National Park Visits vs Oil Price

There was an interesting article this week in the New York Times about overcrowding at National Parks. Our family visited Zion National Park this summer (where almost all of the photos are from in this article) and I can certainly agree that parks like Zion are experiencing crushing numbers of visitors. Hiking Angel’s Landing was like being stuck in bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic.

I pulled the data from the National Park Service and was surprised to see that park visits per capita actually peaked in 1986. Also very interestingly (since we hiked the Narrows with a permit) was that backcountry hiking on a per-capita basis continues to fall. The massive increase in park visits between the end of World War II and the 1970’s oil crisis was driven by an equally massive increase in global per-capita oil production. As driving became cheaper, more people drove to national parks.

Visits Per Capita Peaked in 1986. Backcountry hiking per capita continues to fall.

When you look at the year-over-year change in national park visits per capita and compare it against the year-over-year change in real oil prices, you see that in years when the oil price falls, more people visits parks and vice versa. Cheap oil = cheap vacations. Peak oil = peak vacations?

National Park visits are correlated to changes in the real oil price. Data 1980-2016.

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Buckminster Fuller Comic

Stuart McMillen, an Australian comic artist, recently released a new comic about Buckminster Fuller’s idea that we all have thousands of “energy slaves” working for  us in the form of finite fossil fuels. I particularly enjoyed these two slides which show how we are deluding ourselves into thinking that our unsustainable lifestyle, fueled by a one-shot expenditure of millions of years of stored sunlight is somehow “normal”:

It’s interesting that Buckminster Fuller calculated that the average person working full time could generate the equivalent of 14 liters (3.7 gallons) of gasoline per year. As I showed in my post last week, global oil production is about 4.5 barrels per capita per year (715 liters). It’s like there are 50 energy slave for every person on earth (and that’s just oil and doesn’t include gas and coal). But then of course a small fraction of the people in the world have thousands of energy slaves while the vast number of people have far less than 1 energy slave. When you consider that we have probably reached peak net oil per capital (after accounting for declining EROEI), we’ll all have fewer energy slaves going forward, forcing us into a more sustainable lifestyle.

Check out the comic here:

Energy Slaves


Also, prior to this comic, Stuart McMillen also drew a fantastic comic on peak oil, which you should check out here:

Peak Oil


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Supermajor Oil and Gas Production and CAPEX for Q1 2017

The supermajor oil and gas companies reached peak oil in 1973. This was a “political peak” caused by oil reserve nationalizations.

They reached a second peak in 1998 and oil production has declined by about 2 million barrels per day between the companies.

The companies reached peak gas in 2010.

After reaching peak oil and peak gas the companies ramped up capital spending, ultimately hitting a peak of capital spending of over $60 billion per quarter in 2013. Capital spending has crashed since 2013, reaching levels not seen for over two decades.

Meanwhile global oil production continues to grow, approaching the psychologically significant value of 100 million barrels of oil per day.

However on a per-capita basis global oil production peaked in 1979 and has been on a plateau since the 1980’s. If you adjusted peak oil per capita for the declining net energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) we would have reached a permanent peak of per capita oil production in the 1970s.

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Supermajor Oil and Gas Production and CAPEX for Q4 2016

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The Sustainability Checklist

Moving towards sustainability means moving towards a world that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Unfortunately this is a lot easier said than done and the individual actions needed to move towards sustainability often cost more and/or require significant behavioral change. As I’ve read books about sustainability over the past few years I’ve put together this checklist of concrete actions individuals can take. I certainly don’t do all of these things myself (and personally find many of them not worth the time or money), but the checklist has helped me focus on some actions which to me are worth the tradeoffs. Hopefully this checklist will help others understand their options and make changes in their lives so we can all transition towards sustainability. I have color-coded the list to show which actions require behavioral changes or time costs, which require financial costs, and which require both:
  • Behavioral change or time cost only (financial cost is negligible, but potentially takes more time and effort)
  • Behavioral change or time cost  along with a financial cost (sustainability takes more money, time, and/or effort)
  • Financial cost only (time and effort is negligible but financial cost is high)

Household Audit

Location, Location, Location
The decision of where to live has arguably the largest impact of any decision on how sustainable your lifestyle is. The population density of your location determines how much energy you need to expend to travel to work and to run daily errands. The harshness of the climate you live in determines how much energy you need to expend to remain comfortable. The resilience of your location to climate change and peak oil will determine how livable your location remains in the future.
  • Live in a moderate climate that doesn’t require constant heating and cooling of your house. An ideal climate would allow you to be comfortable by simply opening or closing a window. Find out which areas have the lowest average carbon footprint with UC Berkeley’s CoolClimate Map. For the San Francisco Bay Area, a far more detailed map is available.
  • In a location that is resistant to the effects of climate change – a location that won’t be swamped by rising sea levels or floods. A location with abundant fresh water. A location that won’t require ever-increasing amounts of air conditioning to remain comfortable during rising temperatures from global warming.
  • Live in a dense city with ready access to friends, family and leisure activities that you can access by walking, biking and public transportation. In general, where you live matters more than any other factor in lowering your energy use. The sustainability of urban vs rural living is hotly debated. While some peak oil writers, back-to-the-land proponents and “doomsday peppers” advise moving to a rural community, the data shows that under our current system the average city-dwelling household uses significantly less of energy of every type (electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, kerosene, LPG and wood) than suburban, rural or small town households. For example, people living in Manhattan have the lowest per-capital energy consumption of any Americans.
  • Live in an apartment building (ideally a LEED certified building) instead of a detached single-family home. Like the urban-vs-rural debate, this finding too is hotly contested, with opposition to “Agenda 21” efforts to force us into “stack and pack” housing – but the data clearly shows that because most residential energy goes into space heating and cooling, multifamily buildings are more energy efficient because they share walls between units.
  • Downsize your home – live in the smallest square footage you can tolerate – check out the “tiny house movement” for ideas on how to live comfortably in a smaller home.
  • Live in a walkable neighborhood where most of your daily errands can be accomplished by walking or biking – visit to find a walkable neighborhood
  • If you can live car-free, do so – instead of owning a car, walk, bike and take public transit. When you need a car, use car sharing services (Turo, Getaround), car rental services (Zipcar, Car2Go) and taxi services (Uber, LyftArcade City). Living without a car eliminates the need for parking and makes it easier to live in a denser walkable neighborhood.
  • Simplify your life – declutter your home – eliminate possessions – embrace minimalism – when you have less stuff, you can be comfortable in a smaller home which will make it more affordable to live in a more walkable urban neighborhood.
Commuting to Work
  • Work from home if you can (telecommute)
  • Walk to work if you can’t work from home
  • Bike to work if you can’t walk
  • Take public transit to work if you can’t bike
  • Carpool to work if you can’t take public transit (Use Casual Carpool if you’re in the Bay Area or Carma elsewhere – or just ask your coworkers)
  • If you can’t live car-free, buy an electric car and charge it using rooftop solar panels
  • If you can’t afford an electric car, buy a plug-in hybrid or biodiesel car (don’t buy an E85 carcorn ethanol is net energy negative)
  • If you can’t afford a plug-in hybrid or a biodiesel car, buy the most fuel-efficient car you can (like a regular hybrid) – look at and
  • Hypermile your car – pump tires to maximum recommended PSI, remove weight from the car, remove aerodynamic drag from the car (roof racks, etc.), cruise at the optimum speed (~55 mph), shift up to the top gear as early as you can, drive in a way that you almost ever need to brake, draft on the highway
  • Measure your fuel consumption – If your car doesn’t have a fuel economy gauge, buy one – like ScanGaugeE or Automatic – and start altering your behaviors to maximize fuel efficiency
  • Don’t wash your car – but if you do wash your car, don’t wash it yourself, take it to a “closed loop” car wash that recycles their water
  • Bring your lunch in a reusable stainless steel food container
  • Take local vacations (like to a nearby National Park) that you can drive to (ideally in your electric car) to instead of flying to far-away vacation destinations
  • Travel by train instead of flying (trains are more energy efficient per passenger mile, but more importantly they can be electrified and run on renewable energy)
  • Travel by sailboat (uses almost no fuel at all)
  • Travel by cargo freighter (
  • Travel by ridesharing (virtual hitchhiking) (
  • Buy carbon offsets for your air travel –
  • Buy local food – join a CSA and buy from your local farmers market
  • Plant a food garden
    • Convert your lawn to an edible garden
    • Plant medicinal herbs
    • Plant perennial foods that don’t require annual replanting
    • Start a compost bin
    • Raise food animals like chickens or ducks
    • Become a beekeeper and build a beehive
    • Plant barley and hops and brew your own beer
    • Learn how to pickle vegetables
  • Buy food that is local (or fair trade if it doesn’t grow locally) and organic
  • Coffee
    • Buy coffee that is shade grown, fair trade and organic
    • Lug a mug – Don’t buy coffee in disposable cups – bring your own stainless steel coffee mug (Klean Kanteen) if you’re traveling and use a ceramic mug if you’re not traveling
    • Avoid single-use coffee makers (especially those that do not have recyclable pods – like Keurig machines)
    • Drink your coffee black – it requires fewer inputs and it’s healthier
    • Replace your disposable paper filters with a reusable gold filter (pays for itself in a few months)
    • Compost your used coffee grounds (put them straight into your garden – citrus trees and berry bushes love acidic coffee grounds)
  • Buy eggs that are cage free, free range, local and organic
  • Buy milk that is hormone free (rBST/rBGH free), antibiotic free, local and organic
  • Avoid high-fructose corn syrup
  • Eat less meat – if you eat a typical American’s diet, you burn more fossil fuels walking than a vegetarian does driving a 35 MPG car (because natural gas and oil is used produce the fertilizer and pesticides needed to grow the grain to feed the animals, from the methane emissions from the animals themselves, and from the deforestation needed to produce an ever increasing amount of meat each year)
    • Being a vegetarian is far more sustainable, but if you’re going to eat meat purchase higher-quality locally-grown organic meat
    • Buy a whole animal – the best way to ensure its quality is to meet your meat (so you can observe its living conditions) – purchase an entire animal directly from a farmer (known as a heard share), have it butchered and share it with friends
  • Don’t buy overfished seafood – visit for a list of what to avoid
  • Eat more meals at home – restaurant meals may waste more food than home cooked meals
  • Never buy bottled water – use reusable stainless steel water bottle (Klean Kanteen) (avoid reusable plastic water bottles – they leach endocrine disruptors)
  • Cook using natural cookware (like cast iron) instead of Teflon-coated cookware
  • Compost your food scraps
  • Simplify your possessions – inventory all of your possessions, decide what items you can do without and donate them
  • For grilling, sustainable charcoal (like coconut shell charcoal) is better than of chemical-doped charcoal (like MatchLight charcoal), while propane is better than any charcoal, and a solar ovens are better any of those
  • Things renters can do
    • Take shorter showers – use a shower timer
    • Turn off the water while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving
    • If it’s yellow, let it mellow
  • Things homeowners can do
    • Perform a water audit on your home to find leaks and inefficiencies
    • Fix any leaks in your faucets and shower heads
    • Install rain-catchment barrels to save the water that comes off your roof
    • Install drip irrigation for your edible garden
    • Install low-flow shower heads and sink aerators
    • Install a hot water recirculation pump or a “ladybug” hot water stopper to avoid waste while waiting for the shower to heat up
    • Install a graywater recycling system
      • Start by installing a toilet-tank sink (like SinkPositive)
    • Install a double-flush toilet with two different flush volumes
    • Reduce “virtual water” consumption
      • Eat less meat
      • Read books on an e-reader instead of paperback
      • Buy a sodastream instead of buying bottled soda
    • Eliminate your grass lawn and replace it with xeriscaping and/or an edible garden (greatly reduces water usage and eliminates need for gasoline-powered mowers and trimmers and fossil-fuel based pesticides and herbicides)
    • Add mulch to your garden to increase water retention
Home Electricity and Natural Gas Use
  • Things renters can do
    • Electronics
      • Hook up electronics you use intermittently (like your TV or Stereo) to “smart” power strips that eliminates standby power – like the Belkin Conserve
      • Adjust your computer settings so it powers down when not in use
      • Unplug all AC/DC power adapters when not in your (eg. unplug your cell phone charger when you’re done charging it!)
      • Buy energy efficient electronics (eg. compare the electricity usage of TVs before you buy a new one)
    • Lighting
      • Alway turn off the lights when you leave a room
      • Replace every incandescent light bulb in your house with LED lightbulbs (which are better than CFL bulbs) starting with the most used bulbs first
    • Refrigerator
      • Dust off the refrigerator coils to keep it running efficiently
      • Set refrigerator temperature to 35°-38°F
      • Set freezer temperature to 0° F
      • Quickly get what you need, don’t leave the refrigerator door open for long
    • Dishwasher
    • Washing Machine
      • Always run a full load of wash
      • Wash your clothes in cold water – 90% of the energy use of a washing machine comes from warming up water
      • Program it to run at off-peak hours (usually midnight to 6am)
    • Clothes Dryer
    • Heating and Cooling
      • Reduce the area that needs to be heated or cooled in your home
        • Keep your closet doors closed (So they aren’t being heated and cooled)
        • Close doors and close air vents in any rooms you don’t use frequently (like a guest room)
      • Open a window to cool your home instead of running an air conditioner
      • Use fans to cool your home instead of running the air conditioner
      • Enter and exit quickly if your heater or air conditioner is running – don’t leave the front door open any long than you need to
  • Things homeowners can do (in addition to all of the things renters can do)
    • Get a professional home energy audit and implement their recommendations
    • Lighting
      • Install smart switches (motion sensor, timer or wifi enabled) to automatically turn off lights (and allow you to make sure all of your lights are off when you’re out of the house)
      • Install skylights or solar tubes to bring daylight in
      • Install a heliostat outside to reflect daylight into your home
    • Refrigerator
      • Make sure your refrigerator is in a cool, shaded place
      • Buy an energy efficient refrigerator
    • Dishwasher
      • Buy an energy efficient dishwasher
    • Washing Machine
      • Buy an energy efficient washing machine
    • Clothes Dryer
      • Buy an energy efficient clothes dryer
    • Hot Water Heater
      • Turn down the heat on the hot water heater to 120ºF
      • Turn the thermostat to “vacation mode” when you go on vacation
      • Replace your old hot water heater with a super-efficient electric heat pump hot water heater, like the GE GeoSpring heater (Gas hot water heaters uses 130 watts worth of natural gas continuously just for the pilot light! Electric hot water heaters also allow you to supply your own renewable electrons with rooftop solar.)
        • Even better – install a solar hot water heater (if your homeowner insurance allows you to)
        • If you have to use gas, use a super efficient one or a tankless hot water heater
    • Buy a smart thermostat – like the Nest Thermostat – and optimize the settings to save energy
    • Replace the air filter on your HVAC system regularly
    • Optimize heat transfer due to infiltratioFind air leaks using a blower door test and an infrared camera
      • Seal air leaks in your ducts, windows, doors and fireplace (if you don’t use your fireplace) using caulk, weather stripping and a fireplace flue plug
      • In extreme climates, install double-door “airlock” entryway stop air exchange when you go in and out of the house
      • In locations that are hot during the day but cool at night, install a whole house fan and install window screens so you can quickly move outside air inside
    • Reduce heat transfer due to conduction
      • Improve the insulation of your walls and attic
      • Replace your windows with higher efficiency triple-glazed windows
      • Install insulating blinds to further reduce window heat loss
    • Optimize heat transfer through radiation
      • I cold climates, maximize passive solar thermal gain by installing southward facing windows with high R-values (heat going out) and low U-values (heat coming in)
      • In locations that are cold in the winter and hot in the summer, install passive solar window awnings that allow the sun to warm your house in the winter and block the sun in the summer
      • Strategically plant deciduous trees on the south and west side of your house – in the summer they will shade your house from the hot sun and in the winter, when their leaves fall off, they will allow warming light into the house
      • In hot climates, install a white roof and install a radiant barrier to reflect heat (these work better than an attic ventilator)
      • Make sure your attic is well ventilated
    • Optimize heat transfer due to convection
      • Replace your natural gas or heating oil furnace with an electric air-source heat pump system (which can be powered by rooftop solar)
    • Replace your gas stove an oven with an electric stove and oven (which can be powered by rooftop solar)
  • Renewable Power Generation
    • Once you have reduced your energy consumption as much as possible (by doing as many of the things above as possible), install solar photovolteic panels on your roof or install a micro wind turbine
House Materials
  • Only buy low VOC (volatile organic compound) products – paint, etc.
  • Test your home to make sure it is free of lead paint, asbestos and mold
  • Avoid synthetic carpeting – install hardwood, natural linoleum or cork flooring instead
  • Buy sustainability-made “buy it for life” furniture – Don’t buy cheap furniture made with plywood or pressed wood – it can off-gas formaldehyde and can break easily
  • Buy sustainable bedding – using the same criteria as sustainable clothing – organic cotton, sustainably made, etc.
Business (if you own or manage a business)
  • Design your product more sustainably
    • Practice “cradle-to-cradle design” – design the product from 100% reused, recycled and/or natural materials and design it to be 100% recyclable, upcycleable or compostable
      • Reused materials – can you reuse existing materials instead of purchasing new materials? (eg. if you make cabinets, instead of buying new handles you could reuse handles from a salvage store like Urban Ore)
      • Recycled materials – for components that cant be made with reused materials, use 100% recycled materials that can be 100% recycled at their end-of-life, like aluminum
      • Natural materials – for components that cant be made with reused or recycled materials, use natural, sustainably-produced materials that can be composted at the end of their life (eg. bamboo, bioplastics)
      • Choose materials that have no human health impacts (eg. no off-gassing of VOCs)
    • Design your products to last a lifetime –  design them to be repairable and upgradeable instead of disposable (the opposite of planned obsolescence)
  • Manufacture your product more sustainably
    • Run your factory on renewable energy (buy renewable energy credits if you can’t install renewable generation on site)
    • Design your manufacturing process to minimize waste and to recycle all manufacturing waste
    • Buy raw materials from suppliers who focus on sustainability
  • Deliver your product more sustainably
    • Design your product to be shipped with minimal or no packaging
    • Use sustainable packaging materials (biodegradable – (no Styrofoam, no plastic bubble wrap, no Styrofoam packaging peanuts)
    • Focus on online retail over bricks-and-mortar stores (selling products online and shipping them to your customers house directly uses less far less energy than the customer driving a car to and from a store)
  • Make your office more sustainable
    • Locate your offices in a dense city where employees can get to work by walking, biking and public transportation
    • Allow employees to telecommute
    • Move to a LEED-certified office building (which has an extensive checklist of sustainable practices like installing bike racks, waterless urinals, etc.)
    • Get a professional energy audit and improve the energy efficiency of your office
  • Avoid “Planned Obsolescence” in products – Consult the “Buy it For Life” Reddit before buying new things
  • Avoid “Fast Fashion” brands (Zara, H&M, Gap) who make cheap clothes that wear out quickly
  • Buy clothing from sustainable brands – Consult Project Just for a list of sustainable brands (Patagonia, Tom’s, etc.)
  • Buy clothing made of sustainable materials – hemp, organic cotton, merino wool, etc. (avoid leather)
  • Use environmentally-friendly clothing detergent designed for cold water washing (Method, Borax)
  • Go to a Green Dry Cleaner that uses Supercritical CO2 instead of PERC (perchloroethylene)
  • Turn old clothes into rags instead of using paper towels
  • Stop buying non-recyclable disposable razors – Use a Double Edge Safety Razor or a Straight Razor and recycle the blades
  • Shave with sustainably-made solid soap and a brush or use shaving oil instead of aerosol shaving cream
  • Don’t shave in the shower – shave at the sink with a bowl (so you don’t run the water)
  • Grow a beard instead of shaving
Beauty Products
  • Never buy bath products with plastic “microbeads
  • Deodorant – use stick deodorant instead of aerosol
  • Soap – buy natural soaps (Dr. Bronners, Tom’s, Meyer’s, etc)
  • Shampoo – buy sustainable shampoo (O’Right Tea Tree Shampoo)
  • Use Organic Cosmetics
  • Use Organic Sunscreen
House Cleaning
  • Buy environmentally-friendly cleaning products (Method, Borax)
  • Avoid antibacterial soap – it leads to antimicrobial resistant “superbugs”
  • Don’t use disposable cleaning products
  • Use rags instead of paper towels
  • Use an actual mop instead of a swiffer
Consumer Products
  • Reduce your purchases of new products
  • Reuse and repair products before buying new ones
    • Learn handyman skills and sowing skills to repair things around the house
    • Donate and buy clothes, furniture at consignment stores (eg. goodwill, salvation army, value village)
    • Buy home materials at a salvage store (Eg. Urban Ore, Omega Salvage, East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse)
  • Recycle and Compost everything you can
    • Use industrial compost if your city offers it
    • Create a compost pile in your garden for food scraps
  • Buy products that use less packaging
  • Buy Local
    • If you can walk or bike to a store, buy locally
    • Pay with cash or local currencies (like Ithaca Hours or Bay Bucks) instead of a credit card – the extra “friction” required to pay with cash had been scientifically shown to reduce spending amounts by making people more mindful of their spending habits
  • Buying Online
    • If you can’t walk or bike to buy a product, buy products online and have them shipped to your house (buying online and shipping products to your house uses less far less energy than driving a car to and from a store)
    • Pay with bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies if you can – using these non-inflationary currencies undermines our growth-dependent fractional reserve currency system
  • Go digital and paperless wherever possible – read books on a Kindle, get all your bills online, avoid printing things
  • Buy from co-ops, worker-owned businesses and B-Corps – support businesses that aren’t required to maximize profit above all else
  • Log your chemicals. For one day, make a list of all the chemicals that are going in and on your body—toothpaste, soap, shampoo, laundry detergents, household cleaners…. Then start eliminating those that you can and replacing them with natural alternatives.
  • Reduce Consumption of Plastics and Chemicals
    • Avoid the worst kinds of plastics: #3 plastic, PVC and Vinyl
      • Replace shower curtain with a glass door or an organic hemp shower curtain
      • Never buy vinyl toys for your kids – eg. vinyl beach balls
    • Shop with reusable canvas bags (instead of using disposable plastic bags)
    • Buy food from the bulk bins (and put them in stainless steel food canisters) instead of buying food in disposable plastic packaging or plastic-lined cans
    • Use a stainless steel water bottle (like a klean kanteen) (instead of plastic water bottles)
    • Drink coffee or tea instead of soda (to avoid plastic bottles and plastic-lined aluminum cans)
    • Drink coffee out of a ceramic mug or insulated stainless steel mug (like a klean kanteen) (instead of disposable plastic-lined and plastic-topped cups)
    • Buy local beer and fill up a growler (instead of buying beer in glass bottles or plastic-lined cans)
    • Eat meals with plates and silverware (instead of disposable containers and plastic silverware)
    • Bring your lunch to work (instead of buying lunch in disposable packaging)
    • Buy natural mosquito repellents instead of DEET repellents (a scientific study showed that Avon Skin-So-Soft Bug Guard worked just as well as DEET)
Product End-Of-Life
  • Attempt to repair it before you trash it – contact the manufacturer and see if they can repair it (many sustainable brands will repair or replace their products for free), learn how to repair things yourself
  • Reuse your old items for other purposes – eg. an old t-shirt can become a cleaning rag
  • Donate for reuse instead of throwing them away – use Goodwill, Salvation Army, Freecycle, Craigslist
  • Take up a hobby that fulfills the other items on this checklist: eg. gardening
  • Make your hobbies more sustainable
    • Instead of boating with a powerboat, learn how to sail
    • Instead of fishing with a power boat, fish with a kayak
    • Instead of golfing a conventional course with a golf cart, walk a sustainable golf course (one that uses native species, doesn’t irrigate the course and doesn’t use fertilizers or pesticides – the way golf was originally played)
    • Instead of snowmobiling, go cross country skiing
    • Instead of offroading or ATVing, go hiking
Reduce Your Exposure to Consumerist Advertising
Part of the reason that we don’t make sustainable consumer choices is that we are constantly bombarded with advertisements encouraging us to consume unsustainable products and services.  By blocking these advertisements we can reduce their influence on our purchasing decisions, thereby making it easier to live sustainably.
  • Eliminate Internet Ads
    • Install the AdBlock ( and Disconnect ( plug-ins for your web browser on all of your computers (Free)
      • You can also use AdBlock to eliminate clutter on sites you frequently visit (eg. “recommended stories” and social sharing bars”) by right-clicking on them and choosing “block this ad”
    • Buy AdTrap ( to block ads on your mobile and streaming devices at home ($140.00 – no monthly fee)
    • Install adblockers on your mobile devices (Purify) or set them up to use an ad-blocking proxy (
  • Eliminate TV Ads
    • Kill your TV – the easiest solution to avoiding television advertisement is to get rid of all of your TVs. The average American spends 2.8 hours per day watching TV. Use all that extra time to do something productive. Read a book instead.
    • Ditch your cable/satellite service (Save on average $1500 per year) – by replacing it with ad-blocked online streaming, you won’t see any ads ever again!
    • Don’t take taxis with TVs in them – take a lyft or uber instead so you aren’t exposed to all of the ads
  • Eliminate Paper Ads
    • Block junk mail – whenever you receive catalogs or junk mail, log on to and halt any future deliveries
    • Remove your information from consumer databases – follow the advice in the book “Hiding from the Internet” to make it harder for advertisers to target you
  • Eliminate Radio Ads
    • Stop listening to live radio
      • Listen to music on paid streaming services (Google Play, Pandora, Spotify, etc.) or on satellite radio
      • Listen to podcasts or audio books instead of talk radio and manually skip commercials
      • Buy a Bluetooth kit for your car so you can listen to podcasts while driving


Get Involved With Your Community
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” -Dr. Martin Luther King
  • Reduce TV time – TV viewing is shown in “bowling alone” to be one of the top reasons for reduced community involvement – start by making a rule of never turning on the TV unless you know what you want to watch and for how long – don’t be a channel-surfing TV “grazer”, be a specific-program “hunter” that only turns on the TV and watches exactly what they came to watch
  • Live in a walkable neighborhood – as shown in “bowling alone,” living in auto-centric neighborhoods is a main cause of decreased civic engagement
  • Meet your neighbors – invite them over for dinner or drinks
  • Discuss sustainability with your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc. – start a transition streets initiative on your block
Sustainable Finance: Reduce Your Participation in the Fiat/Fractional-Reserve/Debt-Based/Growth-Dependent Monetary System
“Until you change the way money works, you change nothing.” -Michael Ruppert
Our current monetary system is at the root of our sustainability problem. Every major currency on earth (US Dollar, Euro, Yen, Yuan etc.) is loaned into existence by government fiat through fractional-reserve banking (and sometimes printed or minted into existence through seigniorage). When money is loaned into existence, an increasing amount of money must be loaned into existence after it to pay off the principle as well as the interest. This system requires an infinitely -increasing amount of debt to be created or it will collapse. In order to stave off monetary collapse, this infinitely-increasing amount of debt requires an infinitely-increasing amount of economic growth to pay off the interest. An infinitely-increasing amount of economic growth requires an infinitely-increasing amount of resource extraction. An a finite planet we cannot have an infinitely-increasing amount of resource extraction, so we have an unsustainable monetary system. Sustainable currencies do not require an infinitely-increasing amount of debt. Examples of sustainable currencies are precious metals (some of our oldest forms of currency – gold, silver, etc.), local currencies (like Ithaca Hours) and finite-supply cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin and Dash).
  • Get out of debt –  exponential monetary growth through debt creation is the root cause of our sustainability problem – if you are a creditor instead of a debtor you can invest your money sustainability
  • Open a bank account at a sustainable community bank (like New Resource Bank) and close your old bank account at the “too big to fail” bank
  • Invest in sustainably-run companies
  • Start using non-debt-based cryptocurrencies for transactions – like Bitcoin and Dash (one of the anonymous cryptocurrencies I discuss in my book)
    • Buy some cryptocurrencies with each paycheck
    • Patronize establishments that accept bitcoins and local currencies – work hard to spend cryptocurrencies before you spend fiat currency
    • Get to know the owners of shops in your neighborhood and persuade store owners to accept bitcoins and local currencies
  • Use local currenciesIthaca Hours, Bay Bucks, BerkShares, etc
    • Work with local currency organizations to increase adoption and econometric transparency (putting out data on money supply, velocity, etc)
Measure Your Progress
“What gets measured gets managed.” -Peter Drucker
Once you have data on your energy use and environmental impact you can engage in Kaizen continual process improvement
  • Measure Your Transportation
    • TripIt – Measure air travel
    • Automatic –  Measure car usage
    • Moves App – Measure walking, biking and public transit usage
  • Measure Your Home Energy Use
    • Belkin Wemo Insight Switch – Measure energy usage of your big electricity hogs (TV, Computer, Refrigerator)
    • Nest Thermostat – Measure HVAC usage
    • Smart meter – available through your utility (like PG&E)
  • Measure your home indoor air quality
    • Buy a home air quality monitor that can measure VOCs and Particulate Matter – Like Foobot
Some Sources:
“Third Rails” I’m not touching in this list:
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • Death and Burial
  • Children and Birth Control
  • Pets
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Record High US Gasoline Consumption and Sales of Muscle Cars, SUVs and Pickup Trucks

I’ve written before about demand destruction, but with gasoline prices at historic lows right now we are seeing the opposite: demand rebound. Gasoline sales in the United States are approaching all-time highs last seen right before the “great recession.” People are taking advantage of “cheap” gasoline and driving more. As we slowly recover from the recession (economists tell us the recession ended 5 years ago, but it seems like many areas still are recovering) more people are working and commuting more miles.

US Gasoline Consumption

US Gasoline Consumption

Car sales are reaching record highs. Americans seem to have completely forgotten $5 gasoline are are buying more gas guzzlers than ever before. Below I charted out the sales of 21 models of muscle cars, full-sized pickup trucks and large SUVs with an average fuel economy amongst them of just 17 MPG. Since 2010, sales of these 21 models have put nearly 18 million new fuel-hungry vehicles on America’s roads. With an average fleet turnover time of 23 years (from a 4% scrappage rate), these cars will be on the road for many years to come.

Sales of Muscle Cars, SUVs and Pickup Trucks

Sales of Muscle Cars, SUVs and Pickup Trucks


Part of the reason for this increase in fuel-hungry vehicle sales is sub-prime lending, which John Oliver does a great job of explaining:


With global oil investment budgets being slashed by over $1 trillion dollars, it seems likely that the market will re-balance itself of the next few years and millions of Americans will be stuck with fuel-hungry vehicles as gasoline prices rise again.

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Supermajor Oil and Gas Production and CAPEX for Q2 2016

As part of my “peak supermajor” project, I discuss the oil and gas production and capital expenditure of the supermajor oil and gas companies from 1900 through the 2nd quarter of 2016.

Please leave me comments below.

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Peak Supermajors 2Q2016 Results


Between 1999 and 2014 the liquid oil production rate for the supermajor oil and gas companies was on a steady decline. Between Q2-2014 to Q1-2016 this trend reversed, with liquids production increasing by over a million barrels per day. This increase in production has came on the heels of ever-increasing capital investment, which peaked out in Q4-2013. Since this peak, quarterly supermajor capital investment has dropped by nearly 60%. With less capital invested each quarter it is likely that the total supermajor oil production will return to its long-term downward trend.

Indeed this past quarter may have shown the beginning of the reversal. Supermajor liquids production declined by 7% quarter-over-quarter and increased by less than 1% year-over-year from Q2-2015 to Q2-2016.

Recent Supermajor Liquids Production

Recent Supermajor Liquids Production

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Peak Supermajors 1Q2016 Results


Supermajor liquids production increased significantly year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter. This is partly due to a large increase in capital expenditures by the supermajors from 2006 to 2013. Interestingly, this large increase in capital spending has not abated the drop in natural gas production. As supermajor CAPEX spending peaked in in the 4th quarter of 2013 and has dropped by over 50% since, it seems likely that both liquids production and gas production will continue to decline from the historical peaks of 1973 and 2010, respectively.

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Peak Supermajors Introduction & 4Q2015 Result


Today I would like to introduce my “Peak Supermajors” project. The goal of this project is to answer the question “when will we reach peak oil” by studying the production and financial health of the world’s largest oil companies. Because oil is a finite resource, its daily global production will eventually reach a peak. By measuring when individual oil companies reach peak oil, I hope to bring us closer to answering the question “when will we reach peak oil?”

I am beginning my project by analyzing the largest publicly-traded companies: the “supermajors“. These 5 companies – BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total – produce nearly 20% of the world’s oil and gas. They are mostly descendants from the original “Seven Sisters,” which themselves were largely descendants of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. These companies are leaders in the industry, both financially and technologically. By understanding the history of these companies and their strategy for the future, we can better understand the historical arc of the broader oil industry. As I fill out the database I plan to expand it to include data from all of the largest global oil companies.

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