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Abandoning a fossil fuel powered civilization means abandoning civilization?

General Ideas


In the 1950s, the Italian anthropologist Fosco Maraini (1912-2004) had a chance to witness the tremendous cultural shock that the Japanese society experienced the defeat of the 2nd world war. He described his experience in the book “Meeting with Japan”, published in 1960. We may expect to go through something similar worldwide as we experience the cultural shock of having to abandon fossil fuels.
I am writing this post just after having gone through one of the usual exchanges in the comments of a blog. You know how it goes: it is based on the idea that “renewables will never be able to replace fossil fuels.” The reasons are always the same: renewables are intermittent, renewables cannot provide liquid fuels, renewables cannot fly wide-body planes, renewables cannot do this, renewables cannot do that. And if we try to move to renewables, we’ll go back to barbarism.
At the basis of this position, there is the total refusal to face any change, to abandon the business as usual (BAU) paradigm. Those who are used to BAU cannot imagine a different world. So, it is inconceivable for them that the supply of power may vary in time; it is inconceivable that they wouldn’t be able to have their car parked in front of the entrance of their home, it is inconceivable that they wouldn’t be able to buy cheap tickets for their deserved vacations in Hawaii.
Every time I read this kind of exchanges, I am reminded of the book of Fosco Maraini “Meeting with Japan”, published in 1960. There, Maraini tells his experience in Japan before and after the second world war and of the tremendous cultural shock that the Japanese experienced with the defeat. In the book, we read of a Japan that’s unusual for us, today: a shocked Japan, a poor Japan, a nation of people who were desperately trying to adapt to a world that had changed in ways they had never imagined as possible. But, no matter how they disliked the new world, they had no choice.

A paragraph of the book that has forever remained in my mind tells of a restaurant, somewhere in the Japanese countryside, that Maraini describes as (p 116 of the 1st edition):

…. one of those monstrous local taverns where all the styles of history seem to have been distilled into a final residue of hideousness. Sensitive and discriminating as the Japanese are when they move within the orbit of their own civilization, they become barbarians when they renounce their past and mimic foreign ways … Renouncing a civilization means renouncing civilization.

 … the bare concrete floor was plastered with congealed mud. When the Japanese abandon tatami, the straw mats on which they walk with bare feet, they are left with a psychological void. The floor, not being tatami, is merely an extension of the street: the street brought into the house.

And there we are: when we think of abandoning fossil fuels, we are left with a psychological void. Abandoning the fossil fuel powered civilization means abandoning civilization and a world not being powered by fossil fuels can only be the extension of the barbarian ages of the past. Barbarism brought into our world.

But no matter how much some of us dislike the new world we will be experiencing, we have no choice. I think we are in for quite some cultural shock!

75 Comments on "Abandoning a fossil fuel powered civilization means abandoning civilization?"

  1. Outcast_Searcher on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 7:36 pm 

    As if technology can’t improve. As if using multiple sources of renewables, batteries, potential energy, etc. can’t possibly overcome (at least the vast majority of) intermittency.

    And because to the doomers, the inconvenient is impossible. Meanwhile, over the next few to several decades, the transition will happen, led by things like Tesla’s Gigafactory. (Even if Musk can’t build highly reliable cars yet or cars at a profit, it does appear he will be building good batteries in huge numbers by next year.)

    Too bad the transition will occur so late that AGW doom still appears to be a rather huge long term problem.

  2. Truth Has A Liberal Bias on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 7:57 pm 

    “Too bad the transition will occur so late that AGW doom still appears to be a rather huge long term problem.”

    “As if technology can’t improve”

    So you suggest technology CAN improve to mitigate an energy crisis secondary to peak oil but CANNOT improve to mitigate a climate change crisis.

    You Sir are a fucking retard.

  3. tk on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 7:58 pm

    Looks like the hillsgroup website index page has been hacked… at least for me…

    Greetings from “ger-money”.

  4. makati1 on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:05 pm 

    And the alternative is…? Extinction. I know what my choice would be and it is not extinction.

    ” Barbarism brought into our world.”

    What do you call the world we live in?

    “12 Injured, Bomber Killed Outside German Music Festival”
    “Islamists attack French church, slit priest’s throat”
    “Afghan civilian casualties soar to record high, UN says”
    “Sign of the Times: Riot Control Gear Sales Are Soaring Globally”
    “Germany orders increased police presence after spate of attacks”
    “Munich Shooting Sparks Push to End Post-WW2 Limits on Using German Military Domestically”
    “Australia’s “Abu Ghraib”-Like Torture of Jailed Children Captured in “Chilling” TV Footage”
    “US-Backed Syrian ‘Moderates’ Behead 12-Year-Old”
    “Gunfire often connected to gangs hitting Chicago children”
    “Manhunt Underway After 4 Men in Car Shoot at NYPD Officers in Brooklyn, Narrowly Missing Them: Police Union”
    “Kansas City Police Officer Killed After Drive-By Shooting”
    “Cops Shoot Unarmed Caregiver With His Hands Up While He Helps Man”

    And on and on. Not to mention what the 0.1% are doing to the rest of us Or what the West has been doing to the 3rd world for centuries. Slavery is not gone, it is just run by the banks today. Civilization? We can do without it.

    Barbarism* is us!

    *Barbarism: an idea, act, or expression that in form or use offends against contemporary standards of good taste or acceptability. M.W.

  5. DMyers on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:17 pm 

    Bardi is talking about our standard of living being reduced to some fractional level. This does not appear to match the scenario of Japan, post WWII.

  6. Davy on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:24 pm 

    It is simple really and it revolves around natural cycles which humans are very much a part of. Natural cycles are about population levels and their consumption. They dwell in an underlying ecosystem health. They have an internal species dynamics of growth or decline. Our present circumstances are all cycling in the direction of decline and decay. It is really much worse because we have rearranged the entire earth ecosystem for our benefit. We have discarded balance and equity. You may ask why we should worry about balance and equity. Balance is the basis of an ecosystem’s strength. You take away balance and natural systems become dysfunctional. We have chosen human needs and wants over natures balance. Equity is related to the fairness and impartiality we should be showing nature because we are capable of self-reflection and knowledge. We have instead chosen to assume complete control where we can without equity. We have few if any effective checks on our development. Only until recently have we finally understood what all this has become and even then it is being repressed. Until very recently we have always considered our progress through knowledge and technology to be paramount. Civilization is the light in the darkness of a cruel world has been our conviction. It is only now we are seeing civilization is the darkness and nature is where life is.

    Now that it is too late a few enlightened ones are becoming aware of the sins and transgressions of our hubris. To be fair there has not been any cooperation in this damnation. It is a species trait that brought us here. It is a large brain that had all the right ingredients to overshoot its natural carrying capacity. We had a beneficial climate and we had a world of high quality resources to draw from. We self-organized into who and what we are by circumstance. We have always chosen more when we were given choice. We have created elaborate narratives to justify this destiny. These narrative span a spectrum of our self-awareness. These elaborate narratives have always been human centric not what they always should have been and that is nature and humans. I say this with the understanding that native cultures had this connectivity but were assimilated by force into our modernism that is now globalism. In the process we have discarded proven living arrangements that were simple and robust. These were discarded for efficiency and greater speed. When modern man has the choice he always chooses efficiency and greater speed over natural balance.

    It is the choices that have got us into this trap. Our existential circumstances might have been different with a different climate that was not conducive to agriculture. Agriculture gave us choices and a large brain used choices to expand. It is the ability to expand that allowed us to be what and who we are today. It is only nature that can control us. We are unable to control ourselves. Given choices we will always chose self-interest over balance and equity. Harmony is not found in self-interest. Control ultimately rest with nature and her ecosystem. She is now exerting her control as we live within our cocoons of deception. Knowledge and self-interest are the handmaiden of extinction.

    It is too late for our species at the global level. We are set in our ways. Globalism is now our survival mechanism. It is nonnegotiable at the collective level because we have no other means for survival. There is no plan B or alternative living arrangements available. There is no other continent to migrate to. This is it. This is the end. We collectively cooperate in competition because we have no choice. Our only choice now is locally and at the individual level. It is only there a disconnection can occur. At this individual level it becomes a matter of meaning and the truth. Do you care for the truth good or bad or do you turn your back on reality as society does when it is bad. It is not that society does not face reality it is more like society can only face a part of reality and still function as a society. We have crossed a threshold of meaning. We are now into a conceptual zone that is undefined. It is only at an individual and local level that we can reconnect with nature and our human nature. This does not mean we can transcend and leave the insanity our civilization has become. It means we can find the humility to say it is wrong. The underlying motive of modern civilization is wrong and it is wrong because it lacks a control mechanism. Cancer is the closest comparison but cancer is not self-reflecting. As an individual and at the local we can reconnect by disconnecting if only in spirit. If you can leave the insanity and don’t then you are lost. If you can and do you will find the only salivation left and that is the Truth.

  7. makati1 on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:43 pm 

    DMeyers, whose standard of living ? The West, and their wannabees, or the other 6+ Billion of us? The degree of suffering coming to the West is equal to the degree of luxury you are enjoying today. And, yes, all of America is still enjoying luxury, even most of the “poor”, by world standards. If you have an income over $10,000 per year, you are already above the world average income for those 6+ billion.

    Do you really think that ‘no oil’ will make much difference to the “poor” or the “lower middle class” of the world? Those other 6+ billion. Many will not even notice. And, no, the loss of oily fertilizers will not matter much. Water is more important.

    But the pain is already being felt in America, Japan, Australia and Europe. Current events prove that the feeling that something is wrong is beginning to seep through the propaganda and brainwashing by the various governments. The revolts, wars and riots are visible symptoms of the decline. And it is only beginning. Are you prepared?

  8. denial on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:44 pm 

    yes it is too late for us as a species…it will be really hard to predict how this is all going to fall out…people don’t want to face the reality and when you try to explain it to them they get really angry as if you are trying to take away their “freedom”…most people are slaves to the systems anyway. They can’t think for themselves and work so that they will have money for retirement and a few vacations but most of the time they are on cruise control not paying attention to anything. But we all know that….

    I think it is pretty funny how Obama pushed this health care system so some people will get health care while ignoring climate change and the energy problem that will kill billions of people directly and indirectly think of Syria all over the world.

  9. denial on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:52 pm 

    Even the political groups are on cruise control, when there is a meeting on climate change more energy is used to get everyone there than a small country uses in the same amount of days! we are programed to destroy…

  10. frankthetank on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 10:53 pm 

    I plan on riding out the apocalypse on my boosted board.

  11. Anonymous on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 11:13 pm 

    Oh thank goodness, Musks ‘gigafactory’ will ‘save’ us. Which currently, what is that phrase again? Oh yea, doesn’t EXIST. Any likely never will. Even if it did exist, maybe Outcast could explain just what problem(s) musks as-yet-non-existent battery factory he expects it would ‘solve’.

    Of course, to the BAU (now with GREENWASH tm) pushers, the only real problem we face is our technology just hasn’t ‘improved’ enough. But as soon that magical day arrives, everything will be fine. Who knew it was that simple? Better cars, with more onboard crap no one needs, better toasters, better TVs, better I-junks, Better GMO foods, problem(s), solved.

  12. joe on Wed, 27th Jul 2016 11:24 pm 

    Who says that abandoning oil means abandoning civilisation? Renewables might do somthing to preserve a tiny portion of society. Our society currently supports a 1% that lives off the rest of us. Historically thats about right. Now might be a good time to review the clash of civilisations theory, now that neo-cons are in the democratic party they espouse the idea that all we need is a national enemy and everything will be rosy. Clash of civilisations says that in the post communism world we only revert back to the old way. Of course in the old way civilisations which were integrated tended to be as stable as any other, the only requirement was that the whichever 1% ruled, was left alone.
    History is full of examples, from the Roman Empire to the Mongol. My own theory is that when 99% of people are struggling to feed themselves, then they dont much care about world domination. Whichever 1% is left will of course go on as if nothing happened but they really will live in their own little bubbles. The real difficulty will be transitioning to lower level ‘sustainability’ without allowing crisis to spin out of control. As ever I believe a series of health crisis will be used as cover for downscaling modern society. Thats why pensions are being geared to go broke, because the 1% dont believe in the future of modern society so they are stealing all the money now.

  13. theedrich on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 12:29 am 

    The American “Declaration of Independence ” and the subsequent U.S. Constitution were written many decades before Charles Darwin and his Origin of Species.  So the U.S. is incapable of admitting what the only solutions to our massive death march can be.  The Declaration was essentially a piece of propaganda aimed at getting the masses to sacrifice their lives for cheaper booze and new masters.  The
    Constitution’s Bill of Rights at least staved off despotism for nearly two and a half centuries, although it is now being whittled away by the creature in the throne room and the international moguls who control him/it.  Thus the new BAU is now returning America to the historical standard of government by kings and dictators — under the guise of Disneyland for all, of course.

    Neither our visible nor invisible rulers care about the masses they manipulate.  The masses themselves are interested only in the constant replay of their own phylogenetic memories:  the standard “bread and circuses” doled out by the Masters of the Universe to keep the proles in line.  Any change, any deviation from this standard causes panic in both rulers and ruled.  Hence the current maniacal attacks on presidential candidate Trump by the elites and their media underlings, as well as by the welfare-dependent anti-Whites.

    But the global ecological devastation and civilizational degradation due to BAU “philanthropy” for political advantage has already expanded the population overload far past planetary sustainability.  The hierophantic promises about the benefits of new killer apps, drones and self-driving cars are essentially diversions from reality.  Meanwhile, psychopathic Mohammedanism expands its theocratic conquest of the West through a combo of extreme population explosion on our soil and (always abjured but nonetheless unending) terror, while Western elites pretend that Islam is just another humanistic religion, like atheism.

    The name of the game is stasis:  we are immobilized by our own religiously motivated blindness and infighting, unable to admit the existential nature of the doom facing us.  This is not like the state of post-WW2 Japan, which still had the resiliency, however diminished at the time, to revive.  We are facing a civilizational death from which there will be no return.

  14. canabuck on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 12:45 am 

    Elon Musk says that battery density is increasing by 3 – 5% per year. It is not that much, but after 5 years, it becomes significant.

  15. makati1 on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 2:36 am 

    canqabuck, all it needs is about 200 years to get close to powering a mining machine, truck or other needed heavy equipment. How much does it weigh? Will the power in it even move the battery? lol

  16. Davy on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 6:07 am 

    “Renewables might do something to preserve a tiny portion of society”.
    It takes a global world to power most high technology with economies of scale and just-in-time integrated production and distribution. There is then global finance to facilitate the trade. We are no longer capable of continuing civilization as we know it without globalism. We passed a threshold of decoupling in the early eighties. At that time economies were capably of living in isolation to a degree. Really we passed decoupling in the 30’s in most advanced nations meaning vital international trade is required to be a wealthy nation capable of a high degree of complexity.

    Now everywhere is global and delocalized. Going back is nothing like going to. Now the developed and the developing will face similar problems of cascading of economic activity and by extension food and fuel shortages. This is about becoming a new and different civilization once globalism became complete. We are now all in this together. We are now all in either a population or consumption overshoot. You know what overpopulation is and means with an economic decline. Consumption overshoot means a small population is just as much at risk because the trucks stop and the grid flickers creating the same issues of a breakdown of support. In some cases like Asia you have overpopulation and overconsumption. It is there the really ugly die off will be. Nowhere will be spared.

    How this unfolds and the degree and duration could be influenced by wise choices as a global society. That will likely not happen because of the social narrative of globalism of development and increasing complexity. Individually and in locals is the only possibility for significant change and even here it will be limited to being part of one big organism of globalism. There is a huge amount of pain, suffering, and death in the pipeline that cannot be avoided and must just be endured. Some things can and should be changed that will make a difference. We should be leveraging our huge global productive potential now for this event of collapse while we can. We should be using this productive potential to mitigate the worst of the effects as they start and buy time to adapt to a new economic and social paradigm of less. Instead we will go all out with the status quo until it stops. If we are lucky some needed changes will occur when we go into global crisis because in crisis there is real change and sacrifice because it is a forced choice not a discretionary choice. Crisis is about making tough decisions or dying and most people want to avoid death.

    We likely have a few years for all this to unfold completely but the clock is running down quick and the collapse process has started. Time flies in this hyper complex world. It seems to be speeding up because we are busy trying to get somewhere and leave where we are instead of hunkering down for the shit storm. Civilization is in a death rattle. Something new will shake out but it will be far different than what we know today and this is just around the corner.

  17. Kenz300 on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 7:06 am 

    The fossil fuel industry is fighting a losing battle………the world is in transition to safer, cleaner and cheaper alternative energy sources like wind and solar.


    Watch The Climate Change Ad Fox News Didn’t Want Its Viewers To See

  18. sunweb on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 7:49 am 

    Davy among others, I celebrate your writing, thanks.
    It is comforting to prefer the noise of delusional magical thinking and pretending that the system of perpetual growth can work forever; that some variant of business as usual can persist. There is just too much tied up with it and any unraveling would be far too chaotic and unpredictable. Wrapping our heads around the eventualities of global warming; of overshoot; of the desecration of world wildlife; of the acidification of the oceans; of the poisoning of pollinators stymies.

    A world no longer powered by fossil fuels, no matter what incarnation, is almost inconceivable and for many terrifying. . It is indeed traumatic for what it might (probably) means not just for us but for our love ones, children, grandchildren. Our hearts break. We want to fix it. So we do more technology and more ultimate harm.

    We are slowly technogizing ourselves into extinction. Technology is seductive. Is it the power? Is it the comfort? Or is it some internal particularly human attribute that drives it? Technology surrounds us and becomes part of our story and myths. Technology tantalizes the human mind to make, combine, invent. There are always unintended consequences with technology. It effects how we experience the world in time and space. It affects how we feel the world. If all the externalities were included in the prices and cost to nature, we would be very, very wary of technology.

    I think we have moved from technology in the service of religion (pyramids and gothic cathedrals) to religion and culture in the service of technology. It isn’t a deity that will save humanity but in the eyes of many – it will be technology.

    We will do more of the same, business as usual until there are no more holes in the ground to dig, no more water above and below to contaminate, no humans to wage slave, no other lifeforms to eliminate. Yes, we are building Trojan horses in our hearts, minds and spirits. It will be elitist and entitlement and hubris – it will end with both a bang and a whimper.

  19. ghung on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:01 am 

    mak said; “canqabuck, all it needs is about 200 years to get close to powering a mining machine, truck or other needed heavy equipment. How much does it weigh? Will the power in it even move the battery? lol”

    Yeah, mak, lol. All you had to do was search “battery-powered mining machines” and you wouldn’t sound so ignorant. Underground mining has been making the transition for years due to it’s cost-effectiveness. Further, giant wired electric excavators have been in use above ground for decades.

    GE is deploying newer sodium-nickel-chloride “Durathon” batteries for the mining industry.

    Of course, without a fossil-fueled economy, utilizing electrically-mined products probably won’t be very viable over time, but mak’s opinions about batteries are simply wrong.

  20. Cloud9 on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:18 am 

    I do not subscribe to the slow collapse model for the simple reason that our current infrastructure is too complex and too energy dependent to be able to absorb serious supply shortages.

    Look at the infrastructure of Rome when it collapsed and compare it to our own. At its high point the city of Rome had a population of roughly 1.6 million. Rome supplied this population using roads and aqueducts to bring in food imports from all around the Mediterranean. The water was brought in by gravity. That food was transported by sailing ship and ox cart. With systemic degradation, there was not a massive die off initially. Supply chains began to fail and the population began to decline during an ongoing economic crisis that began around 235. The real die off began in 536 with climate collapse.

    Now look at us. In just one metropolitan area, Miami Dade, we equal the population density of ancient Rome. Palm Beach County exceeds the population of ancient Rome. We have a string of these metropolitan areas up and down both coastlines.

    Now consider this: Many of our dwellings are completely uninhabitable without electricity. Electricity pumps in our water and pumps out our sewage. Much of our immediate food supply is refrigerated. Almost all of our transport runs on either gasoline or diesel. Both of these fuels are pumped by electricity.

    Turn off the electricity and our cities become uninhabitable in a matter of days. You could not turn out the electricity in ancient Rome. The Romans were not dependent on it. It would take a major effort just to shut down the water supply. The Miami Dade water supply could be terminated with the flip of a few breakers.

    Without electricity a refugee crisis totaling millions of people will begin in a matter of days. They will spill over the countryside like locusts and consume everything in their path. This diaspora is what will end civilization. Small communities like those imagined by Kunstler and others may escape the initial die off but they will not be able to escape the consequences of that die off.

  21. JuanP on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:36 am 

    “Shell profits plunge 70%”

  22. GregT on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:39 am 

    “Elon Musk says that battery density is increasing by 3 – 5% per year.”

    Elon Musk is a modern day industrialist. As modern industrialism winds down, so winds down Elon Musk and his techno-utopian stories. Society will be far more concerned about food production, than it will be about air-conditioning, social media, and personal transportation. Niceties, not necessities.

  23. makati1 on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:04 am 

    ghung, when they become the normal, not the exception, I will accept that they may be of real use. A few machines do NOT mine and remove the hundreds of billions of tons of ores and minerals needed to keep BAU in any form, not to mention moving those ores and minerals around the world where they are used and needed.

    I am not the dreamer that you are. I actually research what I don’t know and learn new things every day. And I know that batteries are NOT the answer. Never will be. There is no honest answer on how to keep any semblance of BAU going for much longer. Just lies and propaganda.

  24. makati1 on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:10 am 

    Cloud9, your view of the future is right on target. Most of the industrialized world cannot survive without a constant source of electric. When it starts to break down more and more frequently, all hell will break lose. Imagine 100+F temps without A/C or even ice or fans. Or -30F temps without electric to power the heating units in northern homes. Both are death in slow motion for the human animal.

  25. ghung on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:47 am 

    mak says: “I am not the dreamer that you are. I actually research what I don’t know and learn new things every day.”

    Gosh, mak, how long have you been living on battery power? Been off-grid much? Do you REALLY think you’ve done more research about batteries than I have? Really?

    My original response to your inaccurate comment still stands, no matter how many strawmen you field. And I’ve NEVER posited that battery technology (or any other technology) will save industrial civilization.

  26. Davy on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 10:19 am 

    “Our society currently supports a 1% that lives off the rest of us.”
    The above is another misconception. How much do the 1% consume? When we look at food the significance of the food consumption among this rich is low in relation to the whole. It may be decadent and extravagant but it is insignificant in the bigger picture. In regards to fossil fuels this would be a bigger disparity but again will it make a meaningful dent in the incongruities among the world rich and poor? We could make some headway here by eliminating yachts, private aircraft, multiple homes, and unneeded toys. Yet, this wealth transfer back to the less fortunate would quickly be consumed by the additional 80MIL a year new population. We must also acknowledge the economic disruption this would cause to quite a few who service this wealth taken from the rich. We are talking an interconnected global world of economies of scale and velocity of economic activity. The central banks are already very disturbed with just a small amount of deflation. Imagine an economic shock of a whole segment of the economy being jolted with changes.

    The reality of this situation of the rich owning the majority of the wealth is true on a level but at a deeper level their wealth is ephemeral. It is digital and it is not tangible physical ownership that can be directly controlled beyond the status quo of laws and security structures. The 1% have much wealth but it would quickly be erased in a collapsing economy and social fabric. This is likely why the wealthy elite are so nervous today. The smart ones realize how quickly their lifestyles and wealth could evaporate. My point here is not we should not reform the gross wealth inequalities between classes and nations. We should do this and this is part of the mitigation effort needed to deal with the current economic collapse process and abrupt climate change. An interconnected world must maintain the connections. It is in everyone’s interest to maintain everyone else at least the vital elements. Some people and nations are expendable others are vital to the whole. The likelihood of meaningful change is doubtful and this sadly means less for the wealthy too. My point is do not expect a windfall profit from class warfare nor a benefit in collapse when the 1% are diminished.

    The global economy is structured such that the interconnectedness is more vital than the resulting parts. It is the very structures that draw us together and allow massive production, distribution, and resulting growth that matter. To dissect the organism like a frog in the biology lab and giving the foot to another will not make the other better off. You can desire revolution with change and even with revenge and violence but the most this will do is satisfy the anger. Some will of course win but it is nothing more than moving the chairs around and at the same time kicking many off. Civil war destroys wealth it does not create it. It is not going to make much difference with physical quantities. One class will be robbed to give to another class and the entire pie will shrink more than if it were left alone.

    We are in a catch 22 of choices with none good and all leading to the same collapse. We have some time and we can realize some changes to wealth inequalities. If the rich were really smart they would be scrambling to make lifestyle changes now. They would eliminate the extravagances not so much to make a physical difference but to reduce the hostility and anger that will be directed to them when SHTF. It is going to be open season on the rich because they are such a big target. If they were smart they would start their downsizing now while it can be done responsibly. Once the house of cards begins to fall they will be losing so much so quick many will be left with little.

    We often hear the elites are building their bunkers and compounds. This is just not true in a significant amount. It is not possible at a scale needed to save much of them. There are some who have taken to this type of effort but very small compared to the total population of 1%’ers. Shedding the rich of their wealth will not save us. This is just more fantasy much like a renewable world is going to save modern life. The shedding of the wealth of the rich will satisfy emotions but not the belly.

  27. peakyeast on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 10:38 am 

    “increasing 3-5% per year” imagine what that battery will be able to do in just 5000 years from now. Just this single thing growing 3-5% per year will make our race literally masters of the universe in almost no time.

  28. tagio on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 10:39 am 

    “We often hear the elites are building their bunkers and compounds. This is just not true in a significant amount.”

    If the rich had any brains and could withstand the social opprobrium they would bear from othe rmembers of their in group by withdrawing from participation their globe-trotting, vactioning, multiple home, conspicuous consumption ways, they would find a “transition town” they could set themselves up in and adopt a lord and benefactor of the manor mindset, building out and supporting resiliency in the community beginning with local food production and securing water supply, local crafts and building out the town library to make sure it had a wealth of agricultural, scientific, engineering, etc. knowledge.

  29. Davy on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 12:16 pm 

    Let me make a point about my point on the 1%er wealth. This is an extremely devisive issue on our board and in the real world. We can write a book on the subject in fact it is one of those economic issues that has been well studied at all levels for two hundred years. My main point is “IF” yes the big “IF” we are in a collapse process that is a paradigm shift from growth to decay, deflation, and depletion then wealth inequality takes on a new dynamics. It is no longer an option to make society whole because society is no longer whole. Society is coming apart and what could be more harmful is the disruption that comes from disruptive change. Disruptive change at this point leads to destructive change.

    Real wealth in a world of decay, deflation, and depletion must be redefined also. Abstract wealth we find in the finance industry is of limited basis if we are collapsing. The 1%’ers wealth is dominated by paper wealth. The real wealth of civilization will come in the basics of the physical and abstract. The physical like good soil and water without contamination from industrial pollutions are one example of many. On the abstract side there is the social fabric and sustainability and resilience of a place. Overpopulation and overconsumption levels must be considered. Bank accounts and stock portfolios in a time of collapse whether and event or a process are of less value as time progresses. At some point they will have no value whatsoever.

    We can and must reform wealth inequality where we can and where we can is at the local. I wish it were the case that nations would make an effort to reform inequalities while we still can to make us better able to face the storms of collapse ahead. There is much we could do to change how we are going to enter a collapse situation. We should also realize any serious efforts will be disruptive and likely take us into collapse sooner rather than later although we will likely be better prepared.

    If we are not in a collapse process with dynamics of decay, deflation, and depletion then I will acknowledge there is a case for shedding the 1% of their wealth and redistributing it to the less privileged and this will make a difference if the pie is growing and the economy healthy. It is well documented that healthy societies have a moderate Gini coefficient. If we are no then the whole subject must be reexamined with a new basis of collapse in mind. Since society does not acknowledge collapse it is left to the “lone wolves” on the internet to bring up these issues.

  30. JuanP on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 1:40 pm 

    I believe that “renewable” energy and other technological advances, like better batteries, will allow us to keep growing our global population level for a few more years and add at least another billion people to the world. How that makes anything better beats me, though! We should have stuck to spears and bows and arrows!

  31. John Kintree on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 2:52 pm 

    Self-driving buses is an interesting piece of the Tesla plan. I mostly travel by bus, and have a monthly bus pass.

    It is possible that the cost of the labor to operate buses at the present is greater than the cost of the buses themselves. We might be able to buy twice as many buses as are currently on the roads, within the existing public transit budget, if the buses were self-driving.

    Buses are as large as they are to get the greatest number of riders per driver. With self-driving buses, this would not be a consideration. We might be able to buy twice as many buses again if they were half the size of existing buses, again staying within the current public transit budget.

    With as many as four times as many buses on the roads, the schedules would be greatly improved. The time to wait for a bus would be greatly reduced. The quality of the public transit experience would be greatly improved.

    Plus, these would be electric, battery powered buses; much quieter and less polluting.

    If one out of ten car owners decided to use public transit instead of driving their own cars, the number of people using public transit might double. With more people riding buses, more buses would be needed, and the time to wait for a bus would go down even more.

    The future will be different. We might not have the luxury of a car in the garage waiting for our personal use at any time, but the alternative of using public transit might not be so bad.

  32. shortonoil on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 3:39 pm 

    “Looks like the hillsgroup website index page has been hacked… at least for me…”

    Yes it was. Someone doesn’t like our message. We will have it back up in a couple of days with some new security features.We are waiting on the domain propagation. It could take 48 hours.

  33. sunweb on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 5:28 pm 

    Solar and wind energy capturing devices are made presently with fossil fuels and a global industrial infrastructure. When we have to replace these devices or components or auxiliary equipment how will we do that. Will a certain number of these devices be set aside to accumulate the energy to get the resources and provide the energy for the next generation of devices, components and background equipment for movement and installation?

    If so, how will that be managed?

    We will all work together as we do now in wonderful harmony. No, draconian overseeing and control.

  34. Boat on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 7:17 pm 


    You doomers ask that question year after year. Yet the growing demand for oil continues to be supplied. Plenty of btu’s to make renewables for decades.

  35. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 7:49 pm 

    Short, it’s a sure bet that it was PUTIN who hacked your site. He did right after he hacked the Dem’s. He evil, or so everyone tells me. BOO!

    Whoever comes out with an “Anti-Putin” software will make a billion. I’m betting on Kaspersky.

  36. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 7:52 pm 

    Boat, there’s already enough renewables for the amount of mutants who will be left in a few decades.

  37. Boat on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:05 pm 


    Wind in many areas is the cheapest btu going. Solar will be soon be joining the club. Like it or not them mutants will be surrounded by the shyt.

  38. makati1 on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:17 pm 

    Ap, but the mutants will look a solar panel and wonder what it is … lol.

  39. Boat on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:27 pm 

    “If we are not in a collapse process with dynamics of decay, deflation, and depletion then I will acknowledge there is a case for shedding the 1% of their wealth and redistributing it to the less privileged and this will make a difference if the pie is growing and the economy healthy”.

    Why are you convinced the pie has to grow with population. The pie can compensate by becoming more efficient and cleaner. The pie can become healthier with dropping populations. The parts of the world that add population without efficiency gains are setting themselves for a die off. Countries will set up walls and mourn their loss.

  40. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:42 pm 

    Boat, it’s neither here nor there to me. I’m sure more toxic alt of all sorts will be built and it will come in handy for a number of reasons and people, but as for reducing fossil fuel use and emissions? Barley made a dent if any. Now the numbers claim that emissions have been flat for the last year or so, but you have to consider that when counting they are relying on the honor system from each country. So how much do you want to trust, say, China and India? Regardless CO2 keeps rising and there is more than enough in the pipe to push the already underway positive self reinforcing feedback loops into overdrive. Too late and the humans will never stop. The only way to stop anyone or any country to give up fossil fuels, especially petroleum, is to shoot them and bomb them. Which will probably happen, but not for environmental reasons although that would make a fine pretext wouldn’t it?

    “They hate us for our environmental freedom”

  41. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:43 pm 

    Boat, I agree – I like a clean healthy pie.

  42. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 8:54 pm 

    But I have settled for less on many occasions. I can admit it. It’s not like I have a reputation to protect or sumthin.

  43. sunweb on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:03 pm 

    Boat – you and your business as usual minds set are the real doomers. You are not willing to forego your elitist, entitled life for future generations. You are dooming them. Yes, aren’t we lucky to continue to assault the earth, the waters, the air, the oceans with our growing demand for oil no matter the consequences.

  44. Boat on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:05 pm 


    I have never tried to argue humans will be saved. In fact it appears climate change is happening faster than I thought. How humans handle tougher crisis over the next decades will be interesting. Dugouts in sides of hills will become popular.

  45. Davy on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:09 pm 

    Yea, sunweb we are dooming the future generations in more ways than one. Maybe the worst is having them live a lie because we are too cowardly to admit the truth.

  46. Boat on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:20 pm 

    sunweb on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 9:03 pm

    Boat – you and your business as usual minds set are the real doomers. You are not willing to forego your elitist, entitled life for future generations. You are dooming them. Yes, aren’t we lucky to continue to assault the earth, the waters, the air, the oceans with our growing demand for oil no matter the consequences.

    I have yet to meet a doomer that doesn’t shop, use roads, and burn btu’s. Most humans are parasites. Embrace who you are.

  47. JuanP on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 10:01 pm 

    Short, Many of the websites I visit regularly have been hacked or experienced continued DOS attacks in the past weeks. There appears to be an increased coordinated hacking campaign against alternative sites where the messages go against the continuation of BAU and TPTB. I have been experiencing more problems than usual loading the pages here at PO, too.

  48. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jul 2016 10:16 pm 

    Boat, don’t feel bad, it’s happening faster than most of the Phd’s thought possible.

  49. makati1 on Fri, 29th Jul 2016 1:04 am 

    JuanP, I have also experienced a problem loading the PO site and getting comments to register. Also longer load times for other sites, if at all. I guess we are lucky to be able to access any of them. That will be impossible in the near future, I think.

  50. Apneaman on Fri, 29th Jul 2016 1:10 am 

    Mak, it’s Putin’s fault.

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