We Ain't in Kansas Anymore...
Greetings and welcome to my collapsology.us blog. This blog will help you to understand a little bit about what I'm trying to do here and how it might help you, your family, business and your community.
The vast majority of this blog (which may take me a while to get to) is going to be a curated compendium of existing knowledge, mostly information from websites, YouTube and other blogs that express things far more completely and eloquently than I have the time or the patience to undertake myself.
So there will be information presented about where we are as a civilization, what's happening and more importantly what you can do at the local level to support your community and your family as things continue to collapse at an accelerated rate.
As you will learn from my author profile, I've been involved in studying collapsology for over two decades and what I have learned at this point is you can't prepare for an uncertain future if you don't understand the fundamental underpinnings of the problem at hand.
Combine with this that there is "no money" in economists, politicians or business leaders discussing the reality of our situation in the mainstream, so it never gets any focus or even discussed. What we have is bread and circuses to keep John Q. Public busy and our minds off (discovering) the reality of our state of continuing collapse. So our economy and civilization are indeed already actually collapsing, things are getting scarcer, more expensive, more complex.
In other words the fix to our problems are getting harder, more expensive and more complex as well. In short, our complex western civilization is "unwinding" to a simpler thermodynamic state.
Yes I completely get that I sound like a "Doomer", and that (of course!) technology is going to save us... That's what everybody hopes, but the reality of it is, that's simply not going to happen. We are out of cheap energy, and it's time to man the lifeboats.
Collapse IS simply the loss of complexity if you think about it. So when it all unwinds, as it is, it can do so slowly or in fits and starts, and over the last four or so decades this is what has been alternately happening.
What this basically means is that the world is already in a state of thermodynamic collapse, this is really just a physics problem i.e. too many low cost energy needs for the available high cost energy and resources. Add too many people (population overshoot) and not enough resources/energy to allow the entirety of what we know as Western civilization to continue as is.
What You Won't Find Here
This blog will not get too deep into the whys, whats, wherefores and why nots and what nots of our predicament (a predicament is a problem with no solution - predicaments have outcomes, not solutions) . Nor is it going to spout on about "saving the planet" or "helping to reduce wealth inequality" or any of hundreds doubtless noble causes. That's because all this stuff is generally simply one of the many SYMPTOMS of the persistent, on-going collapse that has been occurring for the last few decades.
I'm going to assume Dear Reader that in a general sense you already understand the economy equals energy. Energy equals cheap oil - that's how we grew the economy with 3% compound growth over the last six or more decades. Now the cheap oil is gone and henceforth the economy is sliding down hill, on its way out.
During the last 30 to 40 years, this slide has become increasingly unsustainable, due to unbridled compound economic growth, and population overshoot. Ultimately economic, environmental and civilizational collapse results.
If however you need additional information to validate or elaborate on my opinion outlined here, feel free to study at my library - at this link
It's All About Energy
“Energy is and always will be the currency of life” –Nate Hagens
Because of this, of course many things are going to change, the energy slaves that we all enjoy in the form of oil, gasoline, LP and natural gas etc. etc. including all of the things that are made from these products like cars, food (yes food is made using oil) plastics and pharmaceuticals, solar panels and wind turbines are all going to be a thing of the past in the near future.
It will all come to a screeching halt. My goal is to point you at the knowledge and the tools to prepare your mind, body, soul and spirit for this transformation, a transformation that will occur with or without your knowledge or permission.
Why It's Important
My suggestion as to why this blog is important to you is it may help you to prepare for an uncertain future with the best knowledge available. This is not a prepping or survival website, although occasionally I may point you in the right direction for some of these issues. A good treasure trove exists here.
"As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information" - Benjamin Disraeli
My hope is to give you enough direction to keep researching "the predicament", keep growing your knowledge, and ultimately have you use that knowledge to engineer a "Soft Landing", if that's even possible.
I am not a economist. Nor am I a specialist on oil production, (Art Berman is however, you would be wise to follow him). Yet, the material available for those of us willing to keep an open mind and do the research, and ignore the lack of "main stream" thoughts and momentum on this, makes it glaringly obvious that we are at the end of the road.
Hence this blog for dissemination of the predicament, and suggested preparations for an uncertain future. My thought is we should be making this information and associated activities a priority in not only households, but governmental entities and businesses across the country and indeed the world. Time is short. Things are going to get very local, very quickly.
Part of the problem of course will be at some point all these people (The World) are going to wake up and realize the magnitude of the predicament. As predicaments do not have solutions, there will be many unfortunate happenings and results. This will be based on the scarcity of fossil fuels, shortages of refined resources and commodities, and the need to continue providing what was once assumed an inexhaustible energy source for our complex civilization, world population and world economy.
I'll leave climate change aside for a moment. We'll stop adding CO2 to the atmosphere soon enough, as we stop burning oil. Yet we'll be stuck with 3 or 4 degrees warming, and no way to "construct" or "engineer" our way out of it without fossil fuels, oh well. We should have seen this coming.
Think Local - Buy Local
Things are basically going to get very local, very quickly as the energy challenges continue to bear down on society in a major way. Already, as of this writing in January, 2022 we have worldwide challenges with natural gas availability (due to increased cost) in many countries, decreasing the availability of nitrogen fertilizer. This is NOT going to get better, ideally we should all become our own best farmers...
If you didn't know that your food embodies roughly 10 calories of oil and fossil fuel for every 1 calorie of food, then check this link here. Basically if you don't have cheap oil, you don't have cheap food. Obviously, this is not sustainable, and will not continue. That's right, once things really heat up, food itself will be available locally only, and at great expense. Get to know a farmer - join a CSA.
Once you come to understand that not only does the Western civilized economy run on oil, but the availability of food is based on cheap oil, then you will come to understand that we are truly screwed. The "Green Revolution" that occurred back in the 60s basically leveraged cheap oil to increase the amount of food (and population) available on the planet.
This of course this resulted in the increase of factory farming. Back in the '70s the federal government's motto was "go big or go home". So many of the small family farms with smaller acreage, farms that didn't specialize in mono crops like corn and soybeans or small dairies with less than hundreds and hundreds of cows faded away and got absorbed by Big Ag.
Of course now, right at the point that we need more farmers, more farms, more people who know how to farm and more general, varied food production at the local level, we no longer have those farms or people available to us. Everything requires big equipment, big loans to buy the equipment and run the farms with fewer and fewer people using more and more complexity and equipment to accomplish the task, of course all with more and more fossil fuels (and debt - the subject of another future post) to keep it running and growing.
We Are In Population Overshoot
As the result of this, and of course assuming that we would always have cheap oil available, the planets population went from something like 3 billion in the 1950s and 1960s to almost 8 billion now. So it's more than doubled in that short period of time, based on the assumption that we can continue infinite growth on a finite planet with finite resources.
Graph of the last 2,000 years. The growth of population mirrors the growth of burning fossil fuels. The problem now is no planning has been done to accommodate a global thermodynamic collapse such as the one that is occurring.
Of course this is subject matter which economists, politicians and business folk would rather ignore and have been successfully ignoring for decades (and assuming we all will continue ignoring right along with them...) Unfortunately for all concerned, it's coming home to roost here pretty quick and has been doing so, albeit under the radar, for the last 3 to 4 decades.
Now of course the cheap oil is gone, we are no longer able to drill a hole in the ground and simply get it out. Since the late 1970s, when the USA reached peak oil production, we have needed to build fantastically expensive deep-sea drilling rigs and ways to drill through ice, rock and water, along with incredibly challenging geological structures, including fracking and that type of thing.
The fundamental message here? When you understand that the entire world's economy was built on cheap oil AND the assumption that it would continue essentially forever, then you start to understand the scope of our predicament.
Basically less oil equals less food. Less food equals less people and a contracting economy, not too complicated.
Come To Understand EROEI
Throughout this blog you will come across the term "Net Energy Decline" as well as EROEI or similar acronyms that stand for Energy Returned on Energy Invested which is really the crux of the problem.
We're not running out of oil, it's getting at enough cheap oil to run the economy in a world spending more energy (oil) to get at the oil, than we get out of the ground affordably.
So once we got to the point where we were producing only 5 to 10 barrels of oil for every 1 barrel of oil (back in the 1950s and 60s, it used to be over 100 to 1) we spend on oil production, transport and refining process, then the net amount of energy available to civilization was reduced well past what is sustainable. We are already well beyond this point, and EROEI ratio is falling fast.
What results in the interim (until energy production and the economy collapse entirely) is "The Red Queen Effect" Come to understand this and you understand why no one wants to talk about the real reasons for the increasing lack of affordable energy (it's always cloaked as "something else"). Don't forget that energy is required to plant, fertilize, grow, harvest, dry, transport, package, transport again, store and sell food. Also to mine, refine and finish resources like metals, glass and batteries and everything in our highly refined, civilized and orderly existence.
Where Does That Leave Us?
This is where we are now, we've used the "low hanging fruit" in the oil arena over the past decades, and we're left chasing the most expensive fossil fuels on the planet. In fact the energy companies have basically given up exploration of new oil deposits, there is no money in it.
It's costing more and more oil to produce less and less oil (decreasing EROEI) and although this is all behind-the-scenes and the mainstream is not talking about it, this is the crux of our problem. We have simply run out of affordable fossil fuels.
So the long and the short of it is that as available energy continues declining, all sorts of things that depend on affordable oil (like just about everything in Western civilization) start to become less affordable, harder to obtain, harder to manufacture, harder to transport…
Each new challenge will be "reported" by the news, the government, the corporations as something else, as something that will get fixed in the near future. But with your newly trained eyes and mind-set, you should be able to trace all these "symptoms" of our collapsing civilization to this basic issue I've outlined here ie: Thermodynamic decline due to running low on cheap, affordable oil, combined with compound economic and population growth.
You get the picture. Until at some point it all comes to a screeching halt because THERE IS NOW NO price point that oil producers can charge consumers and businesses that use oil, that they can afford.
Actually we're already well past this. We've used increasing debt to paper over the issues during the last decade since the Great Financial Crisis, which by the way was arguably triggered by expensive oil that peaked just before the crisis broke at about $140 a barrel in 2008.
What To Do About It / Conclusion
- Understand how much our entire lives are nurtured and maintained by oil (something we take so much for granted, that no one EVER even considers we may be on the downward slope of global oil availability) and all it's products and processes. Nothing gets done, anywhere, at all, without fossil fuels.
- Continue reading here for more information.
- Visit my library www.EndOfEmpire.info for more documents, categorized by type of risk, also note the "solutions" folder there.
- Go out and meet a farmer. Join a CSA for the summer, great way to meet like minded folks.