"Saudi Arabia has Peaked..."

This a guest post by Alan Drake.

Tomorrow morning, as you are starting your first cup of coffee, you turn on the morning news to “In a surprise announcement last night, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced that Saudi Arabia would not be able to increase oil production. He urged conservation by oil importing nations. Reaction has been …”

After cleaning up a messy coffee stain and vainly trying to log onto TOD, what to do?

And what should, and will, the US and the rest of the world do?

Every responsible government will immediately raise gasoline taxes (this excludes the United States of America).

Switzerland will investigate how their 31 billion Swiss franc Alp Transit and related railroad improvements might be speeded up, completing the shift of freight from truck to (hydro).electric rail. Completion by 2020 does not seem quite so comfortable as it did yesterday. German standards for insulation in new construction are adopted and the push for more geothermal heat is intensified. Debate about a new nuclear plant starts anew.

Basically, Switzerland just speeds up along the path that they were already on.

Thailand will add wind turbines in the south to their Laotian hydroelectric projects and create a 95+% renewable electrical grid. They will pay the contractors building their extensive elevated Urban Rail system in Bangkok bonuses for completion ahead of schedule, the plans for more Urban Rail lines on the drawing board will be started ahead of schedule and streetcars will be built in smaller Thai cities and towns. Aid to small farmers to install manure fed bio-gas reactors for cooking gas and to fuel small tractors will be quadrupled and the national rail network will be improved and electrified with plans for expansion. Electrical assist bicycles and tricycles will be promoted as alternatives to motorcycles.

Basically, Thailand just speeds up along the path that they were already on.

And what of the USA?

I would suggest the following measures, divided into when the conservation effects will first become significant (most will grow in significance over time) and not when they are first implemented.

I would advocate only measures that improve Global Warming or at least, make it no worse.

I also see a North American natural gas crisis shortly after Peak Oil, so massive shifting from oil to natural gas is a poor strategy. However, there will be increased use of Natural Gas and Propane/Butane for transportation and this will require reduced natural gas use for generating electricity, and less NG as well as Propane/Butane for water heating and space heating in order to make available light hydrocarbons for transportation.

Immediate Savings –

National 50 mph speed limit for the next decade (likely to be renewed unless things turn out “better than expected”).

Increase fuel tax on airlines for improved Air Traffic Control (higher taxes > less used)

Reduce mass transit fares via federal subsidy, especially off-peak (a dime?)

Put a 50% federal tax on all tolls, increasing tolls and commuting costs.

Reduce sports events parking and set up remote Park & Ride lots (some in near by cities).

A federal tax of 30% on private paid parking lots. (Higher parking fees increase car pooling and transit use).

Media campaign to promote walking, bicycling, taking transit and car pooling. Also promote 4 day work week (4 x 10 hours instead of 5 x 8 hours or even alternating 4 and 5 day weeks, 9 hours/day).

Short Term Savings (1 to 4 years in the future)

Enact a federal gasoline tax that increases at 3 cents/month for 25 years. The funds will be used to steadily reduce payroll taxes and Medicare premiums, depending upon the prior year gas tax receipts. Minimal initial pain due to taxes, but this will motivate people to start making long term structural changes.

Stop all new highway construction projects except HOV lanes

Enlarge bicycle parking and bike lanes, taking street traffic lanes in some cases.

Increase CAFÉ by 50% immediately coupled with Gas Guzzler taxes on any new vehicle under 27.5 mpg (modest tax at 27 mpg, prohibitive at 18 mpg). Further increases in CAFÉ 4 years later.

Have the US Gov’t assist the merger of GM & Ford, as it once assisted Chrysler.

Add a federal “Gas Guzzler” tax to license tag renewals to speed scraping of oversized SUVs. Etc.

Revoke authorization for all Bus Rapid Transit projects not actively under construction. Either rework as streetcar or electric trolley buses or postpone for a decade.

Build more vehicles for existing Urban Rail lines on a crisis “3 or 4 shift” basis. Many more rail cars for Amtrak as well but on a slightly less urgent and more economic basis.

Increase incentives for ground source ('geo-thermal') heat pumps to replace oil and natural gas heat. (Air source along the Gulf Coast). Encourage localities to require for new construction. Low cost federal funding for a fraction of the cost is one option.

Increase incentives for solar water heating and require it in some cases for new construction (such as rental units). Low cost federal funding for a fraction of the cost is one option.

Continue incentives for tankless gas and propane water heaters.

Require rental units to replace hot water heaters with tankless, solar or heat pump hot water heaters.

Require minimum energy efficiency on new rental unit construction.

A federal tax of $200/space/year for commercial parking lots, increasing to an inflation adjusted $1,000/space/year. This will speed changes in our urban form to a more energy efficient form and provide funds for tax cuts and spending initiatives elsewhere.

Extend the wind and other renewable tax credits several years into the future with a slow phase out instead of the current abrupt cut-off (the risk of abrupt cut-off inhibits building new wind turbine factories). The subsidy during the Phase out period can be increased later as events warrant.

An 80 cent tax on each incandescent bulb.

Intermediate Savings (5 to 12 years in the future)

Start construction ASAP (within 1 to 3 years) of “on-the-shelf” Urban Rail plans listed in appendix.

Any freight railroad that electrifies will be exempt from property taxes. This will also encourage additional infrastructure.(more tracks, better signals, more grade separation) since the railroads will not have to pay property taxes on improvements. Perhaps tax credits or low interest loans (via federal guarantees) for electrification and capacity increases.

Amtrak can allocate $2 billion/year to freight railroads that will increase capacity via tracks and signals that will, in turn, speed Amtrak trains.

Require that rental units meet certain energy efficiency standards before being sold (an idea borrowed from Germany). This may lead to a faster change in our urban form.

Work with Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Alaskan villages and small islands to reduce oil used for electrical generation.

Improved Air Traffic Control reduces aviation fuel use by 3% or so.

Long Term Savings (13 to 50 years in the future)

Stop all new highway construction, including HOV lanes and remove selected urban highways.

Build a network of semi-High Speed Rail lines that service both passengers (at say 125 mph top speed, 110 mph average speed ) and express freight at 100 mph on electrified rail lines.

Encourage, via property tax exemptions, tax credits and low interest loans the development of long distance HV DC transmission lines and pumped storage as long as these projects are linked to renewable generation (mainly new wind turbines).

Explore bio-sources to replace selected petrochemical feedstocks.

Install electric trolley buses on heavy bus routes that are not appropriate for streetcars or light rail.

Add a “risk premium” to federally funded or guaranteed mortgages that are more than 1 mile from a stop or station for electrified transportation (rail or bus).

The above is a diverse set of government led actions, the free market will respond in a variety of ways to both higher oil prices and government actions.

Are any of these bad ideas with negative unintended consequences? What other actions can be made at a government policy level? And should you skip breakfast and go immediately to the nearest gas station and fill up the car?

Here is another idea... Implement change to work schedules - possibly four 10 hr days instead of five 8 hr days to cut down on commute. Encourage where possible work from home/telecommute, etc. (Depends on if more net energy is consumed by folks staying at home vs shutting down homes and congregating in offices)

just a thought

He already has that one.

I was thinking of a return to Sunday as a day of rest, but people want to drive to church, the mall, the ball game, the golf course, etc. Even if businesses were closed, it would require massive rescheduling of community activities.

So how about Monday instead? Close businesses on Mondays, require special plates to drive Mondays and limit the work week to Tuesday thru Friday.

Tell me why?
I don't like Mondays.
I want to shoot
The whole day down.

In the '70 there were carless sundays. With exceptions for emergency services, but the highways were pretty much deserted. It's annoying, but justifiable if the alternatives are rationing, by price or otherwise.

I remember. I also remember the '60s when most every store was closed on Sundays. I was thinking that there's no point to a four day work week if everyone goes driving on their extra day off.

Also, less driving forces one to think locally.

When I lived in Massachusetts, they still had the Blue Laws, which required that the stores be closed on Sundays. There were lots of loopholes though - a 7-11 could be open, but a grocery store could not. Restaurants were unaffected by this. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas the law was suspended so people could go out and buy useless crap for gifts.

When I lived on Long Island, only businesses with a few employees were allowed to be open. My Dad could buy his Sunday morning paper and pastries, but Mom couldn't go grocery shopping. So they'd send us outside, so we didn't trash the house, and go for a nice, relaxing drive. Back then the neighbors were afraid of us, not the other way around.

As I recall, the larger stores began to argue that they sold newspapers and pastries too, that they were losing business to small stores and that they were being treated unfairly. In response, the supermarkets were allowed to open on Sundays with only as many employees as were allowed for the small stores. But people liked shopping on Sundays and bought more and more than just newspapers and pastries. And it went from there.

Donal; I already mentioned that. You are on the same wave as me, The world is spinning on time, 24/7 and everything has to do with pay back. We need the "day of rest" back but much different. Its hard to stop everyone or telling people they cannot do this or that but it would provide the cheapest form of conservation, just don't travel on this particular day. If you do (other than essential services or emergencies etc) then you pay a small fine going towards Climate change funding or subsidies, for without oil, Al Gores dream will not bear fruit!

For one day a week or a month, it would be nice just to "tinker" about the home.

Wishfull thinking! & it probably will never happen

The world wasn't designed for 24/7,.. day and night, yet our craving for speed increases, and the faster we go, the harder time bites back.


I know this is an American site, but to give you an idea what other countries would do (my guess).

Most thinkers in Finland, including key politicians, would be clueless. It would not register on their radar.

When other countries would start to act swiftly, Finland would play the catch up game (we are good at the catch up game).

Once they understood the significance, they'd try an improve emergency stock of oil (double, triple).

This approach would be seriously hampered by other countries doing the same (a bit earlier).


Finnish politicians would procrastinate and bicker about the need to build the sixth, seventh and eight nuclear power plants (EPR type, 1600MW minimum / plant).

By the time Finnish politicians got around to it, nuclear power plant makers would be back ordered in their delivery capacity for a decade or so.

They would then start changing the legislation to allow easier ramp up of windmill farms on the coast line. This would take a few years. They'd also consider subsidies for wind mills or a guaranteed minimum price for electricity produced this way.

Windmill manufacturers might also be constrained in their delivery capacity for some time, due to a surge of orders from most European coastal countries.

Then they'd try to accelerate current bio-fuels program in order to try and ramp up the production swiftly. They'd consider switch grass type perennial grass, rapeseed (to some extent) and cellulose waste feed from forestry/paper industries.

Forest industry would complain that it messes up their value chain and would try to prevent this development to some extent. Regardless, things would go forward without a single serious net energy calculation done for any of the biofuels that would be ramped up.

5) They'd tighten the taxes on certain type of fuels in order to curtail growing consumption (esp. heating oil) and try to encourage swift (10 years) transition from oil heating in residential buildings to geo-thermal exchange heat pumps. In addition, they'd probably improve minimum insulation standard for new buildings and give incentives to retrofit existing ones with more insulation.

Initially people would complain, boycott and not go along with the program. However, a sharp and steady price in oil (with increased taxes) might change people's opinions quickly.

This would cause a big boom in heat exchange and geothermal exchange pumps. Construction industry would have to adjust and would be capacity constrained for a while.

6)Economists would start calculating losses and risks for various sectors:

Obvious losers: Asian air traffic by the domestic airline. Already tightly squeezed trucking companies delivery goods on the roads. People doing very long commutes daily. People living outside big cities, away from rail and coast. All this according to the economists.

Risk analysis would not take into account: falling future export levels from oil export countries, falling eroei of oil production, relative inelasticity of oil demand, agriculture, food import dependence & systemic influence on world economy and the growth paradigm.

Of course, all of the above is just a wild guess based on how this matter is dealt publicly and in research papers here in Finland.

At least you have several agencies in USA that have researched (are researching) and acknowledge the potential risk of the situation.

Hello SamuM,

TOD welcomes all members because you may post an idea or link that is applicable to someone else that may help their particular situation, and vice versa. I regularly check the other TODs, and I think many others do too. Energy is global: our cooperation must be global too. Post away my friend!

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

Finland and Sweden are quite simmilar but Finland seems to be better managed from my Swedish point of view. But we have more often gone ahead and done both dumb and smart things ahead of Finland.

I dont think a Saudi proclamation of a peak in their oil production initially would change much. They would not be the first country to peak, peak oil isent realy news since our former prime minister had it as his last main issue but the priority for oil replacement etc would go up.

I would guess all kinds of budgets for oil efficient infrastructure, energy investments and research would get a 5% increase and then a 10% increase and then more if other countries start to panic. Municipialities and lots of private companies will probably do the same when the writing is on the wall.

There would probably be massive investments in electricity infrastructure and biofules. Our nuclear power debate would probably complete its 180 degree turn but it is likely that we would be in the 10-15 year queue alongside Finland 7 and 8. That would probably trigger a reestablishment of the Swedish industry for making major nuclear reactor components and perhaps even complete powerplants.

We would probably rewind a lot of our red tape to avoid cost driving delays for misc investments. There could be a change in general consumption patterns from private consumption to both public and private investments. It might even be quite good times for a country with a lot of the know-how and resources needed post peak.

Dear estamos...is it possible to say somos jodidos or does that not make sense?


This is way off-topic, but here goes an answer to
your question:

As you probably know, there are two verbs in Spanish
that can be translated as "to be": "ser" and "estar".

"somos jodidos" uses the "ser" verb, which implies
an intrinsic quality. This is not what you mean
to say, I think. Use the verb "estar" instead:
"estamos jodidos".

As I said before: "Alan Drake for President"

I second the nomination.

How about stopping the corn to ethanol madness and exchanging our corn (70% of world exports) only for oil.

Or, on a related matter, how about encouraging the raising of grass fed beef and other kinds of meat such as poultry on integrated pasture based farms that incorporate a heavy emphasis on localized consumption of same. Corn is an energy intensive, environmentally destructive crop; the primary reason it is being used for ethanol is because it has become, through subsidization of mega monocultures, such a dominant part of our agricultural landscape.

Ugh. A giant statist approach to reduce demand is sound policy?

No, a big statist approach isn't sound policy. It simply reveals that the author is perhaps a bit naive.

Heat pumps -- good idea. They sell themselves without subsidies. They could use a good marketing campaign though. There is a HUGE heat pump project in Honolulu.

"Require minimum energy efficiency on new rental unit construction." -- I'm all for improving building codes. Good luck on getting it done on a nationally mandated basis.

Tankless water heaters -- sometimes they save, sometimes they don't. Drop the subsidies.

"Put a 50% federal tax on all tolls, increasing tolls and commuting costs." -- If you convert all existing roads to toll roads, maybe. Why not simply increase the Federal gas tax and let it do the work for you??? Then, you don't need to disinguish toll roads from freeways from local roads.

"Have the US Gov’t assist the merger of GM & Ford, as it once assisted Chrysler." - Please put the bong away before you post.

"...remove selected urban highways" -- Why waste money & energy tearing up existing roadways before their useful life is finished? Bad idea. After a LARGE gas tax increase (or simply a steep decline in oil exports), maybe demand will fall enough to not make maintenance worth the cost? Then, consider conversion to bike lanes. Recumbant bicycles & tricycles just might be the next big item.

"An 80 cent tax on each incandescent bulb." -- Why not just progressivley tax electricity usage directly and stop trying to pick winners & losers? This way Al Gore & John Edwards will pay for almost every reader of the Oil Drum!

Forget trying to add federally mandated "risk premiums" to anything. Financial engineers will find ways around the mandate. Save your time & energy for higher value-added items.

"National 50 mph speed limit for the next decade." -- Again, let the gas tax do the work for you and allow people to live their lives as they wish.

"Reduce mass transit fares via federal subsidy" -- Who coughs up the $$$ to fund the susbidy? I hope it's from gas tax proceeds.

Start with taxing all energy consumption from non-renewable sources -- gasoline, electricty from natural gas or coal etc. Then let the free market pick the winning & losing technologies. Let people choose how much they consume -- get out of dictating what they can & cannot do. Use the increased tax proceeds NOT for reducing payroll taxes, but to provide the LARGE mass transit subsidies you propose.

Several points.

Taxes must come from some source. Taxes will alter behavior (why am I waiting to May 1, 2007 to sell a big gainer of mine even though I am itching sell the stock today ?) A distortion of the capital markets (MAJOR SIN) but many of those that decry other market distortions love the capital gains exclusion.

So I see no sin in sending signals via the tax code to change behavior.

Personal behavior and choices are driven by other factors than economic New Present Value. First cost is often the primary driver with little or no knowledge of long term operating (read energy) costs.

Landlords have no (or very little) incentive to increase energy efficiency for tenants.

The 50 mph speed limit places another tax on auto use; a time tax. So it saves energy, but it also makes that 55 minute commute a 62 minute commute and makes driving less enjoyable. Enough to perhaps alter behavior, particularly of higher income individuals who are unaffected by gas taxes, etc.

The market, as already distorted by gov't policies (90% federal matching for building Interstate highways) has failed us. So I see nothing wrong with statist actions to reverse the impacts of previous statist actions. And "distorting" a market that has failed us does not concern me either.

No mortgage interest deduction if one's home is not within 1 mile of an electrified transit stop and meets certain energy requirements. How is that more statist than the mortgage interest deduction that we have today ? Since 95% of Americans (rather than half) would not get the mortgage interest deduction, I see this as fairer.

Tearing down highways has been shown to be an excellent way to revitalize the areas that they once ran through (the reverse happened when they were originally built). And as it makes urban areas more desireable by removing the auto sewers, it makes long distance commuting more undesireable. A clear energy gain !

Decades ago, the gov't spend billions picking losers (inner cities got auto sewers to degrade their quality of life and disrupt local transportation patterns) and winners (suburbs). Just spend a few dollars reversing prior market distortions tearing them down, one by one.

Best Hopes,


I wouldn't necessarily tear down highways but I would let them deteriorate to the point where only the truly dedicated would choose to use them. The primary result of widening and straightening the highway to my little town has been the elimination of local services and a significant increase in the number of people who choose to commute from someplace that they otherwise wouldn't be commuting from. People go to the "big city" more often because it is relatively convenient. Pre wider and straighter highway days, people would try to minimize their trips to the "big city".

This is just a tiny example but it is true, of course, that if you build it they will come, especially those who require convenience.

To the extent that development is contiguous to existing infrastructure or done on an infill basis, the more compact our cities and towns are and the more likely that mass transit, walking, and bicycling, electric or not, will be viable. I would extend the tax incentives to transit stops of not just an electric nature. After all that non electric transit stop might be a feeder bus for a light rail system.

Hello from Esperance, Western Australia.
We have banned the incandescent lamp.
Joe Sixpac is clueless when it comes to energy.
The hospital that I worked at as an electrician spends a grandiose amount of government money on Gas and Coal electricity.
I told them that we could reduce their expendature by 80%, and then use that money for nurse accomadation.
They stuck their fingers in their ears and called me horrible names.
I am afraid that Mr. Darwin will have to work his magic.
I am building big ships and boats,
Putting up monuments, jotting down notes.
Everybodies in dispair, every girl and boy.

"Require minimum energy efficiency on new rental unit construction." -- I'm all for improving building codes. Good luck on getting it done on a nationally mandated basis.

This might not be as hard as you think. Building codes are usually administered at the county level and counties almost alway adopt the The Uniform Building Code with some localized additions. A full set of commercial and residential codes would be beyond the budgets of most counties to research and create, hence the UBC. So there would really only be one target for ecology-enhancing legislation.

How else are you going to do it? Let the Invisible Hand work it out?

For all the evils markets cause, I trust them more than naive technocrats with competing agendas.

I tend to agree, expecting governments to solve the problem of PO in a sensible manner is a "non sequitur". Governmental rear view driving always ends up in a ditch, splattering everyone with unintended consequences. Also, giving governments additional money via well meaning taxes would also be verging on criminal incompetence.

Government are part of the problem, not part of the solution. A sensible mitigation programme would become the disaster "du jour" in the hands of government.

Give the Government something inconsequential to do and keep them happy, whilst allowing the rest of us to muddle through the crisis unimpeded by their disastrous policies.

I don't like the Gov - BAD! Market - GOOD!!! Method of thinking – ideology will not get us out of this one

You said it, brother...we need our highest order of thinking to mitigate this one. Needless to say, said thinking is not forthcoming at this time.

Ahhh, but one does not have a real free market does one?

One free of government meddling, one where ALL external costs are fully charged (with the ability to predict the future correctly so full-charging CAN happen), and one where the money system is somehow magically acceptable to all parties.

Oh, did I mention honest and transparent government?

redcoltken, I never said the Market was "GOOD" either. I agree ideology will not get us out of this, but thinking "BIG" probably won't get us out of it either.

Government and the Market are going to do whatever it is they want to do, whether good, bad or indifferent - who's going to stop them? As it is, this wonderful mix of Government and Market is what has got us into this situation in the first place, so its unlikely the same mix will get us out of it.

Society, IMO, will have to cherry-pick what it needs from what is available, whether from government or market, and disregard the rest. I've seen this process described as "triage", the process of allocating resources where really needed. Keep what's useful and junk the rest (including government, corporations and financial institutions if they're not required).

If that leaves you thinking "whose going to sort out the problem then?", just look in the mirror. Our individual actions is what's going to sort out the problem, both for ourselves and society as a whole.

Look, people often get themselved wrapped up in ideology of extremism. People like things in black and white. Its better when you realize:

1. Markets usually work best.
2. Markets can fail.

So if you want to start meddling with markets, fine and well, but try to make sure that you're trying to fix a failure rather than breaking something that wasn't broken.

There are many organisations that are neither for-profit nor an extension of the military power of the state. Usually this debate becomes, regretfully, too polarized.

And the best 'fix' of market failure is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

I like free markets on a small scale. My own belief is that the bigger and more monopolistic corporations (free market entities) become, the more BAD happens. I agree that people get themselves wrapped up in an ideology of extremism. A pragmatic approach would be better. Decide what we want on a collective basis, then try to tweak the system with methods to achieve the goals, whether free-market oriented or regulated to some degree at some govt. level.

I definitely believe, however, in a very strong set of environmental laws RE pollution and over-exploitation of vital resources (water, trees, topsoil etc). I think, if such laws existed and were enforced, a free market could do well within such a structure. When free market becomes free-for-all, bad things happen.

“Government are part of the problem, not part of the solution. A sensible mitigation programme would become the disaster "du jour" in the hands of government.” Posted by Burgundy

To me, this directly points to the really tough question: How do we keep an elected government out from under the undue influence of a primarily corporate economic class, well organized and financed to make that government see things their way, as well as keep the thinking always in the short-term of the electoral cycle, as opposed to thinking primarily in the long-term future of our society. (Never mind the virtual purchasing of elected positions, via contributions and contracts.)

If at some point in the near future, a US president and congress tried to impliment almost anything on Alan’s list, they would find themselves blocked by a hailstorm of lawsuits from myriads of industries. This alone would delay any implimentation until after a round or two of elections when you can be sure such president and congress would be history. And the legal system is as much a part of the problem as the other two branches of government. Almost certainly, anything that would actually seriously grapple with the situation would step on too many toes and, at some point, be ruled unconstitutional.

So if we can’t clean our “democratic” system out, and we don’t like Communism, Fascism, Feudalism, Socialism Monarchy, Saddam Hussein style rule, or whatever has ever been tried, then what do we do? Are there any other alternative economic and political systems out there that have not been to at least some degree, already discredited? If so, we’d better start looking them over because, as our current US government operates, Burgundy is absolutely correct.

Antoinetta III

At Brazil:

Production of gasoline powerred cars sudenly stops (no governemnt intervention), and ethanol prices skyrocket for a couple of years.

People start to use bikes (people use them a lot on some places, but not on most), and cities become less centralized (alread on the way, no government intervention).

Large distance transportation suffers as government is unable to lead a switch to rails. Agriculture starts to concentrate around big cities again and land price increases on those places. Food price for internal consuption will increase a bit, food price for exportation will increase a lot, and we'll stop being competitive for a while (ethanol being an exception).

The government will probably move into a biggest diesel yeld from our oil, at the cost of reducing other products. It'll also maintain poorly our roads, since it'll be expensiver to do that and won't be able to implant rails on time.

Good suggestions.

I would add:
1) federal subsidies for homeowners to make all the myriad energy efficiency improvements we often discuss here.
1a) Local property tax abatement for those who make changes, perhaps on a sliding scale. Therefore, with more improvements one receives greater abatement.

2) tax all lightbulbs to discourage waste -- mercury in CFL makes it a poor alternative to incandescent.

3) Question: how to encourage community gardens, farmer's markets, and basically shortening the food chain?

4) I would be remiss if I didn't add: education campaign on dietary options that are less fossil fuel intensive - e.g. more plant and less animal protein.

Encouraging to see how many small changes could really add up.


"education campaign on dietary options that are less fossil fuel intensive - e.g. more plant and less animal protein."

How about also eliminating the huge amount of subsidies given to the grossly inefficient, disease-inducing, climate- and environment-wrecking meat and diary industries? People often blather about the free market, oblivious to the fact that the true free market cost of meat and dairy would price them out of the reach of many people (and this would tremendously benefit the environment, human health, as well as conserve massive resources)! In a sane world it would be a no-brainer. :)
Oh wait, that would lose billions of dollars in profits for the mega-corporations, both agricultural and medical. Plant-based diets would drastically reduce chronic disease, and that's VERY bad for business, thus it ain't happening without a huge fight. Boy, how the corporations are going to have to be dragged towards any positive changes! Too bad they run the country.

I've eaten grass fed beef raised just two miles from my door step for the last seven years. I'm lucky.
Personally, I believe the free market is going to hammer the industrial meet market. feed lots don't pencil out at todays corn price. furthermore, more and more marginal land that would be used for hay production is going to corn. look for the price of all meat to go up, at least until the ethanol craze implodes.
I say go local. leave the corps behind.

I do appreciate my leather work boots and down comforter. the goat skin on my djembe has a very sweet tone, leather sofa, can't beat it.
I respect your decision and commitment to veganism but I don't see my self in grass work boots: )

no need to go to extremes, earldaily:
we do what we can, when it suits. there's no question that americans would lead longer, healthier lives without that local, grass-fed beef plating out in their coronary arteries. or that we'd massively reduce our ecological footprint by eating plants, instead of eating the animals that eat the plants.
but leather boots replace fossil-fuel-soled ones, and last a decade or more. so no need to go all-or-nothing in the debate. i've been vegan just about forever, but i'm keeping my goatskin djembe and my buffalo-hide ashiko.

this is a complicated issue.
I respect vegetarians and vegans, the decision to make the commitment proves to me that you have at least thought about your food.
right after 9/11 I listened to tic naht hahn's (sp) response. he focused on the over consumption in the west and spent a good amount of time on beef consumption. land use and water use are off the charts.
I tried vegetarianism for about six years, didn't work for me. my body needs meat.
this is why it is complicated(at-least for me) most of our natural landscape is grass land, rumens eat grass... well you see were I'm going with this.
this whole thing would be much more manageable with about 5,000,000,000 fewer people around:(

grass-fed beef plating out in their coronary arteries.

I just got done doing a 12 hour shift of IT work for a wind turbine maker so I'm not willing to use the search engines to dig this up. Not to mention when I confused the British truckers strike of 2000 with 2001 someone will correct me. (thank for the clarification BTW)


The 'good' fat is Omega 3 and the 'bad' fat is Omega 6. (Omega 9 is in there somewhere and I'm not sure why I should be tracking that) In grass fed cows, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is like 3:1. And a cow take 4-5 years to "get to weight". If one uses grain, adds antibiotics to "keep the cow healthy" from the poor diet, and does a feed lot operation, the cow goes to 'full weight' in 14-18 months and has a 15:1 omega 6 to 3 ratio.

So yea, grass fed cows are better for you. Not to mention it keeps the grasses in their place. *grumbles about out of control grass*

As has been demonstrated by actual research into hunter-gatherer tribes, 73% of known hunter-gathers got 56-65% of their total calories from animal products whereas only 14% of hunter-gatherer societies consumed more than 50% of their calories from plants.

The sole reason to turn to a diet predominantly of agricultural products ("agriculture was the greatest mistake of the human race") is overpopulation which forces you into choices other than those for which we evolved.

You can choose to argue your vegan position any way you wish, but it is aberrant and not indicative of our evolutionary roots.

Now, having said that, in a world of severe population overshoot, living vegan might be a lower impact choice than eating meat. But living in a lower population world without the impacts of agriculture would be better than both.

P.S. Agriculture won't save us from the dieoff.

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

I can control my diet (vegan) and my reproductive choices (childless couple). Both are healthier for me and the planet.

I cannot control other people and their irresponsible choices.

If I live to see a world of less than 1 billion people where wild forests and fauna have been restored to pre-civilization levels, maybe I'll rethink my choices.

However, I am dealing with reality today.


We inherited all sorts of bad traits based upon our evolutionary roots; so, I'm not sure that it much of an argument against veganism. Personally, I have the occasional egg here and there and eat cheese when I go out to eat.

There's is no turning back as far as agriculture since we have built this massive population based on not just agriculture,but an extremely energy instensive agriculture. I agree, however, that population needs to be cut voluntarily or it will be cut with massive dieoff. Cutting population is a good idea whether people deciding to switch to veganism or near veganism. Veganism is only an answer if we cut population. Human nature being what it is, we will just expand to eat up the land freed up by living lower on the food chain.

Although I don't personally eat meat, I can see that it might be necessary in an integrated meat/pasture farming operation.

Cutting population is a good idea whether people deciding to switch to veganism or near veganism. Veganism is only an answer if we cut population. Human nature being what it is, we will just expand to eat up the land freed up by living lower on the food chain.

I understand your point - that without population control we will expand to whatever population the biosphere will support. And I do not think 12 billion ipod-using/prius driving vegans is a good alternative.

However, this argument can be generalized to state that any attempt to gain efficiency is pointless.

As for "meat/pasture farming being necessary " -- I don't really understand.

How can anything that is less efficient (in terms of energy inputs per calorie) and more damaging to the environment be "necessary," especially as resources become increasingly constrained?

First, let me make it clear that I am vegan 99% of the time. At most, once a month I will have a little cheese, perhaps on a Pizza when eating out. Once or twice a year I will have an egg based meal such as an omelette. I support a vegan or at least a vegetarian approach to cutting our environmental impact. Having said that, I don't trust our ability to cut population and just see us expanding our population to meet whatever resources are available with an eventual dieoff scenario.

I am referring to the pasture based farming set forth in the Omnivore's dilemma. It is an integrated approach with the animals providing much of the energy and nutrient recycling that makes the overall production of the pasture based farm possible.
For example, it is set up so that chickens follow the cows, eat the bugs out of the cowpies, gain nutrients thereby, and add to the overall health of the cows. Cows graze and recycle nutrients. Chickens provide eggs, which seem like a fairly low cost approach given the overall way the farm is managed. One could have a totally vegetable based operation but feeding waste material from the vegetables to pigs, for example, seems like an efficient approach as one gets both fertilizer and meat from the operation.

To the greatest extent possible, this operation keeps much of the vegetables produced on site. Some nutrients are lost because food is sold to the public but the grass based approach minimizes the use of fossil fuel based fertilizers. Animals are part of this cycle. I don't choose to eat them but can see that this approach is far better than our industrialized agricultural approach.

I think the main damage to the environment from agriculture is in the industrial based sector, that which grows massive monocultures like corn. Farmers are so specialized that they have to get most of their food from the supermarket.

I don't think all systems that use animals as part of the process are necessarily destructive; however, our current system of divorcing animals from the system and placing them in feed yards is part of that destructive agriculture.

While it is clear that a vegetable based diet is far more efficient than our industrial based agriculture which has a heavy emphasis on corn and meat, the pasture based approach even though it includes animals may be a reasonable compromise for those who insist on eating meat.

Very well said...appreciate the reference to Omnivore's Dilemma.

I was a strict lacto-ovo vegetarian for ten years (lacto-ovo means dairy products are included in the diet). I chose lacto-ovo because ice cream is made with milk and eggs and God intended humans to eat ice cream. ...and chocolate chip cookies.

You are one of the most interesting posters here, but you are quite wrong in this case. Just because certain groups in the relatively recent past (or today) eat animal products is not any evidence whatsoever of our EEA (Environment Of Evolutionary Adaptedness). Frankly, the scientific evidence is very clear on the matter: humans are herbivores. Our bodies are designed specifically to process plant foods, and there are many clues to this, whether it's starch-digesting enzymes in our saliva (only herbivores have), long intestines (only herbivores have), weak acid stomachs, grinding, flat teeth, jaws that go sideways (carnivores go ONLY up and down) - the fact that humans are the only meat-eating animal that has seminal vesicles, etc.etc.

Just because anthropological evidence shows humans ate meat has no bearing whatsoever on the diet that the human body thrives on (the EEA). But here's a book that challenges your point of view on the anthropological evidence as well:


You can take an alligator and feed it all the broccoli and other plant foods you want, but it DOES NOT make alligators biologically herbivorous! Conversely, humans may stuff themselves with meat aplenty, and get the diseases the inevitably come with it, but it DOES NOT make them carnivores, or even omnivores (maybe functionally, but NOT biologically)!

Anyone who thinks meat is necessary for humans has clearly NOT researched nutrition to any significant degree. In fact the longest lived people in the world eat vegan or near-vegan diets (see Healthy At 100 by John Robbins) - and the huge mountain of scientific evidence on human nutrition, when weighed objectively, DESTROYS THE NOTION THAT HUMAN NEED MEAT OR DAIRY. In fact, the evidence is overwhelming - the more animal products people eat the sicker they become. The higher the diet is in whole plant foods, the healthier people become. The only controversy is stirred up by corporate interests and people's love of hearing good news about their bad habits.

But of course when it comes to food, people cherry pick whatever evidence tells them what they want to hear, and ignore the waterfall of evidence to the contrary (to be fair, the propaganda in industrialized countries is often thick enough to choke on, but that's no excuse because the science is so clear if you read beyond the headlines).

It is a fundamental misunderstanding to think that just because some groups of humans in the past ate lots of meat they were eating a healthy diet - those people got calories from whatever source they could!

And just to beat a dead horse into the ground, let's just forget the sketchy anthropology, and stick with basic science, such as the "grand prix of dietary studies" - NY Times - The China Study, which found that even small amounts of animal products increased disease risk, leading the author to conclude that the best amount of animal products is None. And this is an old farm boy who started his career researching the "benefits" of meat. Yet his research showed that meat was the problem, not the solution...

The case for omnivore evolution is stronger. We have canine teeth, we can also shear as well as grind food. We cannot synthesize all amino acids.

And Iceland has some of the longest lived people around (and centuries long records indicate that they were above average lifespan before, despite extreme poverty).

They can grow almost nothing there before the potato and turnips (and greenhouses) were introduced. Old people of today may have eaten nothing but fish, sheep products and wild birds in their youth (imported flour was still rare and not for the lower incomes). Some summer greens did show up in thier diet, but it was seasonal.


Are you, as a vegan, against backyard chicken (or goat) keeping?
Keeping three or four chickens allows our family of three to roughly double the amount of food we produce for ourselves without much extra effort. We estimate that we grow about 2-5% of our food calories in our garden for about 8 months of the year and eggs add another 3-4% for about the same time period. Plus our garden benefits from the manure. I feel strongly that we are doing good in this but am curious about another viewpoint.

i'm all for mitigating starvation.
that's not the problem americans are dying from now: too few calories.
we can slow decline and preserve the environment by making the highly evolved choice to eat the plants, not the animals.
we're also evolved, BTW, to kill on sight large animals, either as prey or because they're a threat. but today we choose not to because, well, we can choose. let's hope our evolution didn't halt twelve thousand years ago, when the "mistake" of agriculture began. i like to think that our rational, intellectual civilization has greatly accelerated the natural evolutionary process of h. sapiens.
FWIW, i like all these amenities that have resulted from specialization of labor, which could only take place once people settled down and started regularly producing food surpluses.

You are right about the big meatindustry farms. But your claim, that we would be better off from health reasons eating plant-based diets can be questioned.

We humans have in 2 million years eaten a lot of meat. We are not accustomed for plant-based food. The plant based food staple is only at most 10 000 years old, and with this diet came the modern diseases like heart problems, diabetes etc.
It is quit right that with our overpopulated world meat food can not be enough for everybody.

The problem is not if we have enough meat, it is that we are too many people on this earth. But this problem will likely solve itself in the not so distant future.

But your claim, that we would be better off from health reasons eating plant-based diets can be questioned.

Please do.

But while we wait for your links, consider this:

The China Study

The "China study" referred to in the title is the China Project, a "survey of death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer for more than 2,400 counties and 880 million (96%) of their citizens" conducted jointly by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine over the course of twenty years.
The authors provide a historical context and show consistency between the China Study findings and peer-reviewed scientific studies with regards to the view that both animal fat and animal protein (such as casein in bovine milk) are strongly linked to diseases such as heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

And this:

Benefits of a Low-fat, plant-based diet from North American Association for the Study of Obesity

Freedman et al. (1) provide an excellent review of the effectiveness of popular diets on weight loss and other health outcomes. Although many health benefits of very-low-fat diets high in complex carbohydrates are described, we are concerned about the statement that these diets "are low in vitamin E, vitamin B-12, and zinc" (1) . This statement is based on a 1-day sample menu, which may not be representative of the average nutrient intake of a well-planned, low-fat, plant-based diet. For example, in our ongoing Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial, where participants adhere to a vegan diet with 10% of calories from fat, analyses of 3-day food diaries reveal adequate micro- and macronutrient intake compared with standard reference values (2) . Although low-fat diets may be low in vitamin E, the dose to yield plasma concentrations of vitamin E that raise antioxidant activity cannot be obtained from diet alone (3) . For this reason, we and others have recommended that micronutrient supplementation, or the use of fortified foods, should be included in a plant-based diet (4) (5) .

Finally, we would like to add that plant-based diets are not only low in disease-promoting substances (e.g., cholesterol, saturated fat, oxidants, trans fatty acids, arachidonic acid, and total fat), but also high in protective dietary factors (e.g., antioxidants, folate, soluble fiber, saponins, flavonoids, carotenoids, isoflavones, soluble fiber, plant sterols, and optimal n-6:n-3 ratio) (6) . This type of diet not only contributes to weight loss and the prevention of many chronic diseases, but also results in plasma cholesterol lowering of the same magnitude as achieved by statin drugs, a 40% reduction in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol after 1 year, and the reversal of heart disease (7) .

Denying the benefits of a plant-based diet ranks for me up there with global warming denial and cornucopian economics as anti-science.

Bringing this back to Peak Oil - reducing consumption of meat is no different than riding bicycles and ELP. It is smart now and in an energy-diminished future.

I don't think anyone here would disagree that reducing meat consumption would not be good. but you calling your self a vegan suggests that you are calling for something more. I could be wrong.
farm animals have a healthy place on a holistic farm. if you'd like to see the end of high chemical, gmo, monocroped, industrial farming, as i would, maybe you should try changing your perspective.
please don't think I'm attacking you. I just know first hand that I can't go work in the field for 14 hrs. 6 days a week fueled by potatoes and spinach. I need meat.

I don't think your response was attacking at all. I appreciate that. I respect the level of discourse on TOD - on other sites my post would be swarmed with dull-headed people spewing tired and cliched invective.

However, your response made an assumption and advanced that assumption as a straw man.

I am not advocating animal rights or any ethical or religious agenda.

I am advancing a fact-based argument that a plant-based diet is more efficient to the CURRENT system of industrialized animal agriculture and brings with it attendant health and environmental benefits - benefits like lower cancer rates and reduction in diabetes cases that will be even more beneficial when, as Alan Drake points out below, access to industrialized medicine declines under oil scarcity.

As for your dietary needs - I really can't address your individual needs. Speaking from both personal experience and based on nutritional data, a balanced plant-based diet is sufficient to support the needs of everyone from construction workers to professional athletes.

fair enough
by the way I've worked with plenty of vegetarian carpenters before. one in-particular could work circles around me: )

In "Plan B 2.0" Lester Brown argues that from a perspective of how to feed the maximum number of people with a fixed amount of arable land, meat does actually have a place.

The problem is that we humans need a certain amount of protein in our diets. If you go all vegan, then you have to eat a lot of beans, tofu or whatever. However, protein rich plants like soy beans are pretty inefficient at converting sunlight into protein, so Mr Brown argues that it is more efficient to feed grain to poultry or herbivorous species of fish such as catfish.


I am advancing a fact-based argument that a plant-based diet is more efficient to the CURRENT system of industrialized animal agriculture and brings with it attendant health and environmental benefits - benefits like lower cancer rates and reduction in diabetes cases that will be even more beneficial when, as Alan Drake points out below, access to industrialized medicine declines under oil scarcity.

Then yourself and Veganmaster might want to clearly state your focus on the current system of industrialized agriculture in your comments. In my opinion, this would eliminate the vast majority of the reply comments that attack your point of view (erroneously, because your focus on the industrial food complex isn't coming across).

As someone who is going to spend his spare time this summer husbanding both a large vegetable garden and a modest number of pasture-fed livestock (20 ducks and a few small sheep) for his family's use, I bristle when I see comments negatively portraying the livestock industry as a whole (which includes me). However, I am in complete agreement that we should curb industrialized agriculture (which is tightly tied to the livestock industry).

And although I was initially very bullish on a diet with virtually no meat from an efficiency stand-point, I eventually became convinced that the most efficient use of land must incorporate pastured livestock. Anything else requires fairly massive inputs and the burning of fossil fuels to continue production. But like you, I believe that the ratio of meat to vegetables in the current North American diet is pretty ascew.

I have no guilt about crawfish. Half the crop (in an average year) comes from the swamps where they eat decaying plant matter per my understanding. The other half comes from rice farming where, again, they eat the plant detitrus. Raising rice & crawfish is better than raising rice alone.

I have no idea about the health implications other than they are cooked with too much salt (and just enough spices :-)

If one has hypertension, this is bad. But if one has agood blood pressure, salt has no nagative impacts AFAIK.

Harvesting crawfish is a low energy activity/lb (not zero) and local.

Best Hopes for Fine Dining,


Well i know one thing fore sure. I can never get you sir to change your mind. Vegans are like religious people.

Facts are that humans are not accustomed to eat only plant- based food. We have never done it.

I will not even try to persuade you, because i know that you vegans like religious people are not anyones that one can debate with.

Try to read THE OILING OF AMERICA by Mary G Enigh, Ph.D. and Sally Fallon

Vegans are like religious people.

I think you are overgeneralizing and making an assumption not supported by my comments.

As I stated above, I presented the results of two scientific studies. I did not advocate for a particular ethical or religious position.

Please refrain from ad hominem arguments and focus on a discussion of the facts, though I can see why you might not want to:

Facts are that humans are not accustomed to eat only plant- based food. We have never done it.

As one of millions who serve as living proof to the contrary for the second of the two quotes - I have been vegan my entire adult life - I urge you to research your statements more carefully.

As long as ten years ago, the American Diatetic Association stated:

It is the position of The American Dietetic Association (ADA) that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, are nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

You owe it to the readers of the Oil Drum to remain rational and support the overall high level of discourse.

OK forgive me if i was a little rude.

I think, that you have your beliefs, and i have mine. Let us all eat what we believe in and be happy with that.

Best Kenneth

Fine, just so long as you feel equally sanguine about people who choose to drive gas guzzlers and have ten children and live in 3000 sq. ft. houses and defend these choices with a "that's what we believe in" explanation.

You accused me of advancing a faith-based agenda that is impervious to rational argument.

In light of the energy, environmental, and health costs of the current system of meat-based agriculture - costs cited on TOD over the past year - I would submit that your position is far more resistant to modification by facts and analysis.

Here's the thing: it doesn't matter how virtuous you imagine your vegetable-eating self to be. There are billions of meat-eaters on this planet, and there is nothing you can do about it.

If you practice veganism for any other purpose than to preserve your own ass, then you're just a goddamn fool.

Billions of those on the planet, too.

There are sound practical reason for being vegetarian (if not full-blown vegan): ability to grow own food, cheapness, foreseeing shortages/high expenses of meat, perhaps health.

But "I'm a good person, look at me and my dainty carbon footprint" is not one of them.

it doesn't matter how virtuous you imagine your vegetable-eating self to be.


But "I'm a good person, look at me and my dainty carbon footprint" is not one of them.

Strawman and invective but not rational arguments.

I have not made one mention of virtue and never said any of what you just stated.

I am talking about how the TOD readership engages in vigorous criticsim of high-carbon lifestyle and pointing out meat consumption has high energy, environmental, and health costs which will all be amplified post-Peak.

If you want to create an exception for meat-eating based on your non-scientific belief that it is: a) necessary to good health; b) doesn't hurt the planet and; c) is your right, go ahead.

Facts don't cease to exist because you angrily denounce them.

Of course you don't mention your "virtue"! You just come here with your supercilious attitude, balancing that turd on your chin before us great unwashed.

Your veganism is just as carbon-sucking as my meat-eating lifestyle. I don't pretend to hold myself above anyone else as you do, despite your protest.

I raise pork and chicken here on a farm. On the other hand, I have vegan friends who order processed tempeh and tofu from factories on the west coast.

Vegetables are good for your health. Meat is good for your health. They both take lots of carbon to grow. If its local meat, you're better off than the hoi-polloi eating Peruvian white corn, that is, people like you who imagine that it "doesn't hurt the planet."

Population is too big. It doesn't matter.

You asked for non-hominem discussion but now you're doing it? And your first and third sentences seem dogmatic to me.
Sorry if this offends ou.

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

No i am not sanguine about people who drive gas guzzlers and have ten children and live in 3000 sq feet houses. I think it is very bad for us all.
Myself i live with my wife in a 65 sq m little house(is it about 700 sq ft?) and we drive a small Hyundai Atos, and have electrical bikes. We live our lives with a small energyfotprint.
The only thing that we are not at the same language with you is what we eat.

And we have no children, so we have done our best to not owercrowd the world.

Best Kenneth

First - good on you for your small house and efficient car. You made a choice to conserve.

My point is that the analysis that presumably led to that choice - cost, fuel efficiency, perhaps even ethical concerns over resource utilization - also support a decision to reduce meat consumption based on today's energy and water-intensive methods of industrial agriculture.

To create a "carve-out" or exception for one thing may be your right, may be based on your deeply-held belief, but if one applies the same criteria to meat consumption as to car driving and big houses, one would include less is better.

I understand meat consumption, like the addiction to driving, is a hard habit to break. Societies promote them both through massive, often overlapping subsidies and constant cultural messaging.

What about fish then??

Muscle is muscle, whether it flaps a wing, moves a leg, or wiggles a flipper.

I agree with much of your arguments (perhaps not the totality) and I do practice much of what I preach in other areas (I use .01% as much electricity as Al Gore :-). Food/diet is perhaps my greatest weakness.

I have no guilt eating crawfish, and very minor guilt with shrimp, oysters and wild fish (diesel for the boats).

I have reduced beef to when I visit my parents and Mardi Gras afternoon, since beef seems to use more resources. I have never eaten much pork and less now (some local suasages). Eggs several times/week (high efficiency conversion of feed to egg) and occasional chicken.

OTOH, I walked to Zara's to buy bananas, broccoli, apples and an avocado and they had rabbit over pasta as the special for lunch ! I do NOT resist temptation well !

A modification in emphasis in my diet but no clear "do nots'. The best that I can do.

Best Hopes,


Vegans like religious people? Ha! A higher percentage of vegans are athiest, actually, including me. I'm the most unreligious person you could ever meet, so you couldn't be more wrong.

The key word is "like".

If the religious impulse is not satisfied by religon, it can, and often does, find expression elsewhere.

Best Hopes,


I won't argue with the historical perspective, but I have both been a heavy meat eater and a near total vegan and I can say that my health was much improved after switching over to vegan. I have also run two marathons as a vegan so endurance has certainly not been a problem.

I do not approach this from a religious perspective; the primary reason I switched in the first place was for health reasons. There is, however, an ethical component to my dietary habits as it is clear from a scientific perspective that vegetarianism and veganism has a much lower impact on the land and the environment, including the reduction of the use of fossil fuels and water required to produce meat.

With all due respect, I think it is you who is showing evidence of a knee jerk, religious reaction to veganism.

Vegans are like religious people.

One clue is that they can't shut up about it. I don't have a username like "meatmaster" or "carnivore" because I don't reduce myself to my dietary habits. (A truer name would be "omnivore")

Here's a wager: I know more about vegetables than most of these "vegans." I've grown huge crops of everything from shallots to mangles and can preserve most of my own food. I do this alongside milking my cow and raising my chickens.

I think Meatmaster would be a better name than yours, at least it means something.
Oooh, you're superior knowledge of vegetables has convinced me to eat meat again - my arteries are WAY TOO CLEAN! ;)

The China study suffered from the fallacy of extrapolation. It studied people who got as little as 5% of their total calories in the form of animal protein, then concluded that zero animal protein would be even better. However, there are no cultural studies of groups who have consumed zero animal protein because there has never been such a group in human history. Another problem of the study was that it focussed largely on the effects of casein in a society that is lactose intolerant.

You are correct that the ONLY valid argument left scientifically in human nutrition is whether the healthiest diet is 95% or 100% whole plant foods.

We humans have in 2 million years eaten a lot of meat.

Ahhh, but how much of that is because of a lack of ability to figure out how to preserve plants VS the ability for animals to:

1) Provide warmth
2) Be able to 'store' their food value because they are, well, alive.
3) able to take a low energy density item (grass) and convert to a higher value (fat/protein)
4) the human willingness to apply human values to the critters.
5) The ability to express motion as work by harnessing the animal.

modern diseases like heart problems, diabetes etc.

Genetics VS diet? A sticky wicket.

In some developed countries, meat consumption has diminished.

For ex. Switzerland, been going down since 1987. - Before that it rose regularly and steeply, from post ww2 on. - Ex: total amount; 1987 - 1997: minus 20%! (more per cap.)

The reasons are generally presumed to be: *Cost.* One kilo of prime beef today costs 66 dollars at min, and imported, considered to be better (argentina, ireland, etc.) if you want to ‘regale’ (a Frenchism) your guests, 100 dollars! .. *Health*. (Recall mad cow scares, hormone beef, etc.) *Ecological*. For this reason, chicken has maintained its position, more or less. In short, the 7+ million pop. of CH shares many of the ideas against meat-eating expressed above.

Personal note: supermarket space allotted to meat has gradually shrunk since 20 years, to be replaced by processed, often sweet, often frozen foods, such as biscuits, ice-cream, pizza with no meat, sweets (candy to you guys), sweet buns / bread products.

As for the cost factor, obviously the generous (or less so!) distribution of agricultural subsidies in the ‘West’ plays a crucial role.

link in French

As long as yall Amerikans keep burning coal to make electricity you will dump more mercury into the air with incancescent bulbs than with CFLS! Check your own EPA web site for that one.

Somehow, for food production the cost of "production" has to stop externalizing the environmental costs.
DITO for PETROchemical based "western" farming. As long as farmers don't pay taxes on fertilizers and death chemicals (pesticides) the government is subsidizing them to do so.
Unsustainable "western" agriculture has to end.

Ban all GMOs - the experiment must end.

I don't see a point in particular taxes such as light bublbs.
1) Make sure consumers pay for the dammage they do - they must pay the full, non-externalized, cost of production.

The government will have to start making hard choices about where oil gets used - fertilizers or fuels for guzzlers.

The wave of change will only start to hit if people BELIEVE and shun those who consume and destroy our precious planet.

I'm feeling rather blech after just having seen more blithering idiots who don't believe in climate change and don't believe in government intervention. Clearly industry worked hard and self regulated to protect us from acid rain or the myrid of other ways they've polluted our biosphere. They're rolling over themselves to clean up their toxic waste dumps ... hmm, oh yea they're moving like made to dump unions and destory the pensions of your average worker while padding the salaries and perks of the people who already earn 1000x as much as a shop floor worker.

As long as yall Amerikans keep burning coal to make electricity you will dump more mercury into the air with incancescent bulbs than with CFLS! Check your own EPA web site for that one.

Depends on climate. In colder climates incancescent bulbs just reduce the amount of electricity/natural gas/etc that goes towards heating the house.

And then it depends how you produce the electricity.

Ban all GMOs - the experiment must end.

This has nearly nothing to do with energy issues or the topic at hand except very obliquely touching ethanol which we can roundly dismiss as being largely inconsequential.

You stated:
"Depends on climate. In colder climates incancescent bulbs just reduce the amount of electricity/natural gas/etc that goes towards heating the house"

The wasted energy that ends up being emitted as heat from an incandescent bulb may be worthwhile in your mind at first, however that is heat produced from resistance-based heating. You'd be better of spending that electricity using a heat-pump. Heat-pump based heat is roughly 3x more efficient than resistance based heating.

"The measurement of heat pump efficiency is stated as the coefficient of performance, or COP. The base measurement is resistance heat, like the space heater or light bulb referred to earlier, both of which perform at a COP of 1. Heat pumps produce heat at a COP in the range of 2 to 4. Geothermal heat pumps (the name comes from their ability to pull heat from the ground) achieve a COP in the range of about 5 or so."
(The link above looks horrible, but it's the quickest link I found on Google. I've seen similar numbers in other places.)

The wasted energy that ends up being emitted as heat from an incandescent bulb may be worthwhile in your mind at first, however that is heat produced from resistance-based heating. You'd be better of spending that electricity using a heat-pump. Heat-pump based heat is roughly 3x more efficient than resistance based heating.

Often more capital intensive, unsuitable for many places, and lost in the noise of comparing CFLs to incandescent bulbs. The energy consumed in lighting versus heat/air conditioning is a pittance. Markets can decide this rather than some nanny state policy.

You do support nuclear plants however, none of which has ever been built without extensive state backing.

Every energy production source we have has been tied to the hip of the state. Whats your point?

There is no point in arguing about the color of the elephant to a blind man.

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

You gotta a point here?

Beyond your normal posting spin about how fission based power is a good plan.

How many of the dollar in your pocket is tied to a fission power industry?

How many of the dollar in your pocket is tied to a fission power industry?

Zero. This is the first time I've been implied as a paid shill however.

You contradict yourself by promoting small governement and big, government-backed energy projects at the same time.

Look ma, a strawman.

So big government is bad, unless it build nukes? To promote small government, localized, low-capital-intensity energy sources would be great.. like wind, solar and biomass.

Try referencing what a strawman is. Thats what you're burning right now.

Depends on climate. In colder climates incancescent bulbs just reduce the amount of electricity/natural gas/etc that goes towards heating the house.

I'm not so sure. Using electricity for heating (excepting ground-tied heat pumps) is really inefficient compared to burning natural gas directly.

I grow more and more amazed at how hard it is to be green.

Hello Praetzel,

I agree:
"The wave of change will only start to hit if people BELIEVE and shun those who consume and destroy our precious planet".

My latest 'free bumper sticker to the deserving' reads:


I'm hoping to take some of the prestige and social acceptance from SUVs. Feel free to make and deploy your own, it's easy! Avery 8x11.5 labels and a laser printer is all you need.

Basically, Switzerland just speeds up along the path that they were already on.

You can say that again! Grand projects steam ahead, doubling, tripling, quadrupling their costs and extending their time lines.

Our Minister of Energy, Moritz Leuenberger, (wiki) - a Socialist (not much of a guarantee of anything but still better than a crazed cornucopian populist), an educated and intelligent man, has recently proposed that CH should build gas-to-electricity plants as we are facing, according to projections, electricity shortages soonish. Recently, CH has become a net electricity importer, from being a swing producer for neighboring countries; though that situation may be temporary, and the plus minus columns come out not too far from even; nevertheless the fact of it, signals a squeeze.

Shock and horror from the Greens, part of the population.

But finally, yes, well, if its a solution, or the only one, why not. From Russia with love? (joke)

Besides that, everyone here hates freight by truck, and a large proportion of ‘energy related’ demos are to stop the trucks. People just close the roads and lie down in them. (CH’s geographical situation is a transit one, part of the traffic from North to South or the other way. Big problem.)

May be of interest:
Russian Regulator Says Some Oil, Mining Companies Overstating Reserves
Dow Jones Newswires Thursday, April 19, 2007

MOSCOW Apr 19, 2007 (AP)
Some foreign oil, gas and mining companies operating in Russia have been making money by overstating their reserves to boost their share price, the deputy head of Russia's environmental watchdog agency said Thursday.

Oleg Mitvol called upon the economic security department of the Federal Security Service - the KGB's main successor - to review certain foreign companies that have allegedly exaggerated their reserves and sold shares on foreign exchanges between 2003 and 2007.

The announcement comes one day after Mitvol made similar remarks about a London-listed oil company that wiped $200 million off its value.
"We are dealing with artificially puffed up shell-firms...that bring in profits on western stock exchanges using financial instruments without investing sufficient funds in the real sector of the Russian economy," Mitvol said in a statement posted on the Web site of the Natural Resources Ministry.

Ministry spokesman Rinat Gizatulin said there were "over ten" companies with an average market capitalization of between EUR1 billion and EUR2 billion that had been targeted, but declined to disclose names. "In Russia hardly anyone has heard of these miracle-companies," he said.

Wednesday, Mitvol said that foreign auditors for London-listed Imperial Energy PLC (IEC.LN) had put its reserves at its Mayskoye field in Siberia at 10 times the ministry's own estimate. The company's share price fell 25% on the remarks Wednesday.

Imperial Energy's chairman, Peter Levine, said in a statement that his company's actions in Russia had been "exemplary."

"We are confident that these issues are a result of misunderstandings and that they will be resolved in the near future," he said.

Mitvol said in a separate statement Thursday that he had appealed to Rosnedra, an agency that has the authority to revoke licenses, to pull production permits belonging to three of Imperial Energy's subsidiaries, citing violations.

Mitvol was the face of an environmental campaign against Royal Dutch Shell PLC's (RDSB.LN) giant liquefied natural gas development off the Pacific coast last year. Analysts said that Mitvol's involvement was part of a process that eventually saw national gas monopoly OAO Gazprom (GSPBEX.RS) take a controlling stake in the Sakhalin-2 project.

Are any of these bad ideas with negative unintended consequences?

Sweet Jesus "yes."

Your idea to tax people more for instance will fall disproportionately on the poor and collapsing middle class along with the barely hanging on "upper middle class." I'm sure you know this and accounted for it when coming up with your proposals.

What you may not have accounted for is how close people are to the edge or breaking point. They will (literally) EXPLODE if you put these taxes on them, particularly since the taxes will be imposed at a time where gas is heading past $4.00 or more per gallon.

Maybe not us upper middle class urban tenderfoots who make up the bulk of the TOD and PO blogosphere reaederships, but outside of our niche community and a few financially well-off or otherwise well-insulated niche communities, the general reaction to your taxes will be violent explosion, not peaceful or even reluctant compliance.

So the only way for the taxes to work is with a massive increase in the police state. Put simply: the IRS or whoever the appropirate taxing authority is will need to hire Blackwater and Dyncorp for your taxing proposals to work. And those boys don't work cheap which means more taxes to fund the control mechanisms.

See where this heads?

Imagine the person or family one payment or $50/month away from total financial destitution and the prez announces more taxes because we need to deal with something called "Peak Oil." What are the members of that family in modern day AMerican in 9/10 cases going to do?

I think Matt is correct. Raising taxes? Not likely. We're likely to see the reverse: subsidizing energy use.

I'm not sure why taxes or regulations are thought to be necessary.

If KSA announces it has peaked, and gas taxes skyrocket with no end in sight, you'll see a massive shift from the population to try to get ahead of the curve, which will bankrupt Detroit and overwhelm all alternatives.

In this scenario, rationing would be far more useful than adding to the cost.

Remember the '70s. As long as people thought there was no end in sight to gas troubles, they proceeded along the road to conservation. In the 80s and 90s, there seemed no supply problems, so there seemed no reason not to partake in the feeding frenzy.

The primary governmental decisions needed for the above scenario would be whether to ration, and how much should the government intervene to save/subsidize Detroit, and what to do about the hundreds of thousands of current and retired workers who will be left without jobs, pensions and healthcare when GM and Ford belly up.

Rationing takes place no matter what.

You can ration by price (taxing) which puts the largest absolute burden on those that use the most energy - and this does hit the poor proportionally more.

You can ration by ration coupons or odd/even license plates or whatever, but this creates a burocracy and forces choices about how to handle the disproportionate needs of everyone. I don't drive, do I still get rations? Can I sell them ?

You can ration by inconvienence by putting in price ceilings (or maybe just doing nothing) and therefore there will be lines and shortages.

I think you ration by price, because the other measures listed that conserve (like lowering the speed limit etc) will tend to reduce demand and therefore price. the tax would represent the public vlue gained by conserving. the question is what do you do with the money. I would put it into the sustainable public infrastructure, and incentivize targeted private investments.

"You can ration by ration coupons or odd/even license plates or whatever, but this creates a burocracy and forces choices about how to handle the disproportionate needs of everyone. I don't drive, do I still get rations? Can I sell them ?"

Tax collection also requires folks to collect it.

Do you still get rations if you don't drive? Yes (I would suggest)

Can you sell them? Yes, that encourages folks to drive less.

Gov'ts job is setting social policy (We would hope as a result of democratic process,) in this case consumption level of fossil fuel.

Markets are good at seeking price levels for scarce resources, unlike say Gov't (reference the old Soviet command economy with gov't set prices for goods). and bad at setting social policy (40 million Americans with no health coverage, children in Asian sweatshops)

A tradeable ration system lets each institution do what it is "good" at.

I could probably be convinced, however the bureaucracy (there, I spelled it right) is already set up for taxes. People don't like taxes, but they might like rationing even less.

Ebay would make it easy to get the biggest market for your ration coupons though. It would be like an alternate currency given the importance of gas to many.

There are many other choices to make as well.

Do you give a retiree in a retirement home the same as a single 25 year old with a job?

Do you get rations for children (encouraging reproduction)

Does everyone get the same regardless of location, commute, number of cars, number of jobs, type of job, number of children, etc.

Little known fact: Ration coupons were printed up in the late 70s, but never used. They are probably sitting in a government warehouse somewhere, just waiting to be used.

Except what energy will there be to subsidize? (Leaving aside the question of the rich getting richer in this discussion.)

It isn't as if America has that many taxes on energy to cut, in comparison to most industrialized nations, and as for subsidies - it won't change the amount of oil coming out of the pipeline.

And let's be honest - America has already handed out more IOUs financing its lifestyle than it can pay off, which means that there won't be much opportunity to get other people to keep paying the bill either.

Slow squeeze, fast crash, long emergency - they are all based on declining oil production. No amounts of subsidies will change that fact.

And as living differently seems inconceivable to the vast majority of Americans, including many who post here (which often leave the European posters wondering why), the result is reality meeting the American Dream. And giving up your dreams is the definition of a loser in today's America, isn't it?

Except what energy will there be to subsidize?

Coal? For heating, at least, either directly or electric.

It isn't as if America has that many taxes on energy to cut

They can suspend the gas taxes, as some localities did in the wake of Katrina.

Rationing can also be a way of subsidizing gas, since it can keep the price low enough for people to keep using it.

I'll admit that the line about not mentioning coal was left out, as it didn't seem to fit well. The question about coal hinges much more on climate change, and how the international community deals with it - and try as it might to deny the truth, America is just one part of a much larger world. Quite honestly, if coastal flooding started to become a reality in two decades, and America was still a major source of CO2, I would expect to see the affected nations do more than talk. But coal is a very open point, granted.

American gas taxes are absurdly low - '...annual gas tax burden of roughly $271 for every man, woman and child in the United States.' (2005) - from http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/1054.html If gasoline goes to $4 dollars a gallon, an extra 70 gallons per year as a tax rebate isn't likely to make that much difference to the owner of a pick-up or minivan.

As a comparison, also from 2005 - 'At the moment, taxes in France make up about 70 percent of the pump price. For comparison, the U.S. federal gasoline tax of of 2005 was 18.4 cents per gallon, with each State adding between 10 and 33 cents of tax, according to Widipedia. That makes the maximum gasoline tax rate 17% in the U.S.' From http://goeurope.about.com/od/transportation/a/gas_prices.htm

Interestingly, the last targeted German fuel taxes in the late 1990s were for ecological reasons, at least in public (Europeans are cynical about things like taxes - no reason not to follow their example). But the most recent fuel tax increases were when the general VAT was raised from 16% to 19% - and yes, cutting consumption does seem to be somehow connected to raising the tax rate. How very unAmerican.

Of course the German government is attempting to keep a balance in its economy, with many competing interests. Currently a court case against the early phasing out of the German biodiesel tax break - as the price of oil remained stable, instead of increasing, the German biodiesel industry fell apart. Apparently, according to the radio report about the court case, 10% of the biodiesel refining capacity has been sold to American concerns, and shipped to North America.

Tax policy here is a fascinating theme, but it is not used simplistically to encourage mass consumption. The world's largest exporting nation is too poor to afford such foolish luxury.

You pretty much raise my basic objection - will Americans accept the fact that how they live will need to change?

Though I am not as utterly convinced as you that Americans (much less other nations) are incapable of living differently, the difference tends to be one more of degree than anything else.

However, as for a family just one payment or $50/month away from destitution - they are doomed (to coin a phrase) regardless. Do you really think American society is that brittle today?

And if so, do you really think that it isn't the result of decisions made over the last 25 years?

Ignoring the future doesn't change the truth of 'sic transit gloria mundi,' or is that 'tempus fugit'?

Certainly Americans are capable. Lots of young GIs with families do it when in Europe, for instance. Sometimes they bring home changed perspectives with them (and often not). So yes, of course, Americans are capable.

But the larger problem is infrastructure. They can't live that way until there is sufficient infrastructure to live that way. No one is building that infrastructure so they have no other way to live. In the greater Houston, Texas area, it is quite literally impossible to live and work without an automobile. Houston is not unique in this regard. Look at Dallas, St. Louis, Louisville, Atlanta, etc. Yes there are a few apartments down town for the very well off but what about everyone else? They DRIVE because they have to drive.

Alan's proposals cannot work short of a declaration of national emergency coupled with a government mandate to stop building all suburban housing and begin rebuilding neighborhoods closer in to town. This also has to be coupled with a government buyback program to liquidate suburban housing because those stuck in that housing cannot afford to move or sell if the suburban housing stock gets frozen.

Alan's proposals, while well-meaning, are insufficient by themselves. If we had started this 20 years ago, yes. But now? No. You cannot continue to play at business as usual or even slightly modified. You either declare this a national crisis, impose rationing and the works, and force a restructuring of American society.

Or you don't and you watch it all implode anyway.

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

My medium term solution for infrastructure. Not enough, but half a life ring.


(Still a draft).

Best Hopes,


Robert, the rail itself is not enough. We do not have 25-30 years to rotate out of suburban housing stock back to urban as we did the other direction from 1945 to 1975. The rail itself is insufficient without housing, shops, workplaces, etc. This is why this is turning into a crisis. If we had begun the efforts that you propose back when Carter was president, the housing and everything else would have followed logically and without coercion. Now it is too late. Without direct intervention, building rail alone will not solve anything in sufficient time to avert serious economic dislocation - an economic event severe enough that it might mean the end of the United States.

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

I have an unnatural aversion to buses. Having written that, although less fuel efficient than light rail, buses can be made to work in areas with lower population densities, they are much more efficient than personal cars with reasonable ridership and a lot more of them could be on the road in the short term.

Longer term, Alan is spot on. Short term, for around town and short distances inter city "go Greyhound."

We DID begin those efforts when Carter was president. Those efforts were completely dismantled in the oh-so-wonderful Reagan Revolution.

Thanks for the correction and yes we did. But the matter still lies in today. Today it is too late to do what Alan proposes. A far more radical and urgent program is needed yet we do nothing at all instead.

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

Althouth there has been almost no overt recognition of peak oil in our government spheres, and no changes of note to infrastructure planning, anyone paying attention is aware that there is one thing they have been rapidly putting in place to deal with peak oil: the police state. As far as I can tell, that is how they plan on dealing with it.

I think it is virtually inconceivable that the US government has not recognized the precarious situation we're in relating to energy supplies. After all nearly all the guys in charge have worked for big oil companies. It isn't that they haven't heard about Peak Oil theory, of course they have, but they don't accept it as being valid, like climate change, it would require a massive re-think and re-orientation of many fundamental concepts and that isn't easy.

One can also be quite sure that the Pentagon is also aware of the need to secure energy sources. This is a no-brainer, as the military uses so much oil on a daily basis. Modern warfare is, like so much in our civilization, founded on collosal energy usage.

If one examines where the US army is deploying its manpower and hardware, one can see that securing energy sources and supply lines is a priority. It's possible to argue that the army main purpose is planning for wars to maintain access and control of the world's remaining and potential sources of energy.

The question of whether some kind of police state will emerge is, again debatable. Clearly the government/ruling class are concerned that they cannot rely on the army to impose draconian measures on the american people in the event of a severe "energy crisis" or "economic downturn". The incredible growth of privatization in the military, where more and more functions are outsourced and the explosive growth of private, mercenary, security forces, could be seen as an answer to the question, will the army support the ruling-class without question, even against the american people?

The military is NOT "securing supply lines" of petroleum from the Middle East to ports in Louisiana. Those supply lines are indefensible.

One could also argue that the poor could be better off with higher gas taxes. Right now the poor in most places in the US have no choice but to keep a car as there are no viable alternatives. With higher taxes, they'd be forced to give up their cars ( saving about $8000/ year) and the wealthier people who choose to continue to drive will be paying the high gas taxes that in turn could be used to create public transportation that would benefit the poor. A car is roughly $8000/ year, all costs considered, vs public transportation at roughly $1000 per year. Which system makes the most sense for the poor? I have patients who refuse treatment for medical conditions bc/ they cannot afford to drive.

Before I am labelled a hypocrite telling the poor what they should do, let me say I walk to work and do very minimal driving (about 1000 miles/ year). I've tried to talk my wife into moving somewhere with public transporation (especially Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC)but she won't go for it.

I seriously doubt that most truly poor people spend anywhere near $8K per year on their cars. Most very poor people I ever knew or currently know own old, rusty rattletraps that usually don't run and consequently don't actually use a lot of gas. They generally LIVE on about $8-10K per year. And yes, the US has a significant segment of society that lives on that amount each year -- and that includes families. The divide between rich and poor has never been greater, so thinking that the poor can save that much money by giving up their cars is pure fantasy. Sounds more like middle-class to me.

Yes, I was referring to the working poor who need to keep their car running to get to work. If you buy a $2500 clunker that only lasts a year or two, and your insurance rate is high bc/ of where you live, and your interest rate is higher bc/ of your credit score, and your '86 Olds gets 14 miles to the gallon, and you need to replace the tires/ muffler/ shocks and alternator (even if you do it yourself) in the car's short 2 year life span- then you really don't get a car for much less than $8000 per year. The cheapest cars to own and maintain over their lifespan are generally the compact toyota and honda (corolla, civic). It is not always cheaper to own and maintain a used car. the cheapest car to buy new and economical, reliable honda or toyota and run it into the ground. With proper mainenance you can get 150k+ over 12 years out of a corolla or civic easily and in the long run it'll be cheaper than buying and maintaining 3 or 4 used cars over the same period of time.

from used-car-advisor.com:

It's usually assumed that a used car is always the least expensive option. Not necessarily true. Always compare new car prices before you decide. With the aggressive dealer discounts, manufacturer rebates, and low interest rates now being offered on new cars, it is very possible a new car could be the better deal than the same car that's a year or two old.

Phineas, with all due respect, I'm telling you the truly poor can not spend $8K per year on a car, that's what they LIVE on. Anyone who can spend $8K per year on a car is not classified as poor.

with all due respect I am talking about the working poor (15k to 25k/ year). The working poor around here typically live in mobile homes worth around $15-20k and drive SUV's worth about the same amount. The monthly costs for their SUV is greater than their housing costs. They all also have satellite dishes, cell phones and Xbox's but that's another issue.
I take medicaid, medicare and persons with no insurance in my practice and because of the nature of my position (getting people qualified for home nursing, therapy, etc.) I have to be intimately involved (more than I'd like to be) in their personal and financial issues. "The truly poor" (people making 8k per year) do not own cars at all, at least not for long unless they have outside financial support (i.e. their parents give them a hand-me-down and pay the insurance for them). Yes, I'll concede that someone can own a car for less than $8k per year if they get it on the cheap, do their own maintenance and repairs and can get affordable insurance, but what do you think is the absolute minimum? Maybe $5k? There are fixed costs of the insurance, taxes, registration as well as flexible costs such as gasoline and maintenance that cannot be avoided. The insurance alone would be at least 10% of their $8k income. Even if a car could be owned for $3-4k per year, no one making $8k per year could afford it, at least not for long.

Here's and example: I have two pts. (a co-habitating lesbian couple) who are both on public assistance. They've owned a few cars the last few years. They'll get one, it'll run for a few months. The transmission goes out. They don't have a car for a few months. they buy or are given another clunker. It runs for a few months (when they have gas money), then it breaks down and they can't afford to fix it, and so on. I see them in my office when they have a running car and gas money or when they can bum a ride off someone. Their combined income is about $16k/ year and they have no dependents. They can barely keep a running car half the time, and they live in one of the lowest cost of living areas in the country.

In any case, I still maintain that the poor in America would be better off if we had a sound public transportation system, and my main point is that it is sad that the working poor need to spend 30% of their income on automobile associated costs just so they can get to work.

I grossed about 8k last year, and I dont own a car. Every penny went towards rent and food for a family of 3 (sometimes 4 if the lil bro crashed on the couch). Luckily, I worked with my dad so I rode with him to work.

Even if I did own a vehicle, I wouldnt dream of spending 8k a year on it, be that including fuel, insurance, taxes, repairs, whatever! Don't get me wrong, I have had many many vehicles but I only bought what I could afford with savings from about 2 paychecks. If I got a 1989 Civic that was all one color and didnt have cut springs, I was lucky! =D

Exactly!!! Sometimes folks have a distorted view of what poor really means. They usually think lower middle-class, not really the truly poor. Poor people do not have $8K to spend on much of anything, let alone a car, and that includes many working poor.

I'll vouch for that. I've been working poor. You have to pick where you live and what job you take carefully. Often, the employer will ask how you plan to get to work (since it's a big issue with people willing to take minimum wage jobs).

I walked to work, in all weather. Rain, snow, sleet, 100F heat, you name it. You get used to it.

What I found most inconvenient was grocery shopping. That is a right pain to do without a car.

I live in SoCal now, and I walk around the block to get my groceries. The walk isnt so bad, its the standing at the front gate, pepperspray in hand, waiting for a car to come and open the gate. What a PITA!! I usually end up running with like 4 bags of groceries behind an SUV trying to get thru the gate before it shuts... Life is comedy

With regard to the poor and car costs, etc: Sometime soon the US population needs to start getting educated about the fact that they need to focus not just on take home pay, but on their take home pay NET of commuting costs. I know from personal observation that most people are totally oblivious right now, they consider their car costs to be a fixed cost of living. I would venture to guess that there are a fair number of poor people that are paying so much to commute to work that they are hardly actually making anything at all; there are probably even some deluded souls that are paying for the privilege of working. People need to be helped to properly evaluate their employment and commuting options. Until that happens, you won't have people relocating closer to workplaces, or changing to jobs that are closer to home.

The latest US census shows, according to this blogger Thomas Paine Corner that one in five Americans live on less that 7 dollars a day. (note.)

So roughly at the very least 20% of people cannot run a car and will be very likely to have transport problems. If homeless in the street, I guess it becomes a trivial..

note. I did not check that number with the census.

I agree.

This is why I don't agree with massive gas tax increases, at least now.

Better solution:

"feebates" on vehicles correlated with new, more realistic, EPA efficiency estimates. Suspend CAFE standards if the new system results in higher gains (as I suspect).

Top 15% of efficient vehicles (weighted by sales) get a bonus upon purchase (scaled by efficiency), paid for by tax on bottom 15% of efficient vehicles (weighted by sales), scaled by inefficiency and list price.

Obviously some short-term sales predictions would be needed by the agency administering this tax but that's not impossible.

The advantage is that it is continuously adjusting, so that as new vehicle fleets get more efficient the standards get higher.

The point is this: the top 20% of income earning households buy 80% of the *new* cars. The people just hanging on can't afford to change their car now. They buy used cars.

Hence it is critical for the *new car fleet* to have an aggregate higher efficiency even if the purchasers could otherwise afford the gas, which they could up to $6-10 a gallon. It is the rest of the people who can't, but they don't have a choice now.

With a sufficiently high bonus for inexpensive high efficiency cars, e.g. $3-4000, you could also have people in the middle seriously consider a change to a higher efficiency car. (e.g. Honda Fit/Chevy Aveo - $3000 is doable for many).

My second proposal would be to have a temporary acceptance of modern EU technical standards for cars over 28 combined MP. They'd be OK for sales in the US, only changing speedometer and odometer to miles.

Yes, including Diesels which run on low-sulfur fuel.

Then, attempt to harmonize permanent US and EU technical standards to make it possible to cross-sell cars.

This will try to reduce the whinging of the Detroit automakers as they are fully capable of producing higher efficiency vehicles as they do in Europe.

I agree. Excellent idea !

Allow a 6 year window where any EU regulation car (built in the US or abroad) can be sold in the US *IF* it exceeds the improved CAFE (up 50% remember) by, say, 10%.

Pollution, safety & bumpers are different than US regs, but these are *NOT* primitive cars !

US manufacture (with a weak $) of German Ford and Opel etc. models would be attractive.

Perhaps we should go to s 3.5 mph bumper to save weight in any case.

Best Hopes,


Basically, there are two alternatives. Simply issue mandates that certain activities, vehicles, etc, are prohibited or raise taxes in various way on different products and activities. The problem with the poor is and always will be that they don't have enough money. For those concerned about the poor, lobby your elected representatives to provide them more money through tax reductions or direct payments. If you will, enact a guaranteed annual income.

For those who think the energy and ghg problems must be solved, it does not help to take no action because one or another income group is affected.

And btw, the taxes on vehicles are easily avoided; just buy a fuel efficient vehicle. Too expensive? Buy a used one.

Your idea to tax people more for instance will fall disproportionately on the poor

How the poor live, and how the poor exist on the discarded scraps (ok, ok... perhaps a used car is not a 'discarded scrap') of the better off is not mentioned in the "if only we do this, we shall be saved" plans.

See where this heads?

Yea. We are ALL going over a cliff. Some of us will be first. Others of us shall be later. In ones personal vision, when said person goes over the cliff, there will be enough bodies filling the ravine that one doesn't fall as much as walk down upon the bodies of the people who went over the cliff before you.

This is not gonna be pretty.

Great Effort.

These ideas are all wonderful...10 years ago maybe.

2 years post peak...not so much.

Let's say for a second Oil shock begins as expected this summer, and carries forward...1 year to people really start to believe it is peak oil and not just a 1970s short term shock.

Another year until the "Asleep at the Wheel" governments(US/Canada/UK..) wake up and start thinking of options....how long to implement....oops too late.

Production is down nearly 10MMBPD and exports (God knows) 15-18MMBPD down.

Next step - Shock, horror, economical destruction. Resources wars?

The Iceberg is 100m from the bow, and this ship cannot turn in time. Lifeboat time...sorry.

while I agree we should all have our lifeboats ready,

giving up now is probably the wrong course of action.

Focus should be on food production and sustainability, because when that goes, oh boy oh boy it won't be pretty.

We can do without cars and jobs, and still be a country. we can not do without food. Under no circumstances can we do without food.

Growing it, getting it to the store, and getting it to people who need it should be the top priority. Everything else in society can go, but if there isn't enough food things will get very ugly, very quickly, aka the so called 'crash'.

with food, it would be a long slow decline, which would give us time to have shadows of surviving industry survive. We could grow again from there. But without food, it would be 50 years. All bets are off if we start having food problems.

I didn't say give up and NEVER will.

But realistically, plan for the worst.

I hope for the best, but posting "Lovely, who should I vote for to get this implemented...I am off to buy my new Prius" doesn't raise awareness to the level it needs to be at.

FWIW, I believe an Apollo project like effort could reduce the impacts significantly...but realistically, are we going to see one(for many reasons)?

Why get a prius?
The milage is marginally better than a fuel efficient car!
I miss my 1991 Chevy Sprint with it's >60mpg in the summer.

Change your lifestyle. You profess that we need lifeboats;
well why not ditch the car and live without? Join a car co-operative, use your feet, a bicycle? Don't even bother thinking of a motorcycle - they pollute more than cars and for the most part get terrible milage compared to my Sprint.

Look at co-housing. Get to know your neighbours, start growing food together and consider ways to just do without things.

We don't need the application of more technology - we need less! We don't need expensive GMO terminator seeds, or fancy hybrids that have to be created somewhere far far away, we need open pollinated heritage seeds that can be kept. We need local groups to keep and share seeds ...

I was joking about the prius...uh...that was the point.

Hard to guage your post...in general, good ideas.

I don't need any help with planning, thanks.

Hmmm! Ship hits iceberg, starts to sink. It is going down, no way to save it. No rescue in sight. Part of crew go to man life boats. Part of crew goes to do damage control to keep it floating as long as possible. Which part of crew is most likely to survive?

I suspect I will be on the jury rig crew :-)

Best Hopes,


The Federal gas tax is suspended "to provide relief to long-suffering consumers."

States create or expand subsidy programs to help lower-income residents pay their winter heating oil bills.

Congress anounces a new high-profile commission to investigate "excessive profit-taking by Big Oil."

Bush suggests that the Arab minority in southwestern Iran (where much of the oil is) deserves indepence from the "Persian hegemony".

Basically, the USA just speeds up along the path that they were already on.


Yup. And don't forget - environmental rules suspended.

If I see the King of Saudi Arabia has announced that they have been lying and can't pump anymore, well its either 2030 and I'm still trying to explain to people that peak oil was a concept that had to be discussed sitting in my Hummer with the jacuzzi. If its not and he announces this in the near future, then I;m on the wrong planet and or dreaming. Because if the King of SA says that, then Saudi Arabia and the Middle East explodes in violence, and then you better decide if you have a choice where you wish to be.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

And what should, and will, the US and the rest of the world do?

Two very different questions, should and will.

First off, if things follow along the path they have been doing, the expectation/desire of the first world will be to force demand destruction on the third world. Raising prices to $110-$140 will remove these countries from the consumer nations and give the others a small breathing space.

Second, it is in the interests of everyone, except the US, for the bulk of the reduction to fall on them. Halve the US consumption and you have a significant breathing space. Given the questionable state of the US dollar, that might happen anyway, but if not then nudging it along would be in the world's interest. So collapse the dollar.

Third, musical chairs in the economic and political systems. New grouping will form, models will be reformed and threats will be made. Some will win, some will lose.

Efficiency and social reform will be significantly later, other than a few belt tightening measures.

I agree that it will be in everyone else's interest (except maybe Canada & Mexico) for the US to absorb the majority of the early oil cutbacks.

"They" will have to work hard to keep the US $ from collapsing (note exchange rates this week ?) What if "they" just don't work quite do hard. Still make an effort to support the dollar; but market forces overwhelm the central banks.

So €85 oil becomes $200 oil. Depression grips the US as we try and rebuild an export manufacturing industry. Depressions are GOOD for reducing oil consumption !

No one to blame but the US for the collapse of the US $.

Best Hopes,


I wonder what odds you could get that we would be back at £1=$4 again within 5 years?

Or maybe 1 EUR = $3?

Do you really think the GBP is going to do so well Post Peak?

The EUR, just don't know...the EU seems to FIAT based and patchy in politics to survive without damage to its economies and currency.

agreed - all the fiat currencies will eventually have to follow the dollar down.

I disagree. Fiat currencies will go down based on How much oil they import/export and how much currency they print. Based on those 2 criteria I think the Swiss Franc and Norwegian krone will do relatively ok.

Yes, on their own those are exceptions because of reserves. But overall buying power will still be reduced...hyperinflation will affect the globe.

See above, there are advantages in concentrating the pain.

Well, no argument about the euro being a patchwork and a fiat currency. But at least the German component of the euro is very, very aware of what happened in Germany the last time its currency collapsed in inflation, and then its economy collapsed in government induced deflation. In the early 1930s, the German government cut expenditures to try to keeps its budget balanced after the horrors of hyper-inflation in the previous decade - another reason why Keynes was considered so skilled as an economist is that Germany provided a good example of what happens when a government does not pay attention to creating demand - and a nationalist party fills the socialist gap. Many Germans are convinced that avoiding such conditions (including mass unemployment, by the way) is an overriding social responsibility - and in their own very real interest.

I have no idea of the future of the euro, except that in the long term it will be as dead as all of us will be, but facile talk of 'fiat currency' glosses over the reason the EU itself exists, and skips over the fact that some lessons do seem generations deep.

ok, true enough, but how does the euro stay afloat when dollar-denominated goods become too cheap to compete against? the diversity of the euro basis seems like its best insurance against inflation, but that won't make it immune from global devalution pressure.

The EURO is doomed. Within 10 years it is nonexistent. It has no backing of any governement or anything else. It is a political project that is unsustainable.

The same has been said about any form of European cooperation. Most of it was proven prejudice.

It is simply wrong to say the euro has no backing - a lot of major industrial companies (ABB or Volvo come instantly to mind, for example) find the euro very, very useful.

Obviously, at some point, the EU and the euro will no longer exist. I believe it will last longer than 10 years from now, though.

The euro, like the EU itself, is an experiment, and it does have flaws. However, the flaws seem outweighed by its advantages, and that is unlikely to change any time soon - unless you believe companies appreciate lower profits, increased risks, and a smaller market due to currency concerns.

Basically, the euro is supported by any EU company which does business in the EU, except for the banks (which lost out on a lot of business - the banks could no longer make huge amounts of money on fees and exchange rates - banks hated the introduction of the euro, as it cost them billions - which meant billions saved for all those who had to pay those bank fees in the past). This support is quite broad based at a level which has little to do with popular opinion, as this group is concerned about costs and profits.

Kenneth wrote:

The EURO is doomed [...]

I think not. The Euro is the strongest currency in the world and it is not a fiat currency. It is merely the Deutschmark renamed. If that weren't true, and had the Bundesbank failed to convince the German public (indirectly, of course, so as not to alarm the rest of Europe) that it is true, it would never have existed.


ps it is the USD that is essentially doomed, like the 1940s-era Sterling was (the GBP is nothing like what that was)

I will admit, that i by no means are economist, but i have read a LOT of economic articles.
I have never read anywhere, that the EURO is no fiatcurrency. To my knowledge ALL currencies since 1971, when Nixon closed the goldwindow, are fiatcurrensies(of course i could be wrong, but i have never read otherwise).

The EURO is a political experiment, that according to not so few economists can not survive without the EURO-countries also forming a political, fiscal union like USA.
WTSHTF the EURO likely will collapse. Already a couple of the participating countrys have begin to talk about leaving the EURO. Italy comes in mind as the best example. It simply does´nt work. One of the economists(Belgian if i recall it right, forgot his name) who was strongly for the EURO, and participated with TPTB in EU to form the EURO, has said that it won´t hold together ten more years, because of the disparity between the participating countrys, and the lack of will to form a tighter union.


What dollar denominated goods? Yes, I'm being flippant, but notice which economies import and which export - and then notice what the exporters actually export. I think the market for wind turbines is likely to be excellent in the next decade, for example. Patented financially engineered products, less good.

And honestly, do you think the Russians are going to be taking dollars in a few years? They aren't real big on taking dollars now - seems to have something to do with American policy.

What dollar denominated goods? Yes, I'm being flippant,

no, no that is a good question. Not flip.

I think the market for wind turbines is likely to be excellent in the next decade, for example

At $4000 a day for some of the wind machine staff to be 'on site' and $25K to 'clean the dirt' off of 2 wind turbines (that is the turbine owners cost - not the cost charged to the power companies nor the cost to the consumer of electricity) yea...it looks good.

A human can do 150-200 watts of power per hour with muscle -> watts. So $0.12 - $0.25 a kWH is like having a human slave for a day. Damn cheap, even at $5 a kWH. (can you feed yourself for $5 a day?)

They aren't real big on taking dollars now

Well now, that is the rub eh? If the only vote one has is where (and what) one buys....what happens to America when other say - your money is no good here?

Europe's currency is a strength at the moment. Europe's largest problem is high dependence on Russia for energy. Solve that bugaboo and Europe moves up the sustainability ladder a good ways. I note that Europe at least seems to be trying to solve this problem too, though they are a good ways from doing so yet. This is miles ahead of the USA.

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

I agree that the EURO is a better option than the USD, but personally I would hold neither.

Norwegian Krone dude,
Where else will u get a currency backed by (black) gold.
Of course Norwegian production will decline but they will always export for as far as the eye can see and prices will rise enough to compensate for less export barrels. trade surplus,, fiscal surplus and net exporter.
As good as gold.

They will always export? I think your optimism is misplaced.

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

I think your pessimism is. Norway consumes less than 10% of their production (like 8.5%) So their production will have to fall by more than 91%. their consumption has been flat for a long long time. Even US produces more than 40% of their pre peak values 37 years after peak. The tail is easy to manage.

Forgetting about exporting...

The currency is strong...but trade is limited so it will still be hit by hyperinflation and import buying power will be limited...unless they just start using the real gold.

They are self sufficient in food and fuel. Their govt spends much less than it gets in tax revenues. They have $30,000 per person in govt surpluses saved up. Not exactly a screwed up country. Their population is stable. I cant think of a developed country with better peak oil prospects.

I cant think of a developed country with better peak oil prospects.

How about Canada? Energy exporter. Small and stable population if immigration is shut off. Lots and lots of agricultural land and fresh water. Also, improving climate due to global warming.

Declining population if immigration is shut off. The key will be to use canadian resources only for canada. That might be tough. All said and done better than US. Canada is also has budget and trade surpluses so thats helpful as well. But that will change as a large portion of its exports are to US.

Various statutory overrides to existing covenant restrictions and zoning matters:

- Override any covenant preventing the replacement of lawn with food-producing garden in suburbia. In many cases, all it takes is to publicize that a covenant is no longer enforceable due to failure to enforce more minor violations in the past.
- Override zoning restrictions to facilitate higher density housing where it makes sense due to existing transportation corridors, facilitate more mixed-use zoning. You could see significant gasoline savings if it was practicable for more suburbanites to walk to a neighborhood grocery, cafe, etc. Eliminate zoning requirements for parking spaces and setbacks to some degree.

Excellent article. We may not reach a consensus on all of the measures that Alan and others suggested, but the process of discussing them is necessary. Ultimately, there won't be a single correct solution for the whole US, let alone the whole world--the more building blocks that are proposed, the better individual communities will be able to cobble together a solution that is locally appropriate.

Zoning changes will be key. That is why the Portland Peak Oil document is so important. It helps align all the city functions.

A business woman just tried opening a little grocery store nearby that would provide the area with a walkable source of food. The city denied the application on the grounds of lack of parking. This is the kind of thing that could be easily fixed if the cities adopted peak oil mitigation plans.

Converting single family dwellings into multifamily units is going to be very common in the inner suburbs. Zoning changes could make that easier.

The mortgage crisis could paralyze efforts at relocation. People are going to become unwilling to purchase while prices are falling, and end up trapping themselves in the distant suburbs. What we need is a large building boom of central condos and apartments.

What kind of support could be given to property owners to build more apartments now, so we have them when the cities contract?

Minimum requirements for parking are a big problem. One must ask, why do we require a private developer to provide a particular type of storage space when they develop their land in a way that is otherwise in compliance with the land-use regulations? There are reasons, but they are not all that good in my opinion.

Parking, when provided on the surface, makes small plots undevelopable (like the corner grocer) and/or spreads things out so by making areas less walkable. Walkable is firstly about proximity.

When provided in above ground structures it is expensive, and can create dead areas (no human activity) that are dangerous and reduces walkability. There are ways to do it better - like lining the structure with retail, but you need big blocks and its more difficult.

When provided below ground it is even more expensive and requires a lot of value to be present above it to justify.

In Arlington, we basically take advantage of the fact that our regulations require way more parking than the developer needs, and the fact that it is expensive and we allow the developer to reduce his parking if he does certain things that are part of a negotiation. He might build sidewalks, dedicate land for a park, provide affordable housing, upgrade sewer lines, or just pay cash to the county in order to get out of part of his parking requirement that he doesn't need and we don't really want anyway. It's all voluntary and the developer/land-owner will only do it if he comes out ahead.

The key is an overall plan that ensures that the need for parking is less - in other words a mixed-use, walkable arrangement where having a car or not is really an option.

Any idea of how many homeowners/homeowner associations would consider this an 'illegal' government taking of the worth of their property?

America is a twisted place, at this point. Practicality will only happen when it is unavoidable, which means far too late to actually preserve a decent society.

"Takings" jurisprudence is complex. One test is the destruction of investment-backed expectations, which could be argued. Another is that it isn't an unconstitutional "taking" unless the totality of the value is destroyed, which certainly wouldn't be the case. In general, broad deference is given to zoning decisions--all zoning can be viewed as a "taking" of property rights, but has long been held to be constitutional so long as it remains within certain bounds.

Good potential topic for me to address at the Peak Oil Law Center

Glad to have provided something worth thinking about.

Personally, I find the idea that drying your clothes outside is not allowed in many American areas because it lowers property values the sort of thinking which is so far beyond my understanding, much less acceptance, that sometimes it seems a simple proof that societies choose to fail. And to add that absurdist touch which marks modern America - I assume all the ads for various detergents and dryer products still refer to that fresh clothesline feel, which is forbidden to actually produce by hanging washed clothes on a clothesline.

The German expression for such a place is 'Absurdistan.'

Federalize ALL "solar rights" laws. As an example, Texas is one of the remaining states that has no solar rights legislation. HOA's in Texas routinely shut down any and all attempts at owner installed solar water and solar electric and they do it with the same impunity with which they used to kill of satellite dishes. Finally the govt stepped in.
Many states have laws that require HOA's to allow any and all sustainable energy installations except where doing so would endanger the public.
Many others are stubbornly on the NIMBY side.
For solar to gain wide acceptance this has to cease.

Great Alan, first I look at this dismal stuff with my coffee,

^GSPTSE 13593.530 -118.430
***DJIA 12808.39 +4.55
NIKKEI 17371.97 -295.36
HSI 20299.71 -477.38
^DJSH 339.49 -16.95

Then I get you playing Orson Wells with S.A Peak....
are there no Volkswagens and are there no bridges for engineers to hang them on? ;-)

(***note that Dow Jones reacts as one would expect on Saudi peak (also ;-))

BTW Good Article.

Alan, this is very thoughtful, intelligent, well-written

and a bunch of shit.

Governments aren't going to do a goddamn thing.

I'm 47. I've watch the United States government repeatedly turn to shit and then eat its own shit all my adult life.

I've watch the last hope of redemption--the conservation movement of the 70s--go the way of the Dodo because Americans are by-and-large greedy little shits who care only about their favorite sports teams and the dosages of their children's adderol.

I learned about resource depletion in 1981. In 1984, when Reagan was reelected and America began its slide into energy-addled insanity, I just gave up on politics, pure and simple.

If any, some, part of your programs are enacted, well that's just peachy.

But I suggest the following to INDIVIDUALS who want some control over what happens:

GET OFF GASOLINE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. I drive a 17 year old car that gets 35 mpg. I drive to work twice, sometimes 3 times a week. I don't go out when I don't need to. I have no gasoline powered "toys"--boats, bikes, sleds. etc.

STAY AT HOME. There is nothing more important than learning to take care of business right where you are. I love teaching becuase I don't have to go ANYWHERE in the summer.

GROW FOOD. A little or a lot, growing food is one of life's most pleasureable gifts to yourself. I grow, can, preserve, dry, pickle and ferment a huge portion of our food here.

GET OFF THE GRID, OR MINIMIZE YOU ELECTRICAL NEEDS. We just came off a two-day power outage here from the massive storm that went up the east coast. Solid fuels heated the house, heated the water, cooked the food. Kerosene lamps lit the place. We could go indefinitely without power here. Our weak spot is the freezer in the cellar. It can go several days if it is not opened. We can borrow a small generator from a neighbor to recharge the freezer if we need to.

None of this is sure-fire insurance, because, actually, we have no idea what we're headed toward. But "setting your own lands in order" is about the only thing you have control over.

Well said.

It's a very well written piece . . . of total foolishness. As far as what will the U.S. do? That should be damn obvious by now:

#1. Go to war

#2. Build detention camps

#3. Commmission a new generation of hydrogen bombs

#4. Arm its allies (India) with nuclear weapons

What will Americans do as this unfolds? Again, it should be damn obvious at this point

#1. Watch football

#2. Eat fast food

#3. Load up their guns, blame the Mexicans and the Queers (or whoever)

(I sometimes wonder if people are paying attention?)

Guys, what Alan has written is probably what really should be done, along with a bunch of additional measures. We're not down to the final seconds anymore. We are in overtime and the first team to score wins and mother nature has the ball. Either this is a life threatening crisis or it won't fly.

If someone can sell Alan's idea as a national emergency of the order of WWII, we might have a teensy weensy chance to save North America. Asia? Toast. Africa? Toast. Europe? More problems than they can control and energy poor out the ass. South America is the only other continent with even a ghost of a chance. And I don't mean that North America has a good chance, just that our population is still low enough and we still have enough native energy resources that if we had to turn this ship around right now, we have some small minuscule chance to pull it off. The problem is not technical. The problem is political and always has been.

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

Even on the technical side; time is getting short. Enforced conservation via economic recession/depression seems highly probable whilst we make up for lost time on the infrastructure (best case).

I look with envy at the two new tram lines going into Mulhouse France, population 111,300. What if Tuscaloosa Alabama had opened one streetcar line in 2006 and another was under construction ? Towns in the 100,000 to 350,000 category were getting streetcars because larger cities had at least decent "backbones" of Urban Rail.

Reduced population via New Orleans type conditions (today, not 8/29/05) also seems likely. The quality of cancer treatment could decline dramatically for most people. Diabetes and hypertension (both certain to increase dramatically soon) would largely go untreated, birth rates always fall during depressions. Massive increase in suicides and alcholism amd less mental healtch care despite a growing need for it.

New Orleans was rich in social capital before Katrina, most of the rest of the US seems quite poor. We are tapping into that reserve now to rebuild. I also wonder about the USA.

Best Hopes,


Alan, I like your writing and I'm glad you care.

But I have no hope except for the little bit I can do for myself.

Dear Greyzone,

I think you're right, just about. We can turn things around, if we're quick, lucky and smart enough. The problem isn't technical. We are not doomed, not yet, but we're getting there! The problem is political, but arguably it worse than that. I'd argue that fundamentally the problem is economic. What I mean by that is, who has economic power, who benefits from this concentration of power, what do they use it for. There is a massive mal-distribution of economic power in the United States, and that is a problem in finding solutions for all of us, as the vast majority of us don't have economic power as individuals, in contrast to the "ruling-class". So, perhaps the problem is power and always has been?

If someone can sell Alan's idea

Ron Paul or Dennis Kusenich seem to be the best buyers of what Alan's selling.

And I think only Dr. Paul is running for El Jefe.

(Not that either one have a snowball's chance in hades.)

The problem is not technical. The problem is political and always has been.

Oh, there are a few tech issues. But yea, getting people to change habits? Ha!

You're pretty moody today, Matt. Is this a trend? What's up?

Perhaps things would have worked out better if we had descended from Bonobos, and worked things out by humping rather than harassing... Make love, not war? Just my age showing there.

best & stay in touch --

I'm coming back in my next life as a dolphin. They just play in the water all day. Pretty smart if you ask me.

Fun, well perhaps ... but based on the some of the vegan contingent's postings above, you would living an unethical life style because dolphins do indeed eat fish. Shame on you for even thinking about it. :<)

'Governments aren't going to do a goddamn thing.'

Well, maybe those in the U.S., but I think the Danes, the Swedes, the Dutch, and the Germans, to name a few, would disagree. We could expand that list to include much, though certainly not all, of Europe, though the nations above have concrete, long term, and currently implemented measures in place.

We can discuss whether those government efforts are sufficient, mis-guided, or simply overshadowed by what could happen, but not everywhere is as hopelessly locked into a pattern which seems doomed.

Geography (i.e., your own) matters.

I can only talk for Sweden, as i am a swede. Swedens efforts to be oil independent has notthing to do with PO. It is because GW. The swedish politicos and people are totally clueless about PO, just like in USA.

Well, I can't speak for much beyond my fairly restricted view living in Germany, but I have yet to meet people who feel that resources are infinite, for example.

The specifics of peak oil may not be too much a matter of public awareness and debate (though the concept of resource wars is, at least in Germany), but the broad framework certainly is. Europeans seemingly have no problem grasping the idea of resources running out - Americans seemingly do.

The problems of peak oil and climate change are not neatly split into categories, after all.

And in my opinion, all European governments since 1973 are completely aware of what less oil means, and have been dealing with that fact - whether through renewable energy as in much of Northern Europe, or nuclear energy in France, or Spain's attempts to put together a workable solar generation system.

And at the same time, of course, we all live in ways we know are not sustainable over the long term.

If you're going to talk in behalf of Sweden you'd better catch up on the reading.

In June 2006 former Swedish prime minister Göran Persson released a study named "Making Sweden an oil-free society" ("På väg mot ett oljefritt sverige").

This study sets the goal to be oil-independent in year 2020, an aggressive target that I doubt could be met, but it's a target nonetheless. The study motivates itself and the benefits of the plan with:

1. We will reduce Sweden’s climate impact
2. We will secure Sweden’s supply of energy in the long term
3. We can become a leading nation in the development of new technology for sustainable use of energy and more efficient use of energy
4. We will strengthen our international economic competitiveness
5. We will use and develop the energy resources from forests and fields, “Sweden’s green gold”

The study includes a full chapter about Peak Oil with references to scenarios from ASPO, IEA and BP. While not that extensive on the Peak Oil issue, it shows clearly (at least) the former government was/is aware of the issue.

You should really read this, it's quite interesting. It's available in English at the governments website at
and in Swedish at


Yes i know, i have also listened to all the hearings in the oilcommission. But my impression, is that they know, but do not really understand the consecvences.
And it has not been widely reported in media.

Edit: Or is it me that are a doomer.

I will take a group of politicans that 1) know Peak Oil is coming 2) Do not fully understand the implications and are 3) making some minimal, easy to do preparations for post-Peak Oil ! That is *FAR* better that what we deal with in the USA.

If one is going in the right direction at 25 kph, and sees the road ahead only a short distance, it is MUCH easier to speed up to 125 kph when the danger is clearly seen ! And if one expects the danger, it takes less time to recognize the danger for what it is.

The US is going in the wrong direction at 100 kph and few have a clue of the danger ahead. And when the danger does finally appear, there will be much denial and confusion.

Sweden will suffer from post-Peak Oil; of that I have no doubt! It will just suffer far less than most other nations. Small steps today can make a large difference tomorrow.

Best Hopes for even Minimal Preparations,


PS: I keep thinking of the tram that opened in Mulhouse France in 2006 (12 km then, 1.5 km more this year and 20 km total in 2011). A small town (with surrounding villages) will get a 2 line "T". Population of Mulhouse 111,300 and the region seems to be less than 250,000.

With bicyles and walking most people could "get by" without a car I suspect.

Meanwhile Phoenix AZ (pop ~4 million) is working on a 20 mile (32 km) starter light rail line.

Mulhouse is also likely to get plugged into the TGV/ICE network being created too - as is this entire region.

Yes, the "yellow line" on the Mulhouse map is an interurban (stops every couple of kms) that runs on existing train tracks "T"s and terminates at the new tram line. Scheduled to open 2010.

I assumed that it connected with TGV (and NOT ICE !) This is France after all :-)

Any details ? How close is Mulhouse from your location ?



1-4 yrs out item: "Increase incentives for ground source ('geo-thermal') heat pumps to replace oil and natural gas heat. (Air source along the Gulf Coast)."

As a fan of ground source for most locales, just curious as to why not on the Gulf Coast?

1-4 yrs out from what?

The peak is behind us...

Minimal heating demands (a/c cooling is the larger demand by far). High ground temperatures make ground coupled heat pumps uneconomic vs. air source heat pumps for cooling.

Ground source requires a small pump to pump water/heat exchange fluid into the ground a net loss.

I did the detailed #s a few years ago for a commerical building and a home with "best available equipment". Ground source took more energy and much higher capital cost.

I use a Friedrich YS09J10b window heat pump @ home. 11.5 EER, forgot COP but good in mild cold (gas below 40 F). I often heat bedroom before dusk with heat pump in New Orleans, go to sleep with gas wall furnace in bathroom on low and thermostat controlled electric resistance portable heater (on low) aimed at my face if it gets too cool. Works quite economically.

One out of 3 winters we do not get below 32 F in New Orleans. 28 F is a typical "coldest night of the year".

Best Hopes,


These are all proposals for an unviable society desperately
trying to hang on by every finger, toe, tooth, fingernal, etc.
All the usual methods are repeated: more control, more
restriction, more centralization, more taxation. More
centrally planned and managed authoritarian 'salvation'.

No thanks.

Those are the methods and responses of the industrial age. The whole point of peak oil is that they're going out of style.

When the salvation rhetoric is stripped away from these kind
of proposals, the real essence that remains is quite simple:
is is the large power structures grabbing a bigger share of
a shrinking pie. Telling people it's for their own good only
compounds the injury of oppression with the insult of a lie.

These responses are the methods and responses of large power structures (governments, corporations, organizations, etcetera) trying to stay on top while the whole edifice crumbles under their weight. Why should individual people happily embrace the desperate actions of a huge, powerful, self-indulgent organization struggling for survival?

No amount of discipline, control, restriction, or domination
of the population at large is going to increase energy
production. The huge glut of cheap energy that allowed the
immense concentration of power we see today is running out,
and the power structures built on it are already starting
to feel some numbness at the most tenuous fingertips- even
as they are struggling ever more violently to keep themselves going. There's nothing surprising about this, except in the
number of people who actually think that those increasingly
extreme measures taken by those power structures are
somehow a _good_ thing.

Not only are such measures futile, and only postpone the
inevitable a short while, they also imply even greater
misery and subjugation of the majority of the population-
because in the end they dare compete against those power
structures for a dwindling resource. Why people continue to
exhibit a blind faith that some centralized power will
be able to properly 'manage' things to the popular advantage
is itself a subject of human psychology, but the fact
remains that it only makes things worse.

A lower-energy future is _less_ centralized, has _less_
governmental control, has _smaller_ power structures of a
more _local_ character. Trying to hang on to something
familiar even if it is doomed is understandable, but not very intelligent.

Many folks have talked about economize, localize, produce.
It's a much smarter way to go. It relies on nobody but YOU.

But, there is no room for great government programmes, no glamor, no spotlight where someone gets to trot out a list of solutions and be hailed as a great saviour. It leaves an empty feeling in a lot of people who are used to coming up
with sophisticated, large-scale, well funded solutions to
problems. Why would we want to sink into obscurity and just
take up gardening, with nobody to acclaim us as having
solved the problem?

I suspect a lot of people here at TOD have an engineering
or technical background (I do). Our first reaction to a
problem is a technical solution. It's part of how we think,
part of how we approach problems. We're also accustomed to
the idea that if we come up with a great solution, one that
obviously nobody else has yet made, we can publish it and
everyone will recognize it. It's still in some respects not very satisfying for me to know that the real
thing I can do that will serve my and my family's interests
is not some great feat of engineering or some new policy or
'solution' that i can be well known for, but to get into
the remotest land I can find in the best environment, and
plant a garden, live on less _stuff_.

But despite the blow to professional pride and lack of
meaningful technological solutions, another part of having
more technical backgrounds that we should also be accustomed
to is to have a scientific attitude about things- to be
honest with ourselves about reality around us, and make
decisions from the brain and not the ego. If a real solution
is unglamorous, but actually sensible, the intelligent
thing to do is roll up our sleeves, forget about sitting on
some panel proposing government programmes, and learn to
live more humbly.

Going the other way won't work. We are a world in hard population overshoot. The more people there are, the less any single life is worth, and the more rules you need to even let them co-exist without violence, nevermind keeping them happy.

The only way to loosen control is to reduce population, by oh, say at least 5 billion. Are you volunteering to go away first?

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

I didn't say that _everyone_ will be able to do as I suggested. Quite to the contrary, probably fewer than 10% of
the current population has any chance at all. But even the
kind of thinking that says 'we need to reduce population' is
still a characteristic of the big centralized programme
mentality. Yes, this mess will sort itself out. Yes,
this will cheat all the people who want to propose or execute solutions out of the pride, glory, and power of taking a hand at their solutions. Yes, on the other side of this overshoot
and correction, far fewer than 10% of the current population
will be alive. No, my suggestion made no assumption of being
a happy peaceful solution for everyone to have their cake
and eat it too. It's the smart thing for an individual to do,
for his family and those close to him. It's not a solution
everyone has the luxury of using. Tough luck to the rest.

Why would I volunteer to go away first? Hardly! I, like
most other people who have some desire to individually
survive and propagate their genes, will do everything I can
to ensure that I make it- and yes, the realistic, mature,
honest implication of that is that if I make it, others
won't. That's competition. That's evolution. It is a
crappy deal when our world is distorted into such unstable
operating conditions thanks to processes kicked off by
previous generations long-dead, who likely didn't have
any clue what they were getting themselves into, but it
is also quite literally a once-in-all-of-history opportunity
to live in such times.

Then you have made a decision. You aren't going to remove yourself to lower population. (I expected that and neither will I). You aren't going to kill others to lower population. (I expected that and neither will I). So you have chosen to ride it out. We're not in much position to recommend greater freedoms when we do not take the actions necessary to make those freedoms possible.

Freedom will viable again when population drops drastically, and it will. Until then we have to go with the flow, don't we?

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

Most certainly- and i will argue that it's the
most reasonable decision and the one with the
greatest outlook for success. Buying a prius and
putting solar water heaters on my roof might
give me more green points in some crowds,
but feel-good 'solutions' are a losing proposition.

As for freedoms, we are already getting a taste
of what a vicious, vengeful, wayward, and
downright dangerous thing an empire in the throes
of collapse is. It has happened before, though
not on a global scale, and it has been an
awful thing to live through. Even in the best of
times, empires are always trying to get
their hands on more control. In freak-out mode
now, as the whole thing starts to crumble,
the empire will leave no stone unturned, right
up to the point where it runs out of gas.

Going with the flow (and getting out of the way as
much as possible) is about the only sensible thing
for folks to do.

You aren't going to kill others to lower population.

Oh, oh! I have a list of at least 10 people who I consider a waste of skin! How about if THEY get killed?

*wry grin*

*checks other peoples list, sees my name on their list*

Perhaps this killing thing needs more planning?

(The deaths will happen ether by malnutrition and 'plague' or, if one believes in "TPTB" and some form of bio-weapon - that way. The best way out to the other side is good health/good eating now.)

I think most of the population reduction will happen in post-Sovjet-style: depressed suicide/non-breeding and drug abuse. That way, both the gun hoards of the survivalists ánd those ethanol plants will come in handy..


I respect and understand Alan's noble effort of hope to "preposition" ideas for federal government mitigation.

Yet, having said that, I fully agree with what you've written. Any expectation that this can be "managed and controlled," especially from the top down, is futile. The idea of and belief in control is the lie. Unfortunately, it is one that we've bought and sold our souls into as a culture. Most tragically, especially for those of us intelligent enough to see what lies dead ahead, safe escape is near impossible to expect.

However, while readily acknowledging our collective and individual plight, and even the dangers likely to ensue in the chaos resulting from the crumbling of control, I am more than willing to try and assume responsibility for my chances within this time as I see fit. I may not succeed, but at least I will have faced reality of whatever fate and possible good fortune that lies in store on my own terms. That is all that's left and I'll take it.

IMHO, the best thing that could happen is for the plutocratic government of the USofA as we know it to close up shop ASAP -- excepting to provide a purely defensive umbrella against external and internal warfare, while ensuring that food production is properly distributed -- and let each state get on with dealing with and sorting out the fallout of the four horseman knocking on the door: economic collapse, energy collapse, population collapse, and ecological collapse. What new arrangements that could result might be more sensible than any other now contemplated.

But that's not going to happen, so I will plan for the worst, try to stay low and out of the way, and enjoy life's humble and awe inspiring blessings while I can. It's good to know others get it too.

Best of luck all around folks.

hell of a set of comments. sobering. what i feel/think too.perhaps a different set of genes than alan's. his work certainly seems worthy & perhaps exactly what he needs to do.. definately a different set of assumptions to operate from.humbling as rudolph says; & sobering to me as i have major conflict to impliment fully this direction with family.

On the BBC Radio 4 6 O'Clock News just now they just had a small piece on how a new report has just come out that claims that the deserts in Iraq hold another 100 billion barrels of unexploited oil.

They did however point out that it will take a long long time and a huge amount of capital investment to be able to get at any of Iraq's oil. They also pointed out that this desert area had never been surveyed which makes me wonder whether the whole thing is purely a pipe dream.

Peak Oil, Total Collapse, and the Road to the Olduvai

A Commentary by Perry Arnett ...18 April 2007

........"Two Key Premises Regarding the Immediate Future

a) the "effective" rate of depletion of "all [petroleum] liquids + NG" [natural gas] will continue to RISE in such a manner that end users, will, this year or next, see effective world "all liquids + NG" depletion rates running at ~15% per annum or more; and,

b) as a corollary and consequence, the severe reduction and loss of grid-supplied electricity to industrialized nations will bring down most all world telecom, banking, credit, governance, etc.; thus, ALL aspects of THIS Industrial Civilization as we know it, will severely decline, and (for all intents and purposes) will stop within a very few years." ..................


jmygann: re your link to AlasBabylon and Perry Arnett's mad max scenario for civilization, it seems that Arnett borrows so much from Duncan that he might as well BE Duncan. Except Duncan writes better (I know, not an Olduvai skill). At least Duncan in his Olduvai piece admits that he doesn't include energy intensity in his calculations because he can't measure it.

When you build efficiency gains and conservation back into Duncan's model, the downward slope is a lot less steep, more choices arise, and the 'die-off' is a lot less (bad enough, but not Arnett's horror story). So I'm not a cornucopian, but not a doomer, either.

Exxon-Mobil CEO says the world’s oil would not run out in his lifetime. Means nothing... this guy doesn't buy green bananas.

The study was done by our friends at IHS


See also in FT - -
Iraq may hold twice as much oil

As others have said on this site before, it's not the OIP, EUR, proven reserves, etc., that count, it's the oil flows. The projected possible production increases are no more than those stated in stories that appeared before "Mission Accomplished" - - and in no sooner a time frame - - without any increase in stated reserves. (One early story actually referred to six mb/d.)

I have to ask why this story appears now, just when efforts are underway to talk the Sunnis into a 3-way deal in Iraq (yeah, come in with us, there's plenty of oil in your part too...)

Oh cr*p. I thought there might just be something to it...

Pardon my ignorance but what significance does the IHS have with this story?

Significance IHS has with this story - -

From the story I cited above - -

"If confirmed, it would raise Iraq from the world’s third largest source of oil reserves with 116bn barrels to second place, behind Saudi Arabia and overtaking Iran.
The study from IHS, a consultancy, also estimates that Iraq’s production could be increased from its current rate of less than 2m barrels a day to 4m b/d within five years, if international investment begins to flow.
That would put Iraq in the top five oil-producing countries in the world, at current rates.
The IHS study is based on data collected in Iraq both BEFORE and after the invasion, showing the oilfields’ reserves and production history." (EMPHASIS added)

"Before" leads me to ask: is this a somewhat recycled story planted now for political purposes. I don't have the answer, but I think we need to be more questioning of some of the undercurrents - absolutely true information can still be spin.
Rex Tillerson doesn't buy green bananas.

This may well be a "pipe dream", but it's a dream a lot of very powerful people desparately want to believe, and these kind of dreams are the most dangerous of all. I hope in way the story isn't true and the oil isn't there, because if it is, the US will occupy Iraq for ever, robbing in blind and slaughtering the people at the same time.

Require that rental units meet certain energy efficiency standards before being sold (an idea borrowed from Germany). This may lead to a faster change in our urban form.

This is a good idea, but not just for rental units, but any residential real estate.

Require as part of the real estate transaction that the house be brought to certain minimum energy efficiency standards, before the transaction can be completed.

This is done currently at the municipality level where city inspectors check the property over for code violations and the seller is required to resolve the violations before the transaction can be completed.

Obviously you have never been on the receiving end of your own regulations. I have. I bought my house in Minneapolis in 1967 with no required inspections. When I tried to sell it in 2001, 34 years later, I ended up with $93,000.00 out of the $130,000.00 selling price. Most of the money went for improvements that were mandated by new city regulations. These regulations are determined, approved and enforced by the building contractors and their unions, who get them passed. The net result is that housing prices in the inner city become unaffordable for lower income people, which, I suspect, was the purpose all along. I am glad I'm out of the city and will never go back. When you buy property in the city, you don't really own it like you do in the country. There are umpteen do-gooders like yourself telling the "owner" what to do with his property. When you buy in the city all you get is a right to pay taxes, and reside in it. Come selling time the rules may have changed and, in effect, some or even all of your property may have been confiscated for the benefit of the "greater good". I'll take a place in the country any day, especially with PO in the rear view mirror.

Although new structures would not necessarily be a priority in a post-peak environment, prior to that, federal, state, and local governments could enforce strict energy efficient standards for new buildings, such as the LEED standard recently issued by the US Green Building Council . This standard promotes green building policies and reduced energy consumption. Energy Star is an earlier, less stringent (but still laudable) standard primarily focused on energy consumption.

My modest measure of preparation is to build a house in suburban Houston under the LEED program. Many of the items listed in the post will be incorporated as a natural part of the process. (I was planning to build a house previously, but PO awareness has pushed it to be a green and energy efficient house.)

In parallel, I will be replacing my gas-guzzler with a Prius or equivalent.

It is absolutely true that the majority of the population will not have options such as these, but since I am able to do it, I will.

Why in the suburbs, when we're building several new transit lines, and housing in the city near the new/existing lines is still relatively affordable?

Alan is stating what he feels need be done, in his opinion. He is not saying what will be done.

It is very easy to shoot off the defeatist head cavity shouting that that's not good enough. It is more difficult to go from what needs be done to how it can be accomplished.

For the main the how has been relegated to pushing rope through a hole, (it is much easier to pull it through).
There are benefits for the individual in getting off oil, much like getting off any drug, but if the only inspiring words are of the 'Blood Sweat and Tears' variety I think I will join the Chimp in his bolt hole, that is if he doesn't shoot me first.

We are all freaking doomed. Head for the hills.

Maybe Swede, but like the man said "if you're gonna be doomed you might as well enjoy it." If heading for the hills does that for you, go for it.;-)

I do.

Sorry, do you mean you agree with my point or do you think I've made a matrimonial proposal?


Entirely confused.

'The battle of Britain was won on its dance floors, in its pubs and only incidentally in the air'. (Little Known Facts From WWII)

I enjoy it. I have bought some popcorn also.

Good to see another sensible person in the theater (psst care for a little something with that popcorn?).

Without pubs, there is no Britain. (Little known facts from the truth of life) :)

that's the spirit!
seriously, as dangerous and unpleasant
as this is going to be, it is a unique
event unlikely to ever be repeated- the
collapse of a global civilization. For
those who can make it through, it will
be like getting to see a supernova
from close up- nobody is ever going
to see it again. get up into them
hills, and bring some popcorn.
(more seriously, it is good to keep
a light heart and sense of humor,
otherwise whats happening these days
is either terrifying or depressing)

1. You need a carbon tax, not just a gas tax. The carbon tax base is large enough to off-set the payroll tax cuts that have to come unless you want a working-middle-class revolution or worse (ballets, bullets or begging...)

The carbon tax punishes coal for electricity on an equal CO2
impact basis with other fuels/processes. If, as you propose, you give other tax relief to rail that electrifies, rail can handle the carbon tax and will feel the same pressures as others to economize (design of rail cars to handle more riders on a user-friendly basis, etc.)

A carbon tax will likely hit the airlines more than what you have on the table. E.g., cross-country flights will start re-fueling mid-country for further fuel efficiency, carriers will increase pressure on the builders to make more efficient planes and engines, and more short-haul flights will be cut due to electric ground transport competition.

2. The national economy that exploded on the back of cheap oil after WWII scattered family members to the four winds.

As a partial remedy for raising the cost of air travel, provide regulatory and financial incentives to expand, and enhance the quality of, video telephone and video-conferencing. Video can make families stay connected with less travel.

3. Ensure that the expanded electric grid can be fully responsive to both supply- and demand-side load management. Provide incentives (regs + $$) for residential and commercial user-friendly real-time demand management of their electricity use. Implement IPv6 and put the grid on the Web. Don't overlook solar.

Exxon-Mobil CEO: Oil Volumes Will Keep Growing: Rex Tillerson says "the world’s oil would not run out in his lifetime". Means nada... he doesn't buy green bananas.

Interesting, but I'm puzzled on the insistence on punative taxes on 'commercial parking lots'.

All that would do is:

1) Privatize all these parking lots...turn them into 'condos' so to speak. You buy a parking spot.....

2) Force companies to move to the suburbs. Employees aren't going to pay thousands a year in taxes on top of hundreds a month for parking. The companies will simply relocate to areas where there is LESS mass transit. The policy will be self defeating. Inner city businesses will die.

The only way to allocate resources is to let commodities rise to their level that chops demand.

No one is going to rush out to install geothermal heat pumps at $18,000 each (and some houses have multiple) to save $200/month at best. Sorry. Until there is a natural gas crunch, it isn't going to happen, and if everyone suddenly did, the same natural gas would go to generate the additional power now needed to run all those heat pumps, giving you no net gain in natural gas, and absolutely no effect on oil.

In addition, the manufacturing 'energy cost' to build a gazillion whatevers (heat pumps, instant hot water heaters, etc) would create a horrendous needless drain on resources. with one person in many rental units, and houses, it makes ZERO sense to install an 'instant hot water' heater economically. The payback is longer than my lifetime.

Doubling tolls with taxes? All that does is force folks onto less efficient roads, trading off burning more gas to save on tolls.

People will take steps when it hits them in the pocket book.

SOmehow, the 'anti-city' anti-commuting bent of the original post isn't going to fly with most Americans. They will reach when it makes $$$ difference, and when the payback is reasonable.

It takes more energy to scrap a 20 mpg car and replace it, than the person will save for the rest of the 20mpg useful lifetime. That is stupidit at work to insist that overnight everything gets replaced.

It also ingnores the probability that the decline in total world liquid fuels will be measured in a few percent per year (2.3%). So there is no immediate need to save 50% overnight. Recession will likely easily drop 2.3% off demand.


In the short term, making commuting more expensive WILL increase car-pooling and transit use (and in my neighborhood, walking to work. I am 1.1 miles from a 51 story office building).

Longer term, structural adjustments would mildly trend away from centralized locations; which is what the $1,000/space parking tax is for. The suburban office building with 200 spaces gets hit with an extra $200,000 tax. The mall with 2,000 spaces gets hit with a $2 million tab. Relatively small, but in a recession, it could alter the economics and force changes. The mall might build a mid-rise on one corner of it's parking lot, with a grocery store on the bottom floor and apartments above. In another corner, an office building. Reduce the # of parking spaces, dual use them more and increase density. Or the mall could close. leaving a large lot for redevelopment.

You are VERY wrong about savings from instant natural gas hot water heaters.

And two digit accuracy (2.3%) for global declines in total liquids ? I AM IMPRESSED ! Glad to know the number with such exactitude L-)

I can assure you that IF Global total liquids decline by 2.3%/year the US decline will be greater than that. First, the Export Land Model has importing nations with steeper declines than exporting nations in available oil (Putin cares more about Moscow cabdrivers than he does our SUVs).

Second, the US is the weak sister in international trade. -$762 billion trade balance last year (from memory). Euro was 93.5 cents when GWB was sworn in, it was $1.358 two days ago.

The idea was to face a looming, short AND long term crisis with policies to induce changes ASAP.

Best Hopes,


"And two digit accuracy (2.3%) for global declines in total liquids ? I AM IMPRESSED !"

In the interest of harmony, I suspect he meant 2%-3%...

Likely US reaction: invasion of Nigeria and establishment of Provisional Oil Government to send all product to US.

aggressive destruction of guerilla resistance

rationale: they are the weakest, they have no military, and they are non aligned

Go to library.
Go to the "dusty section" where there are books and magazines depicting the world as it was, 1978-80.

Watch Japanese car companies reverse engineer the Chevrolet Volt and Calcars plug hybrids.
Watch them build several models and sizes of said reversed engineered car.
Watch them sell millions
Watch junk jards and back yards pile up with giant SUV's faster than they did with custom vans in the 1970's
Watch companies introduce off the shelf technology to reduce over road transportation fuel consumption by one half.
Watch logistic departments of said companies re-align transport to rail and barge, and streamline wasted travel and air transport.

Watch American gasoline consumption drop by a third or more.
Watch American Diesel consumption fall by half.
Watch gas and Diesel prices crash, ala 1982.

Play it from there.....

Roger Conner Jr.
Remember we are only one cubic mile from freedom

I agree with your focus, but disagree with "Watch junk jards and back yards pile up with giant SUV's faster than they did with custom vans in the 1970's"

Today's SUV's are far better built, last much longer, and are eligible for retrofit to commercial vehicles, here or for export to 3rd-world markets. Small busses, delivery vehicles, ambulances, etc.

Alan's proposal to tax registration of gas guzzlers at higher rates should have an exemption for documented multi-passenger use. An Expedition can be a damn fine commuter vehicle.

Rex Tillerson doesn't buy green bananas.

Watch American gasoline consumption drop by a third or more.

It looks like total gasoline supplied in the US was 6.7 mbpd in 1973. I didn't see any numbers lower than 6.5 mbpd:


Do you have some different numbers?

Based on the EIA data, it looks like 1,000% increase in oil prices from 1970 to 1980 caused US gasoline consumption to basically stagnate for a few years.

I would also point out that we are now far more dependent on petroleum imports that we were in the Seventies. Based on the HL model, US oil reserves are about 85% depleted.

Roger is, as usual, romanticizing something that never occurred.

Global consumption dipped very slightly then flattened. We have never, ever experienced continuous multi-year decline greater than 2 years. When that process begins to occur, Roger will realize the error of his ways. Unfortunately for Roger, I expect him to be one of the 95% or so who don't make it.

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

Greyzone said,

"We have never, ever experienced continuous multi-year decline greater than 2 years."

I handled that in my reply to westexes, using his own numbers.

What I cannot imagine is WHY you would even say such a thing. It is not something you can believe....is it?

It is not something ASPO believes. How many of us have seen this chart so many times in so many places that we can see it in our sleep?

Can I be VERY honest? I am becoming deeply, deeply concerned about motives and why people are denying not the future, but now being forced as a method to support ever wilder and hysterical conjectures to deny the past. If we cannot even agree on what happened a third of a century ago, can we assume that any "projections" of the future are to be accepted as valuable?

I ask openly, why on Earth would we attempt to deny the past, as it is accepted by the so called "peak community" and everyone else in the world?


Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

westexas asks,
“do you have any different numbers?”

Well, I have various sets of numbers but I am content to use your numbers for the sake of this argument, from the link YOU sent in your post, it’s a
great chart, and I copied and saved it, very useful!

(all numbers given in thousands of barrel (000)
Interesting to me:
Motor Gasoline-7,412 in 1978
Motor Gasoline-6,622 in 1983

Motor gasoline did not return to it’s 1978 level until 1993!!

Distillate fuel oil-3,432 in 1978
Distillate fuel oil-2,671 in 1982

Distillate fuel did not return to it’s 1978 high until 1997!

Kerosene-175 in 1978
Kerosene-market essentially destroyed, collapsing to an
all time low of 41 in 1992, and only at 69 in 2005!

As for the total, it is easy to say there was virtually no drop if you used the “change from previous year” as your only guide (and even then you get 3 years at 4 plus, 6 plus and 7 plus percent declines, back to back!) , but note the 5 consecutive years, 1979 through 1983, a one year respite, and then a drop back into slight decline, 6 of 7 years flat or down!!

In fact, starting in 1974, we see that 8 of the next 12 years were spent in negative consumption!

In 1978, a peak in consumption of 18,847 was hit.
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?.....This number would not be exceeded until 1998!!

All this according to the numbers you sent me, westexas.

I am somewhat surprised and disappointed that you of all people would become a “denialist” of the 1970’s crisis, having been in the oil business in those days. For those who weren’t around then, it is almost impossible to explain that period. But you were there.

Now, when people will proclaim peak oil on a one or two year drop in production that is so small it requires charts that have to magnify events to the resolution of gnats nuts to make any claim, one is made dizzy just thinking of the utter and stupidly idiotic hysterical screaming the 1970’s would have sent them into. Now the only way they can keep from looking like ranting paranoid hysterics is to try to deny that the 1970’s ever happened, EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTING.

And sadly, it is really becoming extremely pointless.
Roger Conner Jr

Remember we are only one cubic mile from freedom

Here is a quick and dirty plot of US gasoline usage from 1970 to 1990 based on the above pdf


I see a 11% drop from 1978 to 1980 over 2 years. After that I see an increase every year except for 1982 which has a tiny drop from 1981.

Thanks for graphing the data explicitly. Roger is wrong again (from his own data no less!!!!).

Roger, your position has no basis in fact. During the period over which PRODUCTION declined we experienced the worst recession ever since the Great Depression. AFTER production TURNED UP then we saw economic growth resume. The recession ended in 1982. Oil production resumed an upward movement in 1982. Your refusal to accept these facts is not my problem.

Now tell me again, Roger, what will happen when declines never turn back up? When declines run on forever, never rising again?

Roger, I tell you three times - we have never ever had economic growth in the 20th century in the face of significantly declining oil production. What you suggest flies directly in the face of the historical record. By all means, continue to believe in the tooth fairy, Roger. KSA will come save you! Yes they will!

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

"Now tell me again, Roger, what will happen when declines never turn back up? "

You ask me that, and show me a chart that goes to 1990, and never shows a year as high as 1978? (my words were based NOT on my numbers, but on a data sheet sent by westexas, I simply used the numbers he sent.

""Now tell me again, Roger, what will happen when declines never turn back up? "

Try this as an option: The fvckin waste will stop going up!

A better question is why I keep wasting my time trying to talk sanely to people who have obviously slid off into screaming hysteria. Godspeed, good luck in all you do, but you folks have got to try to settle down a little....panic is not a solution, outright hysteria even less so.

opps, there I go trying to talk calmly again. My error, I know it's the whole wrong tone for the forum.



I think its a matter of growth.
The oil shocks were short transient events that prevented the economy from growing. The result was an awful economy. Remember Stagflation?

But the oil shortages were over relatively quickly and the economy was able to grow again year over year. Things were good again.

This absolute level of gas usage in 1978 not being surpased means nothing.

Peak oil will not be a short transient event like the oil shocks. If oil production does not increase year over year there will be no growth in the economy. Things will get bad again. Only this time they will keep getting bad cause OPEC won't turn the oil on again.

I am screaming? I am not the one trying to sneak around profanity censors with crude respellings of words like "fvcking", for example.

And you, Roger, appear to be innumerate, or deliberately refusing to understand the data.

So tell me again, Roger, what happens when declines never reverse? Yes, production took a decade to get back to 1979 levels. Big freaking deal. It stopped going down. Got that yet? In 1982, production resumed an UPWARD trend. Once we are past peak, production will never, ever, ever resume an upward trend. We have never, ever, ever had economic growth when oil production was going DOWN.

What part of those two facts do you still fail to understand, Roger?

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

Right On Roger. So many assume that we cannot get by on less. We can, and will. It won't be pretty, but it won't be nearly as bad as those above conjecture. I was there in the 70's and 80's and recall the multitude of personel and public actions that were taken to reduce oil usage. We had only gotten started before OPEC realized they had to flood the market to stop what appeared to be a world moving away from oil. In the near future I an see similar reactions - except this time the market won't be flooded with new oil, and moves towards lower oil use and sustainability will not be aborted.

I need only look at those around me in my daily life -- how they live and use energy --- to realize that substantial reductions can be achieved. This time, as opposed to the 70s/80s, we have many more tools available. e.g. many cars that already get >40 mpg produced by any car makers. Again it won't be pretty, but folks will make "new arrangements" in the words JHK, when it is the only option they have.

I think Roger's on target with most of these predictions, but he left the most important one out:

Watch oil prices go through the roof.

If Saudi Arabia makes an announcement like this, oil speculators are going to drive futures up to at least $200/bbl, and that will bring up spot prices to that range as well, because oil is a storable commodity. Even if there are no short-term production problems, mere anticipation of future shortages will keep oil off the market. It's economics 101.

That change is the driving engine for all else. And there's nothing the U.S. government can do about it. Oil is traded on an international market and the government can't control the price. Attempts to put price ceilings on domestic gasoline and other oil products are only going to produce shortages and require rationing.

In short, this will not be a change that government or society can ignore. It will provoke an immediate crisis of skyrocketing gasoline prices, shortages, and other problems. As Roger says we will see private companies undertaking crash programs to take advantage of the new situation and offer improved products. And we will also see a sort of Manhattan Project from the U.S. government to try to come up with some sort of new energy source.

In the end I think many of Alan's proposals, unlikely as they might seem in today's climate, will be accepted and rushed into action. There's nothing like economic pain to motivate change. And such an announcement will provoke enormous and inescapable pain.

Halfin, you are assuming a specific reaction for which you have little justification so far. I certainly do hope you are correct about Alan's proposals but I will not bet on it.

As for Roger, he is romanticizing his youth, a period through which I also lived, as an adult. It was not romantic. We have never, ever experienced sustained 2% or greater declines for more than a few years tops. This will be different than anything you can imagine. If demand destruction removes 2% consumption from the marketplace, it may still not be enough as production may drop by as much as 3.3% annually through 2020 (according to Baktiari). All the yammering about the 1980s overlooks the fact that our consumption grew, albeit very, very slowly from 1980 to 1990 and that the period of the actual decline in consumption was the worst recession since the Great Depression according to many economists. What happens when the decline never stops, Halfin? Prices fell because production ROSE. Prices will NOT fall because production will NOT rise. Roger's romantic mythology is so full of holes that you could drive a tractor-trailer through it.

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

When TSHTF, the response will be clutching at straws, individually and collectively.

I want to preposition some ideas and concepts so that some of the straws grasped will have value with positive results. Enough energy (physical and social) will be wasted on dead ends and scams. Let us maximize the percentage that has real value.

WesTexas has made an invaluable contribution at the individual level with ELP. I am trying to do more at the collective level.

We have a tool that has not existed before (The American Revolution ahd "Committees of Correspondence" and did reasonably well with pen written letters carried by horse and sailing ship). I want to use this tool, this virtual community, as a way of establishing valid ideas (RR had an impact on corn ethanol) and spreading them.

Are we assured of success ?

HE11 NO !

But I chose to try.

Best Hopes,


Alan, I admire you for trying. I hope you succeed but I don't expect it. But if I may be so bold - in my personal opinion, you might succeed at the regional level centered around New Orleans. I'd tell you to focus your efforts there to the exclusion of all else because I do not believe we can save it all but some of us may be able to save small pieces of our world.

Best of luck, sir.

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

Hi Alan,

re: "Let us maximize the percentage that has real value."

Yes, yes and yes.

Watch Japanese car companies reverse engineer the Chevrolet Volt and Calcars plug hybrids.
Watch them build several models and sizes of said reversed engineered car.
Watch them sell millions

How do you reverse engineer a car that doesn't exist?!?
The volt is a concept car, its an empty shell. It probably had to be pushed into the showroom.

You won't see the Japanese, Chinese, or even Korean car manufacturers build "several models and sizes" of the volt concept because the technology doesn't exist. (and all these next gen battery techs are barely up to the task even if they mature as quickly as some hope).

An oil shock doesn't increase the likely hood that such technology will be invented, but decreases it. (law of receding horizons and all)

The Volt isn't a technological silver bullet that will save "happy motoring." I doubt its even a silver BB.

Sad to say you are correct. Previously I had posted that GM would go with the Volt because it would be cheap to build but the word around town is that its not being worked on at their design building. Wagoner said it himself, they needed a big breakthrough in battery tech to pull it off.
Edit Actually it had a golf cart motor.

Actually it had a golf cart motor.

I stand corrected. The Japanese should be able to reverse engineer that :-)

Where did you find that info? I've been dying to find out what was under the hood in that thing.

GM would go with the Volt

Errr....I thought there was some kind of press release saying GM was not gonna ship 'the volt'.

They have always publicly claimed to be 100% commited to the project. So if there was a press release saying otherwised I haven't seen it.

I do know other industry insiders have expressed doubts as to wether or not GM can do it. Notice all the other car makers won't touch this thing with a ten foot pole.

Basically it was just a PR stunt that got out of hand. They never expected it to get the sort of attention it did and now are caught holding the ball.

?Go to library.

Naw, for this example I don;t need to.

Go to the "dusty section" where there are books and magazines depicting the world as it was, 1978-80.

Paraphrasing form a 1980 book about Bicycling:

Bikes in the 1920's help provide womens liberation as they obtained mobility.

Bikes are the future because or rising gas prices.

When gas was $3.50 locally, I had interest (but no buyers) in electric bicycles. Now, I can't get a 2nd look at electro-bikes.

And I don't see enough women on bikes. I can't get "my" woman on a bike. Unless its Friday. And electrified. (perhaps she doesn't wanna be liberated?)

I would start with looking at EU countries who have worked this successfully - and the obvious one is DENMARK. Basically they have massive conservation and still 50% or so of the GNP growth. The USA should copy this example 100% - and that would be a great starting point. Even the Wall Street Journal seems to agree - see their article on DENMARK this past week !!

Now - because the USA when we set our minds to a task, can accomplish it in half the time - Our DENMARK goal is 1oyrs instead of 20yrs - which the Danes took. We might have had 20yrs but we waited 10 yrs to start. OK we must play catch-up ! Now at +10yrs and with the equivalent of DENMARK the USA-DEN needs to now duplicate that result the next 10 years. That is the goal. We must go down this path. Also - NO MORE WARS - because they simply drain resouces and cost a Trillion Dollars every 10yrs. Better to spend this on emulating and copying Denmark.

We need to WAKE UP the public. We need to only elect a President who can take the big pledge as his Number one campaign issue. It is fine if both parties have candidates - I hope they do. THIS ISSUE IS NOT POLITICAL.

That is my plan.

If you haven't read the article on Denmark, it is very interesting.

I alternate between the Matt Savinar and Alan Drake camps regarding the future.

I suppose I hope that we can implement Alan Drake's plan, but I am afraid that Matt may be right.

On the other hand, we have positive success stories like Denmark.

The huge impediment to implementing anything like the Denmark plan in the US is the massive lobbying power of the various parts of the economy that are so dependent on the profligate use of energy. For example, I think that Denmark has a 100% tax on new vehicles. I wonder how that would go over in the US?

A local guy here in Dallas who has a radio show focused on the auto industry says that we need more highways in order to reduce congestion, and every Saturday morning he attacks Peak Oil--saying we don't have to worry about it for at least 50 years.

The surest path to failure is failing to try.

I do not know the odds of even limited success (making a terrible situation a bit less bad, and having something that functions with which to build a future on); but I know the odds are worse if I do not try.

Sometimes it is better to try your best, to give your all to exhaustion and self destruction, and fail than not to have tried at all.

That is my basic attitude towards post-Peak Oil. And New Orleans.

Best Hopes,


As I've said before, Alan you are a saint.

The surest path to failure is failing to try.


The surest path to failure is to have your head in the clouds or in the ground. Most folks have it in the ground. "Peak what?" The folks proposing political solutions or mitigation strategies have their heads in the clouds.

What happens when you have your head in the clouds? Well you can't see reality, you can't see what is already going, where the arc of current events (trillions on war) is taking us: 20,000 nuclear bombs amid a global financial/geopolitical framework coming apart a bit more with each passing year. Fast forward 20 years . . .

Back to my key point, sorry for rambling: when you refuse to accept the grim reality, then whatever it is you decide to "try" is based on a severely faulty, out-of-date, poorly constructed map. This means you are WORSE off than if you just sat still and did nothing.

Dammit Matt, stop making sense. On the other hand, where would we be TODAY without good intentioned, selfless folks, even such as yourself? If I hadn't stumbled on your website a couple years back I would have totally clueless about PO and wouldn't even have what provisions I've made. So if by some miracle some of us survive whatever is barrelling down at us from the unknown future, we'll have the likes of you to thank ...or blame :-)

Hi Chimp,

I hope you caught my sincere reply to you the other day.


re: "This means you are WORSE off than if you just sat still and did nothing."

What do you see as worthwhile to do?

Have you made a statement about the fact (if you think it's a fact) that all 6plus B of us can't follow you to your (as yet) undisclosed location.

Given that, do you have ideas based on reality?
edit. here's what I wrote: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2446#comment-181146

A lot more folks will think like you when things heat up. There's a lot of slack and waste in the system, even tho we're stuck with our flat (suburban) infrastructure. E.g., one large retailer (Starbucks?.. story was years ago, I don't recall) created a data set of its employees' home-to-work patterns among its many branches and created a job-swap market of sorts that resulted in a reduced avg. commute.

Something like this can be used by any number of multi-unit organizations, like school systems, to move fungible jobs around to save energy.

There are any number of these "once-only" adjustments that are social/organizational in nature that can provide cheap, instant demand destruction. The savings from each of these "time-buyers" is small, but it's likely that hundreds of them will crawl out of the woodwork when they're needed.

I alternate between the Matt Savinar and Alan Drake camps regarding the future.

I suppose I hope that we can implement Alan Drake's plan, but I am afraid that Matt may be right.

They are not mutually exclusive.
You can prepare a life boat without giving up hope in humanity.

It seems to me the most logical choice. Do both, don't keep all you eggs in one basket sort of thing.

Alan's model seems to be based on large scale political strategies. I think of this as hand waving, albeit very well-articulated hand waving that MIGHT have been worth the energy expended 25-to-50 years ago.

My model is we're basicaly fucked. If you can get yourself in a lifeboat in a part of the ocean not likely to be blasted by the nuclear exchange(s) then by all means do so and please drop me a line letting me know what you've figured out.

Dear Matt,

I know precisely where to go, and precisely what to do (with my skill set) to intergrate into the local society before TSHTF. What house to build (with what features; duplex at least, perhaps triplex) and pretty close to where (just outside largest town, within easy bicycling and decent walking distance but enough acreage to feed small group & speciality food to trade). I even checked a few places for micro hydro to supplement their renewable power.

Their local culture & organization should stand up well under the stresses of post-Peak Oil (bad version). An overlooked item on most checklists.

An interesting intellectual exercise that I have shared with a FEW friends; but one does not want the lifeboat swamped.

But I decided to eschew saving my neck above all else, and enjoy the cuisine and music of New Orleans instead :-)

What profited a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul ?

Best Hopes,


alternate between the Matt Savinar and Alan Drake camps regarding the future.

I suppose I hope that we can implement Alan Drake's plan, but I am afraid that Matt may be right.

Based on events of the last 5 years, which map do you think is the most accurate reflection of facts, events, financial flows, etc on the ground?

Similar question: given the arc of the world's financial flows - which can be summarized as trillions to make the problem(s) worse but only billions to make them better - where does this arc land us in 5, 10, 20 years . . .?

I'm not too fond of thinking about the end of the road myself but it is usefull/necessary if one hopes to positon themselves and any progeny in the first level of hell as oppossed to the seventh level of hell.

If somebody is reading from Alan's map, they are much more likely to end up in the seventh level than in the first.

Of course, there is no guarantee having an accurate map will get you to the first level of hell. However, if you are armed with a fundamentallly inaccuarte map then the chances of getting out of the seventh are greatly diminshed.

"National 50 mph speed limit for the next decade (likely to be renewed unless things turn out “better than expected”)."

Why? This isn't the '70s. Most cars get their best milage at speeds higher than 50 MPH.

My old V8 dinosaur from the 80s (V8, 5speed manual) got it's best milage at about 70mph (28 mpg). I don't road trip much any more, but I have to believe that another 20 years of technology has improved things even more.

My personal opinion is that the current 65-ish limit (depending on your state) is probably in the right range. Just enforce the limit we have.

Then your old V8 defies the frictional force which always increases relative to increased speed. Ever try driving it at say 45mph which is probably the low end for your 5th gear?

My personal opinion is that the current 65-ish limit (depending on your state) is probably in the right range. Just enforce the limit we have.

What? You Americans haven't federalised the laws of physics as pertain to wind resistance yet.

Another reason for a 50mph speed limit (in addition to the law of parasitic drag that increases with the square of the speed) is to make driving less pleasant, so people will do less of it.

Half of all rental units aren't oriented for solar hot water. Not thought out all that well, and I can just see all the 'copper' on roofs in inner cities....life expectancy before it is stolen - maybe 2 days?????

Someone has to be joking? When rental units in many cities go for a couple hundred bucks a month, no one is going to be interested in doing thousands of 'improvements' per unit to be able to sell them. All sorts of shell companies will arise that will never 'sell' anything but the leases. But probably we can knock down all the low cost rental units with poor energy efficiency and sell them to the new yuppies moving back into the city, in high energy efficient condos with private parking spots.. (which they can on the sly lease out to their friends who work nearby)......

I have no clue where all the low income folks go.....after they have been displaced.
To the suburbs, to occupy houses with 12 or 15 in each house, commuting in gigantic electric powered buses to factories somewhere??

The gov't has controlled energy efficiency by the requirements of the loan purchase guarantees. If your house doesn't meet certain standards, the gov't won't buy the loan. Nothing more is needed, within reason.

The author really missed the boat on moving truck transport to rail. Fist thing is design and implement new rail lines where needed...right through cities, suburbs....don't worry about the screaming, put in the rail lines and electrify them. Then get 90% of the trucks off the road. Build feeder lines to the railroads in every town. Rebuild passenger rail service.

Put in high speed trains between airports and start to reduce airports, especially in the Mid Atlantic corridor.

CAFE up 50% instantly? What planet does he live on? At best, you have a five year engineering cycle, and there isn't enough nickel or lithium capacity in the world to make all the hybrid batteries.

Too many not to well thought out proposals on the back of his morning coffee spilled napkin...

Unintended Consequences:

Banning the incandescent lightbulb may be counterproductive: CFLs are efficient, but they do not handle being turned on and off gracefully. It shortens their life considerably. I don't know the embodied energy of incandescents vs. CFLs, but I bet it's higher for CFLs (more material, more electronics) and I guarantee you that CFLs are more toxic per unit. Forcing people to put CFLs in spaces with lights on occupancy sensors, or in places where they will be cycled frequently and aren't left on for an extended period of time, may well do nothing for energy use while increasing the production of toxic trash.

Requiring on-demand hot water heaters is also likely to cause problems. Although the eliminate standby losses, they require time to warm themselves up (5-15 seconds). This adds to the water waste associated with flushing cold water out of the hot pipes, which has a direct impact on energy usage. They are poorly suited to supplying frequent, intermittent demand, which is the most common pattern of usage in residential applications. The gas ones also have a high minimum heat output, which can lead to frequent cycling and hot/cold water pulses when the load is low (e.g. a bathroom sink).

One solution might be to build on-demand water heaters with a small (2-5 gallon) well-insulated holding tank. But no one makes such a unit, to the best of my knowledge. An even better option would be a solar thermal water system backed up by a on demand heater (but in this case, you want an electric heater, because gas on-demand heaters often don't have the required turn-down capability).

Thus the 80 cent tax/incandescent bulb. I still recommened incandescents for closets (on for 2 to 5 minutes at a time, once or twice/day). Not a total ban, but a tilt towards CFLs and LEDs (my night lights and "TV watching" light are LEDs).

Where I have recommended the Bosch 1600H, the results have been good. In two cases, the compact size has resulted in relocation and brought the hot water closer to the load. Wasting a quart (.9 liter) or so of cold water is of no importance in New Orleans and of limited impact even in Phoenix.

Best Hopes,


Alan, the system can handle it... instead of a flat $.80/bulb, try "a penney a watt" or something similar, indexed of course.

"A penny a watt". Yes, a better idea !



Throw non-producing areas of Iraq to the wolves.

Destabilize Iran's Mullahs in an attempt to start a revolution of young people inclined to democracy.

Find more reasons to take out chavez.

.....not what I would do mind you, but what I see being done +/- 5 years.

Oh yeah....Massive taxes and economic problems :)

You guys got me with the headline I thought you were serious.

Washington State, USA

I have been following the excellent work here on The Oil Drum for over a year, and want to join the discussion with this first post.

King Abdullah actually did make an announcement last Saturday, April 14.


Or Google: King Abdullah Saudi boost output: for other stories.

What the King said is Saudi Arabia plans to BOOST output. The story left me saying WHAT GIVES HERE!. The story says Saudi Arabia currently lifts 11 million barrels per day and quotes Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi about raising output to 12.5 million barrels a day by 2009.

From what I read here on The Oil Drum the Saudi's aren't lifting 11 million.
I came to The Oil Drum to see how the experts here account for the King's actual statement. Is it more smoke and mirrors?

The 11 million is supposed to be capacity not actual production. Note that they are currently producing 8.5 mbpd so they have 2.5 mbpd free capacity. Yes, it makes great sense to build 2.5 MORE mbpd of capacity and then let it sit idle, just in case, you know?

King Abdullah is full of crap.

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

Thanks for the clarification that the 11 is "capacity".

However every news article including Rigzone gives the headline " Saudi Arabia Wants to Boost Oil Output" which clearly deceives readers into thinking it is the 11 current production in the text.


My doctor says I need to get more exercise, and theoretically I have the "capacity" to run a marathon. However I have never run that far, and in all probability I would have a heart attack and die if I tried.

Saudi Arabia's "capacity" is the same . They will have a heart attack and die, if they try for 12.5 million bbl/day!

For the pessimists (including myself):

If we could do a quarter of what the British were able to do on the homefront during WWII, we might make it. But it would take a very big cultural change. We've spent a few decades obsessed with our own egos.

I've been reading Wartime Britain by Juliet Gardiner. I find it inspiring what homo sapiens is capable of under such adverse circumstances. I guess we need a Churchill or two as well. Maybe they'll emerge when the crap hits the fan.

Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

Great ideas--Hope some can get rolling soon. But IMO, any future plans must address maximum Peakoil Outreach: to achieve a deep public understanding of the Tragedy of the Commons, and the localized awareness of the geographic degree of Overshoot to help mitigate our tendency towards violence.

My speculation:

My Asphalt Wonderland is lagging badly in amelioration efforts, in fact, the infinite growth mindset to maximize our Overshoot is the tragic predominant theme. How best to transform this instinctive Maximum Power Principle; of Detritus MPP into a proper PostPeak Biosolar MPP?

Much of this I have previously discussed in earlier postings. Az is at the extreme ends of many resource spiderwebs--this does not bode well for most Southwesterners with the inevitable future breakdown of most of globalized trade, large scale resource hoarding, and the resultant future watershed Secessions into large, contiguous biosolar entities.

Consider that corporations routinely assess the future growth potential of each of their retail outlets: shutting down those that are money-losers, or those that have poor prospects, then shifting the recovered capital to those geographies with better future potential to maximize MPP. I would argue that the USA needs to do the same to optimize our decline and mitigate future violence levels.

Thus, the national awareness of the long-lasting SW drought from climate change and collapsing FF-spiderwebs in the Southwest needs to be addressed early to maximize cooperation. The earlier we can get some portion of the 50 million people from Southern Cal, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and other SW areas in extreme Overshoot to start the carefully planned migration to Cascadia and other areas of future survivability, the better off we are in the long run.

My rough guess is that Arizona can ecologically support only 250,000 people: once the fossil fuels are gone, the underlying acquifers are tapped out from depletion, and with the Colorado River and smaller local watersheds running at vastly reduced amounts, with planned equipment breakdowns being routine to mostly disable AZ electric grid dispersal.

Our soil is extremely poor and irrigation dependent [it is a desert!]: unfortunately, our previous best bottomland is now covered with office buildings, concrete, and asphalt. Thus, the Az transition to relocalized permaculture will take extreme efforts and much, much time-- too long, in fact,-- better to encourage the young people to an early move to an area of plentiful rains and reasonable topsoil that can be quickly enriched further by intensive human labor permaculture relocalization with 150 million wheelbarrows.

Recall my earlier posting on raising the driving age. Execution of this strategy, plus other SW targeted draconian laws that vastly restrict the opportunity of detritus MPP, should be sufficient to induce an early, but gradual collapse of the SW's economy.

I would expect unemployment to approach the 80% rate similar to Zimbabwe, but if preplanned incentives are in place to encourage early migration of the young adults to Cascadia: the rich will leave too and help finance Cascadian Biosolar MPP, thus Az unemployment could be held to 40%.

Preplanned Govt. charity should be in place to sustain minimal food, water, and shelter to reduce Az violence, but not enough to discourage the northern migration by the young. This minimal sustenance level should also be designed to vastly elevate the elderly dieoff rate by entirely natural means: transference of most of Az generated electricity from hydro and the Palo Verde nuke plant to aid Cascadian permaculture relocalization will make the weak and sick succumb from the lack of A/C and unwise and energy wasteful heroic medical measures. Young Earthmarines snipers, posted aloft in the power-towers, can easily protect these narrow grid corridors from elderly insurgent attacks or attempts to steal juice by subversive rewiring.

I would expect to be an early Az victim myself--such is life-- but it would be worth it if it helps my stepson, and young adult nieces and nephews live a more fuller biosolar Cascadian existence.

The tax laws need to be amended so that the rich are highly dis-incentivized from the building of Four Seasons luxo-bunkers in isolated fortified green zones protected by extremely proficient, 1.5 mile 'one shot, one kill' heavily armed Blackwater snipers; we must work to prevent short-sighted, short term oriented, rapacious regional warlords.

Far better to tax-incentivize the rich to adopt the Richard Rainwater strategy; deep biosolar integration into their local community so that they are accepted as beneficial equals worthy of community Earthmarine protection. This cooperative level tends to create sufficiently funded and equipped regional Earthmarine militias: long-sighted, long term oriented, ecologically aware, and protective of all watershed bioforms.

Thus, I can imagine Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Tiger Woods, and others financially banding together to encourage the Cascadian young to plowing golf courses into vegetable gardens, relocalizing towns, recycling materials, and building mass-transit. These guys can easily afford to setup small ball-bearing, wheelbarrow, and bicycling factories in Cascadia, and the young can provide the human leverage as the economy shifts to the ideal 60-75% biosolar permaculture labor mix. Tiger Woods imitating Richard Rainwater by jumpstarting a Biosolar community transformation is the far better strategy to help his children have long lives.

Concomitant with this migration is the growth of careful Az urban & suburban dis-assembly and recycling to Cascadia while FF still allow this possibility. No sense having millions of people move north to only chop down the last trees; they would take the lumber, copper, steel, and other essentials for the required transformation. This would prevent TODer Todd's worry of having to protect his private woodlot: whereby he would have to shoot wood-poachers in subzero weather in the dead of night. He could get a good night's rest instead as the Earthmarines would meter in-migration in porportion to what is reasonably sustainable to mitigate violence to desireable levels.

Similar programs such as my brief proposal could be sequentially undertaken elsewhere across the US, maybe Florida's young migration to the new Vermont Republic in anticipative mitigation of Florida's future seawater submersion. Recall my earlier posting series on Kona's Biosolar transition too.

If Peakoil Outreach becomes universal, with all the attendent awareness of voluntary birth control, energy frugality, and ecological protection being paramount to optimize the Dieoff squeeze through the Bottleneck, then entirely natural forces will direct our decline as we willingly struggle to dampen our violent tendencies to the minimum. It will not be easy, but any thinking adult should prefer to maximize the future chances for their offspring at the cost of their own sacrifice to optimize the ideal Dieoff young/elderly ratio mix.

Ants are smart enough to not labor for the elephants' benefit. The willful compression of the Humanimal Ecosystem from Detritus MPP to Biosolar MPP; the reintegration of lifestyles whereby income disparities are practically non-existent; where mutually beneficial cooperation and sharing across the spectrum should be preferred by all. This is the least we should offer to the future generations: a chance to labor during the day, but a peaceful and restful night's sleep, mostly free from invaders.

I think this is preferable to waiting until the SHTF, then the topdogs manipulating us into the '3 Days of the Condor' scenario, with the Nation's drafted young dying in unbelievable numbers on foreign shores in a futile attempt to grab FF that only the very elite will enjoy. Time will tell.

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

I don't think we should count on the government to help, at least in the beginning - Look at Katrina - the people that have remained in denial will have starved by the time the help arrives. For me I am practicing how to grow veg. in my back yard. Greenbeans look good - tomatoes not so good.

Hello Sisj,

Thxs for responding. Yes, growing your own veggies is good--please continue. It is a vital skill.

Successful Peakoil Outreach in concert with increasingly obvious PO & GW trends could spread explosively fast when a critical mass is reached. People pursuing inclusive fitness would rapidly spread simultaneously from the neighborhood or tribal level to the halls of Continental power.

Consider Las Vegas-the SW's epitome of 'something for nothing' [J. Kunstler], and in extreme Overshoot in comparison to their surroundings. When the tipping point is reached: people will stop visiting, the residents will leave in droves, and the national govt. will refuse to extend any funding to reverse this migration trend. Why flog a dying horse?

The federal funds will be mostly put to use where the people are migrating to survive in Cascadia. Vegas, the largest city in the West's Great Basin geography, will be encouraged, at all political levels, to spiral down the drain. It will become almost entirely a ghost town with much of the materials scavenged for transport to Cascadia and other areas. Converting those thousands of hotel rooms into dense, energy efficient clusters of Cascadian relocalized living quarters will be a tremendous plus.

In a time of stress, the Nevada gaming lobbyists will not be able to override the political will of 49 other states--far better they try and follow the money. It makes more sense for casinos to be built in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver than to try and keep Vegas alive. Best of all, it makes even better sense to abandon corporate gaming entirely as it generates no real material wealth and wastes tremendous amounts of resources.

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

Reality testing: Is it really true that they're building the largest shopping mall in America in Phoenix? What will it be used for after TSHTF ??

Hello Kebu77,

Do you have a link? I did a quick google, but could find no info. We are always building malls, but nothing on the scale of existing megamalls elsewhere. The police already have huge problems keeping drug dealers, pedophiles, and gang gunfights out of our existing malls. I don't think our leaders want to make this worse with a regional megamall.

I stand corrected: Scottsdale Fashion Square is listed as one of the 21 largest U.S. malls (over 2 million sq. ft. gross leaseable area) at http://www.easternct.edu/depts/amerst/MallsLarge.htm .

A former boss, now a director in Phoenix, mentioned this to me a couple of years back, in a moment of civic pride. Plans may have been canceled, or he was uninformed...

BTW... How easy it is to forget the post-war boom years to the first energy crisis. Of these 21 largest shopping malls in America, 12 opened from 1951-71, before the first energy crisis (EC), 2 more in 1975 (planned before the first EC) and only the remaining 7 after the second EC, from 1983-2005. Kinda parallels giant oil field discoveries...

create incentives for online shopping, encourage people to browse online instead of driving from mall to mall to outlet mall to outlet mall to boutique to boutique.

And wouldn't there be less inertia to overcome converting UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS delivery vehiclse to natural gas/propane/hybrid/clean diesel.

It would also create jobs for the many that will be/are disappearing.


I believe in peak oil in the near future. I believe that most of the posters on this site are smarter than I am. But, by reading this thread, I understand why you guys are not listened to. Most of your ideas are simply kooky. The tax increases, essentially legislating away the use of the auto - there will be no "wealthy" people. You will have the greatest depression in history and a consequent drop in the use of oil, probably accompanied by a huge revolution of the masses who have no meaningful lifestyle as we now know it. Come on. There are some dreamer type things that are POSITIVE that we should throw money at. Power lines with no loss of power because of near zero resistance. Nuclear fission and fusion, zero loss power lines, and all three coupled with plug in power vehicles. To generate the funds - horror of all horrors, no in cannont be, but let's drill again off of California and Florida while we are at it. Plus the ANWAR [a postage stamp sized area that is worse than the moon (oh, it is sacred ground - please anyone, describe your last visit)]. Give drilling incentives, but tax the product to generate the revenue for pie-in-the-sky new energy projects. Billions of $'s would be generated, and we will have enough oil for 20-40 years for these projects to pay off. Perhaps we need a human psychologist to weigh in. But, the scenario you paint results in "somebody" nuking 5 billion people in order for there to be enought energy for the remaining. People will not simply accept going back to a cave man existence.

"I believe that most of the posters on this site are smarter than I am." You damn us with faint praise (or is it 'feigned' praise?)

Alan suggests using what ends up being hefty gas tax SOLELY to reduce the current payroll tax on working class labor. He doesn't say 'tax increase', he says 'tax transfer'. That's a little less 'kooky' than you imply. (Yes, he mentions other taxes, but gas tax is the big one.)

When the energy crisis (excuse the Carterite expression) hits, the working-middle-class (the Clintonian formulation for our 'classless' society) will need tax relief. I think that the gas tax base is not large enough to provide this relief in any meaningful way. Alan clearly wants it to, but remember that a growing gas tax as Alan proposes gives plenty of warning, as intended, to destroy demand (That's what he wants, after all). In other words, the gas tax rate goes up, but the gas tax TAKE doesn't go up nearly as much.

That's why I suggested a carbon tax - computed at least in part in a climate-friendly way - it not only levels the playing field in terms of economic incentives (the govt doesn't pick particular energy winners, like the current ethanol scam), it's large enough to generate the tax relief that would be needed to keep everyone on board.

As for "Nuclear fission and fusion, zero loss power lines, and all three coupled with plug in power vehicles", Alan's focus is on things that can KNOWABLY be done with current technology in the current political reality. Thus, while maglev trains are theoretically faster and more efficient than conventional rail trains, Alan is focused on what we know we can do in an era of rising energy costs.

The late Richard Smalley envisioned carbon nanotube (zero-loss) power lines enabling a transition to a non-fossil fueled electric age, but all that can be made after years of effort are inches of the stuff. (It may break out, but can you really say when?)

The joke about fusion (other than Pons and Fleishman) is that "It'll be the energy source in another 30 years, and always will be." When I first heard the term Peak Oil on 5/19/03 (and after checking out farmland in NC), I emailed John McCarthy at Stanford and said we'd better get started building a bunch of nukes and electrifying the railroads. Problem is it takes years to build the nukes, and cheap oil to build them at current cost assumptions. Unbuilt nukes are like oil in the ground (ANWR, etc.) that you can't get out without a huge multi-yr investment.

Anxious, maybe, but kooky, no...
WENDY: Welcome to Jamaica, have a nice day :)

Plus the ANWAR [a postage stamp sized area that is worse than the moon

If you look close, you can see the NASA Lunar Rover. Or maybe that's a caribou.

JoulesBurn - This is EXACTLY what my point was. This picture is absolutley and TOTALLY fraudulent. If everyone on this site is so smart, then surely someone can show a true picture, which is a virtualy wasteland. There are no mountains, meadows or streams!! Are you part of the environmental nuts that put out this propaganda, since you know that a true argument would fail. Why don't you assume that maybe everybody on this site has an IQ over 80, instead of showing a picture of this idiocy. MY God, get a map and look at the area that they are talking about. This might as well be a picture from Colorado.

If its so barren of wildlife as you say then why was it designated a wildlife refuge in 1960?


The refuge supports a greater variety of plant and animal life than any other protected area in the circumpolar arctic. There is a continuum of six different ecozones spanning some 200 miles (300 km) north to south.

Along the northern boundary of the refuge, barrier islands, coastal lagoons, salt marshes, and river deltas provide habitat for migratory waterbirds including sea ducks, geese, swans, and shorebirds. Fish such as dolly varden and arctic cisco are found in nearshore waters. Coastal lands and sea ice are used by caribou seeking relief from biting insects during summer, and by polar bears hunting seals and giving birth in snow dens during winter.

The arctic coastal plain stretches southward from the coast to the foothills of the Brooks Range. This area of rolling hills, small lakes, and north-flowing, braided rivers is dominated by tundra vegetation consisting of low shrubs, sedges, and mosses. Caribou travel to the coastal plain during June and July to give birth and raise their young. Migratory birds and insects flourish here during the brief arctic summer. Tens of thousands of snow geese stop here during September to feed before migrating south, and musk oxen live here year-round.


(1) Because we are only talking about a 2,000 acre drilling site that the oil companies want out of the millions of acres in the refuge. (2) Did anybody see the "60 Minutes" episode about 4 years ago, in which one of the correspondents got into a plane and flew for 3 hours north over nothing to get there and showed the 2,000 acres as being smaller than the Dulles airport and that it is flat, with no geolocical features that would attract anyone, and frozen over 80% of the year? (3) Does everyone agree that we should take most of the draconian steps outlined in this thread and do away with life as we know it, before we actually use this potential resource?

"Does everyone agree that we should take most of the draconian steps outlined in this thread and do away with life as we know it, before we actually use this potential resource?"

Go ahead, take ANWR.

It doesn't matter.

If "life as we know it" is utterly dependent on the smallish oil deposit found in ANWR, we might as well chuck it in right now.

What did it add up to, six days' supply? Two months? Even if it's a years' worth, it won't amount to more than a very small slowing on the downslope of the peak.

Perhaps the effort of drilling for it would be better spent installing solar panels.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

IMO, ANWR should be saved for the most critical needs; AFTER we have changed "our life as we know it" (mine will need to change VERY little; cut direct oil use from 6 gallons/month to 2 to 3 gallons/month).

Diesel for agriculture (after a switch to more efficient tractors perhaps) might be an essential use of ANWR oil that I can support.

As long as I see one Hummer, Escalade, Expedition or Navigator on the road, I know that it is FAR too early to start drilling ANWR.

Best Hopes for Rational Planning,


As I recall, the 5% probability reserves for ANWR are 13 GB. The 95% number was something like 3 GB. The US consumes 7 GB per year. Even if the US cuts consumption in half, and if we get very, very lucky and the reserves are as big as the 5% probability suggests, we get less than 4 years consumption from those reserves.

Frankly, the proper response is to change the way we live, right now, urgently and rapidly so that we consume far less petroleum. Driving a car should not be considered a right. In fact, it needs to be essentially taxed out of existence as we rebuild our entire society. And note that rebuilding our society would create massive jobs.

Now you might not like it, but the vast majority of us need to live in high density urban areas for the most part and allow as much of the rest of the country to sit wild as possible for the sake of the greater ecosystem and the rest in arable farmland.

And then, we can tap ANWR but not for fuel. Not one drop for fuel. This stuff is too valuable to be burned as fuel. We need it for plastics, pesticides, and other chemical feedstock. We need to horde the stuff and dole it out slowly.

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



Time for an economist to weigh in (not me). But, I did take 15 hours back in the 60's. With regard to "tax the autos out of existence" and then rebuilding our society would create "massive new jobs:" - I remember a discussion in a freshman economics class in which the vast majority of the students thought that it would be a good idea to break up the auto companies into thousands of small manufacturers of say 10 to 20 autos a year each "because it would create a massive amount of new jobs."

My thoughts on your idea are the same as my thoughts were back then.

This might as well be a picture from Colorado.

If you think that is Colorado, then you must be Ann Coulter. Please visit anwr.org for more pictures of the Rockies.

Look, I know the coastal plain where they want to drill doesn't look like that. I know that some people on this site favor drilling for oil in ANWR. But to contend that this will provide us oil for 20 years is a fatal lie.

Perhaps you believe that the crisis can be averted by looking under every nook and cranny for the remaining oil and keeping the status quo until some great techno save (fusion or whatever). In my opinion, that is just running off a cliff.

In any case, the oil up there will be even more valuable in the future than it is now. We might as well burn everybody else's oil first.

No, the original author did NOT have a tax on 'every parking space', just 'commercial paid lots'. That did not tax suburban malls, and in fact would be counter productive.

Now, instead of having you 'one shop stop', the mall would be restricted to 'high price items' with high margins. Food is not a high margin item, so why would you, as a mall owner, want to tie up your valuable parking spots for grocery shopping? You wouldn't.

The original article said nothing about 'taxing business and mall parking spots'. Now do we tax public parking spots as well?

As to tankless heaters, my water heater crapped out after 17 years. The cost to replace my water heater would be $800 for a 'high efficiency' 40 gallon heater. The cost to retrofit it for a tankless heater would be over $3000.

My total gas bill in the months I don't heat is $20-23. Now, why would anyone in their sane mind but in something that has a payback period of longer than a human life? (oh, and that gas bill includes the two pilot lights in my two gas furnances as well).

With a houseful of people, it might pay back IF it was done initially. Now, to do it, it would take:

a) running 3/4 inch gas line into the garage instead of the existing 1/2 in pipe

b) relocating the hot water heater to an outside wall,and adding about 30 feet more plumbing pipe

c) Drilling through the side wall of garage, and putting in the special vent required

d) Having an electrician come and put in a separate circuit to the tankless water heater

It's easy to say 'everyone should have a tankless heater' and must retrofit one in every 'rental unit', but in many cases, they don't have a clue as to the cost or complexity. When then make sense for the landlords, it will be done.

Some houses have hot water off the main boiler! My sister's house works that way, as well as the summer house up north (with electric backup hotwater in the summer when the furnace is off). COmmercial buildings do it frequently too..no separate water heaters.

Price controls resulted in the 3 recessions of the 70s. Hopefully the gov't learned its lesson then.

Rationing works when you have a critical shortage. But horribly inefficently. Think martial law....wartime conditions. The gov't decides who gets what, and the black market prospers and thousands make milllions. Just look at the illegal ddrug trade to see what you would have. Largest industry in the USA...untaxed....

The Bosch 1600H does not require either a pilot light or an electrical circuit. It uses hydroelectric power from the first flow for ignition.

I have helped install three so far. Two were located on bathroom walls with exterior vents. Two on 1/2" gas lines (reduces maximum hot water flow but other wise functional; max flow never needed for 1 & 2 people). Costs for all three were less than $1,000 each.

Your future natural gas bills will be higher than those historical bills, so payback will not be as you calculated.

A federal tax of $200/space/year for commercial parking lots, increasing to an inflation adjusted $1,000/space/year

This was meant to cover all parking owned by commercial interests; malls, convenience stores, offices, paid parking lots, etc. Sorry if I was unclear.

And combined trips (good for energy efficiency and offset peak parking times (weekends are big in malls, after 5:30 PM weekdays for grocery stores) make for more effiicent use of the space wasted for parking cars.

But is also helps slowly dissolve energy wasting urban forms, like the suburbia of today. The market will trash some and transform other areas. A parking space tax will help speed things along (and help pay for gov't in the meantime).

Best Hopes,


What other actions can be made at a government policy level?

Reform of the economy is also going to be necessary. At present, capitalist economies work with monetary systems based on debt. These are fundamentally unstable, and require perpetual growth in order to avoid serious economic decline.

Without ever-increasing amounts of oil and fossil fuels, economic growth is going to come to an end sooner or later. So designing an economy, and a monetary system, which can survive without growth is all-important. See, for example,

Reform of the economy is also going to be necessary. At present, capitalist economies work with monetary systems based on debt. These are fundamentally unstable, and require perpetual growth in order to avoid serious economic decline.

*clap* *clap*

Alas, TOD doesn;t discuss trhe much. And it *IS* a tough issue. Do you beleive a cueency needs to be 'consumable'? Based on something like gold? Is fiat "ok"? On and on.

I'd love to know of a forum were such is discussed - alas, I have not seen such.

I tend to prefer currencies which are backed by something, although I think you need to be very careful in your choice of backed-currency. I am not personally in favour of a gold standard, as I find this arbitrary and not particularly useful. I do think that some sort of energy backing would make a lot of sense, though.

One proposal, which I like, is for an 'emissions-backed currency unit' for carrying out international trade. See

This would be a very useful currency for dealing with both climate change and peak oil. The Irish-based 'Feasta' (http://www.feasta.org/), the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability, which makes these proposals, has a discussion forum, although it is not very active at the moment.

An alternative proposal for a backed (by a basket of goods), non-debt-based international currency, is the Terra:

The currency used do not matter that much as long as you produce something other people want.

After the crash in 1929, there were still plenty of people willing to work and produce and there were still plenty of resources with which to produce. But despite this, millions still lost their jobs and stopped producing. The Great Depression happened, I believe, because of monetary instability. It was ended, I would argue, by governments kickstarting economic growth again by preparing for a world war.

This time it will not be possible to kickstart growth, since the resources will no longer exist. People borrow to invest for growth. They will not borrow to invest for contraction. So if the system relies on people borrowing more and more (as it currently does), then it is going to come up against major problems once growth stops.

If the current monetary system has a growth imperative, then the question, in my opinion, is how do we design an alternative monetary system which does not have this problem?

Production is not going to happen unless people have a reliable mechanism for exchanging what they have produced for something they need. So, some sort of monetary reform is going to be highly advisable for the post-peak world.

Resources ?

Look what can be built with "Coal, Mules and Sweat".

Some old photos of streetcar construction in Toronto. Still feasible post-Peak Oil (with some changes in construction).

Keele and Dundas, August 22, 1912


Queen and Victoria, July 26, 1911


Dundas west to Royce, August 2, 1912



Please note that this was in the era of Peak Streetcar (~1887-1916) when 500 US cities, towns and villages built everything from subways to short streetcar lines.

Best Hopes,

I don't really understand your point. I'm not saying that there will be no resources post-peak. I'm saying that at some point there will no further growth in the size of the world economy.

At present, the world economy grows each year. This always involves using more and more resources. In particular, it involves using more and more oil. Once oil peaks, this will obviously no longer be possible. As world oil production falls so, sooner or later, will the size of the world economy.

My point is that it will still then be perfectly possible to continue producing, but the end of world economic growth is likely to cause huge economic instability. If this economic instability is allowed to happen (even though, in my opinion, steps could be taken to avoid it), then just like in the 1930s, we will end up producing a lot less than we would otherwise have done.

Economic instability risks turning a gentle decline into a crash.

HI Coilin,

Thanks and,

re: "...in my opinion, steps could be taken to avoid it"

Could you possibly continue on with this line of thought, expand it - and share?

I'm interested.

eg. What steps?

Referring back to a piece by Larry Niven, it is just about the right time to establish the uranium standard for currency. Uranium has an extremely high energy density, so a uranium coin could honestly represent a large amount of value. The natural radioactivity would encourage people to spend quickly, enhancing the velocity of money. Phrases like, "Money burning a hole in your pocket" and "Having a hot streak at the black jack table" would take on new meanings. ;-)

First, better hope that news story dateline is after January 20, 2009. I can't imagine the present occupant of the White House doing any of that stuff, only making a stupid speech with mispronounced words.

A lot of good stuff on your to do list. The big question in my mind is whether our political system has the ability to swing into emergency mode and to provide the leadership to implement such a program quickly enough. FDR did it in 1933 and again in 1941-42, but that is it for precedents, and it is a very different country now than it was then. I wonder if any of the current crop of presidential candidates would have the ability to provide the necessary leadership? Many of them inspire little confidence.

A few other thoughts:

La Poste (the French postal service) just made a big announcement about buying a huge nuber of what look to be Neighborhood Electric Vehicles to replace their gasoline fueled delivery vehicles. Our USPS could do the same thing, and the Federal government could allow all state and local governments to piggyback on the same GSA contract; this will assure a very low per unit price. Also mandate speed limits within city & town limits on all non-Interstate streets and roads must not exceed 35 mph - necessary so that it will be safe to drive NEVs within all cities and towns.

While we are talking about NEVs, how about providing for discounts on your anti-parking measures for parking lots that provide metered recharging plugs for NEVs? Even bigger breaks if they deploy a PV panel overhead to provide electricity for the recharging during the day.

Another idea: Offer a $100K prize to the winner of a competition for the best-designed carpool facilitation website.

A further idea with regard to NEVs for the USPS:

Install PV pannels over USPS parking facilities, and park the NEV delivery vehicles underneath during daylight hours to recharge. Reschedule mail deliveries for evenings, after the NEV delivery vehicles have been recharged during the day. This approach would match PV energy supply with load (a major challenge for PV systems).

This thought should open our minds to a whole range of possibilities. The way we did things during cheap fossil fuel days is not necessarilly the way that makes sense in the days of expensive fossil fuel and transition to renewable energy. There is nothing engraved in stone saying that daytime postal deliveries are the only possible way that postal deliveries can be made. Some other possibilities for rescheduling:

Solar water heating will work best if the water is used soon after it has been heated up during the day. It is not going to be practical to heat water all day and then hold it until your morning shower. Thus, if we are going to get solar water heaters then we're going to need to plan to do our showers and dishwashing and laundry in the evening when the hot water is available. Commercial and institutional laundries will need to install solar water heaters, and they'll have to do most of their loads during the evening shift as well.

Why do we operate our offices, schools, and other institutions on the same schedule year round, when the hours of daylight change from a winter solstice minimum to a summer solstice maximum. If these facilities are increasingly going to depend upon passive or active solar heating and PVs to power cooling and other systems, then it would make sense for the occupancy of these buildings to match the hours of daylight. In other words, working schedules should be short between 10/31 and 2/2, long between 5/1 and 8/1, and intermediate during the remaining time periods. (These dates are the cross quarter days midway between soltices and equinoxes.)

There has been much discussion about the best method of storing surplus power generated by PV arrays and wind generators. This is the wrong approach. A better approach is to apply the power when it is available toward useful work that will store potential energy in another more easilly storable form. For example, some municipal water systems have storage tanks to buffer supply and demand and to maintain system water pressure through gravity feed. Every system should have such storage tanks, and many could use more and larger tanks. The tank capacity of these systems should be larger than at present, because they will need to be filled by pumps that are powered by PV arrays or wind generators that run when the energy is available. In other words, the filling of the storage tanks must become energy supply driven rather than end user demand driven. There needs to be enough capacity in the system to buffer the swings between high energy and low energy input days. This is a different way of designing water systems than is presently done, because little thought is presently given to the energy used to power the pumps.

[i]The Man Who Knew; Robert W. Service[/i]

The Dreamer visioned Life as it might be,
And from his dream forthright a picture grew,
A painting all the people thronged to see,
And joyed therein -- till came the Man Who Knew,
Saying: "'Tis bad! Why do ye gape, ye fools!
He painteth not according to the schools."

The Dreamer probed Life's mystery of woe,
And in a book he sought to give the clue;
The people read, and saw that it was so,
And read again -- then came the Man Who Knew,
Saying: "Ye witless ones! this book is vile:
It hath not got the rudiments of style."

Love smote the Dreamer's lips, and silver clear
He sang a song so sweet, so tender true,
That all the market-place was thrilled to hear,
And listened rapt -- till came the Man Who Knew,
Saying: "His technique's wrong; he singeth ill.
Waste not your time." The singer's voice was still.

And then the people roused as if from sleep,
Crying: "What care we if it be not Art!
Hath he not charmed us, made us laugh and weep?
Come, let us crown him where he sits apart."
Then, with his picture spurned, his book unread,
His song unsung, they found their Dreamer -- dead.

Thanks very much for this - I had missed that one, since it isn't in the collection I have. Now I am going to have to go find a larger anthology.


And maybe I'll post this on my door tomorrow.

Aren't 50 mph speed limits too low/far? Years ago I read that manufacturers design cars to get best mileage around
the 60mph mark.

My 11yr old Dodge minivan gets 29mpg, as fast as about 64mph.
Driving 60mph for an hour gets me no increase in MPG.

Enforcement is lacking in my area. I see many driving at 75mph to 85mph.

As you drive faster the wind resistance increases. There is less wind resistance at 55 mph than 75 mph. At 75 mph it is like encountering a category 1 hurricane in your path to take away gas mileage efficiency.

At 50 mph it is a strong gale force wind that will decrease your miles per gallon.


EPA figures, for what it's worth, show the average car getting the best mileage at 50, but there is a plateau between 40 mph and 60mph, with a steep drop in mileage at speeds over 60. It is quite likely that there are a few models with a different profile. An auto with what Americans consider adequate power could be geared to run at low rpm's at 65.

"if the whole country went back to the 55mph speed limit (as we did in the first oil crisis back in the 70s) it would save the amount of oil we import from the Persian Gulf."


CHART ....


This study was done in 1999, though I am not sure if was done based on new cars or an average of cars owned at that time.


This might be the methodology behind the study:

Note table 7.21 &

Here we see the trend over yrs showing an increase of optimum speed for MPG. Note the newest data on the chart is from 1997.

Figure 7.2 has already been loaded to TOD.

New computerized automatic transmissions get a better lock up, or overdrive effect. I would assume that a 15 yr old car needs to be driven at 50 or 55 mph to get best MPG.

Anybody know the US fllet average age ? 'bout 10 yrs old ?

I think its clear that a 50 mph limit would inhibit MPG of newer cars, sort of a disincentive to buy a new/er car... no ?

You're putting the Cart before the creation of the horse and wheel:

1. KSA would never make such a public announcement because their would be an immediate revolt to toss the royals out of power and lynch them. The Saudi public is not going to like to hear that the royal family has given away its only marketable asset away to a bunch of infidels. Many Saudis believe they have been corrupted by Western culture and this announcement would be the excuse to trigger a revolution.

2. Many exporter would almost immediately stop or drastically cut exports in order to preserve thier remaining reserves for there own future domestic consumption.

3. Virtually every stock market on the globe would crash as it would signal and end to global economic growth. Credit would dry up and lending for mitigation projects would be unobtainable. Available Gov't resources will be directed to social services instead of mitigation projects in order to deal with the sudden social, economic, and lifestyle changes forced upon the public.

Before any plans to cut energy use, geopolitical forces will caused forced energy constraints as oil becomes intangable. There would be insufficient resources to begin mitigation programs. This is why many in the past suggested to start migitation programs well before global production declines.

At this point, our fate is sealed and no one is going to make any changes until they are force to do so. As soon as the world recognizes declining energy resources, oil will cease to be tangable and the game is up.

Assuming we will have a functioning government, we need a strong population policy for the long term:
--Repeal all refugee laws
--limit immigration to 500,000 per year, based solely on skills. End birth citizenship for illegal immigrants, and deport them.
--A tax exemption for one child, nothing for the second, and a penalty for the third.
--For convicted first time felons, require vasectomy as a condition of early parole. For second convictions, require vasectomy before release at end of sentence.
--Strongly encourage abortion for people who are not suitable parents mentally and financially.

What is a Peak?

This US EIA-DOE chart shows Saudi production of liquids above 11 mbod in 2006. Crude and associated + non-associated gas liquids production seems to be increasing. It does not show any sort of OPEC cut. I think it might be an estimated curve rather than an actual curve.


The US government has been wrong before in not recognizing the spurious reserves theory as they do not have any data. How far off might the production figures be, or are those accurate? Again I do not think they have data, but were reporting supposed capacity.


King Abdullah announced a few days ago that they wanted to increase capacity to about 12.5 mbod.


It is strange that the author of the article assumed that Saudi Arabia was pumping 11 mbod after two OPEC cuts. There is too much disinformation. Saudi Arabia already noted that they were experiencing 8% depletion per annum in existing fields. The new announced projects coming onstream cannot offset all of the announced depletion.

Contradictions indicate someone is wrong, if not both are wrong.

The parking lot tax makes little sense.

When prices of gasoline skyrocket, folks will normally beggin to carpool to reduce costs. Riding 5 miles in a carpool is likely to be as 'fuel efficient' as riding mass transit that takes you 15 miles to get there - hub and spoke system that most cities seem to have. Just the price of fuel will 'incentivize' people, if you want to use that 'government speak', to buy more efficient cars (for the purpose - a 10 person van may be the most efficient choice for a carpool).....and to carpool/vanpool.

Mass public transit is not always the best or wisest choice. Folks will make choices based upon dollars and other considerations.

Your fascination for 'high end' fixes for problems leaves out many other improvemtns (depending upon the lcoation). For well under $2000, most houses here could have added 'radiant heat barrier' installed in attic which would drop eneryg usage bills greatly. No need to force them to install 'geothermal heat pumps' at $18,000 a piece with some houses with 2 and sometimes 3 of them.

Your apparent 'hatred' for parking spaces makes no sense either. A car sitting in a parking lot, while folks are doing various types of shopping in a mixed usage mall (mayabe getting haircut, food shopping, visiting hardware store, kids at movie, etc), make no sense. You mean someone there with a 60mpg Smart Car gets the shopping mall taxes the same as someone arriving in a van pool with 10 people in the car? You would drive all 'low margin' business literally out of business.

As to road construction, it is highly energy intensive. If the price of energy doubled, road construction would likely halve. States and local gov't would be hamstrung by escalating fuel bills for every other public service (police, fire, ambulance, heating buildings and schools, cost of new construction, maintenence, etc).

It costs $$$$ to run the machinery to build the roads. Concrete is horrendously energy intensive. You don't have to 'stop' road construction. It will stop on its own, and as traffic declines, the demand for more roads will decrease.

What you saw in the 1970s as far as actions peopole took will likely be the same. Buying plastic storm windows first..then upgrading as they reallize it is not 'temporary'. Buying more efficietn cars eventually.

As to 'car ownership', I just sold my 17 year old Honda Accord. For the last six years, total maintence cost was well under $100/year. Put 3 new tires on it in the last 6 years, changed the oil once a year, put new starter on it, and new battery. That is all. Was waiting for it to die. Never did. Still running fine. If you only had liability insurance, the 'cost to own' would have been measured at well under $500/yr. I bought it new. $14000. Sold it for $1000 after 17 years. A few batteries, a few sets of tires, one half axle, one relay....changed the antifreeze every five years, air filters at 15K, changed the timing belt/water pump at 80K miles, new plugs at 100K miles, and that was it. Breakdowns? None. Newer cars are just as good. $8000/yr to own a car? Never.

New car is 2001 Buick LeSabre with 150,000 miles. Only repair in 6 years - power window motor. Annual cost to operate....gas....oil change every 5000 miles. Changed plugs at 100K miles. Air filter every 30K miles. Fuel filter every 50-60K miles. Oh, it needed new brakes at 135,000 miles - $180. Two sets of tires so far as well. Cost to operate? no where near $8000/yr. Even including depreciation to zero, total cost per year including insurance well under $4.5k/yr. Of course, it gets cheaper year after year, and will drive it to 200,000 miles. last one went 203,500 before I sold it (1994).

People won't change much until gas hits $5 or $6/gallon.

The rest of the world will suffer more and first.


re Tankless water heaters

Great that your installation of 3 tankless water heaters went so well.

Try coming to Dallas, TX, where all the pipes are run in the slab (or under it actually). The hot water pipes pop up in the bathroom through the slab for the tub, sink, and second sink in the second vanity.

Then try the kitchen with an island.

Then try the 2nd bath.

Then try the bath at the other end of the house. All the plumbing is under the slab, and you would literally have to re-plumb the hot water system in the house to be able to get 'hot water' to the necessary spots, running pipes through the attic (where they could freeze).

In addition, one bathroom is isolated from the rest of the other places that use hot water, and the kitchen stands by itself away from outside walls.

Separate tankless water heaters in Dallas suburbs are going nowhere fast!. In addition, I'd have to run about 200 feet of gas line, plus run additional a/c wiring likely to each of 4 locations, plus the kitchen would still be a problem, and I haven't mentioned the laundry room which is 20-30 feet away from everything else.

What works for some is not universal and shouldn't be 'generalized' as a cure. The whole house tankless heater would have been 4 times as much as a conventional one, and I use very little hot water!

With the current run up in ocpper prices, tankless water heaters will likely climb another hundred or two in price as well.

The point of a tankless water heater is to prevent heat storage loss from the tank.

The rest of your system would lose the same heat in either case.

Additionally for a given water voxel flash heating is yet more efficient than a tank.

I counted 8 sinks and two showers in my house (and a washer
and soon-to-be hydronic HVAC booster). But I don't use 'em all simultaneously.


(Great post Alan!)

The rest of the world will suffer more and first

An interesting conclusion to your remarks and what supports that position ?

Among the major oil users, I think that you are wrong.

Russia consumes half their production and exports the rest. Oil production goes down some, domestic consumption goes up, exports way down, but higher prices let Russia come out OK.

The EU uses about half the oil that the US uses per person, and per unit of economic activity. The EU sells more than they buy and they sell things that oil exporters want.

Most of the EU can easily reduce oil consumption without disrupting their society (perhaps someone has to take 11 minutes longer to get to work by tram instead of driving).

And the euro is the first currency that other nations want to hold instead of US dollars.

For the oil that the EU meeds to avoid suffering (remember that they can cut back some with little pain), they can outbid the US.

China exports a LOT and they import mainly raw materials. they are working VERY hard to export to oil exporters. (Angola is the only nation that might increase oil exports by over 1 million/b day. A half million Chinese are working on construction projects there today and they got the most recent off-shore oil lease).

China has $1 trillion but they have said that they want no more. Instead they have said that they will use their trade surpluses to buy metals and oil (and euros & yen) for stockpiling.

Japan uses far less than the US per capita and per unit of GNP. They export more than they import today; they make things that oil exporters want. And the yen is mentioned when oil exporters talk of "diversifying" their foreign exchange holdings. Japan bought up most of Brazils' future ethanol exports a week before Bush's visit.

The US runs a massive trade deficit (we buy $3 for every $2 that we sell) and has saturated the world with dollars. We use twice as much oil per person as most everybody else. And we have no easy alternative ro oil for the vast majority of Americans.

Buying more efficient cars eventually

It takes 15 years to change over cars (on average) and new efficient cars available today still burn oil. Run the #s and changing the fleet into "more efficient" only works if the oil AVAILABLE TO THE USA declines slowly and evenly (no Katrinas, Iran bombings, Saudi revolutions). Remember that the US must outbid others for the available oil exports.

People won't change much until gas hits $5 or $6/gallon

$6/gallon will look cheap, possibly VERY cheap several years post-peak Oil. And because, as you said, Americans (not "people") will not change until they can not afford not to change and CHANGE TAKES MANY YEARS we will suffer for years as we make the required changes (if we can, in fact, change in a second Great Depression).

Other "people" ARE changing today (and other "people" are paying over $6/gallon today)


Open link in another window. Mulhouse is a town of 111,300. the region seems to be about 250,000. The red line opened in 2006, the blue is under construction, the solid yellow is an electric regional train that will take people to the high speed electric TGV trains in 2010. The dashed yellow are future plans that may be built.

A year ago, one could only walk, bicycle or take a car or bus to get anywhere. In a few years, many people can live quite comfortably with a few drops of lubricating oil. They will have a non-oil transportation alternative.

Mulhouse is NOT a major urban center (all of which have good to excellent Urban Rail systems today in France) but France is preparing even small towns for living with minimal oil.

The purpose of the parking lot tax is to slowly dissolve suburbia and drive (pun intended) people out of their cars and into walkable neighborhoods. You assume that everyone will drive everywhere in the future, I do not.

It will be a long slow process, as oil steadily increases to "unbelieveable", and unaffordable levels.

BTW; I drive a 1982 Mercedes Benz 240D, manual transmission. When I topped off the tank last month, 86,699 miles. 30 to 31 mpg in the city and I burn about 6 gallons/month. Baring an accident, this car should last me for the 30 or so years of driving I have left. I bet that I can outbid you for the 2 or 3 gallons/month that I really need ! $25/gallon would be reasonable and quite affordable for me. What about you ?

The free-market will handle all of these issues. There is no need for more government regulation or higher taxes. Let us citiens and corporations choose the direction of our energy, not government.

"50 MPH speed limit" ??? - I hit 50 in 3rd gear and still have 3 more to go in both my sports car and sportbike. Let the free market price gasoline into the $10's or more. Then maybe I'll change my driving habits. But don't regulate what I can and can't do.

Basically, if I can afford gasoline, you have no right to tell me what I can and can't do with my property.

The best thing our government can do for peak oil is to throw out all of these environmental lawsuits and let individuals and corporations build any and all types of energy infrastructure that we want to: wind, solar, nuclear, LNG, etc., etc.

Less government regulations will make Peak Oil easier for us to deal with. Big Government will only crush us.

The free-market will handle all of these issues. There is no need for more government regulation or higher taxes

Absolutely true! No question about it!

There is only one small issue with who will benefit:

Let the free market price gasoline into the $10's or more.

Do you want to give your money to countries who do not particularly like you, or do you want to invest it in your own economy?

If you don't want to raise gas tax, then the free market will do it for you. And you will be working for those nice guys who own the oil. And in 20 years from now, gas will be 10$ per gallon, no matter if it's due to the government or due to the free market. So the outcome is the same.

So the question boils down to: Who do you want to work for?

Just a small detail.

I honestly don't care. I'll buy my gas from the lowest bidder, whether that is Venezuela, Iran, etc. That's what's so wonderful about a free-market: everyone can compete equally.

And do not confuse "investing in our own economy" with "US government taxing the hell out of its citizens." The most inept and wasteful spender of money is government. And the bigger the government, the more wasteful it is. Besides, any money allocated for a "energy trust fund" will be stolen anyways. Just look at Social Security. Most likely it will be spent on the military to expand the empire.

That's what's so wonderful about a free-market: everyone can compete equally.

Where is this 'free market' you speak of?

I'd like to observe it.

I honestly don't care.

I'm very sorry to say, but it is not really interesting whether you care or not.

Currently the US is importing 1-2% of GDP on oil. If oilprice goes up 3-4 fold, your dollars won't be worth much anymore, pushing the oilprice in dollars even higher.

That means you won't be buying gas from anybody anymore, since you will be out of a job.

So instead of quoting some free-market one-liners, you should be thinking about walking.

Because that's what you will be doing.

you have no right to tell me what I can and can't do with my property

Ummm, maybe - but that argument tend to lead to such jurisprudence problems as allowing people to murder, provided they use their own weapon.
If you are damaging the commons, you should pay for that too. By excessively using FF you are damaging the commons, both by contributing to GW and by making the world a more dangerous place through your nation's adventures in the middle east (and presumably other targets when TSHTF).

1-3 year improvement: Additional gas tax of about 3-4$/gallon. Works very nicely. People will buy cars like this

It will get you 50 mpg (this is not a hybrid, mind you) and if the factory installs a 'stop and start' option in there, even more.

Looks good doesn't it?

One small remark: This car has a Toyota engine, and is made by Citroen. So you could call it "Vaguely French". I hope that's not a problem for the average patriot in the good old US of A?


Hello everybody,

After reading this whole discussion I had a few thoughts and no idea where to put them so I'll just stick it at the end. First let me say great post by Alan Drake. Also, AlanfromBigEasy's work is exceptional. I really wish all of his suggestions could be implemented. BUT, I am doubtful. Here in IL for example, our transit system is crumbling. Meanwhile, IDOT just released its next Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) which includes approximately $10 billion (http://www.dot.state.il.us/). This $10 billion basically just keeps the bridges from falling down and the roads resurfaced (sort of). Not much for transit. I think a couple people mentioned the rising construction costs in PO and the subsequent decline in road building. This is already happening.

Now as far as all those regulatory solutions.... Well let me give my perspective from the local government level. I am one of those commey planners/zonning officials who bothered those folks up thread. Now in my burb we have vast parking fields. The number of spaces is usually designed by the big stores to be 110% of peak demand. The size of the spaces is designed for the 85th percentile of vehicle (approx a Ford F-150). As rediculous as that all sounds, we still get complaints from the public that there is not enough parking and that the spaces are too narrow (this last from seniors mostly).

What I am trying to point out here is that the suburban style is very much ingrained. I think it will take a major shock to the system to get people to think differently. Even then, I expect my office to be firebombed before most in my town give up their pickup.

One ray of hope. We have a myriad of local groups who do everything from little league to helping homebound seniors. The tendency of American's to form local groups is amazing. I would expect to see help come from there before the city and the city before the State and so on up the chian.

"No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist. He has too much to do." (Bill Levitt - 1948)

"Even then, I expect my office to be firebombed before most in my town give up their pickup."

This is the problem we face. To survive this, we need societal action *before* the price signals are strong enough. Otherwise, there won't be time to change.

Stuart did some nice work in this post (in case you have not read it).


The Portland Peak Oil plan discusses a 2% decline in imports (very optimistic) which still leaves us with 50% of our current oil supply by 2025 (not far). So the middle class changes from a two car per family to a one car per family.

If things follow the Export Land model we could be reduced to something more like (wild guess) 1/6th of our current supply. So the middle class goes from two cars to 1 moped.

How many years will it take to put walkable grocery and other shops near all those suburban houses so that the average middle class family can make it without doing any driving? Given your expertise, I expect you can answer that question better than anyone else here. Is 2025 far enough out? If you started today? If you started in 2010? 2015?

I think WestTexas is right, we are going to have to sort suburbs by some kind of triage list. Focus on the older ones that already have corner brownstones, and the rest, well...

For general TOD info:

"Limits to Growth: The 30 year update" has a whole chapter on "6: Technology, Markets, and Overshoot". And why the invisible hand cannot save us. Basically, the issue is time lag for implementing corrections is not signaled soon enough to avoid overshoot.

Last time I checked oh 2003 ANWAR did not have trees, it's something about being north of the arctic circle. But it does look like Alaska.

Alan Drake,
Great posting, hard to see this being real, it real it would send a shock wave of through out the world.
Thank goodness it would take a while for America to catch on, what's happening.

I see it like watching late night television, when the warning commercial comes on and beeps then says , THIS IS A TEST, REPEAT THIS IS ONLY A TEST FOR THE ALARM OF PEAKED OIL.

Also great comments from other people posting.



This is utter BS.
Thinking that some gov. programs and incentives can "solve peak oil" is worse than ignoring it. There is no solution long term.(100yrs)

We are truly F*ed.

There are WAY too many of us and there is no other way out other that population reduction.

If us losers on the Oil Drum can figure that out then you can bet that the people who are really in power know this.

Get ready for a super disease that wipes out billions....

Get ready for a super disease that wipes out billions....


Prince Phillip says he'd like to come back as a virus that kills billions.

Thailand comment: I live in Phuket, Thailand. I have lived in Thailand for 7 years now. The car is still well and truly god along with a big face. There are some large cultural hurdles that must be brought down in Thailand before the cars become smaller-let alone less. The car mentality is a bit like the US in the 1950's-except that the cars here are parked a lot of the time in the driveway making the homes that people live in look good, rather than riding the range.

Bangkok may be undergoing a public transport overhaul (with questionable integration of services), but provincial centres like Phuket (the most famous and richest province) are way behind. Right now the roads are getting wider and the traffic is travelling faster (some new roads don't have line markings). It is a deadly, toxic roadshow circus here (I ride a moped scooter....those of you in Thailand are probably wondering how come I am still alive).

The upshot is that when the oil crunch comes there is going to be plenty of space for pedestrians, bikes, buffalos and clean, efficient mass transport systems. Hey, a chicken may even be able to cross the road in safety again. Village life may even be restored. I'd love to see the buffalos staring majestically into the morning sun again. I live for that day.


After cleaning up a messy coffee stain and vainly trying to log onto TOD, what to do?

Nothing different then usual. PO is an decadeslong event, not a momentary one.

Very good post, I agree with most of your ideas.

Here are some of my own;

i)Create a very fast and expensive (Manhattan or Apollo style) research program for battery/supercapacitor on the one hand, and solar cells on the other with the following targets;
a) Supercapacitor or battery with capacity of at least 1KWh/kgr costing <$30/kgr that can be recharged in max 10 minutes. Usefull life must be at least 20 years, and must contain no rare or dangerous materials and be recyclabe and safe.
b) Solar cells with at least 30% efficiency costing <$1/watt with life exceeding 30years. Global production should reach over 100GW/year.

ii)Emmediatly make geothermal heat pumps and solar roofs mandatory on every new building, and provide incentives for reffiting older ones. Tax into oblivion oil/gas heaters and air conditioners that do not use chilled water.

iii)When PHEV or pure EV vehicles cost less that $20k, tax everything else with a 100% VAT at least + CO2 tax/km.

iv)Ban all plants like corn that have an EROEI of less than 5 when used for energy production, are not sustainable and are edible.

v)Ban all new coal plants after 2010, decomission all existing ones until 2030, unless they sequester at least 95% of their CO2 emissions. Any remaining oil and natural gas plants must be decomissioned by 2040.

vi)Heavily invest into solar power stations like the ones currently built in Spain.

If the EU and USA at least agree on something like this, then the markets that will be created are enormous, and private investment will take care of the rest.

I would add a couple of comments.

1. With ultra-low sulfur diesel now here, the government, even short of the news headline you hypothesize, needs to push diesel-hybrids.

2. Regarding a massive increase in the CAFE, in adire scenario, this does good only if the government heps the poor with some sort of buyback program to get the worst old cars off the streets.

"The point of a tankless water heater is to prevent heat storage loss from the tank. "

Great...but it would be a lot cheaper to 'super insulate' the tank rather than spend $3000 to put in a tankless water heater to avoid it. I'd venture you would also save money on gas if you had an electronic ignition - but my service man tells me it will cost me more to keep fixing them than it will save me now.

As to speed limits, many towns are laid out with 'high speed' non-interstate roads. Not every town is 'blessed' with an interstate. Here we have '75' which is 8 lanes wide, with 2 lanes either side for 'local' and acess on and off. Total of 12 lanes. Speed limit 60. The Dallas Tollroad (not an interstate). And many other roads with 40-45 mph speed limits, six lanes. The 'cure' for one area is not going to work in another.

As to postal delivery, in 10 years it may be defunct anyway as the new generation does everything on the web. Why six day a week mail? Why even mail delivery? In 20 years, who knows what the 'system' will be. In some places, mail used to be delivered twice a day, every day (business areas). That stopped. Maybe you'll only get mail within a 1/2 mile of your house in big clusters of mailboxes.

Everyone seems to be enamored of PV,but until someone comes up with something that can take a hailstorm, they are a liability in TX. The life expectancy of a roof around here is well under 10-15 years. Hail will get you. I can just see a million bucks of PV sitting on a couple acres hit by 1/2 inch hail (or bigger)...

PRice will be what determines what gets done. Nothing else. Short of national crisis, or the giving in of politicians to 'control the price of gasoline' (price controls), the price of energy will determine how fast the shift to more efficient things happens and how fast. The gov't has seldom chosen, or had the knowledge to chose, 'technology winners'.


Auto dealers are feeling the effects of higher gas prices, but they are seeing growth in Hybrid SUV sales.

What I read this as is "We don't need to conserve, we just need to switch to a better MPG SUV".

I just had a meeting yesterday with the executives of a large media company, showing them a peak oil presentation and asking them the ways they see it affecting their business (advertisers). The answers were:

1) The market will solve it, no need to act now
2) We can help get the message out when the time is needed

Um... the time is needed right now, but they aren't seeing that, so long as there isn't a "shock" to the system. It appears that the "Market" needs to take a zinger up the butt before people in positions of power will take evasive action.

So, like the old addage says... If PROgress means to move forward, what does CONgress mean?

I think www.carpoolcrew.com is just a little ahead of its time. People will need it soon enough :)