Category Archives: Life Before Oil

The energyskeptic website makes the case that fossils are finite and can’t be replaced by renewable fuels. Therefore we are going back to the times before coal and similar lifestyles. A lot of “what to do” ought to be about the social system, do we really want to go back to Lords and peasants?

Rare Earth – why we may be the only intelligent species in the universe

Preface. I think that Ward & Brownlee’s 2000 book “Rare Earth: why complex life is uncommon in the universe” is one of the most profound and important books I’ve ever read.  What if we are the only intelligent species in … Continue reading

Posted in Evolution, Human Nature, Life Before Oil | Tagged | 11 Comments

Replacing diesel tractors with horses or oxen – what will that be like?

Preface.  Since fossil fuels are clearly finite, at some point increasing numbers of farmers with diesel vehicles and equipment will want to replace them with horses, which can do the work of six people.  Here’s what  energy expert Vaclav Smil … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Life Before Oil, Muscle Power, Peak Food, Vaclav Smil | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Using manure for fertilizer in the future – it won’t be easy

Preface. At John Jeavons Biointensive workshop back in 2003, I learned that phosphorous is limited and mostly being lost to oceans and other waterways after exiting sewage treatment plants.  He said it can be dangerous to use human manure without … Continue reading

Posted in Life Before Oil, Soil, Waste, Water | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Book review of Wrigley’s “Energy and the English Industrial revolution”

Preface. I’ve made a strong case in my book “When trucks stop running” and this energyskeptic website that we will eventually return to wood and a 14th century lifestyle after fossil fuels are depleted. So if you’re curious about what … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Agriculture, Energy, Life Before Oil, Limits To Growth | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

From Horsepower to Horse Power. When Trucks stop, Horses start.

Preface. Before the industrial revolution there were only four sources of mechanical power of any economic significance. They were human labor, animal labor, water power (near flowing streams) and wind power.   Work done by animals, especially on farms, was still … Continue reading

Posted in Life Before Oil, Muscle Power | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Muscle Power

Preface. Before fossil fuels, the energy to do work came from muscle power and the heat from burning biomass, mainly wood.  When I visited the Deutsches museum in Munich in 2017, I saw two animal treadmills: The first picture shows … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Energy, Life Before Oil, Muscle Power, What to do | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Vaclav Smil. Making the modern world: materials and dematerialization

Preface.  I can’t believe I read this book, it is just a long litany of the  gigantic amounts of materials we exploit, with no analysis, implications, or the meaning of what impact this will have on the planet. I certainly … Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Life Before Oil, Limits To Growth, Peak Resources, Vaclav Smil | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Book: John Perlin’s “A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization”

Preface.  This contains excerpts from John Perlin’s “A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization”. It’s one of my favorite books about natural resources, exploring the role wood has played in the rise and fall of civilizations since they … Continue reading

Posted in Collapse of Civilizations, Collapsed, Deforestation, Life Before Oil, Limits To Growth, Peak Resources, Soil, Wood | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

From wood to fossil fueled civilizations — the greatest tragedy mankind will ever know

[ These are my notes from this book about how we went from an organic sustainable economy to a temporary fossil-fueled one.  It’s one of the few books I’ve found that explains what life was like before fossil fuels in … Continue reading

Posted in Agriculture, Experts, Life Before Oil, Supply Chains | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments