DrumBeat: April 14, 2007

Dale Allen Pfeiffer: Bleak Energy Outlook: Decline and Fall of Major Reserve Energy Sources

In this short paper, we will attempt an overview of our energy outlook, globally, and in particular with regard to North America. We will concentrate on major reserve energy sources — that is, energy sources of which the Earth has major stockpiles that are readily accessible. We will focus on these energy sources and ignore other various alternatives and renewable sources for the very simple reason that it is these resources which will dominate the energy market for the foreseeable future.

Altered Picture for Big Oil Reserves Three Years After Shell

As a crystal ball into the energy industry's prospects, proved crude-oil and natural-gas reserves aren't as clear as they used to be, at least not for the biggest oil companies.

U.K.: Petrol to hit £1-a-litre

PETROL prices are set to smash through the £1-a-litre barrier for the first time this summer, motorists were warned today.

Soaring demand for fuel, a shortage of crude oil and continuing unease in the Middle East are combining to threaten record prices for millions of drivers on the forecourt.

Lula's Petrobras Comments Cause Concern

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has caused some concern among the private sector by saying federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) must follow the government's development strategy.

Peak Soil: Why cellulosic ethanol, biofuels are unsustainable and a threat to America

There are many serious problems with biofuels, especially on a massive scale, and it appears from this report that they cannot be surmounted. So let the truth of Alice Friedemann’s meticulous and incisive diligence wash over you and rid you of any confusion or false hopes. The absurdity and destructiveness of large scale biofuels are a chance for people to eventually even reject the internal combustion engine and energy waste in general. One can also hazard from this report that bioplastics, as well, cannot make it in a big way.

Solving the corn supply problem

What's left behind from the ethanol-making process could be what saves the livestock industry from the high price of corn.

Biotech to Ease Ethanol-Related Corn Shortage

Biotechnology will play a key role in boosting corn production to meet the growing demand for ethanol fuel stock, two former presidents of the National Corn Growers Association told Hawaii state legislators and various farmers' groups during a week-long tour of the state in mid-March.

Organics: A poor harvest for Wal-Mart

Consider the case of Organic Valley Family of Farms in La Farge, Wis., one of the country's largest cooperatives of organic farmers. When demand for organic milk soared two years ago, rival Horizon Organic Dairy offered to sell to Wal-Mart for 15% below Organic Valley's price. Wal-Mart expected a similar reduction from Organic Valley, but instead the cooperative pulled out. "Looking for ever-lower costs comes at a real cost to sustainability," says George Siemon, Organic Valley's chief executive. "To have consistent supply, you have to change the paradigm of thinking and think about long-term partnerships."

Somalian PM Hopes to Tempt Oil Majors Back with Oil Law

Somalian Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi hopes big oil companies will return to the country and said parliament is set to vote on a petroleum law to encourage this by providing a legal framework.

What GAO Peak Oil report?

An important piece of internationally significant news drops down through the crack

Uganda: Fuel Dealers Want Regulatory Body

FUEL dealers in Jinja have asked the Government to set up a national regulatory body to oversee fuel importation to avert future shortages.

Norway's Halvorsen: Oil Fund to Grow with Ethical Footprint

Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said she expects the value of Norway's offshore state pension fund to soar to around 5 trillion NKR within 10 years, during which time the fund's emphasis on ethical investments will be expanded.

Baltic Gas Pipeline Could Go Through Estonian Waters

The initial plan was to route the pipeline through the territorial waters and economic zone of Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.

However, Stroebaek said, Finland asked for the route to be shifted in order to protect the environment.

Fighting Terror with Hypercars

Lately I've been fascinated by the way so many former CIA and State Department officials, once freed from their jobs, have gone to work lobbying for energy security.

Stephen Colbert vs. No Impact Man

GAO Calls Interior's Estimate of Lost Royalties Too High

Federal royalties in jeopardy because of industry litigation are substantial but may be well below the $60 billion figure estimated by the Interior Department, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

California drivers are pumping less gas

The price of gas really does matter after all.

There were more cars than ever in California in 2006, but for the first time in 14 years, the state's motorists bought less gasoline than the year before.

Report: Army Corps needs major overhaul

The Army Corps of Engineers needs to acknowledge that the world is heating up and seas are rising to better protect the nation from flooding and hurricanes, according to a report by two environmental groups.

When the lights go out

David Strahan and Duncan Clarke take opposing sides on the peak oil debate in The Last Oil Shock and The Battle for Barrels. Larry Elliott weighs up the evidence.

Formation of CTL Coalition Marks Start of America's Energy Independence for National Security

Congressman Nick J. Rahall, D-WV, and other Members of Congress in support of coal-to-liquid technology joined representatives from the U.S. Air Force, industry and labor on Capitol Hill recently to unveil the National Coal to Liquids (CTL) Coalition, formed to help increase America's national security by decreasing its dependence on foreign oil, while also spurring development of coal-derived transportation fuels.

Price pressures push buttons

Costs for food and energy are up, and consumers have taken notice.

Renewable energy boom drives up share prices

A boom in renewable energy shows no sign of petering out, with investors greedy for shares in wind-generator companies which are booking huge new sales.

EU's energy commissioner warns against Gazprom dominance in Europe's energy supply

Russian energy giant OAO Gazprom should not be allowed to dictate Europe's energy supply, a senior EU official said Friday, adding that the coming, EU-mandated switch to less-polluting renewables will entail additional costs for many.

G7 mulls better use of oil money, China reserves

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, China, and Russia discussed with G7 nations how surpluses derived from oil sales should be invested and Beijing's plans to more actively manage its foreign reserves, a senior Japanese finance ministry official said late on Friday.

China: Trillion Dollar Investment Blues

As China's foreign exchange reserves continue their explosive growth, questions about the ways the country's financial mandarins manage its pool of wealth are growing both inside and outside China.

Namibia: Invader Bush Could Be Put to Good Use (Jatropha, not the U.S. president. We still haven't found a good use for him. ;-)

Promises and rhetoric not to solve Pakistan’s energy problems: report

By 2030, Pakistan’s energy demand will be almost 64 percent greater than projected supply.

Energy's secrets may lie in garden

Berkeley scientists have found that light-loving bacteria — and probably plants — rely on quantum physics to turn sunlight into usable energy rapidly and efficiently, overturning the standard explanation for how green living things get their energy.

ConocoPhillips sees global energy costs rising 10% annually

ConocoPhillips, the third-largest US oil company, said it sees global costs for energy developments continuing to spiral up, rising at an annual rate of 8% to 10% and squeezing profit margins.

Labour scarcity and soaring prices for steel, concrete and other materials are inflating costs of building everything from refining units to offshore production platforms and show no signs of abating, ConocoPhillips chief executive officer Jim Mulva said on Thursday in an interview in Houston.

Peak Oil Passnotes: Crude Oil Sets Its Sights High

Only one thing has really changed, the way Brent crude and the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) have swapped places in terms of price, but this could be very important. For many years the WTI price was around three to four dollars more than that of Brent. Now that situation has been reversed in what could be one of the first signs of a peak in oil production exacerbating prices.

The Alchemist in the Oil Patch

Since the advent of the oil business, scientists and engineers have developed a series of very remarkable technologies. Oilfield technology tends to compound at a steady rate, extending the boundary of what was long considered the absolute limit of exploration and production. Oil and gas resources once thought completely out of reach have now arrived in the fuel tanks and furnaces of consumers around the world.

US Insulated from OPEC-Style Natural Gas Cartel - For Now

A natural gas cartel modeled on OPEC would have little near-term impact on the U.S. but its reverberations eventually could be felt as the country increases its reliance on imports.

A flare for tracking the Gulf's energy

Taking advantage of their energy riches, Gulf states have unleashed a raft of energy projects that suppliers and contractors are eyeing with relish.

Companies, not governments, control energy future

The American addiction to oil is fuelling the sizzling oilsands development in Fort McMurray, said a policy analyst from the United States slated to come here Monday.

"The only reason that the oilsands is being rapidly developed is because of the unabated demands from the United States," Tyson Slocum said.

Passenger rail lobby optimistic after Helena

The southern Montana rail line carried passengers until 1979, and Ackley's association has long advocated restoring service. Now that gas prices are high and the country faces an energy crisis, government officials are thinking that way, too.

Families given choice of 'heat or eat'

The Department of Human Services today announced that it is out of funds for energy crisis assistance for fiscal year 2007.

Is extinction in our future?

I think our human egos like to think that we caused global warming because it also helps us believe we can fix it.

Breaking the addiction to cheap oil

Weaning ourselves off oil in an orderly manner will take decades. Ironically, Hubbert had little faith in our capacity to manage this risk. He is quoted as having said, "Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know."

Venezuela’s Oil Gambit

Years of threats and bluster over the operations of U.S. and European oil companies in Venezuela turned more serious this month as President Hugo Chavez set a May 1 deadline (NYT) for nationalizing several major foreign petroleum projects. Chavez’s announcement prompted fear from oil executives, but many analysts say the move could be even more disastrous for Venezuela itself.

In U.S. Earth Day prelude, calls for greenhouse gas cuts

Earth Day seems to have morphed into Earth Week or possibly Earth Season, with more than 1,300 U.S. events that focus on sharp cuts in the greenhouse gas emissions that spur global warming.

Hippies Ruin The World Part 1,048,495: Sports Pollute Too Much, Man

Anyway, this dude's saying future caps on pollution emissions and peak oil will kill most sports as travel costs become prohibitive. Oh and do away with night games while we're at it.

Peak oil: Get ready for it, says GAO

Previously the worry of obscure engineers in technical reports, now the prospect of declining global production of oil is front and centre on the desks of all policy makers.

The New Oil

Climate change will require Canada to sell water to the U.S., says the author of American study

Re: “Breaking the addiction ...” article.

A Hubert quote from the article: He is quoted as having said, "Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know."

The bottom line.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?

Another way of saying DENIAL through action.

I've begun to look at things so differently.

The issue isn't even "knowledge." It's CONTROL.

There are some things we just cannot control, know matter how smart we are.

Like population growth, the root of all our evils.

OK. then, what/how is control to be accomplished without knowledge ? I'd sure give control 2nd billing.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?

Actually, I see pop. growth as simply a Function of the availability of cheap energy. It blossomed with oil and electricity's spread, and will find a new level when the 'sugar' dries up. We won't all die off.. just a lot of us.

About the article on exporting vater from Canada to the US. Has any study been made on how much energy would be needed to transfer vater from a place like the great lakes to a place like Las Vegas.
I understand that the pumps draining the aquifiers usually run on natural gas.

If I were canadian, I think, I would start taking diving lessons and brush up on my knowledge on electronics and chemestry.
Not that I'm trying to imply anything.

In the 70s there was the
North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA)
Google this and get lots of hits.

Decades ago a plan was floated to create a slurry coal pipeline from Wyoming to Lake Michigan. The plan involved a parallel pipe carrying water to the coal fields. The energy needed to lift millions of gallons per day to ground a mile higher made the railroad a better choice. Most Canadian water is at elevations under 1000 ft while where it is needed is at elevations of at least 3000 ft.
A better solution would be to install air cooling systems at powerplants since generating electricity uses nearly half the water Americans uses. Concurrently we could install drip irrigation systems for those farms in dry areas.

We will have to give you our water will we! We will fight!

Sorry, Canada, but you've already surrendered: you signed the part of the NAFTA treaty that says the US has the right to continue to plunder your natural resources. Mexico refused to sign that part. Not that I expect it'll do them much good in the long run...

Water was excluded. But if the SPP is passed, that may change.

This is quite old, so people might have read this. I was
reading this last night and I could help but feel a wee but optmistic about this technology. Has this been explored in depth previously on TOD?
If so does nayone have the link?

Yes, it (biodiesel from algae) has been discussed before on TOD, and I think it's a technology that is worth exploring. It's interesting that the Bush administration has cut the funding of NREL, which has been developing this idea, and instead is pushing the doomed "solution" of ethanol from corn.

Here is an article that Robert Rapier wrote on the issue:


At least get the blame right. The funding for NREL research for algae to biodiesel was cut off in the 1990's on Clinton's watch. I'm no big fan of Bush, but reading some of the comments you would think he sunk the Titanic, caused the depression, and killed Elvis.

Don't forget Clinton had to deal with a GOP Congress for six years. The idea of $40 in the next 10 years oil was unthinkable in the 90s. Renewables are not cheap and by any measure will never cost $15/boe.

I'm not a big Clinton fan either, but Bush did hack away at NREL's budget, and at a very critical time:

Layoffs in store at NREL
Up to 100 scientists may go as Congress slashes budget

By Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News
December 20, 2005

Looks like the Democrats restored their budget. I'm not familiar with the details but I had heard recently that they had gotten some money.


Although stung by the arrow from ImSeptic the mighty troll slayer I have one more thing to say.

Industrial designers are constantly struggle with understanding the psychology of the consumer when preparing new technology for market. Contrary to belief generalQ public are not hungrily awaiting the next breakthrough. Unless of course its simply smaller, faster,more gigs, etc.

People are frustratingly resistant to a fundamentally new concept even if it represents a truth or a true solution. We are constantly having to “bring the customer along” not the reverse.
This I the dichotomy that Detroit got stuck in, although I personally believe that there is more to that story than is commonly understood but I won’t go into that here even though it does relate to PO.

The position you all are in right now is a familiar one to anyone in my industry. You have a bunch of engineers who have total understanding of the technical problem and a very good grasp of the solutions and they just can’t understand why the world isn’t beating a path to their door.

I have seen some of the best inventions fall by the wayside not because the market speaks, but because the principals fail, or refuse to understand this concept. They simply believe its a matter of marketing but it is more than that, tis a process.

Then say is in the Drumbeat of yesterday where is doesn't belong any more than here.

I am discussing PEAK OIL. You all are constantly questioning why people are not more aware. You make statements like "how can we get the message out there" yet it seems some of you are more invested in the problem than solutions.

No you're not, your post yesterday mentioned the following.

They have developed a device that generates move electricity than it consumes

You sir, are a crank, a loon and a troll. And I hope your account gets deleted soon.

Agreement of the highest accord with this posting, policy should be swift swings of the bannination bat to those who bring up 'perpetual motion'/'over unity' or other such devices.

All Souperman2 said was:

They have developed a device that generates move electricity than it consumed

I don't see a problem with that (as long as it doesn't generate more ENERGY than it consumes).

The future of oil? "Soylent Black is peeeeoppplllle!!!!"

A "solution" is something which has succeeded in solving the problem. After the problem is solved it is possible to determine what the solution was. But it's hindsight. The energy problem has certainly not been "solved", so declaring anything as the solution to the energy problem is certainly a bit premature.
There is a lot of discussion at TOD of POSSIBLE solutions. But the prevailing viewpoint around here is that even with full implementation of all possible alternatives to fossil fuel, we won't have enough energy available to continue our present lifestyles, particularly personal transportation. And the impact on economic growth will require certain adjustments.
Most of us really don't want bad things to happen. We're trying to warn people that they are gonna happen anyway...

yes I have mentioned the Steorn device as a possible FACTOR in the future. Perhaps I was not being clear but I have no connection with them and I ask for no money or anything else from anyone. Others have mentioned the device before me I simply posted latest development and shared my experience with this field which I have been involved with for some time.

My comments today refer to TOD and PO and if you reread with an open mind and take your finger off the trigger you might find some insight there.

If you do not wish anyone to comment why do you have a button? Is there some kind of qualification I must pass first? You will not reach very many if remain closed to relivant input and you allow commnetors to be trashed.

I'm afraid anyone who comes here pushing a perpetual motion machine is going to get some rough treatment.

You are of course free to talk about such things, but don't be surprised if your comments are considered ill-informed, trolling, or pump-and-dumping.

Move 180 degrees.

Take the second law of thermodynamics and note that it says energy consumption produces waste. That is clear, right?

Take Daly/Townsend's corollary of the law which states: No organism can survive in a medium of its own waste.

Any contraption or procedure that provides more energy than it uses is in essence an unlimited energy supply (just repeat the process).

Now realize that this unlimited energy supply will produce unlimited waste. Then wonder whether you think that is such a great idea.

You don't even have to understand the second law, and some evidently don't, to know what constraints there are. Even to know that it is these constraints that make life possible. Nothing could live in a medium of unlimited energy, even if such a thing were possible. Which it's not. Which is why you are alive.

Sort of like when back when someone theorized the world might be round?

OK I understand I will cease and desist with the voodoo talk but please don't kick me out. I feel safe in here. It’s too schizophrenic out there. People walking around like nothings happening while EVERYTHING is happening.

I do believe I have much to offer but I will lay low.

good little troll

As I have noted before, TOD is a meat grinder. Much more widely supported (including US Gov't for billions) corn ethanol has taken some savage attacks as one example.

You apparently lack the scientific background to understand the fallacy / fraud that is being pushed with this "energy creation" device.

IMVHO, if you are coming here out of good will and to learn (and contribute on issues where you have relevant knowledge) you are still welcome, despite getting off on a bad foot.

Best Hopes,


The idea that the world being round was ever controversial is an invention of Hollywood movies. The ancient greeks knew this, Eratosthenes tried to measure the size of the world based on this knowledge, and to medieval clerics the word of ancient greeks such as Aristoteles was as the gospel itself.

The guy you're thinking off is Gallileo, and the controversy was about the earth orbiting the sun and not vice versa.

I find it amusing how you demonstrate your ignorance with each new post, maybe you shouldn't have your account deleted after all.

Wasn't the Galilean controversy about the moons of Jupiter orbiting Jupiter, not heliocentricity?


"Belief in a flat Earth is found in mankind's oldest writings. In early Mesopotamian thought, the world was portrayed as a flat disk floating in the ocean, and this forms the premise for early Greek maps like those of Anaximander and Hecataeus. Many theologians and biblical researchers maintain that writers of the Bible had a Babylonian world view according to which Earth is flat and stands on some sort of pillars. According to Dictionary of the Bible written by W. Browning "Hebrew cosmology pictured a flat earth, over which was a dome-shaped firmament, supported above the earth by mountains, and surrounded by waters. Holes or sluices (windows, Gen 7.11) allowed the water to fall as rain. The firmament was the heaven in which God set the sun (Ps 19.4) and the stars (Gen 1.14)"[4] Other theologians counter that the book of Isaiah alludes to the earth being circular or spherical (Isa 40.22). By classical times an alternative idea, that Earth was spherical, had appeared. This was espoused by Pythagoras, apparently on aesthetic grounds, as he also held all the celestial bodies were spherical..."

"Severian, Bishop of Gabala (d. 408), wrote: "The earth is flat and the sun does not pass under it in the night, but travels through the northern parts as if hidden by a wall"."

"The modern misconception that people of the Middle Ages believed that the Earth was flat first entered the popular imagination in the nineteenth century, thanks largely to the publication of Washington Irving's fantasy The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1828."


I don't know how you conclude that the person in mind was Galileo. Is mind reading a skill of yours, alongside your ability to find amusement in ignorance?

It is true that long before Columbus sailed the notion of a spherical earth prevailed, but to say that this notion was never controversial is even more wrong than your impression that Hollywood invented the popular misrepresentation of the medieval viewpoint.

People living in glass houses, and all that...

souperman2 , whats your take on Dr Bussards IEC fusion reactor? If you haven't been following the story heres a few links at this KOS diary....


IMHO this bone has a bit of meat to it.

From the article you liked to.

DR Bussard speaks of Saturns moon Titan, and being able to get there in 74 days

As it has now been established that 'DR' Bussard is a crank, and that KOS is run by someone ignorant. Lets move on to fusion.

Fusion is merging two atoms together.

Problem: Atoms are surrounded by electrons who repel each other.

Solution: Heat will seperate the electrons from the atoms.

Problem: The heat will destroy the walls of the fusion chamber.

Solution: Contain the atoms in a magnetic field.

Problem: It is not possible to obtain a sustained process with current technology and equipment.

Solution: Wait another 30 years.


You are only offering solutions based on current information.

Solutions that are "fixed" in a subject that is not totally understood.

Heat is possible solution not proven its the only one

Same for the solution using a magnetic field. This is based on the previous solution above.

I am not familiar with the person discussed. Though how does one know that something he does will "click", or someone else in thirty years has a "click".

Science being fixed and the assumption we know it all, that too is a bit of a wacko POV for many.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

I agree with Hurin, oops did I say that?

My son at OSU is excited about Bussard.

I believe if we ever evolve into a new energy system it will come from the other 97% of the universe, dark matter/ dark energy.

Drives my son nuts.

Sorry, back under the bridge for me.

I will say this, souperman2...

You are a mighty good-natured troll!

Welcome to TOD :-)

Dear Souperman2,

There is nothing wrong with hoping for a techno-fix for our energy predicament.

I personlaly hope that every night out-of-space-cat-like-creatures wearing leather boots come down to earth in their soucers and refill our oil fields...

but don't count on it ;-)

Roger from the Netherlands

Hurin, after thirty years, find the same problems and shelve it for another thirty years - ad infinitum.

James Gervais
Hope was the last ill to escape Pandora's box.

It's more complicated I believe.

The central problem is that of course nuclei repel one another (unlike nuclear fission, where the neutron is unaffected by the target until it is close enough for nuclear reactions).

This means that the nuclei must have sufficiently high kinetic energy to overcome the repulsion barrier.

The issue is that only the very highest energy nuclei have a chance at fusion. We've gotten fusion reactions since the 1920's or 1930's certainly with accelerators---the problem is producing overall energy.

The Bussard/Farnsworth style devices purport to work by attempting to excite the velocity distribution of nuclei into non-Maxwellian (i.e. thermal equilibrium) distribution with extra nuclei at the hot end so as to increase the fusion rate.

That small devices have produced fusion is of course true, but there are major barriers to scaling it up and actually getting net energy out.

The central problem is that since you have to smack the nuclei nearly "dead on" on a collision, nearly all of the close approaches (near-collisions) which nevertheless miss, end up scattering the nuclei off one another. There are probably thousands of 'near collisions' for each collision which can undergo fusion and these quickly result in chaos and relaxation back down to thermal equilibrium. (this is the mechanism of entropy increase in nonequilibrium systems!)

Furthermore the rapid acceleration of the nuclei during the near-collision also emits electromagnetic radiation thereby taking needed energy out from the nuclei.

There's a big PhD thesis by Todd Rider (MIT) detailing limits to such devices.

I'm sure Bussard knows about this. There may be a remote possibility that there's some trick to get around what seem to be difficult and secure fundamental limits, but it's a long longshot.

This is why magnetic confinement is popular, the magnetic fields do no work on the nuclei and you can at least at the beginning contain the kinetic energy better, and hope for many 'shots on goal'.

Either that, or inertial confinement, where you squeeze the fusion fuel so violently and harshly that there just isn't time for relaxation to happen. But when you see the level of extreme conditions in the one successful implementation (thermonuclear secondaries) you begin to understand the difficulty of the problem.

Nuclei just simply do NOT want to be near one another.

I don't think Bussard is necessarily a crank, but he is probably wrong.

On the other hand the probability of him being right (small) times the importance of it if is he is, is O(1) .

Its not just electrons that repel each other. Protons are positively charged particles and have the same “hate” as electrons. It takes a lot of energy to break this barrier and that is the reason why this technology would always be 30 years in the future. In the mean time you could use a lot of fusion generated power with CURENT technology, how? Well, the Sun is the natural thermonuclear reactor and its here now, not in 30 years future.
Ps im green but if its necessary why would we not use thermonuclear weapons as a source of energy, place the bomb under the oil shales (but very deep) and heat up the process. I know this is dangerous but if would save us (6 000 000 000 of us) why not, it could give us decade or two to recreate a civilization on sound ground. (bit strange to use weapon of mas destruction to save people but it worked in independence day ;-)

Problem: Atoms are surrounded by electrons who repel each other.

Stripping the electrons requires a relatively tiny electric charge. The problem is that the ionized atoms are positively charged and repel each other strongly when bought close together. That is what requires the very high pressures and/or temperatures which destroy...

Fusion has been 50 years off all my adult life and I will be 65 this year.

The US DOE fusion division has an Inovative Confinement Concepts program, albeit with a modest budget. DOD originally funded his work. Electrostatic confinement concepts is one class of device that is examined by this ICC program. Regular meetings are held by scientists with strong backgrounds in plasma physics and fusion science who really want to look at concepts other than the tokamak as possibilities for achieving fusion energy. There are good venues for such ideas as Bussards to have fair hearings.

I can't really comment too much on the prospects for this device. I will say that there are a number of fusion innovative ideas that start out having modest reactor concepts. However when moving beyond the conceptual stage to specify all of the physics and engineering details, the scale and cost of the reactor grows similar to that envisioned for the tokamak.

For Bussard's concept in particular there have been paper's that have criticized all electrostatic confinement devices in terms of reactor concepts. This has to do with the need for the scheme to maintain non-Maxwellian ion distrubtions and the ions unwillingness to remain so. I don't know if Bussard has addressed these concerns.

There is a big difference between Bussard's IEC approch and Steorn.

There's no doubt that fusion works to create energy from matter; we have stars, H-bombs, and other demonstrations. Moreover, IEC devices can easily produce a significant number of fusion events; the only question, and it's a big one, is whether there's some way to get around the design shortcomings and pass breakeven.

Bussard isn't a nut. He may well be wrong. He implies strongly that he has figured out how to make it work, and is willing to give it away without any payment to himself; has even encouraged the Chinese to read his public papers and do it if the Americans and others won't. Clearly he believes what he's saying.

If he were right, it would change everything. He probably isn't. But given the above, IEC fusion is HUGELY more interesting than perpetual motion machines. Frankly, the ITER-style tokamaks will be too big to build out with the available energy and resources even if they work on schedule.... there's that law of receding horizons again. So I for one will be watching the Bussard camp very closely. Far from hyping it, they have gotten very quiet.

I'm sorry you got off on the wrong foot on another thread, because I feel you made a valid point upthread about the general public's resistance to change. People tend to stick with what worked in the past, even if that 1 hour commute is a drag.

You mentioned as an example of change people will embrace, more gigs for less money. IMO, PO is a hard sell because we're selling LESS mobility for MORE money, less electricity for more money, no ecconomic growth but more physical labor, etc. Whatta deal!

Of course us planner types figure "Better some sacrifice with some control now, rather than chaos with no control later." But psychological research has found that people tend to steeply discount the future, in fact they call it "future discounting." This has been selected for by evolution, and is hard-wired. Other things are hard-wired too; I know a PO-aware person who recently had a child. I think that's irresponsible and unethical, but human instincts are very compelling. We have 2000 CE technology and 20,000 BCE wetware.

I do believe I have much to offer but I will lay low.

Why don't you and Airdale spend time chatting all about Hydrinos

Why don't you kiss my behind troll?

I hate an azzhole. Always a constant whine in the background.

I, for one, am actually glad that Souperman2 mentioned the Stoern device. Not because I think it will ever provide a solution to our energy problems, but because it's a good example of the type of fraud we're going to be seeing more of as the energy crisis unfolds. Of course, it's not the first such scam - here is another famous one from 2002:


Continuing in the spirit of the above, I'd like to quote a link from the Slashdot article I just mentioned:

From http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html

A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics.

1. A -5 point starting credit.

2. 1 point for every statement that is widely agreed on to be false.

3. 2 points for every statement that is clearly vacuous.

4. 3 points for every statement that is logically inconsistent.

5. 5 points for each such statement that is adhered to despite careful correction.

6. 5 points for using a thought experiment that contradicts the results of a widely accepted real experiment.

7. 5 points for each word in all capital letters (except for those with defective keyboards).

8. 5 points for each mention of "Einstien", "Hawkins" or "Feynmann".

9. 10 points for each claim that quantum mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

10. 10 points for pointing out that you have gone to school, as if this were evidence of sanity.

11. 10 points for beginning the description of your theory by saying how long you have been working on it.

12. 10 points for mailing your theory to someone you don't know personally and asking them not to tell anyone else about it, for fear that your ideas will be stolen.

13. 10 points for offering prize money to anyone who proves and/or finds any flaws in your theory.

14. 10 points for each statement along the lines of "I'm not good at math, but my theory is conceptually right, so all I need is for someone to express it in terms of equations".

15. 10 points for arguing that a current well-established theory is "only a theory", as if this were somehow a point against it.

16. 10 points for arguing that while a current well-established theory predicts phenomena correctly, it doesn't explain "why" they occur, or fails to provide a "mechanism".

17. 10 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Einstein, or claim that special or general relativity are fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

18. 10 points for claiming that your work is on the cutting edge of a "paradigm shift".

19. 20 points for suggesting that you deserve a Nobel prize.

20. 20 points for each favorable comparison of yourself to Newton or claim that classical mechanics is fundamentally misguided (without good evidence).

21. 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were fact.

22. 20 points for defending yourself by bringing up (real or imagined) ridicule accorded to your past theories.

23. 20 points for each use of the phrase "hidebound reactionary".

24. 20 points for each use of the phrase "self-appointed defender of the orthodoxy".

25. 30 points for suggesting that a famous figure secretly disbelieved in a theory which he or she publicly supported. (E.g., that Feynman was a closet opponent of special relativity, as deduced by reading between the lines in his freshman physics textbooks.)

26. 30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping his way towards the ideas you now advocate.

27. 30 points for claiming that your theories were developed by an extraterrestrial civilization (without good evidence).

28. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.

29. 40 points for comparing those who argue against your ideas to Nazis, stormtroopers, or brownshirts.

30. 40 points for claiming that the "scientific establishment" is engaged in a "conspiracy" to prevent your work from gaining its well-deserved fame, or suchlike.

31. 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.

32. 40 points for claiming that when your theory is finally appreciated, present-day science will be seen for the sham it truly is. (30 more points for fantasizing about show trials in which scientists who mocked your theories will be forced to recant.)

33. 50 points for claiming you have a revolutionary theory but giving no concrete testable predictions.

I wonder how Tesla would've scored a century ago on your crackpot index.
Look, I'm a thermodynamicist, sort of, studied stat mech, so I can recognize a 2nd Law perpetual-motion device as quick as the next guy. And I believe that it's overwhelmingly likely that the devices described upthread are not viable and may indeed be pure fraud.
BUT: There is such a thing as the zero-point field, there are indeed very interesting people like Bernie Haisch, and there is an irrefutably demonstrated force measurable on the macro scale that's due to the creation and annihilation of virtual partcle/antiparticle pairs. I ran into all this again recently working with sonoluminescence. You accelerate a mirror, it creates an asymmetry in the virtual-pair destruction. Fascinating.
Will it save our bacon, energy-wise? Absolutely not, totally irrelevant, a distraction at best a dangerous fantasy at worst. But not because there is no physical mechanism for generating energy from the void. Nor does it violate the 1st Law, obviously, so the energy must be coming from somewhere else. That's all.

Back in my college days around 1971 I took a marketing class. We were given an assignment of creating a product and developing a marketing plan. The teacher ridiculed my idea of selling turbochargers because he believed the fad of muscle cars was over. I dropped out of business school to escape such idiocy.

It seems to me that your teacher had no more grasp of marketing than he did of ICE technology. The idea of marketing is to SELL, isn't it, as long as some belief of usefulness can be established in the potential buyer's mind?

James Gervais
Hope was the last ill to escape Pandora's box.

I have tremendous respect for marketing having come to understand how difficult it is and how comprehensive it is.

The response of you professor is odd. Marketing, as I have come to understand it, would involve clarifying the needs of the customers, perhaps renaming or repackaging the technology as well as figuring out how to find the customers and how to promote to them.

Even if he was right you could still run a good business by doing a better job of finding those still interested in the technology. Also, you could find new ways of using the same technology. For example, in Japan they have a special class of car that is taxed less because the engine displacement is less than something like 650cc. Now they are putting turbochargers on these. The customers get more power and they pay less tax. There is always an angle if you are clever.

In the case of Peak Oil we have an engineers concept of the problem when we discuss it on this site. That's OK. However, if you want to involve the larger populace you need to craft the message in a different way. For example, an entity the size of our government could package this as an opportunity to move to a new economy. Perhaps they could involve Hollywood and Detroit. Look at all the propaganda put out to convince people to buy an SUV when they don't really need one.

The limit for the special mini car tax is 660cc (and of course, no engines pack less than the limit). Redlines at 7000. I drive one of these, normally aspirated and without even fuel injection, and I get along just fine. Wouldn't want to find out how it'd do in a crash, but I get awesome mileage.

(here because the inflation thread has gone rather stale by now)

Re: inflation vs deflation. I go semi-Austrian: if inflation is too much money chasing too few goods, then there are two ways to get there: too much money, or too few goods. And oil depletion is the latter.

Question is, how much inflation? If, say, we have 10% less oil in a few years, oil prices will be much, much higher. But how much will general inflation be? Even if we assume that 10% less oil means 10% less of everything else, due to lack of energy to do things, which is an overstatement, then there's only 10% less "goods", and if there is the same amount of money chasing them, then would inflation be 10% over the period?

The assumption of "same amount of money" is of course a big "if", but how does that part relate, if indirectly, to oil depletion? There are those who think that an implosion of the debt-based economy (due in part to PO) would mean less money (deflation), and those who think that TPTB will "print money" exactly because of the problems in the over-indebted economy. Is there any way to figure this out? Does it totally depend on an arbitrary decision by TPTB?

Meanwhile, for the average person, what matters is the purchasing power of their savings. Will that evolve the same as official inflation? How about Japan as an example? They've had official "deflation" for a number of years. Did oil prices not increase in Japan in recent years? How about food prices? Did the actual living expenses (not "core inflation") of the average Japanese increase in recent years?

I haven't heard of any dramatic changes in prices in Japan. The price of gas there is roughly $4.50 or so a gallon. It has been there for a long time. As in Europe, gas is heavily taxed in Japan so they have some room to moderate that price. The price is a little confusing for us because the price in dollars is affected by the exchange rate.

Re vtpeaknik on inflation:

In the classic sense you are perfectly right. Too much money chasing too few goods is a very succinct description or definition. The problem isn't really one of inflation but the geological constraint upon the supply side response. Altering the money supply won't have any effect upon supply unless the money goes to production of more supply. We may be at a point where vast amounts of money will be unable to produce an increase in production but only ameliorate a decline.

At this point we have to ask whether vast human resources should be applied to reduction of consumption, production of alternative energy sources, or chasing the chimera of remaining oil reserves. We will probably do all three simultaneously, although concentrating upon the former two might be our best hope. The danger is in pursueing the latter course as a priority until the eventual futility of the exercise becomes inescapable.

We, as a species, may be at the crossroads of a crisis in the deployment of human endeavour. The usual signals of the shortsighted marketplace and its invisible hand may be insufficent to the task of directing that deployment with a long term view. Much as a command economy was necessary for the supplying of our two [unnecessary] world wars, it may be necessary for this unavoidable one. One way or the other, things won't be much as they are now fifty years out.

The thought of a government taking over from the marketplace - even during a crisis - is anathema to those who celebrate the purity of free market dynamics, but the free market has fallen on its ass from time to time, and this would not be a good time for that to happen. Hopefully, a government regulated deployment would be a surer bet, but.....interesting times. May wise heads prevail. Not a good time to fall on our collective asses by any means.

EU blowhards spitting in the face of the people that provide them 40% discounted gas energy. What a bunch of pinheaded, xenophobic morons. You do not want Russian gas, go get it somewhere else. Do these clowns really think that Russia has no choice but to sell them the gas? How about the market in China and the rest of Asia?

The EU position is one of polical pandering the the proles I believe. They are not in a position to dictate the gas prices. They will grumble and complain, but will pay up, even as prices go higher and higher.

I wonder which is a larger market, The EU or China?

Russia can have the EU in a world of pain in a few years just by diverting additional gas supplies elsewhere and not renewing expiring gas contracts. The scale of the Asian market is quite large and it will keep on growing. And there are not enough Asian sources to meet the demand in the long term. Qatar and Iran cannot service the EU, North America and Asia.

The EU should stop its idiotic posturing and try to secure long term supplies. As it now stands, Russia has negative incentive to contribute to the EU's needs. It is even marginally criminal for the Russian government to sell the gas for such a steep discount on the price of oil. This isn't the good old days of endless gas supplies too cheap to worry about.


Regarding your point of long term supplies, I would posit that in a post-peak world, no country would be beholden to maintain these contracts which are unfavourable to themselves. If europe decided to wage war on russia... it would be a matter of 'turning off the tap' so to speak. Logistics was quoted somewhere else in this thread I believe.

I believe that the current energy consumption of the EU is larger than that of China. Likely because the EU has a larger GDP and purchasing power than china, and can offer more money for the energy. So long as the EU has the $$ advantage, it will win the contracts, as it is in Russias best interest to get the most $$ out of its oil!

IMO Russia is becoming increasingly immune to the pathetic bullying attempts by EU bureaucrats. These are even more hopeless than the policy of US which at least is backed by something real as its military force. At the same time EU has nothing to play against Russia but its mostly self-percieved dominance.

Of course this will be getting worse and worse. EU and USA will continue talking independance while in reality becoming increasingly dependant - from ME, Russia, you name it. This has nothing else to end but a resource conflict - and I fear WWIII is already on the books.

It is looking quite nasty. The anti-Russia campaign in the western media is in full swing. Some fringe, western supported radicals are trying to start riots in Moscow (specifically the National Bolsheviks) and when the organizers and some participants are detained on site for violating the law we have cries of "oppression". I dare anyone in the EU or USA to stage an unsanctioned rally in the middle of a large city and see what the police do. When these troublemakers get permits to stage demonstrations they proceed to break the restrictions such as not blocking major streets, etc. The radicals have essentially nil support from the public but are presented in the western media as the "conscience of Russia". Yeah right, the nazional bolsheviks and their supporters like Misha 2% (the bribe taker) Kasyanov have no chance at the ballot box so they resort to street theatrics.

I always find it curious that the MSM derides other countries such as Russia for harassing or arresting protesters when we here in the US do much the same things. In fact, we go even further than that. We have the no fly list that is used also to harass and punish "dissidents" - those who tend to speak against the administration or who are caught organizing or attending protests.


The political use of the no fly list is chilling. It certainly makes me think twice about writing letters to the editor or participating in peace groups. Yes, welcome to the "new" USA!

And, if things get really radical, we just might find some of our most vociferous pro peak oilers labeled terrorists and placed on lists such as the no fly list.

The world is going crazy, in stages. I do not see any justification for the knee-jerk legal makeover in the USA since 911. There is no terrorist activity in the USA. 911 was a foreign attack that cannot be stopped by totalitarian domestic restrictions.

Even if there was domestic terrorism in the USA, the previous legal system was sufficient. The kind of extreme legal measures that you refer to are more characteristic of a desperate regime trying to hang on to power. So they make no sense to me whatsoever.

It is absolutely insane. I cannot understand why there is not more attention given to it. Of everything that has happened here post 9/11, the political use of the no fly list has to be the best evidence of our move toward psuedo-fascism.

I lived in Argentina for several years as a teenager (19-21) during the late 1970's. One thing that I learned from my time there is that the darkest of oppression can occur while the general public remains oblivious to its existence. Sure, there was a military dictatorship and there were "military" operations that occurred in different neighborhoods at different times, but those operations affected the people in a small area and were not widely known to the general public (especially the well-to-do). The people in general were unaware of the fact that thousands of their fellow citizens were being tortured and "disappeared" - only friends and family were aware that they went missing. And they could not protest or they would suffer the same fate. It was whispered and rumored.

While in Argentina (1976-1978), I had the "experience" of being harassed by the military and secret police. I had machine guns in my face and in my back on more than one occasion. I had my apartment searched. I had the chief of police summon me for "chats." I was followed by secret police. I was searched, along with others, and taken off public buses at gunpoint. I saw people taken away by the military and police in the back of trucks for not having ID or for other reasons. I heard the whispers among families and friends wondering what happened to the missing. I saw the military patrols in the city streets and I heard the machine gun fire on occasion at night.

But the point I am trying to make is that, despite all the things I saw and experienced, I would never have imagined that the government was also torturing and disappearing thousands of Argentinians during the very same time that I was there. And though many Argentines had their suspicions, most were unaware of the extent of the abuses until they came to light years later. Likewise, most here are oblivious of the fact that many otherwise innocent citizens are harassed or denied travel rights simply for their legitimate political beliefs or their criticism of the administration.

We Americans say that it can't happen here. We might say - "oh, but that was Argentina." Well, we need to think again. Post 9/11, the foundation has been laid for the same types of abuses to occur here. They are already occurring in degrees here. Habeas corpus and the 4th amendment have been seriously weakened as have due process rights.

So here in the US, we are are one step away from the secret arrest, detention and who knows what, of people like those on the no fly list. And when the arrests start and the tortures start and the disappearances start, you won't see any reporting of it on the MSM.

It would only take one more event or emergency like 9/11 for greater abuses and an even greater suspension of civil liberties. Let's hope that the dark forces in the current administration have been sufficiently weakened to prevent us from going further down this dark path.

Fortunately for Argentina, their fascist military regime was forced to relinquish power in the early 80's after a disastrous foreign policy blunder - the misadventure of the war in the Falkland Islands. They have had a relatively refreshing democracy since. We can only hope that the silver lining in America's present foreign policy blunder and misadventure in Iraq brings a similar result here.

Thank you for the balanced opinion. I am also on the same boat - I also don't know whether this thing will happen, but I fear very much that there are certain forces pushing us in this direction.

The most terrifying thing about it is that it is similar to peak oil on one aspect - by the time the public realises that things are going bad or something wrong is happening, the reasons causing it and the window of opportunity to do something about them will be way too long in the past.

"I also don't know whether this thing will happen".

The US is already disappearing people (rendition) and torturing people (abu grhaib, guantanamo, etc) on a grand scale worldwide (with the help of proxies), albeit not yet within the US. Historically, this is the cost of empire and if the US don't forfeit empire (as the British did), then such methods will probably come home to the US. In fact, it probably is happening in the US today in a sense, but using different methods (ie. technology).

Torture is a primitive way of acquiring information. But, if you know everything about a person that there is to be known, then torture becomes unnecessary. Hence in the more developed West, torture is simply replaced by information technology and eventually by the ID chip.

But God have mercy on those that don't want to be assimilated into the collective. The old methods will have to be applied in their case :(

I can't help but suspect the domestic restrictions are along the lines of locking down Fallujah or Petraeus' confinements in Baghdad. The PTBs are building a checkpoint society on steroids here in US. Yes, there is a large impetus from the business community - total knowledge for marketing purposes as I wrote earlier - but it goes beyond that. When the grid fails, Petraeus' plan roles out here. It's the logical application of the military mind.

Emergency management should be a public health function, not a military function. One of the differences between Cuba and North Korea in their respective energy crises was exactly that. Cuba had the slogan "penicillin before paint", but in North Korea, the privileged few kept their privs as long as possible and there is no penicillin. Cuba, OTOH, exports medical services and pays farmers as much as doctors. There's a lesson to be learned there, no?

As someone noted up thread, "Inovative Confinement Concepts". Bear in mind, Halliburton and Boeing already have the contracts.

cfm in Gray, ME

"Emergency management should be a public health function, not a military function"

What a great incite. Kudos.

My second thought while watching the towers fall (the first being for the people in the towers) was that this would bring the security nuts out of the woodwork like crazy. It is almost like an allergy where the reaction to the stimulation is worse than the stimulation.

Where I ended up starting with Dryki's 'total knowledge' link:

Making light of a serious matter. It's fun.

Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?


Like CERA, Duncan Clarke says you have all got it all wrong.


"Duncan Clarke is Chairman and CEO of Global Pacific & Partners, a private advisory firm operating from offices in London, The Hague, Johannesburg and Nicosia. The Battle for Barrels draws on his global experience of over 25 years in the international oil exploration business. He gained his PhD in economics in 1975, and was a lecturer, economist and advisor, before establishing GP&P, with a focus on economics and strategy in the worldwide upstream industry."

mp3 to download and listen to (11.8MB).

Duncan comes accross as very smart and educated, and is very familiar with all the peak oil literature and topics. He believes that peak oil proponents discount above ground factors, reserve growth, and new technology, and that many areas in the world are yet to be explored.

A good listen, if only to question your own beliefs.


Just finished listening to Duncan Clarke trying to discredit peak oil.

As CEO of Global Pacific & Partners (GP&P), he needs clients to pay his salary.

Here is the client list:

Aramco, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Sasol and Shell are on the list. Clients pay GP&P for research projects. Therefore, his book "Battle for Barrels" is not an independent because he has a conflict of interest. Note that on the left menu of his website www.petro21.com, there is a separate choice for "Battle for Barrels"

During the financialsense.com discussion, Duncan Clarke does not mention a possible peak oil date or production rates, he just said that the peak oil date will be pushed out to further to 2020 as the peak oil forecasts are proven wrong yet again. His clients of Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell would support his view because the more attention that peak oil gets, the harder it becomes for these oil companies to access exloration acreage at attractive fiscal terms.

Duncan mentions gas to liquids and coal to liquids with optimism. He does this because Sasol, a GTL and CTL specialist, is a client.

Aramco is also a client. In his discussion, he refers to "Twilight in the Desert" and "Twilight in the Mind".
His book webpage http://www.petro21.com/research/index.cfm?id=301&client=none&show=0 says

The divergence between Peak Oil Theory and the real oil word is stark. The essential crisis inside Peak Oil reflects a condition alike some Twilight In The Mind.

I suppose this means that Aramco and Duncan do not support the views of Matt Simmons!

I agree that the increased exposure of peak oil discussions could have an enormous impact on the future profits of ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell but it is becoming more obvious that the efforts of these companies to discredit peak oil directly and indirectly, by paying consultants such as CERA, GP&P and Cato Institute are not working.

The visits to TOD keep on increasing. http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=sm6peakoildrum&r=33
The GAO released their report on peak oil. Robelius released his peak oil thesis endorsed by Dr. Hirsch.

The recent focus on Saudi Arabia at TOD has helped elevate peak oil. Cantarell is declining. If Russia makes an announcement that it has reached peak oil then peak oil will be elevated to a much higher level.

TOD's research on Saudi Arabia has been great! Is it worthwhile to do a similar analysis on Russia?

I take real exception to the general quality of the article by Dale Allen Pfeiffer largely because the article seems to stretch credibility by using innuendo and inappropriate references to prove points. This type of shoddy “journalism” doesn’t advance the cause of understanding peak oil, or peak energy for that matter. It merely discredits the work of more thoughtful researchers. For example:

Nuclear power
Pfeiffer cites an article by a staff journalist of a bay area newspaper as proof that construction of nuclear power facilities “may” be too high for such plants to be economic. Yet the referenced article makes no such assertion. It merely indicates that the past strategy for nuclear plant construction is not viable. Everyone in the industry has already come to that conclusion. The example of the French nuclear industry is where nuclear power watchers should be looking.

“We expect that when gasoline prices in the US reach $5/gallon and stay there for more than a month, the economy will unravel. At that price, people in the US will not be able to go to work or do their grocery shopping.”

Utter nonsense.
Pfeiffer makes the same mistake that many others do in assuming that the reductions in coal production in the U.S. and Europe are related to depletion. In fact, most of these reductions are related to environmental regulations. Less coal has been produced because it has been more economical to deal with more expensive fuel instead of cleaning up the mess caused by coal. As other fuels have become more expensive coal is beginning to look more attractive to utilities and production will increase unless other alternatives are made more attractive.

The general quality of your comments at the very least rivals the quality that you assert Pfeiffer's article has. Way to go. You provide zero evidence or even reasoning for your claims. "Utter nonsense", to use your own words.

I think (but it's a bit of a guess) that you like nuclear plants. As for the reason I would have to look at the French nuclear industry?! Why? You don't say.

Higher oil prices will not "unravel" the US economy, you seem to say (bit of a guess again). No idea why you say that, though.

And coal depletion is not a problem, but even if it were, it's an economical, not a resource, issue?

At least Pfeiffer tries to explain his points, whether they're valid or not.

I'm no fan of either coal or nuclear.

Let me try to meet your standard of documentation. I assumed that anyone reading this article would have seen the weakness of his arguments.

"Utter nonsense"=Sorry about that. It seemed obvious. We have managed to increase both the fuel consumed, miles driven, suburban houses built, GDP and god knows what as oil prices have moved from $10 a barrel to $60. How am I to believe that just $2/gallon more is going to bring the end of the world? I think this kind of exaggeration weakens the credibility of peak oil arguments, not strengthens them.

I never said that coal depletion was not a problem. Personally I think that the burning of the coal is the biggest problem, not depletion of it. IMHO when coal costs a small fraction of what natural gas does per BTU and when there is a hugh base of coal fired plants and a hugh coal mining infrasturcture and a strong environmental bias against coal; it simply isn't depletion that has reduced the amount of coal being mined. So I think it is partly economic and partly environmental but surely not depletion that has reduced the amount of coal mined in the past decade or so.

Why look at the French nuclear industry? Because it is so much more rational than what happened in the US 30 years ago (when I worked in the US nuclear industry). If you want to say that nuclear power isn't viable you need to address what is likely to happen in the future not what failed in the past, especially if that failure is irrelevant today. My real complaint about Pfeiffer's nuclear stance was the weak reference made by him to the newspaper article. It simply didn't support his contention.

Well, with all due respect, it seemed fairly self-evidently shoddy to me too. For example, the rubbish about photovoltaics - needing 59% of the world's land surface to replace US oil consumption. That consumption is on the order of 1 TW, 24/7/365. During sunlit hours, figure 1400km2 of land at temperate latitudes. Multiply that by 8 or so to allow for cloudiness, downtime, nighttime, the fact that it's not always noon, storage losses, etc. Multiply again by a little more than 6 to account for 15% conversion efficiency. That's 70000km2, which is an awful lot but is three orders of magnitude short of the world's land surface. (Plus, photovoltaics make electricity, which is thermodynamically better than chemical heat, so ultimately you'll only need at most a third, or half, of that.) But then, what's a factor of 1000 between friends, right? Sheesh.

Oh, and the Europeans are already paying $5 to $8 per US gallon for gasoline, yet the place is crammed full of cars. And they're paying that extortionately taxed price out of take-home pay which a formerly expat friend of mine once described thus: "The government taxes away all your money, and lets you have a [child's] allowance." So much for the plausibility of a statement that Americans, with more than twice as much take-home pay, won't be able to "go to work or do their grocery shopping."

We'd do well to stick with real problems, as they are potentially bad enough, rather than get carried away into paralysis with fevered imaginings.

Oh, and the Europeans are already paying $5 to $8 per US gallon for gasoline, yet the place is crammed full of cars...So much for the plausibility of a statement that Americans, with more than twice as much take-home pay, won't be able to "go to work or do their grocery shopping"

You forget the structural differences. I have just returned from grocery shopping @ Zara's, 2.5 blocks away. MANY Europeans can walk to make groceries, but I am one of the few Americans that can easily do so.

Most of those Europeans that drive have the option of taking public transportation, quite often electrified rail. Relatively few Americans have that option.

Europeans have already bought fuel efficient cars (small diesels are the rage ATM AFAIK), the US fleet is gas guzzling. The decade plus required to transform that fleet could be a difficult time.

The US has more income inequality than does the EU. The bottom 10% of Americans do NOT bring home twice as much as the bottom 10% of Europeans (and the car ownership levels of the bottom 10% are MUCH higher, out of necessity, in the US).

Cheap housing is often remote housing, and that is where many of the working poor live.

$5/gallon gas will see some of the working poor in the US unable to "go to work or do their grocery shopping".

I know some.

Best Hopes for the Working Poor,


In short Peak Oil is and will be a problem of the poor for the foreseeble future. Not much of a surprise, I guess. I wonder what comes next... food? Water? Clean air? Long live free market and rationing by price for basic necessities.

Yeah, and yet I wonder how many of those Europeans can really use that public transportation in practice. What in the world would their very often gridlocked throng of cars be for? And why in the world would they pay the vast expense (compared to the USA)? I mentioned $7 gas. Did I mention $1k/year "inspection fees" and other extortionate taxation? Did I mention virtually-mandatory junking of cars after only seven years?

I've had the experience of needing three hours to travel five miles going out of London via the Great West. And despite the existence of the TGV, I've seen the fine parking lot that is the Autoroute du Soleil on a nice weekend. Why would so many locals park in the traffic lanes if the trains are so great...?

I suspect that Americans visit the ultra-dense city centers on rush-rush package tours, and nothing exists for them unless it is pointed out over the loudspeaker. So we get to thinking that the whole place is an idealized version of central Paris, with the métro urbain just a few steps away from any spot. The loudspeaker never mentions the many suburbs and towns where there's just a bus, or with immense luck a streetcar, that comes a bit erratically and maybe once or twice an hour - little better, really, than in places of similar density here in the USA. And it's suburbs like that, lacking useful public transportation (or at best having it in only one direction and only during weekday rush hour) where less-well-off Europeans often live. And where - just as here - they may well pay extortionate small-local-shop prices for stale/wilted groceries if they can't drive to the regional hypermarket.

In Germany there is no mandatory scrapping of cars (my oldest got to about 15 yrs) and the inspection fee of about 100 EUR per 2 yrs is small compared to normal maintenance. Gas is about 1.3 EUR/l times 1.3 $/EUR times 3.8 l/gal = 6.4 $/gal. The reason most people still drive is that (certainly for 2 or more people) is it the cheapest option (I don't know why public trans is so expensive). Nevertheless, for my 20 km commute the bus/train _is_ the cheapest option if I use a monthly ticket. Reasons not to: too much effective suburbia means too many people have inconvenient connections. Since partial privatisation service to small places is worse. Also, anyone who hauls anything takes the car, except for those bicycle trailers you see within villages (many are home built). Peak Oil will mean that the Euros will have to un-do all the suburbia-type development that has exploded since circa 1990. In Germany it is moderate, but in Portugal and the UK (the other 2 places I have some experience with) it is extreme. Around Lisbon, 1m live inside and at least 1.5m live outside, with outside defined as a car commute to the center of at least 20 km. In 1988 when I lived there before there was **absolutely** none of this. It is all new. And will have to be un-done perhaps as fast as it was done.

Why the suburbia explosion? One answer: housing. People want space. They want what they see in the ads (200 m^2 or more) even if they'll never afford it. People are much the same everythere. Nevertheless, it _is_ possible to live well in very much less space than Americans ever think of (if yesterday's thread is anything to go by). For an individual a 60 m^2 flat is plenty. For a couple it is enough. For a small family it is still possible. The arrangements are, simply, different. But as Kunstler says, especially Americans but also Europeans will have to make other arrangements. I wish it were that easy. If reducing space and consumption were all we have to worry about it would be really easy, actually. The reason it won't be, however, is food. Food for all 600m Europeans, let alone the rest of the World outside these fine lands...


Europeans also have a health care system and other public systems from the price of gas because of the extra tax on it, we don't have in the US.

Their houses and apartments are not large, the don't have plasma tv's pulling juice like a heating unit. YOu probably have to run an AC unit in the summer if you have a large Plasma on in the room. A 19 inch tv in Europe is big.

They have consolidated shopping in each neighborhood.

Rail, trolley, subway, and lots of sidewalks in Europe.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

You are joking aren't you?

Big LCD and Plasma TVs are the norm - 32inch upwards.

The norm is to drive to the out of town supermarket.

Oh my dad bought one of the huge TVs and he is not the only one. The problem with people here is they like to wach US movies and as result many very strange ideas comes in theirs minds. The worst one is of course the biger is the beter ;-).

they like to wach US movies ...

One of our major exports :-)

And likely to be a stable one even in bad times. The Great Depression was good for Hollywood :-)

Best Hopes,


Yes - and they do know how to seduce - it's a lesson that the GOP has learned as well. Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.


I have just returned from grocery shopping @ Zara's, 2.5 blocks away. MANY Europeans can walk to make groceries, but I am one of the few Americans that can easily do so.

Can I make a suggestion?

The USA is huge. Conditions from state to state in regards to public transportation, urban density, and energy resources vary WIDELY, just as I'm sure they do in Europe. Generic statements about "Americans" are incredibly unhelpful.

I happen to live 13 miles outside of Boston in a small suburb. I have a corner store, dry cleaner, pizza place, bar, and restaurants all within a couple of blocks. The supermarket is less then a mile away. The train depot is a 10 minute walk from my house, and that drops me off in downtown Boston in 22 minutes.


You are also one of the "few Americans". Both you and I are outliers near the extreme.

I suspect that less than 20% of Americans could make the statement "I have a corner store, dry cleaner, pizza place, bar, and restaurants all within a couple of blocks. The supermarket is less then a mile away. The train depot is a 10 minute walk".

Down thread is a data link that per capita auto travel in the US is ~10,000 miles/year. (Remember this includes children and elderly no longer or minimally driving).

For the vast majority of Americans there is no practical (bicycles are "not practical" by definition for most Americans) way to get to work or make groceries without a car.

Best Hopes,


Oh, and the Europeans are already paying $5 to $8 per US gallon for gasoline, yet the place is crammed full of cars.

To echo Alan's point, but from another direction, you have to consider how quickly prices rise to $5, and what the "built-in assumed price" is. I'm sure there's a better term for it, but by "built-in assumed price" I mean the price that people had in mind when they bought their vehicles, houses, chose jobs, etc. I would bet the motor-vehicle population weighted built-in assumed price is on the order of $2.20/gallon. Anything above that and consumers budgets are significantly affected, the higher the price than that, and the faster they are forced to adjust, the greater the damage to their budgets.

Some adjustments are more constructive than others, and some take longer than others. For example, a common adjustment at this point is to simply charge the increases in fuel costs to credit cards/mortgage refinances. That form of adjustment is becoming increasingly untenable. Another adjustment is to just assume higher prices (current assumption is probably around $2.80 - $3.10 for this summer), and reduce other expenditures to compensate. A slower adjustment will be to replace older, less efficient motor vehicles with newer, more efficient ones. Even slower adjustments are to move to a more fuel-efficient location, change jobs, etc.

So, if the price essentially doubles to $5/gallon quickly, American consumers really will be in trouble. It would have to be an extremely fast price change for most people to have trouble paying for food, but remember that the median income is much lower than the average income, so that there are many lower income people whose budget would be severely damaged by a quick change. If the change takes a decade, people would certainly have time to adjust.

I was just going to post something about Pfeiffer's claim about photovoltaics as well. I agree, it is complete rubbish, but I wanted to have someone else double-check my calculations. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation follows:

84 million barrels per day * 159 L/barrel * 37 MJ/L / (86400 s/day)

= 5.7 TW

Let's be really generous and ignore all losses in refining and in actual conversion of crude oil to useful work. I figure the factor here should be about 1/5 but, again, we're going to try to make the power figure as big as possible in order to find an upper bound on the size of the equivalent solar array.

Now, assume photovoltaic panels of about 100 W per square metre and assume only, let's say, 1/5 of peak output on average. Then that's 20 W per m2, or 20 MW per km2. So, you're talking about 285000 km2, or a square about 500 km on a side.

Again, that's a LOT but it's a small fraction of the land area of the United States (9 million km2), let alone the world. As you point out, with more reasonable assumptions the result is quite different. Throw in that 1/5 useful-energy-from-crude-oil factor and you're really only talking about replacing 1 TW. There are more efficient panels - 200 W in about 1.2 m2, and you're going to stick these things in a sunny desert, so let's assume 1/3 of peak output on average (sound about right?), so we're at 55 MW per km2. 1 TW (1 million MW) at 55 MW km2 is 18,181 km2, or a square 135 km on a side.

That actually seems feasible. At, let's say, $1000 per 200 W panel, or $5 per Watt, that's $5 trillion. A lot, certainly, but only a few years' worth of the world's military budget. Now consider there are more efficient large-scale solar collectors...

So, who has a desert a hundred miles on a side that they don't mind killing? :-)

Corrections welcome - did I slip a digit anywhere? My upper (285,000 km2) and lower (18,000 km2) limits bound PaulS's calculation (70000 km2, or maybe 1/2 to 1/3 that), so I suspect we aren't totally out to lunch.

18,181 km2 * 1,000,000 / 1.2 = 15 bln.solar panels x $1000 = $15 trillion. Your figure is three times lower. Factor in 20 years useful life and something for O&M and you've got ~$1 trillion/year.

In addition 1/3 of peak output is ridiculosly high. You've got less than 1/3 only because of the day/night cycle (PV does not work well at low sunlight). IMHO 15% is the most you can hope for and this gets you to $2.2 trillion/year.

Beside these details, your calculations seem to be OK. Just pull out the wires to get the PV electricity to those SUVs, trucks and fighter jets and you are good to go.

Ah, yes, your first calculation does point out an error - I was using the $5 per peak Watt figure, whereas I needed to use the cost per "constant" Watt. For example, if you take my optimistic average power output being 1/3 of peak, the cost is actually $15 per Watt.

The 1/3 is optimistic, but I suspect possible in deserts near the equator where there is essentially never cloud cover and the sun spends a lot of the time high in the sky. It may be worth the effort and larger space requirement to have solar trackers. You may be right, though - certainly I'd want to do more detailed analysis of the specific panels before plunking down a few trillion dollars. :-)

And, of course, as I pointed out there are more efficient large-scale collectors than arrays of photovoltaic panels.

As for SUVs and trucks - I don't view this as a large problem in the long term, as it is perfectly feasible to satisfy transport demand using electrified rail systems and, as necessary, battery-electric vehicles. (And, ideally, human-powered modes!) We are not, after all, talking about building The Solar Array To End All Energy Issues next week.

Aircraft will probably always use liquid fuels - so what? Liquid fuels won't ever completely disappear. If you ask me a planet populated with sane individuals would be preserving oil for uses which do not have easy substitutes, such as aviation and plastics.

Thanks for the correction.

Thanks for saying what I wanted to about the lead article, and probably better. My recollections from petroleum geology classes of forty years ago indicate a much larger coal potential than any production or 'reserves' figures might indicate. There is probably a frighteningly large amount of accessible coal in North America and the temptation to burn it is increasing.

Coal prices at the minehead are ludicrously low. A ton of oil is perhaps 6 BOE yet a ton of coal costs as little as $36. Even metallurgical coal is maybe $100 - I haven't looked recently - but certainly nowhere near 6X$64 = $384 which is the cost of the oil equivalent. It is possible that on an EROEI basis there is more coal under NA than oil. I don't see any current attempt to open new coalmines even though every existing mine is right beside a railway. What's in between? Just asking what Dale Allen doesn't seem to be.

Someone should do a really thorough analysis of the actual coal situation because I haven't seen anything other than rehashes of past practices and events rather than an exploration of the actual possibilities. It seems as though the thought of burning the stuff up is so repugnant that we'd rather not know, but that won't make it go away.

“Someone should do a really thorough analysis of the actual coal situation because I haven't seen anything other than rehashes of past practices and events rather than an exploration of the actual possibilities.”

Like this?

Peak Coal - Coming Soon? --Chris Vernon

Just a note to add a couple of links to articles re coal in South America. I had read some time back in TOD that S America had little to no coal 'reserves' but geologically that made little sense. http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1241/ and also http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0710/p02s01-usec.html seem to indicate that the Panama Canal had little effect on where the carbon went down. Google coal south america for more reading on the subject.

Coal being labor intensive, hard to refine and hard to light perhaps had more to do with its usage pattern than availability.

"It was some of the most unflinching, candid talk about energy, peak oil, security, trade deficits and China that I've ever heard from anyone in the U.S. government.

Their top recommendation? To heavily invest U.S. tax dollars in renewable energy production in China, because they have a chance to build their burgeoning economy on renewables from the beginning, whereas we are trapped by our fossil-fueled infrastructure

    and they will only compete with us for those diminishing resources."

...a C-SPAN broadcast in 2005 of a hearing by the House Armed Services Committee on the proposed takeover of Unocal by China Oil. Woolsey testified before the committee on a panel that included prominent neo-con Frank Gaffney and Richard D'Amato of the U.S.-China Security Review Commission."

Hmm, let's see.

1 gallon = 3.7854 litres.
1£ = 1.9820 US$.
1£/liter = 3.7854 * 1.9820 = 7.51 US$/gallon.

I guess the brits are paying a bit more for petrol/gasoline than the Americans.

And yet the British economy has not collapsed. Who would have thought it possible?

So, either that "At [$5/gallon] people in the US will not be able to go to work or do their grocery shopping" conclusion is false, or there is something radically different about the way the British go to work or do their grocery shopping.

Let's do some research.


Ok, according to this a whopping 6.4% of those in the UK take rail to work, 7.6% take "bus, coach, private bus", 10.8% get there by foot, and, you guessed it, the vast majority, 70.4%, get there by "car, van, minibus, works van". Alas they don't break that down further, but I think it safe to assume the vast majority of that is "car".

Trips per person per year, UK:
638 driver or car passenger (407 driver, 231 passenger)
263 walk
57 local bus
20 rail
16 bicycle

No doubt more trips are by walking than in the U.S., but the UK certainly isn't a public transit panacea1. Yet they survive on $7/gallon gasoline. Not just survive, but choose to drive2.

I am a fan of public transit and electric rail service in particular, but let us not kid ourselves: private cars have their attractions, and I don't think even a doubling of current prices are going to make a serious dent in demand. People spend thousands of (dollars, Euros, pounds, whatever) per year on their cars even without counting fuel - what's a few extra thousand?

1 Except London perhaps, which has high rail usage (35.3% of trips to work)
2 Survey figures actually predate the recent run-up in pump prices; if there are newer figures showing everyone has abandoned their cars please let me know, but I suspect the proportions haven't changed dramatically.

Although the British do a lot of trips by car, I suspect that there are some key differences versus the Americans. They definetely drive more fuel efficient vehicles, and they probably drive fewer km/miles per year. I offer no proof of the latter - some statistics would be appreciated. I also wonder if there is such a thing as monster strip malls and exurbs in the UK.

I suspect you're right. I am sure the average fuel efficiency of the vehicles is significantly higher. I wasn't meaning to imply that the UK is as suburbanized and car dependent as the United States, merely that it isn't as free of that as you might think. I am sure there are at least some monster strip malls in the UK.

The UK government stats I linked include distance travelled - presumably in miles, though it doesn't actually say. The figures for Great Britain are

5713 miles by "cars and other private road vehicles"
874 miles by public transport
189 miles walking

No doubt this is more walking and more public transport than the norm in the U.S., and less driving.


The US average is a shade under 10k miles per capita per year in 2004.

So it looks like people drive quite a bit more in the US than Britain.

I read Alice Friedeman's article bad mouthing biomass. Kept looking for her solutions or even a hint of an idea of how we will meet our fuel needs in the future. She offered none. It showed incredible narrowmindedness in suggesting that the only feedstock for biodiesel was waste veggie oil. It reminds me of the strategy of GHG deniers of simply raising doubts while offering nothing positive on their side of the argument.
The core of her argument seems to be about soil depletion. Is the corn belt soil really depleteing as fast as she claims and the claims I've been hearing for the last 40 years yet yeilds just keep going up and up. Some farmers are dummies and keep using the techniques that created the Dust Bowl but most are now college graduates and are good stewards of their land. While most are not organic 100% they do minimize use of ammonia and pesticides simply because the stuff is so expensive.

Leanan, is TOD being deliberately hijacked by professional trolls again?

Leanan, is TOD being deliberately hijacked by professional trolls again?

Don't know what Leanan thinks, but I have no doubts. After a quiet period, a whole herd of new trolls shows up all at once. Once again, some heroic banning action is required. The drumbeat has become unreadable again.

Folks, whatever you think of this post of Tom's, he's made many posts and this is the first one for which someone has insinuated that he's a troll. Please don't trash everyone you disagree with by labeling them as a troll.

Thanx for the support.
Freideman's suggested solution is going back to horses and oxen. As I've often said mammals are very energy inefficient something on the order of 1%. The primitive steam tractors of the late 19th century were 8 to 10% efficient. Biomass gasifiers can fuel many current small tractors using wood, straw, or stover. The char residue would make a great soil enhancer reducing the need for ammonia based fertilizer. Her solution is a non-solution. Maybe she breeds horses and oxen.

Freideman's suggested solution is going back to horses and oxen. As I've often said mammals are very energy inefficient something on the order of 1%.

I doubt they are even that good on a photon -> plant -> animal feed -> animal work basis.

I didn't mean to call Tom a troll. I was trying to reply to the lengthy pseudoscientific posts above by a number of new posters. Apologies to Tom.

Especially telling was her analogy of the magician pulling rabbits out of a hat where oil the magician used to pull out 100 rabbits for each rabbit he put in the hat. Now, if I remember right, a recent post said that it is now something like 8 rabbits out of the oil hat for each one put in. Then she says the ethanol magician can only pull one rabbit out of the hat for each rabbit he puts in. The problem with the analogy is that with ethanol the animal going in is not the same animal that comes out. It is more like a mouse going in and a rabbit coming out. What the market wants is liquid transportation fuel. With ethanol, stored solar energy in the corn plus natural gas or coal or whatever are put in the hat and out comes a fuel which can be used with the infrastructure on hand. This is a difficult idea for ethanol opponents to accept. It is obvious to me that the market accepts the idea and is willing to pay the price. But still ethanol opponents continue to sight endless evidence that bumble bees can't fly, to use another analogy.

Previously you had been stating this, and I quote directly:

"EROEI is irrelevant. All that matters is that the market value of the ethanol output is greater than the cost of the energy inputs."

Now you have even moved beyond that, assuming that ethanol has a positive EROEI. If ethanol has positive EROEI, like you say, can you provide us with alternative explanation as to why US oil product use in 2007 has exceeded what would have been expected based on population growth, heating and cooling demand, and number of vehicle miles traveled? Keep in mind that no one (except the bumble bees here), at least as far as I recall, predicted the growth in oil product use we have seen in 2007 so far.

Does the US "oil product use" include military?

To the best of my knowledge, US military operations in the Mideast are supplied mostly from Persian Gulf sources and are not included in standard EIA or even import/export statistics, etc. Of course, military spending is included the Federal budget and GDP, and accounts for an important portion of post 9/11 economic 'growth'.

Granted there is some increase in domestic demand from the US military, but I don't believe it is that significant in 2007 - at least no one anywhere has talked about the US military building supply inventories and the SPR has been about unchanged for more than six months now.

"EROEI is irrelevant. All that matters is that the market value of the ethanol output is greater than the cost of the energy inputs."

Furthering this quote, i believe you will find that once the EROEI of a material is negative, it loses is value as an energy transportation medium quite drastically.

Applied to oil, when the EROEI of oil extraction drops below 1 (Which is going to be soon), the only value oil has is as a feedstock for the chemical/fertilizer industry. Oil will still be produced, but in a vastly reduced fashion, and always at a net loss of energy.

Then the market will have to sort out if it is worth it to pull up oil to make plastics and fertilizers, drugs and lubrication.

Applied directly to the Ethanol question at hand. If you had a stock of 10 barrels of gas, and could trade those 10 barrels for 10 barrels of Ethanol, would you? (remember ethanol already has a lower energy value than oil) Now consider utilizing 10 barrels of oil to make 5 barrels of gas and 5 barrels of fertilizer. You use fertilizer to help your corn grow, and the gas to process corn and move the ethanol for consumption for fuel.

Of course ethanol would have value, but is it more than the original 10 barrels? And if combined tariffs and subsidies amounted to 1$/ga in your favour is it still worth it?? My belief is that this tariff/subsidy will cause a death spiral, and it will be very very quick. It will attract a lot of attention, and then the subsidy will stop very quickly, and leave people up a river.

The market only accepts the idea because it is heavily subsidized. There is no evidence that the market, unsubsidized, would pay the price. The article points out dozens of externatilities that are not addressed by the price and, until they are internalized, I think it is disingenous to argue that the market accepts the idea.

If you are going to critique this very long and complex article, then do it in a full length analysis that actually addresses the points that the woman brought up. If ethanol is the way we are going to get our liquid fuel in the future, then we need to think about some other way to fuel our transportation.

Regarding Alice Friedemann's article:

1. I think the relationship between soil depletion and cellulistic ethanol is an important one, and needs to be examined more thoroughly. I would like to see one of the Ph. D. folks teaching in a related area to take this on and write about it. I know David Pimental has done some work in this area, but we need some younger people researching this also.

2. Alice has an impressive list of resources at the end of the article, and many of her assertions are footnoted. I think this can be a valuable resource for people wanting to look at the subject further.

3. I think her basic assertions that cellulistic ethanol from plant material such as switchgrass and wood will lead to soil degradation is quite likely true. Also, as she notes, based on Pimental's analysis, both of these require substantially more fossil fuel inputs than are produced as outputs.

4. Based on information from Google, Alice is a person interested in peak oil who has an undergraduate degree in biology with a chemistry/physics major. She has found a subject which has not been well researched (at least that I am aware of) and put together a lot of information, using more of a journalistic style than a researchers style.

5. I think we should cut Alice a little slack. Alice is not a Ph. D. researcher. Her article is admittedly one-sided, so a person is hesitant to trust its conclusions. But there is a lot of good stuff in there, and it is a step toward a better understanding of the subject.

This is one of the most comphrehensive articles extant critiquing biofuels. Those who refute her findings need to do a more through analysis and critique than simply dismissing her anologies out of hand. This does not do justice to her article or the subject at hand.

If her analysis is substantially correct, and not necessarily in every detail, we are headed down a very scary and destructive road as far as ethanol is concerned. The powers that be have apparently chosen to walk off this cliff with very little understanding of the possible extent of the fall or the consequences once we reach bottom.

We seem to desperately want an easy and readily available solution that entails no pain. I fear that ethanol will not fit that particular bill and may actually make our problems much worse than they otherwise would be.

When topsoil has been depleted as much as it has been, you have to essentially go to hydroponic farming. You can grow crops on quartz sand if you use enough water and fertiliser, which is what we are doing in parts of the US.

I just sent the following email to Mr. Jay Lehr, Ph.D.
(Jay Lehr, Ph.D. (lehr@heartland.org) is science director of The Heartland Institute.)

Mr. Jay Lehr, Ph.D. wrote:

“The authors lay much of the blame for this continuing confusion on the shoulders of M. King Hubbert (who happened to be one of my mentors), for telling the world in 1957 that oil production would peak in the 1970s and then decline. At the time, I questioned Hubbert to no avail, and regardless of the fact that he was known to be wrong by the time the 1980s came along, the energy doomsayers insisted that his core theory was right, but just a few decades off.”

Dear Dr. Lear, the above shows, at best, wanton ignorance of Dr. Hubbert’s prediction and at worst a blatant lie. Dr. M. King Hubbert did not predict world oil would peak in the 1970, he predicted that the US, lower 48 states, would peak in the late 60’s or early 70’s. It did exactly that. The US peaked in 1970 exactly as Mr. Hubbert predicted.

“Hubbert is most well-known for his studies on the capacities of oil fields and natural gas reserves. He predicted that the petroleum production of a reserve over time would resemble a bell curve. At the 1956 meeting of the American Petroleum Institute in San Antonio, Texas, Hubbert made the prediction that overall petroleum production would peak in the United States in the late 1960s to the early 1970s. He became famous when this prediction came true in 1970. The curve he used in his analysis is known as the Hubbert curve, and the peak of the curve is known as the Hubbert peak.”

Dr. Hubbert, in later years, predicted that world oil would peak sometime around 1995 but that events in the Middle East could delay this peak by about 10 years. That is exactly what happened. The OPEC embargo, combined with the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraqi war combined to cause world oil production to drop substantially. This delayed the world oil peak for about ten years, just as Hubbert predicted.

World oil, crude + condensate, peaked in May of 2005 and currently world production is about one million barrels per day below the peak of May 2005.

Thank you,

Ron Patterson

This article by Lehr was amazing--because of its blatant misrepresentation of Hubbert's work. Also from the article:

Alarmists fail to realize that we are finding more oil all the time. Nor do they acknowledge that their predictions that we are running out of oil have always been wrong. They simply keep pushing the year we will run out of oil further decades ahead.

If Corsi, Smith, and Gold are right, that decade is unlikely ever to arrive.

You and WT should warn a guy when you're linking him to an Abiotic Oil article. I thought dissing M King was going to be his pinnacle of fallacies.. whew! I need to call my Space-Addict buds and have them remind me that the moon landing was real now! Reading Lehr was like visiting another whole reality.

after all, 'Hundreds of Russian Studies' couldn't be wrong, could they?

Bob Fiske

"Snow comes UP, Linus! The wind BLOWS it around and it only LOOKS like its coming down, but Snow comes up, it comes UP!" - Lucy

Good Grief!

"For many years the WTI price was around three to four dollars more than that of Brent. Now that situation has been reversed ...".

The headline WTI price shown in the right-hand column is what obsesses many on TOD, but with increasing amounts of heavy/sour oil on the world market, is maybe less relevant than ever. Would it possible to devise an index (like the Dow Jones or FT100) composed of a combination of current prices of various oil grades/types, and have this where all TOD readers could see it? This would I think be a better guide to actual oil price impacts as the less desirable stuff takes up an increasing proportion of what's actually for sale in the future.

I'd be happy to set up and host such a feed, if someone can suggest the right formula. I think this would be a fascinating and valuable resource.

This is only my 3rd post here, and again I'll say that I have no background in the energy industry. I'm retired aerospace engr./statistician.

I'd submit that we may be missing a fundamental issue regarding the entire PO debate and related issues. That issue being "Logistics" with a capital L . Simply stated it takes energy to move stuff, including moving energy.

It strikes me as similar to a War College axiom: Firepower decides battles, but Logistics decides wars. If you have no bullets you're just a target. The bullets in this analogy being various energy resources.

Not having been reading this forum forever, this may have been discussed, massaged, or otherwise included in everybody's analysis, forecasts, what-have-you.

I'd appreciate any feedback regarding this aspect of the energy issue.

I think that the quote is that amateurs talk about tactics, while professionals talk about logistics (regarding warfare).

This is why I nominate Alan Drake for president:


Electrification of transportation as a response to peaking of world oil production
Alan S. Drake, Light Rail Now
Electrification of transportation ought to be the leading economic and policy response to the advent of "Peak Oil."
first published March 31, 2006.

The US is not Switzerland, but Alan has discussed how one American today uses as much oil as about 400 Swiss used in the Second World War.

My personal view is that large parts of American suburbia are basically going to be abandoned. However, where there are jobs nearby, a lot of houses could be subdivided into multifamily housing.

westexas, you could be right re: original quote. Same concept tho. The reason I'm asking about this is that, imho, the Logistics of our current energy intensive civilization are the weak link. I can cite a few examples, but since the early '80's the world has been moving towards a JIT delivery system and very low buffer inventory of practically everything. That leads to a very fragile system.

So what I'm gathering from the PO discourse is that the arguments are mostly about timing (2 years or 100 years etc. ), which fits with my above comments. So, the question is; How do we move to a more robust system, given the apparently limited supply and the projected need?

Actually, the discussion has touched on logistics problems many times in the past. We were arguing about Walmart's vs. Amazon's distribution system models in Stuart Staniford's Inflation post of a year ago, for example. I think we're all assuming that either oil production/export decline will be slow and distribution will move to rail and relocalization, or decline will be fast and the distribution network will periodically, or completely, fall apart. That's why there's so much discussion about when and how fast production/export peak and decline, since a near-term peak and fast decline means we're in serious trouble, and the other possibilities mean fewer problems.

Are we missing much? If there are things we as individuals could do to protect supply chains (besides stocking up, particularly on toilet paper :-), I'd love to know what they are.

kjmclark, thank you. I really don't know if y'all are " missing much " as you put it. I'm pretty sure that nobody has a good handle on this part of it tho, simply because of the complexity of it. From the avg Joe perspective, it would seem that - worst case - living in any city that is not self supporting would not be a good idea.

mbkennel, about the zoning laws - I don't mean to be impertinent - but it seems to this ole country boy that zoning laws would be the least of our worries. Are you a lawyer by chance? :)

That issue being "Logistics" with a capital L. Simply stated it takes energy to move stuff, including moving energy.

I ran across numbers yesterday documenting how much of the military's supplies are fuel - something like 3/4 if my memory is right. An F16 burns twice as much fuel in an hour as the average motorist uses in a year.

Logistics is more than just moving goods. It's building the roads, administering the road building program, collecting tolls, maintaining culverts and plowing roads. It's issuing paychecks, registering the trucks, collecting taxes and keeping the bank doors open. Finance is now the US' largest industry [whatever that means]. There is a whole infrastructure (logistics) built up to maintain our operations at their current level. It's not obvious that one could cut it by some arbitrary percentage and have it still function at all. Look at what happened to the airlines after 9/11 with only a modest drop in patronage; they couldn't maintain their overhead and total system.

Setting the logistics at the right scale for the operation is going to be very difficult. That's why something like Heinberg's depletion protocol is so important.

cfm in Gray, ME

cfm, you're right of course about it being more than just moving stuff. I'd subconsciously included all that support structure under the Logistics umbrella without trying to list everything. I recall when Ford (I believe it was )shut down within hours when their brake supplier quit delivery. No buffer inventory to keep the line running. JIT is great until something interrupts the process, and then the whole thing comes crashing down as the ripples spread.

Thanks for your reply.

The issue will come to zoning laws.

Will the local poohbahs allow changing uniform sterile residential neighborhoods (car accessible only) to allow some houses to have business?

This seems unlikely until it's way past crisis time.

This may not be entirely on target, but I have a local, and true story.

The Jewish students association of San Diego wants to build a facility on an otherwise unused odd triangle of city-owned land immediately across from the UC San Diego campus. (It hasn't been built with a house since it is undesirable for that).

The La Jolla (very wealthy) neighborhood association has been going nonlinear and nuts about it for years, and suing, blocking and otherwise being irrationally vexatious about stopping it.

This is supposedly due to "traffic" and "noise" and "congestion" and "out of character of the neighborhood." Well, the road separating the site from the campus is a major artery, probably 3 lanes in each direction with two or three signaled intersections in close proximity, all with dedicated turn lanes.


Primary use? On Friday nights there would be 120 students walking from campus.

Of course on many days of the week and especially weekends, there are many more cars driving right next door to productions at the multi-theater La Jolla Playhouse.
(BTW a block or two up there is a long standing church on the same size property).

Now imagine an actual business, with significant activity and people coming and going all the time in a residential neighborhood.

So, in a hypothetical oil constrained future, I unfortunately predict that the zoning laws might perversely become even MORE restrictive against allowing close in businesses---precisely because it is the undesirable, poor people who would need them close because they can't afford gas.

Prevention of development of public transportation will become a potent and popular campaign issue by conservatives.

Prevention of development of public transportation will become a potent and popular campaign issue by conservatives.

Will become?

While reading an article about up to half the winter wheat crop in West Central Texas being lost, due to the recent cold weather, I recalled the discussions about the following:


Alarm over dramatic weakening of Gulf Stream
Ian Sample, The Guardian
Published on 30 Nov 2005

The powerful ocean current that bathes Britain and northern Europe in warm waters from the tropics has weakened dramatically in recent years, a consequence of global warming that could trigger more severe winters and cooler summers across the region, scientists warn today.

To go back to the wheat crop, it looks like Southern Illinois' crop may have been wiped out.

Unseasonable and bitterly cold temperatures last weekend has devastated the Southern Illinois wheat crop, resulting in 100 percent loss in many areas.

Kentucky's crop didn't do any better:

A warm winter followed by a cold spring has devastated Kentucky's winter wheat crop and could cost the state's grain farmers $45 million or more in lost revenues.

Even North Dakota's crop may be in trouble:

The prolonged recent cold weather could be damaging to North Dakota's 370,000 acres of winter wheat, according to a North Dakota State University agronomist for cereal crops.

Overall, it *might* be a bad year for the wheat crop in general:

These extreme cold temperatures may have caused devastating damage to winter wheat crops. The Agriculture Department's weekly crop progress and condition report showed that winter wheat acreage considered good or excellent (an indication of average to above-average yields at harvest) declined from 71 percent to 64 percent.

Despite this reduction in crop condition, the acreage considered good or excellent is still higher than the 10-year average of 58 percent. This reduction in high quality acreage may be an early indication of lower yields for wheat crops come harvest, though the true extent of any damage may not be known for several weeks.

Geez, I have beating this issue for three days on Drumbeats.

THREE DAYS I HAVE BEEN ALMOST SCREAMING ABOUT IT. Like this uppercase type of scream.

Some replied , some understood. Some said it was business as normal.

Well its not. I stopped at a field of wheat and opened the stem to see the hidden seed head. It was TOAST. Almost all early winter wheat was totalled.

I talked to a farmer from the Mo. bootheel. He said..."all I looked at was dead".

This is a big event. This is a wakeup call. Get it?

The USDA always soft pedals something like this.

They obfuscate,they dither. They would steal the shine out of a dead deers eye.

could you point me to some of the grower forums you frequent. thanks

I thought SOP when winter wheat fails (as it does every decade or so) is to plant spring wheat in the same field. Yield declines but a harvets can still be made.

Best Hopes,


I suppose this suggests high grain prices all round, not just corn. Australian wheat production was only 40% of normal last year due to the drought. They've predicting a 50% chance of La Nina this year - we'll know by June. If the drought lasts another year wheat supplies will be getting tight.

If we are to believe in things we cannot see or touch, how do we tell the true belief from the false belief?

Hello Airdale,

Please keep informing us on your area's farming status. I have posted this before: I can be quite content sitting in the natural darkness every night and pedaling a bicycle everywhere, but I won't be happy about starving. Worldwide crop failures from drought and/or bad weather events is my biggest worry.

150 million wheelbarrows & bicycles are required in the US alone. I hope people are taking note of your serious warnings.

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

Bob, see my post on todays Drumbeat(15th) about ag.

LOL - Airdale, I almost added " - and special thanks to Airdale for pointing this out so many times already." I had to get to bed sometime! It seems to me that everything you've been talking about WRT this cold spell and crops was dead on and the media is slowly reporting the same thing.

I read that USDA bit as "it's the bottom of the 5th inning and mother nature is already up 9-2". We only have to get through droughts, soaking rains, hail, wind storms, and a few other problems by the harvest. If we're really lucky for the rest of the season, the national wheat harvest will be average. Looks like pretty lousy odds to me.

BTW, I had to have my new bow adjusted down to 60# to not have to fight with it. No 75# bow for me. And I'll stick with my bicycle, Harley's aren't my thing. See, we really do read your posts! What do you think about the bee problems?

Hi kjmclark et al,

Upstream it was suggested that 'spring' wheat be the replacement for the lost winter wheat. I must confess that if there is something known as spring wheat then I am unaware of its use as a crop here in the area I reside in. Upper mid south and more specifically Ky. Most of Ky is not heavy into rowcrops due to soil diversity. Some over into the central areas but once your into the hilly areas it drops off to just smaller acreages. I believe that refers to a crop grown in the very northern states. Dakotas,etc. Most of the grain crops are grown from maybe to the west of Louisville. Perhaps lots in the river bottom areas of the Ohio valley areas. We farm a lot of the Mississippi river bottoms as well.

Right now speculation by most is to go with soybeans. Why not corn? Not sure but the nitrogen and other nutrients must be recovered so they are going to be cutting it for hay, maybe straw though little market for that.

The weather is still cold,wet and the soil is unworkable. The days are ticking away and likely now the end of April for replanting whatever was lost. Looks like a less than average year shaping up.

The 75 lbs. bow is just as I brought it for $25.00. Hard as hell to pull. I have two compounds. One maybe 45 lbs. It fun to walk the woods with a bow. Suprising the number of hunters here who hunt turkeys with a bow. Many use the same for deer. They prefer it to be more sporting and not make a lot of noise. Every one has a good hunting bow. The older compounds are being replaced by the new high tech looking models of Hoyt so I brought up the excess for next to nothing , when I found them.

Regards, and hoping that crop conditions improve.

This is a very good farming forum website,IMO. You can gain some valuable insight into the farmers mindsets. You may not like what you read, let me caution , for they are fairly conservative , in a redstate sort of atttitude. They speak their minds on current events that you may find disconcerting and far different than what passes here at TOD. Be forewarned. I am just a lurker there. No membership.


BTW here is an analysis of crop conditions in the south. Pointed to by someone in the ag forum I referred to above.

Its fairly pessimist in my opinion yet not all the data is in.


It's not just wheat. I live in a small farming community in NE Mississippi. Normal crops are cotton and soy with a little corn just to provide feed for cattle and people. This year everybody planted corn almost exclusively to sell for ethanol because the price was right ~$4.50/bushel. The freeze hit just exactly at the right time to kill it. So we're scrambling now to replant, and will probably just about break even instead of making a decent profit, assuming summer isn't too hot and dry and turns it into popcorn before we can harvest. And that doesn't even count pests and deer that can destroy it. Very risky business, farming. Not something I'd want to rely on for fuel.

Ahhh. yes,,corn in Mississippi. Seems the pollen would be injured that far south by ..what something above 9x degrees for a couple of weeks when it is vulnerable?

There was a very early ethanol plant down south of us in Tennessee. It died many months ago, before all the hoopla about ethanol got started. The reason I was told was quite simple.

"They just don't grow much corn down in that area." I never saw much either on my trips down Highway 24 to Nashville. Normally on a bike I get a good look at the countryside.
I saw a whole lot of bromesage , like on abandoned fields, and not much corn. More like unto eastern Ky.

Geez, I have beating this issue for three days on Drumbeats.
THREE DAYS I HAVE BEEN ALMOST SCREAMING ABOUT IT. Like this uppercase type of scream.

Geez. And "we" didn't all post about how important you and your comments were?

So sorry. So sorry your ego wasn't stroked. But now that its know how you need that, I'm sure you'll get the strokes you need.

How about this Blair? How about each and every time you make a post that I come right behind and denigrate it?

How about I play the same childish game as you do? Huh?

Its obvious that all you care about is you ego and displaying the foolishness of it all over TOD.

Question is why didn't you ever grow up and become a man instead of a whiner?

No I won't play your games for that is exactly what you desire. Attention getting, thats your game.

How about each and every time you make a post that I come right behind and denigrate it?

If that was my goal I would have pointed out how your comment about corn being a 'perfect food' was wrong. If one cooks corn without lime you end up getting sick over time.

How about I play the same childish game as you do? Huh?

Sir, you are the one who posts about Hydrinos being real based on your time at IBM, about going into the woods and 'living off the land', and whining that your posts about crop damage this year did not get enough fawning over.

The tone of your posts ALSO make it sound like the only seed one can obtain is hybrid, yet *I* know that such is not true. Seeds of change will happily sell non-hybrid seeds. And farmers have a history of seed saving which could be returned to in one crop season. Monsanto and the Genetically Modified intellectual property issue should not be an issue in a fecal matter impacting the rotating cooling device situation, because society makes/enforces the laws - and enforcement of GM IP means starvation said laws won't be enforced, right?

And Percy Schmeiser says Hundreds of thousands of farmers save their seed from year to year. VS your claims of a LACK of seed saving. So another data point that doesn't agree with you.

Posters like veganmaster (IS that the vocal vegan here?) correctly point out how a lower production of corn/soy can be easily addressed calorie wise by moving to a more vegan lifestyle, thus addressing production concerns over a lack of hybridization.

Hybrid seed gives you higher yield. You can plant feed corn, but the yield goes down to the point where you can't make a profit.
I think the corn sells by contained moisture and protein fractions, too, so it can be more difficult to sell if it is variable (nonhybrid seed is variable), but I don't know if that is as important as the yield going down.