YOU BET YOUR LIFE
Michael C. Ruppert
© Copyright 2005, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
September 2, 2005 0600 PST (FTW) -- Following these remarks is a brilliant piece of reporting by the American Progress Action Fund. It makes a clear case for what we are all now suspecting and seeing: the Bush administration is horribly mismanaging relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. Several things are now becoming clear. It is unlikely that New Orleans will ever be significantly rebuilt. When we talk about collapse as a result of Peak Oil, New Orleans is an exemplary – if horrifying – glimpse of what it will look like for all of us. In the case of New Orleans, however, it’s happening about two or three times as fast as we will see it when Peak Oil becomes an unavoidable, ugly, global reality. How long? Months. If we’re lucky, a year. As of August 2005 it’s not just a race to make sure that a particular region is not eaten by warfare and economic collapse. Mother Nature is obviously very hungry too. What region will be the next to go? What sacrifices can be offered before the inevitable comes knocking at our own personal door? Who can be pushed ahead of us into the mouth of the hungry beast in the hopes it will become sated?
How low can human beings sink? Keep watching the news. It’s not the first time civilizations have collapsed. This has all happened many times before. This behavior is not new. What is new — but is now dying — is our enshrined belief that there were to be no consequences of our reckless consumption and destruction of the ecosystem. What is now dying a horrible death is America’s grotesque global arrogance, brutality and cupidity.
What is not being discussed rationally by the mainstream media is Katrina’s impact on energy production. They don’t dare. By my calculations and those of oil energy expert Jan Lundberg, the United States has just lost between 20% and 25% of its energy supply. My projection is that it’s not coming back — at least not most of it.
As a result of Katrina, Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that it cannot increase production. Many of us knew they’ve been lying for at least two years. The Energy Information Administration has just admitted that global demand has been outstripping supply for several months before Katrina. Nice time to start telling the truth. Nature is finally calling everybody’s bluff. The liars, deniers and mentally ill will be exposed soon enough and they will pay their own price. Daniel Yergin will finally get his comeuppance. FTW’s race is to reach as many people as possible who want to prepare and are willing to prepare for this in local community settings.
You save whom you can.
Gulf energy production has four main components: drilling and production, pipeline delivery to shore, refinery capacity, and then delivery to the rest of the nation. We have heard precious little about the damage to Louisiana’s Port Fourchon which is the largest point at which energy passes from sea to land in the region. It is heavily damaged and mostly inoperable for now, despite optimistic financial reports, intended to calm the markets, stating that “damage is minimal.” I am quite sure that I speak for the maybe 250,000 New Orleans residents who couldn’t or wouldn’t get out when I say, “Screw the markets!”
Production, if and when it starts trickling again, will most likely shift to Port Murphy or to Lake Charles. Sounds easy in the abstract, but the corporate headquarters at which to make and implement those decisions were mostly located in New Orleans. Shifting energy flows will never replace what was lost because those two facilities already face the daunting task of restoring their own output. They can’t handle the additional burden of compensation for what has been lost. As one astute and great researcher put it, “How will the oil companies even find their workers or tell them where to report for work?” Where will the workers live? Where will they buy groceries? How will they get to and from work if the gasoline they’re supposed to produce isn’t there? The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) is also much more seriously damaged than press accounts disclose. It’s here that supertankers from overseas (used to) offload. They have no place else to do it. They’re too big. I have seen video of LOOP damage which doesn’t look anything like the minimal damage that’s been reported. OK, so when the port is fixed what about the damaged pipelines running to shore? How many boat anchors have been dragged over them? In how many places are they ruptured, crushed or broken?
As many as twenty offshore rigs have now been confirmed as adrift, capsized, listing or sunk. Each rig may have as many as eight wells. Where’s the money coming from to replace them? How long will that take?
Bottom line: my assessment is that New Orleans is never going to be rebuilt and that US domestic oil production will never again reach pre-Katrina levels. The infrastructure is gone, the people are gone, and the US economy will be on life support very, very quickly. If people are griping at $5.00 gasoline what will they do when it’s $8.00? $10.00? Start shooting (the wrong people)? How difficult is it to rebuild in that kind of social climate? And if US oil production does not soon exceed pre-Katrina levels then the US economy is doomed anyway. It’s a catch-up game now. I think it’s quite likely that the Bush administration is responding so ineptly in part because it is in a complete crisis mode realizing that the entire United States is on the brink of collapse and there’s very little they can do about it. The Bush administration doesn’t know how to build things up, only blow them up. They aren’t worrying about New Orleans because they’re frantically triaging the rest of the nation and deciding what can be saved elsewhere.
What lingers for all of us is the inexplicably bovine behavior of the Bush administration. And how in the name of a loving God could Louisiana’s Attorney General Charles Foti say on national television that he will prosecute those who loot for survival with the same vigor as those who have looted for profit and greed? Even New Orleans police are smarter and better than this. They’re letting people go who have taken food, water, shoes that fit their feet and clothing that fits their bodies. Those who understand the situation condemn Mr. Foti’s callous and unreasoned position in the strongest possible terms.
And may God have mercy on the Democratic Party if it approaches the 2008 campaign with a platform saying that oil will flow, the prices will fall, and unbridled consumption will return if only we elect Hillary.
I was on ABC network satellite radio yesterday and after the show I repeated an observation that has been clear to me for some time. “Demand destruction” has become a priority not only to mitigate Peak Oil but also to mitigate global warming. The United States, with 5% of the world’s people, consumes (wastes) 25% of the world’s energy. How do you destroy demand? You collapse the economy. Homeless, unemployed “refugees” (what a cold, depersonalizing term) don’t buy gas, take trips, fly on airplanes or buy consumer goods (made with energy and requiring energy to operate). They don’t use air conditioning because they can’t afford it. They are the embodiment of Henry Kissinger’s infamous term “useless eaters,” a phrase from the Nazi vocabulary. If energy demand destruction, as acknowledged by the Bilderbergers and the CFR, is a priority, then the only – I repeat only – beast that must be tamed is the United States.
What happens when we run out of the poor and “minority” people whom our country has historically regarded as expendable – and the beast is still not satisfied?
The people in New Orleans and Mississippi are being sacrificed just as surely as the World Trade Center, Pentagon and airline victims were sacrificed on 9/11.
The most chilling thing I have heard is that hurricane Katrina fell on the thirteenth anniversary of Hurricane Andrew which devastated Florida in 1992. Hurricanes are named alphabetically. Andrew was the first tropical storm of 1992. Katrina was the eleventh of 2005 and the hurricane season is just beginning. There are more storms forming now. Some of them will most likely become very large hurricanes because water temperatures are so high in our dying oceans.
Go ahead. Tell me we’ve all been wrong about Peak Oil, about climate collapse, and the metastatic corruption of our government and economic system. Now it’s an easy bet and one that we will not have to wait long to settle. I’ll take your wager.
As New Orleans is showing us, and as Groucho Marx once said, “You bet your life!”
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Questions of Preparedness
Hurricane Katrina will likely be the worst natural disaster in our nation's history. If indeed thousands have perished, as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin predicted yesterday, it will also be the deadliest natural disaster in the United States in at least a century, since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. And as one Louisiana paper put it, "No one can say they didn't see it coming. " There have been "decades of repeated warnings about a breach of levees or failure of drainage systems that protect New Orleans from the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain." It's "inappropriate to 'blame' anyone for a natural disaster," the Washington Post rightly observes. "But given how frequently the impact of this one was predicted, and given the scale of the economic and human catastrophe that has resulted, it is certainly fair to ask questions about disaster preparations ." Below, a few of those questions:
WHERE WERE THE PLANS FOR EMERGENCY DISASTER RELIEF?: The response to Hurricane Katrina "is exposing serious failures by government leaders and crisis planners before Katrina's arrival and flawed execution by relief agencies as the disaster unfolded," the Wall Street Journal reports this morning. Communication failures have been widespread, local officials "found they lacked critical equipment and materials to use in repairs if levees breached," and even "basic emergency management" has been lacking. For instance, former FEMA chief James Lee Witt told reporters yesterday that "in the 1990s, in planning for a New Orleans nightmare scenario, the federal government figured it would pre-deploy nearby ships with pumps to remove water from the below-sea-level city and have hospital ships nearby." Now federal officials say a hospital ship won't leave its port in Baltimore until tomorrow, and isn't expected to arrive for seven days. "These things need to be planned and prepared for; it just doesn't look like it was," Witt said. Other reporters offered a chilling, first-hand perspective: "[A] striking feature of the situation there was the scant presence of civil authority. We did see police controlling some intersections but we saw no military authority and no Red Cross or other health authority. It did not appear that any disaster center had been established by the authorities to communicate with the public. There appeared to be very little, if any, response yet to the enormous challenge of housing, feeding and supporting a devastated population."
WHY WAS GULF COAST DISASTER PREPARATION SUCH A LOW PRIORITY?
The planning failures were not limited to the short-term emergency response. As Louisiana Rep. Bobby Jindal (R), one of three members of Congress whose homes were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, said yesterday: "If we had been investing resources in restoring our coast, it wouldn't have prevented the storm but the barrier islands would have absorbed some of the tidal surge." Unfortunately, the resources were not invested -- either in coastal restoration or the levees -- despite years of pleas. On June 8, 2004, the emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, complained about a lack of funding for the levees, a long stretch of which had sunk by four feet: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us." The money never came through, and last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers "essentially stopped major work " on the levee system that has now been breached. "It was the first such stoppage in 37 years." Additionally, federal flood control spending for southeastern Louisiana was "chopped from $69 million in 2001 to $36.5 million in 2005 ," Knight-Ridder reports, even as "federal hurricane protection for the Lake Pontchartrain vicinity in the Army Corps of Engineers' budget dropped from $14.25 million in 2002 to $5.7 million this year." The cuts were strenuously opposed by Louisiana representatives, who "urged Congress earlier this year to dedicate a stream of federal money to Louisiana's coast, only to be opposed by the White House ."
WHY WERE FEMA'S PREPAREDNESS MISSIONS DISMANTLED?: "The advent of the Bush administration in January 2001 signaled the beginning of the end for FEMA," one expert writes. In particular, the White House targeted the agency's "mitigation" programs -- "the measures taken in advance to minimize the damage caused by natural disasters" -- which emergency specialists consider "a crucial part of the strategy to save lives and cut recovery costs." Shortly after coming into office, "key federal disaster mitigation programs, developed over many years, [were] slashed and tossed aside ." FEMA's Project Impact, "a model mitigation program created by the Clinton administration," was canceled outright by the Bush administration on February 28, 2001 -- ironically, the very same day of the 6.8 magnitude Nisqually earthquake in Washington state, which provided one of the "best examples of the impact the program had" in protecting people. Indeed, FEMA employees were officially "directed not to become involved in disaster preparedness functions, since a new directorate (yet to be established) will have that mission."
WHY WERE INEXPERIENCED POLITICAL APPOINTEES PICKED TO HEAD FEMA?: Since taking office, President Bush "has appointed, in succession, his 2000 campaign manager and an Oklahoma lawyer whose only emergency management experience prior to joining FEMA was as an assistant city manager." According to one emergency expert, these officials "showed little interest in its work or in the missions pursued by the departed [former FEMA chief James Lee Witt]," who led emergency management in Arkansas and "reoriented FEMA from civil defense preparations to a focus on natural disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation." Indeed, Washington Monthly editor Daniel Franklin yesterday noted, "The difficulties of coordination seem to indicate we've returned to the bad old days where the FEMA administrator position is given away on the basis of political favor, rather than hard experience."
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