Skip to main content

As America runs low on oil,
America will run low on food.

As America runs very low on oil,
America will have widespread famine.

I wrote about this before:

 ...since those methods are progressively more expensive,
from the horizontal drilling and fracking already in use,
to the tar sands,
oil shale,
and oil from coal coming later,
each one more expensive than the last,
because of that expense,
the oil companies,
in the next ten or twenty years,
will say to the farmers,
we need ten or twenty dollars a gallon
for the diesel fuel
to fuel the tractors and harvesting machines and farm trucks
used to plant and harvest and move the crops,
the crops used to feed the livestock,
the chickens and hogs and cattle and humans.  

I've been trying to think it through,
trying to imagine
what will happen first,
then what,
then what after that.

higher prices for diesel fuel,
higher prices for food,
then shortage of fuel,
then shortage of food.

I found out recently
that a barrel of oil is about 42 gallons,
and refining that oil produces
about ten gallons of diesel fuel,
nearly twenty gallons of gasoline,
four gallons of kerosene,
used as jet fuel,
and another ten gallons of odds and ends,
a gallon of this,
a quart of that.

In the short term,
it seems to me,
that all the farm equipment
needs to be converted
from strictly diesel engines,
to engines that will burn a variety of fuels,
such as the Stirling engine:

The engine requires some time to warm up before it can produce useful power.
The engine can not change its power output quickly.  

Sounds to me as if such an engine
could not accelerate in traffic in a city,
but could chug along at a steady pace
in a farm field.

As I understand it,
the Stirling engine
simply needs
a source of heat.

If a fire box and fuel nozzles and tanks are properly installed,
it could use anything from gasoline
to wheat straw from the fields,
to coal.

Keeping in mind the nearly twenty gallons of gasoline
from each barrel of oil,
but only ten gallons of diesel fuel,
it would make sense to nearly shut down
any and all use of any and all fuels
other than farming,
if folks want to eat.

Transporting food from farm to market
would be by train,
since trains are the most efficient.

And some of the trains could use jet fuel.

It's been done,
but you can't park a jet powered train
under an overpass
for even a few minutes,
since the jet exhaust goes straight up,
and the heat ruins any asphalt on the bridge above it.

The US Navy uses jet engines in some of their ships.

I saw a jet powered vehicle win a tractor pull contest.

Tractor pull contests normally aren't won,
since there's a sled
that gets heavier as you drag it,
since it picks up more weight,
the farther you go across the arena,
so you measure how far you dragged the sled forward.

It's a measurement,
not a victory.

The jet powered vehicle pulled the sled out of the arena.

we will be so low on fossil fuels,
we will use horses and mules
to work the farms fields.

But until then,
we need to use the fuels we have,
to produce the food,
and get it to the food markets,
so we can get it and take it home,
and eat it.

No more using jet fuel
to fly around,
no more using gasoline
to drive around.

All the folks living in the cities
would simply ride the bus,
to work and back,
and to the food market and back.

The bus could burn diesel fuel,
or gasoline.

By the way,
in the mix of rationing
and converting tractors,
some tractors and farm trucks
could use the old Ford 429 engine.

It had a lot of power,
and held up well.

It was outlawed in NASCAR,
because it held up so well,
the drivers could push it flat out,
and it wouldn't blow.

If the race car drivers couldn't blow the Ford 429 engine,
it might last a while on the farm,
burning some of that twenty gallons of gasoline
from that barrel of oil,
to supplement the work done
by the tractors and combines
burning that ten gallons of diesel.

Or, the 429 engine
could be installed in some of the city buses.

Others in the media in general,
and others at Daily Kos,
try to analyze our world,
and our oil,
and the disasters that may come,
by writing about climate change,
by writing about wind and solar and nuclear energy.

But in all I've read,
they have all failed
to explain exactly what will happen,
in the foreseeable future,
that will mean the suffering and death
of millions of Americans.

I read one book,
The Long Emergency,
by James Howard Kunstler,
that finally gave me a hint.

Here is a link to a pdf copy online,
so you can read it without the delay
of buying a copy from Amazon:

The history of industrialized farming has been remarkably short.
Mowing, reaping, and threshing machines powered by animals have barely
been on the scene for a century and a half, and engine-driven ones much
more recently. The tractor came into common use only eighty years ago.
Ditto for electric milking machines and refrigerated bulk storage. In up-­state New York, the tractor revolution was not complete until after World
War II, that is, within the author's lifetime. Many farmers were still using
horses as recently as the 1950s  
I found some information
to back that up:

 1954 - Number of tractors on farms exceeded the number of horses and mules for first times  

The Amish,
and other groups
are living the life
everyone will need to live,
unless I'm simply wrong.

But we should think about the stages we'll go through,
until the population stabilizes
and all the survivors
move to land that has enough rainfall
to feed themselves.

My wife,
is a gamer;
she has a Play Station 3,
and she often plays Call of Duty:
Black Ops,
one and two.

She often plays team death match,
and she often plays at killing zombies.

The team death match
involves teams of six on each side,
trying to kill each other,
with rifles, mostly,
while running around some buildings,
or lurking in a corner,
whichever strategy you prefer.

Killing zombies can be done alone,
or with a few fellow fighters.

Zombies have no rifles,
and they kill you by grabbing and biting you,
and you can kill them with rifles,
or with a large knife,
up close.

During the transition
from the way we live now,
and the various levels of living,
such as living with half the oil we have now,
as we did less than 85 years ago,
and living with very little oil or similar fuels,
as we did in the 1890's,
during that transition,
since America is the land of guns,
300 million Americans,
nearly 300 million guns,
for awhile,
the transition may be a lot like team death match.

Folks will use their guns
to kill each other,
and take their food,
and take their land,
to grow crops and graze livestock.

if some folks are weak with hunger,
and out of ammo,
they may all act like zombies,
killing with machetes,
and resorting to a little cannibalism.

The only way I know of
to reduce the number of dead,
dead from folks killing each other,
and dead from starving to death,
the only way I know
to reduce the number of dead,
is contraception.

I want young people
all across America
to rise up and run to their doctors,
and get surgically sterilized,
with a passionate desire
to avoid the fighting,
to avoid the famine.

If four out of five couples get sterilized,
and the fifth couple,
after one child,
does likewise,
so that ten adults
produce one child,
we can reduce the number of Americans,
in two generations,
to only 3 million.

Not 300 million,
not 30 million,
but 3 million.

A number of Americans that can easily feed themselves.

The 1890 Census

U.S. Resident Population:    62,979,766  

We had some big cities in 1890,
and we used a lot of coal fired steam engine trains,
to move food and folks around.

Maybe I'm wrong about the three million;
I'm just looking for a safe number,
but I wanted to give you
a blast from the past,
to help put this all in perspective,
give you some context.


If the sense of alarm,
alarm over the coming famine,
is nearly universal,
and nearly everyone,
with excitement and fear,
and hope,
joins the contraception project
then there will be hope,
hope for America.

I don't think it will happen that way.

And if the young folks of America
don't rise up and do this themselves,
the government
has little chance
of forcing America to do it.

So millions will starve.

But if, someday,
after the famines,
when there's only a few million American survivors,
someone fires up the Daily Kos servers,
and reads this diary,
and others I've written,
and other things,
books in libraries,
Mother Earth News magazines,
they may see what they need to do.

By the way,
I'm planting a vegetable garden,
onions and cabbage and more,
and plan to raise ducks,
maybe next year,
so I can eat duck eggs.

My wife and I are doing this to make a start,
to do something,
however small,
towards feeding ourselves.

Thanks for reading.

1:56 AM PT: I just figured out a good catch phrase:

In the short term,
nothing is more urgent than fuel for farm machinery.

In the long term,
nothing is more urgent than contraception.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Bringing a child into the world at this point in history is a crime, the crime of child endangerment.

    by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Sat May 04, 2013 at 12:39:43 AM PDT

  •  May I refer you to a story (3+ / 0-)

    in the NYT some years back?  Title: The Grass is Greener in Harvard Yard.

    It's about an experiment Harvard did, with the explicit encouragement of their president. In the beginning, it was one acre: instead of using chemicals, they took a compost soup (my term, not the real term), and what they found was that by using the compost soup (again, my term, not theirs) the grass grew better, had better and longer roots, was more able to withstand thousands of student feet treading over it, and didn't need as much watering.

    To the point that the president expanded the experiment well beyond that initial acre.

    I haven't kept up with the story. But here's the first link, in case you're interested:

    Irony takes a worse beating from Republicans than Wile E. Coyote does from Acme. --Tara the Antisocial Social Worker

    by Youffraita on Sat May 04, 2013 at 01:20:52 AM PDT

    •  I didn't take time to get into organic gardening, (3+ / 0-)

      but I'm truly aware
      that if folks use compost,
      and make sure the soil is full of microbes and worms and such,
      folks can get at least as good,
      and likely better,
      yields of any crop,
      better than with fertilizers made from fossil fuels.

      That's part of the picture,
      the picture of folks farming on a small scale,
      to feed themselves,
      in extended family sized groups.

      The manure from livestock,
      (properly composted?)
      (even human manure?)
      I don't know enough details to write well about it,
      but I'm truly aware
      of organic gardening,
      as a general concept.

      Lots of earthworms.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Bringing a child into the world at this point in history is a crime, the crime of child endangerment.

      by bigjacbigjacbigjac on Sat May 04, 2013 at 02:06:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think we're in a race, but I actually think (6+ / 0-)

    water will be our sooner limiting factor, with out of control weather leaving us hit with widespread drought conditions off and on, under scorching hot summers.

    I seem to recall that progress was being made on processes to create nitrogenous fertilizers without oil, though I couldn't point to the article.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site