Hey, why am I the only one yelling?
Bob Fertik stopped yelling.
David Swanson stopped yelling.
Buhdy stopped yelling.
OPOL stopped yelling
Sheehan and Yearwood are yelling about the war.
Should I stop yelling too or YELL LOUDER!!!!!?
Sep 14 2007
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.
– John Donne, Meditation XVII
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
– Constitution of the United States of America
We’re all in this together.
– High School Musical
Rene Descartes really fucked things up. Here we had the Taoists and even the Christians – the ones who really “got it,” anyway – spreading the word that, really, there is nothing that separates us, that we are all, in fact, one, and that, by extension, our fates are inextricably bound up.
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me . . . Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
– Jesus Christ, Matthew 25
Leave it to buhdy to come up with a slick handle like that. It packs so much into it, I’ve got a karmic brain freeze: the logos and the ethos, the yin and the yang, the left brain and the right, the concrete and the cosmic.
Awesome. Tall order.
But, geez, the supporting cast here is definitely up to it. I feel like a Little Leaguer who’s snuck into the 1927 Yankees’ locker room. Holy crap – that’s Armando’s spot, over there. Ooooh – here’s where ek parks his cleats. And check this out – melvin and pinche used these towels!
So – what to write, what to write? Something “original” – ha!; as if that were possible, truly. Maybe we’re a few monkeys and typewriters short still, but c’mon – what hasn’t been said already? I mean, really?
Wellll . . .
I guess what occurs to me in this vaguely Eastern milieu, grounded in gritty Western-style “democratic politics,” is this:
All politics is cosmic.
I mean, think about it: Why do people even do politics, anyway? What’s the point? Couldn’t we all just live in caves, and come out whenever we needed to kill something to eat? Isn’t that why God invented TiVo? And indoor plumbing?
Ah, yes, but too many caves and too much indoor plumbing, and suddenly people start rubbing up against each other. And unless I like all that rubbing,
Maybe – but somewhere back during that Ascent of Man, some Phi Beta Kaveman figured out that, huh, maybe it’d be better if Gork went after the mammoth and I stayed closer to home to build in an outdoor barbecue. Then, when Gork got back after a hard day at the tundra, I could let Gork use the barbecue, and he could share some of his mammoth with me.
Next thing you know, Gork has decided he doesn’t want to share any of his mammoth with me, and he’s pissed because he says I don’t have any mammoth to eat only because I planned poorly. So now I can’t cook any mammoth meat, but
Sep 14 2007
(cross-posted at DK… )
I have seen the light. Everything he says makes perfect sense. Really. You just have to unnerstand, ya hear?
If you wrap your mind around the Prime Directive of:
Accumulate money for family and friends at any and all costs.
..you can then understand the cornerstones of his overarching action plan:
1. Control oil, as much as possible, which long term requires that you maintain:
2. regional (mideast) military domination presence within close striking distance of anyone who dare assert any actual sovereignty over it which will enable the fringe benefit of:
3. enriching the military industrial complex management base which in turn requires:
4. consolidation of powers in the US to fend off pesky libruls that catch on to the plan and dare notice the plight of most of the people in the US.
The largest economy in the world (US) is and has been based on petroleum. Every sector spends money to buy petroleum products.
Controleum the Petroleum, and you will own the money spigot.
When you can wrap your mind around the fact that his presidency is really nothing more than the juiciest money grab opportunity in the history of humanity, you can understand that he will say anything… truth, morality, empathy, compassion, climate be damned. He and his cohorts will simply contradict themselves and deny they ever said things right after they watch themselves say on a replay!
* He’ll use fear (WMDs! terrorism! they’ll follow the troops back here! I
don’t know about Google Maps, they can’t!).
* He’ll exploit hope (we’re makin’ progress! just another six months!)
* He’ll cite God (in whom his belief is another pure charade, I mean, c’mon,
Jesus would’ve bombed Eye-rack too, right?)
* He’ll use and abuse the concept of patriotism and treason.
* He’ll silence and sequester away critics (habeus corpus, sschmaybeus
* He’ll ensure the demand stays pegged (tax writeoff on a Hummer, anyone?
C’mon, it’s good for the economy! Global warming?? BAH!, CAFE
standards?? That’ll hurt
my cash flow the economy!)
He’ll say and do ANYTHING to make sure everyone stays in line long enough for the full frontal assault on the US Treasury to accomplish its cleanout mission leaving nothing but promissory notes to foreign governments and bond holders.
He’ll even act really, really, really stupid.
And we’ve all fallen for it.
No shame. No empathy. No morals. His only god is money.
Absolutely nothing else matters:
* Not 3700 plus American families devastated by the death of fathers,
mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters… dismissed as ‘sacrifice
for the country’ (actually the Boner called it a “small sacrifice”)
* Not tens of thousands of other families learning how to cope with and
support severely wounded mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and
* Not hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families wiped out, devastated,
scattered like bits of paper blowing around in a strong wind..
* Not the reputation of our country in the world.
* Not the other 99.95% of US citizens who will have been left holding this
flaming bag of dog shit deficit.
* Not even one of the most historic cities in the country, nor millions of
its residents (hey, we can let the insurance companies ‘just say no,
* Not the principles on which our once-great nation was founded.
They’re laughing all the way to the fucking bank… no, not one of “ours,” he emptied those out too…
Sep 14 2007
This is an OPEN THREAD, but it also features four stories in the news at 4 o’clock. It’s like trying to dunk a donut by grasping it by the ears.
The headline of the The Independent today reads: FATAL ATTRACTION “Last week: George Bush flew into Iraq to meet Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, leader of Anbar province. This week: General David Petraeus told the US Congress how Anbar was a model for Iraq. Yesterday: Abu Risha was assassinated by bombers in Anbar.” From the story, “Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha and two of his bodyguards were killed either by a roadside bomb or by explosives placed in his car by a guard, near to his home in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, the Iraqi province held up by the American political and military leadership as a model for the rest of Iraq. ¶ His killing is a serious blow to… Bush and the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who have both portrayed the US success in Anbar, once the heart of the Sunni rebellion against US forces, as a sign that victory was attainable across Iraq.” The Washington Post gives news of the Abu Risha assassination equal billing to Bush’s televised speech. According to the Post, “Bush, during a visit to Anbar last week, met with Abu Risha and said the province suggested ‘what the future of Iraq can look like.’ Abu Risha was regarded by Americans as a rare leader willing to stand defiantly alongside U.S. forces, while able to both cajole and intimidate his fellow Sunnis into agreement.” The headline for The New York Times? Bush Says Success Allows Gradual Troop Cuts. The NYT places their story about the assassination beneath Bush’s propaganda speech, which according to the Times “Iraqi and American officials were caught off guard by the assassination, which came just hours before Mr. Bush addressed the American people about his plans for Iraq… In his speech, Mr. Bush acknowledged the killing.” The front pages of the three newspapers are shown below the fold.
The International Herald Tribune reports that cracks now appear in allied coalition in Afghanistan. “The coalition established to stabilize Afghanistan after the ouster of the Taliban by U.S. forces in 2001 is weakening as countries fighting in the volatile south criticize the lack of military support from other NATO allies, defense officials said Thursday. ¶ Britain, Canada and the Netherlands face crucial decisions on whether to renew their commitments in the increasingly violent region where the Dutch contingent now commands alliance forces fighting a growing resurgence by Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. ¶ The intensifying debate in Europe comes as disarray in Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party following the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to interrupt and perhaps end the Japanese naval force’s six-year participation in Afghanistan.” Plus DW-World is reporting that EU’s Afghan training mission hampered by fresh troubles and “Brigadier General Friedrich Eichele is returning to Germany just months after he was appointed to head the EU training mission in Afghanistan.”
According to BBC News, the US chief scientist has told the BBC that climate change is now a fact. “Professor John Marburger, who advises President Bush, said it was more than 90% certain that greenhouse gas emissions from mankind are to blame. The Earth may become ‘unliveable’ without cuts in CO2 output, he said, but he labelled targets for curbing temperature rise as ‘arbitrary’… ¶ There may still be some members of the White House team who are not completely convinced about climate change…” He’s told the BBC, but will he tell Bush? More importantly will Cheney let him and will Bush even care? While the Bush administration is slowly waking from its global warming denial, Spiegel Online investigates what will become of Tuvalu’s climate refugees? “International legal experts are discovering climate change law, and the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu is a case in point: The Polynesian archipelago is doomed to disappear beneath the ocean. Now lawyers are asking what sort of rights citizens have when their homeland no longer exists… ¶ Environmentalists have long worried about the fate of this tiny Pacific state. Now, however, international legal experts have also taken up the topic of its imminent demise. A nation’s ‘territorial integrity’ is one of the paramount legal principles. It’s unprecedented, however, for a country to completely lose its territory without the use of military force… ¶ Since it joined the United Nations in 2000, the island nation has managed to place its concerns high on the organization’s agenda. Its efforts seem to have borne fruit: Tuvalu is now regarded as a prime example of just how much damage climate change can do to a country.”
News from the Los Angeles Times today that after a long delay, Japan launches their lunar orbiter. “Taking advantage of a lull in rainy weather, the Kaguya orbiter lifted off from Tanegashima island in southern Japan, propelled by a domestically built H-2A solid-fuel rocket. Its 21-day trip to the moon begins a yearlong mission that Japan’s civilian space agency, known as JAXA, is promoting as the most significant lunar expedition since America’s Apollo program of the 1960s and early ’70s.” The Guardian reports that “the successful launch of the 55bn yen Kaguya was greeted with relief among space officials. The agency was forced to cancel the planned launch of another lunar probe in 2004 after repeated mechanical and financial setbacks.” America should have never abandoned the Moon in the first place.
A little more below the fold…
Here are the front pages for the newspapers mentioned in the first story. Click on each newspaper thumbnail to enlarge.
So, what else is happening?
Sep 14 2007
(Xposted at DK, as a cheap PR tactic)
This Dinette set could be yours!
A BRAND NEW CAR!
A full set of Encyclopedia Brittanica!
But don’t order yet! We will also send you six steak knives!
How about not going down in history as abetting a war crime and ethnic cleansing?
How about keeping your frikking jobs?
Hey Congress….HEY AMERICA!!!
What is it going to take?
Really….what can WE do to help? What is it going to take to stop the killing? How can we who, ya know …..CARE…. about all the frikkin DEAD PEOPLE convince you to stop this shit?
Yes, yes, I know….this is a repetitive exercise, it has been diaried before. We have all said the same things, brought up the same points, Yelled the same invective time and time again. It is tiresome and tiring and there really is nothing NEW to say….The only problem is….PEOPLE ARE STILL DYING!
While you twiddle your thumbs and kiss Bush’s ass.
So….what will it take? You take money from lobbyists, from the MIC….how bout if we double it? Really, we are good for the dough.
Because when it comes down to it, there aren’t that many of you to bribe! Just some Bush Dogs and the few Republicans is all it will take to END THE WAR. There are a BUNCH of good Dem Congressfolk and Senators who are just as pissed and impatient as we are, it is really just a few of you that are holding up all the “The War Is Over!” parties ….and all the praise that could be yours, if you just come out and state publicly that YOU are the Hero who is going to change h/is/er vote and be The One to End The War.
We can make this happen, just let us know your price.
We consider it a small price to pay.
For you Democrats…if it is your jobs you are worried about, how about this….we will donate to your campaign and even work to get you re-elected…ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS STOP THE WAR….and I guarantee you will have folks falling all over you to thank you and we will even try to get your names in the history books and shit.
We have tried appealing to logic, compassion, financial considerations, political realities, the polling data….you name it, we have tried to use it to get you to stop the occupation. So far….no luck. So let’s try appealing to your base instincts.
Really, I mean it, we can do this.
All YOU have to do is not fund the war and I promise….Free Beer and Everybody Gets Laid.
Sep 14 2007
Poor Grandpa Fred, he has no idea where he is or what he is doing. Thank god that trophy wife of his helps pull his puppet strings all day, or he might just sit in a chair all day demanding more go-carts on his pancakes. But now that they have trotted the zombie remains of Ronald Reagan out on the road and into the public sphere, let the gaffes begin!
Today Grandpa Fred was in Florida, where he signed autographs, and unfortunately talked to the cameras.
Thompson gives no opinion on Schiavo
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON
THE VILLAGES, Fla. – Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson gave no opinion Thursday when asked about efforts by President Bush and Congress to keep Terri Schiavo alive, saying he does not remember details of the right-to-die case that stirred national debate.
Thompson was asked in an interview for Bay News 9’s “Political Connections” program whether he thought Congress’ intervention to save the life of the brain-damaged woman two years ago was appropriate.
“I can’t pass judgment on it. I know that good people were doing what they thought was best,” Thompson said. “That’s going back in history. I don’t remember the details of it.”
Just one big problem with this not remember the case stuff:
“Law & Order”
Age of Innocence
Original Air Date:
12 October 2005 (Season 16, Episode 4)
The bombing death of a husband set to remove the feeding tube of his wife, who’s in a persistent vegetative state, focuses the investigation on the protesters.
Fred Dalton Thompson … D.A. Arthur Branch
So, not only can he not remember the details of the Terri Schiavo in real life, he can’t remember when he tried the case on TV.
Poor Grandpa, maybe it’s time just to call it a day before you show just how bad your memory has gotten. Or how stupid you are. Because there are people out there with photographic memories with access to Google, and your gaffes will be remembered as the comedy gold they are.
Sep 14 2007
|To accompany the release of the Red List, a few videos of what we
stiil have left of the web of life. Some you’ve seen before.
You need to watch this first one very intently to catch the surprise.
Before I forget, I wanted to point everyone to emPivot. It is a site
Here’s an octopus with a novel trick for confusing predators:
Those seem to call for an encore from the octopus’ cousin, the amazing
Some of you have certainly seen this one. But it’s worth posting again
I’ve been spending a lot of time here: Your Guide to the World’s
This place is just unbelievable. You want to talk website design? Have a
Have a nice weekend. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t forget
Sep 14 2007
Often left wing bloggers describe themselves as progressives, shying away from the L word–liberal, and that upsets me. Saint R Reagan succeeded in making “liberal” a dirty word and instead of fighting back, too many moved on. Well, I’m a freakiin liberal–a proud liberal, an unambiguous liberal, a fanatic liberal, a civil rights liberal, a human rights liberal, an environmental liberal, and a drinking liberal.
I want a liberal party–and it should be called The Liberal Party. I want it to run in primaries against DINOs, I want it to withhold donations to candidates until they meet and greet us–and bend in our direction. If the dems run a shit like Ford–we run against him. The fear of us siphoning votes and donations will give us a voice and respect. The Conservatives took over the Republicans that way, and we’ll have to fight the devil’s fire with some venom of our own.
Right now, many here are pissed off at the weak kneed Dems in Congress–the dogs- and have no power to scare them. They know we’ll be responsible and vote for them as the lesser of two evils–and that’s why they take our money and run. No more–at least for me–my money goes to those that are pure–liberal pure. I’m 62, my kids future has been put at risk because of compromises made.
Civil rights for African Americans is less attainable than it was in the late sixties, healthcare is less attainable to almost 50 million Americans–many of color–our cities are deteriorating in the “darker’ neighborhoods–and NCLB is screwing up education–especially in Black/Brown neighborhoods. Shit, even evolution is questioned–and those making scientific asses of themselves get more respect from the media than do liberals.
Our planet is at risk, our country is fighting a war ignited by lies and without purpose. We are hated by many of the world’s people because of this war, and expose our bigotry by trying to harass potential immigrants.
I could go on, but you get the point. We need a new Liberal party to force the Democratic Party to the left. If Dems win elections with “moderates,” the country won’t get better, it will just get worse more slowly. I’m sure Pelosi is a good person, but she’s doing a terrible job and we have no organization to force her out–and I hate her. Her lack of courage is literally killing some of America’s finest. We need a mechanism to put the screws to her and to her colleagues.
Sep 14 2007
Love the concept of two diaries per day – rather than add this to the long essay I posted last night, I can now publish another. Very cool, Buhdy and crew!
Anyway, just received this in an email from a friend and constituent of Nadler re the Gonzales resignation. He received it from Nadler’s office today. Hmmm, wonder if he knew we were talking about him? 😉
Check out his closing statement.
Thank you for informing me of your desire to have Attorney General Alberto Gonzales removed from office. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views.
There is no question that Attorney General Gonzales has shown great disregard for the rule of law. Furthermore, his tenure has displayed a fundamental lack of respect for the oversight responsibilities of Congress. For example, when called to testify about the Department of Justice surveillance activities, Mr. Gonzales assured Congress that no civil liberty abuses had occurred under the PATRIOT Act. We now know that he was aware of several such instances. We must also never forget that it was Attorney General Gonzales who wrote the early justifications for the Bush Administration’s undermining of the Geneva Conventions, allowing torture, rendition, and indefinite detention to exist under the color of law. For these reasons, I have long demanded his resignation. I am pleased that on August 27, 2007 Attorney General Gonzales decided to step down.
It is important that Mr. Gonzales not become the sacrificial lamb of the White House. The resignation of this Attorney General does not absolve the Bush Administration of its various abuses of power. Investigations must still continue into the actions of a Department of Justice that is riddled with scandal. To that end, I continue to call for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Attorney General and, specifically, the false statements made to Congress and the other apparent criminal violations by those in the Executive Branch conducting the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program. Those entrusted with enforcing our nation’s laws must also abide by them.
Thank you again for conveying your views. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I may be of assistance on this or any other matter of concern.
Member of Congress
Sep 14 2007
NB. Likely to be cross-posted other places, but you heard it here first.
What is “It”? Well, America’s future.
Broadly breaking the US into five regions, the Southwest will be quite possibly taken back by Mexico and in any event largely depopulated, the Southeast will descend into neo-feudalism, the Inland West (mountains and great plains north of the Southwest) will be massively depopulated returning to migratory bands of subsistence hunters, and the Pacific Northwest faces the risk of being preyed on by voracious Asian pirates.
Only the “Old Union” has a plausible prospect for surviving more or less intact, though living at an 18th century standard of living modestly improved by some of the most robust of scientific advances, like the knowledge that infection is causes by microbes.
Fortunately for my peace of mind, the organization of the book let me into the most substantial flaw in Knustler’s argument well in advance of the start of painting this grim picture, and so the understanding that, “it will probably be bad, but at least it doesn’t have to be this bad” was the silver lining to working through his dark picture.
… meet you after the fold.
The flaw in Knustler’s argument is the reliance on the following kind of reasoning (pp. 127-8):
The wind power inquiry eventually would lead back to the same place as the one on solar power: Can these technologies be detached from the fossil fuel platform supporting them? Sure, it is possible to generate electricity using wind turbines. Yes, European nations have made major investments in wind farms. … This is all possible because the world has been at or around the historic peak of oil production, meaning the oil economy was at its most robust just when these wind farms were set up. Thanks to fossil fuels, you could product the special alloy metals needed to make the turnines, and you could run factories to mass-produce them and make the replacement parts — because wind turbines are notoriously finicky and break down a lot — and you could set up the installations usinmg petroleum-powered heavy equipment … and jockey the machines into place. What happens without the fantastic technological support of the oil economy in the background.
Later on, the lack of substantial electricity supplies from these sources is part of what leads to the collapse of most of our ability to support the present state of technology — as opposed to the present level of energy consumption. But, of course, that argument is then circular … with substantial electricity supplies from these sources, then there is no need for the technological base that supports a modern wind generator to collapse.
And in a world of substantially greater energy-scarcity, the value of those parts of the technological base that provide substantial sources of energy will not be overlooked.
The Fundamental Confusion
The basic confusion here is simple. At present, technology “X” rests on the current industrial system, which is oil-fired. The current industrial system is guaranteed to be non-functional within fifty years, and probably much sooner.
But all existing technologies in use at any point in time will rest on the industrial system of the day. The question facing us, as the oil-fired economy shuts down and we are forced to transition to the next economy, is whether a particular technology requires something from the oil-fired economy that it will not be able to obtain from the next economy.
Now, lets start with the technology that James Knustler originally focused on, the US suburban settlement system. This is clearly an example of a technology that has no future. It not only rests on the current oil-fired economy, but cannot exist without the cheap supplies of portable energy provided by fossil stocks of petroleum (The only possible alternative is natural gas … but that too is a fossil fuel that will become unavailable for combustion in mass quantities in a similar time frame).
However, a suburban settlement system is a massive net energy consumer. A wind generator is a net energy producer … including the upstream energy costs. Surely it will become more expensive to produce wind generators as energy costs rise … but since it provides an energy surplus, it will be very close to the front of the line in obtaining those inputs.
And unlike arguments over whether there is a net energy yield for “brown” ethanol, the net energy yield of a wind generator is substantial … Gene Tyner’s 2002 estimates (under a range of scenarios) are in the range of 300% to 600%. And even in the “less optimistic” range of 300%, that means that devoting half of the energy produced by the wind generators to wind generator construction would allow each wind generator over its useful life to provide the energy to produce two wind generators.
Lest it be thought that I am cherry picking a wind-power enthusiast, I’ll note that Tyner is far from a wind power enthusiast, since his basic conclusion is that:
… even if wind machines were constructed everywhere it is practical to erect wind machines in the United States they would only be able to provide a pitifully small amount of the net energy compared to that needed to power the industrial economy of the United States even at the 1997 level.
On the one hand, in the Long Emergency scenario, even 1.19 Quads is a valuable amount of electricity. Of that nearly 100 quads of energy, about 40 quads are consumed in the production of electricity, with on the order of 12 quads of electricity produced. So 1.9 Quads of Electricity production is actually more than 15% of what we currently need.
And we are gross energy profligates. If we are forced to cut our energy consumption by 50%, the result will not be the collapse of the American technological system. Indeed, to the extent that design is used to solve problems were we presently simply throw energy at the problem, the result can readily be several new waves of innovation as we progressively mine our existing wasted energy for the energy we need to perform useful tasks.
And on the other hand, the estimate of 1.19 Quads is surely an underestimate. For one thing, it excludes off-shore Wind Power, in both coastal waterways and the Great Lakes. For another, it is based on 1997 technology.
So, Energy will be substantially more expensive, and any technology … like the suburbs … that requires Energy to be dirt cheap will collapse. However, Windpower Technologies has a sufficient Net Energy Yield that is benefits from, rather than suffers from, the end of dirt cheap energy.
So, How Does This Change the Outlook
If any readers wish to tackle Knustler’s Mexican recapture of the Southwest and cracker culture taking down the Southeast, they may. I’m going to focus on the changes that ripple from the prospect that the US may still have somewhere in the range of 25 Quads to 50 Quads of sustainable renewable power that it can generate.
The relative depopulation of the Southwest still seems likely. The end of dirt cheap power means the end, among other things, of corporate megafarming as a way to feed ourselves. Many more of us will be engaged in the process of food production. And population will shift away from areas that cannot feed themselves without importing massive amounts of resources, in terms of fertilizer and water, from elsewhere.
We should beware, of course, of simply projecting current water use per person as if it gives us the current carrying capacity. After all, a major part of the our oil-fired technology is throwing energy at problems instead of addressing them. Even in areas where next to nothing can be grown without irrigation, dryland food crops grown with high efficiency irrigation systems in a diet based primarily on vegetable proteins can dramatically reduce the water required to grow the food required per person per year.
An important question here is the pace of change, since it takes time for such a wholesale change in a region’s agricultural base. It is driven by a series of inexorable increases … the cost of bringing in water, frequency of shortfalls of water supply, the cost of exporting the current agricultural products, the cost of producing feedlot cattle with oil-fed corn and soybeans, the cost of importing food over large distance. Having something substantial to trade, which is growing in value along with these growing costs, can easily be the difference between a painful and bumpy transition and the catastrophic collapse described by Knustler.
The Southwest will have something to export to pay for net food imports … Energy. Not, of course, with current population levels at current rates of consumption … the comparison here is with the almost total collapse under Knustler’s Long Emergency. By comparison to that, the region can sustain a larger population, meeting a local food supply deficit by trading Energy for food imported from rainfed croplands east of the Mississippi.
Of course, how much population this supports depends on how the income generated by the Energy production is distributed. The fact that energy exports could be used to sustain a population level greater than the local carrying capacity under autarky is not assurance that it will be used that way. The argument here is simply that the situation does not necessarily have to be as dire as painted in the Long Emergency.
Knustler paints the picture of the West in broad strokes, after having painted the collapse of the Southwest and the sinking of the Southeast into neo-feudalism with some attention to detail. There won’t be any way to grow crops outside the limit of rain-fed agriculture (which itself may shift east in response to global warming), and there will be little to mine, so there won’t be much out in the West except possibly some Native Americans going back to the old ways and some others following their example.
In short, a big, “whoops, that didn’t work” to much of the settlement project of the last half of the 1800’s.
However, a reversion of the High Plains to shortgrass prairie does not necessarily mean a reversion to the High Plains life that developed after the introduction of the Horse. One of the technologies that is likely to collapse as a result of the end of cheap energy will be the mass beef feedlot. We will all consume less beef and meat in general … and the meat that we do eat on special occasions will not be factory farmed meat.
So, whether they are cattle or buffalo or a hybrid of the two, there will be people across the west who are raising meat, for sale to the east. And at the same time, there is that windpower … according to the American Wind Energy Association, the eight states with the greatest wind power potential have an energy potential of 6,992 Billion Kilowatt Hours, or 23 Quads … and those eight states are (resource in Billion Kilowatt Hours):
Add to this the opportunities for growing coppiced wood in the western mountains, for better biomass productivity than timber production … and using more labor than oil-fired clear-cutting. Much of the attention of biomass today is on the production of liquid biofuels. However, direct conversion to biomass coal is likely to provide substantially higher conversion efficiencies, and therefore substantially better net energy yield. And even in a mixed agrarian/industrial economy that has been forcibly weaned from petroleum, biomass coal is easy to transport, store, and use … as, indeed, mineral coal was originally convenient to transport and use in economies dependent on biomass, hydro, wind and solar power, in the period that launched the Age of the Great Burn Out, that is now drawing to a close.
This also relies on trading electricity and biomass coal for staples being grown in rain-fed croplands. But it does not depend entirely on trading Energy for Food, since included in the economic base will be ranches where meat animals are raised amongst Windplants making an annual rent. And as we glance further west into the coppice tree farms of the mountains, the stable, cyclical harvest of biomass from the forest also provides the conditions for establishing permaculture crops for local consumption and regional trade with the ranches of the plains.
This is the foundation supporting a network of small towns catering to the wants and needs of ranchers and tree farmers, which supports a network of larger towns, and so on. Indeed, it may be that many placed end up with more people living out on the land than in the current technological base of oil-fired tractors applying fertilizer from oil-fed plants so that crops can be irrigated with non-renewable water supplies from fossil aquifers.
So the total population of the West may decline, but that decline is most likely to come from the suburban residents of the larger cities that have no interest in learning to ride a horse in order to become a ranch hand.
While Knustler paints the fall of the Southeast into neo-feudalism with care for some of the details, I’ll spend very little time on it. The reason is that I don’t really buy the idea that “cracker” culture created the sharecropping system, and without that, the whole idea falls apart.
Indeed, we know how to develop a region with a legacy of an elite landholder class maintaining its power position by holding the balance of the population down, with a divide and conquer strategy being used to enlist a portion of the population being held down in active support of their own poverty. You established local small towns based on regulated markets, agricultural extension with local trial field, schools, health clinics, and transportation to external markets, and release underutilized land to those who wish to take up independent farming.
There is no doubt that the Southeast could be as productive an area of rainfed agriculture as the Northeast … for both annual cropping, flatland permaculture, and tree farming in the hillier terrain … given the opportunity to grow on the same framework of technologically progressive small market towns. And active solar dehumidifying combined with geothermal cooling will permits well designed buildings to beat the sweltering heat of summer well within the regional solar, hydro and biomass energy budget.
So I pass quickly over the Southeast … the dire straits that the Southeast finds itself in during the Long Emergency are nothing to do with carrying capacity and everything to do with the premises that Knustler brings regarding cultural evolution.
This essay is, in other words, focusing on the carrying capacity argument in the Long Emergency. And with respect to the carrying capacity, the Southeast has every opportunity to thrive.
This is something of a misnomer … Knustler calls it the “Old Union” … but if people would just remember that here in “midwestern Ohio”, the next state east has an Atlantic port, and even the high grass prairie lands of Illinois are in the eastern third of the country, it’ll do.
This is where Knustler sees grounds for hope, in the re-use of the small farming towns and small industrial cities, connected by rehabilitated heavy and light rail links, and a thriving, primarily agricultural, economy.
Even here in the relative bright spot of Knustler’s Long Emergency, things are substantially brighter once we recognize that windpower and the rest of the knowledge-intensive renewable energy technologies can indeed provide the base for an economy that can sustain those technologies.
And the good news there can be stated in a single word: elevators. We can still use elevators. That means that, even if we have the good sense not to build any more skyscrapers, we do not have to flee the ones that we already have built. That is what drives the collapse of the centers of the large Northeastern cities. And since we understand from the outset that suburbia will also be collapsing, that means that we will not be forced to flee all of the big cities entirely … we can still use the core of the big cities.
Still being able to use the core of the big cities means that we can build energy efficient transport lines that can stretch through the current suburban wasteland, and provide kernels around which small towns can grow … or, in the case of small towns swallowed up by the suburban wasteland, re-emerge.
And, indeed, those cities will help push the return of the suburbs surrounding those emergent small towns to farming, as the demand for food that does not have to be shipped at long distances and, therefore in an era of expensive energy, at great expense, drives the growth of truck gardening in the suburbs, so that fresh fruits and vegetables … and in winter, preserved fruits and vegetables … will be sold in from the proliferating truck gardens, while the truck garden belt uses the proceeds in part to buy staples grown on the larger farms further from the cities.
Now, of course, as a skyscraper ends its useful life, nobody will dream of replacing it with another skyscraper. Rather, all that valuable steel and other resources will be harvested, and when the skyscraper has all been brought back to earth, it will be replaced with human scale urban building.
The Pacific Northwest
In Knustler’s Long Emergency, the Pacific Northwest ought to be one of the areas in a position to do well. However, being on the Pacific Ocean, and so far away from the only other part of the US with the opportunity to survive the Long Emergency in relatively good shape, it lays open to predation by Asian high seas piracy. The premise here is that the Long Emergency will hit East Asia even harder than it hits the US, and so there will be sufficiently desperate resource-poverty to generate efforts to take resources from those who have more.
However, while the Southwest may decline, it need not totally collapse. And the West may well retain an economy offering valuable resources to the economies of the Northeast and Southeast, implying that trunk rail is relied upon to maintain that integration.
And this means that under this view of our renewable resource base, the Pacific Northwest is by no means as isolated as it is in the Long Emergency.
Indeed, in this scenario, if the US is a center of manufacturing renewable energy technology, plundering the US may well be the last thing that a resource-desperate nation would do. If it comes to fending off stateless pirates, there is not reason to think that would be beyond the capability of the United States. And with the increase in relative value of the fertile rainfed croplands of the Pacific Northwest, implied by the collapse of oil-fed agriculture, there is every reason to devote that capability to the task, if required.
My conclusion is what I said at the outset … things need not be as bleak as James Knustler protrays in the Long Emergency. So now I’ll open it up for discussion.
The Floor is Open
Sep 14 2007
And it looks, at least for the moment, that Lord Rama might win!
This was posted on by muriel_volestrangler at DU here: http://www.democrati…
This was my reply:
If it didn’t say he built it in a day, then it’s possible!
Lord Rama trained the monkeys, who would take stones and throw them into the sea at it’s shallowest point. Over the years, silt built up over these stones and the ‘bridge’ was completed. Sure, it probably took several hundreds, if not thouhsands of years, but Lord Rama was probably patient.
Makes sense to me, but then I look at what Alexander did at Tyre and am used to marvels!
Go Lord Rama!