The Oil Alarm

Do you know where your food comes from? Or what you would do if it stopped arriving at the store? Do you know how your water system works? Or what powers the pumps that bring you chemically-treated water, and take away sewage?

Our food comes from 1,000s of miles away – too far for an emergency, and too expensive for the state of perpetually rising oil prices that are the reality of “new oil”: Fracking, Tar Sands, Shale and Bitumen. The era of cheap oil is over, and with it, the era of cheap goods and food.

It’s time to re-localize and regenerate our food and water systems, our neighborhoods and our way of life.

 Read the articles…

Download The Oil Alarm HERE.   The download is free. Show it at your school, community center, church, home or workplace. Donate to support the work here.

Growing Food

Once upon a time, almost everyone produced some portion of what they – and their tribe, family, town or village – ate; and what they needed to stay alive.

In 1790, with a population of 4 million people, 90% of Americans worked on farms. By 1900, it was 38%. Today, less than 2 percent of the US population farms in a nation of 320 million people.

Our food comes from distant fields, plowed by immense machines (that run on oil), carried to us on the back of trucks (that run on oil), sprayed and chemically-coated with pesticides (made of oil). Can you see the weaknesses in this system?

It is not only our birthright – but our responsibility – to grow food where we live. The 21st Century is going to be about relocalizing our food growing, agriculture, and skilled labor – bringing it back to our towns and neighborhoods. We will be changing the way we look at our lawns, green spaces, parks and public spaces. Instead of thinking of lawns and parks as green chemical beds of inbred grass, we will be making them fertile places for food to grow. Read more about growing food here.

The Oil Alarm

The new film by Liam Scheff, produced by Heal the Planet, animated by Eric Rogerson.

We live at the peak of the petroleum age, digging up every square mile of land for a little more oil. We’re ruining our water, soil, air and land – but we won’t stop. We’ve got a looming nuclear disaster staring at us across the Pacific, but we don’t want to talk about it. And just on the other side of the oil peak, we’re fearing a steep decline in the energy that’s built our society.

Our world has metamorphosed and metastasized because of the surfeit of nearly “free energy” given to us by oil in the 20th Century.

What will the future of energy look like? How can we figure our way out of this mess today? Can we? How do we build a society that isn’t based on the total destruction of our environment?

Host an Oil Alarm viewing and garden party!

If you’d like to hold a screening and discussion of “The Oil Alarm,” please contact Liam Scheff or Heal the Planet by leaving a message or comment here, or at

Join me on the radio to discuss problems – and solutions – on “The Liam Scheff Show.” Listen | Follow on Facebook

At the Peak of Production and the Beginning of Decline.

What is peak oil? What is oil, in any case? How much do we use? Can we do without it? What happens when it goes away?

What about alternative hydrocarbon sources? Or alternative energy? What about nuclear power? (Fukushima, anyone?) Can these replace oil? In the automotive sector? Construction? Heating? Manufacturing? Mining? Commerce? Food production?

These are questions that all of us really should be asking – but aren’t.

We’ll ask them here.


Watch “A Crude Awakening” for a detailed, thoughtful look at the problem.

Watch “Peak Oil And Economic Contraction” for an excellent overview of oil and energy.

Watch “There’s No Tomorrow” for a colorful, bracing summation of all related data.

[Script and footnotes]

Some statistics from “The Oil Drum,” and below, the archived page “Life After the Oil Crash”:

1. How Much Human Energy Is Contained in One Gallon of Gas?

From Dr. David Pimentel:

“That is, the 38,000 kcal in one gallon of gasoline can be transformed into 8.8 Kilowatt hour, which is about 3 weeks of human work equivalent.(Human work output in agriculture equals 0.1 HP, or 0.074 Kilowatt, times 120 hours.)”

He, of course, is accounting for the energy lost in the process of converting the gasoline into usable energy.

Calculated excluding the energy lost in the conversion process are as follows:

1 Gallon of Gas equals 125,000 BTUs
Source: US Department of Energy

3,400 BTUs equals 1 Kilowatt hour
Source: US Department of Energy, Bonneville Power Mgt.

1 Gallon of Gas equals 37 Kilowatt hour
(125,000 BTUs in a gallon of gas divided by 3,400 BTUs in 1 Kilowatt hour)

1 Gallon of Gas equals 500 hours of human work output
(37 Kilowatt hour in 1 gallon of gas divided by human work output in agriculture of .074 Kilowatt equals 500)

Of course, there is some wiggle room with this number. Construction work, for instance, might yield a slightly different number. The size and physical condition of the person performing the work would also make a difference.


2. How Much Human Energy Is Contained in One Barrel of Oil?

1 Barrel of Oil equals 5,800,000 BTUs
Source: Louisiana Oil and Gas Association

1 Gallon of Gas equals 125,000 BTUs
Source: US Department of Energy

1 Barrel of Oil thus contains the energy contained in 46.4 gallons of gas
(5,800,000 divided by 125,000 equals 46.4 )

1 Gallon of Gas equals 500 hours of human work output
Source: Calculations Done Above.

1 Barrel of Oil equals 23,200 Hours of Human Work Output
(Energy equivalent of 46.4 gallons of gas per barrel of oil x 500 hours of human work ouput per gallon of gas equals 23,2000 hours)


3. How Much Energy is Used to Construct a Car?

I. Calculations as Done By Matt Savinar:

The average car will consume during its construction 10 percent of the energy used during its lifetime.

Source: “Automobiles: Manufacture Versus Use,” published by the Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment;

How many barrels of oil does it take to equal the energy consumed during 10 percent of a car’s lifetime? Let’s see:

In the US, the average car has a median lifetime of 17 years. (Source: Matt Creenson, Associated Press: “Is This the Beginning of the End?” )

On average, a car will consume 750 gallons of gas per year.

17 years x 750 gallons of gas per year equals 12,750 gallons of gas consumed during the median lifetime of an American car;

1 gallon of gas equals 125,000 BTUs;

12,750 gallons consumed x 125,000 BTUs per gallon equals 1,593,750,000 BTU’s consumed during the median lifetime of an American car.

1,593,750,000 x 10 percent equals 15,9375,000 BTUs consumed during the car’s construction;

159,375,000 BTUs consumed during construction divided by 5,800,000 BTU’s in one barrel of oil equals slightly more than 27 barrels of oil. Twenty seven barrels of oil (42 gallons of oil per barrel) contain 1,142 gallon of oil.

II. Calculations As Done by Michael C. Ruppert:

Michael C. Ruppert, editor of From the Wilderness and author of Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of The American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil, has estimated the construction of the average car consumes 42 barrels of oil. In a private email (reprinted with Mike’s permission), he provided the following calculations per observations:

“When discussing 100 mpg vehicles one must absolutely figure in the amount of energy required to make these “new” vehicles. I have good numbers showing that it requires 12 percent of all the hydrocarbon energy a vehicle will use in its lifetime just to make the vehicle in the first place (ore mining, raw material transport, paint, electricity, etc . . .”

“And this does not factor in the hydrocarbon energy required to make the non-existent factories that make the vehicles in the first place. National Geographic told us last June that there are 7 gallons of oil in every new tire. These net-energy costs are crucial to avoid making some painful mistakes and possibly dangerous assumptions.”

“Assuming 25 gallons per wk of consumption over about 15 years (average vehicle life expectancy) that is 19,500 gallons of gasoline for a vehicle lifetime. 12 percent of that is 2,340 gallons of gasoline equivalent to make the vehicle in the first place. These are fixed costs that won’t change as you make higher-mileage vehicles.”

“This country has almost 250 million vehicles on the road. So we’re looking at 585 billion gallons of gasoline equivalent to make these new ‘theoretical’ cars. Assuming a 1:1 conversion from oil to gasoline (It can’t be that efficient) that’s roughly 13.9 billion barrels (42 gallons per barrel) of oil just to make these cars.”

“Is there 13.9 billion barrels of crude lying around anywhere for this process to even begin? Not hardly. There’s no elasticity anywhere and this process would require taking oil supplies away from existing use to implement. Remember, you haven’t even built the factories yet. Where does that oil come from?”


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  1. If you want to see how a drop in the availability of Oil effects a society under stress you might turn your atitention to Nazi Germany in its last year.

    Suggest you also look at Alcohol Can Be A as Alcohol does not have to be produced from corn and there is a nice synergy between Cat Tails – Waste and Alcohol Production.

    Musket Teams at Kali Linux

    • Hanukkah was begun from an apocryphal story in Maccabees one or two I think? Well, apparently the lamp just kept filling up by itself, they never ran out!! I don’t see why people don’t just have God keep that happening with the petroleum, why not a crude oil Hanukkah, well, does that work really? I have seen things, paranormal things, “Miracles” one might say, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, didn’t need to see her again that way, but the oil idea? Or, maybe solar and other renewables would not “run out,” maybe Liam is right, oil, nuclear, coal, all “internal combustion engine” types, the heat from the very ignition of the carburetor, so many engines working at once would increase the temperature of the entire atmosphere!!! I’m just “brainstorming” here, no wrong answers, right? Liam? Liam? HELLO!! Boy, out like a light. It’s that weed he’s smoking, he gets that legally over the counter in Washington State, now a shiftless, lazy good for nothing. Liam? 5:20pm on a Tuesday…5/20 is my birthday, did he know that?

      • Kick the tires and light the fires, problem offlicaily solved!

  2. Wonderful presentation! I especially enjoyed and appreciated the last several minutes, where we’re asked to scale back our lives to something truly reasonable/manageable (to me, anyway).

    I do wonder, though, how reality will actually pan out in the next several years or so. Right or wrong…my gut keeps telling me that “things” are about to change very soon, and in very large, encompassing ways.

  3. I keep listening to these various presentations concerning the future of oil. And I keep (rightly or wrongly) coming to the conclusion that great changes are on the horizon. Those changes will be monetary, cultural, and even spiritual. But we all appear to be simply living in a state of blissful denial at the moment.

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