The objective long-term trend of improved living standards for all of humanity, but particularly for those living in the United States since 1900, has no precedent.
Most of human history has been one prolonged era of non-progress—imperceptible gains from generation to generation.
But starting in the mid-18th century with the dawning of the industrial age, the first flickers of real sustainable progress emerged.
The 20th century produced majestic quantum leaps in the quality of life.
We seem to “create” more than we consume but what are we creating exactly?
So how is it argued that we’re special?
Unlike previous eras of progress, the gains that have been made in the 20th century are truly irreversible because they are primarily the result of the wondrous advances in the storehouse of human knowledge that have accumulated in this century. That knowledge can never be erased.
Actually, they are primarily the result of finding new ways to exploit the earth’s onetime allotment of hydrocarbon deposits—of discovering new ways to use harness this incredible source of energy.
We are convinced that 20th century progress has not been a mere historical blip but rather the start of a long-term trend of improved life on earth…
We now stand on the shoulders of our anscstors and are able to draw upon the accumulated knowledge and know-how of the past two centuries.
The power to mobilize (This assumes that nature is ours to “mobilize.”)
nature to our advantage rather than to just accept the random fates of nature. There is no turning back the clock, only boundless opportunity for future advancement.
This is the best time on earth to have ever lived—except for tomorrow.
These men will have difficulty returning home.
On Dubai’s stranded emirate population.
Peak oil: the summit that dominates the horizon
oil sands, northern Canada
The debate has intensified in recent weeks after whistleblowers claimed the IEA figures were unreliable and subject to political manipulation – something the agency categorically denies. But the subject of oil reserves touches not just energy and climate change policy but the wider economic scene, because hydrocarbons still oil the wheels of international trade.
(that’s putting it mildly)
"The fields which are producing today are going to significantly decline. We are very worried about these trends," says Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the IEA, who has gradually ramped that depletion figure upwards and has expressed deep concerns at a huge fall-off in the current levels of investment in the sector. (doesn’t seem like behavior that would indicate anyone in the oil business expects to hit that 105 barrels a day mark. Maybe wishful thinking.)
They point out that the world's big recessions tend to have been generated at least in part by sudden escalations in energy costs. (What happens when those sudden escalations occur more often—and ratchet up gradually in intensity. Not so good.
Things absolutely necessary to include: (maybe all you need)
Admittedly, there are few stories less popular these days than ones that point at human limitations.
The project is a long-term bicycle-mounted research endeavor aimed at exploring several questions pertaining to the end of the industrial adventure—the end of cheap energy.
A look at the hydrocarbon based systems that built the industrial world, bringing us to this historical impasse.
Holding the objective viewpoint—the industrial age was a very special time in the life of our species—one that will seem brief and frenzied seen in the rearview mirror of history. A particularly brief and intense period. Pay tribute to its accomplishments while recognizing the incredible cost paid for them. The industrial age was neither a good thing nor a bad thing—simply a period our species had to inevitably pass through on its evolutionary path.
This objective viewpoint is held by preparing in advance for such a period—to learn to live in relative comfort with very little in the way of material possessions. As thin a relationship as possible with the money economy—collapse proof. An objective outsider viewpoint facilitated by maintaining a low dependence on the money economy.
What technology and cultural practice/adaptations should we perpetuate into this period of contraction—this of course limits anything that requires a fully functioning industrial base to be maintained or produced—which includes a lot of stuff that fills our lives. Much of what surrounds us. Exploring new routes while mining the last several thousand years for valuable innovations.
The megastructure’s potential to memorialize the way we lived during this brief and intense period—the industrial age.
Lately, the much-repeated aphorism has circulated around the Web that civilizations build their most extreme monuments at the very moment of collapse.
The industrial abandoment’s (and abandonments in general) potential to help ease us into the period. To have something to give us solace that leaving this period behind really will open the doors to a healthier more beautiful world if not a chaotic, confusing and difficult one. Letting them stand as a reminder of the wrong turn.
The space opened up for new forms of spirituality emerging to fill the void that will open when the myth of perpetual progress proves to be the cruel farce that it is. One that celebrate the limits of the planet—and our place in it as a beneficial species—one that improves the health of the planet—supports biodiversity and creates things of beauty.
The tendency throughout history of persons not wanting to document their civilization’s failures leads to a lack of historical accounts of collapse situations. Lets try and see if we can’t study this one a little on the way down. This goes all the way back to orlov’s suggestion, reiterated by Ran, that should you find yourself in a collapse, stop and take a look around—they’re incredibly fascinating. Preserve for future reflection—don’t try and repeat this process
Mr. Analogue Guy with the records—you’re not going to tell me what its about—well it was nice to meet you—then he excuses himself.
Oh, its nothing important” in response to “what’s the speech about?”—curious about her motivations for not wanting to share—I point to her self given value judgment on her work being given instead of a answer revealing her topic. Which is great because its like what’s your first question when someone tells you you’re writing a speech? “oh, what’s it on?” Pretty straightforward. So I guess denying the answer really does put the breaks on the conversation.
Solo’s are suspicious.
Will you give this speech? No, practice speech writing.
I’m gunna guess that it was either about nothing—or maybe she was writing her eulogy.
Over-did it a little:
The Pellegrino with the espresso—none of these people need these computers—alluding to the suggestion that nothing anyone is doing is of any real importance
I’m gunna call him Mr. analogue even though I think his name was Justin. A closet computer user. Full fledged old world café-goer complete with the hat and the coat—laughed out loud at his book. We don’t need these screens! none of them
Went home to listen to his newly acquired miles davis records.
What else is interesting about this guy’s comment is that it implies everyone that spends their day in front of a computer, from graphic designers to currency traders, is effectively accomplishing very little in the physical world. In that sense, he’s absolutely correct in accusing those around him of kidding themselves regarding their usefulness.
I think I would be even more depressed if I had the kind of access into my ex-girlfriend’s lives provided by facebook
You gotta practice with the dancing in your off time. You should also be stretching more.
Wealthy Yemeni with ready cash can buy clean water shipped across the country in guarded tanker trucks. The rest of population has only one option – wait for the rain to fall.
Pull watercolors—put together set for street sales. A very European thing—may not work here.
I mean feel free to format things anyway you feel works best.
Maybe just pick a quote for each goal and leave it at that—including the well-written project brief.
Black Friday: this is so good because is contains, simultaneously, two images of irresponsible resource consumption. The electrical and the direct burning of hydrocarbons.
Video for Greg’s new flat screen television—the fireplace burning natural gas behind it. Then shot again from the same position so that it lines up precisely.
Picture of the fireplace to play on Greg’s new television. Like looking through a frame—the fake gas flame is a good touch. Installation piece.
Donation gift eventually. Get the sticks on.
The text for black Friday piece.
isn't it interesting that our society now vests all its hopes and wishes for thriving -- indeed survival! -- on a yearly ceremony we have come to call Black Friday.
I made this video so that if the homeowner ever felt the need to be reminded of what’s behind his television he could just pop a disk into the old blue ray and have a look. Maybe chill some Champaign and put it on to dampen the visual weight of the monolith in your living room to set the mood for a romantic evening at home.
. Built with expensive, energy intensive materials imported from abroad. equivalent to building our monuments before the empire falls apart—but our version is to put a big black monolith a la Kubric’s 2001 in each of your own living rooms. Maybe the enormous flat screen television’s hocked so furiously this time of year will be the our empire’s sad little monuments—squirreled way in living rooms scattered all across the land.) It’s not surprising they’re perhaps the least useful (and highly resource intensive) thing we could acquire before a long industrial contraction. But then again, monuments are generally not very practical.
I suggest as an alternative, a block made out of the hardest stuff the human species can synthetically produce and put it somewhere as a monument to industrial man, homo colossus as ___ is fond of renaming us. It can be dug up by some alien civilization sometime in the distant future. Nice block guys.
You could even have two options—fire on, fire off. I mean it may not match up with your
Maybe a good headline for collapse readditt
Welcome to the holiday shopping season orgy.
People continue to consume in the face of accelerating ecological devastation because that’s what their televisions are telling them to do. Money Is rapidly evaporating from the system (broken promises to pay back the money used to build luxury towers in the desert), and yet advertising is still at full throttle telling people to spend money they don’t have on things that wont be of use in a time when anyone still watching a flickering television screen better be a paraplegic.
Do word processing programs with programmed (fixed) rules for grammar slow or accelerate the evolution of language? The first answer is intuitively slow, but what if versions and updates come out at such tight intervals and the updates are just adopted. I guess more goes into forming language than word processing programs but it brings up a few questions.
That golf course must get more of its value from the list of movers and shakers on its member roster than from actually being a place where people pay gross sums to play a game.
being a rapidly accelerating--
Frame sticks as, if you ever want to go pound on some large pieces of metal at the edges of your town, you’ll have the tools you need already.
As maybe an amendment to the brownlands fitness piece.
Brownlands food chain has finally developed to the point where large carnivorous birds have moved in, ecologically supported by the thriving rabbit and squirrel populations.
You should dumpster dive some particularly interesting davis institutions—scaling a fence to get at
Oh the watertower gang—staying at the girlfriend’s—hangin’ in the nearby brownlands—baking pot cookies, dumpster diving, camping stove, piss, squirrel, and ?
The disk full of password protected mp4s. makes a shitty holiday gift for your loved ones. Other shitty gifts perhaps.
Are you a Romantic?
Of course, but I think I’m a romantic in the way that oscar Wilde and miusaki are romantics: to exist in a world of beauty is of particularly high priority for maintaining good spirits. Something we’ve largely forgotten: letting our built environments slide dramatically in the last half century.
Insert first paragraphs of second section into the first?
Plenty of difficulties stand in the way of making sense of the economic realities we face at the end of the age of cheap abundant energy. Some of those difficulties are inevitable, to be sure. Our methods of producing goods and services are orders of magnitude more complex than those of previous civilizations, for example, and our economy relies on treating borrowing as wealth to an extent no other society has been harebrained enough to try before; these and other differences make the task of tracing the economic dimensions of the long road of decline and fall ahead of us unavoidably more difficult than they otherwise would be.
I suspect most people are aware by now that there’s something seriously askew with the economic statistics cited by government officials and media pundits. Recent rhetoric about “green shoots of recovery” is a case in point. In recent months, I’ve checked in with friends across the US, and nobody seems to be seeing even the slightest suggestion of an upturn in their own businesses or regions. Quite the contrary; all the anecdotal evidence suggests that the Great Recession is tightening its grip on the country as autumn closes in. Still, current political and social arrangements may turn out to be a good deal less permanent than they sometimes seem. What might replace them, here and elsewhere, is a topic I plan on exploring in a future essay here.
Squat project—introduce yourself as the squatter/caretaker for a few days—basically need to request permission of the neighbors—see if they’re friendly.
Is your life on a collision course with mine?
Craigslist ahead for accommodations—host a friendly bicycle tourist in your home—give him a roof, a shower and a bed and he’ll warm your heart with stories from the road. Artist’s forum? General?
Take corporations: the term "corporation" is actually a clever misnomer, because a corporation is, in fact, incorporeal — lacking a body. It has many of the same rights as a person, but in place of a body it has a "corporate veil" which, once pierced, usually reveals some cringing nincompoop who screwed up the paperwork and is now personally liable for his corporation's debts and transgressions. Since a corporation has personhood but lacks a body, it is, in a technically precise way, a phantom. Like other kinds of monsters, it is immortal, and very specific steps must be followed in order to kill it. Now, not all phantoms are monsters, but I hope you will agree that the potential is there.
proximity is the single most important factor in deciding whether a story is newsworthy in the mainstream media.
And another view:
Link to Orlov radio interview.—cartoon consumer and advertising’s sophisticated methods to get everyone behaving the same way—thinking the same things in order to fit in.
What’s your beef with advertising?
Advertising is what’s keeping us from evolving, from growing out of our selfish, “I’m the post important person in the world” juvenile mentality. It’s an incredibly sophisticated form of social control and I’ll have nothing to do with it. Selling people things they don’t need is not something I’m interested in being a part of.
Oh—you should check with the two businesses and see if they would let you work for a room. Barter a little labor for room and board.
Between that and couch surfs, you could almost pull it off.
Pair the latest collapse links—the orlov speech and the telegraph article—both mention the fact that new investments in oil production aren’t being made. Certainly not the one’s necessary to meet everyone’s high expectations for growth.
The washed up racing cyclist. With the carbon fiber bike. Begging for change. Racing is hard man—race against Italians.
Related: A couple of
Couple of related collapse links. A radio interview with Dmitry Orlov and a peak oil update from The Guardian. Both mention a “fall-off in the current levels of investment in the [oil production] sector.” Orlov explains why the oil companies don’t seem invested in reaching the IEA’s predicted 105m barrels per day mark by 2030.
Stage Three Overture: California's San Joaquin ValleyHaving ridden California’s coast from top to bottom, it feels wrong to snub its inland valley. Before officially beginning Stage Three, which launches from LA, I’ll get myself from the Bay Area to Southern California by loosely following Interstate 5 along the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley. I’ve packed an ambitious seven sites into what’s shaping up to be a 450-mile jaunt expected to take ten days or less.
In addition to paralleling the state’s primary north/south automobile conduit, I’ll never be far from the 444-mile long California Aqueduct. The river that flows uphill is the main artery of the California State Water Project: one of the world’s largest water storage and transport systems. I’ll take a look at the pumping station that starts off the Aqueduct as well as the country’s largest off-stream reservoir. A 250,000-acre semi-arid grassland plateau is also on the list. The rare and fragile ecosystem of the Carrizo Plain supports the state’s largest concentration of endangered species. The most substantial chunk of native grassland left in the state is also home to an abandoned photovoltaic array: once the world’s largest. The oil production at the valley’s southern end is the other mega-system on this mini-leg. Besides paying my respects to California’s single most productive well, the Lakeview Gusher, I’ll swing through the 75 square mile Elk Hills field with its 2,387 active wells and three power plants. Before reaching Santa Barbara for a few days rest, I’ll cross the mountainous Los Padres National Forest and over 5,020-foot Pine Mountain Pass. Related: Invisible-5 Audio Project Today, the SWP provides drinking water for over 23 million people and generates an average 6.5 million MWh of hydroelectricity annually. However, as the largest single consumer of power in the state, its net usage is 5.1 million MWh.
Related: Invisible I-5
Pittsburg Industrial Belt
This eight-mile stretch of heavy industry on the southern shore of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is home to the state’s largest steel mill, a Dow chemical plant and four power plants with a combined capacity of 4500 megawatts.
Eight mile stretch of shore
4500 megawatts - largest electricity producing area in California
Contra Costa County Power Plant
Pittsburg Power Plant
Los Medanos Energy Center
Dow Chemical Pittsburg
USS Posco Plant—steel plant—bay area’s largest steel producer
Delta Energy Center
[To view the industries along the shore, starting in downtown Pittsburg, head east on East 3rd Street (to get to downtown from Highway 4 take the Railroad Avenue exit, and go north to 3rd). The road dead-ends at a USS Posco gate.]
Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant
This facility is the beginning of the California Aqueduct. It siphons water from the Sacramento River Delta and gives it enough potential energy to travel 80 miles to the next station. This pumping station marks the beginning of the 444-mile California Aqueduct, the central artery of the State Water Project, one of three major aqueduct systems in the state. Water is drawn out of the Sacramento River Delta through this plant, and begins its journey through the largest aqueduct system in the world, finally ending up in Los Angeles. There are many canals, reservoirs and pumping stations along the course of this aqueduct which travels down the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, and supplies water to the agricultural communities of much of San Joaquin, and urban Southern California. The California Aqueduct is a major component in the State Water Project system that was initiated in the early 1950's and continues to be under construction today.
San Luis Reservoir and Dam
A 305-foot embankment dam holds back the country’s largest off-stream reservoir. Off-stream means it’s not fed significantly by any natural watercourses. Water is pumped uphill to fill what amounts to a 12,700-acre water storage basin. , the power generated by its modest hydroelectric plant ever so slightly offsets the cost of operating the State Water Project.
Largest offstream reservor in the United States,
The San Luis Dam is the fourth largest embankment dam in the USA, and holds back the 12,700-acre San Luis Reservoir. This reservoir is part of the California State Water Project, a network of dams, reservoirs, pumping stations, and 550 miles of canals and major conduits, that distribute water from Northern California to the agricultural industries of the San Joaquin Valley, and to the metropoli of Southern California.
World’s largest parking lot sign.
Abandoned Solar Power Plant
As recently as 1994, 100,000 photovoltaic arrays soaked up sunshine here on the Carrizo Plain: one of the sunniest places in the state. Oil remained cheap during its operating life, and the facility was never profitable against hydrocarbon-based methods of energy production. 5.2 megawatts at its peak.
The remote Carrizo Plain's status as one of the sunniest places in the state was exploited by the solar power industry from 1983 to 1994. This was by far the largest photovoltaic array in the world, with 100,000 1'x 4' photovoltaic arrays producing 5.2 megawatts at its peak. The plant was originally constructed by the Atlantic Richfield oil company (ARCO) in 1983. During the energy crisis of the late 1970s, ARCO became a solar energy pioneer, manufacturing the photovoltaic arrays themselves. ARCO first built a 1 megawatt pilot operation, the Lugo plant in Hesperia, California, which is also now closed. The Carrizo Solar Corporation, based in Albuquerque, NM, bought the two facilities from ARCO in 1990. But the price of oil never rose as was predicted, so the solar plant never became competitive with fossil fuel-based energy production (Carrizo sold its electricity to the local utility for between three and four cents a kilowatt-hour, while a minimum price of eight to ten cents a kilowatt-hour would be necessary in order for Carrizo to make a profit). Another photovoltaic facility was planned for the site by the Chatsworth Utility Power Group, and with an output of 100 megawatts it would have been many times larger than the existing facility. But the facility never got off the drawing board. The Carrizo Solar Company dismantled its 177-acre facility in the late 1990s, and the used panels are still being resold throughout the world.