Monday, June 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

"At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole goddamned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves" ---Charles Bukowski

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Where To Live; One Guy's Opinion

Chaos hopes you haven't been thinking that this topic has been abandoned here at the Edge. Here's one very thoughtful fellow's opinion (Nate Hagens from oft-quoted The Oil Drum):

"The best places in the world will be the ones with a combination of the following things: the most social cohesion (strong reciprocity), the highest renewable infastructure, the smallest amount of energy required for basic human needs (food, water, shelter) (This means high degree cooling or heating locations lose points), a high biomass to human ratio, the best aggregate of human, social, built and natural capital. If you fall in the camp thats worried about nuclear war, a city in the southern hemisphere would be optimal, as they dont share air circulation with the north. A city near water and rail will have big advantages over one just served by air and road."

Chaos can't add to that, right now.

One American Who "Gets It"

Prepared Statement of Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-6-MD)
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Hearing on Energy
June 15, 2007

I appreciate the opportunity to testify today before the Members of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission concerning energy.

The Commission has been charged to examine and report to Congress about energy considering: “The effect of the large and growing economy of the People’s Republic of China on world energy supplies and the role the United States can play (including joint research and development efforts and technological assistance), in influencing the energy policy of the People’s Republic of China.”

Energy is a topic of intense interest and concern to me. I have been studying energy, and in particular oil, for the past 40 years. I believe that energy will be the dominant issue affecting our nation and our world in the 21st Century. In 8,000 years of recorded history, we are 150 years into the Age of Oil. This period of 150 years has lulled Americans, but not our counterparts in China, into a false sense of complacency.

I am among few people in America and the West who believe that we’re about half-way through the Age of Oil. I say that, although all petroleum experts acknowledge that the world will peak in oil production – reach a maximum – with declining production at ever increasing costs after that time. Most petroleum experts reviewed in a March 27, 2007 GAO report that I commissioned project that for all practical purposes peak is imminent – that it will occur before 2020. Global peak oil might not be a problem if demand were not increasing exponentially about two percent per year. Because demand is increasing and the U.S. is the most oil dependent economy in the world, GAO projects the consequences of peak for the U.S. will be devastating. After the world peaks in oil production we’ll continue to use oil for about another 150 years – but in declining amounts, instead of the increasing amounts that we’re used to.

Most people in the world and certainly most Americans are ignorant of peak oil. The Chinese are not. Peak oil was first publicly identified as a phenomenon by American oil geologist M. King Hubbert in a speech on March 8, 1956. He had noticed that all oil field production follows a bell curve. It increases, reaches a peak in production and declines thereafter. He reasoned that if you added up all of the peaks from many fields, you could calculate the peak for larger regions, countries and the world. In 1956, he projected that the U.S. lower 48 states would peak in production in 1970. At that time, the U.S. was the King of world oil production -- the biggest oil producer and consumer in the world. Hubbert was vilified. But he was right on. The U.S. peaked in oil production in 1970. Hubbert predicted the world would peak about now. If Hubbert was right about the U.S. and the U.S. is a microcosm of the world, why wouldn’t he be right about the world? In fact, 35 of the 48 major oil producers in the world have peaked in oil production.

I led a delegation of nine Members of the House Armed Services Committee on a trip to China over the New Year that focused on energy. Without exception, every Chinese official that we met began our discussions by telling us that they were planning for “post-oil.” Post-oil. The Chinese are planning for global peak oil in 2012. They are planning now for a world without oil as a major energy source. I wish our government leaders and Americans understood the necessity to prepare for a post-oil world.

The Chinese understand that the Age of Oil will be a blip in world history. Global peak oil will not be the end of oil – but it will be the end of cheap oil and cheap energy. Because we have built a lifestyle and a civilization in the United States that is totally dependent upon cheap oil and cheap energy, peak oil poses a challenge that our country must overcome.

I referred earlier to a report that I commissioned by the GAO. This was the fourth federal government report warning about peak oil. The Department of Energy commissioned two reports about peak oil by a team led by Robert Hirsch so they’re known as the Hirsch reports. The first Hirsch report was released in February 2005. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commissioned a report released in September 2005. I also recommend the Commissioners read a an incredibly prescient speech about energy given by Admiral Hyman Rickover, the father of the nuclear navy just about 50 years ago on May 14, 1957. All of these reports and the Rickover speech are posted on my website at

What concrete steps can we observe that China is taking to prepare for peak oil and post-oil? They have a five point plan. 1. Conservation 2. Increase the proportion of domestic sources of energy. 3. Diversify sources of energy. 4. Limit negative impact on the environment 5. Engage in international cooperation. These are exactly the correct steps and steps that the U.S. should be undertaking.

I have attached to my testimony two charts. The first is called The World of Oil. It depicts countries based upon the proportion of oil reserves. The second chart illustrates that China is scouring the world and buying up oil assets. They are also aggressively building a blue water navy. They don’t need a blue water navy for Taiwan. American government officials have told me the Chinese don’t understand that in a world market, energy is fungible. I don’t find this argument at all persuasive. I think China is preparing for a world where resource nationalism, not market forces govern the allocation of energy. China is preparing for cooperation or confrontation to address a post-oil world.

The U.S. is not preparing at all.

America and the world will transition from fossil fuels, including oil, to sustainable, renewable sources of energy. We can choose to do it on our timetable or we can be forced to transition by geology. What America needs to do to avoid a really bumpy ride from peak oil, and this will require Presidential leadership, is to develop a program with three attributes: the total commitment of World War II; the technology focus and intensity of the Apollo program to land a man on the moon; and the urgency of the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss these points in more detail. Thank you very much.

Chart To Silence The Whiny American Public

Of course, Chaos is not one will be silenced, and the infantile complaining, blaming and fingerpointing will continue as long as gasoline prices continue to "skyrocket." At least this chart (click on it to enlarge) ought to give someone in this benighted country something to think about, to the extent that "thinking" continues to be a viable way of facing tough issues, which is doubtful. Well, then...

One Nation...Under Surveillance

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The State of the US Economy, Circa 2005

This long and detailed lecture by Martin Wolf, eminent economist and financial columnist for the London-based Financial Times will, if you care to digest it all, scare the pants off you if you have any interest in the future of the US economy. Even more frightening is the fact that this lecture was given in 2005; subsequent passage of time has exacerbated the trends discussed back then. Key message: the US dollar is due (perhaps long overdue) for a sharp decline, being propped up by the rest of the world and in particular, certain Asian countries whose economic development is driven by manufacture of cheap exports for the US. Certain trends can now be seen with more clarity, such as the movement of oil-producing countries to accept payment in Euros rather than dollars (Russia comes to mind, which should keep anyone awake at night), as well as foreign countries buying up the physical assets of the US. In sum, the Empire is no longer master of its own fate; indeed, it has ceded control to the rest of the world. Not good.

Toxic Environment: American Culture

Click on this link to read about Adbusters magazine's feature on the poisonous culture which surrounds those of us in the Empire today. (The magazine, for the previously unaware, focuses on the media as the corrupting agent; Chaos would argue that the media simply reflects the vacuity of the people living in this country--another example of liberals' inability to imagine or say that the vast majority of people are unconscious sheep). Many studies are cited here; for example, rates of depression, anxiety and drug problems among recent Mexican immigrants increased the longer they stayed here. The study's author concludes: "socialization into American culture and society [will] increase susceptibility to psychiatric disorders." Interesting stuff, and not available on CNN.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Behold These Words, And Despair

Cindy Sheehan, mighty voice of the anti-war movement, recently resigned from it. Her words, as always, are both insightful and impossible to argue with (unless you still believe that George Bush has your back), so here they are: (note the impossibility of accomplishing anything meaningful in this country due to the relentless partisanship of both political parties)(emphasis Chaos'):

"I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement. Especially since I renounced any tie I have remaining with the Democratic Party, I have been further trashed on such "liberal blogs" as the Democratic Underground. Being called an "attention whore" and being told "good riddance" are some of the more milder rebukes.

I have come to some heartbreaking conclusions this Memorial Day Morning. These are not spur of the moment reflections, but things I have been meditating on for about a year now. The conclusions that I have slowly and very reluctantly come to are very heartbreaking to me.

The first conclusion is that I was the darling of the so-called left as long as I limited my protests to George Bush and the Republican Party. Of course, I was slandered and libeled by the right as a "tool" of the Democratic Party. This label was to marginalize me and my message. How could a woman have an original thought, or be working outside of our "two-party" system?

However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the "left" started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used. I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of "right or left", but "right and wrong."

I am deemed a radical because I believe that partisan politics should be left to the wayside when hundreds of thousands of people are dying for a war based on lies that is supported by Democrats and Republican alike. It amazes me that people who are sharp on the issues and can zero in like a laser beam on lies, misrepresentations, and political expediency when it comes to one party refuse to recognize it in their own party. Blind party loyalty is dangerous whatever side it occurs on. People of the world look on us Americans as jokes because we allow our political leaders so much murderous latitude and if we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt "two" party system our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland. I am demonized because I don’t see party affiliation or nationality when I look at a person, I see that person’s heart. If someone looks, dresses, acts, talks and votes like a Republican, then why do they deserve support just because he/she calls him/herself a Democrat?

I have also reached the conclusion that if I am doing what I am doing because I am an "attention whore" then I really need to be committed. I have invested everything I have into trying to bring peace with justice to a country that wants neither. If an individual wants both, then normally he/she is not willing to do more than walk in a protest march or sit behind his/her computer criticizing others. I have spent every available cent I got from the money a "grateful" country gave me when they killed my son and every penny that I have received in speaking or book fees since then. I have sacrificed a 29 year marriage and have traveled for extended periods of time away from Casey’s brother and sisters and my health has suffered and my hospital bills from last summer (when I almost died) are in collection because I have used all my energy trying to stop this country from slaughtering innocent human beings. I have been called every despicable name that small minds can think of and have had my life threatened many times.

The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried every since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most.

I have also tried to work within a peace movement that often puts personal egos above peace and human life. This group won’t work with that group; he won’t attend an event if she is going to be there; and why does Cindy Sheehan get all the attention anyway? It is hard to work for peace when the very movement that is named after it has so many divisions.

Our brave young men and women in Iraq have been abandoned there indefinitely by their cowardly leaders who move them around like pawns on a chessboard of destruction and the people of Iraq have been doomed to death and fates worse than death by people worried more about elections than people. However, in five, ten, or fifteen years, our troops will come limping home in another abject defeat and ten or twenty years from then, our children’s children will be seeing their loved ones die for no reason, because their grandparents also bought into this corrupt system. George Bush will never be impeached because if the Democrats dig too deeply, they may unearth a few skeletons in their own graves and the system will perpetuate itself in perpetuity.

I am going to take whatever I have left and go home. I am going to go home and be a mother to my surviving children and try to regain some of what I have lost. I will try to maintain and nurture some very positive relationships that I have found in the journey that I was forced into when Casey died and try to repair some of the ones that have fallen apart since I began this single-minded crusade to try and change a paradigm that is now, I am afraid, carved in immovable, unbendable and rigidly mendacious marble.

Camp Casey has served its purpose. It’s for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford , Texas ? I will consider any reasonable offer. I hear George Bush will be moving out soon, too...which makes the property even more valuable.

This is my resignation letter as the "face" of the American anti-war movement. This is not my "Checkers" moment, because I will never give up trying to help people in the world who are harmed by the empire of the good old US of A, but I am finished working in, or outside of this system. This system forcefully resists being helped and eats up the people who try to help it. I am getting out before it totally consumes me or anymore people that I love and the rest of my resources.

Good-bye America are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can’t make you be that country unless you want it.

It’s up to you now.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Unique Cyclone Threatens Oman, Persian Gulf

Never seen this before, not ever....there's oil production facilities out there, right? Check out this link, perhaps wonder why it wasn't on today's CNN.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Why Are Gas Prices So High? An Insider's Explanation

You can read a lot of, well, untruths about current high(er, but still not nearly high enough) gas prices in the Empire. Rarely will you hear actual explanations, backed up by "true" facts, and most especially not in the MSM. Here on the Edge, though, you can catch the real scoop simply by clicking on this fine exposition by The Oil Drum contributor Robert Rapier. An employee of an (unnamed) oil company, this person has a keen focus and his blog, R-squared, is certainly worth a read as well, if you find yourself wanting more. Contemplate the explanation given and consider emailing it to the next fool that sends you one of those ridiculous emails recommending a "boycott" of the corner gas stations.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Upside of Down Online!!

You can now read (you can read, can't you?) the entire book, The Upside of Down, the brilliant and insightful Thomas Homer-Dixon, who has quite obviously studied other authors mentioned in Chaos' bibliography (in fact, that's a fun figure out which ones), and more than any recent author, is skilled in presenting the issue of why our civilization, which depends mightily on huge flows of energy, is at risk for catastrophic failure. A long and extremely important read.
(Update) The link has now been removed, for unknown reasons (copyright, perhaps? giving away books is not a good business model), but not before Chaos had a chance to finish it. The work is outstanding, so much so that Chaos will buy it anyway and lend it out to local readers. The usual entry into this field of study is technical and difficult to peruse, but Homer-Dixon's work is imminently readable for non-experts. Chaos cannot recommend this book enough.