- The forces of nature are poised to unleash a powerful
salvo of potential kill shots at America and even if powered by all the
oil in Iraq, we will be unable to stop it. Consider the following:
- Tens of millions lost at sea. Not from a terror attack
or in some sci-fi scareflick, but in their own homes when America's east
coast is swallowed up by a raging surge from the North Atlantic. That's
what will happen when the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma erupts in the
Canary Islands off the West Coast of Africa, sending a rockslide of biblical
proportions splashing into the sea. And scientists agree, it's not a question
of "if" but when.
- The threat from so called "mega-tsunamis" like
the one awaiting us from off the coast of Africa is not the only bad news
from nature. Residents of our planet's northern hemisphere have only recently
been learning about the catastrophic threat of super volcanoes like the
active one in America's own Yellowstone Park which has defoliated North
America and wiped out most of the world's food supply during its last and
most likely not its final eruption. But over the last several years though,
Geologists have told the UK Government that the country risks being hit
by a giant wave of water that could destroy many coastal communities,
- "Experts at University College London (UCL) have
contacted the science minister Lord Sainsbury to warn him that a collapsing
volcano in the Canary Islands could send a wall of water, hundreds of metres
high, sweeping out over the Atlantic Ocean".
- The devastation would be so widespread that not only
the East Coast of the United States and the Caribbean would be submerged
by the event but also even parts of Great Britain would succumb to the
disaster. According to the BBC,
- "Dr Simon Day, of Benfield Greig Hazard Research
Centre, UCL, says the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma
is unstable and could collapse during a major eruption. This might send
half a trillion tonnes of rock crashing into the sea at once".
- The BBC report goes n to place the magnitude of the coming
disaster into proportion,
- "Modeling by colleagues in Switzerland shows that
such a landslide could trigger a so-called mega-tsunami, which has an initial
wave height of 650 metres (2,130 feet) and moves out over the ocean at
speeds up to 720 km/h (450 mph)"
- ( <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/956280.stm>http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/956280.stm
- By the time such a wave crossed the Atlantic, its power
would have diminished but it could still wreak havoc up to 20 kilometers
(12 miles) inland.
- Can't happen? Think again. In 1958 a rockslide created
wave in Alaska more than 1,500 feet high, smashed into the coastal community
of Lituya Bay. The rockslide occurred along the eastern wall of the Gilbert
- "The mass of rock striking the surface of the bay
created a giant splash, which sent water surging to a height of 1720 feet
across the point opposite the inlet. This initial sheet of water stripped
all vegetation from the point, leaving a bare rock face."
- The mega tsunami from La Palma could devastate Americans
from Boston to Miami in one splash. In 1998, a huge tsunami, caused by
a landslide under water, submerged large parts of Papua New Guinea, killing
an estimated 2,000 people.
- Will these be the last days of America?
- Our Place in The Cosmos
- Many are already aware that our species is under siege
from comets, super volcanoes, mega tsunamis and not the least of all, ourselves.
We shouldn't be surprised about this. After all, we already know that our
planet's history is rife with species ending disasters. Otherwise we would
all be dinosaurs.
- According to acclaimed physicist Michio Kaku though,
the rise and fall not only of enormous reptiles but of intelligent life
as well may be common throughout the universe. We all must live in a troubled
neighborhood. In a universe full with black holes, comets, supernovae,
predatory virus, and runaway planetary forces, few civilizations survive
long enough to develop technologies to harness the cosmic and planetary
forces that will ultimately snuff them out.
- Kaku speaks about "the laws of planetary evolution":
- "Any advanced civilization must grow in energy consumption
faster than the frequency of life-threatening catastrophes (e.g. meteor
impacts, ice ages, supernovas, etc.). If they grow any slower, they are
doomed to extinction. This places mathematical lower limits on the rate
of growth of these civilizations."
- Kaku says that to survive requires growing sources of
energy just to keep pace with demand,
- "Specifically, we can rank civilizations by their
- And America leads our world in energy consumption. Unfortunately,
we derive most of our energy from a commodity that we don't have enough
of, oil. According to some, we can begin to find the alternative resources
to build a secure energy future right here within our borders.
- But others, already invested in the infrastructure of
the past have another plan for us. What they don't have for themselves,
they can just steal from those who do.
- America's most giant corporations have Oil rich Islam
staring down the barrels of their hired guns. But while Exxon and Unocal
drool at the prospect of how they can best divie up the loot from what
may later be known as History's greatest armed robbery, it's time the rest
of us pause to think outside the box.
- Consider. Our planet's limited supply of oil was created
on earth millions of years ago and will eventually either run out or become
thermodynamically and economically worthless.
- And remember this. It takes energy to drill for oil let
alone refine and transport it for market. In order for civilization to
benefit from an energy resource, the finished product must be able to release
more energy when put to work, than was used to prepare and develop it.
As the easy to find oil is exhausted, the more difficult to extract oil
that remains is less useful. Eventually, despite advances in drilling technology,
the world's oil will become less attractive than available alternatives
or may simply become worthless as a source of useful energy.
- As that day approaches, we live in an America long since
petroformed by the oil industry from a land of independent family farms
and businesses, to a nation dependent like serfs on their lord, on the
barons of oil for everything from fuel to fertilizer. Today as we watch
without protest, a new Feudalism is being forged worldwide by their hired
guns, our indignation subdued by the prospect of fueling our SUVs with
cheap ill begotten oil.
- And we will kill for them.
- Finding the High Ground
- The high ground of the future is wherever the net energy
is. That's the energy we can put to work without having to expend much
existent energy to get it.
- It's a measurement that really matters. Kaku cites the
work of a noted astronomer,
- "In a seminal paper published in 1964 in the Journal
of Soviet Astronomy, Russian astrophysicist Nicolai Kardashev theorized
that advanced civilizations must therefore be grouped according to three
types: Type I, II, and III, which have mastered planetary, stellar and
galactic forms of energy, respectively. He calculated that the energy consumption
of these three types of civilization would be separated by a factor of
- Will we sustain ourselves long enough to reach even the
first rung on the ladder? Either we will or we will simply join the growing
list of extinct species found on our planet and thought to riddle the universe.
Kaku must think we have a long way to go just to get on the first rung,
- "A Type One civilization is one that controls the
energy resources of its planet. This civilization can control the weather,
prevent earthquakes, mine deep in the earth's crust, and harvest the oceans.
This civilization has already completed the exploration of its solar system".
- As we know from La Palma and Yellowstone, we will need
to control our own planetary forces or face certain extinction. But in
our present day reality, as we know it, controlling weather and completing
the exploration of our own solar system could be generations away, if we
sustain ourselves to that point. The energy consumed in getting there will
far outstrip the latent energy of our rapidly depleting fossil fuel legacy.
- But few at the top are thinking about that.
- A recent report by Alex Johnson of MSNBC that demonstrates
that our actions in the Mideast are tailored for an energy policy catering
not to the available resources on our table, but to the proprietary interests
of Big Oil and their lust for other people's resources. Johnson said,
- "The belief in some circles is that the heavy reliance
on foreign oil, including Iraqi crude, is factored into the White House
plans to take on Saddam."
- Some circles?
- Johnson of MSNBC quotes Randy Udall of the Community
Office for Resource Efficiency,
- "If you think of U.S. oil production as a six-pack
... of petroleum, four of the cans are empty. We're kind of a black hole
- Johnson also quotes George Sterzinger, executive director
of the Renewable Energy Policy Project,
- "There are technologies that exist now [that] could
replace looming shortfalls in fossil resourcesR&D has paid off"
- Truth? In the year 2000, U.S. energy consumption was
estimated at 10^2 quadrillion Btu, a staggering figure. Incredibly though,
more than 10 million more quadrillion units of solar energy hits the ground
on American soil each day than we used that whole year!
- We could build a better mousetrap. The ray's of the sun
could used to generate cost effective electricity, to grow biofuels, or
manufacture hydrogen to fuel vehicles. In a free market, they'd beat a
path to our door. Johnson wrote to his mainstream readers,
- "But, alternative energy advocates say, the game
is rigged. They complain that those shortcomings could be surmounted with
adequate federal support, and they accuse the government of talking a good
game but failing to deliver."
- Talking about Big Oil, Johnson pointed out,
- "Since Bush took office, his administration has
directed a total of $6 billion in subsidies toward conservation, fuel efficiency
and renewable resources, less than a quarter of the $27 billion it has
spent on fossil fuels, according to an analysis by The New York Times."
- So much for free enterprise. Fact is the deck is stacked.
Someone's already decided that what we don't have we'll just steal.
- Speaking to the mainstream, Johnson himself admits,
- "The U.S. energy challenges are much more grave
than the president, the Senate or the House has recognized, than anybody
has ever articulated to the American people."
- And civilization's need for energy may know no bounds.
Consider these words from Kaku,
- "A Type Two civilization is one that controls the
power of the sun itself. This does not mean passively harnessing solar
energy; this civilization mines the sun. The energy needs of this civilization
are so large that it directly consumes the power of the sun to drive its
machines. This civilization will begin the colonization of local star systems."
- And then what?
- "A Type Three civilization is one that controls
the power of an entire galaxy. For a power source it harnesses the power
of billions of star systems. It has probably mastered Einstein's equations
and can manipulate space-time at will."
- Forget about it.
- The Death Sentence
- Our present day oil economy, though more efficient than
steam or whale blubber, won't get us where we need to go and the forces
of the universe may not allow us the time to find the alternative. Unless
we do, our names and the names of our children will be written in some
virtual graveyard of forgotten civilizations; from dust to dust.
- And there are problems already within the event horizon.
- I learned from Jay Hanson's unrelenting study of the
oil industry (<http://dieoff.org/>http://dieoff.org ), that in the
'50s they could produce 50 barrels of energy for every barrel consumed
producing finished products for the market. By the nineties, the ration
had fallen to 5 barrels to 1. By the year 2005, the industry will just
break even-it will be necessary to use as much energy to produce any given
- Oil production peaked in the lower forty eight states
decades ago and even with the potential production of fields in Alaska,
we will still remain dependent on imports if we plan to continue selling
our big cars. Soon though, because of the thermodynamic costs, it won't
be logical to look for new oil in anywhere in the US because, even if you
could sell oil for $500 a barrel, exploring, drilling, and transporting
it to market would consume more energy than it would recover.
- The Oil companies already know this. They have to try
harder. They have long since outgrown the producing oil reserves in this
country and they now have literally set their sights on the low hanging
fruit in the Caspian Sea and the vast reserves of Iraq. Of course though,
even these thermodynamically rich resources won't be around forever amid
exponentially growing worldwide demand.
- Still Unocal, Halliburton, Exxon, and their off shore
clones have worked hard to install a national leadership to do their bidding
for them. They had to because the cost of doing business has gotten so
much higher. In this case though, they found a way to offset the high costs
of acquisition. They can get to the thermodynamically good stuff with taxpayer
payer subsidized munitions. Once at the oil patch, the rest will be child's
play. And they want to strike while the iron is hot.
- Fact is the oil companies have already recovered the
easy stuff. Oil is simply becoming more and more thermodynamically expensive
worldwide and now in order to survive, Oil companies need to concentrate
on the low hanging fruit, the "elephant finds", the ones found
in other people's countries.
- MSNBC's Johnson, quoting petro industry sources point
- "The U.S. economy runs on oil, and it does so because
it is cheap and convenient - 'it isn't any more complicated than that,'
an industry official said."
- Simple but sad. Through the miracle of petroforming,
competing energy sources aren't as versatile as petroleum. They even invented
a word for it. Johnson says,
- "They're not what the industry calls 'fungible,'
meaning they can't be used for a wide spectrum of applications".
- Like producing our food.
- The bad news is though, when the oil supply ultimately
fails, absent alternative technologies, the world's food supply will go
with it. But when it comes to developing alternative technologies though,
in a government controlled by former oil company kingpins, Johnson quotes
George Sterzinger, Executive Director of the Renewable Energy Policy Project,
as saying "policies don't move in that direction."
- Too bad.
- Kaku says,
- "Even an advanced civilization is bound by the laws
of thermodynamics, especially the Second Law, and can hence be ranked by
the energy at their disposal."
- In reality, because there is in only a dwindling supply
of energy that can be sucked from the well, absent an alternative, we will
be living in an "energy limited economy". Hanson offers this
- "An 'energy-limited economy' is one where more energy
cannot be had at any price. The global economy will become 'energy-limited'
once global oil production peaks."
- And that could happen soon but when it does, whenever
it does, it could mean more trouble than just lining up at the filling
station. Consider the problem facing agriculture. Hanson points out, <http://dieoff.org/page185.htm>http://dieoff.org/page185.htm
- "Food grains produced with modern, high-yield methods
(including packaging and delivery) now contain between four and ten calories
of fossil fuel for every calorie of solar energy."
- Hanson adds,
- "It has been estimated that about four percent of
the nation's energy budget is used to grow food, while about 10 to 13 percent
is needed to put it on our plates. In other words, a staggering total of
17 percent of America's energy budget is consumed by agriculture!"
- Again citing other sources, Hanson states,
- "By 2040, we would need to triple the global food
supply in order to meet the basic food needs of the eleven billion people
who are expected to be alive. But doing so would require a 1,000 percent
increase in the total energy expended in food production."
- Following the peak of oil production, absent an alternative,
- "It will be physically impossible -- thus economically
impossible -- to provide enough net energy to agriculture"
- Hanson adds grimly,
- "Obviously the death sentence for billions of people
has already been issued".
- The Type One Club
- The once and future lords of the realm, now stocking
their counting rooms with the gold from our pockets and soon they hope
from the black gold from beneath the oil fields of Arabia, may plan for
survival long enough for them to bear witness to a coming die off. The
demand for life sustaining resources will ultimately be balanced by the
supply and there will only be so much to go around. Organic farmer, Mark
- "Civilization will develop a new agriculture free
from the petro chemicals now used for its existence or time will run out
before we even understand what we have done to ourselves."
- And there's another danger. Kaku calls it the "Uranium
Boundary". We can build bombs that could end civilization, but we
are a long way from using nuclear power to produce any kind of clean net
energy. Today's fission based nuclear plants are net energy losers and
the more promising fusion technologies of tomorrow require many times more
energy to operate than they can currently produce. The problem is that
the development of civilization sustaining energy sources requires long-term
- It may just be though, that Unocal has already reasoned
that there's not going to be enough time or enough food to go around for
everyone, so it might as well be "them" that goes. They will
stock their cupboards with whatever they need to hunker down for the long
haul and they may even want to keep some of the rest of us around to till
their soil along the way.
- There are probably many among us that would be content
to go along for that ride. It's the old "them or us". If that
sounds good to you go for it!
- Otherwise face it.
- Allowing ourselves to steal oil from one another is just
the most recent demonstration of the lengths a desperate few will go to
remain in control. All the gasoline-fired engines in the world can't turn
back the tides of the ocean or divert the explosive fury of even the smallest
volcano. Sure, that privileged few might survive, for a while at least,
but for most of us, it just won't work.
- But that's all in the future right? In this the Age of
the Consumer Economy, we have been carefully conditioned to expect immediate
gratification. Given the right mix of consumer products, say remote controlled
cable TV and your favorite aspartame laced diet cola, we can trade worry
- Still, even school kids are taught that crime doesn't
pay. In the case of Unocal and their corporate collaborators though, it's
also a waste of our time. Granted that justice, though certain may not
always seem swift. But considering there's already an undiscovered comet
out there with our name on it, time may be the one thing that we just don't
have enough of.
- So for those not already numbed by neurotoxic consumables
or the info warfare waged upon us by our media and the elite brokers that
use them to convince us all will be OK if we just buy more of the products
that make their top investors rich, there will have to be another way.
- Although there may be enough oil left in the ground to
keep our SUV's speeding down the breakdown lanes of the world's highways
at least for a few more years, our chemical rockets and diesel engines
will no more re-excavate the slopes of the Cumbre Vieja volcano than take
humans to the reaches of our solar system.
- But we can rediscover the energy of sunlight, reform
agriculture, and develop an economy of efficiency. It may or may not be
too late but only by doing so, can we extend the lifespan of civilization
and even hope to gain admittance to some Type One Club of survivor civilizations.
Of course policies don't move in that direction though and we may just
be too preoccupied now to start doing so.
- In the meantime, by betting the farm on our dwindling
fossil legacy we will be burning the bridge between our geological history
and our long-term hope for survival. Along the way, our hands dutifully
locked in a stranglehold on the wheel, we leave ourselves vulnerable to
the broadside awaiting us around the next curve from the unimaginable forces
of planetary change that foretell our extinction.
- The shameless taking of cheap oil from Peter to give
to Paul will be making somebody else rich by the bloodshed of countless
others, our own progeny included, but it too will soon run out. Fool's
gold. When the party is over, some of us may be fat and sassy but there
will likely be a lot fewer humans in the world to bully around, untold
collateral damage on the home front, and little else to assure the survival
of our seed.
- The short score?
- For now at least, the petro chemical giants and the armies
they command have become our masters. They have petroformed our land to
forge a new feudalism from the ashes of the old realm from which they are
themselves descended. Today, as the dark clouds of war gather, they know
that the future world of humans will shrink and spasm but they will remain
safe, hunkered down in their castles, their cupboards stocked for the centuries
with the ill begotten gold of others.
- As for the rest of us. The vast riches of our once and
future masters will do us little or no good, save for some scraps that
fall from their tables. Though they are mighty, the explosive fury of their
bombs will pale compared with the unrestrained destructive forces of nature
that will be left poised to annihilate our planet.
- And we have been well trained to play our part. Eat,
drink, and be happy. Without dumb luck though, the finite fossil fuel legacy
of earth's past will not get us through tomorrow, when humanity might die.
- Kaku suggests that the universe is littered with the
corpses of civilizations that failed to reach the Type One high ground
of energy needed to counterbalance the unimaginable power of cosmic forces
that both create and destroy.
- Either we will divest ourselves of the oil-slicked bonds
that chain us to our addictions and to those that foster the illusions
needed to keep us dependent upon them, or we will perish.
- It will be one way or it will be the other.
- Merry Christmas.
- Mega tsunami poised to destroy east coast Similar wave
hit Alaska in 1958 Americans just now learning about super volcano in Yellowstone
Wave from rockslide killed 2000 in Papua in 1998
- Our place in the cosmos:
- Species ending disasters not new on earth Kaku thinks
they may be commonplace throughout universe Civilizations may come and
go It is possible for a civilization to survive catastrophes Survivors
master cosmic and planetary forces that threaten them Civilizations can
be classified by their use of energy We do not have enough energy to become
Type One Oil companies rebuilt America in its image and we are their serfs
We will kill for them
- Finding the high ground:
- Net energy is the high ground of the future America is
out of net energy Oil companies want the easy pickins because that is where
the juice is America has become a black hole for energy Our energy policy
is tied only to the interests of the Oil Companies
- Death Sentence:
- Oil companies need net energy sources American oil is
too thermodynamically expensive The oil companies will take what they don't
have Our economy has been built on their products and we are now captive
The oil companies want to remain in control Our food supply depends on
oil energy When the oil supply goes people will die off from starvation.
- The Type One Club:
- Either we will divest ourselves of the oil companies
or we will not sustain our seed.