collapse, as you might have noticed, mine is of Natural Consequence. Perhaps our society will evolve in a natural process to a new environment from the consequences of all three and more? Just exactly what that natural process will be, I think is anybody's guess. Back at the old school house, the instructors took very little stock on just how collapse would happen but what that collapse might look like and the consequences of it.

Under the "lights are out for good scenario" I'm going to attempt to explain what the consequences of this might be. In this attempt, I'll be going back to each card and describe what the consequences might be under this scenario.

Starting with the Ace first, or electricity, we learned that indeed that it is possible the entire North American electrical system could go down, so it's a real possibility that the lights can go out for everyone. In this case, it would be extremely hard to imagine for the power to be restored in time, before catastrophic events would begin to emerge. It's a fact, that wide spread area's of the country can go down at once and a possibility, that even more areas can go down in attempts to bring the power back on line. Time being of the essence until problems escalate into something insurmountable within the time frame before our society breaks down. Furthermore, as time wanes, the possibility of this actually happening becomes greater. Not only is this system aging, but there is more and more demand put on it. Could it be just a prolonged heat wave that will actually bring it down? The people over at BNB, was just shocked when I revealed that I thought this eventually might bring down one of the regional networks. Where was the electromagnetic bombs or terrorists attacks?! I also expressed my view that if one regional network went down it might be likely the other two would eventually go down the same way or by attempts to restore the broken one(s). Moreover, I thought it wouldn't matter anyway.

Even if the system were to go down like the size of the Northeastern Blackout of 2003 for a couple of weeks, it would be doubtful that even if the whole world came to our aid, it could stop the chaotic situation of 50 million people! Especially if this happen during the winter months. If this country had a hard enough time rescuing the people of Katrina, a catastrophe of this magnitude would be unimaginable and unmanageable. How would these people keep warm? How could the world even deliver the amount of relief to that many people in time, before they expired? Without power, it simply cannot happen. It's just not feasible.

Almost all modern infrastructure was designed, built and maintained under the assumption of continuous power. Without this infrastructure our environment will change immediately. It will be the end of our world as we knew it. As discussed earlier, city water would not last after this many days, how would you get fuel to all these thousands of back-ups in time? Wouldn't the grocery store be cleared out after the first day or two? How would it be restocked? How well does your furnace work without the blower powered by electricity? How far do you think you would get on a road system that is dependent on lights? How would you refill your tank? How would you take money out of a bank dependent on computers?

By the way, do you think you'll go to work under such conditions? Can you even perform your duties without electricity? Do you actually believe police, firemen, and other crucial personal in keeping order, will actually report to work, leaving their families behind under such a scenario? Even if they did, how long would it take before this type of personal would be overwhelmed? Don't feel alone if you don't have answers to these question, I don't either. However, this is the consequences if the lights go out for good or for any lenght of time. Not looking to good, eh?

On to the King of Spades, population dynamics. What happens to a population when you suddenly take away their daily requirements of food, water, shelter and security? Of course, you will have a chaotic situation at hand. That is exactly the situation the Dept. of Energy has suggested would happen. When the lights are out for good, better yet, if the lights don't come back on in time, the environment that we are so dependent on expires. Many of those who are unwilling or incapable of adapting to the new evolving environment will die, since they cannot meet their daily requirements needed for survival. There will be some seeking to isolate themselves from this situation and flee to yet another environment, perhaps the woods, hills, desert, etc.. They will have to have the acquired knowledge that comes from experience in order to do so and a good deal of luck. Perhaps there will be another day when the sun will shine for these people, however that will be after "the monster" has moved on... Good Luck to the people who attempt this and hope to see you in the woods!

The Queen of Spades, water. Without electricity, there will be a whole lot, less of it. Almost the entire population gets their potable water from deep wells. It takes power to pull that water up, called electricity. This is an example of the decoupling of electrical generation/uniform parts of mass production (the pump), that I was referring to earlier, that had supported a population of this size. Without it, well...... Therefore most of the population will have to rely on surface water to meet their needs. If this water is potable, how long will it be? Back on BNB, I predicted that there will be more people who will expire from dehydration and water born disease than from starvation. This only makes sense because when the body is deprived from both, it'll die quicker from lack of water, that's a fact.

The Jack of Spades, food. Without power, how can we expect to feed the present population? This is impossible! It takes electrical power to process seed, power to transport seed, power to plant seed, power to nourish seed/crop, power to harvest crop, power to transport crop, power to transform crop into edible food, power to distribute food, and power to prepare this food to be acceptable to a population of 300 million people. Have I missed something here? Imagine feeding the entire population of the average community from the gardens grown in that community! Even if the gardens were large enough, try hand pumping the required water that garden would need. Of course, this is assuming the water table is within reach. This is also assuming that crop would be left to mature to produce next year's seed. Is that even possible with most of crops grown today? I think not. Of those that do have a resonable stock of food, they would likely have to defend it from those who do not. Especially, those that are not isolated from large populations...

The Ten of Spades, our industrial environment. Our industrial environment started when cheap fossil fuels made it economically feasible to couple electric generation with mass production of uniform parts. Take any one of these out of the equation and we don't have this environment any longer. If we don't have this environment, we cannot support the people that was produced by it. It's just that simple. People will have to find another environment and try to adapt to it, as I said before, this is easier said than done. Isolation can be a double edged sword. Areas where the populations are high and the physical boundaries (water, mountain ranges, etc.) are hard to breech, present unique problems within themselves. Another facet of this thought might be physical limitations, an example of this might be, if a population cannot reach water in time, if the distance is too great to reasonably obtain it, than that population becomes isolated. The extinction process begins since that population cannot reach another similar environment (one that has water). Yet another facet of isolation, of those that do breech another livable environment become isolated themselves from the rest of the population, this too can pose problems within itself....

The industrial environment's area mass is hugh, it encompasses everywhere that has infrastructure, transmission lines , roads and such. Land that does not have this feature of being civilized is hard to find. Land that can support even a small population without infrastructure, even harder. A small population that can support itself, even harder yet....

God, grant me the ability to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.................................

The Ace of Spades, V, Power outage

Power Outage

While gleaning through the Wikipedia article, "Power Outage", I've came up with most of these facts.

A power outage may take one of three forms. 1) Blackout: where power is completely lost. A "rolling blackout" is a common term for a controlled way of rotating available generation capacity between various districts, thus avoiding wide area total blackouts. 2)Brownout: where the voltage level is below the normal minimum level specified for the system. This can be particularly damaging to electric motors. Some brownouts , called voltage reductions, are made to prevent a full power outage. 3)Dropout: where loss of power only lasts seconds.

Power failures are particularly critical for hospitals, since many life critical medical devices and tasks require power. For this reason hospitals, just like many other enterprises have emergency power generators which are typically powdered by diesel fuel. Power outage may also be the cause of sanitary sewer overflow, a condition of discharging raw sewage into the environment (water).

Under certain conditions, a network component shutting down can cause current fluctuations in neighboring segments of the network, though this is unlikely, leading to a cascading failure of a larger system of the network. This may range from a block to an entire city, to the ENTIRE GRID. Modern power systems are designed to be resistant to this sort of cascading failure, but it may be unavoidable. It has recently been argued on the basis of historical data and computer modeling that power grids are self-organized critical systems. These systems exhibit unavoidable disturbances of all sizes, up to the size of the ENTIRE SYSTEM, and any attempts to reduce the probability of small disturbances only increase the probability of the larger ones. Some observers have expressed concern that there is a tendency to erode the resilience of the network over time which is only corrected after the major failure occurs.

Restoring power after wide-area outage can be difficult, as power stations need to be brought back on line. Time being of the essence, before cascading problems amount to insurmountable problems. Normally, this is done with the help from the rest of the grid. In the total absence of grid power, a so-called "black start" needs to be performed to "bootstrap" the power grid into operation.

An example of this power loss through cascading events occurred Aug. 13, 2003. It was the largest blackout in North American history. Effecting 10 million people (1/3 the population) of Canada and 40 million (1/7 the population ) in the U.S., encompassing eight states. During this outage water systems in several cities lost pressure forcing boil water advisories. Cellular telephones experienced significant service disruptions. Most interstate passenger rail transport in the affected areas were shut down and the power outage's impact on international air transport and financial markets were widespread. Meanwhile, the reliability and vulnerability of all electrical power grids was called into question....

At this point we can assume that a threat of the entire grid shutting down is real, it's a possibility. To think that the Northeast Blackout occurred in 2003, leaving 50 million people without power, is fact. I view this threat to our present environment very much as viable as Peak Oil, Climate Change and Financial Collapse.

The Ace of Spades Part IV, The North American Grid


Again, I must ask you my dear reader, "Why do you suppose, almost everyone associates the power being out with collapse?" Could this be some kind of worldwide, wide held premonition? However, when it comes to discussing this topic of what life might be like without power, it ranks a close second to that of die-off, of being unpopular. It is so unpopular, that almost no one knows much about it, they simply can't imagine what life might be like without it or have some kind of fantasy, totally unrealistic view. Could it be, like the industrial environment (the coupling of electrical generation/mass production of uniform parts) that has produced and maintained the present population and the "de-industrial" environment (the de-coupling of electrical generation/ mass production of uniform parts) will actually produce the die-off? Do you suppose some people are unconsciously associating life without power with die-off? Or do mechanisms that assure survival of the species block these kind of thoughts of some people? I think it could lay somewhere in between.....

Back at the old school house, the instructors likened the electrical grid or grids, to that of the nervous system of the human body. In fact, our nerves run much like electrical current, that it's electrical current sending messages to the brain. An example of this might be, a pin prick to the finger will send an electrical charge through the interconnected nervous system that will stimulate pain in the brain. Any damage of nerve along this route and brain never receives this "message". If the body sustains enough nerve damage it automatically begins to shut down and die.

What is the North American grid? Gleaning from an article entitled, "GridWorks", from the U.S. Dept. of Energy, these are the following facts. The North American grid, consists of three independent networks, Eastern Interconnection, Western Interconnection, and the Texas Interconnection. These networks incorporate international connection with Canada and Mexico. In 1940, 10% of energy consumption in America was used to produced electricity. In 1970, that fraction was 25%. Today it is 40%, showing electricity's growing importance as an energy supply. It has the unique ability to convey both energy and information. It's a world-class system, however it's facing some serious challenges. The majority of the 10,000 power plants, are generally long-lived investments; the majority of the existing capacity is 30 years or older.

Electric power is essential to modern society. Economic prosperity, national security and public health and safety CANNOT be achieved without it. Communities that lack electric power, even for SHORT PERIODS have trouble meeting basic needs of food, shelter, water, law and order.

Isn't this what I've been eluding to all along?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Has Progress Peaked?

The above picture is what was the modern day "scrapper" of the 1870's. It was brought to the farm undoubtedly by schooner ship and was very likely the first piece of heavy equipment in an 80 mile radius. A team of oxen were used to pull the pre-industrial piece of machinery and the levers in back of the shovel were driven into the earth by men. It was primarily used to scoop earth making a ditch and dumped making a road bed. This process of making roadway is still used today.

Progress: a proceeding forward; advancement or improvement in mental, moral, or physical condition. growth or development. source The Winston Dictionary, Advanced Edition, 1946.

Back to Duncan's Olduvai theory, the first phase of human history basically was when simple tools and weak machines (like the one pictured above) limited economic growth. The second "industrial" phase encompasses modern industrial civilization where machines temporarily lift all limits to growth. The final "de-industrial" phase follows where industrial economies decline to a point of equilibrium with nonrenewable resources and the natural environment.

Without getting too technical and looking at a worldwide view, it might be fair to point out that we're probably in the latter stages of the second "industrial" phase. Not quite yet in the third phase. The instructors thought that once global progress ceased, the die-off would soon begin. Furthermore, once forward progressed stopped, there would be a "pause" before another direction or decline could take place. An example of this might be that a train must come to a complete stop from going forward before it can go in reverse. Pauses can be very hard to spot, when looking at market trends for example, sometimes they are only realized in retrospect. However, what we're talking about here is a break within the 100 year industrial life span. Perhaps, the severe recession we had during the early 1980's, was this the pause in this country? This is mighty close to what Duncan predicted to happen in 1979. Have we progressed beyond this? The answer is, yes, beyond a doubt, we were still growing beyond 1979! Correct? We cannot continue growing in population, economy, and extraction of resources, once the extraction of those resources begins to diminish! Of course, all resources are not all going to diminish at once, making it extremely hard to pin point when the scales actually dip the other way. An example of a diminished resource could be the fisheries of the world.

Even though, I believe we have declined here in North America for the past thirty years, we are becoming more and more a part of a global economy that hasn't. Hasn't this actually "masked" our true situation in this country? Thinking of Russia, without a doubt, they have come back and their standard of living continues to grow from the early 1990's when the former Soviet Union collapsed. Look at the growth of the economies of India and China! Another notion the instructors had, is that there would very likely be a explosion of resources extracted and consumed toward the end of the "age of progress". I am certain, they were thinking of terms of 1930- 1970, however they are still correct in that respect, only that there's a lot more resource than they dare imagined. Of course, this only makes sense as it would require more resource to maintain the population.

The instructors all believed that once the world ceased to progress, there would be a short pause and then we would start our descent. That this era will be short lived and marked by power outages, finally bringing down entire electrical grids around the world. That is, once electrical generation was decoupled with mass production of parts (one cannot happen without the other and this actually defines the industrail society), this present environment (age of progress) would end adruptly. At that point, the industrial society (age of progress) could not support the population it created. Once that happened, the die-off would begin in earnest, end of story (the instructors would not speculate what might happen after that).

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pedaling Backward, Going Foward

Here's a pic of my Great Grandmother's wood oven. Gee, do you think there will be a day when I'll be happy to have it? Do you think I should go over and get that heavy pup, right now?

I'll just bet that when my Great Grandmother got this oven new, she had the newest modern innovation of the day! Suppose, the other women in the small community came over to gaze at it? Marvel at it? Do you think there will again be a day, that this very oven will be marveled at again? If you answered "yes" to that question call yourself a "reversalist".

Right now, a very interesting conversation is going on over at The Oil Drum. Sharon Astyk has an article called,"Is Relocation Doomed?: A Response to Staniford's "Fallacy of Reversibility". My friend FAR and I are discussing this over at his site, "Tales from FAR Manor". What's actually being talked about? Ha! ha! "going back", we learned from the Olduvai Theory, that as energy consumption declines so will our lifestyle and population. Going back a little further, I discussed Jay Hanson's thoughts of why most people can only think "progressively". This could be the classic example, of someones vision of the future who simply cannot think of terms of decline. They may see a future with less energy however, we'll invent our way out of it, or do something different to continue the linear progression of human history, as they see it. Most of the "controlled theories" of the future are derived from this kind of thought. Most of these people have one thing in common, they do not understand the laws of thermodynamics. It takes power to make power! You cannot come up with more power if it's not there to be had. Can't borrow it and pay later either. For every action there is a reaction.....

Back over at BNB, I described a concept, "pedaling backward, going forward". Those of us back at the old school house enjoyed going on our annual spring trip to Mackinac Island. There is no motorized vehicles allowed on the island, so it's either pedal or horseback to get around. Naturally, when we were over there, the kids from the island would show off their skills on bicycles. This included "pedaling backward, going forward". That is their butts were on the handlebars, they were pedaling backward, going forward. What a strange site to see! Anyway, I liken this to what we could expect on the other side of the curve on our descent. With our energy resources depleting, life could be similar as going back in time when we had the same amount of energy. The kids knew the roads very well, they have traveled them all their life, by viewing the past (facing the scenery backwards) they could tell where they were headed (going forward) in the future. They would only once in a while turn around, look ahead to see if any obstacles lay in their path. Furthermore, I explained, that anyone who could not understand this concept, would not be able to understand anything that I would later pertain to. Sharon was in full agreement with this thought. It was at this point she wanted to "see" my vision. Again. our "good doctor" from Oxford could not grasp this, but desperately wanted to "see" this vision also. Kentar had left the conversation at this point. However, I think he was just shocked, after I revealed this point. He often thought that I'd, "be sigging along and then would suddenly zag."
So at this point, I've pretty much have shown my hand here. However, I could be very, very, wrong about this. I do believe we've been in decline now for almost 30 years, and I am assuming this. Staniford, does have a point when he questions us, "So why do you industrialize a society, is that process reversible? This is a very good question especially after using the example that we cannot repeat back much of what is already done....
It's quite likely, that Staniford doesn't believe that this society has declined at all and he's not alone. Neither do my instructors! These individuals are the darkest people, I've ever met in my life! And it will be their vision (our vision) of what life without power might be like, that I'll reveal. I'll explain why they don't think we've declined, in my next article.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Ace of Spades Part III, The Olduvai Theory

THE OLDUVAI THEORY and going back to the stone age.....
The above photo was taken almost twenty years ago, and shows one of my primitive tepee camps and my old hunting dog. I stayed at this camp for a month and a half before moving to another similar camp and stayed there another two months.
The Olduvai theory states that the industrial civilization will have a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years (1930-2030). Gee, that 1930 date is mighty close when electrical generation was coupled to machines of mass production, eh? This theory was first introduced by Richard Duncan PH. D. in 1989 (almost ten years after my formal education), and divides human history into three phases. The first "pre-industrial" encompasses most of human history when simple tools and weak machines (like the photo posted earlier), limited economic growth. The second "industrial" phase encompasses modern industrial civilization where machines temporarily lifted all limits of growth. The final "de-industrial" phase follows where industrial economies decline to the point of equilibrium with nonrenewable resources and the natural environment.
The decline of the industrial phase is broken into three sections: 1) The Olduvai slope (1979-1999), 2) The Olduvai slide (2000-2011), this marks escalating warfare in the Middle East and the peak of world oil production, 3) The Olduvai cliff (2012-2030), by 2012 an epidemic of permanent blackouts spread worldwide, first there will be waves of brown outs and temporary blackouts, then finally the electric power networks themselves expire. Finally culminating to a world population of 2 billion circa 2050.
A staunch supporter of this theory, Perry Arnett, (a frequent poster on Jay Hanson's "lists"), has a timetable of the following events: 2005, oil probably peaked, still on an undulating plateau in 2007, starts cliff 2010-2012 or before. 2012, U.S. electricity brownout and blackouts become the norm, or sooner. 2015, World die-off begins in earnest. 2030, U.S. per-capita energy consumption hits the "30% mark-After Peak" equaling a 1930's lifestyle (probably much sooner).
I only wished that one of the instructors lived long enough to see this! Would it have changed his apocalyptic view? Probably not, it hasn't changed the other instructors view of the future, either.......

The Ace of Spades Part II, Electricity


Some people claim that an image is worth a thousands words. Indeed. At first, I thought what a beautiful photo! Until, upon further inspection, I saw it captured the transmission lines..However, the more I looked at it, it too spoke a thousand words, like what a beautiful blue sky near the lines and how gloomier the sky was going away from them. Surely a sunset, marking the end of the day. Also the very dark forest beneath them.......

I'll never forget one day back at the old school house, the instructor had the classmates hold hands around a circle, as he cranked up an old WWII radio. Well, when the business ends were held at each end of the circle, we were all in for a shocking experience! The instructor was just grinning from ear to ear, as he delighted in continuing to crank! None of us could let go and the hair was starting to raise on our heads! Such began our study of electricity, and this particular instructor would not let go of this topic for the better part of two years. It wasn't so much about electricity itself but just how dependent our society was to it. When he did stop cranking and we were finally able to let go, he screamed, "This is how you will feel when the power goes down for good and before then you will not be able to let go!" This happened over 35 years ago and he was right about us not being able to let go of this kind of power, yet.

Actually, electricity is a vehicle that delivers the power that electrical generators convert from the real energy the powers them. That energy can be from coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, etc., that drives the generating plant. In other words, it takes power to make power. Electricity is then a byproduct of real energy that conveniently transforms that energy into a more usable form that products can use such as, PCs, TVs, and other appliances. You cannot run your TV on gasoline for example. Electricity powers a lot more than just appliances, it powers your vehicle also, by detonating the compressed gas in the cylinder by a electronic spark. It also delivers your water, power to pump your gas, produce and deliver the food you eat, and on and on. It's not only the power of fossil fuel that keeps you alive but the power through electricity that is derived from it. Furthermore, you cannot have one without the other....
The instructors thought, (and apparently almost everyone else), that if our modern society should collapse, that it would be the lack of electrical power that would characterize it. In fact, our human population didn't explode until fossil fuel was coupled with electrical generation, as discussed earlier. This is what actually defines our modern society or modern environment. Nothing has changed our world like this, not even the splitting of the atom. To put this into prospective, the gasoline combustible engine, the way your water and gasoline is pumped, the way your food is produced and delivered, the way your appliances and lights work are virtually the same as it was fifty years ago. That is, how many home and cars are nuclear powered?
Most people alive today can't remember a time without electrical power, in fact, most of us just take it for granted. Most people have no idea what life without power would be like. I like to play a little game with people, illustrating this fact. This is how the game is played, describe to me what you think you and you're family's life might be like during the first day without power. Be complete as you can by starting with waking up and end by going to bed. Almost like a diary of you're what doing, all day long. Include, what you think your neighbors are doing, if you want to. Make it as complete as you can and about the length of this article. Send it to me and I'll comment. The next step, the same thing but describe a diary like day of events on day two of a power outage, again I'll comment. Then describe the events of day three without power, I'll comment and so-on....I have done this many times and it usually does'nt last past day three. I will not make a fool of you! There where two people that were brave enough to do this on BNB, including the good doctor from Oxford. That was in front of hundreds of daily readers! Of course, this was a real eye opener not only for those involved but the entire crowd that was watching on! This event alone, perhaps indicated a level of play that my fellow players around the table could not match. This is when Kentar, almost stopped communicating with me entirely, at that point he left the conversation altogether. Sharon was just astonished, and our good doctor turned into Lord Rothschild.
This is one of my best ways to lift the veil, so to speak. Does anyone want to play?

The Ace of Spades Part I, Prelude


Now this story is about to get very interesting and perhaps frightening to some. As a young man, I developed this image in my mind or vision if you will, of the coming die-off of our society in this environment. I'm going to start to paint a picture of what the die-off might look like. By following each step in this process, you might at the end, be able to view the same picture as I. When I was finished describing this scenario over at BNB, perhaps only half of the people could envision this portrait. One of them that couldn't was a former professor from the Oxford University of England. This "elderly women", just could not grasp to what I was eluding to, even after others on the post and myself, was helping her all that we could. As much as she tried, she just couldn't "see it". It's to this personality, that I'm going to dedicate this "ace" to. I'll be actually throwing this ace towards the greatest mind who ever contemplated the die-off, in my opinion. As I said before, I have the utmost respect for this personality.

This segment, "Ace of Spades" will be a lengthy one, I'll be combining all the concepts discussed in this series and how they'll pertain in the lights are out for good scenario. Furthermore, I'll be discussing a scenario, as if all electrical generation from the interconnected grid should go down on the North American continent within days and weeks, not months and years. I'll be discussing if this is actually possible and the probability of this actually happening.

I cannot claim the originality of this piece, as there are many others who share almost the same vision, as I have. Of these people, are my instructors, some of my fellow classmates, and others who I've met along this trail, I call, "life". I'll be staying true to the wishes of those who have got me this far, and not discuss or speculate what life might be like after the die-off.

To those who are about to walk down this trail with me,"Good Luck!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Jack of Spades, Food


I've just read of an account of some suburbanite, that the minute when the shit hits the fan, she's going to bug out and go live in the nearest National Forest,(again, this person thought this is when the power will go out for good). However, she's worried about leaving her animals behind. I almost felt like replying, that she had better take them with her, if she plans on eating something....but thought better of it. Why on earth would I want to waste my time?

I've spent a great deal of time in the woods and have actually subsisted entirely on a diet coming from times,....for not very long......,and only where game, fish and wild edibles abound...,and by using modern weapons, snares, fish line, etc.... and having a vast knowledge in order to do so. Still with all the experience that I've obtained over the years and being in a land where deer out number the people, I'd have to say that my chances of being alive after one or two years, to be almost zero. I am certain of this, as I've been as close to this situation than anyone I've ever known. I've always lost a lot of weight attempting to live in the wild and even though I can harvest game and edibles, quickly and efficiently, this does take effort. In the long run, I can't help but think that this situation is a "sink", that is, expending more energy than what I'm getting out of it. Perhaps, if more skilled persons like myself grouped together this situation might change, however, anyone not able to pull their own weight, would be not only a reliability to themselves but could be detrimental to the entire group.

Like water, everyone must be able to eat to maintain their activity. The human body will do almost anything to stay alive, this includes some unimaginable things. Like the rats in the box, I don't think it would take much of a reduction of food in our society before our environment would change, especially when most of those rats can only think progressively. Again, one only has to look at Katrina or any other disaster to find people refusing to leave the situation or not believing it is happening at all or making the situation worse than it already is.

There's some people out there who think that the earth can support as much as two billion people, without the use of fossil fuels and this may be very well so. The population was raising during the agricultural era (1700's through the 1800's) as depicted on population charts, with plenty room for expansion. However, this can only be realized if this transition is slow enough for people to adapt to this new environment. Learning how to farm without the use of fossil fuels for example. It will also take time for some land to become fertile again after years of misuse.

Under the lights are suddenly out scenario, well, we just wouldn't have the time to adapt, certainly not for the 300 million living in this country. We just wouldn't have the power to plant, water, fertilize, harvest and transport crops. At this point, this new environment couldn't even support a fraction of the existing population and the die-off would begin. An example of this might be a wild fire burning through a hay field. It is reasonable to believe that the population would be much lower than it was during the agricultural era, as it'll be very likely we would not have the resources nor the knowledge that was afforded to sustain the population back then.

The Ten of Spades, Part II, The Assumption of Continuous Growth


Going back briefly to part I, one should come away with this thought, that once the modern industrial age began, so did the population explosion. More food was produced by three things that were not present in the age or environment before it. 1) Electrical generation, 2) mass production of uniform parts, 3) wide spread use of fossil fuels. The above photo shows a farm implement that was made before electrical generation.

For thousands of years, people could expect that their offspring would have a reasonable chance at a better lifestyle than they had. This was an reasonable assumption, that is until the industrial environment came to being. During this "run" our natural resources are being consumed at an unprecedented rate. As our population expands, so does the rate of consumption. Of course this consumption produces pollution even further destroying what resources are left. There could be a day when these resources are eventually gone, or spent, if you believe that resources such as oil is limited.

There's a concept that I'll borrow from Jay Hanson and share with you. Hanson's thoughts about why most people cannot come to terms with peak oil is that through out the thousands of years of progressing, people have become conditioned to think in those terms. That is, most people can only think "progressively" forward, they are incapable of imagining a tomorrow of decline, not there. They simply cannot "see" it. This isn't their fault, after thousands of years of conditioning, it's in the genetic make-up. Perhaps, an example of this might be sheep following one another over a cliff.

This thought of "ever progressing" is not only limited to people. Continuous growth is the basic assumption, driving our economy. Investment is made in hopes of future growth. Loans are made in hope of growth. Interest is only realized after growth. Without real growth, how can our financial system survive? Suppose, we're almost there? Could it be, that after this last expansion of growth this country has experienced from the housing market, employing perhaps a quarter of Americans, there's nothing more to grow?

When the resources that products are made from become to scarce or too expensive to profit from we can expect those products will no longer be made. No company is going to make them for nothing, not for long. Perhaps, this has been happening already? When a product costs more to make and transport, than what the market will bear, that product becomes "worthless". Could we be seeing this now with the McMansions that are in the out-laying communities far from employment centers?

The Ten of Spades Part I, The Industrial Environment


Ever hear of anyone calling it this? Most terms we hear are "industrial revolution", industrial society" and so-on. Well, let me assure you that nothing has had a more profound effect on the earth than this movement in thousands of years. Resource depletion, pollution, extinctions and global warming just to name a few. Maybe in that order?

Back over at BNB (, there was some discussion on how our economy has evolved here in the U.S.. I can remember offering my version of it in order, hunter/gather, agricultural, industrial, service, finance and finally leading to now, the "knowledge economy". That each economy actually evolved from the one preceding it and would contribute to the development of the proceeding one, following it. An example of this might be: From the agricultural economy grew the labor needed to develop the industrial economy. From the industrial economy grew the products that would later grow the service economy to maintain the products and the lifestyle that economy afforded. Which in turn grew the financial economy as an attempt to continue the lifestyle afforded by the previous economy. At last, we're in the knowledge economy in an attempt to maintain the financial one. Notice, how we're actually going backwards to maintain the lifestyle the industrial/service economy afforded? This is another concept that is very hard to follow and or accept. If I were to speculate in the future, I would dare say we'll likely go full circle and evolve to another agricultural economy of some kind.

When did the industrial environment, or movement really begin in earnest when it started to have this profound effect on the land? I would dare say some where in the early 1900's, especially when machinery transformed the previous agricultural movement by replacing the energy that up to then was produced by men and livestock.

Back at the old school house, the instructors thought there were only two men who actually changed the world, benefiting mankind. They are often called the "fathers of the industrial society" and were the best of friends. They are Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, together these two men actually transformed the world, more than anyone else, in the history of mankind.

Henry Ford, often thought of the father of the automobile was much more than that. Actually, he is the father of modern assembly lines used in the mass production of uniform parts. Thomas Edison, often thought of the father of electricity, was actually one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production to the process of invention. Through electrical generation, this would provide the power needed to produce parts and products in mass quantity. Ford held a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. It was Ford, who thought that by coupling innovation and a higher wage for workers, would enable those workers to buy the products being made.

Together these men actually created the modern industrial society, and Michigan actually being the heart of it. It was here for decades, that through innovation, the lifestyle of the people living in the Mid-West was and continues to be, the envy of the world. However, that is just now beginning to change. As our economy has changed ever more to a global one, that industry is now being lost or imported to countries that have a cheaper work force. Since Michigan was the first to go on line in this industrial environment, it only stands to reason it would be the first to decline without it. That is where we are now. I have contended for years that Michigan still leads the economy, it's only the rest of the country that will eventually "catch up". That is, what we have experienced here in Michigan, the whole country will soon experience.

Even though Ford's dream was a noble one, it was doomed to fail from the start. Probably unknown to him or Edison, was that the earth's resources are limited, making consumerism unsustainable. It's very likely both men held a linear view of the future, that through new innovation the human race would ever progress. Also, I can't imagine that both men could foresee the "elephant in room", that was created during this movement.

Monday, January 21, 2008

King of Spades Part IV, Rats in a Box


The next concept in this population dynamics series I'd like to relate came to me, while I was over at David Pollard's very interesting site, "How to Change the World". Pollard described the situation we're all in, as like rats in a very large box, that continued to populate as more and more food was introduced into the box. Indeed, any population will expand as long as there's food to support it. But what happens if this food was reduced by 10% or 50% suddenly? Maybe the rats could get by on the 10% reduction and their population would stabilize in adjustment. They would be adapting to the new environment inside the box. However, a sudden 50% reduction of food and it's quite likely we'd have a problem with this environment, as there would not be enough time to adapt to such a reduction. It's very likely the rats would become cannibalistic, mutate and or die-off. Perhaps, some could manage to get out of the box?!

Likening our population to those of the rats and the box as our society, it only stands to reason that one would better off to leave this society than likely go down with it, if there was a sudden crash. However, one would be taking his chances of adapting to the new environment outside the box or die trying to adapt. If one could, wouldn't it be wise to try to adapt to this new environment, before a crisis arises? Well, of course it would be! This is easier said than done, I can promise you that. For some, it's altogether impossible because they would not have the time to adjust to it and yet for others, they wouldn't be able to adapt even if they had the time to do so.
An example of this might be: Winter can be very hard on the deer herd here in Northern Michigan and annual "die-offs" are a normal occurance. During the summer months, of the deer that come to our yard we supplement their diet with corn, (these are deer who are getting outside the box as opposed the deer who are not getting the supplement, as those stuck in the box). When winter comes the entire herd, (representing the total population both those that diets were supplemented and those not), goes to yard in the swamp together (inside the box) where again corn will be supplemented to their diet to prevent starvation. Most the deer that were supplemented corn in their diet through the summer are more likely to survive because they could adapt and digest the corn. While many of the others who didn't have corn in the summer, died with corn in their stomachs, they couldn't digest it, or adapt to it.

This is not an easy concept to comprehend. One personality over at BNB had no problem following this concept, that was Whatmeworry. Whatmeworry, in my opinion, was by far the brightest person on the posts, however very radical. This "little old lady", who was living at some compound in the middle of the Arizona desert, ( I was gullible enough to believe this at the time), prided herself by having piles of whole and cracked corn. When I told her, I'd rather be sitting on a pile of Big Mac's and that at least I could digest this, she became very upset. Being a genius doesn't make you always right, doesn't enable you to digest corn in this matter and doesn't ensure that you'll be able to adapt or survive, period. I had insulted her intelligence and everyone would pay dearly for it! However, she did agree completely with this concept and even expressed sorrow for those who couldn't grasp or accept it. Again, we both viewed a very sudden collapse of society, that once die-off began in earnest, it'd have a life of it's own and there was no way of stopping it. Not only did we view the die-off as an event but a thing, a monster if you will. That the only chance of survival was to completely get out of the way of it.

Another person who didn't like where I was going with this was Kentar. I was suggesting that perhaps the only way out of this collapse was to leave civilization or anyplace you might find transmission lines, behind. As you might recall Kentar viewed collapse as coming ever so slowly, not a event but a series of declines. Kentar questioned that although this might be an option for someone with the experience that I have, it wouldn't realistically be an option for just about anyone else there on the board. Of course, I had to agree with this and even offered that someone of my experience couldn't last long or go very far, without the help of others. However, at this time Kentar, did agree that this might be the only approach,(leaving civilization behind), if the lights should go out for good suddenly, but thought this wasn't very likely.

Under the lights are out for good scenario, it's much better looking inside the box from the outside, than inside the box looking out!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The King of Spades Part III, Isolation


It wasn't long after discussing the dynamics of hare populations and how much of the same characteristics were displayed during the Black Plague in Europe, when Kentar provided a link to the Paul Chefurka site. This can be found at . This is a popular model assuming zero population growth,(the best case scenario),and how the die-off could occur. Most readers over at BNB who were following the conversation, were just horrified! Kentar and I tried to lighten up the mood by joking in effect to obtain zero population growth, would be like asking people to quit having sex... Of course this isn't entirely true, as when deaths exceed births, that is zero population growth. When is that likely to occur? I don't really have an answer to that but, if I had to guess, within the next five years.

It was at this point in the conversation, that I began wondering if I wanted to continue describing what I thought might happen if the lights went out for good, scenario. Of course, the Paul Chefurka site irritated some people, and there were a lot of people who simply weren't posting much beyond this point. This conversation again, can be found in the archives of February and March. I suspect for most, they were too scared to join in the conversation that Sharon, yooper, Kentar and whatmeworry were having. That it was perhaps better to be,"quietly listening"......

Somehow, the conversation turned to thoughts of extinction. I had some definite thoughts about this, as most of the instructors back at the old school house shared this common view, that this "Modern Man" would eventually become extinct.

Perhaps, the most misunderstood aspect of the extinction process and of population dynamics in general, is the effect that isolation has upon it. This is what makes,"island studies" so interesting. Information gathered from such studies is fairly new, within the last fifty years. However, the effects of isolation determine almost all extinctions. I'll use the sharp-tailed grouse here in Michigan as an example to illustrate this concept. Before the massive deforestation of the Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota in the late 1800's and early 1900's they were no sharp-tailed grouse in the State. The Sharp-tailed grouse preferred habitat is the grasslands habitat that is found in the western part of the Nation, there it is indigenous and has been for perhaps thousands of years. Once this corridor of now open land and preferable habitat was created, the birds flourish and spread eastward into Michigan. Now, 100 years later these birds will likely become extinct within the next 50 years, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. This diagnosis came after the realization that the birds have become isolated from the indigenous habitat out west. Therefore the distance between suitable habitats,(isolation) is too great for the birds to interact. Sharp-tailed grouse is now extinct in Wisconsin and the ones remaining in the last grassland habitat in Michigan are now trapped from the populations out west. Furthermore, even the distances where sharp-tails exist in Michigan, have become isolated from each other, due to forestation. Even if habitat could be maintained to support a number of birds, they'd likely die out eventually from effects due to interbreeding. So, if a species becomes isolated and cannot impregnate another suitable habitat, the extinction process begins, if that specie cannot adapt to the invading environment. Sharp-tailed grouse are an example of a specie that does not adapt well.
White-tailed deer on the other hand are quite adaptable. Back in the late 1980's, I was privileged enough to obtain a permit to hunt deer on North Manitou Island, Michigan. This is a hunt put on by the MDNR and what's called a primitive hunt, that is what you pack in, you must pack out.. North Manitou Island is 7 3/4 miles long by 4 1/4 miles wide and is located almost in the northern middle part of Lake Michigan. Back in 1926 four male and five female deer were introduced to the island in hopes they would multiply enough to a number large enough for hunting. By 1981, there were an estimated 2,000 deer on the island! The population is now controlled by the hunts, however, not until the deer on the island had mutated to half the size of the deer on the main land! If this population was permitted to go unchecked, I'm sure the deer herd would became extinct in some unimaginable way. This is supported by other island introductions of species, time and again.
The instructors view of isolation was a very unique one. They viewed modern man as a weaker specie from earlier ones, and the more that we strayed from a sustainable environment, the weaker man would become. Furthermore, man already in a physical state of decline could find the distance to a suitable habitat, too great to penetrate. The distance to suitable habitats would become greater, as those habitats grew smaller. When contemplating distance often time is involved. They thought that man already in a weakened state would not have enough resource to make the transition to another suitable habitat in time. If it took X amount of time and unlimited resource to get where we are today and for the population to build as it has, is it reasonable to expect the population to unfold in the same amount of time as resource depletes?


demography: the science which aims to apply the knowledge gained from vital and social statistics. toward the development of mankind.

source: The Winston Dictionary, Advanced Addition, 1946.

This is an interesting graph, that I stumbled by. Notice, how world population tripled in the last 100 years. However, the industrialized regions only doubled, during this time, and is projected to level off during the next 50 years. Of course, this is only an assumption, not fact, as we're not there yet.

Some European countries populations are in fact in decline and Japan's population is expected to decline. Through better nutrition, education and medicine in the last 100 years, has enabled the population to grow older. Of course this drives down the rate of fertility. Just as infant mortality drives down the medium age within a population. This presents quite the challenge for certain countries to support this aging population in coming years.

Back at the old school house, the instructors insisted that any given land and it's natural resources can only support X amount of people in the long term. Their favorite example was here, the U.P. of Michigan. The population has virtually went unchanged in the last 100 years,(1900's), in this industrial/agricultural environment. The environment of the 1800's was much different and only supported a fraction of the present population. It was the power of fossil fuels in the 1900's that transformed the environment on this land. Within this time span, the economy has changed from timber harvest, to agricultural, (which was a failed experiment by the Federal Government), to tourism. Now, the forest somewhat resembles the forest that was found in the early 1900's. Also during this time, the population aged, in a two fold way, of those that stayed here are getting older and of those that had to move to support families have been replaced by people who are retiring here. This has drove down the fertility rate to the point the school system has been halved in student population since I went to school! So the population peaked in the early 1900's and has managed to stay consistent, riding a plateau for the last 100 years. This would suggest that the population level is at the maximum point, the land can support in this environment that depends on fossil fuels.

Back to the graph, most of the population expansion has come from developing regions, they are just now coming on line of being able to support larger populations. Again, through the use of fossil fuels is this only made possible. The population's medium age is much younger than that of industrialized regions, naturally making the fertility rates much higher. Most of these regions are 100 years behind those regions that were industrialized 100 years ago! To even further exasperate the problem is wealth is not more evenly distributed as it had been for earlier industrialized regions, making these people uneducated and poorer. Of course, this also inflates the fertility rate.

I have some very dire forecasts for many of these developing regions with higher populations, in coming articles.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The King of Spades Part II, Population Dynamics

Population Dynamics

There are those who insist that all life forms follow a distinctive bell shape pattern as the population builds, peaks, descends. Nothing could be further from the truth! Or actual scientific fact. I have been studying population cycles of snowshoe hare and ruffed grouse, almost my entire life. I've thousands of hours of research and practical study of these two species. For the most part research has stopped for these two species long ago. There are only so many times one can add two and two and come up with four, again, again and yet again. Time and again, research has only come up with what was already known.

What's so intriguing about these two species? Well their population cycles display a certain pattern described as "cyclic", that is there is a predictable amount of time between cycles and this has likely occurred for thousands of years. Scientists are no further today than when they started as to explaining why these cycles occur. Some have come to the conclusion, including myself, that this phenomena is "divine" in nature.... Furthermore, even when conditions are manipulated, such as improved habitat, lower predation and even lowering the population itself, this has no apparent effect on the timing of the cycle itself. Perhaps, this is nature's way of keeping balance and insuring survival of the species?

Last year, while explaining this to the readers at BNB and being sensitive to them, I left out the part of manipulation having no effect upon the cycle itself. Of course, using this information supported my case that a die-off could occur within a very short time span, under the lights are out for good, scenario. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this presented that crashes in population or die-offs have occurred naturally, here on this earth. Some people on this post had to be convinced of this fact...

One personality on this post needed little convincing that hares could "drop dead" overnight. His name was Kentar, and he held a long decline view, describing that it may take centuries for our population to unwind. Kentar recalled during his childhood out west somewhere, that hares would continue to populate until their preferred food source was exhausted. Once this happened, he recalled going out picking up the dead bodies and burning them in a pile. I was somewhat shocked that he'd offer this support as it seemed we were always at the opposite ends of the spectrum. However, I greatly admired his prospective, sound logic in supporting his position and the overall comforting nature about him. Kentar used alot of historical information in supporting his stance. My view of the human population had been of a linear one, forever rising from the stone age on, this is supported by any graph that depicts human history. Kentar on the other hand argued that humanity's population was a cyclical one. I contended that this sudden spike in human population that occurred in the last one hundred years had never happened before. While Kentar maintained it indeed happened before and that it would likely happen again. At the time, even now, I'm open to this idea that our population could fall to even a near extinction level and come back. This in fact has happened at other times in prehistoric times. We both agreed that the next cycle would likely be of a lessor population, since there would not be enough resources left to enable a population to grow at this level. I was finding myself agreeing with almost all of what Kentar was trying to convey. Surely, this man was educated much the same way I was, why was he so sure this would be a "long emergency"?

Friday, January 18, 2008

The King of Spades, Part I, Population Dynamics

Population Dynamics

Many people believe that our human population will be reduced by the scarcity of oil and other resources that our society has come to depend on. That this reduction will actually correspond much like it had exploded when the rate of resources consumed, soared. Put another way, as our resources deplete, so will the population in comparison to it. Or yet another way, our population will decline at the same rate of depletion. Many contend that following the population trend that has increased in the last 100 years will decrease in much the same matter and time, in the next 100 years. Much like those "bell graphs" or "Hubbert's curve", everyone is used to seeing on sites such as LATOC, Die-off, The Oil Drum, etc.. Most show how the human population has followed the rate at which oil has been consumed and now many contend we're at the peak or around there somewhere.

It would be an assumption on our part to project anything in the future. We're simply not there yet! Facts can be only found in the past. It would be a pretense on our part to project that the population dynamics would follow a similiar pattern on the back side of the curve as opposed to the front side. Perhaps, we're on some kind of plateau as of now, and our energy demand is barely being met to support the present population. Once demand surpasses energy production, would it be reasonable to start to see decline in population? No. The momentum of the population expansion will "carry over" or "overshoot", the actual resource base that can sustain it. Overshoot occurs when a population exceeds the long term carrying capacity of its environment. The consequence of overshoot is called a "crash" or die-off". There are some who contend that overshoot, likely started in the late 1970's and some estimates are suggesting that we're over 25% past carrying capacity now. To my knowledge, world population continues to grow, however at a slower rate than the recent past.

My point here, is that no one knows for sure how our population will descend, but a some point it will, once resources cannot support the existing population in this environment. Since no one can accurately predict how consumption of energy and other resources will play out in the future, it's impossible to predict how populations around the world will react, with any certainly.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Descent, Controlled or Chaotic?

If you believe that our society will see some kind of descent, do you think it'll be controlled or chaotic (natural), or somewhere in between? Perhaps, it'll be both at the same time? There's a very good future scenario, now being described by the,"Old Horseman" over at LATOC (Life After the Oil Crash), suggesting a contolled descent. This can be found by going to discussion, then under the "best of forum" category. It's also a version of a commonly held belief also dating back fifty or so years. Basically speaking, this vision of the future usually assumes TBTB, (the powers that be), or the elite will control descent by concentrating people into cities and establishing a new sustainable way of life there. That is the controlled aspect of this approach and almost all those holding this belief think it will come, when electrical power is shut down in out lying areas. People are thought to come to these cities willingly after being deprived of power, food, medical attention, etc.. Those who are unwilling to conform to this approach will be left on the outside to fend for themselves, probably in a chaotic matter.

The Old Horseman's story is a must read for anyone interested in what our near future may hold. I won't bother repeating here, after all, it's only a few clicks away. His story or vision, is very much like the one described by, "Lord Rothschild" over at BNB. However, even though the structure is much alike, Rothschild went much, much deeper than the Horseman about how this would come about.... Rothschild, was forever insisting that it would be the elite who manage resource depletion in a matter that pleased them. Rothschild's view came in the form of people willing to take an implant chip to the brain. In doing so these people's behavior would be then modified to suit the ruling elite and in exchange for this service, credits would be assigned, enough to keep one "satisfied", within the system. Like the Horseman's thought, those on the outside would just have to fend for themselves... Rothschild also believed that by the continued use of "chem-trails", this would soften people's minds into eventually making the elite's dream come true. I don't know much about these things like brain chips or chem-trails, however, I do respect this personality immensely and will devote a lenghty article paying tribute to this personality.

I suppose, my own thoughts about descent are that we have been in a real decline for awhile, probably since man landed on the moon. I do believe in TPTB or the elite, however, I think, it's just now they have lost control they did have. It's possible they cannot mask this any longer. The model of continuous growth has run it's course. The world wide housing, credit, and consumption bubbles are evidence of just that. A catabolic collapse? Quite possibly. It would be in their interest to settle this quickly, while a certain amount of resources are still to be had, if they have the power to do so. I'm much more inclined to think, that the world is much too big for anyone or group of people to control. Perhaps the unfolding of this society will come naturally, almost having a "will" of it's own and there's little anyone can do about it. Certainly, one of the negative feedback loops of our industrial society has brought about is climate change. As our resources deplete any thoughts of building another world, are just slipping away. All waves eventually crest before they come crashing down........

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Queen of Spades, Water


It was New Years Eve 2005, when I came across a futuristic scenario written by Carolyn Baker, over at a site that was called, "Adaptation". I can't remember the title of this article, but I suppose after reading it, I knew in my heart that after 35 years of silence, I just had to bring something forth. I had been formally educated and groomed, to criticize such scenarios with historical and scientific fact.

The story went something like this: It related the life of a middle aged couple living in some suburb of Detroit, Michigan, through a diary the wife was keeping. It started out explaining how the young couple through good jobs worked their way up the ladder and into a nice neighborhood where they could raise their children. The husband had a good job at an auto manufacturer and they afforded the good life until he lost his job there. By that time the kids were out of school and pretty much on their own. The wife returned to work to try to make up the difference, but their lifestyle continued to decline. Their neighbors were no better off and soon shortages of food, gas and other items needed for daily living were becoming more common place. Even communication between the couple and their children became spotty, as lines were apparently not in order and the Internet was off and on. Soon, all communication was broken off from their siblings. Also during this time the power was going on and off and the duration of outages was lasting longer and longer. Finally, the couple decided to flee the neighborhood after the power went out for good and roaming gangs of young people were taking what they wanted. Total chaos had taken to the streets and had spread from the inner city to the out lying neighborhoods. Along the way in their flight on foot from the suburbs out towards the countryside, the couple was fortunate to get A GLASS OF WATER A DAY. It wasn't long into the journey that the husband finally perished from a lack of his medication. The women continued on until she happened onto a farm that was willing to take her on. End of story.

Now normally, I'm the type of guy that would set something like this aside. However, this story came from a professional writer with a PH.D, no less! I was outraged! How could someone of her stature drop the ball, so to speak, so profoundly. I decided to email her at once and a spirited email exchange ensued on New Year's Day of 2006, during the Rose Parade. I really didn't have a problem with the story until the power went completely out and yet that fleeing couple on foot managed to even find a glass of water a day! Let alone continue on in this matter! Apparently, no one had ever brought this to her attention. It wasn't long before I suspect she had pulled the article altogether, I can't find it anywhere. It was then, I realized I had made a mistake bringing this folly to her attention. Now, I couldn't use this article in supporting my case. One thing that story did for me, was it deepened my resolve to come forth with my own version of what might happen in the near future. That is, the future up to the die-off, beyond that I was never to have a hypothesis. Back at the old school house, the instructors were quite adamant about theorizing beyond die-off, as they thought there was no point in it.

What the instructors did make a point of are those elements needed for survival, and water was one of them. All life forms on this earth depend on water. The human body is composed of about 70% of water. While the body can survive without food for about five weeks, the body cannot survive without water for longer than five days. On the average, our bodies need at least eight glasses of water a day. A regular glass of water contains about eight ounces. Put another way, our bodies need a half ounce of water for every pound of weight, unless we're very active, in which case we'll need to increase the intake to two-thirds an ounce of water per pound of body weight, daily.

Another aspect of Baker's thought about the couple only getting a glass of water a day, where would that water come from? The story was told that the power had went out for good. I can't remember if this was nation wide, I'm assuming it was, however even if the power was out regionally, say like what happened in August of 2003 when the Northeast Blackout occurred, "city water " would likely stop running after a week. This critical part of our infrastructure, is designed, built and managed on the assumption of contineous power. Of course, most water treatment plants have diesel back ups to keep the water flowing, however, this is just a temporary fix until the power would come back on. Most of these diesel back ups cannot do the work as their electrical counterparts. Most have about a week's worth of fuel stored for just an emergency, but what happens after a week? It's just not feasible that all of the thousands of back ups would be refueled in such a scenario...How? Here's something to think about, how would New York city water over eight million residents without power?

Imagine for a moment, four million people of the Detroit Metropolitan area fleeing out to the countryside looking for a drink of water.....In this scenario, when the power is out, that can only be the case, people will have to go where there is water period, or die. So simple. Don't believe it? Just how many hand pumps do you actually see in the city? Even if there were hand pumps, where are the wells to draw from? Would the water table be at 25 feet or higher in order to use common hand pumps? About the only water these people would have at their disposal would be surface water from ponds, lakes, rivers and such. Much of this surface water is polluted, not fit for human consumption. Sure, this water can be chemically treated but how many people do you know have these tablets? Of course, one could always boil water..... Now we've got real problems, some serious feedback loops are beginning to arise. We have a lot of people sick drinking contaminated water and people who are not accustomed to making fire, suddenly doing so. Could you imagine what the people in the cities of Las Vegas or Tuscon would do if this should happen to them? Could they even walk to water in time? Um, reader, what's your situation with water? Better figure this out...

The class held the topic of water for what seemed like weeks, this I can remember quite well, even after 35 some years. Finally at the end of this discussion, as the instructor made for the door, he said in a low voice, "You all were born from water, without it you shall surely die..." He quietly closed the door behind him and I can still hear him whistling, "Dixie" as he made his way down the hallway..............

The Royal Flush in Spades, Part I, Introduction


It was during the winter of 2006, when I began to prepare the people who were posting over at BNB, ( to hear this message. Most of the people on this board were Wall Street traders, investors, gold bugs and people who had a "bearish" view. I had been following Michael Nystrom's book reviews and the comments being posted for about a year. At the time, this was a large site and comments would range in the hundreds, after each article. Of course, speculation dominated the conversation over there. The people over there were very well read, educated, a very articulate bunch of people! I was just heart broken when the board finally went down mid-April. I had "lost" a lot of good friends that I truly cared about.

Peak Oil, was not a new topic of discussion for these people and it was often apparent this was on their mind when speculating into the future. People often discussed the thoughts of James Kunstler, The Archdruid, Carolyn Baker and the like. However, when it was revealed, that I would describe a die-off having run it's course in a couple of years, did people ever take notice! Furthermore, I predicted that a quarter of world wide population could expire within a month. One half by the end of three months, three quarters by the end of six months, to finally settle at 300,000,000 within one or two years. This prediction is not an uncommon one and is probably one of the oldest going back fifty years or so, regarding the die-off.

It's one thing to talk about Peak Oil, yet another to talk about die-off. Not many people are willing to listen to arguements supporting Peak Oil, any mention of "die-off" and you've lost your audience altogether. This is why many writers refuse to refer to it, it would be shear suicidal to their career if they did so. I would attempt to break this mold, in being forceful to this group of people when discussing this matter. Although this was a "turn-off" to many on the posts, as one reader put it, "why am I preparing, if such a scenario couldn't happen?" Another reader who I suspect is a very well respected Peak Oil commentator asked, "Why must I tell him that he is going to die?" Indeed.....

Of course, this conversation drew many of the Peak Oil writers to the board, as well as many others who have been predicting dire forecasts of the future. If one were to investigate this matter by going through the achieves in the months of February and March, 2007, one can only speculate who "Kentar", "Sharon", "Rich" and "Whatmeworry", are, however, every writer does have their signature. I likened this conversation as players sitting around a high stakes game of poker with the whole casino watching on. The discussion board changed to a new format, accommodating for the "game". Being more comfortable in this new arrangement, the players began to reveal their "hands". This is where I supported my case of such a scenario in five parts, points or concepts in cards.
This new format did'nt last long, perhaps a month. As convenient and subdivided in category the new board was, it was susceptible to spam, eventually to fall victim to a hacker.

In the weeks ahead, I'll turn over one card at a time and explain what it might mean in the future. I'll also discuss for the first time how the others were playing their hands. So not only will you be getting a version of the future from me, but from three others, as they envisioned it.

Naturally, this converstation is not for the timid. The reader will have to be as bold to read it, as I am to write it. Hope you can join in!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Collapse or Decline? Or Just Another Day?

collapse: 1.) to fall in or together; cave in suddenly; shrink together abruptly. 2.) to fail utterly
and suddenly.
decline: 1.) to bend downward; droop. 2.) to draw to a close; fail; decay; disintegrate.
The Winston Dictionary, Advanced Edition, 1946.
If I should ask you how you think our society might end, how would you reply? Collapse or decline? Maybe a combination of both? I've been asking this question to people for a very long time, over 25 years as a matter of fact. Perhaps, you think our civilization will last forever. Whatever "camp" you may be hanging out in, this question is pretty hypothetical and there's a message here for everyone.
As you might expect, I've received a variety of answers over the years. Some reply, oh you mean, w.t.s.h.t.f., (when the shit hits the fan)? Or the ever popular, t.e.o.t.w.a.w.k.i., (the end of the world as we know it). One thing these people have in common, is they see this as an event. Civilization or society would likely end suddenly, in a matter of days, months or years. This best describes, "collapse".
Then there are people who believe we've been declining for awhile now or soon will begin to decline. For the most part, these people believe our society will decline a little bit at a time, something like going down a staircase. There's also people who think as we descend, we'll see periods of recovery only to eventually take another step down. Eventually it would take, 50 years, 100 years, 200 years or even longer when civilization as we know it, might have had it's run. This best describes, "decline".
Of course, there are those people who believe our descent, will come from a combination of decline that leads to collapse. For what it's worth, I'm probably part of this group of people. I envision many parts of society declining to the point it will eventually collapse. There may be periods of recovery or some sort of stabilization, but declines will mount bringing yet another collapse. Series of collapses until our society changes enough to become sustainable.
Quite naturally, there are a lot of people who think, things will go on as usual. For the most part they see society as ever improving, since the "stone age". Technology through innovation, will keep our society ever advancing.
Since I'm on the topic of asking hypothetical questions, I'll ask one more. If you could describe one thing that we'd be without in such a descending scenario, what would it be? This is were it gets interesting... All of the above groups of people have a common answer, they would envision the power being out...... What do we make of that? Seems most people can agree on that!
Over at BNB (, I likened our society to fall like a house of cards and that through the loss of electrical generation would bring about collapse. My friend Kentar, held another view, he likened our society to slowly decline as an old house might eventually cave in. That even though the interior walls collapsed, still this left the attic and possibly the basement still intact and might actually be livable. Furthermore, he believed that our society would eventually build in population again and has actually done this before in human history! How interesting! I had never in my life heard such a claim! Even though I was going to present a case of 95% reduction in the human population, this is hardy what you would call extinction level with remaining 5% left alive. I thought it was possible that there would be other civilizations that would evolve using what resources were left from this one and that perhaps this might happen again in the far future.
In the coming weeks ahead, we'll explore of what life might be like without power......

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Little Sisters, part III

During the next seven weeks that followed at the camp, it almost became routine to hear the little sisters singing and chanting, always happy. From time to time, I'd take a short break from picking, stretching my back, hoping to see them but no such luck. I'd even begin to feel their presence before their singing would begin. I was growing very comfortable around them and looked forward to their visits. Not on that, but I sensed they were getting more comfortable with me, the singing sometimes sounded very near. Never did we have a conversation, as much as I tried. Their only response was giggling and laughter.
The weeks there at the end of November were miserable ones. The weekly take of cranberries was ever smaller. The Frenchman had gotten ill so I wouldn't be questioning him any further. The water in the lake had risen, flooding the bog which was good as it kept the berries from freezing. However, day after day of rain and snow, took it's toll on me, spending a lot of time in the tepee. I could feel the girls presence just outside the tepee at times, before it was always down at the bog. Not a peep out of them while they were there, which was strange.
It had rained and snowed so much that the ground inside the tepee became wet. Instead of moving the tepee which would have been too much work at that point, I cribbed the floor with lengths of saplings. This put my sleeping bag and supplies above the wet soaked ground, even the dog was happy with this arrangement!
Finally the rain and snow gave way to a cold snap. I awoke one morning to find the bog covered in ice! By busting the thin ice with my feet I could still get to the protected berries emerged in the water. Soon after picking about a bushel the sun came out and the girls started to sing once again. Now and then, I would look up to check on the dog who was now content on laying on the ridge. I heard a "yip" from the dog and looked up to my astonishment to see what seemed like the dog playing with the girls! I could not see the girls , but here was the dog carrying on between the two! What a sight to see!!!
The following morning was very bright, the sun filling the whole sky but very cold. I ran up the ridge to find ice now thirty feet from the shoreline! Time to break camp!
The sun was setting behind the pines when I shoved off the shore in the canoe with the last load of supplies. I hadn't heard from the girls the entire day. Suppose they were mad that I was leaving, we'd become so close. At the time I couldn't comprehend how much I'd miss my friends in the months, years to come. Surely, without them, I would have packed it up long before then. Tears welled up in my eyes as the well worn trail faded away from vision. What the little sisters did give me that day I left, was their story to share with you.....

Little Sisters part II

Before we get back to the story, I'd like to let readers know this happened twenty years ago. I've been relating this story mostly to good friends while gathering around campfires. People have begged me to take them to this destination over the years but as you'll find out not everybody can go there....... Most men only read or dream about some of the experiences I had, I've actually lived it. There is a difference............. Back to the story..

The following year after discovering the new bog, I decided to really make a go of it there. This would mean setting up camp, staying there Monday through Friday and returning home on the weekends with the berries that were harvested.

A friend of mine and I erected a large tepee, conveniently located at the dug out section of the ridge, this would help break the wind coming from the lake. Enough fire wood was cut for cooking and warmth for about a month. There was no uneasy feeling this time as we sat camp and no "voices" either. After being quite satisfied with the camp and the amount of cranberries in the bog, we left without a hitch.

The following Monday found me paddling the canoe loaded with a week's worth of supplies and my Labrador retriever, that I brought along for company. Upon reaching the other side, the same occurrence happened that had happened the year before, a very upsetting feeling just overcame me. After pulling the canoe up on dry land and sitting on it, I tried to gather my thoughts. What in the hell was I doing out there? Everything in my being told me to go back! Never, in my life had I experienced such feelings! Was I loosing my mind?

After about an hour of just sitting there, trying to pull myself together, I reasoned that it must be the effects of being so isolated. This has happened to me before, especially when going so far back but, never like this! I gathered my supplies, put them in the plastic sled and managed down the trail. The dog on the other hand was just as pleased as she could be, being in the woods.

Some very ugly thoughts entered my mind while making our way to the tepee, I was somewhat relieved having got there. I could tell the dog really wanted to go hunting, prancing about. Thinking better of it though, I didn't want to have a loaded gun in my hands at the moment. That was how poorly I was feeling! We went berry picking instead, hoping this would keep my mind occupied to things at hand.
By the time it was getting dark, a nice fire was going inside the tepee and we had a good meal over it. I began to feel much better, perhaps it was just getting used to the situation there? Having camped like this many times before, the nagging question was, why was I feeling like this here, now? Hopefully, I'd get over it, there was a lot of cranberries to be had and it would be a shame to have set this camp up for nothing!
It was a beautiful sun shining morning and I had slept well. Today was a new day and I was feeling so much better, much more like myself! After breakfast we went eagerly down to the bog. The dog was quite content lying next to me as I gathered, as she's done hundred's of time before. The floating bog was dry now on top as the lake level hadn't risen yet. By about mid afternoon my back was killing me and that dog sure wanted to go hunting!
The day had been a productive one, perhaps five bushels and I was really beginning to settle in. Wanting to get a good look of the lay of the land anyway, a little hunting would be a refreshing break from the work. It didn't take long to check this out as this stretch of land was very small and completely surrounded by water or formidable swamp. We did come by a hugh fallen white pine that was hollowed out over time. At the base it had to been six foot in diameter or better, by far the largest, I'd ever seen. We did manage to get a partridge and cooked it over the fire that night.
The second day was as beautiful as the day before and by mid-afternoon, saw us hunting once again. This time we followed the woods along the edge of the swamp and came across the trail leading to the canoe. Since we were close, I thought we'd go check on it. Along the way, I just about jumped out of my britches when I spotted someone walking down the trail! It was the old Frenchman!
After exchanging pleasantries, I asked him what the hell was he doing here? This man was in his seventies, one tough old bugger, I thought. He said that he heard that I was up here and wanted to come check on me. I thanked him and asked how he got there? "Well, I have a row boat and come here from time to time." I offered to show him the camp but he refused saying he'd better get back.
After we parted company, I thought it strange that he'd come all that way and not see the camp.
These camps I've made draw quite a bit of interest from curious people! Funny it didn't seem to matter to him at all. Heading down the trail, I kept wondering why there was even a trail in this God forsaken place, in the first place?
On the third day while on the bog, I heard the voices again. It was the same singing as before, little chants that young girls have. The dog awaken from her sleep and was as startled as I was! She looked at me as in disbelief before she tore up the ridge and down the trail. I kept picking but soon stopped as the voices did seem just down the trail. Since the dog was still gone, I decided to investigate the matter. As soon as I reached the ridge the singing stopped. Meeting the dog half way down the trail, by her panting I could tell she had gone all the way to the end where the canoe was. After reaching the canoe and finding everything as I left it and finding absolutely no sign of anybody being there, we headed back to camp.
Again I wondered, why was this trail so worn? Surely, one could count on one hand, how many people would dare come here and for what? The hunting here was very poor, the fishing was also said to be very poor in both lakes. The site where my truck was parked. was also very discouraging to people coming here, as a large mound was bulldozed to prevent people from driving to the first little lake. I'd even bet, in the last fifty years not ten different people had ventured down this trail. I only knew of four other people that had been here and I've lived near here all my life. That is how remote and formidable this land was!
The chants were becoming much more frequent and seemed just over the ridge while gathering on the bog. By now, I was getting used to it, so was the dog as she quit high tailing it down the trail only to come up empty each time.
On the day I was due back, the berries were dumped into garbage sacks and loaded onto to the sled. After making a few trips back and forth to the canoe, I was ready to tie all the bags together and float them behind the canoe. Paddling away, I turned to look back almost half expecting to seeing the girls wave us off, but no such luck. The dog looked long and hard too, thinking we were leaving someone behind...
On the way back, I decided to stop to see the old Frenchman and show him the harvest. As he stared at all the bags, he recalled a time during the Great Depression, when a family lived back there and brought cranberries to him to resale in town. A father and two young daughters actually lived there in some sort of shack. He said he could barely remember much of this but could well remember one time, as he brought back shoes for the young girls after selling their berries in town.
After letting him know that the tepee sat in a dug out area on the ridge, he figured this is probably the same place where their shack once stood. I asked him what was a family living so far back for? He didn't seem to know. Then I asked, what did this father do to earn a living besides harvesting cranberries in the fall? Again, the old man couldn't remember. The Frenchman was becoming annoyed at such questioning, so I quickly mentioned the fact that the trail seemed well worn, that there must be a certain amount of traffic on it. He said, the trail always seemed the same to him and doubted very much if anyone besides him and I have been back there in the last thirty years. It had been a good idea to hold back telling anything about the girls to the Frenchman. Something wasn't quite right with his story......