DrumBeat: March 31, 2007

James Howard Kunstler: Remarks to the Commonwealth Club of California (transcript and audio)

Two years ago in my book, The Long Emergency, I wrote that our nation was sleepwalking into an era of unprecedented hardship and disorder – largely due to the end of reliably cheap and abundant oil. We’re still blindly following that path into a dangerous future, lost in dark raptures of infotainment, diverted by inane preoccupations with sex and celebrity, made frantic by incessant motoring.

The coming age of energy scarcity will change everything about how we live in this country. It will ignite more desperate contests between nations for the remaining oil and natural gas around the world. It will alter the fundamental terms of industrial economies. It will ramify and amplify many of the problems presented by climate change. It will require us to behave differently. But we are not paying attention.

Cost, consumption of gas both up - Pump prices not fueling change in driving habits

“Sometimes when the price of something goes up, demand does not go down because it can't go down,” said Charles Langley, who oversees gasoline monitoring for UCAN. “If the price of strawberries goes up, you don't have to buy strawberries, but you can't get to work on a tank of strawberries. No matter what, you need the gas.”

Norway Oil Chief Outlines Industry Challenges

Vold noted that Norway is already facing a challenge in stemming the slide in its global oil exporting rank, despite investment highs of around NOK100 billion a year.

"I will not refer to Norway as a net oil exporter in third place globally, it's probably fourth or fifth now," Vold said.

Opec doesn’t need to act on oil prices, Qatar says

Opec, producer of 40% of the world’s oil, doesn’t need to take action after crude prices reached a six-month high amid a dispute between Iran and the UK over the detention of 15 British servicemen, Qatar has said.

The Dirt on Coal

The peak of world production is only ten to fifteen years away.

The peak of U.S. production is in the past.

Reserves have been overstated by as much as 90%.

There are serious implications for our entire way of life.

And the media are still reporting that there will be abundant supplies for another 150 years, 200 years, or more.

I'm talking about oil, right?


I'm talking about coal.

Oil-enriched Arab Investors Turning Away from U..S Dollar & U.S. Investments

Three articles from Reuters (below) report that investors from the oil rich Gulf Arab nations are “eager” to diversify away from the U.S. currency. Reuters reports movement to the Euro and Asia “to invest windfall oil revenue, eager to ride the rise of China and India.” On Monday, Reuters reported that the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority said “More Gulf economies will move away from a dollar currency peg and shift foreign exchange reserves away from dollar to other currencies.”

Bolivian Senate Approves Gas Nationalization Contracts

Bolivia's Senate on Friday approved nearly all the energy nationalization contracts signed months ago with foreign oil companies, clearing up errors that had delayed the deals' implementation.

Europe Must Hurry To Secure Energy Supplies

The European Union has said diversifying energy supplies and transit routes is one of its most urgent priorities. However, analysts say the EU needs to act fast if it wants to secure direct access to Central Asian oil and gas -- and warn that Russia is purposely attempting to undermine some of the EU's key initiatives.

Peru Energy Minister: China Oil Co Finds Crude in Northern Jungle

Peru's Energy and Mines Minister Juan Valdivia said late Thursday that a unit of the China National Petroleum Corp. has discovered crude oil in the northern jungle region.

Togo requires financial fund to solve energy crisis

The resolution of Togo's energy crisis requires an investment of approximately 10 billion CFA francs (20 million U.S. dollars), a Togolese energy and mines ministry official said on Friday.

Will the growing of fuel crops result in higher food costs?

If farmers turn their relatively unprofitable wheat fields over to the production of sugar beet, for instance, then there will inevitably be a shortage of wheat ­ leading, ultimately, to higher prices for bread. Some may argue that higher bread prices may be the price that we simply have to pay in order to combat global warming. This problem is perhaps best seen in Mexico where corn and, consequently, bread prices are at a ten year high ­ due to the cheap surplus corn normally "dumped" on the Mexican market by US farmers disappearing as more and more US grown corn is converted into profitable ethanol production.

Growing Fuel

An ethanol-fueled boom in prices will prompt American farmers to plant the most corn since the year the Allies invaded Normandy, but surging demand could mean consumers still may pay more for everything from chicken to cough syrup.

Could Nabors Profit Warning Signal Trend?

Nabors Industries on Thursday became the second major U.S. oilfield contractor to signal that weaker drilling activity in North America will be cutting into its profit. And it may not be the last, analysts said.

Quiet desperation

"I think the suburban model is being driven by selfishness," Brown says. "Everyone feels entitled to their own home, to a front and backyard. This is my SUV and I'm burning as much gas as I want. There's some ignorance, but a lot of selfishness — a lot of selfishness. And this model's not going to be destroyed by writing articles in Atlantic Monthly or doing docs. The model's going to be destroyed when either there's no gas or it's too expensive to drive in from Oakville twice a day, five times a week. It is better downtown," he adds. "It is."

Uncertainty Haunts GAO Peak Oil Report

It is a dark and stormy night...

A semi-truck hauling gasoline races along a twisting mountain road shrouded in a thick gauze of fog. The truck's lights penetrate only yards ahead, yet the driver races on, shifting gears and picking up speed. He's got a life to lead and a warm bed ahead.

Yet somewhere out there on Route 666, the bridge across Campbell's Gorge is unfinished, the spans still incomplete. Disaster looms and although the driver has been warned, he is too preoccupied with the road immediately visible in his headlights to care about some remote and distant threat.

Glenmore's plan for new wind turbines generates controversy

After nine years, the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. wind turbines in the Zirbels' fields are still getting mixed reviews, but some of the worst fears expressed at the time have not panned out, Sandi Zirbel said.

ASU offers new Alternative Energy Technologies program

As many across the globe scramble to develop efficient, inexpensive sources of alternative energy, Arizona State University is developing new degree programs to educate students to be future leaders in this arena.

International and Corporate Leaders Discuss Climate Change, Profitability of Reducing Carbon Emissions

The Climate Group will host a briefing on the economics of climate change featuring Sir Nicholas Stern – head of UK Government Economic Service and former Chief Economist of The World Bank – followed by a discussion with a select group of prominent business leaders and members of the McKinsey Global Institute. The event is the first opportunity for U.S. business leaders to engage in a private briefing with Sir Nicholas, author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.

Evergreen mill may test hydrogen technology

The proposed project would gasify fine wood residue to create a gas of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, which it would burn in place of natural gas. Since the mill is one of the largest users of natural gas in the county, the replacement fuel could reduce costs significantly and shield the operation from fluctuating gas prices.

Plan for big offshore wind farm passes hurdle

BOSTON - A controversial plan to build the first large U.S. offshore wind-power farm won approval from Massachusetts authorities on Friday but still must clear federal regulatory hurdles.

First Reserve earmarks $780 mln for alt energy

First Reserve Corp. positions itself in the mushrooming, world of private equity as an investor in energy firms tied to the massive oil, coal and gas business.

But now in its latest fund of $7.8 billion, ranked as the richest energy investment pool to date, the Greenwich, Conn.-based private equity firm set aside $780 million for investments in alternative energy.

Residents encouraged to take part in power discount plan

Southern California Edison is encouraging customers to enroll in its Summer Discount Plan now so that they can be eligible for bill credits during the summer months, June through September, in return for allowing SCE to interrupt their air conditioner during powersupply emergencies.

No Unleaded Gasoline At Calhan Filling Stations

A Loaf & Jug and a smaller locally-owned station are affected. A clerk at the Loaf & Jug says she doesn't know why a tanker hasn't arrived to refill the station's tanks, but that it's part of an apparent gas shortage which has affected other stations. She also says she doesn't know when the station will get more fuel.

The manager of the locally-owned station says she ran out because of extra business from customers who couldn't fill up at the Loaf & Jug, but she expects a delivery on Monday.

Alternative Energy’s “Cover” Moment?

This morning, as CNBC devoted wall-to-wall coverage to the corn-crop report, stirring old memories of Trading Places, a couple of anchors astutely wondered if all the unusual attention being paid to this typically mundane report wasn’t a sign of some kind of top in ethanol.

It’s something Energy Roundup’s been wondering, too. We suggested in our latest post that the ethanol boom was unlikely to end soon; but, given Energy Roundup’s forecasting record, that means there’s a 50/50 chance that the ethanol boom will end very soon, indeed.

And if you believe the old saw that when a trend finally makes it to popular magazine covers, the trend is very over, then things aren’t looking good for alternative energy: Time, Fortune, The Atlantic Monthly and even Sports Illustrated have featured global warming and/or green technology on their covers recently.

The Energy Report

And then if oil prices continue to rise then the demand for oil might be tempered but more importantly the high prices would unleash the peak oil theorists most potent enemy; the ingenuity of the human spirit. It is that sprit that is driven by the desire to make profit that will solve peak oil and until that fine day you better be on the safe side and buy oil.

Analysis: Nuclear-powered oil sands

Nuclear companies and those mining Canada's oil sands are poised to team up to separate crude from deep Earth and pump it to the surface.

Oil sands boom adds to worker shortage woes

In labour hungry Alberta, more oil sands production is predicted through to the year 2020, a portent that may compound the province’s construction industry woes.

Declining oil pushes Mexico to rethink taxes

Mexico needs better tax collection -- and fast. Production at Pemex, the state oil monopoly and biggest taxpayer, is falling. Evasion among businesses and individuals is rampant. At a time when Pacific Rim trade rivals such as China are investing in superhighways and research centers to speed economic growth, Mexico is struggling to fund basics such as sewers and police.

From financial services to alternative energy: Former MBNA waterfront complex sold

Simmons is pressing ahead in creating what he calls an "Ocean Energy Institute."

"Initially, it will not take much of the building space," he wrote. "Ideally, over time, this center will be the 'Silicon Valley' headquarters for Ocean Energy expertise and [spawn] many growing business activities for what might become the only real way to begin weaning ourselves from what will soon become a clear peaking of global oil and gas."

Sydney dims lights to protest emissions

Australia's largest city dimmed on Saturday night as businesses and homeowners switched off the lights to draw attention to global warming.

The normally gleaming white sails of the Sydney Opera House darkened, and so did the iconic harbor bridge and chunks of the city skyline. Security and street lights, as well as those at commercial port operations, stayed on.

Throughout the city of about 4 million people, residents turned off the lights for one hour in an event organized by environmentalists and supported by Sydney city officials, the New South Wales state government and thousands of businesses.

Netherlands To Import More Gas

Declining national gas reserves are forcing the Netherlands to increase its imports. Companies and consumers will pay higher charges, Economic Affairs Minister Maria van der Hoeven has warned in a letter to parliament.

Protests disrupting Ecuador oil flow end

Protests that led the Brazilian state oil company to halt production in the Ecuadorean jungle have ended, Ecuador's Energy Ministry said late Friday.

...In a statement, the Ministry said losses from the production freeze totaled more than $40 million, a loss of 840,000 barrels of crude.

British oil worker abducted in Nigeria

Gunmen have kidnapped a British oil worker from an offshore oil rig in southern Nigeria, officials said Saturday, the latest abduction in the impoverished region.

Dengue surging in Mexico, Latin America

The deadly hemorrhagic form of dengue fever is increasing dramatically in Mexico, and experts predict a surge throughout Latin America fueled by climate change, migration and faltering mosquito eradication efforts.

UN experts: Europe faces global warming double whammy, but can cope

Global warming will hit Europe hard but unevenly this century, causing drought, reduced harvests and deadly heatwaves in the south but inflicting more floods and severe winter storms farther north, UN experts say in a report to be unveiled next week.

In Alpine regions, reduced snow cover imperils a multi-billion-dollar ski industry while rising temperatures could wipe out up to 60 percent of plant and animal species, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns.

Abrupt climate change more common than believed

It came on quickly and then lasted nearly two decades, eventually killing more than one million people and affecting 50 million more. All of this makes the Sahel drought, which first struck West Africa in the late 1960s, the most notorious example of an abrupt climatic shift during the last century.

US/Brazil Biofuel Plans May Destroy Livelihoods, Promote Food Shortages, Warns ActionAid

ActionAid urges governments to take into account that the production of such biofuels has thus far resulted in the concentration of land, resources and income into the hands of the few, the destruction of endangered rainforests, contamination of soil, air and water, and the expulsion of rural populations from their homes.

trading places !!!!! lmao. but they (don amichi,and whoever)were trading orange juice or pulp or something werent they ?

A reason to cry wolf ?

Peak Oil is a event that will cause economic hardship if left unattended. Once the oil resources start running down we can expect the price of oil to continue to increase. In and of itself this is cause for concern but can it be a bigger problem then we realize. I recently argued that as oil becomes more scarce and WestTexas bidding war moves to competition between the more advanced and wealthier countries not only will the price increase but political reasons will be used to decide who gets the oil. Already we are seeing KSA cut shipments to asia while maintain them to the USA and Europe.

As I thought about the problem I wondered what on earth is move valuable than oil ? What could be used as a carrot in these increasingly desperate political maneuverings required to ensure oil supply for our economies ?

It turns out that obviously their exists one thing worth more than oil.
Nuclear Weapons.
The problem with the bidding war is that most of the nations that have wealth and want oil also have a variety of sophisticated nuclear weapons and many of the oil producing countries are interested in getting them. Those that may not initially be interested will probably change their minds is they have neighbors that acquire them.

At some point we have a good chance that a nation will decide that to continue its economy it will release say some small tactical nukes to one of the oil producing countries in exchange for oil. Once pandora's box is open we have no idea where it will end.

Desperate times can mean desperate measures and I'm sure if this happens the release of a little nuke could be rationalized and a way to stabilize the region. Or ensure the oil producer is not attacked by another strong nation.
I could readily see the US be the one to start it by providing nuclear weapons to KSA. Any nation with nuclear weapons is capable of making this decision.

So now to those who accuse people of crying wolf my answer is their is a wolf associated with peak oil its nuclear proliferation and I do not want to see it happen. Better to be proactive than allow things to get to the point that anyone is tempted to take the easy way out.

What on earth do you mean by proactive - bomb Iran?? There are already some 300 nuclear weapons in the Middle East, built by US ally Israel. Does anyone suppose that Israeli introduction of nuclear weapons will not lead to others following. It's normal that an arms race has more than one participant. After the 1956 attack on Egypt, France provided the Israeli reacton and the UK supplied the heavy water moderator
Furthermore the issue is trivial. Global warming through unconstrained consumption of fossil fuels threatens to destroy all live on planet earth this century. Which nation has the largest per capita production of carbon dioxide? Why not be proactive nearer home.

Professor Newt Gingrich recommends that Blair be more proactive:

Newt Gingrich became the most prominent figure to suggest military retaliation. The former House speaker said Blair should threaten to destroy Iran's oil-production capacity.

By forcing the Iranians to "go back to walking and using oxen to pull carts," they might overthrow the hard-line government, he said.


Isn't it great to see how senior republicans are still able to think outside the box...?

One of the symptoms of sociopathology is that they cannot forsee the consequences of their actions.

Actually, many Americans might have to go back to walking as well. What a concept. God knows Gingrich doesn't walk anywhere.

I think its too late to avert global warming.


The Barents Sea is already almost melted already this year.

I'm not saying we should not change and change fast because of this I'm just saying we have probably done far more damage then people realize.

The nuclear proliferation problem is one that we can prevent by simply using less oil and defusing the situation.

Generally we have looked at peak oil as a economic problem but once you consider the possibility of nuclear proliferation it becomes even more pressing that we should address it. This is not to belittle the global warming issue we seem to be ignoring, simply stating we may have not fully considered the possible impact of peak oil in a nuclear world.

Of course it is too late to avert global warming since it has been occurring for at least 100 years. The question is not whether we can avert global warming, the question is whether or not we can avert a near or total catastrophe. James Hansen says we need ten years and I believe he said that about a year ago. Nine years and counting.

Thus far, all we have to show for our efforts are a few hybrids, an ethanol program that is driving up food prices, and a few pathetic attempts by our congress to do some paltry research on alternatives, including hydrogen and better batteries.

Nine years goes all too quickly. Nine years ago I was ranting about global warming and almost nothing has occurred since then to give me much hope. Kyoto. A pathetic attempt to address global warming, especially without the Unites States and the Europeans will have trouble even meeting those goals.

Clmate Action day is this April 14th. Be sure to walk in your local march, if there is one. If there isn't one, organize a march.

Not against marches, but I feel strongly that the primary message must be that what can seem like a perfect storm threatening us on this planet is something that will in large part have to be weathered rather than averted, whatever form it may take. Who are we marching against really?? Does one march against a storm? Is there nothing to do but to shake our fists at the sky?
There are things we should be doing and should be politically pushing for without a doubt...but I would simply like to suggest that the most valuable contribution anyone can be making (inclusive, not exclusive of everything else) is to prepare internally to face the future - and to face our own fears first. Otherwise we just add velocity to the wind!

sure I'm preaching to the choir in large part :)
& myself fer sure!

many thnx to the heroic efforts behind TOD!


I watch the Cryosphere Today site too. It looks like this year's maximum extent of sea ice was reached February 12th or 13th. That would put us into a cycle with 5 months of freeze-up and 7 months of thaw instead of 6 and 6.
The data are noisy and someone else can interpret it some other way. I have no particular expertise and I'd defer to anyone with an expert interpretation. The raw data on its face is terrifying.

I post a link to it periodically on the oil drum its a fantastic site.

I noticed the same thing myself. This time around though their is a lot more open water earlier in the arctic so I'm wondering if the rate of change won't increase a lot this year. Its amazing watching it melt just about in front of your eyes. Makes it a lot easier to realize that big changes can and will happen.

There is only one good way to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle: nuclear disarmament, starting at the top -- i.e. FIRST the US, Russia, China, and so on down the line, including Israel. With on-site inspections. Then you can reasonably ask wannabes to sign on -- and who can doubt they would? But why should they renounce nukes when they are threatened with invasion and destabilization, and possibley even getting nuked themselves?

The US is currently the ONLY power that is currently threatening the pre-emptive use of nukes against non-nuclear powers ("nothing is off the table").

The road we're on now, however, is almost certain to see the use of nukes, and it is almost certain that the US will directly or indirectly be behind unleashing them. Israel, for example, would not dare use them without foreknowledge of the US reaction.

I do not know much suffering and disaster it will take to get us to start thinking like a species that wants to survive.

Understand that the consensus opinion is that peak oil is still several years away and further if this was true then the bidding war would being in earnest several years after that.

And we are already rattling the nuclear saber.

I happen to think we are close or passed peak but the problem is not this but the fact that the US and Iran are already willing to bring nuclear arms into the battle for oil.

Peak Oil itself can easily be the fuse that pushes countries to both eagerly seek nuclear weapons and cause countries to consider using or providing nuclear weapons in exchange for oil.

Its this mix of the real prize nuclear weapons with oil that is the wolf. In my opinion changing the way we live is far better than even allowing the chance that nuclear weapons and oil will become intertwined.

Hi m,

I'm glad to see you giving some thought to the intersection of nuclear weapons and "peak oil". A couple of comments:

1) re: "It turns out that obviously their exists one thing worth more than oil. Nuclear Weapons."

I'd like to offer another version of this, with what I see as an important qualifying thought:

"There is one thing worth more..." *within the framework of the amount of destructive capacity one or more groups (or individuals within a group) can bring to another group.*

In the case of oil, the destructive means is by sudden withdrawal, absent mitigation, and with the attendent threats to safety and health that would ensue. In the case of nuclear weapons (or weapons of any kind), the destruction is immediate physical violence and death, and its aftermath.

So, the "worth" is within a particular framework, namely one where there is a set of arrangements in place, which makes either threats - or the actual use of destructive means - *to be seen as* (emphasis) having some constructive ends.

Would you agreee w. my thoughts here so far?

My suggestion (If I may offer one): I'd encourage you to do some looking into the history of nuclear (and non-nuclear) weapons use (manufacture, dealers, funding by gov't.s to subsidize, etc.) and proliferation/non-proliferation. I think Chalmers Johnson has written on this, as have others. This might provide a context for a way to explore this further. There's a real good "classic" (1998) 29 min video called "Welfare for Weapons Dealers", put out by www.cdi.org.

I'd very much caution against your conclusion of a strategy to prevent proliferation, without first examining the issue and history a little more in depth. Perhaps you have - I don't mean to presume, just to offer my comments and suggestions.

There are a lot of people who have given much of their lives (life's work) to thinking about this, and trying to work in a positive way. Some of them are at www.fas.org, www.idds.org, www.ucs.org, www.cdi.org. I'd suggest getting a hold of some people and seeing what they have to say, i.e., beginning a dialog. Randall Forsberg, for example, has a lot of relevant experience, (IMHO). (My guess is you would be surprised.)

I make this suggestion because I'd like to see some communication between people who know about "peak oil" (and energy issues) and people who know about nuclear weapons (and weapons in general). It seems to be to be an important conversation to have.

Both because the this issue (as you raise it here) is linked to many others regarding weapons. A conversation could inform both parties of the other's knowledge and views. The concerns overlap.

The importance of seeing what others have researched, done and thought as part of the process of thinking things through...that's part of my suggestion.

2) I'm also curious about what you mean by "proactive"?

A most excellent, thoughtful response. I too will check out some of those websites since this subject just gives me the heebie-jeebies so bad that it makes my guts churn and makes me want to barf.

A big hug to you Aniya.

By proactive I mean recognizing that the stress a country could undergo because of oil shortages could lead to a more pragmatic view of nuclear weapons and proliferation of more advanced conventional arms in general as you mention.

When your facing economic devastation from oil issues and you have nuclear weapons it suddenly becomes a lot more reasonable to consider selling or deploying them in oil rich countries in exchange for exclusive agreements. Short term its a win win situation. You get the oil your need competing nations don't and since they have less oil their economies crumble faster leading to demand destruction and thus more oil for the winner. Now of course you have almost assured at least a regional nuclear war are a proxy one between your client state and one of the "loser" nations.

So the proactive part is to recognize that we probably cannot afford to enter the stressed economic condition that would result from peak oil and for that matter other issues facing us such as global warming low food/water resources etc since we posses nuclear weapons.

I'm not sure if this has been researched but thinking about nuclear armed nations facing the equivalent of the great depression does not bode well for our future. We probably cannot allow our economies to hit the wall.

You can run through the scenarios but I just can't see non-proliferation possible in these cases. We actually face something like this in Pakistan where if they lost control of their government we would have not choice but to intervene. When the governments at risk are the rich nuclear armed western and Asian nations and they are in fierce competition over the remaining resources the problem become intractable. Also you cannot dismiss Russia that has both oil and nuclear weapons. If anything we are probably facing a far higher chance for nuclear war than has ever existed. The chance it might be contained to a small regional nuclear war is about the only difference but this is in my opinion a faint hope chances for escalation or multiple regional wars are high.

The sell of more advanced weapons systems to the oil rich nations would be a lead up condition but this has of course already happened.

Hi again, m,

Actually, when I re-read, I'm not so sure I understand everything you are saying.

To take it a little slow:

re: "We probably cannot allow our economies to hit the wall."

What do you mean? Do we have a choice? If so, what is the choice and can you please describe it?

"...cannot allow..." before doing what? Is this the sense you mean?

I'm still a little confused, I realize. Thanks.

As far as the rest of your comment I simply don't know. All I can say is that deteriorating economic conditions and proliferation of nuclear and advanced conventional weapons systems seem to be strongly linked. This means we would be prudent to not run a oil based economy all the way down so to speak. So people concerned about nuclear weapon proliferation should take a serious look at the peak oil issue and in general the interaction of resource depletion/economic strife and nuclear weapons.

Up till now I felt that peak oil would represent a economic problem of varying severity depending on how you choose to handle it. But once you throw nuclear weapons into the mix it in my opinion becomes a topic that should be addressed sooner than later.

Hi m,

Thanks for responding. This really reinforces my idea of how important it is (for me, anyway) to really try to understand what someone is saying, as my first take on what you said changed. Thanks again for going further.

re: "So people concerned about nuclear weapon proliferation should take a serious look at the peak oil issue and in general the interaction of resource depletion/economic strife and nuclear weapons."

I agree that this is an important goal. I'd say, critical, in fact.

What I was trying to suggest:

My take on the situation is that there are some educated and dedicated people who are concerned about weapons in general, including proliferation.

My take on "peak oil" is pretty much parallel, in terms of individuals trying to understand and act.

It seems to me that it's up to the "peak oil" community to take the first step. Because we're the ones who know. Other people, doing important and excellent work on many fronts, including prevention of nuclear war, don't know about "peak oil" per se. Or have many of the same conceptions, misconceptions, or emotional issues with it that everyone else has (including, speaking for myself, on-going "cognitive dissonance" I somehow live with.)

This idea about imagining states bartering nukes in a peak oil equation is absolutely mind boggling.

"Um, I'm sorry, 2 nukes and free Disney World passes won't do the trick. The EU is offering us 4, plus free lifetime meals at the Jules Verne restaurant whenever we're in Paris. Can you do better?"

*sigh* It truly makes me long for the good ol' stone age. At least then the future was assured, no matter how short and brutish. It's bad enough we have these things hanging over us as it is, but to imagine how they'll be used as bargaining chips, or worse...

That's not a day worth imagining.

Bam me up, Scotty.

I agree I hate I thought it through to be honest. WT bidding war comments lead me to think of whats worth more than oil.

But once I did I felt its worth getting the meme out to see if people that work on the nuclear threat might here how peak oil can be very destabilizing. In many cases these are respected scientists so hopefully it might cause them to at least look at the peak issue. I had been of the opinion that we would make it through even if we wait till way to late to handle the issue since so much oil use is discretionary I do expect economic hardship but the nuclear gambit could be triggered quite early in the oil bidding war.

memmel et al

Thanks for thinking about these very hard issues
re nuclear arms. We can not assume more recent
history will apply (upslope for energy) to the
downslope.We often apply the cold war thinking
to our projections of the future w/o this recognition.

I had not thought of trading weapons for oil
(long term contracts) so much ,though as I had to
threats of use of weapons to secure energy needs
. I will be giving these issues more thought- I can see regional alliances become crucial.
I have often thought the only way nukes would not
be used on a very significant scale would be for
leadership & organization on a global- New World
Order-scale. Most people bridal at NWO -I never
worry about it because I don't think it has a
chance, especially in an energy declining

As I said thanks for being real about nukes use as I
think they are our biggest threat.

Good comment. Yes we often fall into cold war thinking.
Russia and China I think suffer the same problem.
But we have a lot better nuclear weapons today than we had 50 years ago. Tactical nukes have been refined and using them does not mean at least initially a all out nuclear war.
Next they are probably the weapon of choice for accelerating demand destruction.

Of course we also have a huge arsenal of conventional arms.
As far as oil goes in such a screwed up world if the major powers are willing to look the other way I think that mercenary forces could be used to secure oil facilities regardless of the populations desire to destroy them.

One reason the US does not do well as a occupying force is we have been so far unwilling to take the steps required to subdue a population I'd suspect this restraint will also be lifted.

The real problem is simply that strategic moves have to be made and they need to be done fairly early on half measures
probably are not good enough as we have seen in Iraq. The easiest way to handle peak oil is to destroy one of the worlds major economies leaving the rest to the victors.
This could be the US/China/Japan etc.
You could quickly see Chinese Japanese relationships deteriorate post peak for example with the Japanese arming Taiwan with nuclear weapons. As far as japan not having nuclear weapons I suspect can change as fast as someone can turn a screwdriver.
I don't think I need to chase all the possible scenarios that would lead to proliferation post peak just their are hundreds of plausible conditions that would lead to regional nuclear wars post peak.

I doubt that "give us oil or we will nuke you" works since following thru on the threath wont preserva a delicate oil extraction infrastructure.

This kind of strong arm politics probably only work for fashist governments that are ready to comitt mass murder stalin style.

I think the most likely reason to get nuclear weapons will continue to be to turn conventional arms race and war into cold war standoffs. Nuclear wepaons are very attractive for countries that have a large risk for being invaded by a large force. Its tempting for crook nations like North Korea and fairly nice but cournerd nations like Israel. A simple historic parallel gives that oil producing nations put under threath will have a motive for getting nuclear weapons and the finances for doing it. More expensive and slower then mining your own oil fields and industry but threathening to get even is a stronger card then promising to commit suicide if you are enslaved.

It can gets real nasty if a nation has a crazy religious goal for extermination another nation or people as the nazis had. This might be the case with Iran since there is both US and Iranian propaganda to support it. Its likely that the goal with this propaganda is for manipulating people but such goals can be turned into reality.

I dont think peak oil will give nuclear weapon arms races unless we get conventional resource wars. Such wars would be a disaster for we who are well off since they destroy enourmous ammounts of goods and qualified man hours that could be put into use building post peak oil infrastructure.

In the Energy Report article by Phil Flynn above, he goes on to say the 'human sprit' will save us.

This is very condescending of PO, but apparently even after appearing on CNBC frequently, he seems to have only a superficial knowledge of PO. No where does he consider the EROEI of new, yet undiscovered, human sprit technologies – or even what looks like marginal or even negative EROEI on the ethanol production and distribution process. Apparently someone in his position could gain hugely by the ethanol boondoggle, so it’s not surprising he's supportive of it.

However he intuitively suspects something is up, as he looks for much higher energy prices soon. He'll be cheering the price of through $100 and beyond, as the price of oil is moved by market 'spirits' ever higher.

From biologist E.O. Wilson's "The Creation"

"Here is a chimera, a new and very odd species come shambling into our universe, a mix of Stone Age emotion, Medieval self image, and godlike technology. The combination makes the species unresponsive to the forces that count most for its own long term survival."


"What I fear most is the pervasive combination of religious and secular ideology of a kind that sees little or no harm in the destruction of the Creation."

I reflect on contemporary geopolitics related to this:

"The power of the human spirit" is unfortunately locked into just the combination of religious and secular ideologies that Dr. Wilson fears.

The variety of seculr and religious fundamentalisms abounds, but most recently we see the American Fascist false gospel bound to a brutal form of Economic Darwinism and confronting various Islamic fundamentalisms likewise bound to the same secularism.

The "Suicide Economy" is married to religious fundamentalisms whose meta-narratives are used to justify brutal resource wars.

This combination of primitive emotion is shaped by religious and secular economic fundamentalisms and focused on using our godlike technology to brutally kill unimaginable numbers of people in the mass murder crime we call "war."

This combination of characteristics does not seem to be serving us very well in terms of long term survival.

From Homo Sapien ("wise man" or "knowing man") to Homo Psychopathicus?

Will there be a Homo Pacificus?

high prices would unleash the peak oil theorists most potent enemy; the ingenuity of the human spirit. It is that sprit that is driven by the desire to make profit that will solve peak oil...

THEN the baleful fiend its fire belched out,
and bright homes burned. The blaze stood high
all landsfolk frighting. No living thing
would that loathly one leave as aloft it flew.
Wide was the dragon's warring seen,
its fiendish fury far and near,
as the grim destroyer those Geatish people
hated and hounded. To hidden lair,
to its hoard it hastened at hint of dawn.
Folk of the land it had lapped in flame,
with bale and brand. In its barrow it trusted,
its battling and bulwarks: that boast was vain!

I look around the room I am sitting in. Very few of the things in this room are what I would define as needed- a couple of chairs, the table, the wood stove some bowls and spoons. The rest is useful and attractive but not needed- the old masterwork cabinet of my wife's German grandfather, the table settings therein, the books and bookshelves, some artwork.

So the un-needed/needed ratio in this room is maybe 5. In some other rooms it is closer to 20. And of course, some of the rooms are themselves entirely un-needed.

But a better number would be the ratio of un-needed stuff I have bought that cost the world some pain/ the stuff that I need or have but is causing no more pain to keep (the cabinet). I could easily do without the TV, and almost do, but it cost some pain to make and keep it. Books on the shelf over the TV have been there for 40 years and are causing no more pain.

I vividly remember that Bangladeshi woman who invited me to inspect her hut. She had a bowl, a spoon, a stool, a string bed, and a three -stone fire place. That was it. I gave her a un-needed/needed ratio of 0.7. She didn't have enough- for example, I saw no cloth other than what she was wearing.

Of course she was very well integrated into her village community- something she really needed and had.

I am guessing the un-need/need ratio for the US is somewhere around 100. So I have to laugh when I hear people talking about deprivation from less oil. Ha! call that deprivation?

So, you say, what about food? Ain't that needed, and doesn't it take oil? Sure, but you can get it with -brace yourself- human sweat. Yep. Done all the time right in my back yard.

Goddam it, I remember being happy as a kid playing with sticks, mud and bones of dead model T's. So it makes me sick to see my grandkids playing with- or more often, ignoring- bushels of plastic toys from china. Toys that cost the world a lot of pain.

My business is machines- inventions thereof. I look around at what machines are doing and could do, and see a huge difference. Most of these processes- say a table fan or a water pump, not to mention a car- could be at least 5 times more efficient than they are. And nobody cares or is concerned. Reason? energy prices people pay are a fraction of their real cost to the planet. Fix that, make the price equal the cost, and everything else follows. Don't fix it, and we will get what we are getting- junk that kills the future.

If all your stuff reminds you of people's pain, you are better off giving it all to me. The burden is great, but to help you, I will take it from you.

Well, thanks, Keith, that's real kind of you, but problem is, I can't even give most of this stuff away. I have tried. Anybody want a couple of 7 yr old computers with moribund disk drives? How about a barn full of ancient hay rakes , empty oil cans, discarded fuel filters and such like? And then there's all that electronic noise making gear my kids left when they left 30 years ago. Of course you can have those chinese toys, but my grandkids might notice and squawk for an hour or so.

Maybe you are thinking of my car. Worth at most $300 if you can find a really ignorant customer. Not worth the trip. Besides, I'm probably the only guy left who remembers how to fix it.

I'm thinking of people's pain 50 years from now. Not me, but just like me. Their pain, my pain, no diff.

However, I'll keep the shovel, the rake, the 3 wheelbarrows, the buckets and the wife who works them. My job is to keep the water pumps working.

can i rig any of those hay rakes to a 10 hp bcs walk behind?
btw spent a good 8 hrs. yesterday digging up and replacing a defective stop and waste valve. that was sort of painful (not really just pissed me off)

Well said.

My father decades ago saw where we were headed. He lamented the lack of quality and craftsmenship being applied to everything. He was a machinist and millwright. He knew what could be done vs what was being done in manufacturing 40 years ago.

Planned obsolescence and businesses built on margin, rather than building to the highest quality (as a craftsmen would), have got us to where we are. Nowadays most people can't even understand what we are talking about. Building to last, with built in maintainence strategies and parts may cost more up front but saves money over a person's life.

I await comments from others saying that rapid turnover of items allows improved efficiency to get to the market. I don't believe it. Electric motors, house construction, hand tools, clothes, and light switch covers to name a few have not changed significantly in 30 years. Any change you can name has cheapened these goods up with little operating efficiency but enormously shortened lifespan.

Most consumers can't tell the difference between cheap junk and a quality item cost slightly more to purchase. And the marketers know it because many people are convinced to buy expensive junk assuming price equals quality.

Totally agree. A focus on real quality/beauty/long-term efficiency in all areas of life would do far more than most people realise to improve our lot. It would be one of the greatest revolutions we could engage in.

"You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created."
Albert Einstein

Nice. Downsizing is good. It is freeing. But I still have a lot of unneeded stuff, too.

Corn based ethanol is the first step in a long process. Read Buckminster Fuller’s 1982 book Critical Path. Or consider what Christopher Columbus must have said to King Ferdinand of Spain. He didn’t know there was gold when he set out to find the New World.

Cellulosic ethanol is the future. That’s the gold that lies on our horizon. If we stay the course and keep the sails trim we’ll get there in under one year! Already huge advances are already being made at Iogen in Ottawa and at GreenField Ethanol’s plant in Tiverton, Ontario.

And know this - corn grown to supply ethanol plants is not the same crop used to make corn flakes. And so what if Canadian farmers get paid more for their hard work in the future… I’d rather see our citizens profit more than Esso (Exxon) and Shell. Keep your money here at home and not in the pockets of the Arabs or the terrorists they fund, and keep our soldiers here at home.

And by the way corn crops don’t require any more fuel to produce than any other crop that's already being grown today. And with modern crop rotation farmers don’t apply that much chemical fertilizer – just nitrogen. You know, there is a reason that you nay sayers are being ignored - because you are uninformed and your ignorance perpetuates unhealthy myths that are encouraged by petroleum companies.

read Fuel Ghoul at

Columbus found gold alright. His minions went on a genicidal quest for it and millions were killed and hacked to death by the forces he unleashed to find the yellow metal that makes the white man crazy. The same will happen if large amounts of the worlds biomass and crops are used to fuel SUV's. Like ol' Chris, your logical endpoint of "driving the topsoil" will lead to millions of deaths of those unlucky enough to be in countries that cannot afford the competition between food and fuel from bio-sources.

Ethanol, in any form, is a dead end. The sum total of irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, and powered machinery use in production of corn based ethanol places its EROEI ratio near or below 1, and you cannot refute that fact by waving your finger. The data do not support you. Further, anyone capable of high school math can do the arable land to gallons of ethanol conversion and see the result. And cellulosic ethanol is like fusion - an unproven technology that has actually been researched for decades with no positive results. Just like shale oil, another boondoggle of massive proportions.

Your blog cites discredited and outdated studies, makes ad hominem attacks on your opponents, ignores real world data about ethanol, and makes outrageous claims for ethanol that not even its proponents make.

You are completely mistaken, sir, about ethanol.

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett


EROEI ratio near or below 1

You are the one the data doesn't support.

And cellulosic ethanol is like fusion
Except that it isn't.

DOE Selects Six Cellulosic Ethanol Plants for Up to $385 Million in Federal Funding

Yeah, take that on the chin, you pack of pagans, you herd of heathens.

The US government puts hundreds of millions of dollars into the cellulosic industry. Now you wouldn't want to insinuate they'd do that if it weren't a surefire money maker, would you? Don't you start doubting the moral integrity of your elected officials now, you hear? Think you know better than the smartest minds your country has to offer?

The government is careful with every penny it spends, always looking out for the taxpayers' best interest. Want proof? They'd never dole out that kind of dough for nuclear fusion. There you go.

Now stop protesting and humbly watch the miracle unfold. Your government knows what's best for you. It spends your money to give you a brighter future. It's an honor to serve the people.

thank you, you just made me laugh like i have not in a looooong time.

That was really good. You should be writing for The Onion or The Daily Show.

Growing List of Ethanol's Enemies

Energy Interdependence, documenting the impact of ethanol on food prices.

Paying the Price for Biofuels

Cellulosic Ethanol Reality Check

Logistics Problem of Cellulosic Ethanol

The Future is Not Now for Biomass Ethanol

Energy Balance for Ethanol Better Than Gasoline?

Amazon Forest Threatened by Oil Plantation Projects

You know, it took me all of 5 minutes to find the above references and there are thousands more. ETHANOL IS AN UNSUSTAINABLE SCAM. You can call people all the names you want, FuelGhoul and Keitherster, but we know Keithster for what he is - a pump and dump ethanol stock scammer. What are you, FuelGhoul? His right hand man?

Ghawar Is Dying
The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function. - Dr. Albert Bartlett

Greyzone is fully mistaken.

In your view it made 100% sense to dump dirt cheap surplus corn, subsidied by the US taxpayer, on the Mexican and world market. Come on! You just don't get it. You Americans just cannot afford this anymore. You don't have the money anymore for doing so.

And there is also a positive side effect due to higher food prices in the US: The whole world knows, that the portion of fat people nowhere is higher than in the US, it's just ugly. Too many of your folks eat to much, because it is too cheap, alas with your huge cars you drive amid too cheap gasoline.

Think about it! Big (fat) is beautiful, yeah...

I agree. Food, especially junk food derived from corn byproducts, is destroying American health. But we are not the only ones who have fallen in this trap:


"The whole world knows, that the portion of fat people nowhere is higher than in the US"

I don't want to downplay America's obesity problem, but this is not true. Samoa has a terrible obesity problem and a higher percentage of obese people. The percentage of obese persons in the US is 25 to 30%. Samoa has a rate of 75%!

Yes, America is the most obese industrialized county, that's what makes Samoa's problem so interesting to medical scientists. It's clearly a genetic problem for the Samoans and is thus understanding the Samoans is thought of as a key to conquering the obesity problems elsewhere. Of course Obesity is one problem that will likely get better after the peak!


The irony of your statement, "You know, there is a reason that you nay sayers are being ignored - because you are uninformed and your ignorance perpetuates unhealthy myths that are encouraged by petroleum companies," is too delicious.

Thanks for that unintended bit of humor!

"And know this - corn grown to supply ethanol plants is not the same crop used to make corn flakes."

I'm gonna have to call bullsh*t on that one.

I think he might be right on this one.

It's the difference between sweet corn (the stuff we eat) and cattle corn (the stuff we feed to livestock).

Now, which corn do they make cornflakes out of I have no idea.

Where's Airdale? He knows a lot about corn.

Cornflakes are not made from 'sweet corn,' the vegetable you eat with butter on the 4th of July. That vegetable is a result of a recessive mutation in the su (sugary) gene that regulates conversion of sugar to starch. It only accounts for a small fraction of US corn production.

Cornflakes are made from hard corns similar those fed to livestock and used for chemical feedstocks.

Oh and yes, corn ethanol is bad news.

Who knew corn was so complicated? :-)

The field they plant the corn in is the same whether the 'type' of corn is the same or not. It is the coversion of food producing acreage to ethanol producing acreage that is the problem. Less food producing acreage = higher prices for food. Higher prices lead to demand destruction. Where food is concerned, demand destruction = starvation.

corn grown to supply ethanol plants is not the same crop used to make corn flakes.

The relevant question, however is, is the arable land the same? Current biofuels will provide a net benefit until they begin competing with necessary food production. We don't know where that line is, considering the industriousness of farmers, it may still be a bit of a ways out, but that is not a line we want to cross, most especially in a free market which does not yet have safeguards in place for such a scenario. I also hope for non food feedstocks for biofuels, currently most are in the experimental to pilot plant stage.

Its the same. Sweet corn is mostly processed when its wet(fresh). I.E your Green Giant sweet niblers, or corn on the cob.
Field or Dent corn is dried and its whats used to make cereals, corn meals, The White corn used to make Tostitos, Doritos and other Mexican specialties is also field corn. White Corn is at an yield disadvantage and a nutritional disadvantge to Yellow dent due to lower hybidization efforts for yield and the fact it does not have as complete amino acid profile as yellow. This lowers the feed value. These two negatives are overcome by the better eating qualities of white corn and money. Companies typically contract for a large % of needed quantities of white corn vs buying on the open market. The contract usually allow the producer to lock in a ratio against the Yellow Field corn market. Back in the day when I worked in this area the ratio typically fluctuated between 1.25X to 1.50x the price of Yellow dent to compensate them for the lower yields.

RE: Former MBNA waterfront complex sold which includes some interesting info on Matt Simmons.

Matthew R. Simmons is founder of Simmons & Company International in Houston, Texas, the only independent investment bank specializing in the entire spectrum of the energy industry.

I have wondered for some time if there might be something different about Simmons that would justify his breaking ranks with his oil investment banker peers and making a big deal out of peak oil. This might be it. He is in energy generally, they are into oil and nat gas. He stands to gain more from attempts to replace oil.

Note that T. Boone Pickens and Matthew Simmons are wealthy men. If they desired, they could fund an Independent Research Group employing a dozen or more Stuart Stanifords (if such could be found) to work full time on peak oil analysis. All in the service of greater clarity: peak oil forensics until the principle actors cough up more info.

Instead these old guys waggle their chins on CNBC and elsewhere to deliver 5 minute sermons that directly work to improve their business prospects.

I'm not saying they are deliberately misleading us. Instead they seem to be socially clueless. Much of the thinking public do not trust businessmen period. Yet they seem to make no effort to improve their credibility or the credibility of their analysis.

[PS: of course, one could say Matt has diversified away from oil because of his peak oil views. But if he really is the concerned citizen he appears, why not directly fund independent research on a decent scale?]


I live next to a large University in the mid-west. There are over 40,000 students. To my knowledge there is no research on P.O. going on. The theology of infinite growth drives the business school. The agriculture program is finance with some fertilizer thrown in. Corn is God, stem cell research is the Prophet.

You're worried about Simmons... that's legit... but what about our "best and brightest"? Who hijacked the Universities?

This is contentious, but what the hell! For the sake of argument let's say that "the Market" hijacked the Universites, just like it "hijacked" everything else. What we live in now is "market democracy". I should perhaps add that I'm not condeming this system per se. I'm just attempting to see things clearly.


Much of the thinking public are businessmen period.

The oil companies will make tons of money no matter what happens, and it looks like the ethanol, wind power, solar power etc. companies will too. The only ones that won't are the people on this website.

Well, call me an oddball eccentric, but making money has never been my first priority.

And I know for a fact that there are many like me.

Asebius, I think you are completely misreading Simmons. Simmons has clients! His clients are investors in the oil business. Simmons has a vested interest in giving good and correct advice to his clients. Simmons looks at the coming decline in the world oil supply, and the coming decline in the US natural gas supply, and advises his clients accordingly. The closer to the truth he can reach, the better advice he can give to his clients.

Matt right now is saying the oil service industry is the place to be. He says there will be more and more calls for drilling rigs and oil services.

Matt Simmons is risking everything in being correct this time. He has said so on many occasions. If he is wrong about Peak Oil, it will ruin his credibility and much of his business. Matt Simmons believes passionately that he is giving correct advice to his clients. If he gave the wrong advice to his clients about the supply of world oil and US natural gas, that would ruin his credibility.

But Matt Simmons believes passionately that he is right and is laying everything on the line in saying so, and that includes his credibility.

As far as research, he is doing everything in his power. What else would you have him do? What kind of research, other than what he has already done, would you have him do? Would you suggest that he personally fund such research because he is a concerned citizen? I think that is a ridiculous request Ace. He is risking everything in doing what he thinks is right yet you demand that he do more? He is risking his personal wealth in this venture. Demanding that he do more is more than a little silly.

Ron Patterson


I think all that has to happen for Matt's business to remain firm is for energy to stay tight. Lack of a peak doesn't hurt him. Business types overstate their cases everyday.

But I take your point, in that $20 oil will make him look very stupid and cost him business. That is very unlikely even if there is no peak for 30 years.

He is risking his personal wealth in this venture. Demanding that he do more is more than a little silly.

Ron, only an American could construe business endeavors as an act of charity

I'm a rarity these days. A Canadian who generally likes Americans. But, egads, you are peculiar sometimes.

Business tycoons give money for all kinds of stuff. Charities, causes of every sort, political contributions out the wazoo.

Every business day, people who are long go on CNBC to show off their horns and balls and rally the bulls. And every day, people who are short bare their teeth and flex their claws to incite the bears.

And they occasionally write books to support their positions and flog those on TV, too.

Matt can prove he is different by funding Stuart Staniford and guys like him.

[PS: I would point out that during his last interview on CNBC, Matt's book was strategically placed at his right ear. I don't think you have to be an amateur anthropologist to notice these things]

Simmons, given his line of work and interests, was right, no forced, to be curious about industry he's a part of. Don't they say that "Curiosity killed the cat".

Anyway, I think curiosity about the "puzzle" of Saudi Arabia, led him down a very interesting road and one thing led to another and now he's become a Peak Oil guru! I believe it's perfectly possible to be a conservative and a Republican and still be a patriot, an environmentalist, an idealist, honourable, respectable, have a social conscience and be honest about the world we live in. Not all Republicans have horns and smell of sulphur.

What he found out about Saudi Arabia and Ghawar made him nervous. It also intrigued him. Like so many here he wants to know the true answer about their reserves. What he doesn't know, is, I believe, even more interesting and potentially frightening. Time, which we appear to be running out of, will tell.

A detail in the television interview was odd though. When he was asked about Saudi Reserves, are they as large as the Saudi's say they are? Simmons replied that he thought the Suadi's were giving the correct figure. The journalist appeared not to know too much about the subject and readily accepted this answer. Having read Twilight in the Desert I got the distinct impression that Simmons was sceptical about stated Saudi reserves and wanted some kind of independent audit of their reserves.

Why would he contradict himself like this, or at least avoid the subject? Probably because he wanted to talk about something else, his agenda in the alloted time, and perhaps because if he stuck his neck out further and stated that Saudi reserves are pie in the sky, in the current climate he'd really be putting the cat among the pigeons, who knows?

Ron appreciate your ongoing dialogues and yes many of us merkcans are a bit unusual. My wife is a Canadian transplant raised mainly in the U.S. and we get together with her extended family every couple years and note many similairities but also a few diffs over the course of the reunions mainly relating to prices, politics, secular vs religion, and cribbage.
How people on this forum can find darts to direct towards Mr. Simmons is discouraging not only for the obvious envy it thinly diguises but also from the suspicious conspiracy context that it denotes. We all should understand the challenges we have in front of us and for us to dimiss informational alturism by some of the more financially successful Peakers seems trite and hypocritical.
Good catch on the Twilight book however I do believe that it's typically in the sight lines on that set. CNBC frequently uses that set for interviews from Houston and I have noted on several ocasions that Twilight in on set.

Envy?!? Sheesh! I live quite well, thank you. You should see my digs. The lobby of my condo building is designed specifically to rub wealth in the face of all who enter. That's one of the big reasons I poke fun at Westexas and Nate Hagans for wanting to become peasant farmers. If the editors let WT post his ELP expositions [as head articles] on TOD, chances are I'll generate some flack from the cheap seats.

NO. The operative motive here is that of a scholarly cat who has a fairly good grip on the process that's required to get at the truth. And I'm as frustrated as hell.

Off hand I can think of a couple of paradigms that have been known to tease out the truth once in a while: the legal system and academic research.

Sorry, industry elder statesmen with heavily vested interests speaking past one another on CNBC and bloomberg isn't one of them.

Lawyers and academics obviously have heavily vested interests, too. But there is a process that can keep those a bay and produce results anyway.

These are pedestrian observations. If guys like Matt Simmons and Dan Yergin act like they don't get it -- both rather scholarly cats themselves -- you can bet they have powerful incentives that have little to do with "informational altruism".

If the editors let WT post his ELP expositions [as head articles] on TOD, chances are I'll generate some flack from the cheap seats.

So, you would advise readers to maximize their spending, commute and consumption?


You and I are agreed on the E. And on part of L. But I'm afeared that the program as a whole is a lot more extreme than avoiding debt, expensive baubles and living near the subway. It could hurt people.

In fairness, though, I should wait for the lengthy treatment soon to be published at Khebab's.

Hi Asebius,

Thanks for your comment.

You know, much of what you're saying is going past me. And I'd like to understand.

re: Matt Simmons. Let me ask you...is there something (very) specific you'd like Matt to do that he's not doing?

The example you gave about doing research, well...it seems to me that some of the best- (unfortunate in it's existence, so to speak, and implications, still excellent) - most informative work shared here is done on a volunteer basis by people who know, (or who are fortunate enough to have the background to educate themselves, and share what they've learned) and who care.

Are you saying you'd like to see something else done? If so, what? Not, as an example, but...more...what you'd *really* like to see?

re: "The program as a whole...could hurt people."
Could I give this a shot? And tell me if I've got it:

I take this to mean that voluntary economic contraction is going to hurt some people. Just as involuntary economic contraction does (and will). You are concerned about Jeffrey (or even others) somehow minimizing the unknown and unforseen (or even the known and forseen) consequences of voluntary moves.

Yes? Close? Or...?

Then, further...here's what I'm interested in. Do you have any ideas about say, a US national and/or international energy policy? Which, would, bottom line (I assume, correct me if you have different assumptions) translate to the US engaging in some form or other of voluntary economic contraction. Acting now, to prevent the possibility/probability of chaos under the scenario of involuntary contraction.

Yes? or no.

My thoughts on this are several (so far):

1) In the bigger picture, "we" (world) needs stop doing some things and begin to do other things. For example, stop: highway widening and construction, airport construction, military invasion. Start: to take the resources (energy/AKAmoney for purposes of my argument here) we have now to use to do things like fund solar and wind, transit-oriented changes (I hesitate to use the word "development"), look at security of water (renewable energy for water transport and purification, etc.) and food. And address other issues as well. While we can. (As long as I'm at it, I can also envision the US taking some unilateral moves to address the entire situation.)

So, my question is: Do you share any of this thinking in regard to what is a reasonable and desireable course of action? And, if so, are you saying see downsides to this? (Not in the sense of "it's impossible". Because I think we have covered those bases in spades here. I mean "downsides" in the sense of negative effects of some sort. - ?) If so, what would those be?

Sorry about flogging a very much alive horse.

T Boone is serving up circuses, and the masses love him for it. You want to question why there is no serius approach to PO/GW? How about $180 million for an athletics program and a tenth of that for academics?

The success of the Oklahoma State Cowboys is dear to T Boone. Maybe if the athletic programs would study the proper and efficient hand cutting of sugar cane...

Instead they seem to be socially clueless. Much of the thinking public do not trust businessmen period. Yet they seem to make no effort to improve their credibility or the credibility of their analysis.

Sigh. What on earth would be the point of wasting time trying to "improve credibility" with those people who simply "do not trust businessmen period", i.e. who presumably lump them all with Ken Lay? And what kind of "thinking" is that, anyway?

After all, Simmons wrote an entire book, which seemed to me to reflect a big effort that's as credible as it could possibly be given that much of the primary-source information is held secret by the oil-producing states. And there's probably already more "research" going on than can really be useful in the face of that state secrecy - witness the highly variable, mathematically unstable (ill-conditioned) results of Hubbert linearizations and other modeling efforts.

But then again, those people, even as they indiscriminately and vociferously rage at the very hands that feed, clothe, shelter, and transport them, don't actually engage in the effort to read books - inasmuch as they tend to be engaged in no effort whatsoever beyond the cultivation of their own corrosive envy - now do they? Nor do they ever sit still for more than the very briefest analysis or "sermon" on TV - now do they?

After all, Simmons wrote an entire book, which seemed to me to reflect a big effort that's as credible as it could possibly be given that much of the primary-source information is held secret by the oil-producing states.

The GAO report shows the issues to be quite complex.

I applaud Simmons' book, hands down. But this is not the sort of thing that is solved by simply firing off a book and then chatting it up for several years.

There has to be ongoing analysis, detailed response to critics point by point in such a way that the issue is pushed forward, identification of what sort of research could advance the issue, funding of that research. The GAO report is actually pretty good at IDing issues for further work, even those that don't need government involvement.

There has been a PhD thesis published in the last few days that enlarged my understanding a bit even though much of it was review.

Stuart's work (with Fractional Flow) did considerably more for me even though it raises new uncertainties.

Think of what could be done with many people like Stuart working on peak oil forensics.

But then again, those people, even as they indiscriminately and vociferously rage at the very hands that feed, clothe, shelter, and transport them, don't actually engage in the effort to read books - inasmuch as they tend to be engaged in no effort whatsoever beyond the cultivation of their own corrosive envy - now do they? Nor do they ever sit still for more than the very briefest analysis or "sermon" on TV - now do they?

Forget the masses, Paul. Believe it or not, they don't run the country and are in no position to make informed decisions on peak oil in any event. What can they do other than follow their leaders?

Instead you have to focus on the decision-makers and the technocrat members of their retinues. Remember: behind the politicians there is an army of boffins. They must be reached and that's going to take some big analytic guns.

To further explain why I got on this topic, here's a quote from Roger Conner (aka ThatsItImOut):

And the reality right now is that no one in banking circles will bet against the Department of Energy, USGS, CERA, OPEC, ExxonMobil, and history.


Matt Simmons is essentially asking us to bet against these entities, too.

Can he expect us to do this after reading his book which is full of material very few of us have the background to evaluate? I don't see either Matt or Ken Deffeyes seriously engaging the specialist audience that can make sense of their claims.

Why does Matt start to mumble when questioned about the results of him raising these issues with his very powerful connections?

For a man supposedly in possession of such apocalyptic news, he seems to do the very minimum to inform the collective. Everything he does can be traced to him making money.

Here's an idea, in addition to funding peak oil analysts:

How about Simmons and Pickens buy space in the New York Times to publish an open letter to the American people and the world signed by every industry expert they can find who agrees with them ?

Hi Asebius,

I like this idea:

re: "How about Simmons and Pickens buy space in the New York Times to publish an open letter to the American people and the world signed by every industry expert they can find who agrees with them?"

Of course, it doesn't have to be Simmons and Pickens. I'm guessing - don't have any idea of practicalities, but it is done. I'm guessing we could do it. At least start, organize, and collect money for it. And, invite Matt and T. Boone to sign on.

I like the idea (whatever form it takes) of people with credential signing on to a statement of opinion as to the truth about the situation as it exists.

Beyond this, I have some qs: Who do you want (ideally) to reach with this ad? (Or, some other form of same? Many ads in all the independent weeklies in the US, for example - probably actually about the same, cost-wise.) And, once you reach them - *what is it you want them specifically to do?*

Examples: Hold an "International Energy Summit". Drive 55. Take Kucinich's out-of-Iraq plan... and put it there, too? Or, something else? No plans. If no plans, though, I think it's irresponsible not to provide at least an outline
of what you/we/they see as a positive path. Otherwise, it may be construed as taking out an ad in favor of war.

I've noticed that many of Matt Simmons' talks end w. his call for an internat'l energy summit and he has some nice graphics (hands holding up the globe, etc.) This strikes me as a sincere expression on his part. It might be nice to ask him and others how to put this into effect.

PS. Does this help support your idea?

PS You know, it may be my access, but like your last sentence on my screen comes out highlighted in yellow, in smaller type. Not in bold or anything. I don't know how others visually see it.

The UK Financial Times reports today that UK British Airways is paying UK British Midland £30 million (almost $60 million) for 102 slots per week at Heathrow airport. Clearly the clowns are now running the Heathrow Flying Circus. British Midland is selling rights it never bought and doesn't own to British Airways that again will never own the rights. I don't wish to appear pedantic, but two companies buying and selling the property of a third party (the UK government) might in a decent society attract the attention of the fraud squad. Moreover if we suppose that oil prices have a reasonably high probability of soaring
into the stratosphere (say >$100 a barrel); slots at Heathrow will become worthless and BA, which owes $billions to its pension funds, might have to explain its decisions to a court as the former directors of Swissair are now doing.

While I agree with you that these slots will, in due course, become worthless, I must point out that what BA and BMI are doing is entirely legitimate.

They are selling "grandfather rights". This type of thing has been going on covertyly for many years between airlines and more recently it has become an overt activity. Earlier it would be dressed up as a swap of slots with a bit of cash thrown in - now they don't bother.

Understanding How Good People Turn Evil: Renowned Psychologist Philip Zimbardo On his Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu Ghraib and More

In 1971, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo created the Stanford Prison Experiment in which 24 college students were randomly assigned the roles of prison guards and prisoners at a makeshift jail on campus. The experiment was scheduled to run for two weeks. By Day Two, the guards were going far beyond just keeping the prisoners behind bars. In scenes eerily similar to Abu Ghraib, prisoners were stripped naked, bags put on their heads and sexually humiliated. The two-week experiment had to be canceled after just six days. Zimbardo tells the full story of the landmark study in his new book, "The Lucifer Effect."


This is one of the most interesting articles I've ever heard on Democracy Now. Look at what is already apparent in our government, society, military, police and then apply this to how we might further adapt to the social changes of energy depletion and climate change. Then go read your Dickens again.

The evolutionary psychologists have been all over this one for years. It's an amazing (and not surprising) study. If you've ever hung around a group of adolescent males, then the experiment only formalizes the obvious.

Here's another early experiment to blow your hair off:

Robbers Cave Experiment.

If two in-groups thus formed are brought into functional relationship under conditions of competition and group frustration, attitudes and appropriate hostile actions in relation to the out-group and its members will arise and will be standardized and shared in varying degrees by group members.


The two competing groups were brought together for the first time in the mess hall; there was considerable name-calling, razzing back and forth, and singing of derogatory songs by each group in turn. Before supper that evening, some Eagles expressed a desire not to eat with the Rattlers.

Following on from this the groups showed disrespect for each others flags (i.e. each group actually felt moved to burn the others flag) and they also raided each others cabins. After the Eagles, with the discreet connivance of the researchers, won the contest the Rattlers raided again and removed any medals or pocket-knives they could lay their hands on. In the disputations following on from this the Rattlers and the Eagles almost came to blows. The invectives and names which had previously been routinely hurled back and forth ("stinkers, " "braggers, " "sissies, " and many considerably worse) now intensified. Derogation of the out-group was expressed in word and deed (e. g., holding noses when in their vicinity). Now both groups objected even to eating in the same mess hall at the same time.

The researchers now embarked upon Stage Three which they hoped would be an Integration Phase which was intended to dissipate the present contrived state of friction and which was intended to last some 6-7 days.


The researchers concluded that such contrived contact opportunities were not going to promptly secure any meaningful lessening of tensions between the groups.

An interesting story CNN has been covering the past couple of days...

Google Earth has pre-Katrina photos up of New Orleans. It shows the lower ninth ward intact. No blue tarps, no destroyed houses, etc.

Have they just not gotten around to updating? No. Google Earth used show the more accurate post-Katrina photos. For some reason, they switched back to the pre-Katrina ones. The only explanation they'll give is that they are the "highest quality" photos they have.

Similarly, the Google Earth photos of Baghdad are pre-invasion.


For the New Orleans story.


Leanan, do you have a link for Google Earth's treatment of Baghdad?

It looks to me like they've sanitized Fallujah, Iraq, as well.

When one of my nephews in the USMC was stationed there, I'd go to look at the city -- knowing that the images were probably dated. Even so, a year ago the images showed wreckage of military and civilian vehicles littering the streets, and obviously war damaged buildings.

Now the images are of a completely undamaged city with lots of civilian traffic in the streets and no visible military presence. The only clue link to the war is that a certain bridge in town is clearly labeled "Blackwater Bridge."

I kid you not.

It looks like Big Brother is sanitizing our view of the world in every way possible.

Fallujah is just fine. War, what war?

Kunstler"s remarks were some of the most straight foreward and easy spoken in a long time on what lies ahead. John

My take was that it was a pretty typical, if perhaps more complete than usual, JHK presentation. It's funny that he gets labled a doomer, when in fact he believes we will survive this, albeit with a lot of pain. Don't always agree with some of his "projections" but on the subject of wasteful suburbia he is dead on.

I disagree with his belief in the inevitable demise of the "warehouse on wheels" due to oil decline. He has also said repeatedly that the USA's railroad system is in a pathetic condition: if goods moved mostly on an efficient and pervasive rail network (as opposed to heavy on-road vehicles), wouldn't the "warehouse on wheels" work about the same? As I understand it, just-in-time delivery requires only a prompt and predictable delivery method, not specifically a roads-based one.

(I'm not arguing that the WoW couldn't fail for another reason, nor that there aren't real ill effects from the "super-store" model.)

"Warehouse on Wheels" is the wrong metaphor.  You can pull goods out of a warehouse any time you need them, while a load in a trailer is going to arrive in a narrow window of time which you can't change much.

The more appropriate metaphor is "pipeline on wheels".  There's a certain amount of stuff in transit (proportional to the "flow rate" and distance for both, though for the pipeline it's for the maximum flow rate) and it is just money tied up until it can be delivered and sold.  There are also the costs of paying for the pipeline/trucks and running the "pumps".

The problem with rail as the pipeline is that, as currently managed, it takes much longer to deliver goods.  The "pipeline" is longer and has to have more stuff in it than with trucks.  But if management can improve, or if the cost of trucks, roads and fuel gets high enough, rail will win out.

Excellent points! And there's the practical problem that rights-of-way through currently train-free areas would be very difficult to obtain. (I'm also going to mention frog wars, because they're vaguely related and I love the name.)

Plus, I wonder how current railroad fuel efficiency is calculated: if it's per ton*mile on freight, it would probably drop on a shift from trucking. I use the reasoning that heavy, dense cargos are more likely to go by train now, and thus a cargo shift would reduce the average density, increasing the number of cars required and thus losses per unit of cargo weight.

I understand the issue. Part of it is air resistance (think of shipping styrofoam; a boxcar or container will take only a ton or so) yet still require a box with air resistance.

The bigger issue is the ratio between payload and tare weight.

Aluminum freight cars of all types have been developed (except tank cars for some materials). If cost savings (mainly in fuel) were high enough, much of the fleet could be converted. And since the Al would be recycled. it would be a one time energy investment. Titanium could also be used for speciality applications (axles ?)

IMVHO SWAG, conversion to aluminum cars would more than offset a lower average density and faster speeds as higher value and lower density cargo moves to rail. (paper & lumber are major cargoes today, so not all freight is heavy).

Best Hopes,


I just heard Peter Beutel president of Cameron Hanover Energy Risk Management Firm on CNN. He says oil is going to $20 a barrel. He says at these prices you could afford to drill in your backyard and find oil. His logic was that these prices will spur more exploration and therefore more oil. He says the world will soon be flooded with oil.

I wish I had caught the entire interview but as luck would have it I only caught the tail end of it. Perhaps a transcript will be published by CNN, or perhaps a video.

Anyway, we have Energy Investment Banker Matt Simmons saying oil is about to peak and Peter Beutel of an energy risk management firm saying the world will soon be awash in oil.

Who is using sound logic here, Beutel or Simmons? Will high prices enable us to find more oil? One of these guys is going to be flat wrong!

Ron Patterson

Exxon is so stupid! They drill miles down in the ocean and never even think of drilling in the back yard.

Exactly my thought, dave!

I'll bet it would just be too easy to go and look in the backyard.

Much more impressive to get oil from Nigeria and, say, Iran.

Besides, we want to develop those nuclear power plants to process the tar sands in Alberta, dont'cha know.

We also want to use vast quantities of water processing those tar sands.

We also want to develop the global LNG market, because that is cool.

Matt Simmons does at least ask the question: why use all of these drastic and expensive techniques if there is planty of cheap, easily accessible oil?

I wonder if CNN bothered to ask that question?

As a point of information, Peter Beutel has been saying since the start of this year that oil would go to $20 in the longer term – which I think he defined in about two or more years.

He was one of those persons, when oil was in the low $50s early this year, that said it was soon heading to $40. Somewhat inexplicitedly, when oil started rising, he said it could make a marginal new high around $80 later this year. However I also noticed many other analysts this year, such as Michael Lynch, who also stated oil was going to $40, are now say it's going up – but only for a little while. I guess you can only deny reality of daily events so much, but their 'reality' about the future is still unchanged.

Unlike Lynch, Beutel doesn't seem to have a vested interest in low prices, nor speak for the oil industry. So I'm concluding he just another that can't imagine any reality outside of the American Dream of low energy prices.

Russia, Saudi Arabia sign $100-mln contract to build oil pipeline

A Russian company signed Saturday the first ever contract, worth more than $100 million, to build an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia with a Saudi company.

Stroytransgaz, a construction arm of Russia's energy giant Gazprom [RTS: GAZP], and Saudi Aramco concluded the contract in Dhahran. This is a breakthrough for Russian business to a totally new market, which is the most attractive in the Middle East.

The vice president of Saudi Aramco, Ali al-Ajmi, who signed the document from the Saudi side, welcomed the arrival of "a powerful Russian organization having its own advanced technology and a big working experience both in Russia and abroad."

He also said he hopes that this first ever contract of a Russian contractor to build oil and gas facilities in Saudi Arabia "will mark the beginning of a long-term mutually advantageous cooperation between the two companies."

Saudi Arabia plans to spend some $70 billion to implement oil and gas projects in the next five years, and the total volume of investment for the next 15-20 years is expected at $1 trillion.

Besides, the presence on the Saudi market will make easier for Russia the task of reaching the markets of neighboring Persian Gulf countries, who are also ready for big projects.

Hello TODers,

Since the Peakoil news seems to be pointing towards a greater concern that the Deffeyes Group may be more accurate than the predictions of the CERA Group, I was pondering if the RR & Mass-transit proposals of fellow TODer AlanfromBigEasy can be implemented in a timely and cost-effective manner to serve the largest number of people. Is the Hirsch Report's advice of a minimum 20 yr mitigation window now slipping from our grasp? What if we only have ten years maximum to transition, or just five? What if it turns out due to WT's Export Land Model that we are proven to be postPeak NOW?

Alan Drake has warned us that many cities seem to still think that they can build 'gold-plated transportation', but this makes the buildout much more expensive and adds more time delays till up and running. Can the urban areas and the suburbs still build relocalized permaculture and the associated transport and delivery systems, or is there a less costly and more easily built alternative that can be easily maintained?

Most TODers are already aware of my Spiderwebriding proposal: whereby when the thousands and thousands of miles of rusting below ground infrastructure needs replacement it should be accomplished by above ground dual purpose rideable pipelines to save energy, installation time and costs, and reduced maintenance. But there may be insurmountable engineering hurdles that may prevent this idea going forward in a sufficiently fast timeframe as we go postPeak. So again, my fast-crash doomer imagination is considering just what is possible postPeak when we need to build something fast and cheap using lots of human labor with our feeble strength limitations.

The other day, when I was stuck again going nowhere fast in the Asphalt Wonderland's clusterf**k of motor madness, I usually gaze at the endless sea of autos, pickups, SUVs, buses, and delivery vehicles, and then ponder about the respective drivers' Peakoil awareness levels, and potential Peakoil Outreach methods that might be effective. But this time I was wondering how we could move these people and goods if most suddenly couldn't afford fuel, or if the govt was using most of it for military adventures overseas. How could Phx rapidly scale up geographically huge, but very energy efficient transport networks? BINGO-- by scaling down the size of the tracks and equipment! Do you remember riding on those kiddie trains?


My Asphalt Wonderland would be perfect for hundreds and hundreds of these minitrains. It hardly ever rains, and it gets lethally hot for many during our blazing summers. Many Phoenicians simply cannot pedal a bicycle very far due to age, health, weight, or other handicaps. The Valley of the Sun is mostly quite flat and gently sloped, and the existing streetgrid is laid out much like math graph paper. Best of all, the right-of-way is already existing, hardly ever used, and is very strong-- the countless miles of reinforced concrete sidewalks that line both sides of almost all our city streets. The sidewalk in front of my house is 54 inches wide [1.37 meters], and the sidewalks on the main thoroughfares can be much wider. A 12 inch, or a 15 inch wide railtrack can easily be made from recycled steel, lifted by a bunch of humans, then quickly bolted down to these sidewalks' surface. No heavy equipment required like when laying down conventional RR railtrack. The 5/12th scale railcars can be made very cheaply, quickly, and in huge numbers-- much cheaper/passenger than the city buses or yellow school buses. The railbed maintenance would be much less because of the reduced sizes and weights on the alreading existing concrete compared to the constantly rising cost of asphalt road resurfacing. Besides, relocalized permaculture dictates that most of this asphalt will have to be eventually ripped up, then removed by pick and shovel so we can turn the land into vegetable gardens and animal pens.

This minitrain network could start being built now so that as motor fuels start to skyrocket making bananas unobtainable, and Tiger Woods is leading the charge to convert our hundreds of golf courses into vegetable gardens, then we can use our wheelbarrows to move the local produce from the fields, then transfer it into these minitrains to haul it to the local markets. A 12 hp diesel mini-loco can move forty adults-- it shouldn't take a very much more powerful loco to move the food requirement for these same people. You just cannot beat the energy efficiency of steel wheels on steel rail.

Another big savings results from these minitrains being at ground level-- you don't need to build elevated platforms for people to safely enter and exit the riding cars. With no platform requirement: you can make the minitrains as long as required, or run lots of short trains with greater station visit frequency.

Now here is the hard part: once TSHTF, and the rich and powerful local Iron Triangle members have already bailed to their Eco-Tech farm/bunkers in Cascadia and Dubai, how do I convince and organize the remaining hordes of starving mobs that we need to build a quick and fast network of minitrains to keep the situation from getting worse? The Earthmarines of Cascadia won't let anyone else enter their biosolar habitat once they decide to close their borders.

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


Actually I like model trains so I like the train pix, thanks, but can you imagine the lawsuits if anybody tried anything remotely like this in actual workaday revenue service? The liability lawyers, the ADA lawyers, would all have field days and become immensely rich. The truth is that a pax train is is legally required to be almost a rolling hospital that is unaffordably expensive. You can't even run full-size PCC cars nowadays, because of the ADA lawyers.

Hello PaulS,

Thxs for responding, but if TSHTF even the unemployed lawyers will want to ride these trains to reach the permaculture plots if they want to feed their families--recall that 60-75% will have to be agriculturists again.

Let's look at Zimbabwe, Somalia, Zambia, and other countries torn apart by resource shortages and declining life expectancies-- Do we want to catch the Zim Syndrome in America too? Did their leaders proactively build bicycles and wheelbarrows, store essential seeds and handtools, bicycle tires and ball-bearings, and build mass-transit mini-trains to keep a civil society? I don't think so.

Zimbabwe is using oxen-carts as ambulances, and bicycles were the leading inflationary item. Even here in America we see the homeless using grocery carts to carry their life possessions when a wheelbarrow or rickshaw would be easier to use. Next time you are at the grocery store: pick a cart with bent and wobbly wheels, then imagine pushing that for miles in crumbling potholed streets.

America can do better than that when FFs are gone. I encourage all TODers to start thinking outside the box so that we can optimize our decline.

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

Zimbabwe is not torn apart by resource shortages. Its torn apart by an asshole leader who consider the country to be his own property who deprive competing tribes resources by destroying the countries economy. His own tribe becomming poorer is no problem for him as long as they are richer then the immediate neighbours.

Countries whose leadership lack a humane moral with an ambition to do the best for the most while taking care of the economy will become hell holes. A peak-oil depression will probably give good opportunities for asshole leaders to grab power, having a good moral and democratic tradition will be decisive for the well being of a countries population.

Magnus: Yep. Zimbabwe sure ain't Sweden. The USA is somewhat of a hybrid of the two.

"The liability lawyers, the ADA lawyers, would all have field days and become immensely rich. The truth is that a pax train is is legally required to be almost a rolling hospital that is unaffordably expensive. You can't even run full-size PCC cars nowadays, because of the ADA lawyers." Posted by PaulS

By the time we are ten or fifteen years post-peak, the ADA will effectively be history.

Antoinetta III

Hello TODers,

Here is a little more thinking on my minitrain idea, which may be applicable to other cities besides Phx:

It seems reasonable to conclude that we start to see a huge migration from the cities back to rural areas, starting with the rich first. Consider Richard Rainwater and the Bush/Cheney Eco-Tech farms, and the rising prices for premium farmland. This migration will start to leave ever more abandoned houses in unsustainable suburbs.

The wood in these houses can sawn or axed into the required size to provide the fuel for these little steam engines, then stacked along the tracks. The bathtubs and fiberglass spas from these houses can be elevated on small platforms to provide the water for these locos at convenient locations, and can be refilled by people disposing of their greywater. If solar water heaters can be built to preheat this greywater--this will make the little locos even more efficient.

In colder climates, bicycles can be quite treacherous on ice or snow, but with the narrow guage of these tracks it won't take long to shovel the snow clear to resume railroading.

If standards can be agreed upon, then shipping mini-containers should sized to fit the large shipping containers that trucks and railroads use now. This will greatly reduce repacking time. Say 100 mini containers per full-size container. Small enough for two men to lift, or will safely transfer to a wheelbarrow or handtruck, yet also readily fit onto a mini railcar. Ideally, you want to stack them 2 or 3 high to take maximum advantage of the steel wheel on steel rail efficiencies.

If PV panels get cheap enough, then these locos could be electric powered, or battery powered. If windturbines are plentiful, then maybe compressed air could power these little trains too.

Obviously, if other cities do not have the miles and miles of sidewalks like Phx does, then the roadbed cost goes up, but the narrow guage will help minimize the human labor required.

With the looming prospect of millions of abandoned vehicles, maybe the cheapest way to build a roadbed is to take the automotive sheetmetal [fenders, hoods, trunklids, etc] and have a bunch of guys with sledgehammers pound them flat, anchor them to the ground with stakes, then bolt the tracks on top.

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

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

I am reminded of the extension of the park kids RR in Austin; to haul adults from a remote parking lot in Zilker Park to Barton Springs Pool.

I would still use the street and not the sidewalks though.



Found a pretty interesting presentation on peak oil:

California Solar Center

Global peak: 2007 - 2010
Global decline rate, Post peak: 2%
Economic response: Severe global recession, ~5 years, then slow recovery

I should note that the author is a CEO of a battery technology company...:-)

I'll also re-issue a post from yesterday: A very lucid presentation on transportation efficiency of various alternatives to gasoline from Tesla Motors:
Tesla transportation technology

Global peak: 2007 - 2010
Global decline rate, Post peak: 2%
Economic response: Severe global recession, ~5 years, then slow recovery

Also a very interesting presentation!

Thanks! Interesting ideas. Glad you posted this.

Iran, UK must provide details of sailor detention to UN - Russia

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Saturday London and Tehran should contact the UN as soon as possible and present details of the British sailors' detention so that the situation could be settled.

On March 23, the U.K. Defense Ministry announced that Iran had detained 15 Royal Navy sailors and marines from the HMS Cornwall in Iraqi territorial waters, which in accordance with a UN Security Council mandate under Resolution 1723 was inspecting ships in the Persian Gulf.

"It is known that Britain and Iran assess this incident differently, and in particular, cite different coordinates of the place of detention. This calls for a preparation of an independent report by the UN secretariat, which requires that the sides quickly provide it with information," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin told journalists.

"We hope such actions will contribute to the problem's soonest settlement," he said.

The Iranian Embassy in London earlier issued a statement in which it said the sailors and marines had been 0.5 kilometers (0.3 miles) inside Iranian waters at the time of detention.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has officially accused the Royal Navy of illegally entering Iranian territorial waters.

In response, London froze official bilateral official contacts, suspended the issuance of visas to Iranian officials and referred the situation to the UN Security Council Wednesday.

The Security Council expressed serious concern over the detention of the sailors, and urged the Iranian leadership to allow British diplomats to visit the detainees.

Russia, a veto-wielding member in the 15-nation UN Security Council, blocked any tougher statements, including the immediate release of the sailors.

Does that even mean anything, "summarily plucked out of waters?"

Anyway, paraphrasing the Decider, the UK marines are as innocent as Alberto Gozalez.

Ouch. Don't let their moms hear it.

Bush: Hostages were "summarily plucked out of waters."

President Bush on Saturday called for the release of 15 British sailors and marines being held by Iran, calling their capture by Tehran "inexcusable behavior."

"Iran must give back the hostages," Bush said. "They're innocent, they did nothing wrong, and they were summarily plucked out of waters."

Bush also said during the joint appearance with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that Alberto Gonzales is "honorable and honest" and has his full support, despite contradictory statements about the embattled attorney general's role in the firing of federal prosecutors.

And in case it's still not clear, maybe this helps, and the talk about crazy Iranians can stop, so once the bombs start falling, we know why.


The headline reads "US rejects Iran captives exchange." My initial response was "Why is the US doing rejecting a captive exchange"? My second thought was, "not those hostages". Yes, Iran has asked for the five Iranian Consulate staff seized by the [US] from Irbil, Kirkuk in January, 2007. You may recall that Bush had approved an attack on the Iranian Consulate in Kirkuk.

Why did it take from March 23rd to March 31st for the issue at play in the holding of 15 UK sailors to be brought to light? Iran's arrest of 15 UK sailors has largely been painted as a "provocative" move by Iran. Presented as another "crazy" move by Ahmadinejad. However, now a totally different issue arises.

In January, more than two months ago, the US raids a recognized Iranian Consulate in Kirkuk, Iraq. Along with taking computers and files, the US military also takes into custody, five staff people from the Consulate. Kirkuk and Iran issue a protest and a demand for the release of the captive consulate staff. The US claims they are part of Iran's Revolutionary Guard al-Qods force, and refuse to release them.

We can imagine what has happened in the ensuing time. Through back channels and intermediaries, Iran has continued to demand the release of their five consulate staff. The US has denied or ignored the requests - through back channels and intermediaries as the US won't talk to Iran. Instead, the US decided to launch massive "war games off the coast of Iran." However, they were not seen as games by Iran.

Iran ups the ante by taking their own hostages as a negotiating chip for their consulate staff.

It just goes to show that you can't really believe anything a politician says. If a politician says it, it's probably an outright lie or a twisting of the facts. They either tell you what THEY WANT YOU TO BELIEVE for their own ulterior motives, or they tell you want YOU WANT TO BELIEVE so that THEY can get re-elected.

I hope enough people keep that in mind once the bombs start falling. Judging from all the braindead anti-Iran ranting that goes on, even here on this supposedly intelligent forum, I can't really see that happening though.

Today I see memmel write about:
"the fact that the US and Iran are already willing to bring nuclear arms into the battle for oil."

He seems a fairly smart dude, but excuse me, Iran is willing to put which nuclear arms into the battle? What are we talking about here?

4 years after the fact, we're falling for the same WMD crap all over again? Is that all we can come up with in this so-called well-educated part of the world?

Isn't it amazing is how much bigotry and hate there is towards Muslims/Islamics (as well as other nationalities)? Whenever someone starts spewing hate about the "whacko fundamentalists," ask them where they get their knowledge of the subject. Invariably, the answer is TV or talk radio (Mr. Hate himself, drug addled Limbaugh). The people who spew the most hate have never done any research into the Muslim people, their Islamic religion, or their way of life. Muslims are our "enemy," and since they know there is at least one rotten apple in the Muslim barrel, then they are all rotten.

What about our own "whacko fundamentalists?" Does that mean we are all like them? Good grief, let's hope not. The world mostly sees our politicians, not US. It's no wonder the world has come to disrespect and hate us so much. It's no wonder that the world wonders what the hell is wrong with us that we don't stop our "leaders."

"Read my lips, no new taxes."

"WMD #1"

"WMD #2"

"Depends on the meaning of the word 'is'" or whatever nonsense that was/is.

If their lips are moving, they are lying. Heaven forbid they should ever tell us something terribly important and actually speak the truth. I, for one, wouldn't be able to believe them. Obviously, I save my bigotry and spewing for the species known as politicians.

It's not that I want to let politicians off the hook, but that counts for everyone with any kind of power - power corrupts.

Kunstler does a very good job in laying out the problems that face us. But there is one major problem he dodges: our leaders, our government. The government is not just incompetent -- it is actively hostile to the interests not only of the Iraqis and Iranians, but ours too.

There will be no addressing the problems facing us without our confronting the the militarism and imperialism that they are pursing. This government will try to use the coming economic collapse to incite us supporting attacks on others. You can already see some of it -- the oil being held by hostile countries. The government IS addressing peak oil in that sense.

Also Kunstler is only worried about an attack on Iran in the case Iran does something really crazy. He ignores what's far more likely: that the Iranians will be blamed for something crazy. He's behind Brzezinki on this one.

Still, he gets the issue out there, so I
applaud him.

Hello Davebygolly,

It can be summed up as the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario:


Do we want to go to global war for FFs? Will we sacrifice our young for one last drive in a SUV, for one more hour of TV? Or will we do as Kunstler suggests, build 150 million bicycles and wheelbarrows, then start rebuilding our lifestyles faster than Nature will force us?

The desert heat is famous for making false mirages. If we try to grab the entirety of the Middle East's oil-- I expect it all to go up in smoke. SS & F_F seem to indicate that the rapidly depleting KSA reservoirs are mostly water. It might be already too late to try and ignite saltwater, much less hopng to drink it.

Let's not pursue a mirage, but work toward concrete results here at home.

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

Nice post, Bob...one of your best. The mirage thing got me.

I totally forgot that scene. Ahead of its time. The only thing wrong is that "they" aren't really doing it for us, but for themselves.

Yes, Zbigniew Brezinski, Carter's national security advisor, his "Kissinger", testified before the Senate recently:

If the United States continues to be bogged down in a protracted bloody involvement in Iraq, the final destination on this downhill track is likely to be a head-on conflict with Iran and with much of the world of Islam at large. A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks; followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure; then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the U.S. blamed on Iran; culminating in a “defensive” U.S. military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Oops -- maybe you just mean my misspelling? Anyway.

"Post-oil Man." An interesting find on dailymotion. Picks up steam about half way through.

Saw this picture. Had to share.

I'd be funny if it wasn't so sad.


(Its a guy walking his dog with his car)

Oh my god. He said he's on the way to the gym for a WORKOUT.

It reminds me of the neighbors who run several miles a day then come back and sit on their riding lawn mowers.