DrumBeat: February 13, 2007

Fears for North Sea output grow

Oil and gas production in the North Sea is now expected to be about 10 per cent lower over the next few years than previously thought, according to the leading survey of the state of the industry.

The faster than expected decline in production is bad news for Britain’s energy security, increasing the country’s dependence on imported oil and gas, and also for the exchequer.

Thomas Homer-Dixon: Is the Deadly Crash of Our Civilization Inevitable?

My difference with Diamond is that I don't think we're going to really begin those conversations in a proper way until we face some crises or breakdowns. In other words, my impression of his argument is that collapse is something we have to avoid, in all cases and in all forms. On the other hand, I believe there is a spectrum of forms of collapse. At one end is the ideal, optimistic future where we solve all our problems and we live happily every after. At the other end is catastrophic collapse. We have tended not to fill in all the spaces in between, but that's actually where things might be very interesting. There may be some forms of disruption and crisis that will actually stimulate us to be really creative. Most importantly, they may allow us to get the deep vested interests that are blocking change out of the way.

...The key thing though -- and this is where I think that Jared Diamond's argument just doesn't give us the purchase that we need -- is that we have to keep the breakdown from being catastrophic. There has to be enough resilience in the system, enough information, enough adaptive capacity that things can be regenerated. With catastrophic breakdown, recovery is often impossible.

Facing Flood of New Rigs, Drillers Lose Grip on Pricing

Drillers have been able to play gas producers off one another the last few years, taking advantage of an historic shortage in manpower and equipment in North America. Now, producers are extracting a little payback.

Gazprom, Interros Ready to Carve Up Power Industry

Anatoly Chubais’ long-held dream of free-market electricity reform looks to be in disarray after two giant business groups, Gazprom and Interros, emerged as the favorites to carve up the country’s power production and form regional monopolies.

Cypriot Pres: Lebanon, Egypt Oil Exploration Deals to Go Ahead

The president of Cyprus said in a newspaper interview published Sunday that he has received assurances from Egypt and Lebanon that they will go ahead with oil and gas exploration deals with the island despite threats from Turkey.

Good Sports

I reckon, in the next few years, as a result of caps on emissions and peak oil being reached, that we can say goodbye to international sports and most national sports. The idea that you could fly people and teams all over America, all over the globe, all the time, just to play sport, is so late twentieth century. Fifty years ago it was still something of a novelty to see people flying to play sport. Now it is taken for granted.

Obamamania - Kunstler

By January 2009 we will surely be reeling from the "work out" of peak financial excess represented by the hedge fund fiesta and the reckless mortgage fiasco (from which the housing industry as we have known it will never recover). By 1/20/09 (inauguration day) the global oil crisis will be accepted as self-evident even by Cambridge Energy Research Associates (and its clients in the oil industry). By 1/20/09, we will have gone through two more global warming hurricane seasons. By 1/20/09 we will have spent several hundred billion dollars more maintaining our garrisons in the Middle East and elsewhere — and the strategic concerns that have required them will still be there.

The Nuclear Renaissance: Is it real?

Despite the condition of our economy, within the next decade, Michigan - and the rest of our country for that matter - will need more electricity . . . a lot more. And pollution free nuclear power has to be an important part of the mix.

Senate Appropriations Panel to Assess Interior's Royalty System

The Interior Department's management of offshore oil and gas royalties comes before the Senate Appropriations Committee this week as lawmamkers continue to look into the controversial topic amid charges Interior has not done enough to make sure petroleum companies make their full payments.

Ethanol's growth and implications for grain producers

In Iowa, combined corn processing capacity for ethanol and other corn products will soon be equivalent to more than half of the 2006 Iowa corn crop. If all planned plants are built, processing capacity would be equivalent to 133% of last year's crop -- within three to five years. At the national level, existing processing capacity and plants under construction or being expanded will likely boost total capacity to the equivalent of about 40% of last year's corn production -- within the next 15 to 18 months. If all planned and proposed corn-based plants in the United States were built, corn processing capacity would exceed the 2006 U.S. crop by at least one-fifth. Current returns for processing corn into ethanol are quite favorable.

Attributes of best biofuel: Cost-efficient, eco-friendly

Additionally, these crops are not sustainable. When crops are harvested, the embedded nutrients are removed and not replaced through the natural process of recycling dead plants back into the land to provide nutrients for the next generation. Ethanol production uses large amounts of water, which could exacerbate the water shortage worldwide, which is already occurring in some arid countries. Another factor: Farm machinery and vehicles burn fossil fuels to harvest and transport the crops. This process contributes considerable amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere.

A battle over biofuels

While nearly 80 percent of Americans favor increased use of ethanol to ease our "addiction" to oil, there is still concern that ethanol's demand for corn will create grain shortages that drive up the cost of food.

Brazil Ethanol Can Replace 10% World Gasoline In 20 Yrs

If the right investments are made, Brazil could replace 10% of the world's gasoline with its bio-friendly cane-based ethanol in 20 years' time, according to a study conducted by a university in Sao Paulo at the request of the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.

New Fuels Have Huge Potential To Reduce Gasoline Use

New vehicle fuels and related technologies offer the greatest potential for large reductions in gasoline use and the U.S. economy’s dependence on petroleum, a White House report says.

'Elephant grass' may be the next big biomass crop

If your corn is being processed into ethanol and your soybeans into biodiesel, your acreage unsuited for row crop production may soon be converted to production of miscanthus, a biomass crop that some researchers believe will help fill the shortfall in U.S. energy production.

Britain tries to block European targets for renewable energy

Britain is trying to block new European rules that would set binding targets on renewable energy generation to tackle climate change, according to leaked papers.

The European commission wants to force member states to generate 20% of their energy by 2020 from green sources such as wind power and wood chip boilers. But Britain has argued against such a binding goal, saying countries need the "flexibility" to set their own targets.

Mandelson wants free trade in 'green' goods

Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has called for a 0%-tariff deal on environmentally friendly technologies as part of the Doha Round, saying that such an agreement could help provide a global solution to climate change.

Push for New Climate Treaty Intensifies, Hope Seen

Intensive diplomatic efforts to agree the elements of a framework by the end of the year for a new global climate change treaty are starting to make headway, according to a European official close to the negotiations.

China: Experts concerned about pollution targets

Experts are concerned that the country's plan to reduce major pollutants by 2 per cent this year might have set the bar too high.

Politics to complicate energy conflicts

Energy-producing nations with state-owned oil and gas firms will continue to flex their muscles on the world stage, causing more confrontations, according to a panelist at Saturday’s energy symposium.

And the volatile mix of oil and nationalism will bring dire consequences to energy consumer nations such as the United States, said Nikolay Bogachev, chairman of Yamal LNG of Moscow, Russia.

Energy critical power source within N Korea

In the depths of the North Korean winter, where temperatures regularly plumb -10ºC, government offices and even hospital wards in Pyongyang are so cold that people can see their breath indoors. Lights – not to mention medical equipment – constantly flicker on and off.

In the industrial areas along the east coast, the vast majority of factories and mines simply lie idle.

...“North Korea’s power plants were already 40 years out of date [when the Soviet Union collapsed] but they can’t repair them because they don’t have the energy to make spare parts, which is causing them to deteriorate further,” says Timothy Savage of the Nautilus Institute, a think-tank that has done extensive studies of the North’s energy sector. “Their whole energy system is held together with chewing gum and baling wire.”

North Korea agrees to nuclear disarmament

The North must provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable all existing nuclear facilities. In return, the North will get aid in corresponding steps worth 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil — details of which will be addressed in later working group discussions.

China's 2006 oil import dependency at 47%, up 4.1 pct points from 2005

China's net oil import was up 19.6 pct year-on-year at 162.87 mln tons last year, of which net import of crude oil was at 138.84 mln tons, up 16.9 pct.

Trouble in the Straits of Hormuz

A slew of articles has recently appeared in the international media warning that the US — or more accurately the Bush administration — is preparing for an imminent and catastrophic military attack on Iran. The evidence of military preparations in the Middle East region is mounting.

PetroChina to Explore Arctic Shelf with Rosneft, Gazprom

Russia's remote oil-rich Arctic Continental Shelf may welcome joint exploration by PetroChina, Russia's Rosneft and Gazprom, the first two largest oil and gas companies in Russia, a Russian media outlet reported. According to the media, PetroChina is expected to provide capital and essential equipment, in exchange for the right to exploit Arctic oil and gas and the related agreement would be signed in the second quarter of this year.

New Cold War with Russia Over Oil and Gas

A new Cold War is under way, but unlike the conflict of the Reagan era it is not a fight for military supremacy but rather for gaining control, directly or through commercial proxy, of energy resources.

Vietnam predicted to import coal from 2015

Vietnam is forecast to have to import some kinds of coal, mainly fat coal used for metallurgy, from 2015, local newspaper Vietnam Economic Times on Tuesday quoted the country's Industry Ministry as reporting.

The ministry predicted that Vietnam would have to import 5.9 million tons of some kinds of coal in 2015, 15.4 million tons in 2020, and 54.4 million tons in 2025, to serve increasing demand for the fossil fuel of its energy-thirsty industries, including metallurgy and thermoelectricity.

Russia, Qatar eye OPEC-style natural gas cartel

Leaders of natural gas-rich Russia and Qatar said Monday they would explore the creation of a natural gas cartel to represent the interests of producer countries to influence the global market.

Oil's Geopolitical Price

But while winter's grip will soon be broken and the supply concerns in regard to the shutdown can be overcome, the geopolitical landscape is as unpredictable as ever, which has oil traders everywhere attempting to price in that risk. The result is much higher prices.

Gunmen in Nigeria release 24 hostages

Gunmen on Tuesday released 24 Filipino sailors taken hostage in Nigeria's lawless southern oil-producing region, which has been roiled by weeks of stepped-up violence and kidnappings, officials said.

Shell says California refinery ops back to normal

Shell Oil Co. said on Sunday operations were back to normal at its 156,000-barrel-per-day San Francisco Bay area refinery in Martinez, California, after emergency flaring on Friday.

Canada sets 1.28 billion dollars to fight climate change

The money will be contained in his Conservative government's upcoming budget, and distributed to provincial governments to use to stem carbon emissions linked to global warming, Harper said at a press conference.

With eye on legacy, Blair mulls climate change with Merkel

Prime Minister Tony Blair heads to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with moves towards securing a new deal on tackling climate change top of the agenda.

In Congress, a shift over fuel economy

Lawmakers who have opposed stricter emissions standards find themselves pressured to combat climate change.

Brazil's Lula to challenge Bush on environment

Brazil will challenge President Bush to cut emissions of carbon gases that cause global warming when he visits Latin America next month, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Monday.

Activist: Oil crisis requires drastic changes in Madison

Local activist Jan Sweet envisions a city without cars, or at least a compromise - a hybrid city, which would function like a hybrid car and conserve oil.

Oil prices prove to be a tricky economy indicator

At the time it was widely believed this particular oil crisis was different from previous crises, being driven by surging demand – particularly from emerging economies such as India and China – rather than due to a supply shock.

On top of these demand-driven concerns were the Cassandras who were vehemently arguing that the world was on the edge of a precipice and that "peak oil" – the peaking of world production – was at hand or even past.

These two factors were supposedly set to drive oil prices ever higher.

Biofuel is NOT “Carbon-Neutral”

Biofuel today is produced, overwhelmingly, from oil palms and sugar cane, and overwhelmingly, these plantations stand where tropical rainforest recently stood. Over a year ago, a well-documented essay entitled “Worse Than Fossil Fuel,” was published in the London Guardian by George Monbiot, an environmental activist and professor at Oxford-Brookes University in the U.K. In this article, Monbiot states “Between 1985 and 2000 the development of oil-palm plantations was responsible for an estimated 87 per cent of deforestation in Malaysia. In Sumatra and Borneo, some 4 million hectares of forest has been converted to palm farms. Now a further 6 million hectares is scheduled for clearance in Malaysia, and 16.5m in Indonesia.”

Thanks to Heading Out for his Global Warming skepticism. We certainly wouldn't want to restrict pollution for any reason, especially not for the sake the climate.

John Tierney both assures America that there is no problem while also promising techno-salvation:

A Cool $25 Million for a Climate Backup Plan

If governments and other moguls throw in more money, the new Virgin Earth Challenge may be the start of competitions that ultimately yield nanobots or microbes capable of gobbling up carbon dioxide. As far-fetched as it seems today, removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere could turn out to be a lot more practical than the alternative: persuading six billion people to stop putting it there.

Not that it is needed, though ...

The other problem is that most of the horror-movie scenarios are looking less and less plausible. Climate change will probably occur not with a bang but with a long, slow whimper, as you can see in the new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In which case, perhaps, it is not necessary to do anything. Nor will the politicians, either, because they don't think in the long term (i.e., 25 years into the future).

It’ll be hard to keep audiences interested, particularly since the solutions are also in slow motion. The I.P.C.C. considers options for reducing greenhouse emissions, but projects that even the most radical (and politically painful) policies wouldn’t make much difference the first two or three decades. To politicians worried about the next election, especially in poor countries, 2030 sounds like eternity.

It’s always possible that something will galvanize people around the world into taking short-term pain for long-term gain. But I suspect there’s a better chance of someone claiming that $25 million prize. Whether it’s carbon-dioxide-gobbling nanobots or something else, it’d be good to have a backup plan when 2030 rolls around.

So the nanobots are either not needed or if they are needed they will appear just in time or everything is ok with global warming or the changes will occur slowly and not really impact humankind in any sort of harmful manner.

What I sense, actually, is cognitive dissonance: The conservatives must know that the world is changing but they still possess a faith hope that either (1). nothing catastrophic will occur, or (2). techno-salvation is just around the corner.

Thank God for the techno-god! If you have faith the techno-god will save humankind! Just keep shopping!

David Mathews

John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, two politians who have no future, have an editorial with contrary yet similar message in today's Boston Globe:

The turning point on global warming

In addition, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has identified a warming climate, and the resulting melting of sea ice, as the reason polar bears may now be threatened as a species. The US Center for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health has cited global warming as the largest looming public health challenge we face. And President Bush has himself called global warming a serious challenge that we need to confront.

Indeed, if we fail to start substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the next couple of years, we risk bequeathing a diminished world to our grandchildren. Insect-borne diseases such as malaria will spike as tropical ecosystems expand; hotter air will exacerbate the pollution that sends children to the hospital with asthma attacks; food insecurity from shifting agricultural zones will spark border wars; and storms and coastal flooding from sea-level rise will cause mortality and dislocation

They have introduced legislation on behalf of the climate, or perhaps on behalf of the fossil fuel industries, as they state later in the editorial:

Wall Street analysts and industry executives have predicted the eventual enactment of a bill such as this for some time. Late last month, a group of prominent industrial leaders, including two executives of coal-intensive electric power companies and a major oil company, urged Congress and the president to enact measures that align with the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. Perhaps the inevitable is now imminent. We must seize the initiative.

How can Congress close the deal to prevent catastrophic global warming while it still has the chance? In the same way it has enacted every other major environmental law in the past 30 years.

Congress must listen to the companies that will be governed by the new climate law. After all, they are the ones who will develop and deploy the advanced energy technologies that will solve this problem. While intransigent firms should not be allowed to weaken the legislation, lawmakers must be open to a good-faith business perspective that can help solve this urgent global problem. As the bill reflects, lawmakers must also have the courage to promote safe climate-friendly nuclear energy.

Yes, I trust the coal and oil industries to look out for the interests of humankind. These corporations are well known for their humanitarianism. Too bad that these corporations have already destroyed the Earth and transformed the entire planet into humankind's sewer.

The editorial ends on an ominous note: Consequently, we can and must act now to solve the problem, or else we will bequeath a dangerous and diminished world to our children and grandchildren.

To which I say: Too late. The children have already inherited a mess and soon they shall inherit the apocalypse.

David Mathews

Your opening remark is uncalled for, and unsupported. Not that many here likely think that is somehow out of character for your posts, though.

Good post. There is nothing in our past behavior that would indicate that we place a very high value on the future, despite our platitudes about caring about future generations. We need to be recalled for some rewiring and reprogramming.

Agree with expat here.

Don't shoot the messenger.

Beyond that, AFAIK this is not a religious site, so we need to apprise ourselves of reasonable views even when they vary a little from some sort of received catechism.

Oh, and ad hominem attacks will never fish those drowned ancient cities out of the sea. If the real world is actually not quite the equable, stable place that many seem to assume it to be, as they naively extrapolate from the mere 120 years of quantitative records that are virtually all we have (and beyond which we must resort to interpreting proxy measurements that blur out the devilish details), then we really need to know that.

So thanks, HO, for the article.

also agree with pauls and expat. HO was only presenting a differing view. are we all so tied into the TOD meme that we can't even deal with another approach? granted saylor's arguments are not particularly valid, but as a non-climatologist , i certainly learned more from the rebutals to saylor then i ever would have learned from yet another thread from the "amen choir".

Hello steverino,

also agree with pauls and expat. HO was only presenting a differing view. are we all so tied into the TOD meme that we can't even deal with another approach?

What is the TOD meme?

If TOD really does have a meme, I am naturally inclined to reject it because (as far as I can tell) that meme appears to represent the interests of the oil industry and other related industries. Heading Out seems to speak on behalf of the oil industry as he skeptically evaluates the Global Warming idea.

I have more faith in Al Gore than I have in Heading Out. At least I know Al Gore's name. Anonymous people are often anonymous for a reason. I cannot trust Heading Out until he discloses whether or not there are conflicts of interest.

The article that Heading Out wrote wasn't so very impressive, either. The conservative editorialists are more eloquent in their skepticism, but equally wrong. Heading Out used too many words to say too little.

Heading Out should at least explicitly state his opinions regarding Global Warming. I'd prefer to know what he really thinks. Not that it would change my mind. Not at all. I have read plenty of views regarding Global Warming from numerous sources all across the full range of the political spectrum.

I don't imagine that there is anything that Heading Out could say which would change my mind. I am naturally inclined to oppose the world-polluting, world-destroying, impoverished-persons-oppressing industries. The oil industry has committed enough crimes throughout the world.

I'd much prefer that the oil, coal & mining industries not exist. If that means the end of technological civilization, so much the better.

David Mathews

mr. mathews,..there is much that you write that i can agree on, but at other times you go way overboard with your save the whales story. do you walk everywhere you go? heat with solar power? clothe yourself with bark? off the grid? no one is above reproach in this world. i would try the holier than thou attitude elsewhere.

Hello steverino,

mr. mathews,..there is much that you write that i can agree on, but at other times you go way overboard with your save the whales story. do you walk everywhere you go? heat with solar power? clothe yourself with bark? off the grid? no one is above reproach in this world. i would try the holier than thou attitude elsewhere.

There is only one sort of life possible in the United States of America, the American Way of Life.

There was a time when I did not have a car (nor a job) and I walked everywhere I wanted to go. Life of this sort is next-to-impossible in Florida now but it functioned successfully for thousands of years prior to the modern automotive age.

Walking alongside the road is a terrible experience specifically because our roads (and our civilization) was designed specifically to be anti-pedestrian. If cars don't run you over the pollution in the air is enough to kill the pedestrian. American oil-addicted civilization is pretty unpleasant stuff, I wouldn't wish it on our worst enemy (China), but they've bought it so the end of the world is approaching that much faster.

I would much rather save the whales than save human civilization. If forced to choose between these two, I would sacrifice human civilization on behalf of the whales.

David Mathews

Hello PaulS,

Beyond that, AFAIK this is not a religious site, so we need to apprise ourselves of reasonable views even when they vary a little from some sort of received catechism.

TOD is not a religious website? That is hard to believe. I have read so many long discussions regarding God, Christianity and Islam here that I assumed that TOD had a special emphasis upon religion (in addition to its devotion to theological arguments about the HL plot and the exact timing of Peak Oil).

I know that there are plenty of people here who enjoy boasting about their atheism. My comments about religion are an invitation of these people to argue with me about atheism or religion. I have a special interest in atheism which preceded and transcends my interest in Peak Oil.

I also have an interest in the other great religion of this modern world: The Techno-God and its many adherents which seem to populate websites devoted to technology (and also websites devoted to atheism). Faith in technology appears to have superceded faith in God among these people. Here is a religion which fascinates me.

I believe that there are a lot of people here at TOD who worship the techno-god. I admire their faith and honor their hope. Techno-utopia and scientific immortality are their greatest hopes in life. Seems like a meager religion to me, but that is only because I have a mansion in Heaven built by God Himself. I am looking forward to living in that mansion forever. I hope that it is a really big mansion because undoubtedly I will have a collection of 24 karat gold SUVs in heaven, too.

Who would ever want to live forever on the Earth when it is much better to spend eternity with God in heaven?

David Mathews

Hello Everyone,

Jay Hanson has written an excellent -- and terrible -- paper. I am certain that he is speaking the truth. I'd prefer a much better outcome to the human experiment, but the last ten thousand years has removed any doubts from my mind regarding the future apocalypse which will overwhelm humankind and send our species to extinction.

Homo sapiens had to make a choice between Heaven and Hell a long time ago. Humankind has chosen Hell. Mourn, mourn for humankind.

The end is approaching and we won't escape from its clutches. I suspect that everyone intuitively senses that the end is fast approaching -- how else to explain this ADHD culture and its emphasis upon doing everything now? -- but the conscious mind rebels from that conclusion just as surely as it reject the notion of personal death.

I will point out one extremely important statement in Jay Hanson's paper:

We include others in our society when it increases our fitness to do so, but we invent excuses to kick minorities out of our society when resources are insufficient. Allies can become enemies almost overnight. The collapse of Yugoslavia is an example of neighbor
slaughtering neighbor.

The process described above is already occurring in American society in two forms:

1. Increasing stress against the Mexican immigrants (both legal and illegal).

2. The Long War against Terror, which is taking the form of a war against the Muslim resource-owners in order to seize their natural resources.

The worst case scenario is already activity occurring on the Earth right now. There is no need to talk any longer about an apocalypse which is coming in the future. The apocalypse is occurring right now. We're living in the apocalypse and fail to notice it because it is occurring at such a large scale that it escapes our attention (which is attuned to noticing only those things which are immediately in front of our own nose).

This world is coming to an end. Civilization is grinding to a halt.

Isn't it a pity?

David Mathews

Every last one of the dinosaurs died off together at the same time. Altogether they probably whined and worried about it less than you do all by yourself. We're not dead yet. Go smell some roses or something, the rest of us have work to do.

Hello Petropest,

Every last one of the dinosaurs died off together at the same time. Altogether they probably whined and worried about it less than you do all by yourself. We're not dead yet. Go smell some roses or something, the rest of us have work to do.

You want to work. I say that you should stop working. You are trying to save the wrong thing. Whereas you really ought to devote your attention to the job of saving humankind from extinction you would prefer to save your careers, your industry, the automobile, technological civilization, and your personal wealth.

I say that all of these are unworthy goals. The more that you do the worse things must become. You are driving humankind extinct by your success and that is your unconscious evil.

The time to stop is now. It is time to make sacrifices. It is time to learn to live without. There is no hope for tomorrow when so many intelligent people are working so hard at destroying the Earth.

The Earth is already too polluted. The Earth is overpopulated by the human pest. There are billions of people who are already living a hellish existence of impoverishment, deprivement and perpetual violence throughout the world.

We're not dead yet, but there are plenty of people who are dying. Shall we let them continue to die while we count our money? Shall we sacrifice all of these people on behalf of the SUV? Will humankind consent to destroying the entire Earth's coast for the sake of television and the air conditioner?

"There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -- ... A time to search and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away."
(Proverbs 3:1, 6)

"For what is a species profited if it gains the whole world, and becomes extinct and forfeits its own existence?"
(Luke 9:25)

Humankind's era of working is quickly approaching its end. If humans do not choose to stop Nature will bring our work to an end utilizing its most effective and harsh measures.

Once Homo sapiens become extinct will any of these things matter?

David Mathews

Your assumptions about me are all wrong. You are a troll. Maybe you should do the earth a favor and go french kiss a sick chicken.

Hello Everyone,

I visited Matt Savinar's website and found this most interesting of articles from the New York Times which suggests that the dissolution of the United States of America is already occurring at a subtle and almost imperceptible level:

California Split


Governor Schwarzenegger is quite clear that California is not simply another state. “We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta,” he recently declared. “We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state.” In his inaugural address, Mr. Schwarzenegger proclaimed, “We are a good and global commonwealth.”

Political rhetoric? Maybe. But California’s governor has also put his finger on a little discussed flaw in America’s constitutional formula. The United States is almost certainly too big to be a meaningful democracy. What does “participatory democracy” mean in a continent? Sooner or later, a profound, probably regional, decentralization of the federal system may be all but inevitable.

This is exactly the sort of message that I would never expect to read in the New York Times. The inevitability of America's collapse is something which I accepted based upon common sense and historical grounds decades ago. The United States of America is by no means an immortal nation, nor does it merit immortality.

But there was something else in this article which really caught my attention:

If the scale of a country renders it unmanageable, there are two possible responses. One is a breakup of the nation; the other is a radical decentralization of power. More than half of the world’s 200 nations formed as breakaways after 1946. These days, many nations — including Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Italy and Spain, just to name a few — are devolving power to regions in various ways.

Here is a dramatic evidence that the collapse of civilization is occurring right now, right in front of our nose. All of these nations which are breaking apart into smaller nations indicate that civilization is dissolving away. Iraq is the latest example of a country breaking apart, though in Iraq's case the civilization has collapsed because of the aggressive action of an outside force (George W. Bush, liberator of Muslims worldwide, excluding the Saudis).

The story of America's breakup is described:

Regional devolution would most likely be initiated by a very large state with a distinct sense of itself and aspirations greater than Washington can handle. The obvious candidate is California, a state that has the eighth-largest economy in the world.

So we really ought to pay close attention to California. If things really began going bad in the United States -- for any reason -- California might assert its independence from Washington, D.C. How much longer could America exist as a nation after California's seccession from the union?

Vermont has already whispered about secession (http://www.vermontrepublic.org/) but this is just talk. The loss of Vermont would not dissolve the United States. The loss of California, on the other hand, would. California is wealthy and powerful enough to pull this off, too, under any circumstance in which the American federal government has weakened and become ineffective.

The world seems to be coming to its end. Thank God for the end of this world. I look forward to the next world and am willing to wait as many millions of years as it will take for Nature to fix this mess that humankind has created.

David Mathews

This is what happens when about 80% of the population HATES the current president. Given a reasonable president, this sort of talk would quiet down. Also, the US is a federal system, which means that the states have power too. Historically power has moved away from the states, if they manage to reclaim a little bit, that probably isn't a bad thing. What works best in a central fashion (defense, for instance) should be federal, what works best state by state (say, zoning regulations) should be left to the states. Makes sense to me.

As for the whole "too big to be a democracy...", well, emperical evidence (i.e. the existence of the USA) seems to indicate that this outcome is not "unthinkable." Small minds use "untinkable" to describe that about which they would prefer not to think, doesn't mean it isn't true.

Hello slaphappy,

This is what happens when about 80% of the population HATES the current president. Given a reasonable president, this sort of talk would quiet down.

Here is where you are mistaken, slaphappy. The dissolution of the United States of America is, essentially, a natural force which does not relate in any way to the present political climate in the United States. George W. Bush is unpopular, but America has had unpopular presidents before (Richard Nixon, etc.).

The United States of America will break apart into smaller units at some point in the future. Such is the natural course of events for any excessively large nation (see for example the breakup of Alexander the Great's kingdom, and the dissolution of the Roman Empire).

George W. Bush is just a blip on the screen. California knows that George W. Bush will be gone in two years. Pretty much everyone knows that George W. Bush is a lame duck.

David Mathews

Wow, dm. Interesting stuff. I agree...this could be shaping up. There were plenty of cries for separation after the last prez election.

I hope my current passport will get me into California when they break off.

Hello Dragonfly41,

If the Terminator leads the Peakoil Revolution: My Asphalt Wonderland will have to be renamed the Asphalt Wasteland--> the first thing CA would do is cutoff the FF flow to Phoenix, Vegas, Tucson, etc. The next step would be to take all the Colorado River's water and electricity by military control of the dams and blowing up the CAP canal and powerlines that serve AZ. Cascadia and Earthmarines look more likely everyday--Yikes!

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

Note to self: time to stop posting embarrassing videos of Governator on website.

Hello TODers,

Not to change the subject, but I just wanted to get this upthread so it can be more widely seen:

Iran bomb attack kills 18 guards

Members of the Revolutionary Guards were the apparent target of the attack [EPA]

Eighteen members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have been killed after a car bomb hit their bus in southeastern Iran.

Qassem Rezaie, a Revolutionary Guard commander, told Iran's official news agency on Wednesday: "In this thoughtless operation, 18 citizens of Zahedan were martyred."
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Tierney is a "market" guy so it is natural that he advocate for "have our cake and eat it too" market-based solutions to problems of energy supply, global warming, etc. As I think he correctly surmises, the notion that a free market is capable of resolving any problem runs counter to government mandates and top-down restrictions on resource use.

The problem though, is that the market is a lot better at dealing with problems like "what color of car do I want?" or "how much am I willing to pay for a loaf of bread?" than it is at dealing with "how do we compel people to consume while simultaneouly ensuring that we do not drown in the waste stream generated by that consumption?" The market has never had to deal with a problem like global warming and it isn't clear that the market is even up to such a job. It could be that the free-market types are reaching for a wrench when they need a hammer. We don't know, but if you are a committed free-market disciple, what are your options?

  • You tell everyone that the problem isn't likely to be a big deal and you pray that you are right.
  • You recruit some rich fellow -- preferably one whose fortune is wholly dependent upon continuing consumption -- to bankroll a contest to come up with a solution to the problem that doesn't require that the "little people" get their hands dirty.
  • And this is where I start to get uneasy with Branson's proposal: If the game here is to allow the great mass of people to continue with business as usual, without reducing consumption -- without considering the moral implications of what it means to "live it up" today, knowing that we may have one heck of hangover tomorrow -- what does that say about what it means to be a supposedly rational, cognizant, responsible human? To put it another way, are we to abandon free-will, turn our full attention to consumption and hope that the billionaires, acting as the high-priests of a "free market nanny-state," will pull the right levers and make sure that the human race doesn't crash?

    I'd say it's more that the market only works in the presence of rules. Without rules, there can be no market. If the rules are reasonable, then the outcome is reasonable. If the rules are unreasonable (say, a coal powerplant can kill people for free by dumping poison into the air...), then the outcome is unreasonable. Water is wet, birds chirp, life goes on.

    This is the problem with the "market" types. They want to get rid of "regulation", but certainly only regulation that impacts inhuman entities. So we have a "market" where some people are allowed to kill other people (for free), but you can't copy a CD that you paid for? They also want to get rid of "frivolous lawsuits", which basically means that polluters don't want to be sued by the relatives of the recently deceased. You can't have it both ways. Either have rules that prevent people from being wronged, or allow them to seek recompense when they are, to allow them to be wronged with no recourse is not a recipe for a stable and healthy society. It is also not a recipe for a society that allocates resources in any sort of sane manner, if you define sane as something along the lines of "doing the most good for the most people." or anything similar.

    Anyway, not much of a shock here... Also should not be interpreted as meaning the system can't work, just because it's currently being f'ed up by the MBAs in charge.

    The return of $30 oil?

    Globe and Mail Update

    CALGARY — Oil could fall to $40 (U.S.) a barrel or even as low as $30 as speculative investors sell their positions and spare production capacity increases, according to a research report published Monday by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., an independent analysis firm.

    The price of crude spiked higher in 2004 as demand from China surged at the same time the key cushion of spare capacity evaporated. As the commodity jumped, billions of dollars from speculative investors piled in, buying futures contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange, helping push oil to almost $80 a barrel last year.

    “We believe such speculative activity created perhaps the biggest artificial distortion of a market since the technology bubble of the late 1990s,” analyst Ben Dell of New York-based Sanford said in a 67-page report entitled: “Energy investing: Beware the Ides of March.”

    “Timing when the good times will be over is difficult but we fear that the collapse could be dramatic.”


    A day late and a dollar short. This stampede has already happened and we are at $58 oil today. Next wishful thinking piece...

    The comments section on this Globe&Mail article makes for incredibly depressing reading. Unless, I suppose, you're hoping that ignorance will rule and demand will stay high.



    Keep dreaming. No regulation means the oil companies will find some way to keep the prices high no matter how absurd the reasoning is. One day a few weeks back I went home one evening it was 86.5, next morning 75-76, and then by evening back to 86? The next morning it dropped a few cents. The oil companies are doing what they want just like every other big corporation until they step on some politicians foot and thats when an inquiry is made.

    We can thank Bush if the oil does go below $30/barrel. Long live the Anglo-American oil empire!

    Berstein's reputation is built on its analytic abilities. They have analysts all over the world. This would not have been issued without a thorough internal vetting and review. This strain of thought has been heard quietly over the past couple of years. There is plenty of oil and gas in the world, and will be long after all of us are dead. This is in line with an oil industry expert who spoke at Harvard Business School in the past year and made the statement that the real market value of oil, absent the risk premium, is around $20 a barrel.

    Peak oil!!!....Peak oil!!!...repent ye capitalist sinners!!!....oh...gee...that was a bit of a bust wasn't it...what're we gonna do now???...ah...Global Warming!!!....Global Warming!!!...repent ye capitalist sinners!!!

    Like historians always say 'history will repeat itself'. When you look at the history of oil prices there is always an up and down cycle. Prices below $30/barrel may sound ridiculous with the recent history of oil but a lot of that price is due to instability in major oil producing countries such as Iraq and Nigeria. If things finally start to stabilize I can see a major dip in oil prices.

    Great news.

    I'm keeping my V-8 SUV!

    Had enough yet?

    Hello JustZisGuy,

    The last quote: "Great news. I'm keeping my V-8 SUV!"

    I think this is important to bear in mind here on TOD. For every Peakoil warning that we post for other concerned TODers to read: 1,000, 5,000, 10,000? polluting vehicles are sold. We are a distinct minority, when all our numbers from Techno-Cornucopian to Catastrophic Doomer are added up, then compared to the behavior of the world at large. That numeric disparity is why I am continually advocating for Peakoil Outreach.

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

    Well, telling people that they'll be resorting to canabilism "any day now" is not often a recipe for being taken seriously. Perhaps the site could seek converts among the homeless men carrying signs claiming the end is neigh.

    Or maybe we could be a little more careful about predictions and not be so transparently out of touch. In short, any argument that says uses the word "unthinkable" is probably not a good one. Partially this is because the thing clearly is thinkable, as the poster just thought of it. Beyond mere semantics, these myriad "unthinkable" things are generally things that actually exist, right now, or close variations thereof. For instance, a few posts up someone claims that a whole (or large fraction of a) continent being run by one Federal government is unthinkable, despite the fact that (unless I miss my guess) the poster currently lives in exactly that.

    If there's a reason why a thing can't work, then it should be easy to express. If there are multiple "then a miracle happens" steps, then it's back to the drawing board. Now, for the record let me just list out a few arguments that I would very much like to never see again, at least not in an unsupported form.

    1) Complexity is not viable, complex systems fail, or require huge energy input, or are hugely inefficient, or just can't work for long, so current society (apparently it's complex) is doomed to fail by mathematical law "real soon now".

    2) Peak oil means peak fossil fuels, peak fossil fuels means peak energy, peak energy means peak food/steel/whatever, peak food means starvation (for people, not for cows, which might logically follow), starvation means unrest, unrest means societal breakdown, societal breakdown means declining population, which leads to extinction, or nearly so. Perhaps a few unsupported assertions there....

    3) People will never survive with 30% (heck, 80% even) less oil than they have now, once people can't drive a hummer to the grocery store 100 miles away, they'll storm the capital with pitchforks and then it's all over. This is a close variant of #2, and similarly there is plenty of contrary emperical evidence.

    4) You can't run the world on nuclear/wind/solar, as they require (lots of, apparently) oil to make/use/maintain, or they will "real soon now" run out of steel/uranium/silicon/sunlight, or there's some other critical problem with them that can never, ever, be overcome, no matter how hard we'd like to try and despite all contrary evidence.

    I'm sure there are many others, but those are the primary ones I'm thinking of. If we just stopped those four, we'd be taken more seriously.

    Double post, deleted.

    Hello Bob,

    "I am continually advocating for Peakoil Outreach."

    What do you see as the most effective thing to do?

    Hello Aniya,

    I wish I truly knew, I do my best to email and talk to whomever I can.

    speculation can drive the price of oil up but can't speculation also drive the price down ? not an oil trader but this is my understanding.

    "North Korea agrees to nuclear disarmament"

    Yeah, right. The headline differs a bit from the first sentence in the article, which begins a bit more realistically (emphasis mine):
    "North Korea reached a tentative agreement today on initial steps toward ending its nuclear weapons program..."

    In a few days, we'll see the usual follow-up headline:
    "N. Korea denies agreement was reached"

    Sorry for this being a little off topic, it's not a oil question, but it is related to sustainability which is discussed often here.

    I just moved into my new condo and now have a west facing balcony. I am on the top floor (3rd). Any suggestions for some 'balcony gardening'? I was thinking about trying to grow some vegetables and fruits. Any thoughts on what I could do with a small solar panel?

    Thanks in advance.

    Where are you, LOL, how big is your balcony?

    The exact orientation of your balcony could be important - quite a difference between WNW and WSW, would it be at all shaded from sun by nearby buildings?

    Herbs, tomatoes, chillis, lettuce and salad leafs, radish, work well in pots, but you will need to keep them well watered in warm weather.

    Not sure how effective solar panels might be but you could get yourself a solar battery charger (if you have a mobile phone get one that works for that and has the connector to suit - I got one in UK for £10, virtually same price as a plug in battery charger). You could get a solar panel plus lead-acid or similar battery to store the power and run low DC voltage lighting from it, possibly a fridge or freezer that works from DC voltage.

    Thanks for the reply. I am in Denver. About a 6 ft by 4 ft balcony. Facing directly west with no shade from other buildings. So I should have good sun from around noon till sunset each day.

    Cold winters, warm summers then. Your big challenges will be watering in summer and when your last spring and earliest fall frosts happen - you should be able to find the frost info from any local gardener or grower, probably from internet, too.

    Not a big balcony. Herbs are the most obvious thing to grow, choose what you like to use. Perennials like: sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, sorrel grow well in pots and are more tolerant of dry spells than vegetables and annual / biennial herbs. If you can find folks locally who grow them they will likely give you plants from cuttings - every autumn I take a dozen or so cuttings from several perennial herbs to give away whenever anyone wants. You'd probably need 2 or 3 pots of each herb type (6" to 12" each, repot every year or so to a bigger pot). Parsley is possible but a bit more trouble to grow, it's a biennial and best sown twice yearly, in March/April and July/August, you'd need about a dozen plants at each sowing to provide a decent supply. All the above are frost hardy and should survive winters in Denver (parsley and oregano most dubious). You could also grow basil in summer, it's annual, not frost hardy, sow indoors in March to May, about 70 F best for germination, aim to grow about 6 to 10 plants per 6" pot.

    Chillis should do well. They are not frost hardy, start indoors about now, prick out to 1 per 8" to 10" pot (you can start with 3" pots if more manageable and pot up to bigger when you put them outside after all risk of frost is gone.

    I think you a running out of space for much more. Might be able to fit a couple of tomato plants (they need at least 12" pots for one plant. 'Cut and come again' lettuce and salad leafs like mizuna may be worth trying if you have enough space.

    Meant to mention: avoid using 100% peat or similar based potting compost - a 50/50 mix with soil or soil based potting compost works much better.

    Good book, now out of print but available used on Amazon "The Apartment Gardener"

    No idea where you'r located i.e. what your climate is, but tomatoes and herbs are many folks starting point for "micro gardens". If access to the roof is an option you might be able to do a lot more...

    What about "community garden" plots in your neighbourhood (maybe even organize and start one if it does not already exist)?

    Or a "crops for land" swap deal with a friend nearby who has a backyard they are not using intensivly i.e. you put a big veggie garden in their yard, they get a share of the produce in exchange...

    Lots of options

    i planted some shade loving tomatoes in denver on time and they didnt do so good. the "hispanic family next door" kept harvesting the green ones for salsa.

    Hello Elwoodelmore,

    That is an excellent point as we go postPeak. It will be much safer in the long run for homeowners to plant both the frontyard & backyard. I believe it will be considered lawful for a person's backyard to be a legal freefire zone to protect your garden. But if you are willing to accept some frontyard pilfering by those bereft of plantable land in exchange for a night's sleep--it will be safer for both parties.

    This should be much preferred to the alternative of them invading your home to get the food inside, and the food in the backyard. Even better--rent your frontyard for a homeless person to sharecrop and protect, and he/she can sleep in the now worthless SUV parked on blocks on the now worthless driveway. A good night of peaceful bedrest will be considered priceless postPeak.

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


    Survival and charity have been much debated on other forums for a number of years. I very much disagree with your suggestion but TOD isn't the place to do it. For those who want to spend a few bucks I'd suggest James Rawles' novel, Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, 384 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-4257-3407-3. There is a link to the publisher on his site http://www.survivalblog.com

    For free, there is Lights Out by HalfFast http://www.giltweasel.com/stuff/LightsOut-Current.pdf

    It is a huge pdf of over 600 pages. It too is a novel.

    There are lots of moral issues that people will have to deal with. The above mentioned novels offer a start.

    Todd; a Realist

    Hello Todd,

    Thxs for responding. Thxs for the links.

    Your quote: "Survival and charity have been much debated on other forums for a number of years. I very much disagree with your suggestion but TOD isn't the place to do it."

    I have never written that we should not discuss survival and charity, in fact a lot of my posts relate to exactly those issues. I think you are confusing me with some other TODer. No harm, no foul, minor point for clarification.

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


    Come on. I never mentioned you and that was not my intent of my post and you know it. I'm sure that you have seen TOD diverge from its basic purpose over the last year. To bring in moral/survival/survivalist issues will only dilute TOD further as witnessed by yesterday's climate change thread.

    Further, as I know you know, TOD has been down this road before. All that happens is that everyone rants.

    Todd; a Realist

    Another excerpt from the Homer-Dixon piece:

    Here's a statistic that I came across in writing this book that really astonished me. We've quadrupled the human population in the last century, from 1.5 billion to 6.3 billion, in part because we've had a lot of cheap energy. In particular, that cheap energy has allowed us to increase the amount of energy in our food production systems by 80 fold.

    So it takes 80 times more energy to feed four times more people.

    Exactly. We've created a food system, a water system, and cities that are fundamentally dependent upon a resource that is not indefinitely available.

    Yep, a statistic oft quoted by Richard Heinberg and others is: it now takes 10 calories of energy to produce 1 calorie of human consumed food energy.

    So, go back a century or so and we produced about 2 food energy calories for the expenditure of 1 energy calorie. That is a happy and sustainable equation.

    We need to find sufficient additional exogenous energy from somewhere if we wish to continue our current agricultural and societal practices. If we fail to do that then much will have to change in a more sustainable direction. Clearly, without exogenous energy, the expenditure of more than 1 energy calorie to produce 1 food energy calorie is non-viable and ultimately results in a reduction in demand (I'll leave you to muse on the probable methods) to balance the food energy available.

    That 80 fold cannot be correct. For example, the amount of energy required to plant, harvest, then mill 10,000 tons of grain which is put on a barge or travels by rail to a port to be exported to another country simply has not changed appreciably in 50 years, even if the quantity required has. A case could be made for increased efficiency on the part of the diesel motors involved, as well as a case made for more energy intensive inputs in terms of fertilizer - call it unimportant in this example, as it would certainly not even double the amount of energy used between 1957 and 2007, when the largest increase occurred.

    Of course, the energy used to fly fresh lettuse from New Zealand to England is extreme, and when considering the increase in highly processed food kept in a refrigerated or frozen condition, a case can be made for a real increase in the energy used. The same would apply to packaging - it seems as if the bulk containers of things like rice and flour which used to sold at Giant are a thing of the past.

    But that 10,000 tons of flour remains a baseline, as that is what is feeding people, not some Chilean grapes and kiwis.

    Which keeps reminding me just how far America seems removed from understanding the difference between what it considers critical to modern life, and what it is truly needed to survive.

    And in Europe, even suggesting such a number would be met with open jawed amazement, as there is no way that food production here could be viewed that way - to give a tiny example, the locally grown grain used for the locally baked bread or locally brewed into locally drunk beer does not require 80 times the energy of a century ago - and people still walk to buy bread, so even arguing that driving to a store is a critical activity to sustain modern civilization is easily dismissed.

    This is not a broad discussion about how sustainable our agricultural practices are, or how our civilization will end, but that 80 fold is absurd.

    And since it couldn't be worked in smoothly - I also refuse to believe that a billion dirt farmers are somehow using 80 fold more energy when planting, harvesting, milling, and cooking their food by hand and with animals - that a certain percent of the population in such places is not supported by this farming is clear, but again, there is no way to argue that a billion plus people are using 80 fold energy now than a century ago while using pretty much the same methods. More? Yes. But I can't imagine even 20 times more in China or India, even today.

    The other point was meat - how much of that increase was related to an increase in meat eating? That could easily count for several fold, using a 10:1 ratio for grain/meat conversion. However, meat is more a luxury than a necessity - something not easily understood in America, but that fact is eagerly embraced in China.

    For example, the amount of energy required to plant, harvest, then mill 10,000 tons of grain which is put on a barge or travels by rail to a port to be exported to another country simply has not changed appreciably in 50 years, even if the quantity required has.

    Depends on where and how you are farming, I suspect. Because of that increased quantity, we are farming more marginal lands.

    For example, according to the UN, China today uses four times the global average of synthetic fertilizer per hectare. Were they using that much in 1957? I doubt it.

    They also have 4+ times the population density on average when compared to virtually every other country on the planet. Its a miracle they are able to meet most of their food needs when faced with the prospect of trying to feed 1.2 billion people with the landmass the size of the US and less than half of its arable land.

    For example, according to the UN, China today uses four times the global average of synthetic fertilizer per hectare. Were they using that much in 1957? I doubt it.

    You can go the World Resources Inst website and download an Excel spreadsheet with world fertilizer use numbers for the period 1961 to 2002 (Agricultural Inputs: Fertilizer consumption). The figures are broken down by country.

    From 1961 to 2002, world fertilizer use increased from 31,182 x 1000 metric tons to 141,571 x 1000 metric tons (nitrogen (N), potash (K2O), and phosphate (P2O5)). Over that period, China's fertilizer use climbed from 728 x 1000 metric tons to 39,604 x 1000 metric tons.

    It may be unbelievable but it is probably true (the 80 fold number) - though it most likely applies to US agriculture and consumption. Another number: the average US human consumes the approximate energy output of 244 manual human workers. It's often quoted as 'each US citizen has the equivalent of 244 slaves'.

    Even if the 80 fold is out by a factor of 10 we have a situation we should be thinking about. If it is out by a factor of 5 then we may have a future problem. Since it is probably within a factor of 2 of reality then we may have a fairly serious problem that could impact quite soon.

    Heck, who needs slaves when we have oil, coal and natural gas? Ummm... I'll let you ponder the multitude of implications and perhaps revise your perceptions of history and futurology accordingly ;)

    An 8 fold increase is thoroughly believable in general, and I do not question the basic problem.

    But just because Domino's isn't delivering your pizza in DC using dough manufactured in a NJ factory (true in ca. 1990) means that civilization comes crashing down - and in that example, I am quite sure the difference between flour from a local grain mill, ca. 1910, a wood fired oven, tomatoes grown and canned in a garden, herbs from the garden, cheese from a local source, and so on could easily represent 80 times less expended energy.

    So people in America will just have to start living more like the people in Germany - walk to the local bakery, for example. Except in America, there really aren't any - demonstrating that civilization, using one of my critical yardsticks, has already collapsed in most of America - however, with a bit of that Kunstlerian gumption, maybe America can reach for a standard that most Europeans consider easily mastered.

    The basic problem remains, granted, but a 80 fold increase in energy to feed 4 fold more people is not something I can easily accept, especially taking in account the point about increased meat consumption, which is not easily dismissed in reducing any amount of energy currently expended - but bring biofuels into the mix, and things begin to look ugly.

    I am not an optimist, neither by inclination nor by looking at the world we share.

    Perhaps the crux is: the current US way of agriculture and food consumption is not viable and must inevitably change before too long. There are plenty of changes possible, both large and small, in both food production and consumption, that would contribute to that change.

    But the behemoths of US industrial agriculture, food processing and distribution, may take a long time to change course. My best suggestion is: learn to grow some of your own fresh food in whatever space you have available.

    No need to get quite so high and mighty. I'm pretty sure the difference between the US and Europe isn't nearly as much as you are trying to imply. Yeah, lettuce flown in from around the world arrives on shelves in both places, no, the lack of it won't make anyone starve. The 80x increase is probably due almost entirely to the fact that people are now eating mostly meat (at least a factor of 10x right there), whereas in the past they ate mostly vegetable matter. Having been to Europe, many times, I think I can say with a little certainty that Europeans eat at least as much meat as Americans. Since my GF is a vegetarian, and I (though no purist) try to be most of the time, I can tell you that finding a dish in Switzerland that isn't mostly meat is no easy task. MUCH harder than doing the same almost anywhere in the states.

    In any case, if people ate vegetables again, that probably can't be chalked up as either starvation, or really any sort of actual loss or problem. I don't think Europe has any meaningful edge here, and my first instinct would be to say they're perhaps worse off.

    It may be unbelievable but it is probably true (the 80 fold number) - though it most likely applies to US agriculture and consumption.

    That is not unrelated to global consumption. We are the breadbasket of the world, after all. I think one thing peak oil will affect is the "insurance policy" the Green Revolution has given us: grain surpluses that can be stored and shipped when they are needed.

    Think about it. The world population has quadrupled. The U.S. is only a tiny part of that increase. Much of the rest of the world was at its Malthusian limit for thousands of years...until the recent population explosion.

    What is allowing that?

    I suspect the answer is cheap energy, even in places like Africa and Asia. In Bangladesh last year, farmers rioted because the high energy prices meant they could not afford fuel for their irrigation pumps or fertilizer for their fields. Farmers protested in many areas of Africa as well, because of fuel shortages during critical harvesting and planting times. We westerners often envision developing nations using only carabao and sharpened sticks to farm. That's not how it is.

    My dad is an agonomist who does research and extension work, with a specialty in international ag. Yes, he's got a subscription to Agribusiness magazine, but most of his work has been with small family farmers. IME, the Green Revolution has touched even the poorest nations. We're talking farmers so poor that eating rats was a recommended method of pest control. But they still used chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They may plow with a water buffalo, not a tractor, but they spray chemicals using a plastic backpack tank with a handpump sprayer.

    Then there's the fact that so many people are now living in cities. They aren't farming. So how are they eating? Either the farmers that remain are somehow growing much more food than they used to, or they are importing food from somewhere.

    A few links for anyone who wants to read about the fundamentals in more depth (I'm sure you'll have read at least a couple of them already, Leanan):

    We are the breadbasket of the world, after all.

    Who is this "we" of which you speak? China? India?

    Top ten wheat producers (millions of metric tonnes):
    China 96
    India 72
    US 57
    Russia 46
    France 37
    Canada 26
    Australia 24
    Germany 24
    Pakistan 22
    Turkey 21

    Ok, if you argue exports, you are correct, the United States is the largest single exporter:
    US 33
    Australia 19
    France 18
    Canada 16
    Argentina 10
    Germany 6
    Russia 5
    UK 3.8
    Ukraine 2.9
    Italy 2.9

    In total the EU looks to export about the same amount as the US. In terms of who feeds the most people the "winner" is probably China or India. In any event, there is no possible way I can see that you can look at these statistics and conclude that the US is the "world's breadbasket".

    I'm presuming you were talking about the U.S., if not then I apologize and ask my question again: who is this "we" you are speaking of?

    Yes, exports is what counts, obviously. As Westexas keeps telling us. :-)

    That is what "breadbasket" means. It means you have extra, and can feed people outside your own area. Dictionary.com even says so:

    Breadbasket: an agricultural area that provides large amounts of food, esp. grain, to other areas.

    The UN said a couple of years ago that the U.S. and Canada were the only significant food-exporting countries left in the world. And that they expected both of them to consume all they produced by 2020.

    The UN may have said it, but looking at that chart, that is fairly hard to imagine - as the EU population seems to be stable, not growing, and at least in Germany, an increasing amount of the agriculture is being shifted to 'bio' methods of sustainable agriculture - the target was 20%, and though as a top of the head memory, the current total is something like 8%. Again, this is not to argue about the challenges facing humanity in terms of food supply - merely, that the numbers consistently seem to have a wrong feel.

    The chart is only wheat. All grains is probably a better metric:

    The problem, of course, is that the U.S. population is growing fairly rapidly, at least for a developed nation. The UN projected the U.S. population would be almost 50% greater by 2050.

    And I suspect the UN study did not take biofuels into account.

    BTW, the chart was done in early 2002. Notice the projected increase. Of course, we know what really happened.

    Why would they project an increase like that, given that exports had been basically flat since the late '70s?

    IMO, we really do have a bias toward optimism. Institutional, cultural, or hard-wired into the mammalian brain, but we tend to view the world through rose-colored glasses.

    Why would they project an increase like that? Because they have to. To be realistic about a plateau in the food supply in the face of projected population growth amounts to saying, "Some of you poor people are going to start dying soon." No politician or diplomat can afford to say that, so they cultivate a nice big blind spot (also known as looking at your tonsils from underneath).

    Same for oil supply. Why will OPEC produce more? Simple - because it has to. Saying anything else signs death warrants, and we'd much rather Mother Nature be seen taking care of that little chore than any accountable human being.

    I don't have a reference handy, but I have read that in recent years, the US is a net food importer, considering all of the fruits and vegetables imported from other countries. I expect the shift to ethanol production will cause the US to be an overall bigger net importer of food. This is an interesting situation to be in, if we need to barter for oil in the future.

    Also, I understand that the corn used for ethanol production is a special starchy type, that isn't particularly good for food use. (Correct me if I am wrong.) Because of this, one cannot as easily switch ethanol corn for food use after it is grown, if one decides that food use is now the preferred use.

    Just a short note. Google corn varieties for more. Most US corn is yellow field or dent, primarily used for animal feeds, but also our oils, meal and corn syrup. This is the variety most affected by etoh. "Food use", ie market ears or canned corn, is usually a variety of sweet corn, which I don't think will be impacted by etoh.

    Does one level of indirection make that big a difference? The corn itself may not be human food, but the animals, oil, meal and corn syrup are.

    My point was we are affected at both levels, depending on how you define food use. We consume the syrup, meal, livestock and oil, but "food use" often may mean table use-sweet corn. Sorry for the ambiguity.

    IIRC 1/2 of our corn crop is used for livestock.

    As long ago as the late 1970s, when people first started to look at implications of climate change due to increased greenhouse gas emissions, a general opinion was that drier and hotter US great plains would reduce grain production there and climate changes would likely increase grain production in canadian and russian plains. I think US is projected to become a net grain importer sometime in the next 15 years.

    The sweet corn for direct human consumption is by far the minority crop, all the rest is basically the starchy kind and used for flour, in processed foods for humans, animal feed, ethanol etc. No doubt there are subtly different varieties but probably more tailored to growing conditions, the starchy varieties are probably mostly interchangeable for all uses apart from direct human consumption as cobs or kernels. I'd suspect that sweet corn is well below 10% of US corn (maize) production.

    Acres of sweet corn harvested in the US, 120,000. acres of Field corn harvested, 74 million. I have actually seen the argument advanced by the National Corn Growers Association as rebuttal to the "food vs fuel" debate that

    The food-versus-fuel debate isn’t new, says Geoff Cooper, director of ethanol and business development for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). The argument that turning corn into fuel takes away from food supplies just doesn’t add up. The large majority of U.S. corn crops go to feed livestock in developed nations—not to feed people in third-world countries. “This notion that by converting corn into ethanol, we’re taking food out of the mouths of hungry people . . . that’s really not true,” Cooper says.There are also the basic differences between the corn used to make ethanol and sweet corn, which people put on their dinner tables. No. 2 yellow corn isn’t the same product, says Paul Bertels, director of biotechnology and economic analysis for the NCGA.


    And speaking of India...

    India bans wheat exports in 2007

    India, the world's second largest wheat producer, has banned all exports of the grain for the rest of the year, according to a statement posted on an official Web site.

    Sales would not be allowed until Dec. 31, 2007, the note from the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, dated Feb. 9, said.

    No wheat was sold overseas in 2006 as the country was forced to import the widely-used commodity for the first time in six years following a poor crop.

    Yes, but India this year lifted (temporarily) a ban on sugar exports after a bumper crop led to massive surpluses. Global sugar prices are way down and the world has a brand new inventory surplus of 12 mn tones.

    Then there's the fact that so many people are now living in cities. They aren't farming. So how are they eating? Either the farmers that remain are somehow growing much more food than they used to, or they are importing food from somewhere.

    Significant transfers of food from the industrial west to countries in need may explain part of that gap. See the following URL for a good overview:


    Also note the comments regarding the creation of a food aid dependency and the disruption of producer markets in the recipient countries:

    There is also evidence that program food aid, in some instances, has created structural import dependency. For example, program food aid has encouraged the development of industries, such as poultry farming or wheat milling, that require imports to continue operations even after the termination of the food aid program.

    Increasing diversion of food crops for use as transportation fuels will have an impact on such food transfers. As energy becomes scare there will be a double impact on poor countries: 1) They will have increased difficulty in purchasing fuel for irrigation pumps etc and in obtaining fertilizer derived from FF; 2) They may also suffer declines in food aid transfers due food diversions to transport fuel production.


    Last year, I posted a story from Africa, about a program that was improving the lives of subsistence farmers. How? It was granting loans so they could buy hybrid corn seed and chemical fertilizers.

    It was supposed to be a feel-good success story. Seen in the light of peak oil, it's a tragedy waiting to happen.

    Google "Vandana Shiva" to see how that has worked out in India. As I recall, it has led to bankruptcy and suicide for a high proportion of the farmers that bought in.

    A good summary in your foodaid link. My read is that it appears to hint that PL 480 is and should be retired. States level 3 aid has been halted for the last several years. I wonder if there is a more current USDA assessment.

    I am always skeptical when reading of irrigation and basic food-ie grain, in the same breath. Irrigation is a technique for high value crops, not grain(sans rice). Grain prices will rarely support the capital intensive US variety of irrigation. There are exceptions, but by and large grains are dryland farmed. That is part of their magic, and the tier of moisture gradients between corn, barley, wheat and oats, enables them to be grown over much of the world.

    For lack of a better source, Pimmental estimates only 15% US corn, the most water demanding grain in the most tech country, is irrigated. The largest percentage of this is in Nebraska, on land that was and probably should be, shifted back to wheat.

    The largest percentage of this is in Nebraska, on land that was and probably should be, shifted back to wheat.

    I wish, but exactly the opposite is happening. The ethanol plants prefer locating in Nebraska because the mostly irrigated corn crop isn't subject to the yield fluctuations caused by this drought, in addition to the fact that it has large cattle numbers which can use the distillers grains. Some aquifer levels have already dropped by 50 feet. The surface versus ground water irrigators are fighting. Rivers are drying up during summer. Some city water supplies are in jeopardy. New ethanol plants have their additional water requirements. Politicians try to avoid the issue. Moratoriums and limits on new wells have been slow in coming and I'm convinced that we will suck the aquifers dry in the name of food burning for our SUV's. (Thanks a lot for bringing up one of my favorite subjects. Not!)

    Heck, who needs slaves when we have oil, coal and natural gas?

    I would rather have slaves. My car just can't feed me grapes quite right. Plus a cute slave will warm you much better than your natural gas furnace.

    You don't need a slave, all you need is a sheep.

    : )

    Quip of the month.

    I really hope that Testudo just plans to use the wool from the sheep to make clothes.

    But it won't be virgin wool.... ;-)

    Leanan has that right!

    In addition to the other obvious culprits I wonder how much the advent of 'processed foods' has added to the food energy budget? Thinking about small portions individually packaged with intense factory preparation. i.e. Kunstler's 'snicker doodles'. That could be skewing the numbers quite a bit, no?
    Agree the increased meat component has to be a large part of any number. Too many acres for too few meals.

    ...the amount of energy required to plant, harvest, then mill 10,000 tons of grain ... has not changed appreciably in 50 years

    Not by the same method, no, but it may simply be a question of accounting for mechanical means of production versus human/animal means. e.g.


    For example, the amount of energy required to plant, harvest, then mill 10,000 tons of grain which is put on a barge or travels by rail to a port to be exported to another country simply has not changed appreciably in 50 years, even if the quantity required has.

    There's something amiss in this sentence. Is it the difference between amount and quantity?
    Seriously, grains are but one example, the February strawberries are the other end of the spectrum.

    The key to what Homer-Dixon says, and for which I hope he quotes the proper sources, especially Pimentel, is that it doesn't take twice the amount of energy to feed twice as many people, it takes at least 4 times as much.

    As Leanan correctly states, we're talking about populations and resources that were already at their ceiling. Lifting them above that requires more energy than it took to get them there.

    Just like deeper oil takes more energy to extract than the shallow stuff. That's perhaps an example people understand more easily.

    Also: 100 years ago, 50 % of US citizens were farmers (to an extent), now it's 0.66%, 2 million on a 300 million population.

    So before, every 'farmer' had 2 mouths to feed, now 150. Plus, the US exports more food than it imports.

    But again, the crucial mistake is to think that producing twice as much food takes only twice as much energy.

    Pimentel wrote in 1996:

    By 2040, we would need to triple the global food supply in order to meet the basic food needs of the eleven billion people who are expected to be alive. But doing so would require a 1,000 percent increase in the total energy expended in food production.

    I understand the confusion about the amount, 10,000 tons, and the quantity required, which has increased four fold. In other words, the amount of energy required for 10,000 tons probably hasn't changed significantly, but the amount needed today is 40,000 tons, a minimum fourfold increase in the energy required.

    That part of the equation is more than disturbing enough.

    But it is interesting that your source suggests a ten fold rise in energy needed to feed the same total increase of population (roughly 5 billion) as the 80 fold increase over the past century.

    These numbers are anything but rigorous when compared with each other.

    The trends are anything but hopeful.

    Expat, I don't want to draw this out, we're facing the same way, and there's nothing personal about it, but I'll repeat one aspect:

    The amount of energy for the first 10.000 units of corn may or may not have changed (it's irrelevant to the main argument, so let's leave it as is).

    The point is the amount of energy required for the second 10.000, which is much more than that for the first 10.000. The third will be more than the second, and the fourth than the third etc...
    (cut forests, build/buy/power machines, fertilize etc etc., you need more yield from the same acres, plus more acres)

    In other words, the amount of energy required for EXTRA production increases exponentially for any and every X quantity of food produced.

    This harks right back to Al Bartlett's statement that our main misfortune is our inability to understand the exponential function.

    Another example from the oil patch may be clarifying:

    The amount of energy expended to produce today's oil is far more than that used to produce the oil consumed 100 years ago. Everyone would nod reading this there's obviously more oil consumption. But what's also true, and not acknowledged as much, is that the amount of energy per barrel of oil has gone up enormously.

    If oil's EROEI was 100:1 on average back in the day, it is now perhaps 20:1, That's a factor of 5. If you then assume that you produce 16 times as much oil as a hundred years ago (probably more), you arrive at the same factor 80 that we started out with for food production.

    It's not as crazy as it looks.

    From there, you can start looking at the graphs depicting these three:
    • oil prodiction
    • food production
    • population growth

    They are just about identical, which is not a coincidence. And that in turn means that the comparative increase in energy that made all three grow as they did, is likely comparable too.

    "That 80 fold cannot be correct"

    Note that it says 80 fold increase in energy to feed 4x more people. So the energy intensity has increased just 20x, which fits perfectly with what Agric says above - used to be 1 cal input to 2 output, now it's 10 input to 1 output. A 20x increase in input.

    I was going to reply to Freddy Hutter's post at the end of yesterday's Drumbeat but since today's is up I'll quote Freddy's post here:

    IEA's January global Supply stats:

    Jan 85.5
    Dec 85.3
    Nov 85.3
    (record 86.1-mbd July 2006)

    2007Q1 85.50
    2006Q4 85.3
    2006Q3 85.54 (record)

    2006 85.2 (record)
    2005 84.5
    2004 83.2

    OPEC Jan 30.200-mbd
    OPEC Dec 30.380-mbd

    Non OPEC Jan n/a
    Non OPEC Dec n/a

    OECD Inventories down 50-mb (53 days)

    I was just looking at today's latest IEA Oil market Report, here:

    A fairly mixed picture, I'd say. Scroll down to the three barcharts of supply / demand by quarter, bottom right of page, I have some observations.

    It looks reasonable to think that OPEC production could be about 1 mbpd higher than the average for 2006Q4, so we probably have that much of a cushion for the next year or so.

    Global supply first exceeded 84 mbpd in 2004Q4 having made steady upward progress for a couple of years, 2005 was pretty flat aroung 84.5 mbpd, 2006 pretty flat around 85.2 mbpd. We've not produced at 86 mbpd for any quarter yet, I think that July 2006's 86.1 mbpd was the only month at or above 86 mbpd (but I could be wrong).

    Looking at the (projected) demand barchart we're going to need that 86 mbpd just about every month and quarter in 2007. Demand for 2006Q4 and 2007Q1 will average out at about 86 mbpd, and is projected to exceed 87 mbpd in 2007Q4. I would expect global supply to fall short of demand in each of those three quarters. It will be interesting to see how things are shaping up come the beginning of October 2007. I'd guess that if global production hasn't averaged 86 mbpd over 2007 by that time then we could be running a bit tight - presuming demand behaves much as expected by the IEA.

    Personally I think that we'll have just about enough supply to cope over the next 18 months, barring significant unforseen disruptions and / or more rapid than generally thought decline rates for major fields. But I think things will look a mite worse a year from now and that 2008Q4, when demand is projected to be over 88 mbpd (not shown on the charts), could show a significant supply shortfall.

    I also note that China has begun to fill its SPR:

    Yes, I know that is a drop in the ocean of demand, but with USA planning to increase its SPR significantly it's beginning to look like virtually every spare barrel of supply is likely to be mopped up.

    So, yes, Freddy, I think today's IEA picture shows things muddling through pretty much OK so far. But we really are going to need faster increases in supply over the next 2 years than we have managed over the last 2 years - or some means of demand destruction.

    Hi, Agric,

    Am new and having tough sledding following many conversations because of abbreviations and unusual terms, is there any sort of glossary the new could refer to that would pertain to TOD (Yes I do know that one) Your SPR got me and I refered it to Wiki where I got among the following list SPR-Stop Prisoner Rape...which I am sure was not what you had in mind but I gave up looking at that point...woof GW so no Snow for sled.


    Black Bald.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Jump to: navigation, search

    SPR can refer to:

    * Mk 12 Special Purpose Rifle (aka Special Purpose Receiver)
    * Saving Private Ryan, a 1998 film
    * San Pedro Airport (IATA Code: SPR) in San Pedro Town, Belize
    * Shibuya Psychic Research, the business at the centre of Fuyumi Ono's Ghost Hunt.
    * Sive, Paget & Riesel, New York City environmental law firm
    * Society for Psychical Research
    * Sociopolitical Ramifications MUCK
    * South Park Republican
    * Southern Pacific Railroad
    * Special Police Rifle, made by FN-Herstal
    * Special Purpose Register, a type of processor register in a microprocessor
    * Specialist registrar, a training grade for doctors in the United Kingdom's National Health Service.
    * Stop Prisoner Rape, Inc
    * Strategic Petroleum Reserve
    * Subtree pruning and regrafting, a method in computational phylogenetics
    * Surface plasmon resonance

    IEA claims 85.2Mb/d for 06, which would be a record if true. EIA shows 84.6, same as 05. IEA also says demand in 06 was 84.5Mb/d... so, if demand was less than production by .7Mb/d, then 250Mb must have gone into storage... but, storage now is only slightly higher than last year. So, was production really 84.5 Mb/d, in line with demand, storage and EIA?

    Separately, SA is claimed to be engineering low prices to hurt Iran by flooding the world with oil, while at the same time is officially cutting production, voluntarily or not, by 1Mb/d, or twice their agreed cuts. Can both views be true? Maybe they're trying their best to flood the market, but can't?

    Regarding Freddy's statements, he said he recently increased his estimate for US ng storage at the end of the winter season, end mar, from 1600bcf to 1700bcf. This is bonkers. At the end of the season last year we had 1695bcf, or 655bcf above the five year avg of 1040bcf. We are now running under last year, which was a record warm year, with several weeks of high draws to come. IMO we will have 1400-1500bcf end mar. THis is still well above the five year avg, but problems are coming:

    NA needs 10% more land rigs every year to maintain ng production. In 06 the avg US rigs looking for gas was 1290, we now have around 1440; so, the extra 150 will maintain US production, right? RIght. But, where did the extra rigs come from? Canadian rigs looking for ng is down 160, so total NA ng rigs is down, meaning that total NA ng production will decline imo at least 2%, or 600bcf, even as US production manages to hold even. ANd, it gets worse. Canadian demand is anyway climbing, note that their winter is colder than the US, plus maybe 300bcf more ng will diverted to tar sands this year. IMO we may see 800-1000bcf less exports from canada this year, or a decline of ~25% from 3600bcf in 04. Meanwhile, US non-winter demand is climbing - virtually all new peaking power plants are ng, so 100% of new summer demand is from ng. US non winter demand last year was up 400bcf above the 5-year avg.

    Note - since peak production 01/02, canadian wells drilled increased 67% while production decliined 2%. We are about to see the number of wells drilled decline by 25% yoy, in line with the reduced rig count.

    I heat with naural gas, so I always find these types of posts interesting and worrying.

    I currently have a 20 year old furnace, and a 40 year old hot water heater in my 110 year old house, located about 15 miles north of Boston.

    I am slowly upgrading the infrastructure of my building. This past fall I had all the walls insulated (blown in cellulose), as well as an additional 10" of cellulose blown into my attic.

    On my shortlist of things to do is update my hot water heater with a modern tankless unit, but...

    Should I be worried about natural gas shortages?

    Can I expect another 20 years of using Natural gas for my stove, heating, and hot water?

    Should I think about switching? To what?

    Thanks in advance...


    Just one thought: probably best to keep your hot water tank, it's inherently more efficient - if well insulated - than heating water on demand. Also, hot water on demand gas boilers tend to be more prone to breakdown (check breakdown insurance rates as an indicator), and keeping the tank gives you many more options should you need to switch to a different fuel in future. If you're staying with natural gas, which will probably be the best option for 5 years or more yet, checkout what microCHP options are available - they generate electricity in addition to heat. One that will also run on bottled gas (propane or butane) would be worth considering.

    If you still have a workable chimney I'd avoid blocking it up ;) Modern wood stoves with back boilers are surprisingly efficient, and definitely cost-effective if you have access to a virtually free supply of wood.

    I have always read the opposite - that tankless is far more efficient than keeping a big tank hot. That is why they are so common in Europe, Japan and 3rd world. Do you have a link?Certainly his old units should be replaced in any case as they can be much more efficient now.

    This link has a comparison chart for electrics on page 2. Gas is similar, I just happened to have this link handy. Gas water heaters have higher efficiencies than before, so it is worth replacing them in any event. My feeling is that a tank water heater will do better with hot storage (attic?)and a low summer setting (105 deg. F) and/or in combination with passive solar. For vacation places tankless is definitely the way to go, unless you turn off your tank every time you leave.

    Tankless is much better. Tank water heaters keep a large volume hot at all times. They lose heat whether they're being used or not.

    This is not necessarily true.

    I will give an example. A person living in Brownsville, TX. The water comes out of the tap at 65 deg. F. A tankless must raise the temperate 65 degrees to get it to 130 deg. F. However, were this person to keep an electric in his 130 deg. F attic with passive solar in series the water heater would only come on for brief periods at night. Electric tank water heaters achieve a 98% efficiency. This person would be better off with a tank.

    Another example, a person living in Duluth, MN. In the winter his tap water is 37 deg. F. In order to raise the water temperature to 130 deg. F. this person would need two heavy duty tankless in series to raise the temperature that much. Any heat wasted by the tank HWH would not be wasted if it were inside the house because it would help warm the house too.

    You do not have to heat the water to 130 deg. F with a tankless heater. You only have to heat the water to 105 deg. for a shower Showering is done with the hot water valve full on and cold is added
    only if the water is too hot. I have an electric tankless and it paid
    for itself in 2 years.

    Yes, I realized after I posted that 130 was too high, my point was only that tankless isn't always the best for every situation. I am surprised your HWH paid for itself in only two years. Would you share some figures?

    Tank is more efficient if heated by a heat pump. I have a 650' deep well (closed loop) and a 9kW heat pump for heating the house (2 buildings of ~2500 sqfeet total) and making hot water. It uses 7-8000kWh per year, of which ~1000kWh is for hot water and the rest for heating. This is a third of what I used before with a regular tank heater and surely less than a direct electric heater since I have measured the energy loss from the tank at ~500kWh per year. A direct electric heater would thus use at least 1500kWh/year.

    The heat pump replaced an old oil boiler, saving ~700 gallons of heating oil per year.

    Good work. :-)

    hi jkirkbo, just curious, what is the temperature coming out of the 650 ' well and what fluid is circulated ? also how many heating/cooling degree days per year at your location ?

    The minimum temperature recorded from the well is 2.1C. I run a delta of ~3 degrees (3-4 recommended) so the return temp was down to -0.9C. This was after a continous run of several days because of cold weather. Usually the temperature doesn't fall below 3C.

    The fluid is 33% bioethanol and water.

    Heating days is around 200-220, cooling days maybe 30. For cooling, the heat pump isn't used. I only circulate fluid through fan coils. At summes the temp is 7-12C which means my well can supply 4-5kW of cooling while using only ~250 watts (180W for the circulationg pump and ~40W for each fan coil (I have two, one in the ceiling of the living room and one on the wall in the bedroom).

    Link to the heat pump: http://en.ivt.se/products.asp?lngID=457&lngLangID=1

    thank you for the informative reply

    Tankless has limitations. For a few fixtures and a given flow rate, it is fine. Tankless should be installed very close to the spigot, or you'll waste cold water waiting for hot water. As noted above, frigid input water can greatly reduce the flow rate. A while back someone proposed using a circulating pump to keep the pipes warm.

    OTOH, tank heaters heat water 24 hours a day when you might need hot water a dozen times a day. If you could rig the tank heater to a timer, you could probably save 12 hours of needless heating a day.

    Both tank and tankless waste the water in the pipe between the heater and spigot. If you compare tankless and tank in the same location, the tankless uses less energy, the savings varying depending on average draw size and draw frequency. There are some very large capacity tankless on the market that can heat water for 3 showers if necessary. Passive solar coupled with tankless is another good option. Tank gas water heaters require a ventilated area and won't necessarily heat the house with their waste heat.

    Here's one recent study:

    But with tankless, the water in the pipes can be frigid while the tank heater seems to keep the hot water pipes fairly warm. You can at least start washing your hands with warm water.

    Not in my house. You must have much shorter pipes or run hot more frequently.

    vertical pipes will transmit hot water upstairs. if you want instant hot water upstairs, just install a return loop, hot water will circulate by gravity. this would only be practical for new construction or serious rehab and energy inefficient. insulating copper pipes doesnt seem to help much as the insulation is not that effective. but why cant we, in this age of technology, install a timer termostat to control the water temp throughout the day and night (maybe they are already available) ?
    elwood's tip of the day, use smaller diameter pipe on the hot water side (less heat loss and less water wasted, waiting for hot water).

    You know there is a very simple alternative - install a swtich. 25+ years ago I installed a standard 220v timer. This didn't do it for us (wasted juice) so I installed an honestly simple alternative - a 30A duplex, 220v wall switch in the hall where the HWH is located. Now, I do have other stuff like an outlet thermometer and a pilot light at the switch that I find nice but that sort of thing isn't necessary. When we want really hot water, we flick on the switch and turn it off when we have what we need. BTW, I've noted that our water is preheated via solar of our wood heater.

    Logic would suggest that, Peakearl, but in practice the results seem very mixed. I think an optimally designed, sized and installed tankless system should be more efficient but any savings are likely to be small compared with a regular (with tank) system provided the tank is well lagged. Some of the better links I had 3 years ago have now vanished but here are a few that give both sides of the argument:






    This page is the best overall summary of various types of system I've got handy atm, note that 'tankless' boilers are called 'combination' or 'combi' boilers in UK:

    This is a 43 page PDF of UK 'Energy Efficiency Best Practice in Housing
    Domestic heating by gas: boiler systems':

    In answer to 'Regular or Combi?' (page 25) it says:
    "Best Practice regular boilers (see CHeSS HR6) provide most flexibility in system design. A combi (see CHeSS HC6) incorporates some system equipment which reduces installation time."

    Could be that "...reduces installation time" is one reason why installers recommend tankless boilers?

    I think the additional flexibility and resiliance of a tanked system would sway it for me. Breakdown insurance costs are almost twice as much (in UK) for combi boiler central heating systems, so the insurers think they cost near twice as much to maintain.

    Your should probably get a 'condensing' boiler (they capture some of the waste heat from the flue) and hence have about +10% maximum efficiency compared with non-condensing boilers, but it's worth researching to find a reliable model.

    Thanks for all your work, I'll check these out.

    Any prediction for end of March 2008 storage? 600bcf or less with same weather?

    My target is presently 1500-Bcf for the Spring 2008 trough.

    JK, u are right to ponder where did difference went. The actual diff betw Supply & Demand is 256Mb for 2006. If OECD inventories are compared YOY, they are higher by 130Mb. It appears about 72Mb were in transit and methinx we can attribute 54Mb to increased inventories in non OECD nations.

    AGRIC and i seem to be on the same page as to how 2007 and early 2008 will unfold. Something that we learned in 2006 and over this winter is that Inventories & "in transit" storage have such magnitude presently that they can play a huge part in "apparent" shortfalls in the short term. 2006Q1 Demand was likely 86-mbd. Supply was likely 85.5-mbd. An even greater differential is facing us in 2007Q4 (but its 87 & 86).

    However, if the supply chain allows for taking 365Mb from Inventories and transit, there is no or little shock. This winter obvioulsy had a tiny shortfall and thus contract prices rose from $49 to $55.

    When at seasonal lows, Inventories and floating shortage can easily accomodate 200 days of 1.5-mbd replenishment to absorb that surge during periods of surplus (as we saw from April to Sept 2006). This would give the system 375Mb of excess inventory for supply shortfall puroses.

    It is this latter phenom that strikes a dagger thru the heart of the WT's Export Land Model theory.

    And JK, i will be glad to compare my nat'l gas trough of 1700 with yours on april 4th. Please mark your calendar!

    Freddy, you and I are just being too damn reasonable lately, please remember: you are meant to be a cornucopian (well, according to some here, anyhow), and I am meant to be a doomer! We shouldn't be seen to be agreeing like this, think of our reputations ;)

    This planet's humans are going to want 90 mbpd by 2010 (unless something nasty intervenes) and I honestly can't see that happening (even if nothing nasty intervenes). But I am glad that the global buffers of stored inventory and in transit are there to smooth out temporary minor shortfalls, I am a reluctant doomer.

    The USGS 2000 URR study predicted phenomenal resource and reserve growth from 1995 to 2025. After twelve years we see that this growth has to date been double their optimism. And quadruple the 1957 to 1995 growth rate.

    This has produced a myriad of very high URR estimates by very reputable geologists and sector analysts. Unfortunately, these new URR's of 4-Tb, 5-Tb and nudging 6-Tb have allowed some of the high Peak Rate Outlooks and models to persist due to a belief that Hubbert Curve Theory will apply and thus is justification.

    Personally i cannot accept at this point that a 5-Tb of URR will have its Peak Rate at the 2.5-Tb crossover in 2050. While there is ample empirical evidence that Hubbert Peaks occur for Regular Conventional Oil, we have none that we can apply that symetric Curve to a pool of both Conv & non-Conv oils ... at the provincial or global level.

    Rather, i am tending towards adopting the view of Jean Laherrere that each type of oil has its unique curve (Conv + NGL in 2012; non-Conv in 2065) and the real composite Peak will be a harmonic of the two (2018).

    Non-conv has its challenges in exploration, development, extraction, refining and ultimately price. Unlike Colin Campbell of ASPO, Laherrere does not see the production peaks of each coinciding with their halfway crossover (in typical Hubbert fashion). For Conv Oil, Laherrere presently sees a 2005 halfway consumption crossover and as mentioned a 2012 extraction peak (2-Tb URR). This gives us the "4" Peaks that i have been blogging about since 2004.

    Over the last six years we have seen Peak Rate highs in the 125 to 146-mbd domain. At first they were demand inspired, based simply on GDP factor forecasts for 2020 to 2030. However lately, i sense that the high Peak Rates (with a max high of 126-mbd) though lower are somewhat based on the new phenomenal URR realities.

    And thus my plea for scrutiny on provincial allocation of flow rates on those long term time targets of 2020 to 2030 and beyond ... especially for the ME.

    With (NASA) Hansen's advisement that we "stretch" fossil fuel usage, the interpretation is that a plateau in oil is preferred to a normalized Hubbert Peak. In short, just because we "can" go to 120-mbd doesn't mean we "should".

    A shallow Decline or plateau may bode better than a Peak with subsequent scrambling for substition and demand destruction spikes. I am tending towards the TrendLines AVG (95-mbd in 2020) rather than any of the optimist scenarios.

    The rise of NOC's is also troublesome. As we see in Iran and Venezuela, sector expertise may be shunning some jurisdictions to some degree due to geopolitics. We will see some producer nations suffer from inefficiencies in exploration, development and infrastructure.

    I think Jean Laherrere's view (of unique curves by type) is likely to be a more accurate approximation, as you say. More general URR estimation based on Hubbert are very rough and ready IMO - a useful approximate guide when used wisely but we should have sufficient data by now to devise more useful methods.

    Surely we don't need to waste words debating the merits and demerits of the USGS 2000 study? Nor the real sources of the 'reserve growth'?

    My view of an earlier peak than you expect is based on my expectation that major FIP will likely show significantly sharper decline rates than most expect. North Sea and Cantarell support this but really we need good, hard data on the Mid East fields - they may well behave differently. If they don't (behave differently, that is) I think 95 mbpd will probably beyond our reach.

    The 'best' scenario, IMO, would be a premature shock that gets significant global cooperation towards positive change started in advance of peak, then a long plateau (of a decade or so) with production at near current levels so we can adjust. I'm pleased that your scenario seems to make this possible, but I'm much less sure than you that sufficient producable supplies remain, even now.

    Some background to my support of USGS 2000: http://trendlines.ca/urr.htm

    Thanks Freddy, that's I very good write up and explanation. I do stop by your site every few weeks for a read of what's new but hadn't seen that 2007 update of URR before. One thing that would be helpful is a list of direct links to any online detail for the individual estimates, if such exist. If URR is as high or higher than your average and we can actually extract the stuff at adequate EROEI then our problems should be less than I currently expect, let us hope so.

    I have been invited this week to make a submission to the Nat'l Petroleum Council's Global Oil & Gas Study. One of the ramifications of higher URR is more cumulative fossil fuel co2 emissions. While there is some duplication of what i have stated above, this snippet from it includes some of my other current observations and concerns:

    "WRT the current interest in the Global Warming aspect, if there is consensus that URR is low, Govt's and policy makers will be tempted to rush alternative fuels and energy sources prior to sufficient demonstration trials. And there is no doubt that coal fired generation will dominate the mid century before development of clean coal technologies. The good news would be that cumulative fossil fuel inspired emissions would be at the low end of IPCC AR4 Scenarios for 2100.

    OTOH if URR is found to be high, while it gives stakeholders more time for technologies, it does not bode well for total cumulative emissions. While the opportunity of prolonged oil production is preferred to coal; and this "breather" may allow nuclear generation to proliferate instead of coal in the mid century decades, it does provide for the eventuality of coal burning in the latter century and the problems that this may bring due to cumulative emissions.

    A double edged sword. But aside from the Climate Change repercussions, we see that Peak Oil definitely affects the timing for decision makers and consequences on Global economies. Strategic access to oil Supply thru the early and mid decades of this Century was/is the basis for Regime Change and "forcing" long term political stability and relations in the Middle East. While ME oil, NGL & LNG may not be required for North America consumption, that steady flow for Europe, Russia and Asia markets keeps those regions from purging traditional and new NA sources. Sound Global trade and economies is the foundation for steady economies for us in NA.

    Realizing that Peak Oil is key to these discussions, the Council has good reason to investigate whether the twenty odd Outlooks and Models can be reconciled with URR realities and flow limitations. The Hubbert Curve can be reasonably applied for provinces with conventional oil. It is not a given, imho, that if URR is shown to be increased substantially (to 4-Tb or 5-Tb or 6-Tb), that the Peak Date moves to the new midpoint crossover or Hubbert Peak. Non-conventional oil has its exploration, development, extraction cost and timing challenges and it may be more likely that the continuing influx of non-conventional oil into the marketplace serves only to diminish the Post Peak Decline Rate to a less aggressive slope (than seen in the Lower48).

    If that is the case, then serious thought must be given to the Outlooks and models that use "Demand-inspired" long term scenarios (usually a factor of Real GDP forecasts) as it may not be a given that "flow rates" will be sufficient for some of the 100 to 126-mbd Peak Rates in the 2020 to 2050 time frame. Non-conventional oil is presently about 24% (and growing) of the Global Supply of 85-mbd when we include NGL. Fortunately, most long term Outlooks (not the mathematical and linearization models) are revealing the components of the their 2020 to 2050 flows. Some by type of oil and others by geographic region. This allows some scrutiny of the data to the degree where we can see if some of the Outlooks should be red flagged.

    A case in point is Saudi Arabia and Saudi Aramco's vocal objections of EIA and IEA and some IOC's producing Outlooks that illustrated 15 to 25-mbd Supply (not MSC) from their jurisdiction. Since early 2004, KSA and SA have used presentations at CSIS et al to dash those expectations that do not concur with their current business plan of providing a long term plateau to 2054 at about a 10-mbd flow rate vs going the traditional steep Peak and Decline route that is natural in Hubbert type presentations. Via my early TrendLines Scenarios, i assisted KSA & SA in their very public challenge of those questionable and misleading Outlooks. It was somewhat gratifying to see their subsequent Outlooks revised down (by 10-mbd). It is this type of collaboration, review and scrutiny that i attempted to inspire via the TrendLines Presentation. And recent years have seen this desired merging of the Models.

    But i digress. Discussion of URR can be contentious. It challenges personal theories, reputations and ego's."

    I'm very happy you're going to be making a submission and I hope they listen well to you. Though we do differ on what we see ahead you certainly understand what is going on better than many they will hear.

    I like what you've said in your snippet and think it will do good so please don't think I'm being too critical with these points...

    Para 1: "...Govt's and policy makers will be tempted to rush alternative fuels and energy sources prior to sufficient demonstration trials." I totally agree for polluting energy sources but wouldn't consider it 'bad' if clean alternatives were rushed when less than optimal, we can iron out the wrinkles as we go.

    Para 2: yep, coal will have to be clean (and think of all the money USA can make in China if USA gets a lead in the tech and implementation).

    Para 4, 5, 6: definitely yes, demand driven models (without consideration of realistic URR and flow rates) surely have no place in rational discussion now? All assumptions of any model that wishes to be considered seriously must be known and clearly stated. I hope this is one very strong point that emerges from the Council's report, also the need for much more verifiable hard data from certain areas.

    EROEI for unconventional oil and appropriate use of renewable energy, where possible, for their extraction? Uncertainty about likely decline rates for major fields?

    Good luck with your submission, we'll all be looking forward to their report.

    Thanx for your input, Agric; and perhaps this opens the door for some of us at TOD being a conduit to the Council for good policy and enlightenment.

    There were very few of us that applauded Stuart's effort in sitting at the table with ExxonMobil recently. Most of the vocal majority here see most oilco's and agencies as the ENEMY and are incensed at sharing with them.

    The Council has invited many of the URR and Scenarios authors/modelers to participate in two conference calls. This is exactly the type of collaboration and open scrutiny that i have been promoting via TrendLines. Also invited were distinquished members of ASPO and TOD.

    This outreach activity by the NPC's Study Committee is mandated in its terms of reference and allows its report's suggestions to be representative of current consensus both inside and outside its Membership.

    Of course Stuart was right to talk with ExxonMobile, despite their past behavior. I certainly view some of their attitudes and actions as being in the 'bad' direction and they should be criticised for those, but they can learn and change too, so discussion is good and they are definitely not all 'bad'. That they are beginning to communicate with us loonies that believe in PO is overwhelmingly positive.

    Ultimately we are all in this together. The biggest challenge is changing ourselves, everyone, on a quite fundamental level, so we solve such problems by cooperation rather than by conflict.

    Wow. I love it. Your calling USGS 2000 a 'bold forcast'. 'Bold'.. what a great euphemism for politically palatable or laughable or completely discredited or ridiculous. I guess you really are a paid troll. 'Suppose most have already figured that out.

    Rather, i am tending towards adopting the view of Jean Laherrere that each type of oil has its unique curve (Conv + NGL in 2012; non-Conv in 2065) and the real composite Peak will be a harmonic of the two (2018).

    That seems pretty sensible - tar sands have very different production characteristics than gushers, and started being exploited much later, so they're unlikely to synch up.

    It's also, as the graph shows, relatively optimistic - a long, slow decline which should offer (if we take it) ample opportunity to transition to other fuels.

    I think that production will struggle to be 86 mb/d for 2007. A significant portion of this new supply will be ethanes and propanes not longer carbon chains required for gasoline and diesel.

    Oil prices will increase which will cause the demand destruction.

    I suppose Saudi Arabia can always reverse their so called "voluntary" production cuts and flood the market with oil - I don't think so.

    IEA raises world oil demand forecast, cautions OPEC

    The International Energy Agency has raised its forecast for 2007 world oil demand growth following revisions to its outlook for China and told OPEC that any further supply cuts could markedly tighten the market.

    From the North Sea article:

    But old wells that are running dry and new wells that are generally very small cast a shadow over the outlook for the North Sea.

    Crude oil production in the following regions--Texas; Lower 48; Total US; North Sea; Mexico; Saudi Arabia--is declining because:

    Door #1: These regions are voluntarily cutting back on production;


    Door#2: These regions are declining because "Old wells that are running dry and new wells that are generally small cast a shadow over the outlook for the regions."

    Hint: We know that the declines in five of the six regions are involuntary.

    What struck me about that article is that, once again, the news is worse than the supposed experts expected. How many times have we seen this? Production declining sooner than expected, more sharply than expected. Is it all just a game?

    "Is it all just a game?"

    I don't think so. In my opinion, the key issues have to do with the credibility of the so-called experts--CERA and so on. Currently the "experts" have a great deal of credibility, while sources such as TOD are generally perceived as "fringe." Outside of science, it is hard to judge credibility, and although the Peak Oil debate is many things, "scientific" is not one of them.

    My personal view is that conventional wisdom should be suspect. Just before the Crash of 1929 conventional wisdom (as exemplified by economist Irving Fisher) said that the U.S. economy had reached a permanent high plateau of prosperity. I bought Minnesota real estate cheap in the early nineteen seventies because conventional wisdom said we were surely going into an ice age, and that in fact the glaciers were advancing.

    Even in science the conventional wisdom can be wrong, but science is unique in having built-in techniques to correct error. There are no such techniques for correcting error in what comes down to--in essence--a dispute about inventories and potential inventories of oil.

    When the price of oil shoots up above eighty dollars a barrel, then the conventional wisdom will be seriously undermined--and not until then, in my opinion.

    Which has brought me to investigate GW much more. Does anyone have any definitive info on the cosmic ray theory?


    Mr Svensmark last week published the first experimental evidence from five years' research on the influence that cosmic rays have on cloud production in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Journal A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. This week he will also publish a fuller account of his work in a book entitled The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change.

    Everyone wants to sell a book so I'm not so hung up on that fact. The part that gets me is he conducted some scientific tests that aren't in a computer. They are tests to prove the point the cosmic rays can/do seed clouds.

    I've always wondered how climate scientists ignore the larger solar system that we are part of. I still don't believe we can burn things in ICE's and nothing changes with the air. You're crazy to believe we can do that on the scale we've achieved and it has no aggregate affect. But, I always seem to remember the mini ice age prior to the INDUSTRIAL revolution we all benefitted from. I mean why did the temps rise from 1850-1950 in the absense of auto's? The larger system in the galaxy we are a part of, has more to do with why we lucked out and managed to land in the one and only (so far) spot in space with a moderate climate.

    For me, my mind was definitely made up the first time I saw this graph:


    I don't see how you could walk away from that graph not convinced that

    1 Global temperature and CO2 levels correlate amazingly well
    2 We have screwed up the system beyond recognition just recently, and are only waiting to experience the results

    As was pointed out in yesterday's thread, it is the warming that came first, not the co2. The warming came from natural changes in the solar/earth cycle, and this warming reduced the ocean's capacity to hold co2, which was accordingly released. When the earth moved to a cooler part of the cycle, co2 was absorbed back into the seas.

    In my opinion, the key issues have to do with the credibility of the so-called experts--CERA and so on. Currently the "experts" have a great deal of credibility,

    CERA and so on are consultants and big business is known for hiring consultants that tell senior management what they want to hear.

    If you want to manage your oil company as a cash cow then it is helpful to obtain professional "expert" advice that confirms a future surplus. This then becomes another decision element in avoiding further investment in E&P.

    The amount of money required for a major development is so large that it becomes a "bet-the-company" proposition. CERA helps comfirm an outlook that helps justify avoiding that bet.

    In some way that may be a good idea, by accident.

    If less is drilled and pumped now, the peak date is moved up, but decline is extended outward.

    I think it will be necessary to have a major spike in prices to encourage investment in fully non-petroleum uses & sources, and yet not have petroleum actually crash worldwide, so that we can still have enough of it to pay for and build the next generation of infrastructure.

    Hence, earlier peak and slower decline would be better.

    Well, I had to laugh (or should that be cry?) at the FT article on UK production. Particularly:

    Last year’s production of oil and gas was down 9 per cent at 2.9m boe a day, according to the association. That is already a steep fall from the peak in 1999 of 4.5m boe/d in 1999, and the lowest level since 1992.

    By 2010 production is expected to be down to just 2.6m boe/d.

    I think that Euan's detailed and excellent analysis is the most realistic that I've seen:

    To cut to the meat, this graph:

    (note that the FT includes natural gas and quotes total oil and gas as boe/d)

    I think it is going to take some pretty powerful magic for UK North Sea to be producing at 2.6 m boe/d in 2010. FT, if you're watching, perhaps you should take a good, long read of Euan's posts above, LOL.

    On a C+C basis, the UK produced about 2.7 mbpd in 1999. If we use 1.5 mbpd for 2006, their long term post-peak decline rate has been 8.4% per year.

    It seems we can just expect the reality to be lower than the expert predictions. Anyone have a handle on a percentage we could accurately discount from such predictions? 10%? 20% I admit to being too lazy to look up a sample and find a percentage, but perhaps some have the figures more readily to hand.

    I expect this forecast will, as always, be revised further down itself. The pervasive optimistic bias seems absolutely unbreakable despite all evidence.

    Yes it's a game. Good solid information on most any subject discussed here is worth money. Were the information made freely available no profits could be made from that information.
    The only reason someone with access to proprietary information should report it accurately and openly is some regard for the commonweal. There is none of that in the reigning ideology. TPTB operate on the simple priciple ubi est mea - where's mine? That rational forward planning is impossible in this framework concerns no one but some wonks.
    Governmental developped information is and will be handled more and more like proprietary information or simply not collected.
    Yes it's a game. Cynicism warranted.

    OldH: Yep. Vince Lombardi said it best: "If you're not cheating, you're not trying".

    The ''we are surprised at this unaccountable drop in year on year production''. Is now an annual event. No one from the great and good have managed to join the dots yet.

    One of the biggest forthcoming lies in the May Scottish election will be that ''Oil will power Scotland to become independent''.

    Even if you write to the politicos concerned, 9 of 10 ignore it or are simply in disbelief or denial. Even when you show them the UKCS depletion profile on the Governments OWN GRAPH on the DTI Website.

    Bad news just does not fit with the plan.

    The USA does not have a monopoly on clueless politicians.

    I believe that trying to simplify the equation to "Door #1" and "Door #2" oversimplifies the equation--too often it can be a combination of the two.

    Before I make my point, I want to state my position: I agree that peak oil will occur, but do not believe it is imminent (next 15 years, I don't have the time now to post all the reasons I have seen to conclude this, but I can try posting it later). I AM against the use of oil and want to get away from our dependence because I believe it is harmful to our health and environment, etc., etc.

    Because I am against the use of oil, I want to in my heart support the imminence of peak oil so people would be encouraged to find alternatives as quickly as possible, but intellectually, I realize that supporting peak oil when I believe it is not currently occurring or will not occur in the next 10 years will only encourage the use of oil.


    It is the same as the boy who cried wolf.

    Each time someone cries peak and it does not happen, it strengthens the general publics belief that peak oil doomers are whacky and do not know what they are talking about. In reality, I believe that people who support peak oil are some of the top intellectuals who want to preserve the earth.

    I was going back looking at the history of this site and the internet and you can find hundreds of times where people claim that peak oil will occur in the next couple of years, and it never did—each time weakening the support for peak oil. When the ‘peak’ really does occur, people could possibly be oblivious.

    I believe that when you narrow down the possibility to either one or another, you are losing credibility. Unfortunately, I have run out of time to complete my point (I will write more later). I know it is difficult to rebuke my post when I post no facts, so I apologize for that ahead of time and will try to support what I am saying in the future. Hopefully then, if you believe I am incorrect in one of my statements, you can point out my flaw in logic. But I believe that this post was more of one in human behavior and wanted to point out that crying peak when it does not occur is detrimental.



    There are plenty of peak oil theorists who have rational methodologies and reasoned arguments, and I've not found their dates to jump around very much. Case in point:

    Based on his theory, in a paper[1] he presented to the American Petroleum Institute in 1956, Hubbert correctly predicted that production of oil from conventional sources would peak in the continental United States around 1965-1970 (actual peak was 1970). Hubbert further predicted a worldwide peak at "about half a century" from publication.

    There are plenty of people out there who, for whatever reason, love throwing out false and/or misleading data. Unfortunately, figuring out who is who is left as an exercise for the reader.

    EDIT: I just noticed that your post was in response to WT's speculations on drops in Saudi production. Let me make clear that my response about the 'false and/or misleading data' was not directed at him at all. WT and RR and others have been very consistent about the date range for peak... I believe they're now just feeling for the edge of the cliff.


    It is the same as the boy who cried wolf''.

    Eventually the Wolf comes...

    Why is every body in a rush to call peak?

    I dunno.

    It WILL come, there will be a period of blame, denial, and then panic. Probably around the time of the next Olympics...

    It is enough to know that and for me at least, tell those who may listen and benefit.

    The reason for erring on the early side is that people don't listen as long as they think peak is in the future - science will save us, peak will never happen. Of course, they are not very good about listening otherwise, either.

    Looking for some comments from the tech heads.


    Qunatum Computer.....64,000 calculations at the same time....I wonder how many teraflops this would be in a sec. Very cutting edge....

    The news story says nothing of substance that is new (dear me, how typical.) The theoretical potential for some possibly far-off future is already well-known. It doesn't translate well to teraflops, since the degree to which it would help is staggering for some problems and essentially nil for others.

    I find D-Wave's website to be inscrutable, but maybe it's just me. As with perpetual-motion sites and certain ultracapacitor sites, I see a lot of abstract promises, but a quick perusal uncovers no concrete case studies or technical data sheets.

    On the other hand, at A123's website (the nanophosphate lithium batteries discussed around here), I can very quickly cut to the chase and find everything I need to convince me that the product is real. The same holds at another real company, Maxwell, where a few quick clicks get me right to the datasheets for real ultracapacitors. This is precisely what I expect and normally get from real companies providing real products.

    So, when you find yourself wading in circles through tracts of magical mystical bloviation, but the meaty product pages and technical data are missing or hard to reach, it's wise to turn the suspicion-o-meter to "high".

    And this D-Wave page, at least when I viewed it, started off by saying

    There are many potential ways to build QCs. Of these, four types have emerged as being most likely to succeed. These are based on (A) assemblies of individual atoms trapped by lasers; (B) optical circuits, for example using photonic crystals; (C) semiconductor-based designs, usually including atomic-scale control of dopant atom distribution or quantum dots; and (D) superconducting electronics.

    Absent better evidence, which might be forthcoming within minutes or not for decades, it may be best to let the emphasis rest on that key word, potential. It must be a slow news day...

    I think I'll go out on a limb here (know a little bit about some of this stuff, not to say I'm an expert however).

    1) In 20 years, your computer might have chips made of diamond, but they'll still be capacitors and transistors, not qbits, or whatever they're calling them these days.

    2) In 20 years, maybe, just maybe the NSA will have a huge quantum computer that is horrendously expensive and can't even muster the power to play solataire, but it'll manage to break encryption from about the present era, perhaps AES and a few others.

    3) Quantum crypto (distinct from quantum computing) might be available, if you're the NSA or AT&T, will have essentially no impact on anything. Crypto is strong enough already, nothing to see here.

    That is all.

    The FT can't do math. A 10% annual decline is not a total 10% decline. So their 2.6 million bpd by 2010 is BS. The number is 2.2.

    The article "New Cold War with Russia Over Oil and Gas" is pure propaganda. When has there been a confrontation between Russian warships and western oil and gas companies *anywhere* in the last 16 years? So is Litvinenko's corpse going to be dragged out to prove and justify any position western Russia haters adopt? Putin has tens of thousands of critics in Russia, why are they not being rounded up and/or poisoned? Is there something magical about London? Does it amplify ex-security guards with empty briefcases "full of evidence" into titans of moral authority? It is quite telling how the western media and internet conspiracy websites never mention Berezovsky, the criminal elephant in the middle of the room with the means and the motive to off Litvinenko. This crap can only fly in the west and at the end of the day the west counts for a lot less than it fancies for itself. What are you going to do? Start WWIII over Litvinenko and Russian fossil fuels. You can't even handle Afghanistan and Iraq.

    He said average production will come in about 10% lower then expected over the next few years, not a 10% decline every year. Thats like saying in 2004 we forecast the north sea to have a production rate of 3 million bpd in 2010, but its actually going to be 2.7 million bpd, or 10% less then we expected. Theres a huge difference.

    The Western Media's abuse of Russia and its personalization of abuse of Vladymir Putin appears irrational. What is hoped to be achieved?

    Who is orchestrating it? Or is it some vestigial cold war stuff? A villian is needed:

    -- New Delhi : does not stick given the frequent terrorist attacks and starving millions

    -- Iran - OK - a little bit

    -- Beijing: Too powerful and too much control over Western Media

    I suppose not much left but to abuse Russia and use the "Russian Mafia" for criminals in Hollywood production.

    Berezovsky, the criminal elephant in the middle of the room with the means and the motive to off Litvinenko

    I very much doubt that he has access to polonium. Only Putin et al (and GWB) do.

    Sorry, Putin and his old KGB cronies did this, NO DOUBT !


    Using you "solid" logic I can claim that the Israelis did it since they have access to Polonium, especially since their nuclear facilities are not overseen by the IAEA. Polonium can be bought on the open market and the highly exaggerated price of $10 million that is often quoted for the amount used is pennies for Berezovsky. Try again.

    Motive is required in a circumstantial case. Israel had no motive, Putin and his old KGB buddies had every motive.

    Polonium is simply not commercially available in the form used.

    From Wikipedia:

    ... with beryllium, polonium can be a neutron source: beryllium releases a neutron upon absorption of an alpha particle that is supplied by 210Po. It has been used in this capacity as a neutron trigger (a.k.a. initiator) for nuclear weapons. Other uses include:

    * Devices that eliminate static charges in textile mills and other places.[1] However, beta particle sources are more commonly used and are less dangerous. A non-radioactive alternative is to just use a high voltage DC power supply to ionise air positively or negatively as required.[2]

    So there was once a single commercial use but only alloyed with beryllium.

    Sorry, using Polonium was Putin's calling card to intimidate all others (ex-KGB could have used MANY other means). Putin is KGB and a moral monster. He makes even GWB look good in comparision.

    The West showed weakness in letting Russia get away with this outrage in London. Russia has shown their true colors and they are depraved.


    This fits into WT's propsal....


    Oil explorers and producers confront 53% increase over the past two years

    The Upstream Capital Costs Index, a compilation of nine items central to the oil and gas industry, has been on the rise since 2000, but it spiked sharply beginning in 2005, said Richard Ward, senior director of upstream research for Cambridge Energy Research Associates, which is holding its annual conference in Houston this week.

    I think Dec 05 is the peak. Won't know for sure for several more years but that's ok, we all agree on the general direction.

    How will US afford more oil imports at higher prices ?

    Record US Trade Deficit of $764 billion in 2006

    Please note that it is a "Trade Gap" not deficit in article


    US oil consumption goes up, maybe just a little, this year. US oil production goes down, once again, in 2007. Oil prices (in euros & yen) go up. Repeat every year thereafter.

    There is a limit to the demand for any desireable economic good, including US $ and US based assets as well as tomatoes. When (not if) will we hit that limit ?

    Best Hopes for US Exports (Go Boeing !),


    I wish I knew, but in the meantime I don't hold any assets denominated in US dollars. Of course, that is easier for a non-USian to do... I wish you luck!

    Tariffs? Bad word. Free trade is better because everyone likes the word 'free' so much more.

    In January, 2001 one Euro cost $0.94, today it costs just under $1.30. Things would be much worse if the American debt was denominated in another currency besides dollars.

    Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria has a view on global warming similar to HO's:

    Global Warming: Get Used to It

    Even if we adopted the most far-reaching plans to combat climate change, we would still watch greenhouse gases rise for decades.

    Time to begin 'adapting' to climate change?

    The World Bank is hiring experts in 'adaptation' to a warming world. Coastal planners are starting to take it into account.

    At the World Bank in Washington, officials have posted some new "help wanted" signs. The bank is looking for a few good specialists (two, to be precise) to focus on adapting to global warming.

    It's a small beginning, perhaps. Still, the ads represent one signal that adaptation is emerging from the political doghouse to take its place among the front-rank options for dealing with climate change.

    At least in the developed world, the idea that people should start figuring out how to deal with the projected effects of warming – changing temperature and rainfall, shifts in growing seasons, more bouts of severe weather, and rising sea levels – has been overshadowed by calls to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Some environmentalists have viewed adaptation either as a white flag on the issue or as a refuge of contrarians who pooh-pooh the broad consensus that human activity is warming the climate.

    Re the Madison article, there was also another take from one of the TV stations a while ago. Note the closing sentence, "Meanwhile, a spokesperson for [county executive] Falk said the county executive initially thought the recommendations were tongue in cheek."

    I haven't seen a link to Jay Hanson's latest essay so here it is:


    It's only 8 pages.

    And you guys thought that I was a doomer.

    I've put it this way--Here in the US we have an expectation of an exponential increase in total petroleum imports while the quickly developing reality is an exponential decline in net export capacity, e.g., Mexico eliminating and/or cutting crude oil deliveries to Gulf Coast refineries.

    Doomer is not necessarily a synonym for incorrect.

    I read the eight pages and two items struck first the use of anarchism used when chaos would be a suitable term for what I believe is meant. Anarchy is where we if we intend to survive as a species should be headed.

    The second point was Mr. Hanson's statement that not even nuclear could save was referenced to an article by himself in ref.(13).

    While I can't rate that article very highly I have no idea if we are doomed or not though there does seem to be a lot of species, and due to our actions, that have been done in lately...Sometimes I feel like forming a save the plankton society. By the way anyone know how the Bonobos are doing they may be a better choice for dominate species on this planet.

    In the later part of your statement you say 'eg.,e.g., Mexico eliminating and/or cutting crude oil deliveries to Gulf Coast refineries. This confuses me as it seems to indicat that Mexican oil supplies are considered as as U.S. property? Have I read you incorrectly?

    Have an upbeat day,

    Black Bald.

    This confuses me as it seems to indicate that Mexican oil supplies are considered as as U.S. property?

    No, not at all. I was referring to my "Export Land Model," which really just a common sense observation that by and large domestic consumption will be met before oil is exported, so net oil exports can fall because of two factors: (1) declining production and/or (2) rising domestic consumption.

    Both of these forces are presently at work in Mexico. Depending on how sharply Cantarell crashes, and depending on how fast they can bring on new production and subject to what happens to domestic consumption, Mexico will probably effectively cease to be a net oil exporter sometime in the 2008 to 2012 time frame. Mexico is our second largest source of imported oil.

    I have previously pointed out that we may see the interesting spectacle of poor Mexicans being urged to conserve petroleum, so that crude oil can be shipped to richer consumers in the US.

    Hi Westexus,

    I must be doing a poor search but I can find no reference to your "Export Land Model" either on the internal search nor on Wiki or Google, would you mind directing me?

    I wanted to look at that before asking what effect you feel NAFTA has on their exports are they under the obligation to export at the same price to the other members or are they free to set their own internal price?

    If not I would say, 'god help the peon'.


    Black Bald.

    Graphical Export Land Model that Khebab did: http://static.flickr.com/97/240076673_494160e1a0_o.png

    If you do a Google Search for Net Oil Exports, my "Net Oil Exports Revisited" article seems to consistently be at #3, behind the EIA. This article has a link to my January, 2006 guest post on TOD warning about declining net oil exports.

    My premise, based on a combination of Khebab's technical work and some early work by Matt Simmons, is that net oil exports are going to fall much faster than overall world oil production declines.

    For anyone interested in Mexico's obligation under NAFTA I found the relevant section in the agreement at: http://www.sice.oas.org/summary/nafta/nafta6.asp

    Annex 603.6 provides the details of Mexico's exceptions to the chapter's general obligations on the use of import and export restrictions, as required by the Mexican Constitution. Mexico is permitted to restrict the granting of import and export licenses for the sole purpose of reserving foreign trade in certain goods to itself (and Mexico would likely grant such licenses exclusively to its state monopoly, PEMEX).

    “I was referring to my "Export Land Model," which really just a common sense observation that by and large domestic consumption will be met before oil is exported, so net oil exports can fall because of two factors: (1) declining production and/or (2) rising domestic consumption.”

    Westexas, how does your “Export Land Model” apply to Iran, where they export oil and are required to import refined gasoline? Another article I read said that they are currently rationing gasoline internally within Iran. Based on the assumption of your model, Iran should be cutting exports to maintain current internal consumption. Instead, they exports are continuing, but they are rationing imported gasoline.

    Maybe the “Export Land Model” does not consider geopolitical necessities that do not follow typical business logic. What if exporting countries are “forced” to continue exports at the expense of their internal citizens due to political persuasion through military or economic means?

    Iran's problem is that they don't have sufficient domestic refining capacity, so they have to export oil and import gasoline and other refined products. Also, Iran, like Saudi Arabia and many other exporters, hugely subsidizes domestic consumption. In any case, on a net petroleum basis, Iran is clearly a net exporter (at least for now).

    For a number of reasons, I would assume that Iran's domestic consumption is growing quite rapidly, while their oil production is flat to declining. Some studies have suggested that Iran may be a net oil importer within 10 years.


    In fact the New York Times suggests 8 years today.


    You raise a very good point that I have not considered before. The simple truth is that without decent refining capacity an exporter is at the mercy of those w/ the ability to transform oil into a useful product. There is an interesting feedback effect that would put pressure on the economic health of an exporter without refining capability.
    I wonder if this is one of the unstated reasons that KSA would be making such a big investment in refining their own crude.

    Haven't you heard? All of the oil supplies are considered as U.S. property. Iran seems the focal point of this wanton empirical gluttony just now.

    Anarchy is a form of social existence in which there is NO ordained chief, as opposed to an archy [oligarchy designates a form of social existence in which a group is chief, monarchy designates a form in which an individual is chief].

    Since Oil is priced in a global market, can you definitively assume that exports will be cut first?

    Say Mexico uses 50% of it's oil for internal consumption, and 50% for export. If their production falls 50%, you believe that their exports will fall 100% correct?

    But if that production fall is not made up anywhere else (ie we're at peak oil) wouldn't the price of oil skyrocket driving down demand everywhere, including the home country, thus freeing up barrels for export?

    Or do you think at that point countries will start to treat their oil as a national treasure, and not let any leave the country, at any price?


    Probably the best example is the UK, which went from exporting one mbpd in 1999 to being a net oil importer in 2005.

    There are really two phases to the export question.

    I think that we are in Phase One, where we are seeing a positive feedback loop of strong cash flows into exporting countries, resulting in rapidly increasing domestic consumption.

    Phase Two will occur when oil prices get much higher and when oil income from exports may be falling, even with higher prices, because exports are falling so fast.

    Or do you think at that point countries will start to treat their oil as a national treasure, and not let any leave the country, at any price?

    Yes. They will be forbidden to export while farmers and motorists find fuel to be unaffordable. This is probably the future of Mexico and Venezuela, both with government owned oil monopolies.

    Oil smugglers will be treated like traitors by the government.

    Or do you think at that point countries will start to treat their oil as a national treasure, and not let any leave the country, at any price?

    Yes. (Think of the Irish potato famine, when they had enough food to feed themselves theoretically but it was going to cash crops for export).

    They will be forbidden to export while farmers and motorists find fuel to be unaffordable. This is probably the future of Mexico and Venezuela, both with government owned oil monopolies. Perhaps there will be some negotiated food-for-fuel trade with US.

    Oil smugglers will be treated like traitors by the government.

    Think of the Irish potato famine, when they had enough food to feed themselves theoretically but it was going to cash crops for export

    Which is evidence that oil exports will not be banned.

    If food continues to be exported while people in the country starve - and it's happened much more recently than that - why do you expect oil to be treated so differently?

    How many major exporters could withstand the economic shock of stopping all exports? Why do you think they're stupid enough to destroy their own economies that way?

    Irish Potato Famine is not a good example since the immediate cause was a potato blight and the British, who were occupiers of the Irish, were and are charged with various degrees of culpability ranging from carelessness and indifference to genocide.

    You do raise a point that govts. will have to make hard choices. But you seem to be presupposing that saving an economy while the population is starving is even possible.

    But you seem to be presupposing that saving an economy while the population is starving is even possible.

    No - I'm not even presupposing the population is starving.

    What I am supposing is that there is a limit to how much governments will subsidize the oil consumption of their own populations, and I'm using an analogy to food consumption and historical famines to support that supposition.

    Basically, if a poor and probably-corrupt government is offered $100 for a barrel of oil that its own population is only willing to pay $20 for, I'm suggesting it's likely that some of those barrels will find their way out of the country. If it happened with food - a much more critical need - then I'm suggesting it'll happen with oil, too.

    I agree that it's likely exports will drop faster than production, but I don't see it as likely that populations in exporting countries will be fully shielded from the effects of higher prices, and I see it as unlikely that many countries with surplus oil production will flat-out stop exporting. Most of them couldn't even if they wanted to - their budgets would collapse.

    For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be falsifiable. I don't consider Olduvai theory to be scientific because it is not falsifiable.

    During the last few years, per capital energy production appears to be rising again and is now above the previous peak of 1979. I think this contradicts Jay Hanson's predictions. Why does he think it will not keep rising at least in the near future? He predicts a cliff in 2008. That is only 11 months away. What is going to change in the next 11 months to produce a cliff in per capita energy production?

    More people and less energy perhaps?

    "More people and less energy perhaps?"

    We have had uninterrupted population growth for several decades now. What is going to be different 11 months from now to produce a cliff in per capita energy production? Granted, global oil production is now declining at the rate of 2%/annum; but solar and wind energy is growing at double digit rates.

    If the per capita energy production continues to rise through say, 2010, does it mean that Jay Hanson is wrong? When do we decide whether his theory is true or false?

    "If the per capita energy production continues to rise through say, 2010..."

    I'm pretty sure this is not correct, if I recollect right per capita energy production / consumption has mostly declined since the late 1970's, and though it did turn up a bit in the late 1990's - it is still, always has been, and is likely to remain, below that 1979? peak (until we lose a significant chunk of the capita or develop significant new sources of energy).

    There are many sources showing EPPC has been going up and is target to go up thru the next two decades. Duncan acknowledges this (last ten years of increase) in his ver 3.0 graph update. He and i differ in our views of what happens after 2008.

    Perhaps u were thinking of oil prod'n per capita? I haven't seen many graphs on that metric but understand that this shows a 70's peak.

    if I recollect right per capita energy production / consumption has mostly declined since the late 1970's

    You're wrong.

    Per capita energy consumption is at its highest rate since at least 1980 (the start of the EIA table), and probably at the highest rate highest ever. Not that it matters - the basic idea is fundamentally flawed: a rapid rise in 3rd-world population as compared to industrialized population could lead to stagnant or declining per-capita energy consumption rates, even when energy consumption rates are increasing for both.

    The Olduvai "theory" is based on a statistical trick, nothing more.

    Thanks Freddy and Pitt the Elder, I am indeed wrong, global per capita energy consumption has increased by near 10% from 1980 to 2004 (63.7 to 70.1 million Btu) with two thirds of that increase happening in 2003 and 2004!

    My only excuse is that I probably was confusing with per capita oil production / consumption. Apologies for misleading and thanks for your corrections.

    You're welcome; however, a couple of caveats:

    1. Per capita energy appears to have been higher in 1979 than in 1980 (link), by approximately 4% (assuming 2% population growth), meaning it's just in the last couple of years that per capita energy has set new records. It's been rising steadily since the early 90's, though.
    2. This, like several "facts", is repeated much more often than it's checked, so it's not entirely surprising you thought it was true. There is a limit, after all, to how much one can fact-check discussions; it's extremely important to do so here, though. This site does a reasonable job of that, although some of its efforts are of higher quality than others.

    Yes, the BP data shows 1979 as higher than 1980, but even if that took per capita up to 65 M Btu we've been at or above that for a good handful of years now. Interesting how the per capita consumption in the 1970s and early 1980s mirrored the periods of recession in developed countries - not surprising but I wouldn't have expected it to be so close. I'd not looked at that bit of the BP data before, thanks for pointing me in its direction.

    I have occasionally read the POD blog before but I am much closer to Heinberg's perspective. I think we could make the transition in close to one piece but I don't think we will make anywhere near the necessary effort and change. Peak oil will probably hit harder and faster, when it does, than many even here expect. If we haven't made sufficient changes by that time then I agree with Hirsch: things will get very difficult - and probably rather messy. My guess is there is a significant chance that demand will exceed supply by late 2008, though the most probable date for PO is likely 2 to 4 years after that. I would be surprised if global human population is more than 4 billion in 2030.

    I think we could make the transition in close to one piece but I don't think we will make anywhere near the necessary effort and change.

    Entirely possible. Almost without exception, the claims that we cannot make such a transition are based on such utterly shoddy reasoning that I feel compelled to point it out. Whether we will make such a transition is another matter, and one that's much harder to find clear answers for.

    I have occasionally read the POD blog before but I am much closer to Heinberg's perspective.

    Regardless of one's perspective, though, their quantitative analyses are typically solid.

    Just because most of the doomer claims are nonsense doesn't mean things won't end badly; it just means that those claims are making things murkier and probably contributing to the problem.

    My guess is there is a significant chance that demand will exceed supply by late 2008

    Depends what you mean by "demand".

    If you take the view that demand has historically risen by 1.8% and anything less is "demand exceeding supply", then we hit that last year - demand rose by only 0.9%, despite fairly solid economies.

    If you take the view that people dying due to lack of oil is "demand exceeding supply", then that's probably been going on continuously since forever.

    If you take the view that rich nations facing physical lack of fuel - the oil equivalent of rolling blackouts - is "demand exceeding supply", then we're still quite far away from that, thanks to the tremendous about of discretionary fuel usage in most rich nations.

    So what is meant by "demand exceeding supply"?

    Thanks for your reply, and I'm in general agreement with it.

    This demand exceeding supply thing - as I mean it - is not easy to define in a precise or watertight way so please forgive me for being a bit woolly. It's when continuing global economic growth is noticably constrained (almost certainly reversed in USA) by the lack of supply or a significant and sustained price increase caused by by that lack of supply. We'll know it when we see it but I can't show you a photo of what it looks like yet!

    2006 was the first year of the recent run up in oil price (which bottomed at $10 in Dec 1998 after being mostly around $20 during the 1990s) where price began to have a seriously noticable effect on global consumption. The average 2006 price of $66 trimmed perhaps a mere 1% from probable consumption had the price remained near $40. So, I'd guess a sustained price of around $90 after we've had a year or two more to get used to $60-ish oil would be necessary for price alone to cause demand to cease increasing for a year or more. Any higher than $90 for more than a few months and global recession is near inevitable, I think; then other dynamics get involved and we'd need to assess what might happen based on where we are at that time.

    The painful irony of it all is: if we generally continue to behave like cornucopians then the doomers will likely be right, but if we generally behave as the doomers suggest then we might get through peak oil in quite good shape.

    Any higher than $90 for more than a few months and global recession is near inevitable, I think

    Not if we have time to get used to it, I suspect. The price of fuel in much of Europe is equivalent to what the US would see at over $200/bbl, but they're not doing too badly.

    We'd certainly see a drop in demand above $90/bbl, but I don't see a lot of evidence that it'd be enough to cause a global recession. Prices went up by $50/bbl between 1998 and 2006 (from $11 to $60), but global growth managed a robust 3% real growth average over that period - despite the dotcom crash - with the highest rates of growth during the periods of highest oil price.

    So it's really not clear to me that adding another $30 to that $50 would fundamentally change the picture.

    The painful irony of it all is: if we generally continue to behave like cornucopians then the doomers will likely be right, but if we generally behave as the doomers suggest then we might get through peak oil in quite good shape.

    Too many doomers appear to have lost all hope for preserving society - or are even looking eagerly towards its downfall - so I don't see doomers being a particularly rich source of solutions.

    Moreover, it's not even clear that it'll take anything nearly as drastic as some of the "solutions" that are presented, such as powerdown - a simple price increase could be enough to push people towards alternatives. $60/bbl clearly reduced demand for oil, yet did fairly minimal disruptions; as supply gets tighter, I would expect demand to be held in check by rising prices.

    Even if oil prices were to go up to $100/bbl this year, I wouldn't expect a catastrophe, at least in the developed world. Oil prices went up 150% over the course of 1979, didn't fall back below double 1978's price for 5 years, and didn't cause a disaster. Oil consumption dropped sharply, people adapted, and on the world went. Why would a similar increase (in inflation-adjusted terms) now not be handled in a similar manner?

    Absent some unprecedently-massive shock - like the Strait of Hormuz being closed for years - historical evidence suggests that civilization will bump along more-or-less okay. Things'll get expensive - and the sooner we get moving on alternatives, the less painful it'll be - but even a sharp shock followed by a slow, multi-year decline has failed in the past to prove a serious threat, so there's not much reason to believe a similar scenario will now provide dissimilar results.

    That still leaves plenty of very compelling reasons to conserve and find alternative energy sources, of course - more than enough to make our current sloth on that front shameful and shortsighted.

    I could paint a different picture with valid statistics, like: a $90 price in December 2008 would be an 800% increase over 10 years - surely recession would be inevitable ;) I think developed nations' economies, and USA in particular, are on a bit of a narrow highwire now, even a relatively minor shock could amplify rapidly into a significant depression.

    My advocacy of 'doomer' policies is focused on the positive changes of examining our energy use, conserving and substituting with renewables where reasonable, constructing alternatives to car transport, making our agriculture and food less fossil hydrocarbon dependent, relocalising somewhat etc. Doing these in advance will be much less painful than waiting until, perhaps, forced.

    But I think we both know what both of us is trying to say and agree on the meat. Let's maybe resume this chat another day maybe in another thread, this one is getting too long and physically slow to post in.

    Note that Jay Hanson is NOT predicting any sort of cliff in 2008. You are confusing him with Richard Duncan, originator of the Olduvai Theory. Duncan does indeed predict the start of collapse some time in the 2008-2012 time frame. Hanson's only prediction is of anarchy in the USA in 15 years +-10. Otherwise he says these events are impossible to predict with any accuracy, party because fuel useage varies with temps.

    Mr. Hanson's use of the word anarchy to describe the coming situation in the USA is unfortunate. In a post above, I discussed the real meaning of anarch. Mr. Hanson, like too many others, should be using the word chaos or disorder instead.

    For those who think I'm nitpicking, I'd like you to realize that I consider myself an anarchist, and have no violent social inclinations.

    Hello Suyog,

    I consider Olduvai to be scientific and falsifiable when Jay Hanson's Thermo-Gene Collision is factored in: what are the chances of Haiti and Zimbabwe reversing course and experiencing a higher standard of detritus living than the US?

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

    First you have to provide the odds of regime change leading to a much less corrupt gov, better management, education, etc. Consider, for example, japan, with no local energy sources but with a level of corruption that is substantial but nevertheless manageable.

    I understand now that I was confusing Duncan's Olduvai theory with Jay Hanson's thermo-gene collision theory.

    "what are the chances of Haiti and Zimbabwe reversing course and experiencing a higher standard of detritus living than the US?"

    Negligible. But what has the fact that Haiti and Zimbabwe are failed societies got to do with it? We also have highly successful societies on the planet. Note that Haiti's failure is to a large extent due to the choices made by people who live there; they cut all the trees. Dominican Republic, which exists on the same island, is doing well in comparision. And Zimbabwe's collapse is to a large extent due to mismanagement by Mugabe.
    Choices made by people, local culture, quality of leadership - they all matter in the end in determining whether societies succeed or fail. Peak oil will cause some societies to collapse for sure; but others will thrive.

    My question remains: if per capital energy production were to increase for the next several years, will it disprove the Olduvai theory? Why not?

    It depends on how much is the increase, and whether it is thought to be sustainable. If the increase is small, then production/capita might still fall. And, if we see production rise for a time from ethanol and tar sands, which are essentially just conversions of ng to liquid fuels, then we will not be too confident. OTOH, if the increase comes from wind, solar, and nuke breeders, and if the rate of increase looks higher per capita than the likely decline in fossil fuels, then we might be optimistic.

    Another cause for optimism would, if it occurs, be a decline in energy use with a flat or rising gdp/capita. IMO all countries, not least us/china, will hugely increase their efficiency over time while, at least in those countries with moderate corruption/socialism, maintain or boost living standards.

    Can we still have cheap plastic pumpkins from China?

    Yes, just as long as the US$ remains above 5 Yuan and oil remains below $100. Best stock up this coming halloween ;)

    Along those lines, if you looked at per capita energy usage on a net basis (after subtracting the energy required to obtain the energy), I expect that per capita usage has been dropping for years.

    After all, if we use a megajoule of natural gas to get 2 megajoules of tar sands energy, that is 3 megajoules to add to the total world energy usage. I would argue that we are getting much less than 3 megajoules worth of value compared to 3 from 30 years ago.

    Hi enviro,

    "Along those lines, if you looked at per capita energy usage on a net basis (after subtracting the energy required to obtain the energy), I expect that per capita usage has been dropping for years."

    Do you know if Duncan uses a "net basis"?

    I wonder what role increased efficiency plays and how one might factor it in - (?)

    Duncan doesn't address energy usage, but energy production.

    Hello Suyog,

    Your question: "If per capital energy production were to increase for the next several years, will it disprove the Olduvai theory? Why not?"

    It depends on whether the global per capita energy increase is detritus or biosolar. If FFs ramp up [a big if?] and it is burned wastefully--Olduvai will hold true as the forces of the Thermo/Gene Collision do their thing. If this energy is entirely directed to long run sustainable biosolar investment [another big if?], then maybe Olduvai could be disproven.

    But I don't see cooperation levels in Haiti and Zimbabwe that support pop. control, Earthmarine protection of biota, and every possible $$$ being used to purchase windturbines, PVs, humanure & composting infrastructure, reforestation, wheelbarrows, bicycles, etc. Instead, any funds now go for the onetime use FFs, guns, drugs, corruption, etc. Recall my Zim posting from last night where FF costs are now the leading inflationary driver.

    Is the rest of the world going to learn from these sad examples and then choose a smarter course? Jay thinks we are genetically destined to join them for maximum decline. He may be right, for Jay has a formidable intellect, IMO. I am hoping, that at a minimum: we can generate sufficient cooperative altruism from Peakoil Outreach [another big if?] to optimize our squeeze through the Dieoff Bottleneck. But, for what it is worth: I freely admit that I am nowhere close to knowledge, wisdom, and brilliance of Jay and Dr. Duncan.

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

    Why is the tail always seen to wag the dog when the poor (Haiti and Zimbabwe in this case) are discussed? Why is it assumed that the weak and powerless are masters of their fate, captains of their ship, in a world of thermonuclear pirates?

    Hello Oldhippie,

    Thxs for responding. I never semantically intended, or explicitly worded that assumption. In fact, if you examine the archives of TOD and my hundreds of postings on the Yahoo energyblogs: you will find my detailed postings on how the IMF, WTO, and World Bank have done a very good job of cashing Zimbabwe loan repayment cheques knowing full well that the money extraction would only add to Zimbabwe's woes.

    We are both facing the same way on this issue: the weak and powerless are by definition 'weak and powerless'. The humanimal ecosystem guarantees that the topdogs will feast on those below them in the humanimal foodchain. My heart breaks that the whole world doesn't understand this.

    All yeast are equal-- we are not. Such is Life.

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

    Sorry Bob. I was responding not to you, but to suyog and his explicit statement that Haitians and their free choices are responsible for the Hell that is Haiti.
    While recognizing from your many posts that you are a decent person, and while I usually look forward to reading what you have to say, I have to reserve that the constant pointing at Zimbabwe is disturbing. Cecil Rhodes was an evil man. What has happened to Zimbabwe is far more about Rhodes than it is Mugabe.
    For a short background to the history of Africa I would commend Walter Rodney's seminal text How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Rodney had the distinction of being the first academic historian to be assasinated by the CIA. First issued by Bogle-L'Ouverture, Dar es Salaam, 1972, then Howard University Press, 1974, this short book remains fundamental and irreplaceable.

    Hello Oldhippie,

    Apologies from me too. I should have clicked on 'parent' to fully determine posting flow. Sometimes it gets quite confusing to follow the threads, subthreads, different time-posting sequence and so forth.

    I am generally historically aware of Rhodes, Rhodesia, DeBeers, etc, but thxs for the book referral for the detailed specifics. I use Zimbabwe, along with other countries, merely as a comparison tool [with realtime newslinks], like Westexas uses Texas & lower 48 to HL-compare with the UK North Sea, Pemex, KSA, Iran, etc.

    Just trying to point out a currently occuring Tainterian decline path; a Jay Hanson-esque realtime, real tragedy Thermo/Gene Collision that I hope alerts others--> so that we in the US and elsewhere don't want to emulate what I call the worstcase 'Zimbabwe Syndrome'.

    I have written other postings about Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Madasgascar, Indonesia, etc---all supported by breaking newslinks. I just think it gets people's attention more than talking about Rome, Easter Island, Aztec, Mayan, Viking collapses because it is mentally so easy for a naysayer denialist to say those happened so long ago that those scenarios don't apply [even though they still do apply].

    Lastly, I think the average US citizen is more barely aware of Darfur's problems even though Zimbabwe's problems and ramifications will probably be much worse in the long run for Africa. I have seen a few TV commercials for Darfur Aid, but minimal MSM newscoverage of Zimbabwe; celebrity entertainment is the priority. I can tell by the looks of most people that I am breaking into Peakoil that most of them have absolutely no idea what a Zimbabwe is, much less where it is located! In short, I am not trying to single Zimbabwe out for scorn, but for great empathy and concern.

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

    I definitely follow your postings and links on Mexico. Thank you for that, and for much else.
    My feeling about Zimbabwe is that if you kick a dog long enough, and you kick a dog hard enough, eventually the dog may die. Certainly you do not expect the dog to exhibit optimum behavior in difficult circumstances. Rehabilitating such a dog is difficult/unlikely. Best course of action may be to not repeat mistakes with the next dog. And perhaps to forbid bad owners to continue keeping dogs.

    Cecil Rhodes was an evil man. What has happened to Zimbabwe is far more about Rhodes than it is Mugabe

    I would agree. Thanks for the book reference, I'll try to find it.

    These are a few really good 'primer' articles hitting the same points and facts.

    The New World Order: The Players

    Cecil Rhodes went to South Africa in 1870...... Recall that Rhodes came from a poor family and he had just left Oxford with nothing more than his diploma in hand. Rothschild was the true power behind Rhodes, and his conquest of Africa.

    Rhodes consolidated all of the mines into De Beers Consolidated Mines. This gave Cecil control of the Cape economy and made him the most powerful man in South Africa. Rhodes was am imperialist and a racist, and he believed in the supremacy of the white Anglo-Saxon race over all other peoples. A few of his delusional quotes tell the story:

    It goes on to tell about how Rhodes among other things (like naming a country after himself) started the Rhodes scholarship for the "Training" of ... well you have to read the article.


    The next in that series it tells the story of the CFR and the "Financiers".
    (Background on 1913, Fed, jekyll island assumed.)


    Somewhere in this thread someone talked about the IMF and it's relationship to the 3rd world.

    I'd recommend this as a good read. How was it that Enron came to own the water works in Argintina? IMF.


    by Greg Palast

    The World Bank's former Chief Economist's accusations are eye-popping - including how the IMF and US Treasury fixed the Russian elections


    "Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them."

    That volume by Rodney has gotten easier to find. Do pursue it, you will not be disappointed.

    This doesn't seem to support your CIA claim:


    Wiki stubs seldom tell you much. Of course you could start from what they give and pursue just who Forbes Burnham was.
    Even Wiki makes it a bomb and makes it an assasination.
    Most unfortunately if you want to read Guyanese history you're going to have to go to lots of small Brit publishers, Jamaican presses that come and go, and Frontline here in Chicago.
    Of course some of us will never cede that the CIA ever did anything but spread light and joy.

    Yup, the big bad IMF and World Bank. They're great guyz when they give out loans. But they become the dark side when it comes time to write the repayment cheques. Typical socialist thinking.

    The G-8 have forgiven $37-Billion in third world debt over the last six years. Those that weren't on a list did not meet the conditions wrt accountability, reforms, improved tax collection & corruption issues.

    The G-8 have set aside $50-Bil for this current round of debt forgiveness. Many members of the lunatic fringe camp at TOD have as their common denominator a hate of big corporations, big agencies and big govt's that is systemic. Perhaps the success of others is a constant reminder of one's personal failures.

    Just as Argentina was hung out to dry when they did their brain fart thingy, one should ask why certain jurisdictions seem left off the team. It takes more effort but gives more understanding of current events than do the rewards of reading trashings.

    Typical Supremacist thinking.


    Bugger, I must largely agree with you again Freddy. There is no point writing off third world debt if the result is that most of the money will go into the swiss bank accounts of the tiny minority who rule the country and their cronies that keep them in power, usually by less than savoury methods.

    That said, I think the G-8 etc should have begun the debt write off process perhaps 20 years earlier, and I think that IMF and World Bank behavior over the last 30 years has been as much directed by developed countries' selfish wishes as by helping out poor countries.

    As the saying goes...Foreign aid consists of taking money from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries.

    Hello Freddy Hutter,

    IMO, in this case: your posting's argument structure and analysis leaves much to be desired. Read John Perkin's "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" and how an infinite growth, interest-based economic system and a finite resource world are resolved.

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

    During the last few years, per capital energy production appears to be rising again and is now above the previous peak of 1979

    That's not what Duncan says. He says 1979-today, for the world, is a period of stagnation comparable to US 1970-1998. There is a small difference, which he recognizes: the US stagnation had a slight decrease, while the world has a slight increase. What's important is how both trends differ from the preceding period.

    Since the US started plummeting after 1998, and Duncan uses it as an example (the best there is) for the world as a whole, he predicts 2008 as the year the world will start to plummet.

    Your comment addresses deviation, not trend.

    Since the US started plummeting after 1998

    "Plummeting" is something of an overstatement.

    In reality, it dropped down a percent or two and then stayed there, during which time the US saw a (real) GDP increase of 13%.

    Duncan uses [the US] as an example...for the world as a whole

    That's remarkably optimistic of him, considering how good the last 9 years have been to the US.

    Hi Pitt,

    Thanks for discussing Duncan, as I've been looking for some critiques. Do you know of any good ones?

    Q: How does US debt or "trade deficit" figure in or offset the GDP, (and thus possibly bolster the "plummeting" argument)?

    Thanks for discussing Duncan, as I've been looking for some critiques. Do you know of any good ones?

    None. However, as it appears to be such flimsy nonsense - more of a "I believe we're all gonna die!!" statement than any actual research - I would imagine that most people simply roll their eyes and pass it by. I suppose POD might have addressed it at some point, though.

    Q: How does US debt or "trade deficit" figure in or offset the GDP

    No idea. "Figure in" is a nebulous term, and I suspect different people would want different definitions, often based on their preconceived notions of what the result "should" show.

    One argument I've heard is that the US exports a lot of intangible (but still valuable) material, such as corporate knowledge (e.g., US-owned factories abroad are often more productive than competitors), so the "true" trade deficit is much less.

    The debt is largely irrelevant - it's maybe a percent or two higher now than in 1998 (as a fraction of GDP), so maybe subtract a percent or two from that growth figure.

    "GDP is calculated as domestic spending plus exports less imports."

    From an answer on the US BEA site:

    It's probably worth starting there for official informtion on how GDP is calculated:

    The lastest GDP release gives detailed tables of what has contributed to GDP for the quarter reported:

    At a quick glance I did not see a full and simple explanation of how GDP is calculated. While everything there is probably true it will not tell you the whole truth. For that you will have to factor in further analysis like:

    From 1998-2005, US "e" (energy production per capita) decreases 1.8% per year. So not 2% over the whole time, more like 12%.

    There is no connection with GDP, you can't discuss Duncan's work by bringing in data that fall outside of his thesis.

    Apart from the fact that official GDP and inflation numbers are too doctored to believe by now, and it's obvious that GDP was negative in several of the past few years if Mortgage Equity Withdrawal is taken out, it can still be dependent on imported energy, which Duncan does not address.

    The Olduvai Theory, when applied to the US, is based on domestic energy production. The US has escaped decline in "e" for years by importing energy. Obviously, that will change when the entire planet's "e" will start dropping.

    In that regard, Olduvai is equivalent to Westexas' Export Land Model.

    For Duncan's US "e", the past 9 years have been very bad. For the world to do as "well" as the US post-2008, countries have two options: buy printing presses, or invade other nations.

    From 1998-2005, US "e" (energy production per capita) decreases 1.8% per year.

    That's simply not true.

    Take a look at the graph I linked to, direct from the US Department of Energy; in particular, look at "Energy Consumption per Person, 1949-2005" (bottom left). It shows a teeny little drop around 1998 of maybe 2%, and then a pretty much flat line since.

    Edit: oh, now I see what you mean - you're referring to energy produced inside the US. You may or may not be wrong, then, but you're certainly irrelevant.

    There is no connection with GDP

    Sure there is. Duncan's theory is that dropping per capita energy consumption will lead to dropping standards of living, and per capita GDP is the most common proxy for standard of living. Ergo, flat or dropping energy consumption with rising GDP implies Duncan is wrong.

    Apart from the fact that official GDP and inflation numbers are too doctored to believe by now

    I hear that claimed a great deal, but I've yet to see any sensible justification for the numbers thrown out with those claims. In particular, shadowstats.com is usually given as the go-to place for "true" inflation, but its claims - of no net GDP growth since the 1980's and strong GDP contraction since 2000 - don't mesh well with what I see on the street. No major economist or economic reporting medium appears to give them the time of day, either, suggesting either an absolutely absurd number of people are "in on it", or he's not providing quality information.

    Moreover, if you're going to assume that The Man is cooking The Books, why assume the per capita energy consumption figures are any better? Why not just make up whatever numbers you want?

    you can't discuss Duncan's work by bringing in data that fall outside of his thesis

    Duncan doesn't have "work"; Duncan has two guesses:

    1. Per capita energy consumption is falling.
    2. Falling per capita energy consumption will lead to the collapse of civilization.

    #1 is not only false, he based it on nonsense. If the population of poor countries increases faster than the population of rich countries - which it has - then the per capita energy consumption of the world can drop even while every person consumes more energy. #1 is nothing more than "fun tricks with demographic patterns".

    #2 is a more reasonable theory, although evidence so far is not terribly in its favour. Rooting through the EIA data on per capita energy consumption, the closest to a declining trend I can find in a major country or region is the USA, which has flattened out to maybe 5% below its peak in the 1970s. You'd find few people to support the claim that Americans have grown steadily poorer in the last 30 years, though.

    Other than that, all Duncan's done is come up with a cool name.

    The Olduvai Theory, when applied to the US, is based on domestic energy production.

    Then it's useless.

    International trade has underpinned world economies for decades; ignore it at risk of your own irrelevance.

    Obviously, that will change when the entire planet's "e" will start dropping.

    That something is obvious doesn't mean it's true. One learns that pretty early in undergrad science classes.

    For Duncan's US "e", the past 9 years have been very bad.

    By that measure, the past 9 years have been very, very bad for shoes in the US - few are made there anymore.

    Yet Americans still have shoes. How's that?

    Oh, yeah - international trade. That whole "comparative advantage" thing.

    If Duncan's argument now rests on "assume international trade collapses...", he's committing the fallacy of begging the question - assuming as true the very thing he's trying to show - and hence his argument has no value.

    Pitt, it's those down-to-earth groundings like yours and a few others at TOD that make the struggling thru the noise here worthwhile. Thanx for your efforts!

    Hi Todd,

    I just wanted to add (though I put it elsewhere as well),

    re: "It is our genetic legacy."

    What constitutes "our genetic legacy" is a matter of on-going study and understanding. Even as we speak.

    Quotes for Today!

    June 2007 6078
    December 2007 6317
    December 2007 6452
    December 2007 6425
    December 2007 6380
    December 2007 6340
    December 20076262

    My humble attempt at a hybrid geothermal solution.

    Clearly geothermal is a work in progress
    with the Kalina cycle still being fine tuned. This may only have small temperature gradients unlike hot burn technology but apart from hardware the inputs are free, unless of course you have to relocate every few years.

    After Peak Concentrated Energy we will have to go after highly dispersed sources.


    Just want to point out that I covered / forecast this,



    Ditto !

    What is your expectation for boe (oil + NG) for 2010 ? (Financial Times says 2.6 million boe (barrels of oil equilavent)).


    "I reckon, in the next few years, as a result of caps on emissions and peak oil being reached, that we can say goodbye to international sports and most national sports. The idea that you could fly people and teams all over America, all over the globe, all the time, just to play sport, is so late twentieth century. Fifty years ago it was still something of a novelty to see people flying to play sport. Now it is taken for granted."

    I made a comment on the old TOD UK site some time last year, that I expected the 2012 Olympics in London to be the last in the current overblown style - and no bad thing, either. I think we might make it to the one after - if it takes place it will likely be the first since 1945 to be on a smaller scale than the one prior to it. Maybe by the third decade of this century there will simply be too much outcry against such wastage of resources, flying tens of thousands of people just for a sporting event. Possibly the whole global commercial pyramid that supports it (and the soccer World Cup) will be crumbling by then. And perhaps we could get back to sport's original ethos - not as showcase for nationalism, corrupted by drugs and money, but instead played on a local scale for entertainment and amusement.

    They did have pro baseball before cheap commercial flights.

    I read one book about the history of the New York Yankees, where the players remembered traveling for three days via train when they had to play St. Louis. They remembered it with fondness, saying later teams didn't develop the same bond, since they were never stuck together for that long, playing cards all day.

    As late as the 1950's, English cricketers would travel to and from Australia for the 4-yearly "Ashes" series of games, by cruise liner. Presumably this took at least a couple of weeks each way. In between those 4 years, the Australian team would do the same to/from England. I wonder how many international sportsmen and women would be willing to do the same in the future? Needless to say, there were few visiting supporters from the home country. For amusement, Google "barmy army" and "cricket".

    Prediction: the last "growth" Olympics will be Beijing 2008, London will be much smaller, if it takes place at all. And I'm not so sure about Beijing.

    Hello Doctorbob,

    Good points, but the burning postPeak question to be answered is:

    Will Tiger Woods use his fortune to plow numerous golf courses into vegetable gardens for us little folk? Or will hoard his fortune so he can hire Blackwater Security to keep us out from his future survival Eco-Tech farm similar to Richard Rainwaters?

    Will the NASCAR multi-millionaires soon encourage their fans to tear out the racetracks, stadium seating, and parking lots to support relocalized permaculture? Or are they more likely to post merc-snipers at the top of the bleachers to keep us from the precious foodstuffs in the stadium infield?

    Will Beckham bend it to help his common man? Or will his wife 'Posh Spice' convince him to invest in Dubai property so they and their offspring can live out their days in an exuburant 'Posh Life'?

    Edit: Will Justin Timberlake invest his fortune to help his generation, or will he be just in timber & lakes for himself?

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

    Hello TODers,

    Have you made a princely $453 million lately?


    February 13, 2007 -- Using part of Bill Gates' billions, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is nearly quadrupling his bet on the luxury Four Seasons Hotel chain.

    And Gates didn't do too badly, either, nearly doubling his own investment in the chain after just two years, which came from a tip by the prince.

    Alwaleed bought his 25 percent of the chain in 1994 for $167 million - a stake currently valued at more than $620 million.

    Does anyone think that the Prince and Gates bought the Four Seasons luxury hotel chain to generously house the homeless for 4 seasons postPeak? I think these fully Peakoil-aware dudes will be offering these as fully gated, heavily protected, advanced Eco-Tech condos for the rich postPeak. Of course, their eventual purchase [by force of arms?] of the 'Yucca Mountain Four Seasons' will be the super-exclusive bunker/spa for the supremely rich when required.

    WAG or Suite Truth?

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

    the only thing i am sure of is that the walten's(family that founded wallmart) will hunker down in their bunker complex.

    - in response to posts above -,

    with Green politics, all will chug on as usual, including corruption, kickbacks, the big pol groups, growth and growth...How many millions did you earn recently ?

    In Switz. one recent initiative (technical term for a propostion that might have to be put to popular vote) is to ban all vehicles that emit more than 250 g CO2 per km. Certainly not a bad thing, but very modest, and by the time it might be voted in (?if), and all the details fixed, all the exceptions thoroughly reviewed, and all the paperwork and laws finally settled, not much change. Meanwhile, the Greens would have chalked up an electoral victory, a triumph for the ‘ecology,’ and might gather more votes in the upcoming elections, at all levels.

    Local initiatives have taken a more pointed bent: in Geneva the greens are proposing (again, an ‘initiative’) that SUVS (again, expressed in CO2 per km, no particular car...) be banned from driving in town. The idea is that if the arrogant rich are banned from town avenues, roads, and parkings, access to restaurants and nightclubs, they will give up these awful vehicles.

    I live in Geneva too, and I think the most important thing to do to maximize the chance of this initiative is not to present it as set against "arrogant rich" that must be "banned from town avenues, roads, and parkings, access to restaurants and nightclubs, they will give up these awful vehicles."

    although I agree with you in general...

    Exxon Mobil CEO: Oil could be much cheaper

    U.S. crude prices would be between $40 and $45 a barrel if risks of supply disruption were not in the market right now, Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

    "Absent a lot of the risk volatility ... that's probably $10-$15 a barrel of risk premium that the commodity trading markets are reflecting," Tillerson told reporters at an energy conference in Houston.

    "I would say the underlying price is more like $40 or $45 a barrel if you didn't have the risk premium," he said.

    It's funny how the "risk premium" appeared at the same time that world crude oil production started falling.

    Average Monthly Brent Spot Price 20 Months Prior to 5/05: $38/barrel

    Average Monthly Brent Spot Price 20 Months After 5/05: $62/barrel

    Notice how ExxonMobil's long term price is so close to Yergin's predicted long term price ($38)? One might think that they were reading from the same script.

    There have been many times in history when great insights come simultaneously from two sources...

    When oil was around $75 a barrel, the "risk premium" then was said to be $10-15 - giving an "underlying" price of about $60. Now oil is about $60, there is still supposed to be a risk premium of $10-15. Surely risk premiums can't continue over periods of years, unless buyers are constantly increasing stored inventories to guard against an actual supply disruption?

    Meanwhile in UK the band plays on. We have a huge trade deficit even now while we are still not (quite) importing oil and house prices have risen 11.2% in the last 13 months. Every month thousands remortgage houses for extra money to pay their credit card bills, and even so, personal bunkruptcies are soaring. I fear a long fall and a hard landing. If there is a "landing" at all ...

    Agreed - risk premium can only be expressed by buying extra and placing in storage to guard against future shortages, exactly as the US did do with the SPR. However, the SPR was filled summer 05, so there has been no added buying, and therefore risk inflated prices, since then, excepting only the storage bulge that formed july thru mid oct 06, and anyway this was apparently really a temporary surge in production.
    There has been no risk premium since mid 05.