Casaubon's Book

First of all, I owe y’all an apology for the radio silence. Somehow this month I’ve felt a deep need for some quiet, rest and offlineness. It was quite an autumn here – it started with the destruction of Irene and Lee (and dealing with those disasters are still a major part of life in our community although they’ve faded from public focus), included the usual autumn and holiday rush, our usual sequence of family events and birthday parties (three kids have birthday in six weeks, right after the high holidays wind up), ASPO, my book, two foster placements and the loss of M., and the wind up of Eric’s semester left us all just bone tired. I didn’t plan to stay offline for two weeks, it just kind of happened while we celebrated Chanukah and Isaiah’s 8th birthday, cleaned and organized, caught up on chunks of life that have been left aside and generally took some deep breaths. Several incredibly kind emails in the last week have gently inquired whether I was ok, and I do appreciate it – and I am.

In the last few days, I’ve found myself able to look ahead again – to think about spring and chickens, about seed catalogs and what to do to make our farm more deluge-proof and a host of other things. I’ve started turning my head forward, and looking out again – it was restorative to have a period of quiet, and thanks all for bearing with me.

Meanwhile, I’m back just in time to post my annual predictions, something I’ve been doing since 2006. Let me just preface this with the official annual predictions preface that I’ve included since I started doing this: “I don’t think everything that comes out of my ass is the high truth, and neither should you. Remember what you are paying for this wisdom, and value it accordingly.

First, let’s take a look at how I did last year:

1. First and foremost, I’m going to repeat my prediction in Peak Oil Review – I think 2011 is the year the food crisis comes back. We’re already seeing signs of it, and I think that the number of world hungry will spike again to over a billion. Energy and food prices will remain tightly intertwined, and whether we see major price spikes, demand destruction and a collapse of energy prices, or whatever else, food and energy will be increasingly hard to afford for a large portion of the world population, from the very poorest to the American and European middle class. Food will be an important site of the emergence of our energy and ecological crisis.

I called this one. World food issues have been growing steadily more acute over the last year, and now we are in many respects back to where we were in 2008. Food price volatility has been dramatic this year, reaching a high back in February, and spiking up and down.

2. 2011 will also be the year in which some mainstream segment of the US public or government starts taking peak oil seriously. This seems like it could be a good thing, but that depends heavily on *what* subset of the public or branches of government take it seriously and for what political purpose. I make no promises that peak oil activists won’t go back to wishing they were being ignored.

Although there were some positive indications in 2011, I don’t think this one came true – peak oil still hasn’t hit the mainstream. Although given the noise about the Gulf of Hormuz, that could still change before the year ends – but I think that’s unlikely.

3. Russia’s wheat export restrictions and China’s muscle flexing over rare earth minerals, along with the international landgrab going on for farmland are all part of an overall trend towards the recognition of limited world resources and the awareness that ensuring that there’s something for your kids probably involves screwing someone else. The screwings will accellerate until morale improves – that being unlikely, I predict more and more international conflict over the limited store of goodies, and that some of that will become more acute and evident in 2011.

This was definitely true – the Rare Earths restrictions were a major issue this year, and the global landgrab continued to expand. Most of this is still happening outside the mainstream news – this implicit recognition of a world constrained my limits still hasn’t entered most people’s focus – but it is clearly shaping international policy.

4. The emergence of a new “khaki market” (Khaki’s the color you get when you combine green markets and black or grey markets ;-)) economy for food, used goods and other materials will accelerate. These markets will respond to the increasing legislation of small scale production by ignoring it entirely. Small food producers will decline to be legislated out of existence and simply violate existing laws. Informal economies will develop and expand, either around or sometimes in opposition to regulation designed to discourage them. Crackdowns will ensue, but overwhelmingly be unsuccessful at either containing the growth of informal markets or approval of them in the general public. The battles will get nastier as more people depend for their basic needs on these informal khaki markets.

This one is a little hard to document in that no one really keeps good stats on whether there were more pop-up dining establishments, unlicensed farmer’s markets and small food vendors working under the table, but it seems to be true – more of these things are in the news, there are more crackdowns and an increasing amount of social support for small producers who step outside the lines. My own take on this is that these “khaki markets” will be among the most important food resources we have – and the conflicts over them will only get bigger.

5. The ongoing trend towards housing consolidation among family and friends, sparked by a combination of populations aging, rising unemployment especially among the young and a destigmatization of extended family life will continue and expand. More of us will be moving in with other people in 2011. This will be good for a host of personal economies, but only make the housing market worse.

Again, this is one of those things that is hard to really call at the end of the year – the data for the past year simply hasn’t come out yet. We do know that the housing market didn’t rebound in 2011, but I think we have to let this one go until later this year.

6. In the interest of having one wholly self-interested prediction, chickens, the gateway drug to goats, will open the gateway and little cute milk and dairy-fiber goats will be the new backyard trend, making chickens look old fashioned and uncool. ;-)

Now this one may actually be true – two large American cities legalized backyard goats and several major news stories ran on the subject. But who knows where the trend is headed ;-). I’ll call it a half.

7. The reports of the death of climate change as an issue at the national and international level will turn out to have been at least slightly exaggerated, but the terms of the debate will change to what we are going to do about how we’re going to mitigate, rather than hold off emissions. Our new awareness of resource limits will also change the terms of the debate, as the peak oil and climate change communities finally really get to know one another.

No, sadly not – for the most part we continued on the path we’d been firmly upon – paying no real attention to the issue of climate change. Nor did the recognition of limits change any discourse. I was way too optimistic here. Folks still often see climate change and peak oil as either/or rather than mutually intersecting issues.

8. Someone from the peak oil community (almost certainly not me) will go mainstream in a way they have not so far. Generally speaking, movements tend to get one major public figure that catches the general imagination over everyone else – consider Michael Pollan for the food movement, for example. I’m going to take a wild risk and argue that our Michael Pollan will emerge in 2011.

Not that I know of.

9. Something will blow up big, much as the Gulf Oil rig did, revealing just how vulnerable we are in a complex society so heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The general public will be shocked and horrified to learn how contingent their lives and situations are. They won’t, however, learn anything lasting from it.

I’d say Arab spring and the related issues with Libyan exports do qualify. Fukushima certainly does. It isn’t clear to me, though that we didn’t learn anything from Arab spring – it seems too great a coincidence to imagine that Occupy has nothing to do with the international recognition of people power. I think it will wait to see what we learned from Fukushima, but probably not much.

10. The emerging attention to our collective crisis will give some of the movement a jolt of new energy, time and investment in 2011. This will be the positive consequence of all the tough stuff we’re facing.

I think this was true – there was a sense of renewal among the people I see working on these issues and among ordinary people. Occupy was the most prominent but not the only expression of this, of course,

All in all, it wasn’t my best year – about six out of ten, much more in keeping with 2009 than 2010, 2007 or 2008, when I called eight out of ten. Still, since so often my predictions aren’t positive, I’m ok with being wrong, except, of course, possibly about that goat thing ;-).

Moving on to this year’s predictions, you’d think I’d be inclined to be more conservative, but the fact is, events don’t seem to be driving in that direction, so either I’ll be spectacularly wrong in the coming year, or I’ll be right:

1. While Iran probably won’t close the Straits of Hormuz, the vulnerability of US dependency on oil in other nations will continue to be highlighted by world event after world event, and sooner or later, one of them will blow up. I’m going to reach and suggest that we will have some kind of global-affairs related oil shock in 2012. And when that happens we will be confronted with the fact that the language of “energy independence” is false – nothing but dramatic and radical c onservation (of a kind that comes with heavy economic costs) would allow America to survive on its own reserves. Not offshore drilling, not biofuels, not shale – none of these can be brought online rapidly enough nor can they produce enough to quench our incredible appetite for liquid fuels. I’m going out on a limb and saying that 2012 is when we are confronted with this knowledge.

2. The economy will not recover much…yet again. Since early 2007, I’ve been pointing out that most major economic crises last a decade or more – that there a periods of decline and growth in them, but viewed retroactively, they look like a decade of economic crisis. This year we’ll hit the official half-way point of our current economic crisis, and we’ll see a lot of cheerleading and a lot of discussion of tiny signifiers, but we will continue also to see little growth, much less than required to keep things going, and frequent setbacks. I would expect to see a lot of uncertainty, not a lot of jobs growth and lots of world crises that shake markets over and over again.

3. Occupy will continue to be a presence and a rhetorical trope (ie, we’ll speak about occupying nearly everything), but what will matter most is what Occupy is a preface to. While I doubt this will come to full fruition in 2012, my guess is we’ll see the emergence of the next popular movement, inspired by Occupy but perhaps less politically unified and perhaps less gentle. Without diminishing Occupy’s present accomplishments, I predict that in the longer term (ie, this won’t be settled by the end of 2012 most likely) what Occupy will be historically known for is as the moment Americans became aware of the real power of popular protest and activism again – but the form will probably not remain the same.

4. The tension between local food and the food locals eat will rise as food and energy price volatility press more families economically. Local food activists will have to work harder at bringing their food to the people who most need food security and local access, but are least likely to have it. Food is one of the few places where there’s a lot of buy-in on issues of resilience and adaptation, but the struggle of under-paid, low income farmers and small producers to get their food to the underpaid and poor eaters who need it most will be an emerging central issue.

5. The world food crisis will expand and extend into more nations. If 2011 was the year the food crisis “came back,” 2012 will be the year it becomes impossible to ignore.

6. In 2012, the “brass ring” will come around for the peak oil issue, and there will be an opportunity, driven by events, to bring it into the mainstream and begin to shape a conversation around material limits. The big question is – will those of us able to do so grab the ring or will it pass around again? I’m not making any predictions on what will happen – just that the opportunity will exist. My hope is we’ll all be ready.

7. The presidential election and a host of dramatic celebrity scandals, as well as a hot new diet craze will draw most media attention away from the fact that the world is hotter, we are poorer and we’re banging hard against our material limits. All of these things will be attributed by presidential candidates to evil furriners, the failure of the other party to enact X policy and bad luck, rather than the actual facts. (Ok, I always give myself a gimmee ;-)

8. Thrift will be the new cool thing – after five years of getting poorer (actually, 30+ years of falling real wages, but who is counting) and never knowing whether they’ll have a job or enough mone to pay the bills, the culture of thrift will hit the mainstream in fun new ways. Repurposing, repairing, mending, do it yourself and best of all, living on little will become emergently enjoyable, even competitive. A youth culture will emerge around cheerful acceptance of their poverty and hot young couples will be featured in magazines not buying stuff and loving each other for their ability to make George Washington scream.

9. I’m going to repeat my prediction that someone in the PO community will vault to prominence in 2012.

10. All of us will keep on keeping on, hopefully filled with the recognition that what we do really, really matters. This will hard to keep up sometimes and downright obvious others. We’ll keep doing, even in the tough times because the future matters to us.

Happy New Year all! See you in 2012. Watch on Monday for a link to Peak Oil Review’s annual predictions commentary, and check out what else I predicted, along with predictions from Richard Heinberg, Colin Campbell, Aaron Newton, Robert Hirsch and a host of others.

Cheers,

Sharon

Comments

  1. #1 Risa Bear
    December 30, 2011

    Something did blow up — BIG — worse than the spill, and like the spill is killing people even as we speak. You noted it at the time. I know it’s difficult to discuss, as it’s the fastest subject I know of (stunningly so) to get one shunned and marginalized. Bit it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

  2. #2 Guy McPherson
    December 30, 2011

    My predictions:

    1. We’ll continue to destroy every aspect of the living planet on which we depend for our own survival. Until we can’t, because the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy reaches completion.

    2. We’ll continue to spew emissions at a record rate every year, thus driving extinction of our species at our own hand. Until we can’t, because the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy reaches completion.

    3. Essentially no human beings in the U.S. or other industrialized nations will try to hasten collapse of the industrial economy. In fact, they will continue to fear this life-saving event.

    Will somebody remind me why we believe we’re sane?

  3. #3 Louise Doughty
    December 30, 2011

    Good to see you back. I was hoping you were OK as it did seem a long pause. Hope you had a good break.

  4. #4 Nicole
    December 30, 2011

    Regarding last year’s predictions, I have certainly seen #4 growing here. #5 isn’t actually happening here — our local economy is pretty stable — but I keep hearing about it, so if nothing else it is becoming more acceptable.

    Next year… I’m with you on most things, but I doubt #9 will happen, and I think #8 has already been happening. Not long ago I read an article about how well pawn shops are doing, and how people were choosing to make them their first stop for Christmas shopping. (I dunno about the hot young poverty stricken couples, though!)

    My gut says “Occupy” won’t go anywhere, but the potential is certainly there.

    I think #1 is a foregone conclusion in an election year, or, possibly, in early 2013. There are too many people who would either be happy to attempt to spark events for political manipulation or will take advantage of such an event and hype it.

    My prediction: Even before the death of the “beloved leader,” I felt Korea was likely to be our next military hotspot, but I think the uncertainly about that region is even greater now. Most people don’t remember that the Korean War never ended and we still have nearly 30,000 troops sitting on the border.

  5. #5 annette
    December 30, 2011

    As to last year: On number 5 – I am Exhibit A evidence of this – in 2011, my husband & I became co-owners with an old friend and former neighbor of an 800 sq. ft. cohousing unit. We are all retired or semi-retired empty-nesters, and so far, it has worked very well. As to number 65 – I assume you know that Seattle now allows 3 goats and 8 chickens per household – and Seattle backyards, outside of very wealthy areas, are quite small!

    As to this year’s predictions: I think you’re way too mild on number 2 – Europe is on the brink of going under, and when it does, I expect it will take the world economy down with it. 2012 seems likely to be the year we fall definitively into a major ’30s – type Depression. And I have to agree with Mr. McPherson on this – although it will cause a lot of pain, its probably the only thing that will slow down the wholesale wrecking of the planet, so hard as it will be, it beats the alternative.

  6. #6 Will Fox
    December 30, 2011

    Good article, but it needs editing. Too many typos (sorry to be pedantic).

  7. #7 Wendy Brown
    December 30, 2011

    I was talking with a friend today, who was formerly employed by a high-end clothing boutique in a trendy shopping area. She told me, that when she worked there, the whole street was full of little boutiques, like the one where she worked, but now, where those designer clothes shops used to be are several consignment/thirft stores. In short, I’m thinking prediction #8 has already hit Maine, pretty hard. In fact, in my middle class circles, it’s become trendy to show off our thrift store finds – like the wool “pea coat” I found at a thrift shop for $7.99 ;).

    Love #7!

    I predict things between the US and China are going to get a bit unsettled this year.

    Thanks for sharing your predictions – they’re always interesting to read.

  8. #8 melissa
    December 30, 2011

    I think you were right about the goat thing. Seriously, it keeps coming up in conversation with people. I got chickens this year, and everyone I know is jealous. They all want goats too.

  9. #9 Stacy Canterbury
    December 30, 2011

    Hooray, hooray, hooray–you’re back! Glad you got some needed rest. It is good to listen to the season’s mandates. With regards to a national figure to speak on peak oil issues, my vote’s on Richard Heinberg. And yeah, we all want goats here, too.

  10. #10 Stephen B.
    December 31, 2011

    Perhaps Peak Oil and resource limits finally will begin to be accepted as fact.

    One thing that has struck me about the surge in Ron Paul’s candidacy is how many Republicans (not necessarily a majority, but still more than before) are now accepting the idea that we were attacked on 9/11 not because some Muslims are envious of our “freedom”, but rather because we’ve been in their face with around 300 military bases in over 100 countries.

    My point isn’t to push a candidate, but rather to point out that some long-established views of some rather obstinate groups in the US actually *can* change before hell freezes over.

  11. #11 Neil Craig
    December 31, 2011

    A stretch to say Arab Spring had any impact on oil except in Libya where it wasn’t rioting Arabs who had the effect but NATO bombers.

    All your Peak Oil stuff clearly didn’t work because the shale gas revolution showed that the amount of hydrocarbons around is at least an order of magnitude more than the scaremongers claimed. No doubt this scare wull be recycled yet again but pronanly not for a decade or so.

  12. #12 Neil Craig
    December 31, 2011

    You are probably right that the economy will continue to tank as long as Obama (probably also Romney) are in charge though the US economy has done better than expected largely because of shale gas and it is unlikely, in an election year, that Obama will take strong steps to prevent it doing so.

    The “world food crisis” depends entirely on the rich countries turning ever more food into particularly expensive oil, which depends on ever increasing subsidy. I am not sure more parasitism will be affordable in that direction.

  13. #13 bomoore
    December 31, 2011

    There is the human factor – not scientific, but moral and ethical; as the environment breaks down, so will the now-eroding facade that we’re “in this together.” I think we underestimate the effect that middle class prosperity has had on making people nice, generous, and peaceful. Optimism about physical well-being has a profound effect on our willingness to see others as members of our species. There already exists an “us vs. them” divide within the U.S. based on old cultural values. I predict that the U.S. will eventually break up into separate nations along the unresolved boundaries (physical and social) of the U.S. Civil War, and then subdivide from there.

  14. #14 Stephen B.
    December 31, 2011

    Neil,

    The Peak Oil stuff is now fact. Production of conventional liquid oil has plateaued at best.

    See Stuart Staniford’s graph of this: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_IBX0n9wPMs/Tud9PZxoRfI/AAAAAAAACM0/Bf-_zw4haw4/s1600/Screen+shot+2011-12-13+at+8.26.56+AM.png

    Notice the large, light blue area that is conventional crude plus condensates. – It’s flat.

    Staniford goes on to say: Production of crude plus condensate has been basically flat since 2005, and the increase in that time in total liquids is largely coming from increases in NGPLs and other liquids.

    The fact that other hydrocarbons have somewhat filled the gap in no way invalidates Hubbert’s PO theory. The fact is conventional oil production has hit a peak and given that conventional oil is still by far the mainstay of transportation fuels, that is very concerning. You and I can hope that other liquids such as biofuels and coal to liquids grow to economically fill the gap left by flat to declining conventional crude, but it’s just that – a hope. Given that I know you and I seem to agree on the idiocy of converting food into biofuels on a large scale, it seems that you’re either putting a whole lot of hope into shale gas into liquids or something else to “save” us.

    And to be clear, Hubbert and “scaremongers” aren’t the same entity. Hubbert’s theory is purely a mathematical one that dealt with conventional crude oil. Any agenda to smear PO and Hubbert et al as scaremongers is the denialists’ doing alone.

    There’s tons and tons of hydrocarbons left. Nobody denies that. For example, there’s something like 3000 gigatons of coal under the North Sea, dwarfing known world coal reserves (something on the order of 900 GT) but nobody knows how to do that level of hard rock mining a hundred miles off a coast under an ocean floor, so that coal is staying put, probably for a long time. There’s tons and tons of kerogen in shale “oil” in the American West as well, but its energy density is so low that nobody can get it out and cook it into finished crude oil in any economic way. It’s been said (accurately) that potatoes have a higher energy density than shale oil does, yet we haven’t seen a call for the massive conversion of potatoes to motor fuel (mercifully.)

    In closing, you say it’s scaremongering, but when I look around now, at massive unemployment and hunger, all predicted by PO folks, back ten or more years ago, I’d sadly say they were correct. You may say that the real reasons for these problems lie outside of Peak Oil – that other hydrocarbons can and will save us even if said social and economic problems are caused by a lack of oil energy. But I see lots of suffering now, and to many of us in discussion circles such as Sharon’s, it’s beyond mere coincidence that high oil prices and flat conventional oil production preceeded the economic and social mess we know find ourselves in.

  15. #15 Bill Reeder
    December 31, 2011

    Oil Spill Eater II

    OSEI Corporation Summary
    US department of Interior study on the Characteristics,
    Behavior, & Response Effectiveness of spilled Dielectic Insulating
    Oil in the Marine Environment
    The US department of Interior through solicitation number: M08PS00094, award number: M09PC002 through their Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and enforcement (BOEMRE) the old minerals management name paid for a study of dielectric oils ability to be dispersed, skimmed and bioremediated.
    Page 12 starts the discussion on OSE II, and it states
    “Bioremediation Study
    This bioremediation effectiveness testing protocol (CFR, 1999) was designed to determine oils ability to naturally biodegrade by quantifying changes in the oil composition resulting from biodegradation.
    An EPA National Contingency Plan (NCP) approved product, Oil Spill Eater II (Oil
    Spill Eater International, Corp.), was include in the experimental design. Bioremediation testing on Oil Spill Eater II (OSE II) has proven it to be effective at degrading highly-saturated crude oils in the laboratory. The following test flasks (labeled with unique identifiers) were prepared and set up on an orbital shaker at day 0 to reflect the following treatment:
    Table 3. Bioremediation Study Sampling and Analysis Matrix
    Treatment No. of samples at sampling times Total No. of analytical determinations
    Day 0 Day 7 Day 28 Microbial Counts GC/MS Gravimetric
    Control 3 3 3 9 9 9
    Nutrient 3 3 3 9 9 9
    Product* 3 3 3 9 9 9
    Control = Oil + Seawater
    Nutrient = Oil + Seawater + Nutrients
    Product = Oil + Seawater + Nutrients + Product
    *A NCP approved product, OSE II
    A detailed description of the test procedure can be found in the Code of Federal Register Title 40, Chapter 1 Part 300”.

    The study shows OSE II is very effective at remediating the dieletric oil. The study has some problems in the way it was carried out limited the complete effectiveness of OSE II. For some reason unneeded nutrients were added to OSE II which increases the toxicity of the test flasks, which in turn slowed down the degradation rate.
    The administrators of the test also added, non indigenous bacteria after the test was started, this also caused a slow down in degradation and prevented OSE II from showing 100% degradation rate of the dielectric oil in 28 days. When they introduced non indigenous bacteria they set up a competition between the OSE II enhanced natural indigenous bacteria, and the foreign, non indigenous bacteria added after the start of the test. While these bacteria are competing they are killing off each other fighting for the food source, the oil. This would lessen the amount of oil remediated at the end of the experiment, since some of the time is fighting for food source and being prevented from just digesting it to CO2 and water.
    The test however proved once again how effective OSE II is at remediating oil even dielectric oil. The results showed over a 67% reduction in the oil in 28 days. The reduction was exponential if you account for the slowdown due to the added bacteria, ( see the difference in remediation from day 0 to day 7 and from day 7 to day 28) so even with the adversities caused by the test administrators, it is easy to extrapolate, to understand OSE II would have only needed a few days more for 100% bioremediation of the oil, converting all of it to CO2 and water.
    This test also tested dispersants and mechanical skimming of the oil as well. The dispersants, Exxon’s corexit 9500 and 9527A respectively showed poor results as the temperature decreased. Once again however dispersants do not clean up oil, it disperses oil into the water column, which is the equivalent of spreading the impact of the oil into the area of the water where 60% of the marine species live, adversely effecting these species ability to survive.
    The BP Gulf spill also proved that both corexits eventually sink oil to the seabed increasing the spills impact to an additional area killing these species and destroying their habitats. Then the Gulf spill proved that the sunken/dispersed oil then migrates to the shoreline, impacting yet another area, where the same oil has to be addressed a second time. This is an absolute needless destruction of natural resources, and species, with the use of these toxic dispersants. Both Corexits were also found to be very toxic and deleterious by themselves to marine and wildlife species as well as to seabed, water column and shoreline flora and fauna. The Woods Hole Oceanagraphic institue also discovered that both corexits prevents oil from degrading, which means these dispersants are going to increase the time the oils toxicity will effect the environment.
    This study was performed due to the fact a spill could impact the Nantucket sound, Cape cod, and Martha’s Vinyard area in the US. The EPA/RRT, federal, state, local governments, and residents now have a choice, mechanical skimming, that will only get somewhere between 2 to 8% of the oil, dispersants that increase the oils impact to several additional areas, killing species, and destroying natural resources, only to have to address the same oil once again, once it comes ashore. Or OSE II, the product who’s successful testing since 1989, and once again with this study shows OSE II limits the impact of the spill to additional areas, will not harm species, and converts 100% of the oil to CO 2 and water eliminating any additional steps, while protecting the environment. OSE II is far more economical than mechanical or dispersants. OSE II is simply cheaper, safer, and more effective, at cleaning up 100% of a spill.
    This test along with the large number of tests already carried out on OSE II since 1989, proves once again OSE II is very effective at remediating oil and converting oil to CO2 and water. This Department of Interior test, through BOEMRE will now prove there is only one way to effectively clean up a 100% of a spill, preventing secondary impacts of the spill, and eliminating the entire spill to a safe non toxic CO2 and water. This study shows by the choice of NCP products for this test, that the best product tested at LSU in cooperation with the US EPA, and BP, was OSE II so OSE II was the best product tested for the BP gulf spill!

  16. #16 daedalus2u
    January 1, 2012

    I think #1 is spot on. In reading it, I realized where all the US “oil independence” talk is coming from. It is the start of a disinformation campaign to try and thwart Obama’s reelection.

    It goes like this. Main stream media (controlled by big fossil fuel) starts by pumping up the idea of near term US oil independence. Doesn’t matter if it is true or not, just get the meme out there. Obama has to decide on the wisdom of Keystone pipeline in 60 days. The only legitimate reason-based decision has to be no. MSM then makes refusal of Keystone front-and-center in why the US didn’t achieve near term oil independence (doesn’t matter that it was never reasonable Keystone is oil from Canada) and why gas prices are so high in August, September, October and November. A little tightening of supply by the big oil companies and high prices happen “by magic”.

    It is easily worth tens of billions to big oil to not have Obama reelected. Spending that through manipulation of gasoline prices is much harder to track politically than spending it on campaign ads.

  17. #17 ChrisBear
    January 1, 2012

    Regarding last year’s #5, I heard a report on the radio about new home construction trending in this direction. Pretty mainstream reporting:
    http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/listedblogpost.aspx?post=0f9aeadb-0367-46b9-b71a-47f2e4943174
    (look out for loud video!)

    and from *two* years ago…
    http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/homes-hold-extended-family

    More later, I’m resting too :)

  18. #18 Vickey
    January 2, 2012

    Risa, can you clarify, please, which event you’re referring to? I’m guessing you mean Fukushima, but Sharon alluded to it in her discussion already.

  19. #19 ChrisBear
    January 2, 2012

    I see a blend of #4 & #8 arising this year- it will become hip to produce more of your own food. Chickens, goats, backyard farms, grinding your own grain, raw milk will all continue to gain in popularity. Sadly, it will not be working poor and poor people engaged in this. I expect more headlines about home-made foods causing illnesses, and a few trendy shops to open selling titanium milking pails. For most of us, late 2012 will be a bonanza of slightly used grain mills, milk pails and other odds and ends on Craigslist.

    I will disagree about #1. I think 2012 will be the year we stop talking and start actually taking apart environmental protections to ‘stop impeding our access to energy independence’. Seal pups to the furnace!

  20. #20 Anna
    January 3, 2012

    I’d argue that #2 is at least a half. The fact that there’s so much hysteria (disguised as “hope” or even “assurance”) concerning the “100-year supply” of shale gas suggests to me that underneath that rhetoric is a deep-seated understanding of peak oil–or peak energy, at least. If we don’t have a problem, then we don’t need shale gas as a “solution”! So I think you should give yourself a bit more credit there, Sharon!

    Welcome back . . . :)

  21. #21 Neil Craig
    January 5, 2012

    A certain amount of parnoia here.

    To argue that it is “hysteria” to recognise that gas prices have already dropped fast but that it is sane to accept the threadbare scare stories against gas shows some dissociation from reality.

    As does the suggestion that “Big Oil” is willing to articificailly raise the price of oil worldwide (& don’t peak oil believers already believe it is too low or is this an exaple of believonmg 2 imposible and contradictory things before breakfast) simply to give Obama a few pouints lower ratings. “Big Oil” makes money and manyn of the compnies aren’t even American. It cost Big Media very little (indeed is profitable if it gets the FCC onside) to lie and censor in support of Obama and the DFemoNazis, which is whyall those stories about Cain were treated seriously while the fact of Obama’s links to organised crime/the Demonazi administration in Chicago were censored.

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