DrumBeat: February 9, 2007

The Desperation of George W. Bush

Passing the Peak

The first reason is simply that the world's number-one oil field, Saudi Arabia's Ghawar, is in decline.

According to Jeffrey J. Brown, an independent petroleum geologist, the well-respected Hubbert Linearization Method of oil field production analysis shows that Saudi Arabia is 58% depleted and the world is 48% depleted . . . about where Texas and the lower 48 states peaked and started irreversible declines in production. "Based on the HL method and historical models," he says, "I believe Saudi Arabia and the world are now on the verge of irreversible declines in conventional oil production."

This is something that Matthew Simmons, founder and chairman of the world's largest energy investment banking company and author of Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy, has been saying for several years now. He has been running himself ragged traveling the globe and warning about a Saudi production collapse.

Well, in a January 31 interview on Bloomberg television, he dropped the bomb: "We have hit peak oil."

That's it. The party is officially over.

Peak oil and Cantarell

The issue here isn't that Cantarell is declining. That began a couple of years ago and had been widely anticipated. What's news is that, just as many peak oil theorists have been warning, when big fields start to decline they decline faster than anyone expects. So far, Cantarell appears to be evidence that they're right.

Oil May Rise to $71.50 as Output Trails Demand, Goldman Says

Crude-oil prices may rise as high as $71.50 a barrel this year because investment by oil companies to boost output is lagging behind demand, said James Gutman, an economist at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

CIBC no longer predicting $100-a-barrel oil any time soon

A "war on carbon" by governments has prompted a strategic retreat by CIBC World Markets chief economist Jeff Rubin, who less than a year and a half ago was predicting oil would be near US$100 per barrel by now.

..."We’re still going to get $100-a-barrel oil but I think it’s going to take longer, given what’s happened to demand," Rubin said in an interview.

Venezuela oil firm overburdened with Chavez largess

Venezuela's national oil company is buckling under the burden of financing President Hugo Chavez's more than $9 billion a year in social and political ventures.

Production at Petroleos de Venezuela is declining, and any major drop in oil prices or failure to reverse declining investment and production could lead to bankruptcy of the goose that lays the golden egg for Venezuela, Moody's Investors Service warned yesterday.

White House Budget to Cut Energy Research

In President Bush's proposed 2008 budget, weapons development wins big while overall funding for research suffers.

A rush-hour tax on urban drivers

President Bush wants to give $305 million to cities and states to come up with ways to charge drivers for traveling at peak traffic. Such "congestion pricing" has worked in a few cities such as London and Singapore. But can it succeed with toll-averse Americans?

US moves in on Africa

This week's US decision to create a new Pentagon command covering Africa, known as Africom, has a certain unlovely military logic. Like Roman emperors of old, Washington's Caesars arbitrarily divide much of the world into Middle Eastern, European and Pacific domains. Now it is Africa's turn.

High oil prices ensure strong economies across MENA

Economic growth across the MENA region is set to continue at high levels in 2007 and high oil prices will result in healthy fiscal and external surpluses for the oil-producing countries, concludes a recent report by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services — "Data Watch: Middle East and African Sovereigns In 2007." Public finances and external accounts in non-oil producers will remain relatively weak, however.

Lukoil likes Colombian oilfield

Russia's Lukoil said Thursday that it has found an oilfield in Colombia that could contain as much as 100 million barrels of oil.

Billions lost in Kyoto carbon trade loophole

Billions of dollars are being wasted in the international carbon trading system owing to a loophole in the Kyoto protocol, according to a study to be published on Thursday in the journal Nature.

Experts foresee efficient ethanol production

"The technology to produce cellulosic ethanol is not there yet," he said. However, he estimates that large-scale, economically feasible production of ethanol from cellulose could happen within 10 to 15 years.

Water woes loom in Asia

Amid this water scarcity, China has gone on to become the world's third-largest bio-ethanol producer after Brazil and the United States, pouring thousands of gallons of water to grow a ton of corn, and then using more water to turn the corn into ethanol.

Study: Saline Aquifers Can Provide Safe Storage for CO2

A new analysis by a team led by MIT has concluded that carbon dioxide injected into deep saline aquifers can be trapped as tiny bubbles and safely stored in the briny porous rock for centuries.

Report shows Scotland can build on its lead in subsea oil and gas

The UK industry has a 50% share of the worldwide market and a major period of growth lies ahead, with worldwide revenue estimated to rise from $29bn to $41bn (£15bn-£21bn) by 2011.

A dirty energy cauldron

The State of Energy in SA Cities report by Sustainable Energy Africa warns that South Africa’s disproportionately large contribution to global warming is likely to come under international scrutiny and pressure.

UAE 'is an ideal place to tap solar energy'

European countries are mulling over plans to extract solar power from the Sahara desert as a source of renewable energy, leaving experts to ask why solar energy is not exploited in the Gulf, especially in power desalination plants.

EU Bank: Quarrels Hindering Baltic Gas Pipeline

The European Investment Bank on Thursday said that quarrels between European Union member states were blocking a funding of a disputed Russian-German natural gas pipeline.

Advantech wins Aramco satellite oil exploration contract

Current U.S. renewable energy goal too low

The head of the U.S. government's renewable energy lab said Monday (Feb. 5) that the federal government is doing "embarrassingly few things" to foster renewable energy, leaving leadership to the states at a time of opportunity to change the nation's energy future.

Statoil, Partners Reconsider Oil Output at Snohvit

Statoil ASA (STO) and its project partners are reconsidering producing associated oil at the giant Snohvit gas field in the Barents Sea, just weeks after announcing oil production had been rejected as uneconomic and wouldn't be pursued.

Canada oil output to rise 9% in 2007

Canadian oil production will grow 9 percent this year, the country's national energy regulator said on Thursday, due to growing output from the Alberta oil sands and offshore oil projects.

In its 2007 production estimate, posted on its Web site, the National Energy Board said Canadian oil output should climb to about 2.89 million barrels a day, 9.1 percent more than the 2.61 million barrel a day average in 2006.

Ghana to double its energy generation capacity to 4000 megawatts-Kufuor

President Kufuor, who dropped the hint during a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu, by the National Executive Council of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) on Wednesday said the new generation system would not be dependent on the weather.

...He said realizing that without affordable, reliable and efficient energy supply system, there could not be effective industrialization, the Government, since its inception in 2001 made energy a priority agenda.

He said, it was for this reason that it raised 40 million dollars as Ghana's equity in the West African Gas Pipeline Project, which should have come on stream last December but for the problems in the Niger Delta region.

Ted Turner and Timothy Wirth Challenge Energy Industry on Alternatives

The pair, and the event's moderator, Matt Simmons of Simmons and Co., also discussed the future of energy policy in Washington given the new makeup of Congress and the efforts by the United Nations to build consensus for new, international policies related to energy and climate change.

Weekly Offshore Rig Review - License to Drill

With today's high oil prices and the new licensing options available in the UK and Norway, the mature fields in the North Sea are garnering a level of attention that has not been seen in years.

Activist embraces an end to suburbia

Like the recently deceased Molly Ivins (who will be sorely missed), Kunstler delivers the raw, ugly truth in a series of straight shots -- but he always chases it down with a dose of wicked humor and a glimmer of real hope. It also doesn't hurt that Kunstler gives great Power Point.

Young and green

Fortunately, Vermont is in a better position to survive what author James Howard Kunstler has called "the long emergency" better than most places. There still is an agricultural economy in place. Suburban sprawl is at a minimum and life is already conducted at the human scale that most of America has abandoned.

So, we suggest an initiative that could keep young Vermonters here, attract young people from other states to move to Vermont and create a new economic model that can stand up to a radically changed world.

DOT: “Our Job is to Keep Traffic Moving, Not Pedestrian Safety”

Gazprom: US Companies Want to Buy Yukos Assets

Large U.S. energy companies have expressed "concrete interest" in buying the assets of bankrupt Russian oil producer OAO Yukos, Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom said Thursday after its chief executive met with the U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

World's largest oil firm chief touts research to make fossil fuels 'cleaner'

The head of the world's largest oil company said that renewable sources can't meet the world's growing energy needs so research dollars should be aimed at both developing renewable sources and at making fossil fuels cleaner.

Virgin's Branson offers $25 million global warming prize

Airline tycoon Richard Branson announced on Friday a $25 million prize for the first person to come up with a way of scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere in the battle to beat global warming.

Natural gas up after inventories

Natural gas prices rallied on Thursday after the latest US inventories data which showed a larger-than-expected fall in stocks last week due to recent cold weather.

UK approves world first offshore wind hybrid plan

The UK government has given the go-ahead to a unique hybrid project in the Irish Sea which will generate electricity from wind and then gas when wind dies down.

Western Australia to trial low emission vehicles

January world's hottest on record

Last month was the world's hottest January on record, in further evidence that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming, Japanese scientists said.

'Doomsday vault' to resist global warming effects
An Arctic "doomsday vault" aimed at providing mankind with food in case of a global catastrophe will be designed to sustain the effects of climate change, the project's builders said as they unveiled the architectural plans.

Bush Ripped on Global Warming

During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers weighed in with harsh words for an administration that has come under fire in the 110th Congress for its stance on climate change.

Congress eyes legislation to fight climate change

The Democrat-led US Congress signalled it would take a cue from the landmark UN report on global warming and draft legislation aimed at fighting climate change.

Carville, Matalin spar over energy issues

Gore climate documentary to be shown in Portuguese schools

Ex-US vice president Al Gore's global warming documentary will be shown at public schools across Portugal as part of a campaign to tackle climate change, Prime Minister Jose Socrates said.

Seven reasons the uranium price will hit $100 this year

In 2006, global oil demand grew 0.9%, thanks to steady growth in China and the Middle East. The world used 84.5 million barrels of oil per day last year, according to the International Energy Agency. That’s nearly 31 billion barrels, and the most oil used in a year...EVER. What’s more, world demand is forecast to rise 1.6% this year to 85.77 million barrels a day.

Worldwide oil and gas reserves are becoming depleted at an ever increasing rate, with many analysts convinced that we are fast approaching Peak Oil and Peak Natural Gas.

As indicated in my 2007 resolutions, I am making a serious effort to reduce my fossil fuel usage this year. I have relocated to Aberdeen, Scotland, and this is giving me a chance to implement some changes I have had in mind for quite a while. It's not like my energy usage was excessive before, but I saw some places that I could reduce. What I am really trying to do is to see how low I can go without making drastic changes (like moving into a cave).

Let me first say, “It ain’t easy being green.” Well, some things are and some aren’t. For instance, take walking instead of driving. I have been doing that for almost all of my trips since arriving here. I did without a car for the first 8 days I was here, and I walked everywhere. One day I walked about 10 miles. When I run out of groceries, I walk half a mile to get some more. Obviously, this limits the amount of groceries I can purchase at one time. So, while I have lowered my fossil fuel usage, it is not nearly as convenient (especially in this weather). Which is of course why we are so dependent on fossil fuels: We love the convenience. We like to drive anywhere, any time we want.

After being here for 8 days, I did rent a car until I can arrange to buy one. I rented a Peugeot 207, which was classified as a mini, the smallest car you could rent. I haven’t had to put gas in it yet, but my guess is that it gets around 50 miles a gallon. It took me only a day or so to get accustomed to the left hand shift and right side steering wheel. Those have also helped me to remember to drive on the left. I have only turned into the right lane once (and drove the wrong way down a one-way street another time). All things considered, I think that’s pretty good.

I wasn’t able to get a house that had public transportation both to my job and to the kids’ new school. So, we compromised on location. I am only about 4 miles from work, and if I leave very early (6:30) I have no traffic coming in to work. The worst thing is that the road is incredibly narrow and winding. There are portions that are so narrow that I cringe when someone passes me. I have asked a couple of people about riding my bike in on that road, and they just laugh and ask if I have a death wish. I do not, so biking is probably out. In fact, I don’t feel particularly safe in my small car on this road (especially when it is dark and snowing), so I drive very slowly. We are on the bus route for the kids’ school, though, so we will be able to keep our trips to a minimum.

Regarding the house, I was looking for energy efficiency. The house we got into has a lot of southern exposure, and it is very well lit. There is a very large skylight upstairs, which really minimizes the need for lighting. There is a programmable thermostat that controls both the hot water and the heating for the house. Right now, since I am alone in the house, I have the hot water coming on just before I get up in the morning, and then back off just as I leave. Ditto the heating for the house, except I also program it to come back on just before I come back home. I should have known that this was the house for me when I walked in and there was a copy of Twilight in the Desert on the coffee table.

We have curb-side recycling for paper, plastics, bottles, and cans, and there is also a recycling center near by. This is much easier than many places in the states, where you often have to go well out of your way to recycle.

Overall, I am pleased at the progress I have made in reducing my fossil fuel input. (Most of the electricity here, by the way, is hydropower). Due to the high gasoline prices here, there is also a significant cost savings from minimizing fossil fuel usage. I just have to keep the momentum going when the rest of the family arrives. We are going to have to break the habit of leaving lights, PlayStations, and computers on when not in use. But other than some inconvenience, I have managed to greatly lower my fossil fuel consumption without too much trouble.

Incidentally, I do not have Internet access at home yet. That is going to be at least another week, so I will be slow to answer responses or e-mails. The only access I have is from work, and I want to limit that to my lunch period.

I'm impressed with all the things you have done. Anything I've done it is usually because it is convienent - like I walk to work and groceries on the way home because it is more convienent for me to do that.

Is the grocery store you are 1/2 mile from a big supermarket type? Other than work commute, groceries are the leading trip generators so we try to incentivize grocery that cover 1/4 to 1/2 mile radius'. One problem is that the grocery stores like to be big these days 70K sq ft + for their own "efficiency" but then they tend to not be close enough together to make walking a viable option for many people because they would cannibalize each other's sales but then this makes the overall community less efficient. How you measure efficiency and local vs global efficiency policy goals is one thing that people need to talk about IMO.


The key to driving in the UK is to line the right hand side of the car with the middle of the road. I learned this from a helpful British chap who was helping me change a flat tire (resulting from driving too close to the left hand side of the road).

When I first rented a car in York, it took me some time to get out of the parking lot--it took me a while to get used to shifting with my left hand and driving on the right hand side of the car. What really fried my brain was turning left into the left lane.

I personally think that cars rented by Yanks in the UK should come with rotating warning beacons.

It is amazing how easy they let you rent a car when the rules are different in other countries. I honeymooned in Scotland for 3 weeks and had a car. The first place I drove was downtown Glasgow. I did suprisingly well. The key is to remain calm and don't rush decisions. For our time in Glasgow and Ediburgh we parked that sucker and never thought about using it.

Come on, guys you are making a mountain out of a molehill... with global tourism we are all used to driving RHD cars (UK, Aus, NZ, India, Asia) or LHD cars (Europe, N America etc).

No... the REAL fun doesn't start until until you take your drive-on-the left British car across the Channel to drive-on-the-right France...

Especially if you are driving solo... overtaking, in particular, becomes a most interesting exercise... and then there are the toll booths!!!


The worst thing is that the road is incredibly narrow and winding. There are portions that are so narrow that I cringe when someone passes me.

Driving on roads like that in Cornwall I discovered why British cars can come with a feature that allows you to draw in the wing mirrors at the touch of a button. There were several times when doing so was the only way to get past an on-coming car. Instead of a hard shoulder, the Cornish roads often have stone walls or hedges right up against the edge of the road. I had to honk my horn before rounding blind corners. Irish roads were even worse as everyone traveled along them at almost motorway speed (or so it seemed).

You should be complimented on dealing with the issue at hand by changing your lifestyle. This is in marked contrast to today's SCIENCE, "Sustainability and Energy," devoted to techno-geek/cornucopian means to sustain our perilous current consumptive standard of living. Unfortunately, the MSM, politicians, the vast majority of the educated will refer to SCIENCE rather than TOD as they plot our future.

Great example! Thank you...

The one sad thing that occured to me about your house is that the well built ones (architecturally as well as ecologically) are kind or hard to find, aren't they? Do you feel particularly lucky to have found this one or is my experience in house hunting (I am in CA...) not transferable?

Robert, I've always found your posts to be excellent and I applaud your efforts to "walk the talk!" I now find myself getting excited about the monthly utility bills. It is upsetting when I don't live up to my own expectations some months. But other months are a big surprise, like the sub-300 KWH used in each October and November...weather's been even milder than usual here in Florida.

I recently bought a 1,400 SF house built in the 1950s. Simply switching out the incandescent bulbs with CFLs, adding a programable thermostat, replacing the original oven/cooktop, replacing a 15+ year old refrigerator with an Energy Star model, and slowly but surely improving the weatherstripping in the house has made a nice difference in our energy use. Also, replacing one of the original toilets with a new dual-flush model has dropped our family of two down to between 1,000 - 3,000 gallons of water used per month (of course we don't have an irrigated landscape like every other house in Florida). But like you stated, getting control of the ghost plug loads from electronics helps as well.

We eventually plan on improving our attic insulation to R-38 (or higher) and replacing our 18 year old water heater with a passive solar water heater. What so many people fail to realize is the biggest wedge for the foreseeable future is by far the efficiency wedge. The US DoE's Building America Program aims to make "zero-energy" homes an industry standard by 2020. How do they hope to get there?...by reducing the energy demands of a typical home by 70% and making up the other 30% with renewables as they come online. TOD readers, check out their free publications based on your climate for ideas on how to improve your home.

One thing TOD should consider is adding a new section to the archives that "pre-sorts" posts according to certain topics. TOD has always been a global leader on reporting "the situation," but it would be great to have a section on "solutions for the individual consumer," or something like that.

Keep up the great work!...and GOOD LUCK!

If the Energy Star appliance needs to be replaced frequently it may not be worth the investment, energetically. We need a durability label.

"We need a durability label."

We have one. It's called "guarantee period". After a year, or five, if the manufacturer feels good about their product, all bets are off. Yet, my parent's had their fridge for over twenty years and it was a good thing that it died! The new one uses half the electricity.

Be careful what you are asking for. Products that are too durable have their own set of problems. A couple years from now we will wish we could replace the vehicle pool faster than every dozen years.

I read somewhere recently that the manufacture of an automobile accounts for 40% of the total CO2 emission of the thing over its lifetime. So durability would seem to be a good thing in many cases. It would seem to make sense to get maximum life out of our stuff. We sometimes seem to draw a line between stuff and the energy use of that stuff, but making stuff takes lots of energy...

"I read somewhere recently that the manufacture of an automobile accounts for 40% of the total CO2 emission of the thing over its lifetime. It would seem to make sense to get maximum life out of our stuff."

That, unfortunately, is not generally correct. Compare early vs. late replacement. In both cases you have to invest the energy/CO2 to make the replacement car. But since the CO2 emissions for making the next generation cars will continue to fall because of better manufacturing practices and because more and more renewables are going to be used in the energy mix, the total CO2 emissions for it come down in time. In contrast, the CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the SUV stay the same. The longer you wait, the more you waste.

Also keep in mind that when you scrap an SUV, almost two small cars can be made from the recycled materials. In other words: you save enormous amounts of resources.

Actually, the warentee is often doubled depending upon your charge card. Does that mean the manufacturer has somehow singled you out for that one in a hundred that runs twice as long as the one other that non-card users buy?

From an energy point of view, about half of the lifetime energy, IIRC, is involved with the manufacture of the vehicle. Cuba may know something we haven't adopted yet.

Regarding the house, I was looking for energy efficiency. The house we got into has a lot of southern exposure, and it is very well lit. There is a very large skylight upstairs, which really minimizes the need for lighting.

Dear RR... I sincerely hope you found something reasonably NEW. Whilst you say you were looking for energy efficiency, I note you make no mention of insulation or glazing standards!!!

If it is like most British houses.. though it will have an insulated attic... it will have single skin brick walls and draughty windows with single pane glazing...

I long ago despaired of British building standards... where since WW2... "build 'em cheap" has been valued more than "build for quality"...

It would be my guess that some 90% of the UK housing stock needs bringing up to C21st European/N. American standards... and by that I mean demolishing, not retrofitting... (installed energy investment notwithstanding...)

Most of the electricity here, by the way, is hydropower
Not as much as you might think. For Scotland as a whole in 2004:

Fuel Source GWh Percentage
Nuclear 18,013 35.4
Coal 13,054 25.6
Gas 11,003 21.6
Oil 2,262 4.4
Hydro natural flow 4,546 8.9
Hydro pumped storage 786 1.5
Other renewables 1,308 2.6

Although the fact that Hunterston B is down for repairs at the moment means that a bit less of your electricity comes from lovely nuclear power.

Hope you're adapting well to life on our cold and grey island. You did pick the most miserable time of year to come. It does get better in spring and summer, honestly (well, most years ;-) ).

Wow. I'd call that "hardly any hydropower at all."

How's it going with Longannet, BTW?

How's it going with Longannet, BTW?

Generating at reduced power using gas, last I heard

Robert ,

are you sure your electricity is from hydro power?

You may find you get your bill from ''Scottish Hydro''. The name of the company has its roots in this source, but not so much now.

Still, apparently there is enough wind plant installed to power a million homes, according to BBC Scotland tonight.

Anyway, enjoy your stay. Sorry about the snow... I have been cursing its lack all winter and then here it comes...

Today's big news:

Exxon Mobil has no more doubts on warming

Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle

Exxon Mobil has no more doubts on warming
Pond of oil in ground has anger bubbling Big Oil behemoth Exxon Mobil Corp. has dropped any pretense of questioning whether global warming is real. Now the company is seeking to position itself as an active player in efforts to lower greenhouse gases.

"The appropriate debate isn't on whether climate is changing, but rather should be on what we should be doing about it," Kenneth Cohen, Exxon's vice president of public affairs, told reporters on a conference call Thursday.

The call came less than a week after an international panel of hundreds of scientists said new research showed global warming was "unequivocal" and that human activity was primarily responsible for the most significant factor in temperature change — greenhouse gases.

"Climate is changing. It's a serious issue. The evidence is there," Cohen said on the call, which was arranged in part to allow Exxon to state its position on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's report.

When pressed, Cohen said "there is no question that human activity is the source of carbon dioxide emissions," and emphasized that Exxon is working with various policy groups and universities to find ways to produce energy while lowering greenhouse gases.

Now what will the oil corporations do to clean up this global-scale mess that they have created?

David Mathews

Maybe GW will be thier PR ticket to get "big auto" into increasing gas milage as a first step. Future declines in oil production could be masked with in the context of "increasing auto effciency as a means to reduce greenhouse gases" PR campaign. Raising auto efficiency standards would reduce carbon emisions, semi-maintain the status quo, and make big oil look good(better?). Pointing the finger at "big auto" would be an easy mark, and it makes alot of sense imho.
Lets watch "big oil" and "big auto" race to save the world from global warming.

In a mainstream newspaper yesterday:

- Water becoming scarce in Belgium (10000$ for scientist who denies global warming): about the consequences of climate change
- Waiting for hydrogen (still no valable alternative for fossil fuels): On one hand, hydrogen is mentioned both as energy source and energy carrier, but also that it is not automatically sustainable, unless produced by windmills or such.
- More severe CO2-limit makes car more expensive (a regional government will tax clean car less): A European limit of 130 g/km

I've decided to put several ideas together and let the Peak Oil community decide if the idea I have is appropriate, so here it is:

Have a day set in August, not sure which day, but I'm thinking the day the EIA annouces C+C oil production for May 2007. Why? On that particular day, we'll know if the record for C+C production (currently May 2005) will be beaten. If not, then May 2007 will be the 2 year anniversary of Peak C+C. I believe it was either Colin Campbell or Matt Simmons who said it will take at least two years to know in the rear view mirror if we've peaked in C+C for the world.

I'm not saying this is equivalent to total liquids peak, its not. Its day will come in 2010 (+-2 years). But its still an important mile stone. I'm almost certain we've peaked in light sweet crude. Now its conventional oils turn. Each step proves the peak oil meme has legs. Hell, even Jubak on MSN was saying the Peak Oil crowd maybe on to somthing with the announcement of Mexico-Canterwell depletion recently.

David Smart

I think that the best description for the oil markets is "metastable."

It's interesting that the news of a 0.16% disruption in world C+C production (the Elk Hills Field) resulted in about a 3.5% increase in spot oil prices.

The forecast increase in Canadian oil production is 9.1% , which amounts to only 280,000 BPD. How likely is Canada to make this goal? According to EIA data, average daily production through November is 2,512,000 BPD, an increase of 143,000 BPD over 2005 average production. Production actually dropped in 2004.

Does the forecast adequately consider the decline in non oil sands production?

According to Jeffrey J. Brown, an independent petroleum geologist, the well-respected Hubbert Linearization Method of oil field production analysis shows that Saudi Arabia is 58% depleted and the world is 48% depleted . . . about where Texas and the lower 48 states peaked and started irreversible declines in production. "Based on the HL method and historical models," he says, "I believe Saudi Arabia and the world are now on the verge of irreversible declines in conventional oil production."

Well, Leanan, clearly you are scraping the bottom of the barrel for news reports.

Every dog has his day.. well done, WT!

You're right, with only 826 links it's obviously a slow news day.
But she works it anyway.
"Let's see, do I put Jeffrey at the top or somewhere hidden in the middle? Hmmm, what's he done for me lately?"
The power she has, the power....

I try to feature the denizens of TOD when they make the news. :-)

Tell us the truth... you were baiting Hothie

Does anyone have a subscription here?

Saudis Pump Billions More Into Refining

Saudi Arabia plans to spend more than $55 billion on domestic refinery projects and billions more overseas, under a program that could see the kingdom account for one-quarter of the world's increase in refining capacity over the next five years, according to a Saudi Aramco official.

Article is behind a paywall. If anyone has read it or knows the answers to the following:

Are they increasing capacity for higher sulfur crudes or for all crude grades?

Is the increase a tacit recognition the rest of the world won't make the investment in refining?

Is it because they want to capture increased revenues by exporting refined products (a sound strategy if, for instance, the underlying commodity were declining)?


I don't have a subscription, but they recently stated they would be spending $80 billion in just the next few years:

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
January 18, 2007

DJ Saudi Output Capacity Target Is 12.5M B/D By 2009 - Naimi

NEW DELHI, Jan 18, 2007 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) --Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali Naimi said Thursday that his country is committed to boosting its supplies of energy to the rest of the world, and aims to have a sustainable oil output capacity of 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009.

"Our first priority is a massive investment program to increase our sustainable production capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009," Naimi said in a speech to an energy conference in the Indian capital.

In November, Nawaf Obaid, managing director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project, said the plan to build up capacity to 12.5 million barrels a day from the current 11.3 million barrels a day had been placed on an accelerated timeline.

"These are not hollow words. They are backed up by concrete plans and actions and the commitment of more than $80 billion dollars for capital projects aimed at increasing the supply of energy to world markets and alleviating infrastructure bottlenecks," Naimi said.

Naimi said additional projects had been identified for implementation after 2009, "if warranted by market conditions."

Saudi Arabia was also working to alleviate refinery capacity problems by investing at home and abroad.

"Taken together, these domestic and overseas projects means that over the next five years we will be doubling our total refining capacity to over 6 million barrels a day," he said.

Naimi noted that even though there was massive investment underway worldwide in renewable and alternative energy, "the overall energy mix in 2030 will look much the same as it does today, with fossil fuels meeting the lion's share of demand growth."

Oil would remain the fuel of choice in the transport sector, he said.

Naimi said one reason for the rises in oil prices seen in the past two years had been higher world oil demand and insufficient investment in energy from the mid 1980s through the 1990s.

Recent high prices had been a wake-up call that was now resulting in increased investment in the energy sector.

Prices needed to be high enough to give adequate returns to producers without hurting consumers, he argued.

Also, it was important to ensure stability in the energy markets to encourage investment, and to help achieve that objective, Saudi Arabia wanted to maintain 1.5 million-2.0 million barrels a day of spare output capacity, he told the meeting.

-By K. Dinkar, Dow Jones Newswires; +91-11-2307-4020; dinkar.k@dowjones.com

Fortunately, Vermont is in a better position to survive what author James Howard Kunstler has called "the long emergency" better than most places. There still is an agricultural economy in place. Suburban sprawl is at a minimum and life is already conducted at the human scale that most of America has abandoned.

I came to the same conclusion a while back. Vermont is on the very short list for me of places to retire to. Hopefully the rest of the world doesn't get the same idea. :)

This is where the Atlantic and Pacific might save the US once again. Migrations could be rough, but I'd take this to central Europe any day! (Eastern Scotland has its points, though, if it dinna freeze up)

It's the Northeast Corridor that I'm worried about..(I say having moved to Maine from NYC myself!) Of course, I only moved BACK to Maine, having grown up here as well..



In the realm of static electricity, electrons move around within a metal object until the electrical potential everywhere in it is equalized.

The analogous phenomenon in ecology is called "the principle of constant misery": migration happens from the worse places to the better ones until they're no longer any better.

Hello R-squared,

Your quote: I came to the same conclusion a while back. Vermont is on the very short list for me of places to retire to. Hopefully the rest of the world doesn't get the same idea. :)

Legal New England secession to create a large, contiguous biosolar habitat with appropriate Earthmarine protection to enforce sustainability is the best option to prevent further migrational Overshoot. Recall my post whereby I suggested they get started by protecting tall trees for future New England shipwright building of clipper ships--this is something that needs to be done for hundreds of years to maximize future NE biosolar wealth.

NE needs to avert the Zimbabwe Syndrome where the Overshoot is starting to decimate the last vestiges of natural habitat. Far better to proactively plan for optimized detritus powerdown and biosolar powerup.

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

Well, we'll have to kick Connecticut out of New England. They're basically a suburb of New York now. We'll keep Litchfield county, but the rest has got to go :)

I think we'll let 'em grow tall again. Our new masts will be from buckytubes scrubbed out of the JetStream. I don't think we'll want too many of those Earthmarines, either. The people are so cussed and crochety around here, I don't think any migrants will even bother stopping.. they'll get on up to the Maritimes, where all the Mangos will be growing..


I'd prefer 5 or so acres on the wet side of the Big Island. Still can be had reasonably cheap. Don't need much of a house, gardens grow year-round, and don't need much clothing.

Check it out.

Edison’s light bulb could be on endangered list

The incandescent light bulb, perfected for mass use by Thomas A. Edison in the late 19th century, is being supplanted by fluorescent lighting that is more efficient and longer lasting.

I predict that this, by itself, will not lead to a drop in electricity consumption.

No? My electricity bill is lower this year than it was last year. Our habits haven't changed noticably but our lightbulbs have. How much of a difference does it make? Depends on how many lights you have and how long they burn. For creatures of the night like us we are talking approx. 10kWh/month. That is not a lot (a few percent of our total usage), but one could also say it is approx. one gallon of gas saved per month (in terms of energy equivalent after losses). That's a dozen gallons a year, i.e. a tankfull. In terms of PO, we have been able to escape a 4% supply drop for a year. Not bad... for one guy screwing in a lightbulb!

Why not? It sure did that for me?

Well by "it" I mean actually replacing bulbs. I don't know how effective a "ban" on sale of incandescents would be in forcing their replacement as they burn out.

Even fluorescents can be overused. I cringe when I see a hallway or a bathroom in a public building lit (24/7) by so many fluorescent bulbs that they use several times more electricity than my household total electrical use (which is about 200 watts average).

Turning them "off" sometimes is also important.

Coming from a British background... where you have 1 light per room and 2 in the hall...

I designed a large but well-insulated passive solar house here in BC in 2003. However, I found out that you have no say regarding electrics... it is set by the architect according to local code. Imagine my shock when I came to count the light fixtures on the plan... 92... mostly downlighters!!!

Now tell me that LCDs/CFLs wouldn't save money. Seems to me that local codes will need a big rethink at some point...

(PS: Not that we have that many lights burning...& I did install photo-switches/timer-switches wherever possible to save the effort of having to run round after the family...)

You may have to have that many light fixtures, but you don't have to put bulbs in them all. At my office, they removed half the bulbs to save energy. In my chandelier light fixture at home, I let half the bulbs burn out and just leave them. It looks better than empty sockets.

I second that. My bathroom came with 10(!) 60W incandescents. I removed 6 when I moved in and it was plenty bright. Now I only use two 25W CFLs and can still see every beard hair while shaving. And if I painted the walls white instead of light grey, I could get by with 25W and would still be happy.

In other words: design capacity was 600W, required capacity is indeed 25W. OK... in reality it's only 10W worth of photons... the rest is still wasted in the CFL.

What the heck is a downlighter? Code requires an electric outlet every so many feet in a room. This is to prevent fires, which resulted in the past when people loaded up a room's single outlet with a myriad of crisscrossing extension cords.

Nothing requires you to attach a fixture to each outlet or to turn on fixtures attached to boxes in the ceiling.

A while back, I visited a fellow who knowing about my concern with the energy situation bragged about his compact flourescents, while flipping through the channels on his plasma tv. His new fridge has an icemaker.

CFL's will not make a difference to electricity consumption if they are reduced to 'done my duty' status. Kind of like that Virgin Airways fellow offering a prize for the person who finds a way to remove GHG from the atmosphere while he continues to profit from air travel-based, industrial tourism. Don't worry, be happy. They will think of something.

Virgin Airways is only HALF the irony of Richard Branson wanting to save the world from GHG.

Remember that he is also hoping that his Virgin Galactica will soon be sending 3,000 wealthy individuals (at $100,000 a time) to experience a brief 3 minutes of sub-orbital "weightlessness"... and then quote-unquote... when the costs come down... we can all go!!!

So is this new GHG venture sheer hypocracy or just carbon-offsetting??

It's distraction.

My guess is that the 3000 suborbital joy riders will use more fuel to get to the launch site on a 747 than they will need to get suborbital. Accusing Sir Richard of wasting energy with this is about as important as blaming the operators of amusement parks for the rise in sales for seasickness pills.

What's hypocracy?

It's the maximum state of self-promotion, hype hype hooray for me.

Actually, the word 'hypocracy' doesn't exist according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. The word should have been 'hypocrisy'.

What I should have said was: "a drop in overall electricity consumption for our society."

OK, now we're getting into Jevon's paradox and all that. Besides better light bulbs and appliances, we need higher electricity prices (via a carbon tax), and laws that institute a price structure so that the first few KWH are cheaper and they get more expensive from there.

When do you start metering the first few kWh? On the first of the month? On January 1? Every full moon? Can I pick when I want you to start metering? What if I have twelve kids rather than two incomes? Does the same limit apply to everyone? Per capita? Per meter? How hard am I going to be hit if I exceed my limit? Does the price double? Triple?

The scheme sounds like one the cellular industry could have come up with... free minutes! Until you run out, of course, after that it's going to be very painful. Of course, they also get to change your plan anytime they like.


January 1,,,, no, use a condom, yes at x kWh per person for residential use,, depends on the function: that could be an exponential, but taking the math-savviness of the general populace into account a steep linear increase would be better,,,

A market based approach shares the same, and more, impracticalities in calculating and assigning prices to users. And a changing price while you are using current would be mightily stressful (will my dinner be ready before I am bankrupt? etc).

The situation as it is now is a bit strange: the first y kWh are free for everyone, then the normal tariff, and big users can negotiate a price cut. So that's a strange price curve - it could be improved.

IP, I am already paying for water and sewer this way, and have been for years. Water is $2.63 per 100 cubic feet (ccf) up to 200 ccf/year, and $3.86 per ccf over 200 ccf/yr. Sewer is similarly two-tiered, and the water and sewer components of my bill are about equal. In almost fifteen years I have never come close to breaking into the higher tier.

It's not Jevon's paradox, but rather simple math.

10% (roughly) of the world currently lives "comfortably", yet (if you believe the latest reports) we can only produce about 20% of the carbon we currently produce in order to avoid the most serious global warming. It doesn't take a PhD in math to show that even a 5x improvement in efficiency would leave 90% of the world in destitution if we're to avoid global warming, as long as we get energy from sources that release carbon that is. Of course, if we get energy from sources that don't release carbon at all, then it doesn't much matter how efficient we are.

Neglecting the GW implications for a minute, there is every reason to believe that the world would "naturally" increase electricity usage by about 10x if the poor are to become less poor. Even radical improvements in efficiency are not likely to result in a decline in electricity use in the face of such dynamics. Fighting against this dynamic requires explaining to 90% of the world that they need to remain poor "for the greater good" or some such thing, which as you might imagine is an idea of questionable wisdom and even more doubtful effectiveness.

Subprime lender HSBC, formerly Household, is getting hit with many more loans and second mortgages going into default than they anticipated...

Watch HSBC and others. There has been about 10 subprime lenders who have closed their doors in the last month or so.

Check out some articles on these two sites...

Analysts were decidedly positive on HSBC Holdings coming into today. Brokerages covering the company out of Asia break down to nine "buy" ratings, eight "neutral" ratings and three "sell" ratings. But news that the capital needed to cover bad debts was $1.76 billion, or 20% higher than expectations, has only moved one analyst to action: J.P. Morgan Chase, which downgraded the stock to "underweight," noting a downgrade to "neutral" last month.

The continued bullishness on this stock comes as credit quality deteriorates and derivative indexes measuring risk in the sector widen out to record levels. American Depository shares of HSBC are down 2.7% today. As time goes on, more downgrades could be in the offing. Breakingviews.com's Mike Verdin notes today that "HSBC Finance's biggest problems are in recent loans, not the inherited book. As those loans mature, the bleeding may yet worsen."


From the same site.

In "The Great Unwind Is Coming, Warn Dresdner Pair," the Financial Times' "Alphaville" blog makes note of a new report from Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein that highlights the risks investment banks will likely face in future because of their sizeable exposure to and dependance on the hedge fund industry.

However, the dangerous fallout they describe is unlikely to be contained behind Wall Street's closed doors. Whether intended or not, the toxic mix seems like a recipe for a far-reaching systemic crisis.

It’s the sort of analysis that, as an investment banking analyst focusing on the investment banking sector, might seriously damage your career prospects.

No matter! Stefan-Michael Staimann and Susanne Knips at Dresdner Kleinwort have published a detailed tome on the importance of hedge funds to the investment banking industry. Their conclusion? Head for the hills, because “The Great Unwind” is coming — and it’s going to hurt.

And this guy


The Nine Articles in the WSJ Today on the Housing and Mortgage Mess
Nouriel Roubini | Feb 09, 2007 The WSJ op-ed page dismissed the other day the sub-prime debacle as being all “Subprime Politics”: banks have little fault in this mess even if some excesses did occur; accusations of “predatory lending” are all baloney; and Congressional meddling will only make the credit crunch more severe cutting off minorities from the American Dream of home ownership. The previous day I suggested that the issue of “predatory lending” was more complex than the WSJ op-ed page made it and that banker should share a significant part of the blame. Also, the sub-prime debacle is not a mess created by Congress but rather the outcome of market excesses and bubbles when regulation is too light and inappropriate.

Indeed, today the WSJ news operation – as opposed to the independent op-ed page – nicely covers all this housing and sub-prime mess. There were a full nine separate articles today in the WSJ on this rising problem under following cheerful headlines:

The LA Times on Cantarell:

Production decline worsens at Mexico's biggest oil field: Output could be halved in five years, crimping a major source of funding for public services.

It's similar to the Bloomberg story yesterday, but has some comments from David Shields:

But some analysts suspect that the situation at Cantarell is worse than Pemex executives are willing to publicly admit.

"They are feeling pressure from the market to say that things are fine … and that they are doing well in production," said Mexico City energy analyst David Shields, the author of two books on Pemex. "But oil engineers will tell you that when a major field is in decline, it doesn't come back up again unless you do something very radical to change the dynamics…. I don't see that happening."

From the 2/06 WSJ article:

The worst two (Pemex) scenarios suggest a drastic decline in output to 875,000 barrels a day by the end of 2007 and to just 520,000 a day by the end of 2008.

Assuming 2 mbpd in 12/05, this would be an annual decline rate of 41% and 45% respectively (month to month, not annual averages).

The 50% decline in five year model, which is an annual decline rate of 14.4% per year (annual averages), is probably based on the latest admission from Pemex that the Cantarell decline rate is 15% per year.

I think that I made a mistake in some of my previous postings. Apparently David Shields is predicting that the worst case is the likely case and that Cantarell will be down to about 500,000 bpd in 12/08. Subject to what happens to consumption, this pretty well eliminates most net oil exports by Mexico by the end of 2008.

Again, IMO, the key difference between Pemex and Saudi Aramco is that Pemex has grudgingly admitted to the decline/crash of its largest oil field.

WT, what do you make of the fact that the Oil & Gas Journal said not a peep about the Cantarell decline? I searched their site for "Pemex" and "Cantarell" and found nothing relevant. I thought this was odd. Was it considered non-news within the industry because the decline was already widely expected?

"Hear no evil; Speak no evil; See no evil"

When I talked the ExxonMobil guy in the green room before the PBS debate, he claimed to have no knowledge of an ongoing or impending decline in the Cantarell Field.

Does anyone else think the architect for the seed vault was laughing into his aquavit with this design? Twin seed vaults!

Just doing my part to drag down the level of discourse at TOD.


Future archeologists will have an epic debate about the deeper meaning of the design, and how existentially important it must have been for this civilization.

I have a question that has been bouncing around in my head for years and I think that the TOD croud can answer it...

What would happen if you set off a nuke in a oil field? I have learned in the last year or so that that isnt quite the right question. The first should be is it feasable? Then what would be the difference between say Ghawar and a complex of smaller fields. Another subset of this question is What about gas fields, Oil shale, tar sands, etc....

"What would happen if you set off a nuke in a oil field?"

...Nuclear oilocaust?

Pay the man, Shirley.

A better question is "What would be the impact of the explosion of a 20 megaton H-bomb in the GoM?".

Well, we regularly lit off multimegaton bombs in open ocean in the bad old days of open air nuclear testing. The impact isn't that great. Real bad for a city though.

Was it under or above the surface? I think an underwater explosion. especailly a half km or so down, might have a different effect - perhaps a large Tsunami?

Above water and subsurface explosions produced fairly localized effects. Natural tsunami's have so much power in them its almost unfathomable.

Iran: The War Begins
As opposition grows in America to the failed Iraq adventure, the Bush administration is preparing public opinion for an attack on Iran, its latest target, by the spring.

The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of "buying time" for its dis aster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a "surge" of American troops in Iraq, George W Bush identified Iran as his real target. "We will interrupt the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria," he said. "And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

New Report Challenges Blair's Views on Iran
Today, a report will be delivered to Number 10 Downing Street and to the news editors of all major media networks in Britain and the world, countering the some misconceptions that surround alleged threat posed by Iran.

WRT Branson's $25 million dollar prize I would nominate Allan J. Yoemans book Priority One. You can read it online at www.yoemansplow.com.au.priority-one.htm.
He claims if all the world's farmers stopped using anhydrous ammonia and switched to mostly organic farming techniques the land would absorb all the excess CO2 within 10 years. Terra Preta methods would do even more. During that decade the world must switch over to renewable energy and nuke power. Global Warming is such a serious threat that the localized negative impacts of renewables and nukes are trivial in comparison.
www.ases.org/climatechange/climate_change.pdf shows what the US could reasonably do between now and 2030 to just stablize CO2 at current levels. They claim that 57% of the improvement could come from energy efficiency improvements.

Another example from somebody, who has no idea about farming. I repeat it once more: YIELDS FROM ORGANIC FARMING ARE ABOUT 50% COMPARED TO TRADITIONAL FARMING.

Not always. The organic corn beat out the conventional corn this past year in long-term trials at the Rodale Research Institute farm.


PS - Quad, if you are going to make statements like that maybe you should reference them.

I don't think the ALL CAPS adds any validity. My brother has been an organic farmer for 30 years and his volume yields are equivalent to conventional farmers nearby, but the financial returns are much better.
Maybe you could give a link, instead of ALL CAPS claims, because google turns up plenty of results like,
"Wed, 2005-07-13 11:45 — BJS
Organic farming produces the same yields of corn and soybeans as does conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides, a review of a 22-year farming trial study concludes.
David Pimentel, a Cornell University professor of ecology and agriculture, concludes, "Organic farming offers real advantages for such crops as corn and soybeans." Pimentel is the lead author of a study that is published in the July issue of Bioscience (Vol. 55:7) analyzing the environmental, energy and economic costs and benefits of growing soybeans and corn organically versus conventionally. The study is a review of the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, the longest running comparison of organic vs. conventional farming in the United States."

Pimental is a bulls**t artist. Organic farming requires crop rotation. You only get corn one year out of three or four. Chemical farming supports monocropping. Therefore, one farm can produce only 1/3 to 1/4 of the amount of corn a chemical farm does.

Talk about bull.
No organic farmer has 3 years of soilbuilding, non-productive crops for every year of productive use. They would be out of business if they did. Often soilbuilding crops are productive legumes, like soybeans.
Rotating every year between corn and soy, for example, builds soil health and produces every year.

The fundamental question in contrasting organic and conventional production is what time scale is used. Organic builds soil health and conventional exhausts it, and micro-organisms make a very significant fraction of soil.

The other major question in comparing organic and conventional yields is crop type and location. There are some crop type/location combinations that can only be grown with massive pesticide/fertilizer inputs, so in this case the yield comparision grossly favours industrial farming. However, the appropriate organic farming response is to find a locally adapted crop which does not require massive chemical inputs.

This question of comparative yields cannot be decisively answered at this time, because both conventional and organic farming are moving targets, continuously evolving new methods and technologies. But simple numbers like "50%" are clearly wrong.

Here's something else on yields of conventional vs. organic.

Sounds reasonable to me.

However, I suspect organic farms are set up on better land than most. And they require a lot more labor. If we went organic, a lot more of us would have to be farmers.


Organic farms _make_ better land. And as the years go by, the land gets even better.

And organic does require somewhat more labor, but that's labor, not petroleum :-) Kunstler would remind you that yes, indeed, a lot more of us are going to be farmers :-)

Yeah, but Kunstler's a doomer. If you accept his worldview, almost all of us are going to be organic farmers eventually.

I think you will find a lot more of us will be farm labourers rather than farmers.

You might work on it, but not own it...

"I think you will find a lot more of us will be farm labourers rather than farmers."

Yup, with the state standing over the farm workers making demands.

When I visited a large organic garden here in Atlanta, I was surprised that they used a tractor and also used irrigation. It would seem like both would add significantly to the energy requirements for growing food and could significantly increase output.

When we are talking about crop yields from organic farms, are we talking about low-energy organic farms (without irrigation, with lots of manual labor), or from hig-energy use organic farms? It would seem like irrigation in particular could make a big difference. Manual labor could theoretically substitute for tractor usage.

Wouldn't that be great opportunity for a lot of people that otherwise will be flippin burgers or selling cheap stuff at the mall?

Funny use of terminology... Traditional farming was 100% organic. It's industrial farming that you must be talking about.

Sure, you can crank up yields temporarily by pumping the land full of chemicals,
but you don't get long term gains this way. You get environmental destruction all across the board that way.

RD said;

Sure, you can crank up yields temporarily by pumping the land full of chemicals,
but you don't get long term gains this way. You get environmental destruction all across the board that way.

My analogy is a weight lifter that does steroids.

Look at the tone on that body, incredible. Weight Gain directly into muscle.

Looks Great, Great Mass,

HOWEVER if you knew what the long term effects on the inside of the body.... You are killing it.

We have growing our crops "On Steroids" for a number of years.

Looks Great, Great Mass

Same end result. The microbiological life of the soil is dead.


"The light that burns twice as brightly, burns half as long.. and you have burned Oh, so brightly, Roy!" Tyrell, Blade Runner

I freely admit that I am a net energy producer, not a net food producer, but I found the following article to be very interesting:


Published on 22 Jul 2004 by San Francisco Chronicle. Archived on 25 Apr 2005.
Berkeley: Urban farmers produce nearly all their food with a sustainable garden in their backyard

by John Fall

There is nothing unusual about sitting down to a nice salad for lunch during the summer. What makes the salads prepared by Jim Montgomery and Mateo Rutherford different is that almost every component has been grown, raised or made in their West Berkeley backyard -- the purple endive, the lettuce, the tomatoes, the carrots, the green beans and even the feta cheese.

When they skip adding nuts or avocados, then every part of the salad was planted, fertilized, grown and processed at their home. If they added a hard boiled egg or smoked duck meat, those elements too would have been produced behind their house.

"What we take from the garden and animals goes into the kitchen, and garden waste goes to the animals," Montgomery said. Without pause, Rutherford added, "And the animal waste goes into the garden."

The approximately 6,000-square-foot yard, just off of San Pablo Avenue, provides generous space for a bustling urban farm. From the street it is impossible to tell that the property holds everything from apple trees to tomato vines, rabbits to goats, and chickens to domesticated pigeons.

Man that sounds great! Unfortunately, if I tried growing the smallest sprig of herbs or anything outside, it would be stolen or poisoned.

I'm getting ready to install a surveillance/recording system and even that is planned to be set up so they'd have to break the window glass to get at the camera to steal it.

On the other hand, does anybody here accept Sharon Astyk's recent claims that labor-intensive organic agriculture is more productive (in yield per acre) than industrial ag by a factor of "hundreds"?

Her contention seems to hinge on this sentence: "A half acre garden is often tens or hundreds of times more productive than the same acreage in industrial agriculture."

Productive by what measure? Total biomass produced? Total dollars generated? At any rate, it would be silly to compare an intensively-managed garden plot with your typical corn or bean field. So, no -- I get nothing out of this.

Depends on the crop. As someone told me a while ago... one can make a lot of money on an acre planting the right kind of "weed"...

Are you sure the lady isn't smoking her homegrown? Or maybe she just went to Afghanistan to study organic farming methods? I heard they are making a killing on poppies. It's just weird that we rarely get to see poppies as parts of floral arangements...


I don't. Perhaps it's true in some areas, with particularly good farmland. But in general? No. Much of the world was up against Malthusian limits for a very long time before fossil fuels allowed the current population boom. Why was that? Were they just too dumb to think of the organic farming techniques we have today? I can't believe that. If it was just a matter of knowledge, someone, somewhere would have thought of it, and the advantage would have been so huge it would have quickly spread (if only because those who didn't adopt the practices would be wiped out by the superior numbers of those who did).

I wonder if organic farmers are actively controlling their soil chemistry? There is a huge difference in process between guessing what's in there and planting/fertilizing stuff following some back-of-the package recipe and controlled planting of crops that can replenish the needed nitrogen. I doubt any organic methid can replenish phosphorus, though. Once it's gone, it's gone. So even an organic farmer will need sources for trace elements. And what is wrong with that?

It is probably common knowledge among all farmers (or should be) that more of anything than needed does not improve soil quality or yield but costs money (and energy). And if all farmers would tightly control their soil, the difference between organic farming and industrial farming essentially boils down to pesticides and mechanical methods. And even organic farmers don't till by hand, do they? Or is the water buffalo back on the farm? I don't think so.

IP - Any knowledge of why atmospheric methane appears to be stabilizing?


It has been mentioned that atmospheric loading of methane is near saturation. Does that sound correct from your perspective?


I am not an atmospheric chemist and I have not done any reading on the methane topic. If methane were to stabilize it would presumably be great, but minor news.

Carbon dioxide, does not stabilize and it is general consensus that CO2 is the main problem causing global warming. From that it follows that even stable methane concentrations will have a smaller and smaller positive influence on what is happening in the future, unless there are new effects that link certain methane regimes with the effectiveness of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. I have not heard about strong enough interactions of that kind, so I would not expect that modulating man-made methane could replace reducing CO2 emissions. Reducing methane will have to be part of the solution, though, because it is IMHO a heck of a lot cheaper to reduce methane emissions than the equivalent amount of carbon emissions and can probably be done on a much, much faster timescale, too. I might be wrong about that.

soil chemistry: rock phosphate is a common soil P amendment for organic gardeners/farmers (as is Bone Meal). Soil phosphorus, unlike nitrogen, tends to stay put, much of it being adsorbed by oxides in the soil (humid regions, anyway). Losses occur primarily via physical erosion and crop removal, and, yes, it does need replenishment in any agricultural system. FWIW, P is one of the three primary essential plant macronutrients -- not a trace element -- so it is needed in substantial quantities.

It's true. The high yields in an urban situation are normally due to bringing in compost and dung from elsewhere. The Heligan garden in Cornwall (UK) which is a recreation of a 19th century garden for a Manor house uses ISTR ~ 2 wheelbarrows per square metre.

> And if all farmers would tightly control their soil

And there's the rub. IF they cared about it they'd avoid fertilizers and adopt just-in-time pest management. But chemicals don't require the skills.

Add ashes from your wood burning stove. Good source of phosphorus and various other nutrients.

not P, but K....ash has a good deal of KOH so the K of NPK

Successful organic farmers like my brother certainly measure and control soil chemistry on a regular basis. Adding mineral supplements like rock dust (phosphates) does not affect organic certification and is a normal part of organic agriculture.
"the difference between organic farming and industrial farming essentially boils down to pesticides and mechanical methods. "
Clearly fertilizers need to be added to the above sentence, as fertilizers are the major energy and financial input for conventional agriculture, while organic farmers use compost, cover crops, biomass instead. Every organic farmer I know uses mechanical methods. My brother has 3 tractors, one of which was manufactured in 1943 and still runs.

"and the advantage would have been so huge it would have quickly spread (if only because those who didn't adopt the practices would be wiped out by the superior numbers of those who did)."

Agreed, farmers are every bit the business people today as people who run other businesses or they will not survive.

Ancedotal - Have a friend who owns a blueberry farm. They run laser guided picking machines at @$160,000.00 each. Machines do a poorer job of picking "clean" than hand picking but paying for labor makes the machines more cost effective even with decreased yeild.

Show me anyone who wouldn't rather keep the $160,000.00 for an extreemly specialized piece of equipment. Tractors and labor have greater diverisity of uses. Minimum wage labor costs too much compared to the alternatives.

That is a familiar dilemma: maximize land productivity or maximize labor productivity?


This is a nonsensical statement, from someone who is clearly ignorant. What kind of crops are you talking about? Wheat? Broccoli? Where? At what cost in inputs? At what profit to the farmer. It's all different, you know.

In any case, it's simply not true. Besides, the point of growing food is "nutrition", not poundage of "yield". Organic produce has these things in it called vitamins and suchlike. As opposed to industrial junk, which might resemble a food item, but is mostly water and cellulose.


I'm talking about wheat, barley, canola, etc.
Sgage is a fanatic person. I am a farmer in Western Australia. I own about 18'000 acre of land.

Organic farming produces only about 50% yield. I'm sorry, but this are the facts.

You can go on shouting in your house. You are not a farmer, that's clear to me.

quador is a fanatic, and seems to have a real emotional issue re: organic. Or maybe just a bug up his ass.

My point was that growing wheat in Western Australia is not the same as growing vegetables in the US, and that blanket statements regarding yields of OF vs. Industrial farming are ridiculous and not particularly helpful. You seem very bitter about something or other.

"Organic farming produces only about 50% yield. I'm sorry, but this are the facts."

In general, this is simply bullshit. Maybe with regards to wheat in W.A., in the first year or two of conversion, but in general, it's just plain not true, and the data are there.

And you are the one shouting.

Organic farming produces only about 50% yield. I'm sorry, but this are the facts.

Bullshit. If 'organic methods' only produce 50% yeild over mechinized row cropping - why can a double digging intense plant growing out-yield a chemical tractor farm on a per-acre basis?

Why don't you go and try work on the farm using only "organic" methods? Haven't we already tried this? I think for 4,800 of the last 5,000 years 95% of the people were breaking their backs on the farms using the same organic methods just to make for food and shelter. If you are advocation a return to this feudal utopia, better state it explicitly.

Sheesh! No one is telling anyone what to do! I was just taking issue with a ridiculous blanket claim being made about the relative yields of organic farming vs. industrial farming.

"If you are advocation a return to this feudal utopia, better state it explicitly."

Oh come off it! You are very confused about what organic means. It's like you and quad just hear the word "organic" and freak out. It has nothing to do with primitivism and breaking your back (though plenty of illegals break their backs in the current agricultural paradigm so you can have cheap food).

I simply wanted to point out that different crops, in different areas and growing
conditions, grown on different scales, will have different relative yields, higher or lower. And different economics.

To shout out, in all caps, that organic farming yields are only 50% of industrial
farming yields, period, is bullshit and nonsensical, and not helpful. Are there places, growing conditions, and particular crops and particular years when organic yields were 50% of industrial? No doubt. The converse is also true.

I have farmed organically (vegetables, not grain), and currently work with farmers. I know the wacked-out economics of the situation. Believe me, my hat's off to anyone who makes a living from the land. That doesn't make it OK to spout nonsensical claims and make snarky remarks about who obviously is or isn't a farmer.

Look, if you don't want to grow organically, don't. No one is forcing anyone to grow organically, least of all me. But a lot of folks are making a decent living growing organically. The economies are shifting, and the petroleum factor will have an input. Why the hostility?

And when you talk about yield, you might think "yield of what?". There's quality
to think of as well as quantity... the idea is to have good food.

You are right that overgeneralizing does not help, but still the point remains - without fertilizers and pesticides the yields of most crops under similar conditions will be significantly lower. The number of course will vary, but 50% may serve as a rough orientation for the average.

Economics of organic food improves because there is a growing niche group willing to pay more for food produced without chemicals inputs and because farming practices also improve. Unfortunately the bulk of the organic farming now is in not small labour-intensive family farms, but is highly mechanized and is dominated by large corporations - a thing which does not quite fit the picture of sustainable organic agriculture, the way it is presented by some people here.

I accept the initial reaction of the poster as normal in the context of claims that what passes today as organic agriculture can more or less feed the world. I don't believe that - there are good reasons why farmers use fertilizers etc. and these reasons are unlikely to just disappear.

"The number of course will vary, but 50% may serve as a rough orientation for the average."

We'll just have to agree to disagree about that figure. Based upon everything I know and have read about growing, it's way, way too low. In any case, it's a gradual transition, and the economics are changing. But nevermind.

The picture is complicated further by the fact that organic and industrial growing are sort of the ends of a spectrum, and there is quite a variety of techniques that mix and match in between.

"Unfortunately the bulk of the organic farming now is in not small labour-intensive family farms, but is highly mechanized and is dominated by large corporations - a thing which does not quite fit the picture of sustainable organic agriculture, the way it is presented by some people here."

There are a lot of issues packed into that sentence, but I agree to some extent. Again, the picture is very complex and varies with place. And for sure there are issues in confusing "labor-intensive" vs. "mechanized" with "organic" vs. "industrial". And for sure, as organic produce became more popular, the big outfits are muscling. The evil genius of our culture is that it can coopt anything and render it ridiculous.

There's a lot to talk about here - local vs. global, organic vs. chemical, muscles vs. machines. That's precisely why I take exception to the glib generalizations.

"accept the initial reaction of the poster as normal in the context of claims that what passes today as organic agriculture can more or less feed the world."

Feed the world? Surely you know that population will always expand to the food supply. The question is how many people can the earth sustainably support. Where is it written that, e.g., the USA or indeed our Australian cousins are supposed to "feed the world". One would think that a country that can't grow its own food is hardly a country, and would get its act together. So, we have to burn out our land to feed the world? Boy that sounds harsh, but there it is. Sustainable. That's the key word in my opinion.

"I don't believe that - there are good reasons why farmers use fertilizers etc. and these reasons are unlikely to just disappear."

The reasons are because the politics and economics of farming, at least in the USA, is twisted, combined with the past decades of cheap petroleum. Agricultural economics is nothing like a "free market". And chemical stuff does give a relatively cheap (albeit temporary) boost in the production of something or other - leaving aside issues of nutrition value. This "cheap" reason is not only going to disappear, but is disappearing already, as these (petroleum derived) materials become more and more expensive. But if you need to grow x bushels of wheat this year, at y price, in order to save the farm, you'll do what it takes.

Like everything else, it comes down to "how many people can the earth sustainably support". It's not about yields this year.

From wikipedia:

One study found a 20% smaller yield from organic farms using 50% less fertilizer and 97% less pesticide.[13] Studies comparing yields have had mixed results.[14] Supporters claim that organically managed soil has a higher quality[15] and higher water retention. This may help increase yields for organic farms in drought years. One study of two organic farming systems and one conventional found that, in one year's severe crop season drought, organic soybean yields were 52% and 96% higher than the conventional system and organic maize yields were 37% higher in one system, but 62% lower in the other.[16] Studies are also consistent in showing that organic farms are more energy efficient.[17]

Obviously there is quite a controversety over the issue, but let's accept 20% as a more realistic number. The problem is that 20% may still be too much. Just like with energy our food system is predicated on the existance of surpluses. A shortage of either of those would ruin the economy and/or cost much in terms of human health and lives.

Therefore if there appears any technology for increasing yields it is immediately put into action - we have a market which ensures this to happen. Once applied there is no turning back - as you also notice the population grows until it reaches the limits of the new technology or resource. After that we have only several options:
1) Replace the technology with different one providing similar productivity
2) Learn to use the resource more efficiently
3) Learn how to control the population

Path 3) maybe the ultimate solution but it is not realistic to consider it right now.
When it comes to food path 2) is either impossible or socially undesirable - unless all of us agree with becoming vegans.

So we are realistically left with path 1) The whole point is that organic farming is not suitable for replacing substantial part of conventional farming if we choose this path on sustainability (or fossil fuel depletion) grounds, exactly because of lower yields. It is currently possible on a limited scale because surpluses from conventional farming provide a certain cushion for lower-productivity agricultural practices, but I don't believe this is going to expand much further as the population grows.

In the end you started talking economics, and I agree that it all comes to that in the end. Do you have any estimates when exactly rising fossil fuel costs are going to render conventional farming uncompetitive? This is the critical question and if this means for example oil prices of $500 I will have to reject this argument. At oil/NG prices above $100/boe we will soon abandon them as feedstock and synthesyze fertilizers directly, using hyrogen from electrolisys (potentially sustainably using wind/solar power). There are quite a few alternative options on the table.

Hi quad, I don't want to jump into the organic vs. conventional debate (I just hate getting my @ss chewed). Farming in W. Australia, I'm assuming that you are irrigating? What's your rainfall there and how is it distributed? Are you strictly a grain farm or (I would assume) you've got cattle too?

No irrigating, not one drop, because the groundwater is somewhat salty. Average rainfall is 400mm to 450mm. Rainfall from autumn to early summer. We're only growing grains (wheat, canola, lupins). there is no cattle. But there is sheep adgistment starting after harvest till seeding time. Sheep adgistment: Apart from a welcome side income it is namely useful in order to control the weads.

Funny how often I see this happening. People that have never done your job are always the most vocal in explaining you how is the best way to do it. And I am talking about totally different things here - I'm a software developer and you are a farmer.

For the record I have also done some farming too. Organic by the common definition. Conditioning the soil of just an acre of corn using your own muscle power makes miracles in defining one's world view. I could care less if this helped it achieve higher yeild than "conventional" farming...

As an Organic farmer - it seems to me that what you are forgetting is that there are good farmers and bad farmers, just like there are in any profession.
There are some things I am good at growing such as potatoes, squash and lettuce - where the yield I can achieve are way above notional expected commercial yields.
Conversely, in some crops such as onions and garlic - my yields are poor (Why, I have no idea….).
One thing I have learnt watching farmers convert to organics from chemical farming is that those that succeed are the ones prepared to experiment rather that follow blindly the dictates of some manual or government produced blurb. You actually have to use your eyes and think more of cause and effect before touching the soil.
Thus it comes as no surprise to me that yields can vary dramatically. This is what I would expect. It makes me laugh to read these erudite reports from agricultural stations and universities, who think they can convert a dead chemical soil into an organic one overnight.
However, I will admit I was once one of those.

Some of the earliest research of production ag, not university or institute trials, come from wheat farms. During the 1980's, yields of wheat were shown at 73% of conventional ag on a large farm in the midst of similar sized farms(greater than an 500 acres). The organic farm had higher returns than its neighbors due to decreased costs and was reported in the journal Nature.

Today, wheat yields from organic vs conventional can exceed 93% in trial plots.

Other wheat yields have been shown at 65%, but still a more profitable venture than conventional.

I think the greatest impedimant to organic production ag is the time interval for switch, and the corresponding hard years in the switch, not ultimate production yields. Inherent in this is the underlying soil fertility at start.

With several commodities, especially apples, the switch is rapidly accelerating and may overtake conventional US production, imho. The price differential is simply to great to ignore.

This has not been lost on our land grant institutions. All are heavily involved in organic research. Washington, a major wheat production state, now offers a degree in organic agriculture for production ag at its land grant instition.

General organic study-Swiss

But...being able to charge more for organic crops is not a business plan that's likely to survive the peak oil economy.

And I do think yields matter, especially if we keep pursuing the biofuel thing. Which we will.


The world has consumed more corn, wheat and rice than it produced in six of the past eight years.

Global grain consumption expands nearly every year due to increasing population and incomes. However, grain production has fallen behind and reserves have been used to satisfy expanding demand. Total grain use (coarse grains, wheat and rice) increased from 5.11 tonnes per day in 1999-00 to 5.60 in 2006-07. At the same time, global grain reserves declined from 114.7 days of usage to 56.7 days. World grain reserves have fallen to this level only one time inmodern history... from 1972 to 1974. That period is termed the “great grain robbery” as Russia purchased unprecedented quantities from the US. Grain prices were pushed to historic highs in that period and the US government placed an export embargo on further sales to avoid domestic shortages.

The US is not the only nation promoting bio-fuels. Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Brazil, Canada, Europe and China are all aggressively building bio-fuels manufacturing facilities. The rush to bio-fuels promises to tighten global grain supplies even more. With global grain reserves near historic lows, there will be nothing to fall back on in case of crop failure.

I will be the last to say our present world pop is desireable. Or that a starving person will care a bit whether their grain is organic or not. Or that price differentials for organic vs conventional may exist post peak. Or that an operator should go one way or the other. But it may be that fertilizer prices itself out of food for the masses. The material posted above is current for wheat in a relatively moist enviroment- up to 20 inches per year, distributed mainly winter and spring.

The organic production prices received were the same as conventional in early studies. Grain elevator didn't care.

May I suggest that everyone read The New American Farmer from SARE. Here it is as a free (GLUP) pdf:


It's only a few hundred pages and is directed toward sustainable ag (not just organic) from many US geographic areas. I bought the original book many years ago. It is now revised. I found it well worth the time.


Have skimmed your link. Will read later. Thankyou.

Leann is correct about the lack of current grain surplus, that was well published last fall. And that conventional yields surpass organic. My most recent link cited link above shows 65% for wheat, and if the link was read, depicts the skepticism of many producers, and that organic methods could not feed the world, according to their expert. Quad,in Australia, has 50%, but I have no idea of the moisture regime or soil he works under.

I'm not organic, as stated in previous posts before. It is a goal, tho I know not when. Except for rare occassions, I won't allow my kids to do the herbicide work. I do the spray myself, alone. My wife and I figure they need their loins for more than balance. I am not adverse to fertilzer, just the price for the yield increase. The pros and cons of organic are debated alot among the guys I know. Many would like it, but can't afford it. Their loan structure needs that higher yield, but they still talk. I straddle the fence often.

One friend here is getting out this winter, his land hit the market couple weeks back. Relatively young, upper forties, hunched, but his kids are out of the house and it isn't worth it anymore.

Which brings me to my pet peeve. I don't think ag or farmers have to support a world of 6.5 billion people, especially on diddily squat returns. It's not yields are too low, its population is too high. I can not emphasize that enough.

And food prices are much too low. Like Simmons says with oil, 10 cents a cup, it's the same with grain. Up and down, but basically unchanged for 25 years until recent. Even at $5, wheat is cheap. And getting used to the new prices will hurt alot in the livestock industry. I hope they can weather it, until livestock prices rise.

The arguement has always been in ag that we won't get prices up until we eliminate the surplus. Get the government out of the storage business. Put a little volatility in the markets. So I appear to be argueing against myself, yelling to reduce world pop and wanting higher prices. Maybe, and I'm not considering biofuel demand, but I still feel ag deserves a better return, and the freedom to operate under either set of practices. And we know where "they deserve it" gets.

Hello Leanan,

Thxs for reposting this link--are you or Prof. Goose trying to get the detailed version of graphs, charts, and analysis? Thxs for any reply.

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

The Pretense for World War III.

Speaker Warns UNESCO about Destruction of al-Aqsa

Iranian Parliament Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel here on Friday warned the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization about the destruction of the al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a registered world heritage in UNESCO's list...


Al-Aqsa Mosque in Danger

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Palestine's Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in a statement released on Friday condemned destruction of the two chambers at the western corner of the al-Aqsa Mosque by the Zionist regime of Israel, and warned the world Muslims that al-Aqsa is in great danger.


"That's great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane -
Lenny Bruce is not afraid..."


America’s subsidy-dependent ethanol farmers may not like it, but a recent U.S. pact with Brazil could pave the way to an efficient global market in biofuels—and that could change the game.


"As reported in La Nacion, the agreement signed between the United States and Brazil will include Colombia and Peru as well as El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic"

"If some of our traditional suppliers of imported oil aren’t worried about these developments, they certainly should be." - Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute.

CERA is now talking about diminishing returns:

From the CERA web site:

Diminishing Returns: The Cost of North American Gas Supply

From the Oil & Gas Journal, February 12, 2007

CERA: Rising gas production costs diminishing returns ($$$)

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Feb. 2 -- Fewer natural gas reserves are being added for every dollar spent on exploration and production, and higher costs are undermining the economics of drilling more gas wells, Cambridge Energy Research Associates said.

"Conventional wisdom is that all producers are enjoying a windfall from higher prices; however, the less-visible cost of gas production has moved up as dramatically as market prices," said J. Michael Bodell, CERA director, upstream gas strategies.
Record well completions are being totally offset by declining well productivity, and price expectations will be key to motivate continued strong drilling, Bodell said.

Speaking of CERA, next week is CERA week in Houston. Here is a piece in advance of the meeting.

Oil Companies Discuss Energy Challenges

HOUSTON (AP) -- With dwindling oil supplies, pollution concerns and the ever-present threat of gas prices soaring again, talk of new and better ways to fuel our cars, heat and cool our homes, and power our factories has never been greater. What's more, the conversation is emanating increasingly from a source that's been surprisingly quiet until recently -- the oil companies themselves.

"There's never been as much effort going into technological innovation across the whole energy industry as we're seeing today," said Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, a consultancy, and author of "The Prize," the Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the oil industry.
"I've taken to calling it 'the great bubbling,'" Yergin said. "Some of it is going to lead to very major changes."

"I've taken to calling it 'the great bubbling,'" Yergin said. "Some of it is going to lead to very major changes."

If there's any "great bubbling" coming out of Mr Yergin and it smells like sulfur & methane we will know that he's still talking out his...

(there seems to be a bug when posting BTW - It complains about a 'lack of comment the 1st time.)

Via George Ure - http://www.urbansurvival.com/week.htm

"Political Math

The next time you hear a politician use the word "billion" in a casual manner, think about whether you want the "politicians" spending your tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.
a. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
b. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
c. A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
d. A billion days ago no one walked on the earth on two feet.
e. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain, let's take a look at New Orleans. It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division...

Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrius (D),is presently asking Congress for $250 billion to rebuild New Orleans . Interesting number, what does it mean?
a. Well if you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans, every man, woman and child would each get $516,528.
b. Or, if you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans, your home gets $1,329,787.
. Or, if you are a family of four, your family gets $2,066,012."

Branson's 25 million looks cheap for global warming 'cost' - Wonder if TOD could get a hunk of that for network operation if TOD suggest 'biochar' or does making terra perta mean the Amazon indians get the $25 million?

So what is the cost of the war in Iraq on a per-Iraqi basis?

Based on a 2005 population estimate there are 26,074,906 Iraqis. If the cost of the war is 2 Trillion ( and this may be an underestimate as the full cost of equipment replacement and the lifetime costs of the disabled and injured) then the estimated cost per Iraqi is $76,702.09

Omitted from this figure is the cost associated with British and other country participation.

Imagine what that amount could have accomplished if it had been invested in America and her people.

Whether talking about the cost of rebuilding New Orleans or Baghdad, it's a safe bet that a good bit of the money spent will wind up in undeserving pockets. I used to be happy to pay my taxes, thinking that I was contributing to the betterment of society and helping out those who were less fortunate. But I've come to believe that "taxpayer" is just another word for "sucker."

2007: A record year for oil mergers?

Spring is less than six weeks away but love is in the air again in the nation's oil and gas industry.

Fueled by last year's record highs for crude oil, low interest rates and a sea of private equity money, 2006 brought 485 mergers in the energy patch, the most in 16 years - deals worth a cool $82 billion, the fourth highest over that span.

And with prices still at historically high levels, and lots of cash chasing deals, the oil industry will keep cooking with mergers in 2007, analysts and investment bankers say.

One rationale:

"We've heard stories from all the majors about lack of reserve growth," he said, adding he expects plenty of mergers in the energy services sector as well."

A rush-hour tax on urban drivers

Here in Silicon Valley we have exactly the opposite. Carpool lanes are only in effect during rush hour and bridge tolls are only waved to carpoolers during rush hour. I worked with a pair of carpoolers a few years ago and always got a chuckle out of statements like: "Could we get this meeting over soon... we don't want to miss rush hour." Unbelievable.

Corporate America has a tendency to obscure trivial problems with endless meetings. I know people on management teams and they usually just role their eyes but are required to stay until 8pm if someone feels funny and can't decide. We had to delay more than one dinner because a friend called in and said "it will be late".

The simple story is: if you can't get your work done 9-5, something is wrong with your organization. "something" might simply be that you are working for a publicly traded company and think that stockholders really care shit about what you do instead of following the weekly stampeed called "profit taking".

The point of my post was that while some forward-looking countries have "a rush-hour tax on urban drivers" that serves to lessen the congestion of rush hour we here in silicon valley have laws and perks that actually encourage exactly the opposit outcome: a more congested rush hour. Specifically, people would try to plan their work day so that they would hit the roads during rush hour instead of trying to plan their day to avoid rush hour.

Hello TODers,

Unless Peakoil Outreach becomes universal across Africa--I believe it is only a matter of time before South Africa starts to resemble Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean Overshoot migrating to SA is not helping to mitigate SA's problems.

Raising the quality of social amenities has become a major demand on Mbeki's government, highlighted by violent protests that erupted over the issue in mostly black townships last year.

Mbeki said the use of buckets to collect water and sewage, a common practice in slums and rural areas, was an 'ugly and repulsive' fact that needed to be eliminated. Nearly a fifth of South Africa's 45 million people still have no clean water.

South Africa has one of the world's highest murder rates.

Business leaders have expressed fears that violent crime, if left unchecked, could deter foreign investment and tourism in Africa's biggest economy and ruin the country's chances of successfully hosting the 2010 soccer World Cup.

I suggest he forgets about the World Cup--He has better uses for the taxdollars, such as funding the dispersal of the mountains of info that is included in proper Peakoil Outreach. He needs to readjust his mindset by doing the energy calculations of building and maintaining modern water and sewage infrastructure across his entire country-- he will quickly find out that in a postPeak environment of Overshoot that this is simply not possible. I will now try to email his govt a link to Humanure Recycling and my four favorite Peakoil websites: TOD,EB,DIEOFF,LATOC.

I haven't seen any recent Google info of Zim's Mugabe pulling out all the stops to reinvigorate his crumbling water & sewage spiderwebs, nor have I seen any Zim info to promote minimal wise water & humanure practices-- thus I believe the sewage, pollution, and health problems will only get worse over time. Hopefully SA will choose a smarter postPeak path early.

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

> he will quickly find out that in a postPeak environment of Overshoot that this is simply not possible

The same goes for all of us.

I did consider a life of reskilling with Permaculture and going out to mitigate the effects of modern colonialism and climate change. I think charity's going to have to begin nearer home.

Well, well, well...

Look who put his money where his mouth is:

"Range Fuels says it will be the first company in the United States to build a commercial-scale ethanol plant using cutting-edge cellulosic technology. Unlike more common corn-based ethanol refineries, the cellulosic process can turn almost any organic material - from tree bark to municipal solid waste - into fuel."

"Colorado-based Range Fuels says it plans to invest $200-million in a production plant capable of generating 10-million gallons of clean-burning ethanol."

Company leaders: Vinod Khosla, founder. Samir Kaul, director. Mitch Mandich, CEO, director.


Note: technically a BTL production path (not a cellulosic one) however as I pointed out to Robert some time ago, it will be called as such due to the nature of the feedstock utilized.


That said, why does it NOT surprise me that this amazing ethanol story (available on practically every newswire) just doesn't seem to cut it as Drumbeat material and yet all the obscure ethanol and biofuel hit pieces get free reign.

Hmm... I wonder...

If they are talking about 10 million gallons per year, the capital cost for the plant is about $307,000 per bpd of ethanol. On a barrel of oil (energy) equivalent basis (BOE), it is over $500,000 per BOE. This is the upfront capital cost, not counting operating costs.

I'm sure that costs are supposed to go down, but I think as Robert has asked, why not just burn the organic material and use it to generate electricity, and electrify our transportation system?


Hello WT,

Clever and devastating financial analysis! Electrifying our transportation system by burning the biomass does make more $sense.

But if I had $200 million to piss into the wind: I would leave the area biomass alone, but instead fund Peakoil Outreach and build local factories for solar-water heaters, wheelbarrows, handtools, insulation, and bicycles to help support relocalized permaculture. I believe, along with Kunstler and others, that in the long-run emergency: driving our topsoil will prove way too expensive for most of the current easy-motoring crowd until the population reaches a lower, sustainable, new equilibrium. But any TODers are free to disagree.

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

On a barrel of oil (energy) equivalent basis (BOE), it is over $500,000 per BOE.

You gotta remember that this is for cellulosic ethanol. Vinod shovels his money (all in small bills) in at one end of the plant and the ethanol dribbles out at the other end a few days later. If the US decides to abandon paper currency then Vinod is SOL.


That said, why does it NOT surprise me that this amazing ethanol story (available on practically every newswire) just doesn't seem to cut it as Drumbeat material and yet all the obscure ethanol and biofuel hit pieces get free reign.

Hmm... I wonder...

Suspect it is because the ethanol debate revolves not around the possibility of using plant mass for ethanol, but rather how viable it can be in the long run.

There are always stories about ethanol that pop up. For example, not far from me is a company, BioEthanol, that just started to work:
It too will demonstrate that cellulosic ethanol is possible (from wood products.) However, its annual production is only 1.4 million liters, with a goal to increase to 4 million liters. That is not much ethyl alcohol, but the costs are not small to start up and operate... thus this is really more about demonstration than being a viable business.

From the NYTimes:

India’s Economy Is on the Verge of Overheating

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/10/business/worldbusiness/10overheat.html...
  • Some of the largest increases in food prices have been here in Mumbai. This is an industrialized peninsula where food is brought over long distances by truckers who have had to pay much more for diesel fuel over the last year as the Indian government has passed on part of the increase in world oil prices.


    Government economists attribute rising food prices in India to global factors like a poor harvest in Australia, the growing use of crops to produce ethanol and a higher cost of diesel for tractors. But many here link the increase to the government’s encouragement of futures trading in agricultural commodities, and the government has responded this winter by limiting a few types of transactions involving food.

    Rises in world energy prices certainly will drive many nations' inflation. The article speaks also about motorcycles and their strong demand - it certainly would seem two-wheeled powered vehicles make more sense for a large part of asia, rather than rely on 4 wheeled autos.

    Hello TODers,

    Isn't it a fundamental concept that driving our topsoil by using ethanol requires the soil replenishment by the manure being recycled? This article proposes that manure be recycled into building marierials:

    Manure: You may be walking on it soon

    Home-buyers of tomorrow could find themselves walking across floors made from manure. Researchers at Michigan State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture insist it's no cow pie in the sky dream. They say that fiber from processed and sterilized cow manure could take the place of sawdust in making fiberboard, which is used to make everything from furniture to flooring to store shelves.

    If this takes off: won't this deplete our topsoils even faster, or is there a sound ERoEI argument for this? Will it save trees, or will increasing farmland desertification force us to chop down trees even faster? This could be an excellent keypost for someone like R-squared or other TOD biomass-conversion experts like Engineer Poet.

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

    Manure: You may be walking on it soon

    Home-buyers of tomorrow could find themselves walking across floors made from manure.

    Hi Bob,
    My ex-wife's mother was a native South African. She said that the blacks there typically had huts with floors made of hard-packed manure. When hard packed and dry, it is glossy black and shiny like a tile floor.

    Not surprising that someone is exploiting this 'feature' of sh**t. Maybe we can work this into the economics discussion on substitutions :^>

    Hello ET,

    Thxs for responding. What happens when the sleek manure 'hardwood floor' gets soggy and wet? A huge, sloppy, stinking mess, or do they have some way of waterproofing and keeping it rigid?

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

    Hello TODers,

    It is said that the moral quality of a Nation depends upon how they treat their weakest members.

    I expect this to be quite commonplace as we go further and further postpeak:
    Homeless paraplegic dumped on skid row: LA police

    LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A homeless paraplegic man wearing a soiled gown and a broken colostomy bag was found crawling in the street after being allegedly dumped on Los Angeles' skid row by a hospital, police said.

    The incident, which took place in broad daylight on Thursday and was seen by several witnesses, was described by police as one of the worst cases of homeless dumping they had ever seen.

    "I can't think of anything colder than that," Los Angeles Police Department detective Russ Long told the Los Angeles Times. "There was no mission around, no services. It's the worst area of skid row."

    Witnesses noted the license plate of the medical van, and police later linked it to the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center.
    EDIT: forgot link:


    Zimbabwe's Project Murambatsvina [Taking out the rubbish & filth] done American-style. It is tragic in itself for whomever this poor soul is: I sure hope it is not a war-wounded military vet from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

    Where is his family and relatives? Or have we already reached the point of checking relatives into hospitals with false names like Zimbabwe?

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

    In Eugene OR and, I suspect, in many cities, there are more homeless found dead every year. I think it was 6 last year in Eugene. I once tried to get an idea of how many homeless there are in the US. Depending on where you look, the number is from around 600,000 to over 9 million (the government's figure is the low one, no surprise there). Most agree there is a large seasonal swing, but the overall population of homeless is almost certainly rising, and possibly quite fast. There is also the increasing phenomenon of the 'working homeless' or those who have regular jobs but can't afford housing in their locale.

    Increase in homeless is yet another canary in the economics coal mine.

    Many are but a paycheck removed from the state of homelessness.

    There was an article on the 7th in the local paper, the Sunnyvale Sun, about counting the homeless. It was well written and humanistic, amazing. Most of the homeless seem to be simply unlucky, many working just w/o a home, there's no safety net in the US you remember. Living in their cars, living out of a backpack, etc.

    Loss of a job, sickness, a run-in with drugs, mental problems, etc. many things that in Europe are considered social problems to be remedied and managed, are considered sins to be punished here in the US.

    We "found" the solution here in New Orleans. Live inside your own home (gutted but mortgage still due) in a tent with only water & sewage as the only utilities. Next door is a group of Hispanics in much the same situation but w/o the title or mortgage. And on the other side is a couple of old New Orleanians (renters, not owners) who now live rent & utility free. It has worked out surprisingly well.

    Three apartments in storm damaged (but not flooded) apartment building nearby are occupied by squatters. Owners are making no effort to repair, neighborhood is OK with squatters (would not have been true pre-K) since they are apparently honest & hard working. Injustice of not repairing clearly helps squatters case.

    Best Hopes,


    DrumBeat: February 9, 2007

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