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a commentary by Perry Arnett – 18 April 2007


1) most members of Western Industrial Civilization are about to enter a ‘Bottleneck’ of historical magnitude and significance;

2) a confluence of various events is acting to cause the Bottleneck;

3) some of those events are: the peaking of production and ultimate decline of cheap, readily available exosomatic energy resources; the economic bankruptcy of nations; the depletion of water, soil, critical minerals, sea life; etc.

3.1) The entire basis upon which Western Industrial Civilization is built, — growth, and ‘Capitalism’, as a form of political economy, is based on the theoretical construct of ‘perpetual resource discovery, acquisition, development and exploitation’; and thus, as finite resources decline and ultimately deplete — as they must, capitalism and perpetual growth must decline and ultimately cease also!

4) humans are but one of numerous life forms and follow the same biological laws as do those other life forms;

5) humans thus, have no more probability for ‘perpetual existence’ than do other life forms;

6) the central banks of numerous nations have run the printing presses so fast and so long of late, that the world is awash with ‘liquidity’ (some 18-24% increase globally during 2003/2006), such that it allows false price-sensing for things like stocks and real estate; but few realize that the more dollars they hold the less they are worth; thus, there exists an intellectual disconnect for many between one’s real economic status/lifestyle, and one’s perceived economic status/lifestyle. This makes global economic collapse more probable than most realize.

7) “international resource wars” — wars fought to secure for the victor natural recourses — have begun in earnest, and the preemptive subjugation of weaker nations by other nations is now part of the permanent natural resource acquisition and exploitation scenario;

8) since some categories of weapons are so cheap (for their perceived ‘benefit’), these wars will be fought with ANY weapons available, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and the prospect for Nuclear, Chemical or Biological ‘Winter’ is more imminent than ever before;

9) while some individual humans will of course pass through the Bottleneck, most humans, and their highly complex cultures, civilizations and societies will not;

The quality of water, food, crops, soil, air, have all deteriorated during the past 50 years or so and at such a rate, that many parents are today, probably more well nourished than are their kids, and they are probably more well nourished than are their kids!; so that the diminution, and lack of general intellect, self-discipline, will power, delayed gratification, and the increase of antisocial and criminal behaviors, diseases-of-civilization, etc., — all are probably due to fossil-fueled exponential population increase, and the consequent disastrous effects of those populations on the environment.

Those best equipped to survive the coming collapse are those with ‘mongrel genes’, hardiness to disease, and ruggedness of constitution; — NOT the rich, the privileged, the educated, the well to do! Some few will make it — most will not!

There will be a vast reduction of human populations from present numbers down to something FAR BELOW ‘carrying capacity’, i.e. LESS than 50 million or so globally, before population numbers begin to rise again to “optimal carrying capacity”.

Lifestyle standards are devolving NOW (as they have for most since ~1979), and they will continue to devolve until within say, five to seven years (2012/2014), when life will be much different for most from what it is today.


Two Key Premises Regarding the Immediate Future

a) the “effective” rate of depletion of “all [petroleum] liquids + NG” [natural gas] will continue to RISE in such a manner that end users, will, this year or next, see effective world “all liquids + NG” depletion rates running at ~15% per annum or more; and,

b) as a corollary and consequence, the severe reduction and loss of grid-supplied electricity to industrialized nations will bring down most all world telecom, banking, credit, governance, etc.; thus, ALL aspects of THIS Industrial Civilization as we know it, will severely decline, and (for all intents and purposes) will stop within a very few years.


Analysis and Proofs:

1) Current “all liquids + NG” depletion rates running at 15% per annum (or more) means the effective end of the ready availability of cheap fossil-fueled energy resources (except some coal) in seven years or so, i.e. ~2014!

2) The loss of liquid fossil fuels will contemporaneously cause the loss of coal also. Think ‘trains’:

Coal-hauling trains (in the U.S.) run on diesel fuel (not coal — or anything else).

Trains haul coal from the mines to coal-fired electrical generating plants, in many cases, hundreds of miles from the mine mouth.

Depleting oil production means less diesel fuel with which to run coal-hauling trains.

Fewer coal trains running means less coal delivered to coal-fired electrical generating plants — per unit of time. [There is only so much rail trackage and coal-loadout infrastructure currently available. What prudent investor wants to build more?]

Coal-fired electrical generating plants produce ~54% of the electricity in the U.S.

Less coal delivered to those generating plants means less electricity generated and fewer oil refineries operating, thus producing even LESS diesel fuel!

Less electricity generated means less electricity available for use and consumption by industry and individuals.

The same principle applies also to coal-hauling trucks and river barges.

Per-capita energy use defines a civilization. Thus, as Richard Duncan suggests, electrical blackouts and brownouts will occur, having been DIRECTLY caused by declining oil production.

Thus, per-capita energy use must continue to decline as it has since ~1979.

«Other factors remaining constant, culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased. … We may now sketch the history of cultural development from this standpoint.» — Leslie White, “White’s Law,” 1949

3) A projected depletion rate of ~15% per annum equals ~seven years [1/15 = 6.6], or year 2014/2015 for year 2007 lifestyles to devolve back to ca. 1886 or before lifestyles. Circa ~1886 is an arbitrary date chosen to represent the time at which liquid fossil fuels generally began to create ‘modern’ Western lifestyles, and to allow the creation of this Industrial Civilization. When liquid fossil fuels are gone, lifestyles must of necessity, retrograde back to that of a prior time fueled by something other than liquid fossil fuels.

One can have his “time-to-collapse” interval however he wants it! That is:

An annual depletion rate of 2% allows roughly 50 years for all of a resource to deplete, (and for one to get one’s mind around the concept of the import of that event.) An annual depletion rate of 3% gives one 33 years.

4% gives one 25 years.

5% gives one 20 years.

6% gives one 16 years.

7% gives one 14 years.

8% gives one 12 years.

9% gives one 11 years.

10 % gives one 10 years.

11% gives one 9 years.

12% gives one 8 years.

13% gives one 7.6 years.

14% gives one 7 years; and,

An annual resource depletion rate of 15% gives one just ~6.6 years until the energy resource is, for all practical purposes, GONE! We must remember that we are talking here about the continuance or the cessation of this fossil-fueled Industrial Civilization — NOT patching joints on sailing boats on the shores of the Black Sea.

We should also remember, that as more liquid fossil fuels are depleted, the depletion rate per annum will continue to INCREASE to 50% and higher in the final years, until the resource is ultimately (for all practical considerations) 100% depleted, thus ANY time period one chooses will be drastically shortened as it approaches its own end.

Pick a number! YOU pick the period of time that you would like to give yourself for accepting reality, and realizing the inevitability of the event. One can pick a false low depletion rate and attempt to fool oneself into denying the inevitability, or one can pick a depletion rate that is at or near the ACTUAL, EFFECTIVE depletion rate, and accept the consequences. We all have that choice.


The most probable, critical sequence time-line:

1979 US per capita energy use peaked; still floundering on a plateau in 2006, but ready to fall precipitously (‘cliff’) at any time

2005 World crude oil probably peaked; still on an undulating plateau in 2007; starts off the ‘cliff’ ~2010-2012 or before

2005 World food production (grains) peaked

2008 World Natural Gas peaks (or sooner)

2010 NG ‘cliff’ arrives (or sooner)

2012 US electricity blackouts and brownouts become the norm (or sooner)

2012 US potable, available water peak and ‘cliff’; shortages and waterborne diseases increase

2015 US Health Care System in complete chaos, breakdown and failure; sanitation, drugs, return of communicable diseases, poorer nutrition, etc.

2015 World “Dieoff” begins in earnest; largely starvation, disease and poor healthcare caused

2030 US per-capita energy consumption hits the “30% mark-AFTER peak”, equaling year 1930 lifestyles again (probably much sooner than 2030)

4) With available electricity having declined to less than ~11% or so of current production in the next few years due to the non-delivery of oil, coal and NG to electrical generating plants, and due to poor maintenance of the grids, electrical brownouts and blackouts will begin to be the ‘normal’ case, much of the time, by 2014/2015, seven years hence.

5) Thus, even though the decline toward collapse will be ‘gradual’, and insidious, and steep, year 2007 lifestyles will be thrust back to the equivalent of at least year 1886-, or even to year 1,200 AD-lifestyles, by the years 2014 to 2020. [Hard to imagine? Yes it is!]

6) There will be little difference between living at an 1886-lifestyle, or a 1,200 AD-lifestyle, or a 10,000 BC-lifestyle; that is, once the Collapse and Devolution begins in earnest (which, due to current world events, I believe has already begun), there will be no turning back, and the only difference in per-capita energy lifestyles will be by small matters of degree, measured in most cases by the gross daily caloric nutritional intake available for individual humans: YOU may have 1,000 calories available today, while your neighbor has only 400. ‘Collapse’ will happen fast enough for most, that some individuals, depending upon where they are and how well they are situated, may pass through several arbitrary ‘devolution checkpoints’ or ‘Bottlenecks’, in as little as a day or a week. For others, it may take as long as a few months.

[One might ask here: What is ‘progress’? How do we define that term? How many TV’s can one watch at one time? How much ‘labor-saving’ provided by technical devices is enough to warrant their manufacture and use? How much progress is desired or even wanted? Though relevant, those are topics for another time.]

7) Some Practical Lifestyle Comparisons:

Year 2007 lifestyle: electrically-powered double stacked washer and drier; electrically pumped, in some cases for hundreds of miles, gravity fed, chlorinated and fluoridated water from the tap; switch operated, under-sink garbage disposer; indoor plumbing with unlimited soft toilet paper; “flush a pint of pee to the ocean with 5 gallons of fresh water”!

Year 1930 lifestyle: gas engine-driven wringer washing machine (if lucky); bathe on Saturdays; hand well-water pump near the kitchen sink; slop bucket under the sink drain; pit-dug outhouse WITH a Sears Catalogue

Year 1886 lifestyle: wash board and tub; water drawn from a well; outhouse with NO Sears Catalogue; corn cobs, if lucky

Year 1,200 AD lifestyle: constantly dirty clothes, well water within a mile or so — if safe; bathe once a year; pee in the garden (humanure)

Year 10,000 BC lifestyle — the “Olduvai”: leather clothes; no need for a washing machine!; drink from a spring or stream; pee in the bushes;

8) Opponents of this ‘devolution timing thesis’ may argue with the first premise of cited depletion rates. But a thorough analysis of very recently published data will confirm that Cantarell, North Sea, Ghawar and Canada are all declining at published rates of at least 8% (Ghawar), to 12% (North Sea), 20% (Canadian NG), and 25% ! (Cantarell); and that ~64 oil — or NG — producing nations have already peaked, and only ~36 remain to peak. So by [admittedly] loose averaging, and adding in the inevitable effects of extraneous greed, graft, corruption, bribery, theft, loss, diversion, hiding, rationing, military use, military destruction, hoarding, chaos, inefficiencies, leakage, etc. of energy resources, (overwhich no one has any control!), any “published rates of depletion” are more probably actually at 13-15% average decline rates currently, to the end user, than they are at, say, 2% decline — as opponents might argue.

[And while I cannot offer much proof at the moment of the following thesis, I submit that the recent ~18-24% INCREASE in world financial (fiat) liquidity, is a ‘tightly-coupled proxy’ for, and a derivative of a markedly similar DECREASE in available exosomatic energy resources. That is, I suspect the mechanism is such that since central bankers and other power brokers in governments are fully aware of Resource Depletion Theory, and Oil Depletion in particular, they have created for themselves an ‘ad hoc race’ to see who can drive the other guy into national bankruptcy first(!); ‘money’, in this case, serving as a last ditch GDP proxy tool replacing ‘real’ oil that no longer exists for ‘real’ wealth generation; sort of like playing King-of-the-Mountain. This suggests that as oil depletes further, fiat liquidity will continue to rise in similarly corresponding amounts.]

So while the ‘actual geological depletion rate per annum’ for a field might be only 6%, it will probably be reported as being only ~3.5%(!), yet when the extraneous factors cited above are added in, and are compounded with the actual depletion rate, the ‘effective depletion rate to end users’, (like farmers, grain millers, bread makers, and ultimately consumers), may be easily 15% or more. It is this “effective depletion rate to end users” that must concern us, NOT the ‘reported’, nor the ‘geological’ rate of depletion. It is the number of fewer loaves of bread on YOUR shelf, in YOUR store, on YOUR corner, in YOUR town, TODAY, that matters. Little else! All other depletion numbers are ‘interesting’, but functionally of less value! There are a myriad of ways by which a resource can be ‘effectively depleted’ even though it may not yet be ‘geologically depleted’.

A prioi ‘geological depletion’ has already started the ball rolling, but it’s all the other extraneous factors added to that, that will keep depletion rolling until there is no more oil left! Yes, anyone who argues we are ‘not running out of oil’ is silly; that was settled long ago with the old song: “Yes, we have no banana’s today”! Some will be ‘priced’ out of the oil market; others will be kept out by ‘actual depletion unavailability’, but in the end, ALL, will at some time, find that oil depletion has affected their life in one way or another — some sooner, some later. ‘The Donald’ and Ted Turner may be fighting over that last barrel of crude, but only one can win! Like polio and TB, this imminent regression back to the New Stone Age is no ‘respector of persons’.

9) Thus, the Duncan-forecasted ‘energy cliff of 2012’ should be well started by at least 2012 or before; and the 30% per-capita-energy demarcation point signaling the retrograde back to year 1930 lifestyles should occur by at least year 2014 or before. (I cannot see how it can be delayed until 2030 as Duncan suggests!)

10) There is a human need to tend to diminish and to underreport bad news! Many will thus, take issue with the depletion rates used here. The depletion rates cited are what are currently reported, even though most would rather ‘believe’ depletion rates are in the 2% range or so, thus giving themselves ~50 years or more to face the problem, rather than the 6 to 12 years we may really, only have!

However, as a seasoned inventor and machine designer, I have devoted most of my life to trying to define reality to three-decimal-places. Thus, I have to look at the numbers from the worst case perspective. That is, if, e.g., a machine design can cause harm to others, one must know all the ways in which that potential harm can occur, and all the types of harm that can be inflicted, in order to be able to mitigate those potential worst case events, if possible. In this case, there is no mitigation for the ultimate decline and total effective depletion of finite natural energy resources. So reality must be accepted and reported, and be used in calculating future lifestyle possibilities for potential Collapse survivors.

We know that all natural resources are finite, and that (if exploited) they deplete over time. We can measure how much depletion has occurred in the past so we can reliably estimate how much of the resource is left to be depleted in the future. We can measure depletion rates in real time. We can extrapolate those real time depletion rates into future depletion rates.

The nature of depletion of natural resources per the Hubbert Theorem suggests that the rate of depletion accelerates AFTER the peak of production has been reached (since the easiest resource to extract is taken first), and since it appears from all indications that the peak of “all liquids” has already passed, (or is ‘in-plateau’ at the present time), it seems most logical to use worst-case numbers rather than best-case-numbers when attempting to assess the probable effects of world energy resource depletion on one’s life and on the lives of those one cares about. The Cornucopian-techno-optimist-Pollyanna-denier mindset will NOT serve one well in attempting to glimpse at what the future may hold. Assessing, and facing reality will!

When a resource has depleted to the point that it is either ‘actually unavailable’ or is ‘effectively unavailable’ for an individual, one can say without question that for that individual, that resource does not exist, and is effectively GONE. So, contrary to what the Cornucopian-optimist-denier-obfuscators would like to call it, WE ARE, in fact, “RUNNING OUT OF OIL”! Call it by any other name, but ‘effective unavailability’ is for those who do not have it, the same as ‘NON-availability’. Unavailable oil left in the ground is of no more value to one than is no oil at all!

11) Those who live past the Bottleneck will always be exploiters of exosomatic energy resources; as that is one definition of what it is “to be alive”.

The life contest is primarily a competition for available energy. — Ludwig Boltzman, Physicist (1886)

Thus, per-capita energy use will always RISE to the theoretical limit of available supply, and will consume ALL the energy resource available, if possible.

Secondly, human populations will continue to rampantly INCREASE until a sufficient Die-off-event reduces the need for further population DECREASE. Then populations will resume their biologically-mandated INCREASE.

Thus, the depletion curve for energy resources will NOT be flattened nor mitigated on the back side due to either population decrease, nor due to reduction in per-capita energy use, [as so many Cornucopian-optimists suggest], since, to accomplish either, would require one to change human nature, and that is not possible, now, nor after having passed through the Bottleneck.

«Do you believe,» said Candide, «that men have always massacred one another as they do today, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites and fools?»
«Do you believe,» said Martin, «that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?»
«Without doubt,» said Candide.
«Well then,» said Martin, «if hawks have always had the same character, why should you imagine that men have changed theirs?»
«Oh!» Said Candide, «there is a vast deal of difference, for free will—»

Candide, Voltaire

The depletion curve will be ‘flattened’ only AFTER the world human population has fallen so far below the energy resources available for exploitation at that time, that (for our purposes and lifetimes) it won’t matter then whether the depletion curve is flat or not!

12) With the exception of some few individual survival ‘lifeboats’ and ‘retreats’ that may provide some temporary comfort for some few individuals and families for some limited period of time, the “high tech-low EROEI” alternative energy ‘solutions’ propounded by some are NO solution to the macro-decline of fossil fuels, and they will thus, NOT save Industrial Civilization from its Imminent Collapse. There is NO so-called “prosperous way down”! “Powering Down” is not an option. The Road to the Olduvai and the New Stone Age beckons us all!

13) For so long as there are people who have babies, in the macro-sense, there will NEVER be any “destruction of demand” for oil. Thus, the long term trend is for oil to become always LESS available, and for its relative cost to always go HIGHER.

However, some limited “demand destruction” of fossil fuel use WILL occur as population numbers decline aggressively, stretching out the future (back) side of the depletion curve a bit, but significantly, whatever demand is ‘destructed’, will accrue beneficially ONLY to governments and their military forces, who will by that time have total control of all energy resources. Thus, planning for the future lifestyles of individuals and family units ought therefore, NOT be based on ‘demand destruction’ to forestall or influence their devolution back to the Olduvai!

14) The above thesis does NOT include the very high probability of global nuclear, biological, or chemical Resource Wars, and consequent Nuclear, Biological or Chemical ‘Winter’ in the next few years — which will only change things for the worse; time-to-total-collapse will be compressed, and living conditions equating to former times will devolve for most, far more rapidly than otherwise. Die-off of world human populations could reach ~99% by 2030 or before, from numerous causes like typhus, cholera, ebola, sars, unsafe water, no normal medical care, plague, bio-warfare, contagious diseases, etc.

15) Obviously, assumed by all this, is the collapse of the global stock markets, transportation, trade, commerce, mega-food production and delivery, medical care and drugs availability, etc.

Thus, most ALL parts of this fossil-fueled Industrial Civilization will ALL come down in quick succession, at or near the same time; — and it can happen at ANY time.

cf.: Ubiquity, Why Catastrophes Happen, Mark Buchanan


What to do?

Don’t believe ME! Do your own homework; run the numbers for yourself. (If I can find the data, you surely can! I’ve given a few sources, but most are now readily available in the public domain.) Then (if you agree), recognize the inevitability of it all. Entropy reigns! And accept the fact that humans are as prone to Die-off as are other species; accept that we blew it when some of us thought that Cornucopian-growth could last forever, and we burned up all the crude, and polluted the air, the water, and the top soil; and accept that we have no claim to any more longevity than do other living things.

16) Consider this little observation also: that from this point on, NOTHING is going to get any better! That’s right, nothing in your material life surely, and most things in the rest of your life will never get better than they are right now! (…traffic will get worse; taxes will go higher, political corruption will get worse; wars will become only more horrendous and more frequent; individual liberties will be steadily eaten away; food will get more expensive, more scarce and more dangerous; the quality of medical care will steadily decline; your job will only get worse; your commute will get longer; your boss will get crabbier; toilet paper will get rougher; the Internet will get slower; … you get the picture)

BECAUSE of the decline, and ultimate depletion of finite fossil fuels, NOTHING that any of us alive today, touch today, that we consider to be a ‘problem’, will get better in the future, nor will the problems be lessened — that is, until AFTER the Peak Oil-caused world human population Die-off. Then none of those problems will be problems! And they won’t matter anyway. The insane exploitation of fossil fuels created and gave us the civilization and culture we have today; only the depletion of those fossil fuels will ‘solve’ those same civilization — and culture — caused problems. The worse it gets, the worse it WILL get!

17) One might consider thus, that the real meaning of the concept of “Peak Oil”, is simply that when oil peaked, it represented the ‘highest point’ of this energy-driven civilization and culture; the highest potential level of almost EVERYTHING! And consequently, AFTER oil has peaked, that same civilization can only go into irreversible decline. ALL that we have and all that we are essentially, was given to us by, or through cheap, readily available energy resources; take those away and you take away from us ALL that we have and most all that we are!

[cf. again: Helmholtz above]

THIS is the concept to get a handle on: — that human life is little different from other life — unless we exploit energy resources better than other life forms do (we don’t). When we consume to the ultimate depletion of a resource (as we have), then we destroy our own livelihood and civilization. No, humans are NOT “smarter than yeast”!

So, Peak Oil is not just about OIL — it’s about EVERYTHING with which humans interact.

This is the mother of all concepts and events relating to humanity on this earth. It is one of the few “mega-wholistic a prioi” concepts. We ARE carbonaceous life forms ourselves, and we are exploiters, consumers, depletors, and destroyers of carbon-based energy resources. When OIL goes — WE (most of us) will go with it! — and everything that we have, that we are, that we’ve created, that is uniquely ‘human’ goes too.

The realization of the fullness of this concept of the all-encompassing nature of Peak Oil is numbing — but necessary, for one to make peace with what is headed our way.

Example: There will be fewer Steinway grand pianos after Peak; there will be fewer Stradivarius violins after Peak; there will be fewer Rembrant’s after Peak ; — there will be NO 110 piece symphony orchestras after Peak; no 500,000 strong Woodstock’s after Peak; NOTHING that stratospheric oil profits allowed industrialists to use to fund the arts, the sciences, the humanities, literature, research, medicine and the like. That will all be gone very quickly. As oil profits disappear, so will the benefits of those profits. Oil energy, and oil profits provided a ‘scale’ to human existence that will soon disappear and which will be replaced by a new scale, orders of magnitude SMALLER (or lower) in size, scope, breadth, complexity and impact than the present.

Except for those few that may be secretly preserved somewhere, Steinway’s, Rembrant’s and Strad’s will be burned for their heat value(!), NOT saved for their beauty! [Recall the sacking of the Iraqi National Museum at the onset of the current war. The supposed strongest nation on earth could not (or would not) secure those priceless treasures; you think things will be any LESS horrendous in the future?!] Art and music will not go away, however; they will, like everything else, just be down-sized to their proper “carrying capacity” and ‘place’. [Carnegie Hall will soon become a somewhat functional, though unheated, homeless shelter, for a while, rather than remain a hall of (sophisticated) culture.]

Yes, there were Strad’s, Steinways, Rembrant’s, La Scala and ‘rock’ concerts PRIOR to ~1886. However, like the insidious disastrous compounding effects of the cross-cascading defaults of fractional reserve debt, when this oil-created civilization goes, it will take not only what was made available to us BY oil, but it will also take with it most everything that was created ‘BEFORE oil’. [This connection is subtle, I realize, but it is sure.] That is, the culture cannot just devolve back to a prior point in time and take with it the ‘good stuff’ that exists now (as so many hope to do!). It will devolve back to at least ~10,000 BC or so ultimately, and most everything that we know of, that was created between then and now will be gone TOO. It cannot be any other way! [Why? See the following]

Just as when you jump from the high board into a pool, you dive to a deeper level below the water’s surface than you do if you had dived from the low board; so it is that since this oil-driven Industrial Civilization became the high point of human existence (in many ways), it therefore has the farthest distance to fall. So all of humankind, and all our trinkets, or possessions, and ‘cargo’ will not fall to just some arbitrary ‘zero line’, but we will have to fall far below the zero line, and then will have to slowly climb back up to get to the zero line at some time far into the future.

I lived in Las Vegas from 1954 until 1972. There was a “culture of excellence” on the Strip at the time that easily surpassed the best of anything from Hollywood, Broadway, or Paris. Gambling profits were sufficient to fund ANYTHING! And they did! Food, drinks, beauty, art, music — you name it. Imagine this: You are a Musical Director for a major Strip Hotel, and you’ve been given the charge to create a special concert starring say, Barbara Streisand, or Sinatra, Andrea Bocelli, or…?

First, you will have almost unlimited funds at your disposal. Sure, there is a ‘budget’, but what a budget! Secondly, you will have the intangible Streisand and Las Vegas ‘culture of excellence’ reputations to uphold. So, you can hire the very best musicians in the world, bar none! Composers, arrangers, writers, copyists, conductors, instrumentalists, sound engineers, lighting engineers, — and stage techs all over the place. But only the very BEST!

You want to create a “lush string sound”? Hire those crotchety old farts that’ve been playing cello for 50 years and who know everything there is to know about the cello, AND who can sight-read anything you can put in front them producing world-class performance at a first reading! …the best ‘screech’ trumpeters in the world? You can have ANY that you want — take your pick! Of the best trombonists in the world, hire any FIVE! Fly them in from wherever, doesn’t matter. With unlimited money one can buy or create unlimited quality, and with unlimited quality one can produce events of unprecedented excellence. [Only if you’ve been there, and have been associated with that culture to any degree, can you appreciate what I’m trying to refer to here.]

Now, imagine taking away all that: the money, the reputation, the culture, the musicians, their instruments, the intangible concept of what it is to be, or to exhibit “the best”, and — take away the reason for the special concert itself.

That’s what I’m trying to describe here with the demise of Oil. This oil-created civilization was for a while, the “Top of the Mark”, for all intents and purposes. Now it is coming down, and with it will come down ALL that it was. Las Vegas will soon return to being the little oasis [“The Meadows”] in the blow-sand desert that it was in the 1850’s, — as will this current Industrial Civilization with it.

This seems to be the concept least understood by so many; the easiest way to say it is: “the bigger they are, the harder (the farther) they fall”.

18) So, what now?

What to save? What to store? What to procure? What to hoard? HOW to survive?

Understand the difference first, between ‘short term’ survival and ‘long term’ survival:

Short term survival: you won’t have nearly enough of ANYTHING to get yourself through the neck of the bottle!

Long term survival: NONE of what you have will be of any value WHATSOEVER after having gotten yourself through the bottle’s neck!

POINT: What you prep with may get you from THIS current level, to the next lower level of devolution, but the farther down the Olduvai Road you travel, the less ‘stuff’ that will be relevant, and thus, the less ‘stuff’ you will need. The main obstacle to your survival thus, is getting through the “transition period” [the neck of the bottle] between NOW and THEN, and your main priority is, getting yourself from HERE, to the on-ramp that leads to the Olduvai Road. Once on it, you’ll be discarding ‘stuff’ with each foot step taken.

So, do what YOU are comfortable doing; make choices that follow YOUR own definition of “prudence”; if you like, max out those credit cards; re-fi your house; buy all the ‘stuff’ you can possibly imagine having a need or use for. (After all, its only money, remember!?) Realize, however, that it is all expendable; and that NOTHING has any intrinsic value; that all the ‘stuff’ you may acquire now is but a means to a very immediate end; that being, your individual quest for survival from here, to the next level down the devolution ladder.

19) Timing the future:

Take your best shot; I’ve given you my thoughts and timelines; I may be too grave — or not grave enough! Generate your own! However, better to be 10 years early than 10 minutes late.

The Transition Period between NOW and The Immediate Future is what one can prep for. The aftermath of that will come naturally — if we live through it!

After all, it’s only YOUR life!

We are all guests here together — if we can survive what’s coming! Few of us will, surely, and for those who do, life will be vastly different from what it is now. For them, it will truly be “the end of the world — as THEY know it”.

«It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.» — Charles Darwin

Why all this? Knowledge is power — to those who possess it. The cheapest commodity on earth is the produce of another man’s mind.

Perry Arnett


© 2007 Perry Arnett
(May be freely transmitted with proper attribution)