Drumbeat: July 19, 2013

Peak oil, not climate change worries most Britons

(Reuters) - Most people in Britain want to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, but due more to fears of shortages and rising prices than to fears about climate change, according to a poll developed by researchers at Cardiff University and funded by the UK Energy Research Centre.

Nearly 2,500 people were surveyed across England, Scotland and Wales in August 2012. The results, published on Tuesday in a report on "Transforming the UK energy system: public values, attitudes and acceptability," provide a trove of information about public opinion on climate and energy policy.

R.I.P. Peak Oil As Oil Drum Closes Down

Print publications go out of business because the well of subscribers willing to pay for paper by snail-mail dries up. But it's rare for an on-line publication to close down because the well of ideas and content dries up.

But this month the iconic blog The Oil Drum, announced it's shutting down because of the "...scarcity of new content caused by a dwindling number of contributors." The Oil Drum was a forum, arguably the best such, dedicated to the "peak oil" theory; the idea that mankind's ability to produce oil had peaked and particularly in the hydrocarbon fields of America. The inevitability and urgency to subsidize alternatives to hydrocarbons was fueled by the peak oil theory.

But what peaked instead was the ability to argue that the era of oil, and hydrocarbons, was over.

What North Texas company helped kill the Peak Oil theory?

Instead of predicting a Road Warrior-like apocalypse where people fight over a barrels of oil, nowadays we see wild projections for how much oil reserves the Earth holds and it seems to get bigger all the time.

There will be a time for Peak Oil Theory, but it's not any time soon.

Is Peak Oil Dead or Just Postponed?

Still, the peak oil is dead narrative has been reinforced in recent weeks with news that The Oil Drum, a popular intellectual locus for peak oil conversation on the web, is closing down at the end of the month. The official announcement cites “the high expense of running the [web]site” and a “scarcity of new content,” but it’s hard to imagine this coming to pass if the world wasn’t suddenly swimming in newly tapped fossil fuel reserves. Perhaps the cognitive dissonance became too much to bear.

No Peak Oil Really Is Dead

This is where the science gets “cluttery.” None of this, so far,says anything about the vast kerogen cycle in general or what one might do to tap into it. It is only about these little pockets. Some Peak Oil enthusiast will acknowledge this by saying “only the tiniest fraction of petroleum can be profitably extracted” Not to be too glib here but one’s response has to be “how do you know, have you tried?” Because the answer is no, they haven’t tried. No one until recently tried. Because, why would you. We had not yet exhausted the over 100 year-old insight that a lot of this stuff gets trapped in little pockets. Not only that, but people were getting absurdly rich just by being the first one to find a new pocket. It was like a 100 year long gold rush.

Has Peak Oil Been Vindicated Or Debunked?

Now with some subsequent years of data we can see that despite the slow growth in developed countries prices have very certainly not returned to the halcyon days of the Reagan-Clinton years. We can see that the Iraq/Kuwait price spike actually looks like a bit of a joke. We can see the impact of the unconventional oil, which has created this anomalous gap between the WTI price and the Brent price. It's a big gap. This is nothing to sneer at. Not only is it causing an economic boom in North Dakota and select portions of Texas, but it plausibly explains some of why America's overall economic performance has been so much better than Europe's. But even so, America's oil boom hasn't pushed U.S. oil prices back down to mid-aughts levels and it certainly hasn't pushed U.S. oil prices back down to 1990s levels. The good old days of genuinely abundant liquid fuel really do appear to be behind us.

The Last Oil Frontier

WTI Crude is at $105.77. Brent Crude is at $108.14.

Despite the rapid gains in U.S. oil production (up 48% since 2008), the price remains high.

On the surface, this doesn't make a lot of sense...

Sen Sees Saudi Fuel Oil Use Rise as Gas Cuts Crude Burn

Saudi Arabia is boosting imports of fuel oil to supplement the use of natural gas to generate power and cool homes in the summer months, freeing up more of its crude for export, according to Energy Aspects Ltd.

“Fuel oil is on the rise, especially as prices had fallen quite sharply earlier in the year,” Amrita Sen, chief oil market analyst at the London-based consultant, said by e-mail yesterday. “With new fuel-oil power plants operating, we would continue to see fuel-oil burn rise.”

WTI Little Changed After Giving Back Earlier 1.2% Advance

West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed in New York after reversing an earlier advance of 1.2 percent.

WTI for August delivery fell 1 cent to $108.03 a barrel at 9:58 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier it climbed to $109.32, the highest intraday level since March 1, 2012. The volume of all futures traded was 51 percent above the 100-day average for the time of day. The futures have gained 12 percent in July.

Gasoline Slides as Supplies Rise Even as Refiners Shut Units

Gasoline fell as supplies are rising even as refiners have shut units for unplanned work and fuel production is down.

Futures slipped as the Energy Information Administration reported yesterday that gasoline supplies rose 3.06 million barrels last week to 224.1 million. Demand sank 6.1 percent from a week earlier. Gasoline output fell 5.6 percent to 9.05 million barrels a day, the lowest rate in seven weeks, as refiners shut process units.

“The build was quite surprising given the problems we’ve seen and it’s pressuring gasoline prices,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates LLC in Houston.

Why the spike in gas prices won't hurt spending

Whenever drivers see spikes such as these, it makes headlines. Rising gas prices can drag down the economy because it leaves less money in the pockets of consumers to spend on other things. It was back in December 2007 when the surge in oil prices helped push the U.S. economy into recession. The housing and banking crisis played a major role, but so did oil shocks; they hurt consumer spending and the auto industry, research has shown.

But as a rule of thumb, economists say consumers generally don't really notice they're paying more at the pumps until gas hits the $4 a gallon mark. Unless you live in California, Hawaii and Alaska, where prices have risen above $4, most drivers aren't feeling the pinch. States like Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan Washington, Oregon and the District of Columbia are close, but it's unlikely that consumers across the rest of America will pull back their spending this year because of higher gas prices.

Petrol prices could soar by 5p a litre, warns AA

Petrol pump prices could soar 5p a litre, burning a hole in the pockets of holiday motorists, the AA has warned.

A surge in the wholesale cost of petrol across Europe has already led to a rise in UK petrol and diesel prices, with more misery possibly to come, the AA said.

Why gas prices are likely to keep climbing

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.com predicts that there's at least a 50% chance gas could top the $3.79 a gallon high for the year reached in February.

Ras Tanura Oil-Tanker Capacity Seen Jumping 29% in Latest Week

The combined carrying capacity of oil tankers calling at Saudi Arabia’s Ras Tanura jumped 29 percent in the week ended July 13, vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The implied capacity of vessels calling at the world’s largest crude-export complex expanded to the equivalent of 9.61 million barrels a day from 7.46 million barrels for the prior week, according to signals gathered by IHS Fairplay, a Redhill, England-based maritime research company. The data may be incomplete because not all transmissions are captured.

China Pumps Crude at Fastest Pace Since 2010 as Oil Prices Climb

China is pumping crude at the fastest pace in more than two and a half years as explorers in the world’s second-largest oil consumer seek to profit from rising prices.

The country produced 17.44 million metric tons of crude last month, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing show. That’s equivalent to 4.26 million barrels a day, the highest rate since November 2010 when output reached 4.28 million barrels a day, according to Bloomberg calculations based on the data.

OPEC Crude Shipments Near to Seasonal Peak, Oil Movements Says

Crude shipments from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose to near their highest for the year as refiners have purchased most of their requirements for the peak summer season, Oil Movements said.

The group, which supplies about 40 percent of the world’s oil, will export 24.16 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Aug. 3, an increase of 40,000 barrels from 24.12 million in the period to July 6, the tanker tracker said today in an e-mailed report. The figures exclude two of OPEC’s 12 members, Angola and Ecuador.

Canada’s inflation rate jumped 1.2% in June on gas and auto price rebound

OTTAWA — Consumer prices picked up speed last month, fueled by higher the cost of gasoline and cars, but that is unlikely to nudge Canada’s monetary policymakers any closer to a change in interest rates.

U.K. plans big tax breaks for shale gas

ONDON (CNNMoney) The U.K. government is planning to slash taxes for energy companies in a bid to stimulate a U.S.-style shale gas boom.

The Treasury has proposed cutting the tax rate on production income to 30% for the fledgling shale gas sector, compared to the typical 62% rate that most oil and gas companies pay.

"Shale gas is a resource with huge potential to broaden the U.K.'s energy mix," said Chancellor George Osborne. "We want to create the right conditions for industry to explore and unlock that potential."

UK happy to hand power to foreigners

The United Kingdom has been relaxed, to say the least, about the fact that most of its energy network is now owned by foreign companies.

Temasek Racing Exxon to Build Biggest LNG Terminal Stash

A Temasek Holdings Pte unit is up against Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc in a contest to fill storage tanks that will hold three times as much liquefied natural gas as Singapore will consume this year.

Israel’s Deepest Well Targets 1.5 Billion Barrels of Oil

The deepest oil well drilled in Israel’s 65-year history may be the most important.

Houston’s Noble Energy Inc. (NBL) will probe 6,500 meters (4 miles) below the Mediterranean seabed later this year, targeting as much as 1.5 billion barrels of crude, equal to about 15 years of Israeli demand.

Schlumberger soars on global drilling boom, Baker hit at home

(Reuters) - A three-decade high for drilling activity outside North America lifted Schlumberger Ltd to its seventh straight estimate-topping quarterly profit, while U.S.-focused Baker Hughes Inc came up short in a tough quarter at home.

Shares of global oil services sector leader Schlumberger rose 4 percent to $81.69 in trading before the New York Stock Exchange opened on Friday, while Baker Hughes slipped 2 percent to $48.

Egypt’s Brotherhood Stirs Protest After Rejecting Cabinet

Supporters of Egypt’s deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi held demonstrations in Cairo and other cities early today after rejecting the new interim government and its offer of reconciliation talks.

TransCanada Says Keystone XL Start in 2015 ‘Difficult’

TransCanada Corp. Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said the timeline for U.S. approval of the $5.3 billion Keystone XL pipeline project will make the start of operations in the second half of 2015 “difficult.”

TransCanada Rebuffs EPA’s Call for Keystone Clean Energy

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says TransCanada Corp. (TRP) should be required to buy renewable power to run pumps along the route of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a measure the company said is unworkable and unnecessary.

DOE study: Fracking chemicals didn't taint water

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

Beyond San Onofre’s closure

The decision to shut San Onofre was at base economic; its majority owner decided that the probable costs and regulatory uncertainly were too great to risk going forward with the repair or replacement of the plant’s steam generators. Although Southern California Edison claimed that the problem at San Onofre was unique and not a reflection on the viability of the national nuclear industry, nuclear power experts have repeatedly remarked on a trend: Under competition from cheaper energy sources, some utilities are shuttering nuclear plants licensed to run for years hence. Earlier this year, Virginia-based Dominion decided to close the Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin “based purely on economics.” In February, Duke Energy announced it would close its Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida and look to replace its output with other sources.

Corrupt CPUC Chair Peevy And Utility Controlled Commission Delays Full Probe Of NUKE Plant

Corrupt California PUC Chair Michael Peevey and the utility controlled commission are refusing to do a full investigation of the San Onofre NUKE plant outage and leak causing the shutdown. Peevey appointed by former governor Gray Davis was an executive of Southern California Edison and is still taking money from them while on the commission that is supposed to regulate these utilities.

Native wood to be used for fuel

Thousands of tonnes of wood from native forests will soon be burnt in power stations, after the state government said it intends to change the rules so that timber offcuts and woodchips can be used as fuel.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority said the change would make better use of waste wood from logging, but conservation groups claim it would entrench logging and destroy native habitat.

SoftBank Forms a Fuel Cell Venture With a Silicon Valley Start-Up

TOKYO — When Masayoshi Son, SoftBank’s chief executive, first visited the Silicon Valley fuel cell start-up Bloom Energy late last year, one word came to his mind: crazy.

But the fuel cell technology — which promised efficient, cleaner and increasingly inexpensive “energy in a box” — intrigued him. After several more visits, Mr. Son was convinced that Bloom’s sleek fuel cells were a perfect fit for Japan, energy-poor and made even more so by an almost complete shutdown of its nuclear energy program after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

China’s Feud With West on Solar Leads to Tax

Escalating a long-simmering trade dispute with the West over solar panels, China plans to impose tariffs that could exceed 50 percent on a material it imports from the United States and South Korea to make the panels, its Ministry of Commerce announced on Thursday.

The decision, which goes into effect next week, is a blow to the American industry, which analysts say counts China as its largest customer for solar-grade polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar panels.

Since All Solar Panels Are Not The Same, It's Important To Test Them

If you look at the issue of solar panels, you quickly discover that there are numerous makes, models, and sources. With hundreds of manufacturers, many of them from China and other overseas markets, it’s probably not surprising that there can be a vast difference in panel quality – not only among various brands, but between specific factories and individual panels. This matters a good deal, as investors are counting on panel performance expected to last 25 years or more, and making sizable bets, in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s going to matter even more in the years to come: Navigant recently issued a report projecting global solar installations of 438,000 MW by 2020, with $134 billion in annual revenues.

'Smart' streetlamps save energy by lighting up only when you're near

(CNN) -- Imagine if a streetlamp knew you were coming. It could announce your arrival from a distance. If you were on a date, it could help set the mood. It could ring in the new year with dazzling effects, change color at will, even announce days in advance when its bulb was set to blow.

In fact, there is nothing future-tense about this fantastical vision; in a handful of municipalities in Europe, streetlights have become downright chatty.

Western drought prompts feds to truck water and food to wild horses

Persistent drought in the West has prompted federal agencies to begin hauling water to wild horse herds in Nevada and restricting public lands grazing across the region.

In one part of Lincoln County, Nev., the Bureau of Land Management said it is trucking 25,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week to four locations at a cost of $5,000 per day.

Thirsty clean energy may add to water stressed world

While cutting emissions is necessary to curb global warming, some renewable and clean energy sources use more water than fossil fuel-powered plants, finds a report released this week by the US Department of Energy (DoE) that looked at how resilient the US's power infrastructure is to climate change.

The biggest users of water in the US are power plants, particularly the fossil fuel and nuclear plants that together generate almost 90 per cent of the nation's energy. Nearly half the water the US consumes is used to cool these plants and drive their turbines.

Climate Change Could Deprive Volta Basin of Water Needed to Boost Energy and Food Production

A new study released today finds that so much water may be lost in the Volta River Basin due to climate change that planned hydroelectric projects to boost energy and food production may only tread water in keeping up with actual demand. Some 24 million people in Ghana, Burkina Faso and four other neighboring countries depend on the Volta River and its tributaries as their principal source of water.

Carbon programs’ backlash in Australia, EU bode ill for U.S. efforts to fight climate change

Recent stumbles in Europe and Australia to implement ambitious climate change programs are providing a “cautionary tale” for the Obama administration and U.S. lawmakers as they consider how to fulfill President Obama’s drive to reduce U.S. greenhouse gases.

Wildfires may have bigger role in global warming, study says

The Los Alamos team identified tar balls – spherical, carbon-based particles – that are 10 times more prevalent than soot particles, and can boost the heating effect of wildfire emissions, according to the study, published last week in the journal Nature Communications.

“We provided the data that shows that current estimates, which are close to zero or show a very slight warming, are incorrect and the warming will be higher,” Dubey said. “We are confident this will change the results and show that fire emissions will have a tendency to warm.”

A sign of the times ?

McDonalds Tells Workers to Toil 70 Hours a Week, Use Ripoff Payroll Cards as Part of “Financial Literacy”

The poor have to endure not just the indignity of struggling to survive, but also from having to listen to pious lectures on how they really can proper on their meager incomes.

The McDonalds/Visa/”Wealth Watchers” version of this “let them eat cake” comes in the form of a website that drives home the message that if low wage workers like McDonalds employees just mustered up enough budget discipline, they can achieve “financial freedom”. The use of math, one imagines, is intended to make the advice seem objective rather than cynical and self serving. ThinkProgress, which pounced on this spreadsheet, pointed out how unattainable this sanitized, prettily-formatted elite fantasy is.

This event has received widespread coverage.

Also see this McDonald's Can't Figure Out How Its Workers Survive on Minimum Wage

I grew up eating McDonalds and still sometimes go there, but in my opinion there is no other corporation, other than Wal-Mart, that best symbolizes the sanitized, happy-faced greed that is corporate America.

I have no problem with the people who work there, but let's be honest. Every single McDonalds could disappear from the face of the planet, and nobody would miss them.

*shrug* they get the job done and make money doing it. No other place will sell you a burger for $0.99. Poor people *would* miss them.

more on topic :

Automated Drumbeat for Friday 19 July 2013

No. They get people's money, but are not getting the job done. They feed folks poison, yes poison.. contributing lustily to diabetes and heart disease, while not really being the 'cheap' meal they pretend to be. As the above helps to show, they are also helping to eviscerate and erode the financial stability of the workers who keep it all running.

No, *not shrug*.. ~ in the great corporate marathon to the bottom, they are Lance Armstrong, leading the way and damn the truth, damn the customers, damn the employees, and damn the country.

*shrug* they get the job done and make money doing it. No other place will sell you a burger for $0.99. Poor people *would* miss them.

Wow! Poor people *would* miss them! I'm truly at a loss for words. You are what I would call fractally wrong!

zurk, just curious do you really think that $0.99 burgers together with the entire fossil fuel based agro-industrial cattle business, on which corporations such as McDonald's depend are even remotely sustainable in a post Peak Oil world?

I'm not even going to dwell on all the external costs that McDonald's just passes on to society such as agro-industrial waste streams from their supply chain or the health care costs of their customers.

I'll grant you that they are making money all right! As for getting the job done? I guess if you consider that their job is to make a few people wealthy at the expense of society and the commons then perhaps you are right.

Perhaps you should seriously reconsider hosting a site that intends to be a successor in maintaining the kinds of conversations about energy and our future that have been the hallmark of TOD over the past years.

So your solution is to let poor people starve in the streets and the people at McDonalds go unemployed ? Because there is limited choice in the inner city for affordable food. No you cant "grow your own" in a concrete jungle.
McDonalds gross profit of $1.35B on revenues of $6.5B worldwide from 34,000 restaurants employing 1.7M persons - averages out to just $3800 per person. I dont consider it excessive or greedy. What you would be seeing is hideous poverty and slums in the USA if corporations were not out there dumping cheap (granted unhealthy...) sludge for poor people. Think about the situation in developing countries like India where the poor literally beg for food and starve or literally eat garbage.

Maybe you should consider that any site is better than no site at all. For some reason people seem to think the person who hosts the site tends to set the tone of the site. It doesnt work that way - I have better things to do than set tone and content or even bother reading any of it. Its the users who do that. If you post junk up, you will get junk. If you post good material up, you will get a good site.


It's hard to know if you are being serious or facetious, but if you are suggesting that but for the grace of McDonalds, people would be starving in the streets, you are one twisted character.

"Maybe you should consider that any site is better than no site at all."

The only feature I really wanted to find at zurk's planetbeat last time I logged in was the "delete membership" button-apparently that is not an option, ala Hotel California: "you may check out anytime you wish, but you can never leave".

McDonalds gross profit of $1.35B on revenues of $6.5B worldwide from 34,000 restaurants employing 1.7M persons - averages out to just $3800 per person. I dont consider it excessive or greedy.

Right. Just $3800 per person. And I'm sure it's uniformly distributed across those 1.7M persons too.

Seriously? That's your argument? There's no greed involved because the average is so reasonable?

I think its entirely possible that a lot of the younger, part time, employees don't make a heck of a lot more than $3800/yr after taxes.

This is a fair point but believe me, you can get cheap food elsewhere. How about all the other fast food joints? How about at all the gas stations and convenience stores and grocery stores?

My point was specifically about McDonalds. Again, even if McDonalds were to disappear we would still have Burger King, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, countless other chains and establishments to feed people.

So my point stands. McDonalds could disappear and people would move on, yes even poor people. Yet all these corporations act as if they are a gift from God and have to expand forever!

There is no law of nature that any one corporation has to exist forever.

Regarding starvation in the third world...is this really the case? How can the population be forever expanding if people are starving? Look starvaton is existential...if you starve, you starve to death. If you don't starve, you survive and reproduce.

Show me the evidence! All my life I was lectured...be thankful for what you have, think of the Ethiopians and Indians who don't even have food.

But yet the population keeps going up and up. Either one is true, or the other. I hate to say it, but real starvation causes population decline. Malthus understood this a long time ago.

I've never thought of starvation just that way. Thanks for that. Perhaps food insecurity is a more accurate term for what is prevalent today.

Written by zurk:
McDonalds gross profit of $1.35B on revenues of $6.5B worldwide from 34,000 restaurants employing 1.7M persons - averages out to just $3800 per person.

(1.7 million people)/ (34,000 restaurants) = 50 employees/restaurant?
Gross profit of $3,800 per employee?

This data does not make sense. Even with 4 cashiers, a cook, a cleaner and a manager with two 8 hour shifts, that is only 14 employees/restaurant. The employees at corporate headquarters would increase that average only slightly.

$3,800 per employee is well below U.S. minimum wage, so for that to be true, they must be paying really trivial wages in some countries.

What is the source of this data?

Wiki: McDonald's: states:

McDonald's revenues grew 27 percent over the three years ending in 2007 to $22.8 billion, and 9 percent growth in operating income to $3.9 billion.

which is a huge increase in revenue from your data.

McDonald’s $8.25 Man and $8.75 Million CEO Shows Pay Gap, Bloomberg, By Leslie Patton, Dec 11, 2012

McDonald’s, for example, spent $6 billion on share repurchases and dividends last year, the equivalent of $14,286 per restaurant worker employed by the company.

That works out to be 420,000 restaurant workers, not 1.7 million and 12 to 13 employees per restaurant assuming 34,000 restaurants which is more reasonable.

Think about the situation in developing countries like India where the poor literally beg for food and starve or literally eat garbage.

Woah, hang on, you've got a truckload of misconceptions to start with. Have you ever been to India ? And taken a trip other than in a Taxi in the city. There are poor people here but not everyone begs or steals. In fact McDonalds food is costlier than roadside eateries. Since this is a 'developing' country, most poor people here are actually not living in concrete jungles and they manage to grow and find their own food.

and the people at McDonalds go unemployed ?

This would be the "and our future" part of TOD. (And if you were actually reading and understanding what has been posted on TOD you can see this coming)

The long term goal is to unemploy the workers.


The company plans to launch the first ever "smart restaurant" where all of the cooking is done by robots.

No Obamacare, no YouTube videos of spitting on burgers, in fact it is like an "automated Drumbeat".

What you would be seeing is hideous poverty and slums in the USA if corporations were not out there dumping cheap (granted unhealthy...) sludge for poor people.

Corporations, while doing the actual production, are just the tools of the farm policy of the Government. Fossil fuels are only part of the reason the US of A has the 10% spending on food Vs the 30% in other nations.

But hey, step up and show how the policies of Nixon/Earl Butz have nothing to do with the cheap food.

For some reason people seem to think the person who hosts the site tends to set the tone of the site.

Because we are tuned into an actual reality?

The long term goal is to concentrate the entire wealth of the Earth into as few hands as possible and reduce the remaining people to a class of renters and less sharing a few benefitless service jobs. Economic servitude in a world where everything is owned by the few with no real opportunity to buy it back - a world where there is no commons legally accessible to the poor. A world where we are taught that this is the correct inevitable result, that the owners are somehow more deserving (even though significant opportunity will be something that is largely available only to those born to the right families. Guess who makes the rules and controls the police/legal system in such a world - and who gets to ignore many of the rules with little risk -

Perhaps this is merely a rant.

It is all about greed:
1. For capitalism greed is accepted to reach their target.
2. Socialist never reach their target.

Interesting perspective shift at the end of 'From Cradle to Cradle', by McDonough and Braungart, "It'll take all of us, and it'll take forever, but isn't that the point?"

Above there are a number of important articles about peak oil. But what happened? Rather discussion these articles, the staring comments are about MC Donald hamburgers and Wall Mart. I think such events, and there are many in the past year, made the oil people flee TOD. Haven't you remaining people learned anything or is it that you don't care?

Many articles in papers discuss the closure of oil drum, all giving the same reason: "publication to close down because the well of ideas and content dries up. How could they and so many others similar have been so wrong?


And this quote might be right: Very few comments on oil and perhaps energy in general in Drumbeat. In my opinion TOD was highjacked by a crowed who are less interested in oil related issues than in any other non-relevant subject. A lot of spam and garbage. It is a pity that the TOD management allowed the vast transgression from the mission statement.

Well, this is the Drumbeat. It's always been more open to other topics than the key posts.

But your comment does point up one of the big issues with respect to moderation. For every person who gripes about the discussion being "moderated out of existence," there's a person who thinks the real problem is not enough moderation. For every person who thinks the narrow focus of TOD made it boring, there's a person who thinks the opposite: allowing too many off-topic comments diluted the focus and made it less worthwhile.

The idea behind the Drumbeat was to allow "and our future" discussion.

If ngass really had a vision on how things should be then ngass can set up their own site to implement that vision.

Go ahead ngass, grow a set and show us all how it should be done via your actions.

At least zurg is showing via action what they believe in.

Leanan, I realize more vs less moderation is debatable. However, this thread about McD's seems to be an obvious hijack -- Not about energy or anything related. The oil drum is finished. Essentially it failed. Trying something different might have saved it.

My 2 cents. TOD mostly needed better article selection and editing. Before going live, someone needed to edit out the opinionated conclusions and just keep the science. Too many articles ended by wildly extrapolating the science to doomsday and/or mad max.

Hey, we're still alive. 2005 peak production has been surpassed. The bible bashers will have to find another reason why the world will end in the near future. They always do.

I'm sorry you don't think Corporate employee policy and the fast food industry are relevant to energy discussions, but they are as well tied into our energy mess the economy and our survivability as any topic that comes up here.

I didn't see anything wildly doomerish or counterproductive in it, so conflating this thread into those 'End is near' missives is hardly an established association.

The bible bashers will have to find another reason why the world will end in the near future.

At least in the US, Bible bashers do not believe in peak oil, or global warming. What are you talking about?

And yes, TOD has always been a US etnocentric site.

Not about energy or anything related.

"discussions about energy and our future"

Do go ahead and show how the Mikey D discussion has NOTHING to do with the future.

Step up and show how a robotic "employee" is not gonna happen.

I see people waiting in line for the human cashier while the self-help checkout machines are unused. If the manager gives us a choice between human and robotic cashier, I suspect people will wait in line for the human. If the manager gives a 5% discount for using the robot, then humans will be history.

If I have a lot of stuff, I go to a human checker. Those self-help checkouts often don't have enough room for more than a few items, and a human checker will call a bagboy to help pack up the stuff if necessary. Also, if the store uses loyalty cards (which I try to avoid, but sometimes can't while traveling, etc.), a human checker will usually give you the loyalty card discount anyway, even if you don't have a card.

If I only have a few items and there's no loyalty card involved, I use the automated checkout. It's faster and more convenient. And offers at least the illusion of more privacy. (You would not believe some of the comments I've heard cashiers make about people's groceries.)

Call me anti-social, but I actually prefer not having to deal with humans. I prefer the ATM to a human teller, too, and EZ-Pass to a human toll taker. Just takes some getting used to.

I prefer the automatic tellers (at least in the UK) since i'm only buying for myself. They are fairly fast to operate once you get used to it and there is rarely a queue since it separates the light and heavy shoppers.

There was grumbling at first from people but now they get a lot of use.

Food has always been an acceptable topic here. It's a big part of the peak oil problem. "Eating fossil fuels," and all that.

Drumbeat commentary can be very long. There is arguably some connection - I don't really have an issue with giving McDonalds some room here. Sometimes insight comes from unexpected directions, some latitude is called for I think.

The bible bashers will have to find another reason why the world will end in the near future.

Although there are some hardcore doomers, I think for most people peak oil is not at all about 'the world will end'.
It is merely about a very challenging economic, scientific, and engineering problem.
Peak oil will definitely be a challenge but we've faced world wars, plagues, famines, and other worse problems before.

Above there are a number of important articles about peak oil. But what happened? Rather discussion these articles, the staring comments are about MC Donald hamburgers and Wall Mart. I think such events, and there are many in the past year, made the oil people flee TOD. Haven't you remaining people learned anything or is it that you don't care?

I guess I just have a difficult time understanding people who don't think in systems. Isn't it painfully obvious how all of these things are all interconnected? Wallmart's products and the people who make, sell and buy them all depend on an oil based economy. More specifically on a cheap easily accessible oil economy. McDonald's hamburgers and the entire agro-industrial complex that supports it also exist because of that same cheap oil based economy.

Perhaps you should be asked the same question, haven't you learned anything here?

Hint, oil fuels a very complex and interconnected system! Personally I care very much about exploring all those connections and I don't see that as a transgression from TOD's mission statement.

I agree Fred, the interesting bit is what happens during the plateau, how increasing energy costs and availability interact with our modern civilisation.

And how our modern civilisation will respond.

The UK is actually an interesting experiment at the moment, energy cost and availability is discussed in the mainstream media everyday due to the looming electricity generation crisis and the heavy cost of heating homes over the last 3 years, added to the fact that Britain came within days of running out of natural gas for two out the last three winters.

A recent British newspaper headline trumpeted the fact that the majority of British people support renewable energy, not for climate reasons but for energy security reasons, actually I think the article mentioned peak oil as the reason.

I don't have the background to understand the oil business, though I'm very interested in the conclusions of people work in it. How will our fossil fuel fueled culture survive? Will it, and for how long? I guess these are cultural issues, and the DrumBeat has offered much to ponder, and corrected many WIGs of the low-information media.

So, yeah, the oil information is the bedrock here, but the cultural implications are what draw me.

As for McDonalds, any discussion is liable to be derailed by a provocative remark -- a fact exploited by trolls. Tempting to leap in when someone says something controversial, or obviously ideological -- but it's overkill when would-be correctors all type and post at once. Not sure there's a remedy -- one or more posters usually set the matter right and the discussion goes on. I can't read everything posted here, but I skim it everyday. I'll miss it, and Leanan's steady hand.

Hey Pat, it's somewhat comforting to find out I'm not completely alone in the way I think and view the world.

Though if the figures below are accurate than I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Systems Thinking

By Barry J. Bruns, Col, USAF Ret.
Manufacturing-Works Affiliate

Webster’s dictionary defines a system as “A regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole.” In all but the lowest levels of a business organization, we deal with systems all the time. But, according to doctrine taught to the US Army Corps of Engineers, only 3% of the general population are systems thinkers by nature. What does this mean, and why should we care?

If you are one of the 3%, it means that you have difficulty understanding why those you work with and around don’t “see the big picture

Emphasis mine and quite true in my case. My hunch is that people who are able to easily connect the dots are wired differently than the majority. I read somewhere that people who grow up multilingual as I did, have a tendency to be better at systems thinking and there is definitely evidence that their brains have increases in both grey and white matter density. Especially in the white matter which indicates increase in brain connectivity.

I'll have to ask George Mobus if I can sign up for his new systems science and energy related programs even if it's just on a non credit basis. Once TOD closes up shop, I'll need to find someplace where I can find some like minded people. It gets pretty lonely out there sometimes.

How humble of you. I would imagine most people think they are one of the 3%. Just like how most people surveyed believe they are an above average driver.

Don't know about the 3% or if it is even true. I said I had a hunch that people who grow up bilingual or multilingual might be better suited for systems thinking than people who are monolingual.

Fact: I grew up speaking three languages simultaneously and learned a few more. Fact: People who are at least bilingual have more physical connections in their brains, specifically white matter. This is empirically verified by conducting autopsies on people who were bilingual.

My point was that I tend to think in systems and find it difficult to understand people who don't. I was speculating about whether there might be a connection between being multilingual and therefore having more physical connections in the brain and therefore having a propensity for connecting dots and thinking in systems.

Sorry if my attempt to connect some dots didn't come across as being humble enough for you. To be clear, there is no connection between having more physical connections in the brain and intelligence. It just means you have more wiring and perhaps that helps you make connections more easily. Again, I don't know, I was speculating.

I don't think any of this makes me better or worse than anyone else nor do I think I am special. However I have no doubt that my mind often makes connections that most people I encounter do not seem to be aware of. So I conclude that I am different.

Bilingualism does make a difference...

The Benefits of Bilingualism

The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.

Why does the tussle between two simultaneously active language systems improve these aspects of cognition? Until recently, researchers thought the bilingual advantage stemmed primarily from an ability for inhibition that was honed by the exercise of suppressing one language system: this suppression, it was thought, would help train the bilingual mind to ignore distractions in other contexts. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page.

Now it's not about feeling smug, it's a matter of in which environment you live in. People living in monolingual cultures simply don't have to tread the minefield of cultures bilinguals do as a result they think very linearly and methodically. For us (people living in developing world), it's even worse since you never know what's coming up your alley, so you need to work out all possibilities. For example even the simple act of catching a flight means you have to work out several different variables, like if there is going to be some general strike that day or some transport strike whether the road to the airport is functional or you have to take some diversion, the weather on that day etc etc. These things teach you to think from a systems perspective.

Here it's not even bilingual, most of us learn three languages from birth. I can read, write and speak in three and can understand three more.

For us (people living in developing world), it's even worse since you never know what's coming up your alley, so you need to work out all possibilities. For example even the simple act of catching a flight means you have to work out several different variables, like if there is going to be some general strike that day or some transport strike whether the road to the airport is functional or you have to take some diversion, the weather on that day etc etc. These things teach you to think from a systems perspective.

Being in Brazil at the moment with all the protests and political unrest going on, I can certainly relate to what you say with regards having to think and plan in a non linear fashion to accomplish even the most mundane tasks such as getting to an appointment across town. Add a heavy down pour and things can get really interesting very quickly.

While I certainly understand what you mean when you say it is worse for people in the developing world, I think you might agree with me that this might actually be a blessing in disguise as we enter into a post peak oil reality. Those people who have experienced first hand,living in an environment where never knowing what is coming up their alley is the norm, very probably are going to be more flexible and adaptable when it comes to rapid changes. (Just another hunch of mine)

As for being multicultural and bilingual, I think I was very fortunate to have grown up in an environment where that was the norm and not the exception. That coupled with the fact that I actually lived on three different continents and constantly moved back and forth between first and third world countries and huge countries such as Brazil and the US which are mono cultural or Europe where a 100 miles might put you in a completely different culture and language, has probably rewired my brain in significant ways.

Maybe I will continue to be lucky enough to find myself in a position where I can help others navigate the coming changes. Then again, maybe I will be burned at the stake over a big pile of books for being different >;-)


And best hopes!


I think you might agree with me that this might actually be a blessing in disguise as we enter into a post peak oil reality

I know and I think I understand why some immigrants do so well. Sometimes your habits can be a disadvantage but boy if you meet the right kind of environment you are going to go up. There is an American blog called Mr Money Mustache which advocates thrift and savings, down here this blog would be called "stating the obvious".

Having said all this, in general living in a third world country doesn't confer much advantages because the odds are heavily stacked against you.

If only oil related discussion was allowed on TOD this would look like an academic website and we all know how much info they provide. People who are not petroleum geologists are interested in the implications of peak oil, not in decline rates themselves. I posted the McDonalds link because it's an obvious indicator of how far decline has set in. It's also a reminder of how wrong everyone was with their predictions, people thought that as PO sets in the system will disintegrate and wealth would get redistributed, instead the system has hardened and wealth disparity has skyrocketed.

I agree with Fred's comment upthread about systems thinking, and I don't see McDonalds as being that far off-topic at least in DB. Here in the US suburbs, teens and college-age children are all working in fast food and whatever jobs they can find, knowing they are paid little compared to upstream management and owners. There's little more we can do to convince them of the value of a college education, but hopefully it will be proven useful over time. Meanwhile, the 1/2% get richer. I don't see this ending well...

ngass, a few excerpts from your Real Clear Energy article citation follow:

The new abundance comes from knowing where to drill, (dry wells are a thing of the past), where to steer in the subsurface, and how to manage production in real time.

The only debate now is over how fast hydrocarbon production can increase - or, for inveterate anti-hydrocarbon adherents, should be allowed to increase.

The Oil Drum launched eight years ago, the same year my colleague and I published our book, The Bottomless Well. The title is self-explanatory. We could say "I told you so," not as a school-yard epithet, but simply as a fact.

Well thank goodness they've learned how to use 'I told you so' so humbly!

Bottomless even. My, my!

Haven't set foot in a McDonalds on over 30 years....more than a decade for Wal Mart.

With all those "Peak Oil is Dead" articles, one can see the importance of keeping the TOD community going. It's a sad thing to see the community fragment into a new batch of blogs, each likely to have fewer viewers. One might think this is another example of the "Divide and Conquer" strategy.

Reading Dave Summers (Heading Out on TOD) comments on his blog (see yesterday's Drumbeat), the official reasoning for the closure of TOD would appear reasonable, however, we know that Dave is in the climate denier camp and may have strong feelings regarding the drift toward concerns about climate change on TOD. His blog lists several denialist web links, many of which present poor or distorted science, doing so in a convincing manner.

Years ago, when I was posting on usenet sci.environment, I regularly complained about the Idso's postings of raw temperature records on their blog, co2science, pointing out the various sources of errors in their cherry picked USHCN data to "prove" there was no warming. I see Dave has played with temperature data too, although I can't comment on his efforts. I also pointed out that Spencer and Christy's "satellite temperature" work was flawed, which has not been addressed. The Arctic sea-ice is still melting rapidly and the denialist don't want to address that rather obvious smoking gun. Where is truth amongst the uncertainty and disinformation?

Oh well, did the climate change community really think that self-centered humanity would actually agree to go thru the economic pain which would be necessary to prevent global warming? I've always had my doubts on that one...

E. Swanson

Societies, in large part, simply can't afford peak oil and climate change, much in the same way many folks can't afford to go to the doctor or dentist. They'll deny there's a problem, or blame the pains on something else until it becomes impossible to deny that something is really wrong. By that time, it's too late to do much, if anything about it.

Of course, the time to act with any real hope of limiting the maladies of climate change and our energy conundrum was decades ago. Sucks, but there it is.

NHS - about time USA had a real NHS instead of subbed private care

yes you'll have to raise taxes - but thats the price of civilization you know


In reality, the US isn't in a position to totally revamp it's heathcare system. We're too deeply invested in the way things are, and those who are determined to maintain their staus quo are too well funded. Besides, what politician is going to put everything on the line to scrap one of the few remaining industries that is in relatively good shape?

In a sense, I've come over to Leanan's way of thinking; that a sudden, dramatic collapse in the US is unliklely. I think it's clear that growth is dead for the most part. What we're seeing is an attempt at managed contraction, which should be easier in the US since there's a larger body to cannibalise, more surplusses that can be cut, more fat that can be redistributed. Todd mentions below that more senior members of society, those who's pensions will be cut, who's 410Ks are losing value, etc., are unlikely to get the deal they've been expecting their entire working lives. It makes sense, as they have been promised the most.

Since the older generations are less likely to riot in the streets, IMO, they (we) are an easier target for cuts. While older folks tend to vote more, it's meerly a matter of sending them the most affective messages via their TV screens, obfuscate the real predicaments and tell them who to blame. Obama came along at exactly the right time.

The younger generations' sense of entitlement is very different than the baby boomer's. Smart phones are a cheap substitute for McMansions and European cruises. Most haven't reached the point where healthcare costs are an issue. Fast food is cheap. While their skill sets will generally be inadequate for what's ahead, their expectations will have diminished over time.

It's all a game of making sure no black swans land on our territory, though climate change may thwart their efforts.


An excellent overview of what is happening Ghung. Complex adaptive systems like the US economy are just that - adaptive. It will painfully and slowly adapt - on the way down. But there is very little up left.

Ghung - we really don't get our money's worth for what we pay. So many metrics of the quality of our medical system (I'm only comparing developed world economies here) such as infant mortality, life expectancy etc are only so so, inferior to what is obtained in many other countries at much less cost. We really, as a country, need to use that 8% of the entire GDP which apparently consists of creative medical billing practices above and beyond what any other modern country is willing to put up with on something other than enriching the medically well connected. Note that this sort of waste really does come out of everyone's limited supply of available money and opportunity - it is just sufficiently disguised and indirect that the majority do not realize it. For one, everyone buys products that must include the price of employee healthcare/worker's comp insurance. Most work for wages that must reflect the worker's comp cost to the employer. The insurance costs are out of necessity much higher than they would otherwise be, and are a mechanism that allows med costs to be much higher than they would otherwise be, as the burden is spread among the healthy as well as the sick. Even unemployment numbers reflect in part the allocation of money to medicine in the US well beyond what is called for. Few workers realize that a driving force behind sending jobs overseas is not the "greed" of American workers, but healthcare related expenses well beyond the norm for the quality of care received in the US that the employer has no choice but to endure here!

".. we really don't get our money's worth for what we pay."

Ya think? That could be said for a lot of things, though healthcare is a prime example. Until we reform our election process, we won't reform our healthcare system. As long as we have a society that spends $billions lying to itself, it ain't gonna happen.

As long as we have a society that spends $billions lying to itself, it ain't gonna happen.

It doesn't help that most actually believe the lies!

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
― Richard P. Feynman

Meanwhile here in the UK our coalition (Tory) government are doing all that they can to destroy the NHS with step by step privatisation so that soon we are likely to have a health system close to that in the US.

You need to do everything you can to prevent that.

I know. The Tories are set to privatise everything (the post office is their latest target) and are very pro growth and pro BAU - more road building, airport expansion and so on. As regards the UKs future energy needs nuclear power and fracking seem to be their favourites with lip service to wind and solar. The opposition Labour Party, whom I always faithfully voted for in the past, now seem to be little better and the Green Party seem to be our only hope politically, but at the moment they have only one seat in parliament.

If the choice is raise taxes (even a little bit), or lose civilization, we will throw civilization out.

Black Dog

I think most of us will coalesce into a regularly visited site. I hope folks keep their same names as they move over. I have been trying PO.com but have found many of the comments to be personal attacks and sometimes nasty. Flippant. I have been guilty of being this way too. I think the tone rubs off. This tone would be drummed (sorry) out of TOD. We'll just have to see how it unfolds.

After reading yesterday's comments on spammers and the work invoved in maintaining a site, I am afraid the hassles are not worth the results to publish a common page. Some of us have email contact groups which may be a place to go. I don't blame the editors and support staff for packing it in. They have lives and need to get on with them. If I won the lottery I would fund such a site and staff it with well paid people. But....

What I will miss is being able to pop inside for a coffee and check over comments and articles for a few minutes, several times a day. Like now. It has also been a great way to get the day organized, and articles provide topics to think about over chores and activities. Now, off to sharpen a saw.



I agree that there's a lot of loud ignorance and incivility on some of the threads at PeakOil.com but I've found that it doesn't take that long to come to recognize the usual offenders and then to ignore their comments and threads. It's been worth it to me to do that because there's a lot of expertise and clear thinking from some among the posters there, not all of them migrants from TOD.

I have been trying PO.com but have found many of the comments to be personal attacks and sometimes nasty.

When I originally learned about peak oil the first site I tried posting on was PO.com and found the same thing, nasty, like it was a rough biker’s club of which I had not been invited. So I dropped in on TOD and stayed. I think though the best hope for a good replacement will be Ron Patterson’s website http://peakoilbarrel.com/ once he’s up and going full time in August. Right now he’s on vacation. There will be something akin to the Drumbeat i.e. a daily message board.

I’ve not been posting here much for some time now, having moved on to blog’s regarding the situation in the Arctic and climate change in general. Peak oil news seems to be in a holding pattern for now, as oil and fuel price remain within a tight range. The clock is ticking and the myriad problems assoc. with oil as a finite resource will rear its ugly head sometime, but for now I find the downward spiral of Arctic ice volume/extent to be more imminent. Of course that could all change with the right bit of news, so I remain tapped into both fascinating topics.

It would be nice if someone could just keep posting an updated world production chart. No comment necessary. Eventually there will be PO. Personally I believe that will be in decades, but a place to watch/wait would be helpful.

Sort of like the debt clock or world population counter. Updating quarterly would be enough.

It would be nice if someone could just keep posting an updated world production chart.


Exactly what planet are the world exporting oil to?

LOL - maybe it all makes sense now......

And our consumption has been exceeding production for a few years. We can't keep that up.

Written by mkkby:
It would be nice if someone could just keep posting an updated world production chart.

That's what I do, but they are scattered all over the Drumbeats making them hard to find.

World, U.S. and Saudi Arabia C+C Production January 2000 to March 2013, EIA Data, July 3, 2013.

mkkby - perhaps you could apply for work as an EIA analyst?

what about Gails site our finite world

Watch for this comment from Black Dog to be deleted.


we know that Dave is in the climate denier camp and may have strong feelings regarding the drift toward concerns about climate change on TOD . . . . . . I see Dave has played with temperature data too, although I can't comment on his efforts.

The temperature survey that I carried out was comprehensive for the contiguous US states, and posted information both pro and con on temperature rises therein. That is what objective science does. Pick a state, go look up what I wrote, that way you are being honest.

Calling me names without that investigation is simply an ad hominem attack, which we tend to frown on here. I have posted here from the first day that TOD opened and would challenge you to justify your comments on my feelings, which I would posit are not evident in the posts written over that time.

Thanks for the reply Dave. Whether you are or are not in the climate change denial camp, the appearance of your blog gave me that impression. Sure, you did include posts on climate data for each state, but trying to go thru all those posts in detail is a bit much to ask.

Because of my interest in global warming, I took the time to look at the data available for just one station back in 1986. At the time, the data was not computerized, but was available on microfiche as photos of the original data forms as submitted by the cooperative observers. I found that I could use only part of the data (which started around 1845 with US Army data before the larger effort at measuring climate began around 1880), since there were so many missing days. Even so, I had to enter about 30,000 data points into a database program before I could do any analysis of it. That effort took me some 2 weeks and gave me a great appreciation for the efforts of all those cooperative observers. I later took the time to critique the Idsos, looking at the station data for each weekly post on their web page. Most of those efforts were a waste of time.

So, you took some of the more recent computerized data and analyzed it. Fine, maybe you found something. Did you publish your results? I looked at a couple of states and I noticed that you only considered data adjusted for time of observation changes. What about stations which were relocated, did you consider those? Many of the stations were moved from downtown sites to airport sites as the US aviation industry expanded. The result would have been a reverse "heat island effect", especially around WW II. Of course, the Lower 48 states represent only a small fraction of the total surface area of the Earth (1.79%) and the greatest change is expected to occur at high latitudes, not in the temperate regions. Some regions might even cool while the rest of the planet warms. As it is, the loss of sea-ice at the end of the melt season amounts to roughly the area of Europe or the Eastern 1/3 of the US, which is a rather large indicator in my view.

Perhaps I've overreacted, but, as we all know, appearances do count. Why not group all those states into one link, instead of filling a large fraction of your RH column? There's no link describing the overall analysis, just the individual state data, with no description of the method(s) used. You claim that you are being objective, but I didn't see it that way...

E. Swanson

I see Dave has played with temperature data too, although I can't comment on his efforts.

If you cannot comment here, maybe you could PM Dave privately and see if anything needs to be clarified & if satisfied let us know? The most important thing to me is not a person's opinion or position, but a respect for good data and for the existence of verifiable truths in the world that are independent of us (which I hope the best of us can work towards learning).

As I posted yesterday, Detroit has filed for bankruptcy, and it's likely that city pensions will only pay retirees 17% of what they were promissed. Now I find that Detoit Firefighters didn't participate in Social Security, so they won't even have that to fall back on. Yikes!

See money.cnn.com - Pension is 'what I was promised'


17% !!! Might as well buy these folks a rope. This is no way to treat people. I think it is time to dust off 'Grapes of Wrath'. This is just a modern version of sticking it in and twisting. I will be curious to see how the demonizing of these pensioners will unfold? I am only 57, but I remember as a child in California hearing the term Okies applied to poor folk. In hindsight it was absolutely terrible. When I glance in on the debates on economic forums I have noticed how Social Security became 'entitlements' over the last 5 years as if it is something terrible. Nowadays, we read about those terrible Govt. employees. Unions have been bashed forever. For God's sake, the US is a wealthy country, screwed up, by by and large there is enough wealth for all citizens to live decently. The myth has been corrupted, and people are divided and becoming conquered.

This cannot end well.


I guess at least they might have bought a cheap house in Detroit, if they where lucky.

US is a wealthy country spending a lot of money on oil and large houses. During the Ireland great famine food where exported while people starved to death.

The money isn't there, it's all been transferred to private, corporate shelters, and overseas to the Middle East and China.

Pray tell, how do you get it back? Should the U.S. tax the Saudi Royal Family and Chinese tycoons? Should the Fed just conjure the money from nothing to satisfy everyone?

I'm not saying I disagree with you when it comes to policy, but money just doesn't come back after it's been sent elsewhere for more than 30 years.

Oh, and Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and ilk sure aren't going to step up to the plate. Pensions for firefighters isn't "sexy" enough. They want to be seen donating free things to African kids, stuff like that.

I think overall policy is to keep this train wreck in super slow motion as long as they can. It's like peak oil and the primary reason TOD is fading out. People have short attention spans, and if current, pertinent (non-repetitive) articles can't be produced with enough frequency, people lose interest.

If these meltdowns of pension funds can be strung out, if income disparities and wages/costs of living imbalances can be be reduced to a slow decline, if all of this can be masked with creative statistics, the frogs will stay in their pots. Anything that takes this long can't be called a depression, right? Certainly not collpase.
(shhhh! don't tell the children)

Having things unfold in "super slow motion" nails the last five years or so. But I hadn't thought of this being an intentional policy. But it does fit, particularly if the policy is being adopted by tacit agreement.

I guess if the adjustment happened over a century or two, we'd call it normal social adaptation.
And you're right that it would have to unfolded in a few years to call it collapse.
But what we're seeing is change over a ten-to-fifty year time-frame.
Calling it a "transition" doesn't quite capture the quiet desperation I see in folks' faces.

Getting a useful name for it might domesticate the notion for those folks who don't deal well with ambiguity.

As I mentioned above, the most useful name I can come up with is 'managed contraction', and I don't see it as being collusion or a conspiracy, as such. It's more the logical default position that a culture of greed takes when there aren't many other options. It's like fracking a society in decline.

Oil companies didn't all get together at some big confab and decide to all start fracking everywhere. They just started running out of better options. The investors don't figure out that their returns won't be so great until it's too late.

RE: conspiracy.

I agree, not high-level collusion. But I can imagine a slowly unfolding tacit agreement from politicos/policy-makers.

"They're trying their best but they're thinking: not sure just what to do or what works, so let's keep on truckin', see what they just did, wonder if that would work for us, best to keep quiet about how little we understand.

I like "contraction." But "managed" has me asking, by whom, for whom? Also, here on TOD I think we'd say that it will be less managed and more like a "muddling through." Adaptive muddling? Muddled contraction?

"Something will turn up."

Then again, I didn't say 'well managed'. After reading some of the articles on Detroit and the Illinois Unvivesity System's attempts to mitigate their predicaments, I was trying to come up with a label these folks might assign to the process.

"Good morning to the board. I've been given the task of overseeing the managed contraction phase of our restructuring, AKA: How to cause the least pain to the most people."

Stupid Detroitians................
They should have built electric trains, wind mills, solar panels and electric vehicles.
Or as one consistent poster always said "just buy a Prius".

What creates a ghost town is lack of jobs. A minimum of ten thousand people depart Detroit annually. They are looking for work elsewhere. As jobs disappear crime increases and people move. They will move to where there is work or perception of work. The work refugees just relocate their various pressures.

In the great scheme of things Detroit doesn't mean a great deal. The collapse there occurred relatively slowly but it's likely a portent. The end of local, then universal growth has tremendous implications, not solvable by engineering and more building. Events will unfold spasmodically and with differing degrees of short term severity.

Over the long term the human race, fauna and flora is heading towards a bottleneck. The severity of environmental destruction on the way down will determine if any at all make it through. My opinion is that various justifications used personally, by communities and governments are and will prevent realistic mitigation. Dissonance is the culprit and it's overwhelming.

Bandits - I need to comment a bit re dissonance - I'm venting a bit, but I could go on with examples for much more than I will -

The dissonance exists due to a lack of a widely accepted source of truthful information. The general public is quite confused about the issues that face our culture. The political class, I believe, largely understand the issues we face - and through the choices they have made over the past few decades, in a sense deserve what they are facing. The majority of the people, on the other hand, do not deserve it - they have been exposed to too much spin, obfuscation, hypocrisy and untruth for too long - and do not have access to a source of information that is generally agreed by society as a whole to be truthful, accurate, unbiased and salient. Without a generally trusted source, beliefs have diverged and splintered.

We live in a culture that now accepts widespread lying, we live with the consequences. The courts at the highest level accept lying to the consumer in advertising - the legal term is "puffery" - the SCOTUS expects and accepts it in advertising - it is useful in getting the public to part with their hard earned dollars, how far an advertiser can go is regulated in some ways, theoretically. I'm not sure in practice where the line really is - I've received surprise checks in the mail, and studied the fine print (that I can no longer read without good bifocals and good light) only to find that cashing the check is actually signing a rather hostile contract for a very high interest loan.
Everything about that check was designed, with careful insight into the psychology and education level of the average economically desperate American Citizen, to mislead someone into signing that thing. I was taught in law school many years ago that that sort of thing was an unenforceable contract - I gather that that is no longer the case - and that that letter talking of the money I deserved and the check it contained is merely morally repugnant for its attempt to misdirect away from the nature of the most important characteristics of what it represented.

It is legal for police to lie to suspects - how often do you suppose a suspect hears that a someone is implicating them who isn't, or that police have irrefutable evidence when they don't, so the suspect must cooperate to reduce the sentence? As police are trained to use these techniques, it happens quite a lot I'm sure, it doesn't sit well with me though because without a moral high ground there is just power. I feel a similar discomfort with plea bargaining - it seems like a method that can encourage the guilty to give up the fight, but is as likely to encourage the innocent to give up the fight - it doesn't seem like it is something that has anything to do with truth or justice - more like a balancing of risk and convenience -

I have become convinced that our news anchors are primarily actors and media stars - In one case I watched one make statement that was completely untrue, and I knew that in that particular case he absolutely knew it - yet he sounded utterly convincing and spoke with conviction - well if he wasn't able to do that, I guess he wouldn't be worth $8,000,000/year.

We live with politicians who show little respect for the truth - that have been quoted as saying they create the truth - sorry - truth exists outside the human domain, much misery in human affairs results from denying that. We live with legislation such as "The Blue Sky Act" - which was about rolling back coal emission standards to allow more atmospheric pollution.

We live with a legal system that also allows stealing, if it is within an industry that is profitable enough, and the proceeds are shared. Its legal in most cases, but is recognized as stealing by most people with a mind. A simple example would be when my daughter broke her foot - the medical billing was over $10,000 - but I'll focus on the fiberglass cast. I watched the cast being put on by the technician - it was a normal cast kit of the sort that can be bought for very little money on Amazon - and the technician was a normal woman who told me she made $17/hour - the process took 15 or 20 minutes. The bill for the cast though was a full page of itemizations - the charge for the cast (the appointment that day was paid for in another bill, as were the x-rays) was $1700!! The itemizations made it appear as if several highly paid experts custom made the cast! It was an all too common case of legal stealing. The cast was a botched job by the way.

We live in a country that has little bribery of high officials - because we choose to call the money that passes from the wealthy to the political elite campaign contributions. We live with a legal system that allows large contributors to remain cloaked in secrecy (if it did not remain secret, it would be apparent, among other things, that the wealthiest few simply contribute large sums to both candidates, thus ensuring their interests are catered to regardless of which party wins. The voter, in this case, loses regardless of who is voted for).

It appears to me that our country still possesses more than enough resources and wealth to deal with the change we are facing - but the institutionalized corruption that I see very much acts to support the status quo - a sort of advancing fossilization has occurred which increasingly acts to concentrate social rewards in one group, social burdens in another. I have no doubt what group will bear the greatest burden from crop failures, storm flooding, financial failures etc - look to the working people of Detroit if there is any doubt. Fossilization comes to mind because this sort of thing appears to me to have taken place in various governments and empires that were much older than the US is now. Governments and empires that eventually lost legitimacy with their citizens and seemed to fade in strength in lockstep with fading public support.

Sometimes I wonder how the USA could build what at the time was the world's greatest railroad system in a few short years in the nineteenth century, the Panama Canal in the beginning of the Twentieth, with only a fraction of the GDP and productive capacity we have now, TVA etc in the Thirties, how we could embark upon the interstate highway system in the Fifties, with again less industrial capacity than now, and appear to be capable of nothing of equivalent ambition currently. Again the concept of fossilization comes to mind, but what are the drivers of the process and can it be reversed.

"...what are the drivers of the process and can it be reversed."

Not sure how much is learned/cultural and how much is hard coded in the species. While there are examples of societies where honesty, etc., were core ideals, I expect that most were smaller, more tribal groups. Not sure if it works for long at scale.

As for if it can be reversed, I don't see how without a major reset of the culture. Lying and manufacturing consent are powerful, useful tools for those who wish to maintain their power and position, especially in an age of mass media. Unfortunately, most of our children don't know any better; they were born into it. I spent a great deal of time trying to deprogram my kids. Seems most folks are totally enculturated into a society that puts a lot of effort and wealth into lying to itself, and, as you mentioned, it's the law of the land; endorsed by our highest court.

When I was in school, ethics courses were required. Do they still do that? It's not a word you hear much these days.

I like "contraction." But "managed" has me asking, by whom, for whom? Also, here on TOD I think we'd say that it will be less managed and more like a "muddling through." Adaptive muddling? Muddled contraction?

Perhaps a better word might be "emergent" or an emergent contraction. One that really isn't consciously directed by anyone in particular or specifically intended to have an effect on a particular group. We are after all dealing with complex systems, non linear dynamics and multiple feedback loops. This system can and does occasionally react in unpredictable ways and it shouldn't come as a surprise that it might have emergent properties. I really don't think the politicos have all that much control anymore.

I've never been to Detroit in person, but spent some time this afternoon 'streetviewing' some of the downtown industrial and residential areas. Such desolation I could never have imagined! Yet there are still families living there, amidst the acres of vacant lots, crumbling factories and burned-out schools. They sit on their porches watching the Google camera car go by and they know the truth that many of us are still trying to avoid: it's all downhill from here. These people are already quite a ways down the slope, yet their lawns are neatly mowed and their gardens filled with flowers. Somehow, life will go on. It just won't be the American dream life.

Managed by who? Try almost every central bank.

Without a virtually unlimited supply of interest-free money, much of the economy would be unprofitable. That includes a big chunk of energy demand, and ability to fund marginal sources.

There may be a few Koch-types egging things alongthrowing grease onto the slippery slope. But, mostly it is a dysfunctional political system following the path of least resistance.

It seems like a typical social collapse to me. As to it being intentional - I think that there are many people who have a lot of intents, but that does not mean they have the power or control to make those intents happen. This is how a view all the "police state" chatter going on now too - no doubt the intent is there, parts of it are happening now and it may happen for a time, but I suspect it will quickly be overrun by chaos.

Trouble with the Fed printing money to mask/rescue/stimulate the economy is that no real wealth is produced along with it. Usually the disparity causes inflation, but there's an app for that, and inflation is controlled/manipulated.

But in the end real wealth is not being produced, this economic distortion must still manifest itself somehow in the real world. What we're seeing is paper claims against the real underlying wealth being canceled out. In this case pensions.

With populations of Western countries being driven into part time service jobs (or worse finance and crime), which at best simply share what wealth is available, but create non, it's difficult to see where this whole thing is going. The devil is in the detail. It's going to collapse completely at some point, but in what way.

Once those frogs are partially parboiled, they won't have enough energy to jump out. More frog stew for the one percent.

The wealth pie is shrinking, some are maintaining their share of the pie or even increasing it, but this is leaving less for everyone else. During an economic collapse obligations are defaulted on. The piece of pie people thought they had simply vanishes.

I've been retired almost 15 years. Besides SS, I get a small state pension and have rental income. We lose money on our IRAs thanks to the ZIRP. In the case of our IRAs, we assumed a reasonable rate of return; instead we've lost thousands in income. I know that we would have taken a different course of action had this been on the horizon all those years ago. We also assumed that the cost of living increase in SS would be "realistic" like it was for our parents - ha!

The problem retired people face is that they simply can't change their lives to account for a lose of income. Most are living on the edge financially. So, what are they supposed to do? Try to get a job? Sell what few assets they have and economize? Move in with the kids?

It's hard enough to plan for retirement forty years in the future much less try to envision what "rules" might be changed along the way. Hell, my wife and I never even considered this as a possibility. We trusted the "system". There is going to be a backlash somewhere along the way.


This may sound harsh, but too bad. (This in no way directed at you personally, Todd, as we all know you're much better prepared for such a situation than most.)

I feel this way because what I frequently hear from boomers/retirees is, "Your generation [I'm 31] will have to fix the mess we're making."

To which I reply, "If you're aware of the looming problem, either start fixing it yourself now [ie, lower expectations of pensions, entitlements, jet-setting, vacation homes, etc.], or hand over the reins of power so we can get started sooner rather than later [retire so we will be in positions of power to change policies and have income to buy assets, homes at discount prices]."

Crickets. They (You) know this is coming, just a question of how long the status quo will last. I say better to let the crash happen now (as waiting just makes the energy, climate, and fiscal situations worse), and start rebuilding a new system with renewables, carbon tax, etc.

I know these aren't popular ideas, but most people I debate grudgingly accept it's not as radical as it seems at first, and something like it is necessary to meaningfully address climate change.


I think you are over-simplifying and scapegoating on several levels. Full disclosure: I am 58.

"I feel this way because what I frequently hear from boomers/retirees is, "Your generation [I'm 31] will have to fix the mess we're making.""

This has the feel of a strawman. I know of no one, at least in my generation, who has that attitude. Don't you see? We were ALL sold a false promise. You know, that American Dream thing. If anything, you might get a "we were doing what we were trained from infancy to do - no one told us that we were making a mess". Now of course, many of us Boomers have been pointing out the mess since the early 70's, but were ridiculed, branded as commies and treehuggers, generally reviled. I'm broke, no vacation homes, no jet-setting...

As an ecologist, I have spent my entire adult life fighting against the excesses and disconnects of ALL the generations. Don't kid yourself - you know damned well that your generation would get it on with the jet-setting and vacation homes and what have you if they could (and many can and will) - that's what the culture teaches, almost demands.

It's the religion of Progress and Consumerism, and it doesn't reside in any one generation. It IS the American Culture at this point. It is the logical development of a long process. I think it would be useful if you broadened your outlook.

The Culture is not your friend, nor mine. It's not about specific generations...

Anecdotal, maybe (I've personally had this discussion at least twice); strawman, not exactly (I paraphrased the basic premise above, but the core idea is common).

Look a Paul Ryan's budget, Rick Perry (and others) calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, all the pleas about the debt being left to the children and grandchildren, Al Gore hypocritically illustrating the threat of climate change, Obama pushing an "all of the above" energy strategy and not dispelling the ridiculous idea of "American energy independence" (at least not without a major decrease in consumption).

But what gets done about it? Not very much by the current crop of politicians in Congress or Boards of Directors at major corporations (of which boomers comprise a large fraction).

I do agree that it's a cultural problem and it's not just the older generation who is guilty. I try to spread this message amongst my peers, also, and it's not always received well. But we're not as invested in the current system, so there's less opposition to trying to change it as compared to the boomers, who want to party to last just a few more years ...

But that's the point. Take SS. It's based on the premise that the population and the economy will perpetually grow, such that, say, my payments into it, will realize a return to make it all work. It's based on an impossible paradigm, which When that doesn't happeh, uh-oh.

If you don't like what the board membes of the 'big corporations" are doing, don't buy their crap. You don't have to, you know.I don't. If you say you must, you are just as much a slave to the Culture as the "Boomers" abd every generation before.

You're not powerless in all this. And yours is by no means a new and unique struggle...

I think you and I are on the same page. Your first paragraph is the point I've been making, these systems are going to fail/go bankrupt - let them and stopping kicking the can down the road.

I don't buy (too much) stuff from big corps. All of my food is bought from farmer's market, CSA, and my local Co-op (although there are obviously some medium corps who sell at these). My wife and I live in a 3-unit house, downtown in a small city. We own 1 car (gets 35 highway, 26-ish city). I bike/walk/bus everyday to work. I don't have a smart phone (I do have a flip phone which I reluctantly upgraded to after my old phone was 7+ years old; I plan to own this one another 7+ years as long as it's functional). We don't have a TV (although we do watch stuff on the laptop). The only things plugged in 24/7 are our refrigerator and alarm clock.

So, no I am not a slave. The revolution will not be televised and all that.

It's complicated, ain't it? Find your allies - they come in all generations :-)

Hi Hillson - when your generation takes the reigns there will be the same group of people twisting and perverting the laws and language of the land. The same people, but younger. It will not work out how the young think it will in any generation, when they reach the age to take over - it never has. Every generation produces the same percent of sociopaths, and the same percent of people who work hard to stem the damage caused by these people. In my experience the sociopaths and social do - gooders, for want of a better term, are roughly in equal number in government, thus gov rulemaking works out about half the time. The contest between them is unequal in a way though, the sociopaths are always seeking personal gain/power of some sort, while the do - gooders, the real ones, do not stand to gain much from their work.

The Baby Boom generation has left in some ways a positive legacy, I have no doubt of it. They did not start the nuclear arms race, but somehow managed to navigate several decades of MAD and survive. You never were taught at school where the local fallout shelters were, and were never drilled by your teacher to duck under your desk if there was a nuclear flash. I still have my Civil Defense training workbook in my basement. You may not realize how many times on both sides reasonable people prevented launch. You are alive today because a Russian in a missile silo refused to launch when their defense computers erroneously indicated the US had launched a first strike. Another Russian in a sub off Cuba during the Missile Crisis refused to launch upon being depth charged by a US ship (the sub captain could not communicate with the surface for some reason, and upon being depth charged felt all out war had begun, he wanted to launch but the US ship was actually trying to signal the sub to surface as Kennedy and Kruschev had come to an agreement). A retired US official stated in an interview that he had counted 24 close calls on the US side - it was not just reasonable Russians saving our necks in an unreasonable time, there were some decent, quick thinking Americans saving our necks too..
When I was young many of us felt the situation was sufficiently unstable that it could not last. History shows we were correct. An end to the Cold War was about as unimaginable to us, the children of the Cold War, as a solution to climate change seems to you. Since we could not imagine it ending, many of us really believed a massive exchange would ultimately occur due the hair trigger alert BS, 30,000 warheads or so on each side, independent authority of subs to launch, etc etc. You are fortunate that you, for the most part, don't have to deal with that on top of everything else. I think these early experiences are why many people are reflexively anti nuclear. They had no choice re that mutual assured destruction crap, and want to feel they can say no to civilian nuclear power.

Anyway, I'm tired, if you want to cast blame on a generation you will, but the struggle against the darker side of human nature is shared equally by all generations. The most vulnerable in society ie those who are no longer able to maintain income due to age or illness and who largely are not and never were in a position of creating, implementing, or understanding the implications of the social programs that due to government promises they relied on for support when they could no longer work, are not somehow the source of the problem, they are not a disposable element...a society that treats them as such is less worth living in.

Seagatherer.. Many thanks for that one. Exactly my own thinking.

I remember my thoughts as I walked to my lecture from my young family the morning of the cuban crisis- Is this real? Are people gonna pull the trigger against their own collective heads, when every one of them is the same? Nah, the russians are just like us, some bad, some good, some nuts, some sane, some smart, some stupid.

I think this is stupid, some russian is thinking the same- I hope he is in the right place and does the right thing.

I took some hope from an experience on my aircraft carrier- I was on the bridge as a very junior radar man, and gave the captain some importantly bad info. He took a look at it and then simply ignored it. Gotta be wrong. Right.

Like Greer said, Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush

My wife and I have never assumed we'd make any interest, rate of return, whatever, on any savings, IRAs, etc. We've also assumed that SS won't be worth squat. For years we've worked on living way below our means and purchasing everything for cash. We've known basically forever that this, whatever it is, is coming and we need to be prepared. That's what we're still doing to this day, collapsing, preparing. It's not easy...

Hi Hillson (and this isn't directed at you either :-)),

I knew someone would respond as you did.

You're alive because of preceding generations but many people don't understand or accept that. Here's what I mean: Older generations paid for much of the existing infrastructure. They fought the wars. And, they bought the consumer goods that gave workers jobs.

The problem is that younger people don't have the perspective that older folks do. When my wife and I graduated from college in 1960, there was never any doubt that we would find professional jobs unlike today. There was never any doubt that we would buy our first house after a few years of working (FWIW our first house was in a yacht basin and we could dock our boat in the front yard.). Our major difference from our peers was we decided not to have kids.

But, there was a fly in the ointment for men - the DRAFT. There was no lottery then; you just got a letter in the mail to report for your physical. I was lucky because I was declared a critical skill. However, once I accepted it rather than going in, I was liable to be drafted until I was 35. Can you imagine what it's like to go over 10 years not knowing how your future might be impacted (still, it was better than playing soldier or enlisting and going to OCS and being tied up for four years while my skills degraded).

Despite that, life had a real normalcy...BAU in spades. The "upset" that has been common for a decade or more simply didn't exist then. There was trust. There was no reason not to believe that what was promised wouldn't be granted. It's as simple as that.

To say "too bad folks" is to overlook a different reality that you have never experienced. The truth is everyone is being screwed today regardless of age.



Yes. Everyone is being screwed.

Hi Todd,

It's your last statement that I agree with most, everyone is being screwed. That's one of the reasons for cutting pensions, etc. now, to spread the pain around; if this weren't done and even more debt is built up and more resources consumed by the older generation, then the younger generation would just end up doubly screwed.

As for some of your other statements, it's not so clear cut:

Older generations paid for much of the existing infrastructure.

Some is useful (subways, bridges, ports), some is not (suburbs, strip malls), some are a little of both (coal power plants, highways). But also don't forget that a lot of infrastructure has been neglected that will have to be rebuilt or decommissioned (water treatment and distribution, nuclear). And the younger generation will be building a lot of infrastructure (renewables, EV's, denser housing) if we are going to persevere through these hard times.

They fought the wars.

Who is fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who will be fighting in Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Mexico? Who is out in the streets in Brazil and Europe? Who will be occupying Wall St. and DC when the next crash comes? You're a little bit older so the risk of war was certainly true for you, but those who reached adulthood in the 1980's and 1990's had it pretty easy as compared to the generation coming of age now.

The problem is that younger people don't have the perspective that older folks do.

And the reverse is also true, older people don't see things the same way as younger people. It has and will always be true. But how does this affect or relate to the current situation?

Thanks for hearing me out. I'm sure debating this on TOD is sort of preaching to the choir about the coming storm, but everyone has to rant once in a while.


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally screwed, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Screwability.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the screwed,--"

Didn't someone say that some folks are more screwed than others?

I think I've said that --in addition to other people-- some are more screwed than others. One major feature I see with the ongoing financial crisises is that it hasn't yet been decided who is going to pay in order to balance the books between promises and reality. I think a lot of people overlook that the flipside of the 'debt crisis' is the people who hold on to that debt, and rely upon it as savings in order to pay for things like retirement. The most difficult positions to be in are for those who need to 'buy in' to the system, and for those who need to 'cash out'. If you were the dictator of the world which would you support? If you improve the position of those who want to 'buy in' you make life easier for those who want to buy a house, build a family etc at the expense of those who need to be supported by the system for retirement especially.

And the reverse is also true, older people don't see things the same way as younger people. It has and will always be true.

I disagree. The young truly do not know what it is like to have the experience of age. But the aged remember what it was like to be young. Quite well in many cases. We simply have a much wider perspective now. Younger people show a strong tendency to reject the value of the differences age brings.
I remember thinking as you appear to do - and saying similar sorts of things. Part of the cycle of life.

In an exponentially improving economy/society, the retired really did earn their keep, and the younger generations should in fact accept that. The problem is the system as designed was not sustainable -though few of the participants knew that. If you talk intergenerational responsibility, then the older generation (I'm only a decade behind you), owns a big share of the blame for the unsustainable aspects as well. We just didn't ask the right questions, but went along for the ride by and large.

Written by Todd:
The truth is everyone is being screwed today regardless of age.

Not everyone. Not the banksters, not General Motors, not the military-industrial complex and not China.

Well I have another 35 to 45 years to retire...no pension, afraid to put money in a 401k or Roth IRA....no health insurance....student debt....putting my money in cash and paying off debt but that is all I can do...the next slowdown will be hell on us...while you still have your mohney rolling in we will be starving in a debt deflation cycle and we will be marching with the young college students on Washington...so hold on, you have a good seat to watch....the big trouble usually starts with the young..look at how the government is positioning itself....they know....

Of course, the most destructive thing the boomers did was have kids.

Well played, Leanan ;-)

Ha! Yes, well played.

That and deify St. Ronnie. Lots are still kneeling at that alter.

Lots disliked him from the get go. They're just not so vocal about it.

the most destructive thing the boomers did was have kids.

Guilty, as charged.

Although mine look to be among the ten percent or so who should be able to make it.

You realize, of course, that everyone else thinks that about their kids, too.

Just as we all think we are better than average drivers, we all think our own kids will do well, while everyone else's are none too promising. :-)

Are you sure about that? Boomers are now and have been at the helm of the ship for a long time...they have locked us on this course and have jumped off onto their private island of pensions, bloated 401ks, huge medicare costs...not to mention the most consumption of fuel than any other generation....I hate to get in a trite argument but even your sarcasm is way off base...it is hard to cry for someone losing a few thousand in a retirement account when future generations will not even have a third of what this generation has and had...

It's not sarcasm. I'm serious. As Elizabeth Warren has documented, it's parents of dependent children who get in trouble financially, because parents will do anything for their kids.

One SUV-driving American is a much heavier burden on the earth than six bike-riding Indians. But...you can't really blame parents for wanting the best for their kids. It's what parents do.

I truly believe that if we want to blame our parents for something, it should be for having kids.

And I think you're dead wrong about the boomers living large on retirement accounts and pensions. Most aren't. They are the "sandwich generation," stuck between supporting aging parents and dependent children.

Leanan a quote from you "But...you can't really blame parents for wanting the best for their kids. It's what parents do." It depends on what they think is "best for their kids" if that means leaving them a trust fund so they are "taken care of" without teaching them how the rest of the world lives and dies every day so they can continue their over consumption of finite resources.....I see it all the time where I live, lots and lots of trustfunders...they buy organic and vote Democrat and listen to NPR are in a drum circle and were against the war in Iraq but they drive very large vehicles and travel all over the world and country and consume so so so much it makes me wince...because they can...and yes I can blame them for that!

You must travel in very different circles than I do.

In any case, the percent of people of any generation with trust funds is miniscule. It's unfair to paint a whole generation with that brush.

That's not what we do as parents, but you're right, I see a lot of that around. I also see a lot of people refinance their house every two years, take cash out, then buy a new car or take a long vacation. Kick the can down the road. Their partying can't go on forever, but it's all predicated on growth. No growth and the party stops quickly.

bloated 401k's

Imagine having reached US$1million dollars in your retirement accounts, at retirement age in 2030. Think you will be living well?

In 1990, unleaded gasoline was about US$1/gallon.
In 2013, it is now averaging US$4/gallon. So is 4x more expensive, 20yrs later.
It seems many food items have also experinced similar price jumps in 20yrs.

If the trend continues, in another 20yrs, another 4x could mean:
In 2030, gasoline could be US$16/gallon
Food prices? Might also be 4x more overall.

So, if you retire in 20yrs, one can predict US$1million in the year 2030 has the buying power of only US$250k today. That could mean only living well (spending today's buying power of US$100k/yr) for 2.5 yrs then!

...not much of a long comfortable retirement is likely.

Also, the above fun 'dark' thought experiment doesnt even consider lack of availability of fuel/food/water. It only thinks about prices.

In a car-centric society retired people do not drive much because they no longer drive back and forth to work thus the fuel expense is reduced.

If fuel and food prices quadruple in 20 years, U.S. Series I bonds and TIPS should track that inflation fairly well. They should have had some fraction of that $1 million in precious metals.

If you look at who votes -especially when its not a presidential election, your generation largely opts out. So the older crowd gets to call the shots, largely by default. Of course the fact that so few work to inform themselves, means the selection process is largely a race to the bottom anyway.

True but things don't always stay the same...when...and if younger people wake up the next few elections could be about age more than anything else...I am still surprised at people who say that my kids will be among the 10 percent etc...this train when it gets moving you won't be see the same realities look at the people during WW2 they probably thought their house in the "Hamptons" would always be worth millions...until it got bombed out...people need to wake up that if the system crashes it will be the great equalizer....your money won't save you or your kids...

In the eighties there was a movie called War Games in which a supercomputer was supposed to plot out a possible scenario of a nuclear war....I wonder if a computer model could plot out what would happen in financial collapse or and then oil depletion. Maybe there are too many extraneous factors but maybe not.....humans are fairly predictable...I think everyone here or most people here have done this in their own heads already.

What would Confucius say?

"Those who transcend the wild, make themselves sitting ducks (of the system)." ?

Perhaps there are cautionary tales along those lines in historical and native myths and legends.

"...Supporters of such human rewilding argue that through the process of domestication, human wildness has been altered by force.

Rewilding is about overcoming human domestication and returning to behavior inherent in human wildness. Though often associated with primitive skills and learning knowledge of wild plants and animals, it emphasizes the development of the senses and fostering deepening personal relationships with members of other species and the natural world. Rewilding intends to create permanently wild human cultures beyond domestication.

Rewilding is considered a holistic approach to living, as opposed to skills, practices or a specific set of knowledge [expertism?]...

Rewilding is most associated with green anarchy and anarcho-primitivism or anti-civilization and post-civilization anarchism in general...

Within a modern and scientific social context, rewilding entails both experiential and 'book knowledge' to produce a community that is both respectful of individual liberties and beneficial to all involved, including all non-human species... Participants in such events and communities directly reap the benefits of the communities' actions and efforts. Instead of seeking to 'return' to an earlier state of human existence or go 'back to the land', rewilding seeks to take the experiences and time spent here in civilization and combine the lessons that have been learned from both the past and the present to create a more ideal society." ~ Wikipedia

"...Issue No. 4, [of Species Traitor] ...represents the fruition of the past years' experience and questioning... this issue gave... a fusion of critical theory (looking at the relationship between sedentism and domestication with the formation of hierarchies, coercive power and its other side effects), the relationship between rewilding and resistance, delving into primitive skills and more in-depth glances at what a non-revolution, anti-civilization resistance might look or aim at, attempts to rescue animal liberation from animal rights, and much more." ~ Wikipedia

"Don't feed the animals."

Warfare was uncommon among hunter-gatherers: study

A study in the US journal Science suggests that the origins of war were not—as some have argued—rooted in roving hunter-gather groups but rather in cultures that held land and livestock and knew how to farm for food.

For clues on what life was like before colonial powers, missionaries and traders entered the scene, anthropologists examined a subset of records from a well-known database that contains information on 186 cultures around the world.

From the article:

"Their study in the US journal Science suggests that the origins of war were not—as some have argued—rooted in roving hunter-gather groups but rather in cultures that held land and livestock and knew how to farm for food."

I don't doubt that there were skirmishes of various kinds for various reasons, like we see in the animal kingdom in general, but it seems that delineation/demarcation/enclosure of sizable land and animals, and what followed, was upping the ante, and therefore also upping the ante for skirmishes.

Insofar as we consume the produce from around the world, so we belong there, from whence we come.

Nation-states are like human zoos/farms/prisons... and it is instructive to note that, apparently, Edward Snowden, bizarrely spending near a month in an airport(!) (despite there being plenty of fellow humans in the vicinity to put him up) has so far only received asylum from a handful of (insane) asylum-keepers, to say nothing of Julian Assange's fancy prison-within-a-prison, or Guantanamo, or Palestine, etc..

I'm thinking, or at least hoping, that peak oil, and peak etcetera, and their slides, increasingly free us from these kinds of lock-ins by, in part, disempowering those who hold the keys/power.

I'm thinking, or at least hoping, that peak oil, and peak etcetera, and their slides, increasingly free us from these kinds of lock-ins by, in part, disempowering those who hold the keys/power.

I don't think that's going to happen because the System holds the keys, not the nation state. The System's grip on humans is tightening and crisis will simply increase its grip. Just look at the NSA, flouting and ignoring of laws (both local and international) to allow systemic advancement. You can see it everywhere, fracking, GMO's, drone warfare, finance, there are practically no barriers to systemic advancement and if there are they're being gradually eroded by improved techniques (political, legal, financial, etc.).

The nation state is being bypassed by technological advancement and losing its franchise and legitimacy as a result. I don't think there's any going back, in the world technology is creating (eg. climate change) we cannot live without technology. Our fate is pretty much sealed. But as the System preconditions us for our future, it'll be painless, everything will be normalized in advance, there will be no future shock.

"...it was fundamentally flawed, creating the otherwise contradictory systemic anomaly, that, if left unchecked, might threaten the system itself. Ergo, those who refused the program, while a minority, would constitute an escalating probability of disaster. ~ The Matrix

The Supersystem is nature, of course, with all kinds of paradoxes, and in which we are all active participants. It will be interesting to see how it plays out within our slices-of-life vantage points.

Yes. There's really not a lot to fight about if you're not settled down. It's easier to just move on. But once you've invested in the land, you have incentive to defend it.

People like Steven Pinker make the mistake of including horticultural societies (like the Yanomamo) in with hunter-gatherers. Separate out the horticulturalists and the pastoralists, and the true foraging societies left are much less violent.

There is going to be a backlash somewhere along the way.

I think old people lack the energy to truly revolt. Although they can be led into self-destructive voter patterns, by outside forces creating tea parties.

I think that 17% figure is the Pension Benefits Guarantee Corp (the federally run "insurance" program where dead pension plans go to enjoy the afterlife. By law there is a maximum payout per year of service in this program. The guy getting 17% was probably promised a very nice pension, now he gets the same pension as the janitor. So the best remunerated city manager types are probably taking the biggest hit, the lowest paid may not be taking much of a hit (although their pension was probably not enough to live on in the first place).

I do agree the Paulo's general philosophy. The malefactors of great wealth have done a bangup job of selling the winner take all philosophy to most of the rest of us. I guess thats the price of being easy to manipulate.

This is true of many state and municipal workers. Workers who pay into the Illinois State University Retirement Sytem are also not eligible for Social Security.

From Six Simple Steps: Reforming the Illinois State Universities Retirement System:

The 97th General Assembly ended in January without passing a pension reform bill; leaving the fate of thepension systems in the hands of a new assembly. But solving the pension problem will not be any easier for this group of legislators. The unfunded liability of the state’s five pension systems grew by over $10 billion since the 97th assembly started and now exceeds $97 billion; including a liability of approximately $19 billion for the State University Retirement System (SURS).


Seems there are a lot of time bombs ticking in the US. The article goes on to put this mess into context regarding Illinois' overall fiscal situation: "the state’s failure over many decades to make required pension payments...", "in addition, the state needs to pay off the pension obligation bonds (POB) issued over the past decade. These payments—at a time when Illinois’ economy continues to be sluggish and the state owes billions of dollars in unpaid bills..."

The 6 steps seem to cook down to robbing Peter (who's essentially broke) to pay Paul less. The best that can be done is to spread the pain as equally as possible (or a shell game, depending upon how one reads it). Of course, some folks are more equal than others. Welcome to the future. Did someone mention that there won't be enough lifeboats?

Bondholders are also getting a bad deal. Municipal bonds were seen as a safe place (apparently, I'm not a U.S citizen so only re-reporting) to put your money.

CNN were reporting that 4 other cities declared bankruptcy this year and 12 last year. The total municipal debt of the U.S is 3.7 trillion dollars. Reminds me a little of Spain, their independent state governments have a hefty unmanageable debt to pay off as well which they obviously asked the central government to help them out with.

Countries like Spain which had an apparently manageable debt level can be caught out by the debt taken on by others. The individual citizens and independent local governments were the ones who brought Spain to it's knees, the government was probably one of the most conservative of all in Europe and stuck to the rules when countries like France and Germany didn't.

Here's an entire article that purports to explain what happened to Detroit, but never once mentions the rising cost of oil or the peak in the US production of oil: Detroit's bankruptcy follows decades of decay

New from Congressional Research Service [CRS] ...

An Overview of Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas: Resources and Federal Actions

... Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. annual crude oil production rose by 1.5 million barrels per day, with about 92% of the increase coming from shale and related tight oil formations in Texas and North Dakota. Overall petroleum liquids grew by 2.1 million barrels per day, with much of the increase in natural gas liquids coming from shale gas plays.

This report focuses on the growth in U.S. oil and natural gas production driven primarily by tight oil formations and shale gas formations. It also reviews selected federal environmental regulatory and research initiatives related to unconventional oil and gas extraction, including the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed hydraulic fracturing rule.

Hydraulic Fracturing: Selected Legal Issues

… Provisions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) exempt drilling fluids, produced waters, and other wastes associated with the exploration, development, or production of crude oil, natural gas, or geothermal energy from regulation as hazardous wastes under Subtitle C of RCRA. However, these wastes are subject to other federal laws (such as the SDWA and the CWA), as well as to state requirements. Facility owners and operators and other potentially responsible parties could potentially face liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for cleanup costs, natural resource damages, and the costs of federal public health studies, if hydraulic fracturing results in the release of hazardous substances at or under the surface in a manner that may endanger public health or the environment.

… Hydraulic fracturing tort litigation has raised questions about causation; whether hydraulic fracturing is an abnormally dangerous activity; and whether hydraulic fracturing may constitute a subsurface trespass to land.

[Secret] 1971 CIA Intelligence Report – The Senkaku Islands Dispute: Oil under Troubled Waters (24Mb pdf)
Pg 20-25 East Asia Oil Situation
Pg 25-30 Outlook - Military & Diplomatic

WTI is currently more expensive than Brent, there have been a spread of around $15 a long time before.

The prices displayed are for different contracts: WTI for August, Brent for September.

The run-up of WTI is still impressive, though:

(from the Market Futures databrowser)

Fracking 'could put gas and chemicals' in drinking water

Drinking water could be contaminated with methane gas and chemicals due to fracking, water companies have warned.

Water UK, which represents all major UK water suppliers, said the shale gas extraction method posed a threat if not "carefully planned and carried out".

It also warned fracking's "huge" use of water could cause shortages in areas of low supply, like South East England.

Water industry lays down challenge to UK shale gas fracking industry

Water companies have warned the shale gas industry that the quality of our drinking water must be protected at all costs and fracking must not harm public health.

The call from the water companies will come from Dr Jim Marshall, Policy and Business Adviser at Water UK, during his presentation at the UK Shale 2013 – Making It Happen conference in London today (17 July).

Just to comment on the BBC article/quote from Water UK - I thought the fracking was planned for the North of England and as water is not transported from region to region as far as I'm aware (the idea was raised 2 years back during the drought in the South East), suggesting that the South East would suffer from water shortages due to fracking is stretching things a little.

The area surrounding London is now being surveyed by the geological service.

That might turn out to be fun as the most promising areas seem to be in the genteel and upmarket stockbroker belts.

I wonder does a frac well decimate the value of an upmarket home in the same ratio as the claimed effect of a wind farm LOL

Insurance Industry, Republicans Split on Climate Change

The U.S. insurance industry told Senators that a surge in weather-related catastrophes has forced billions of dollars in payouts, offering an assessment at odds with Republicans who have expressed doubt about global warming.

The Reinsurance Association of America, which represents companies such as Swiss Re Ltd. (SREN) and Munich Re, today urged Congress to have federal agencies consider climate risk in project reviews, and offer tax incentives to help homeowners prepare for severe hurricanes, floods, droughts and fires.

“The industry is at great financial peril if it does not understand global and regional climate impacts, variability and developing scientific assessment of a changing climate,” Franklin Nutter, president of the association, said in testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. “We are committed to work with you to address the exposure of citizens and their property to extreme weather risk.”

... As a week-long heatwave pushed Washington’s temperatures today to near a high for the year, Democratic lawmakers said they weren’t sure what kind of evidence would persuade Republicans that global warming is real.

I don’t know what it will take to convince you of what is going on outside the window,” California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the chairman of the panel, said.

I have tried this one with my doubting friends:

Insurance people make their money by betting money on their estimates of risk and probabilities, right?

Sure, that's what they do

Ok, so if insurance people put big numbers on insuring things that might be threatened by climate, they are betting for money, nothing to do with ideology, right?

Sure, business is business- out to make money.

So, here we are, a huge business opportunity for you! You say climate change ain't all that big a deal, so that means you could underbid the insurance companies on that ocean-front property in Fla. and you would get lots of business away from all those timid insurance companies, right?

Um, well, I don't do that kinda business.

So why not? Make a billion overnight.

But of course it doesn't work. Nothing works with them. So, just ignore these people and go for the ones who might do some good.

Exactly. I think they would come up with something to the effect, the the climate is changing because God Wills it. And if they bet against God, they are just asking for it. Or some such.

Yeah, money is the one thing that I would hope would change the GOP's mind. And sadly, it has not worked so far. Despite the fact that the flood insurance program is (ironically) underwater right now.

And how has the GOP dealt with this issue? Socialism. Florida create a state-run insurance program to deal with hurricane insurance as private insurance companies pulled out.

Hypocrisy and denial. That is US politics in a nutshell.

A vision of post-apocalypse Britain? Eerie computer-generated images reveal how UK landmarks could crumble and decay if humanity was wiped out

... thanks to the work of computer programmers from Sony’s PlayStation team, we are now able to glimpse how iconic British buildings might look if humanity was wiped out by a pandemic and they were left to rot.

As in the game itself, the images depict a Britain abandoned for 20 years after a poisonous fungus has wiped-out almost all the world’s population, leaving nature to gradually reclaim towns and cities.

Like Butter: Study Explains Surprising Acceleration Of Greenland’s Inland Ice

In 2011, scientists explained that the Greenland Ice Sheet “could undergo a self-amplifying cycle of melting and warming” that is “difficult to halt.”

Last November, a major international study in the journal Science found that the Greenland ice sheet’s melt rate was up nearly 5-fold since the mid-1990s.

This acceleration has put ice sheet loss far ahead of what most climate models had predicted several years ago. Now a new study by scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface explains at least one key factor the models have missed:

Surface meltwater draining through cracks in an ice sheet can warm the sheet from the inside, softening the ice and letting it flow faster. ... when the influence of meltwater is considered, warming can occur within decades and, thus, produce rapid accelerations.

This new study only serves to underscore a 2012 study that found we may be close to the Greenland Ice Sheet’s “tipping point.”

Here's a good website for tracking ice coverage:


Click on the graph in the upper right to see the latest changes. Since May, the ice cap has had about 1 million sq km more covered area than last year on the same day. However, it's still well below the long term average and appears as though it will be among the lowest 5 (or 6) in history, which have all occurred since 2007.

Gulf CEO says oil prices could halve by end of year, cause global instability [w/video]

It's just one in a laundry list of factors, but more fuel-efficient cars could make a difference in lowering oil prices dramatically to half their present levels, plunging to $50 a barrel by the end of the year. That's what Gulf Oil CEO Joe Petrowski is predicting in a new interview on CNBC's Squawk Box, though he is quick to point out that a halving of oil prices doesn't necessarily translate to a halving of fuel prices. And, as CNN reports, lower oil prices could mean protests in oil-producing OPEC nations.

Great! Time for me to go and see if I can find out who owns that Hummer I've seen driving around and offer to buy it off him!

Alan from the islands

Love this comment, which is probably closer to the mark than the average pundit opinion:

The aliens in Roswell set the prices in conjunction with the illuminati and the church of scientology. The only recourse is for us all to wrap our genitals in aluminum foil and stop using tooth paste.

Should it come to that,the "shale oil revolution" would come to a quick halt.

Yeah, I don't get it. Why would he suggest the price could drop to the 50s when he must know that would kill off shale production. I really don't think the oil producers are currently making a 50% margin on their shale oil.

Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change

Ellen Cantrow (EC) of Truthout : What is the Methane-migration evidence?
…But there are already cases where the methane gas has made it up into the aquifers and atmosphere. Sometimes through old well bores, sometimes through natural fissures in the rock. What we don't know is just how much gas is going to come up over time. It's a point most people haven't gotten. It's not just what's happening today. We're opening up channels for the gas to creep up to the surface and into the atmosphere. And methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas in the short term - less than 100 years - than carbon dioxide.
EC: Was there any major turning point that started you thinking about methane migration?
LA: There were many. An example is that one of the appendices of the draft SGEIS [New York Department of Conservation guidelines for the gas industry] that was issued in July 2011, had a section describing an EPA study of the only cases where similar fractures had been unearthed. These were in a coal-mining area. The EPA investigation indicated that the fractures had progressed in unexpected patterns and at greater lengths than expected. In September, when the draft SGEIS was eventually put out for comment, that section had been expunged.
EC: That's shocking! I know a lot has been discovered about the collusion between New York's DEC and the industry. Is this one big example?
LA: Yes, it is. To ignore the only direct evidence of fractures, or to remove it from public information, indicates that the industry was trying to hide something. The other point is that in terms of a turning point (in my thinking), here is evidence that the fractures go further and in patterns that were not expected. It showed that fractures could allow methane to reach drinking water aquifers or the atmosphere.


I see the thread
Live Until August 31st, Oil Drum Successors Discussion, and User Profiles
has now been closed to comments, despite my request otherwise. So apparently discussion of Old Drum successors will be scattered among the couple dozen Drumbeats until the site closes down.

It's automatic. Threads are closed to new comments a week after they are posted. The server does it, not us.

I'm guessing there will probably be more threads on the topic. There's still more than a month to go. One thread wouldn't be enough.

Fort Bliss: Contaminated bunker not a threat

(AP)—Army officials are downplaying the threat to Fort Bliss personnel exposed to radiation detected in a bunker at the West Texas military post.

Leaders at Fort Bliss said Friday that testing shows contamination is contained to the floor of the bunker at a portion of the post known as Biggs Army Airfield. Nuclear weapons were assembled and stored in the bunker in the 1950s and 1960s.

Officials have said a tip from a former worker prompted an investigation that revealed radioactivity in the bunker, calling into question the safety of personnel at the post.

Nighttime heat waves quadruple in Pacific Northwest

University of Washington research shows that the region west of the Cascades saw only three nighttime heat waves between 1901 and 1980, but that number quadrupled to 12 nighttime heat waves in the three decades after 1980, according to a paper published in the July issue of the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.

Nighttime heat waves are when the daily low is in the top 1 percent of the temperatures on record – in Seattle above around 61.5 F – for at least three nights in a row.

… Researchers also found a clue to suggest why we're seeing more hot nights. It's well known that Pacific Northwest heat waves occur when breeze off the ocean is replaced with air flow from the east, which warms up as it flows down the western slope of the Cascade Mountains.

I don't want to minimize the significance of this observation as far as understanding shifts in atmospheric circulation. But to call 62 deg F at night a "heat wave" feels like an insult to us in the East right now. Even here in Vermont (and it's even worse further south) it's been rather hard to sleep in the last week, with outdoor nighttime minimums in the mid 70's (and dewpoints not much less, and indoor temperatures quite a bit higher, even with fans in windows, for the many who don't have air conditioning). And year after year the number of such nights seems to increase.

Ha ha, I woke up at 4am this morning to a heat index of 91 so said the news. I wouldn't be able to function during the day if it weren't for A/C.

"But to call 62 deg F at night a "heat wave" feels like an insult to us in the East right now. "

Hey, it's Seattle. They are always cold and wet. On the eastern side of the Cascades the Tricities were 101 today, and Spokane is currently 94. The humidity is 13% in Spokane, and was probably lower than that in the Tricities. Spokane should be about 60 tonight.

So, above normal, not markedly so. Spokane's record high for this date was 102, set in 1976.

Also relevant is that the Tricities are about 500 feet in elevation, and Spokane is about 2000 feet up.

here in dry California, 62F minimums is the roughly the boundary of when the heat starts biting. I try to collect as much coolth from night air. But if the low is only 62F, I have to use the AC, and instead of banking credits from the PV, I use more juice than I produce. In the worst weather it can be as bad as four to one!

We're in Eastern PA and have not used A/C during this heat wave. We do have lots of fans. People are simply unable to conceive of this, and think it must be incredibly cruel. I guess they must be from some other planet, as they cannot function unprotected on the surface of this one, and indeed must use climate controlled transportation devices to move between their various facilities.

I have not been using the A/C in my old Hyundai either as I'm working on a really high
mileage tank and don't want to ruin my score.

You can certainly see the difference a couple of degrees make. Two days ago I got by with zero A/C, banked 3KWhours from the PV. Yesterday the low was 2F higher, 102F for the high, ran the little window AC unit for several hours, and unbanked the 3KWhours. Now today starts 2F higher still, so I'm guessing we might turn on the central air as well. A little bit of difference in the weather, makes a huge difference in the demand. And I was whimpy on my drive home -switched out of EV mode several times to run the AC, only did 81mpg (which is crappy for summertime).

I agree, that we have become pretty whimpy, conditions we simply accepted as a normal part of life, we now think of as simply untolerable.

Without ac or a dehumidifier things in my house start to get moldy pretty fast. My basement gets extremely musty in a few days and stuff starts growing around my toilets as well. Maybe it's cooler or drier in eastern PA than DC. If I was retired or didn't have a job then I'd probably be able to pull it off, but trying to sleep without ac and then function as an engineer every day would be terrible in this weather. I'm also training to summit mount rainier next week so that keeps me hot as well.

I constantly bemoan the amount of electricity consumed by our dehumidifier, but I can tell you that our finished basement would turn into one smelly, mould infested box in short order. The thing runs almost non-stop six months of the year and accounts for well over two-thirds of the electricity we consume come spring, summer and fall. Frustrating, because I've managed to whittle down every load except this one.


LOL - I'm an engineer and sleep comfortably without A/C. With a cheap box fan blowing right over us it is often too cool with just a sheet by morning.

It doesn't make sense to compare if you live in entirely different climates. Even if the temperature's the same, humidity makes a big difference. Washington DC is about the last place I'd want to be in summer without air-conditioning.

Get this one: We have neighbors that just got finished removing a whole grove of shade providing trees (and the wildlife that goes along with it), I think because she's phobic about nature. Anyway, they never open a window on their 3500 sq. ft. home. Not in winter, summer, night, fall, anytime whatsoever. Even on a day like today with temps that will top 104F, their 'heater' went on this morning for a short period of time. Once the temp rises enough to kick on their AC, it will be on for about 18 straight hours cooling that whole house.

We live at 1125 ft. elevation and most evenings even in summer get down to high 50's low 60's so in the evening we open it up and cool it down and get fresh air. How someone can live in a house without opening windows is very difficult for us to understand just from the standpoint of breathing the same old stale air. I wonder what it will be like in a post peak oil energy crunch/dislocation for people like that to survive.

There was mention this week of weather patterns moving east to west instead of the opposite direction. Have a look at the weather graphic: http://www.climatecentral.org/news/drunken-weather-pattern-leads-to-dead....

Tonight is pretty unbearable in New England, unless you're north of that line of thunderstorms. 82F right now with a dew point of 77F, feels more like DC, not rural Massachusetts. Fans aren't helping much.

Six Tech Advancements Changing The Fossil Fuels Game


Hydrogeologist: I’m not kidding, we honestly don’t know what’s going on in cavern below giant sinkhole —“Nobody’s ever encountered anything like this in history of mankind” — World’s top experts don’t even have a good hypothesis — Wellhead pressure now up to almost 600 psi (VIDEO)

Gary Hecox, CB&I hydrogeologist: This is going to not satisfy you, but we honestly don’t know.

We have talked to some of the leading experts in the world as too what could be causing this. We don’t know. Nobody’s ever encountered anything like this in the history of mankind.

I’m not kidding, what’s going on with that cavern where it’s going up several hundred feet and down several hundred feet, we don’t know if it’s some equipment issues or if there’s something going on in the cavern that we don’t understand. The pressure in the cavern continues to slowly increase. It’s up now to almost 600psi in the wellhead, that’s brine pressure not gas. […]

I don’t even have a good hypothesis to tell you. […]

The world experts have looked at this and we don’t know.


The "list of dam failures" page on wikipedia also makes for good reading, as do some of the nuclear tests in Nevada "golly gee, that was supposed to be sealed underground but the Earth cracked right open." Whoops! Meanwhile, progress on Navier–Stokes is a Millennium Prize Problem, if you're looking for some spare change.

See Status Update: July 16, 2013 (pdf) that goes along with the briefing.

The public briefing practically "melts down" in this video around the 7:20 mark.

More than 40 percent of fresh water used in the United States is withdrawn to cool power plants. Renewable energy generally uses far less water, but there are glaring exceptions, such as geothermal and concentrating solar.


I would like to understand why the WTI-Brent spread hadn't narrowed so much and haven't come across a cogent analysis. Isn't this news? How come there is so little commentary on this?

See Pipelines help Oklahoma oil producers gain hold on slippery pricing
[The Oklahoman]:

New and expanded pipelines are relieving the glut in Cushing and helping Oklahoma oil producers sell their oil for much closer to the international price.

Oklahoma oil producers are receiving a price closer to the international rate as the country's pipeline infrastructure catches up with boosted domestic supplies.

The shale oil boom that has swept across the country over the past five years has ramped up domestic oil production, cut into imports and moved the country closer to energy independence than it has been in nearly half a century.

But the growth happened faster than the country's pipeline infrastructure could handle.

As a result, hundreds of new storage tanks have been built in Cushing to hold oil for up to months at a time as it waited in line to move through pipes to refineries along the Gulf Coast and throughout the country.

West Texas Intermediate crude — the benchmark for domestic oil — is priced at Cushing. The glut over the past three years has led domestic oil to be discounted by up to $30 a barrel compared to the international Brent Crude price.

Concerning the article from above, Thirsty clean energy may add to water stressed world, New Scientist, Sara Reardon, July 19, 2013:

According to the DoE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, whose figures are cited in the report, a typical hydroelectric power plant uses between 15,000 and 68,000 litres of water per megawatt hour generated, while a typical concentrating solar plant – which uses mirrors to focus sunlight onto a small area – uses about 3000 litres of water per megawatt hour of electricity generated.

The figures also show that a nuclear power plant uses 2650 litres per megawatt hour, whereas a typical coal fired power plant uses 1900 and a natural gas plant 750. More widely used renewable technologies, such as wind farms and photovoltaic solar plants, use virtually no water.

The report is US Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change, U.S. Department of Energy, July 2013 (4 MB PDF file).

A hydroelectric plant using 15,000 to 68,000 liters of water is not the same as consuming that amount of water because it sends the water downriver where it is used for other purposes. For example, water in the Colorado River passes through several hydroelectric stations, but none of it reaches the Pacific Ocean because it is all diverted to human consumption. In a closed loop coal station the water is consumed as it is drawn in, heated and released into the air as steam making it unavailable for other uses.

The data for the water consumption for the other power plants appears to be taken from a chart on page 24, figure 13, Water use by fuel and cooling technology (Source: Adapted from Averyt et al. 2011), and converted from gallons to liters.

The value for CSP of 3,000 liters/MWh appears to be for a recirculating CSP with a median consumption of 875 gallons of water per megawatt·hour of electricity (3,300 l/MWh). Dry cooled CSP uses 50 gallons/MWh (189 l/MWh).

The value for nuclear of 2,650 l/MWh appears to be for a recirculating nuke plant with a median consumption of 675 gallons/MWh (2,554 l/MWh).

The value for coal of 1,900 l/MWh appears to be for a coal plant using a cooling pond with a median consumption of 550 gallons/MWh (2,080 l/MWh). A recirculating coal plant has a median consumption of 700 gallons/MWh (2,650 l/MWh). It is misleading to compare the water consumption of different types of cooling systems which biases the comparison on behalf of coal.

The value for natural gas of 750 l/MWh is for a recirculating natural gas plant with a median consumption of 200 gallons/MWh (757 l/MWh). Dry-cooling uses no water.

PV looks like is consumes less than 25 gallons/MWh (95 l/MWh) and wind appears to consume no water. My 750 rated watt off-grid PV system uses about 2.5 gallons/MWh (9.5 l/MWh) with that predominantly being distilled water for my lead-acid batteries.

She may have taken the data from page 27:

A typical parabolic trough CSP plant with recirculating cooling uses more than 800 gal/MWh; the majority of this water is used for cooling, with less than 2% for mirror washing. These values compare to less than 700 gal/MWh for a nuclear power plant, 500 gal/MWh for a supercritical coal-fired power plant, and 200 gal/MWh for a combined cycle natural gas plant....

Water cooling certainly is a big strike against CSP because the best locations are in hot, dry deserts where there is little water.

Here is another reason to use PV and wind instead of carbon capture and sequestration:

US Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change, page 25:
Both withdrawal and consumption rates are estimated to be approximately two times higher for coal and natural gas facilities that include carbon CCS than for those without CCS depending upon the generation and CCS technologies utilized....

Another strike against coal:

Coal mining processes can use significant amounts of water: ... approximately 50–59 gallons of water for every short ton (0.9 metric tonnes) of coal mined

One should include the water used in manufacturing the devices, such as PV panels and batteries. And in "producing" the energy used in that manufacturing - which of course depends on the source for that energy. This can get as convoluted as EROEI calculations.

And the water used to clean off PV panels. But in reality, the water used to build them and clean them is a rounding error compared to the water used by thermal plants.

I live in the high desert of western Nevada, been here 11 years now totally off-grid, have NEVER washed off the PV panels and they still produce satisfactorily, even considering we get 5 to 10 good dust storms every year.

Yeah, the wind alone can do an OK job of cleaning the panels. The Opportunity rover on Mars is living proof of that . . . it has been running for 9 years now on solar power with no washes.

From Table 11 in Life cycle water use for electricity generation: a review and harmonization of literature estimates, J. Meldrum et al, Environmental Research Letters, v8, n1, 2013 March 12:

				Consumption (gal/MWh)a	 	Withdrawal (gal/MWh)a
 		 Sub-category 	Median 	Min 	Max 	nb 	Median 	Min 	Max 	n
Power plantc 	C-Si	 	81 	10 	210 	3 	94 	1 	1600 	24
Other 		(thin-film) 	6 	5 	7 	2 	18 	<1d 	1400 	19

c. Power plant estimates include both upstream (i.e., raw materials, manufacturing, construction, and transportation) and downstream (decommissioning) water use. Due to a lack of data, we assume for downstream processes that consumption is negligible and withdrawal is equivalent across sub-categories

Crystalline PV uses 10 to 210 gallons/MWh (38 to 800 l/MWh) to manufacture, transport and decommission. I am not sure about the assumption they are using to calculate MWh generated from PV panels during their lifetime because that will vary based on the insolation at the site of installation and their longevity. I would like to see the water consumption in units of (gallons of water)/(rated watt of PV manufactured). There are only 3 data points used to calculate the median water consumption of C-Si PV meaning the data points are 10 gal/MWh, 81 gal/MWh and 210 gal/MWh. Because there are articles about recycling water used during manufacturing to achieve a 95% reduction in water consumption, the consumption is not fixed.

Figure 4 shows a life-cycle comparison among various generating types for their water consumption.
Wind: ~0 gal/MWh
PV: 100 gal/MWh
Geothermal: 300 gal/MWh
CSP: Power Tower (dry cooling): 200 gal/MWh
CSP: Power Tower (cooling tower): 950 gal/MWh
CSP: Trough (dry cooling): 250 gal/MWh
CSP: Trough (cooling tower): 1,050 gal/MWh
Nuclear (open loop): 450 gal/MWh
Nuclear (pond cooling): 650 gal/MWh
Nuclear (cooling tower): 775 gal/MWh
Natural gas: CT (no cooling): 50 gal/MWh
Natural gas: CC (dry cooling): ~20 gal/MWh
Natural gas: CC (open loop cooling): 100 gal/MWh
Natural gas: CC (cooling tower): 225 gal/MWh
Coal: IGCC (cooling tower): 350 gal/MWh
Coal: PC (open loop cooling): 175 gal/MWh
Coal: PC (cooling tower): 550 gal/MWh