It is amazing how life can be turned upside down in such a short period of time. We were confident in our decision to have a large family. We never expected my husband’s six-figure salary to disappear. Instead, quicker than you can say the word “downsizing,” it was gone. A long year of unemployment depleted all our savings, as well as the money put away for retirement. My husband took a new position with a huge pay cut, and freelance writing doesn’t pay the bills. Sure, most families can get through this scenario once. It is much harder when unemployment strikes three times in a short period of time.
March of the Squirrels (thc0655)
…Normal growth has not returned. It’s not going to return, either, because it was only “normal” in an era when cheap abundant fossil fuels greased the wheels of every kind of economic activity. As I noted in a blog post here back in 2007, the inevitable consequence of soaring oil prices is what economists call demand destruction: less formally, the process by which people who can’t afford oil stop using it, bringing the price back down. Since what’s driving the price of oil up isn’t merely market factors, but the hard geological realities of depletion, not everyone who got forced out of the market when the price was high can get back into it when the price is low—gas at $2 a gallon doesn’t matter if your job scavenging abandoned houses doesn’t pay enough for you to cover the costs of a car, and let’s not even talk about how much longer the local government can afford to maintain streets in driveable condition.
As the economy suffers, so does the infrastructure. Everything from roads, power lines, sewers, flood prevention, traffic signaling, buildings, parks, bridges, it all requires constant maintenance. This is of course very expensive, and one of the more obvious signs of bad economic times is bad infrastructure all around. Anyone that ever traveled to the 3rd world has probably seen it: There’s not much urban coherence, everything seems to be just thrown together without consultation and a total lack of planning. Power, TV and phone cables hang over your head in all directions. Just like power fails each summer, communications aren’t very reliable either. Public buildings are in particularly poor shape. Ironically enough, this is the University of Buenos Aires, where I studied Architecture.
Republicans cast Mr. Obama’s slow-motion rollout of his State of the Union agenda in recent weeks as the desperate flailing of a lame-duck president who has not come to grips with the electorate’s decision in November or the fact that the opposition now controls the Senate as well as the House. In defying reality, they said, he simply wants to return to the tax-and-spending ways of the past.
A Solemn Pause (sand_puppy, pinecarr)
In short, enjoy the $2.50-a-gallon fill-ups while you can, grasshoppers, because when the current crop of fast-depleting shale oil wells dries up, that will be all she wrote. When all those bonds held up on their skyhook derivative hedges go south, there will be no more financing available for the entire shale oil project. No more high-yield bonds will be issued because the previous issues defaulted. Very few new wells (if any) will be drilled. American oil production will not return to its secondary highs (after the 1970 all-time high) of 2014-15. The wish of American energy independence will be steaming over the horizon on the garbage barge of broken promises. And all, that, of course, is only one part of the story, because there is the social and political fallout to follow.
Crushing The U.S. Energy Export Dream (Evan K.)
Exporting crude oil and natural gas from the United States are among the dumbest energy ideas of all time. Exporting gas is dumb. Exporting oil is dumber. The U.S. imports almost half of the crude oil that we use. We import 7.5 million barrels per day. The chart below shows the EIA prediction that production will slowly fall and imports will rise (AEO 2014) after 2016. This means that the U.S. will never be self-sufficient in oil. Not even close.
This month the same team of researchers—30 individuals from 19 academic institutions, in collaboration with the Stockholm Resilience Centre—published an update saying that a fourth boundary has been crossed, the one about “change in land use,” also known as deforestation. Too much vegetation has been cleared for agricultural use.
The Case For Eating Older Animals (jdargis)
Danforth argues that only older animals have had the time to do the work and eat the foods that make them really taste like what they are. Beef from a four- or five-year-old, grass-fed cow will have a distinctly beefy flavor, unlike the comparatively bland flavor of meat from a younger, feedlot-finished cow that is fattened as quickly as possible on a diet of corn, regardless of the fact that its stomach is not designed to digest such a high-starch grain.
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