Friday, May 30, 2014

What's Not To Like About Fracking?

I admit to extreme prejudice concerning the multiple dangers of fracking.
What’s not to like about fracking? You could like the danger to human health and all life forms. You could like the environmental threat to water, air and soil. You could like the earthquakes.  You could enjoy the cost in money and disruption to local communities.  Of the cost to the states .You could like the media hype or the credit bubble.  Or you could like the actual energy drain because it has poor Energy Return on Energy Invested. So much to enjoy, so little time.

“Earthjustice was created by a small group of attorneys with a passionate belief that the power of the law could be used to preserve the environment. They helped establish the right of citizens to go to court to enforce environmental laws when the government couldn’t or wouldn’t.”– Trip Van Noppen, Earthjustice President

The United States is in the midst of an unprecedented oil and gas drilling rush—brought on by a controversial technology called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Along with this fracking-enabled rush have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions. We call them Fraccidents.

I am not a member of earthjustice but like what they are doing. Check out there website.

Here are more sources of information about the dangers of fracking.


Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy
There is evidence that shale and tight gas development is associated with pollution that is known to increase public health risks. Additionally, there is much more that we don't know. Scientific investigations are hampered by limitations on monitoring, reporting, and disclosure requirements of compounds and processes associated with oil and gas development.

Third Report in Three Days Shows Scale of Fracking Perils
'We can conclude that this process has not been shown to be safe'
Jacob Chamberlain
Shale gas development uses organic and inorganic chemicals known to be health damaging in fracturing fluids (Aminto and Olson 2012; US HOR 2011). These fluids can move through the environment and come into contact with humans in a number of ways, including surface leaks, spills, releases from holding tanks, poor well construction, leaks and accidents during transportation of fluids, flowback and produced water to and from the well pad, and in the form of run-off during blowouts, storms, and flooding events (Rozell and Reaven 2012 - (see more)

Geology and Human Health
Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana by Joe Hoffman


Water Pollution:
Chemical additives are used in the drilling mud, slurries and fluids required for the fracking process. Each well produces millions of gallons of toxic fluid containing not only the added chemicals, but other naturally occurring radioactive material, liquid hydrocarbons, brine water and heavy metals.

Groundwater Contamination May End the Gas-Fracking Boom
Well water in Pennsylvania homes within a mile of fracking sites is found to be high in methane.  Aug 20, 2013 |By Mark Fischetti
In Pennsylvania, the closer you live to a well used to hydraulically fracture underground shale for natural gas, the more likely it is that your drinking water is contaminated with methane. This conclusion, in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA in July, is a first step in determining whether fracking in the Marcellus Shale underlying much of Pennsylvania is responsible for tainted drinking water in that region.

Monday, Jan 6, 2014 08:18 AM CST
Water pollution from fracking confirmed in multiple states
Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Texas have received hundreds of complaints, an AP investigation revealed
Lindsay Abrams

It is the unknown future contaminations of water resulting from fracking that cannot be answered but ABSOLUTELY must be considered.  It is not just the contamination of water today or tomorrow but in a decade or even decades down the line.  These unintended consequences are unknown but critical.  It cannot be “we need the energy”.  It cannot be “make the money and run”.  You can live without oil.  You cannot eat or drink dollar bills.  Try living without drinkable water.

Air Pollution:
Some of the pollutants released by drilling include: benzene, toluene, xylene and ethyl benzene (BTEX), particulate matter and dust, ground level ozone, or smog, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and metals contained in diesel fuel combustion---with exposure to these pollutants known to cause short-term illness, cancer, organ damage, nervous system disorders and birth defects or even death .

Fracking Boom Spews Toxic Air Emissions on Texas Residents
by Lisa Song, Jim Morris and David Hasemyer
Eight-month investigation reveals that the Texas State Legislature is more intent on protecting the industry than protecting residents' health.

Earthquakes constitute another problem associated with deep-well oil and gas drilling. Scientists refer to the earthquakes caused by the injection of fracking wastewater underground as "induced seismic events." Although most of the earthquakes are small in magnitude (the strongest measured 5.2), their relationship with the storage of millions of gallons of toxic wastewater does little to ease the fears over fossil energy's long list of externalities.

“Wastewater disposal may trigger quakes at greater distance than previously thought”
Date: May 1, 2014
Source: Seismological Society of America
Oil and gas development activities, including underground disposal of wastewater and hydraulic fracturing, may induce earthquakes by changing the state of stress on existing faults to the point of failure. Earthquakes from wastewater disposal may be triggered at tens of kilometers from the wellbore, which is a greater range than previously thought, according to research.

And adding injury to injury:
Published on Monday, May 12, 2014 by OnEarth Magazine
Why the U.S. Plastics Industry Loves the Fracking Boom
Looking for another reason to worry about fracking? We're going to bubble-wrap the entire planet with the overabundance of plastic it produces.
by Susan Freinkel


“Oil Shale's Energy Return on Energy Investment”
In simple terms, EROI is a commonly-used calculation of how much energy is needed to locate, extract, and refine an output of energy - in this case, oil from shale. In more technical terms, EROI is the ratio of the energy delivered by a process to the energy used directly and indirectly for that process. An EROI of 1:1 means no energy is gained from producing the energy resource.

The EROEI for shale oil is ~3.

The Energy Return on Investment threshold

 Oil shale is not a viable fuel source, study says
“The most comprehensive study indicates an EROI of 2 to produce oil shale, meaning that 2 units of energy are produced for every unit consumed. This is very low compared to the EROI for conventional crude oil of around 20. Including the refining step, the EROI of producing gasoline from crude oil is around 4.7 compared to 1.4 for producing liquid fuel from oil shale.
Other studies have calculated an oil shale EROI of up to 8. However, this is largely because they only represent direct energy costs, such as energy to heat the shale, and under-represent indirect energy costs, such as energy used to produce drilling rigs and transportation. Studies that do include indirect energy inputs also vary in the methods used.”
 Cleveland, C.J. & O’Connor, P. A. (2011). Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of oil shale. Sustainability. 3; 2307-2322. (see more)
Also - European Commission DG ENV News Alert Issue 276 8 March 2012

This was posted at this essay to clarify.  I much appreciate his insight and knowledge:

Steve CarrowMay 30, 2014 
John: Thanks for the effort to collect this information all in one spot. Keep up the fight, and keep trying to get people pissed. I do want to point out one unfortunate terminology issue that might confuse your readers. Shale oill is resultant from fracking shale formations, and indeed has poor EROEI, but oil shale, which is actually a shale/kerogen matrix, is even worse, and is not fracked, but either mined or heat in situ to cook out the oil like kerogen for refining. One of your links above is referencing oil shale. It is in different locations than shale oil, but has an even worse environmental footprint. Curse whoever called it oil shale, but we are stuck with the confusing terms now. I reluctantly admit I was involved with the 1970s-80s effort to extract and produce this stuff. Now that oil is up at $100, the majors are sniffing around western Colorado again, Many locals still remember the prior boom bust disaster, but the siren song or royalties are swaying local officials, so not sure what might happen this time around. I will most certainly not be a part of it.


The average flow from a shale gas well drops by about 50 percent to 75 percent in the first year, and up to 78 percent for oil, said Pete Stark, senior research director at IHS Inc.
"The decline rate is a potential show stopper after a while," said Stark, a geologist with almost six decades in the oil patch. "You just can’t keep up with it."

In 2008, the Bakken in North Dakota only had 479 producing well; however, at last count in September when the Bakken was producing 867,123 barrels of oil a day, it took 6,447 wells to do so.  Thus, the energy companies drilling and producing oil in the Bakken have to keep increasing wells each month (and year) to offset the huge 63,000 bd decline.
As with all oil fields, there are only so many sweet spots and areas to drill.  The 63,000 bd decline rate at the Bakken only has one way to go — and that’s higher.   If the present trend continues (highly likely) then we are going to see a daily decline rate of 75-85,000 barrels a day by the end of 2014.
Thus, the shale oil players are going to have to make those drilling hamsters work even harder as they will need to increase more wells each month just to grow production.  At some point in time (sooner rather than later), the daily decline rate will reach a figure that these companies will be unable to offset.



Local Costs of Fracking

The impact of natural gas extraction and fracking on state and local roadways
 (Andrew Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer)
As of March 2014 there were approximately 1.1 million oil and gas wells in the United States, a direct consequence of technological advances that have increased domestic energy production to levels unseen since the 1970s. Much of the growth has been in natural gas obtained through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which involves injecting immense quantities of water and chemicals into the ground to fracture the rock and release deposits that would otherwise be inaccessible.


“Who Pays the Costs of Fracking?”
by: Tony Dutzik, Benjamin Davis and Tom Van Heeke
Frontier Group 2013
John Rumpler
Environment America Research & Policy Center
Weak Bonding Rules for Oil and Gas Drilling Leave the Public at Risk
Fracking” operations pose a staggering array of threats to our environment and health – contaminating drinking water, harming the health of nearby residents, marring forests and landscapes, and contributing to global warming. Many of thesedamages from drilling have significant “dollars and cents” costs.


Not a new Saudi Arabia. Ghawar was discovered in 1948, put on stream in 1951 and has been producing ever since.

The shale phenomenon: fabulous miracle with a fatal flaw
Randy Udall, Guest blogger / February 22, 2013

Shale gas and tight oil are giving the US its biggest, most rapid boost in energy production in history. But it will probably prove fleeting.
But when you look more closely, comparing North Dakota with Kuwait is ludicrous. Kuwait claims about 100 billion barrels of reserves; North Dakota may have 10 billion, if that. An average Kuwaiti well produces 1,600 barrels a day, 10 times the output of a typical Dakota well. Kuwait has produced 2 million barrels a day for decades, and will do so for decades to come. North Dakota will be lucky to hit 1 million barrels a day by 2017, before its production tapers off.

“Why America's Shale Oil Boom Could End Sooner Than You Think”
By Christopher Helman

“America’s oil producers are nervous.  .  .  .  . It’s bad enough to be spending more and more to generate ever less growth. It’s worse when that growth doesn’t even translate into profits.”

“Are Shales a Bubble?” by Deborah Lawrence
“Hype works. Particularly when monetary and economic benefits are promised. Hype has been the primary tool used by the oil and gas industry with regard to shales and it has worked brilliantly. There is just one problem. When considering shale economic viability, hype was the only aspect that actually existed.”

“Interestingly, the past year has brought massive write downs in shale assets and a frenzy of asset sales. Some companies, such as Shell, admitted that their divestment of North American shale properties was to stem the financial hemorrhaging and to distance themselves from disappointing well results. Others, like Exxon Mobil, claim to still be true believers in spite of their losses.”

“Shale Drillers Feast on Junk Debt to Stay on Treadmill”

And the irony. 
We, each of us, continue to use oil and natural gas to maintain our ways of life which supports these extreme assaults.

Fracking and pipelines are supported by :

  1. higher oil prices because the techniques of fracking and other extreme measures and location take more and more energy to get less and less oil.
  2. fracking wells deplete very quickly so that drilling must keep pace with depletion.
  3. our willingness to use and waste massive amounts of water.
  4. our willingness to disregard our children and grandchildren’s future by the real possibility that we are making their environment unlivable.
  5. how addicted we are to maintaining our high horse-powered lifestyle - snowmobiles, wave runners, leaf blowers and all the sundry gasoline tools and toys.
Standing separate and almost always hidden by self-righteousness is being unwilling because of belief - religious or otherwise - to face population growth as underlying most if not all the major problems humanity is facing.

It is important to be irate and act like each of us is not the problem.  Or ignore the dilemma and the irony as the first form of denial.

As I have written elsewhere: For those who support fracking, oil sands and the northern pipeline or for those who encourage investing in fracking, oil sands or the northern pipeline, I have this suggestion.  Move your home next to a fracking well and put down your water well along side.  Or better yet move your children there or better yet move your grandchildren there.   Let the pipeline filled with toxic fluid come along the boundaries of your land here in lovely Northern Minnesota.  The same for the oil sand works in Canada.   Move your grandchildren up there in the poisonous air and next to the polluted rivers and environmental degradation.

It is sad how trapped we are.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Pipeline, close to home

This an editorial I put in our local newspaper.  The pipeline is unstoppable and it is coming within 10 miles of home.

Oil Pipe line near Longville
*Do you know? An Enbridge oil pipe line is coming close to 10 miles from Longville? 
“After a short stretch through Crow Wing County’s Gail Lake and Timothy townships, the pipeline re-enters Cass and runs through Blind Lake, Trelipe, Crooked Lake and Beulah townships before crossing into Aitkin County on its way to Superior.” Enbridge Energy’s ‘Sandpiper Pipeline’ route would run through central Cass County

*Do you know?  “Enbridge is responsible for the largest on-land spill .  .  . the July 2010 rupture of an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan that released 20,000 barrels of crude oil, much of it into the Kalamazoo  River, triggering a record fine and a $1 billion cleanup.“ Article by: DAVID SHAFFER ‘Star Tribune’  September 3, 2013 - 3:19 PM

“The new line would carry 225,000 barrels a day through North Dakota but would then merge with other sources of oil and carry 375,000 barrels a day from Clearbrook to Superior, Little said. That’s 15.75 million gallons of oil each day.”

*Do you know? Crude is a nasty material, very destructive when it spills into the environment, and very toxic when it contacts humans or animals. It’s not even useful for energy, or anything else, until it’s chemically processed, or refined, into suitable products like naphtha, gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, asphaltics, mineral spirits, natural gas liquids, and a host of others.

*Do you know?  “What is the safest way to move it? .  .  . The short answer is .  .  . For the normalized amount of oil spilled, it’s truck worse than pipeline worse than rail worse than boat  (Congressional Research Service).” Pick Your Poison For Crude — Pipeline, Rail, Truck Or Boat

Do you know?  There was a: “Public meetings for the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline by Enbridge .  .  .  held from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at Pine River-Backus School.”
The article goes on to say, “Those who are interested in attending may submit oral or written comments. Representatives of Enbridge and the state will be present to answer questions about the pipeline. Topics to be discussed may include alternative route options and environmental impacts.”

*These are some of the questions I asked the Public Utility Commission and to put it bluntly, received no serious response just deflection.
1. Are there significant funds set aside by the pipeline company that will deal with disasters such as massive spills regardless of the financial health of the pipeline company at the time of the disaster?

2. When there is no more oil running in the pipeline in the next decade or so, who is going to maintain the pipeline?  Is there a fund for that?

3.  If the company fails, who is responsible for spills, cleaning, and maintenance?

4. No matter the safety record, accidents, both technical and human error, happen.  What could the damage be of a massive spill or explosion?

Do you know?
Fracking and pipelines are supported by :
  1. Higher oil prices because the techniques of fracking and other extreme measures and location take more and more energy to get less and less oil.
  2. Fracking wells deplete very quickly so that drilling must keep pace with depletion.
  3. Our willingness to use and waste massive amounts of water.
  4. Our willingness to disregard our children and grandchildren’s future by the real possibility that we are making their environment unlivable.
  5. How addicted we are to maintaining our high horse-powered lifestyle - snowmobiles, wave runners, leaf blowers and all the sundry gasoline tools and toys.

Thought you might be curious about what choices we are making.  Well, sort of making.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What the Flock!

With my morning coffee, I enjoy the two things that fascinate man the most.   No, I am not watching CNN or RT or CCTV; nor am I reading a local or national newspaper. With my morning coffee, I get my hit of War and Sex with the bird feeder outside our window.  

If you want war footage, red wing blackbirds puff up and push.  The grackles strut in their beautiful shiny, glossy feathers.  The blue jays fly in and out causing alarm, flight of others and then they feast. 

There is certainly threatening going on.  It is that old territory thing we humans do so well.  For the food, there are periods of sharing and times of conflict. Sound familiar?  With the red wings all puffy, you’d think they believe in exceptionalism.  And blue jays, so imperial, hmmmm, they remind me of something.

As for the sex, so many positions, so little coffee. There are the many joys of aerial pornography and with all the possibilities.  Again, the red wings have no modesty.  And sometimes it’s the old “out on the limb” maneuver.  The rose breasted grossbeaks think they’re hot stuff.  The woodpeckers (no pun) are discrete.  The chickadees (not the W.C. Fields kind) do it in the leaves.  Nuthatches (don’t go there) must get a motel.

There was a turkey hen walked through one day.  She looked all over the place.  Horny or nesting?  I couldn’t tell.  No tom to be found; probably out doing tom things.   We also had a turkey buzzard fly up into the tree.  Talk about scattering birds.  But not for sex, there was a dead squirrel on the road, a tasty morselet.

What a way to start the day.  But enough of reality, time to see today’s spin from CNN on what the “bad guys” are up to and of course, how the Kardashian’s are doing.

Don’t blame me, blame a rainy spring, and, of course, blame the birds.

Friday, April 25, 2014

“In Defence of Inaction”

I think Dave Pollard sees it very well.
“In Defence of Inaction” by Dave Pollard

I have, of late, had a falling out with many of my fellow
'progressives', similar I suppose to that of Paul Kingsnorth, who is
being savaged  <> by Naomi Klein and others for giving up on the environmental movement and non-local activism, and by humanists for losing faith in our species' capacity for innovation and change.

I should say at the outset that I agree that our political and economic
and legal and educational and social systems are dreadful, unfair,
teetering, and totally inadequate to our needs. I agree that this is a
world of horrific inequality, inequitable and unjust privilege, massive
suffering, and outrageous patriarchy. I agree that corporatism and
corruption and propagandist media are rampant and destructive and
destabilizing. I agree that militarized police and torture prisons and
drone killing and massive global surveillance are repugnant and a
fundamental threat to our personal safety and security and the very
principles upon which our nations are founded.

And I fully acknowledge that the fact I'm white, male, boomer generation
and relatively wealthy provides me with enormous privilege compared to
others, including relative freedom of movement, freedom from fear of
harrassment and assault, and greater social, political and economic

But when I hear arguments that "we need" to stand up for our 'inherent'
rights and freedoms, and wrest 'control' of the levers of power from the
obscenely wealthy elite, and denounce and protest injustice and
inequality, and acknowledge and renounce our role as privileged
oppressors, as the first steps to a true social revolution in and
political and economic reform, leading, somehow, to a radical
redistribution of wealth and power, and a more just society, I am
reduced to despair.

I used to believe people, and perhaps some other creatures, had 'rights'
and 'freedoms'. I believed that someone was in control. I believed there
were answers to the predicaments we face.

But now I realize that there are no rights or freedoms. The concept of
rights and freedoms is a sop that the rich and powerful of this world
use to appease the fury and frustration of the poor and disenfranchised.
The 'granting' of rights and freedoms means nothing, because they can be and are taken away whenever those in power choose to do so, and are
simply ignored when they interfere with the exercise of power or
accumulation of wealth by those who allowed them to be granted.

We don't have freedom of expression, or speech, or assembly: Under the
current surveillance state I can be stopped, arrested, held indefinitely
and incommunicado, tortured, 'disappeared' or simply killed, by a drone
or in a secret gulag, whenever someone in power decides I'm a threat to
that power.

Likewise, there is no 'upward mobility' for just about any demographic
segment of our human population worldwide; most people are trapped,
socially and economically, right where they are, no matter what may
happen to the place where they live.

There is no true democracy, anywhere: the real decisions are made in
secret meetings between bought politicians (many of them in power
fraudulently or due to gerrymandering and other corruptions of the
'democratic' process), who represent only their rich and powerful
donors, and the bankers, lawyers and corporate executives. The 'laws'
and 'regulations' are just smokescreens to make it look as if the
people's interests are being considered.

There are no rights of recourse against corporate abuses: most
industries are oligopolies, and corporate law is designed to protect
them and their wealthy shareholders and executives from the wrath of
outraged citizens, while enabling these corporations to sue citizens who
pose any threat to their profits or 'leadership'.

All that's happened over the past three decades is that the illusion of
rights and freedoms has largely disappeared, as those with wealth and
power ratchet up the rhetoric that militarized police, torture prisons,
ubiquitous surveillance and the oppression of dissent are 'necessary'
for public safety and security (especially the safety and security of
the rich and powerful).

There are no rights or freedoms. There is only power, and its exercise
in the interest of further enriching the rich and further concentrating

I used to be outraged and angry about all this, but now I'm just letting
it go. It's just too easy to see this as a moral struggle, as a fight
against pathology, greed, and tyranny. I don't think it's that simple. I
think everyone's really trying to do what they believe is best, not only
for their loved ones but for everyone. I know some of these people, and
their stubborn, destructive wrong-headedness is completely
understandable to me (from their strange but deeply-held worldview).

Increasing concentration of power doesn't mean is that there is an
'elite' in control of everything in our society. Vast wealth and power
does not translate to control, especially in a world where all our
systems are collapsing simultaneously: our economic systems, running on the fumes of belief in perpetual industrial growth; our nearly-exhausted energy and resource systems, utterly dependent on ample and cheap oil (one barrel of oil replaces /12 person-years/ of labour, and we
currently use /100 million barrels/ per day); and our climate systems,
which have long passed the tipping point to catastrophic change
comparable to that of the 'ice ages' (though in the opposite temperature

The rich and powerful are as much prisoners of these massive, complex,
crumbling systems, as much cogs in the machine, as the rest of us: they
just get better wages and benefits than the rest of the inmates, and
will until the systems fall apart, at which time they'll be no better
off than anyone else.

No one is in control. The enemy, if there is one, is not a cabal of
elites, but a set of co-dependent collapsing systems that every one of
us has a vested interest in trying (insanely) to perpetuate. Systems we
have all helped co-create and are almost all dependent on.

David Korowicz, in his study On the Cusp of Collapse
explains how our massively complex global human systems are far beyond the control of any coordinated group of people:

Our daily lives are dependent upon the coherence of thousands of direct
interactions, which are themselves dependent upon trillions more
interactions between things, businesses, institutions and individuals
across the world. Following just one track; each morning I have coffee
near where I work. The woman who serves me need not know who picked the berries, who moulded the polymer for the coffee maker, how the municipal system delivered the water to the cafĂ©, how the beans made their journey  or who designed the mug. The captain of the ship that transported the beans would have had no knowledge of who provided the export credit insurance for the shipment, who made the steel for the hull, or the steps in the complex processes that allow him the use of satellite navigation. And the steel-maker need not have known who built the pumps for the iron-ore mine, or how the oxygen for the furnace was refined.

We cannot hope to 'fix' these systems through political or economic or
legal or educational reform, or putting some more democratically-minded group 'in control' of them. Fighting for possession of the steering
wheel of a car careering over a cliff cannot produce useful change. Even
trying to bring down our economic systems before they do even more
damage is probably futile: It's unlikely to significantly accelerate,
mitigate or delay the inevitable collapse, and I'm not sure its effect
on catastrophic climate change would be substantial either. There is
simply no point trying to change any of these systems; it's a waste of
time, and, as Buddha said "Our problem is we think we have time." But
some would insist we try anyway, so at least "we can say we tried". I
think that's a pathetic argument.

So here we sit, all of us, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, with
no real 'rights' or 'freedoms', no hope of 'reforming' massive,
self-reinforcing and entrenched systems utterly out of our control,
coming apart because they are totally unsustainable, and no credible
knowledge of what might work to even mitigate the imminent and
catastrophic end of the industrial 'growth' economy, the end of the
all-too-brief age of abundant cheap energy, and the end of a short few
millennia of astonishingly stable climate.

The question we must each ask ourselves, I think, is this: /If we
acknowledge that our systems and hence our civilization cannot be
reformed or 'saved', what can we do now that will make a real
difference, for the future, in our communities and for those we love?/

The insanely rational answer to this question, I think, is (a) probably
nothing, and (b) it's too early to know.

So if I seem impatient or annoyed when you ask me to be outraged or
supportive in your movement to reform civilization, I'm sorry. I think
it's too late.

I'm in the process of writing a book of stories of how all of this might
play out, just one scenario, the story of, in the short term, a Great
Migration of billions of people towards the poles in search of livable
habitat (what an amazing, terrifying and liberating journey that could
be!), and, in the longer term, the blossoming of thousands of local
communities, new and unimaginably diverse, self-sufficient, joyful and
utterly alive human cultures, whose total impact on the planet will be,
due to our much smaller numbers and minimal energy and technology
resources, pretty insignificant. I need to write such a new story to be
able to begin to let go of the old, civilized one.

Maybe that's not enough. Maybe there's more I could (I've stopped saying "should") be doing: learning new essential skills and capacities,
helping in the process of rediscovering how to build and live in
community together, healing myself and helping others heal from the
ravages of civilization's innumerable, constant and monstrous stresses,
and just trying to live a joyful, exemplary, modest and graceful life. I
may get around to these things. But for now I'm just writing, watching,
reflecting, trying to figure it all out.

It's too early and too late, I think, to do anything more.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I have been trying to understand the inaction worldwide to the convergence of various issues facing humanity and the earth today – population overshoot, clean water shortage, climate change, fossil fuel depletion, mining the last dregs of oil and natural gas, ocean acidification, ocean rising, species extinction, massive environmental degradation of life support systems, soil denaturing and loss, inequality, continual war to name a few important ones.

The quick and dirty.  There are no viable solutions unless everyone, I mean everyone, reduces their energy consumption, non-fuel mineral use, birthrate and pollution of air, water and soil.  This ain’t gonna happen!

We will do anything and everything to maintain our present personal level of energy use and the comfort it affords us.  We will do anything and everything to the earth, to other people and even to ourselves to continue on this path.   And if we don’t have the energy level we see others have, we will do anything and everything to the earth, to other people and even to ourselves to attain that level.  The proof of this assertion is simple; we are doing it.
From: The Curmudgeon Report

Many parents work hard to assure their children’s future.  Many if asked would give their lives for their children and grandchildren. If a culture/society is at threat from outside forces, starvation or environmental stress, this support for the next generations falls by the wayside.  However, in general, mothers, fathers and grandparents will protect the future of their offspring.

We are surrounded by a litany of threats to the future - fracking, deep ocean drilling, tar sands; pollution from mountain top removal, destruction of natural resources, dying oceans, climate disasters of epic proportions, dangers of genetic engineering; corporate control, and population overshoot to name a few of the less subtle. Some would have more technology to combat these problems or at best forestall them.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Albert Einstein

For citizens of developed nations, this is about lifestyle – energy and other resource consumption – will we change our lifestyle for the children and grandchildren’s future?  NO.

And now for a rousing chorus of “Yes, but” from all the morally and ethically indignant.  .  .
There is no legitimate “Yes, but .  .  . 
You can’t get there (wherever there is) from here!

If we don’t do this equitably globally, there will be riots and revolts.  Oh, we aren’t even beginning to do it equitably.  Oh, there are riots and revolts. 

This from a friend:  I asked her how she handles her impact of the earth.  This is a person who has lived off the grid for decades. She is a major and very knowledgeable gardener.  Makes maple syrup, cans, splits wood, and has done this for decades. She is an amazingly capable person and is wonderfully honest and sincere.

Hi John, to try to answer your question.....I can't and don't want to live a life in a "cave". To totally disconnect from society, which is pretty much what you would have to do to live without any use of fossil fuels, is something I wouldn't be able to do. To give up driving, never seeing some of my children or grandchildren is not something I'm willing to do. Do I realize I am contributing to greenhouse gas when I drive or God forbid, fly? Yes. How do I wrap my head around that fact that I am not fixing the world? That I am adding to the problems of the world? I try to make good decision when I use resources. Example, I don't go to town for just one thing....usually. Try to combine chores. I feel good that I have renewable energy on our house...sure it took mining to get the products to create the panels but what is the alternative?.....coal fire power plant for my lights (and etc etc) or sit in a cave? I guess I'm choosing the lesser of two evils. I'm far from being perfect! but I feel the work I've done, and the life style I've chosen to live is respectable. I hope it has done some good...some where or for someone. I try to give back more than I take.....but that is very debatable if scrutinized carefully. I guess I'm saying I'm doing the best I can with the talents I have. And when the hammer comes down???? I guess I'll play it by ear. And be on the team that tries to help others and carry on/survive/ remake a life....and not be on the marauders team. Almost everything we do involves fossil fuels. I'm going to the eye doctor tomorrow....burn gas to get there...she'll exam my eyes with equipment that took fossil fuels to make. I'll probably have to get new glasses that took fossil fuels to make. Not to mention the education the doctor got....all the resources involved in that.... But what is the alternative?...stumble through life? Not be a very full functioning person?  Like I said before doing the best I can...trying not to be too lazy, too blinded, too indifferent. Not really denial....not really who gives a f--- but....       Marcia

From me.
Marcia - I would have answer with similar reasons.  I would add:
1. I enjoy the power that my world affords me.  I know it makes me at the top of the heap energywise.  I know it entails a certain sense of privilege.  
2.  I enjoy the comfort my world affords me.  Even when I lived off-off-the grid, I was still floating on top of a sea and bed of fossil fuels that made it possible.  I wasn't initially aware of that but it slowly dawned on me.
3. I enjoy preparing for the eventuality of climate and peak change.  I know deep in my gut that it won't be pleasant and know that there is not a damn thing I can do to change it.  And there never was, it is the nature of the beast (life that is) see:
4. I have had quality medicine and medical. I would not be alive without them.
5. Relatively safe food, clean water and access to them.
6. I feel I have been blessed with living in the age I have and where I have.  Life has been open with many possibilities.  My generation may well be the last to have such access.
7. All of the above and I am truly at the end of life for myself.  And am having a ball.

We are on a trajectory that simply is what it is.  All studies show this is what happens to "civilizations".  It just has never been this global and consequently this dire.
It is tough for you and Kathy (my partner), with children and grandchildren that you love and would do anything for, to realize the inertia of this train we are on.

Several excellent books and articles many with excellent bibliographies:

Brafman, Ori and Brafman, Rom.  2008.  Sway: the irresistible pull of irrational behavior.  Doubleday. N.Y.

Fonseca, Eduardo Giannetti da.  2000. Lies we live by : the art of self-deception. St. Martin’s Press. New York.

Goleman, D.  1985.  Vital Lies Simple Truths.  Simon and Schuster. N.Y

Heffernan, Margaret.  2011.  Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril.  Walker.  N.Y.

Hirstein, William.  2005.   Brain fiction : self-deception and the riddle of confabulation. MIT Press. Cambridge, Mass.

Janoff-Bulman, Ronnie.  1992.  Shattered Assumptions.  Free Press. New York.

Kurzban, Robert.   2010.  Why everybody (else) is a hypocrite.   Princeton.

Lifton, Robert Jay and Greg Mitchell.  1995.  Hiroshima in America: A Half Century of  Denial.  Avon. N.Y.

Lockard, Joan S. and Paulhus, Delroy L. Editors.   1988.  Self-Deception: An Adaptive Mechanism.  Prentice Hall.  New Jersey.

Mele, Alfred R.  2001. Self-deception unmasked.   Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J.

Nicholsen, Shierry Weber.   2002.  The Love of Nature and the End of the World.  MIT Press.   Cambridge.

Norgaard, Kari Marie.  2001.   Living in Denial.  MIT.  Cambridge.

Spector, Michael.  2009.   Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives.  Penguin.  N.Y.

Tavris, Carol and Aronson, Elliot.  2007.   Mistakes Were Made (but not by me).  Harcourt. N.Y.

Triandis, Harry Charalambos.  2009. Fooling ourselves : self-deception in politics, religion, and terrorism.  Praeger Publishers. Westport, Conn.

Trivers, Robert.  2011. The Folly of Fools.  Basic Books.  N.Y.

Twerski, Abraham J.  1997.  Addictive thinking : understanding self-deception.  Hazelden. Center City, MN.

Vaillant, George. 1992.  Ego Mechanisms of Defense: A Guide for Clinicans and Researchers. American Psychiatric Pub.

Watzlawick,P.; Weakland, J; and Risch, R.  1974.  Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution.  Norton.  N.Y.

Zerubavel, Eviatar.  2006.  The Elephant in the Living Room.  Oxford. London.   

The Many Faces of Denial by Paul Chefurka

In Defence of Inaction by Dave Pollard