CRACKERBARREL

UNDENIABLE

Feb.2012 All around us......attention must be paid...NO FRACKING !


Sept.2011 Many Jerseyans, NewYorkers and Pennsylvanians were among those who suffered - and some even died - in the post-Hurricane Irene floods this month.

There will be more and more severe storms year round, and there will be an increased flow of water from the mountains in spring and winter.
We should really be planning NOW for the climate conditions of 2050. As it is, we have climate chaos right now!

But an amazing number of Climate Change Deniers, And Proud Of It, hold public office in Sussex County. They deny global warming, climate change, science in general. They also swear not to raise taxes EVER. That's what you have to advocate, or at least advertise as your platform, in order to get elected to public office in these parts. You have to mock or ignore local scientists (at Rutgers, for instance).
You most certainly must oppose local environmentalists who plead for enforcement of environmental regulations, for mitigation measures and for climate change adaptation measures NOW.
You have to say "the enviros threaten to raise taxes." You have to be the kind of public officeholder who ignores and opposes the intelligent people who work hard to provide you and the public with important information. The only people you care about are your campaign donors.

Consider this: if you are an elected public official AND WON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IMPORTANT LIFE AND DEATH INFORMATION YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN, then WHY ARE YOU IN OFFICE? Are you there to prevent the release of important information to the public if that information might impede a campaign donor's plans to, for example, build housing on a flood plain? Plans to further deplete the aquifer? Plans to cut down more trees which buffer the wind and anchor the soil and are the lungs of The Earth, besides helping our own lungs function properly? Do you really think you can let one or two of your campaign donors block environmental measures which protect EVERYONE ELSE? To let them exhaust natural resources, as campaign donors have done across the Midwest, and to literally suck the life out of the land as campaign donors have done in the Southwest, which now alternates between floods and drought and wildfires?

Do you really think your Denial of climate change makes you look "pro-business" and makes enviros look "anti-business"? Good luck with that. Businesses will fail if they don't adapt to climate change, much less mitigate the damage, and bizfolk know that. For instance, businesses linked to cold weather might disappear in the next twenty years. Bizfolk have to deal with climate threats that make them vulnerable and will put them out of business if they don't mitigate/adapt.

Insurance companies understand their exposure to other people's risks - in fact, a few more major disasters could bankrupt the industry in the next decade of extreme climate events. The industry must turn away from maladaptive investments like luxury hotels and housing developments in flood areas , away from water-draining and tree-killing developments. Insurance, the biggest industry in the world, must act to influence companies and investments , encouraging climate-friendly technologies like solar power.

You can't put planning off until tomorrow and hope tomorrow doesn't come - because tomorrow does come. You'll be sorry if you didn't do everything you could to prepare for it. You'll be sorry you didn't admit that TAXES MUST BE PAID TO FUND A GOVERNMENT in a democracy.

You were elected to lead, to be the best informed, to avoid the unmanageable, to manage the unavoidable. Forget the constant grandstanding and fantasy rhetoric about planning for growth even as you sing-song about no new taxes. You were elected to realistically, scientifically plan for the future. That's what accountability and responsibility are all about. The vast majority of citizens understand this.
You'll be sorry you didn't treat the vast majority of citizens like grownups.

Tomorrow does come.
It might already be here.


Aug. 2005...The Age of Suburban "Development"...(revisited Aug.2011)

An ill-considered set of collective and individual choices were made at a particular point in American history, the mid-to-late 20th century, when circumstances seemed to suggest there were no limits to our quest for comfort, convenience and leisure.

Comfort, convenience and leisure - those three things are a poor basis for a country's value system, not to mention a very poor basis for its economy.

Now, in the wake of unbridled consumption, our country could be in for a long stretch of turbulence, disorder, social discontinuity and economic hardship.
How come?
Because there will be no more cheap oil.

No, we don't face a life without any oil whatsoever, at least not imminently.
We face a life without cheap oil, which is a big difference.
Social discontinuity and economic hardship are conditions that the human race has been through many times before.
For instance, Europeans at the turn of the century would never have conceived the degree of turbulence visited upon their societies and economies by two 20th-century world wars.
We are equally blind and clueless about what we will face in the 21st century.

In the 1980s the world's last great oil discoveries - the North Sea and Alaska's North Slope - came into production, softening oil prices.
These substantial non-OPEC sources tended to take pricing power and control away from OPEC.
The result was a temporary glut and a decade and a half of still-cheap oil which, despite the violent (but quickly forgotten) lessons of the 1970s oil crisis and rationing, fueled the suburban development craze - and revived the pre-'70s mania for gas-guzzling motor vehicles.
In the mid-to-late 20th century, the nation's wealth was poured into bad urban design and suburban sprawl.

But now the North Sea and Alaska bonanzas are officially over.
Both areas are technically in depletion.
In the years 2003 and 2004, there were no significant discoveries of any new oil.
Nobody seems to have pricing control anymore -- no country can open up the valves and increase the supply enough to goose down world prices.

Oil production in the OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia, looks like it will peak much earlier than expected.
Kenneth Deffeyes, the Princeton professor and former major oil company geologist, says 2005.
Colin Campbell, who was chief geologist (now retired) for Shell, and the French company Total-Fina-Elf, says 2007.
The U.S. Department of Energy has released a report saying that "peak oil" is for real.

The end of cheap oil is upon us.
Complex systems we depend upon -- especially world finance and the infrastructures of relative peace between nations -- will wobble in anticipation of the peak.

The end of cheap oil - which fueled our suburban comfort/leisure/convenience society - will mean a degradation of conditions in everyday life for many, many of us.

So it is that our primary mission in Iraq has been to "stabilize" the region of the world - Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia - where most of the remaining oil reserves exist, and to be able to continue to enjoy a reliable stream of oil imports from people who hate our guts.

Just to obtain oil at market price, we may exhaust and bankrupt ourselves fighting people who think we are out to steal their oil and who deepdown truly passionately hate Western civilization and democracy.

We'll have to come to grips with our extreme dependency on imported oil, and with the way we live in America.
But our car dependency and oil addiction is a self-reinforcing set of behaviors and habits that we dare not attempt to change - because if we do, there will be no American economy.

The American economy for the last two decades was all about the creation of suburban sprawl and accessorizing, furnishing and servicing it.
American pols have long acted (and feathered their own nests) as enablers to a society that has tremendously self-destructive, addictive habits.

The public has been convinced that this is what we all want: the easy motoring life of the 24/7 drive-in consumer utopia, where spending our money is the great purpose of life.

Although we - the public - are all complicit in perpetuating this clueless value system, there is no doubt whatsoever that President Bush and company well understood the peak-oil issue and its implications for our economy, and chose to not set the tone of a coherent national discussion about how we live.

President Bush and the intelligentsia of the Republican Party (as opposed to their cerebrally challenged "teabag" spawn)will have to answer for their failure to tell the truth about our predicament until it was way too late.
They have been stupendously irresponsible in failing to prepare the public for the hardships we face.
Unfortunately, the Democratic opposition was, if anything, equally irresponsible and clueless. John Kerry, for instance, said not a thing to really challenge the status quo.

Alternative energy proposals are squishy at best, and many are still centered on perpetuating our car dependency.
Even so, it does not appear that any combination of alternative energy (or systems to run it) will allow us to continue running the U.S. in the manner to which we are accustomed.
Virtually all of the bio-fuel schemes require more energy going in than they end up putting out.
Hydrogen is essentially a hoax as it has been proposed.
Whatever so-called "renewables" we could use will be at the extremely small, local scale -- perhaps neighborhood or even household scale, where solar energy is concerned.

Meanwhile the Europeans, who are used to paying six bucks a gallon for gas, have very different ways of life and standards of living compared to ours.
They have cars but are not car-dependent, certainly not to the degree we are.
They did not destroy their towns and cities. We did.
They did not destroy their public transit. We did.
They did not destroy local agriculture or the value-added activities associated with it. We did.

So if Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia disappeared tomorrow, and crazed Wahabi fanatics took over, and the West was put under a new oil embargo, the Europeans would still be able to get around. We would not.

As it is, few Americans believed that the unemployment, "stagflation," and belt-tightening measures of the '70s would ever come again.
All those warnings about suburban development pressures on the fuel supply, the diminishing water supply, and the overstressed electrical energy supply were scorned by ambitious politicians, who appealed to the worst instincts of the Clueless And Proud Of It.
Now the big oil companies, awash in $$$$$, are poised to snap up the now-deregulated power companies and charge consumers more for a deteriorating electrical grid, especially now that Congress has passed the facilitating Energy Bill.

Meanwhile, many natural infrastructure systems of soil and water are on the critical list, and the electrical energy grid (fueled,of course, by oil and by our equally troublous natural gas supply) is nearing a state of emergency.

BTW, lest we forget - the Internet is only as good as the electric grid that supports it.

Our largest industrial cities might not work very well at all in an energy-scarce economy.
The giant suburban metroplexes (e.g. Phoenix, Las Vegas, and to an extent Los Angeles) might also generally enter a state of failure, especially those who are already experiencing problems with their water supply.
The Sunbelt States might suffer in direct proportion to the degree that they prospered and benefited from the cheap-oil blowout of the past several decades.
We might have to completely reorganize our trade infrastructures, since Wal-Mart and its imitators will probably not survive the end of the cheap-oil era.
The consumerist frenzy will be over. We will have far fewer things to buy.

The action in America will be in the smaller towns that are embedded in a surrounding countryside where agriculture is viable. Life is going to become a lot more local, and food production is going to occupy much more of our economy.
It is doubtful that our centralized schools with their yellow bus fleets will remain in operation many years from now. Whatever education there is might not go much beyond the equivalent of the eighth grade.

College education, where it continues to exist at all, will once again be an elite activity.
Many types of jobs might eventually cease to exist - and the commercial vocations of many of our countrymen (e.g., public relations executives, marketing directors, etc. etc. etc.)may be lost forever.
Some of our unemployable countrymen might eventually find a place in food production - but how that might shake out is a good question, given our domestic agricultural reliance on cheap migrant labor,to say nothing of our reliance on imported foodstuffs.

When all's said and done, people fortunate enough to live in rural areas, particularly where local agriculture continues, will fare better in the future than their cousins in the city - and much better than their amnesiac cousins in the suburbs, where Cluelessness is a way of life.

The infrastructure of suburbia was the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. It was deficient and problematic as a human habitat even apart from the question of its sustainability.

Now time has almost run out.
But the "visions" of greedhead politicians, real estate developers, and bizfolk who finance local political campaigns - usually all the same group of people, who enthusiastically continue to peddle endless refinements of suburban "economic growth" - are as irresponsible and clueless as ever. They have no compunction about worsening the emergency conditions previously caused by irresponsible clueless greedheads just like themselves.

The irrelevance of these narrow "visions" to the future lives of ordinary Americans is obvious in light of what scientists now agree is an impending, and permanent, global energy crisis.
In rural areas, the current craze for spending public money (on the pretext of boosting commercial "ecotourism," of all things) in the quest for suburban "amenities" like recreational complexes and scenic bike paths, etc. is absurd, if not tragic.

Bulldozing, clear-cutting, sewering, and groundwater depletion to construct ever more "lucrative" energy-and-water-guzzling suburban residential/commercial projects and the attendant "amenities" - on land where there were once forests, natural infrastructural systems and productive farms - cannot change a human living arrangement that has no future.

Because it is a living arrangement that depended on cheap oil, infinite water supply, easy automobile loans and plenty of electricity -
in short, it depended on our clueless, suburban-sprawl way of life.

~CCR 9/11



"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,
and that is not being talked about."    --Oscar Wilde

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