Can We Live Without Oil?
Getting There on Less
By Guy Dauncey
Americans are addicted to the joys of the open road. But the joys
come at too high a price and we're about to hit bottom. We can get
around without oil. Here's the 12-step program to do it.
If you were a redwood tree with a lifespan of 600 years, and you
started life as a seedling in the year 1700, you would be able to
live for 200 years in a world without oil, witness the beginning,
middle and end of the Age of Oil, and still have 200 years to observe
how humans fare in a world without oil (assuming you survive the
Our personal memories rarely reach back more than 100 years, to the
stories our grandparents told us. Geological time seems to have
nothing to do with us. So when someone points out that the Age of Oil
will end within our lifetimes, it's hard to register. But that's the
Does this mean we'll revert to the state of medieval villagers, never
traveling more than a few miles from our doorsteps? Or can we
redesign our transport system so that we can get where we need
without burning oil?
The answer to the second question is "Yes," and it can be done using
reasonable, accessible steps and currently available technology. My
conclusion is that we could meet all our transport needs without any
oil transport fuel. We could use 86 percent less oil, and the
remaining 14 percent could be replaced by biofuels. I leave hydrogen
out of the picture, because biofuel and electricity provide a better
delivery of net energy (see more on this argument on page 29). To
view my calculations, see "12 Steps: the cascading maths."
Total U.S. oil consumption is 312 billion gallons a year and rising.
Transport accounts for 68 percent (212 billion gallons). I focus
chiefly on trips in cars and light trucks, which use 54 percent of
the transport oil (118 billion gallons a year). This includes trips
to work, to the stores, to school, to visit friends, for vacations,
and everything else. So buckle your seat belts, and get ready for an
oil-free ride. We're going to lose our addiction!
1. Stay Home
We can divert 5 percent of our trips by combining errands or not
doing them in the first place. Thanks to the Internet, many jobs can
be done from home or in a local telework center, either full time or
one day a week. Grocery shopping can also be done over the Internet,
with home delivery by truck being a far more efficient use of fuel
than individual shopping.
5 percent less fuel needed.
We can do 5 percent of our trips by foot; ancient people walked all
the way out of Africa and around the world. Children could walk to
school, instead of being chauffeured by their parents. Many people
could walk to work and enjoy the exercise. We could redesign our
cities and suburbs to make walking a pleasure, and rejuvenate the
suburbs by developing local neighborhood centers, creating places
where people could shop, have coffee, and meet their neighbors - all
So far, we need 10 percent less fuel.
Fifteen percent of our trips can be done by bike. Some people say
cycling is the most efficient use of energy ever invented. In Davis,
California, 80 percent of the streets have bike lanes, and 20 to 25
percent of all local trips are by bike. Imagine a world designed for
bicycles, with safe bike lanes, off-road bikeways, bikes with
trailers, electric bikes, and folding bikes that are easy to take on
a bus or train. In some communities, as much as 40 percent of trips
might be made by bicycle. In others, where it snows in winter or
there are more hills, the number might be 10 percent.
We've saved 25 percent so far.
4. Share Rides
Five percent of our trips can be done sharing vehicles. Picture a
system where any resident in a community can join the Community Ride
Share Club. If you need a ride, you just flash your card, and a
member of the Club will stop and give you a ride. People living in a
neighborhood or region could create a website where they offer and
receive rides based on shared destinations. It also builds community,
as people get to know each other.
We're down to 30 percent less fuel.
5. Mass Transit
Twenty percent of our trips can be done by bus, light-rail transit,
or train. When Boulder, Colorado, re-organized its transit system,
substituting minibuses for the big old dinosaur buses, and
introducing a city-wide Eco Pass that buys a year's travel for just
$50, the share of trips made by transit increased from 1.6 percent to
4.6 percent. It's small, but it's a start.
Imagine minibuses that arrive every ten minutes, and transit stops
with electronic timetables within a five-minute walk of every home.
Imagine major public investments in light-rail transit, as Portland,
Oregon, has done, and high-speed railways, as Europe is doing. If
each full bus carries 20 people, it can replace 15 of today's cars,
and using a hybrid engine can reduce bus fuel use by 95 percent.
We're at 50 percent. (Fuel for buses added later.)
6. Share Cars
Car-sharing is the big social invention that will make a future
without oil manageable. Car-sharing started in Europe in the 1980s
and spread to North America in the 1990s. As a member, you buy into a
fleet of vehicles parked in convenient spots around the city, and
when you want to use one, you book it by phone or over the Internet.
Because members pay by the mile and the hour, they think twice before
driving. The average member of Vancouver's Cooperative Auto Network
(with 1,600 members) drives 1,400 kilometers a year, compared to a
local norm of 6,000 to 24,000 kilometers. You pick the vehicle to
suit your trip, and for most trips a small efficient two-seater will
do fine, allowing a huge saving of fuel. For our fuel-saving math,
we'll assume that 50 percent of the car-driving public joins a Car
(No direct fuel reduction.)
7. Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles have been given the cold shoulder by the big auto
companies, which have decided there's more money to be made from
hybrids and hydrogen vehicles, so they've ditched the idea and
recalled their EVs, to the immense frustration of EV enthusiasts.
But EVs do make sense. The new lithium ion batteries can last for
nearly 200 miles between charges. When oil costs $5 to $10 a gallon,
EVs are going to be very enticing, and fully half of the cars on the
road might be electric. For Car Share members, a small EV will work
just fine for most trips, while a larger fuel-efficient hybrid can be
used for longer trips. But will there be enough electricity? See Step
Down to 75 percent less liquid fuel.
8. Hybrid Cars
The new Toyota Prius, which is winning praise from its users,
averages 48 miles per gallon, twice the efficiency of today's average
car. But wait. If you take a hybrid such as the Prius and increase
the size of its battery so that it can be charged up from the grid
when parked, as well as from its on-board engine, its fuel efficiency
improves to 167 m.p.g., an 85 percent reduction on today's typical
fuel use (70 percent better than the regular Prius), while still
providing the distance for longer trips. Car Share members might use
a plug-in hybrid EV for 20 percent of their trips, while private
drivers use one for 80 percent; on average, drivers will use them for
half their trips.
We're at 86.25 percent less fuel.
9. Smart Cars
They're already in Europe, and they're coming to Canada this fall.
The Mercedes diesel Smart CDI two-seater does 69 m.p.g.. The
Volkswagen One-Litre, a two-seater prototype that's been on the roads
in Europe, does 237 m.p.g. Yes, you read that correctly. By 2010,
they'll probably do 250 m.p.g., providing a 10-fold improvement on
Car Share members might use a Volkswagen One Liter for 80 percent of
the trips for which they don't use an EV, while private drivers might
use them for 20 percent. We're down to 3 percent of the original oil
we were using, or 3.7 billion gallons a year.
97 percent less fuel.
Pause for Breath
What we have here is a series of changes that produce incredible
results. We reduced our need for car-based trips by 50 percent and
used EVs for half the remaining trips. For the remaining 25 percent
of our trips, we used hybrid EVs that are 85 percent more efficent
than today's cars for half of them and smart cars, which are 90
percent more efficient than today's cars, for the other half.
Altogether, these steps reduced our liquid fuel needs by 97 percent.
We now have to add the buses. Today, they use 1 percent of the
transport oil (2.1 billion gallons). This could be cut in half with a
hybrid electric drive. Add fuel for the big increase bus ridership in
Step 5, and the total comes to just 2.23 billion gallons. Add the 3.7
billion gallons we need for personal vehicles and we need about 6
billion gallons to get around. Can we find a replacement for that
When ethanol is made from crops grown specifically for fuel, such as
corn, its energy balance shows a positive return of 26 to 33
percent. When cellulosic ethanol is made from grass crops and farm
residues that would otherwise be burned, however, its return is 79
percent, without diverting production from food. The Minnesota-based
Institute for Local Self Reliance estimates that cellulosic crops
could produce 10 to 20 billion gallons a year.
Biodiesel has won fame and popularity through the Veggie Van, and
other adventures. It can be made from corn oil, canola oil,
cottonseed oil, mustard oil, palm oil, restaurant frying oils, animal
fats, restaurant trap grease, and algae. The combined U.S. production
of vegetable oil and animal fats, if it were all diverted, could
produce 4.64 billion gallons a year. The National Renewable Energy
Laboratory has estimated that 4 billion gallons could be produced
from mustard oil.
Michael Briggs, in the University of New Hampshire's Biodiesel Group,
calculates that if we grow algae on waste streams such as sewage at
treatment plants or animal farms, or build large algae farms in a
salty environment such as the Salton Sea, or the Sonora desert in
southern California, the algae could produce a billion gallons of
biodiesel a year from every 20,000 hectares, using sea-water and
There are other biofuels, too. Zurich, Switzerland, runs 1200
vehicles on Kompogas from composted organic kitchen and yard wastes
(see page 33). One ton produces 17 gallons of fuel, and a typical
city produces 0.174 tons of organic waste per person per year, which
could make 3 gallons of biofuel. If every community in the U.S.
composted like Zurich, this could produce 0.9 billion gallons of
biofuel a year.
Changing World Technologies is developing a technique called thermal
depolymerization, which mimics the process that converts forests and
swamps into fossil fuels. Using this process, Changing World
estimates that America's agricultural wastes could produce 168
billion gallons of biofuel a year. The process is 85 percent
efficient, needing 15 percent of its output of energy to keep it
going, reducing the net output to 143 billion gallons. The
Philadelphia City Council is planning to use the process to treat the
city's sewage, opening up another huge possibility to turn waste into
In this scenario, 25 percent of our personal trips are made in
electric vehicles, and 12.5 percent in hybrid vehicles, which use
electricity for 75 percent of their energy. Taken together, we'll
need electricity for 34 percent of our mileage. Right now, those
trips use 40 billion gallons of oil, enabling Americans to drive
1,000 billion miles a year at 25 miles per gallon (8,500 miles per
A typical car that is converted into an EV uses around 300 watt-hours
per mile. An EV tested by the Department of Energy was rated at 164
watt-hours per mile. If a smart-EV used 100 watt-hours per mile plus
50 watts for the battery charging, those 1000 billion miles would
require 150,000 billion watt-hours (150,000 gigawatt hours) of
electricity a year. That's a very reachable target for renewable
energy, as North Dakota alone has 1.2 million gigawatt-hours of
available wind power potential, eight times more than we need. We
would also need electricity for the trains and light rail.
Alternatively, with just three hours of sunshine a day, a house in
Seattle with a one-kilowatt photovoltaic system on a south-facing
roof will generate 1095 kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough
to power a two-seater smart EV for 7,300 miles. The biofuel is
available; the electricity is available. Suddenly, the whole endeavor
to travel without oil begins to seem possible.
12. Smart Policies
The lexicon of policies that could accelerate the process of change
is enormous, from transportation demand management to tax-shifting to
smart growth land-use planning. This is policy wonk heaven: let's
leave it at that.
A Final Word
This has been a quick, back-of-the-envelope exercise, to explore the
possibility of transport without oil. It ignored heavy trucks, which
use 38 billion gallons of oil a year. If every truck used a hybrid
drive, as the new FedEx trucks do, this would cut it to 19 billion
gallons. As the price of oil rises, there'll be incentive for local
production, so we can reduce the stupidity of shipping goods back and
forth across the country and the world. A 20 percent reduction in
shipping would reduce the fuel needed to 15 billion gallons.
Then there's flying, which uses 10 percent of America's transport oil
(21 billion gallons a year). We've got to do a lot less flying. With
a good electric train system, all trips under 400 kilometers would be
faster and easier by rail, allowing 40 percent fewer flights,
reducing the fuel needed to 12.6 billion gallons. If we cut our
flying by a further 40 percent, by learning to live and travel more
responsibly, that would reduce it to 7.5 billion gallons. Altogether,
for heavy trucks and flying, we need 22.5 billion gallons. With the 6
billion gallons we need for personal travel, we need 28.5 billion
gallons, still within the amounts of biofuel we demonstrated could be
This exercise ignored the opportunities to save oil now used for
commerce and industry, including to make vehicles (55.5 billion
gallons a year), to heat homes (9.3 billion gallons a year) and to
generate electricity (5.7 billion gallons a year).
We've also ignored the many benefits of embracing forms of
sustainable energy. No more smog and smog-induced asthma. Less noise
and way fewer road accidents. More exercise, more peace and quiet,
more conversations with neighbors. The end of oil may seem scary to
some, but from where I'm sitting, it looks as if it might work out
Guy Dauncey is co-author with Patrick Mazza of Stormy Weather: 10
Solutions to Global Climate Change (New Society Publishers, 2001),
and president of the BC Sustainable Energy Association - www.bcsea.org/
He lives in Victoria, BC, Canada
12 Steps: The Cascading Maths
By Guy Dauncey
The maths starts with the US consumption of 118 billion gallons of
oil a year for travel in cars and light trucks.
Step 1: Stay Home 5 percent. Fuel reduction = 5 percent.
Step 2: Walking 5 percent. Cumulative fuel reduction = 10 percent.
Step 3. Cycling 15 percent. Cumulative fuel reduction = 25 percent.
Step 4. Ride-Sharing 5 percent. Cumulative fuel reduction = 30
Step 5. Transit, LRT, Trains, 20 percent. Cumulative fuel reduction =
Step 6. Shift to car sharing for 50 percent of vehicle owners. No
fuel impact, since this is an ownership method change, not a fuel
Step 7. Electric Vehicles (EV) for 50 percent of the remaining trips.
Cumulative liquid fuel reduction = 75 percent.
Step 8. Hybrid EV cars for half the remaining trips (12.5 percent of
the total), with 85 percent improved efficiency. Cumulative liquid
fuel reduction (75 + 10.625) = 85.625 percent.
Step 9. Smart Cars for the remaining non-EV trips (12.5 percent of
the total), with 90 percent improved efficiency. Cumulative liquid
fuel reduction (85.625 + 11.25) = 96.875 percent.
Total fuel needed = 3.125 percent of 118 billion gallons = 3.7
billion gallons a year.
Existing buses use 2.1 billion gallons a year, which could be halved
to 1.05 billion gallons with hybrid drives. Add fuel for the many new
bus trips: each bus carries 20 people, replacing 15 cars, and does 20
mpg, resulting in a 95 percent reduction in fuel needed for those
trips = 1 percent addition = 1.18 billion gallons. Taken together,
this produces a need for 2.23 billion gallons.
Existing trucks use 38 billion gallons a year. By switching to hybrid
drives, we cut the fuel use by half to 19 billion gallons, then
subtract 20 percent for more local production = 15.2 billion gallons.
Existing flying uses 21 billion gallons. Subtract 40 percent for
travel by rail (using electricity), and a further 40 percent for more
sustainable living = 7.56 billion gallons.
Total liquid fuel needed for all travel: 28.69 billion gallons; call
it 30 billion.
Step 10. Total biofuel potentials, per year.
Cellulosic ethanol from grass crops and agricultural wastes: 10-20
Biodiesel from vegetable oils and animal fats: 4.6 billion gallons.
Biodiesel from harvested algae per 20,000 hectares: 10 billion
Oil from thermally depolymerized agricultural wastes: 143 billion
Compost gas from nation-wide composting: 0.9 billion gallons. (1
tonne yields 70 litres; 1 ton yields 16.8 gallons. Halifax, a
Canadian city of 350,000 people, yields 61,000 tons of compostables
through their green box system. 1 person yields 0.174 tons a year =
12.18 litres = 3.2 gallons (8 gallons per household). USA: 293
million people could theoretically yield 937 million gallons.)
Step 11: Renewable electricity. A typical car that is converted into
an EV uses around 300 watt hours per mile. An EV-1 that was tested in
1966 used 164 watt-hours per mile. If a smart-EV used 100 watt hours
per mile, those 1,000 billion miles would require 100,000 billion
watt hours (100,000 gigawatt hours) of electricity a year. At 100
watt-hours per mile, a year's driving of 10,000 miles will need 1,000
kWh. At the current market price of 10 cents/kWh, this would cost
Wind: North Dakota has 1.2 million gigawatt-hours of available wind
power potential, 12 times more than we need. At the current price of
5 cents kWh for wind energy, 10,000 miles would cost $50.
Solar: With 3 hours of sunshine a day, a house in Seattle with a 1
kilowatt PV system on a south-facing roof will generate 1095 kilowatt
hours of electricity a year, enough to power a 2-seater smart EV for
10,950 miles; call it 10,000 miles. With an installation cost of
$8,000 for a life of 20 years, and a 5 percent 20 year solar mortgage
adding $4,500, that's $625.
Gasoline: At $2 per gallon, those 10,000 miles will cost you $800 a
year. At $10 per gallon, as the oil begins to run out, they'll cost
from: Guy Dauncey, July 2004 www.earthfuture.com
He May Have Misjudged Post-War Iraq
By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent - UK
August 28, 2004
WASHINGTON -- President George Bush offered an unprecedented admission that he might have "miscalculated" events in post-war Iraq. Mr Bush insisted that his decision invade in March 2003 had been correct.
The subsequent problems had stemmed from the very speed of the initial military victory, which had allowed Iraqi soldiers to vanish, and mount the current insurgency. The President acknowledged he had made "a miscalculation of what the conditions would be".
In the interview with the New York Times - Mr Bush's first in three and a half years in office with the country's most influential newspaper - he refused any further speculation on what had gone wrong with the occupation - in which more than 800 US troops have died since Mr Bush's now infamous "Mission Accomplished" appearance on an aircraft carrier on 1 May 2003.
The President also yesterday ordered a major shake-up of the US intelligence community, giving expanded powers to the director of the CIA and setting up a National Counterterrorism Centre to co-ordinate the efforts of the country's sometimes feuding intelligence agencies. The President's moves, aimed at burnishing his credentials on the national security issues which may be decisive in the election campaign this autumn, came on the eve of his party's nominating convention, which opens in New York on Monday.
The most important decision, issued as an executive order with immediate effect, would place the CIA director squarely at the top of the intelligence pyramid. He would enjoy overall control of the annual $40bn US intelligence budget, 85 per cent of which is currently run by the Pentagon.
The moves are the first to implement the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 commission, which last month delivered a withering criticism of the intelligence community's shortcomings before the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
How quickly the reforms will occur in practice however is unclear. Porter Goss, Mr Bush's nominee to replace George Tenet as CIA director has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. At the Pentagon, the Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, is expected to resist any loss of authority to a genuine national intelligence 'czar.'
The President enters the Republican Convention in upbeat mood. Despite growing evidence the economy has lost steam, two new polls yesterday showed Mr Bush slightly ahead of his Democratic challenger John Kerry - a reversal of the positions of only a fortnight ago.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll gave the Bush/Cheney ticket a 47 per cent to 45 per cent lead, while CNN/Gallup has the President in the lead by 48/46. Both fall within the statistical margin for error, but are in line with a Los Angeles Times survey earlier in the week.
The virtual unanimity of the polls suggest that the controversial TV ads by an independent veterans group accusing Mr Kerry of lying about his war record have had an impact - putting the Democrat on the defensive and eating into his credibility as a future commander- in-chief, capable of defending the country from terrorists. In yesterday's interview, Mr Bush told the New York Times he was sure that the Massachusetts senator had told the truth about his time in Vietnam. But once again he refused to explicitly condemn the ads, as even some Republicans have demanded.
Instead the President urged Mr Kerry to join him in seeking a ban on all such advertising by the so-called '527' groups (named after a clause in the tax code which permits their activities). Mr Bush claimed he had been at least as much a victim of them as his opponent. In fact, Democrat-aligned 527s have spent at least $63m on such ads savaging Mr Bush, four times as much as Republican-supporting groups had spent attacking Mr Kerry.
But barring an uncharacteristic show of urgency from the FEC, the election regulatory body here, nothing is likely to be done before the 2 November vote. Meanwhile, Unfit to Command, the book attacking the Democratic candidate's war record published by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, has turned into a bestseller - despite clear evidence the organisation has close links to several Bush operatives, and several investigations suggesting many of its allegations are simply false.
© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
By John Vidal
The Guardian - UK
August 22, 2004
Governments may have to persuade people to eat less meat because of increasing demands on water supplies, according to agricultural scientists investigating how the world can best feed itself.
They say countries with little water may choose not to grow crops but trade in "virtual water", importing food from countries which have large amounts of water to save their supplies for domestic or high-value uses.
With about 840 million people in the world undernourished, and a further 2 billion expected to be born within 20 years, finding water to grow food will be one of the greatest challenges facing governments.
Currently up to 90% of all managed water is used to grow food.
"There will be enough food for everyone on average in 20 years' time, but unless we change the way that we grow it, there will be a lot more malnourished people," said Dr David Molden, principal scientist with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), which is part-funded by the British government and is investigating global options for feeding growing populations.
"The bottom line is that groundwater levels are plummeting and our rivers are already overstressed, yet there is a lot of complacency about the future," the IWMI report says.
"Western diets, which depend largely on meat, are already putting great pressures on the environment. Meat-eaters consume the equivalent of about 5,000 litres [1,100 gallons] of water a day compared to the 1,000-2,000 litres used by people on vegetarian diets in developing countries. All that water has to come from somewhere."
The consensus emerging among scientists is that it will be almost impossible to feed future generations the typical diet eaten in western Europe and North America without destroying the environment.
A meat and vegetable diet, which most people move to when economically possible, requires more water than crops such as wheat and maize. On average, it takes 1,790 litres of water to grow 1kg of wheat compared with 9,680 litres of water for 1kg of beef.
In its report, the IWMI says it it unlikely people will change their eating habits because of concerns about water supplies. "And in many sub-Saharan countries, where the pressure on water will increase most rapidly in the next 20 years, people actually need to be eating more, not less," the report says.
Anders Berntell, the director of the International Water Institute, based in Stockholm, said: "The world's future water supply is a problem that's ... greater than we've begun to realise.
"We've got to reduce the amount of water we devote to growing food. The world is simply running out of water."
Research suggests that up to 24% more water will be needed to grow the world's food in 20 years, but many of the fastest-growing countries are unable to devote more water to agriculture without sacrificing ecosystems which may be important for providing water or fish.
The option of increased world trade in virtual water seems logical, the scientists say, but they recognise that it depends on countries having the money to import their food. "The question remains whether the countries that will be hardest hit by water scarcity will be able to afford virtual water," the report says.
The best options for feeding the world, it says, are a combination of hi-tech and traditional water conservation methods. Improved crop varieties, better tillage methods and more precise irrigation could reduce water consumption and improve yields.
Drought-resistant seeds, water harvesting schemes and small-plot technologies such as treadle pumps [simple foot pumps] all have the potential to boost yields by 100%, the report says.
The scientists did not examine the use of GM foods which have been hailed by some companies as the way to avoid big food shortages.
"Even without GM foods, in many parts of the world there is the potential to increase water productivity. Even without them there is hope," one of the report's authors said.
Another option considered is that of farmers using more urban waste water for irrigation. It is estimated that up to 10% of the world's population now eat food produced using waste water from towns and cities.
Cities are predicted to use 150% more water within 20 years, which will be both a problem and an opportunity.
"This means more waste water but also less fresh water available for agriculture. In the future, using waste water may not be a choice but a necessity", the report says.
The authors say western governments need to change their policies: "Agricultural subsidies keep world commodity prices low in poor countries and discourage farmers from investing [in water-saving technologies] because they will not get a return on their investments.
"Land and water rights are also needed so people will invest in long-term improvements."
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
By Leon Fisher
Published: August 18, 2004
Powerful interests from within and without have collectively, and over time, by means of bribery, intimidation, blackmail, and assassination, usurped the Constitutionally-mandated government of the United States.
We are now living in a de facto dictatorship.
In the White House, we have an unelected idiot with name recognition only, useful only for those who installed him there and very little else.
In order to remain in control of the government in Washington, and to perpetuate the power of the Oligarchs, only candidates acceptable to the Oligarchs will be tolerated.
These candidates already exist, commonly called "career politicians" or "Washington insiders," etc., and any other candidates, any candidates espousing opinions and policies contrary to that of the Oligarchs, never make it past the primaries.
Both Houses of Congress are little more than a rubber stamp, with voting records proving a willingness to support legislation favorable to the ruling elite, contrary to the good of the people. As for the Supreme Court, its part in the criminal theft of the 2000 presidential election, helping precipitate the events of September 11, 2001, will live forever in infamy.
Among the many special interest groups and powerful lobbies whose wealth and influence have stolen the voice of the people, there exists an entity without conscience or loyalty, whose greed is insatiable, capable of any act which will advance its agenda. I will refer to this entity henceforth as the Oligarchs.
The dictionary defines the word 'oligarch' as a member a small exclusive class in which the supreme power of government has been placed in their hands. Although power is firmly in the hands of the Oligarchs, they remain anonymous, a shadow government.
To create the perception of normalcy for the average citizen, and to keep the more petty and mundane duties of government going, career politicians are used. But matters of real importance are decided in advance and in private by members of the Oligarchy, and only later are a powerless President and Congress allowed to engage in empty debate, and to cast a useless vote or a veto, all for the benefit of the citizenry to further the illusion of legitimacy.
Elections, an important aspect of a democracy and an indispensable exercise of a free people, are allowed to continue, but this of course has become just another illusion to keep the general public ignorant and manageable.
In order to remain in control of the government in Washington, and to perpetuate the power of the Oligarchs, only candidates acceptable to the Oligarchs will be tolerated. These candidates already exist, commonly called "career politicians" or "Washington insiders," etc., and any other candidates, any candidates espousing opinions and policies contrary to that of the Oligarchs, never make it past the Primaries.
Critisized or ignored by the mainstream media and rejected by their respective political parties, not even a candidate with popular grassroots support stands a chance. We have seen this happen many times in the recent past.
The Oligarchs have our candidates chosen for us, and there is nothing we can do about it.
Voting therefore has become irrelevant.
The freedom born in 1776 is no more.
By Marco Aquino
LIMA, Peru (Reuters) -- An ancient walled city complex inhabited some 1,300 years ago by a culture later conquered by the Incas has been discovered deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, explorers said on Tuesday.
U.S. and Peruvian explorers uncovered the city, which may have been home to up to 10,000 people, after a month trekking in Peru's northern rain forest and following up on years of investigation about a possible lost metropolis in the region.
The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.
"It is a tremendous city ... containing areas with stone etchings and 10-meter (33-foot) high walls," said Savoy, who had to hack through trees and thick foliage to finally reach the site on Aug. 15.
Covered in matted tree branches and interspersed with lakes and waterfalls, the settlement sites also contain well-preserved graveyards with mummies with teeth "in almost perfect condition," Savoy said.
Replete with stone agricultural terraces and water canals, the city complex is thought to have been home to the little-known Chachapoyas culture.
According to early accounts by Spanish conquistadors who arrived in Peru in the early 1500s, the Chachapoyas were a fair-skinned warrior tribe famous for their tall stature. Today they are known for the giant burial coffins sculpted into human figures found in the northern jungle region.
Savoy said his team also found an Inca settlement within the city complex that could prove theories the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas, who ruled an area stretching from Ecuador to northern Chile between 1300 and 1500.
Savoy, a Peruvian-American, accompanied on the expedition by his U.S. father, Gene Savoy, named the site Gran Saposoa after the nearby village Saposoa and his team has already mapped the area with preliminary drawings.
The discovery is the third notable ruin Gene Savoy has helped uncover in Peru. In 1964, Savoy found the site of the Incas' last refuge in the Cuzco region of southern Peru. A year later he took part in the discovery of the sacred city of Gran Pajaten in northern Peru.
American Hiram Bingham made Peru's most famous archeological discovery -- the fabled Inca ruins of Machu Picchu near Cuzco -- in 1911. Machu Picchu today attracts almost half a million tourists every year and is South America's best known archeological site.
Published on 8-19-4
Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited