Links and Tweets of the Week: October 31, 2009 (Scary Hallowe’en Edition)

BLOG Links and Tweets of the Week: October 31, 2009 (Scary Hallowe’en Edition)

debt to GDP


Here Comes the End of Debt: Stoneleigh from Automatic Earth, in an interview with The Oil Drum Europe, argues that we’re in for an unprecedented and prolonged deflationary period, and that while wages will plunge, so will prices of everything, even oil and gold as demand falls faster than supply:

Credit bubbles [see chart above] are inherently self-limiting, proceeding until the debt they generate can no longer be supported. We have already passed that point and we are now two years into a contraction phase that is about to accelerate. As the aftermath of a credit bubble is typically proportional to the scale of the excesses that preceded it, we should be in for the largest economic contraction for at least several hundred years, and it will be global. Real estate, which is a major focus of the mania, should do particularly badly in the coming years (in fact the coming decades or longer)…

As demand falls, and with it prices, investment in the energy sector is likely to dry up. Many projects will be uneconomic at much lower prices, meaning that the projects which might have cushioned the downslope of Hubbert’s curve (and the much steeper net energy curve), are unlikely to be developed. In this way a demand collapse sets the stage for a supply collapse that could place a hard ceiling on any prospect of economic recovery. That is a recipe for extremely high energy prices in the future…

The scale of the problem has been temporarily concealed by a market rally and the shovelling of tens of trillions of dollars of taxpayer’s money into a giant black hole of credit destruction. This has done nothing to reignite lending, but the temporary (and entirely irrational) resurgence of confidence has restored a measure of liquidity. As that confidence evaporates with the end of the rally, that liquidity will also disappear.

Deflation is ultimately psychological. Without trust we will see hoarding of the cash which will be very scarce in the absence of the credit that currently comprises the vast majority of the effective money supply. The combination of scarce cash and a very low velocity of money will be toxic.

Money is the lubricant in the economic engine and without enough of it that engine will seize up as it did in the 1930s, when farmers dumped milk they couldn’t sell into ditches while others were starving for want of the money to buy food. There was plenty of everything except money, and without money, one cannot connect buyers and sellers…

Big Oil Says Reducing Carbon is Impossible: Some interesting quotes from oil industry executives suggest they know, better than the average citizen, and more than the politicians are saying, that the only way to reduce carbon to levels that will prevent catastrophic climate change is to end industrial civilization. Thanks to Keith Farnish for the link. Here are quotes from various oil execs:

The Copenhagen targets are basically completely illusory. There’s no way to hit those targets and it would be very silly to think that we can…

The world does not have the scale, time frame or economics to devote to the complete eradication of carbon emissions from sources of fuel within the next four decades…

Nuclear doesn’t have the flexibility to be a suitable option…

Globally [renewables] will be too small to make a real dent in the targets…

Just wait for one catastrophe and that will be the end of nuclear. And who really thinks biofuels will really work in the long run? You can’t have food as an energy source.

climate interactive scorecard

Mind the Gap: Climate Interactive Scoreboard graphically depicts (see above) the gap between what governments have pledged to do to combat climate change and what is needed. What is really needed (a reduction to 350ppm or perhaps even 280ppm within two decades) is, well, off the chart. Mind the gap: over the next year it will become an abyss. Thanks to Tree for the link.

The Banks Have Just Stopped Making Loans: “The real economy is dying. This quarter is going to be a bloodbath” for the big banks, says yet another analyst. Thank to Sam Rose for the link.

And in China, Apocalyptic Growth: An extraordinary award-winning photo-essay on pollution in China shows a nation plunging into toxic apocalpyse. And this is the world’s largest and fastest-growing economy, on which the global industrial growth economy now depends for cheap labour, cheap materials (no standards), and new ‘customers’. Thanks to Craig De Ruisseau for the link.


Psst! Wanna Get Something Made?: 100k Garages will find and connect you with a job shop that will make anything you can imagine. And the Global Village Construction Set will help you design and fabricate anything that your community-based permaculture or transition project needs. Thanks to Michael Wiik for the links.

CarrotMob Green Businesses: A great international initiative organizes local progressives to “mob” green, responsible businesses with new customers. Thanks to Tree for the link and the three that follow.

“Agriburbia” Converts Lawns and Hinterlands into Gardens and Farms: A growing trend to make suburbs a little less dependent on imported food.

Japan Pioneers Peer-to-Peer Car Rentals: A step beyond commuter car-sharing, this online reservation system allows people to rent their cars to others at times they don’t need them, reducing the need for so many cars to be manufactured and parked.

Free Do-It-Yourself Sustainability Books: A substantial resource of free online plans for renewable energy and other sustainability projects.

A Crash Course on the Coming Crash: A 3-hour crash course in economics covers the essentials of the pending economic (debt), ecological (climate change) and energy (peak oil) crises. Thanks to Mireille Jansma for the link.


US Official Resigns Over Obama’s War: A foreign service leader quits in protest over the impossible war in Afghanistan, and urges Obama to bring the troops home. Thanks to Raffi Aftandelian for the link.

Civil Liberties Watch: The Civil Liberties Defense Center (boy those Americans spell funny!) fights to overturn laws that outrageously restrict personal freedoms, such as the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (making it illegal to protest animal cruelty), aggressive use of tasers by police, and an Oregon law that made it illegal to protest old-growth forest destruction (they just succeeded in getting that ruled unconstitutional — yay)! Thanks to Tree for the link.


mumbai slum from

Visit a Third World Home, Virtually: Amazing photography and journalism lets you use your cursor to see 360-degree views of homes in slums in 5 countries, and hear their residents’ stories. Thanks to Sue Braiden for the link.

Animated Credit Reform: A great new cartoon from Mark Fiore spoofs the new fees that credit card companies are rushing in before new (tepid) anti-usury rules come into effect. Thanks to Mireille Jansma for the link.

The Botany of Desire: Michael Pollan’s new book explains how plants seduce us with their sweetness, beauty and intoxication. Link is to a PBS special on the book, viewable online. Thanks to Tree for the link.

“You’ll get so much candy you’ll have to be towed.”a fun poem about Samhain, the celtic/wiccan sister festival to our Hallow’een.

Last Chance Texaco: Rickie Lee Jones sings one of her earliest, cleverest songs, about our dependence on cars, and love.


From Melissa Holbrook Pierson, bumper stickers from talk show host Chris T.:

  • Why do you love animals called pets, and eat animals called dinner?
  • Be nice to America, or we’ll bring democracy to your country.
  • (perfect one for a bicycle or car, for different reasons) This Too Shall Pass

From Lydia Davis (in last week’s New Yorker):


Heart weeps.
Head tries to help heart.
Head tells heart how it is, again:
You will lose the ones you love. They will all go. But even the earth will go, someday.
Heart feels better, then.
But the words of head do not remain long in the ears of heart.
Heart is so new to this.
I want them back, says heart.
Head is all heart has.
Help, head. Help heart.

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1 Response to Links and Tweets of the Week: October 31, 2009 (Scary Hallowe’en Edition)

  1. Jon Husband says:

    The first half of this post could have been titled “The Unmentionables”.Talk with anyone about the issues you have raised, from those vantage points, is the first step to almost-assured ostracism.

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