DrumBeat: February 21, 2007

Oil prices likely to dip - but not far

World oil prices will continue to fall, BP's chief economist Peter Davies believes, but probably not back to the levels prevailing earlier in the decade.

"We expect prices to stay over US$40 a barrel for the next three or four years at least," said Davies, in Wellington for an international energy economists conference.

He readily acknowledges that like his peers he failed to predict the jump in the oil price between 2004 and 2006 when it rose from around US$27 to a peak of US$78 last August. It was US$58 yesterday.

Bush's Energy Obstacle: Ethanol

Ethanol consumption cuts into gasoline consumption, and if production doesn’t keep up, this would spell higher prices for the alternative fuel. And oil companies, which purchase the overwhelming majority of this renewable fuel type, are especially attuned that this would eat away at their profits. Although the industry is careful not to oppose the president's plan, it has cast doubt on whether Bush's goals are even feasible because the technology to produce such vast amounts of ethanol is not currently available.

Red Cavaney, president and chief executive officer of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the industry group that represents companies like ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Anadarko Petroleum, believes that the "flaw, or the twist, with the president's plan" is that it is too reliant on cellulosic ethanol production after 2012. And right now, the technology to produce this fuel type--which is made from waste, wood, plants and other products--on a widespread scale simply does not exist.

US Nuclear Plants' Power Output 2nd Highest Ever

The US nuclear industry generated its second-highest amount of electricity ever last year, while also reaching record low production costs, the Nuclear Energy Institute said Tuesday.

Australia: Crop production worst in 20 years

The federal government's rural economic forecaster, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) says 2006-07 summer crop production will fall 59 per cent to 1.9 million tonnes - the smallest haul since 1982-83.

BP drills test well in Alaska for gas hydrates

BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc has completed a well drilled to help test whether it may be feasible to tap some of Alaska's vast gas hydrate reserves, the unit of BP Plc said yesterday.

Oil-hungry Japan looks to other sources

After decades of struggling to reduce its excessively heavy reliance on the Middle East for its crude oil, Japan imported 2% less of the commodity from the region in 2006. Does this herald a lasting change in the nation's oil-import structure or represent just a statistical quirk?

Light at end of tunnel for British coal-mining industry

After 60 years of decline, the industry has been shaken up by technology which has slashed energy wasted in the coal-mining process -- while also cutting carbon dioxide emmissions.

The Cwmgwrach facility -- set to restart production this year -- will be the first opening of a deep mine for around 30 years.

Scientists Testing New Natural-Gas Fuel Tank

Scientists in America's heartland are hard at work on a new fuel tank that may help natural gas become more attractive to consumers, especially in smaller vehicles.

Namibia: Green Tower Project Could Solve Power Shortage

Director of Bicon Namibia, Fritz Jeske, explained that Green Solar plants are highly suited to be positioned in the Namib Desert, and Namibia has these in abundance.

..."Namibia has the potential to become an electrical superpower leading Africa", he said.

Patent Pending on Full-Scale 2.5 kW Wind Turbine

Clarkson University and Warner Energy are collaborating on a small wind turbine design that can be used in both urban and rural areas.

Gas restrictions 'to cost US trillions'

US consumers could pay an extra $1 trillion in natural gas costs over the next 14 years because of drilling restrictions on federal lands and a delay in building an Alaskan gas pipeline, an industry group said today.

Green goes green

Imagine never having to endure the stink of gasoline or the pain of paying at the pump. Imagine cities that smell as clean as the countryside and towns that pump electricity back to the cities from solar plants and wind farms. Imagine energy so cheap and machines so efficient that an energy crisis will seem as antiquated as a flat Earth. Now stop imagining. The technology to do this is already here. The only thing America is missing is the nerve to take it.

East Timor, Australia Ratify Oil, Gas Deal

East Timor's parliament has ratified a deal with Australia that carves up Timor Sea oil and gas deposits worth billions of dollars.

The Nuclear Side of the Moon

By 2050, the world will have an estimated population of 12 billion people. The demand for energy will be enormous. But one solution to the world's long-term energy demands may be 239,000 miles away.

The world is desperately looking for an heir to oil. Among the contenders is the nuclear option.

New Seismic Contract in the Middle East Awarded to Fugro

Al-Khafji Joint Operations is a joint venture between the Aramco Gulf Operations Company Limited and Kuwait Gulf Oil Company (K.S.C.), at Al-Khafji, Saudi Arabia, for oil and gas exploration, development and production in the KJO Offshore area.

Emerald isle gets greener

The Dublin based sustainability cooperative Cultivate, website - www.sustainable.ie/us/index.htm. - describes itself as a living and learning centre that seeks to provide effective integral solutions to the issues of peak oil and climate change, inspire individuals to explore solutions for living in a more sustainable, creative and ultimately balanced way and answer questions about sustainability.

Price tags for fixing global warming

For economists, Sir Nicholas Stern's report is only a start for calculating the real cost of solutions – and of neglect.

Mr. Spitzer’s Chance on Warming

Given the concerns of the new Democratic Congress, as well as persuasive new scientific evidence of the dangers of climate change, Washington may finally be ready to address the problem of global warming. The chances of that would be better still if New York’s new governor, Eliot Spitzer, would commit himself and the state to a cause that needs all the friends it can get.

Iran's oil production is drying up

A report in today's Wall Street Journal paints a picture of an Iran in the early stages of an energy crisis. Although long considered an energy giant, the Persian Gulf country is facing the prospect of an oil output crash within a decade, and it may start rationing gasoline next month.

Iraqi Oil Wealth Stays Locked Up

Foreign technology and capital are seen as vital to restoring Iraq's crumbling oil industry. But as a draft petroleum law inches its way toward the Iraqi parliament, fresh opposition to the legislation is emerging, underscoring the difficulty that may still lie ahead for any move to invite in international oil companies.

Czechs Grow Wary Over Russian Energy Muscle

A new centre-right government has begun shaping policies to protect the Czech Republic's energy sector from the might of Russia, its main oil and gas supplier.

Senior government officials have also warned that Russian state-controlled firms may set their sights on Czech energy supply routes and companies.

Expanding Petroleum Reserve Won't Raise Prices, DOE Secretary Vows

The Bush administration's effort to expand the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will not drive up oil prices on the open market, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said today.

The government will buy oil for the reserve in quantities that will be largely "inconsequential" on the worldwide market, Bodman told a Washington energy conference.

Study: Oil sands emissions could be curbed for $1 a barrel

The oil sands could be brought into compliance with Kyoto emissions-cutting targets at a cost of about $1 per barrel of oil produced, a Commons committee was told Tuesday.

Ghana: Inadequate Power Supply Killing Cement Company

The Director in charge of strategy and corporate affairs of Ghacem Ltd, Dr George Dawson-Ahmoah has declared that the current shortfall of energy supplies in the country has significantly affected the production and supply of cement to the market.

London mayor signs oil deal with Chavez

London's socialist mayor signed an agreement Tuesday with Venezuela's state-owned oil company to provide discounted oil for the city's iconic red buses, praising the idea as the brainstorm of the country's leftist leader, Hugo Chavez.

Corporate titans launch new climate change campaign

Heavyweight companies including General Electric and Citigroup joined forces in a high-profile campaign against global warming, demanding that governments mandate caps on greenhouse gases.

The three-year-old Global Roundtable on Climate Change launched a new strategy backed by over 85 companies and groups including Air France, metals giant Alcoa, German pharmaceuticals maker Bayer and insurer Allianz.

EPA seeks comment on greenhouse gas inventory

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday asked for public comment on a draft report that analyzes the sources of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over a 15-year period that are linked to global warming.

Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet

American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.

My first post in quite a while. Just wanted to send a big thanks to Leanan for another great roundup, and to the eds for cleaning up the comments section.

As a longtime lurker I heartily concur with Cartergan!

The NYT has an interesting story on flame behavior... not a puff piece, but an introduction to the emerging research from the field of neuro-social science. The article is here:


It cites a researcher, one John Suler Ph.D. who has an interesting and fairly comprehensive web-site: The Psychology of Cyberspace. It's information dense. It's a well organized online book. And it branches in a host of research findings on cyber group dynamics and cyber group management.


In other words, there is a growing, and significant, body of peer reviewed research on flame behavior and troll dynamics. There is information on managing and facilitating group discussion, strategies for interventions...

Interesting stuff. It's not peak oil, but it might facilitate peak discussion .

The latest issue of Discover magazine also has an interesting article on this topic. I'm hoping they'll make it available to everyone when they put this issue online.

Solar power to outshine carbon rival on pricing

Within five years, solar power will be cheap enough to compete with carbon- generated electricity, even in Britain, Scandinavia or upper Siberia.

In a decade, the cost may have fallen so dramatically that solar cells could undercut oil, gas, coal and nuclear power by up to half.

Technology is leaping ahead of a stale political debate about fossil fuels.

Interesting article.

I have a question though, how many solar panels would be required to power the facility?

In the same vain, if you powered an ethanol plant with ethanol instead of natural gas, how much ethanol does it take to make a barrel of ethanol?



As for using ethanol to make ethanol it just would be too expensive using current farming and distilling practices. If farms used organic methods with minimal use of irrigation (going back to old fashion windpumps would help) then fuel use on the farm could be cut in half. An Iowa engineer figured that instead of selling the DDGS byproduct the distillery could get all its energy needs from burning it.
It's mostly a matter of changing a few rules of the game.

Point to consider;
The comparison is a little off, since those panels would be providing power for decades, while you'd be refilling your ethanol tanks continually.

PV panels can replace their embodied energy in under 2 years (Homepower.. http://www.homepower.com/files/pvpayback.pdf ), while they are typically warranteed for 20 to 25, and still could be producing with a gentle downslope well beyond that. Suffice to say that PV has an Energy ROI on the order of 10 or more already, (new developments not included) which is far and away out of the reach of current ethanol ratios.

Still, we really ought to be using the punch of the FF's we use today to get a jump on PV and WindPower manufacturing, as their surpluses will have a lot of mouths to be feeding once the tanks start drying up and rusting. The markets are clearly showing the benefits of these sources without a lot of civic support, but a 'Manhattan Project' it is not. Not yet.

Bob Fiske

let me point out the key phrase here.

Within five years

it's a prediction. and should be filed with the same articles saying we will have $30 oil again.

AND the ones that say it'll be $500, too.

I missed posting this when there was a discussion on Manifa in an earlier Drumbeat...

My understanding is that some/most of the Saudi "excess capacity" is from this field. From Simmons I learned that it is heavy sour crude with significant Vanadium content. The Vanadium requires special refining capabilities. An earlier poster noted that the Vanadium content was comparable to some of the Mexican crude that is currently refined in the U.S. I would fathom that the world refining capacity for vanadium laced crude is limited and supply can be met by Mexican exports. Hence, no market for Manifa crude.

The Saudis are planning their own refining complex for Manifa. I don't have the proposed capacity. I read two things into this. From a business perspective, this only makes sense. The output of Manifa can be used for internal comsumption and the added value from refining kept in-house. This also implies that internal consumption currently being met from exportable stock can be freed up as a revenue source. This is all very obvious. The unwritten conclusion that I draw is that if Saudi Arabia is vigorously pursuing Manifa at this time then there is clearly a dearth of other investment options open to Aramco. The writing is clearly on the wall.

I don;t have the figure handy showing KSA production ove the past few years, Khebab, anyone? My reading is that Saudi's pumped flat out for a short period, voluntarily cut back for about 15 months and ramped back up to peak which held about 4-5 months and has turned over. We are seeing a real decline.

Finally, my 2 cts on the recent purge. A dramatic improvement, TOD is readable again. I only wish that we could find a nae-sayer who could be more civil (and have the requisite thick skin!)

I am an energy industry ‘outsider’ and have no secret inside knowledge of Saudi fields. However from reading various energy journals over the last year or so, your statement about vanadium appears quite correct. Over the first half of last year (2006) China, previously a big buyer of Saudi heavy crude (probably with Vanadium), greatly reduced such purchases due to a desire to significantly cut the vanadium content of oil burned by utilities (due to its harmful qualities).

I am also aware there was some new technology developed about a year ago that would reduce the vanadium content in refining by about 50% less than previously attained. Making a guess here that the Saudi refinery mentioned would be the first to use this new process (don’t believe it is being used at present). So the good news is, in effect, the Saudis will be able to bring some extra refinery capacity on line in about 2 to 3 years. But that would just be a short blip up on the relentless Saudi production decline I expect based on westexas’s summaries.

Price tags for GW & PO

A subject that underlines most of my thinking. Still working on my non-GHG North American grid (I may post draft "as is" for comments).

Building the Grand Inga hydroelectric project (44 GW) and related HV DC transmission could (with other existing & planned hydro projects in Africa) could reduce carbon emissions for electricity in Africa to near zero. Cost ? Cheaper than the alternative IMO w/o consideration of the carbon factor. Higher capital costs, lower operating costs.

Switzerland is spending 30 billion Swiss francs to improve their railroads (= to US spending $1 trillion). One major result is moving freight from heavy trucks to (hydro) electric rail. The Swiss expect to generate an operating profit from their railroads. Perhaps not enough to pay a decent return on investment (does one include the lower costs of road maintenance, pollution, accidents ?) but a profit.

Is this 30 billion CHf a "cost" ?

If we stop building highways and spend the same $ on Urban rail and electrifying & expanding our freight railroads, we can start a transformation that will "naturally" result in far less carbon emissions. Is that a "cost" ? Same $ "invested", just different "investments".

And if we add tolls to interstate highways, is that a "cost" ?

Today we finance the functions of gov't with income taxes, property taxes and sales taxes (other sources are small $). If we add a 4th major source of gov't revenue, carbon taxes, and reduce the other 3 major sources, is that a "cost" ?

I am unconvinced that there is a significant cost, measured on a total social net basis, to reducing GW and adapting to PO IF WE MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES NOW

An analogy to our current situtation is an old analysis of the British Empire. Net costs of running the Empire were about breakeven (from the British POV), but the profits were private and the costs were public (including the hard to quantify human costs of colonial wars). Those that profited controlled the public discussion & policy.

Best Hopes for Smart Choices,

Alan Drake

I tried to "Walk the walk" last night at a community meeting regarding DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit). I talked about finite (and now declining) crude oil supplies and Alan's proposals for electrification of transportation with a board member.

One interesting thing I learned is that the main north-south light rail line is at 100% of capacity already during rush hours.

I advised the DART guys to take their highest ridership estimate for five years hence and double or triple it.

I recommend that we all start trying to follow Alan Drake's lead and push for electrification of transportation in our local communities. As Alan has noted, if we did it more than 100 years ago, we can do it today.

At least we can be ready with suggestions for transportation alternatives, when gasoline prices start skyrocketing.

Thanks for the effort ! (and the plug) :-)

One nice thing about rail is that more cars can be added cheaply up to the capacity limit of the stations (and then the stations can be lengthened to accept longer trains, usually at reasonable cost).

A short explanation of some of the issues involved in planning for doubling or tripling ridership.

When built originally, I would like all new expansions to accomadate longer trains (i.e. longer platforms, 6 instead of 4 for DART from vague memory). Delete "Art in Transit" (1% of cost for federal projects !) and spend it on longer platforms and more rail cars. And make provision for future grade seperation and even express service (3rd track through station to allow express trains to bypass station, and reduce operational problems with future maintenance).

AFAIK, DART could run more trains with shorter headways if they just had more cars (perhaps electrical supply might need to be upsized as well).

ATM, DART Park & Ride lots are clogged. Should resources be spent expanding these or on more rail ? IMVHO, unlimited bicycle parking should be a priority (build as much as needed, without limit, so there is ALWAYS available space) but people should be encouraged to take a bus or walk to the rail station.

This is a question of priorities and judgment. People that I respect believe that Park & Ride expansion is a cost effective way to increase ridership and ridership density (higher pax density > lower unit costs).

In Minneapolis, adding more cars would increase capacity by 33% at 8% to 9% of total line cost.

Trains every 2.5 minutes should be doable (except for clogging at-grade cross streets). A train every 90 seconds can be done with superb organization and grade seperation (see Moscow as one current example and many examples from 1930s).

Current new Urban rail designs economize on future capacity expansion, an issue that will bite us in the future.

It is VERY cost effective to build longer platforms, make provisions for higher electrical demand, and even make unbuilt plans for future grade seperation "in case" pax demand doubles or triples.

Washington DC built 8 car stations for their subway and opened with mainly 6 car trains (some 4 car AFAIK). Today, they can see the need for 8 car trains on many routes, and these will be packed within a decade or two EVEN WITHOUT PEAK OIL. Would that they had built 10 car stations.

Best Hopes,


Double Decker Trains?

These are very common in the Netherlands, and a joy to ride.

Nearly all RER around Paris is Double Decker (Réseau Express Régional, medium range transit).

Several US commuter rail lines use double decker cars. Tri-Rail in South Florida (West Palm Beach to Miami) is one that I have ridden.

However, they are only used on commuter rail lines. The overhead wires (and tunnels & underpasses) of light rail (tram) are too low for this solution for, say, DART (Dallas).

More pax/car is good, except when it slows operations. It takes time for people to board and get off, and much longer when they line up to use the stairs up and down. Delays are acceptable at the beginning and end of the line but not in between.

Tri-Rail has people getting off & on all the time, there are few "busy" stations where a third or more of the people get on or off, so double decker works for them.

A very good solution in some places :-)


Please note the electric trolley wires to power the French train.

In the US, the Long Island Railroad is electrified as is the Northeast corridor (and Philadelphia-Harrisburg) although Boston's MBTA runs diesel locos down to Providence, RI under electric wires.

Caltrain is about to electrify a few lines and hopes to do more.

Electric commuter trains run faster due to faster (and smoother) acceleration and braking as well as reduced operating expenses. BUT electrification is a "frill" that is hard to justify when the lines are built.

Best Hopes,


I've always wondered why Japanese style communter trains, electrified, good acceleration, lots of standing space, aren't more popular in the rest of the world.

In England there has recently been an outcry about there not being enough seats on commuter trains. If they had to run enough trains in Tokyo to make sure most people had a seat, there would have to be a train every couple of seconds during rush hour...

Metra in Chicago (is it still Metra? they keep changing the names as politics & funding change) has doubledecker cars. I grew up in the 60's riding the upper deck on the Chicago & Northwestern line and those same cars are still in use. In use and in good condition.

Yep, still Metra. We had to wait for one on the Amtrak out of Chicago yesterday. The doubledecker cars are cool. The kids almost extracted a promise to take the doubledeck Amtrak trains sometime. I figure in a few years, that will be the only we we can afford to get to the west coast. It will take longer than flying, but the extra legroom and electric outlets at every seat, and seeing the fantastic views that you fly over by air, will probably make it worthwhile.

We took Amtrak doubledeckers cross-country almost ten years ago. I didn't want the toddler stuck in a car seat for 6000 miles. It was great but after they ran out of food in the snack bar, the club car was mobbed. I'd do it again, though.

One thing I notice every day in Stockholm Subway is that "the art how to exit and enter" the trains have deteriorated.
The doorways fast becomes clogged with people that tries to enter while others are exiting. I estimate that a lot can be done in this regard for a better capacity. Perhaps different doors for exiting an entering with those areas marked on the platform will be useful? I havent seen this anywhere i Europe, but perhaps it exists in countries like Japan?

I've noticed that technological solutions, i.e. trains and subways, are coming to the forefront. I would like to propose that every technological solution be packaged with a plan for its own demise. In other words, we must acknowledge that we will run out of the resources necessary to maintain current population levels and the infrastructure that enables such population growth. We must also recognize that if we continue the tech paradigm without a cogent, enforcable depopulation plan, that tech will in fact create the parameters under which population will grow thus making life all the more intolerable for everyone except the hyper rich.

I guess what I am simply suggesting is people look beyond the ten, twenty or even fifty year horizon and think in terms of two and three hundred year planning. If we cannot claim the intelligence to do so, then why are we messing with such unknowns? This all smacks of such delightful inventions as asbestos and dioxin. Sure they solved short term problems, but we did not have enough information to understand the ramifications of their use. Rather than assume that we know enough, we shoud assume we don't know enough. And, by extension, that means old, proven technologies that clearly mesh well with the environment should get top billing and preference. Since we will ultimately head towards a low-tech paradigm no matter what, we should always favor low-tech over the unknown or unknowable consequences of high-tech.

The answer to the question should not be, "Trains will help us continue this unlimited growth paradigm," but "Trains will help us transition to permaculture, local economies, and population reduction."

Personally, I love trains. I miss them. The sound of trains whistling past Kaiserslautern will forever haunt my dreams. The beautiful Washington D.C. stations remind me in some ways of Moscow's stations. Then there is the Metro in Paris. You gotta love it.

As long as we realise that when we make such logical statements as "Busses are better than cars and that trains are better than busses," we must remember there is something better than trains when considered in light of where technology is ultimately headed on a finite planet.

people look beyond the ten, twenty or even fifty year horizon and think in terms of two and three hundred year planning

I used an 1897 subway to daily get to & from the ASPO Boston conference. I daily used (and should again shortly) 1923/24 built streetcars on a line opened in 1834/35.

To compare trains to dioxin & asbestos as some unknown baffles me !

I see no conflict with an up & running electrified train system and virtually any sustainable future out there. Such a rail network will work with a "Business as Usual" scenario or a localized permaculture system (there will ALWAYS be some trade).

I am NOT a romantic "who loves trains" (aircraft would be my greater love). I see their functional utility under virtually any future option.

They are a "silver BB". They are not the totality of all that we should do by far. But to condemn part of the solution because it is ONLY part of the solution seems wrong to me.

Best Hopes,


I've noticed that technological solutions, i.e. trains and subways, are coming to the forefront. I would like to propose that every technological solution be packaged with a plan for its own demise. In other words, we must acknowledge that we will run out of the resources necessary to maintain current population levels and the infrastructure that enables such population growth. We must also recognize that if we continue the tech paradigm without a cogent, enforcable depopulation plan, that tech will in fact create the parameters under which population will grow thus making life all the more intolerable for everyone except the hyper rich.

very good point. considering that even if we increases our efficiency to squeeze by this problem, we won't make the next one. simply because these solutions will foster more growth and more resource depletion. also facto into this that many if not all the raw materials of these systems require a functioning industrial base to mine them or make them would say that all it does is buy a few more years to continue the party only to have a much worse crash after it.

though i must warn you. by posting this we have now put ourselves on the 'black list' of a good portion of the posters here using the firefox plugin and as recent history has shown those who are put on it are eventually purged from the site for having too different of views. this is ironic though since the person who made the script says he hails form the same viewpoint as we do.

Hey, I resemble that remark!

You are more or less expressing Jevon's Paradox, but you probably knew that.

There is technology, and technology.

One of my objections to nuclear technology is that I don't think we will maintain the sort of technology infrastructure that will allow us to continue building and operating plants, and handling wastes, but those wastes will still be around. Regardless of whether you think wastes can be safely entombed for geologic time without further monitoring or maintenance, those spent fuel rods are currently sitting in water pools at plant sites. If, 50 years from now, they have not been safely entombed, and the last nuclear engineers retire or pass away, how long until those pools evaporate, monitoring systems break down, and radiation released? Will we even have monitoring equipment to notice? Or do people just start sickening and dying, maybe without knowing why?

PV solar is great. This post is being made with solar energy. Will we still have a technology infrastructure to produce PV panels 100 years hence? Thermal solar generators can be made with 1900's era technology. Windmills are relatively low-tech. Hydropower is 18th century technology.

The Archdruid has some interesting things to say on the subject. He offers a slide rule as a great example of the level of technology we might want to shoot for. We basically went to the moon with slide rules (OK, they had some mainframes, but the guys double-checked everything with their slip sticks).

"though i must warn you. by posting this we have now put ourselves on the 'black list' of a good portion of the posters here using the firefox plugin and as recent history "

Just for the record, I for one have not installed or used the Firefox extension, even though I run Firefox browser....I love trains, and planes and automobiles, but an "opinion blocker" is one piece of technology I do not need....besides, I already have one...it's called the scroll bar at the right side of the screen....If I can't take what your sayin', I just scroll down past it...:-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

I can't prove it, but...

I'm pretty sure that Kaiser is just a sock puppet for Freddy.

The current standard procedure in Chicago seems to go something like this:

  1. Pack shoulder to shoulder into a tight semicircle around the door.
  2. Do not move, even when the doors open and people clearly want to get out.

I find myself having to throw the old shoulder frequently just to forge a path through the bodies. Even though there are windows in the doors and the trains come to a complete stop and sit there for a few seconds before opening their doors--so everyone outside can see you are facing the door waiting to get off--no one ever moves.

I ride that train. I live near the track and love the sound. Mercifully I don't have to participate in the a.m. rush, it's brutal. A reason for many to drive. CTA plain needs more rolling stock. If they provided more cars and made them more comfortable ridership would go up. But the pols are still living in the mental universe of Richard I.
I do, infrequently, take Lake Shore Drive to jobs during the a.m. rush. Always bad, it's become worse. North LSD is now at walking speed from 7:30 to 9:30, from Hollywood all the way in. Many of those drivers would happily take a train if the train was not a 1950s cattlecar.

Metra does not have a great reputation for maintenance and I think some of their rolling stock is over 40 years old.

Poor maintenance + Advanced Age = Not Good.

But let Israel bomb Iran and those old cars will be SRO.

Best Hopes for more rolling stock !


I think the problem is they're already SRO. There's very little margin in most of these old systems, so they're simply not going to help us much in a sudden crisis. The sleepy, comfortable bureaucracies take decades, not days, to do even the simplest thing.

Yes, they do not seem to be in the habit of making good decisions. Witness their recent answer to overcrowded trains and slowdowns due to track work: more buses. I work out by O'Hare and live downtown, and it is a complete hit or miss whether the train has enough room to stretch out in or is a sardine crush. More than once their interminable slowness has caused me to think about getting a car, but not only does the cost of keeping one downtown deter me, it's not exactly the best commute either way. Oh, and just for the record--for Alan--Metra and CTA are not the same. Metra--so I hear--makes a profit and has a better reputation all around than the CTA.

Please don't even think of downtown to O'Hare by car during rush periods. You will watch the train fly by.(Ihad thought before you were Red Line)
The road system is operating way beyond capacity. The transit system is operating way beyond capacity. Essentially nothing further can be done to stretch carrying capacity of the roads. Trains could carry more people simply by adding cars. In this particular case many commuters are completely prepared to switch from one to the other.

It's a complete no-brainer. Unless you're a bureaucrat or a pol.

My "-10% US Oil Use" plan has item #5, establish a "Strategic Rail Reserve" i.e. buy more rail cars for an "oil supply interuption". No reason not to use them whenever they coulod reduce US oil use, like today !

However, this SRR is better politics to get the feds to pay for more rolling stock in the name of national security. Use as needed.


Best Hopes,


Hello Adamschneider,

Install an RFID chip inside the RailPass ticket: that way it will auto-penalize a person, who wants to board, who is standing too close on the platform during the exit time. Paint a semicircle on the platform where the pickup scanner is buried. Make people pay for being rude during peak periods by docking them $10 for being inside this area during the exit period. Buzzer then sounds when it is cost-free to enter the train. Safer, faster, and more polite for all involved. My two cents.

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

Nah, just move to NYC, where there is a 'straphanger culture'.. there are some buttheads, but at least in the 19 yrs I was there, people like to keep their momentum, so they have workable systems for getting on and off the trains. (Won't speak for the F train, however. My best lines were the N and R, where I could totter home at 3am to Astoria and doze on the train.)


Hmm, but wouldn't that just make the semicircle farther out from the door? On some platforms they have lines painted to show you are supposed to wait beside the door so that outgoing traffic can proceed down the middle while you swoop in from the sides, but people rarely pay attention to them. They already don't provide a very high level of service for the money. If they introduced punitive fees, I don't think it would have a very positive affect on ridership.

Install an RFID chip etc...

LOL, techno-drunks never get off the hook, eh?
Compare to exit-only & entrance-only doors!
(Plus of course a bit of DESIGN about the crowd flows)

Kevembuangga said it, the hated word he said it, I heard him!

DESIGN! nah, what a bunch of egg headed crap....:-)
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom


Well, Yeah! Of course, it's a long story, stone axes were designed too.
But the successfull stone axe designer should not overestimate his capabilities when designing a Space Shuttle, that's my point about "techno-drunks". :->

That packing in near the door making it hard for people to exit and enter at stations can be aleviated by car design. Compare DC to NYC. The design of the DC Metro system was based on a flawed commuter model, part of which involved (carpeted?!) train cars with forward/aft facing individual seats and narrow aisles. People crowd by the doors because that's where the space is. Compare that to the NY Subway, which has bench seating running the length of the train, making it easy for people to move around and stand in the middle.

If DC's crowding problems ever begin to overshadow it's service delays and union wrangling problems, all they need do is overhaul the interior of the rolling stock to get a sizable amount of extra capacity.

WT, same here in far away Perth Australia. Numbers on public transport up 10%, orders for new train carriages bought forward several years... One thing we surely will have to consider is getting businesses to change their working hours, to spread the morning & afternoon peak hours? Easy to do, doesn't need new capital invetsment.

"I advised the DART guys to take their highest ridership estimate for five years hence and double or triple it."

Right you are. When the new single light rail line opened in Minneapolis in April 2004, the ridership was double that projected by the end of the month. MN DOT and many folks in the legislature who promoted it saw it less as public transit for them, and more as a way to decrease conjestion so that they could have an easier car commute (and get fed funds). Once it opened, I think many people saw the light.


• Yes please do post a draft of your non-GHG North American grid, I for one would like to see it and bounce it up and down, throw it against the wall, to see if it'll live after

• Your comments on costs of established vs alternative options merit a draft by themselves, though I don't know if you would feel up to writing it yourself. Full energy cost analysis is a rare animal, which hides plenty facts we should really know.

• Somewhere in there I hope to see you state that we will have to start using less energy, and moving around less. You may have non-GHG options, but the use of energy always pollutes, whether in one shape or another. We have to cut down overall quads, or calories, or watts, or whatever unit you prefer.

He readily acknowledges that like his peers he failed to predict the jump in the oil price between 2004 and 2006 when it rose from around US$27 to a peak of US$78 last August. It was US$58 yesterday.

I don't understand, they failed to predict a double and triple in price? That is either gross incompetence or a complete lie.

A copy of my post from PG's thread follows. In a Forbes column published on 11/1/04, Yergin was quoted as saying that the long term oil price would fall to $38 per barrel (thus my characterization of $38 = One Yergin).

As I have previously noted, monthly Brent spot crude oil prices in the 20 months prior to 5/05 were $38 per barrel. In the 20 months after 5/05, $62 per barrel, as the cumulative shortfall between what the world would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced (through 11/06) has grown to about 320 million barrels of oil (EIA, crude + condensate).

Yergin was predicting that rising crude oil production would force prices down in order to equalize supply and demand.

In reality, falling oil production has forced prices up in order to equalize supply and demand.

IMO, we are seeing an increasingly desperate effort by the Major Oil Companies, Major Oil Exporters, and the Energy Analysts (that work for oil companies & exporters) to deny the reality of Peak Oil.

There have been a number of posts lately talking of $30 oil. It is highly unlikely it would ever get down to that level and if it did it could never stay there for very long. The cost of producing tar sand oil is often reported at around $40/45 per barrel and I have seen it reported by the Saudis themselves that their upgraded oil production is now costing over $32 per barrel (can't find the link at the moment)
Deepwater and Orinocco heavy oil likewise could never be sold for that price. Another reason it must continue to rise in price is the continuing real fall in the value of the US$ and other paper currencies which are all being inflated at over 10% a year. On this basis alone oil should be rising at least $7 per barrel a year on an on going basis. Oil producers would be well aware of this.

It seems extremely unlikely that the Saudi's are spending $32 per barrel in upgrading their oil production capacity. I'm guessing that it is a mistake in units. For example they may spend $32 per barrel/yr. - meaning if they only used the expanded capacity for one year it would have cost $32 per barrel. But if they use it for 2 years it works out to $16 per barrel, and if they use it for 8 years it is $4 per barrel...

If you can find the link, please post it.

Leanan, it is funny how you chose a negative ethanol article once again instead of posting the many positive articles.

Black & Veatch to build pilot ethanol plant
The pioneering facility will embrace renewable-fuels technology. Later plants are expected to be larger.

Expert: Ethanol industry will grow

Latin Corn Farmers See Gold in Ethanol

New ethanol plant would add jobs

U.S. to study creation of ethanol strategic reserve

Executives speak out for cellulosic ethanol

Efforts from people operating in the free market will solve the peak oil problem. Why aren't you highlighting the progress?

I've posted some of those in previous DrumBeats. But I don't pretend to post everything. It would be impossible, and it would make for a very long thread.

Uh Huh.

I'm with Keithster on this one.

Today's grab bag included practically every story from PO as usual but wouldn't you know it, the stunning write up from BIOPACT "Sweet super sorghum - yield data for the ICRISAT hybrid"; wherein the Philippine government actually classifys the plant a 'strategic crop'... just doesn't make the cut???

How is it that this article is left out, while every other piece above and below it makes its way to TOD shores hmm...?


BIOPACT (for those of you who don't know) is perhaps one of the most well respected entities on EU bioenergy.

From their website: The Biopact is a Brussels-based connective of European and African citizens who strive towards the establishment of a mutually beneficial 'energy relationship' based on biofuels and bioenergy.

Guys, please keep posting anything you consider positive on the Biofuels/ethanol topic BUT ALSO please try to give Leanan and the editors the benefit of the doubt here. It is very easy for each of us to see collusion and conspiracy against topics of interest to us individually even where none exists. There may or may not be subconscious bias, or there may be simple oversight due to the wide range of subjects.

I take them at their word when they say they want to encourage more professional discussion, including informed dissent. (edit - any deliberate bias would tend to discredit TOD and work against these goals).

They do not prevent you from posting these articles. Please keep up the good work but please leave out the accusation of deliberate bias.

I bet R2 actually would appreciate your contributions - for the chance to rebutt unfounded PR/hype or simple incompetence within them, or to point out and applaud any of the positive developments within the ethanol industry that you have found and posted.

I'm very unimpressed with Biopact and biofuel supporters in general. I continue to look for solid arguments from them, and have found very little.

At Energy Bulletin, we received an email complaint from Biopact about the coverage critical of biofuels. I replied that we would be happy to publish a response from them. We never received an answer.

From what I could tell from their website, Biopact represents a combination of idealism and lobbying for industrial biofuel production in the Third World. They are not particularly analytical. What really turned me off is the ad hominem arguments against critics.

Please, TOD and Leanan, don't be moved by arguments to present "both sides." (That's the big mistake made by the media in covering climate change.) Instead - be selective and opt for quality and intelligence.

Energy Bulletin

P.S. A good point made by Biopact, etc. is that many objections against corn ethanol do not hold for biofuels grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Also, there are potential biofuel crops for those regions that may hold promise.

For me, the key distinction is between growing biofuel for local use, vs exporting biofuels produced in large plantations.

For me, the key distinction is between growing biofuel for local use, vs exporting biofuels produced in large plantations.

Yes, I agree. If Biopact's dream comes true, I'm afraid it will just be another form of colonialism. Like the cacao plantations where child slaves work to grow a luxury item they will never get to consume themselves.

Hi Bart,

I thank you for producing one of the best energy portals on the web and the decision to separate biofuel into its own 'Biofuels' segment was gold Jerry, GOLD!

That said, I agree with the guys from Biopact in that the segments tend to be unbalanced - intentional or otherwise.

Take a look at EB Biofuels Feb 17,15,14,13 for example.

Of the 16 articles highlighted, 12 pieces are negative whereas only 4 could be considered positive or rather un-negative.

And compare this with today's DB.

Of all 10 articles posted by Leanan at PO this morning, all of them make it to TOD with the exception of the very positive ethanol story.

I'm not saying that a person shouldn't have a personal view on biofuels -they should- nor for that matter, am I not prepared to take my lumps on biofuels when warranted.

The problem though, resides in the geologic timeframe alotted us re: Peak Oil, versus the mitigation strategies available of which biofuels WILL play a role.

Therefore in light of this reality, would you not agree that all of us stand to benefit from a balanced presentation, if not stronger focus on what the biofuel sector is getting right and where the most viable paths could lead us?

I did not post the Biopact sorghum story to PO.com this morning. Someone else did. I merely approved it.

I just didn't think it was that interesting.

Fair enough.

Thanks for the response, Syntec.

Would you not agree that all of us stand to benefit from a balanced presentation

Not really. A journalist's job is NOT to be "balanced" - that's lazy journalism.

Should science journalists print an anti-evolution article for every pro-evolution article? Counting pro- and con- pieces is no way to assess journalism.

Our job is to be selective and fair. To make judgments about which information is most important, and which opinions are most authoritative. I'm not looking for pro- or con- pieces. I'm looking for good pieces.

If you, or anyone, can rebut the arguments of biofuel skeptics like Robert Rapier, please do so and I'm sure TOD and EB would publish them. Vinod Khosla made a valiant attempt but, in my opinion, failed.

Actually, I think the debate has moved on from the simplistic debate of pro/con biofuels. The mainstream media initially had been full of gee-whiz articles about ethanol. Now their coverage is more critical and intelligent.

More interesting topics:

Effect of rises in grain prices on food (tortillas, poultry, cattle, beer). On the price of agricultural land. Will rising food prices de-stabilize countries like Mexico?

The political pressures for biofuels. What are the lobbies and how are they affecting policy?

Differences between biofuel crops: corn, cellulosic, sugar cane, lesser known crops.

Long-term effects on agricultural soils and the environment.

Effects on the economies and politics of Third World countries.

And of course, our favorite: the energy return of different biofuel processes.

Bart / EB

Hang on...

I agree with you that journalists should have bias, however, EB is a portal for information dissemiation on energy and other related topics.

And that's the crux of the issue.

Not one of the articles referenced from my EB sampling [Biofuels 17,15,14,13] featured an original story by EB, an EB journalist or EB staffer ergo EB has no journalistic merit.

EB acts solely as the medium through which journalists and their respective works are presented and in this case 16 articles were selected by EB editors for presentation through the medium; of which only 4 could be considered positive or un-negative towards biofuels.

That's an unbalanced presentation Bart and I'm sorry but it suggests a bias on EBs part insofar as biofuels are concerned.


1) The facts are negative for biofuels


2) There is a lot of hype about biofuels and this generates more negative thoughtful articles than positive ones and EB choses to only publish high quality articles (which I think they do).

A simple ratio is not evidence of bias.


Well put, AlanfromBigEasy. That's what I've come to believe.

When I began investigating biofuels, I really didn't have an opinion. The more I read, however, the poorer the case seemed. Pro-biofuel articles just didn't address the points made by critics. Believe me, I've looked. If there are authoritative pro-biofuels arguments, please make them or point to them.

What I'm talking about are the general arguments that biofuels can replace fossil fuels on a widescale basis. In contrast, there are interesting articles on specific biofuel processes. I find these worthwhile, though they are often not of interest to the public.

Bart / EB

By the way, Syntec, we call it "judgment" not "bias"!

It's an open thread: you post it, and *poof* there it is on TOD :)

I'm mainly a lurker, and most of what I know is gained from this site. But from where I am, it seems that ethanol is a stopgap solution, which turns the worlds food reserves in to a liquid that gives us 60% of the energy of gasoline.

In the long term we can't grow enough corn to feed our current energy needs.

Regarding your faith in the market to solve the problem: I can only wish that you are right. I wish that CERA & co are right and that peak is 50 years off, and that by that time we'll all be driving hydrogen based cars filled up useing the energy from fusion reactors.

I'm not betting the farm on it though, the farm is being retrofitted with passive solar heating, PV for the electricity (till I can work out something I can maintain myself) and I'm even considering rain collection for irrigation needs (and other if need be).

I really hope this isn't needed, and that WT is wrong. But as they say, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.


Of course we are going to have plenty of spare cropland, water and fertilizer to grow corn, etc., for ethanol production when global warming starts hitting food crop yields elsewhere as it is doing in Australia at the moment (from the listed article):

"Rice production will plummet 90 per cent to just 106,000 tonnes.
ABARE is tipping grain sorghum production to fall 51 per cent to 996,000 tonnes.
Wheat production is estimated at 9.8 million tonnes, down 61 per cent on the previous season.
Barley production fell by 62 per cent to 3.7 million tonnes, and the canola harvest dropped 64 per cent to 513,000 tonnes."

Another sarcastic Welshman.

Ask yourself this question Keithster100: how do we extract a significant percentage of energy from biofuels (which is the cumulative solar energy content of a seasons growth) compared with that of oil which is the results of thousands/millions of years of accumulated solar energy?

This is why many people question the viability of biocrop. My opinion is reserved about other more unconventioal souces of biofuel eg algae farming brought up my Roger Conner yesterday. The oceans sink frightningly large amounts of carbon so I think this is where most progress will be made.


On a positive note yesterday they interviewed some researchers on an Antarctic supply ship. Seems all the iron rich dust from the drought stricken fields will be blown into the sea and encourage the growth of phytoplankton, which in turn absorbs CO2.

"Efforts from people operating in the free market will solve the peak oil problem."

I thought we were trying to get away from discussions of religious beliefs on TOD.

Ha, ha, ha!
I'm with you sage (left the "g" out on purpose).

There is nothing new here.

It is clear that corn ethanol is a solution in isolation. The minimal net energy returned from the ag/industrial system does not compensate for the loss of topsoil, valuable conservation lands, natural gas and especially competition for America's primary food source. All of America's corn would only produce a fraction of our gasoline

Cellulosic ethanol remains a pipe dream. This is what your linked article says about the new Black & Veatch ethanol plant:

The process is based on biogasification technology developed by Pearson Technologies of Baton Rouge, La.

So it turns out that Pearson Technologies exists only on the resume of one Dr. Terry R. Pearson, Professor of Management at West Texas A&M University.

There is no evidence that cellulose gasification is energy postive or possible on the necessary scale. Furthermore it would remove the very component of soil that distinguishes it from dirt--woody material that is necessary to hold water, nutrients, and bioforms.

Rather than waste time, energy, and political goodwill on these schemes we should be devoting all our attention on conservation, passage of a carbon tax, expansion of the renewable electric grid and trains systems.


NOOB - you're a day late and buck short.

STAN Pearson is a chemical engineer with a distinguished history of engineering accomplishments.

Pearson Technologies, Inc. (“PTI”) has constructed a 30-ton per day wood waste to alcohol facility in North Mississippi. The process consists of a syngas producing front-end with a Fischer-Tropsch back-end. Syngas is produced using a multi-stage steam reformer (gasifier) with a “cold gas” efficiency of 81%. The number of stages and operating conditions of the reformer are dependant upon the end-use of the gas (i.e. if the end use of the gas is to fuel boilers, air exclusion in fuel bunkers, feeders, etc. need not be so stringent). Also, the reformer design is dependant on the reactivity of the feed and the analysis of the feed. Should the feed be high rank coal, more than “one” stage may be needed. Temperatures and pressures will or may be adjusted. The Pearson reformer is the only, or one of a small number of, syngas generators whose mol ratio of products (H2 / CO) can be significantly adjusted with operating conditions. The back-end is a fairly straightforward Fischer-Tropsch synthesis loop, using a proprietary catalyst developed by Pearson Technologies, Inc (“PTI”). Single-pass conversion to ethanol is from 15% to 60% with a total conversion of 99+ %, with recycle.


Robert and I have already held the Cellulosic/Gasification ethanol discussion here at TOD.

So please do us all a favor and read the TOD archives before gracing this discussion again with your apparent expertise on the subject.

I acknowledge my biographical error, and grant the seriousness of the technology. I am sure the Pearson device makes lots of pretty steam and smoke.

That is not the issue however, Is there any evidence this whooping blast furnance will produce primary enegy with a postive energy return. Can we rely on it to power mom's suv?

There is no big heap of cellulosic waste waiting to be tapped by energy hungry americans. Wood waste goes to pulp, ag. waste to soil, human waste to methane, and building waste to the dump. We can not afford to convert our ecologic buffers and conservation lands into fertilizer-dependent monocrops or groovy prairie permacultures. Without begging a dust storm.



You obviously have no clue what you're talking about and when called on your ineptitude, you half-ass admit it but then continue to spout more nonsense and flail about like a fish out of water.

A 30tpd plant is not a device, nor is it a blast furnance and the end product is ethanol.

How you do not recognize the oxymoronic language in the following: 'granting the seriousness of the technology - it makes lots of pretty steam and smoke' is beyond me.

Apparently you also need a new assignment on cellulosic waste (which I'll just have to add to your list of other TOD archive material to be read) - http://feedstockreview.ornl.gov/pdf/billion_ton_vision.pdf

When you're done that, I will take you on a tour of the 8-13 million hectares of cellulosic waste waiting to be tapped by energy hungry Americans in my back yard - forest destroyed by a beetle infestation so large that swarms show up on radar screens.


So maybe these biofool schemes will hasten the demise of more forests and the feedstocks will feed themselves. If we continue to destroy our ecosystem for sake of convenient convience-store transport then maybe the entire biome will become grist for these Mordor mills.

So how much energy does it cost to run this smokestack of a machine? Have the investors investigated the net energy return of such gasification? It would behoove a system we are asking to be our primary energy source


So maybe these biofool schemes will hasten the demise of more forests and the feedstocks will feed themselves.

it already is. look at all the rain forest Brazil is slashing and burning to put up bio-fuel plantations.
the same thing is happening in Africa to feed the growing demand for europe's bio-fuel industry.
this information has been posted before but was ignored by the general technofixer mentality here.

As best as I can recall F-T conversions are more energy efficient than traditional fermentation/distillation. F-T already has a long history of producing fuels, lubricants, and feedstocks for other products.
Eprida plans to build an F-T based system which also produces charcoal and ammonia to create a sustainable carbon negative fuel production system. This integrated system addresses all your objections.
I agree that other renewable technologies ought to be implemented as quickly as possible. Biofuels would be a minor player in our future.
All it takes is a few changes in the rules of the game.

While the energy efficiency of a particular energy conversion stage is a wonderful metric (as it were) it is meaningless without considering the entire scope of the enterprise. F-T and gasification is only one step in the final process of making a liquid fuel. it cost energy to pickup twigs on the forest floor and to distill and clean alcohol. This life-cycle analysis will prove these schemes energy negative.

The fact that F-T is well-suited to "producing fuels, lubricants, and feedstocks for other products" is by no means indicative if it's usefullness as a replacement for petroleum as our primary energy sources.

This nonsence asks a lot of scraggly trees and crop waste


I agree. It would be more efficient to burn biomass to generate electricity than run it through bio or thermal chemical conversion. Peak oil though is about liquid fuel more than electricity. If we had 500,000,000 electric vehicles instead of 500,000,000 internal combustion engines then peak oil would be a non issue. It will take decades to replace all those engines and there will still be high demand for some form of liquid fuel for decades to come. The most efficient way to make liquid fuel from biomass will be a continuing debate until one method or another becomes the winner.

100% correct TD.

The reason why BTL gasifiers with an F-T back-end are the first big announcements right now, is because the only ethanol catalysts that exist are those designed for FT reaction units.

An F-T path isn't the only way to get from point A to point B though - think more along the lines of methanol production from NG.

Better yet, do a mental EROEI and PIR calculation on a landfill gas->syngs->ethanol unit and suddenly things get really interesting don't they?

If such processes are so interesting, then why does my local waste treatment plant flare off its free methane? I believe you alluded to the answer. It is call EROEI. It cost more to run and operate all these biofool schemes then they actually output.

Hasn't it occured to you that gas->syngs->ethanol unit->distiller->cleaner->distributed storage->etc. cost energy

Oh, and what a coincidence! I did that mental EROEI and found it wanting. The reason why BTL gasifiers with an F-T back-end are the first big announcements right now is because we have a lot of cheap petroleum and clueless investors to play with.


I think the simple question to ask the biofuel promoters is.

Explain to me how it is more efficient to turn these gigatons of plant material into alcohol as opposed to just burning it and producing electricity?

Explain to me how it is more efficient to turn these gigatons of plant material into alcohol as opposed to just burning it and producing electricity?

It may not be. But liquid fuels are, for the time being, more highly valued by society than electricity. If the spread between liquid BTUs and electricity BTUs narrowed enough, people would burn the biomass.

Isn't it the same for oil? If you burned oil to produce electricity, I suspect you would have access to more BTUs. But all BTUs aren't the same - again, for now.

Sugar cane can produce ethanol, electricity or sugar. It certainly seems like sugar is the most wasteful of the three.

"If such processes are so interesting, then why does my local waste treatment plant flare off its free methane? I believe you alluded to the answer. It is call EROEI. It cost more to run and operate all these biofool schemes then they actually output."

No - that's the convenience of waste afforded by an industrial world mired in pre-peak practice. 3rd world bush farmers would find that methane to be an invaluable source of cooking gas.

Many now run that methane through a stationary diesel engine and produce some electricity.

Best Hopes,


yes. Perhaps for valuable appropriate village-scaled applications like an antibiotic refrigerator or crop irrigation pump.

Such measly (by our consumptive measure) output would not drive Sis to the Mall for a hot-wax.


Thailand is now promoting SMALL farm tractors run off of farm generated biogas (from anaerobic digestors). Half a dozen pigs, some chickens, human waste and some ag waste were described as enough for cooking gas and to run the tractor (forgot if it was 1 or 2 cylinders, covered about 1 m2 and less than 1 m high).



I did not know you can run a diesel with methane.

Are you sure their not using a gas turbine?


The choice of which type of combustion device to use (e. g., boiler, gas turbine, internal combustion engine) depends on what users are located near the landfill, site-specific technical and economic considerations, and sometimes environmental impacts. For example, internal combustion engines are often less costly than gas turbines for smaller landfills. However, these engines may emit more NOx , which contributes to ozone formation. If the landfill is in a nonattainment area for ozone, then NOx emissions may be a barrier to using an internal combustion engine


Best Hopes,


Solar power to outshine carbon rival on pricing


When I was a kid in Eugene, OR, hydropower and nuclear were going to combine to make "electricity too cheap to meter." All-electric houses got a special electric rate of 0.1 cent/kwh from the locally-owned electric CoOp (Eugene Water and Electric Board.)

What a difference a day makes! Now it costs a $trillion (so far) and how many lives? to begin to secure "our" energy future in the Middle East.

I would like to believe that this magical solar film will be available just in time for a necessary re-roofing of my house, so that I can protect myself from the rain and run my lights at the same time. But I have this uncanny feeling that once again, the emperor has no clothes. Is this just another flim-flam bait for loose investment capital? Does anyone have the real story? What does Vinod Khalsa say about solar power?

NeverLNG, Don't know about this particular company, and you have good reason to question the miriad of claims that have been put forward in the last few years, but I believe the thrust of the article is on target. Nanosolar alone is producing a production plant now that will expand worldwide solar production capacity by 28% based on total production last year. This is not a test or pilot plant but a real commercial production facility, I think the output is in the arena of 340 megawatts of output capacity per year. The production cost of these CIGS units are quit low. I do not think you will see that reflected in pricing until the backlog of production shortfall is closed but the potential for $1.00 per watt is there.

I'm not usually up this early. Thanks for all the effort Leanan, and thank God the site is back to some semblance of normal.

I would like to believe that this magical solar film will be available just in time for a necessary re-roofing of my house, so that I can protect myself from the rain and run my lights at the same time. But I have this uncanny feeling that once again, the emperor has no clothes. Is this just another flim-flam bait for loose investment capital? Does anyone have the real story?

I don't claim to have any special predictive ability, but I am hopeful that PV solar may at last be on the verge. The thing about photo voltaics that make me hopeful is that they're a technology that in some cases is not that different from the large LCD panels we have on our computers and in our living rooms. LCD panels (remember the early 15" panels in 1998 that went for $1000?) have dropped by a factor of 6 in $ per sq. inch in the last 9 years. If PV's (and surrounding electronics) can hit the same mass-production price curve we'll be in the right ballpark for sub-$ per watt panels.

Another company that's talking about $1 per watt panels, and should begin production this year, is www.nanosolar.com .
Their panels have almost no silicon content so they should be able to avoid the "silicon shortage" problem that everyone's worried about.

What does Vinod Khalsa say about solar power?

I believe he thinks that it's a loser because it's a replacement for electricity, and (dirty) coal will always be easier and cheaper.

He is into ethanol because it will make lots of money, not because it's a good idea. Think about it. Suppose oil is $250 a barrel, and you discover a corn and coal-fed "oil well" in Nebraska, which can satisfy 0.5% of need. Will it be profitable? You bet! Will it do much to really alleviate Peak Oil. No, but it's even more profitable that way.

Simply put, peak kil will enable profits, but global warming won't. Oil will be running out despite greed. Coal won't run out soon, but we ought to limit our greed. When it comes to doing the right thing versus greed, investors bet on greed.

He's against solar because it probably won't make lots of money, not because it isn't a good idea.

As a capitalist investor looking for return on $$$, he is probably right.

As an environmentalist and conservationist, of course it's better the other way around.

Solar power to outshine...

The process used by Filsom is the same as NanoSolar, the latter which started building a commercial-scale plant in the SFO area last summer. To my knowledge, Nano has not announced a delivered peak watt price, only has said it will be significantly less costly than polysilicon PV panels. Both Filsom and Nano are using a "CIGs" composite film. "C" is for copper, a fairly abundant resource - a least compared to polysilicon. "I" is for indium; this material is about as common as silver and its price has taken off in the last year or so, up 50% from memory. Long way of saying the price and availability of indium might be the show stopper The Guardian didn't take into account.

To my knowledge, Nano has not announced a delivered peak watt price, only has said it will be significantly less costly than polysilicon PV panels.

They've been quoted by a couple of articles with the $1 per watt number.
E.g., http://www.nanosolar.com/cache/ThePlty20.pdf
Hopefully we'll see this year if they're manufacturing & if they're even close to that ballpark.

I've read in general about CIGS that it uses a relatively small amount of copper, indium, gallium, and selenium, since they are used as a very thin film. I have to assume the cost of indium, etc. is worked into any price estimates that are produced. I also assume that the price estimates were done my "optimists" (a common trait with engineers & marketers) and that the first-ship prices will be somewhat higher.


Ouch, I didn't see CIGS mentioned in the article. The G stands for gallium. Production is on the order of a grand total of 30 cubic meters or so per year, and most of that is spoken for for other uses, such as the high-efficiency LED lights everybody's been promising everybody else. To make the thousands of square miles of material (say 10 billion square meters) needed to even begin to make a barely-measurable dent in fossil fuel consumption, they're going to have to spread that out very thinly indeed. I wonder how long it will stay put. Now, a niche market of a fraction of a square mile a year should be absolutely no problem, but of course that has no bearing whatsoever on fossil fuel consumption.

Indium ingots:
IN900819   1kg   $6486.00    Add this item to your order

(from Advent Research Materials)

From yesterday's Linkfest in a post by WT:
"If you have an oil field the size of the moon but you can only produce a couple of million barrels per day from it (for whatever combination of geological, political, or other reasons you care to make up), then that doesn’t change the basic notion of peak oil,” he writes."

I look at solar energy in a similar light (so to speak). We have huge solar energy resources, but can only extract a trickle of that energy relative to the infrastructure investment. Production volume is what matters.

I look at solar energy in a similar light (so to speak). We have huge solar energy resources, but can only extract a trickle of that energy relative to the infrastructure investment. Production volume is what matters.

The difference with PV solar is that it's responsive to local & incremental use. If a net metered system were available at close to the retail cost of electricity, people will begin to install it. (That's not too different from what's happening now in California and Germany.) That purchasing volume *might* drop the cost down to the wholesale cost of electricity, in which case more utilities & businesses would install it.

Even so, as you implied, it would take ages before something like that would take over a significant fraction of generated electricity. Still, that's more feasible to think about, in an incremental sense, than each residence drilling a very small pipe into a "moon sized" oil field.

I am definitely pro-solar in terms of R&D and in terms of using solar PV wherever it makes sense. It may become viable for large installations in certain areas if the intermittency and backup problems can be worked out (I can't see pumped storage being viable in Nevada or Arizona). All of this to be worked into a serious power-down scenario, which is the hardest part really. PV is still too expensive, at least in my area, for residential. Big investment for a trickle of a return.

I can't see pumped storage being viable in Nevada or Arizona

From a technical POV, the Grand Canyon would make a WONDERFUL pumped storage site >:-)

Just ignore those people in the Smokey Bear hats making funny noises and jumping up & down :-)

And there are some other sites in NV & AZ that are less sensitive (mountains = good).

Evaporation losses can be made up with extra water (fairly small compared to Phoenix area golf courses) in an upper & lower reservior were built in desert mountains. Floating ping pong balls or blankets could significantly reduce this evaporative loss.

Best Hopes,


Something to do with all that bubblewrap besides settling nerves. CIGS stand as the Model Ts of solar power. Just as Hank Ford made autos affordable for the masses CIGS will make solar affordable. Truly power to the people.

Are we sure we're paying sufficient attention to the changes biofuels will mean for our societies?

Biodiesel boom scares seed growers

With Washington poised to become a national leader in "green" fuel, fields of bright-yellow canola flowers soon may be as common a sight as golden wheat in parts of the Palouse and other farm-rich areas east of the Cascades.

For struggling farmers, burgeoning demand for oil-rich canola could make it a cash crop for the long haul. For the rest of us, it's supposed to be a feel-good embrace of biodiesel, proudly stamped "Made in Washington."

But beyond the political rhetoric hailing an anticipated canola explosion here, another group of farmers is fretting. They are seed growers, and they fear a canola invasion -- particularly in Western Washington -- that, through cross-pollination and contamination of their seeds, could wipe them out in less than a year.

Concern about who gets to grow the new crop -- and where -- is now playing out before state lawmakers in the form of an emergency bill aiming to establish sprawling canola-free zones. The impetus: news that the world's largest biodiesel plant is opening in Grays Harbor this summer -- a 100 million-gallon facility run by Seattle-based Imperium Renewables.

Rape (the natural, unpatented variety of Canola) came to the inland northwest about 20 years ago, and was largely abandoned. It was seen as a possible replacement for dryland peas. However, it didn't quite catch on. One of the big reasons was it was difficult to eradicate from fields, hence it didn't work in the typical wheat-pea rotation. Other reason was price and distance to market.

I think biodiesel is going to change alot of things with the new fuel plants going in. I also doubt the mentioned group in the article, trying to create a canola-free area, will have much luck in the Columbia basin.

Oilseed rape is a significant and increasing crop in the UK, with over 600,000 hectares of production - 50% more than in 2000. Although its role is primarily as a 'break' crop, CAP rules have helped its growth till now its a common sight on UK fields.

There are strategies for its use in biodiesel production, including EU support for its use to aid in CO2 reduction for transport fuels.


I'd like to call attention to Leann's link above:

Australia: Crop production worst in 20 years

It was Australian drought that first precipitated the US grain price runup last fall.

Hello Doug Fir,

I second the motion. I think global reserves of essential foodstuffs are already very low, and if drought spreads--TSHTF quite quickly. Acquifer pumping is not a sustainable strategy, and will only generate a double whammy blowback from rising fuel costs to suck water up from ever deeper depths. I would like to see a study done on how much farmland is sustainable without any acquifer or FF-pumping support at all, just purely gravity-fed by the natural yearly weather accumulation and irrigation. I think if this study was published broadly, most of us would be quite worried.

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

It does show how stupid the notion is that we would be 12 billion people by 2050. Apparently the people who make these numbers up don't believe people have to eat.

It will be more like 1 billion, probably less.

Climate change in Bangladesh. The place is already incredibly vulnerable to tropical cyclones.

Also, the hydrate drilling news is scary. There is a LOT of methane hydrate out there, and converting even a small fraction to CO2 is seriously bad news.

Not as bad as letting it escape as methane.

With the exception of shallow water deposits at high latitudes, the majority of the stuff will not escape even in the worst case warming scenario. Temperatures are too low and pressures too high. You'd need tectonic lifting (or drilling) to get a significant fraction out. Tapping the leaking pingos might be a good idea since they're outgassing anyway, for the rest, let's just leave the stuff alone and learn not to be such energy hogs.

The Official Draft of the Oil and Gas Law of The Iraq Republic,
English translation of the Leaked Document


I have no idea if this "leaked" document is authentic. I have no idea if the translation is accurate. I am attempting to wade through it. Laws are hard enough to read in their native language, and IANAL.

More disturbing news from New Hampshire. GW is confusing the wildlife:


MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (Reuters) - Scientists are struggling to explain the rare death of 17 loons in New Hampshire, saying warm weather may have confused the threatened species of bird which typically heads to the ocean for winter.

Vogel, who has the birds' carcasses, will send them to Tufts University in neighboring Massachusetts for a necropsy, where they will be tested for lead, mercury and other viral diseases.

But, if his early suspicions are right, the loons thought they could get away this winter without migrating.

"They gambled and lost," he said.

I let my frustration spill over publicly on a thread yesterday. Mea Culpa. I apologize, that was inappropriate.

Now, let's discuss the "State of the Peak Oil" community. What I see is a large, powerful establishment with ready access to media arrayed against a loosely organized group of people, including those in the various ASPO groups, The Oil Drum and others that show up at Energy Bulletin. It goes without saying that "Money Is Power" (not knowledge, as Bacon would have it). The "peakists" (tip of the hat to CERA for that one) have no money, no press access, etc.

What has to happpen is that there has to be a part of the peak oil community that is funded and does public outreach. Otherwise, the CERAs of this world will lead us all down the road to destruction. The consequences of bad policy based on bad analysis can not be understated, in my view. Public access means presenting more realistic policy alternatives in a form that is palatable to decision makers. This means working within the system (there is no other) to present those alternatives. Anarchy is not the road to deliverance.


See my post upthread. Perhaps you were seized by your
orbitofrontal cortex as it lost the ability to modulate your amygdala, a source of unruly impulses. This can happen when you look at a keyboard and not a human face. Happened to me last night too .


In that case my advise would to stimulate your nucleus accumbens with some dopamine !


It is difficult to know how to work within the system. To have a major presense nationally, it seems like we would need to have a reasonable size lobbying group in Washington DC, so this might be a place to start. The people I think of in the area are Roscoe Bartlett and his staff and Tom Whipple.

Is there a Washington DC peak oil group, that could grow into something larger? Where would funding come from?

There is a distinct possibility that peak oil will start hitting the press this summer, if production drops and prices spike again. This could change sentiment, and make it less difficult to make inroads in the area of public policy.

More fallout from the ongoing housing bust (from the housing bubble blog):

From Bloomberg. “Denise Hamilton was earning the biggest salary of her life painting and packing refrigerator parts until Collis Inc. decided to shut its Evansville, Indiana, factory and she was fired.”

“Hamilton lost her $11.20-per-hour job last month because Collis’s main customer, Whirlpool Corp., the world’s largest appliance maker, cut production after a drop in home sales reduced demand for new refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers. Whirlpool fired 500 workers at its Evansville plant and Collis fired 160, including Hamilton.”

“‘Working for Collis was the best job of my life,’ said Hamilton. ‘Money is going to be tight.’”

“New and existing home sales dropped almost 10 percent last year, depressing demand for products from copper pipes to kitchen sinks and resulting in the loss of about 100,000 jobs in the U.S. Housing-related unemployment probably will increase in 2007, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.”

“By the end of this year, job cuts at companies including Whirlpool, Masco Corp. and Emerson Electric Co. may exceed the fallout from the 1991 housing slump, said Paul Puryear, managing director at Raymond James & Associates.”

“‘The fallout in the early 1990s was much worse than what we’ve seen so far, but this downturn is not over,’ said Puryear. ‘The full impact hasn’t hit yet.’”

“‘We’re going to see other industries have a hangover long after the housing recession is over,’ said economist Richard Yamarone. ‘Housing has a ripple effect through the whole economy, from the carpet makers to the dishwasher salesmen.’

The point that I (and others) made last year was that beyond the minimum space needed for every day activities and sleeping, housing is a consumption item, and we have been seeing the mother of all debt financed housing (consumption) booms.

we have been seeing the mother of all debt financed housing (consumption) booms

And that is exactly why we can expect the mother of all housing corrections.

this [housing] downturn is not over

It is just getting warmed up.

How is this PO related? Because a recession (and the housing correction will cause a recession) results in true demand destruction. I would also argue the converse is true, that true demand destruction results in a recession. Our economy as currently constituted largely is the conversion of FF to goods and services. Less FF, less money.

I agree completely and have been exploring this dynamic regularly over at TOD:Canada. I think we are on the verge of a second Great Depression, beginning this year (indeed perhaps as early as next month). The housing market is a large part of that, but it's by no means the only reason that a depression is looming.

The herd is in maximum complacency mode, large speculators are record long, the smart money commercials are record short, insiders have been selling out at a tremendous rate, the yield curve has been inverted for 6 months now, housing looks like it's about to break lower, the yen carry trade could unwind at any time (the BoJ began raising rates today), the derivatives market is a bloated bubble that has grown to ten times global GDP over a relatively short space of time, stocks appear to be topping and commodities could plunge as speculators bail out all at once (hence the recent $30 oil stories). If these factors together don't represent a warning that should be taken seriously then I don't know what would.

The kind of demand collapse that could result from an large-scale economic crisis would inevitably have a significant impact on energy price and supply. Initially we could see a glut, relative to the lower quantity demanded, and much lower prices. However a financial panic may result in hoarding behaviour, and may be associated with the realization of a few looming geopolitical risks (notably Iran). Complex interactions between large systems in flux would be expected to result in extreme volatility.

You've probably seen this one: The Second Great Depression by Mike Whitney

Hard to predict what the net effect on oil prices would be, but a temporary drop would seem to be possible - unless it were accompanied by loss of supply.

The kind of demand collapse that could result from an large-scale economic crisis would inevitably have a significant impact on energy price and supply. Initially we could see a glut, relative to the lower quantity demanded, and much lower prices.

I have not been reading these TOD:Canada threads, but would like to ask if you have discussed this...

Once a global economic recession has ensued, would that not also greatly affect the oil exporting nations production outputs? This would be directly related to how much "easy" oil is still available. I'd expect that the cheapest-to-produce oil would still be available, but all expensive projects would be abandoned and forgotten. For someone familiar with the data of costs of production in each field, I'd think one could guess what percent of our current supply could continue in a severe global recessionary environment. Would such numbers suggest an even steeper fall-off in production due to recession than most people now assume?

Would such numbers suggest an even steeper fall-off in production due to recession than most people now assume?

In a word, yes. Dave Cohen touched on this in an economic post some time ago, but I can't remember what it was called. If he reads this, perhaps he could remind me.

Any oil glut would be temporary as projects which are expensive to produce would not be viable if prices fell drastically. In a severe liquidity contraction, it would be very difficult to finance almost anything. I would imagine private production would suffer most as it relies more on financial markets. States may take over more and more projects over time. Some areas that currently support production could also cease to be viable due to geopolitical risks being realized. I would expect production to decrease much more quickly than would be the case if we hit a geologic peak and had a manageable decline.

Polishing up the crystal ball does'nt seem to make it any less foggier...

I don't think we are headed for a depression, despite the incredible deflationary pressures from the Real Estate "crash". Trust me when I saw the that the worst is far from over for housing, the pool quality for MBS deals in the pipeline are truly frightening.

Remember the "Helicopter Ben" speech? The Fed will print money to avoid another depression. What I cannot get a clear fix on is whether they can print enough money to offset the housing implosion and at what point oil exporters will get fed up with taking greenbacks for their crude. I see a prolonged period of stagflation, low/zero economic growth with fairly high inflation, where the inflation is positive feedback loop arising from increased oil costs and a depreciating dollar. The Fed can't raise interest rates like Volker did the last time we had stagflation lest the foreclosure rate approach 20%. Real interest rates will remain historically low.

Some more food for thought, US short rates are among the highest in the OECD and the dollar is still tunnelling to oblivion.

Investment advice? Overweight energy (personally I'm at 38%), overweight International Stocks (US dollar hedge), avoid adustable rate debt at all costs. At least 5-10% exposure in precious metals (Pt, U exposure is a must) Underwieght financials. For those with deeper pockets, Dec 10 $70 crude calls look like a sure winner at 5.78

Would an article on the repair and energy conservation measures (all simple) that I am financing & overseeing for a small shotgun in New Orleans be worthy of a TOD article ?

12' x 35' single story "shotgun" with 6'6" x 10' bathroom added on (485 sq ft) owned by an elderly man on Social Security. Absent repairs (which he could not afford) it would have had structural collapse within a year or two. His utility bills were over $200 in the summer and almost $200 in the winter due to drafts and lack of insulation.

According to the contractor, building a new house like his, energy efficient and durable, would cost about $40,000 + cost of land. A double shotgun (two 485 sq ft homes sharing a common wall) would cost about $70,000 and be more energy & land efficient.

The mixed housing neighborhoods (1 to 3 stories, several compact styles, narrow streets with on street parking) of major parts of New Orleans are an ideal mix of livability, walkability and density on a human scale. One that we will hopefully see much more of (and one that we can afford even post-Peak Oil).

Editor's thoughts ?


Metric 3.66 m x 10.67 m + 2 m x 3 m bathroom; 45 m2

I'd be interested, of course.

I'm not sure when, but my stepdaughter is going to NOLA to do some rebuilding with Habitat for Humanity. I've given her some of my spare tools.

Can't get enough of these stories about small houses. I live in Boulder County, Colorado where the average new home is over 6,000 square feet. Clearly, we are exempt here from worries about global warming, peak oii, etc. Ain't it wonderful?

“New and existing home sales dropped almost 10 percent last year, depressing demand for products from copper pipes to kitchen sinks and resulting in the loss of about 100,000 jobs in the U.S. Housing-related unemployment probably will increase in 2007, according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.”

This isn't a problem of economics or politics!
This is a problem of systems dynamics, a positive feedback (worse makes worse, better makes better) is UNSTABLE!
Who ever heard anyone talk about feedback loops in politics?

System Dynamics. Unstable. Feedback loops. Such talk warms the cockles of my heart.

I really enjoyed the rock in the pond model for oil prices from memmel the other day. It made me think, and I started to try to draw a System Dynamics model. Before I got very far I decided that the system was sufficiently complex (and unstable) that the timing of price swings is likely chaotic.

US Personal Savings Rate, Oil Prices, The Housing Bust & Yergin

I usually comment that, IMO, the oil price increase was the trigger for what was an inevitable housing bust, and several people usually disagree with me, but we do see an interesting correlation with the Personal Savings Rate: http://www.bea.gov/briefrm/saving.htm

Note that it went negative in the second quarter of 2005, when oil prices spiked, and note that it has been negative since then. The average Brent monthly price in the 20 months after 5/05 was close to two-thirds higher than the average monthly price in the 20 months prior to 5/05.

I think that a lot of people are going into debt--trying to hold on to the cars and the house(s)--because people like Yergin confirm what they basically believe anyway, that we don't have to worry about oil supplies for decades to come.

IMO you are absolutely correct that the oil price hike of the past 2-3 years is directly responsible for the incipient US housing bust. I have also been banging the same drum for some time.I find it amazing that folk are still prepared to argue the two are not linked. Part of this maybe stems from the fact that for 2 years plus we have heard the mantra from the MSM that high oil prices have had an insignificant effect on the world economy - in some way that 'this time its different'.

Its really quite simple - the housing bust has been primarily caused by the Fed tightening interest rates these past 2/3 years in response to inflation. This has exposed all those subprime mortgage deals etc. The principle driver of this inflation has been the oil price.

If oil was still at $30 US interest rates would be at half the level they are at now and the housing bust would not be happening. And thats irrespective of all the excess liquidity the Fed has pumped into the system. Had oil not soared inflation would have eventually picked up a few years down the line but its oil that has triggered what we see now.

Most interestingly the Fed now seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place - give it a few more months and they will be desperate to lower rates to try and stop the bust getting worse - only problem, as yesterdays inflation figures show, they wont be able to because once inflation is entrenched in the system (as it is now) its darned hard to dig out. Stagflation times?

This would of course pull down the price of oil as demand falls in the US though one assumes

I just got the following eMail from a Dept. of Homeland Security Ass't Director.


Just as an update, I wanted you to know that I forwarded your email to
the head of policy at the Dept. of Energy. I have not heard anything
back yet, but wanted you to know that I am still following up on a
response from them to your concepts.


A straw in the wind, but time will tell.

Best Hopes,


to work within the system one must sell out to the system which means you become part of the problem and not the solution. this is due to the fact the second you start to talk about these things in a public forum like say during a election your as good as dead.

I believe in the "Power of a Good Idea". Please note the choice of verb.

There is a well-trodden path to power & influence using a steady stream of money over decades. There we are are up against Exxon-Mobil et al. The difference in financial resources is, what, seven orders of magnitude ?

OTOH, there are historic examples such as an end to the slave trade, abolition, women's sufferage, the early 1900's Progressive movement, 1960s Civil Rights movement and others where Good Ideas beat out established economic interests.

I started alone, slowly forming my ideas & concepts, then teaming up with other Light Rail advocates and learning more. Then I reviewed the active Peak Oil sites, chose one (TOD) and spent about 1,000 hours convincing those here I had an essential "silver BB". I will use the network here to leverage my concepts, and I eMail the authors of various articles (Leanan THANK YOU !!) with my ideas. Some % will read them, a smaller % will nod their heads and some few will "steal them".

We have here a new force, that of internet blogs. How best to handle and exploit this force ? I have only the vaguest ideas. But I will stumble forward into the fog.

If I live another 40 years, I expect to (hopefully) see some significant successes but to also still be struggling for Phase III & IV. Frustration, combined with determination, is a way of life I know well in New Orleans.

This is a marathon, with the clock running out. We will NOT, at least in the US, plan and react in anything close to an optimum path. My goal is limited, to mitigate the damage and suffering to some extent as TSHTF, to make the "low point" higher and point the way to a better future, leading to a faster rebound.

I am NOT against a fully funded lobby & outreach effort ! But I cannot fund it, so I do what I can. That, combined with the similar efforts of others, may be enough to make a difference.

Perhaps you now understand better my signature line,

Best Hopes,


What has to happpen is that there has to be a part of the peak oil community that is funded and does public outreach

I think Matthew Simmons is pretty well funded :)

And Simmons does plenty of outreach. As do others, some of whom are financed via book publication/tour (Homer-Dixon, Heinberg, etc.), others are on the lecture circuit (Kunstler).

There is no evident funding source for an effective and sustained lobbying effort, even assuming that a common message could be found.
The emerging 'alternative' energy trade associations are going to focus on their particular regulatory issues and suchlike.

But there is the power of one, then another, and another...

Plant seeds. But skip the chanting (or anything that resembles a rant). Westexas went to a meeting the other night regarding public transit and put peak oil on the agenda. Alan takes the time to write Homeland Security. As a volunteer, I attend a public advisory committee on sewer and road redevelopment and raise the issue of peak oil and gas in the context of my proposal to make efficient use of the planned excavation and pipe replacement by installing hardware for geo-exchange. I raise energy cost and supply issues at public consultations on a variety of subjects, always trying to make sure that I have some positive alternative(s) to propose. At a professional level, I make sure that federal and provincial policy makers don't go home from those meetings I attend without having been challenged to think about the implications of rising energy costs, and thanks to stuff on TOD and elsewhere I am better prepared to make the case that prices are not going to return to previous levels.

The United State spends more money on war-making capability than the rest of the world combined. It has sophisticated command structures, communications systems and propoganda organs. Yet it has lost the war in Iraq. It is now only trying to manage this defeat and its retreat.

Why? Economics and demography. The US spends millions to kill an Iraqi fighter. The Iraqi fighters spend thousands to kill an American fighter and almost nothing to kill those they consider collaborators. The Americans, though a nation of 300 million, struggle to find soldiers. The minority Sunnis, a population numbering in the low millions, has for all intents and purposes, a limitless supply.

Taking a comparatively underfunded and underresourced command and control army into the field to wage an information war with Exxon-Mobil, and the rest, is not the way to go. Networked insurgents, infiltrators, independent agency: this is the path.


I agree that the SOPO community needs to get together if ever if wants to have any impact at all. To accomplish that, though, if would first have to define what exactly it is that it wants to achieve. And that is not so easy.

One of countless examples: a substantial part of this prospective community is all for substituting gasoline with ethanol. TOD's value is that it raises questions about that. Now what do you do? Do you include corn-ethanol as part of your message, or do you throw it out? There's lots of folks who see wind or solar or nuclear as the way to redemption, how will you get them all on the same page, pet alone the page that those are on who don't buy any of these "solutions"?

Does it, in general, bother you if you don't have an alternative to replace oil? Not having it will make you lose a large part of your audience. Got to tweak that feel-good part of the brain.

To what extent is climate change a part of the platform? Do you establish a one-on-one link between PO and GW? Do you propagate the electric society that many envision? With what electricity? Clean coal anyone?

How do you deal with, on the one hand, those that think the Olduvai Theory is valid, and on the other those that don't? If you do support the theory, how do you plan to publicize that in the next 5 years, the timeframe that Duncan gives us? Or do you not mention it at all, just to keep the group together? Which would make you "just another" political party, compromise above all.

What level of energy use would you tell people to expect post PO? 90% of the present? 50%? 10%?

I could go on listing questions, and I'm sorry if it looks a bit incoherent, but at the same time, that has a function: There are so many questions within the potential community you're referring to, that it looks like you can't but fail in your quest to go public big time with your message, until you define what that message is.

And I, for one, am not clear on it, not at all. I don't see a lot of coherence in all the worried warning statements, nor in the proposed deliverances.

Work within the system? The system has one direction only, and it ain't yours. The system requires growth, neverending. Pay your 100% plus 5.

Today's decision makers owe their jobs to the very interests you want to push aside. You will never get anywhere with them. Ron Paul and Roscoe Bartlett are fine youg men, but they invariably speak to empty chairs.

it looks like you can't but fail in your quest to go public big time with your message, until you define what that message is.

And you fail too when the "message is defined" because it has no appeal.
It's been discussed before on TOD, you cannot really sell powerdown.

you cannot really sell powerdown

So what I am trying to sell is an alternative that a significant minority of Americans want today and do not have available as an option.

(I think it was Lawrence Auerbach that put the % (depending on poll & definitions) as 15% minimum to over 50% of the adult population).

Build the carrot and let Peak Oil be the stick (or the brutal iron pipe). Carrots are saleable :-)

Best Hopes also sells better,



Here's my response as one of the doomiest member here. I'll stick to some kind of light rail since that's your talking point.

Essentailly, light rail, etc. is an attempt to maintain business as usual and BAU is not the future. If you want to build these rail lines as private operations without public financing, fine. But, were these to be publically financed and a vote necessary, I'd vote against it. Why?

First, as I noted above, it is an attempt to continue a dying paradigm.

Second, I think there are better ways to spend public monies if that is how you anticipate financing these things. For example, subsidizing retrofitting of better insulation and windows, tankless water heaters, solar water heaters, and on and on. These will help people even when the economy tanks. A rail line won't help people when they have no job, or only a part-time job, to go to.

Third, only a minority of people would directly benefit. But, let me be clear, it isn't because I am unfamiliar with public transportation. I used the streetcars in Cleveland, OH for years when I was a kid to get to my part time, Saturday, job. (I started working Saturdays when I was 12. Heck, I was making a buck and a quarter an hour. Hot stuff for the early 50's.)

Fourth, if the rail was publically financed, how would the bonds be paid when the economy tanks? I realize that I am assuming a collapsing economy in this statement. I think that is a reasonable statement. Maybe you don't.

Which leads back to promoting peak energy. There will never be a cohesive consensus as to what to do.

Todd; a Realist

Even that retrofit spending may be wasted if it is spent on exurbs that might be abandoned anyway.

Note the "may" and "might." It is difficult to plan and advise when:

A - we don't believe that current practices (BAU) can continue but

B - we can't accurately predict what the new reality will be.

You may be exactly right. I'm old enough to have seen what the Depression did to my parents and their respective families. I also know that things can change comparatively quickly. However, I am totally convinced that BAU is a lost cause regardless of the time frame.

I'm in a somewhat different position than most folks here since I became concerned (late 60's) about the future before many of them were born and I have structured my life with that in mind. I note this because it is only now, close to fourty years later, that I know I was correct in my decisions. But, you might ask, am I that sure I made the right decisions (leave the chemical industry and strive for self-sufficiency/sustainability) even now?

I look at my life and think, damn, I gave up several millions in income for what? Well, I can weather what is coming whatever it is short of a nuke winter. I have had a 30+ year vacation/retirement living on top of a mountain in the boondocks when I was still young and could appreciate it. I have skills I never knew I needed. I can experiment with things like Terra Preta when my life doesn't depend upon my ability to produce food. I could put in a big PV system (and other stuff) simply because it was interesting and fun - not because I wouldn't survive without it.

I agree that we cannot predict what the new reality will be. However, we can make realistic assumptions that families will be thrown back upon thensevels to provide for many of their needs.

One last thing. The exburbs and suburbs aren't going to go away as JHK believes simply because people will have no choice but to stay where they are.

Todd; a Realist

Todd -

I think I would really enjoy sharing a beer or two with you. I'm only 12 years into my vacation (next month), but I would never trade it for the extra megabuck I could have made racing with the rats.


Well, if you aren't further north than Portland or further south than SF, maybe we can have a beer. If we you are some place else you can always email me at detzel(at)mcn.org.


Essentailly, light rail, etc. is an attempt to maintain business as usual

I disagree. Light rail, even in a low cost oil environment, has a transformative effect on the Urban Form. It is called "Transit Orientated Development". More than half of the oil & energy savings will come from TOD rather than directly (people out of cars and into electric rail).

Add high cost oil and the transformative effect will speed up.

Density near Urban Rail can be increased significantly without major construction (easy to do since we have such large homes & spaces). And even post-Peak Oil, construction may be limited but will still continue.

I am typing from the premier template (in the US) for TOD theory; the Lower Garden District of New Orleans. 5 places to make (buy) groceries within 6 blocks, tailor, bank, insurance agency etc, within 4 blocks. And the streetcar 2.5 blocks away.

I live in a large 1890 home that has been cut up into 6 apartments. I have my about 500 sq ft.(need to measure :-) This can be replicated elsewhere if the US will learn the lessons here.

There will be reduced demand for transportation in a deep depression, but demand will NOT zero out. Part time jobs still require transportation, prison guards and all others still working need to get to work, and other transportation needs. The US has never had much more than 33% unemployment and few societies have more than 60%. Even Harare, Zimbabwe still has urban workers, just fewer of them.

And depending on how much Urban Rail we build and how fast, and how strong the TOD effect will be, a majority of Americans CAN be served by electric Urban Rail. We built streetcar lines in 500 US cities & towns between 1897 & 1916 with coal, sweat & mules.

BTW, hot water is not an absolute requirement. I am finishing up my second winter without gas service and hot water.

Best Hopes,


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Glad to see you posted your link on the WSJ energy blog-- has it resulted in an increase in your website hit rate yet?

My theory is that if we could get the river barge, RRs & mass-transit, bicycle and wheelbarrow, PV & solar-thermal mfg. companies, etc, etc, to withdraw from the Iron Triangle CERA mindset and instead fund the Peakoil Outreach effort, we could make huge strides in mitigation. It would be much more profitable for these companies future prospects if they could kick a few dollars away from CERA now, and send the money to foster a formal PR organization for ASPO and/or Megan Quinn's organization, or some amalgamation of all the different Peakoil efforts going on now.

Then, these companies' lobbyists in Congress and at the state/local levels would be much more effective if armed with nationally recognized info from a new org. on the PR level of CERA. Get George Clooney and/or U2's Bono to team with Megan Quinn to get more TV facetime than even Yergin and Lynch presently enjoy.

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

The website LightRailNow.org is run by two friends. Overall hits are up 40% since I first linked the article here.

Overall, the site is a good resource for Light Rail background info. I would not expect that many more hits from the WSJ link, but (hopefully) more important ones :-)

There is some appearance that GE is "hedging it's bets" regarding Peak Oil. Several years ago, when oil was still cheap, they started design of a more economical locomotive. They are the #1 wind turbine manufacturer. Jet engine economy is a steadily improving; 1% at a time. Their new slogan is "Ecomagination".

I hope for more corporations on the Peak Oil bandwagon, but I do look to them for salvation.

Megan Quinn certainly deserves (and we viewers do as well :-) more face time than those middle aged guys.

Best Hopes,


Hello Kevembuangga,

I agree that selling Detritus Powerdown [the stick] would be difficult, but demand destruction [Grim Reaper] from geologic decline will inevitably take care of that problem. But I do think we could make huge strides forward with Peakoil Outreach to promote Biosolar Powerup [the carrot]. Ya gotta give the people something to believe in; something positive to strive for if we want to optimize the squeeze through the Bottleneck.

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

slight problem.
the 'carrot' so to speak is poison to tptb. a power-down and managed population decline will result in the decline of their current power and their aspirations for even more. so they will fight you tooth and nail, and we are at a great disadvantage. their position and their happier message despite what carrot's you give will always win in any public medium. worse still in the national level, tbtp will most likely pull some strings with their friends in the msm and your message will never be seen or only seen in such a way that you will be painted as the next (insert despot here that the msm tells people to hate either past or present)

Salt Lake City is planning on a vote to triple taxes dedicated to building Urban Rail and speed up excellent 30 year plan.

Miami has an excellent long term 2 phase plan that they are working on.

Dallas is determining 2015-2030 plans, which they would love to speed up.

Minneapolis wants a second Light Rail line, NYC wants the 2nd Avenue subway, San Jose wants BART, DC wants rail to Dulles, Los Angeles mayor wants LOTS of Urban rail, etc. etc.

There IS demand for carrots ! :-)


no your so called carrots don't do anything but delay it a few short years before we are right back in the same spot only in worse condition. but really you don't care do you? as long as those few short years are to you years that your are praised. just don't blame me when things go right back to where they are now and they turn to you again and you have nothing to give them.
do you remember what happened to the French monarchs?

A good electrified rail system is an essential part of BUT NOT THE TOTALITY OF a long term sustainable society. Trading 20 BTUs of diesel for 1 BTU of electricity is sustainable.

I have enough heavy lifting to do with one part, but I am also working on another part, a non-GHG North American electrical grid.

As for my motivations, you have not a clue.

Best Hopes,


this has been bugging me for awhile.
using the term 'solution' when talking about a different way of doing something.
solution imply's the following;
the situation is a problem.
the problem is temporary.
that there is a solution too it simply because all problems must be solved.

the situation is not a problem to be solved, it's to put it bluntly a sea change in the playing field so to speak. this sea change turns what was a advantage before into a disadvantage.

this is of course assuming your interested in the long term survival of the species known as homo-sapians who despite it's name is not much of a thinking man. if not, then you may return to your techno fantasy's and science fiction dreams leaving reality to the real homo-sapians.

Homo Nikeus - "Just Do It" Man

it's a nice song but i fail to see how it refutes my point.
but then again in this place it's ok to spam when the spam is used to attack people with the non-technofix position which grasps the situation in a much better light.

It doesn't refute your point. I was agreeing that Homo Sapiens is perhaps a too-optimistic name for our species, which is more geared to action than reflection.

ok. then i retract what i say.
i won't use the 'edit' feature though to remove it. i want to show i am a much better person by leaving the evidence that i have made a mistake, and made up for it.

That's big of you.

But you can't edit a post once someone has replied to it anyway.

I agree on the 'solution' thing. For some time now my mantra has been, "There are no solutions, only strategies." This IMO highlights the need for a change in general attitude and lifestyle in figuring out the strategy for approaching shortages and related problems.


It's interesting to compare the way the establishment/media deal with peak oil to the way they deal with recessions.

Recessions are fairly common events, occuring every seven or eight years or so. This has been going on for centuries. Yet no Fed Chairman, CEO of a major financial instition, or respected media outlet has ever predicted a recession. The risk/reward just isn't favorable. If you predict a recession and it doesn't happen, you are a chicken little and subjected to great ridicule, scorn, and possibly even job loss. If you predict a recession and it does happen, you are still a chicken little, an incurable pessimist, subjected to ridicule and scorn, accused of causing the recession through fear mongering, and definitely experience job loss. Under these circumstances, why would anyone predict a recession? Can you imagine Ben Bernanke predicting a recession? He would be run out of town on a rail regarless of whether a recession occurred or not. So what happens is that over and over again the signs of a recession begin to appear, everyone denies that there is going to be a recession, the signs and signals worsen, the denial becomes even stronger and louder, until finally the recession is well underway and people can finally bring themselves to admit that such a thing as a recession is possible. At this point people still shove and trip over each other trying to be the most optimistic of the bunch, predicting a shorter and milder recession than everyone else. A good Fed Chairman will never use the word, "recession," even if the entire country is bankrupt and eating at soup kitchens.

Now peak oil differs from a recession in that it is a much more serious event and also a one time event. But I think the same mentality will still apply. Clear thinking, responsible human beings working in organizations with hierarchical structures will never acknowledge that a recession or peak oil is possible. It just doesn't pay to do it. I don't think anyone should expect the establishment/media to come around on this issue. They repeat the same comical process every seven or eight years with recessions. As WestTexas noted somewhere on this thread, the thing to watch for is how the denials from those in positions of power become stronger and stronger the more obvious the peak (or recession) becomes.

Excellent post. I've been trying to answer my wife's oft repeated question---why isn't the government sounding the alarm bells) and you've just encapsulated the answer in words I couldn't. Thanks.

Re: watch for is how the denials from those in positions of power become stronger and stronger the more obvious the peak (or recession) becomes

Yes. Let's make them deny it all the time. Right there on CNN or NPR. Every week. And now, it's Wolf Blitzer with guest Daniel Yergin.

"But Mr. Yergin, when you say, based on the USGS 2000 study, that there's a lot of oil 'yet-to-find', does anyone know where this oil is?"

"But Mr. Yergin, what exactly is the contribution that we can expect from oil shales in the Western states by 2015?"

"But Mr. Yergin, there is little spare capacity. Rising demand always consumes it. When you say 'above-ground' factors are the chief concern, does it really matter what the actual cause is of a shortfall in the oil supply?"

"But Mr. Yergin, what, really, do you mean by "productive capacity"? Is the distinction between "production" and "productive capacity" something that matters to ordinary people? I mean, if you can't produce the oil this month in times of scarcity, when we need it, what's the difference?"

"But Mr. Yergin, doesn't the precautionary principle tell us that it's better to be safe than sorry? No one can dispute that reducing our energy usage is a good thing. Doesn't telling people that we have, if not an endless supply, '35 more years of rising oil comsumption to look forward to', encourage greater and greater dependency on a resource that may be scarce for many reasons?"

Way to go, Wolf! That's how it happened with climate change. That's how it will have to happen with peak oil.

Meanwhile, many more people will have heard of the issue, some will take the time to educate themselves — and otherwise, we'll pray for rain.

Someone the other day was ranting about TOD posters and they said something along the lines of, "You people have been predicting a recession on this board for four years and today we're no closer to a recession than we were four years ago!" Of course we're closer to a recession today than we were four years ago. Unless recessions have ceased to exist altogether. This is typical though. At this point in the cycle, memory of the prior recession has faded to the extent that most people reject the notion of recessions altogether. This is precisely when the next recession is most likely to occur. This has been happening like clockwork for centuries, but in spite of this, responsible people in power consistently fail to predict or prepare for recessions. Should we really expect anything different with peak oil? Or climate change? With recessions, they didn't get it right the first time, or the second, or the seventh, or the fortieth. With peak oil and climate change you only get one shot.

SAT, I wish you'd post more often. You're a smart SOB.

I think we are on the verge of more than a recession. See my reply to Greenman upthread for why I think it is about to begin very soon.

so, SAT, Stoneleigh, et al, what's the correct financial course of action for the individual investor at this point in the cycle? (no need for particular stocks, etc., just a strategy.)

I wouldn't be looking at stocks as I think they're forming a major top, and when the decline sets in it should do so with a vengeance. Under those circumstances stock picking wouldn't help, as a substantial liquidity contraction would affect stocks across the board. Investors have been chasing yield, but I think they'll go from worrying about the return on capital to worrying about the return of capital.

The classic recommendation for deflation is to be debt free and in cash or cash equivalents (such as very short term bonds), which would appreciate in value relative to most if not all asset classes. However, I am expecting this contraction to be severe enough to impact on the soundness of the banking system at some point, and I don't think deposit insurance will be worth the paper it's written on when that happens. Holding on to wealth in any form may be a challenge as IMO we are heading into extremely risky territory. The rules of the game can be changed in the middle unfortunately.

My own strategy has been to face uncertainty with flexibility and to minimize the consequences of being wrong. To that end I've been investing in debt-free self-sufficiency over a period of many years. I own my farm, my woodpile and my renewable energy equipment, and I've developed a reasonsable number of practical skills. I own no stocks, bonds, mutual funds, investment real estate (my farm is a consumption item), commodities etc.

Stoneleigh...I think you are spot-on in your statement above. The best thing you can do is get out of debt and buy the things now, when stuff is affordable, you think will help you survive in the future.

This will be different things for different people and we have gone through laundry lists before here at TOD (tools, garden supplies, canning supplies, weapons - not my favorite, resource books, solar panels, cooking supplies, fix up your house to be more efficient and have more longevity, etc.).

My big unknown is when to "cash out" of my stocks, 401K, other assets in order to get the most dinero out of it before it starts plummeting in value and when that cash will buy the most stuff. The timing is a HUGE gamble.

The thing to think about is that you can afford to be early, but you can't afford to be late. If there's a stampede for the exits, there'll probably be no way out except for a lucky few (the fire in a theatre scenario).

Just a quick follow-up to my post above. My overall point is that if recognizing the possibility of something as common and repetitive as a recession is out of the realm of possibility for people in power, recognizing the reality of peak oil definitely is. Also, once these people are out of power, they suddenly become far more interesting and insightful. Take Paul Volcker, for example. He has tons of interesting things to say now that he's put twenty years between himself and his Fed Chairmanship. And already Greenspan is beginning to allow a hint of realism to slip into some of his comments. The current Fed Chair can only cheerlead.

Stoneleigh, I read your post upthread in response to GreenMan. I wish you would post more. You are one smart SOB. By the way, would you mind posting a link on the Drumbeat whenever you update the Roundup? You have some good stuff over there.

Thanks - I find your posts particularly valuable as well, as you are a participant in this field while I am only an observer. IMO understanding financial markets is crucial to knowing how peak oil will play out.

Poor Ben Bernanke - taking the Fed chairmanship at this juncture - where he'll be forced to cheerlead into the teeth of a depression - amounted to accepting a poisoned chalice if ever there was one. Even if he achieves the best possible outcome under the circumstances, which is probably not very likely, it wouldn't look like success by any measure people would use to judge his performance.

I'll try to remember to post Drumbeat links to Round-Ups. The economic/financial headlines are ususally near the bottom, unless some particularly pertinent warning has been issued, in which case I headline it.

If you have any real estate other than your primary residence, strongly consider unloading it while you can, at whatever price you can get. Don't wait. I'm not kidding.

Debt-free is a good way to be. I have been for 12 years now.

Being liquid is important. Real estate is not liquid. At least you can dump stocks on short notice. The down side is that everyone else may be dumping the same day you want to.

The value of the dollar has nowhere to go but down. OTOH, if you live in the US, your taxes, insurance, etc. are all payable in dollars. Imports will go up.

Its hard to go wrong with some precious metals.

Beyond that, well, there are always the basics:

1. freeze-dried food
2. water filters
3. shotgun shells
4. liquor, cigarettes, chocolate, coffee, pepper, salt all make fine trade goods.

I'm still somewhat skeptical about the deflation scenario for one reason: it is the one economic problem they can cure by printing money. Real estate prices will absolutely go down (deflate). At least some forms of credit will contract (deflationary). Some sort of derivatives crisis would be uncharted territory, but most likely deflationary. OTOH the only limit on how much currency and credit the Fed can conjure out of thin air is the resulting inflation. They will make sure the banking system has whatever amount of dollars it requires to remain solvent. There will be no runs on the bank, though you may be limited on currency withdrawls. You will be issued a check that you are free to deposit in any other bank, who will also not give you currency. All the checks will clear, because they will be backed by unlimited zero-interest loans from the Fed, who creates the money out of thin air. "Legal tender for all debts, public and private." See? It says so on the label!

There will be downward pressure on all stocks, true. But fundamentally, commodities stocks should remain relatively strong and outperform (whether that translates to a positive return or not is debatable). Commodities in general, and energy in particular, may be the last thing that has any real value.

Financial stocks (and the US is now a "financial economy") will plummet.

Stay away from mortgage-backed securities. Far, far away. If you have a 401k that has any money that even might be in these, try to move it to something safer.

Bonds could actually rally! Flight to "safety" together with cutting interest rates to near zero. I wouldn't be caught dead with any that have more than a 6 month maturity, but it is not impossible.

Prof. Goose,

People hate to miss out on making money as much as they hate to lose money. I call this up-greed and down-greed. Because of up-greed, investors always find themselves maximally invested at market peaks. Down-greed explains the violent nature of market corrections.

This really is a crucial point about human nature. Without realizing it, people are gambling - all in - with what they can't afford to lose.

People are maximally invested, both directly and indirectly (ie through pension funds etc), because a wave of liquidity has floated many boats in recent years and no one wants to miss out on the potential upside. When so many take one side of the bet without understanding the risks, they're setting themselves up for a fall while presenting the opportunity of a lifetime for the few willing to take the other side at the right time.

Playing that game is inherently risky though, as the market can stay irrational for longer than the rational can stay solvent. Although there's no such thing as a risk-free position, for most people being on the sidelines debt-free and in cash (with whatever is left over after achieving as much control as possible over the essentials of one's own existence) is probably the best bet.

Pointing out the violent nature of market corrections is an important part of the picture. Fear is a sharp emotion, and is capable of driving markets down very quickly. That fear would also be expected to spill over into the collective psyche and cause other unpleasant consequences.

Hello Dave Cohen,

Good points! We should not tolerate softball interviews by the MSM anymore. Anytime we notice this: we need to send emails to their inbox telling them to get tougher questions to put the Iron Triangle on the spot.

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

emails ... telling them to ask tougher questions

I agree ! A GREAT idea. Feed the talking heads questions that need to be asked. Nice, respectful eMails with "suggestions" >:-)

Best Hopes,


*msm open's their email filter on their server. makes rules that any email in the title, or message body containing the typical peak oil terms to be automatically deleted while keeping a log of how many times this happens.*

this is what every major news organization or political party does with anyone who tries to 'wake them up' to a situation like this by using mass emails. btw there are laws with stiff fines and jail time for spam now. doing this will cause you to be charged under such.

I think one of the issues is that governments run by elected officials cannot deal with negative future events, even if known, because of the problems SAT discussed.

The only governments that can do cenralized planning to deal with issues like peak oil are non-elected governments, as in China and Cuba. TPTB can get together, figure out what they think is best, and implement it, without having to "sell" the idea to everyone.

I disagree.

Example: The world's oldest (by some measures) democracy.

In 1998 (oil ~$12) they voted, in a national plebiscite, to spend 30 billion Swiss francs (adjust for population & currency and it is like the US voting for $1 trillion) from 2000-2020 on a variety of measures to dramatically improve their already excellent rail system. One explicit goal; get freight off trucks and onto (hydro) electric rail.

Switzerland made plans in the 1920s to prepare for a long term oil embargo. They survived & functioned with a six year, 100% oil embargo during WW II.

They also still prepare for nuclear war with a fallout shelter for everyone, stored supplies, etc.

It may be more a matter of national culture and values.

Thailand and Brazil are also making solid strides in preparing for post-Peak Oil. FAR better than China or Cuba prepared (Cuba reacted but did not prepare for lack of oil).

Best Hopes,


You seems to admire so much Switzerland.. I think the german part is like you describe it, the french part is less so..

the successfulness of the swiss during that period has little to do with the so far un-proven attribute that allows them to do this and more to do with the fact that since they were neutral in the war, they could still trade with either side and became the defacto bank nation for all the gold and valuables the nazi's acquired during the first part of the war. and the hiding place for all the allied looters which basically took anything that was not nailed down or famous works of art.

Look at a map. Switzerland could ONLY trade with Germany and their ally Italy. Zero "real goods" trade with US & UK till 1945. And zero oil from Germany (a little coal and a little food, quite small quantities); they were desperate for every drop for their own war effort. Remember the first CTL project ?

Gold in bank vaults (and the US was the other major "safe harbor" that gold fled to in 1930s, we doubled our gold holdings and got more than the Swiss) does NOTHING for transportation or even domestic economic activity.

Your point is invalid.


Y'know, Dave, in the movies, it's always the motley, ragtag band of idealists who somehow surmount insurmountable odds, and win :-)

On a serious note, we have seven sustainability-oriented groups in the Seattle area, most as Post Carbon Outposts associated with the Relocalization Network. If ever I despair, I click their map and visually check the growth of outposts (it's happening, just slowly.)

Our little community group, Sustainable Ballard, is independent of the Relocalization Network, and we've seen a steady uptick in membership (~700 at last count) and corresponding classes/activities. We're also getting a steady stream of presentation requests--from peace activist groups to those social justice warriors, the Unitarian Universalists--to the point where the Board is discussing charging a small fee for costs + gas. We have different guilds ranging from Transportation to Food and Health, and each year our Sustainability Festival gets ever bigger. We also write a column in our local paper.

I'm amazed sometimes at the amount we do with an all-volunteer group. All this to say, there are groups out there, managing the descent. Or some valiant attempt thereof.

I'd recommend contacting the Relocalization Network if you are interested in starting your own local Powerdown group.


P.S. Leanan, I echo all the accolades here for your work!

What does one woman's death say about the rest of us?

On Jan. 17, Bessie Sanders of Washington was killed in a house fire. It was determined by the fire department that "Ms. Bessie," as she was known to neighbors, lost her life when the candle she was using for illumination in her bedroom accidentally started a fire. During the coldest part of the year, Ms. Bessie was using a candle for light because her electricity, gas and water had all been shut off.

That's really sad. What a miserable image in my mind: a candle for light and warmth.


I can top that (unfortunately). We had a mother and three children die in a house fire Saturday. Apparently, their gas was cut off, and they were heating with electric heaters.


Hello Leanan,

Thxs for posting this--it does say a lot about how we need to modify our behavior to be flexible as we go postpeak. Neighbors do need to keep a helpful eye out for each other, but Bessie [or her offspring, if any] needed to take responsibility to mitigate her situation before it got so bad.

The article says nothing about her financial position or mental condition so I am assuming broadly. Her being only 65, it seems fairly safe to rule out medical dementia, but it seems she had a very high stubbornness streak. She could have easily rented out a bedroom or two to someone to gain sufficient income to make mortgage payments and keep the power and water on, and the company would have done her good. Alternatively, she might have rented or sold the property, then used the income or equity to rent/buy smaller living quarters, or move in with an offspring. In short: she should not have waited till things got so dire, but adjusted early.

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

Or she might have been trying to scrape by on Social Security, had health problems that cost her much of that, lived in a crappy little hole-in-the-wall with no spare bedrooms, not been a homeowner, etc.

I, too, am only speculating, but many folks in our society have no resources whatsoever. Including offspring. Or significant friends or social networks to help out.

And senile dementia is not the only form of mental problems, which may develop at any age.

This is the other face of "demand destruction". We tend to think about folks with SUVs and McMansions tightening their energy belt. But the poor suffer the most. While the Trumps and Heinz-Kerrys of the world still fly in their private jets.

What I've noticed in my mother-in-law's experience is that the paperwork requirements to gain assistance are scaring seniors and many others who qualify from even applying. Once someone who understood the complexity that penny pinching country club cry baby politicians have created to discourage "fraud" came to her aid she finally saw an big improvement in the quality of her life.

I think my intervention with the gentleman in the the shotgun home (see above in this thread) prevented another "Ms. Bessie". There is still more that I can do than what I have done though.

Post-Peak Oil their numbers will multiply quickly.

Best Hopes,

Alan Drake

Just a read an interview with the Kazakh ambassador in the german newspaper "Tagesspiegel" (located in Berlin). Here is a question about their oil:

Q: That means there is enough oil for all?

A: Our supplies are sufficient. Until 2010 we will produce up to 100 million tons, and 150 million tons until 2015.

Sounds a lot - but is it really? How does a ton of oil (I assume he talks about the overall production) translate into barrels/day?

One barrel per day is 50 tons per year, so he is probably talking about production in the range of 2-3 million barrels per day.

Well, 1 ton of oil is roughly 6 to 7 barrels, so on the high side of that,
100 million tons (one assumes this is an annual figure) would be 700 million
barrels, thus on the order of 1.9 mbpd.

Continuing point:

As most of us know, Peak Oil does not mean that we stop finding oil. We just can't keep increasing production. ExxonMobil's estimate is that we need about 3 to 4.5 mbpd of new crude oil production every single year, just to keep crude + condensate production flat. On the upper end, all we need is two Cantarells or close to one Ghawar every single year.

I was wondering why the natural gas markets were so unperturbed about last week's near-record withdrawal. Then, when I was looking at an older table, I noticed that the current five-year baseline (2002-2006) at is more than 230 billion cubic feet above the 2001-2005 average. Aha, I thought.

That difference reflects the high storage levels that prevailed in 2006 versus the low storage levels that were reported in 2001. Which means that while the current number is 347 bcf above the 2002-2006 average, it is a rather whopping 584 bcf above the 2001-2005 average. These gas storage numbers come from americanoilman[dot]com.

Last week turned out to be a little colder and the area affected by the chill somewhat larger than I first thought. So I am going to ratchet up my earlier estimate of tomorrow's withdrawal to 235 bcf, up from 220 bcf. The following week's number will be interesting as it will reflect above-average temperatures in the eastern U.S. The lowest Week 9 number that I have is 72 bcf (a 2001 number). Adding 40 bcf to reflect current market tightness, I'm going to forecast a withdrawal of 112 bcf in Week 9.

I go through this exercise every week because, with any luck, it will soon be my job to demonstrate to large consumers of natural gas that solar thermal or bioheat will deliver therms more reliably and at a lower cost than NG. In other words, in the big, bruising world of commodity energy prices, these renewable energy sources are a better bet going forward.

Bloomberg's take. The Midwest is grossly overreliant on NG for heating.


``A Bloomberg analyst survey predicted a stockpile decline of 225 billion cubic feet, according to the median of 18 replies. The range of estimates spanned declines of 216 billion to 233 billion cubic feet.

Temperatures in the Midwest, the biggest residential market for the fuel, are expected to be about 6 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) above the average through Feb. 25, forecaster MDA EarthSat Energy Weather said in a note today. About 79 percent of Midwest households rely on natural gas to fuel their furnaces, according to Energy Department figures."

Hello Badger Peaknik,

Thxs for the info. So the burning question is: if the natgas supply starts to falter, what is the next best solution? If a significant portion of these people start switching over to electric heating: is the Grid ready to ramp up, or do they have to resort to emergency measures? I would email your local utility companies and press them for answers. Blackouts are a sign that the electric utility managers are not charging enough for juice.

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


When there are natural gas shortages, residential heating is the priority. NatGas power plants cut back or shut down. Some big industrial users have standby agreements whereby they get better rates for agreeing to cut back or shut down during a shortage. I don't know what would happen after that.

Once we start getting sustained natural gas shortages, expect the power grid to start sputtering. People may try to switch to electric space heaters, but the juice will not be there for them.

Totoneila and GreenMan--

Inside of your main question--how would disruptive natural gas prices and the possibility of rationed supplies affect the grid?--lies a veritable gold mine of highly interesting researchable questions. Examples: How many households would try switching to electric heat? What would be the effect on coal prices should there be a mass switch to electric heat? Are coal supplies sufficient to handle extra wintertime load? At what point does switching to wood stoves adversely affect the health of forests and woodlands? I am particularly concerned about the latter impact, having seen photo after photo of denuded forestlands in New York, Vermont and Wisconsin during the later 1800's, before heating oil and natural gas allowed northern forests to regenerate.
Cheers from Madison.

Thanks for working the NG numbers. Our precarious North American NG situation bears watching.

According to http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/commodities/energyprices.html crude oil is at 60.51. The chart on The Oil Drum is currently not updating.


that's because the H7 contract died today. I'll send it on to SG.

Yes, glad you said something. Also today, "Highest corn prices in 10 years"

"Corn futures for May delivery rose 10.75 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $4.39 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest close for the most-active contract since June 1996. Prices are up 82 percent in the past year as record ethanol production and global demand for livestock feed reduced world inventories for a sixth time in seven years"


And "Hogs Gain with Corn" in the 'news' border.

PM's back up too.

The theory of PEAK CHEESE scares the daylights out of me.

The article above, Ghana: Inadequate Power Supply Killing Cement Company (as well as the numerous others like it posted on TOD) reminded me of how precarious our economy and various industries are in terms of energy Requirements.

It also reminded me of a visit I had with some University Ag Extension people...

In terms of alternative energy, it appears that the only area of interest to the Agriculture community is Large Scale Methane Digesters (for mega farms >500 head of cattle). They do not seem at all interested in smaller farm operations or in Peak Oil ("those are just books on theories" they said).

So it looks like complaceny and ignorance will take it's toll on the Food Chain starting with the Mega Farms here in the US... blessed are the (small) cheesemakers, for they have a chance to adjust and cope, and hopefully will inherit the earth with the demise of Corporate Fat-ass Farmers.

SOP, having studied ag at a US land grant, I know a little about what you are pushing against. Ag departments tend to be staffed by fairly conservative people -- "conservative" in the true sense of the word. The miracle of the Green Revolution is a great source of pride to the ag community -- both the academics and the farmers themselves -- and you have to tread a little lightly around this one. They will tell you -- and it is largely true -- that modern mechanized agriculture has saved and improved the lives of a great many people. These folks are justifiably proud of that fact and they tend to get a bit hot under the collar if you suggest to them that they aren't doing it "right."

In the department where I did my studies, there was the older, more-traditional camp -- composed mostly of folks that grew up in multi-generational farm families and left the farm to pursue academic careers -- and then, there were the younger, sometimes even suburb-raised folks, some of whom were coming from an entirely different background and perspective. I remember sitting in on a seminar given by one of these younger researchers on the subject of "sustainable" agriculture. When he was done, the first hand that went up was from one of the older faculty members who was quick to assure the audience that "everything we do is sustainable." You could sense a certain tension in his response but it broke everyone up and we had a good discussion after that.

If you are interested in broaching the subject of PO and "sustainability" with your University agricultural people, I would find out who is doing "sustainable ag" work or find people who are doing work in non-traditional crops. Most likely, someone is doing research into bio-fuels (both agronomists and engineers) and they would be good people to talk to, as well. If they are doing bio-fuels research, they are already onto PO, I assure you.

Good luck with it.

P.S. Some of the best cheese I've ever eaten is made by very small producers who are neighbors of ours. You won't find anything like it in the supermarket. I'm pretty sure they will still be making it post-peak.


I'm in the process of doing just as you speak. I have 70 acres 15 minutes from Clackamas Community College (foothills of Cascade range outside of Portland, OR) and am trying to bring together various minds and teachers on collaborating on projects out there. Any advice or ideas on how to make it work or what you'd recommend would be highly appreciated.

Best of luck to all trying to help the cause!

Hi T, others could better speak to that than I. There is a fellow that posts here occasionally that -- off the top of my head -- would seem to be a good person to talk to: Jason Bradford. He's in your general geographic region, too, so that might be of some help.


Thanks Tarzan. I got the same impression as you describe - that is their being sensitive to the concept that Mega Ag may not be sustainable. I did not push the issue.

The best info I took away from my discussions with the Ag guys was, as you suggest, who was doing sustainable-type of agriculture and where. Those are the people who are most likely to have solar PV, solar hotwater, etc helping to run their operations.

And I agree about the best cheese being made by small producers - hopefully enough of them will go alt E in time to be able to produce quality product even as the Fossil-Fuel dependent producers go down for the count due to costs and supply disruptions.

So what's the status of Deffeyes' prediction of Peak - Dec 2005? Has it been decisively disproven by the numbers yet, or not? I'm sure this has been dealt with by TODders, but I don't check in as regularly as I ought.

I like Drumbeat a lot -- it's a really valuable addition to TOD.

I believe EIA retrospective updates moved it to May 2005. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

Yes, that is what I think too.

Up to the EIA numbers for october 2006, the crude oil production for May 2005 hasn't been exceeded.

The numbers for November 2006 should come soon, before the end of the month.

The blogspot


has a diagram showing development in world oil (all liqiuds) supplies from Jan 2001 to Nov 2006 based upon data from EIA International Petroleum Monthly of Feb. 2007.

The same post (scroll down) also shows the development in Norwegian total petroleum supplies (production) as of Dec. 2006.

The diagrams with English text are unfortunately embedded in a language few understands. ;-)

So far crude oil and condensates still had a high in May 2005.

NGM2 (in Norway)

Thanks for the link!
I didn't know the Feb numbers were out.

Thanks all for update.

I watched an hour long interview with investigative reporter Greg Palast. I have always admired him for his gritty, detective like reporting. He totally dismisses Peak Oil as a tool of big oil to overstate the scarcity of oil to keep the price up. He made a quick mention of Venezuela’s Orinoco oil. He made the comment that Chavez sits on more oil then SA.

I have been a peak oil aware person for nearly 3 years now. I read everything I can get my hands on about the subject both pro and con. Is Mr. Palast just not thinking through his arguments? Sure Venezuela has lots of oil but, as I understand it, it is basically tar that produces at a super slow rate and you need special refineries to process it.

Does anyone know of any real, fact-based, arguments Palast has made that he says proves Peak Oil is huge campaign by big oil to inflate prices. I am eager to hear contrary views, as long as they are presented in a professional manner unlike some previous posters. The few mentions he made against peak oil are too vague and I could refute them easily. If anyone has any insight into his resistance to the subject I would love to hear it.

Alternative rag CounterPunch editor Alexander Cockburn has a similar attitude toward Peak Oil. Though I get the distinct impression that he tend to lump the PO community together with the 9/11 'truth' community which is not too surprising and IMO an albatross that the PO community can well afford to do without.

Heinberg (who has expressed an affinity for 9/11 'truth' theories) published a letter to Palast in the Energy Bulletin addressing the Peak Oil issue:


Alexander Cockburn, btw, has said that he is a believer in the "Deep Hot Biosphere" model of Thomas Gold.

Oops...bit of a Catch-22 highlighted on RealClimate today:

Aerosols: The Last Frontier?

The relative lifetimes of CO2 and aerosol in the atmosphere result in the expectation that reducing fossil fuel use will accelerate warming. A CO2 molecule has a lifetime of about 100 years in the atmosphere, while an aerosol particle has an average life expectancy of only about 10 days. Therefore, if we instantaneously ceased using combustion engines, the (cooling) fossil fuel-related aerosols would be cleaned out of the atmosphere within weeks, while the (warming) CO2 would remain much longer, leaving a net positive forcing from the reduction in emissions for a century or more.

Damned if we do and damned if we don't?

Just curious. If we sequestered the co2 from coal burning, would all the particulates and aerosols be necessarily sequestered too? Of course, I don't think we are going to have to worry about this dilemma for quite awhile given all the coal burning plants on the drawing boards worldwide and being built weekly in China. China is certainly doing its part in keeping our air dirty, including the Western United States.

Ain't life grand?

If we sequestered the co2 from coal burning, would all the particulates and aerosols be necessarily sequestered too?

That's pretty much what IGCC does, without even capturing the CO2.  But it points toward possibilities for saving our collective butts from runaway warming while we do something about carbon.

The Wabash River IGCC plant (oxygen-blown) produces sulfur as H2S in the fuel gas, which is scrubbed out (along with a goodly fraction of the CO2) before combustion.  It is then converted to elemental sulfur, but this is not necessary.  If the H2S was launched into the high stratosphere, it would oxidize to H2SO4 and form a fine aerosol haze.  It wouldn't take much to do the job — if Paul Crutzen is right and we'd only need a million tons of H2SO4, that means it would only take about 300,000 tons of elemental sulfur.  Ten plants the size of Wabash River could resupply the world's sunshade every year, giving us time to convert our energy systems without having to worry about losing our icecaps, coasts and ecosystems.

Some typical doublespeak in the article on the the Welsh coal mine

With a growing global consensus emerging over the catastrophic threat of global warming, coal mining has witnessed something of a renaissance.

Exactly, we talk about GW but in almost every corner of the world we are digging more coal.

Will we see a “Gulf of Persia” Incident?

Fifth Fleet commander warns of 'unprecedented tension' in Gulf

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM Wednesday, February 21, 2007

ABU DHABI — Iran may pose a greater security threat to the strategic Persian Gulf than does Al Qaida, warned the U.S. Fifth Fleet commander at a news conference in Bahrain.

"We consider this moment in time unprecedented in terms of the amount of insecurity and instability that is in the region," U.S. Fifth Fleet commander Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh said.

"Although our presence in the Arabian Gulf is for defensive and not offensive purposes, the U.S. will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or U.S. troops come under direct attack," Walsh added.

At a news conference on Feb. 19 in Manama, Walsh said Iran could pose a greater threat to Gulf security than Al Qaida, Middle East Newsline reported. The naval commander said Iran's frequent military exercises were meant to provoke tension in the region and threaten the closure of the Straits of Hormuz, which contains about 40 percent of global oil shipping.

Just heard a NPR report on the third chlorine gas attack in Iraq. Kind of ironic, we were talking about a "Guns of August" situation last year--where the Great Powers blundered into the First World War.

Is this the first time that chlorine gas has been used in warfare since the First World War?

If you have the time read Forgotten Victory by Gary Sheffield - it looks at WW1 from a revisionist perspective and undermines the case for the war arising as a series of blunders, more as an inevitable consequence of German expansionism.

I find it very amusing that the Navy has renamed the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Gulf.

Equally amusing is the renaming of Nippon to Japan and Deutschland to Germany. It all depends on which side of the water you are on.

Hello TODers,

I was thinking about the recent postings by the TopTODers on whether to establish TOD as a paysite, and all the problems, but also the potential benefits involved. Perhaps a better solution is to set up TOD as a two-tiered level.

The paysite level would allow us to put our money where our Peakoil mouth is, and the TopTODers could earn money for their much-appreciated article efforts and control the content expressed within this level. Additionally, if normal TODers submitted content to the paysite that was deemed postworthy--they would receive some money too.

If sufficient funds could be raised, then a professional org. to start to rival CERA could arise. Imagine Simmons, Deffeyes, Laherriere, Campbell, Heinberg, Leggett, et al, joining the TopTODer effort too. They don't have to agree to a consensus technical, political, and/or geological viewpoint, but they can broadly agree to pool their efforts into a key go-to site to raise funds for more research and PR Peakoil Outreach in many different flavors. In short: has Peakoil Outreach attained a sufficient critical mass to really lever this idea forward?

Big websites like LATOC, big companies like GE or Intel, smaller companies like bike, wheelbarrow, heirloom seeds, or solar companies could help increase the donation funding so that the tiered rolldown happens with an ever-decreasing minimal delay as the membership $$$ increases.

The free second tier would be like TOD is today with Leanan's excellent Drumbeat, and the TopTODer postings [from the first tier level] would be available some time period later: 8 hours, 24 hours, 3 days later--I have no idea what is the best timeframe for when the articles & first-tier comments would roll down.

Another alternative is the size of your donation determines how quickly you can view the TopTODer material, again I have no idea what is the best charging rate, but again, after a period of time the first tier material eventually becomes free for all to view and comment on. But imagine if sufficient overall funds where raised whereby the TopTODers could buy a copy of CERA's proprietary database to analyze. Wouldn't that send membership and donation levels through the roof to read what SS, Khebab, Dave, WT, Colin, Simmons, and others wrote about this database?

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

Pardon if this have been posted.

Asia Times writes that Japanese crude import is down 2 per cent, which i think is a quite significant percentage.

TOKYO - After decades of struggling to reduce its excessively heavy reliance on the Middle East for its crude oil, Japan imported 2% less of the commodity from the region in 2006.

Is this a new tune from Econobrowser: Saudi Oil Production Cuts? James Hamilton is sounding a little like Westexas.

He's always been a semi-believer in the Simmons thesis, etc. However, the post you refer to of his went further than I've seen him willing to go before...

Hello TODers,

Plumbing in Western Antarctica [WAIS]:


Plumbing in Eastern Antarctica:

Buried Lakes Send Antarctica's Ice Slipping Faster Into the Sea, Study Shows


Background info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctica

My unscientific comments:

Recall that the subsealevel portion of the WAIS is the size of Mexico and 4 times as deep as the Grand Canyon [top of ice to subsea bottom].


A subsea, sub-ice volcano erupting in this geo-rift area would quickly cause havoc:

Rapley said, "Parts of the Antarctic ice sheet that rest on bedrock below sea level have begun to discharge ice fast enough to make a significant contribution to sea level rise. Understanding the reason for this change is urgent in order to be able to predict how much ice may ultimately be discharged and over what timescale. Current computer models do not include the effect of liquid water on ice sheet sliding and flow, and so provide only conservative estimates of future behaviour." [3]

Jim Hansen, a senior NASA scientist who is a leading climate adviser to the US government, said the results were deeply worrying. "Once a sheet starts to disintegrate, it can reach a tipping point beyond which break-up is explosively rapid," he said. [4]

Evidence for one of the largest calderas on the planet in the Bentley Subglacial Trench:


My comments: imagine if this rift valley caldera opened up again.

Aren't you glad I am not a scientist?!?

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

Hello TODers,

Every place you read Nigeria please substitute America:
Nigeria: Fuel Shortages, Stark Realities And Present Challenges

The issue of vehicular pressure, in absolute terms, is very real and worrisome.

Today, in Nigeria, the ambition of every young man or woman is to be a car owner. This is a legitimate desire though, as a result of poor development of reliable mass public transportation. The rail system in Nigeria received unimaginable and scandalous neglect by successive Nigerian governments. As a result, virtually all movements have to rely on land vehicles plying ill-developed roads.

We cannot continue like this if we must improve on the welfare and comfort of the citizenry with regard to transportation.

There are obvious challenges if we must embrace the culture of care for the average Nigerian who suffers unquantifiable losses as a result of fuel shortages or for the Nigerian who cannot afford to buy his or her own personal vehicle and pay for roadside fuel at whatever cost. Tackling these challenges headlong will contribute towards reducing the vehicular pressure on fuel consumption. We must therefore begin to focus on those factors responsible for both seasonal and impromptu petroleum products shortages.

These are challenges that are readily surmountable once the political will is mustered. But, above all, there must be the concerted effort to seek ways of introducing alternative products which will be environmentally friendly and cost effective.

Above all, government must ensure that mass transportation is given priority attention in the transport ministry by way of resuscitating and modernizing the rail system, nation-wide. When all these measures are put in place, mass movement of people, products and goods will become more effective and efficient, and at the same time discourage individuals from relying on personal transportation efforts. It is my conviction that all these will check fuel shortages and allow government focus on and tackle urgently needed infrastructural development of our nation.

Will Nigeria build a better system of RRs and Mass-transit than the USA? They have a lot more oil/capita than us if they don't export it all. Is the Nigerian MSM doing a better job than our MSM? If you read the link, notice the raves for other countries' RRs & mass-transit, but no glowing review or mention of American RRs & mass- transit.

Edit: because I hit post,when I meant to hit preview.

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