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Collapse probably won't happen Pt. 2

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

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Collapse probably won't happen Pt. 2

Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 12:55:23

I think Monte really does have it hit on the head, it is undeniably all about rate and magnitude. The devil is in the details of what the rate and magnitude will be.

In a perfect world we wouldn’t have special interests controlling policy and therefore rate and magnitude wouldn’t be factors. We’d have special committees which analyze what we’re doing and how sustainable it is. Let’s face it, the leaps in knowledge that we’ve had wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the discovery of oil. But it would have been nice, don’t you think, for someone to have said, “Hey, Fantastic! We’ve got our fire started now, but we can’t keep this fire burning just with gasoline” :-) But we don’t have that, so we have to live with it. We have an invisible hand - the market. Yikes. But the market will do its job: it’ll signal when we have a problem. The problem is the avalanche will have been started and it’ll act as the starters gun to a great race – a race that either involves finding alternates, securing what supplies remain, or more likely, both.

Back to rate and magnitude, the million dollar question is will we have enough time to escape the avalanche? Monte believes peak oil is tomorrow in planning terms, and thus impossible to accomplish. I don’t think it’s impossible, but I wouldn’t want to be in Vegas betting my life savings on it. Our biggest hope is that the supply issue is constrained enough to signal that we clearly have reached the breaking point, but not so constrained so as to initiate mass hoarding and competition for what remains. So (stating the obvious here) what will the remaining supply issue truly be? On the negative side we have MRE. Rapid declines in remaining oil would be a real bitch. On the positive side, typical recovery rates of wells are in the 30% range. Perhaps enough additional can be wrung out of existing wells and enough (but not too much) demand destruction will occur to stop the bleeding and allow a semi-orderly scramble for the exits.

Peak oil will serve as our cardiac arrest. Will we be able to stabilize the patient and have favourable enough conditions to allow for a recovery? Nobody knows. The doomers are betting the patient will be pronounced DOA. The cornucopians are betting that the patient will have been misdiagnosed (heartburn only folks) and not only fully recover but win next years 100M Olympic sprint.
Me? I’m betting on partial paralysis with a 30-40% chance of a semi-normal life.
Place your bets, we’ll all have front row seats.
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Unread postby Ibon » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 13:02:22

FatherOfTwo wrote:Peak oil will serve as our cardiac arrest. Will we be able to stabilize the patient and have favourable enough conditions to allow for a recovery? Nobody knows. The doomers are betting the patient will be pronounced DOA. The cornucopians are betting that the patient will have been misdiagnosed (heartburn only folks) and not only fully recover but win next years 100M Olympic sprint.
Me? I’m betting on partial paralysis with a 30-40% chance of a semi-normal life.
Place your bets, we’ll all have front row seats.


Like most survivors of cardiac arrests, they suddenly see a change in their priorities after a brush with mortality toward more appreciation of the families and friends and less identity with objects and status etc. That is my hope for our collective society. Peak oil causes the pain of a cardiac arrest to rearrange our priorities. I think it is the only hope out there. We wont go through this transition without a brush with mortality.
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Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 13:27:18

You know, it’s funny – the economists blind faith in the market and their unwavering support that it’ll solve the problems. I thought of this analogy:

Microsoft has just found out that there is a fatal, unfixable bug in its operating system. The market has signalled that its peak has come. Microsoft’s stock is crumbling, mass layoffs and restructuring are occurring. In response Microsoft has decided to invent a new operating system based on artificial intelligence.

Ask those same economists if they would hold onto their Microsoft stock hoping it’ll pull off an amazing task never before accomplished. Microsoft has a lot of money in the bank, they could give it a shot. But would those economists hold or sell? I think we know the answer to that one.

The main reason I have hope is that, unlike having the option to dump your Microsoft stock and walk away, society won’t have that option. We’ll have no choice but buckle down... it's just that the odds gods have dealt us one hell of a shitty hand.
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Unread postby MonteQuest » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 13:51:13

Ibon wrote: Like most survivors of cardiac arrests, they suddenly see a change in their priorities after a brush with mortality toward more appreciation of the families and friends and less identity with objects and status etc. That is my hope for our collective society. Peak oil causes the pain of a cardiac arrest to rearrange our priorities. I think it is the only hope out there. We wont go through this transition without a brush with mortality.


Not most, a few, IMHO. I am an EMT and working at high altitudes with park visitors I ran into my many cardiac arrest incidents. Many wanted a cigarette while the ambulance came. :roll:

From my observations, most do not change their lifestyle. I'm going to have to see what the hard numbers are on this. I know someone has done a study somewhere.
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Unread postby Tyler_JC » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 14:20:21

MonteQuest wrote:
Ibon wrote: Like most survivors of cardiac arrests, they suddenly see a change in their priorities after a brush with mortality toward more appreciation of the families and friends and less identity with objects and status etc. That is my hope for our collective society. Peak oil causes the pain of a cardiac arrest to rearrange our priorities. I think it is the only hope out there. We wont go through this transition without a brush with mortality.


Not most, a few, IMHO. I am an EMT and working at high altitudes with park visitors I ran into my many cardiac arrest incidents. Many wanted a cigarette while the ambulance came. :roll:

From my observations, most do not change their lifestyle. I'm going to have to see what the hard numbers are on this. I know someone has done a study somewhere.


Many depressed people drink alcohol (a depressant). And they just feel so depressed afterwords that they drink another beer. Their family avoids them, their friends abandon them, they feel alone. And they just get so depressed that they can't help but nurse another bottle. They lose their job, their wife leaves them...how dare you tell them to stop drinking? It's the only thing that eases the pain!

It's classic psychology. Rather than focus on the root problem of their misery (alcoholism), they keep trying the same action hoping the problems will sort themselves out over time. The cause of the problem is also, in their mind, the solution!

How can you reason with such people? You can't!

We can't put 6 billion people in rehab so we sober people are just going to have to figure out a way to avoid the drunks.
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Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 14:50:19

I found these two:

http://www.sirweb.org/news/Calcium_Scor ... h_LOGO.pdf

A new study shows that high coronary artery calcium scores are directly related to significant vessel narrowing, and asymptomatic people with high scores will make significant lifestyle changes to prevent heart disease and atherosclerosis if they have this information, according to data presented here today at the 28th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology.

This study shows not everybody makes the changes, but most do:

http://www.srf.or.jp/english/studies_pdf/fp00003063.pdf

Lifestyle-related risk factor modification is important for the prevention of stroke. This study was designed to assess the changes of lifestyle behavior in patients after stroke. Eighty out-patients (46 men and 34 women, mean age, 69.4 years, 68 months post stroke in overage) were requested to fill out a questionnaire about modification of lifestyle behavior, comparing before and after stroke:smoking, salt intake, alcohol consumption, regular exercise and weight control. After
stroke, smoker significantly decreased from 47.8% to 15.9%( p<0.01 ) . Low salt dieter significantly increased from 22.1% to 45.6%(p<0.05). Excessive drinker(>equivalent of alcohol of 633ml of beer per day)decreased from 16.3% to 7.8%. The patients without regular exercise (less than once o week)decreased from 36.5% to 30.1% of 80 patients, 33(41.3%) succeeded to reduce their weights(average 2.1kg). The rate of patients who improved in lifestyle behavior:
smoking, salt intake, drinking and exercise were 41.8%, 32.7%, 18.2%, 16.4%, respectively
(p<0.01). After stroke, non- smoker and  low  salt  dieter  increased significantly. Among  the four  aspects  of  lifestyle, smoking  behavior remarkably improved  than others after  stroke.
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Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 14:52:02

Tyler_JC wrote:
Many depressed people drink alcohol (a depressant). And they just feel so depressed afterwords that they drink another beer. Their family avoids them, their friends abandon them, they feel alone. And they just get so depressed that they can't help but nurse another bottle. They lose their job, their wife leaves them...how dare you tell them to stop drinking? It's the only thing that eases the pain!

It's classic psychology. Rather than focus on the root problem of their misery (alcoholism), they keep trying the same action hoping the problems will sort themselves out over time. The cause of the problem is also, in their mind, the solution!

How can you reason with such people? You can't!

We can't put 6 billion people in rehab so we sober people are just going to have to figure out a way to avoid the drunks.


Gee there wasn't quite enough over-generalization in that post for me.
Could you add a bit more? How about citing a study.. nah that would be too much work, right?
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Unread postby MonteQuest » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 15:13:27

Although there are no recently published US studies, evaluation of a well-validated smoking-cessation program in Australia based on a US model showed that only 39% of individuals who were smoking at the time of their diagnosis of CHD were able to stop. Primary care practitioners are well aware that risk-reducing behavioral changes may never be accomplished by a portion of the patient population at risk for either current or future cardiac problems.
Effort to reduce rates of cardiovascular disease through smoking cessation, dietary modification, increased activity, and the use of medications continues to present complex challenges for both physicians and patients. In addition, since over 50% of men and 63% of women who experienced SCA had no previously reported symptoms of such individuals might be even less likely than those with known cardiac disease to initiate risk-reducing behavioral changes.
There is, and will continue to be, a significant segment of the population that cannot, or will not, make the necessary changes in their lifestyle to reduce their known risks of a cardiac event. JAMA


CHD is Congestive Heart Disease
SCA is Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
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Unread postby Ibon » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 16:20:50

MonteQuest wrote:
Although there are no recently published US studies, evaluation of a well-validated smoking-cessation program in Australia based on a US model showed that only 39% of individuals who were smoking at the time of their diagnosis of CHD were able to stop. Primary care practitioners are well aware that risk-reducing behavioral changes may never be accomplished by a portion of the patient population at risk for either current or future cardiac problems.
Effort to reduce rates of cardiovascular disease through smoking cessation, dietary modification, increased activity, and the use of medications continues to present complex challenges for both physicians and patients. In addition, since over 50% of men and 63% of women who experienced SCA had no previously reported symptoms of such individuals might be even less likely than those with known cardiac disease to initiate risk-reducing behavioral changes.
There is, and will continue to be, a significant segment of the population that cannot, or will not, make the necessary changes in their lifestyle to reduce their known risks of a cardiac event. JAMA


CHD is Congestive Heart Disease
SCA is Sudden Cardiac Arrest.



I find this subject very interesting in many ways. How people respond to high risk dysfunctional behaviour after confronted with a life threatening episode related to that behaviour offers us a fair indication on how our society as a whole might respond to a "global cardiac arrest" once peak oil or a major environmental crisis effects us.

Both Father of Two and Montequest pointed toward studies which illustrate that a good percentage of people do modifly their behaviour, although as the case of the Australian smokers demonstrates, there does remain a significant percentage of people who continue high risk behaviour after a CHD or SDA incident.

In the case of cardiac arrest a patient experiencing this is obviously quite personally effected and it is clear that the trauma experience can be enough to make him re-evaluate his lifestyle and modify it. I have often stated that our modern culture will not transform away from dysfunctional consumerism and toward a sustainable lifestyle until it suffers some severe shocks and pain. But it has to be suffering and pain of an environmental or economic severity that it shocks our cultures system in the same way as an individual experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Maybe a certain percentage of the die off we predict will include those individuals who wont be able to transform to a new sustainable paradigm after crisis. Those whowant to continue their unsustainable lifestyles wont survive.

The last point of interest is that of bias. Father or Two, who happens to be more optimistic and of the soft landing camp, immediately researched and found statistics that confirmed his bias and posted it. MonteQuest did exactly the same searching for studies that confirmed more his doomer mind set and also succesfully found statistics supporting his bias.

Researching peak oil and predicting the future is difficult. This is not the first time I have mentioned to be mindful of ones own bias :)
Last edited by Ibon on Thu 21 Jul 2005, 19:02:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 16:26:25

Ibon wrote:The last point of interest is that of bias. Father or Two, who happens to be more optimistic and of the soft landing camp, immediately researched and found statistics that confirmed his bias and posted it. MonteQuest did exactly the same searching for studies that confirmed more his doomer mind set and also succesfully found statistics supporting his bias.


I had to, I knew Monte was looking to support his argument, I'd better find something to support mine. You have to up your game when you take on Monte or you'll look like a fool :-D
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Unread postby retiredguy » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 17:05:35

It may be a little off-topic, but I have a good friend who is a recovering alcoholic. Except for a two-month stretch last year, he has been sober for almost eight years. However, and he is in the medical field, he is not at all confident that he will beat the disease. He told me that the disease kills 80% of of its victims. In other words, sobriety fails at some point.
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Unread postby Tyler_JC » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 18:05:21

retiredguy wrote:It may be a little off-topic, but I have a good friend who is a recovering alcoholic. Except for a two-month stretch last year, he has been sober for almost eight years. However, and he is in the medical field, he is not at all confident that he will beat the disease. He told me that the disease kills 80% of of its victims. In other words, sobriety fails at some point.


There ya go FatherOfTwo.

And if anything, I wasn't over generalizing...I was overspecializing!

You can't help people who don't want to be helped. Most of our civilization doesn't want to be helped. Those, we cannot help them.

Many of them would be totally incapable of coping physchologically with the concept of "less" or "decline".

It's those people we have to watch out for...
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Unread postby FatherOfTwo » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 18:13:42

Tyler_JC wrote:There ya go FatherOfTwo.

And if anything, I wasn't over generalizing...I was overspecializing!

You can't help people who don't want to be helped. Most of our civilization doesn't want to be helped. Those, we cannot help them.

Many of them would be totally incapable of coping physchologically with the concept of "less" or "decline".

It's those people we have to watch out for...


Then we've found another good group of candidates to help us reach ZPG! It'll make things easier for those who do want to implement and accept powerdown!
:-D
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Unread postby MonteQuest » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 21:40:58

Ibon wrote: The last point of interest is that of bias. Father or Two, who happens to be more optimistic and of the soft landing camp, immediately researched and found statistics that confirmed his bias and posted it. MonteQuest did exactly the same searching for studies that confirmed more his doomer mind set and also succesfully found statistics supporting his bias.

Researching peak oil and predicting the future is difficult. This is not the first time I have mentioned to be mindful of ones own bias :)


No bias, I just went straight to the best source. Journal of the American Medical Association. I don't look for facts to back my views, but facts.

Over 30 years of doing this, I have learned to make an effort not to be blinded by my bias. There is a study I recall that covered this question. I will try to find it, because as you say, it would be a good indicator of reaction to a cardiac arrest incident of the status quo.
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Unread postby Tyler_JC » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 22:19:23

FatherOfTwo wrote:
Tyler_JC wrote:There ya go FatherOfTwo.

And if anything, I wasn't over generalizing...I was overspecializing!

You can't help people who don't want to be helped. Most of our civilization doesn't want to be helped. Those, we cannot help them.

Many of them would be totally incapable of coping physchologically with the concept of "less" or "decline".

It's those people we have to watch out for...


Then we've found another good group of candidates to help us reach ZPG! It'll make things easier for those who do want to implement and accept powerdown!
:-D


Finally we agree on something!
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Unread postby Graeme » Thu 21 Jul 2005, 22:42:47

It is not possible to predict the future. To assume that the doomers scenario will come to pass is as dangerous as to assume that a sustainable future will occur. It is better to offer a range of possible futures as the Dutch and World Energy Council have done:

http://www.energytransition.info/eu-tra ... arios.html

http://www.worldenergy.org/wec-geis/edc/scenario.asp

The actual path of the future will depend on a whole range of complex factors, some of which are mentioned in the WEC site:

Each scenario is created using a number of building blocks such as population projections, economic prospects, changes in energy efficiency, shifts between the various fuels - fossil and non-fossil, more or less successful technology innovation and diffusion, stronger or weaker efforts to tackle environmental problems, larger or smaller mobilisation of investible funds, more or less effective institutions and policies.

The last one, government policies, is particularly important and something that individuals can do something about. There are encouraging signs that world goverments are now recognising the reality of peak oil and are doing something about it. For example, in USA:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20050721/pl ... MlJVRPUCUl

It will take time and everyone will not entirely agree with what governments are doing. Hopefully the next government policies will take us further away from oil dependency towards renewables at a faster rate than at present. Contacting your local political representative about your views will help. The doomer scenario is not a certainty but a more sustainable one will only come to pass if we do something about it. I have been trying this in this forum and by contacting my Minister of Energy. He has responded and the NZ government is proactive. Some may say that they too are not moving fast enough. What are you doing to move us toward a sustainable future?
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Unread postby retiredguy » Fri 22 Jul 2005, 10:18:27

Graeme,

That is exactly the question that needs to be asked: "What are you doing to move us to a sustainable future?"

Rather than continuing to argue about how PO will unfold, we on this board should begin to flesh out a strategy for how to get those in power to move in the right direction.

Some of us have been either experimenting or using alternative energy sources for a number of years. I plan to build a solar air collector for my sister and brother-in-law this fall. But if all my efforts at conservation simply allow others to waste even more fossil fuel, we aren't addressing the problem - just postponing it to the future and sealing our fate. Business as usual has got to stop and soon.

I'm just finishing "Eco-Economy" by Lester R. Brown, the founder of the Worldwatch Institute. He presents the resource depletion problem (soil, forests, water, fossil fuels) very comprehensively and outlines a strategy for achieving sustainability. The book was written in 2000 and a number of things he saw happening by 2005 have not occured. However, he did take a stab at presenting a possble solution. For my part, I plan to contact him to see how he views the situation today.
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Unread postby Ibon » Fri 22 Jul 2005, 11:36:17

retiredguy wrote: Business as usual has got to stop and soon.



When you consider the world consumption of oil per day and the decades that we have been consuming it and the amount still in the ground it is really staggering the stored energy that has been available to allow the human population to bloom to it's current size. It has been a gift and a curse at the same time. Business as usual has been uninterrupted for such an extended period of time that we have developed an enormous infrastructure and several generations of living habits that we (6.5 billion of us) now find ourselves so deeply entrenched that the task of engineering our global culture away from business as usual toward a more sustainable direction is truely daunting. We are watching a train wreck in slow motion but you do have to step back from the horror and fascination and take action otherwise you are ultimately just part of the problem.

As individuals the efforts we make to power down are noble but if this conservation just frees up more energy for the rest of the 99% of the population to consume more than it is futile except that is does set an example to others that it is possible. Educating others and living by example is probably the most important thing you can do. The added benefit of course is that your personal survival is enhanced once energy really starts to decline.

I sold my business and unsustainable home last year and have powered down my family's life substantially since then. Before fully understanding peak oil I had serious plans to invest in an ecotourism project overseas that would have depended on luxury travel. My plans have changed. I am now more interested to partner up with other investors and businesses to set up a sustainable energy education center where one can work and live and offer the surrounding community resources to power down. No other project seems to make sence.
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Unread postby retiredguy » Fri 22 Jul 2005, 14:03:32

I have some money to invest. Got any suggestions regarding alternative energy companies?
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Unread postby Ibon » Fri 22 Jul 2005, 15:08:11

retiredguy wrote: Business as usual has got to stop and soon.


Continuing on the theme that business as usual has got to stop and soon, let’s take a moment away from our North American mind set and go across the Atlantic to a country that in 2000 initiated a Renewable Energy law committing themselves to at least doubling the percentage share of renewable energy in total energy supply by the year 2010. Germany


http://www.folkecenter.dk/en/articles/E ... ech-PM.htm

Introduction
With the purpose of protecting the environment, managing global warming and securing a reliable energy supply, the German Government and the German Bundestag – in agreement with the European Union – have committed themselves to at least doubling the percentage share of renewable energy in total energy supply by the year 2010. This objective is related to the envisaged commitment on the part of Germany to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21 per cent by the year 2010 in the framework of the European Union’s commitment as laid down in the Kyoto Protocol to the Framework Climate Convention of the United Nations; this objective is linked to the German Government’s objective to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent by the year 2005, relative to 1990



Not only that but Germany has stated that what we do today up until the year 2020 will make or break our ability to move toward renewable energy. (This sounds like many posters on Peak Oil.com!)

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/feat ... fm?ID=1208

Can renewable energy development keep pace with rising global energy demand? As world governments struggle with this question, Germany is advancing with resolve in a transition to 100% renewable energy. The German government accepts the goal is technically and economically feasible, and has adopted a long-term national policy for the transition. After years of reliance on nuclear energy - which supplies 30% of the nation's electricity - Germany has concluded that nuclear is a dead-end and has established long term plans to phase it out.

Germany's most urgent conclusion is that the period lasting until about 2020 comprises "make-or-break" years for the renewable energy transition. It is this conviction that has driven German policy makers to introduce the world's most aggressive support for renewables, to stick with it during the past decade and to guarantee that support for the next 20-30 years.


As an example of concrete projects, see the attached link to the Solar Park that is up and running in Bavaria producing 10 megawatt’s of electricity on 62 acres using 57,600 PV solar panels. (Keep in mind that Bavaria has a climate about as conducive to solar as Seattle Washington).

http://www.powerlight.com/documents/cas ... arpark.pdf

We often discuss here on this board the possibility of our culture here in North America waking up and going through the changes required toward sustainability before it is too late to avoid collapse. Although Germany is still far away from achieving their goals, their legistlation and concrete projects in building up their infrastructure with renewables indicates clear evidence of a culture that is in transition away from their dependency on fossil fuels.

What do we see in comparison when we look at the USA today? An elitist imperial government fighting resource wars whose energy policy initiative is equivalent to encouraging consumerism, beholden of their corporate lobbyists and viewed more and more as an unstable regime in the world breaking international law starting wars and refusing to cooperate in international accords like Kyoto or respecting United Nation laws. Some have even gone to the extremes to call the USA's policies fascist. Looks pretty depressing right? But wait a minute, where was Germany just 1 generation ago when many of us posters here where born?

In reference to this thread that Collapse probably wont happen can we draw some conclusions?

Germany demonstrates a society with clear definable progress toward sustainability evolving from a fascist state to a global leader in promoting sustainability within 1 generation.

Germany recognizes that the time is now to build up their infrastructure to replace fossil fuels.

It is very understandable that the majority of doomers on this website are North Americans mainly because our government is so hopelessly misguided in their policies in reference to conservation and promotion of alternatives. And the American public of course continuing to consume and ignorant of what is happening globally with peak oil.

But there is great hope in this story. The USA can turn itself around both culturally and in it's legislation as demonstrated by Germany in steering policies toward sustainability. Even market forces may come into play if the USA loses a competitive edge when other countries experience the economic benefits of their foresite in investing in renewables. Since we are all so used to assuming that America is the global leader in technolgy trends we see the world as so hopeless since the leader is clearly failing. But it might not be the USA that provides the leadership in heading us toward a sustainable future since they do not have the cultural or political maturity at the moment to lead the world. It's also clear that the USA is going bankrupt with trying to fight resource wars and I beleive the neo- conservative agenda in washington is headed quickly for extinction.

There is one thing though that bothers me in this comparison. Germany rose up to its current policies from the ashes and shame of their collapsed society in WWII to become the relatively passive culture and leader in sustainable energy that they are today. This does also confirm one of my premises that cultural change and the breaking of inertia only happens and is possible through crisis and through suffering. Does the USA have to experience a similar collapse as Germany did 60 years ago to humble itself toward becoming a better global citizen both environmentally and politically?
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