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« Some Conjectures Regarding Professional University Administration | Main | How is the Economy Like a Bubble Bath? »

April 15, 2011


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Interesting post - I can only imagine how you felt - an infrequent opportunity to rub shoulders with others in that minority of folks who are sufficiently courageous to be intellectually honest, and to go where the evidence points. I've found this is a pretty rare thing. Denial and delusion are, of course, much more common. Thanks for the report. :)


Please see links below.

As George has implied often, real per capita economic growth is over (including growth of "education" and "health care", which now is now equivalent to 30%+ of private GDP and utterly unsustainable), only we don't yet know it; and no one in authority can tell us for fear of causing a panic and losing legitimacy and control politically, economically, financially, and socially.

What is left now for those who are informed to begin immediately is to adapt to a per capita collapse of oil consumption and associated real GDP, which will require most of us to double, triple, and quadruple up, if you will, in terms of housing (sq. ft./person and persons/household), auto transport, gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and telecom utilities, food, water, etc.

It will only be apocalyptic if we in the West persist in perceiving that we as individuals and households must continue the post-WW II, suburban, Disneyland-like, mass-consumer, debt-based, imperial trade regime we have been socialized to believe is "normal" and "permanent"; it isn't.

Moreover, we in Anglo-American oil empire have been conditioned ("duped" into thinking) that "freedom" is "democracy" and "the right to vote" (see the 1960s cult classic TV series "The Prisoner" with Patrick McGoohan and the episode "Free for All" to understand "democracy" and "elections".)

However, without "economic freedom" and the ability to own capital and one's labor product (collectively and individually, and I don't mean labor unions, per se) elections are to co-opt "true believers" (enablers) and mere spectacle, pageantry, and distractions for the prole masses.

Patrick McGoohan in "The Prisoner", episode 4, "Free for All" (1968):

George Mobus


I couldn't agree more. Imagine my frustration in having to leave Syracuse and come back to a place where most people (especially TPTB) can't conceive that there is any other way to see the world than through their BAU glasses.


Thanks for the links.

The party is over isn't it? But too many of the guests are not clever enough to realize it is time to go home (home to a more HUMAN style of living).

I continue to push the idea of intentional communities based on permaculture and a return to a more human scale. What we have been living with is monstrous and no one can grasp all the parts and meanings. I pine for my fellow beings who are incapable of or refuse to see the dynamics of this world as they are. They will be lost and that is just that. Regrettable but apparently unavoidable.

Get ye all to the land!



Thanks for the reply, George. I appreciate your highly informative site and your courage and willingness to stare into the abyss (only not too long, hopefully, so that it stares back into you, as Nietzsche warned against :-)).

Paul Gilding (speaking on May 5 in Portland, OR at Mercy Corps Action Center at 28 SW 1st Ave., FYI) at the links above and in his new book, "The Great Disruption" appears to "get it"; that is, up to the point of being compelled to advocate for an unlikely set of solutions in order to sell a book.

So many well-meaning among us choose to de-emphasize (or ignore) the required scalability and associated overall systemic net energy costs of "alternatives" or "renewable" energy.

As a bit of an aside, US domestic crude oil production since 1985 has fallen at a rate of ~3.2%/yr. per capita. The 10-yr. avg. real private (real GDP less total gov't spending, including personal transfers) per capita GDP is now contracting, whereas total real per capita gov't spending during the same period has grown at an avg. rate of ~2.6%/yr.

At the combined per capita rates of US crude oil depletion and unsustainable
growth of gov't spending, we have no more than 12-13 years before US oil depletion reaches the point-of-no-return collapse threshold of 70% decline (we passed the 50% depletion in 2006-07, i.e., not coincidentally at global peak oil production), and the differential rate of per capita gov't spending and contracting real private per capita GDP achieve the critical order of exponential magnitude after which not only is growth impossible but collapse is virtually certain.

Extrapolating US and China's oil consumption and oil import trend rates of growht, 2024-25 is also the approximate date at which the US and China will together consume two-thirds or more of global oil production (at today's peak production), leaving the rest of the planet with half of what is today consumed (5-6%/yr. compounded per capita rate of decline).

However, the structural effects of these converging events are already being felt, including (1) no private, full-time employment growth in the US since the mid- to late 1990s (and early 1990s when "education" and "health care" are taken out); (2) real per capita value-add production back to the levels of the mid- to late 1980s and early 1990s; and (3) the imminent peak of oil exports from oil-producing countries, most notably Saudi Arabia.

And $112 Texas and $122 Brent crude now means US oil consumption as a share of private GDP above 8%, the level that occurred in late 1979, early 1980, and spring-summer 2008, the periods preceding the worst recessions since the Great Depression.

Keep staring into the abyss and telling us what you see; but look away once in a while, and don't stand too close to the edge. :-)

P.S. I hope you're recovering well from your earlier mishap.

George Mobus


Thanks. I have long ago gotten over the implications of all of this. Today I stare in fascination.

My leg is doing fine!



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