A Conversation with geologist Dale Alan Pfeiffer; Part 2 transcript

Kevin Patrick: So, this is almost an 180 degree switch - we had the construction of the national highway system and the dominant position of television in everybody's lives. It's kind of led to an individualization in the mind set. So, that everybody's responsible for themselves. And, you know - that's as far as it goes. And, it looks like this shock may actually help rebuild community. And, rebuild the idea that we all actually have to work together. You can - because you don't have large families; you could coordinate several farms in the area, and focus on each farm producing certain good for the community. And, get together with the prices, and such. And, the profits.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Yes, and it's interesting. Because, if it's handled correctly; this could lead to - actually, a better quality living environment, for most of us. A lot of people, nowadays, tend to kind of look upon the past, wistfully. Or, wander around, wondering what's missing from their life. And, generally what's missing, is that quality of life. That socialization. The things that we had, before society was atomized.

Kevin Patrick: It's kind of ironic. The countries and the nations that are looked at as backward, or kind of behind the curve; are actually going to be able to react to this situation, much better than the advanced societies. Or, the highly industrialized societies. Because, they've got a greater contact with the land. And, they're more based on community, than the industrial societies are.

Dale Alan Pfieffer:So long as they don't have a population problem. You know, when we're talking about India; their government is gonna have big problems. Because, they have no energy base of their own. They have very little energy. They have coal. But, it's very low quality coal. They're dependent on imports, for virtually all of their energy needs. And, they have a tremendous population; which has been in part, provided for, through international grain, and agricultural production. And, although I haven't looked into the case of India, too specifically; I would suspect that they could go back to some of their older ways of providing energy. And, providing food - that is food energy. And, meet some of their own needs, in that way. As I say, I haven't looked at that specific situation there.

Kevin Patrick: So, you mentioned earlier; a lot of the things that we can do here, to actually make this a positive situation in the long run. Let's take a look at the other possibility. Do you see our government, making any preparations for the possibility that society doesn't react well to the fact that we're not living in a growth economy anymore? And, we start to really face serious hardship. And, security in the area of policing? Does it seem like their making any preparations?

Dale Alan Pfieffer:Oh, yes. It could easily be argued, that as much as the legislation that's come down the pike; especially since 9/11; will make it actually make it much more easier for them to repress any sort of dissatisfied public. Which may arise, due to energy depletion. Very, very troublesome. That when you start looking at some of the repressive, restrictive legislation that they have passed. Limiting our rights in this country. You begin to get very worried about it.

Kevin Patrick: They see something coming, that they're not making public, once again. But, they're planning for the future. 'Cause, they can see what the future holds. And,, some people may not be happy with the fact that our options, are even more limited than they are today.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Yes. It has been pointed out, that every major civilization, prior to the industrial revolution. Including, the United States, prior to the industrial revolution; met it's energy needs, through slavery. And, there have been some who have suggested, that with the large amount of private debt - consumer debt in this country; that the move to tougher bankruptcy laws and that sort of thing. Could be a forerunner to work camps. Or, indentured servitude in this country. Where people who are in debt, would have to work off their debt.

Kevin Patrick: And, especially, alot of farmers. A lot of family farmers, especially; are really fighting debt at this point, right now. So, you would naturally think; that if we transition to a local agricultural economy, they would be sitting well. But, it may turn out, that there may be some plans for land acquisition by other wealthier folks. To take control of that land. And, like you said; turn it into a situation where it's an indentured servitude

Dale Alan Pfieffer:Yes, the situation here, right now. For one thing, in the past decade, and even more so in the last few years; alot of the wealth of this country, has been moved offshore. And, there have been terrific amounts of money. Trillions of dollars, lost from the Defense budget; that were just lost. You know, they said they have no clue what happened to it. Hundreds of billions of dollars from HUD. And, various other government operations. There's been a big flight of the wealth of this country, offshore.

And, on the other hand; you have the housing bubble. Which could bust at any time. Housing rates are greatly inflated. Real estate rates are up, way above where they should be. People who hold mortgages, could someday find themselves in a position where their property values are suddenly worthless. Or, next to worthless. But, they have a tremendous debt, that they have to pay off; with devaluated money.

Kevin Patrick: And, with the new bankruptcy law, like you mentioned earlier; there's no way out of it, at this point. Like once you have the debt, you're gonna pay it off; till the day you die.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Yes. And then, that wealth that has been moved offshore, will be brought back into the country. And, pick up all this property; for pennies on the dollar.

Kevin Patrick: It's fundraising week. Let's get the community involved. The number here is: 454-7762. If you want to call in and ask Dale questions. And, we'll keep talking; until we get some callers. Where were we? We were talking about the situation with the housing. And, the housing situation is also tied in to the strength of the dollar. So, we were talking earlier, about China and other countries, calling in their markers. Which would deflate the dollar. Which could really accelerate the problem with housing.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Oh, yes, I would say. My editor, Michael Ruppert, at From The Wilderness; he has voiced his opinion, that China won't call in it's marker, until the housing market begins to collapse. I'm not quite sure why he feels that the housing market will collapse first.

Kevin Patrick: And, beside from - I believe it's medical and service economy; the housing market's the only thing really keeping the American economy afloat, right now.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Yes. Everybody is basically bankrolling their personal debt, with second and even third mortgages. And, Bush after 2001 - after 9/11, he said; go out and spend, spend, spend. Keep the economy going. Well, the way that people have done that, is by racking up debt. And, they've managed to finance those debts, so far; with real estate holdings. Right now, we're one step into a terrible state of personal debt. And now, they've come through, with this repressive bankruptcy legislation. So, that there isn't going to be any way out of that debt. Other than, to basically lose your homes and go to work for somebody.

Kevin Patrick: And, I believe we have a caller. Peter?

Peter Hi, yes. So, thank you very much, for having this really important conversation. I have one comment and then a question. You know, one reason it's hard to see peak, is that when you're on top of it; the perspective, so to speak - it's hard to actually appreciate where you are. But, the other thing is; that in the distribution of things. Be it life, you know - bacteria. To whales. Or, be it meteorites. And, sand grains to comets. You know, there's a distribution of things. And yes, we've got rid of all the big oil. We're into the mega-field. Or, big field. And then, there are these intermediate and small fields; that add a certain amount of oil, that can kind of delay the onset of this peak.

The trouble is; we can't afford to burn it. Our carbon dioxide levels are already thirty percent higher, than the warmest time at that last interglacial. We're facing large climatic changes. And, we cannot morally bear the responsibility for burning the remaining oil. Regardless of whether we can find it, or not. And, that's basically what I wanted to say. There's a real problem, that we've set off in the environment, on top of which we have our monetary system. Which is a classic pyramidal system.

It depends on having people on the bottom; who may very well drop into waged slavery. They very well may drop into slavery. Or, endentured servitude. I see it. And, thank you, very much; for having this very important conversation

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Thank you, very much. That was a very good comment there. It brought up the problem of global warming; which is the flipside of the oil problem. All of this oil, is basically the carbon, that at one time was in our atmosphere. It's been locked up by the planet, through natural processes. And, at dept; we brought it back to the surface. Burned it. And, sent it back up, into the atmosphere again. I've written a series of articles looking at global warming. And, at the tail end of the article, it looks at the possible implications of peak oil on global warming. And, I'm afraid that what I see, isn't too good.

Because, one of the easy outs for the United States, China, and many other countries; is to turn back to coal, for alot of their energy usage. And, in the United States; there are, at least at the last estimate I heard, was 100 new coal burning plants, being projected in the years to come. They're keeping it quite hush, hush. They will probably be required to implement carbon sequestration technology, to help keep down on the carbon dioxide emissions. But, I have heard no talk about limiting the other pollutants from coal itself. Coal puts alot of different pollutants, mostly particulates in the air. That is, you know, little bits of this or that.

And, a problem that we're starting to discuss openly; is kind of the flip of global warming, to global dimming. Where they have noticed, over the last decade or so; that the amount of sunlight, reaching the surface of the earth, has actually decreased. And, this has offset some of the warming, due to the greenhouse gas production. and, as near as they can figure it, right now; they're not one hundred percent sure. But, the studies seem to indicate, that this global dimming, is due to particulate pollutants.

So, a decrease in oil production and in natural gas production; could lead to increased coal burning, which could lead to an increase in particulates. And, not quite as substantial. but also an increase in carbon dioxide emissions. But, it would mask global warming, due to the particulates. Until, coal peak.

And, an associate of mine, working with the Department of Energy; on his own time, worked up a study of U.S. coal reserves. And, when they would peak, and his projection was about 2032. So, we would move along with coal, until about 2032, and then our coal burning would start to decrease. Particulates rain out of the atmosphere, a lot quicker than carbon dioxide. So, after coal burning began to decrease; the particulates would rain out of the atmosphere. And, we would suddenly be hit with global warming, at twice the rate we have currently.

Kevin Patrick: So, right now, we actually have the cover of the carbon dioxide. But, it's being shielded - I mean, the sunlight, reaching the earth, originally; is diminished, because of the particulates. And, that would actually - that situation would increase. And, once the particulates come out; it's kind of like open up the window, to the incoming sunlight. Which will then, not be able to get back out. Because, we've also built up the carbon dioxide level.

Dale Alan Pfieffer:Yes.

Kevin Patrick: That's optimistic. So, how do you think U.S. citizens should change their expectations. Or, alter their expectations or viewpoints, just to get through this? I mean, what do you think? Psychologically, how should they start to think about life, so to speak? To make this transition?

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Well, if you go to my website: www.survivingpeakoil.com, and click on the library link. There is a library on that website, of books. About everything from organic gardening, to passive solar building. To herbal medicine. You name it. We've got it on that website. Just about anything you need for self sufficiency. As far as information is concerned. We have links for each of those books at Amazon.com , where you could buy them. Alot of them are out of print. but, at Amazon, they're linked up with used bookstores, throughout the U.S.; so, that you could still find these books, even though they are out of print.

I would suggest, that people start reading up on this sort of thing. Another good source is Mother Earth News - Magazine. Start looking at how you can become self sufficient, at Doing More With Less.

Kevin Patrick: I read, I believe, Michael Ruppert's article. He even sees that college could be out of reach; except maybe that education could be focused more on a local level, also.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Yes. Well, unfortunately, college is already becoming that. You know, with what Bush and Congress have done to the PELL Grants; fewer and fewr people who need the money, are finding it available. Which is unfortunate, because with our standard of living in this country; everyone in this country should have the right to a free college education. And, we could do it, if we just kind of cut a couple billion out of our military budget.

Kevin Patrick: We have another caller, too. And, this is Lee. He sat in with me on the interview with Shel. And, he's also got an interview coming up on Monday. Which I hope he mentions, with Richard Heinberg. Lee?

Lee: Dale, thanks a lot for all of your work.

Kevin Patrick: I thank you, very much.

Lee: I'd just like to make the comment that - we were talking about things that we can do. In my thinking about this - I mean, there's all the things you mentioned. But, also, what I've noticed is, and thought about is; how important it is, that we all start talking about this with our neighbors. And, our friends and family. And, just informing people. 'Cause, I really don't think we can look to the government at all. I don't think we can look to the corporate media. We can look to community radio stations, that are responsive, like WGDR. I feel like the message - people are really ready for this conversation. And, it doesn't take much to start it.

Up here in Cabot, we have a group of people, starting to talk about peak oil. And, what we can do to respond. People are just hungry for this. Because, I think they feel like - you know, the wool's been pulled over their eyes, for a long time. And, when you start pulling it off; they just jerk it off. You know, they're ready. I just wanted to mention that.

Kevin Patrick: Lee, I - and, you're familiar. And, like you said; you were talking with people in Cabot. How well positioned do you think Vermont is, in comparison to other states; to adapt to a world, where fossil fuels are diminishing in supply?

Lee: Well, we still have some small villages, where the farms come up to the edge of the villages, to some degree. We have a lot of experience with sustainable agriculture. We have a fairly responsive government. We still have - thanks to the work of Jim Hoague; we still have an electoral system that isn't totally been bought up. It still functions, to some degree. We have paper ballots. I think we have a lot going for us.

I still think; we can't underestimate the severity and the hugeness of this problem. And, - I mean, all of our tractors, still work on diesel fuel. And, we gotta start thinking about how that's going to be. How we're gong to deal with that. As things get more expensive. And, the whole discussion about debt. I mean, there are alot of people in this state, that are in a lot of debt. And, I think this just gets back to community and how much people are willing to - you know, I just go back to meet your neighbors. Talk to them about this. See what you can do.

Look at From The Wilderness. Look at the work of Katherine Austin Sitts. Jim Hoague's a great resource. Community currencies. Just start talking about all these things. And, don't give up. You know, the Cubans have a great saying. It means 'it can be done'. So, I think, that's sort of our only choice To stay optimistic. And, to stay fascinated.

Kevin Patrick: And, I know that the documentary, "The End Of Suburbia" , has been making the rounds, in the state of Vermont. In many, many local viewings. Which maybe will raise awareness. And, could possibly have discussions in local communities around Vermont, on the issue. With that as a background.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: He had a lot of great comments there. I have noticed, from my own personal experience; largely here in Michigan, but elsewhere as well. That up until this past year; that when I wold bring up the subject of peak oil with others, either in a formal setting. Or, an informal setting. I was met with a lot of denial, and a lot of skepticism. But, just within this past year; the denial seems to be breaking. Probably, I'm sure, it's part of the price of gasoline. It's starting to bring it home. People, still aren't by and large; aware of the full impact this will have on society.

Generally, when you speak of it, their first impression is; well, it's going to be more expensive to drive a car. They don't realize, that there's an extent - that oil is used in just about everything in our society. From the production of metals. To the production of glass. To the production of medicines, agriculture. You name it.

Kevin Patrick: I think we have another caller. Steve?

Steve: Yes.

Kevin Patrick: Is Steve on the air?

Steve: Yeah. This is an interesting conversation. And, there's a part of it, that - there's a piece that I think belongs within these discussions. And, I seldom hear it. And, we don't talk about our dependency on the car. We always talk about our dependency on oil. And, if you could create tomorrow, a way to fix it, so that all automobiles would just - well, the automobile means self moving.

If they actually did make something that did move itself. That didn't require any fuel. That didn't pollute. They would still kill 50,000 of us, a year. They would still, when we're out on the congested highways, bring out the worst in our personalities. There's a lot of things wrong with the car, apart from the fact that it pollutes.

And, takes up a lot of real estate, for parking lots and interstate highways. And, I wonder if we just thought in a different point of view. You know, if we could get ourselves away from the advertising campaigns; that make them look like such wonderful creations. And, think what it would be like, to have a large portion of every inner part of every city, automobile free.

Place where you can - it's an inviting place to live. I mean, there's a lot of people, who live in cities; that like it there. And, we could create more of that. And, they wouldn't need a car. They wouldn't even need mass transit to get to work. Because, alot of them, could walk to a place, just a short distance away from where they work. Or, they can walk a short distance to a bus or train terminal, that would take them to work. And, ;you know, the same could happen on trains and buses. They don't have to be seats, with everybody facing forward.

They could have a dining car, on a commuter train. Where you could sit for a half an hour. Have a cup of coffee and a doughnut. And, chat with people you commute with, rather than isolated in your own rig; everyday driving, as we do here in Vermont. Half of six months of a year, where the roads are so treacherous; that we risk our lives, driving on them.

To me, it's beyond the fuel and the peak oil thing. It's way beyond that. It's about changing our whole culture. To something that's more community oriented, in al aspects. And, getting out of all of these damned things, that a friend of mine refers to as tin prostitutes. By that, he means cars.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Some years ago, I've traveled around the country, a good deal. Both by automobile, and some years ago; I traveled around the country extensively, by bicycle. And, in contrasting the two; the bicycle traveling was much more enjoyable. And, not only that; but, I was able to socialize with people in all the areas that I traveled through. When you drive a car, cars are agents of atomization. We're put into a vehicle, where we're isolated, from the rest of the environment around us. And, from everyone else. We're put into competition with the other drivers, for road space. And, we're also tied to that road. You know, you can't travel, where there is no road. I've never been a big fan of automobiles.

Kevin Patrick: I mentioned, at the very beginning, that not only is Mr. Pfieffer a geologist, science journalist. And, a contributing editor in From The Wilderness . But, he's also a novelist and a poet. So, if you want to tell the folks about your new novel. And, some of your writings, and how they can get ahold of them.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Okay. Well, my latest novel, is titled, "Giants In Their Steps" . It's about - well, it takes place at some point in our future. Not too distant future. but, still at least fifty years off from now. It's about a man, who falls afoul of our legal system in North America. And, winds up being deported to a work camp in the Canadian Rockies.

Unfortunately, due to problems with the funding of these camps, and the size of the prison population; the indentured servants, who have been shipped there. The camp officials, or the prison officials; take to dumping alot of the prisoners in the wilderness area, up in the Canadian Rockies. And, Northern Alaska. And, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories.

Dumping them from helicopters, with nothing more than the clothes on their back. And, most of them, become food for the local animals or wildlife.

The main character in the story, Alex; he manages to survive that. He's rescued by a local mountain man, if you will - who teaches him how to live with nature. He winds up, becoming quite attached to the local community. And, in the course of the novel, there develops a conflict between the local community. That means the local mountain folks, and native people - Indians, who are still residing in that area. A conflict between them and the convict population. Which takes to preying on them. And, the government forces. And, the entire novel, is involved in the conflict of those three agencies. And, talks a good deal, about what we are missing, in our current civilization. And, about the true vitality of nature and the wilderness. And, has a very cautionary note, at the ending.

I'd originally began working on that novel, about the time Reagan was elected President. So, I've been working on it, for a long time. You can get that book, along with all my other books, through my publisher www.lulu.com. Or, you can purchase them from Amazon.com , Barnes & Noble.com . Or, you could order them through bookstores, anywhere.

Kevin Patrick: I saw on your website - is the offer for a signed copy if they communicate with you, through your P.O. Box, still open?

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Oh, yes. Yes.

Kevin Patrick: I'll give the address out. The address is:

Dale Alan Pfieffer:

P.O. Box 892
Clarkston, Michigan 48347

Is that all still correct?

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Um, yes, 48347.

Kevin Patrick: Right.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: I'm glad you've got that. Because, I didn't have that information in front of me.

Kevin Patrick: So, that would be - you can get "The End Of The Oil Age", "Giants In Their Steps". I believe you have a couple books of poetry. One collected volume of poems. The other sounds interesting, "A Primer For The Existence In The 21st Century". What exactly is that about?

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Well, the title is kind of a joke

Kevin Patrick: Okay.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: That's actually a pamphlet that I published, back in the year 1990. And, I wasn't even aware of how soon peak oil was creeping up on us, at that time. And, the title, was kind of a joke title.

Kevin Patrick: It turned out to be much more relevant than you expected?

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Unfortunately.

Kevin Patrick: So, it sounds like you're novel and you're nonfiction writing, kind of has a close connection. In the importance of community, and getting along with other folks

Dale Alan Pfieffer: Yes, they've always been important to me, throughout my life. Along with the value of nature and the wilderness.

Kevin Patrick: So, you're website is: www.SurvivingPeakOil.com . Thank you, very much, for joining us today. This is a topic that touches everything. Like you said; alot of people notice, when it hits their price at the pump. But, it's connected every one of our geo-political moves, and most of our domestic policy moves. And, it's really going to be an interesting situation, at the least. With how we're going to adjust with an economy that we just created. This new global economy, that doesn't seem to be compatible with the fossil fuel supplies.

So, thank you, for joining us. And, like I said; Lee Blackwell will have an interview with Richard Heinberg on WGDR, at 11:00 am. Monday. Thanks again, to Dale Alan Pfieffer:.

Dale Alan Pfieffer: And, thank you, for having me on.