By Jim Lydecker on 11 July 2009 in the Napa Valley Register -
Image above: Political cartoon by Mike Luckovitch. From (http://politicalhumor.about.com/od/economy/ig/Economic-Cartoons/The-End-Is-Near.-j5B.htm)
The End is Coming, But Not Because of Climate Change!
Listening to several politicians on the news makes me wonder what planet they go home to at night. When asked what the most important issue is facing America today, they began arguing about Obama’s cap-and-trade energy bill and global warming as if the world’s immediate fate hangs on this issue. The fact of the matter is this: It does not.
Directly responsible for the success of agriculture and pharmaceuticals, it allowed the world’s population to increase from 1 billion in 1859 to 7 billion today. Without oil (of which there is no substitute), these revolutions will reverse causing mass starvation, rampant disease, wars, societal breakdown and a biblical die-off.
Ninety percent of the world’s population could be gone in less than 200 years. But don’t lose any sleep over this horrific scenario, as we have an immediate crisis in front of us that will bring the same ramifications, only quicker: The impending worldwide financial, fiscal and economic collapse. Most economists agree that “as goes America’s economy, so goes the world’s,” and most Americans feel ours is too big and powerful to fail.
Economist Nassim Taleb, author of the “Black Swan,” makes the point that anything as large as the economy will completely collapse when it weakens beyond a point. That tipping point was long ago. Think of our economy as a huge scaffold from which nuts-and-bolts and cross-bars have been removed. Yet the weight it is supporting, in this case the weight of the national debt, is increasing exponentially as we print money like there’s no tomorrow.
Instead of focusing on reducing the debt, the government is concentrating on stimulus packages that only inflate assets, stimulate nothing and deflate the dollar’s value. Revenues decrease on all levels so there is no way to address the ever-growing debt. It will only be a matter of time before the scaffolding crashes down. The recent destruction of$8 trillion of people’s net worth since 2007 makes a consumer-driven recovery impossible. And we have only seen the beginning of this disaster: Late August will bring what is now being referred to as the “fourth wave of foreclosures.”
Predictions are that it will be larger than everything that has preceded it combined, dropping real estate values another 50 percent in the next 18 months. Since January, more than six million jobs have been lost, most permanently. A recovery is not possible with such a huge, permanent welfare class existing on government handouts — handouts the government can’t afford. The Chinese know this charade can’t go on.
Five months ago they threatened to stop buying our debt until Hillary (of all people!) reassured them about our solvency. But did she? I believe she told them the truth: America is heading for bankruptcy.
Knowing this, the Chinese began binge-buying coal-and-oil fields, mines and multi-national corporations throughout the world before their excess dollars assumed the value of monopoly money. This began at the same time we started “nationalizing” American banking, insurance and auto industries.
On July 3, the Chinese demanded that the G-8 meetings place the dollar’s future on the agenda. The danger is that if the true value of the dollar is exposed and it no longer remains the world’s reserve currency, our economy will implode overnight. American societal collapse will commence. Resource depletion and economic collapse are nothing new.
Every civilization that has collapsed throughout history had done so due to their populations overshooting the carrying capacity of their land, natural resources and economies. (When you have finite resources, just the term “growth economy” is an economic oxymoron.) This is a simple concept: Population overshoot equals civilization collapse. The combined crises of overpopulation, resource depletion and economic collapse at the current levels are too great for any complex industrial civilization to survive.
As the global economy contracts, less wealth is spread around among more people lowering the standard of living. The wealthier the nation, the more it is affected. No country will be as hurt than the United States. Since few realize this awful reality is barreling toward, few will be prepared to do anything about it. At first, I expect there’ll be resource and currency wars to maintain the status quo, but soon we won’t be able to afford them.
By Paul C. Curtis on 17 July 2009 in The Garden Island News -
Image above: Archeological area off Hapa Trail to be developed into suburban sprawl. Photo by Juan Wilson
[IB Editor's Note: Randal Valenciano is the judge who approved the Superferry coming to Kauai. That, and his to decision to Green Light the Hapa Trail development by Stacey Wong, indicate he is no friend of Kauai.]
A judge Wednesday afternoon denied a motion for an injunction to prevent developers from conducting construction activities within 50 feet of historic Hapa Trail. Fifth Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano sided with the developers, the Eric A. Knudsen Trust, in a contentious case involving the historic trail that runs from St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Koloa to Po‘ipu Road through the heart of existing and under-construction resort developments. The church is where the paved Hapa Road ends and the unpaved trail begins.
Valenciano said David Kimo Frankel, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation attorney for Koloa Native Hawaiian Teddy Blake, did not make convincing enough arguments supporting the injunction. Valenciano cited the 1978 case, Life of the Land v. Ariyoshi, that he also used in support of Blake’s appeal for a temporary restraining order issued last week prohibiting any construction or land-altering activity on or within 50 feet of Hapa Trail until Wednesday’s hearing.
The three-pronged test:
The plaintiff is likely to prevail;
There will be irreparable damage if the injunction is not approved; and
Approving the injunction would benefit the public interest.
On each point, Valenciano was succinct. “I think this is an open case,” he said of the first prong, indicating he is not sure the plaintiff would prevail. While bulldozers preparing land for the Village at Po‘ipu Knudsen Trust development did knock down portions of the wall on one side of Hapa Trail while doing their work, developers also agreed to restore 2,000 feet of the wall, so Valenciano did not see irreparable damage, the second prong.
Finally, Valenciano could find no fault with state Department of Land and Natural Resources State Historic Preservation Division officials who brokered a deal with Knudsen representatives to approve a final historic preservation plan that allows breach of Hapa Trail for the main entrance to the subdivision while agreeing to take the developer’s offer to restore 2,000 feet of the Hapa Trail’s eastern wall. Reconstruction of the wall is for the public’s benefit, SHPD acted in the public’s interest, the third prong, said Valenciano, adding that different people with different agendas handled the negotiations on SHPD’s end.
Troubling to Valenciano was the trust’s position they can “do stuff or take actions without repercussions,” adding that there is a segment of the Kaua‘i community who hold Hapa Trail as important historically and spiritually. Still, granting an injunction is a “drastic remedy,” said Valenciano.
The case is Theodore K. Blake, Plaintiff, versus County of Kaua‘i Planning Commission, County of Kaua‘i Planning Department, Ian Costa in his official capacity as planning director, DLNR, Laura Thielen in her official capacity as DLNR chair, and Eric A. Knudsen Trust, Defendants. Blake, through Frankel, argued that SHPD required the trust to establish a 50-foot buffer between construction activities and Hapa Trail, but trust attorney Michael Tom argued that the 50-foot-buffer idea was “concocted” after the fact. Linda Chow, for DLNR, said trust developers are not abiding by terms of an interim protection plan, and do not yet have final approvals necessary to breach Hapa Trail for the purposes of the subdivision’s main entrance road.
“They don’t have a current right to breach the wall,” she said. Ian Jung, representing the County of Kaua‘i defendants, said the county is stuck in the middle, trying to act as a facilitator to balance the rights of landowners and protection of historic places. Who owns Hapa Trail?
Ownership of Hapa Trail, a dirt road bisecting present and planned Po‘ipu resort developments, was questioned in court Wednesday. While most had operated under the assumption that the trail is county property, an attorney for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said it is state property. “Hapa is still a state road. Legal title is with the state,” said Linda Chow, state deputy attorney general representing the DLNR.
If Hapa Trail is state property, plaintiff Theodore K. “Teddy” Blake can’t prevail in seeking the injunction because it sued the wrong entity, said 5th Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano. Blake sued the County of Kaua‘i, state DLNR and the Eric A. Knudsen Trust.
Ea O Ka Aina: Knudsen to Spoil Poipu 1/18/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Old Koloa Town Monkeypods 1/11/08
We want to hear directly from the people affected most - the families and residents of Kaua'i.
It is important that our focus is "bottom up" and "grass roots" rather than "top down".
By gathering and summarizing important grass roots information, we want to provide a valuable perspective to each other and to officials, businesses, groups, and organizations who might be able to help. In short, we are looking to help uncover problems and match them up with the local resources that can help.
This series of initial meetings is seen only as a beginning. Again, KKCR will provide its airwaves and web presence as a community resource to support an on-going dialog in addition to this initial effort.
With the help of community volunteers, KKCR will host and record / broadcast meetings in the following locations:
For years prior to this, a growing legion of analysts had been arguing that world oil production would max out around the year 2010 and begin to decline for reasons having to do with geology (we have found and picked the world’s “low-hanging fruit” in terms of giant oilfields), as well as lack of drilling rigs and trained exploration geologists and engineers. “Peak Oil,” they insisted, would mark the end of the growth phase of industrial civilization, because economic expansion requires increasing amounts of high-quality energy.
During the period from 2005 to 2008, as oil’s price steadily rose, production remained stagnant. Though new sources of oil were coming on line, they barely made up for production declines in existing fields due to depletion. By mid-2008, as oil prices wafted to the stratosphere, every petroleum producer responded to the obvious incentive to pump every possible barrel. Production rates nudged upward for a couple of months, but then both prices and production fell as demand for oil collapsed.
Since then, with oil prices much lower, and with credit tight to unavailable, up to $150 billion of investments in the development of future petroleum production capacity have evaporated. This means that if a new record production level is to be achieved, further declines in production from existing fields have to be overcome, meaning that all of those canceled production projects, and many more in addition, will have to be quickly brought on-stream. It may not be physically possible to turn the tide at this point, given the fact that the new “plays” are technically demanding and therefore expensive to develop, and have limited productive potential.
On May 4 of this year, Raymond James Associates, a prominent brokerage specializing in energy investments, issued a report stating, “With OPEC oil production apparently having peaked in 1Q08, and non-OPEC even earlier in 2007, peak oil on a worldwide basis seems to have taken place in early 2008.” This conclusion is being echoed by a cadre of other analysts.
Maybe it’s a stretch to say that the production peak occurred at one identifiable moment, but attributing it to the day oil prices reached their high-water mark may be a useful way of fixing the event in our minds. So I suggest that we remember July 11, 2008 as Peak Oil Day.
We are now approaching the first-year anniversary of Peak Oil Day. Where are we now? The global economy is in tatters, yet oil prices have recovered somewhat (they’re now about half what they were in July 2008). World energy consumption is down, world trade is down, the airline industry is shrinking, and most of the world’s automakers are on life support.
It is too late to prepare for Peak Oil—a year too late, in fact. Now the name of the game is adaptation. We are in an entirely new economic environment, in which old assumptions about the inevitability of perpetual growth, and the usefulness of leveraging investments based on expectations of future growth, are crashing in flames. Even if economic activity picks up somewhat, this will occur in the context of an economy significantly smaller than the one that existed in July 2008, and energy scarcity will quickly cause most green shoots to wither.
It is impossible to say what will happen in the future with regard to oil prices. Clearly, very high prices kill demand by undercutting economic activity. Thus it is possible that the barrel price of petroleum may never break last year’s record. On the other hand, if the value of the dollar were to collapse, then the sky’s the limit for prices in dollars per barrel.
It is easier to forecast the oil supply trend: though we’ll see level-to-rising production temporarily from time to time, in general it’s down, down, downhill from now on.
Even though Peak Oil is now in the past, its annual commemoration on Peak Oil Day may serve an important purpose by reminding us why our economy is shrinking, and by focusing our thoughts on ways to facilitate the transition to a post-petroleum world.
What are some appropriate ways to commemorate Peak Oil Day? I’d suggest spending time in nature, engaging in a 24-hour oil fast, or organizing a neighborhood bicycle parade and solar-cooker bakeoff.
Mark your calendar. What will you be doing on July 11?
Help us "celebrate" Peak Oil Day by signing our petition.
Alakai, the first vessel to be built and delivered to Hawaii Superferry by Mobile's Austal USA, arrived at Lambert's Point Docks Inc. on Tuesday, while its sister ship, Huakai, is scheduled to leave late this week and arrive in Norfolk the middle of next week, according to Susan Clark, MARAD spokeswoman.
They had been moored at Mobile's Atlantic Marine shipyard, which is owned by former U.S. Navy Secretary John Lehman. Lehman was until May the primary investor in the Hawaii Superferry venture...
Clark said MARAD is now weighing all its options for the ferries, which include sale or charter.
She said the ferries are being moved "for insurance purposes" as hurricane season gets under way. She could not say if the Navy planned to look them over while they're in Norfolk...
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the Pentagon would like to lease two high-speed ferries to fill the gap before the first of the JHSVs is built. When asked if the Hawaii Superferry vessels were candidates, a Navy acquisitions official told industry publication Defense News this week that they were...