Sunday, September 11, 2011

ASPO Conference

I'll be speaking at the ASPO in Washington, DC on November 2-5 on why gradual energy descent is a science-fiction scenario that includes friendly oil-exporting space aliens and why the end of the fossil fuel age is likely to be a step-function. I will also talk about investing for post-collapse. I believe that there might still be time to engineer a soft landing at the end of the upcoming economic cliff-diving exercise. This can be done if groups of individuals decide to sell off financial instruments that will have little or no survival value post-collapse (stocks, bonds, gold, etc.) and invest in something that is not useful now but will be: complete construction kits for businesses to deliver products and services that are certain to be in high demand, for lack of better alternatives. To make this scenario possible, it is necessary to design plans, recruit people and stockpile and pre-position materials while finance, industry and transportation systems are still functioning. I hope to see some of you there.

The 2011 ASPO-USA Conference, Peak Oil, Energy & the Economy, will provide eye-opening information and hard-nosed analysis to help you navigate an increasingly uncertain future. Featuring experts from a cross-cutting array of disciplines and perspectives, the Conference will empower you with the tools and connections to make critical decisions for your business, your family, and public policy.

Under the theme of "Truth in Energy," the conference will stress the essential need for reliable, transparent, fact-based information, and a full understanding of growing energy and economic challenges.

The ASPO-USA Peak Oil, Energy & the Economy Conference, November 2-5, 2011 in Washington, DC, is the world's premier event focused on peak oil challenges and solutions. It is produced by the nonprofit Association For The Study Of Peak Oil & Gas - USA (ASPO-USA). The format includes keynotes, plenary sessions, concurrent educational tracks, networking receptions, and exhibits. The conference is supported by more than 35 publications, websites and partnering associations. You can receive a $50 discount off the prevailing fees for Peak Aware Package registration option by inserting the code mediapartner when prompted on the eRegistration page linked from


Kevin said...

I am very interested in this topic, and hope there will be a transcript of your talk online. I'm looking forward to hearing about it.

Silenus said...

I am curious, what is your take on John Michael Greer's long descent scenario? Is your first sentence a reference to that?

By the way, love your writing, Mr. Orlov.

Dmitry Orlov said...

Greer's theory of catabolic collapse is one of the things that got me thinking in this direction. More recently he has advanced the idea of a long timeline of descent spanning centuries. I agree that remnants of this civilization will linger until something new arrives to replace it. But I see the initial economic step down as a bit of a doozy, bringing human population back to pre-industrial levels within one or two generations. But I think he and I are very much on the same page as far as what can be done to make this bad situation better, by preserving what's best and jettisoning the rest.

Kraig Grady said...

Practical tools and equipment seems like a good idea.
You statement that you foresee population dropping to pre industrial levels. Would there be enough oil for that and find ourselves in the same game? Some have suggested that this is actually part of a plan.

Dmitry Orlov said...

1 billion is James Lovelock's estimate, but I think it's a sane one. There will probably be enough stripper wells (powered by oxen walking around a turnstile, probably) to make some kerosene for lamps, some lubricants and a bit of naphtha to keep the moths from eating the wool, but that should be it, more or less, for the petroleum age.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

Siwmae Dmitry!

I'll be interested to see a transcript/video of your presentation.

Living (very frugally, but comfortably) aboard a small boat, and being deeply involved in hands-on work in my local CSA farm seem to me to be the most practical preparations that I can do. I'm definitely on the same page as you and John Michael on the question of what's best to do to be ready for the stepwise increases in socio-economic entropy that -- in fact -- has already begun.

ghpacific said...

Just ask the millions that lost power in San Diego how long it takes to devolve.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kollapsnik, I live in NYC and I was wondering when you will be speaking here next. I'd love to see and hear you speak live.

Also, I'm including this link to a fascinating and terrifying article that I found on recently. It may appear off topic but I don't think it really is.It would appear that there is a radical conservative putsch in the U.S. government whose goal is to totally undermine the legitimacy of the federal government and it's ability to perform it's duties. (Please note I'm not a Republicrat, having eschewed the good cop/bad cop political system a long while back.)

It gobsmacked me that at a time when so much bad news is arriving on so many different vectors, we also face an internal collapse brought by a groups of zealots whose actions have even shocked and dismayed other members of their own party. By definition, the causes of societal collapse are bigger than any governing institution to ultimately check, but any assistance those bodies may possibly provide for a softer landing or a slower descent will be nil if what this guy is discussing actually comes to pass. It's terrifying to be living in the grip of superstition, pure ideology, and mindless political ambition run amok.

I'm reminded of an old childhood hero, Carl Sagan, who wrote in "A Candle in the Darkness" that he believed we are entering a second Dark Age. He was referring specifically to the lack of rational thinking/scientific literacy in the U.S. public and around the world but those facts fit into the larger, grimmer picture of societal collapse with chilling neatness. Here is the link:

void_genesis said...

For me the most important resources to stockpile are biological ones.

Finding reliable strains of staple crops and small livestock that are compatible with low tech farming is a time consuming process.

A consideration is how rapidly a crop can be scaled up to meet demand. Potatoes have an amplification factor of only ten for every season. By contrast yams (sweet potato to us Aussies) and grains are more like one hundred.

Business wise though- properly built sturdy hand-tools are extremely rare these days. They are the kind of things that could be usefully stockpiled for later resale.

Another niche I can see is a kind of affordable world encyclopaedia of practical information (agriculture, animal husbandry, human health, construction, navigation, geography and basic science) on non-acid paper in properly bound volumes. The market for this already would exist.

scrofulous said...

Business wise though- properly built sturdy hand-tools are extremely rare these days. They are the kind of things that could be usefully stockpiled for later resale.

While this seems a reasonable response, and though I agree, as Dimitri says, the first step will likely be a big one; in one form or another electric power will likely be around for quite a bit yet, so don't forget power 'hand-tools'. Harness those slaves while building the barn, farmhouse, or for some, the ark. Use those hand-powered tools later for repairing what you built with power.

Dimitri, when all the dust settles and population is reduced to a sustainable number, I hope much of the knowledge that the use of all that fossil fuel energy has allowed us to accumulate will have been saved. Energy, not lost, but converted!

Nigel W. said...

The biggest trans-collapse problem will be getting enough to eat.

There wont be any shortage of housing, indeed we will probably have several each. And we will have all the household appliances, clothing, hand tools and garden implements therefrom.

Farmable land will not be hard to find either, until climate change trashes that by flood and/or drought and/or fire and/or sea level rise.

Most technical accoutrements like cleaver electronics will last as long as their batteries and the broadcast stations that feed them. Not long.

If we try and take too much with us we will spend our time looking back - trying to figure how to bend an old-time tool to the new circumstance.

We should instead all become the Johnny Appleseeds of our neighbourhood, and plant food of all types (fruit, veges, nuts, herbs, medicinals) everywhere everyday, as if our lives depend on it.

Because they do.

forrest said...

re all this alleged 'Devolving in San Diego":

1) The only people reasonably certain to maintain phone service were those with phones that connected to landlines and drew their power from them.

2) Traffic was clogged (but polite) wherever freeway traffic had to exit into nonfunctioning traffic lights.

3) The restaurant we were going for a joint birthday dinner was "open if we paid cash," but we looked at the traffic & thought about the route the bus would have to take, & stayed home.

3) Grocery stores, particularly small ones, were also troubled by power loss to cash registers-- but mainly to their coolers and freezers. One nearby store at sunset was full of people last-minute groping for food & drink, with a guy in the doorway waving flashlight, announcing 'in five minutes we're closed.'

4) Lots of people outside were desperately clutching their cell phones.

If this continued, I expect...

a) Nobody would have any money in a day or so, having run through their cash and being unable to access bank accounts.

b) The food in most people's refrigerators, restaurants, many markets, would be starting to ripen.

c) If it lasted a week we'd be pooling our bread & canned veggies, started to feel a little rumpled. & drinking city water (bleh! Everything you didn't want to know about CA agricultural pollution!), the filter machines hereabouts being electrically powered.


There was a supersized solar flare in the 1800's that blew all the telegraph lines in the US. Another rare event like that... & how long to repair that sort of damage?

Nigwil said...

Of course, what was 'Devolving in San Diego" devolved big time in Europe and UK in September 2000.

Forrest, your observations and extrapolations are on the button:

"On September 9th, a nation-wide panic buying of fuel began. ...

"The impact on critical infrastructure was devastating...

"...a number of supermarkets began rationing food purchases.

"Medicines were not delivered to pharmacies. ATM machines weren’t loaded with money...

Ten days to anarchy? Yes indeed.