DrumBeat: January 16, 2007

Satellite gap alarms Earth scientists

The U.S. satellite system that monitors Earth’s environment and climate needs an urgent upgrade or scientists will lose much of their ability to predict events like hurricanes, according to a report released by the National Research Council on Monday.

The report said maintaining current observation and predictive abilities will cost about $3 billion a year from 2010 to 2020 if its recommendations are carried out, but action needs to be taken soon.

The Cheap Oil Mirage - Kunstler

The American public is understandably happy to see the bottom fall out of the oil futures market. But temporary circumstances are only sending them another false signal that everything is perfectly okay on the oil scene. And it only reinforces the foolish belief that when prices go up it is solely because corporate finaglers tweak them up on purpose. In fact, these days it's the other way around: often prices go down because corporate finaglers are tweaking the markets, dumping positions, playing shorts rather than acting like real oil users bidding on real contracts for delivery for real purposes like making gasoline. When oil goes up, as it certainly will again, it is primarily because of geology -- what's left in the ground -- and secondarily because of geopolitics -- where it's left in the ground (and what's happening there).

Wrong Turn Amigo

The answer to this problem is abundantly clear.

It's called the free market, and unlike its socialist counterpart, it works like a charm. It's not to be feared, as Chavez claims, but embraced-especially if your goal is to maximize your oil production.

Bolivia gambles on energy and wins - for now

When President Evo Morales ordered Bolivia's energy fields nationalized last May and sent federal troops into its abundant gas fields to make his point clear, critics warned that he would isolate Bolivia and choke off its main source of revenue.

But with Morales about to celebrate his first anniversary in office Jan. 22, most Bolivians regard the nationalization as a tremendous victory.

Iraqis will never accept this sellout to the oil corporations

The US-controlled Iraqi government is preparing to remove the country's most precious resource from national control.

Oil firms face Latin American woe

US oil companies have said they will stay in Honduras, despite the state saying it will temporarily seize control of oil storage containers.

The Honduran move, made on Friday, will affect firms such as Chevron and Esso.

The news comes as Venezuela refused to negotiate with foreign oil firms over its wider nationalisation plans.

We're #2! UAE Tops U.S. for Energy Demand

When it comes to squandering the earth's natural resources, residents of the United Arab Emirates, a desert land of chilled swimming pools, monster 4x4s and air-conditioned malls, are on a par with even the ravenous consumption of Americans, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Forecourts: France authorizes biofuel but more carrot needed

France has joined a number of other countries in approving the commercial sale of biofuels, with the French government stating that it hopes to see biofuel's share of total motor fuel consumption rise to 7% by 2010. However, legislation alone is not enough. Given the need to convince retailers to provide biofuels, and the attendant costs, the uptake of biofuels also needs to be consumer-driven.

Lukoil Set to Revive Saddam-Era Oil Deal

Lukoil, the Russian oil company, is poised to resurrect the $4-billion (GBP2-billion) contract it signed with Saddam Hussein's regime to develop one of Iraq's largest oil fields.

The company's US rival, Conoco-Phillips, will also benefit as it has a stake in the joint venture with Lukoil to develop the West Qurna-2 field, which holds up to 16 billion barrels of oil.

Is Russia-Belarus Friendship Over?

Lukashenka's strategy of relying on benevolence and subsidies from Russia, long regarded as the natural ally, is over. Possibly Moscow was irked by the patriotic content of Lukashenka's 2006 election: a platform of "For Belarus." The Kremlin may also be concerned by the close links between the Communist Party of Russia and the Lukashenka regime with a Russian parliamentary election in the offing. Analyst Andrei Suzdaltsev remarked that Belarus is a cordon sanitaire that divides Russia from the West: it excludes Russian business, the joint defensive system is a myth, and Belarus can freely confiscate Russian transit goods. "Lukashenka has exhausted the trust of the Russian leaders" (RIA-Novosti, January 11). Lukashenka has become, from Moscow's viewpoint, expendable.

Indonesia inks oil contracts to boost reserves

Indonesia signed new production sharing contracts with three global energy firms -- ConocoPhillips, CNOOC Ltd. and Premier Oil -- on Tuesday to boost reserves, the oil minister said.

South Korea shifts focus to proven oil, not exploration

South Korea will change tactics in its increasingly urgent quest for overseas energy assets this year, targetting more costly but proven oil reserves after years of pursuing high-stakes exploration acreage.

Petrobras Says Domestic Reserves Stable in 2006

Domestic oil and gas reserves of Brazil's state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PBR), or Petrobras, remained almost stable in 2006, but overseas reserves fell due to write-offs in Venezuela.

£3m energy centre will boost Scotland's economy

Scotland's first state-of-the art renewable energy park is expected to inspire new businesses and create 1350 jobs over the next 25 years.

The Balkans and the Eastern Leg of Europe

The former republics of Yugoslavia will play a key role in Germany’s EU presidency and Europe’s ability to resurrect an age-old empire.

India: Govt to cut distribution losses in power sector

The 11th Plan would set a target of bringing down distribution losses in the power sector to 15% from the current level of 38% for the country, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said on Monday.

Nigerians groan as fuel scarcity bites harder

As a result of the scarcity of petroleum products and the attendant traffic jams, many workers could not get to their offices. Some enterprises opened late for business and some others stayed shut.

Reports from across the country indicated that the fuel situation in Lagos is replicated in other places, with petrol being hawked in cellophane bags at prohibitive prices in some parts of the north where the product can be found.

Nigeria clashes leave a dozen dead

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria - Royal Dutch Shell evacuated staff from two oil installations in southern Nigeria and the military boosted troop levels in the volatile area Tuesday after community clashes left a dozen community chiefs dead, officials said.

Bisi Ojediran, a spokesman for Shell PLC, said only a skeleton crew remained at the two evacuated pipeline hubs in the Niger Delta region, a vast area of mangrove swamps where all of the crude in Africa's largest producer is pumped.

Science and faith join forces

Some leading scientists and evangelical Christian leaders have agreed to put aside their fierce differences over the origin of life and work together to fight global warming.

Prices at pump likely to fall more

Gasoline prices dropped over the holiday weekend and are likely headed lower. But drivers who expect gas prices to fall as sharply as oil prices in recent weeks will likely be disappointed.

PetroChina Reports Record Oil, Gas Output in 2006

The annual oil and gas output of PetroChina Company Limited amounted to 1.06 billion barrels, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier, it announced on Monday.

Warming trend visible in the trees

Rising temperatures are allowing Southern trees to thrive farther north and stressing trees used to colder weather, according to new national guidelines issued by planting experts.

Oil falls $1, Saudi says no need to panic

Oil prices fell more than a dollar to below $52 a barrel on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia's oil minister said OPEC production cuts were working well and there was no need for an emergency meeting of the producer group.

Nigerian oil minister says no decision on OPEC meeting

Environment ministers lack clout on global warming

Environment ministers are sometimes rising stars -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a stint in the 1990s -- but are often far less experienced than cabinet colleagues in charge of issues such as defense, health or education.

Alaskan villagers get Citgo oil vouchers: "Devil, angel, whoever gave it to us, we're grateful."

When Big Oil Buys Out the Big Diggers

Like all oil companies, BP must work harder and harder to find new reserves. The company has also raised its profile in alternative energy technologies. Yesterday it announced five North American wind-power projects to deliver a combined 550 megawatts of energy in California, Colorado and North Dakota. It will be interesting to see if its interest in alternative energy lasts. If oil prices remain at this level or go lower, how many alternative projects will be shelved? Will consumers care about going green if the black gold doesn’t put them into the red?

Kinder Morgan to buy rest of Canadian NGL pipeline

Water leak at Japan nuclear plant

The country is reliant on nuclear power to meet its energy needs, but its shaky safety record has fuelled popular opposition to the plants.

Tests Show 'Artificial Sun' Is Reliable

Designed to replicate the sun's energy generating process, the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak fusion reactor recently garnered positive results in tests being conducting at China's Institute of Plasma Physics, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Hello TODers,

I think the oil companies in Nigeria will be able to safely extract more oil, with less environmental damage and violent conflict, if they exchange 'real assets' instead of just cash to the corrupt Nigerian leadership. The money is just not trickling down in sufficient quantities for the poor after the Nigerian topdogs get their cut of the cash. No wonder there is so much conflict in the oilfields. Real assets for the poor could include much more than these following items: wheelbarrows, bicycles, medical & veterinary supplies and training, local schools and hospitals, solar ovens, small Coleman cooking stoves, solar water heating, hand tools, fertilizers, composting toilets, and so on.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hey Bob;
I asked once before, but it was buried deep in a long thread..

Have you ever looked at what they are doing north of you with the "Arcosanti" project? North of Flagstaff, I think..
I think their forward momentum has been a little glacial, if the term isn't too inappropriate or critical .. but the goal seems very useful. As I understand it, to create a medium/high density community built on what is considered to be 'wasteland', and without a great dependence on external energy & supplies.. save Solar, of course. Water use is designed to recycle and reuse much of the supply through natural Bog and Pool systems. The whole habitat is designed with a modular approach that makes efficient but very livable places for residences, workplaces, public spaces, etc..

As we look at the precipice that may well face cities like Vegas and Phx, I want to hear more about how some of the Arcosanti ideals could be turned into retrofits for the currently 'Greengrass' building developments that surround our desert Cities.

I don't doubt that Wheelbarrows will be an essential ingredient, and even possibly a status symbol, at some point.. Maybe we can work together to design the 'Once and Future SUW!~ Sport-Utility Wheelbarrow'.. to ease the transition for our many unconvinced brothers and sisters..

But in conjunction, I'm trying to imagine what turnkey systems could also be in the wings to allow a currently unsustainable, irrigated Trophy-Lawn into a water-reusing garden plot, or a Housing Development into a mini-village, with some shops, some energy generation and a 'mini-grid', some food supply internally, jobs internally.. and a couple bus/light rail stops.. or bike trails that keep them connected to the city-center where other jobs and markets/trade-goods connect them to the rest of the world..

Regards from the (Finally!) icy and wintry Northeast! .. and don't believe what they tell you.. we got almost nothing of the ice that slammed the middle states this weekend. But this morning, I'm working on our IceStorm plan again, just cause one day, we'll get hit with something!

.. And THERE! I've gone and upstaged the ARCOSANTI question with a lot of other good stuff.. Take a look, if you haven't had any experience with them.. I think they are working in a smart and hopeful direction, that sounds somewhat inline with many of your suggestions.. minus the "Fast-Crash" parts, anyway!

Bob Fiske

Hello Jokuhl,


Arcosanti is just north of Phx, about an hours drive, towns close by are Cordes Junction, Cottonwood, Camp Verde. Not north of Flagstaff at all.

Yep, I have toured Arcosanti years ago, but not involved in any way with it. I just don't think they have enough water and high quality topsoil to make a go of it. The surrounding boomtowns and the Asphalt Wonderland are sucking the small river and acquifers dry, and GW is predicted to make this even worse over time. My guess is that the inhabitants will never reach the energy efficiency levels of the Anasazi or other ancient native desert-dwellers before they abandon Arcosanti. The summer desert is absolutely unforgiving if you don't have water and/or shade; you are simply toast.

Az has drastic elevation changes with corresponding climate zones: from above-the-treeline tundra, to near rain forest, to scorching sand dunes. If the population could be radically reduced-- IMO, the best strategy would be a migrating tribe that moved with the seasons and additionally short-term moderated temperature/weather changes by altitudinal variation.

Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hi Bob;
Thanks for the thoughts.

My main reason for watching them is not necessarily the success at that particular, and fairly extreme location, but to see what tools they have been able to use or reinvent that gives an advantage to any community trying to survive in landscape that was once (Artificially) abundant, and becomes increasingly marginal, esp WRT water supplies, roadway conditions, piped-in power requirements.

My own optimism, to such an extent as I can maintain it, lies in our ability to adapt and devise new tools to handle changing conditions, and our ability to codify and share these discoveries. With the sometimes underappreciated abilities of the internet, we can still duplicate and spread a good (or bad) idea to all corners of the world, and not have to wait for the Pony Express and Literacy to get an idea or a blueprint broadly disseminated.

Without the help (or interference) of massive energy inputs, the solutions will have to begin varying from locale to locale. I suppose there will continue to be forms of migration that follows the fruiting fields, dodges the hurricanes and sleet, but at the moment, what we have is mostly settlements, and we have a number of advantages we've learned to glean from planting deeper roots, such as shared infrastructure (Geothermal installations, Water Purification , Greenhouses) that benefit multiple families/clans.. I wouldn't be surprised to see some of these 'Beehive' Developments investing in a central WindTurbine, for example. This morning, I sketched up a recurring notion of mine, where you get some temporary storage with raised weights to smooth out the variability of wind generation. Of course, a community might also invest in water storage, which lends itself to using the water in High and Low tanks to achieve this end, too.

( Variation on the weights system might be a Hilly Community that builds a Funicular (Hillside) Trainway, and uses parallel counterweight tracks (In hillside trenches, with ample 'freefall security') to both lift the car system, and to store energy from Direct-winched Wind Turbines atop the hill ) The build would be expensive, but fairly simple in modern engineering terms. Lifting could come from other inputs.. Hydropower, PV to Elec Motor, etc) Lots of Bikespace built into the Funicular Train!

'Do Yeast ask themselves a corresponding question?'

(By the way, your tagline has become my default summary of the conversation here. So if I play with it a little, it is not to offend, but because it has given me food for thought. PPS, It's maddening,too.)

I've not been to Arcosanti, but looked at visiting and am familiar with tourism-driven economies, and I don't consider Arcosanti any more sustainable than the "Polynesian Culture Center" (a Polynesian theme park and Mormon recruiting tool on the Windward side of the island of Oahu). In fact, I'd say less so, since the "PCC" is surrounded by much more hospitable land. In either case, sustainability would only come after 90% of the people in the area died. In both case, they're kept going by visitors with bulging pockets, who leave with smiles and much thinner pockets. The $ obtained is used to buy goods from outside, many, generally thousands, of miles away. This is how SPAM gets to Hawaii and how strawberries get to Northern Arizona towns in January.

This is certainly an interesting anthropology/architecture project. But an approach to better living for 10 billion people on earth it is not. And I don't think it strives to be that. For one thing, if you ask any ecologist, they will tell you that the middle lattitudes of Europe and the US provide the ecologically most stable habitats for large population densities because they have an abundance of water and fast healing vegetation. Even very crudely destoyed natural sites quickly recover under these conditions and with some landscaping even badly scarred landscapes can be restored. Reforestation, for instance, is not a battle against a harch climate but a rather straight forward exercize.

Europe has many success stories to tell and continues to heal many of its wounds that were inflicted in the 18-20th centuries. See e.g. the Ruhrgebiet in Germany which was (and still is) one of the countries centers of heavy industry. Once the cadmium, mercury, lead, oil etc. loaded layers of earth below the former industrial properties are removed, natural habitats, parks etc. can be restored and a dirty urban landscape becomes, once again, a living community for many people. Similarly the industrial channels that many European rivers have become are being restored with flood areas to support a wider variety of species.

Deserts are a completely different kind of environment which are already on the edge, even without human influence. Even small disturbances lead to irreperable harm or require much longer time scales to return to halfway natural conditions. The Arctic is even worse. There is little hope that large numbers of humans can move to these environments. There is little incentive for them to move there, either. The planet has plenty of space to accomodate people in areas which are ecologically stable and can support them.

The central problem with human overpopulation is that once large areas get destroyed by the local population, the same people (have no choice but to) move on and continue destroying neigboring areas without reflecting of what went wrong and how it can be avoided. Usually "the return on destruction" of these events is very poor (see logging) and few, if any, of the people responsible for these ecological catastrophies reap much of a reward.

In contrast, inhabitants of Europe and North America have been able to earn a steady (and steadily growing) income from the areas they altered for their economic needs. The reasons for this very obvious difference are well understood and are all related to us taking less out of these eco-systems than they can produce. Modern agriculture is, after all, nothing but the application of science to the problem of keeping top soil in good shape for the next seasons. Neither deserts, rainforests nor the Arctic allow such an approach as far as we know.

If you take a look at e.g. Singapore, you can (still) see responsible use of limited space. The people there live in highrise buildings but large fractions of the city are (still) set aside for parks, nature preserves, botanical gardens, the zoo etc.. The resulting urban environment is very enjoyable and certainly a much better solution than the suburban sprawl in the US where cheapshot develpers are giving millions of people a blueprint copy home which is poorly designed, boring as hell and has no other cultural environment than the copycat mall next to which it was built. Singapore, by the way, is a city in constant development, but the developers are simply upgrading the existing highrise buildings with new replacements. It is a vertical, not a horizontal upgrade. One can only hope that the Chinese (and the US?) will learn something from these excellent examples of urban architecture.

Coming back to the deserts areas of the US: certainly the best possible use for many of them would be for energy generation. Areas with low ecological potential which have already been destroyed by human activity (see e.g. the area around Las Vegas) can be used to produce copious amounts of solar energy without risking further habitat destruction for many species. The energy can then be transmitted through power lines to areas which can support much, much larger human population densitities without risking their complete ecological destruction. Or so the theory goes... in practice, of course, Americans seem to prefer destroying a pristine area over making more efficient use of those places they already occupy. At least the current generation of Americans does. Let's hope their children and grandchildren will know better.

INFINITE, surprise me, please.

As people toss at you WRT Solar Electric, over and over again.. "Nope. This idea has nothing to show.." (and if you were answering the point of the question..) "It does not contain tbe silver bullet I want, and thus has no Silver BB's to concern yourself with."

as you said on or about line one..
"But an approach to better living for 10 billion people on earth it is not. "

You produce thousands of words proclaiming that such and such is ImPOSSIBLE. It's a conversation killer, a buzz-harshing seemingly for it's own sake. Try an experiment and look for the things in a proposal that DO look like possibilities. It's where I think these vital BB's are Hiding.

I'm finding your tag increasingly non-credible, even though I know you and I do support many of the same BB's. I think PV should be a universal, contributer (not all, just PART), mainly installed right at the point of use, so Rooftops are my first choice (Incl Factories, Stores, etc..).. Then, it's getting hit with minimal Line-losses, and can double as a home's Roofing material, reducing that absurd use of Asphalt and the throwing away of all tbat door to door Energy, right before it got to you.

"The planet has plenty of space to accomodate people in areas which are ecologically stable and can support them." I'm glad to hear it (Trust, but Verify), just as I'm glad that there is plenty of sulight to power everything. It's just a matter of going from here to there. Piece of Cake.. you'll just leave the details of that to everyone else? That is what this is.. What are some mechanisms and designs for backfitting current communities where SO MANY people live? There are ideas, there are ways to learn how to improve our model-community while we start to change.

It's worth looking at anyone who is working on Living Area, Water Use, and basic Community Design, basic community leadership. Nobody expects a finished plan to spring forth from one individual or type of experiment.

By the way. How do you define "Ecologically Stable"?

One of my concerns is that up here in the Fecund and Fertile Northeast, we might have to deal with an unexpected shift to something more like Desert conditions. If that's the case, I want us to have generated a bunch of 'Last-minute best-sellers' that will have studied, tested and compiled every little scheme we can Possibly Scheme up.

Johnny Trek "It's a crazy plan.. but it just might work!"

Finite Patience

Central Europe is mostly ecologically stable and can be made into a fully sustainable environment as the past shows. There are problems with the bork beetle and such but they are managable and they are being managed. To keep agricultural production stable has been a managable task, so far, but then, there have been enormous investments made in the past in water supplies etc.. I don't see that changing in areas where people are planning _responsibly_.

Much of the US Midwest, of course, is living on borrowed time as long as it power mines its aquifers like geological treasure troves. Peak water is just as much a reality as peak oil. That is not the fault of the environment but the fault of the people living there and of everyone else who wants to eat cheap steak every other day. If a place only supports switchgrass really well, but could support switchgras really well for centuries, well, switchgras is probably what you are supposed to grow there... I believe we have a lot of ecologists who can tell us all about these things by now. And if as a result of listening to rational planners my steak will be twice as expensive, I will get a larger side of potatoes with it and live just as well. I think that, too, is a fair statement, isn't it?

WTF? Bark beetles are chowing down right around the high latitudes of this planet wherever there are conifers. Managed? Dream on. Management is performed by cold weather, which is not forthcoming.

The ecological stability of Central Europe is a phantasm purely of your imagining. If nothing else, please see Noisette's posts right here at TOD. Central Europe is seeing extraordinarily high temps and rapid changes of all types.

Stop posting so darn much if all you do is make stuff up.

Actually, not to spend much time on infinite posting, he isn't really wrong.

That is because Central Europe has a number of people who are involved in maintaining its stability. Sure, the weather is extreme - but then, in the early 1940s, the weather in Central Europe was essentially at the level of the Little Ice Age/Maunder Minimum- people, like the world around them, also respond over the longer term.

We are still very much in the realm of 'normal extremes' - beyond that is frightening, and yes, we seem headed that way, but the variables are large, as are the effects of those variables - and a century or two is a fairly small time scale.

That things get harder is not the same as saying they are impossible - though pines have been having a hard time in my region, it is because of a storm from 1999 - and the oaks planted in the last generation, behind the now gone pines in terms of normal wind directions, have been growing well for a generation - a lot of people are cutting the excess oak to use in the next couple of years as heat - the forest is always managed as a source of fuel, around here.

Crops will be adjusted - strawberries continue to be a big bet among the local farmers looking for profit (making jam from these strawberries remains a very basic skill - my garden grows without much care at all, for a few kilos of jam a year). If strawberries don't do well, maybe the raspberries will - also in the garden - or the cherries - common in the region - or the plums - also common - or the pears - also common - or a few trees not known in the U.S. (Quitten, for example) - or peaches - not at all common - or apples - everywhere - or the blueberries - quite uncommon - or the grapes - wine or eating - both common - and so on.

Note that I am just describing my town, a completely average one. People here are very worried about climate change, as someone who is referring to hazelnuts may well be - but no one is seriously thinking people won't be able to adapt, whether in the eyes of someone who feels that planting olive trees would be very profitable in the future, to the town forester not seeming how olive trees could survive one normal winter, even if it only arrives once in decades in the future.

That so many many people in America don't see this happening is a problem for people familiar with life in Central Europe to grasp - and some of those people have little patience for explanations why something won't work, instead of just doing it since it needs to be done. (Another commenter on another thread remarked about people going out into local fields on a bicycle with long handled tools over their shoulders - this is still normal here, and likely will be for a long time - and remember, merely a century ago, they just walked, and today, they still could.

Actually, for all its flaws, the idea that solving a discrete problem is sufficient to master that problem, used to be a fairly common American perspective, too. That it has gone missing is a fascinating mystery. Ask someone from New Orleans - America seems incapable of actually responding to normal challenges, not only extraordinary ones. And yes, a major city ruined due to incompetent planning and implementation seems to be a real flaw, which as pointed out in another thread, didn't happen in the aftermath of another city, whose geographically determined location comes with earthquakes, the San Francisco of 1906. People may not have relied on 'the government,' but their society seemed capable of mastering what happened.

"INFINITE, surprise me, please."

What for? Do you really want to be surprised? I don't think so. Do I want to surprise? No. I am trying to give lines of arguments that establish mainstream engineering solutions to mainstream economic problems. The above community is no such example. It is marvelous architecture, though. A lot of urban architects could learn something there. I respect things for what they are, not for what they are not.

"You produce thousands of words proclaiming that such and such is ImPOSSIBLE."

I didn't. I said that the real solution will look a lot more like Singapore than anything in the desert. Please read my posts.

"I think PV should be a universal, contributer (not all, just PART), mainly installed right at the point of use, so Rooftops are my first choice (Incl Factories, Stores, etc..).."

So do I. I could point out GWs worth of rooftops for you in my area alone. But what I also said was that putting PV into the desert is a far cry better for the desert than to put people there. PV/thermal solar land use is a well controlled and limited operation that does some immediate damage and after that results mostly in more shade and changed local temprature profiles. How this can be made compatible with the existing natural environment is a truly important ecological research project. It is far more likely that we have a chance of making power plants compatible with the desert environment than that it will support major human settlements. Solar plants do not produce waste, don't need much water, create little polution from cars etc.. In short, if we have to touch the deserts of this planet, I would support doing it with solar technology rather than human settlements.

"Then, it's getting hit with minimal Line-losses, and can double as a home's Roofing material, reducing that absurd use of Asphalt and the throwing away of all tbat door to door Energy, right before it got to you."

I don't have an argument with you on these things. There are enormous advantages to residential solar with one exception: cost. Industrial scale solar and solar thermal facilities (which can reach much higher area efficiency at much lower cost) are not compatible with urban infrastructure. Yet, if we want to produce e.g. solar hydrogen, we will have to go industrial scale in the places with the most insolation. That, unfortunatelly, are the deserts. Don't get me wrong... somebody might just invent a dirt cheap, long lasting sextuple layer or continuous bandgap solar cell with 45-55% efficiency tomorrow... in which case industrial scale solar might be a dead technology. But I am a realist and I don't see that happening. What I see is that we will have a mix of different technologies. Much will be residential with all the advantages and disadvantages of local power generation. But a lot of it will be happening in fragile environments and we need to be prepared to answer the questions of how much we are willing to invest to keep those places alive while we are extracting energy.

"It's just a matter of going from here to there. Piece of Cake.. you'll just leave the details of that to everyone else?"

The details are ugly high voltage power lines. Some of them are already there and there will be more of them. Other solutions are pipelines for chemicals and steam. Some of those are also already there... and there will be more. I am not a frequent hiker but I have hit on three or four water, gas and oil pipelines in my life while hiking in areas where I would never have dreamed of finding one.

Look, I am a physicist, all I need to do to inform myself about the solutions is to go to the library and get the textbooks on power lines, pipelines, steam transmission etc.. None of this is rocket science. Our engineers know how to do these things. And we know that on the scale of what is needed none of this can be hidden easily or cheaply. Reality is what it is and I acknowledge that. I do not go around selling a car that runs on water or that mythical free energy device.

For the same reason I do not dream of a city on the hill in the desert. I know it does not work for any realistic number of people. But I also know that the public transportation system in Singapore works just fine and that one can live comfortably on the 20th floor of a highrise building and enjoy the walk in any one of the three beautiful parks that are only minutes of walking distance away.

"What are some mechanisms and designs for backfitting current communities where SO MANY people live?"

In the US? Raise the population density, for one thing. McMansions are very inefficient in retaining heat in the winter and staying cold in the summer. You get the same effect from living sandwiched between two other heated/air conditioned floors that you get from the very best insulation materials. It is a no-brainer why heating and cooling in New York city is so much less costly than it is out on the farm. The New Yorker needs a heck of a lot less energy than the person who lives in the middle of nowhere. McMansions are responsible for much of our suburban traffic, too. I understand that the schools out there are supposed to be better. What I don't understand is why we can't fix our urban environments. People in Europe and all over Asia certainly can.

"Nobody expects a finished plan to spring forth from one individual or type of experiment."

No. But that does not mean the US is anywhere close to the standards in other continents, either. What you fail to acknowledge is that we are way behind the status quo. We do not need to look for new solutions because we are already failing to use the existing ones.

As a final word: this settlement is (probably) a great example of how things should be. Las Vegas, on the other hand, is an example of how things really are.

I hope this is not too controversial a statement for you?

Not controversial, just simplistic.

Las Vegas is how one, very extreme US city is. It may be exemplary of the problems, but it is at the far end. Portland, OR is not, or Missoula, MT. It is not 'How things really are', and is exactly the kind of overstated universal that you pepper your posts with.

"What you fail to acknowledge is that we are way behind the status quo."
When? This is exactly what I fault with your arguments all the time. You say "There's enough Solar", but kind of shrug off the amount of work/politics/communications/public support required to get it going. "It's solved" "It's no big problem" - What do we need to do to get that industry fired up? Where is the new Polysilicon production coming from? Shouldn't we be getting in on that one in a huge way? There are bottlenecks all around that are hampering just this one, very simple technology.. it's not all Physics, or ugly grid additions.

But didn't you just say yourself that we are not "Anywhere close to the Standards in other Continents.." That's the problem, but you fold over on yourself and say an oil downslide is not a big deal. (Sorry, can't link to it..)

Bah, humbug. I have a flu.. I'm done.

Hi IP,

I appreciate this exchange here, as with most TOD conversation.

My questions: Re: "We do not need to look for new solutions because we are already failing to use the existing ones."

--What are the existing solutions "we" are failing to use?
--Who is the "we"?
--How can we stop not using them and begin to use them?
--What steps can "we" here (us) take as part of this larger "we"?

Hi Jk/Bob,

Re: "...basic community leadership"

I thought I'd take this opportunity to put in a plug for what looks to me to be a very nice silver BB, (seems still quite unnoticed outside the local area, other than by your truly who thinks what they are doing is one of the most amazingly positive things happening anywhere...) And that is:

The basic set-up is:
1) A "civilian" coordinator can be hired, apparently fairly easily via funding from http://www.citizencorps.gov/. Why "civilian"? To find someone skilled in organizing and promoting community, who is free to devote lots of (hopefully creative) time to it.
2) This style of CERT, very literally "neighbors helping neighbors" and (if you read the newsletters) having fun doing it, brings together people from very diverse groups, or, I could say - cuts across many lines and gives people a common framework to relate and the means to do it.
3) Provides opportunities to, for example, teenagers and teaches them skills and a role, for example.
4) Anyone can take the initiative to get this program going in his/her community, as far as I understand it.

Very good point about community response and the value of community coordination. (BTW Ashland is a nice town)

Having worked as a volunteer EMT in our local volunteer fire dept. I can attest to the important community spirit that these kinds of organizations can create.

Many, many times on TOD I've seen the assertion that any 'solutions' we come up with for dealing with declining energy availability have more to deal with human social and political factors than those of the physics of energy. So, community cooperation is a good direction in which to steer the conversation.

care to enlighten me on you 'community solution' for growth, to tell them you must limit how many kids you have(if any)?
for those people who simply will not work with you because they think your nuts and use as much energy as they darn well please?
for those who would rather take you down with them?

Objection, Argumentative.
No, Kaiser, why don't you suggest yours? Population is a problem, but that's not what they're talking about..

ET said "I can attest to the important community spirit that these kinds of organizations can create." - What is your problem with this? Since we are overpopulated for a coming time when the race cannot count on the energy crutches that got us this big, do you have some kind of resistance to making sure that communities are at least functioning together?

The percentage of 'joiners' is often far too small.. of course there are people out there who won't or can't find it in themselves to sign up or show up.. all you can do is work to A)Improve that Ratio, and B)Have Plans, Skills and Tools in place to divert as much of a disaster as possible. You are doing it for 'them' as much as 'us'.. and if it works, it stems the next stages of repercussions as well as the initial complications. Not all, just as many as possible.. This is one of the
'ounces of prevention'.

Thanks for responding, TK,

It sounds like you've hit on two important things:
1) Population growth and
2) Communication. (And how to respond to people who do not respond positively to your efforts to connect with them.)

I'd encourage you to keep thinking along these lines, much as Bob suggests. I've been pondering the necessity to link population/Jeavon's paradox solutions with any technological or "hard" design type solution. For example, a 55mph speed limit is immediately doable; it's been done. This addresses conservation. To me, any kind of energy policy needs to cover *and* link solutions in all three categories.

And yes, I'd be happy to share some "community solutions": Let me just give a couple for now:

My suggestion for 1) Was inspired by comments back around Nov. 21 regarding population. My suggestion is to fully support and fund the full legal rights of women and children. More specifically, this means, to fully fund and support such things as community shelters (for victims of spousal abuse), and women's rights, to name just two.

There are many organizations one can support, by doing things as simple as 5 minutes per week online. For example, www.aiusa.org. Women's legal rights and education is fundamental to addressing population growth. (I'd like to write more about this later.)In fact, some people see it as just about the entire solution.

There is also a personal and "immediately doable" element to this. Namely, if one is male, try to understand and empathize with the experience of females, esp. in regard to what it must be like to be, for example, in the category of those who are molested as children. What it might feel like, for example, to be seen *only* as an object. http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/specific/fs_child_sexual_abuse.html

On the communication aspect. There are some really remarkable skills one can learn. Check out www.cnvc.org and www.gordontraining.org. for examples. There are articles on those websites with examples that illustrate the point.

Thanks, Aniya.
Great Links, they went directly into my 'Community Energy Loss Solutions' Folder, and remind me to find out how I can be involved in our Emergency MGMT programs here in Cumberland County. (I save a lot of HTML with useful data in it, as I'm never that confident that the site ~or the web~ will still be there if I want to see it again!)

We have a lot of distress in our population in Portland and in Maine. (Poverty, Mental Health, Addictions) There are some great cultural attributes here, and some really hard ones, so the need to have some stronger links formed is going to be invaluable. I am involved with a group that is working to create closer ties between neighbors with Cleanup Days, Picnics, Potlucks and 'TimeDollar' Exchanges, but like anything that asks people to get outdoors and meet their neighbors, it fights against TV, VideoGames, Internet and our now habitual distance from those who live closest to us. But I hope I can start to see programs that will give my neighbors and I some useful work and training to do together that can upstage class, race, age, gender or personality differences and give us some common ground again. We have some parks, but we don't hang out together in them.. yet.


Hi Bob,
RE: appropriate basic items for third-worlders.
I once talked to someone who had travelled a bit in the poorest parts of Africa and they said the most requested items were plastic buckets and ballpoint pens. I though it an interesting combination.

Haul water, write letters.

In a case of life imitating art (the art being the documentary "Why we fight"), a retired general, who is now a defense industry analyst, was on CNBC this morning, talking in almost ecstatic terms about the money that is being spent, and that will be spent, by the US Defense Department.

He said that the US military is running through munitions and equipment while deployed in the Middle East at nine times the rate they do while in the US, and he said that all signs pointed to an upcoming confrontation with Iran.

In response to a question from a CNBC host, he said that it was a case of a rising tide lifting all boats, in that all defense contractors were going to benefit from the current and future fighting. My wife and I had exactly the same response to this--it's case of all defense contractors benefitting from a rising tide of American and Middle Eastern blood.

In my Air Force cadet days, our commandant, a colonel, gave a lecture on the "war benefits the economy" idea. He thought it was ridiculous. He said if the theory were correct, we should just build planes, ships, guns, ammo, tanks, etc, then sink them to the bottom of the sea. That way, we could boost the economy without killing anyone.

All wars are ultimately fought for economic reasons, from plunder and slaves to resource and territory control. All other proffered reasons be they religious or ideologic are simply cover. A war may benefit or bankrupt an economy depending on its outcome, i.e. the P&L statement at its end. Iraq I was very profitable. Iraq II is deeply in the red, so far (in both senses, unfortunately).

So true. The U.S. military does not defend American territory, it wages war for almost purely economic reasons. At one time the Secretary of Defense used to be called the Secretary of War - that seems more fitting.

As an aside, I can't help but think about my cousin who is a retired Air Force colonel. He was assigned the task of designing and overseeing bombing raids for a military operation during the Clinton administration. He was so horrified by what he witnessed and learned during this period that he decided to retire despite the fact that he was apparently being groomed to be put on a fast track for promotion.

As soon as he retired he bought a large parcel of land and became a farmer. He has said it would be too dangerous to own or use a computer, access the internet, or have a cell phone. Every year men from various agencies pay a visit to his home to remind him he must never talk about his work in the Air Force. Several years ago he told my sister that he wished our entire family could move close by so he could protect us when things got rough. We still have no idea what he was referring to.

The military appears to have a culture and operating system (esp. at the highest levels of authority) very far removed from what most of us identify as American society. As a former military doc, my husband has tried to explain this dichotomy. It seems impossible to try use our standards of logic to understand a system that operates on an entirely different world view than our own.


Several years ago he told my sister that he wished our entire family could move close by so he could protect us when things got rough. We still have no idea what he was referring to.

Pick up and read the first couple of chapters in "Alas Babylon" and it is almost your cousin said word for word (or deed for deed).


"All wars are ultimately fought for economic reasons,..."

Is that why the oil price will have to go to $1000/barrel before we can recoupe our "investment" in Iraq?

I think the idea that wars are being fought for a single reason is a very dangerous one, politically. It does not allow you to correctly judge an enemy that acts out of religious or ideological reasons or simply because of mental insanity. You certainly would have misjudged Hitler and the Nazi party in WWII. You will certainly misjudge Iran and North Korea. None of these countries had or have anything to gain economically from going to war or even from preparing for war. They are not acting out of a well understood economic imperative. Neither does the US. There are certainly economic components there, but they are all related to the micro-economics of forces within the country which want to syphon off the procedes of their own people. In none of these cases will a war profit the country as a whole. In all of these cases do war and preparations for war weaken these countries economically and politically. Just look at the US with open eyes. The costs of this war are staggering and nobody in their right mind assumes that we will recover from it in less than two decades.

You miss an obvious point, namely that the massive costs of war are socialized, but the very large profits are private. Where private concerns that may profit from war have decisive influence on the political process, then war is more likely than otherwise. And this is particularly pertinent to the US. Ike didn't refer to the military-industrial complex for nothing. IIRC, Marx said that on balance the British Empire probably didn't turn a profit, but that didn't matter, for the foregoing reasons. The public pays the costs, but the loot is private.

Sure, the Iraq war will cost Americans generally a fortune, and will probably destroy the illusion of US military power once and for all (something completely unanticipated by people convinced of US omnipotence by several generations of Hollywood BS and largely fictional accounts of WWII, but hey - against stupidity the gods themselves etc.). But if you hold the right stocks, who gives a ****?

Your colonel was on to something. John Maynard Keynes pointed out that the pyramids were marvelous public works programs--did not involve warfare, could always build more of them, created massive employment. He went on to point out that if there was no better way to create jobs in a depression, the government could hire people to dig holes in the ground, bury bottles of money and then dig them up. Of course, he advocated infrastructure public works, which made a lot more sense than pyramids or burying bottles of money, but the point is that deficit spending can indeed create employment (and with multiplier effects) when there is much idle labor.

Without the fiscal stimulus of the huge Iraq-war budget deficits, we'd likely have been in recession a year or two ago.

While the money spent is "interesting", the FOSSIL FUELS spent waging war is my primary concern. Something I seldom seem to see mentioned here at the, ahem, Oil Drum. We can play all the games we want with the benefits of wartime deficit spending, but we know around here that the real problems in the world stem from shrinking energy supplies. So, regardless of the rationality of killing people for oil, burning up loads of irreplacable fossil fuels in the process is clearly the height of irrationality.
Which I guess explains why it makes so much sense in "purely economic terms".

The idea that wars stimulate the economy is ancient and may go back to the Trojan Wars.

The insight that deficit spending by government could have benefits during depression dates (for all intents and purposes) to 1936.

N.B.: Keynes did NOT advocate running chronic budget deficits. He thought that in most years (say nine out of ten) governments should run small surpluses in their budgets, but in the tenth year (or whenever) if the economy nosedived, then there should be vigorous increases in government spending or tax cuts. Regardless of oil crises, this insight remains valid.

The huge structural unemployment that will result from Peak Oil will, however, not be helped by countercyclical budgeting. In my opinion, the main pain from Peak Oil in rich economies is going to be structural unemployment--and to the best of my knowledge there is zero research by economists or political scientists on this topic of the probably soaring rates of structural unemployment.

Maybe we can just draft all the unemployed and set them to guarding our borders;-)

It strikes me that this sort of 'prime the pump' economic manipulations are fine for getting the economy going, but will only work if there is a large enough resource base from which to draw. In the approaching Malthusian conditions, we might very well have conditions unprecedented on a global scale in which any localized resource surpluses quickly get sucked up. After significant decline in energy supplies and other critical resources such as topsoil and water, any economic stimulant is going to be like giving a shot of adrenalin to a cadaver expecting it to get up and dance.

Having said that, such economic manipulations could be engineered in such a way as to more equitably distribute the shrinking pie. The unlikelihood of this happening is my primary reason for feeling pessimistic. I believe there will actually be enough resources for reasonably comfortable living (maybe 15% of US consumption or thereabouts) but that this won't happen because the current trends of rich getting richer and fewer and poor getting poorer and more numerous, will continue.

Remember the economy didn't need 9/11 to slump, the dot-com crash did that, and it was looking really bad in 2000. To me it looked like we needed a war to start things up again, and sure enough, our Pearl Harbor and our war have happened, haven't they?

And Keynes is right, we could put our war dollars into massive public works, here and abroad, and it would be better than war - it would get the economy going, and benefit a lot of people. However, if you're a Malthusian that's not necessarily a good thing.

Keynes is right, and another great mind - Chomsky - has pointed out why it isn't done. Spending the money on public goods rather than on war has the unfortunate consequence of empowering the masses. For example, you could spend all the money that the US wastes on the military to provide free health care, free education, a decent welfare system, just to start.

What happens then? No one has to pay off student debt, or pay for health insurance, or even hold down a job at all if they think the wages aren't worth it. Employer power declines accordingly. And we can't have that, can we?

So military spending allows for Keynesian results but without the corresponding social benefits. Americans stay dumb, and in thrall to their bosses. The natural order, and the way things must stay.

Of course, I am not an economist, but I have noticed that in the current very low-energy economies (Nepal,etc.) that many,many people are employed performing activities that currently are oil-powered in developed countries. In roadless Nepal, porter is perhaps the most common job description after farmer. Human labor is transporting goods instead of fossil fuel.

I agree that the transition from fossil fuel abundance will likely cause unemployment as autoworkers and gas station attendants are laid off, but won't the need to replace all the "labor-saving" oil-powered systems result in a huge demand for labor? Instead of $250K tractor/combines, maybe field-workers with hoes will be needed by the millions (certainly millions worldwide already work fields with manual labor).

Some science-fiction novels have teams of human slaves yoked up to tow the gasless SUVs around. Being more of an agnostic about future prospects, I don't expect that future, but even today the economic trade-off between automation and human labor is highly dependent on fuel costs.

In roadless Nepal I watched crowds of women making gravel by hitting rocks with hammers all day long, so that the Lukla runway could be extended. I am sure they used human labor instead of explosives and machines simply because it was the cheaper alternative.

I think this is something that those who scoff at the idea of going back to human power often miss. It's true that a tractor is more efficient. But if you have a lot of people without jobs, and you have to feed them anyway...

Except for science fiction writers I know of nobody seriously examining the problems of coming structural unemployment.

The classic novel in this vein of inquiry is "Player Piano" by Kurt Vonnegut, but there have been scores of others.

None of the fictional solutions seem plausible to me, with the possible exception of mobilizing as we did in World War II and giving all economic power to a central authority that decides, What is to be produced, How it is to be produced, and For Whom (i.e. the income distribution problem).

The mental constipation of most of my fellow economists makes me reluctant to identify myself as one. The tunnel vision on growth as the solution to all other questions . . . ugh. Grump.


Im a huge fan of yours and I wanted to ask some econ questions that might not be relevant to TOD, but wanted to get some insight into some econ questions I've had as a finance major. Can I PM these to you?

I'm also a Finance major with an M.B.A. in that area but have more than 300 graduate credits beyond the M.B.A. in six different disciplines. Feel free to e-mail me.

However, to make things relevant to TOD, I've found that it helps to mention "Peak Oil" or "Global Warming" about every third paragraph, in case you'd like to stay public;-)

Hi Leanan. You wrote:

"It's true that a tractor is more efficient"

It depends on what you mean by efficiency. If you mean "output per hour of labor (or dollar)", then the answer is yes. If you mean output per unit of energy.... You get the picture.

The tractor is much more effecient - for making money for Ford or other tractor manufacturers, for getting $ out of the farmer for tractor fuel and tractor repairs, for compacting the earth which means the land is "played out" much sooner and the same owning class that owns tractor factories and dealerships tends to own the new land the farmer needs to buy.........

This is really getting crazy. Everything is one big conspiracy.

Of course Ford wants to make a profit and from the farmer. Sheessshhhh.

Of course you compact the land when you roll over it.Again Sheesssshhh.

Get some new material. This is stale.Where do you get all this nonsense from anyway?

Every single word you stated can be applied almost directly to every product manufactured and marketed.

So what?

Soil compaction is a known problem, farmer-boy.

Perhaps I should elaborate, sit down, take a pinch of Skoal and read: There are essentially two models of farming. One is the small, yes generally organic, type of farm described in the book Better Off by a guy named Bremse or something, and the other is the giant corporate monoculture farm. Yes, I am talking with food in my mouth since I of course am part of the overshoot the corporate factory-farm has made possible. But the corporate model does involve selling lot of equipment and fertilizers, etc to the factory-farmer. Henry Ford, for instance, of course favored this type of farming because it sells tractors. Read the book Better Off sometime, very good productivity and a pretty darned good life, farming using humans and horses.

One very wise poster on a forum somewhere on Teh Internets said: When we could live like hobbits, why do we choose to live like The Borg?

When we could live like hobbits, why do we choose to live like The Borg?

That's a wonderful quotation.

But the answer is that we didn't choose it. "The Borg" is a form of life that emerged independently on several occasions, always competing with other forms of collective life -- hunter-gatherer bands, herding, primitive agriculture of various forms.

And unlike what many Drummers think, "The Borg", this Gigabeast, is one tough entity.

The quote's not mine, and indeed, it's a good one.

And I agree, very very few of we individuals chose to live like The Borg. Or did we? Is every choice to have a hot shower or an iPod a choice for the Borg? Are the Amish and serious Buddhists and Sadhus some of the very very few of us not choosing the Borg?

Are the Amish and serious Buddhists and Sadhus some of the very very few of us not choosing the Borg?

Those Amish and Buddhists are in many ways dependent on the Borg for the way they live.

But, I agree, the Borg is not in their heads like it is in most of ours. We are Borg.

Is every choice to have a hot shower or an iPod a choice for the Borg?

Probably a little. But in my view, though they are definitely a minority, there lots of folks who live their lives without lending it much support.

There are lots of folks who live without lending it their support - you are corret in the normal meaning of "lots", more than 1000 or so. The remaining traditional-living !Kung, the Sadhus in India, random true simple living types in the US and here and there, but what I mean is, many of us pay lip service to hating the Borg, but sell our souls, literally our life-energy (as that authors of the book Your Money Or Your Life put it) to the Borg.

Do you drive a car? Do you use the Internet? Do you have a phone? Electric lights? Computer? Radio you didn't build yourself? In fact, do you use electricity at all? If you do any of these things and I know I do, we are part of the Borg.

So, the vast majority of us are, at best, acting like the fat lady ordering enough food to feed 3 construction workers then ordering a diet soda because "we're on a diet". Consciously saying "Oh, no, Borg, not me....." and in reality devoting most of our life-energy to the Borg.

Yes, we are definitely on the same page here. The vast majority are as you say.

But a few months ago an article in the New York Times jumped out at me. It said that a large number of able bodied men in the US were unemployed but not looking for work. And it wasn't because they had given up.

As an extreme example, the article said that 25% of male West Virginians (30 - 54 years old) were not working. Yet the unemployment rate was more like 5%.

ie. 20% were not looking for work.

I have a friend, a manager in a large corporation who has spent time there recently on business. From what he reports, a lot of those folks are most definitely *not* giving most of their life-energy to the Borg!! Not by a long shot!

We are all part of it, of course. But millions are not feeding or supporting it that much. Some are pretty good at sucking life from it!!

Anthropologists say we tend to substantially overestimate how homogeneous modern life-styles are.

I've personally spent some time trolling around the cultural margins of my home metropolis. And I think they are right.

i agree, even in a society that is dominated by the car today, there are goods that are being transported by scooter, bike or foot (the mailman still rides by on his bike every day here).

Living in Antwerp i have from time to time thought about this, if i assume that in the long run oil prices will continue to rise, and given the increasing congestion problems we have here, i can see how these forms of transportation will make more economic sence, and start to grow.

i do not however believe that these changes will happen voluntarily, only after some serious pain in the current transportation industry do i expect to see such a change.

like is often said around here (i'll try to translate it from dutch) the problem is not that there are no jobs, the problem is people don't want to work anymore. being a bike courrier, garbage-man or mailman, these jobs are fround upon and considered inferior to a real 'deskjob'. the problem is the mentality of the society, and only with pain does something like that change.

Wolfie, the average American is paying about $8500 a year to own a car (AAA figures). That's about $13000 pre-tax. I often imagine that sooner or later, especially in cases where the American in question is too old/fat/ill to drive safely or comfortably, they merely pay that $500 a month for a fulltime porter. Let 'em live in the "granny cottage" out back or the converted garage, and they go around on a bicycle and do the shopping, errends, etc. For $500 a month.

$500 a month and a roof over your head is something a lot of Americans already dream of. How many bicycle messengers do much better?

I myself am seriously considering moving to a different occupation and place to live that will be based on being able to bring in only about $500 a month, in about a year, no not bicycle messenger - I'm too old I think. But it will involve really cutting back and trying to live like a human being again - no internet unless I use a cafe's internet once in a while, no computer, no phone, I'll basically go back to how I lived when I was trying to get through college but appreciate it this time.

Fleam, very interesting, there seems to be big differences between Europe and the US on this.

u talk of making 500$ a month, here in Belgium the social security system garantees that almost everyone gets at least 750 EUR a month as a vital minimal income (hard to translate). a car costing 8500$ a year on average, i don't know the numbers here for owning a car, but thats 6 months net income for me, very surprising, since we have around 5 million registered cars on a population of 10-11 million (we probably come close to one car for every working adult). it must cost a lot less.

ofcourse we have much higher income taxes and the fact that we are a small country probably also makes a very big difference. all in all in the US the gap between the "have's" and "have not's" seems to be much larger. we have a more socialist way i guess.

"but racial quotas are strongly in effect" i rarely hear of this problem here, if someone from a turkish, polish, marokkan or whatever origin would apply to a one of those 'lesser' jobs they would get the same treatement as a pure bread 'antwerpenaar', it's just that most of us Belgians feel to good to do them. i am not proud about this btw.

as for cutting back, personally i try to have a budhist lifestyle, my moto is "try to be happy with less" (i currently live of less then 1/4th of my income). no booze, no sigs and no car are good tips :-)

Wolfie - yes, cars are expensive - you probably don't have everyone owning one, and those who do are either relatively wealthy, share expenses, etc - norm in the US is for each family member to have a car once old enough, it's nuts.

Also, here the quota system is such that, imagine there, the "antwerpenaar" would not be allowed to get the job.

Sorry , double post so...... let me observe that here in the US, lots of "antwerpenaar" work at low-paying jobs because it's all they can get. It's a very strange thing, because you have these people who are white but older, and were able to buy a house and do well in the old days, and they are "sitting pretty" as we say, but the younger people who are white, unless they have rich parents backing them up, find themselves on the "lease desirable" list for hiring. So, you have to be very creative, and willing to work harder, and you'll get paid less anyway.

The best things for you are something like sports, some talent like music and that could be anything from becoming a popular musician to tap-dancing on the streets, or something independent like washing windows or doing handy-work or something. Or sell stuff at the swapmeet, etc.

Oh and PS - a lot of Americans would love to work as postman, there are even ads in the newspapers and magazines promising to tell how to get such a job, but racial quotas are strongly in effect in the US and most of the people who'd like that career and traditionally went into it, are not allowed to get jobs in it.

If you respond to those ads, the first thing they ask for is a credit card number.

Oh yeah, I've never responded to one, but there are many white, working-class folks who'd love to work in the Post Office or many other gov't jobs, who'd love to just have a job cleaning the local park, but those quotas.......can't get around 'em.

But that those ads flourish is pretty good evidence that there's a large, shut-out segment of the population who'd be perfectly happy shuffling mail or picking up trash at the local fishin' hole, and it's not that they're lazy, they're not, they end up doing jobs as hard or harder, for less pay, because of the quotas.

That no one is responding to your fictions about racial quotas is probabbly due to your loss of readers.

"Probabbly" racial quotas were a fiction during the 50s and 60s when you grew up, but they're no fiction now.

The US has enormous structural deficits. Its suburban infrastructure is highly inefficient in dealing with future energy efficiency challenges, its transportation infrastructure relies on cheap hydrocarbons, its schools are lousy and we need to replace 90% of our cars with more efficient ones.

I think there is an enormous demand to put people to work to fix all these areas of life. I therefor wonder why this structural unemployment should be occuring. Its not like we don't have tons of stuff that needs to be done. For the $300 billion we spent in 2006 on the Iraq war we could employ 6 million people at $50k/year and for their tax contributions we could employ a couple million more. That is a significant fraction of the work force. I think if someone is given the choice between being blown up in Baghdad and building more energy efficient homes and cars, they would probably chose the latter.

But maybe I am wrong. Maybe dying in war is fun, for some. And maybe the American way of life is not imaginable without a large and mostly useless military that can be taken for a joyride once in a while. Hooray! and Semper Fi!

Escalation and Accidental Military Keynesianism


Does anyone actually think it's accidental any more?

It benefits the ruling class if they LOOK like idiots, but they are not idiots. I think the subject of yesterday's Drumbeat was how the rulers know what's going on regarding peak oil and overshoot, and global warming too.

The pyramids were built for one reason only: to resurrect the pharao. They are probably comparable to Europe's Cathedrals and the moon landing program of the US: it's all about self-aggrandizing rulers trying to set a momement for themselves.

Had the same amount of GDP been spent more wisely, Egypt could have made far more progress than it has over the millenia of its existence. If you look at it technologically, Egyptians achieved a highly specialized skillset of cutting and moving large stones and then even that knowledge collapsed rapidly to a point where they could not even understand anymore how they had done it. The knowledge they had was not useful for anything but the building of temples, which, in the end, is not a particularly insightful way of spending your life. You can find many other examples of similar nature. Angkor Wat is one example of a similar accomplishment with a similar outcome.

I.P., check your facts.

The pyramids were built primarily as public works projects to redistribute income. Contrary to popular belief, they were not built by slave labor, but by labor hired and paid for by Pharoh's priestly bureaucracy--bureaucrats who knew precisely what they were doing.

All the immortality stuff was just public relations; the priests knew better, and they also knew that the huge surpluses in Pharoh's treasury had to be redistributed to keep the Kingdom prosperous.

"The pyramids were built primarily as public works projects to redistribute income."

I am sure that economists will use the "since all I have is a hammer, everything looks like an anvil to me" method gladly for any purpose they want. But sadly there is very little written history in Egypt to support your theory that they had such intentions. But I am sure you have identified a chapter in the "Pyramid Texts", "The Coffin Texts" and the "Book of the Dead" that will indicate none of this was actually religious and all of it was just a giant social program? If so, please enlighten all of us.

Oh, and while you are at it, I bet you can prove that the Pope does not really believe in God but in reality is only interested in re-distributing the income of the rich to the poor. And the Dalai Lama is really a social worker, not a spiritual leader and teacher.

Good luck to you.


I rely upon the work of eminent historians.

Does the name "Breasted" mean anything to you?

Do you mean James Henry Breasted (August 27, 1865–December 2, 1935)?
His life obviously overlaps with that of John Maynard Keynes (5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946).

I wonder if that is a coincidence? I wonder if they shared some ideas in general? I wonder if that appeals to you? After all, wouldn't it be great if EVERYTHING in life could be explained by ONE overarching economic principle that transcends the millenia and was knows to everyone, including copper age and maybe even stone age people long, long before Mr. Keynes ever wrote a word about it?

But I suppose you have a bunch of more recent historians who support the idea that the pyramids were Keynesian public works projects?

I also doubt that it matters that recent archeological astronomy supports the idea that the stars Mizar (Zeta Ursa Majoris) and Kochab (Beta Ursa Minoris) might have been used to align the Great Pyramid with the heavens? I mean... if we spend so much money to employ a bunch of losers who don't have a farm, why not do it in such a way that the result points to a very special point in the heavens? And all of that despite the fact that we don't really believe in resurrection and all that crap we did to our dead... now it suddendly all makes perfect sense to me. How could I not have seen the obvious? Next time I go to the British Museum and stand in front of the Pharao, I will let him know that we have discovered his secret: he was a Keynesian Humanitarian!


Had the same amount of GDP been spent more wisely, Egypt could have made far more progress than it has over the millenia of its existence.

I think this is utter rubbish. Egypt was already, for its time, a highly advanced and wealthy society, and it lasted for thousands of years. What, pray tell, were they supposed to 'spend more wisely' upon? We are talking about a place that didn't even care about the Iron Age. Your intuitive ideas of profitable investment mean nothing in this context. From the history and culture of Egypt, I think we can conclude that the rulers did spend extremely wisely indeed, so much so that the society could afford extravagances such as the Pyramids, and easily.

Someone once called you 'Infinite Postings', and with good reason. I wish you would shut up where you know little or nothing about the subject concerned. I wager I am not alone in this sentiment.

you're not alone in this sentiment
in fact if I had realized you were responding to ip I wouldn't have stopped to read your post

An alternative to spending hundreds billions on weapons is to spend hundreds of billions on public transportation, schools, medical research, ect...

Ah, but how are all those defense contractors going to buy their rolls royces!!! They have gold plated toilets to be installed, come on, that's important shit!

Testudo, Vegan ..... that's assuming our rulers are Keynesian but not Malthusian. But I think the evidence supports their being both Keynesian AND Malthusian. Therefore, eternal war to keep the economy going, and to cut down excessive numbers.

Whether it benefits the whole economy is one question, such as, is the cost of securing remaining Middle East oil worth it, and of course that's certainly a loaded question. In all history this is case by case, as for what you put in to what you get out.

Does a war economy in the US for the past fifty years help certain sectors, it's not even debatable. Do the industries helped have undue influence in DC, without question. Has it been good for the entire US economy, certainly not, as we're on the road to bankruptcy, whether you want to say we're doing it for oil, terrorism, democracy, or the real answer -- plain idiocy - have a nice day.

"...or the real answer -- plain idiocy..."

Somebody actually gets it! Brutus, you made my day. Thank you.

Maybe the unintended benefit of the Iraq "war" is not securing the oil for the present, which is the case, they have what 25% production. The benefit is delaying the oil production into the future.

I seriously doubt that was the plan, Cheney & Co and buddies want the money now, not for their grandkids.

Perhaps the data is somewhat dated but as I recall a study by the Quakers back in the 80s showed that every billion dollar increase in defense spending reduced total employment by 2,000 jobs. Perhaps it's because periods of proportionally higher defense spending result in higher budget deficiets thereby driving up interest rates. Higher interest rates restrict business activity and therefore restrict employment. Additionally defense industries have higher % of highly skilled, high pay workers who invest their higher incomes foreign manufacturers, jewelry, art works, and Cayman Island banks.

The Quaker's must have thrown out all the data from 1940 to 1945.

What's another few billion among friends?

Ironically, I work for a defence contractor. The reason I have a job in this field today
is to design upgrades to equipment that has been damaged in Iraq and has been returned to
be reworked.

However, if you are a halfway smart guy/girl, you could as well have a job that actually produces something useful instead of being used up in a cycle of nonsensical destruction. I am not even criticising your way of making a living. It is a free country and if that is what you want to do, that is what you got to do.

But I am saying that in the end you are nothing but an appendix at the and of an economy that keeps supporting the wasteful spending habbits of a bucnh of crooked politicians bought by the military-industrial complex.

US military strike on Iran seen by April '07

Sea-launched attack to hit oil, N-sites

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

01/14/07 "Arab Times" -- - KUWAIT CITY: Washington will launch a
military strike on Iran before April 2007, say sources. The attack
will be launched from the sea and Patriot missiles will guard all
oil-producing countries in the region, they add. Recent statements
emanating from the United States indicate the Bush administration's
new strategy for Iraq doesn't include any proposal to make a
compromise or negotiate with Syria or Iran. A reliable source said
President Bush recently held a meeting with Vice President Dick
Cheney, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Dr
Condoleezza Rice and other assistants in the White House where they
discussed the plan to attack Iran in minute detail.[]

Indicating participants of the meeting agreed to impose
restrictions on the ambitions of Iranian regime before April 2007
without exposing other countries in the region to any danger, the
source said "they have chosen April as British Prime Minister Tony
Blair has said it will be the last month in office for him. The
United States has to take action against Iran and Syria before April

China oil imports hit record
15/01/2007 13:39

Beijing - China imported a record 145.18 million tons of crude oil in 2006, up 14.5% over the previous year, despite booming oil prices, state press reported on Monday.

Some "Coincidences?"

(1) Total US petroleum imports in the fourth quarter were down substantially. Demand, even with (until recently) a warm winter, had to be met by drawing down inventories.

(2) Chinese total petroleum imports are up substantially, in the fourth quarter, and year over year.

(3) Note that at recent rates of increase in US and Chinese petroleum imports, US imports would double in about 15 years and Chinese imports would double in about seven years, while all available data suggest declining oil export capacity.

(4) Bush announces a significant across the board increase in military activity in the Middle East, while dropping broad hints that Iran is the crosshairs.

This is not structural, Jeffrey. India & China are taking market surpluses for pre-announced SPR development. The IEA is also encouraging advancement from the 54-day stock target for the OECD nations.

Overall, it is agreed this will soften the ampltude of the spikes. Buy low. Use high.

I guess Mr. Market doesn't believe a word of it.

It is a little odd, but if you think about the momentum resulting from a five year track record of an average year over year increase in oil prices of 21% per year, it had to result in a lot of people making highly leveraged bets on oil prices, and leverage multiplies both your winnings and your losses. There may be lots and lots of forced sales going on.

After initially arguing with SAT last year, I have to admit that he was very prescient (besides he is saying nice things about me), but his overall point was and is that we are in a cyclical downturn in a bull market in oil.

And Marc Faber, in Barron's, said that he wouldn't be surprised to see $45 oil on the way to $200 oil.

Faber also talked about million dollar cups of coffee, in his lifetime.

In regard to the coffee comment, if we define a "cup" as a medium Starbucks cup, coffee is currently going for about $750 per barrel retail. Faber was talking about $336 million per barrel of coffee retail, which is about a 450,000 fold increase (4.5 X 10 to the fifth power) in coffee, which primarily reflects the predicted drop in the value of the dollar.

The relative decline in the German Mark, from 1914 to 1923, was about 2 X 10 to the 10th power (one mark in 1914 equaled 200 billion marks in 1923). In other words the German hyperinflation was 10 X 10 X 10 X 10 X 10 times worse than what Faber is suggesting. (Assuming my math is correct.)

The question I keep asking about the dollar is what happens to it if it becomes apparent that we can't maintain de facto military control of the Middle East?

The question I keep asking about the dollar is what happens to it if it becomes apparent that we can't maintain de facto military control of the Middle East?

Exactly, this is the big immediate reason the American establishment can't see pulling out of Iraq. Over here, the Iraq debacle's impact on the US has been greatly underestimated. If and when America pulls out, it basically undermines the whole half century myth of Pax Americana, which peaked in the last decade and that begs how low can the dollar go?

I understand that energy is more fundamental than finance, but a great deal of the present world is built on finance and in the short-term, this will have a greater immediate impact on the US than peak.

There is nothing mythical about Iraq II. You have a historic example in Vietnam. We will pull out. There will be helicopters over the green zone. Big deal. All it takes is a new president and a further drop of voter approval for the Republicans. Under the right circumstances America has an uncanny ability to push the political amnesia button and send greetings to the people they threw into civil war.

None of this has anything to do with energy. You said it yourself... it is all based on idiocy. Idiocy is tolerable until it becomes too costly and then someone has to stop the buck. Right now the two parties are still fighting on who that should be. In the end somebody will blink because politicians have limited lives, too, and they want to have another shot at being in power in their own lifetime. And Iraq is toast.

Infinate, Pax ..... I don't see us pulling out. I see a lot of talk about it but:

Our "Non-Negotiable Way Of Life" is based on huge amounts of oil, which we must import.

The global chess-game we're in requires each player to get/keep/hold what oil-producing territory they can.

I, fleam, feel that a pullout means we're effectively tipping over our King, saying we give up, time to sit back and watch the Karpovs and Fischers win their games, game over for us.

Game over for us means we prepare to gear back, WAY back, to what we can produce domestically. This means a WWII-type rationing of domestic gasoline and diesel use, justification and permission would have to be obtained to run a car or truck for business, etc. It means we make our own shoes again, chance are from domestic hemp, cowhides, etc. It means we live like the Europeans did right after WWII, and victory gardens and chickens and composing and the mug I just drank Ovaltine out of gets rinsed first and the milky residue goes on the garden, then a wipe and back on the shelf. It means gearing way way way back.

And there are a good number of Americans who will flat-out die before they'll do that. Not only the ones who will have heart attacks walking to the bank instead of driving there, but the ones who will flat-out just sit down and die. Humans can do that when they lose utter faith, you know.

And myself, I talk a good line, but have I given up having a car? Have I moved to a smaller place? No, I moved to a bigger one. Which I promptly filled with a bit more stuff than I had in the old one. I do have plans to sell the car I have and get something used and all paid for, because I want to save on car payments and don't drive that many miles actually. But what I get will get 1/2 the mileage the Prius does, and pollute more both due to being older and due to not being a hybrid. This is just nuts.

I'm probably in the top 1% of Americans in terms of low consumption in general, environmental awareness, etc. And yet, backing out of Iraq now would cause drastic changes in my way of life, think of how it would be for the other 99%.

Go to an anti-war rally and look at the SUVs (with yellow ribbons) the demonstrators drive there in. Look at the hipsters who may have ridden there on bikes, if their other hipster friends are there too so they get peer approval points, they're addicted to their coffee, but a drastic cutdown in oil use means no more Starbucks.

A drastic cutdown means very little in the way of computers, and electronics in general - remember those things are all being made overseas. The high-tech industry is slowly passing the US by anyway, the stuff is being designed in Japan or India or Europe, made in China or Indonesia, and sold all over the world. A good example of what's going on is the Icom-IC7000, a very nice ham radio, is a $1500 radio here, but only a 1000-Euro radio, it's quite a bit harder for an American to afford one than a European. But it will be hard to afford a new iMac if the US has gone into Depression mode, Apple's conveniently announced their hew HQ in Switzerland, and iMacs are very hard to afford and even harder to obtain in the US.

These kinds of things are what it means to do a total pullout of Iraq. I venture to say that 99% of the protesters are protesting because it's a friend/relative who's over there, about to be sent over there, etc., or because that darned Bush keeps letting the illegals in, or something else. I also venture to say that if all the protesters were able to be aware of all the implications of a pullout; it's effect on their daily lives, at least half of them would decide the war's a Worthy Cause.

A little while ago I said on another blog about the three solutions to Iraq - increasing the troops, staying longer, cutting and running - that we would do all three: first we will increase the troops, then we will stay longer and then we will cut and run. Increasing the troops - CHECK! Wait for the other two... :-)

"The global chess-game we're in requires each player to get/keep/hold what oil-producing territory they can."

The art of chess is not to hold a piece of the board by giving away every single one of your pieces until the King falls. That is, at best, fools chess. Well, we can indeed see what happens when fools are playing... pawns are falling and the cost of the game is painfully increasing. Meanwhile, in other regions of the world, China keeps buying all the oil they need. :-)

"I, fleam, feel that a pullout means we're effectively tipping over our King, saying we give up, time to sit back and watch the Karpovs and Fischers win their games, game over for us."

What you don't get is that the terrorists are playing with a chess set where they can put any number of pawns back in the game. They don't play by the same rules. And they don't even have to win. They simply win by not losing. And since they don't have a king in the game, either, they can't even lose... :-)

"And there are a good number of Americans who will flat-out die before they'll do that."

Good for them. I can tell you that the majority does not care much about them. You will see the the survivors on the streets in a few years, addicted to drugs and asking for money. Remember what you did to your Vietnam Vets? Who says you won't do the same to the Iraq Vets AFTER it is obvious that they "lost" another war? Losers are not welcome in the good old US of A... :-)

"Game over for us means we prepare to gear back, WAY back, to what we can produce domestically. This means a WWII-type rationing... "

Haaahhhahahahahhhhaahah... Are you trying to recapture some of the glory of the Greatest Generation by imagining that because you will have to buy a Prius (forget about the rationing shit) you will have suffered as much as the men in Iwo Jima? If I were an 80 year old WWII veteran, I would ram my walker into your intestines for this crap.

"I'm probably in the top 1% of Americans in terms of low consumption in general, environmental awareness, etc. And yet, backing out of Iraq now would cause drastic changes in my way of life, think of how it would be for the other 99%."

Right... you are an angel and pulling out of a zone that produces little oil will throw you into hell. Are you trying hard to be ridiculous? Iraq's oil production was some 3 million barrels a day in 1990. Last year it was the lowest since the invasion (!) and averaged less than 2 million barrels a day, it seems. Of which the US only got a fraction... if we stay another two years, who knows, maybe it will be 0?

"Go to an anti-war rally and look at the SUVs (with yellow ribbons) the demonstrators drive there in."

What anti-war rally? Truth is: people don't give a crap to demonstrate. They did vote the GOP out of office, though. Way more effective than demonstrations. :-)

The electronics industry is certainly not a major driver of global energy consumption. Or how much energy did you think Apple needed to build that 1.5 ounce Ipod??? Ham radios are "expensive" because so few of them are being built. I for one would certainly go after more lucrative markets first before I would go after Ham radios... and trust me... I am going after much more lucrative markets!

"These kinds of things are what it means to do a total pullout of Iraq."

Your Ham radio is getting more expensive? You can't afford your toys any longer? Wow... you really do have important problems, don't you? Personally I am more worried about the housing market... but then, that is just me.

"I venture to say that 99% of the protesters are protesting because it's a friend/relative who's over there, about to be sent over there..."

Excuse me? We do not have a draft... yet! If you are over there, the only reason you are there is because YOU TOOK MONEY from Uncle Sam and he demands you to do the freaking job you signed up for. Job dissatisfaction is not a reason to be against the war. You should have read the contract. I am sure it said something about your duties to be in the line of fire.

"I also venture to say that if all the protesters were able to be aware of all the implications of a pullout; it's effect on their daily lives, at least half of them would decide the war's a Worthy Cause."

So you have decided to close with another nonsensical argument. What can I say? Just because you believe it does not make it so? I doubt that will change anything about how you feel. Not that reality cares much about that...

Um, Infinate, most of the old crocks with their walkers are already going around doing their best to ram 'em into everyone else's intestines, I doubt I or anyone else would notice.

I said a WWII type gas rationing scheme, not everyone going out and fighting Iwo Jima. And gearing back does not mean buying a Prius, it means getting rid of the Prius and building a good bicycle trailer. I use "WWII gas rationing scheme" because it's one that Americans who are aware of history are familiar with, and apparently it worked for the most part. Civilian gas usage was cut way back, and the country still found ways to get around.

I said indeed ham radio toys will get more expensive, also your video games, your iPod, your bigscreen TV, etc. High tech is starting to bypass the US, as mentioned. An economic depression will accelerate this process.

I said I'm in the top 1% just for being aware of these things, you don't know much about America, do you? Just being aware and willing to work into a lower energy lifestyle. Again, you don't much about America do you?

You are worried about the housing market because you're probably literally banking on the value of your house doing up more or less forever. Me, I think it's going to be fun watching that whole house of cards come down.

A volunteer soldier did indeed volunteer to go into the line of fire if called upon to do so. A draftee is likely there because their number came up and they're not a Kerry, a Kennedy, or a Bush. Or one of the old crocks who will flock to the polls to vote for a draft now once it sinks in that a withdrawal means the economy goes *flunch* and they won't be able to afford that new Lark scooter.

>"I think it's going to be fun watching that whole house of cards come down."

This sadistic/schadenfreude attitude is the least attractive feature of TOD.

I can't agree with you, IP. Vietnam wasn't located within spitting distance of two-thirds of the world's conventional oil supply. Therefore, a pull-out, while painful to the political and military establishment, was possible.

If you haven't seen it yet, take a couple of hours to watch the Jan 10 meeting of the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (http://www.energybulletin.net/24598.html ) and watch the Senators' reactions to these key points:

  • Within a decade, OPEC and Russia will effectively control the flow of petroleum.
  • The multi-national oil companies are increasingly being shut out as producing countries nationalize assets.
  • The US cannot realistically achieve "energy independence."
  • The US may have to appease radical regimes in the Middle East, in order to assure the continued flow of ME oil to the West.
  • The Iraq debacle has everything to do with energy.

    I believe it is a fact that Iraq produces 60% of what it was producing in 1990.

    I also believe that it is a fact that the cost of the war would have been enough to replace a large fraction of the US vehicle fleet with high efficiency vehicles, thus saving hundreds of billions of dollars in oil imports.

    But then, who cares what I believe, as long as half of the American voters don't have to admit that they voted an imbecile into office twice?

    "Within a decade, OPEC and Russia will effectively control the flow of petroleum."

    Aren't they already?

    "The multi-national oil companies are increasingly being shut out as producing countries nationalize assets."

    Do you really care who gets your money when you go to fill'er up? Exxon is probably toast. BP, on the other hand, has a nice renewables portfolio and keeps growing it. Maybe they know something Exxon does not want to know? Just a thought...

    "The US cannot realistically achieve "energy independence.""

    Certaily not in the short run. In the long run... geology will have the last word and you will probably have to, wether you want it or not, wether anyone believes it to be possible or not. I don't think it is actually impossible over the 30-50 year time scale. The solutions on that scale just don't help with the current problem for the next decade or so. But don't worry... Toyota and Honda have just the cars you need to get by with the oil you will be able to purchase over the next ten years.

    "The US may have to appease radical regimes in the Middle East, in order to assure the continued flow of ME oil to the West."

    I don't think geology cares much about the relations between the US and other nations. It will cut off the flow of oil, no matter how much you plead with Iraq, Iran, KSA or any other player. PO is not a political phenomenon but a geological/economic one. The economic part of it is over, now the geological one is about to dominate the dynamics.

    Iran does not really care where its petro-dollars come from. It needs to sell its oil at the highest price possible to fund its economic failures. Venezuela will not stop selling oil just to spike you. They need the money more than anything. The same is true for any other oil producing country. Do you really think you are the ones with the crappy hand in the peak oil game? Can't you imagine how hard peaking producers are getting hit??? Looks like, you can't. But sometimes, in poker and in life, it pays to be able to imagine what the other player thinks...

    "The Iraq debacle has everything to do with energy."

    Repeating the same thing one more time does not make it any more true.

    IP, you are missing the point: We didn't go to war in Iraq for rational reasons. We went to war in Iraq because (1) we have a President who believes that God chose him to slay the evil-doers; (2) we have a Vice-President who believes that the American way of life is "non-negotiable"; and (3) American foreign policy is being formulated by a clique of feckless academics who entertain fantasies that people 2,000 years hence will "sing great songs about them."

    That's all you need to know.

    Hey now, let's not forget about the Benjamin's, Yo! War is a racket.

    Idiocy always comes with its own idiotic logic, if you think in this case that doesn't include the notion they're securing the oil supply, I don't know what to say. If you think the US can just up and pull-out of Iraq with no damage to the notion of Pax Americana, I think you're mistaken.

    American involvement in the Middle East has always been about oil and in 1980 Carter in his State of the Union made it official public policy. Bush I said it quite openly at the beginning of the war in 1991. After decades of piling on BS from our "Foreign Policy Elite" adding their own brain dead and hubris opinions, that oil might be somewhat buried, doesn't matter, it's all about oil, always has been and will increasingly be so.

    Is it idiocy to think you can militarily secure this oil supply, that's pretty clear.

    When thinking about things like oil prices, it's important to always separate long-term from short-term trends. It's interesting to note that all markets are currently in short-term trends which run counter to their long-term trends:

    Oil -- The long-term trend for oil is up, but in the short-term, it is trending down.
    Bonds -- Bonds began to rise steadily about six months ago in anticipation of a recession (see TLT, which rose from 83 to almost 92), so the long-term trend is up. In the short-term, however, TLT has corrected from 92 back to 88.
    Dollar -- The dollar has been weakening for years and will probably continue weakening for years to come. But in the short-term (the last month or two), it has been rising. The US dollar index has now risen to close to 85 (from 82) and I think it will continue to rise for another month or two.
    Stocks -- I think we are in a long-term bear market which began back in 2000, but in the short-term, markets have been heading up. (The idea of a long-term stock bear market is the most controversial on this list.)

    (For what it's worth, pre-recession, commodities tend to weaken, the dollar tends to strengthen, bonds tend to rise, and stocks tend to fall.)

    The current situation shouldn't be all that surprising since significant corrections occur in all bull markets and sharp, short-term rises are a feature of all bear markets.

    The most obvious trend out of any of these is the trend in oil prices. Prices of oil have quintupled in the last seven years. When debating something like oil depletion, I think the long-term trends are what should be used in formulating arguments. For example, "Saudi production is down because oil prices are down," to me is a bad argument because oil prices aren't down, they're up (using the long-term trend). "Saudi production is down even though oil prices are skyrocketing," is a more valid statement in my opinion.

    [It's always interesting to note how wrong people can be. Back in 1988, all of the investment, "geniuses," the people who had made fortunes in the 70's and 80's were convinced that the U.S. was heading for a financial collapse in the short term. You heard people talk about the unbelievable fiscal irresponsibility of the Reagan administration. The unsustainabillity of the debt. The imminence of a long period of "pay back," economic decline, recession. The 87' stock collapse was seen as just the shot accross the bow in a long period of bear markets, econonic hardship, and doom. The debt at that point had risen to several hundred billions of dollars. The, "idiots" were the people who thought that those kinds of debt levels were sustainable, that stock markets could continue to rise, that the dollar would remain stable. Well, the idiots were right. God, I miss the 90's.]

    yeah, I'm old enough to remember some of that talk, back in the 80s. Which brings up the question of how applicable that lesson is to the US current account and budget deficit situation. What do you think, SAT? Does the weakening in the dollar reflect the worldwide market's response to this or are those of us "concerned" about it not seeing the benefits, if there are any?

    Nice thoughts on the long term perspective, BTW, which a lot of us tend to forget.

    RE: predictions in the 80's
    It is always a good reality check to look at previous erroneous predictions like this. Right now it is very tempting to fall into the same 'doom is imminent' (or 'The end of the world was yesterday. You are just in denial') trap and not take into account how huge, and in some ways, resilient are both the world economy and its resource base.

    Having said that, IMO it in no way justifies the cornucopian notion that we can go on forever growing our economy and stripping our planet. No amount of data will allow us to predict a system-wide breaking point, but it seems painfully obvious that such a breaking point will be reached.

    Having said that, I'm hoping that, if breaking point there be, it will be long in the future and I can live fat for the rest of my life.

    Every so often Tom Robertson on energyresources would run the numbers by on the total dollar value of commodities trading in the world vs the total dollar value of all financial trading. Upshot is, there are several orders of magnitude of dollars sloshing around more than the dollar value of the basic commodities that we depend on for our existence. A bit of slosh one way or another in the financial markets can send prices on a whipsaw path, regardless of commodity availability, unless firm lower limits have been reached.

    On TOD we tend to be fixated on the physical realities of resource availability and forget how much of a 'fantasy' world exists in the world of finance.

    The link you posted doesn't work.....

    I fixed it. He had a minus sign where an equals should be.

    Thank you. Westexas beat me to my own edit again, that's twice in one week, What is it what him:.>)

    And really, It's silly enough that a spellchecker is missing, but faulty characters in programming should be showing in the preview window. It's like sofware that can't read its own code.

    You could make the suggestion to SuperG.

    Or you could do what I do: use Firefox, with its free extensions for spell-checking and inserting HTML code. :)

    I'm sorry, Drupal should point that out by the way, that's a strange glitch. Programmers!!
    It's just a missing character, So it shows as an active link what is not. How hard could that be?

    This does work:

    US military strike on Iran seen by April '07

    Well last year at this time TOD was busy talking about the strike on Iran was for March of 06.

    Someone on MSNBC had an interesting comment last night. He said that Bush could be planning to use Iran as an excuse for pulling out, or more likely withdrawing US forces to secured bases, i.e., Iranian interference is forcing Bush/Cheney to withdraw. Unfortunately, this probably results in the full scale civil war/bloodbath scenario.

    Even easier, without staging anything - US begins a withdrawal, Saudi Arabia inserts Saudi troops in harm's way in Iraq, troops are hit, Saudi Arabia retaliates against Iranian targets, Iran retaliates against Saudi targets (neither being critical targets to start), and US claims it must intervene to shut down this budding regional war. In other words, the excuse to stay in place can come from allowing the situation to deteriorate even further.

    The US public would back US troops in place, or even further intervention, if a Saudi Arabian/Iranian military conflict produced a nasty oil price spike.

    I think the New York Times had a story this weekend on best case and worst case scenarios for Iraq.

    The "best case" scenario may be something like the Spanish Civil War, where the downside was "only" hundreds of thousands dead, but the Spanish Civil War didn't lead to the Second World War.

    One alternative model is First World War, the "Guns of August" scenario, resulting in tens of millions dead.

    What industrialized country does not regard the Middle East as vital to their nation's interests? Chuck Hagel said that escalating the conflict was the worst foreign policy mistake since Vietnam.

    China recently commented that it would brook NO interference in its economic and other relations with Iran. Further, two-track communications regarding the recent "threats" toward Iran are proven and explored in this item, http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/IA17Ak06.html

    Off topic but of interest is a recently released study showing that more women in the USA are single than married, http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070116/ts_alt_afp/afplifestyleuswomen_0701...
    I know there are many women that read this site, and as the study suggests most are single; so, I'm quite curious to find out their views of future social arrangements and their personal plans given the impacts climate chaos and fossil fuel peak will have, since most of what's posted here is the male view.

    Yes we were. And thankfully the idea of attacking Iran got pushed to the side on account of evident lunacy.
    Those who lust for an attack on Iran keep showing that nothing will stem their bloodlust and that they have ways to keep getting to the forefront of the political drama.
    Those who keep calling idiots idiots have done us all an enormous service. It's too bad the game grows wearisome.
    If the nerds and wonks who have opposed and stymied the rush to spill blood in Iran are getting to be a bore, those who keep pushing for a wider war look more like foaming at the mouth berserkers, like animals in need of control. Unfortunately the rabid dogs still appear closer to the center of power than the rational critics do.

    Sigh... sounds about right. At least it'll be warm outside for walking when we have no gasoline this summer. (Cornucopians please note: I DON'T want this to happen!! I think we're in for big trouble soon, but I'm not rooting for it. When I "predict" bad things, I hope I'm wrong!! OK???)

    Crude oil is a strategic commodity whose price is now controlled by the US Federal Reserve. The federal Reserve is now controlled by George Bush and Dick Cheney through the Secretary of the Treasury. This illegal manipulation of the markets should become increasing clear to the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The only solution is for an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries which includes Russia and excludes Saudi Arabia. Russia should be included because its nuclear weapons arsenal would be a deterrence to the US policy of seizing oil reserves through military conflict. Saudi Arabia should be excluded because of its collusion with the US policy of market manipulation and seizing oil reserves through military conflict.

    Hi WT/Jeffrey,

    Just thought I'd mention this book:
    War is a Racket: The Anti-War Classic by America's Most Decorated General (Paperback) by Smedley Butler. (First published in 1935.)


    TITLE: Strategic Choices for Managing the Transition from Peak Oil to a Reduced Petroleum Economy



    PG 105 SUMS IT UP. Haven't read it and I noticed it's almost a year old now, but I'm sure someone can use this.

    Ace posted that to The Book thread yesterday.

    Thanks Tate;

    Lot of pages, but only 1.2mb.. in case others are put off by your caution.

    Good Find!

    from page 9..

    "Here we are, facing a situation where the decisions we make now, whether by informed choice or default, will determine the kind of life available to us and our children 30 years down the road. Yet, there is very little reliable public data on which to base decisions, almost no public discourse, and no viable long-term national energy policy or planning. A manager’s job is to plan a course of action and allocate available resources to achieve a desired outcome, often in the face of incomplete or contradictory information. By that definition, Peak Oil is a quintessential management problem."

    Looks like she got it... and we had it. After all, Americans are not good at large scale management at the moment, it seems. Hands-off political strategies do not work with PO. They will work wonders, though, for Toyota and Honda.

    again.. broad-brushed denials.. please consider the reason you so often respond in this tone. It's tail-chasing and discouraging. There's plenty of that already.

    IP, there are people in this country who have figured things out, even large management projects. Are you looking for them, or for the people who have failed at it?

    I was told in Canoeing rapids to watch the flow of water you need to follow, not the rocks you are worried about hitting. You can easily draw yourself right onto the hazards. I think it is a useful point for looking at what we need to be planning and doing now.


    Bob Fiske

    Here's an article from a local paper about a small-time oil producer in SE Ohio. It's pathetically provencial.


    Here's a snipet:

    "Q: What are the challenges for the domestic industry?

    A: The challenges are regulation, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the Wayne National Forest..."

    In other words, the main problem with domestic oil in the US is regulation by the EPA and our local forestry service! And this guy in now in the Ohio Oil and Gas hall of fame!

    Some interesting FYI's (not from this article).

    -Most Oil wells in SE Ohio produce 1 or less than 1 barrel per day.
    -The best oil wells in the area produce 6 or so barrels per day.
    -There are one or two buyers in the area and they've been paying about $40 per barrel for this oil.
    -It costs roughly $150,000 to drill a well in SE Ohio to 7,000 to 8,000 ft.
    -In the 1890's, Ohio was the #1 oil producing area in the entire world with annual production of just over 5 million barrels.
    -Today, 110 years after Ohio's peak, production is 20% of the peak, or roughly 1 million barrels per year.

    PS can anyone help me learn to do a text link with the new system?

    Ohio HAS an Oil and Gas Hall of Fame?

    It will certainly deserve mention in the 'Hall-of-Fame' Museum, when they build it!

    I know, I know, it's laughable isn't it- and the article indicates the quality of the hall's inductees. But again, in the 1890's 5 million barrels of oil a year made Ohio the saudia arabia of its time. Many of the oil families of OK and TX migrated there from Ohio when the larger fields were discovered. Marathon Oil maintained it's headquarters in Ohio until 1990.

    The 'Hall of Fame' Hall of Fame? There's one devoted to tow trucks in Chattanooga. I'm sure there are some more strange ones out there...

    Fascinating pair of articles in the new Dr. McDougall newsletter dealing with the new UN report on livestock and global warming strategy:

    An Inconvenient Truth: We Are Eating Our Planet to Death
    Choosing a Plant-food Based Diet Is a Moral Issue

    Animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents. By comparison, all transportation emits 13.5% of the CO2...

    Produces 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2.

    Accounts for 37 percent of all human-induced methane (which is 23 times as warming as CO2).

    Generates 64 percent of the ammonia, which contributes to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems.

    Water Damage

    The livestock business is among the most serious users of the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources; in addition, contributing to water pollution, excessive growth of organisms, depletion of oxygen, and the degeneration of coral reefs, among other things.

    The major water-polluting agents are animal wastes, antibiotics, hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers, and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.

    In the United States livestock is responsible for 55 percent of the erosion and sediment, 37 percent of the pesticide use, 50 percent of the antibiotic use, and a third of the load of nitrogen and phosphorus put into freshwater sources...

    Is Change Realistic?

    Al Gore wants us to switch to more efficient forms of transportation, not to give up our cars overnight. An enthusiastic campaign to reduce our dependency on livestock would not have as a primary goal making everyone become vegan (eliminating all animal foods); but more realistically, to cut the consumption of meat and dairy products—say, in half in 8 years. That could mean something as simple as asking people following the Western diet to consume on average two to three times more mashed potatoes (or other starchy vegetables) daily, instead of their usual animal-based foods—I believe this is not too much to request in order to save the earth!

    Al Gore Does Not Discuss the Role of Food Animals

    Not once during the 96 minute presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, did Al Gore mention animal foods as a cause of global warming or suggest any form of management of livestock as a solution. This oversight would be similar to not mentioning cigarette smoking in a discussion of lung cancer. With all due respect to Al Gore, I must speculate as to why he ignored this essential connection. Ignorance could not have been the reason. Catastrophic damage to our environment from livestock, especially cattle, has been recognized for decades. Nor do I believe his exclusion of this topic was for political correctness. His documentary is filled with unrestrained challenges to almost every segment of business and society. Al Gore is a brave and honest man, but he has human frailties, too...

  • http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2006nl/dec/globalwarming.htm
  • Methane and Vegetarianism by Noam Mohr

    By far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas is methane, and the number one source of methane worldwide is animal agriculture.17

    Methane is responsible for nearly as much global warming as all other non-CO2 greenhouse gases put together.18 Methane is 23 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2.19 While atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have risen by about 31% since pre-industrial times, methane concentrations have more than doubled.20 Whereas human sources of CO2 amount to just 3% of natural emissions, human sources produce one and a half times as much methane as all natural sources.21 In fact, the effect of our methane emissions may be compounded as methane-induced warming in turn stimulates microbial decay of organic matter in wetlands—the primary natural source of methane.22

    With methane emissions causing nearly half of the planet’s human-induced warming, methane reduction must be a priority...

    The conclusion is simple: arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products. Simply by going vegetarian (or, strictly speaking, vegan), 30,31,32 we can eliminate one of the major sources of emissions of methane, the greenhouse gas responsible for almost half of the global warming impacting the planet today.

  • http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2006nl/dec/globalwarming.htm
  • I find that the implications of these articles actually optimistic. Not because that many people are going to voluntarily eat lower on the food chain (wouldn't want to accidentally improve their health) - but energy descent due to both peak oil and population overload will force
    populations to use more grain to feed people (and cars) instead of food animals. And such an occurence would ease global warming much more effectively than the token recommendations of Al Gore. There is no more underappreciated topic than the harm of eating high on the food chain, both on human health and on the environment. If nothing else, these articles prove that there is indeed no such thing as a meat-eating, milkshake drinking environmentalist. ;)-

    In the PBS Series 'DINOSAURS' some years ago, there was a discussion about the proportion of Carnivores to Herbivores in the Prehistoric populations. It seems reasonable to say that as the Human Population has exploded with the advent of "PetroVores" ~eating WAY up on the energy chain.. that this balance is insanely out of proportion.

    While I sympathize with the thrust of your facts and references, and am myself a vegan, I still don't think that turning food into fuel is a good idea. Switching to ethanol, for example, will do little or nothing to cut co2 versus gasoline.

    My diet, compared to a meat eater, is not significantly corn based except for the occasional chips or tacos. I also use close to zero corn syrup and a bare minimum of processed foods. However, because of high and higher corn prices, farmers will convert even more farm land away from soybeans and other vegetables. I am not at all happy about the prospect of paying a lot more for food so I can subsidize the easy motoring lifestyle. And that is not even considering the double subsidy for ethanol, once for corn and twice for direct payments to ethanol producers.

    Even without global warming, using up our earth for meat driven agriculture, is incredibly destructive and not sustainable. However, here is my concern. The population tends to expand to use up available resources. Cutting back on meat, while freeing up additional resources, may just encourage the population to expand to utilize the land for a more vegetable based diet.

    On the other hand, there are a lot of countries which, for one reason or another, have transitioned to a near zero growth or negative growth in population scenario. One can always hope that the current high growth countries will make a similar transition.

    I saw an analsysis somewhere that said that switching to a vegan diet save 1.5 more co2 than switching from a big SUV to a Prius.

    Oh, I didn't mean to imply that ethanol production was a good thing. I agree with Kunstler that other arrangements have to be made, as the car culture is inherently unsustainable. Hell, from all that I've learned about human behavior, governments, and exponential population growth, I have trouble seeing the green grass on the other side of energy descent.

    Even if people suddenly decided to do the #1 thing they can do to help the earth (eat plants, not animals) then livestock production would be cut drastically, and although it would clearly improve the atmosphere, it would absolutely slash the death rate in industrialized countries, which simply leads to more population growth, more resource usage; the ultimate conundrum.

    As Albert Bartlett says, we have to choose population reduction or nature is going to do it for us. With pretty much all the 14 oil fields capable of producing over a million barrels a day going into serious decline, I think it is obvious that Nature is about to show up at the door packing the biggest can of Whoop Ass the world has ever seen, and unfortunately she's not taking "no" for an answer. Bend over Abigale May, cuz here comes your medicine!


    Mother Nature Bats Last

    Only problem I see with veganism is, I see it as a way to keep progressing towards our society's goal of 10 billion humans on the planet and growing.

    This site is full of denial that population is the main problem, it is THE problem, but as members, even if recovering members, of a culture that's based on unlimited growth, we're constantly slipping into the "this is good because it can feed more people" train of thought.

    Somehow the ruminants of today (cattle) are adding more methane to the atmoshere than the huge herds of bison and wildebeast of the 18th century. I thought the trillions of termites eating decaying tropical plants were the #1 source of methane.

    "The total area occupied by grazing livestock is equivalent to 26 percent of the ice-free terrestrial surface of the planet. In addition, the total area dedicated to producing feed crops for these animals amounts to 33 percent of the total arable land."

    Beat that, termites! No worries though, in a couple decades we can fill the poles with more livestock. And even better, the summers will be so hot we can just cook the burgers on the sidewalk! ;)

    Just to get an idea:
    "The U.S. broiler meat production estimate for third quarter 2005 is 9.0 billion pounds" from "US Poultry Outlook Report - September 2006."

    Those chickens can out fart the termites anyday, no?

    I dunno. As much as 1/3 the terrestrial animal biomass of the earth may be ants and termites. That's a lotta bugs.

    As much as 1/3 the terrestrial animal biomass of the earth may be ants and termites.

    That is true for the Amazon, but it's harder to see it for the entire planet.

    Nice trivia though. Reminds me of a similar one:

    1/3 of all mammals in the world are bats.

    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States
    of America: In search of ant ancestors

    "According to Hölldobler and Wilson (1990), up to 1/3 (33%) of the
    terrestrial animal biomass (NOTE: not including aquatic animal, or
    terrestrial and aquatic flowering plants and microorganisms) was made
    up of ants and termites. A study made in Finland produced a
    terrestrial animal biomass of ants alone of 10%. In the Brazilian
    rain forest the biomass of ants exceeds that of terrestrial
    vertebrates by four times! Thus a figure for ants of 15% of all
    terrestrial animal biomass is not out of line. I would doubt that they
    are 15% of all living things because plants and microorganisms make up
    a large part of the earth's biomass and the biomass of marine
    organisms (none of which are ants) is usually not included in such

    Nice trivia though. Reminds me of a similar one:

    1/3 of all mammals in the world are bats.

    Or of the joke, when you hear of someone (not Chinese) giving birth to child #5:

    Oh! Was it Chinese?

    No! Of course not, why do you ask?

    Well, they say, 'Every fifth child born is Chinese.'

    Estimates of the North American bison population are normally in the 60 to 90 million range. There is a school of thought that the bison population was smaller prior to 1492 as it was regulated by first nations. As the first nation populations were decimated, by disease primarily, their capacity to regulate the bison population was reduced and the population of bison grew.

    In any case, there are about 1.5 billion cattle in the world today. The numbers of wildebeest I've seen are usually in the low millions.

    So maybe 100 million bison and wildebeest in 1750, and surely some millions of cows, to 1.5 billion belching cattle today.

    In my house we are modest meat eaters mixing elk and bison, with a minimal amount of manufactured meat. We also avoid farmed fish.
    Lots of lentils, grains, beans, greens, yellows, fruit etc with a couple ounces of meat/fish is all anyone needs each day. We try to eat as much as possible from within our bio-region, but I must admit that bananas, figs, dates, oranges, lemons are considered essential to our emotional well-being. This lot, I believe can be delivered in an airplane free future.

    Toil - it's sheer numbers of cattle and also I think how they're fed, on corn, so you gotta grow the corn first, then feed the cows on it, or "sileage" which is nasty to the environment too, read James Lovelock in his latest book on sileage, then of course cows aren't meant to eat these strange diets so they may well be farting far more than they'd be in their natural environment. So you have far more cows, plus they're "super cows" who fart maybe 2X-3X what they'd do if they were out in the fields eating grass.

    This issue is obviously a result of overpopulation. So convert to vegetarianism to increase the carrying capacity. Then the population increase covers the gap and you arrive at the same impasse. What then?

    Tsk, tsk... it's considered rude to talk about the elephant in the corner! :P

    Aside from the need to question the assumption that the population of people has expanded to meet the food supply vs the notion that the food supply has been expanded to meet demand, and aside from the need to recognize that worldwide the structure of the population is changing such that population will begin to decline rather rapidly circa 2075 (P. Longman), the issue is about the production of greenhouse gases.

    Vegetarianism or reduced meat consumption are means to counter climate change, and environmental degradation on a number of other fronts, including the degradation of rural life.

    Let's see now:

    1. [I have read that] vegan diets lack sufficient protein so that they are ususally in a constant state of malnutrition
    2. a high fibre diet, such as more carbs, cause more flatulence even among humans, hm..
    3. diabetics do better on a high protein low carb diet -- that's why Adkins developed his famous diet.

    The above article is more vegan propaganda. Exactly what do they suggest we [humanity] do with the various domestic animals made redundant? Slaughter them? Gee, sounds like the big game huner all over again. At least as a meat eater, I can justify their slaughter as being for sustenace.

    Er, #1 is definitely wrong. #3 is at least misleading--Atkins is certainly not someone to take nutritional advice from. As far as #2 goes, it might be true, but would be more than offset by reduction in bovine flatulence. :-)

    Sceptical - I'm skeptical too. "meat and leaves" is a good description of what humans are supposed to eat, look at the paleo diet people, that's what we're supposed to eat. A lot of traditional diets are very healthy, in fact, Until cheap sugar because a basic food group, the basic American diet was some grain, some veggies, some meat. Paleo diet types would have you eliminate the grain, but there was some grain-gathering among paleo groups. Some is ok. But if you stick as much as possible to meat and leaves, you'll feel great, it's the diet that is suggested for diabetics, and well, I'm not sure how to say this... I guess it's not gratuitous, but your shit won't stink. Really. No puffing and chuffing around like many vegans, no odorous constipation/runs cyle often found with the Standard American Diet, just everything terribly normal and inoffensive.

    I'm not sure the paleo diet is much more than yet another diet/lifestyle fad. A book I recently read 'Why Some Like it Hot' goes into the research showing how adaptable people are to localized diets. So what is 'natural' for someone to eat might be very problematical to define, and it certainly does not make sense that dietary adaptation stopped at the paleolithic.

    For more-or-less homogenous racial groups, what the diet has been, probably for centuries, the body has adapted to. For most of us poor Americans, we have such a mixed bag of genetic history that a 'natural' diet is probably impossible to pin down. A little experimentation and observation usually will reveal what your own body does well with.

    It is very easy to underestimate the diversity of foraging ways of life, in recent times (the "ethnographic present") or in the Paleolithic. Shostak's "The Paleolithic Prescription" is a great read with a lot of useful refs., if a bit dated. Even just in North America, Inuit ("Eskimo") diet very high on fats and protein from heavy meat emphasis, vs. diets of Paiutes and other Great Basin Indians very high on seeds, nuts, roots and quite low on meat. Seems like we're pretty adaptable omnivores, with meat generally a desirable extra or luxury.

    Quite wrong re meat - it wasn't a luxury, it was a staple of people on pre-Neolithic diets. They generally ate at least twice as much meat as we modern people, with our supposedly 'high-meat' diets. See Cordain for the estimates.

    I have to say I am getting very tired of seeing uncontested vegan propaganda on this site. Worse, though, is the fact that people talk about the Paleo diet when they know nothing about it. Like somebody else here said one, 'Want to argue with Darwin?' Well it seems people do. Of course, no one wants to argue with Darwin when it's time to start on with 'doom's in our genes!', but any time diet is brought up it seems we can chuck evolutionary biology out the window.

    People are not supposed to eat grains. Read Cordain's article - I have no interest in talking to fools. And the corollary is that people cannot have vegetarian diets, because a vegetarian diet requires a massive grain subsidy to be effective. Like Cordain said, vegetarians are really 'breaditarians'.

    I actually agree. The "raw" paleos are strictly into the nutty territory, since all evidence is that hominids have been cooking their food for at least a million years.

    As a basic rule, if you can't pronounce the ingredients......

    Take your choice: Cookies, whole flour, butter, cane sugar, baking powder, salt, made locally, or Cookies, bleached wheat flour, cornstarch, high-fructorse corn syrup, BHA and BHT, Red Dye No. 40, Flavors, etc made by a factory 1000+ miles away......

    Then, do you eat 2-3 or do you plow through the whole bag?

    For dinner, do you have Hot Pockets, Tater-Tots, and Kraft Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, and Coke to wash it down, or do you have some potroast, fresh taters, and maybe some green beans bought or grown fresh, and water? The FDA would probably consider both to be a "home cooked meal" that hits the food groups, but there's a huge difference.

    The 2nd meal is pretty darned "paleo", got your meat, your veggies, and some tubers. No sugar, no bleached flour, etc. The traditional British meal, I have heard, is "meat and two veg" which means, well, meat and 2 vegetables.

    I myself consider veganism far far out in the fringe compared to this type of commonsense traditional eating.

    I'm not sure you can say vegans live in a state of constant malnutrition. Vegans do have to be careful to get the full complement of amino acids by eating a variety of protein sources and they also have to take extra steps to ensure they get enough vitamin B12. In my experience there aren't very many low IQ vegans and so they can very easily learn to do this.

    Phineas Gage, MD

    The above article is more vegan propaganda. Exactly what do they suggest we [humanity] do with the various domestic animals made redundant? Slaughter them? Gee, sounds like the big game huner all over again. At least as a meat eater, I can justify their slaughter as being for sustenace.

    Implicit in this ridiculous argument is the assumption that everyone would become vegan overnight (and hence, existing domestic animals would become "redundant"). A worldwide shift to veganism, if such an unlikely event were to occur, would no doubt happen gradually - in which case we could simply stop breeding animals to replace the ones you feel the need to eat. So fear not - you'd be able to wean yourself off your unnecessary consumption of animal corpses (and their reproductive excreta) over the course of just a few short years AND no animal would go to "waste". Sound good?

    Methan from animals could easily be used to offset some of our hydrocarbon needs. Many farms already have methane reactors but we are a far cry from capturing all methane we could. Putting manure on the fields before removing its methane content is a real no-no from an environmental, as well as olfactory perspective. We know how to do much better:


    Carbon Dioxide liberated from oil/gas/coal lives in the atmosphere for a very long time. How about nitrous oxide and methane formed from cows? Don't those two GHGs break up into other (non GHG) compounds over a relatively short amount of time? If that is the case, then CO2 is the main problem since the effects of CO2 pollution are effectively permanent and additive. Isn't the nitrous oxide and methane cycle similar to the carbon cycle of ethanol where the substances are just cycling through a series of states (as opposed to burning oil/gas/coal, which adds CO2 that had been sequestered)?

    Nitrous oxide is not very reactive and it also stays in the atmosphere for a long time, well over 100 years, so it is also effectively out of the cycle.

    However,because of the long life span of nitrous oxide and increased emissions due to human activities, the concentration of this gas in the air has increased by about 8% since pre-industrial times. It is currently increasing by about 0.2 to 0.3% per year. You will see the significance of that later in ‘Global climate change'.


    so there you go nitrous oxide stays in the atmosphere for more then 100 years

    A few DrumBeats back Asebuis asked if I had any numbers on crop , perhaps specifically corn, costs for farmers. I replied with some generalities about farming in particular and noted that its a highly variable value. So many things go into it..just like EROEI for ethanol.

    Yet I can offer some 'fuzzy' values that may help him or others make some other generalities as regards the economics of farming.

    I stated that many 'operators' lease,rent of share land with landowners. They have to pay for that from their profits or share in those profits if they are operating on a share basis. Usually its a mix and also the farmer may own some or all the land he farms. He might then do some 'custom' work and charge a flat amount for that. Like I said a big mix.

    However here is some of those general numbers for corn. Some years back $100/acre was oft quoted as 'input' cost for corn in my area. I was a landowner who did a 50/50 share with an operator. I never never received more than approx $17/acre for my part. The reason being the operator was screwing me blind and subsequently I almost bodily threw him off my land. Many are like that. Conniving and liars but just as well many are honest and upright. Again a mix. NOTE: One year I ended up owing the operator money. I realized that I was being used at that point. They took it out of next years profit.

    Right after that, about the early 90's I heard that some were charging $70/acre for rent to operators. I told my neighbor about this , who was getting the same lousy returns I was and he put his land(maybe around 700 acres) up for rent and got it. Now it's more..maybe $100/acre in some cases,referring to cash rent.Dont' confuse input cost and cash rent to operators. Each can vary. These are general numbers,,close maybe to perceived averages. Again each farmer does it different and used differing equipment,etc.

    However at that time $100 seemed to stand fairly well. That includes seed,tillage,fertilizer, chemical spraying and harvesting.

    Yesterday I was offered that now $200 is the value being more or less used.

    Todays $200 might be tomorrows $300 but 200 seems to hold for right now.

    Assumptions based on that value then.
    100 acres of land and a good harvest of say 165 bu/ac and a market spot price of mhhhh..$1.85...

    100 * 165 = 16500bu/100 ac
    16500 * $1.85 = $30,525.00
    $30,525 - $20,000(input cost) = $10,525 possible profit

    If on a 1/3 share with the landowner then
    $10,525 - $3508 = $7017 Farmer share of sales

    In acre values the farmer just made $70.17 per acre
    He must pay taxes. He must pay insurance. He might have breakdowns.
    The weather might means he owes money instead of making money.
    The prices may plummet. His corn may be high in moisture and he gets
    'docked' a fee for it. His combine may breakdown and he is late to market or might have to pay others to combine his fields.

    In other landowner/farmer schemes there is a 50/50 option where they share 50% of the seed,fertilizer,chemicals and so forth yet the landowner pays for his part of hauling. Its likely the same payout but the landowner in that case has no RISK and can't file a IRS form F (for farming) and deduct those costs. Only if he is at RISK. Your at risk if you pay those costs. Not so if you get 1/3 off the top or cash rent. Many landowners likely cheat on this. Just my opinion. They get to file a F for other reasons and then glom it all together.

    The farmers do get good treatment from the IRS IMO because its all very complicated and the government do not want to be hanging the farmers out to dry. In fact many farmers likely are not taking all the deductions they are entitled to.

    So figure corn right now at about $200/acre input cost and that might not include everything but its close I have been told. I don't row crop any more so its not something right on the tip of my tongue.

    NOW...IF the price of corn is $4.00/bu? Wayyy different. The farmer is now making a very nice profit indeed, all other things being equal.

    Then what would he do? Pay off a whole lot of accumulated debt and perhaps buy that land he has been looking at. The more land he has the less he has to pay landowners. Owning land is likely the best investment in the world. I have made good money on investing in land early. Better than the stock market.

    165 bu/ac is a nominal value. Its highly variable. It might even be the breakeven point for many in the real corn belt.

    Where I am we grow a huge amount of corn but not like an Illinois or Iowa. We also mix it up with soybeans, winter wheat and milo. Right now only a fool would not be figuring on a huge planting of corn this spring. The money is there. Many may starve(3rd world). Farmers have starved before. Now their time is coming around. In a few more years they may likely be starving again.

    One other point. Subsidies? Not what you think. Corn has a lower price supported by the government. You can get loans on that IF you have what is called a BASIS. This means a corn base and that is what is used to calculate the supports for each farmer. If he is 'wildcatting' then he doesn't get the support price. If the spot is higher than the support then again AFAIK they don't get it either. YOu don't get 'bases' out of thin air. You have to inherit or grow them slowly ,if you can.

    You can crunch numbers and see that 4 dollar corn yields a very nice profit but don't forget that the operator SHARES that with many landowners if on a share basis.

    I can't defend these numbers. The USDA has a lot of information available in this area. You can look around and likely find it. What they don't show is the farmers/operators/landowners aspect.

    That leads one to think that the farmers are being paid NOT TO GROW. This is a misconception. Land that is HEL(highly erodable land) must have special handling as specified by the Soil Conservation Services(now part of FSA offices) and you may set aside some land or do CRP. You get a small amount for doing so. The government makes these programs up and each year passes farm bills or maybe on a longer basis. This is the controlling area by the government and the USDA who have tried to manipulate what farmers do. They don't like it either by and large. Don't believe the common mantras on this subject but check it out for yourself.

    One further note. We do what is called a 2 year 3 crop rotation. That means normally you plant corn followed by winter wheat and that by soybeans. So in one year you harvest 2 crops. Winter wheat in the spring and soybeans that fall. The beans are in front of corn and fix some nitrogen in the soil. You harvest the wheat and plant the beans in the stubble via no-till , usually.

    There are 3 types of tillage methods that I am aware of in general.
    1. Conventional--plowing,discing,etc
    2. Conservation tillage
    3. No-till
    In no-till you use chemicals to 'burn' down the weed growth and use a planter that opens a furrow, deposits the seed and closes it back. Planters and usually do either conventional or no-till.
    Choices change depending on type of soil,weather, and type of ground(creek bottom,hill,river bottom,etc).

    Again I must state that modern agriculture is high tech. Methods vary across the country, one size doesn't fit all and the farmers are always going with what works depending on many many variables.

    They spend enormous amounts of energy and hard toil bring in crops. I doubt that many could stand to walk in their shoes and follow them around on a typical farm day anywhere from spring planting to early winter harvesting. They are hardy, contentious, mostly conservative in many of their views yet liberal in many others.

    If you accused them of taking handouts they would say this:
    "Don't talk like that to me with your mouth full of food."
    and they might just bust you one. They are wanting to provide for their families yet they see their male offspring fleeing the very lifestyle that raised them and racing off to the lure of 'conspicuous
    consumption' and whatever it is that drugs todays youth into a deadend lifestyle. They end up hiring the poor guys who couldn't afford to take off for the city lights. The ones who do the backbreaking labor.

    I have spent many many hours driving a tractor across fields. Its far from cruising in a Porsche out on the byways with a nice babe beside you. I have spent hours of hard dirty work with my hands cut and bleeding. For this I received very little and had to look elsewhere for the satisfaction. It was very slow in coming. Most never find it but thats all they know how to do and so they do it.

    The one thing they do like is to have a nice pickup truck since they spend so many long hours of their life inside one. They don't cruise the highways with boom boxes banging away or with extreme frame lifts and huge tires. They might go fishing or hunting if the city folks haven't ruined it already or shot their cows and horses in the fields.


    P.S. Hope this helps.

    I appreciate the microeconomic perspective. But the world is much more simple than that. So far we have not much indication that the EROEI of farming methods is actually much above 1. This alone rules out farming as a way of producing energy. We can tell from simple thermodynamics that current solar cells are roughly 20 times better than plants at converting photons into useful energy. If you take the difference between efficiency of electricity and chemical energy foar anything but heating into account, you get another factor of 2-2.5, i.e. PV beats crops by at least a factor of 40. And future cells will be twice as area-efficient, so now we are getting closer to a two orders of magnitude advantage for PV! Add in the advantage that solar cells don't need much maintainance (while farming is a full time job), and you have even larger savings.

    We know that we could not satisfy even a fraction of our energy needs from using all our land and we already know that most of our energy problems could be solved by using nothing but the roof areas of our homes.

    The only reason why we are vasting money on biodiesel and ethanol is political. Of course, once tortillas will become more expensive in the US because of this nonsense and people become aware of the connection that one gallon of bio-fuels means that 12 people go starving for a day, the public will turn on this very quickly.

    HEY IP,

    I didn't type all this in just to give YOU a personal headsup and perspective.I thought you were beyond such mundane topics with your 200+ IQ and World Book encyclopedic BRAINIAC knowledge

    It was for everyone else BUT you.

    I don't care to communicate with you. Not even on this level.
    You are a waste of bandwidth.

    And who is this WE you keep referring to? Is ImSceptical sitting on your lap? Again?


    What's the matter Airdale? Is IP again raining on your doomer parade?

    "Is ImSceptical sitting on your lap? Again?

    That is a very rude statement that was only meant to inflame. If we believe the rumours, the only poster accused of diddling little boys is the english teacher, mike bendzela - alias b3ndz3la.

    I just can't get my head around the violent reactions to every other post from IP. I think he's one of the more knowledgable and valuable posters here - especially since his ideas challenge a lot of my beliefs regarding PO. But maybe that is the problem with some.

    Ahem... Since when did farming get ruled out as a way of producing energy? And where exactly is your data to back up the assertion that not even a fraction of our energy needs can be met from using all 'our' land?

    Peak Oil - a liquid fuels crisis and perhaps the greatest energy problem mankind will ever face- cannot be solved with 'nothing but the roof areas of our homes' as you so advocate.

    I usually enjoy your posts, however, these assertions coupled with the totally absurd notion that '12 people starved today because a gallon of biofuel was made' comes across not so much as idiocy as it is well... shocking.

    That 16oz T-Bone on your dinner plate takes almost the same amount of subsidized GM corn to produce as it does a gallon of ethanol and yet woe unto the world's starving masses only now and only if you make ethanol with it?!?

    Can you say hypocrite?

    I don't know which way this argument will go, but maybe we'll find out soon...

    World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates
    United States Department of Agriculture
    (released Friday)

    “Global coarse grain ending stocks are lowered 6.2 million tons with global corn stocks projected to fall to their lowest level since 1977/78.

    Related quote:

    "The ethanol industry's demand for corn will leave the US with only a meager three-week supply of the grain when this year's crop is ready for harvest, the U.S. government said on Friday."

    Airdale -

    Very interesting and informative!

    As I grew up in the wilds of northeastern New Jersey, about 12 miles as the crow flies from Times Square, and having never lived outside the Boston-Washington corridor, I know jack about farming.

    However, I get the impression that modern farming involves a large amount of money going in the front end and a large amount of money coming out the back end, and a very small difference between the two can spell the difference between good times and bad times. Doesn't sound like a fun way to live, and it seems that more people are trying to get off farms than on.

    It appears that about the only way to make money off a family farm in the more populated parts of the northeast is to sell some or all of your land to real estate developers.

    Surely you've heard the one about the farmer who won the huge zillion dollar lottery. He was asked what he intended to do with all that money. His reply...

    "Guess I'll just keep farming until it runs out".

    :-) :-(

    A farmer had a guest for supper. The guest asked how he did at farming. The farmer replied that he had only owned the place a short time and wasn't for sure.

    The guy asked why that was and the farmer said
    "Well that guy over there is my hired hand and I got it from him."

    The guest was amazed and questioned the farmer even more.

    The farmer finally said "Look I was once the hired hand and worked for him but he never could pay me so when he owned me a lot he just gave me the farm and I then he went to work for me,so every once in a while we have to do this and it works out good for both of us that way. We both get to be farmers and never owe anything for very long."


    A farmer had a guest for supper....

    I loved that one!

    Yes a lot of money and risk.

    Farmers are asset rich and cash poor. Only when they sell out do they realize the value of their assets. Selling out means they are out of business. When some farmers lose their land thru whatever many commit suicide. This has happened in the past but doesn't get publicized.

    The ones who lend to farmers , like the PCA or its successors entice the farmers to borrow way beyond their means and then they falter and go under as a result of being overextended.

    Its a tough life. Not a 'landed gentry' lifestyle as shown in the various 'Country Living 'magazines that many in the burbs think they live by putting a 'tater' bin in the kitchen and some cheap cheesy flea market trash over the 'hearth'. Like a wreath of grapevine or honey suckle A hearth that surrounds a metal box and metal
    pipe for faux gas logs.

    When some farmers lose their land thru whatever many commit suicide.

    In India, the farmer suicides are running into the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands over the past couple of decades. The same pressures of globalization that affect the farmers in India are affecting American farmers.

    Likewise in Australia right now. They're in their summer and burning up down there.

    The only time I've felt envious of farmers is thinking that, well, they generally don't starve to death at least not the old type diversified farmers. Anything we tried to grow when I was a kid got stolen. Had pretty good luck with sweet potatoes though, most ppl don't consider the leaves to be food. In fact as a general rule, when starving, if you know how to use a resource others don't generally recognize as food, you can keep yourself going.


    I like this post just as well as your previous long one on farming, yesterday?, keep sharing, real good stuff.

    And it's great too that you attract the three main members of the Doofus Clueless family, the guys that make Hothgor look good.

    But don't get upset about it, them's things to enjoy.

    Yeah. Hothie is Mensa material compared to the others.

    Anyway I can add more to the numbers given some time to collect a bit more data and find my Ag crop book.

    The reason I lean towards farming on a PO website is that is what I think is going to be important after the shoe drops and we have to start rebuilding again.

    And as well as due to the subject of ethanol. That might be an early heads up to all of us. When the food starts to get real expensive.

    If the corn prices are dominant then the farmers will surely go for what makes them the most money and if that means bypassing the grain semis from the big graneries then thats what they will do. Drive right to the ethanol plant. But now some graineries are going to build ethanol and biodiesel right at the same site, or so I hear.

    I'd love some info on per acre fuel use and per acre yield
    it's been an on going debate as to how much fuel usage goes into u.s. farming any where from 3% to 20%
    any insight would be helpful

    I will attempt to dig up some values. They might be highly variable by region.

    Most farmers(operators) prefer keep traffic on the fields to as low a value as possible. The cost of diesel is the reason as well as compaction of the soil.

    Using wider equipment and GPS tracking saves in number of passes and time spent. Lots of development in this area.

    New Orleans feels pain of mental health crisis

    Stephens had a staffer review death notices published in the local paper since Katrina. Before the storm, there were fewer than 900 death notices a month, the review found. Now, it's about 1,300 a month, he says.

    Yikes. That's pretty alarming, considering the population is half what it was before Katrina.

    A friend is a Psychiatrist doing her residency in New Orleans (I am helping her move back into her flooded home). Helping keeping her going (along with many others) is one of my contributions. She is near her limits.

    Suicides are WAY up. So is alcohol use (unbelieveably) Stress is major (majority of NOPD left suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, yet they keep going; first time wife abusers are now a major problem; twenty years of a good marriage and then "SNAP" and there is little knowledge of how to deal with this). Almost everyone is suffering and the death rate climbs as a result. Minimal health care (mental health in most desperate need) BUT mental health is recognized as a valid issue that gets public attention.

    Channel 6 news has an hour of local news @ 10 PM. Second half hour is devoted to specific issues. FEMA Friday, Mental Health Monday, ... Frank discussion of issues with resources listed.

    The success of the Saints is a MAJOR aid (zero calls to Crisis Center during game with Philly) and the euphoria and their triumph over adversity (done by good guys playing well together and involved with the community) is helping people cope. As the Washington Post pointed out, when all else has failed and disappointed, the most unreliable part of people's lives is suddenly coming through.

    As the Monsignor recently said "The Catholic Church has always supported the Saints".

    Best Hopes,


    BTW, I am fairly unfazed by most of the doomer predictions. Grid failure, economic collapse, mass migrations of refugees, massive wave of suicides by those unable to cope, wholesale abandonment of massive swaths of suburbia, etc.

    "Been there, done that"

    The "default solution" to making oil consumption = oil production is economic recession and depression. Works EVERY time :-)

    It is apparent to me that a large part of the US response to PO will be massive unemployment and economic disruption. We will not make effective plans beforehand, so the "default solution" will prevail.

    I would prefer that the US population bought almost nothing but high mileage subcompact cars and TOD housing, that US railroads electrified and Walmart built new stores and warehouses exclusively on railroad sidings, that the US stopped building new highways and built new Urban Rail instead. That city after city would install electric trolley buses. Etc, etc.

    I will continue my struggle to inform and change public policy, but I am comforted that "Peak Streetcar" in the US (1897-1916) was built with coal, mules and sweat.

    I "will not be surprised" if the misery and suffering I see around me expands nationwide. The only difference is that what we have in New Orleans is worth fighting, and yes, dying for. What most of the rest of this country has is no longer worth that.

    But that is not "The End" (except for those that opt out). Life continues for the living.

    "May you live in interesting times"

    Best Hopes,



    I had asked during the holidays if the old rule of thumb for rail freight transport, penny per ton per mile, was still ballpark, or how much off it might be. Do you have time to comment now?

    I eMailed a primary resource, Ed Tennyson (near age 90, testified against GM for eliminating streetcars, predicted DC Metro ridership when completed before first line built; off by 3%, supervised building San Diego Tijuana Trolley first modern US Light Rail, etc.)

    He said:

    The current cost per ton-mile is about 3.5 cents for railroad, up from one cent during World War II. The cost index is up 16 times over, Railroads have survived ruinius free highway and barge competition by eliminating all higher cost freight and passengers.
    A revenue car-mile averages $ 3 so with 80 tons that is 3.75 cents per ton- mile. very slightl above average. A box car witn 50 tons in it would cost 6 cents per ton-mile. That is the bottom lowest cost for
    trucking which averages 12 cents per ton-mile, almost quadruple ralroads but for faster lighter loads. More imaginative railroad management with better financing could really clean up but businessmen prefer subsidized
    truck movement for convenience.
    E d T e n n y s o n

    Thanks a bunch. Higher than I thought it might be-heard it bantered around by RR buffs a while ago. But very cheap, none the less. I wonder how long trucking will keep their rate.

    Ed T. gave box-car rates, comparable to trucks. Switching cars in railyards is an embedded cost for example with single car shipments.

    Unit trains of coal are, of course, cheaper per ton-mile. More efficient. But box-cars and containers are closer to trucking.

    Single stack containers (common in the East Coast, Boston for example can only ship single stack containers) are comparable in cost to box-cars. Double stack containers are slightly more expensive than single stack containers (2 for the price of 1 plus a bit) when they are going to a common destination. So rates per ton-mile go down WHERE APPLICABLE.

    Efficiencies of scale are part of railroading.

    Best Hopes,


    "The only difference is that what we have in New Orleans is worth fighting, and yes, dying for. "

    The fact that you have to rely on a dying-for-something strategy is usually a good indication that you must have made a lot of mistakes that got you to that point in the first place.

    In case of New Orleans it wasn't the storm that caused the damage. It was idiocy (by the same people who brought you Iraq II) which prevented much needed repairs und upgrades to the levies that could have protected the city.

    New Orleans is not worth dying for. Nothing is worth dying for that could be saved by other means. But a lot of measures are worth thinking about that could preserved and protected our treasures with small upfront investments.

    It is apparent to me that a large part of the US response to PO will be massive unemployment and economic disruption.

    I think another part of the US response will be a massive increase in CO2, sulphur, mercury, and soot emissions as we transition our "addiction to oil" to an "addiction to coal."

    Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

    Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie are moving to Nawlins:


    Hopefully, if you ever get to meet them: you will get a chance to convert them to Peakoilers-- their MSM visibility would do wonderful things for PO + GW Outreach if they decided to get involved.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    I hope that they move into my neighborhood :-) It would be nice to run into Angie at Zara's (our neighborhood grocery).

    Used to run into Anne Rice when I was walking around before she moved. (Anne sent her maid to do the shopping. She lived 4.5 blocks away).

    Best Hopes,


    The 131 mpg Caterham looks like more fun as a commuter car than the 100 mpg hybrids talked about these days.

    You've posted on this how many times?
    Clearly you want the car. Go get the car. They're cheap. Do it.
    Then post your experiences. It will be much more interesting

    This is a different one. It is based on the other, but not the same.

    The original (and in answer to the questions, street legal in some places but not California):


    That one looks a little more normal, but "only" gets 100 mpg.

    Is that car even street legal?

    CIA emphasizes flexibility in new strategy

    The CIA plans to increase its use of "open sources" such as newspapers and blogs and to outsource more software development to commercial contractors under a 22-point strategy being put in place.

    And here we thought they were already watching us... ;-)

    I remember reading about open source intelligence, a promoter of open source intelligence, and a conference on open source intelligence, way back in the Whole Earth Review days ... wow, the google is amazing:

    Thank you to Felix for noting that OSS.Net has been doing this. I founded the USMC Intelligence Center in 1988, and was shocked to discover, after a career as a spy, that 80% of what I needed to do policy, acquisition, operational, and logistics intelligence was not secret, not in English, not online, and not known to anyone in DC. When I first proposed an alternative paradigm for national intelligence (E3i: Ethics, Ecology, Evolution, and Intellignece) in Whole Earth Review (Fall 1992), I was called a lunatic by the leadership of the CIA, which I happily left for the saner USMC. Lunatic. They have wasted 17 years because of their stupid corruption (military-industrial complex) and stupid mind-sets (not invented here, we only do secrets). Their current initiatives are "lipstick on the pig" (see picture of the pig at www.oss.net, Open Source Agency portal page). The good news is that a good person is being put in charge on the IC side, above the losers in the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, we have a Congressional initiative to create a Congressional Intelligence Office like the CRS and CBO but focused on providing Public Daily Briefs and Public Net Assessments to all, and I have a multi-billion dollar initiative that can be summed up, across 20 companies, as "The Googlization of Intelligence." See the brief at www.oss.net/Hackers. I have conference coming up, IOP '06 in DC 16-20 Jan 06, and I want to create some buzz--anyone who sends in a registration from with the name SCHNEIER in the upper right hand corner can pay half price. See conference details at www.oss.net/IOP. There is indeed a "Collective Intelligence" revolution going on, and this is one of the streams feeding power to the people. It will be tough. Wall Street is starting to fear us as they see the days of undisturbed global looting coming to an end.

    from a comment at:


    ... odo's memory holds on to strange things, while forgetting others.

    On the Huffington Post today, Raymond J. Learsy calls for the seizure of Saudi oil fields. ...for the common good, you know.


    This is why, IMO, the major oil exporters like Saudi Arabia have always attacked Peak Oil theories--as part of the "Iron Triangle."

    BTW, remember that Saudi insiders started unloading Saudi stocks like crazy in the first quarter of 2006. Do you think they knew something they weren't telling the rest of us?

    It was in yesterday's drumbeat. I thought Leanan just put it there as an example of energo-fascism, the headline link.

    It brings to mind an old joke about an American trying to understand Communism in the Soviet Union.

    American: So let me see if I understand Communism. If you had two houses, you would give me one?
    Russian: Yes!
    American: And if you had two cars, you would give me one?
    Russian: Absolutely!!
    American: And if you had two shirts, you would give me one?
    Russian: No! Never!
    American: Now I'm confused again. You would give me a house, and a car, but not a shirt?
    Russion: That's right. I have two shirts.

    I know I must be missing something obvious here, but what does that mean?

    The joke means that it is easy to idealistic when it doesn't penalize you. Or another way to say it is that it is easy to be generous with someone else's money (or oil).

    Which comes right around to my thoughts on the anti-war Americans along with the rest of us Americans. Pulling out would mean we lose the big oil chess game, and will have to gear back a LOT in oil consumption. Cue scenes from the Great Depression here. I think the number of Americans who would take that choice over simply staying at war and trading a few American lives and many "bad guys" lives for enough gas for their SUV is tiny.

    Cue scenes from the Great Depression here. I think the number of Americans who would take that choice over simply staying at war and trading a few American lives and many "bad guys" lives for enough gas for their SUV is tiny.

    Larry Kudlow made precisely that point a few weeks ago, when he had two, and only two reasons for not pulling out of Iraq: (1) Oil prices would increase and (2) Stock prices would fall.

    Kind of gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling doesn't it--if you were the parent sending your kid in harm's way in order to keep oil prices down and stock prices up.

    To my everlasting regret, I voted for Bush in 2000. I voted for Kerry in 2004--not that it made any difference in Texas; my Kerry for President sign kept getting knocked down in our front yard. But it is kind of funny that pro-Bush bumper stickers have almost disappeared.

    Kind of gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling doesn't it--if you were the parent sending your kid in harm's way in order to keep oil prices down and stock prices up

    My daughter just called--one of my daughter's friends is moving her wedding date up, because her fiancé's reserve unit is being called up for deployment to Iraq.

    Except that Kerry was going on and on about going into Syria, etc. Scary Kerry. Trying to out-war-hawk Bush. I held my nose and voted for Bush, but why didn't Gore run again? I don't get it, Kerry was a sort of "dark horse" and looked darker the more he was in the spotlight, Gore had undergone all that scrutiny when he ran the first time and that was done with. People, including me, associated Gore with the generally good US economy and world goodwill of the 90s, I figured Gore was most of the brains of the Clinton-Gore pair (Clinton being a pretty smart guy too, and mainly very likeable). I did not vote for Gore in 2000, since I figured he was a shoo-in, I voted for Nader, assuming that Gore had it in the bag, and that a sizeable number of votes for Nader might add some pressure to keep him honest, or even get Nader some gov't post.

    Gore would have won by a screamin' landslide if he'd run in 2004. Hopefully the Dems forget about this Hillarbama nonsense and get Gore back into the fray - Nixon sure didn't quit, it took him a while but he got in because he didn't give up.

    Exports mean little to the USA, less than 3% of GDP. Still the USA & Germany are the largest trading nations. It is in "the West's" interest to have stable economies.

    The usa gets dick all oil from KSA. Less than 2-mbd. Less than 10% of consumption. But disuption of ME oil due to bullies like Hussein or fundamuslimites like Iran threaten global trade and economies. The UK is vulnerable and agreed that forced discipline in the ME was best for long term stability on the global scene.

    Yes, it was all about oil. But the goal was assuring long term access, not taking it. Having said that, the usa and UK desire that more reserves are in the hands of their native corporations. Again, it's about mitigating the control by the cartel and guaranteeing access.

    A world with the wacko's controlling 25% of the reserves was not an option due to the disruption factor.

    As I said (Triple post):

    Kind of gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling doesn't it--if you were the parent sending your kid in harm's way in order to keep oil prices down and stock prices up

    Exports mean little to the USA, less than 3% of GDP. Still the USA & Germany are the largest trading nations.


    China's monthly goods exports have now surpassed those of the US. The US still leads with goods + services, but if China's current 30% p.a. export growth rate persists, the US's No 1 spot as the world's top exporter will soon be under threat.

    Also, what exports are you talking about for your 3% figure? By my reckoning US trade exports are around 11% of GDP.

    Fraudy Nutter the proven liar - too lazy to find the facts, too stupid to grasp them.

    I have to suppose that wackos like W are not a threat on the Freddy model of the universe.
    And that wackos like Freddy are no threat.

    It means the russian didn't have a house nor car but did have two shirts.

    The question was loaded. 'If you HAD'..get it?

    Or was there something very subtle I missed here?

    Help IP HELP.Brainiac needed immediately.

    More like the Russian not only doesn't have the houses or cars, he knows under that sytem he'll NEVER have them. They're purely in the realm of the never-never.

    The shirt represents the russian's vodka. The car represents freedom. The house represents the russian's mother. The moral is that the russian is willing to sacrifice his freedom and his mother, but he will never give up his vodka.

    re: Wrong Turn Amigo

    So here we have the crux of the matter. Steve Christ is not the first to point out that Chavez is not going to be able to produce, in terms of oil, "what the market asks."

    I believe this is exactly Chavez' point. He is not interested in producing what the market asks. He intends to produce what he needs to accomplish his goal in Venezuela and the region.

    Chavez will not be alone as oil get more scarce in asking himself the question, "Why should I pump my treasury full of money today that will be worth less tomorrow? Wouldn't it be better to pump oil to meet my fiscal needs as they occur? In other words, will my oil in the ground be more valuable in the future than money in my vaults?"

    To the best of my knowledge, Chavez has no personal interest in palaces, luxury cars, or secret foreign bank accounts. Unlike many oil rich autocrats, he wants to share the oil wealth with the poor.

    In an earlier thread someone asked why the oil companies in Nigeria don't pay in kind, wheelbarrows, schools, medicine, etc. But China did precisely that in Nigeria (and elsewhere) and a few days ago here on The Oil Drum it was characterised as a bribe.

    Chavez is El Diablo because he wants to withdraw from "what the market asks" and provide schools and hospitals for his people. The Nigerian government on the other hand, does what the market asks while funneling all its wealth into private bank accounts. This government the western military supports with arms and advisors.

    Something to ponder.

    Energy and Capital is a strange site. Interesting, but strange. It's a peak oil site that nevertheless worships at the altar of capitalism...apparently unable to see the problems that leads to.

    Chavez is a prime example. They seem to assume that "maximizing production" is his goal. But he's not a corporation, looking to the next quarterly report. Maximizing production is very clearly not his goal. They seem utterly unable to comprehend that.

    The simple fact that economists fail to comprehend is that oil is more important than money. I fear it'll be obvious soon enough.

    It's not clear what use oil would be in an economy without money. Money facilitates, indeed appears to be a condition for, the division of labour. The division of labour facilitates the use of machinery, which requires energy. Oil is an excellent source of energy.

    "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Bert Einstein

    Money is easy to create. Most anything you can think of has been used as money somewhere, e.g. the Yap Islands.

    If and when the current monetary system crumbles, another system will quickly replace it. Cigarettes have traditionally functioned as money where more conventional currencies fail. Wampum is good. Beaver skins work.

    But I like simplicity. Pennies and nickels will hold their value. Indeed, I expect a Gresham's Law to drive them out of circulation within five years.

    Vacuum packed cigarettes will always hold their value. I think coffee and tea (packed appropriately) will too. Teabags are very convenient units of account.

    Did you know that cigarettes cause cancer? And ER people can tell you that a lot of black market goods are known to cause little circular wounds caused by high speed metal projectiles, many of which are lethal.

    Thanks, I think I stick with paper and plastic. They are better for my health.

    "little circular wounds caused by high speed metal projectiles, many of which are lethal."

    I believe the technical term is "acute lead poisoning" :-)


    Columba's search was for a short route to the S E Indies and the spice Islands.

    Not for nothing did the Mistress of the house keep spices and later Tea under lock and key.

    Charter three ships, two years later one returns with spices, and the venture capitalist was set for life.

    Hence the saying: 'when my ship comes in'

    But then you guys all know what trouble Tea can cause :-(

    But like you say: nearer to home (in your country at least since you can grow tobacco) Cigarettes and also perhaps Illicit stills. Both products make good currencies in times of national stress.

    BTW: It is the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England

    Just thought you would like to know...

    Hello TODers,

    Guangzhou, China banning two-wheeled rides to emphasize automobiles!

    Guangzhou, a major city in Southern China that has become the country's export 'capital', helping to push the per capita income as high as $10,000 (very high for China), is the subject of a surprising new law which will ban motorcycles and motorized bicycles in the city. The ban is being called a "crime-fighting measure."
    Sure seems like a goodway to guarantee gridlock, massive parking problems, and burn gasoline even faster to me.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    RE: Unlimited Energy from an artificial Sun.

    Seems surreal to me.

    Would anyone care to comment on the feasibility of this coming to fruition? Is unlimited clean energy possible?

    I believe your Mom and Dad were supposed to tell you:

    "Son, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

    That is all you need to know.

    from yesterday's drumbeat:

    You got me thinking - a crude refinement of your estimate: if you assume an average shoreline grade of 30 degrees, then for each meter of rise you will get 2 meters of flood. So for a given volume of melt added to the oceans, will the depth rise by one-third, or 30m? Is there an expert here who can nail down this calculation for armchair nerd wannabees like me?

    I'm not an expert, but I can do geometry and calculus. Here are the results.

    This is an idealised system with a square ocean and two shores with a angle that can be an unknown, but for some reason, we are assuming it is an average of 30 degrees. We might want to assume that there are four sides to our shore, but because there is so little land compared to ocean, I decided that two would be better.

    We know:
    Surface Area of the Ocean (Width*Depth) =361.6 Million km2
    Volume of the Ocean (Width*Depth*Height)
    Volume of water generated by the melted ice (units3) =32.328 Million km3 from USGS
    Estimated shore slope (phi) =30 Degrees
    Obtaining these values is left as an exercise to the reader.

    {Change in Volume} = [{Surface Area} * {Change in Height}] + [(square root of {surface area}) * {Change in Height}2 * 1/{tan{phi}}]

    Solving this quadratic gives:
    {Change in Height} = -[{surface area}*tan(phi)(+/-)sqrt[{surface area}2*tan(phi)2+4*sqrt(surface area)*{change in volume}*tan(phi)]]/[2*sqrt(surface area)]
    (This is from the quadratic formula)

    Plugging in the numbers:
    {Change in Height} = 0.088686 km = 88.7 m
    This is close to what climatologists have predicted, which means that our model isn't too bad.

    Now, to reply to your question. "...for a given volume of melt added to the oceans, will the depth rise by one-third, or 30m?" No. As you can see from the math, the relationship is not that simple.

    If you really wanted to do this right, you would get topographic maps for the shoreline of the entire planet and input them into a computer that will calculate the new shoreline and resulting change in height of sealevel. I assume that is how the experts get their results.

    I am putting this in today's drumbeat because there dosen't seem to be a way to see if your previous comments have received replys like in the old version of TOD and I don't want it to get lost.


    From memory the avg world wide shoreline gradient is about 1-2 degrees or about 50 to 1. So 1 meter is =50 meters of sea water inundation.

    I did not actually think that 30 degrees was a smart assumption, but the parent poster used it, so I took it as a given. Also, I had no idea where to find a more accurate number.

    At 1.5 degrees average slope, the rise in sea level would be 77.4 m. Down from 88.7. That makes a large difference, although not as large as I would expect.

    At 76 MSL that puts Toronto, Ontario under water.

    At 1.5 degrees average slope, the rise in sea level would be 77.4 m. Down from 88.7.

    pr, Liked your math game.

    But are you sure that from a 30 degree to a 1.5 degree slope (200%), the sea level rise difference is just, let's say. 15%?

    No. This was a rough estimate that I cooked up from idealised geometry as a reply to a poster that was asking about the relationship between volume of melt and the rise of the ocean.
    I am actually suprised that it is so close to the published numbers.

    The reason that the difference between the height change for 30 degrees and for 1.5 degrees is so small is that the additional area that is to be covered is so small compared to the area of the ocean. 0.3 trillion km2 it quite a large area.

    I had to assume that the ocean was square instead of rectangular to get rid of unknowns. I'm now curious how the results would change if I assumed that the ocean was conical? I'll leave that as an excercise for the reader.

    I was a later piler at yesterday's thread. Since the discussion has moved here, i'll repeat:

    The avg shoreline is not that steep. One rule of thumb i kinda remember was that 1cm rise = 25m loss of shoreline; mainly 'cuz there is an erosion factor. To get the rise, u could say roughly 1C = 0.3m; but that does not work well. The amount of melt passes thresholds so u will get a lot as the arctic gives up it ice; then a pause at temp rises; then a gush when antarctic peninsula starts; and another for west antarctic. The east antarctic can never go 'cuz it's -35 down there. If it goes, we probably all fried by then. Methinx a 10C rise in avg global temp is req'd to melt the western antarctic (from memory).

    We may not see it in any event. Believe it or not, there are certain feedbacks in play where too much GW actually brings on another ice age.

    Here's some more info:
    The players Size (approx) Speed (approx)
    Sea Ice 0.4 cm years
    Mountain Glaciers 10's cm decades
    Thermal Expansion 20 cm per degree warming, per km of ocean warmed
    West Antarctica 500 cm a few centuries
    Greenland 500 cm several centuries
    East Antarctica 7000 cm several centuries to millenia

    My condolences to the nihilists and die-offers...

    One simply cannot assume that there is a 30 degree rise in shoreline. Some islands, like the Maldives, are less than one meter above the surface of the ocean at high tide. In fact, all coral atolls are only a few feet above sea level. Even in Florida, once you get a few feet above sea level, in many places, the degree rise drops off to zero.

    It all depends on where you are. Some places have a very steep rise in shoreline and in some places it is almost nil after you get two or three feet above sea level.

    Ron Patterson

    This is pretty true throughout the SE US. Florida may be the worst, Orlando is only 100 ft above sea level...Deltona, nearby and at least 40 miles from the ocean, has elevations around and lower than 40 NGVD. Louisiana is no better, and neither is much of SE Texas.

    Some people have created maps of the world with different sea levels (using 3d models).


    If I remember correctly:

    About two thirds of the current world population lives within 30 metres of the current mean sea level.

    Freddy's figures are pretty reasonable, unlike some of the loopy ones mentioned by the most alarmist global warming panickers, some of whom talk about 10m or more of sea level rise within a century. An example is J.M. Greer's recent "2150" essay which put the US coastline somewhere near St. Louis by that date.

    While recent findings about how fast water can percolate down to the base of glaciers has caused alarm about what might happen to Greenland, most of the icecap away from the coast is very high, very thick and very cold - full melting will take several centuries at least. In terms of Antarctica, apart from the peninsula - part of which is outside the Antarctic Circle - most of it is very cold and very climatically isolated from the rest of the world by circumpolar wind and water currents. As with Greenland what we are talking about is long-term destabilisation rather than huge melting this century.

    With ocean warming, while the surface waters can warm and expand relatively quickly (in years to decades), deeper waters take centuries to millenia to respond to changing mean atmospheric temperatures. Again it's a case of our current actions storing up big trouble for our descendents (if any) in future centuries.

    For how coastlines respond to rise in sea level, try Googling "Bruun Rule".

    I might add that I don't want to rubbish Greer in general, most of his material is sensible and valuable - there's no need to propose nonsensical events to reach his post-industrial/agrarian world scenario.

    It is also worth pointing out that the ice core samples being taken from Greenland and the Antarctic go back through several ice ages.


    Tests Show "Artificial Sun" Is Reliable

    ``Designed to replicate the sun's energy generating process, the
    Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak fusion reactor recently
    garnered positive results in tests being conducting at China's Institute
    of Plasma Physics, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.''

    They have simply determined that they can repeat plasmas with prescribed parameters (density, temperature, magnetic field, etc). They have yet to start progress towards the pulse length goal and are many years at least behind the ability to reproduce the temperatures and densities of present-day tokamaks.

    To say this is a "reliable artificial sun" is simply ridiculous, though I've noticed this sort of tone in their press releases ever since the EAST experiment finished construction last year.

    Thanks for responding.

    It does appear the Chinese officials are exagerating their results to date in order to falsely lead the Laymen-Public to conclude they are nearer to completing the experiments then they truly are.

    What I am wondering at the moment is whether they are onto something here? The Chinese are renowned for success at long term planning and big picture thinking. This would definitely fit the bill.

    "It does appear the Chinese officials are exagerating their results to date in order to falsely lead the Laymen-Public to conclude they are nearer to completing the experiments then they truly are."

    The only susbstantial difference between a layman and an expert are the journals they read. I just googled "Chinese Tokamak" and got as one of the first hits these presentations:



    To find expert information with all the necessary data took me all but ten seconds. You could have done the same. Anyone with an introductory class in plasma physics can use this information to evaluate the Chinese experiments.

    The Chinese are not trying to mislead anyone. All you have to do is to go to the science sources. Plasma physics is not any different than rocket science: if you know something about it, you will just laugh about the "artificial sun" crap of the mainstream press and simply read the science publications.

    There is a more general rule to this: if you feel that someone is lying to you, chances are that you simply haven't done your own homework. This applies to all areas of life, except that if the term "nuclear" appears in the context, non-physicists react with more Angst than usual. The truth is: unless you are a PhD in one of these fields you won't even be able to ask the relevant questions to which they absolutely don't want you to know the answers and most of those are related to the engineering of "better" bombs. The basic matrials needed to build a Hiroshima type device are all in the public domain for three or four decades, anyway.

    Yes you are quite right, I can go to the sources. I did this in fact, from the time of the first post-construction release. I can get the details because this is my field. But many people are misled, and in fact the Chinese do inflate their press releases even more than the rest of us do. It surprised me at first, and then on second thought not. But I do find it amusing. First plasma meant they had fusion, more or less. Their presentation at Chengdu was, on the other hand, precise, correct, and in no way overstated. Of course, only the insiders got that version :-)

    A few days ago I asked if anybody knew the total amount of oil pumped in the lower 48 since 1859. Yesterday I found the annual figures for 1859-2005 and added them up. The total came to 189 billion bbl. This is roughly 300 billion cu ft. This is only 10 times the size of the compressed air storage facility planned for Iowa. The amount of space available in deep aquifers makes oilfield space look trivial.

    I think you forgot to multiply be 42:
    1.7481 cuft/gal * 189x10e9 * 42 gal/bbl = 1.3876e13 cuft

    Actually their are 7.48 gallons per cu ft.
    And the answer is 1.06 trillion cu ft.

    Me: ft^3/gal * gal/bbl * bbl = ft^3
    You: gal/ft^3 * gal/bbl * bbl = gal^2/ft^3

    I think your units are off, but don't mind being corrected if I'm screwing up twice.

    Have you observed a 5 gallon bucket? they usually have an 11 inch diameter and contain about 12 inches of fluid. An 11 inch diameter contains an area of about 2/3rds of a square foot. .66 * 1 * 7.48 = about 5 gallons.

    I have lots of five-gallon buckets; they are all the same size and shape and have lots more than twelve inches depth of fluid in them, and the diameters are also larger than eleven inches. Interested in the actual dimensions?

    This technique is known as casual empiricism;-)

    I have lots of 5 gallon buckets and have discovered that 4-1/2 gallon buckets are quite common, as are 18 liter buckets.

    From the end of today's Kunstler:

    Last week, the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in an extraordinary session, heard testimony that the nation is in grave danger of a permanent oil crisis. Some of these senators affected to be shocked and surprised. What planet have they been living on? What is the nation getting for the hundreds of million of dollars paid to their staffers? Outgoing Republican chair, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), said to the witnesses that “what you told us today is absolutely startling with reference to the future.”

    Is it possible that the Senator could be so clueless?

    More on the hearings from Oil and Gas Journal .

    I found very few news hits on these hearings. Guess the media doesn't deem them worthy of public interest.

    Hmm, maybe Domenici really hasn't heard of this stuff.

    Hmm, maybe Domenici really hasn't heard of this stuff.

    It's hard to know how much of this is political posturing (i.e. if he admitted to knowing something, someone would eventually want to know why he didn't do something about it) and how much is sheer cluelessness.

    Based on what I saw in that hearing, I would say that Domenici is probably not the sharpest pencil in the box.

    "I found very few news hits on these hearings. Guess the media doesn't deem them worthy of public interest."

    Read this one and read your statement above again.




    Apologies beforehand if people think this doesn't belong on an energy site, but then again, it's all one big mess, isn't it?

    The thing about the Libby trial is that this Scooter rides us into uncharted territory, and that requires improvisation. Well, if there's anythting these guys are not good at, it's improvising. In that regard, this has the same potential as Watergate. Too many details.

    Scripting or comprehensive planning is hard in this case, because there's dozens of people involved, who all may know a piece of the puzzle that looks insignificant by itself, but could turn out to be deeply embarrassing, or worse. Mr. Rove must have nightmares about being caught off guard.

    Plus, if you know the history of US politics, it's no mean feat to be the first ever vice-president to be called as a witness in a criminal case.

    Libby trial to put D.C. elite on spot

    Government and media figures are likely to face some tough questions in the CIA leak case
    When Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff goes on trial today on charges of lying about the disclosure of a CIA officer's identity, members of Washington's government and media elite will be answering some embarrassing questions as well.

    Lewis "Scooter" Libby's case will put on display the secret strategizing of an administration that cherry-picked information to justify war in Iraq and reporters who traded freely in gossip and protected their own interests as they worked on a big Washington story.

    The trial will pit current and former Bush administration officials against one another and, if Cheney is called as expected, will mark the first time a sitting vice president has testified in a criminal case. It also will force the media into painful territory, with as many as 10 journalists called to testify for or against an official who was, for some of them, a confidential source.

    You're right, it doesn't belong here.

    New York Times has an editorial on energy today:


    France touts rising fertility rate

    France had more babies in 2006 than in any year in the last quarter-century, capping a decade of rising fertility that has bucked Europe's graying trend, the state statistics agency said Tuesday. The government trumpeted the figures as a victory for family-friendly policies such as cheap day care and generous parental leave — many of which were launched under Socialists like presidential candidate Segolene Royal, who was family minister in the early 1990s, and have continued to grow under today's conservative government.

    Hong Kong limits pregnant Chinese women

    Pregnant women from mainland China who are near their due date will be turned away at Hong Kong borders if they cannot prove they have appointments in the city's hospitals, officials said Tuesday. The number of births by mainland Chinese women in Hong Kong nearly doubled in 2005 — from 10,128 in 2003 to 19,538 — according to the city's Hospital Authority. Many come to evade China's one-child policy, take advantage of higher quality health care or earn Hong Kong residency rights for their babies. The former British colony of Hong Kong is now under Chinese rule, but it remains separately governed and maintains immigration controls. Hong Kong residency, which is required to live in the city, is coveted by mainland Chinese because of the higher standard of living here and prospect of a better education for their children.
    They're also charging Chinese women double the normal medical fees.

    France has had the highest fertility rate in rich Europe since the end of the 1970s, though it has never quite got back to replacement level.

    RR: are you still bullish on Conoco Phillips? It has lost about 10 points since the favorable article in Barron's.

    Oh yeah, I am in for the long-term. Short term corrections happen, but I would be surprised if I don't average 12-15% return over the next 5 years. I have done far better than that over the past 4, since the merger.

    I loaded up at $58, so I am still in the money, but COP is still trading at a very large discount to the other majors. All of the major have fallen as the price of oil has fallen, but COP has had some other bad news to deal with. First, they have a fairly significant presence in Venezuela, and Chavez says he is going to nationalize everything down there. Second, the market didn't like the fact that most of the reserves growth was done through acquisitions. But, long term, I still think COP will outperform the other majors because of the significant discount. And, if the market tightens back up later this year and oil prices head back up, so will the stock price.

    Wow! A good open thread, lots of good comments & information, little backbiting. Glad to see it.

    I'll second that.

    Dave, check out the shape of the current Nymex LS crude futures curve compared to the one you posted in your Dec 9th post. The market's gone into perfect contango. This is a significant change from just a month ago when traders saw some medium-term tightness followed by easing as investment in new capacity came online.

    Prices may have dropped, but now the market's seeing oil rising every year through to 2012. This will be a key point to watch if the spot price rises back up again. If the full contango holds then perceptions will have changed - it will be evidence that a peak within a decade is gaining credibility.

    No extraordinary OPEC Mtg!!!!

    The quota jumpers are getting spanked.

    The graph in the right margin is futures options price ... not spot and not contract price.

    With a good inventory report by EIA in the morning, spot could go below fifty bucks within 24 hours. Contract price below $45.

    subscr site:
    Crude futures in New York fell on Tuesday to a 19-month low at $50.53 per barrel after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Naimi said there was no need for an emergency meeting by Opec to consider another production cut to stabilize prices.

    I think the report will not come out until Thursday due to MLK day holiday on Monday...just like the trash pickup...day delay.

    WSJ: Pickens Still Bullish on Oil (paid subscription required)

    "I've been surprised at how severe the decline was," Mr. Pickens said in an interview. "Consequently, I'm not ready to give up." He added that he is "not going to back off" an earlier prediction that oil will average $70 a barrel in 2007. If oil does fall below $50, the market won't let it sink below $48, he contends.

    As oil prices have tumbled in recent weeks, markets have buzzed about Mr. Pickens possibly hitting a major dry hole. Mr. Pickens has long argued -- and made huge bets to back up his thoughts -- that rising demand and limited supply will help keep oil prices high. But oil is now at its lowest level since May 26, 2005.

    Mr. Pickens conceded that, in addition to warm winter weather that has hurt demand, "there was a little more oil around than I thought there was."

    Mr. Pickens conceded that, in addition to warm winter weather that has hurt demand, "there was a little more oil around than I thought there was."

    Pickens is in good company. I suspect a few Drummers got burned, too!

    But at least he will admit it!

    Looks like Natural Gas projects are running into various problems.


    I will not be surprised to hear more and more bad news with respect to LNG.

    I am paying close attention to the NG situation in NA from a business risk perspective, more so than a geological perspective.

    Something I have not seen discussed openly in the press yet is the issue of insurance. With major insurance firms withdrawing from the east coastal market due to risk of major storms, and Lloyds now expressing concern, it leads me to believe insuring an LNG terminal on the east coast will be a very expensive proposition.

    This is an area where the government may have to step up and provide the insurance.

    I mentioned the other day that Kitimat, BC has approval to go ahead with construction of an LNG terminal and construction was supposed to start two months ago. However, they are not allowed to start until they have contracts worth 2/3 of their capacity. Due to the Australia/East Timor royalty sharing dispute construction hasn't started.

    NA may have missed the boat on LNG. We'll see.

    Hello TODers,

    U.S. farmers facing labor shortages:

    King and others say efforts to replace foreign-born workers have come up empty, with most Americans simply unwilling to do the hard manual labor.

    "When farmers say they have a difficult time getting local workers to do the job, that is true to a great extent," said Thomas Maloney, a senior extension associate in applied economics and management at Cornell University. "Some of these jobs are difficult, labor intensive job.

    The American Farm Bureau Federation has warned labor shortages could cause $5 billion in losses to the agriculture industry. The Farm Credit Associations of New York, in a statement supporting immigration reform, said New York could lose more than 900 farms over the next two years because of the labor shortages.
    I think an effective PO + GW Outreach program would have no problem incentivising American workers to willingly do this labor. Time will tell.

    Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

    Hilariously, there is no mention in the article of what wages are offered for this farm work that Americans are unwilling to do!

    How can a 'shortage' be discussed in a free-market society without talking about price?!?

    There are segments of American business that are as addicted to cheap labor as they are to cheap oil.