See more articles, reviews, fiction and poetry, including more of my writings, at group blog PLUTO'S REALM.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

"Post-Oil", Jim Lydecker Guest Blog

I've been posting Jim Lydecker's stuff here for since May, 2007; check out the archives for the older posts . I came to realize a long way back that everything he says here is undeniably true, except for those lost in a delusional haze, or those who have a vested interest in fostering that haze in others. I got this one Thursday night and it ruined my whole evening, because this whole thing is staring us right in the face, much closer than we expected, and even the average citizen is starting to get it.

I don't necessarily agree with Jim's "solution" at the end; it would be temporary at best. No, the drain's wide open. There is no solution. Also, I don't know about the sequence of the Iraq pullout and censure in the World Court, though it's not that unlikely The OPEC cut-off is quite likely to occur as stated, as are the consequences

Thanks to Jim for keeping up on the research; I have neither the heart nor the inclination. This imminent future is why I do what I do, and why I think it's so important that it be done right. But before I take it from there, here's a dose of reality.


As most of you know, for the past 10 years I have been writing regularly in the Napa Valley Register. In the beginning it was mostly about national/international politics and economics.

I would probably have stuck to those themes had it not been for a hot summer day in 2004. On that day a woman I was dating and I decided to go to the Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma where The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream was playing. The filmmakers were in attendance and were to have a question and answer period after its showing.

I knew next to nothing of Peak Oil before the screening. However, from the credits on I absorbed every fact and quote put forth. By the end of the film it was as if a brick hit us. We were both so depressed we did not stay to meet with the filmmakers but instead went back to our apartment in silence.

I recommend this film to everyone. It started me on my path in trying to understand as much as I can about Peak Oil, resource depletion and the consequences our industrial civilization faces due to our decision to turn blindly away from the biggest crisis man will ever face.

On the Internet I found that Peak Oil was nothing new, but something the government and various institutions have been studying since the late 60s. Several of the sites that blew me away were Life After The Oil Crash (, Wolf At The Door ( and Die Off ( The latter is a site that has links to several hundred government studies that provide evidence to what we are to expect to get through Peak Oil unless the overall population of the world is not reduced by 90-95%.

Looking into our future was fascinating, frightening and depressing.

On January 7, 2005, the Register published The End of the Road? To this day it remains, I believe, my most powerful essay. (It can be found at

Three and a half years later, it is more powerful and current than ever.

However, it was just the beginning of many. Since then I have written a flurry from the Register and have had others published by the New York Times, TruthOut, the Press Democrat and various scientific and ecological/environmental journals.

Most in the beginning, such as Of Peak Oil, global warming and the economy ( and Overpopulation: Partying as the iceberg looms (, were considered very negative in nature at the time. Later brought such essays such as Grim worldview from the deck of the Titanic
( and Overpopulation and Peak Oil: The perfect storm ( which were considered even more so.

Each essay over the years made even more dire predictions. And each prediction came true before I thought.

Examples are:

-I thought world Peak Oil production took place in November, 2005 when 2003 is now considered the accurate date.

-I originally felt Middle East would peak in 2012. We are now finding out that the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia , went over the peak in 2005.

It is not as if we were not warned. No less than such experts as Mathew Simmons, head of the world’s largest energy investment bank, have been screaming the loudest about Peak Oil since the mid-90s. Simmons is also the personal oil advisor to the Bush and Cheney families.

And hate him as most of us do, Cheney gave speeches from 1994 on warning about the soon-to-collapse supply of oil.

While I don’t consider myself an expert on oil, I am the most knowledgeable person I deal with daily on the subject.

These things I know:

-The original estimates of the world supply of crude at 2 trillion barrels were accurate. And we know we have used nearly 1.3 trillion barrels since 1851 giving us a tad less than 800 billion barrels left.

-What is left is going to be exponentially more expensive and difficult to extract.

-The world’s thirst for the stuff is about 86 million barrels a day, and increasing. (Do the math… 30 years from now and we’ll be asking, What happened?)

-The problem is not 'running out,' but when the world's demands can no longer be met.

-The only reason oil production is not increasing to keep demand from outstripping supply is that all producer’s fields, from Russia to the Middle East, are collapsing quicker than imagined.

-Every new field to be exploited is nothing more than the proverbial drop in the bucket. For example, if you could magically move all the oil left in Alaska (ANWAR included) to be used in America exclusively, we would run through it in less than 6 months.

-The decline of world oil production will affect people in more ways than any other event in human history.

As I wrote in The End of the Road:

No substance has been more interwoven into life as oil. Without it civilization will unravel. While 20-30 percent of oil is refined for gasoline, the majority is used for drugs and pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, electricity generation and everything plastic.Oil made it possible for humans to exploit resources basic to civilization in volumes never before seen. We've already depleted the Earth of its surface found, high grade resources. Those that remain need oil and high technology to be mined.

I then added:

No economy is more at risk to oil depletion than ours. Without growth we no longer can make due on the interest on our national debt.Oil depletion means economic anarchy is on the way.

Are our leaders aware of this?

In another Register essay I asked this question and wondered:

-Are our leaders blissfully totally clueless?
-Are they aware but just hoping we can get through this crisis “fingers crossed?”
-Or are they aware of the problem but know there is nothing we can do, so why disturb the masses?

My answer was all of the above though the latter now makes more sense. Last week on Face the Nation, people no less than George Will, David Broder and Jim Cramer were discussing why the price of crude is entering stratospheric levels. They said the problem has nothing to do with speculation but simply that demand outstrips supply. That, and a large unmanageable population.

All admitted they felt there is no way out.

I agree.

On every format, from the Internet to live speaking engagements to one-on-one debates, I have spoken about whether something is coming down the pike to rescue us from the demise of oil. This is not the place to dialogue this, but I am telling you, there is not.

As Matthew Simmons says:

Economists and politicians love to say once the price reaches a certain level, we will invent our way out of this. For the first time, scientists and physicists are asking, Like how?

As government studies predict, we are looking at societal and civilization breakdown around the corner. We are talking mass migrations, starvation, disease and a die-off of biblical proportions. Peak Oil will cause a sheer magnitude of problems unlike any before.

This is happening as I predicted. However, like the filmmakers of The End of Suburbia, I was dead wrong about how fast it is barreling down on us. It is literally right around the corner.

An interesting fact of interest: Back in 1997, two independent studies, one by the CIA and the other by Osama bin Laden, asked the question, At what price per barrel will the US economy be shattered?

Both arrived within two cents of each other: $176.00.

We are currently at $144 and the price seems to jump daily. Goldman Sachs, which has been incredibly accurate since the 1990s, predicts $200 before the end of the year.

$200 a barrel means over $10 a gallon of gasoline. This is only the tip of the iceberg since the price of every product we purchase is directly influenced by the price of crude.

The most oil intensive industries? Agriculture and pharmaceuticals, and they are just the beginning.

In a book I am writing, I ask what will happen if we pull out of Iraq ? My answer is that chaos will be the rule of the area with Iran taking over southern Iraq while the north will be controlled by the Turks.

We can then expect to be dragged into the World Court for war reparations, which now are estimated to be in excess of $9 trillion.

Think this is far fetched? The Bush Administration has said we are no longer compelled to answer any decision issued by the World Court . They knew this was coming.

The next step will cripple us: OPEC will cut us off and no longer accept dollars for oil. The latter will bankrupt us overnight.

Society breakdown will reign in America . Think about all the people in places like Southern California where they grow no food, have no natural resources (i.e., water) or energy. Southern California will make Somalia during the 90s look like a walk in the park.

How do we survive?

There is only one place in America to turn to and it is the place all the original titans of Peak Oil have relocated to: Oregon and Washington State .

The Pacific Northwest generates more hydroelectric power than the rest of the country combined. The Columbia River also provides enough irrigation to allow the eastern half of the states to grow enough food for themselves, and then some.

They are relatively isolated which is important to survival in a post-oil crisis. Every study on survival after Peak Oil maintains that you need to be as far away as possible from the masses.

They have small, manageable populations. (They are also educated.)

There are deep water ports offering access to the Pacific.

The two states have most natural resources necessary to allow an economy, though contractive, to exist without serious disruption to the standards of living.

The one resource they do not have? Oil.

The simple answer to this is: Strike a deal with Alaska . Oregon and Washington would provide Alaska with food Alaska can not grow in exchange for oil they do not have.

How would you defend the Pacific Northwest from the rest of the nation where societal collapse will ensue? You bring back the troops from the Middle East and have them defend their borders.

Is this outlandish? Absolutely.

But just a decade ago no one thought about the collapse of the world’s supply of crude oil. As we head into the era without oil, the only rule that will be followed is chaos.

Friends of mine ask if speculation in oil futures is worth considering and my answer is yes, you will make money.

But if you want to invest in your future, my answer is, Go Northwest.

Do you, your family and loved ones a favor and buy some land near Portland or Seattle .

Jim Lydecker
Napa, California
July 3, 2008

3 comments: said...

Jim Lydecker is one of those rare individuals with clarity of vision, coherence of mind and intellectual honesty to boot.

Steven Earl Salmony
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001 said...

I agree with Steve. This is scary and what Jim is saying about "looking into our future (is) fascinating, frightening and depressing."

Anonymous said...

Jim Lydecker is a rare person indeed, LOL....

His articles are all the same, just recycled 60 minutes!