Personal Prepping: “The Vortex” Arrives in Five Years

Later this morning, my friend Oilman2 will be dropping by for one of our occasional face-times where we discuss different items we’re both eyeing with some suspicion.

The biggest one is reliability of energy… and an overnight email in advance of our meeting explains why Peak Oil is still on our agenda and now, once again, moving up the strategic planning priority:

I don’t know if you saw this one, but it might be good for those Peak Oil deniers – those that also deny other things that discomfit them…

That link takes you to an article, which in turn, references the underlying World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Administration.

Unlike Global Warming – now in a small reprieve due to the cyclical reduction in solar output – the Peak Oil problem has not gone away.  Instead, it’s been swept under the rug.   Some of the perps are in the industry itself, while others occupy government positions at almost all levels.

Under one corner of the carpet, for example, we find continuing evidence (that we’ve been discussing around here for three years, or longer): There is a statistical relationship between fracking and increased upper strata earthquake activity.

People up in Oklahoma in the flatlands east of OKC have known that for several years, and we hear low-level grumbles around it when we go up to meet with Robin Landry in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  From about there, up to the northwest maybe 50 miles, there’s been something of a drilling festival, and the low-level quakes seem to be a result.

Looking up into the Square States, there was an article in the Kansas City Star this weekend that’s directly on point: “Shaking Kansas: With an increase in earthquakes, many wonder if fracking is the cause…”

Oftentimes, it is not the fracking itself that’s the problem: It’s what to do with the polluted waste waster that is often pumped back into the ground.  Stories like “Groundwater contamination may end the Gas-fracking Boom” that showed up in Scientific American, are definitely telling us something.

In fact, just 10-days ago, USA Today was outing how “4 states confirm water pollution from drilling.”

Then there was the major lawsuit settlement in Pennsylvania where a landowner’s settlement for groundwater pollution ($750,000 was widely reported) but so anxious were the attorneys to keep details away from the public that even the children were put under gag orders. Life-long, no less.

Then there has been the ongoing ethics collision over fracking.  You may remember the state of Pennsylvania defeated a physician’s lawsuit which challenged the states gag-order on informing patients about the risks of fracking.  Clearly, Big Oil has Big Influence.  As the people of Oklahoma, Kansas, and elsewhere are learning.

Last year, Time pronounced Peak Oil to be dead.  We note that on financial sites, like Forbes as recently as six months ago, articles were appearing like “No Peak Oil is Really Dead…”

Regrettably, financial journalists do a terrible job of getting the future “right.”  If they were significantly better, we might not have had an Internet bubble, Housing bubble, or a QE-induced economic spasm that we’re now experiencing.

Moreover, current thinking is slowly drifting around to our outlook around here: Peak Oil really is coming, but not, you won’t see it just yet for a multiplicity of reasons:

  • Development in the Dakotas/Bakken
  • Redevelopment in West Texas
  • Demand restricted pricing power of world oil
  • Short-term source-swaps like using natural gas in lieu of crude products because of better price and avail on gas

At some point, however, the music stops.  There’s something odd going on down in the oil patch and Oilman2’s experience has indicated to him two things that we’ll be cranking into our personal plans to meet the future.

First is that Peak Oil really is arriving.  It has been pushed back because of low interest rates which have enabled a lot of exploration and redevelopment work.  There’s been a lot of energy found (Williston and Bakken, for example, and some to come in Utah) and there’s a LOT of energy left.  But the price point for new oil is likely to rise because the “easy pickings” and “low-lying fruit” has been harvested long ago.

Secondly, peak oil is being experienced in “shark tooth” fashion.  Sure, there are new finds and hot rumors in the oil patch, and when hit the wires, the price drops back, for a while.  Now, toss in a lukewarm-to-tepid-at-best economy and the pull-through on the demand side hasn’t been there.  If real recovery arrives, prices will zoom (along with inflation) but that’s not likely to work out the way gold-bugs (including me) would like to dream about.

When energy costs go up, so will virtually everything else.  And that’s the National Double-Whammy coming down the road within a half-dozen years.  The “whammy” part is when the financial journalists figure all this out and the headlines start to appear proclaiming the rebirth of Peak Oil.

That’s looking ahead a good distance, but it’s something to be aware of. 

In terms of personal prepping to meet this kind of future, we will be gradually working to reduce our energy footprint around here.  So an early start to the veggie garden this year, maybe taking out a few more trees to put a little more sun on the garden is in order.  And we’re going over ways to further improve insulation that, in turn, reduces operating expenses.

Even our old airplane may take off with new owners this spring.  As enjoyable as that pursuit is, with consulting client workloads down (to near-zero) it’s now expendable.

Life is always about “reduce out-go, increase income” but getting that right in future years will be more challenging than ever I expect.

We’re approaching an interesting vortex of history, a vortex I reckon to be five years, or less, in our shared future.  When it arrives?  Energy prices will go up as the economy recovers, no matter how slowly.  Jobs will be disappearing by the millions due to the onrush of robotics that reader Michael is piecing together:

Hi George, I don’t know if this was one of your recent links when discussing robots, as limited time sometimes hinders my access to the greater picture you are providing via links. Whatever the case, I hope it is worthwhile in your endeavors to take a look at this story.  Bottom-line is, if robots can replace low-end workers in China they surely can replace Americans, even at low-end wages. So, the $15/hour folks, although I support their efforts, are climbing up Half Dome, if not Mt. Everest. – Mike

With all this crap coming down the road to destroy the American lifestyle, why aren’t people in politics making more honest decisions?  In fact,  good data is out there about the future, but few seems to care.

Immigration is a great example, and will figure into “The Vortex” as well:

Policy-makers are largely delusional:  They fancy themselves as leading, yet when it comes right down to it, as creatures of campaign finance, they do little leading, and as we see in national energy policy, immigration (and we have a much, much longer list!) they are corrupted by industry and defending the broken paradigm.

Whether the Vortex will fix those issues is at best a 50-50 proposition from how it looks this morning.  It will either be a tornadic vortex that will lift us all to new heights.  Or, and more likely, it will look like the Coriolis vortex of a toilet bowl when flushed.

The Vortex comes even more into focus as we read how the European Union is planning to register all gardens (food control) under the (phony pretext) of “food safety.”  What’s even more frightening that jackboot seed thugs is that the public doesn’t seem to even realize this is going on.  Yet here’s the petition to sign and backgrounder, yet globally in almost six months, less than 100,000 people have signed.

Seems to me the Vortex  will be real.  And this all leads into tomorrow’s Peoplenomics report which asks a very important question of an internet-connected world/awakening: 

Is government obsolete?

It’ll join a host of issues of Peoplenomics (600+  reports online for readers in the archives) where we have looked at this obsolescence stuff in other disciplines:  Small investors and the Post Office, are two that come to mind. Obo.

The point here really comes down to just this:  Energy is not obsolete, but how we use it is.

But is government obsolete, especially when it does nothing much but defend the status quote and existing power-in-place.  A fertile patch of data to till…and we’ll quietly pull down the networks, take out the cell phone batteries, unplug the phones, and shutdown the power while talking about it…

Don’t want people getting the wrong idea.

Thinking ‘bout Floobydust

Reader emails are often a good way to expand our thinking on many things.  Here’s a peach from reader

Floobydust.  Great term. 

Invented at National Semiconductor in their hayday…  It sort of means slightly related miscellania.  Sorta.  It’s like “gemutlicheit.  No  perfect translation is possible.)  

Floobydust #1    Imagine the day when one is required to carry his smartphone at all times when outside one’s home.  For government supervision, surveillance, and tracking.  In the Obamacare context, your National Medical Service Health Assessment Professional could ask you, “So, Mr. Ure…  We see by the GPSreport from your phone that you were in MacDonalds three days ago.  And we see from your Universe Platinum Card you had big, sloppy, fat food that’s not on your profile.  Can you explain this please — or we will be forced to fine you appropriately.”  

Nope.  Can’t never happen in America, you say.  Right.(Good Morning, Utah!!) 

Floobydust #2    Speaking of McDonalds…  Food is best made and packaged in highly automated factories.  Individual portions are boxed up, palletized, and shipped to the restaurants — speaking of The Automat — where only four kinds of employees are needed.  Truck unloaders, product slot-stackers, cleaners, and managers.  Except for the manager, these are all zero-skill, zero-English, low-level jobs, and none will be needed in large numbers.

Using “Pelletier Junctions” each “cell” is either hot or cold as needed, and the packaging art is the display for the cell’s contents.

Bill in North Carolina not only sees The Vortex, but also one of my futuring favorites, Soylent Green.