Strip-mining the Middle Class

The economy is out of balance, heavily weighted to a service sector, especially the financial sector which creates no new wealth, but merely transforms and transfers it. With stagnation in the median wage, and an historic imbalance in income distribution skewed to the top few percent, with the banks levying de facto taxation and inefficiency on the economy as a function of that income transfer, there should be little wonder that the growth of real GDP is sluggish in relation to new debt.

Or as Joe Klein so colorfully phrased it, the elite have been strip-mining the middle class in America for the past thirty years.

Great article from JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN on our unsustainable monetary and economic system.  It brings to mind Joseph Tainter’s axiom that the collapse of a complex society occurs when the returns on a societies investment in complexity turn negative.

Farming the Backyards of America

A business model that generates local food profits by farming the backyards of suburbia.  Follow link to story from the L.A. Times.

Companies are sprouting up across the country, offering help building and maintaining backyard vegetable gardens for those who lack the time — or green thumb — needed to keep the crops coming.

Farming the Backyards of Brooklyn

My mission is to be an instigator.  I just want to connect people that want to do these things.”  Stacy Murphy, Founder, BK Farmyards.

China & Peak Oil

More coverage of Peak Oil by the mainstream press (CNBC):

ECONned

Learn about the dangers of the current neo-classical economic theory.  Arm yourself with knowledge.  A sustainable world will require a completely new economic model.

Putting it bluntly:

Peak Food?

Agriculture News predicts an Agricultural Apocalypse this year.  For the complete story go here.

We are facing a problem that literally has never been faced in human history. Surging population and food demand, food inflation, diminishing world food stocks, drought, flooding, cold, diminished credit, infestations, soil erosion, industrial farming, factory farm pollution, aquifers/wells going dry, relocation of produce for energy production are all slamming into a global financial and economic crisis. And in some places like the United States they don’t have enough farmers. Then on top of everything else we have desertification, which is one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. New deserts are growing at a rate of 20,000 square miles (51,800 square kilometers) a year. Desertification leads to famine, mass starvation and human migration.
According to Eric de Carbonnel, “There is overwhelming, undeniable evidence that the world will run out of food next year. The 2010 Food Crisis is going to be different. It is the crisis that will make all doomsday scenarios come true. Early in 2009, the supply and demand in agricultural markets went badly out of balance. The world experienced a catastrophic fall in food production as a result of the financial crisis (low commodity prices and lack of credit) and adverse weather on a global scale. Normally food prices should have already shot higher months ago, leading to lower food consumption and bringing the global food supply/demand situation back into balance. This never happened because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), instead of adjusting production estimates down to reflect decreased production, adjusted estimates upwards to match increasing demand from china. In this way, the USDA has brought supply and demand back into balance (on paper) and temporarily delayed a rise in food prices by ensuring a catastrophe in 2010.”

DOD and Peak Oil

This is the Energy Summary from the DOD’s 2010 Joint Operating Environment Report.  The possible supply crunch circa 2012 would be the equivalent of shutting down Saudi Arabia.

Energy Summary
To generate the energy required worldwide by the 2030s would require us to find an additional 1.4 MBD every year until then.

During the next twenty-five years, coal, oil, and natural gas will remain indispensable to meet energy requirements. The discovery rate for new petroleum and gas fields over the past two decades (with the possible exception of Brazil) provides little reason for optimism that future efforts will find major new fields.

At present, investment in oil production is only beginning to pick up, with the result that production could reach a prolonged plateau. By 2030, the world will require production of 118 MBD, but energy producers may only be producing 100 MBD unless there are major changes in current investment and drilling capacity.

By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 MBD. {Equivalent to the output of Saudi Arabia}

Energy production and distribution infrastructure must see significant new investment if energy demand is to be satisfied at a cost compatible with economic growth and prosperity. Efficient hybrid, electric, and flex-fuel vehicles will likely dominate light-duty vehicle sales by 2035 and much of the growth in gasoline demand may be met through increases in biofuels production.

Renewed interest in nuclear power and green energy sources such as solar power, wind, or geothermal may blunt rising prices for fossil fuels should business interest become actual investment. However, capital costs in some power-generation and distribution sectors are also rising, reflecting global demand for alternative energy sources and hindering their ability to compete effectively with relatively cheap fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels will very likely remain the predominant energy source going forward.