Life After Energy: What if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow?

There is an anti-human TV program on the History Channel called Life After People, which portrays the aftermath of the imaginary scenario where all people on Earth suddenly vanished in a rapture-like event tomorrow.

Life_after_people

I’ve often seen it flipping channels, and it has always been my impression that it represents the ultimate utopian vision of radical environmentalists, who see people as a scourge on the planet, sort of a Fear and self loathing in Las Vegas applied to Gaia.

I get word from Dr. David Deming, Geologist at the University of Oklahoma, of an essay he has composed asking about what would happen to people if fossil fuel based energy disappeared tomorrow. Deming asks this simple question: What would happen if we gave the environmentalists what they want?

It is an eye opener for those that really don’t think much about where the energy they use daily comes from. I’ve excerpted parts of it below, and I have a few observations of my own that follow. 

What If Atlas Shrugged?

by David Deming

Atlas Shrugged is the title of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel in which the world grinds to a halt after the productive segment of society goes on strike. Tired of being demonized and exploited, the world’s innovators and entrepreneurs simply walk away.

What would happen to the US today if the fossil fuel industry went on a strike of indefinite duration? What would happen if we gave the environmentalists what they want?

Within 24 hours there would be long lines at service stations as people sought to purchase remaining stocks of gasoline. The same people who denounce oil companies would be desperately scrounging the last drops of available fuel for their SUVs. By the third day, all the gasoline would be gone.

With no diesel fuel, the trucking industry would grind to a halt. Almost all retail goods in the US are delivered by trucks. Grocery shelves would begin to empty. Food production at the most basic levels would also stop.

With no trains or trucks running there would be no way to deliver either raw materials or finished products. All industrial production and manufacturing would stop. Mass layoffs would ensue. At this point, it would hardly matter. With virtually all transportation systems out, the only people who could work would be those who owned horses or were capable of walking to their places of employment.

Owners of electric cars might smirk at first, but would soon be forced to the unpleasant reality that the vehicle they thought was “emission free” runs on coal. Forty-two percent of electric power in the US is produced by burning coal.

us_elect_generation-large

With natural gas also out of the picture, we would lose another 25 percent. The environmentalist’s favorite power sources, wind and solar, could not fill the gap. Wind power currently generates about 3 percent of our electricity and solar power accounts for a scant 0.04 percent. The only reliable power sources left would be hydroelectric and nuclear. But together these two sources could only power the grid at 27 percent of its normal capacity. With two-thirds of the electric power gone, the grid would shut down entirely.

Read his full essay here. (note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)

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Here are a few observations of my own about what would happen if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow:

  • After elevated tanks of municipal water systems were depleted of drinking water in a few days, there would be no more water supply. This would force people to start looking for alternate sources, and we’d be back to a time when water treatment was unknown. Disease and death would follow for many as tainted water spreads disease. People with water wells would have to tear out electric pumps and install hand pumps or windmills to get water.
  • Related to the first point, toilets would be useless without water to flush them. Fecal matter disposal becomes an issue as gravity fed sewage systems eventually clog, and eventually fecal matter will end up in streams and rivers contributing to the spread of diseases much like the Great Stink in old London.
  • Garbage collection becomes a thing of the past. Garbage will be piled high in the streets.
  • People that have grid tied solar power systems would be no better off than their neighbors, because the DC to AC inverters require an AC power grid presence signal. Otherwise they shut off for safety. Some people with electrical skills might be able to rewire them, but then they’d only have electricity during daytime.
  • People who may have working solar energy might be targeted by the have-nots. They might wish they had paid attention to the Second Amendment to protect their home based energy source. People who still have gasoline in their cars trying to escape cities might find themselves victims of mob attacks as the have-nots look for the last remaining bits of energy. Mad-Max world ensues.
  • Windmill farms (that also need grid presence to operate) will stand as icons of folly, unusable, and cursed by the populace since they can’t make use of them. Eventually they’ll all look like these wind farms or fall down.
  • Radical climatologists like Mike Mann and James Hansen will no longer be able to communicate their apocalyptic visions of the future to us, since there will be no Internet or radio/TV networks or newspapers printed to disseminate their views.
  • Along the same lines, thankfully, we’d never see another episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.
  • Climate modelers like Kevin Trenberth would never be able to run another computer model telling us how hot our future apocalypse might be, since his NCAR computer is run by Wyoming coal. Likewise, NOAA’s Gaea supercomputer will be DOA since it can’t run on recycled vegetable oil.
  • Al Gore will no longer be able to jet around the world to tell us how the world will end soon if we don’t pay attention to his new book about The Future. He’ll be reduced to holing up in one of his many properties and hoping the Mad-Maxers don’t come for his solar panels.
  • Congress would be reduced to debating in hot, sweaty, non air-conditioned rooms, just like the founders of our country did at the first Continental Congress and as they did in the summer of 1988, when Dr. James Hansen and his sponsor, Senator Tim Wirth, turned off the A/C in the hearing room for effect while they sold the idea of global warming to the Senators.
  • Without air conditioning, city dwellers would truly experience the Urban Heat Island effect in the summer, that is when they weren’t scrounging for food and water, and fighting off the Mad-Maxer gangs who would take anything they could from them, including their life.
  • Wood burning to stay warm during the winter becomes all the rage again. Smoke pollution returns to cities, especially in winter.
  • Real climate refugees start streaming south from high latitude countries as people run out of fuel. Many towns in Alaska and Siberia that survive only because of regular supplies of heating oil and gasoline would be abandoned.
  • Global warming, environmentalism, politics;  all would be a thing of the past, since survival trumps everything.
  • Paul Ehrlich wanders the streets near Stanford, dressed in rags shouting at people “I was right! I was right!

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

So which is the worse future, a slightly warmer one with fossil fuels or one without them?

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216 thoughts on “Life After Energy: What if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow?

  1. Not sure about the garbage accumulation in the streets – empty shops means no source for the discarded packaging, and food waste will have become a thing of the past.

    Otherwise, looks about right ;(

    REPLY: It would accumulate for about two weeks, and then it would start to disappear slowly as it was scrounged. – Anthony

  2. And the population will need to be reduced by at least 6 billion since the end of globalization, even regionalization, will result in mass starvation in all but the most fertile areas which will of couse be assaulted by starving hoardes for years or decades until only the strongest survive. Darwin is great, all hail Darwin!

  3. Honestly the abject stupidity of the green weenies just defies all reason, the sad part is the ignorant masses believe it all. Now The Weather Channel has been totally and fully conquered so it’s 2 parts warmista propoganda and 1 part 24 hour Today Show.

  4. Somehow evolution, survival of the fittest and the most adaptable, doesn’t apply to humans. Some actually express this view. David Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service said,

    “Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth. It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

    With this lack of knowledge he is lucky he has a government job.

    This quote is part of an essay I wrote a couple of years ago on the thinking behind the bumper sticker, “Save the Planet, Kill yourself.” Whoever practices this ensures that natural selection works. It would be the same natural selection if the killer virus Prince Philip wants to return as in order to reduce population in his next incarnation killed Royalty first.

    http://drtimball.com/2011/antihuman/

  5. I think you’re being too negative about “Life After People”. It tends to explore questions like how long buildings would go on standing without anyone maintaining them, what animals might thrive in abandoned (and decaying) cities, and so on. It’s not anti-human, just interested in what things might be like without humans.

  6. And the survival networks who have been planning for just such a possibility laugh their heads of as they sing ♬ “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” ♬

  7. Could you imagine the withdrawl symptoms from the lack of nicotine, caffeine, narcotics, etc. We are a totally drugged up society, prescription or not.

  8. Another form of Dante’s Inferno – these religious fundamentalists just love to tell us about our eternal damnation. Get behind me Lucifer!
    I notice with all the abhorrence of things human, they do not seem to want kill themselves as an act of faith. Instead they just bore us to death.

  9. I think about the megacities—New York City, for example, and the horror that would ensue there. The deaths would be beyond description from lack of food, water, and mob violence. Horrible.

  10. My first thought was ‘what a shame that the author obscured the issue by making it tomorrow’. Off the cuff, it seemed to me that lack of preparation could be blamed for the ensuing problems and that the argument could be dismissed on that basis.
    After giving the matter a little more thought though, I don’t think having planning and preparation would change much of the result in the end. Is it even possible that the energy produced by fossil fuels could be replaced by wind and solar by ANY means today? I doubt it. To be fair, a combination of nuclear and natural gas ~might~ conceivably let humanity off the hook, but somehow I don’t think this is what the more rabid enviromentalists have in mind. But to get back to the point, I think having a planning and preparation interval would only draw the agony out with the same end result.

  11. Anthony, you should also read David Deming’s Global Warming Is a Fraud

    …..Why do people think the planet is warming? One reason is that the temperature data from weather stations appear to be hopelessly contaminated by urban heat effects. A survey of the 1221 temperature stations in the US by meteorologist Anthony Watts and his colleagues is now more than 80 percent complete…..

  12. “Radical climatologists like Mike Mann and James Hansen will no longer be able to communicate their apocalyptic visions of the future to us, since there will be no Internet or radio/TV networks or newspapers printed to disseminate their views.”

    So it really would be utopia then.

  13. Anthony, this piece needs to be made into a movie for the whole country to see. It would be something along the lines of the History Channel piece. If I was rich enough, I would fund this movie project in a minute and do my best to get it distributed in movie theaters around this country and in Engish-speaking countries around the world. With the possible exception of Fox, we probably couldn’t get anybody in the leftwing broadcast media to show it on television.

    The result of such a successful effort would be veeery interesting now wouldn’t it?
    Where is Bill Gates when we need him?

  14. With our almost total depandance on all things electronic a more likely scenario is the complete stoppage of power due to a carrington event or more likely a cyber attack.

    The end results would be as described in the article
    Tonyb

  15. Nuclear would have to shut down as well – since their backup systems all run on Fossil Fuels. That would leave just the few Hydro plants, and the Solar and Wind – which would soon break down due to lack of spare parts (since there would be no transportation).

  16. It would be a good thing for those in the northerm climate zones to relocate to the more southerly zones. As the Carbon is cycled out of the atmosphere, the temperatures would drop bringing longer and colder winters to the northern latitudes and eventually bring about the massive reglaciation of northern territories

  17. This is an experiment I do not want to share in.
    How about we give the eco-…. a chance to experience their utopia with out annoying the rest of us.
    As hydrocarbon based energy is evil, all oil based goods must go and there are too many people in their world, let them move to a warming paradise in the Canadian High Arctic.
    Here free from their deniers and sceptical people, they can practise what they preach.
    Save the polar bears indeed.I would even donate for one way travel on the faithfuls part.

  18. What is really really scary is the commitment of politicians in the EU to the 80% reduction of CO2 by 2050 and the commitment of the US congress to 25% RENEWABLE by 2025, a short 12 years away. The Eco-loons have zero idea of what that actually means. With 10% or more of the coal capacity closing we in the USA are going to be getting a taste of what Dr. Deming is talking about sooner than we think.

    “Smart Grid” information here

  19. Folk out in the country might barely get by, but I fear folk from the city would come out and there would be a lot of shooting. It really is an ugly thing to imagine.

    Eventually we might get back to former ways, with a greatly reduced population. However those people would be busy trying to get where we are now, using science to develop Thorium Reactors, and to re-create the surplus of energy that currently allows us to avoid so much suffering.

    What I am trying to understand is the psychological roots that makes some who call themselves “environmentalists” (though I have other, impolite words for them,) hate humanity so much.

    Personally I find humanity sometimes annoying, but also charming; sometimes ugly, but also beautiful; sometimes selfish, but other times inspiringly unselfish; sometimes sinners, but sometimes saints, and always, always full of surprises.

  20. In reality fossil fuels are finite resources and unless we plan a transition to nuclear power we are going to have the life after energy without the environmentalist interference. Of course many environmentalists are also oppose to nuclear power and apparently think our energy needs are going to solved by magic.

  21. There was a good book along these lines a few years ago call “One Second After”. I forget the arthor. The story told of what happened after all the electrical power was cut by a nuclear EMP.

  22. He implies, but doesn’t state what should be obvious – the world would be looking at a 90% population die-off in the first 2 or 3 years, and in large urban areas, for a while, human flesh will be the most commonly consumed food product, after all of the animals within reach are gone.

    But the actual disappearance of fossil fuels is fantasy; the only real threat is some government that sought to deny their use. The consequences of an attempt at this are also predictable; since the costs are so high, any government or society which sought to do this would collapse as soon as they started to be felt, and be replaced by some type of authoritarian regime which wouldn’t have any qualms about imprisoning or executing any who protest it’s energy (and other) policies. For a current example, look no further than China, or Putin’s Russia. I’d like to see any of the current enviro-activists try to go to either of those places and try to launch a protest against their environmental policies. Well, that’s why you don’t see anyone even try.

  23. “People that have grid tied solar power systems would be no better off than their neighbors, because the DC to AC inverters require an AC power grid presence signal. Otherwise they shut off for safety. Some people with electrical skills might be able to rewire them, but then they’d only have electricity during daytime.” – This is untrue for the system I have. The Outback inverters do not sell into a non-existent grid, but they will continue to put out AC on independent side of the inverter. They generate their own sine wave. They also require a battery bank to run on no matter what. since they have to make sure that the IEEE spec for selling into the grid is met. In my case, it is 100 KHW deep of lead acid cells. That gets me through a day or three with no input from the panels or the grid. Not at all cheap, but the reason the system is there is not to play how green is my outlet, it is to make it through an extended outage in NE from an ice or snow storm.

  24. Read his full essay here. (note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)
    —————————-
    Anthony, did you put this up at this time in order to tweak Lewandowsky’s nose? I only ask because some might say there’s some substantial nefarious ideation going on at the hosting website. Naturally, I’m enjoying the heck out of reading there. :p

  25. This is the most powerful message we have to counter the alarmist messages that connect with the sheeple. It would be nice if the energy companies could selectively cut the power to the MSM, Washington and Boulder. I’m a bit surprised that the gas lines that formed so quickly after Sandy didn’t sink in to the rest of the U.S. population. I really wouldn’t mind a few days of shutdown (summer only please- I live in Manitoba) just to let the people know the seriousness of the situation. This wouldn’t be anymore an example of civil disobedience than occupy wall street, but it would really make the folks think, and would provide a forum for getting out the word. Maybe all the coal generating plants could be shut down for “maintenance” at the same time.

  26. I do pity the city folks. They lack survival skills most of us in the north still practice on a daily basis. We still know how to grow food and still use wood. We have the knowledge to hunt and fish and manage herds. The barter system would return. Then again we do have oil sands beneath our feet, hundreds of gas wells in our region. Most shut down because of low gas prices. The big problem being out here in fly over land are where all the resources are from food to every other product. City folks? God help them.

  27. steveta_uk says:
    February 7, 2013 at 9:27 am
    *********************************************
    In any major city there is an enormous volume of trash produced every day. Halt the pickup suddenly, and all that waste will just lie around, regardless of whether the source to add to it dries up.

    The only people not negatively affected by all this? The subsistence farmer, who has been driven into near-nonexistence in civilized nations.
    Here’s an interesting case study on abandoning the modern world:

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/For-40-Years-This-Russian-Family-Was-Cut-Off-From-Human-Contact-Unaware-of-World-War-II-188843001.html

  28. A couple of thoughts – interestingly enough, those that will put a bumper sticker that says “Save the planet, kill yourself” ought to lead by example instead of expecting others to do so.

    Regarding a program such as “LIfe after People,” I can only say this – exactly who cares what life after people would be like? Really. About as senseless an idea to share with your fellow man as the above bumper sticker, unless you intend to follow its lead.

    As for a garbage in the streets – there would be no food scraps to speak of and anything that would or could burn would be scavanged, but who’s going to bother to pick up the styrofoam and tin cans that can’t be used for any purpose what so ever? You are right – there WILL be garbage in the street, it just won’t be organic.

  29. The thing that really gets me, is that the technology exists to take big leaps towards their “stated goals” of reduced dependency on fossil fuels and reduced pollution/land fills.

    If all the money being wasted on wind and solar (which have huge foot prints BTW) was put into other nuclear technologies, we could reprocess the hottest of the waste we are stock piling, and use significantly safer reactors such as thorium.

    We could also use technologies such as Thermal-depolymerization to sterilize and turn waste into usable products.

    If we where to develop significant power generating capabilities with safe Thorium power plants, and use GE’s water desalinization/purification technologies with off peak power production, we could provide significant quantities of irrigation and drinking water for areas of Texas/New Mexico and California that are set to suffer from serious water shortages in the next decade or so as aquifers dry up.

    But yet, it seems like no one in North America is even discussing these solutions, let alone working towards them. Now I know there is some work into Thorium reactors, but not nearly enough, in my almost educated opinion.

  30. One comment I have not seen yet and one that is a very real possibility is cannibalism in the cities.

    The green idiots who think they are going to leave the cities and “live off the land” in the farming areas are going to be in for a real shot shock. However most of the inner city dwellers are scared to death of nature and will stay put preying off each other. For those who do venture out of the cities, well the people in my neck of the woods are armed to the teeth and know how to reload shells, make gun powder and know their land.

    Supposedly the army/FEMA is to confiscate everything and redistribute ( SEE: Executive Order 10998 ) but that will fall apart rather quickly as fuel runs out. Instead you will see armed camps building up around farming communities and a type of feudalism evolving.

    With luck the idiotic FEMA bureaucrats will not make it completely impossible for the people with know how to survive or doing something really suicidal like killing and eating all the breeding stock and horses/mules. Then again rotten officers in Nam died from American bullets in the back….

  31. I was a teenage Earth Firster. Now with that off my chest …

    Back in the day, in my minds eye (and shared with many brethren) was a pre-Christian, Celtic Antiquity notion. Tree hugging was literal given the Druid / Wiccan nature of the religious element. Of course, failing the tribal Euro utopia, I would have settled for the Dark Ages, the next best thing as the true Middle Age regime had yet to settle in. No Cathedrals yet at that point … ;)

  32. We are the burners of fuel…. It made us…… As I suggest in ‘The Habit’. To attack this without a technology that can fully and affordable replace it is to attack ourselves. It’s not mankind that is a virus. It’s the critics of mankind that have become a virus upon mankind.

  33. “Read his full essay here. (note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)”

    I really think that was an uncalled for swipe – considering some of the sites you carry links to without such caveats.

    I tend to think of you politically as a ‘standard’ contemporary conservative – i.e. a conservative that would be unrecognisable as such to say, Cal Coolidge.

    But this sneer directed at a solid libertarian site – the readers of which are overwhelmingly on your side of the CAGW controversy – is really absurd.

  34. This shows that we, as a species, must do everything possible for the planet to increase its average temp in order to keep the energy required for heating to a minimum (save the trees).
    We can live without most material and transport available to us at the moment but cold is not one we can cope with on its own.
    We could make rat and mice fur coats to stay warmer and that would assist in solving that rodent problem also, we all need to learn to play a wooden flute to catch them (no more steel available), which is more environmentally friendly then shooting the little critters and saves time not having to stitch up the bullet holes. (not to mention no more metal for either guns or bullets) Plus they are a good source of animal protein. Going to the butcher for a rat sirloin. We could GM them to make them bigger.
    New and adapted industries will be created, life goes on, the species adapts albeit with a reduced gene pool.
    In the mean time it is a timely reminder that we do need to improve the nuclear, thermal and hydro power generating capacities dramatically over the next 100 years (we may have learned by then that wind and solar are only suitable for hard to get to places with few people), lest there is more truth in above then wanted.

  35. Energy that you can dig out of the ground with a shovel will come to the rescue. This morning’s Wall Street Journal carries an article about coal from the US being shipped to Europe where it competes with more expensive natural gas there:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323644904578271830563979920.html

    BUSINESS
    Updated February 6, 2013, 9:20 p.m. ET
    U.S. Coal Finds Warm Embrace Overseas
    By KEITH JOHNSON
    NEWPORT NEWS, Va.—On 67 acres here along the James River, almost 800,000 tons of coal tower in two-story-high stacks, ready to go overseas. The shipping terminal is so busy that this past Christmas Day, workers volunteered for lucrative overtime to load a bulk carrier.

    Coal-terminal operator Dominion Terminal Associates, owned by three big mining firms and one of the biggest coal exporters in the U.S., stands at the center of a surprising boom.

    For all the troubles of the U.S. coal industry at home, its business with the rest of the world is brisk. Last year, the U.S. set a record for coal exports, with the final tally estimated to top 120 million tons, double what it exported as recently as 2009.

    The boom isn’t about feeding the voracious appetites of China and India—not yet. Instead, American coal mined in the eastern U.S. and shipped overseas goes overwhelmingly to Europe, especially the U.K., the Netherlands and Italy.

    The U.S. is sending coal to Newcastle, and other English cities where the lights go on thanks to power plants fired by the American imports. British coal consumption for electricity rose about 50% in the third quarter of 2012 compared with 2011, as power producers there found coal cheaper than natural gas.

    “The gas plant has simply been pushed off the grid by coal plant [in Europe], and that’s most marked in the U.K.,” said Nigel Yaxley, the managing director of the Association of U.K. Coal Importers, a trade group.
    [...]

  36. Gail Combs says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:27 am

    One comment I have not seen yet and one that is a very real possibility is cannibalism in the cities. …
    —————————————————–
    After reading the article I was tempted to comment on how zombies are almost icing on the cake in a zombie apocalypse and aren’t even a necessary ingredient, but then you come along and disabuse me… Ick! :)

  37. Alternative energy: There is a carbon-neutral way to make methane gas, by recombining carbon dioxide and water. It’s called serpentization. The problem is the cost. It’s not economically competitive. But then again, if electricity and automotive fuel went up five times in price, the world’s economies would crash catastrophically. So Anthony, your forecast stays accurate.

    Tim Ball, above, quotes doomsayer David Graber as saying:

    Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we [humans] quit the contract and became a cancer.

    A billion years ago, the most advanced form of life on earth was an amoeba swimming around in the sea.

    In any event, of all the people-haters calling for drastic population reductions, I haven’t seen any offering to start the ball rolling by jumping off the Hollywood sign.

  38. Ah, well, might as well add my two cents. As food riots increase governments will impose martial law. Once all western nations are locked down the world government becomes fait acompli. It’s already waiting in the wings. Calls itself united nations.

  39. Brian D says:
    February 7, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Could you imagine the withdrawl symptoms from the lack of nicotine, caffeine, narcotics, etc. We are a totally drugged up society, prescription or not.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Not to worry, we have Mary Jane (a relative of hemp) and New Jersey Tea or Ceanothus americanus

    Leaves of New Jersey Tea plants makes excellent tea, and were used as a substitute for black tea during the American Revolution. Prepare the thoroughly dried leaves as you would oriental tea. The taste and color is similar.

    Unfortunately it has no caffeine but the roots contain a blood-clotting agent.

  40. So should I become very overweight in advance so I could outlive thinner people or would that simply mean I would be eaten sooner?

    Let’s play “Ectomorph, Mesomorph or Endomorph?”

    Far more fun than the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

  41. The programme is just a cool “what-if” that demonstrates our fingernail hold on this world. If anything, it says that within a couple of hundred years the world would be vibrant and full – even the nuclear plant meltdowns would be of no importance.

    We do not build for even 15 years without constant maintenance. When you realise this, you have to realise that we can only build in the way we do to the extent that maintenance costs and efforts will eventually equal our disposable funds and energies for both maintenance and improvement.

    In Alberta, Canada, about 25 years ago, a foolish Premier promised to pave all the secondary roads in Alberta (a project that was actually started in Saskatchewan). The deterioration of our roads, however, due to freeze-thaw cycles alone, are so high that the impossibliity of doing this without bankrupting the province(s) was clear from the git-go. (In Saskatchewan the trial roads were allowed to fall apart and then put back into dirt and gravel, with others allow to return to cart tracks.)

    In science fiction the future is full of massive stone and steel buildings that are in use but never under maintenance. Like castles from the 1500s! Until we learn to create now for zero maintenance futures, we will be both limited in our future endeavours and strapped to the treadmill of repair and replacement. This is the falling down of the wind turbine business: the turbines die too soon, so that even at low rates of profitability, they are not sustainable over the long run. In Britain the government is buying out some windfarms: I suspect it is because there is no money other than government taxes to pay for upkeep and replacement, but the government doesn’t want these things standing broken, making their Green initiatives look foolish.

    Our civilization does not build to last. That is one obvious point of the program. It also has mucho cool graphics of things like the Empire State Building crashing to the streets.

  42. I listen to NPR sometimes on the radio, and a few weeks ago I heard some program, the guest, an environmentalist, I forget the name, said that we could all have clean green renewable energy for “just one or two percent more cost” over what we have now. I doubt that is possible.

  43. john robertson says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:05 am

    This is an experiment I do not want to share in.
    How about we give the eco-…. a chance to experience their utopia with out annoying the rest of us.
    As hydrocarbon based energy is evil, all oil based goods must go and there are too many people in their world, let them move to a warming paradise in the Canadian High Arctic…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    NAH, just ship them to Siberia. I am sure we could come up with a good exchange policy with the Russians. We take the Russians who want to be capitalists and we send then our econuts.

  44. Anthony, the bing image that Hultquist mentions is that of a mother dolphin and her young – I guess in reference to Willi’s post last week.

  45. People that have grid tied solar power systems would be no better off than their neighbors… Some people with electrical skills might be able to rewire them, but then they’d only have electricity during daytime.

    Hey, no problem. We cannibalize all the car batteries from the useless automobiles.
    : > )

  46. Just as an aside, I’ve never noticed an anti-human bent to the show “Life After People”. If anything, it seems to be a strong reminder of the insignificance of human activity when viewed against the forces of nature. That’s a lesson climate-alarmists should really take to heart.

  47. Tom O says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:25 am
    …..but who’s going to bother to pick up the styrofoam and tin cans that can’t be used for any purpose what so ever….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Styrofoam burns quite nicely since it is polystyrene with chemical formula is (C8H8)n

    Tin cans are not tin but steel or aluminum and would be scavenged as patching material or for other uses.

  48. Tom E. says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:26 am

    The thing that really gets me, is that the technology exists to take big leaps towards their “stated goals”…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The actual goal is POWER and money, everything else is just window dressing.

    Read some of the articles on “global govenance” by Pascal Lamy, World Trade Organization director (and a socialist)

    You might want to also read my comment (with lots of links) on the Eugenics movement This is where a lot of this crap first came from.

  49. Tim Ball says:
    February 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

    David Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service said,

    “Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we quit the contract and became a cancer.”

    A billion years ago. Wasn’t that about 750 million years before life first crawled out of the oceans?

  50. ConfusedPhoton says:
    February 7, 2013 at 9:50 am

    I’ve always loved the way those who hate religion go out of their way to prove their ignorance of it.

  51. Elevators — human, cargo, grain — would no longer operate.
    Grain threshing would have to be done by human hands and animals.
    Ditto grain milling.

    No more power drills, nail-guns, power-saws. A few lathes might be powered by water-wheels. We could probably have radio using solar panels or wind-mills, though, perhaps even cellular phones and wi-fi. No kerosene lamps or parafin candles or coal or natural gas furnaces. A lot less steel and even brass because you’d have to make charcoal first, and we’d quickly clear the forests for that, while what hard-woods available would be substituted for the plastics and metals where possible.

    Most people, most of the time, would be stuck within a few miles of where the last of the fuel left them. A person can only carry so much on his back, or in a cart. But adventurous travelers would still range about as widely as ever, if more slowly.

    There’s a high probability that some form of neo-feudalism would be imposed, though it seems many in governments just love that idea even now.

  52. Personally, I think most of you folks are exceedingly optimistic. Say all the fossil fuel gets cut off and does not come back on. In every major city the acquisition of easily available water, fuel and food would pretty much be unavailable after the first day. No more will be arriving. Many will not have the resources to last more than a few days. Most people who live in cities think that water comes from a tap, and food comes from Starbucks. By definition the power is out, and phones are out. The first night in the dark will panic half of the city. These folks will not know what to do with themselves if they cannot be distracted by a television or other urban comfort. No government help will be available, not even any reassuring messages not to panic. By the end of the second day, rioting, looting, and general lawlessness will have consumed much of the city’s population in a spasm of horrific destruction. Waves of refugees would blight the countryside, and by the third day the population of democrats in the country would be decimated. (See, there is always a silver lining!) I would guess for every city with a population over 250,000 or so, half would have perished within the first three days. Half of the remaining folks will be gone in three months, and then half of those that remain would be gone in three years. The rest would be settling into much smaller rural communities, and life would be finding a new normal. Civilization would be recovering in these areas to some extent as anyone alive at this point must be a fairly capable individual. There won’t be many kids, any seniors, or any progressives running around at this point. There will probably be a number of warlords and emerging local power structures getting going. A lot of these folks will not be nice people. Anyone left alive will be enjoying a progressive and environmental utopia… Enjoy!

  53. Joel Upchurch says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:06 am
    —–
    First off, we have enough fossil fuels remaining to last many hundreds of years, so no need to start planning anytime soon. Any plans we make now will be made meaningless by technological advances over that time anyway. Secondly, when the time comes, they will plan. Because it won’t be a case of one day, fossil fuels, next day none. The way any resource depletes is that the easiest to reach deposits are exploited and used up first. As these deposits are used up, the price gets more expensive which permits the exploiting of less convenient deposits. At the same time, the rising cost of the resource encourages research into alternatives for the resource, the rising prices also make existing alternatives more attractive. This cycle repeats until the resource gets so expensive that nobody uses it anymore because there are better alternatives.

  54. Can an advanced civilization run without a lot of energy? Of course not. Do environmentalists have a grip on reality? For the most part, no Is the developing world going to be content with their current very minimal energy usage? I doubt it.

    Are hydrocarbon fuels going to last forever? No, that’s simply not possible.

    So how long does the human race have for a civilization based on burning fossil fuels? I make it a century. Maybe not too much more than that.

    What then? Some combination of hydro, a little wind, quite a lot of solar, even more nuclear, an unknown amount of who knows what.

    Will everyone be happy then? Of course not. So what?

    Let me recommend Tom Fuller’s blogs http://3000quads.com/ and http://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/

  55. Having experianced an earquake and being without food, fuel, water and power for a week I know first hand how it would go down. Most sewer systems need power to run (pumping stations) and without them sewers would back and either flood out of manholes into the street, or if your lucky and the environmentalists have let you keep them, the sewage would overflow out of formed overflow strcutures to rivers to at least stop your street flooding with it. This would not occur everywhere, but low lying areas near pump stations would become flooded. However, with no water this would soon end as people use up the 200l odd of water in their header and water tanks, than nothing. Water pressure either comes from tanks or below ground bores which are pumped or in some cases from rivers. The tanks typically only hold 24 hours of storage and would go dry in a few days (people would use less water). Pumped supplies would stop immediately, though if there is some artesian pressure you may get a trickle. Head driven systems from rivers would continue to operate but without treatment. No lighting at night would encourage looting or burglers. Fuel stations would go dry within 24 hours and supermarket shelves will be stripped by panic buyers never to be replaced. When the power went out here I was glad I had my wood burner, it proivided light at night, comforted the family, cooked our dinner and warmed the house – I was soo glad I thought hard against our clean air act to keep the fire! The 220litres of water in the water tank and header tank also went surprising far when used sparingly (hand washing in a bucket, and filled bottles for drinking) when not washing (other than a weekly flannel bath) and going toilet in a long drop I dug in the garden. The long drop also worked very well if you keep the liquids out and fill it only with solids and a sprinkling of dirt each day – it never smelt bad despite warm weather. I can only imagine where things would go if there was no hope of the power coming back and no emergency radio broadcast to listen to with your precious emergency batteries, no one nearby to come and rescue you and your last bit of water and battery power had gone!!

  56. If the scenario of an sudden absence of fossil fuels occurred, you would see me and my many ocean going sail boating associates living at many subtropical coastlines moving around with our large convoy of sailboats and living off fishing, smuggling, wholesome piracy and bartering.

    Speaking of Miss Rand => you might find this fun => below is a pic of where I am right now commenting from on my iPhone. It is one of my favorite transient offices. It is a SB coffee shop in a Barnes and Noble Bookstore in San Jose CA.

    John

  57. That very outcome was the implied ending of the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still (the Keanu Reeves version). Klatu spared the human inhabitants of Earth from death in a faustian bargain in which they were allowed to suffer to live in exchange for all forms of energy and power.

    It was meant as a utopian vision, but only the insanely mad would see any kind of utopia in that hell.

  58. “People with water wells would have to tear out electric pumps and install hand pumps or windmills to get water.”

    Both the hand pumps and the windmills would have to be hand built from locally scrounged parts. Even just considering just people who have private wells today most wouldn’t have the skills to do this.

    “Wood burning to stay warm during the winter becomes all the rage again. Smoke pollution returns to cities, especially in winter.”

    With the transportation grid shut down, city dwellers wouldn’t have a chance of getting enough wood to survive the first winter in cities where the average winter temp is low enough to require heating. Even if they have access to wood, the average city home today has no means to burn wood for heat indoors without high risk of burring down the building.

    By the point that the last drop of fossil fuel is gone every one who is still stuck living in a urban center in the northern half of CONUS will be dead before the next spring. Assuming they manage to survive in the face of starvation, dehydration and disease long enough to make it to the first winter they will have close to zero chance of surviving the winter.

  59. “Styrofoam burns quite nicely since it is polystyrene with chemical formula is (C8H8)n”

    Just make sure you do it in a well ventilated area.

  60. The perfect food, long pig, would return to favour, as it has in previous global or regional famines. Talk about Stone Soup!

  61. humpy says:
    February 7, 2013 at 11:43 am
    “I can only imagine where things would go if there was no hope of the power coming back and no emergency radio broadcast to listen to with your precious emergency batteries, no one nearby to come and rescue you and your last bit of water and battery power had gone!!”

    Handcrank radio and flashlight, great invention! Got a flashlight from Philips, use it as bicycle lamp.
    Also, for all your post apocalyptic needs:

    http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/

  62. I suspect things would not be so bad in Europe. France, for instance, is almost all nuclear, and pretty much all European train lines are electrified, so mass transportation of goods and food would still be possible. It would be a bit tough for a while – like wartime rationing – while we were urgently making new nuclear power stations. I suspect that these can be made in under a year if there are no protests or regulations.

    After that we would be back to (reasonably) normal. We probably wouldn’t work ships and aeroplanes with batteries – we would synthesise fuel. If, for some reason, no ‘fossil’ fuel could ever be used again, even if synthesised, I suspect we would see the return of clipper sailing ships…

  63. …. Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” …

    The “beautiful balance of nature”? 99.9% of species that have ever lived are now extinct. Vaccinations, medicines, efficient production of food, etc,, (although a result of natural evolution), should be banned so as to implement the imaginary “beautiful balance of nature”?

  64. Nuclear power is in its infancy, but seems to be shunted aside by those who should be able to appreciate its benefits the most. It certainly won’t be going away. No matter the investment in wind, solar, and other “renewables” it will soon be painfully obvious how inadequate they are. China and India are investing heavily in liquid fluoride thorium reactor research, having received great benefit from more than half a century of research the United States already has accumulated and discarded. Anyone who cannot appreciate abundant, low cost, non polluting, non nuclear weapons proliferating, nuclear hazard waste consuming instead of generating, compact and reliable, fail safe, is a zealot with a core of quasi-religious beliefs that would shame a fundamentalist. I meet them every day.

  65. Didn’t watch the super bowl? No light, no phones,no motor cars not single luxury. Hello Gilligan.
    NOLA during/after Katrina was close enough.

  66. mib8 says:
    February 7, 2013 at 11:34 am
    ….There’s a high probability that some form of neo-feudalism would be imposed, though it seems many in governments just love that idea even now.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Do you really think any of the bureaucrats would actually survive? Aside from the fact I do not think they have the brains to wipe their own behinds, the outcome of the French revolution comes to mind. All those inner city welfare types of which Washington DC has a great number, are NOT going to be happy and if the politicians and bureaucrats make the mistake of staying in DC too long they are going to be in big trouble.

    I am also afraid you will see massive book burning and anger turned toward universities.

    One of the little items politicians forget is the US armed forces swear an oath to the Constitution and NOT to a person and also swear to protect from enemies foreign and domestic….

    The neo-feudalism will be military based in my opinion since they are the ones best equipped to handle such a situation.

  67. I am really surprised that no-one sees the major connotation of sudden loss of power as the grid goes down. Anyone who has lived through a hurricane/earthquake knows that the main effect is loss of communications – -very very limited radio and no TV. So all the people in New York may feel that this is a problem that only they have – and flood out to Newark or Philadelphia. All of a sudden finding out what is happening in DC from New York is a 3 day delay (if the messenger is not stopped and eaten on the way!) California is a couple of weeks even if some wood powered steam locomotives are somehow put back on the tracks.

    The isolation would lead to even worse atrocities as there is no way to call for assistance. This is the world where 2nd amendment rights are really important.

    Perhaps this discussion explains why DHS is ordering so many million boxes of hollow point ammunition.
    “The Department of Homeland Security has put out yet another solicitation requesting hundreds of millions of hollow point rounds, this time 200 million rounds of .223 and .308 for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, to be obtained over two years, with 40 million the first year and 160 million the second.”

    http://www.examiner.com/article/department-of-homeland-security-buys-even-more-hollow-point-rounds

    are they preparing for just this scenario?

  68. In preparation for a transpacific trip from San Francisco to Austrailia and back my sailing associates and I did some lengthy and serious preparation for the possibility of sailing permanently with zero engine, zero fuel and zero electricity (including no batteries).

    No radio, no phones, no GPS, nada.

    We practiced that scenario along the coast of CA for many days.

    We all became very proficient with our sextant and each of us had our own very expensive ultra accurate mechanical chronometers for longitude calculation.

    It was actually more rewarding when sailing in the no engine, no fuel and no electricity mode. : )

    John

    • I can imagine it would be quite a nice adventure – no engine, no fuel, no electricity sailing. However, if it was a no food trip because the food you want to take with you couldn’t be produced (no power for canning) and you couldn’t get transportation for it to the dock, that could be a different matter. Canned foods need energy to produce. Water pumped and stored. Without fuel, I suppose you ate all cold meals. Or did you have a solar oven? Wood fires don’t go well with ship travel.

  69. I have tried a little thought experiment; this seems a good chance to publish it. Here is a simple comparison of having a cup of tea supplied with and without the help of Big Oil. I have tried to keep it simplistic, and with information that most of us are quite familiar with. If you work, or have worked, in the industry, you will undoubtedly find many flaws; should you do so, only highlight them if they are in direct contradiction to reality.

    Tea is grown in tropical and sub-tropical highland areas, mostly in the less developed countries, providing vital income and employment for a large number of people in those locales.

    Management of the tea plantations has been greatly enhanced by the use of machinery, though the harvesting of the leaves is still labour-intensive, as it can only be done manually.

    Processing of the harvest is enhanced by the use of machines, the leaves requiring sorting, shredding and drying before packing.

    Transporting the prepared tea to the export points – usually ports – is either by rail or road. Depending upon the quality and condition of the road, truck transport could take several hours. For greater distances, it may be more economical to use the railways, where the cargo from many trucks can be transported several hundred miles within a day.

    At the port, the tea is loaded onto a ship by crane, several tonnes at a time. Most tea will be transported in containers, so loading will be completed within a few hours. This container ship will probably be a “feeder”, with a crew as small as 12, transporting the tea to a terminal within a few days’ steaming, where it will be transferred to a larger ship, allowing the transport of huge quantities of goods with crews as small as 20. For these ships, the journey time from the “Far East” to Europe will be about 10 days. A single leaf may make the journey from plant to teapot in as little as two weeks.

    Tea has become a staple of many people, who enjoy its rich, invigorating variety at modest cost.

    Remove “Big Oil” in all its forms from the process:

    Tea is grown in tropical and sub-tropical highland areas, mostly in the less developed countries, providing vital income and employment for a large number of people in those locales.

    Management of the plantations is manual, requiring the use of a larger work-force for the quantity of tea harvested; the harvesting of the leaves remains labour-intensive, as it can only be done manually.

    Processing of the harvest also becomes labour-intensive, the leaves requiring shredding manually and drying naturally; the product will take longer to prepare for export.

    Horse, mule or ox-drawn vehicles transport the prepared leaves to the port for export. Without the benefit of tarmacadamed roads, a journey of 100 miles will take several days, after which, the tea is loaded onto ships manually; most tea will be packed in sacks or chests, light enough to be transported short distances by one person; alternatively, manually-powered cranes might help to speed the process. Whichever method is used, loading will take from a few to several days to complete. The ships carrying this cargo will be the fastest available, and, being the largest that can be built with the available technology, will travel directly from the (final) port of loading to Europe. Being sailing ships, they will be limited in size, as they are made from wood that has been hand-cut, moulded and carved. Crew size will be around 100, possibly more, to handle the vast expanse of organically-sourced sails. While fast, the journey time is dependent upon the wind and weather, but can be expected to be at least 20 days, assuming the Suez Canal remains open. The journey of a single tea leaf, from plant to teapot, will take at least one month, though will probably be at least twice as long.

    As can be seen, the latter of the two processes does provide employment for considerably more people for considerably longer per unit of tea transported. This, of course, will be reflected in the price of tea for the consumer. No longer will it be a staple of most people’s diets, but will become a status symbol amongst the wealthy, as it was in the days of the Cutty Sark, and other romantic tea-clippers.

    With the consumer base drastically reduced, there will be less production of tea, so reducing the number of people employed in the industry, as well as those transporting it. This will have one advantage of enabling areas of tea plantation to revert to natural flora, providing more habitat for the local fauna. However, it is possible that the local population may wish to convert this to farmland, so that they may return to the subsistence farming that the plantations had raised them out of. It is probable that there will be drastic population shrinkage.

    Consider similar comparisons with crops such as coffee, oranges and sugar; and remember, bananas would be one crop no longer available. Those, and similar, will become luxury items, and once more, an orange or tangerine will be an important gift at Christmas; the more basic items, such as grain and corn, will have risen in price such that food will return to being the major part the household budget. It is probable that there will be drastic population shrinkage in the consumer country.

  70. Dont delude yourselves into thinking that Fossil Fuels couldn’t be made to disappear tomorrow though they still remain in the ground. I certainly don’t have my own personal oil well or refinery. All that is needed is to force the price of it’s use to untenable to the masses. Imagine Gas at $30 or $40 per liter or electricity produced by fossil fuels to be taxed at a rate to produce Electric prices at dollars per KWH instead of pennies. It wouldn’t take much in the way of taxation to cause Fossil Fuels to become effectively unuseable

  71. We had this in the UK back in 2000 .
    Lorry driver blockaded the oil refinaries.Protest about rising fuel costs.
    Tony Blair had to go to the Queen to almost declare a state of emergency.
    If it had persisted it would brought down the government.

    There was a lot of support for the drivers including from me .They were Blue Collar ordinary working class people fighting unfair taxation from an uncaring Elitist Labour Authoritarian government..

  72. I believe the biggest group of people on earth who don’t need oil to survive are the Arabs.
    If you do away with oil they could still fight. Could we?
    cn

  73. MarkW Says: “I’ve always loved the way those who hate religion go out of their way to prove their ignorance of it.”

    Tell that to the Taliban!

  74. Just finished reading “perfect storm — energy, finance and the end of growth” (http://www.tullettprebon.com/Documents/strategyinsights/TPSI_009_Perfect_Storm_009.pdf). The 5th part of this paper promotes surplus energy as the real economic driver (the first 4 parts are a pretty depressing analysis of the financial mess we are in). The authors posit that the decreasing energy returns on energy invested (EROEI) and deliverability we are seeing will have the same effects without the science fiction of “life after …”.

    It also has an interesting analysis of the economic value of fossil fuels:

    “The exercise of putting one gallon of fuel into a car, driving it until the fuel
    runs out and paying someone to push it back to the start-point also illustrates
    the huge difference between the price of energy and its value in terms of
    work done. According to the US Energy Information Administration, one
    (US) gallon of gasoline equates to 124,238 BTU of energy, which in turn
    corresponds to 36.4 kwh. Since one hour of human physical labour
    corresponds to between 74 and 100 watts, the labour-equivalent of the
    gasoline is in the range 364 to 492 hours of work. Taking the average of
    these parameters (428 hours), and assuming that the individual is paid
    $15 per hour for this strenuous and tedious activity, it would cost $6,420
    to get the car back to the start-point. On this rough approximation, then, a
    gallon of fuel costing $3.50 generates work equivalent to between $5,460
    and $7,380 of human labour.”

  75. Been 10 years since we invaded Iraq.The West takes what ever action is necessary to secure its Oil supply.Even consider invading Saudi Arabia to protect itnot just from Al Qida from Middle East Politcal Turmoil generally.Not just Saudi but Libya Algeria Egypt Syria Morocco Arab Spring still going.

    Just looked up the spot price for a barrel of crude oil its about 98 dollars.So the question is supposed the Middle East went into complete break down and the price of Oil went up double .Not just the western world but how the developing world would survive.

  76. I’m curious about where MarkW thinks we have centuries of fossil fuels remaining. I would say the remaining fossils fuels is measured in decades not centuries. You should read the articles on peak oil and peak coal. in wikipedia. Keep in mind we can’t use fossil fuels if there is no net energy benefit from extracting the fuels. Even in the United States where we have cheap coal and fairly cheap logistics we can’t use Wyoming coal in some places. because it is too expensive. MarkW seem to be making the same mistake as Warmists who think we can keep burning fossil fuels for 100s of years, when is actual fact we are going to start running out of fossil fuels before the end of the end of the century.

  77. The Hermit says:
    February 7, 2013 at 11:17 am
    Just as an aside, I’ve never noticed an anti-human bent to the show “Life After People”. If anything, it seems to be a strong reminder of the insignificance of human activity when viewed against the forces of nature. That’s a lesson climate-alarmists should really take to heart.

    =======================================================================
    “Life After People” is fantasy with a bit of science theory thrown in. I mean, “The History Channel” postulating the future? An interesting concept to contemplate but no more grounded in reality than Hansen’s original climate models.

  78. Gail Combs says:
    February 7, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    There is the Amish folks favorite catalog: Lehman’s non-electric

    well points for hand drilling wells and non-electric Water Pumps
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Does the catalog include engineering drawings and blueprints needed to build one yourself? Under postulated conditions getting one delivered from more than 100 miles away would not be possible in anything approaching a reasonable amount of time if it was possible at all.

  79. Wrong, the greens would merely say “Good deal, now we can focus on getting that renewable ratio up to 100%.”

  80. “(note: this link does not imply endorsement of the website on which the essay resides – Anthony)”
    ===========
    It might be easier to put it in your blog policy, and be done with it.
    (I know :)

  81. Some people I would label as secular Calvinists, the old God being supplanted by the new God Mother Nature, but the people are still the sinners. Different deity, same philosophical outlook.

  82. It’s a shame he had to add his vitriol and disdain for the pro climate change folks. Just simple facts of what we, as a collective nation, would expect would have sufficed. Instead he made it political which is a shame.

  83. What would happen if we gave the environmentalists what they want?

    Many people on WUWT have pointed out that almost EVERYTHING we enjoy today is as a result of fossil fuels. Longer life, better healthcare, better food etc. You see it requires energy for example to stock supermarkets and run tractors on farms, cold storage etc, etc. The list is mind bogglingly endless. The eaier way to look at it is to find those things in life delivered to people by alternative energy (excluding hydro as enviros in the main are against that too).

  84. majormike1 on February 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I can imagine it would be quite a nice adventure – no engine, no fuel, no electricity sailing. However, if it was a no food trip because the food you want to take with you couldn’t be produced (no power for canning) and you couldn’t get transportation for it to the dock, that could be a different matter. Canned foods need energy to produce. Water pumped and stored. Without fuel, I suppose you ate all cold meals. Or did you have a solar oven? Wood fires don’t go well with ship travel.

    – – – – – – –

    majormike1,

    I assume you are responding to my earlier comment about engineless, fuel-less and electricity-less transoceanic sailing, if so then thank you for your comment.

    I think the death of most who are living today is certain on a very short timescale if there were a sudden loss of use of all fossil fuels.

    My comments about what I would do in the no fossil fuel scenario and how I would do it are just that, not a desire to do it.

    Certainly it is much more productive making a sailboat and provisioning it in a modern technological civilization fueled significantly with fossil fuels as compared with a medieval or Dark Ages type pre-industrial civilization.

    However, the instantaneous loss of technological infrastructure does cause per se the loss of technical knowledge. So there reason to have some positive view of bootstrapping a new technical civilization fairly efficiently if the radical environmentalists who cause the destruction if the current technical civilization let you try to start another technical civilization . I assure you that they fight it no matter what the technology for the new civilization. I think the single fundamental premise of radical environmentalism is anti-technology per se, any technology.

    John

  85. I am not a great fan of threads like this that indulge in all this counterfactual recursive fury, with the conspiracist ideation on Al Gore and cannibalism. et Al

  86. Joel Upchurch says:
    February 7, 2013 at 1:30 pm
    —-
    Peak oil nonsense has been well and thoroughly refuted. There was an excellent article on this subject on WattsUpWithThat just a week or so ago.

    Oil discoveries in the last few years alone are sufficient to supply the world for over 100 years. That’s not including the massive new discoveries in natural gas. Then there are the new developments such as horizontal frakking for getting massive amounts of oil and natural gas out of fields once thought to be unproductive or already played out.
    Even when all of that is gone, we have enough coal, which can be turned into both oil and nat gas to last for thousands of years beyond that.

  87. BTW, energy used is already considered, it’s part of the “cost of extraction” equation.
    New inventions allow us to lower the cost of extraction, including energy costs.

  88. You see Anthony, I, as well as many others around the world, have experienced a week with around 5 hours of daytime electricity. It’s not funny and very frustrating. And that’s just electricity! In the past, petrol stations would run out of gas for a week (countrywide) while we waited for the next delayed shipment. Not funny as you were largely grounded. This is why I get sooooooo angry when I hear these well fed, well fueled green eco-hypocrites telling us what’s good for us (the planet they mean). If you haven’t been through energy deprivation for prolonged periods, then you don’t know what you are missing. :-(

    Al Gore and Pachauri use their fair share of energy then some. But they want the world to use less, while they use more. Bullshit!

  89. Gail Combs on February 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Do you really think any of the bureaucrats would actually survive? [ . . . ]

    – – – – – – –

    Gail Combs,

    In a sudden fossil fuel loss Apocalypse scenario, the bureaucrats are going to initially still control enforcement parts of the various level of government including the military. In the chaos likely resulting from the scenario those controlling the guys with disciplined and organized use of guns are going to have the ultimate advantage in the staying alive game. At least in mid-length timescale but probably not in the long term.

    John

  90. MarkW,

    Throw in Nuclear energy and CO2 + H2O + energy + catalysts > any liquid hydrocarbon you can imagine and we can last almost indefinitely.

  91. Bryan A says:
    February 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm
    …. It wouldn’t take much in the way of taxation to cause Fossil Fuels to become effectively unuseable.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    As I said it is already happening (see comment )

    We are looking at closing 10% of our coal powered energy resources Graph and that is just those plants that have announced closures. In October 2011 it was 28.3 GW of generating capacity would close and by June 2012 it had increased to 34 gigawatts (GW) of capacity retiring because of the EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Rule. The EPA modeling predicted the regulations would only shut down 9.5 GW of electricity generation capacity. The reality is that over 35 GW of power generating capacity will likely close. graph of closures.

    Those plants will be replaced with energy capacity costing eight times or more the current price. That means the price of energy for households will eventually go from ~$110/month to ~ $500/month as the rest of the coal power plants are retired, however blue collar wages are decreasing because of the competition from China and India. (this is a graph of the projected increase by the DOT and we already know the EPA just blew their estimate of plant closing by a whopping amount)

    Obama’s war on coal hits your electric bill
    The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt…. These are not computer models or projections or estimates. These are the actual prices that electric distributors have agreed to pay for new capacity. The costs will be passed on to consumers at the retail level….

    More info in my comment HERE

  92. DirkH says:
    February 7, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Don K says:
    February 7, 2013 at 11:40 am
    “So how long does the human race have for a civilization based on burning fossil fuels? I make it a century. Maybe not too much more than that.

    A little too pessimistic. More like 1,500 years.

    ========
    Y’know, when the Erie Canal opened and people started to move into the United States’ NorthWest Territory, logging came to Michigan. The loggers looked at the 30 million acres of hardwood forest and claimed they had trees to last a thousand years. They started to run out in ten. Like Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions especially about the future”

    You are, of course free to believe anything you wish. But I doubt those numbers have any relation to reality. On top of which you are assuming that the citizens of China, India, Paraguay, Somolia, et al are not going to use energy at more or less the per capita usage of Switzerland today. I don’t think they are going to behave as you expect. And that’s assuming that energy will be sufficiently expensive that they’ll be mildly discouraged from using more than 300,000 BTU per person per day. If fossil fuels are really as common as you believe, there will be two SUVs parked in front of every yurt, hut and shack on the planet — next to a heated swimming pool.

    I’ll be surprised if fossil fuels don’t last a century, two wouldn’t surprise me, but I’d be prepared for them running out sooner.

    A millenium? not very likely IMHO.

  93. It’s an Amish World, a world free of the trappings of anything that isn’t Hand Made, a place where Johnny has to be hand dug and occasionally relocated. A society that is Agrarian by force and Hunter Gatherer by necessity

  94. With no diesel fuel, the trucking industry would grind to a halt. Almost all retail goods in the US are delivered by trucks. Grocery shelves would begin to empty.

    This effect was felt in the UK some years back when the road haulage industry went on strike over the high cost of fuel. Very soon things started to look very bad.

    Owners of electric cars might smirk at first, but would soon be forced to the unpleasant reality that the vehicle they thought was “emission free” runs on coal.

    I always laugh when people talk of their new, clean electric car. Unless it’s recharged by solar, wind or hydro then it ain’t so clean.

    The only reliable power sources left would be hydroelectric and nuclear.

    But I thought the environmentalists are on the whole against nuclear and hydro.

    Garbage collection becomes a thing of the past. Garbage will be piled high in the streets.

    I disagree Anthony. You can only have a lot of garbage if you can first get the goods. ;O)

    Wood burning to stay warm during the winter becomes all the rage again. Smoke pollution returns to cities, especially in winter.

    It’s happened this winter in Germany due to the high cost of fuel. You would also see this effect get worse in the third world as forest vanish fast. It’s already happening but would accelerate. These predictions and Anthony’s you can take to the bank.

  95. John Whitman,

    “those controlling the guys with disciplined and organized use of guns are going to have the ultimate advantage in the staying alive game.”

    You are assuming that the “guys with disciplined and organized use of guns” are going to keep listening to the bureaucrats under the postulated conditions. While this is not impossible it is unjustified as an assumption.

  96. The only people that would feel the pain less are, for example, the poor, living on subsistence levels in warm tropical climes. They would soon be joined by bands of climate refugees from the far north. Oh, the irony. ;-)

    Cold kills.

  97. My favorite novel which deals with the scenarios under discussion [although initiated by nuclear war] is A Canticle for Leibowitz
    I have read it multiple times over the years and always find something new in it each time. It is probably out of print, but many used book stores may have a copy if anyone is interested.
    “Eat, eat!”

  98. MarkW says:
    February 7, 2013 at 2:03 pm
    Jon says:
    February 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm
    Tell that to the Taliban!

    The Taliban hate religion?

    No, they epitomize the evils committed in the name of religion!

  99. No need to imagine any scenarios. Go live in a subsistence economy for a few days to get a taste of life with no energy. The simplest needs take soooo much time and effort to meet. Carrying water, growing food, building shelters or anti erosion terraces are a hard slog. Anyone who wants to can experience it by taking a few days in such a place, there are plenty of them about. Then we talk about it.

  100. majormike1 says:
    February 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I can imagine it would be quite a nice adventure – no engine, no fuel, no electricity sailing. However, if it was a no food trip because the food you want to take with you couldn’t be produced (no power for canning) and you couldn’t get transportation for it to the dock, that could be a different matter. Canned foods need energy to produce. Water pumped and stored. Without fuel, I suppose you ate all cold meals. Or did you have a solar oven? Wood fires don’t go well with ship travel.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Non perishable food can be produced. I know a guy who still does potato storage with the same method used during colonial times for sailing ships. You boil the potatoes in a big iron kettle of pine sap and then fish them out. They are sterilized and sealed and ready to eat on board ship. Just peel (They are good!)

    For old fashioned food preparation (Putting food by) see a North Carolina “neighbor” of mine’s book “Granny’s Home Cookin” @ Grannywarriors

    Just in case you are wondering I am not a “survivalist” I just do an incredible amount of reading and talking to lots of different people. I also do children’s entertainment which is where I run into vendor’s like the guy who does the potatoes, homemade soap, horse drawn equipment demos….

    This is one of the places I have been – The Southeast Old Thresher’s Reunion, a great place to take kids to see living history that is more ‘hands on’ than you get in a museum. NC has quite a few of these type events so we do have the equipment and know how in small pockets.

    • I used to do a lot of backpacking as a Scout and Scout leader, so I know there are a lot of things you can do to prepare and store food. But the food doesn’t grow and transport itself, and it usually takes energy to prepare for storage, then energy to cook it to make it palatable. Little Jimmy Dickens remembered how “taters never did taste good, with chicken on the plate, but my mommy would make me take an old cold tater and wait” when they had company and didn’t know if they would have enough chicken to go around.
      And life on a 21st Century boat will be tough when you have to get by with 19th Century cooking and storage methods. From one Combs to another.

  101. Douglas Proctor says our civilisation is not built to last. Why would you build it to last? People have finite lifespans and that’s about as long as infrastructure needs to last. There is also technological progress making existing things obsolete. Building to last just makes these things more difficult to tear down.

  102. Don K says:
    February 7, 2013 at 2:29 pm
    “You are, of course free to believe anything you wish. But I doubt those numbers have any relation to reality. On top of which you are assuming that the citizens of China, India, Paraguay, Somolia, et al are not going to use energy at more or less the per capita usage of Switzerland today. I don’t think they are going to behave as you expect. And that’s assuming that energy will be sufficiently expensive that they’ll be mildly discouraged from using more than 300,000 BTU per person per day. If fossil fuels are really as common as you believe, there will be two SUVs parked in front of every yurt, hut and shack on the planet — next to a heated swimming pool.”

    First of all, I don’t just believe it, the geologists of the German Bundesanstalt fuer Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe (our leftists call them “close to industry” to imply that they’re evil) counted it.

    Second, while it is impossible at the moment to increase GDP without also increasing fossil fuel usage, it is a simple historical fact that over time we managed to extract more and more wealth from a given amount of fossil fuels.

    Current real growth trajectories of the developed world seem to approach 1 % a year; not faster. So, sluggish growth actually. What holds growth back? Well for instance the 98 USD price for a barrel of oil of course. So that’s a feedback; growth will not happen faster than the energy supply and the efficiency of using the energy allow.

    Real growth in China was 3 or 4% last year… their claims of 8% are incorrect. Analysts have looked at growth of electricity consumption, that’s a better indicator of what’s really happening. So, the growth in the developing world is dampened as well when fossil fuels are expensive. This will limit the amount of energy consumed worldwide – it is not an unchecked exponential growth due to the two factors I mentioned – the negative influence of high prices and the slowly increasing efficiency of fuel use.

    At a certain point even wind and solar can be useful to prop up the energy supply, especially when fossil fuel is expensive. In sunny places in lower latitudes like southern US with 2500 sun hours a year it should already be economic to use some solar panels even without subsidies. Such partial replacement of fossil fuels is another influence dampening the use of fossil fuels.

    And finally, while we currently use 450 EJ per year, in one year we also managed to discover 40,000 EJ of previously unknown resources. That’s somewhere in the report I linked to. So maybe I’m a little too pessimistic by saying 1,500 years.

  103. Bryan A says:
    February 7, 2013 at 2:30 pm


    ” Wood burning to stay warm during the winter becomes all the rage again. Smoke pollution returns to cities, especially in winter.”

    It’s happened this winter in Germany due to the high cost of fuel. You would also see this effect get worse in the third world as forest vanish fast. It’s already happening but would accelerate. These predictions and Anthony’s you can take to the bank.”

    Ahem, yes, wood burning is all the rage here, but no smoke pollution. Our chimney sweeps who also enforce pollution limits would give you hell.

  104. MattS says:
    February 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Does the catalog include engineering drawings and blueprints needed to build one yourself?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I was looking at it from the be prepared ahead of time point of view but there are books like “Build it better yourself” and other books available.

    (I am think of one for my harder to reach pasture) Also with the electric companies putting in a smart grid where you will no longer be guaranteed electric power it makes sense to have an alternate water supply when you have livestock.

  105. You forgot to mention that their would be bugger all mining as well, as one government official told me his idea of how to run mining and exploration: “mines should be between 10-15km from human settlements, to reduce transport costs and not interfere with the social and economic activities of such settlements. And no mining or exploration area should be in or near any land with conservation value”.

    Well, since mineral deposits are where they are, are not transportable, and don’t just occur where government officials want them to occur, you can forget about all those minerals for hybrid cars, windfarms, laptops, bridges, housing, copper wire, etc etc etc.

    Another academic told me that “large scale mining simply has to go”, because it uses up too much energy, and contributes to greenhouse warming. So we are back to much more damaging small scale miners dotted across the landscape, doing more environmental damage, for metals that would become very scarce, except of course for climate change conferences.

  106. we’d never see another episode of Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.
    ————————————————————————————

    Oh dear God! Sorry Anthony, I’ve just followed that link and I’m off to give Al Gore all my money. Ending that would be worth ALL the consequences you’ve listed and more!

    On a more serioous note, the fuel protests here in the UK back in 2000 gave a very small idea of just how quickly the problems outlined can start. Bear in mind that these didn’t remove ALL fossil fuels, only road fuel from 6 out of 9 refineries and 4 distribution depots). The blockades lasted about a week in total (but took 2 or 3 days of that to affect more than a few facilities). By that time public support for the blockades had dropped from over 75% to about 35%. Even though the purpose of the protests was for their immediate benefit, people didn’t like it when supermarkets started rationing!

    In fact, if Big Oil really is the Evil Driving Force behind scepticism, surely by now they would have pulled the plug for a few days just to make the point? 2 or 3 days globally should do it.

  107. I think the take home message is that if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow then billions would die. But before they do they would ravage the environment in a wild and frenzied manner to try and survive.

    Today, one of the major things that holds Western civilization together are fossil fuels. Without it overnight, then it’s over.

    Anthony, how about making a Youtube video titled “What If Fossil Fuels Disappeared Tomorrow?”.

    Thank you fossil fuels. Thank you. Now, where is my oil check Al. :)

    Before I go to bed, please do not be under the illusion that eco-fascists simply care about the environment. They want billions to die as soon as possible (but not themselves or the loved ones).

  108. Navy nukes with Navy protocols and procedures. If fossil fuels were to disappear say, in five years time. Any western society could install hundreds, thousands of duplicate nuclear power stations placed at existing nodes on the power grid.
    For containment, build a concrete bunker the size of an aircraft carrier hull, put a Navy style nuke into it and Viola! No need for fossils. In case of accident, fill the bunker with cement. Put Yucca Flats to full use. Electric cars for everybody

  109. MattS on February 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    John Whitman,

    “those controlling the guys with disciplined and organized use of guns are going to have the ultimate advantage in the staying alive game.”

    You are assuming that the “guys with disciplined and organized use of guns” are going to keep listening to the bureaucrats under the postulated conditions. While this is not impossible it is unjustified as an assumption.

    – – – – – – – – –

    MattS,

    Hey, thanks for your comment.

    I would agree with you that the existing pre-Apocalypse chain of command may not necessarily survive the hypothetical loss of fossil fuel Apocalypse. We can each write our own fiction account about what would happen. My future account would have initial maintenance of the pre-Apocalypse status quo in authority and the authority will take advantage in the deepening chaos to ensure its own survival as a greater good for society at the expenses of those not in authority. I think in the long term they would yield to counter groups that slowly would organize against them and a semblance of democratic republicanism could prevail again.

    I am at a Barnes and Noble Bookstore so a few moments ago I surveyed the post technology Apocalypse fiction in their Science Fiction & Phantasy section.

    I would guesstimate ~20% of those books deal with some kind of post technology Apocalypse. I have read maybe a dozen odd sampling of those ~ 100 books over the past several years. Based on that, there are a wide variety of post technology Apocalypse visions / guesses.

    MattS, what is your post technology Apocalypse vision / guess?

    John

  110. John Whitman says: @ February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm
    I was think of a loss of fossil fuel CAUSED by the bureaucrats since that seems to be their goal.

    Heck you are looking at the scheduled closing of over 30 power plants on the east coast map How do you think the inner city types are going to react to that if we have a real cold or real hot spell that overloads the grid AND their electric bills have skyrocketed to boot? What do you think will be the reaction when THEIR electricity is shut off but the factory down the street still has power?

    OH, WAIT Obama can blame it on Bush because Congressional Resolution 25X25 was passed in 2007….

  111. John Whitman,

    “those controlling the guys with disciplined and organized use of guns are going to have the ultimate advantage in the staying alive game.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    MattS
    You are assuming that the “guys with disciplined and organized use of guns” are going to keep listening to the bureaucrats under the postulated conditions. While this is not impossible it is unjustified as an assumption.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I agree it is unjustified. It would depend entirely on who the commanders felt they owed loyalty to, the people or those in authority. It would also depend on the military’s opinion of the leadership qualities of the bureaucrats. It would depend on the military’s opinion of the cause of the crisis and what could be done to rectify it.

    There is a darn good reason why the greens are doing a gradual phase in of their fossil fuel free paradise. They hope to boil a frog or at least brain wash it.

    What is laughable is most of them will be the first to scream bloody murder when they have their energy intense toys taken away.

  112. This is exactly what Obama is angling for. Then he will come out as a communist with a plan to save us.

  113. I’ve always wondered if some of the coal-based power stations and fuel companies decided to restrict, or even stop, their output for say a month or so, that people would begin to rebel against the ‘green movement’ and put all their silly ideas to rest. The coal/fuel companies could justify it by saying they are reducing their CO2 footprint.

  114. “What if fossil fuels disappeared tomorrow?”

    Day of the Triffids, Planet of the Apes, The Lord of the Flies. There’s no shortage of people who’ve attempted to describe a modern civilizational collapse.

    A disaster-lite version might be Germany post World War II, but without a Marshall Plan and without a United States able to keep the wheels turning.

  115. The post made me laugh gently. Some of the comments have me face palming. I think a lot of you need to put more thought into this. Yes there would be a harder life and life expectancy would go down. But really guys
    Even in the United States, where 40% or more of the population live in rural areas, there are millions who live in the country, not big cities. In many countries, loss of petroleum would have minimal effect on their life. Even here where I live (Arkansas Ozarks), there are people who remember how to live without power. And there are books that tell how that can be found in most libraries.
    In other countries, there are even more people who fit in this category. So the end of people?
    Hee, hee, hee. I’ve read better pulp novels. The end of big cities? Maybe.

  116. Mr. President, I think we could preserve a nucleus of humanity by expanding some of our deeper mine shafts… ;-)

  117. Gail Combs on February 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    John Whitman says: @ February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I was think of a loss of fossil fuel CAUSED by the bureaucrats since that seems to be their goal.

    Heck you are looking at the scheduled closing of over 30 power plants on the east coast map How do you think the inner city types are going to react to that if we have a real cold or real hot spell that overloads the grid AND their electric bills have skyrocketed to boot? What do you think will be the reaction when THEIR electricity is shut off but the factory down the street still has power?

    OH, WAIT Obama can blame it on Bush because Congressional Resolution 25X25 was passed in 2007….

    – – – – – – – –

    Gail Combs,

    The horrific anti-human implications of the radical environmentalists is suggested as a possible scenario by Deming. I think the regulating bureaucracies have some influence from them. How much? Not an insignificant amount of influence is my assessment.

    I am suggesting that initially the chain of command and the balance of guns remain remains with the bureaucrats and they would have the advantage in the initial struggle. In the middle timescale of say 10 years I guesstimate there would be a counter movement and since I am an optimist there would in the long term there would be a much wiser democratic republic. In the meantime most of existing humanity is destroyed.

    Vigilance and public outcry is good now before there is a technology collapse from bureaucratic regulation.

    John

  118. Gail Combs on February 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    – – – – – –

    Gail Combs,

    You seem to disagree with my guesstimate of what may happen in a post technology Apocalypse, like MattS also disagrees with me..

    What is your guesstimate?

    John

  119. Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we quit the contract and became a cancer. ,

    During the Paleozoic Era?

    (No, that’s 400 m years too recent. Make that the Precambrian.)

  120. John Whitman says:
    February 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    You seem to disagree with my guesstimate of what may happen in a post technology Apocalypse, like MattS also disagrees with me..

    What is your guesstimate?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    The cities are goners. Most of the north is also wiped out. The south will be in better shape. Places like Fayetteville NC or Columbia SC near military bases will be the most likely to have a high survival rate because of a combination of young disiplined men and their families, good farmland that does not require irrigation a local farming community that has “saved” a lot of the old ways of doing things, a relatively small population and a mild climate.

    Those two states also have a good number of nuclear power plants. link and the military has oil reserves. Oh and NC has the highest number of horses outside of Texas.

    The biggest threat is the city dwellers swarming like locust that is why the nearby military is important.

  121. Mr. Watts, thank you for this article. You wrote, “I’ve often seen it flipping channels, and it has always been my impression that it represents the ultimate vision of radical environmentalists . . . (citing Robert Zubrin’s excellent work titled “Merchants of Despair”). I’ve been studying the Malthusian ties to the greens for a few years now, and I would be happy to share the fruits of my labors in an essay titled “In the Footsteps of Thomas Malthus: Disdainable Development, A Perverse Society, and our ‘Green’ Culture of Death.” It is, of course, based upon a biblical understanding of current events, and refutes Al Gore’s mishandling of Rev. 11:18. Let me know how to forward it to you, and I’ll happily try.

  122. My opinion is that there would be a period of chaos, mass starvation, mob rule, death, a massive population drop.

    There would be a war between the truly rural areas and the hordes trying to get out of the cities. The soft, unprepared, city folk would loose that battle. After all, where are the military bases located ……. rural at least in Canada except for Naval bases (ever try to row a destroyer).

    Once things began to stabilize the local war lords, basically a quasi Feudal system (think Middle Ages) with many trappings of say the late 1700’s would emerge. Energy would be from local coal mines and wood. Enough technology would survive to recreate aspects of the late 1800’s. We would then revert right back to where we were now. We would be of course minus the greenies, vegans, etc. Those who new how to make a wagon wheel, a plough, catch a fish, a blacksmith, gunsmith would suddenly be the new Phd’s of the world. Just my two cents worth which really isn’t worth much since the penny is soon gone in Canada.

  123. Ian George says:
    February 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve always wondered if some of the coal-based power stations and fuel companies decided to restrict, or even stop, their output for say a month or so, that people would begin to rebel against the ‘green movement’ and put all their silly ideas to rest. The coal/fuel companies could justify it by saying they are reducing their CO2 footprint.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Given that three times as many coal plants are shutting down as the EPA forecast I have been wondering if that is exactly what may be happening. Around 5% of the total capacity will be shut down much of it in the mid-atlantic states area. map My town is already looking into a mini-thorium plant as a possible solution while the state is blathering on about solar and wind (eye roll) We have natural gas reserves but hydraulic fracturing, is illegal in North Carolina.

  124. Wikipedia is not a good source of information on Peak oil. They are a propaganda site like the mainstream media…

    I am amazed at how many people have not heard of the experiments at MIT on “cold fusion”, The NANOR system. Fully reproducible and almost ready for prime time…
    It is poised to take over from oil, coal, nuclear, wind, hydro etc…. It is the next big energy….
    Aetheric engineering is the next big science…

  125. When the radical green folks call humans “a cancer”, do they realize that includes those maklng those statements, or are they merely referring to “everyone else”?

  126. John Whitman says:
    February 7, 2013 at 4:13 pm
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    One method of getting a handle on how what it would be like if fossil fuel disappeared is this resource

    without tractors you are back to the 1890’s

    1890 – 35-40 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (2-1/2 acres) of corn with 2-bottom gang plow, disk and peg-tooth harrow, and 2-row planter

    1890 – 40-50 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (5 acres) of wheat with gang plow, seeder, harrow, binder, thresher, wagons, and horses

    1890 – Most basic potentialities of agricultural machinery that was dependent on horsepower had been discovered

    1930 – One farmer supplied 9.8 persons in the United States and abroad

    1970 – One farmer supplied 75.8 persons in the United States and abroad

    {and Now}
    1987 – 1-1/2 to 2 labor-hours required to produce 100 pounds (1/5 acre) of lint cotton with tractor, 4-row stalk cutter, 20-foot disk, 6-row bedder and planter, 6-row cultivator with herbicide applicator, and 4-row harvester

    1987 – 3 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (3 acres) of wheat with tractor, 35-foot sweep disk, 30-foot drill, 25-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks

    1987 – 2-3/4 labor-hours required to produce 100 bushels (1-1/8 acres) of corn with tractor, 5-bottom plow, 25-foot tandem disk, planter, 25-foot herbicide applicator, 15-foot self-propelled combine, and trucks

    So you are looking at a major increase in the amount of labor to produce food. In 1890 Farmers made up 43% of labor force and the total US population was 62,947,714, in 2010 the US population was 308,745,538, Short term salvage yards and dumps can produce metals for fabrication.

    This is also useful information

    Of the 50 states, California was the most urban, with nearly 95 percent of its population residing within urban areas. New Jersey followed closely with 94.7 percent of its population residing in urban areas. New Jersey is the most heavily urbanized state, with 92.2 percent of its population residing within urbanized areas of 50,000 or more population. The states with the largest urban populations were California (35,373,606), Texas (21,298,039) and Florida (17,139,844). Maine and Vermont were the most rural states, with 61.3 and 61.1 percent of their populations, respectively, residing in rural areas. States with the largest rural populations were Texas (3,847,522), North Carolina (3,233,727) and Pennsylvania (2,711,092).

    No wonder California seems to be so completely removed from reality, they are!

    “If it is faked on three sides it is real” – from a friend who grew up in Hollywood

  127. Um, I think it would be more “lumpy” than described. Take Phoenix, for example. Lots of excess nuclear power and nearby farming. To some extent it depends on “how fast”, as even they would have motor vehicle issues if the onset were “immediate”, but if the onset were more gradual, say over a year, then folks would start doing the old “Mad Max” stuff, like fermenting things to get alcohol to run engines.

    So you could have some places with lots of working electricity for several months (or more) that could be ‘boot strap centers’ for rebuilding on non-fossil fuel sources or electric transport. Trains can run on biodiesel and ships too. Also there would be a rapid rediscovery of the “gasogen”.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/diy-gasoline-and-diesel-from-wood-and-trash/

    During W.W.I and W.W.II some number of cars trucks and buses ran on wood or charcoal via CO/H2 generators. They can be made from things as simple as old metal barrels.

    Yes, performance is sucky (about 1/2 power) but at least it moves.

    So a minimal level of transport and electricity could be patched together inside a week. From that, you continue to do ‘emergency conversions and rebuild’ as needed. So things like taking electric motors out of elevators and “repurposing them” as replacements for vehicles to make “emergency field expedient electric vehicles”.

    For “the basics” of food, water, and such, a recoverable level could be up and running inside a week or two.

    Now, that rosy picture does ignore 2 very important things.

    1) It is only going to be in a few “pods” where that can be done. Places around nuclear and hydro facilities. Places away from that energy core will be busy collapsing into ruin…

    2) It is only going to work if the chaos elsewhere can be held “away” long enough to get the rebuild started. That is, you need RAPID restoration of order and focus on a ‘restart’ process. That is somewhat unlikely and very hard…

    there’s also a third item that’s a bit less important:

    3) Key understanding and key facilities need to be preserved in time to be available for a ‘restart’. You are in a ‘race condition’ for things like repair parts for nuclear plants… So inside a couple of years, the ability to manufacture that kind of thing has to be brought back on line too. To the extent key bits are made in areas that are NOT in a nuclear powered pod, “that can be hard” ;-)

    IMHO, the key bit would be making enough gasogens to get enough backup generation and transport working to prevent the complete loss of core abilities. That, and getting more nuclear built before the forests run out… We’re talking living in dramatic austerity conditions for about a decade… folks cutting down trees with axes and hand saws to feed gasogens as they convert old gas engines to steam or gasogen.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/i-want-one-fire-is-your-friend/

    I’d guess that about 90% of the population would die by the end of the first year, though. Places like NYC and San Francisco would largely starve and be disease holes. It is places like Oroville / Chico who could “make it” as they have lots of hydro, trees, and land nearby. So food, power, and transport could rapidly be made working enough to continue farming at about a 1/4 or less level. More than enough to feed folks in the area, but not enough to ship food to SF / LA. Similarly, folks living “in the woods” would do fine. Just plant a garden, trap game & fish, and chop wood. ( Back to the 1700s…) As the urban folks could not ‘get there’ they would be OK.

    So I think humanity would recover. It would just involve an awful lot of collapse and death as the “remnant” figure out how to do a reboot on 1700s to 1800s tech sufficient to maintain the hydro / nuclear facilities.

  128. “Al Gore will no longer be able to jet around the world to tell us how the world will end soon if we don’t pay attention to his new book about The Future. He’ll be reduced to holing up in one of his many properties and hoping the Mad-Maxers don’t come for his solar panels.”

    I’m pretty sure that Al and all his friends have several little hidey-holes stashed away where they will live happily ever after, secure in the knowledge that they have saved the world.

  129. John Whitman,

    “MattS, what is your post technology Apocalypse vision / guess?”

    My best guess is that it will be all out war against whoever was in charge when it happens (even if they aren’t actually responsible, it happened on their watch so they are SOL). With no fossil fuels the military is reduced to just man portable weapons. A very large chunk of their firepower advantage over an armed civilian population just went away. Absolute best case for those in charge is that the military and law enforcement agencies split down the middle. Far from surviving the longest the bureaucrats will be among the FIRST to die.

    Think French revolution and “Let them eat cake.”

    Or think about it this way. You are a national guardsman manning a M2 .50cal machine gun assigned to guard the state capital building. There is a mob of half starving people attempting to storm the capital building with little more than pitchforks and torches. Do you mow down nearly defenseless civilians or do you turn your M2 around and help the people who deserve it?

  130. Many of the scenarios outlined by Anthony have already been “gamed” out in books, such as 1 Second After (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Second_After), as pointed out by others. It is not a matter of if, but when this will occur. Be it a solar event or a foreign power, an EMP event is inevitable. The results would be the same and just as ugly.

    Unfortunately, there is an obvious lack preparedness for this inevitable event. It will happen swiftly and long before any environmental agenda comes into play.

    God help us all.

  131. Regnad Kcin,

    “It is not a matter of if, but when this will occur. Be it a solar event or a foreign power, an EMP event is inevitable. The results would be the same and just as ugly.”

    “Unfortunately, there is an obvious lack preparedness for this inevitable event. It will happen swiftly and long before any environmental agenda comes into play.”

    That it is inevitable does not by any means ensure that it will happen before an environmental agenda comes into play or current civilization collapses from some other cause entirely.

    I would further suggest that at a national and even at a personal level there is NO SUCH THING as being prepared for an event of that magnitude. The simple fact is that you can’t feed our current population without modern energy infrastructure.

  132. While carbon fuels aren’t going to disappear, it is easy to imagine a scenario nearly as brutal as that portrayed in this thread, namely the widespread general failure of “the grid”, through EMP, or electronic warfare means. The chaos wouldn’t be as deep or long- lived as a no- fossil- fuel tomorrow, but would still be very costly in lives.

    A similar disaster would occur if civil rebellion broke out and the Federales cut off all utilities/commerce to the afflicted area to quell the dispute.
    President Obama declared openly that he wanted a civilian military style force to equal the military in power and it looks as if he is quietly fulfilling his dream. The Dept. of Homeland Security has purchased enough ammo within the past 10 months to sustain a level of battle/ammo expenditure as seen at the height of conflict in Iraq; i.e. 5.5million rounds/month used by the military and DHS has purchased at least 1.625 BILLION rds. There are many who are speculating about the deeper purpose of those now in power and why they need such an armed force within our borders.
    Some would say, with the revelations today and recently concerning the tragic Benghazi fiasco, that no one’s minding the store- that the players at the top are merely interested in electioneering, and nobody’s home.

    Isn’t conspiracy theory a lot of fun? We just love to tell ourselves scary stories. Maybe we’re all wired up that way.

  133. The reality is that the Amish would be just fine. So would all farmers, although they’d scale down their operations hugely. Those owning big farms would probably acquire a number of tenants, taking a tithe of 10% or whatever.

    People would have to revert to what the rural Chinese did with regard to fecal and organic waste: recycle it to the land. Trenches would be dug for crapping into and people would piss onto compost. The soil would be replenished with waste organics, mixed in with cut grass (scythed?)

    What would disappear would be CITIES. Cities don’t work without electricity or energy. Farms can. Not as well as with it, but they can work.

    Cities don’t generate their own food or water, so they are not self-sustaining.

    It’s an interesting concept for all the city dwellers who claim they are the most ‘productive’ parts of the economy.

    One final thing: if the ‘entrepreneurs and innovators’ are really that, they won’t be bugging computers world wide to steal ideas, will they.

    Ever asked Gates, Wozniak, Schmidt et al whether they engaged in that?

    Not very American that, is it?

    Only the CIA’s supposed to do that. To flush out terrorists.

    Unfortunately, it’s precisely what American corporations do, which says that they are far from being the people who innovate, they are the parasites.

    Not really MSM wholesome American propaganda that, is it??

    The truth never is, I”m afraid.

    And the response to it is never ‘fair cop, you got me’. It’s ostracism.

    I wonder why that would be, apart from the most likely possibility that organised criminality and ‘innovation’ are joined at the hip??

  134. If it weren’t for the greenies constantly attacking the energy industries over the last 50 years, energy costs might well be much lower and cleaner too. Eventually, new sources of energy WILL be discovered. Thinking back, Man burned all manner of materials for thousands of years before coal was discovered.

    Eventually, the Sun will become our biggest enemy, probably in the next 500M years since it grows some 6-10% hotter every billion.

    Before then, our best chance is to create a “Matrix-like” framework where everyone can upload their consciousness, leave their pathetic flesh and blood life forms behind and live forever on a computer chip where you can program your life as you please without bothering anyone, unless they want to be bothered, travelling the Universe until THAT comes to an end – if at all.

    Al Gore and Co, including the greenies, can be left behind to inherit their ball of mud, rapidly being melted by the Sun. What a fitting end.

    I hope the operating system will NOT be of a Microsoft design!

  135. John Woolley says:
    February 7, 2013 at 9:42 am

    I think you’re being too negative about “Life After People”. It tends to explore questions like how long buildings would go on standing without anyone maintaining them, what animals might thrive in abandoned (and decaying) cities, and so on. It’s not anti-human, just interested in what things might be like without humans.

    That’s the same impression I got from watching a couple of them. HC certainly has a lot of garbage (Ice Road Morons, Axe Morons, Swamp Morons, Ancient Alien Morons, Nostradumbass, ad nauseum), but I don’t remember them saying anything on the “Life After People” shows which blamed humans for anything.

  136. @John Whitman:

    The problem with your “scenario” is the complete lack of fossil fuels. You are likely correct in any real world event, but the postulate here was NO fossil fuels. So just how does your force of armed folks get to where the Commissars are located? How does food get to them? The entire modern force structure is built around fossil fueled logistics. By Definition, that does not exist in this scenario. Further, all those guys families are going to be hung out to dry. Not nicely protected in an advantaged enclave…

    And that is why the Powers That Be would not have a nice security force defending them. No trucks. No armored cars. No food tents. No water purification trucks. No mobile hospital. No field kitchen. No…

    Now, in a realistic “aw shit” you are likely correct, as they can commandeer the needed supplies from whatever is left. But in a zero case, they collapse at the same time as everyone else.

    @ Joel Upchurch

    Step away from the koolaid bowl…

    I would say the remaining fossils fuels is measured in decades not centuries. You should read the articles on peak oil and peak coal. in wikipedia. Keep in mind we can’t use fossil fuels if there is no net energy benefit from extracting the fuels.

    Sorry, but just SOOoooo wrong.

    First off, Wiki is horridly compromised on any such topic. It’s all garbage.

    Now, we have some odd TRILLIONS of barrels of technically recoverable oil and bitumen (tar and oil shales). That’s the resource. You will find all the panic mongers talk about the reserves. The problem with this is that reserves are price dependent. Raise the price a bit, more resource becomes reserves.

    For coal, about 1/4 of the USA sits on top of coal deposits. That is one heck of a lot of coal. It it all reserves? Nope. The cheapest deposits are so cheap that the slightly more expensive ones are not reserves but they are still resources when the day comes that we need them.

    For Oil, there are somewhere between 3 and 4 TRILLION barrels of oil in resource that can be harvested whenever we really need it.

    Now, the next problem:

    Hubberts Peak is not where you run out. It is the point of maximum production rate. The production quantity is more or less symmetrical about that point. As it was 150 years ago that Drake drilled his first well, we have 150 years to go even if we are at peak today and we are not at peak.

    Finally, the EROEI canard:

    The form of energy is just as important as the net energy gain. (That is WHY we refine crude oil to gasoline and Diesel at the cost of energy loss…)

    So we can simply use nuclear powered electric pumps to raise the oil as we want oil and liquid fuels. We do this in California today, were along Hwy 101 you can see oil wells with electric motors pumping oil. Powered by a mix of hydroelectric, nuclear, and whatever else is on the grid. So even long after oil is a net energy sink, we will continue to pump and use it as long as the form of oil is desirable.

    BTW, we have unlimited nuclear power available. At only a bit more price than for land based uranium, we can harvest enough to power every power need on the planet from the ocean using established technologies. (that whole resource vs reserves thing again). So electricity at about 6 cents / kW-hr is the ‘energy cost’ of lifting that oil, if we want that form more than electricity.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/ulum-ultra-large-uranium-miner-ship/

    Since more U erodes into the ocean each year than is needed to power the entire planet, we run out of energy when rocks cease to erode (i.e. when we run out of planet…) At that time we will need to convert to Thorium. There’s about 3 times as much Thorium as U….

    BTW, map of coal in the USA is in this posting:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/coal-liquids-and-costs/

    We can turn coal into gasoline and Diesel for about $2 / gallon. There is a whole lot of coal in places like China, Russia, Australia, … so not going to run out in my lifetime nor in the lifetime of my kids, nor in their kids lifetime…

    And, just to put too find a point on it ;-)

    The company Rentech has a “trash to liquids” plant that turns trash into Diesel for the ‘renewable’ mandate at LAX airport (ground vehicles). Don’t think we run out of trash any time soon….

    So hopefully you can see why you just don’t need to worry, at all, about “peak oil” or “peak coal” (and certainly not about “peak uranium”…) The are just scare stories to frighten the children…

    (Just in case you are still worried and want to point at Saudi… they were running out of ‘excess supply’ with ‘only’ 2 Million bbl/day a few years back. A few drill rigs went over, and ‘presto’ they had 4 Million bbl/day of ‘excess supply’. Much fuss was made about their major field slowing down. Little attention was paid to the fact that they chose to not drill for decades. They have lots of extra places to drill and some ‘heavy sour’ fields that are available, but not enough demand, so don’t pump much. So they have an unknown, but large, amount of capacity whenever they get around to wanting to produce it.)

    And we won’t even start on Methane Clathrate… Trillions more… And Japan has just started the first production from them…

  137. There is definitely an anti-human element to portions of the climate alarmist camp. These people openly speculate about depopulating the planet and dramatically reducing the human population. There is another word for their thought process….genocide.

  138. “Imagine Gas at $30 or $40 per liter or electricity produced by fossil fuels to be taxed at a rate to produce Electric prices at dollars per KWH instead of pennies. It wouldn’t take much in the way of taxation to cause Fossil Fuels to become effectively unuseable”

    That wouldn’t last long. The riots would force the government to recind the tax or be thrust into utter anarchy.

  139. After our recent near cyclone & flood we had 72 hours flooded in to our undamaged & dry country home. Power was out for 90 hours,

    I have a small 1KVA gen set, & had enough fuel for about 40 hours. This drove our small fridge, TV, battery & phone charger, but not much else. It would not start a freezer. I also have a bar b que, on which the hose from the gas bottle to the burners developed a leak the second day, which I could not fix with anything at hand.

    Food was rapidly running out. Nothing hot from the middle of the second day.

    We did have water from our largest tank trickling at the kitchen cold tap, taking about 12 seconds to fill a cup. The weather was hot, so a cold sponge from a bucket was OK.

    I lived for years on a yacht, with 12V lights, & gas fridge & cooking. It is fine when set up properly, & necessities are replaceable. Being caught unprepared was hell. I wish a few dozen greenies could have shared with us.

  140. If it happened, the outlined scenarios are optimistic. It would be difficult to describe what would really happen and no one would have the stomach to read it.

    Fortunately, it cannot happen. Even if all fossil fuel producers were taken up in the rapture, other humans would quickly figure out how to make the energy flow again. As long as it is there and we haven’t figured out something cheaper and better, we will continue to use fossil fuels. And it will be there for a very long time to come.

  141. The ultra greens believe we should have no impact on the surface of the earth. Agriculture and dams are unsustainable practices.Without agriculture, we go back to Neolithic times when the earth supported between 1 and 10 million. Only 1 in a thousand could be supported. I do not like my chances. As we have all lost our natural instincts and living off the land skills, it is quite likely the human race becomes extinct. The ultra greens would of course say you cannot eat animals and no fires-don’t you know this causes global warming, positive feedback-we will all fry! So we can then only forage for roots, fruits and berries. Even less could be supported.
    Getting back to the chaos in the wake of not using fossil fuel- no food deliveries, no hospitals, no modern medicine, pumping water-find yourself a clean stream-along with thousands of others(wish you luck.) Total anarchy, billions dead(many eaten) within months. I hope those tofu and pine nut salad fed trendies taste good. Being such gullible fools, it would be easy to lure them in to a trap and ……Time to devise some recipes .I dare say the anger of people will find those green trendies being hunted down early and “tenderised” before consumption.
    We do live in such a fine edged society. It would not take that big a shock to get the total anarchy scenario.
    It will not be pretty.

  142. Over thirty years ago I could see that living in a big citiy would make my family vulnerable to any disruption of food / energy so we moved to 15 acres in the country where we have fruit and nut trees (though the bloody parrots get more than their fair share); a great veggie garden; and keep a few animals as a walking larder – currently two steers, two goats, a few chooks and ducks that never stop breeding (Gawd, drakes are randy buggers). We also have a 35,000 gallon underground tank, a septic system, and solar power that is still connected to the grid so it wouldn’t help us if the power failed.

    But we’d survive. The trouble is that Australia has draconian gun laws so we wouldn’t be able to protect what we have. But I’m still glad we made the move. We could still eat very well though we’d have to bone up on making some sort of grog for our quality of life.

  143. Fred Jensen says:
    February 7, 2013 at 6:36 pm
    I’m pretty sure that Al and all his friends have several little hidey-holes stashed away where they will live happily ever after, secure in the knowledge that they have saved the world.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is betting on the loyalty of the guys with the guns surrounding you. Al Gore peed in his porridge with the sale of Current TV and the guys with the guns are not necessarily democrats/socialists/progressives.

  144. Subsistence lifestyles would survive, perhaps traditional country village life is the way to go? Productive and cooperative communities, healthier happier people, less monopoly capitalisms, less heirarchies, more local jobs, producing renewable energy where it is used, , no waste, biofuels from STP’s, better quality of lives, more connection to country, simpler living with higher spirits. Its all permaculture actually, it is about energy efficiency, caring and sharing with each other and the earth.

  145. Regnad Kcin,
    …“Unfortunately, there is an obvious lack preparedness for this inevitable event. It will happen swiftly and long before any environmental agenda comes into play.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That is why I mentioned Fort Bragg/Fayetteville. A smart military commander will have already planned for this and will have the ability to protect a pocket and the guts to determine who lives who dies. Inner city welfare and useless academics types need not apply.

    Cornell University is already working on the idea of Food Sheds, the number of people a farming area can support so the hard numbers will be available.

    Fort Bragg is about 50 -60 miles from the Shearon Harris Nuclear Power Plant and I am sure it is an area the military will be deployed to protect. Shearon Harris is in the middle of nowhere farm country. There is one nearby town and the rest are at least 25 miles away. the Jordan Lake Reservoir is also near Shearon Harris as is the Cape Fear River which heads down to the coast and goes right past Bragg.

    In the same neck of the woods there is a club that practices and competes with horse drawn equipment, lots of organic type farmers, hand craft types; weaving, spinning, soap making; a club that makes biodiesel, and a club with old steam locomotives that work….

    The farmland and know how is here if it can be protected from the human locust swarm. That is why the military is critical.

  146. Antonia says:
    February 8, 2013 at 1:10 am

    But we’d survive. The trouble is that Australia has draconian gun laws so we wouldn’t be able to protect what we have…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Think bow and arrow. Flint knapping and Fletching Arrows (put those ducks to use) and fletching jigs The manufacturing of animal glue and how to make the bow.

    The bow is still used by the military link because it is silent.

  147. Tim Ball says: February 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

    “….evolution, survival of the fittest and the most adaptable, doesn’t apply to humans. Some actually express this view. David Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service said,
    “Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago – we quit the contract and became a cancer.”….”

    Tim, you are correct in saying David Graber (a research biologist …said this?? really? … not to mention his time line issues …mkx) seems to have little concept of the theory of evolution …. obviously enough man and his relatives have been shaped by the forces of nature and natural evolution to bring us to the point that we are the creatures that we are.

    But it is probably fair to say in more recent times the evolutionary shaping of ‘the herd’ has been minimal to non existent; in short, a huge proportion of the herd survives to breeding age, and almost all then do so (ie, breed and multiply).

    I’ve never understood people who mutter (hopefully?) about some form of population reduction, for when and if it comes, it certainly won’t be the one of their choosing (massive epidemic, giant meteor, volcanic eruption?) and they will find survival mostly is simply a lottery (ie… nature at work!).

    That said, there is the alternative scenario that we just gradually go about our current scaling back of population growth and peak out as predicted in 2050, and from then populations gradually and naturally decline.

  148. This article deals with the subject of RELATIVE RISK, which I lectured upon many times over the last few decades (I even wrote a book on it which I started twenty years ago, but never finished). Consideration of the subject dealt with above, would make a much better exercise for all of the high school students to research and write about, than any number of ‘recycling’ or useless ‘environmental’ touchy-feely exercises, which few of the teachers understand either.
    I used to challenge all classes I spoke to, to tell me the most environmentally damaging issue in the world (there are two which are essentially the same). I plunked down $20 and challenged any takers. None of them could get it right. Most readers of this blog might not, either, unfortunately.
    They are IGNORANCE and POVERTY.
    One class I spoke to had all been given Schumachers stupid little book, and (even the teachers who usually taught the class) had bought into the meme that the most environmentally friendly thing they could do was to plant a tree. I almost wept for them. Ignorance in action, and at a university, no less.

    • @John K. Sutherland – re: the answer.

      I would hope most would get at least one – Poverty. You need only look to Haiti to see the proof of that. And after being given the answer, I did a big “D’oh” on ignorance.

      Great lesson for your students.

  149. Jon says:
    February 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Like I said. Those who hate religion love to demonstrate their utter ignorance of religion.

  150. [bockquote] son of mulder says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

    So should I become very overweight in advance so I could outlive thinner people or would that simply mean I would be eaten sooner? [/blockquote]
    Really? You’ve never seen Zombieland? Rule #1: Cardio!

  151. Happily, hydrocarbon fuels cannot disappear anytime soon because we are almost literally awash in them. Since even sewage sludge can be converted into biodiesel, we will always have all the fuel we care to pay for, even if we don’t like the price and choose to power the things in our lives with something better.

  152. If I remember correctly, in the UK, if coal had not be introduced as a source of fuel, most of UKs forests would have lost most of their trees as the growing population required more and more to keep warm and cook.

    I do not know how long USA forests would last if the whole current population went over to wood burning?

  153. Thanks for sharing Dr. Deming’s thought-provoking essay. Programs such as “Life After People” seem to me to be the ultimate waste of human thought and energy. They might as well call it “Life in a Blackhole” – it’s total nonsense.

  154. John K. Sutherland says: @ February 8, 2013 at 6:22 am
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I think most of us would have given you poverty. I would have added limited access to energy which is really the same thing. But I do agree with ignorance.

  155. Steve Richards says:
    February 8, 2013 at 7:56 am

    If I remember correctly, in the UK, if coal had not be introduced as a source of fuel, most of UKs forests would have lost most of their trees as the growing population required more and more to keep warm and cook.

    I do not know how long USA forests would last if the whole current population went over to wood burning?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    New England lost a lot of her forests too until we switched to coal in the late 1800’s. That is one reason why you see so many stonewalls snaking through the New England woods. All that used to be farmland. Of course it was not nearly as bad as it was in England but we certainly have more forest on the east coast now compared to the 1800’s.

    http://lewis-clark.org/content/content-article.asp?ArticleID=1209

  156. Nearly exactly this scenario was hypothesized in the 1st episode of “Connections,” a series that aired on PBS (ironically) in the late 70s, hosted by the Brit James Burke. Right down to finding a live horse and figuring out how/what to plant to feed yourself – assuming no one tried to take it away from you by force. The difference was that the catastrophe was caused by nuclear war.

  157. Loves me some George Carlin! Always seemed to be on the ball, though I disagree on the idea of all the criminals hitting the streets. I would figure there are fail-safe methods that keep the doors locked when the electricity goes off, so the reality is there would just be jail cells full of corpses in a couple of weeks. But then there would be plenty of new crims taking advantage of the darkness on the outside anyway.

  158. What annoys me is that the people now controlling the energy policy lack common sense. Those who think fossil fuels are evil and hate oil fail to realize how oil and gas changed the US and the world improving dramatiacally our lifestyle.
    Recently the History channel had a series on “the Men who built America”, Fossil fuels played an important part in the transformation that included progressing light from whale oil to kerosine from crude to electricity from coal. Similarily transportation was transformed from horse drawn carriage to auto’s, trucks, trains . and steam ships. Now they want to go backwards.
    Don’t those who want to ban fossil fuels have any comprehension of History?
    The History channel DVD is available via: http://shop.history.com/the-men-who-built-america-dvd/detail.php?p=383364&v=history_dvds-and-books&fbst=80 and should be required viewing in schools instead of Al Gore’s movie. Below is a description:

    “Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Astor, Ford and Morgan. Their names are part of history and synonymous with the American dream. These men transformed every industry they touched: oil, rail, steel, shipping, automobiles, and finance. Their efforts transformed a country. Rising from poverty, their paths crossed repeatedly as they elected presidents, set economic policies and influenced major events of their day – from the Civil War to The Great Depression. 12 million historical negatives, many made available for the first time by the Library of Congress, are brought to life to offer an unprecedented view of America’s Industrial Age – and the men who built it.”
    I don’t mind moving on if there is a place to go that is more economic, efficient, clean and available. The government policy of Windmills, Solar, and biofuels does not cut it!!

  159. dmacleo says:
    February 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    since we would soon have no corn seed we would all die.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Don’t bet on it.
    There are plenty of people who dislike GMO and have “heritage seed” and know how to save the seed from year to year.
    Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom seeds. Since 1975, our members have been passing on our garden heritage by collecting and distributing thousands of samples of rare garden seeds to other gardeners.

    This lady lives near me:
    Grannywarrior’s NON-GMO – NON HYBRID Heirloom Seeds

  160. Great article! As the title suggests, this is a very short-term analysis. After the Mad Max scenario played itself out, we’d have a much smaller population, living overwhelmingly agrarian lifestyles, at a greatly reduced standard of living. As in the bad old days, life would be short and brutal. Welcome to Ecotopia.

  161. Re: my previous post. Although those on this site might be aware of poverty and ignorance as the most damaging environmental threats, one needs to take it a step further: How do you break away from poverty and ignorance?
    Answer: WEALTH and EDUCATION.
    Next key question: How do you provide the basis for wealth and education?
    Answer: Abundant, assured, affordable ENERGY!!! Hence the value of the above article for drawing our attention to what happens when we don’t have it.

    I can assure you that I got around to giving the answer a lot faster to those I lectured.

  162. And those who love it, likewise. Ignorance of sacred text is no respecter of lovers versus haters of religion. In similar fashion, I dare say those who ride the seesaw dichotomy of CO2/Solar drivers are painted in the same color.

  163. Merovign says:
    February 9, 2013 at 12:45 am

    The anti-humanists never eliminate themselves, that’s always what they want for *other* people.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Yet it is often the individualists who they hate who are the best prepared to live in Ecotopia.

  164. John K. Sutherland says:
    February 9, 2013 at 8:15 am
    …. Next key question: How do you provide the basis for wealth and education?
    Answer: Abundant, assured, affordable ENERGY!!! ….
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That was the point Dr. Petr Beckmann was trying to get across with his newsletter “Access to Energy” link

    Dr. Beckmann fled Prague, Czechoslovakia to escape the Nazis in 1939. He defected to the United States in 1963. His first Access to Energy essay

  165. A couple of problems: 1) for a population to remain stable, 2.1 children/family is required. Most industrialized countries are either at or below this fertility rate; Japan’s population actually DECREASED by 200,000 last year. As the 3rd World slowly advances, fertility rates will fall, thus the population will peak at around 10 billion and then start to decrease; that’s what the data/math shows.

    2) Energy isn’t a problem. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will eventually be adopted, which will generate power cheaper than any other form of power generation, in particular, about 15 TIMES cheaper than wind/solar.

    Moreover, there is a virtually unlimited supply of easily extractable Thorium 100,000’s years at least). A piece of thorium about the size of a ping pong ball provides enough energy to supply an individual an entire lifetime of energy…

  166. SAMURAI says: @ February 9, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    A couple of problems…
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    You are correct, however at least in the USA, the EU and Australia not only fossil fuels are under attack but also nuclear. Therefore this What if? is something to think about.

    In the USA, Congress passed a resolution of producing 25% of our power from ‘renewables’ from our “farms and forests” by 2025, a short 12 years from now. The EPA has a regulation that is shutting down 10% or more of our coal capacity or about 5% of our electric. Texas has ~ 12% wind power and CenterPoint Energy is now planning to use ‘Smart Meters’ to preferentially shutdown residential electric during rolling blackout to deal with the problems reliance on ‘renewables’ is causing.

    The market-clearing price for new 2015 electric capacity went from a price of just $16 per megawatt in 2012, to a high of $357 per megawatt for Ohio. For the people in Ohio this is the same as shutting down their electricity because they are losing one third of their coal plants 30 coal-fired power plants in Ohio threatened. ( The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity predicts a total of 204 closings will be spread across 25 states.) Who can afford to go from $160/month to $1,000/month and eventually $3500/month in today’s economy?

    Coal fuels 78 percent of Ohio’s electric generation and Ohio ranks third in manufacturing employment. Ohio had 119 coal-fired generating units at 35 locations, with 23,825 MW of capacity so if 6,600 megawatts of electric generating capacity were to be shut down by the EPA it would be about one third.

    Here is a Graph: Forecast Price of Residental Energy 1996 to 2031 As those costs are rising causing the price of everything to also rise, American wages are declining.

    This is the picture that Americans are not seeing.

  167. Gail Combs issued the following:”What is really really scary is the commitment of politicians in the EU to the 80% reduction of CO2 by 2050 and the commitment of the US congress to 25% RENEWABLE by 2025, a short 12 years away.”
    Don’t worry about CO2, I am a Gas Analyst in Holland and as such I happen to know quite a lot about all gasses, the fact of the matter is that all plants require CO2 to synthesize the sunlight to produce the oxygen that all animals, birds and us require to live, if these governments should be able to remove so much CO2 from the atmosphere, then all plant life would die, and so would we (as we would have no more oxygen). They are all a bunch of idiots, did you know that in Holland, greenhouse farmers pump CO2 into their greenhouses to enhance the quality of their product!! And, how about all the 200 volcanos worldwide that are pumping out CO2 24 hours a day, in fact Mount Pinatubo volcano, in four years, yes, has produced more CO2 than the entire human race has produced since the begin of time, perhaps the governments think that they can stop volcanos from erupting. So forget what the governments and greenies say, it’s all just hot air…

  168. Anthony, I’m surprised you would even bother to address this “no more fossil fuels” garbage. How many “green weenies” actually want to suddenly stop using fossil fuels? The ones I know want to gradually switch over to renewables.

    In fact, as a tree hugger myself, I support the elimination of coal in favor of natural gas-if and when I’m convinced that we won’t destroy too much of our aquifers by injecting chemicals (currently unknown chemicals, since so many are “trade secrets”)

    I’ve been a climate skeptic for many years-ever since seeing the GARBAGE “science” promulgated by Al Gore in his ridiculous movie “inconvenient truth”, which opened my eyes to the fact that i’d innocently believed the CO2 hype up until that point (I was like those I now criticize for simply jumping on the bandwagon with their friends, rather than doing some actual thinking and research)

    However, your apparent hatred of all things green, not to mention some of the odious comments following this article, make me seriously consider that lots of you folks are as ignorant of the issues as the warmists, and just parroting what you hear from anti-enviros.

    Darn shame, frankly. If I keep seeing this kind of nasty, enviro bashing rhetoric, I won’t keep using wuwt as what i’ve always considered a source of good information.

  169. And here we have you,Anthony, supporting this “What if Atlas Shrugged” article. Going to Deming’s website, I get accosted with a bullshit scare video, filled with baloney, including the claim that “China and Japan have stopped trading for US Dollars for the first time ever!!!!”

    Since I have not heard that anywhere else, and since this dude is trying to sell us his “survival instruction book”, I googled the dollar and china and japan.

    First hit. Reuters. Day before yesterday:

    “Chinese central banker sees dollar remaining dominant, strengthening

    By Alan Wheatley, Global Economics Correspondent
    LONDON | Fri Feb 8, 2013 4:06am EST
    Feb 8 (Reuters) – The dollar will remain the world’s dominant reserve currency and is likely to strengthen over time as the U.S. balance of payments improves, according to a senior Chinese central banker.”

    Anthony, PLEASE disassociate yourself from these wack jobs!

  170. BTW, I don’t want to replace coal with gas because of CO2-DUH!. I just happen to think mountain top removal is only one step above nukes.

  171. Wikipedia says “Watts has expressed a skeptical view of anthropogenic CO2-driven global warming. He has said that in 1990 he had “been fully engaged in the belief that CO2 was indeed the root cause of the global warming problem,” but that he later changed his thinking after learning more about the science and “found it to be lacking.”

    Good on you, Anthony; you figured that out about 16 years before I did. I had to be hit in the belly with a dead fish (Inconvenient Truth) to start looking into all the claims I’d long believed.

  172. Fred Irving says:
    February 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

    Gail Combs issued the following:”What is really really scary is the commitment of politicians in the EU to the 80% reduction of CO2 by 2050 and the commitment of the US congress to 25% RENEWABLE by 2025, a short 12 years away.”
    Don’t worry about CO2, I am a Gas Analyst in Holland and as such I happen to know quite a lot about all gasses, the fact of the matter is that all plants require CO2 to synthesize the sunlight to produce the oxygen that all animals, birds and us require to live, if these governments should be able to remove so much CO2 from the atmosphere, then all plant life would die, and so would we (as we would have no more oxygen)……
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Thanks Fred. (I am a chemist)

    You might be interested in this study Carbon starvation in glacial trees recovered from the La Brea tar pits, southern California. And this information: CO2 Heals Lung Damage and Lung Injury Seems low CO2 levels are not only bad for plants but they are bad for humans too.

    I am not worried about CO2, I am worried about the idiot politicians who pass laws without understanding the real consequences for the rest of us. To me CO2 Sequestration especially Geologic CO2 Sequestration is nothing more than an accident waiting to happen even if you ignore the damage to the biosphere reduction of CO2 would cause.

    Other papers of interest on CO2

    http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2006/10/co2_acquittal.html

    http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2007/06/on_why_co2_is_known_not_to_hav.html#more

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/

  173. malco says:
    February 10, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Anthony, I’m surprised you would even bother to address this “no more fossil fuels” garbage. How many “green weenies” actually want to suddenly stop using fossil fuels? The ones I know want to gradually switch over to renewables…..
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Malco, what activists wanted and what has actually happened are two entirely different things. The political ‘sausage making’ always makes sure money is funneled from the pockets of the laboring class into the pockets of the elite and this is no different.

    Enron, joined by BP, invented the global warming industry. I know because I was in the room…
    The basic truth is that Enron, joined by other “rent-seeking” industries — making one’s fortune from policy favors from buddies in government, the cultivation of whom was a key business strategy — cobbled their business plan around “global warming.” ….Enron then engaged green groups to scare people toward accepting those policies. That is what is known as a Baptist and bootlegger coalition. I sat in on such meetings. Disgraceful.

    I has been a ripoff of the poor by the wealthy from day one, just like the fractional reserve fraud.

    3 times as many coal plants are closing in the USA as was predicted by the EPA. As I showed above the price of electricity will skyrocket because the new plants cost money. In the UK which is ahead of the USA in renewable mania, More than one in five British households suffers fuel poverty in 2011 according to the World Socialist Website. In 2012 another news article says As energy prices go through the roof, shocking figures reveal one in four families has been plunged into fuel poverty. This is causing REAL PEOPLE to die. Some 7,800 people die during winter because they can’t afford to heat their homes properly, says fuel poverty expert Professor Christine Liddell of the University of Ulster. That works out at 65 deaths a day.

    Meanwhile the financiers, corporations and bankers are rubbing their hands in glee.

    We see an attractive long-term secular trend for investors to capitalize on over the coming 20–30 years as today’s underinvested and technologically challenged power grid is modernized to a technology-enabled smart grid. In particular, we see an attractive opportunity over the next three to five years to invest in companies that are enabling this transformation of the power grid.

    http://downloads.lightreading.com/internetevolution/Thomas_Weisel_Demand_Response.pdf

    War on coal hits your electric bill
    The market-clearing price for new 2015 capacity – almost all natural gas – was $136 per megawatt. That’s eight times higher than the price for 2012, which was just $16 per megawatt. In the mid-Atlantic area covering New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and DC the new price is $167 per megawatt. For the northern Ohio territory served by FirstEnergy, the price is a shocking $357 per megawatt…. These are not computer models or projections or estimates. These are the actual prices that electric distributors have agreed to pay for new capacity. >b>The costs will be passed on to consumers at the retail level….

    To add insult to injury, while politicians are closing down coal in the EU and USA More than 1,000 New Coal Plants [are] Planned Worldwide financed by our tax dollars that are given to the World Bank by the US government. World Bank: Record sums were invested last year in coal power. You can see the major leap in loans for coal fired plants in the last year in this Graph of World Bank spending on coal fired plants. US coal will not just sit in the ground either. Coal’s not dying — it’s just getting shipped abroad Along with the UNION jobs that cheap coal-fired plants support.

    The BIOFUEL RIP-OFF:

    ADM profits soar 550 percent as ethanol margins improve

    Cornell ecologist’s study finds that producing ethanol and biodiesel from corn and other crops is not worth the energy

    ADM is the largest donor to both political parties:
    Mother Jones:…whether the issue is possible price-fixing in Bulgaria or influence-peddling in Washington… no other U.S. company is so reliant on politicians and governments to butter its bread. From the postwar food-aid programs that opened new markets in the Third World to the subsidies for corn, sugar, and ethanol that are now under attack as “corporate welfare,” ADM’s bottom line has always been interwoven with public policy…

    “Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effectual than that which deludes them with paper money. This is one of the most effectual of inventions to fertilize the rich man’s field by the sweat of the poor man’s brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation: These bear lightly the happiness of the mass of the community, compared with fraudulent currencies and robberies committed with depreciated paper.” ~ Daniel Webster 1832

    World Bank Carbon Finance Report for 2007
    The carbon economy is the fastest growing industry globally with US$84 billion of carbon trading conducted in 2007, doubling to $116 billion in 2008, and expected to reach over $200 billion by 2012 and over $2,000 billion by 2020.

    The ‘Carbon Economy’ is just the newest twist on the old game of “cheating the laboring classes of mankind” because every single one of those dollars comes from the pockets of the laboring classes and finds its way into the pockets of the financiers with nothing given in return but a bunch of bovine feces.

  174. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    Dr. Deming’s articles are posted at Lew Rockwell’s blog, which describes itself, “The daily news and opinion site LewRockwell.com was founded in 1999 by anarcho-capitalists Lew Rockwell and Burt Blumert to help carry on the anti-war, anti-state, pro-market work of Murray N. Rothbard.” (Rockwell provides a link and LOTS of content on that page. Rothbard looks worthwhile to me, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murray_Rothbard, but I haven’t really looked into him.)

    Rockwell looks okay, http://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Lew_Rockwell, but I’m reserving my opinion until such time as I can study a bit.

    I like Dr. Deming. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Deming Being he is at OU gives me a bias. I like Oklahoma. Those of us who lived and grew in the Midwest and South-Central Plains, have an inherited sense about the land and what real extremes are in weather and the like. (http://thislandpress.com/11/14/2012/south-by-midwest-or-where-is-oklahoma/?read=complete )

    There is no doubt Deming is brave and willing to speak his mind. I like that.

    http://lewrockwell.com/deming/deming-arch.html

    So, my two bits: We humans, even us Americans, will continue to burn everything that will burn until it is all oxidized. Given the human track-record, it seems we will come up with alternatives before the things to burn get too expensive. It won’t be windmills, and it won’t be solar, it will be fission in at least a couple of its forms, and we will move to fusion eventually, but later rather than sooner. We just don’t have the engineering-wherewithal to deal with the structural effects of fusion neutrons and energy intensity. We will, but the capability is too far in the future to predict with less than a plus-or-minus of one century. It could easily take three or four centuries to make fusion practical for human needs, but fission is practical right now, and we have several decades of fossil fuel to burn while we convert to fission, and how many centuries can we support ourselves on fission? Many, and probably more than that.

  175. Gail Combs says:
    February 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Gail, thanks for all the information. I was not aware of much of it, especially the cost of converting power plants from coal to gas, which seems counterintuitive, considering the reputedly low cost of gas.

    The point I was TRYING to make is how frustrating I find it to see Anthony Watts seeming to join up with teabaggers in green bashing, and fighting against renewable resources. I’m a 99% AGW skeptic (No honest person can be 100% IMO), but I’m also totally in favor of GRADUALLY getting rid of oil. For that matter, IF we can actually produce frac gas without destroying our aquifers, i’m also fine with using natural gas for the next two hundred years.

  176. [bockquote] son of mulder says:
    February 7, 2013 at 10:54 am

    So should I become very overweight in advance so I could outlive thinner people or would that simply mean I would be eaten sooner?
    ——————————————————————————
    We have good – or rather very bad – data on this.

    The Japanese took many thousands of British Empire Forces prisoner in WW2 many of them from the surrender of Singapore 15 Feb 1942.

    During the ensuing dreadful years, it was noted by the doctors, trying desperately to keep men alive with insufficient nutrition, rest or medication, was that the big, beefy and pudgy guys were the ones that wasted away fastest. The smaller, leaner, skinny guys managed best…

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