Saturday, March 26, 2005

Peak Oil has arrived!

On March 16, world oil prices increased dramatically in response to an OPEC announcement of increased oil production to meet increasing demand and bring down prices: This is the first overt response from the oil industry of the arrival of Peak Oil, and the recognition that, from here on out, global oil production will be less than global oil demand.

Despite this clear indicator, the mainstream press continue to ignore Peak Oil, pretending this is just a temporary blip up in oil prices that will pass when the summer travel season is over: .

Industry sources are pretty clear that cheap oil is a thing of the past:

"We are in new historical territory,'' said Rick Mueller, an analyst with Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts. "The safety margin that we had in the past just isn't there anymore. In the past we could always count on the Saudis to make up for the loss of production in, say, Iraq or Nigeria, but that's no longer the case. The capacity isn't there and demand has risen more than we thought it would."

So there you have it, Peak Oil is here. We'll look back at March, 2005 as the historical point of Global Peak Oil, the point at which the energy available to fuel our civilization, if that's what it is, began it's inevitable decline.

Energy depletion will result in global recession, of course, which will reduce demand for oil for a while, just as it did in the 70s. But the overall momentum of our petroleum-based societies will continue, driven by the necessity for cancerous economic growth at any cost.

If you've not simplified your life by now, dug your garden beds, insulated your home, chosen jobs and markets within walking and bicycling distance, it's time to do it now, as soon as possible. Once the concept of Peak Oil becomes firmly etched in the minds of the global economic community, gas and diesel prices will skyrocket. Depending on the psychological response from the investments types, gasoline could be $5 a gallon or more by the end of the year.

Think about that: $5 a gallon for gas! Our 1972 VW bug will take $50 to fill its tank (about once every other month, nowadays). An SUV will take $125 a tank very time it pulls into a gas station, at 6 miles per gallon. Better dump that monster now before the used-SUV market tops out!

And that's just for starters. When oil is $100 a barrel, what will be the price of gasoline? $7 a gallon? $10? What will a GM tomato from Mexico cost? "Cheap" shirts in Mall-Wart, made in China, from cloth made in Korea, from Rayon made in the US, from pulp from Japan, from trees from Alaska, will cost more than a tuxedo today.

The cost of food products in supermarkets is directly proportional to the cost of transportation. Those fancy wrapped goodies on the store shelves traveled an average of 1300 miles to get in your grocery trolley. What will your frozen dinner cost when diesel oil is $10 a gallon?

We're in the last gasp of "The Global Economy." It's local production for local consumption from here on. The cost of everything in our lives will be determined by the amount of transportation required to get it from raw materials to production to distribution. As the distant and exotic become prohibitively expensive, local, simple and sufficient will become the desirable values; extravagance, excess and conspicuous consumption will be strange historical footnotes.

Why wait to the last minute? Avoid the rush! Start now! Be the first in your neighborhood to abandon the Global Economy and switch to local production for local consumption! Your friends and neighbors will marvel at your perspicacity! Your Quality of Life will soar as you lower your Standard of Living.

As for me, I'm setting up my bicycle repair shop!

Leona Gulch
Pacific Plate

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What we CAN do about Peak Oil


What we CAN do about Peak Oil

Peak Oil is a reality that the mainstream press are already thinking about mentioning one of these days. Until it appears on TeeVee, with a florid backdrop and dramatic music, it doesn't really exist in what passes for the minds of the American public. Nevertheless, petroleum geologists around the world are in agreement that Peak Oil will arrive soon, if it hasn't already, at a gas pump near you.

The common response is: "Well, Somebody should do something about these high gas prices!" And who would that Somebody be?

Monday, March 21, 2005


OK, I'm ready for it to stop raining now.

I don't mind a sprinkle now and then, a good thunderstorm to wash out the cobwebs, even two or three rainy days in a row. It's been going for a month now, raining almost every day, with a few scattered sun showers in between, just when it became unbearable.

Snow never bothered me. I can take snow for months on end, and did, even in Valdez where we had thirty feet of the stuff! Fifty, sixty below zero, snow over the top of the wood shed, ground blizzards, riding my bike on snow machine trails... no problem. Bring it on! But rain, now, that's something else.

A week of rain every day is like having to listen to the Oval One recite his lines day after day, reading the cue cards carefully prepared by his evil Christian, Neocon handlers. The steady drip, drip, drip of incessant, carefully crafted, aw-shucks idiocy stultifies the soul, if we had any to begin with, which we don't. It's bad enough that they're evil and in control; acting stupid about it all just grinds salt into the wound.

To know that they're all going to die and they can't take their money, fame and power with them, doesn't help much. I'm going to die too, all too soon and, as far as I know, I can't gloat from the grave. Gives me a chuckle now and then, though, while I alive, mostly.

This concentration on physical acquisitiveness is a puzzlement. I never caught the bug myself, never had much, wanted even less. I was happiest in my teepee on the Gros Ventre, on horseback in the Absaroka, in a qayaq up Silver Bay. Never lusted after power, either. So I have a hard time understanding the motivation behind all this.. this... busyness.

Who could want more than a knock-you-in-the-eyeball sunset, or bright blue sky on a sunny day, fresh air to fill the lungs, fresh water to stave off thirst, a bite to eat, a glass of wine.

Now if it would just stop raining...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Living in Interesting Times

The velvet fist of modern fascism tightens its grip, inexorably, day by day. Each meeting of Congress, that great national asylum for the criminally inept, brings with it another restriction on the freedoms citizens of the United States of America have enjoyed and expected as a part of the privilege of living in this country.

We weren't told about this in Civics class in High School. We heard the grand patriotic panoply of the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War, "World" Wars I and II, and now, I suppose, even the Viet Nam invasion and occupation, and the invasions of Panama, Granada, and all the rest, culminating in the greatest of embarrassments, the invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq.

High school civics is all bout patriotism, love of country, glorification of the excesses of the Empire of the United states, the sad story of the subjugation and domination of the world to line the pockets of the few. We didn't learn about the Philippines in High School, the national disgrace of a massive armed force turned on the few unarmed old men, women and children left alive after years of economic subjugation, all necessary to demonstrate the economic and military might of the big bully next door.

Over the years, Uncle Sam has learned how to deal with insurrection and rebellion. The best way to avoid opposition by the people is to keep them in ignorance and distraction, never allowing the people to know what's going on, keeping them happy and entertained with circuses, sexual titillation, crime, the shenanigans of the very wealthy, the peccadilloes of the famous and showy.

The media that knuckles under to the needs of the controlling elite are the media that receives the most pecuniary recompense in the form of advertising doled out as "foreign aid" by the corporate oligarchy that controls all information in this sad country. The government is even now overtly paying off "journalists" to spread their vile lies, as they crank up their own "PR" to create tailor-made news stories to fit the needs of the hour.

The only thing wrong with the prophetic novel "1984" was the limit of the imagination of the author. Orwell didn't see far enough to the excesses of the government intent on controlling the past, the present, the future and the access to meaningful information.

What to do about it? Things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. Our whole civilization is based on access to cheap oil, and that's coming to an end. Global climate change is changing a lot more than just the climate as a global agricultural systems based on fifty years of moderate, stable climate, peter out in droughts, floods and extreme weather events.

Even more, centralization and industrialism, as a basic approach to economic and political organization are increasingly called to question as we face these twin challenges to Homo sapiens very survival as a species. Centralization is shown to be a wasteful and unsustainable path to human social organization, creating the conditions leading to global climate change that threatens to drive us into extinction. Without oil, our centralized, industrial society will sputter to a halt, creating population declines through drought, disease and failure of birth rates, leading to a new, decentralized society based on local production for local consumption, bioregionalism, localism ad mutual aid. The Dicks of the world will be ignored in a bioregional society.

It's hard but it's fair.

Leona Gulch
Pacific Plate

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I've had it!

This is too much!

The United States is spiraling down into a fascist, totalitarian state, and dragging much of the rest of the world down with it.

Yes, one can live quietly within one's electronically equipped home, avoiding potential confrontations with the constabulary, or the neighbors. That's what "they" want, of course, an unconcerned and compliant citizenry that accepts "internal security check-points," universal IDs (cum "drivers license"), "security" alerts from the central authority, chains, rubber hoses and sharp-toothed dogs. It's all of a piece; one thing leads inevitably to the next; the long slide down into darkness.

The state always replaces freedom with security. This particular state excels at making its people love their velvet chains, substituting consumer excess for the freedoms it takes away, gradually, day by day. The simple, thoughtful, introspective life is smothered under a barrage of noise and infotainment, thus assuring quiet compliance with the demands of the ruling elite.

"I will not go quietly into the night. Rage, rage with the dying of the light."

Hayduke Speaks

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Sierra Club, Grassroots and Democracy

Recently the Sierra Club has taken steps to stifle grassroots organization and democratic decision-making within the 700,000 members of the club.

The Sierra Club was founded by Jon Muir as a grassroots organization to work toward the preservation of wild lands, in particular the redwood forests of California. Over the years, the Sierra Club has grown from a small cadre of activists to a world-wide organization with an $80,000,000 annual budget. The Club consists of local groups, organized into local chapters, which until recently, were organized through a regional organization of conservation groups.

The Sierra Club also maintains several email discussion groups, which are run through the Sierra Club as official organs, moderated by Sierra Club members and overseen by a committee responsive to Sierra Club staff and Board of Directors. The discussion groups are used to share information and to organize activities within the cub.

The 2004 election for Sierra Club Board of Directors was marked by a call from the Board of Directors and staff to guard against a "hostile takeover" of the Sierra Club by "anti-immigration" groups. No proof was ver offered of this alleged takeover bid. A group known as "Groundswell Sierrans" was formed to funnel money and support to the candidates favored by the entrenched existing Board of Directors and professional staff.

This year, Sierra Club staff have again prepared Sierra Club members for a contentious election, on their web site and in their official house organ, and are promoting their hand-picked candidates for the Board, and opposing those candidates who have qualified by petition. In addition, the Board has proposed amendments to the Sierra Club By-laws to do away with write-in candidates and to further restrict opportunities for Sierra Club members to run for Board positions.

"Democracy works," says Club President Larry Fahn, "but only if everyone participates."

Literally translated, the President of the Sierra Club has stated that democracy doesn't work in the Club, since, obviously, everyone does not participate in the elections for club officers, nor is everyone allowed to participate in the process of democracy that transcends mere voting for officers.

Democracy is not voting. In fact, voting represents the failure of democracy, since democracy is rule by the people and any process that intervenes between the people and the functioning of their democratic government denies democracy.

The present rulers of the Sierra Club have, in effect, conducted a coup d'etats and transformed the Sierra Club from a grassroots environmental organization to a political party ruled by a hand-picked oligarchy responsive to the US central government and its corporate toadies. The purpose of the Sierra Club is to influence US politics, using millions of dollars, much donated in secret, to influence US domestic policy, meeting an agenda set by those who donate the most money.

The Sierra Club now opposes its own internal policies with regard to public lands grazing, public lands logging and immigration in response to donations of substantial funds from those who benefit from such activities. The Sierra Club has taken action based on liberal social issues rather than science-based environmental research, with the result that Sierra Club staff and Board of Directors have opposed sound science and environmental advocacy in their own local and chapter groups.

It is time to regain control of environmental advocacy and grassroots organization from those who have subverted the democratic process for political gain.

Michael Lewis
Leona Gulch
Pacific Plate