DrumBeat: April 21, 2007

Poll: Most Americans feel gas price pain - But only 1 in 5 says prices causing severe hardships.

Phil Flynn, senior oil analyst for Aleron, found the number of those suffering hardships surprisingly low, telling CNN that "the low number explains why gas demand is at a record high, despite high prices. Because for the vast majority of people, it isn't a hardship for them."

Get moving on an energy plan

The national labs have used scientific collaborations to attack a variety of extremely complex problems. Such an organization, tasked with considering the energy situation from the top down, could provide a nonpolitical, realistic plan for dealing with our current energy crisis.

James Hanson: Why We Can't Wait

The Energy Department says that we're going to continue to put more and more CO2 in the atmosphere each year--not just additional CO2 but more than we put in the year before. If we do follow that path, even for another ten years, it guarantees that we will have dramatic climate changes that produce what I would call a different planet--one without sea ice in the Arctic; with worldwide, repeated coastal tragedies associated with storms and a continuously rising sea level; and with regional disruptions due to freshwater shortages and shifting climatic zones.

I've arrived at five recommendations for what should be done to address the problem. If Congress were to follow these recommendations, we could solve the problem. Interestingly, this is not a gloom-and-doom story. In fact, the things we need to do have many other benefits in terms of our economy, our national security, our energy independence and preserving the environment--preserving creation.

Hybrid vehicles will impact industry

The U.S. military burns as much oil in six days as all of Canada does in a year. They’re burning more than 400,000 barrels every day, and they’re worried. It’s no wonder their planners are developing of hybrid diesel-electric armoured vehicles, and they have enlisted the military in Europe and Scandinavia to work with them.

Pound by Pound, Dollar for Dollar, The Complicated Equation for Going Green

Going green is the new black in 2007. Advice abounds on how to cut your carbon dioxide output and do your part in the battle against global warming. But how much does a person have to spend to go green--and what kind of environmental impact would that spending actually have?

'Green' energy boom in Germany

Great export numbers and thousands of new jobs -- Germany is expecting a 'green' economic boom sparked by its renewable energy sector.

Clean car seeks green (wealthy) driver

Rules forcing carmakers to build greener vehicles will be of no use unless measures are taken to convince consumers to buy them.

Italy Energy Demand Seen up 2% in 2007

Italian demand for oil, gas and other primary energy sources is expected to rise some 2 percent this year and will grow at least until 2020, but consumption should become more efficient, Unione Petrolifera (UP) said.

World's 'largest renewable energy city'

A farm of underwater tidally-driven turbines in New York's East River could make the city the world's largest in the renewable energy stakes.

Go slow on investing in biofuel companies, conference attendees say

The world is on the cusp of an energy revolution that could bring prosperity across the Americas and beyond. But how the revolution will play out remains unclear, and investors stand to lose plenty by betting on the wrong fuels or technologies, panelists said Thursday at a South Florida conference on Latin America.

China vs. Earth

The message is clear: Shanghai under water, Tibetan glaciers disappearing, crop yields in precipitous decline, epidemics flaring. These are just some of the dire consequences that Chinese scientists predict for their country this century if current climate change is not addressed. Yet China's leaders pay about as much attention to the issue as does George W. Bush.

Receding Horizons

[Robert Rapier] refers to this phenomenon as the “Law of Receding Horizons.”

I am grateful to whoever gets the credit for that little coinage, because I’ve been barking up that tree without a good name for the concept for a while now, and it’s an apt description of what I’ve been seeing in the energy press lately: receding horizons.

Analysis: New markets for carbon dioxide

Developing new markets for carbon will be vital to make coal to liquids and coal gasification economically competitive.

Fossil fuel feast to deliver us an even drier future

THE Murray-Darling Basin’s water crisis has reignited the debate about whether Australia’s drought is the result of global warming.

For John Howard and his Government, the jury is still out.

New Nationalization Contracts to Boost Bolivia's Coffers by $300M

The Bolivian Congress on Thursday unanimously approved 44 contracts that the government signed with 12 foreign oil companies in the framework of the country's energy nationalization policy, according to reports from La Paz.

The Ultimate System: Free Mass Transit and Congestion Pricing

WABC's John Gambling spoke with Michael Bloomberg this morning. In anticipation of the Mayor's Earth Day speech, they discussed everything from congestion charging to light bulbs. Below are some highlights from their conversation; you can download to the entire show here.

Tram backers approach Troutdale

With gasoline prices currently stuck above $3 a gallon, global warming concerns generating headlines and the Portland-metro area gripped in gridlock that only gets worse, alternative transportation methods continue to inch toward the mainstream.

But car-pooling, driving a hybrid and taking the bus all pale in comparison to Ben Missler’s 20-year renewable energy vision of building an $800 billion network of trams powered by wind and the sun across America.

More Where That Came From

Consulting group IHS confirmed as much Wednesday, when it announced that Iraq potentially holds another 100 billion barrels of oil in its western desert. That region, IHS explains, has been "substantially underexplored" because Iraq has been swimming in an oil surplus.

How many more regions are there across the globe that have been underexplored for the same reason? Peak-oil theorists have some explaining to do.

Peak Oil Passnotes: Can Oil Go to $80 Again? Why Not?

There was a 4.4 million barrel draw in gasoline inventories on the eastern seaboard and in the U.S. as a whole – the only place that really matters – gasoline rose on average by 7.4 cents per gallon, to reach a tidy $2.87 per gallon.

That means that gasoline is up over 70 cents since the start of the year and year on year we are looking at around an 11.5 per cent rise.

'Increasing natural gas consumption, Iran crisis'

The managing director of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC) Reza Kassaeizadeh warned that if the current trend in the natural gas consumption continues, the country will certainly face a crisis in the future, MNA reported.

Schlumberger profit soars 63%

Schlumberger, the world's largest oil-field-services provider, said its first-quarter profit rose 63 percent to a record as oil and natural gas producers ramped up spending on exploration.

Shell clings to China refinery investment hope

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell is working hard to gain a foothold in China's refining sector after hopes for taking a share in a new CNOOC refinery was dashed, a top company executive said on Friday.

Oh, That Crisis

I find it odd that the two most popular groups of gloom-and-doomers are diametrically opposed about the cause: the GW-ers say things are about to get very bad because we have too much oil to burn -- while the PO-ers say things are going to get very, very bad because we don't have enough.

Environment advocates urge action on climate change

Kunstler said that the first order of business should be the restoration of the passenger rail system. "No other action would have such an immediate effect on our oil crisis."

This island Earth - As ecological anxiety increases, the search for radical solutions begins

On a freezing night last November, a crush of concerned citizens packed into the General Store Café in Pittsboro for a special screening by Chatham County documentarians Tim Bennett and Sally Erickson. What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire, a bleak, relentless, ecological horror film, played to a rapt house. While most Americans shrug off global warming as somebody else's problem, at this film's conclusion the viewers sat in a circle to discuss the inconvenient truths it raised. If Bennett and Erickson were recruiting fellow foot soldiers in the battle for our planet's future, we were a Coalition of the Willing. But after the show the practical obstacles to saving the planet were all too clear: We all strapped ourselves to thousands of pounds of steel, fired up noxious internal combustion engines, and drove off into the night.

The Economic Impact of Renewable Energy

LaidLaw Energy Group, a New York-based developer of independent renewable power plants, has proposed turning the Fraser Paper Mill into a 50 megawatt (MW) capacity biomass electrical generation facility that will utilize woodchips. Because the mill's infrastructure is well suited for developing a power plant, it will be easier and cheaper for the company to construct the facility.

In search of fuel's holy grail

Biochemist Kendall Pye has devoted his long career to the modern equivalent of the alchemist's dream: a commercially viable process for transforming forest wastes into cellulosic ethanol that could replace gasoline.

Fischler not optimistic on biofuel opportunities

FORMER EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler was less than optimistic about opportunities for the biofuel industry in Europe.

Not only was Europe less than competitive in raw material price terms with soya from South America or palm oil from South East Asia, but the land requirement for alternatives in Europe was too high, he suggested at the Agricultural Engineers’ Association annual conference this week.

Sands are shifting for oil supply
Expert says we should be ready for big jump in price

Oil production worldwide peaked months ago, but figures and prices don't reflect that yet because the production of liquids stripped from natural gas has been filling the gap, [Henry Groppe] said.

But that potential is peaking, too, which means that "in several years" the world will enter a new era of higher prices.

"The only question is how high will prices have to go before there is a decline in usage?" he said.

London oil exchange to sell Middle East heavy crude

London's Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) oil market said Thursday it would launch a new crude oil contract next month for sour crude from the Middle East.

The new heavy crude contract will be priced in US dollars and sold alongside London's Brent North Sea crude and New York's main oil futures contract, light sweet crude, the exchange said in a statement.

Growing Unrest Posing a Threat to Nigerian Oil

There are few safe places left for oil companies in the Niger Delta, the epicenter of this country’s petroleum industry.

Armed rebel gangs have blown up pipelines, disabled pumping stations, and kidnapped over 150 foreign oil workers in the last year. Companies now confine employees to heavily fortified compounds, allowing them to travel only by armored car or helicopter.

One company has fitted bathrooms with steel bolts to turn them into “panic” rooms, if needed. Another has coated the pylons of a giant oil-production platform 80 miles offshore with waterproof grease to prevent attackers from climbing the rig.

Tanker fails to explode near Nigerian election HQ

A petrol tanker laden with gas detonators heading towards Nigeria's electoral headquarters stopped short of its target and failed to explode on Saturday, hours before voting was due to start in presidential elections.

Bolivia retakes natural gas pipeline

The military retook control of a natural gas pipeline to Argentina after days of violent protests at gas installations in southern Bolivia, the government said late Friday.

Fueling the Debate: Ethanol vs. Biodiesel

This past week offered a perfect synopsis of the continuing debate over whether ethanol or biodiesel is the preferred biofuel of the future. Determining which fuel is better, though, is about as helpful as determining whether running or swimming is the healthier exercise option -- since both, of course, are beneficial. Both ethanol and biodiesel will reduce our reliance on traditional fossil fuels and will help cut down on harmful emissions. So how do they differ, and what really are the benefits of each?

Biobutanol Performance Similar to Unleaded Gasoline, According to New Fuel Testing

New fuel testing results shared today by DuPont and BP indicate that biobutanol has proven to perform similarly to unleaded gasoline on key parameters, based on ongoing laboratory-based engine testing and limited fleet testing.

Annan: Climate change threat to humanity

The greatest threat facing humanity is climate change, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday, and praised a Norwegian initiative to reduce the country's net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.

Warming and Global Security

People who give short shrift to environmental matters pay attention when national security becomes part of the conversation. So the debate over global warming took a useful turn this week as diplomats and retired military officers drew persuasive connections between climate change and the very real potential for regional upheavals.

Powerful policy group toughens U.S. emissions plan

The National Commission on Energy Policy -- a nonpartisan organization that includes representatives from industry, government, labor, environmental activism and academia -- revised a plan first issued in 2004 that was used as the model for some climate change proposals in Congress.

"The truth is that the urgency has increased, not just on climate change but on oil security," said panel communications director Paul Bledsoe, explaining the need for updating.

Saudi Arabia Rail Plans

The Saudi Railway Organization is prepared for a radical change in its services after a 50- year absence of new railway construction in the country. The SRO has initiated a large expansion of the rail network all over the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is planned to upgrade and significantly expand the existing railway network by implementing separate, but interconnected, new railway projects.

Saudi Arabia is bound for ambitious and mega plans for its railroad network:

The North-South Railway Project

This will link Riyadh-Buraydah-Hail-Qurayyat as well as the mines at Al Jalamid and Az Zabirah to Ras AzZawr on the Arabian Gulf for a total distance of 2,400 km. The estimated cost of the project is $ 3 to 4 billion, and the client is the Public Investment Fund (PIF). This line is primarily intended to transport bauxite and phosphate ores from the north and northeast of Saudi Arabia to processing facilities on the Arabian Gulf coast. The project will also provide passenger and general freight services to various towns and cities in the region.

Saudi Landbridge Project

This project includes the construction of an overland bridge linking Dammam and Jeddah through the industrial cities of Jubail and Riyadh. This line will link the Red Sea with the Arabian Gulf. The overland bridge is the cornerstone of the Railway Expansion Program, to be implemented on the basis of a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) concession. A consortium comprising UBS Investment Bank, The National Commercial Bank and SNCF International has been selected by Saudi Railways Organization ("SRO") to provide Financial and Technical Advisory Services for the project.

Makkah-Madinah Rail Link Project (MMRL)

The purpose of the MMRL project is to cater to the requirements of passengers, predominantly religious pilgrims and commuters wishing to travel between Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah. The project will consist of a high-speed line linking the three cities with six new stations. The Saudi Government will grant concessions to the private sector for the construction and operation of the MMRL via a Design, Build, Operate and Transfer ("DBOT") contract. The estimated cost of the project is $4 billion.

Riyadh Metro

The project is still in the planning phase and will entail investments of up to $2 billion. The Supreme Commission for the Development of Riyadh City (ARD) proposed this project to reduce traffic congestion in the capital and handles the future public transportation needs of the city. The proposed metro system will include two primary routes: the first route will link Northern and the Southern parts of the city, while the second route will link the East of the capital with the West.

Madinah Monorail Project

Plans have been set to establish an elevated electric train project in Medina to facilitate mass transit of pilgrims and visitors between the Prophet’s Mosque, the Quba Mosque and the Shuhada area. The project is designed to transport 20,000 passengers an hour.

They signed a $1.9 billion contract to start work on a 1,000+ mile North-South rail line on April 4, 2007. This will carry 2 million pax/year plus phosphate & bauxite (Saudi is developing mineral resources other than oil).

This should have a small, but positive, impact on Export Land domestic oil consumption.

Venezuala is also investing heavily in new rail projects.

Do they know something the US does not ?

Best Hopes,


Hummm, 3 to 4 billion for 2400 km of new rail? The USA based DM&E has been trying for about 8 years now to upgrade a couple hundred miles of its track and put in a couple hundred more miles of new track - its billed as the largest new rail construction project in the USA since WWII (?) - and they are getting blocked at every turn. Total cost estimated is over 6 billion for well under 1000 miles (1600 km) of track. The Saudis will have to import the steel rail, wood ties - or set up a factory locally to make concrete ties, obtain large amounts of rock ballast, new locomotive, freight cars, passenger cars, build marshalling yards, stations, etc....
My guess is more like 30 to 40 billion minimum?
For more info on the efforts for DM&E to expand go to:
Also Google DM&E Project to find out the opponents side of the story.
Major rail upgrades and expansion in the USA will take a LONG time if the DM&E project is any indication. From regulatory roadblocks, local NIMBY efforts, financial constraints, etc....
I tried to convince DM&E to go electric traction engines with overhead catanary power and they agreed it would be cheaper to operate that way, but they said they would not do it because it "would be more difficult to interface with the other non-electrified rail lines"
You have a long hard uphill battle for electrification of rail service in the USA - Until the price of diesel fuel goes through the roof - And it will be a bit too late by then?

Jon Kutz
Tinkerer and Dreamer

SNCF International

Of course the French got this contract.

Alan, I thank you very much for gathering all this rail information constantly. It clearly shows a "follow the money" pattern to it.

Yes, I would say that it strongly appears that KSA knows something that we don't (or perhaps only suspect circumstantially).

That old saying - "The bigger they are, the harder they fall" - probably is an apt warning to the United States right now.

Best wishes to you in your efforts to save New Orleans. I don't think we're going to save the USA.

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

So modify that Saudi saying just a bit

My father rode a camel. I drive a car. My son flies a jet airplane. His son will ride a train. And, his grandson will ride a camel.

Do you know if they are going to be electric?

As someone wondered aloud yesterday...is there nuclear in the future for KSA?

I know they have been rumbling about needing nuclear weapons if Iran gets them.

The monorail, the Metro and the Mecca-Medina rail will be electric. The Landbridge and the North-South line will be diesel (and largely single track, but engineered for easy double tracking).


A map of current, authorized and future plans.


Best Hopes for Energy Efficiency in Saudi Arabis (that much more for our SUVs >:-P


Proposal to TOD editors and community:

Select a willing and qualified PO Education Editor to develop curricula for PO education to be used by TOD members in their various settings. This initiative would be a community effort.

What do you think?

Good thought, Yosemite Sam. The site does offer links and intro articles to click on already.

I gave a presentation to groups of 7th and 6th grade students some time ago, and will give three presentations to 3rd and 4th graders in the next couple of weeks.

These presentations include the topics of peak oil, global climate change, and resource wars. The focus is on what we can do to make things better here and now for the future: biking and walking, gardeneing, building community, building awareness in our neighborhoods. It is not "gloom and doom" at all for the kids. I will really focus on the necessity and the fun of positive change.

The physical focus of my presentations will be the pedicab, cargo trike, and trailer. We will do math about how much 5 student weigh, and how much certain cars weigh, and how much bikes and trikes weigh. We will do pro/com worksheets on use of various vehicles and transportation modes. I will give rides and we will talk about enegy and materials needed to make, operate, and scrap or recycle various vehicles.

We will touch on rail and various other things. The kids will take this back to their classroom to go in directions they and their techers want to go. We (teachers and parents)also take the 3rd and 4th graders on an annual overnight at a local campground to study nature -- ponds and such -- close up. That's a separate thing, but it keeps conversations going about the environment.

I've written one locally published editorial, and am also writing more with a focus on environment and "The Carbon Twins."

My biggest challenge is boiling info down to bite-sized nuggets, and being real while not losing my listeners or readers by overwhelming them with scary information.

Perhaps a bigger challenge is overcoming my own bitterness at the blindness and "intentional ignorance" so cultivated in our (USA) culture, at least. Wow, is that a big challenge.

Hi Beggar,

Thanks for responding. A quite a few of us her at TOD have done what you have done. I have not done it for seventh graders--you are a hero! How did it go?

When I put together a couple of presentations, I had to work pretty hard and the results were not that great. My thinking is that the truly gifted could work on this area. I would like to put in my two cents worth.

The results might well be a list of FAQ's, talking points, Power Point presentations for different age and educational levels.

There certainly are some nice links here, but I think we could do better.

Regarding this:

Perhaps a bigger challenge is overcoming my own bitterness at the blindness and "intentional ignorance" so cultivated in our (USA) culture, at least. Wow, is that a big challenge.

I think that we have to get the word out. At some point, it will hit critical mass, and people will convert.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

YS -- well, the 7th and 8th graders showed remarkable awareness of what a resource war is. When asked what a resource war is, the response was: "Doh! Oil! Iraq!"

They also showed little interest in military service in the Middle East or anywhere else for that matter.

The students were very interested in understanding the energy costs of agriculture, fast food, heating and cooling houses, and getting around.

Some imagined the future at first as being more of the same, only "more and cooler stuff" and "bigger and cooler malls." But after a bit of talk these students began to question their Disneyesque technomagical thinking. some students were already very concerned about the future, but many had obviously had no encouragement to think about it from home.

School science teacher was able to integrate this into his "humans and energy" and environmental curriculum. He had the students look up websites like Energybulletin and the like as part of their online research.

I recently introduced the "renewable energy" segment of the science curriculum for 8th graders in a local middle school. I was talking mostly about emergy - embedded energy; with me was someone from a local green store taking a more philosophical angle and two from Portland Maine's WinterCache project, which aims to provide locally grown food through the winter discussing compost and the 1500 mile bite.

I had a bunch of soda cans and lunch food - the idea being to change the way the students looked at lunch. A few of the kids ripped right through the embedded energy concept - even including the energy required to support the marketing department. Most had not a clue. I'd want to modify that presentation to make the benefits more widespread.

Even though the written guidelines for this segment include "why our economy doesn't use this now", we were advised to stay away from that.

cfm in Gray, ME

PO Education Editor? Some thoughts:

1. I'm not sure that The Oil Drum is the right place to develop educational materials. The thrust of the site is more technical. Engineers and high tech professionals usually aren't the best people to explain a subject in simple terms. I'll bet the best materials will come from teachers and curriculum developers rather than technically oriented people.

2. Many other sites that have developed explanatory material. Rather than re-invent the wheel, it would be more efficient to search the web for existing presentations. Some of the best seem to be done by city planners. And of course, there are the published books like Heinberg and Deffeyes - good for secondary and college level.

Bryn Davidson at RAO-D Citworks has done attractive and intuitive presentations, which can be accessed from
More stuff:

Another presentation I like was by Tim Moerman, given at the Atlantic Planners’ Institute Annual Conference
Ten Principles of Post Oil-Peak Planning (PDF)

3. With volunteer sites like The Oil Drum, there are usually 10 times as many good ideas as there are willing hands to execute the ideas. The good news is that if you want a project to happen and are willing to do some of the work, there is a place for it to happen. It might be at The Oil Drum, or it might be elsewhere.

Energy Bulletin

Many thanks, Bart.

Just remembered...

1. Counter-proposal: what about a site for teachers and educators to share their material?

2. One of the Energy Bulletin co-editors wrote The Peak Oil Primer which has been widely circulated. Might perform the same function as FAQs. There are similar peak oil summaries elsewhere on the Web.

3. On the light side, here's a link to cartoon presentations about peak oil, oil and alternative energy.


The author, Stephen Hamilton-Bergin, has written no 19 bus, a science fiction novel which "begins in 2070 and gently gives the reader a hint of what the world has gone through in the past seventy years. It makes some startling short term predictions. How accurate will they be? Published in 10 volumes."

He has also published the non-fiction book The Truth about the War and Oil.

Energy Bulletin

bart, Thanks for your thoughts and links. I hadn't seen the PO primer before.

1. Counter-proposal: what about a site for teachers and educators to share their material?

I agree. Doesn't look like there is much interest though.

Wish those cartoons were bigger. They're nearly impossible to read on my monitor.

So far, my favorite peak oil intro for newbies is Wolf At the Door.

Agree that TOD might not be the best place for setting up peak oil outreach. We are, to be blunt, geeks. A lot of us are so geeky we don't even know how geeky we are. ;-)

Select a willing and qualified PO Education Editor to develop curricula for PO education to be used by TOD members in their various settings. This initiative would be a community effort.

It's been done. David DuByne, an English teacher in Thailand, wrote an English as Second Language book that is a great curriculum for educating people about oil depletion, bio-crops, and sustainability. He has been working on it for a while, and just e-mailed me that it was finished. It is very well-done.


Paris launches Massive Rental Bicycle Program

By the end of the year, organizers and city officials say, there should be 20,600 bikes at 1,450 stations -- or about one station every 250 yards across the entire city.


Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


One hardly even needs a bicycle in central Paris - the Metro efficiently takes one anywhere, within a walk of just a few blocks. There are always taxi if the weather is bad or the walk is difficult. Perhaps in the outlying areas this system would be more useful.

The main trouble with bicycles is that they are miserable to use when it is rainy or cold, and dangerous when there is snow or ice on the ground. We still haven't really worked out how to let bicycles safely share urban streets with motor vehicles. It is also unrealistic to expect the elderly and infirm to use them.

The system I would really like to see set up is a network of short-term rental Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs). These COULD be used by everyone, in all weather conditions. The rental stations also provide a solution to the recharging problem. Install PV pannels at each station to power the rechargers and you really have a great system. I would venture to add that establishing such a system may be one of the key components that could help turn urban mass transit systems into a real success, especially given the lower densities of most US cities.

The Paris program is modeled after Lyon, operating since 2005. From the article:

"It has completely transformed the landscape of Lyon -- everywhere you see people on the bikes," said Jean-Louis Touraine, the city's deputy mayor. The program was meant "not just to modify the equilibrium between the modes of transportation and reduce air pollution, but also to modify the image of the city and to have a city where humans occupy a larger space."

You would NOT get that benefit from a hypothetical Rent-a-NEV.

Bicycles are operating today. The economics and maintenance seem to work out well enough. They are lower energy than NEVs (Americans MUST inclose themselves in isolated shells ??), much lower capital costs, refueling is not an issue, bike maintenance is easier than NEV maintenance AND it is operating today !

I can see all types of rent-a-vehicle operating in cities of the future (bicycles, NEVs, gasoline pickups, Segways) but the bicycle is an excellent, nay superb, one !

If one cannot or does not want to rent a bicycle, one can walk/drive right past the bicycle rental stand, so your objections have no validity.

Best Hopes,


Of course Americans need to be enclosed - how else would they be able to cut themselves off from the world around them? After all, they live in a hideously ugly society.

This hapring point of Kunstler's is easy enough to ridicule - his last eyesore of the month was just mean-spirited and petty - but it is worth considering.

It also explains, in part, why Americans are so much less concerned about climate change - they don't actually experience much climate anyways. (Other reasons are that weather is truly extreme in North America, and the fact that most Americans don't seem to spend their entire lives in one area anyways, meaning that longer term changes don't register.)

After all, when riding a bicycle, it could be cold, or wet, or hot, or windy. Where most people in Germany I know think this is called 'normal,' most Americans seem to think this is a problem, best solved by cranking up the A/C and the tunes.

And yes, I know it gets real cold, and real wet, and real hot, and real windy in the U.S. - just not most of the time, in most places.

But any excuse in a storm, I guess.

After all, they live in a hideously ugly society

This Saturday morning, as I walked to the neighborhood grocery store, I took the 8 block route (it is 2.5 blocks away) since it was such a lovely day and I have not walked some streets in over a month ! (I took the short route home with a gallon of orange juice, avocado & local strawberries in hand).

Stopped and helped an acquantince with a sofa (a 3rd set of hands makes it MUCH easier).

It is a joy to enjoy the diversity of architecture, colors and plantings along the way and say "Good Morning" to my neighbors.

Best Hopes,


Well, a lot of people find modern German cities (not even including the ones in the former DDR) hideously ugly.

And as I noted in the paragraph, below, this is really much more a Kunstlerian point than my own.

What disturbs me deeply since Reagan is the intense privatization of what was formerly public space. Of course Kunstler notes this too, but this is one way Germany is much different than the U.S.

In Germany, there are a large number of open spaces in cities and towns, expressly for public use - the way the World Cup was handled was truly fascinating.

And the concept of trespassing in the countryside doesn't exist in any form within an American framework (though Virginia, for one, has a fair approximation in some ways) - essentially, you can walk anywhere you wish, without permission. Of course, you can't just enter someone's enclosed space, like a house or barn, and fences are worth paying attention to, but if there is a couple of acre pasture which is fenced in, the farmer is essentially required to provide a gate that people can open to cross that pasture - at their own risk, of course.

Concepts like these are like not really imaginable in America. And the reverse, that it is essentially illegal to go anywhere in America without trespassing is not imaginable for Germans.

The world is much bigger than America, and America is much bigger than Kunstler's suburbia. Easy enough to understand, beyond the ability for any single person to master. We are just small elements in a vast tapestry, which we will never be able to see completely.

Hop on a bicycle and head out on pretty much any American road and you'll find yourself in territory hostile to life.

Between the 4,000 pound missiles screaming past being piloted with sheer luck by constantly distracted or angry drivers, and being made to feel like a criminal if you stop anywhere to catch your breath/eat/drink/etc...it's no wonder people don't bicycle.

One reason New Orleans (San Francisco, maybe NY too) are thought of as foreign countries in the popular imagination is that they are physically attractive.

I think NYC earns that through the incredible variety of people living there - it is one of the few places in the U.S. that is thoroughly aware that the U.S. is not the center of the world.

Mainly because New Yawkers think NYC is, but then, everyone has their blindspots.

It would be fun if you could provide some pictures. Or how about a little video entitled, "Alan's walk to the store and back".

Best hopes for multimedia posts from Alan.

I could take some still photos (cell phone is only movie camera I have).

Couple of questions; do the editors approve ?

And should I include just the pretty, nice views or all of it (we have a horrid 1960s apartment building spoiling the neighborhood) and a burned out block from Katrina (now cleared) ?

How many photos ?

Best Hopes,


Hi Alan,

Whichever you want (if the editors approve.) (In any case, I can't imagine them not approving, given other photos posted here.)

Of course Americans need to be enclosed - how else would they be able to cut themselves off from the world around them? After all, they live in a hideously ugly society.

Very true, expat. Of course there are exceptions but they are largely that - exceptions. The norm within the USA is a hideously ugly way of life that really gets me down. Strolling through parts of old town Alexandria when I lived in the Washington, DC area was a grand thing.

Two years ago while back east I took a drive through the town where I grew up. Most of the businesses in that small town of 5000 are now offices for doctors and lawyers. About the only good thing was that the courthouse, built in the early 19th century, had been sandblasted and no longer was a dingy grey color but a magnificent brown sandstone. The rest of the buildings were simple 2 to 4 story brick but were between 70 and 150 years old, excepting the corner small convenience grocery store which was built about 45 years ago when I was a child and after the original building had suffered extreme damage in a fire.

The shopping that used to occur in walkable stores in town was now all done in a large mall about 6 miles away that was situated along an interstate and centrally located between my hometown and 4 other small towns. All of the development out there was of the rapid, ugly, strip mall variety. I recall hiking that area as a teenager, swimming in a limestone sinkhole, camping by that same sinkhole, and watching the stars.

That sinkhole is gone. Main street in my home town is an excuse for an office park. And the ugliness of what has replaced it was truly saddening.

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

One reason I can't agree with Kunstler is that I did grow up near DC - which at least in part is a lovely city, whether the Mall (where no one lives, admittedly), Rock Creek Park, or Georgetown. Less lovely the last time I visited, but no surprises there.

And Virginia itself had some fine areas - not only Alexandria, but Leesburg or Middleburg, or some of the truly exclusive areas around Chain Bridge, both on the Virginia and Maryland sides of the Potomac. Even Vienna was a nice town in the late 1960s/early 1970s, with much in easy walking distance. And smaller towns like Oakton or Fairfax City - which proudly proclaimed on a plaque at the courthouse that it was the first place where a shot was fired in the Civil War.

Most of this is gone now, but it was where I grew up - and watching it get bulldozered has certainly formed a major part of my perspective about America. My memories are of what was, and my daily existence has nothing to do with what no longer exists anyways. And remnants of that America still exist - Baltimore, for example, seems in much better shape due to neglect than I could have ever imagined 20 years ago.

I had a car and a bicycle when I lived in Paris. They were complementary.

The bicycle could get me in around 11 minutes from the Tracadero to the Isle Saint Louis - a place where it is almost impossible to park a car and that would take around 30 minutes to get to by Metro. It would take around 16 minutes for the return journey.

In fact, the Metro is great by daytime - if you do not mind the overpowering smell in the summer - but not so good in the evenings.

One big drawback to cycling in Paris is the bad driving and the lack of real cycle paths. I would not recommend it for girls/women - especially if they understand French.

Eventually, my bike was stolen! But then I also had the wheels of my car stolen from a private underground car park under my house.

This is very encouraging, Alan. Thanks so much! I will refer to it when I lead some sessions with 3rd and 4th grade students in the coming few weeks.

The kids already seem to love bikes and trikes and the like! They seem eager to have more encouragement to actually use them as a part of every day transportation. This includes seeing adults use bikes everyday -- that is vital, IMHO.

Also important for kids is the "cool" factor. Customizing bikes or using certain kinds of "cool" bikes gives many kids a way to individuate and experiment with self expression.

Kind of off-topic, but related!

Try electrical bikes, its easy and fun.

Fot those people that live within 20km of work they should just get a regular bike. Electric bikes still have an environmental impact.

Yes, but if you are elderly, 20 km is too much. And then an electrical bike is better than a car from environmental wieuw.
Fore those younger, that can use an ordinary bike, it is not so nice to come sweating to the job. They will take the car.
With an electrical bike they do not have to sweat at all, and then they could choose to take the E-bike instead of the car and spare the enviroment.

I think if we look at why the elderly in North America (imo those over 65.) are not capable of riding a bike
we would see that diet, lack of safe roads, and lack of will would be considered the main reasons for this. All these issues will be solved naturally in the near future. I have seen many cyclists in my city over this age who ride daily just for the exercise. Most are Europeans.

OK, but i do not understand why you rule out the electrical bike. Myself have a regular bike and a E-bike. I am 61 year old. I use the regular bike for shorter rides, but when i ride to the town(19 km)then i use the E-bike, because it is too exhausting for me otherwise. Without the E-bike i would take the car.

Just because you are health, does not mean that everyone else who doesn't ride a bike is sedentary and fat. I rode a bike for years till a large (walnut size) cyst formed in my knee, now I have also developed arthritis. I still walk a mile or more every day (regardless of the pain) but bike riding is out of the question.

Then try an E-bike, it could work. The E-bike i have you do not have to pedal at all, if you have pains. You switch a button and drive it like a scooter. This takes moore energy from the battery which makes your range shorter, but it is doable.

Best Kenneth

Which make and model do you ride?

Iacocca's E-Bike or another?

I have the british(made in China) POWABYKE, if you google it you find their homepage. We have two one for me(Commuter model) and one for my wife(Shopper model).
You got a range of about 50 km With pedalassist. I use pedalassist for better range, and to get light exercise. And its fun.


Here is an interesting bit for all you pedal freaks (GBG!) www.trendhunter.com/trends/the-sky-cycle-pedal-powered-roller-coaster/

See, even after the grid goes down we can still have lots of interesting amusement parks!

Jon Kutz
Tinkerer and Dreamer

Hello Jon Kutz,

Railbikes on steel spiderwebs--gotta love 'em! Just imagine if those tubes were transporting potable water also--two for the price of one thinking. Thxs for the photo link!

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

Hello TODers,

This guy pedaled 650 miles in 24 hours:


Obviously, under ideal conditions. But I think a national network of spiderwebriding for the average human is quite attainable. Best of all, railbike riding is pothole free, no mud, ice, or snow either, and just imagine if the railtrack was mostly covered with PV panels--no soaking rain or sunburn either. But from Jon's link: it looks like Japanese engineers are outpacing American efforts.

I would like to see a X-Prize offered for Human Powered Railbikes. Imagine 40 people pedaling away inside a sleek, aerodynamic railbike-train: 1,000 miles in 24 hours? That is only 42 mph: single humans have now pedaled over 80 mph:


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

Hello TODers,

Did some googling for some more cool, hi-res pictures of the Japanese aerial railbike system:


Imagine this at ground level, what would be the installed cost/mile in a proactive area like Cascadia or Willits, CA?

Also, the topspeed on a bicycle is 152 mph! Anybody got the balls to try and break this record?


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

Tampa Bay Area Sets Up Rail/Toll Road/BRT Authority without Funding

There are always debates about whether rail is worth the cost. Hillsborough shelved a $986-million rail line in 2003. Pinellas killed a $1.5-billion monorail last year.

Still, the area's leaders are staring down the barrel of a future where the region's population may double in 40 years and it will become much harder, if not impossible, to make roads any wider.

Rail requires taxes. Orlando is building a commuter rail network with tax money: 25 percent local, 25 percent state and 50 percent federal. Cities that want rail have to pony up local money to compete for federal matching funds.


Tampa approves Streetcar Extension

But approval is also need by local transit agency and FTA for matching funding.


Best Hopes for Planning,


Rail requires taxes.

Does this mean you have ruled out, 100%, that there will ever be private passenger rail again in the USA?

There is the private luxury rail service; The New Orient Express. Not transportation, but a "rail cruise".

AutoTrain was tried privately (take your car & yourself from the north to Florida in the winter) but it failed (Amtrak picked it up I think).

There is no interest by the private freight railroads to restart passenger service *they gave it all to Amtrak over 30 years ago).

Perhaps one day. Post-Peak Oil ...

Best Hopes,


I decided to take a look at what I could find about a rail trip in the US.

Its at the mercy of the freight systems. They take priority. A Major section of the Amtrak system is down and I haven't seen where its being replaced. Its an important one too. From New Orleans to Jacksonville of the SUNSET LINE is not available. Hurricane's to blame, but The whole line is down, Pensacola to Jacksonville, nada. Go to AMTRAK.com and look at the US rail line. Scratch out th SUNSET line and see what happens when you have to travel to the SE and FL. Totally messed up.

Service/food on line has positive comments now. The main negative I do read about is the delays because the freight trains own the lines and always have priority when they change things up.

Tourism is up it seems. The Empire Builder line from Chicago to Portland has great views. and a run From Denver to San Fransico has great views and can require months of advance bookings for a roomette or bedroom. They have nice observation cars for this class of service which isn't cheap unless you "share".

The views of the country on some lines (going in the right direction because of daylight) are really great. You will see space that others don't. How often do you see rail lines next to expressways.

The loss of the section of the Sunset Line is a major blow for passenger rail travel.

If gas gets expensive first place people will turn is to Amtrak and its not going to work very well. And the loss of the Sunset line section is going to be noticed big time.

The Orient Express Alan mentions is another animal, its private. The trips are spectacular views with custom observation cars. As one railroad buff put it on his website "save your pennies" if you wish to take it.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

Union Pacific is at about the 55%-60% mark on double tracking from Los Angeles to El Paso; with major improvements noted on the Sunset Ltd. going west.

Going east is suspended for a couple of reasons. Not enough equipment (what was assigned was reassigned) AND Mississippi wanted to use Katrina monies to buy the RR ROW for a new highway on their Guld Coast (it failed to get support in Congress); but a certain senator told Amtrak it might be best not to run service over the section that MS wanted to buy.

Best Hopes,


Regarding the article stating there are 100 billion barrels in eastern Iraq, rather than laboring the obvious political ramifications, there are several points that were not made.

First, in order to pressurize the reservoirs, a rather massive ampunt of water will be required; either that or some sort of gas injection scheme - read $$. I'd imaging that extraction at sufficient rates to counter depletion in SA would take a pretty good round out of the Tigris and Euphrates.

Second, what is the quality of the oil. 100 billion barrels of stinky and thick stuff remote from seawater isn't a lot more relevant than the LLoydminster heavy deposits in Alberta. It isn't like we didn't know it was there all along; well, some of us. I have yet to see rapid production of really heavy subsurface oil. What's the API grade?

Third, as a proportion of world usage, at 30 billion barrels a year it isn't going to prolong things all that much. Three of these makes a decade's consumption. Yes, the cart has got ahead of the horse. You can gallop the horse or apply the brakes.


NASA's main man is James Hansen,
while the die-off man is Jay Hanson.

If you start spelling it wrong, it may cause confusion here. Or perhaps we should say, even more confusion.

"The police are not here to create disorder. The police are here to preserve disorder."

Believe me, I know exactly what you mean. I can't stand that Sting guy either.

Fascinating article re the true value of the Stock Market that makes the argument that the Market is actually crashing when measured by nearly any other means than the US Dollar. The author notes that in 1999, 1 share of the Dow could buy 800 barrels of oil. Today that same share buy only 200 barrels. Quite a drop.

Here is probably the most important chart in the article. How much oil (our proxy for energy) can you buy with your proceeds from the Dow. If you sold 1 share of the Dow in early 1999 you could buy 800 barrels of oil… today it'll only buy you 200.

As a reminder of rising energy costs, I have included a quote from Adam Hamilton's article, Lies, Damn Lies, and the CPI, June 16, 2000, written just after the Dow put in its "true" all time high.
"On May 1, the wholesale price for unleaded gasoline was 81 cents per gallon."

Remember that oil doesn’t just go into the gas in your tank… it is the single most useful commodity there is. It's used to make medicines, fertilizers, plastics, the tar on our roads and the tires on your car.


There is a nice graph, but I do not know how to copy those here. Maybe someone can help with that.

I posted the link to the article, The Dow is Crashing, twice this week, because it counters the assumption that the Dow is setting records. According to Mike Maloney's calculations, the Dow would have to be at 18.000 points to just be on par with its 1982 levels.

Moreover, the only reason it even is at 12.000 today is the rampant hidden inflation in the US, swept under the carpet by the BLS and its very creative methods of measuring inflation. It would therefore be safe to say that US stocks are at least 50% overvalued, and its merely a matter of time before that "non-value" disappears into the nothingness it came from.

The graph only goes back to 1997, but the big picture is clear nonetheless.

Could we ever expect to have this issue raised on CNBC? I can't imagine this analysis being debated or discussed during "Squawk Box."

When PO is apparent/full news for everbody the stockmarkets worldwide should crash. With them the bondmarket and realestate. The Great depression would be seen as a walk in the park. Then the values fell 90%. Does anybody believe that the crash wood be less severe this time.
At the same time we are in the Kondratieff winter, which in it self should lead to the same result.

Sell all paper assets, and buy gold.

The Dow Jones average, like S&P average, excludes returns on dividends, which have historically provided around half of total return.

A broader total return index would be more illuminating and fair. Also, there are countries outside the USA as well, and their markets have done better since then (whereas in late 90's the USA's market was quite strong).

Also comparing from 1999, which is the near end of a huge stock bull market, and a huge bear market for oil is also improper data mining.

The actual facts are that total stock returns, including dividends, have exceeded inflation by a few percent. If you think inflation is underestimated, which it may be by some amount, then it may be just keeping up or doing a bit more.

I suggest you read Maloney's article.

There are quite a few recent pieces on the BLS, their CPI manipulations, and especially the "hedonic" inventions, on Agora and Financial Sense.

The conclusion, though, stands: total stock returns are way below inflation, which has been closer to 10% than 2% for years now. The manipulation is massive.

It would be interesting to reconsider those projects that suffer from the Law of the Receding Horizon as if they were priced by barrels of oil produced and not by dollars. If you think about it [barring large shift in industrial technology] it's always going to cost a similar ratio of barrels input to produce a given quantity of barrels output, hence the Receding Horizon.

For tar sands, it will cost the natural gas and the rivers. The price will probably never get better than it was in the early 70's [peak civilization].

cfm in Gray, ME

'Already, the country`s renewable energy sector is among the most innovative and successful worldwide. Nordex, Repower, Enercon (all wind energy), SolarWorld and Conenergy (solar energy) -- renewable companies based in Germany -- dominate the world market. Every third solar panel and every second wind rotor is made in Germany, and German turbines and generators used in hydro energy generation are among the most popular worldwide.'

Wow - those Greens were sure a bunch of impractical romantics, weren't they? Talking about things like renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, no wonder Germany is in such terrible shape.

And having your nation led by a woman PhD also seems to be a real handicap in the world marketplace.

As for using taxes and laws to create a new industry - obviously, German policies can't keep up with a strong free market, like America's. And Germany still has unions, and workers expecting six week vacations, universal health insurance, and pensions - not to mention unemployment insurance. Clearly, Germany will collapse long before the U.S. because of such massive structural disadvantages. And also, because if the U.S. can't solve its own problems, then it must be that those problems are utterly insolvable for anyone else. And because the whole world wants to be just like America.

But there does seem to be a translation error in the article - in German, 'billion' means the same as the American 'trillion' - that is, 1,000,000,000,000. There is no way that the world market for 'environmentally friendly products' is less than the profit that a company like VW expects to earn in a good year.

The rich Germans just bought a Danish company Nordex (like GE bought from Enron which had bought the last US wind turbine maker and the last GERMAN wind turbine maker).


GE is now #1 in wind turbines BTW.

Best Hopes for more Wind Turbines,


And EdF was going to buy out the largest windpower producer in Germany - the centralization will be ongoing, but still regionally based - sort of like ABB. After all, most people here think of Opel as a German car company, and not an American one, for example. And many TOD readers likely are now wondering what American car company owns Opel, a car company they have never heard of anyways.

I think the point was more in the solar panel and blade production - those are stunning numbers.

Even more interesting was the idea that only the Japanese are currently posing a serious challenge on the world market in German eyes.

Personally, I think peak oil will likely show the rich not getting richer, but will on the other hand demonstrate the underlying wisdom of a cynical expression - life is a manure sandwich, but it is easier with lots of bread. (And yes, 'manure' was an example of self-censorship - since it seems important to some here that TOD not be banned by the mandatory filtering which exists in the land of the free.)

But the fact remains that certain not exactly insignificant parts of Germany's social/economic power structure are looking to a future where car building, for example, will no longer by that lucrative. Whether because of pragmatic concerns about climate change or oil suppliers, or ideological fervor, is not really the point - long term planning is considered important here - which is why the Japanese are seen as serious competitors.

Personally, I expect the German Mittelstand to do quite well in the future - which was another point of the article, and another trait of the German economy which doesn't really exist in the U.S. anymore either.

Many of the polices which are now bearing fruit in Germany were started back in the 1990s, and continuing throughout several different political trends. Peak oil may not really be a major societal concern - however, climate change and keeping a workable society going certainly are.

The fact that Germany and Japan, both fairly cold and northerly countries, have focused on just a couple of technologies (including nuclear in Japan, though not currently in Germany) should be a real warning to anyone paying attention in America, since both countries have also made conservation and living small, so to speak, a major part of how to deal with a future with more restraints than today. And considering how both countries attempted to use war in the recent past as a way to deal with resource difficulties, the fact that both are not building massive arsenals should really cause some contemplation in a country which has invested so much in the ability to destroy.


Ethanol might help the U.S. cut down imports of crude oil and reduce greenhouse gases, but it also might cause respiratory illnesses to rise, according to a study that's bound to start arguments in the alternative-fuel world.

Just what they need health risks rising and Cars burning corn doing it.

Not to mention that Rain forests in some African countries are being chopped down in favor of plants for growing fuels for our cars.

So when is the cycle going to end?

Hello TODers,

I was disappointed, but not surprised, that our US MSM did not headline the recent conference calling for Climate Justice:


This moral imperative would make it easy for any US politician to discuss PO + GW and the need for mitigation. Adopting the call for Climate Justice would essentially teflon coat all US politicians, and I would hope the average American still has sufficient moral backbone to rise to challenge. Being 5% of world pop. using 25% of fossil fuels will not last much longer-- regression to the mathematical mean is inevitable-- mitigation means voluntary efforts to achieve this faster than being driven there by inherent natural forces.

Widespread and successful Peakoil Outreach should drive the predominantly detritovore US to the Bangladeshi level of FF usage/capita, but gungho efforts at Biosolar Powerup, if undertaken early enough at sufficient scale, should help prevent the Bangladeshi problems repeating here in the US.

Being a fast-crash realist [but certainly not advocating for it], I think it is only fair to contrast the rosy paragraphs above with an alternate scenario: whereby based upon your decline beliefs in the broad spectrum of cornucorpian-doomer scales, you can adjust your calibration:


[IMO, this is a great article that should be read by all TODers. Full credit to Perry Arnett at the
Yahoo: AlasBabylon forum.]
One can have his "time-to-collapse" interval however he wants it! That is:

An annual depletion rate of 2% allows roughly 50 years for all of a resource to deplete, (and for one to get one’s mind around the concept of the import of that event.)

An annual depletion rate of 3% gives one 33 years.
4% gives one 25 years.
5% gives one 20 years.
6% gives one 16 years.
7% gives one 14 years.
8% gives one 12 years.
9% gives one 11 years.
10 % gives one 10 years.
11% gives one 9 years.
12% gives one 8 years.
13% gives one 7.6 years.
14% gives one 7 years; and,

An annual resource depletion rate of 15% gives one just ~6.6 years until the energy resource is, for all practical purposes, GONE! We must remember that we are talking here about the continuance or the cessation of this fossil-fueled Industrial Civilization - NOT patching joints on sailing boats on the shores of the Black Sea.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

In my opinion, Arnett is a bit over the top, Bob. A 15% depletion rate? At 30 GB per year that implies a total of 200 GB reserves. Nobody is suggesting we have that little oil left.

And besides, you don't need to deplete a resource for it to become a problem, something which Arnett seems totally fail to grasp. All you need is continuous year over year decline. For reference, check 1979-1982, a period often called the worst recession since the Great Depression. And that ended with oil production moving back up. What happens when it never moves back up?

So I have to conclude by saying that Arnett totally "does not get it" about peak oil.

For reference, Bob, a 3.3% annual decline rate, which sounds very mild, is exactly what Baktiari was predicting when he said global production at 55 mbpd by 2020. That's the power of the exponential function, something that far too many people, including Mr. Arnett, seem incapable of grasping.

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

Then how do you see the scenario unfold comparing to Arnett?

I already outlined One Possible Scenario but that is literally one out of many. Much depends on the actual decline rate. Somewhat less depends on whether any military group is willing to fight over what's left or not. Plus there are thousands of other factors. Anyone proclaiming to know exactly what will occur is BSing you. All we can do is examine history to determine what to expect as a guideline, and history is not reassuring at all in this regard.

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

Hi Grey,

Thanks, and at the risk of being a pest, when and if you feel like it, I'm really interested in your "best case" and "best ways to mitigate", "best mitigation plan and the resulting scenarios", etc., as well.

Your scenario based on "stagflation" may have some economic merit, but you are likely way too aggressive with the doom (especially the confiscation of private property, etc.)

Propose you reconsider, and look at stagflation being drawn out for several years, perhaps even turning to a deflationary depression after a few years.

Unlike RR I still think there is plenty of low hanging fruit in the US, wrt energy conservation. However, the demand destruction (e.g., giving up discretionary auto travel) will certainly be recessionary (see the work by SS relating miles traveled to economic activity.) Ultimately several years of recession has to turn into a financial disaster for a highly leveraged financial system, but you are again rushing things way too much.

The "middle" fruit is there too - by which I mean lifestyle changes beyond not taking your car 2 blocks to the local Safeway. E.g., extended family units living together.

I still put greatest stock in the bottom-up people (ASPO, Skrebowski, etc.) They have been the most thorough in my opinion. According to them peak all liquids will happen in 2010-2012 timeframe.

It might be interesting to fantasize about coming doom but there is little to benefit by it (unless you are selling a book on the subject, as some do....). I'd rather do what Alan is attempting (at proposing alternatives), or looking at how to implement Westexas' ELP but that is lifelong effort in anybody's scenario.

If we assume a net decline rate of 5% per year in Saudi crude oil production (based on Ace's work), I wondered what rate of increase in consumption would mean a 10% per year or greater decline in net oil exports.

Assuming current C+C consumption of 2 mbpd, and assuming a 5% net decline rate in production, it looks like any rate of increase of 2.4% or more per year in consumption would equate to a 10% or greater rate of decline in Saudi net oil exports.

A 10% annual decline = a 50% drop in 7 years.

I'm curious, why do you assume domestic demand will keep rising in the face of a 5% net decline? Isn't it more likely that demand will flatten or even reduce slightly as subsidies are rolled back?

*WHY* would the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia roll back subsidies, eespecially when export income is rising sharply ?

The US used price controls on domestic oil production to subsize US consumption in the 1970s & 1980s.

Why not the Saudis ?


The Saudis have no other revenue source. The US had multiple other revenue sources.

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

IMO, as long as revenue is increasing (or at least acceptable) they will NOT "upset the applecart".

Saudis believe that they have an Allah given right to cheap fuel ! And the government is not so strong that they can reverse this easily.

Mild annual increase of 8% or so to the controled price might go through with minimal effect.

Best Hopes,


Why do you expect subsidies to be rolled back? Mortgage problems? Congress introduces bail outs for the home owners. Here in Maine, the talk is of *reducing* gas taxes. Ethanol, as RR pointed out in his conversation, is heavily subsidized. My guess is subsidies will be increased by whatever means possible for as long as possible - at least for the political class [tax shifting, Iraq, etc....] That's how it played out in Rome, too.

cfm in Gray, ME

Hi WT/Jeffrey,

Thanks and I'm just slow...

re: "what rate of increase in consumption..."

Do you mean Saudi domestic consumption?

Have you already worked out numbers like this...kind of in a chart as posted above? (W. different exporters decline rates and US/region and/or world consumption numbers?)

Quite informative. (And daunting.)

Westexas said:

Assuming current C+C consumption of 2 mbpd, and assuming a 5% net decline rate in production, it looks like any rate of increase of 2.4% or more per year in consumption would equate to a 10% or greater rate of decline in Saudi net oil exports.

A 10% annual decline = a 50% drop in 7 years.

I'd like to see some discussion (especially from WT) of the role of declining EROEI in pushing up domestic consumption in Saudi Arabia. If (at some future point) they have to work harder to extract the remaining oil, won't that lead the local petroleum industry to burn more gas?
That's the whole theory of declining EROEI as I understand it - you have to invest more energy to get the oil out. Which implies a growing industry component for domestic consumption.

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

Regarding consumption, I was talking about domestic Saudi consumption (both consumer and industry).

The most recent EIA data show an increase in Saudi Total Liquids consumption of more than 20% from 2004 to 2005.

In the short term, IMO what will most affect domestic consumption--as Alan pointed out--is rising cash flow from falling exports, because oil prices are rising faster than their production is falling. I call this Phase One. Phase Two is when income from oil exports begins to stagnate or decline, when higher oil prices can't offset declining exports.

Hello Greyzone,

Thxs for responding. I think Perry was trying to incorporate the totality of all blowback forces [depleting energy, water, food; rising violence, pollution, population, etc] which will only get stronger and more numerous as we go further postPeak. Thus his assumption of a high depletion rate to aggregate societal processes. Everyone is free to disagree, of course.

If one compares his analysis to societal declination rates in Zimbabwe, Iraq, Somalia, and other areas that are totally mis-managing any reasonable attempts at appropriate Peakoil Outreach and Biosolar mitigation efforts-- IMO, 15% is not far off.

My hope is that we can monitor and report this contagious Zimbabwe Syndrome as a method to raise US public awareness so that we voluntarily innoculate ourselves to a vastly lower rate. Achieving "Climate & Energy Justice" would not only be good for the US, but would help the Third World too. Recall my previous postings on ASPO's Depletion Protocols.

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

Consulting group IHS confirmed as much Wednesday, when it announced that Iraq potentially holds another 100 billion barrels of oil in its western desert. That region, IHS explains, has been "substantially underexplored" because Iraq has been swimming in an oil surplus.

How many more regions are there across the globe that have been underexplored for the same reason?


Only Iraq has the combination of favorable geology, nearby huge proven reserves, and decades of incompetence, malinvestment and little exploration for political reasons.

By the way, this is 'potentially'---we don't know the oil is there until it's explored. Given that neighboring Jordan and Saudi Arabia have little oil next to this bit of Iraq, odds of mega giant fields totalling a new Ghawar seem remote.

And this is supposed to be "in your face" evidence against peak oil 'theorists'?

Why not bring up Titan? There's plenty of liquid hydrocarbon orbiting Saturn!

"But only 1 in 5 says prices causing severe hardships."

This may be true, but 19% times the number of households involved in the America-on-Wheels lifestyle represents a pretty big number. And 47% showed moderate hardship. I'd say the data indicate some demand destruction here in the US, starting with the financially strapped. Perhaps the well-off are making up for the slack and pushing demand upward? Or is it industry? It’d be nice to have some more details.



Couldn't agree more...I was going to rant on the usage of such numbers by the media to downplay earlier this AM, but had to run out the door.

I would say that there are multiple reasons why the demand destruction the MAY be occuring in some areas of the US are not altering the overall demand.

1) Constantly increasing population.

2) Still pumping out larger SUVs (and some of those owners must have deeper pockets and so far feel it less)

3) The demand destruction is not in oil yet...more like luxury items, take out pizza, toys...

and maybe more like....increase ethanol production with a low EROEI, so really when we add 10% ethanol to gasoline, we are adding 8% more diesel/NG, and maybe 2% new fluids. This point is one that clouds the Total Liquids number in my books. Plus the energy content difference as well.

Hi Wolf,

Good points.

Anecdotally, within the last three weeks, I've had friends (who don't like to hear about oil) just blurt out how they were taken by surprise to do personal finances and realize something major is wrong (i.e.,situations are not meeting their expectations.) ("Where did my XXX - savings, etc. - go?" )

Hey Rethin! Yesterdays Drumbeat had an article about the Volt, they wanna make it hydrogen powered.

Yeah, I saw that.

I also noticed the very last sentence was

Before either version of the Volt can be built, significant improvements are required in battery technology

The idea behind that car makes nothing but sense to me. If the battery can't be perfected NOW maybe it could be designed in such a way to make it easy to service.

Oh yeah, the idea of the Volt makes perfect sense.
I'm really looking forward to the day these kinds of hybrids are common place (I'm not so sure they can save "happy motoring" by themselves though).

The problem with the batteries is a couple of things.
They are currently too expensive. People won't buy a volt if its too expensive and it won't pay for itself in gas savings.
The batteries can't handle the extremes of temperatures (but are getting closer). Outside of temperate S California these cars won't do so well. A cold snap in Michigan and every hybrid in the state will suffer battery damage.
And reliability has yet to be proven. At the moment they are soldering/welding together thousands of smaller cells to get the capacity they need. A car in the real world is a shaky, vibrating mess and these welds have to wistand that all (plus temp cycling). Even a very small failure rate can quickly bankrupt even the largest car manufacture once you spread the problem across millions of vehicles.

Its a huge leap from your cordless drill to a functional vehicle. The current crop of next gen batteries won't cut it. I'm holding out hope for next next gen batteries.

But if we really did peak in 05 C+C then I don't know if they'll come on line fast enough to make a difference.

Hello TODers,

Robert Hirsch has compiled a list of lists positioning the the well-known experts on where they predict Peakoil:


My only beef is that I think he should have included TOD too, but I suppose we could be broadly rolled up into the Deffeyes Group with some outliers to 2011 [his Table #1 list]. A little TOD advertising plug by him would have been much appreciated, IMO. =)

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

Great find. This needs to be posted at the top of Monday's drumbeat if not in its own seperate article.

It was posted to a DrumBeat a few days ago.

good find bob


Fuel oil demand is seen gradually falling as it will cede a key role in power generation to gas, coal and other energy sources.

UP expects carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to rise, fuelled by an increasing use of coal for power generation, until they stabilise in 2010. In 2015, CO2 emissions are seen 14 percent above the 1990 levels -- well above the Kyoto Protocol targets.

World oil prices which shot to record highs in 2006, are seen at around US$50-60 per barrel this year, then falling to US$45-55 per barrel by the end of 2009 and dropping further, to US$40-45 a barrel in 2010-2020, all at constant exchange rates.

Story by Svetlana Kovalyova

We will see.

Yes, the Murray-Darling system is drying out, partly because of stupid decisions. Many years ago they outlawd water tanks. Now they are realizing
that was not a bad idea and the government is paying people to put them in. Also farmers irrigate during the day when it is 100 degress instead of doing so at night to reduce eveaporation. Now they are reaping the rewards for
poor decisions. John.

From: "bill payne"
To: "John Sobolewski"
Subject: water
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 20:21:46 -0700

Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply to the continent's food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought - heralding what could be the first climate change.

Australia has warned that it will have to switch off the water supply to the continent's food bowl unless heavy rains break an epic drought - heralding what could be the first climate change-driven disaster to strike
a developed nation.

The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake up to the severity of the position.

e-driven disaster to strike a developed nation.

The Murray-Darling basin in south-eastern Australia yields 40 per cent of the country's agricultural produce. But the two rivers that feed the region are so pitifully low that there will soon be only enough water for drinking supplies. Australia is in the grip of its worst drought on record, the victim of changing weather patterns attributed to global warming and a government that is only just starting to wake up to the severity of the position.


Hello Billp,

If I was Australia's leader: I would be pulling out all the stops to get many of these people relocated to Northern Australia, closer to the wetter equatorial areas where they could have sufficient water to practice permaculture. If the IPCC is correct, things will only get worse in the future in SouthEast OZland and the Murray-Darling Basin.

IMO, to not give these people a relocation option is to basically sentence them to death. If the trees and livestock dieoff soon: it will take possibly an additional decade to restore sufficient yields *if and when* more plentiful rains first return.

OZ needs to quickly practice mitigative triage to optimize their decline. Zimbabwe didn't-- now life expectancy is 36 and dropping, unemployment 80% and rising, inflation and starvation out-of-control, with 1/4 to 1/3 of Zim's pop. migrated to South Africa and other areas. Where can millions of Ozzies go?

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

Northern Australia is less developed in terms of infrastructure, and further away from the major cities near the Murray Darling Basin - Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide etc.

It is highly ignorant, if not offensive, to compare Australia to Zimbabwe. GDP accounts for only 3% of Australian GDP, with around 400,000 people employed in the area [Wikipedia - Agriculture in Australia]. Australia is a highly developed democratic nation - I feel ridiculous even clarifying that.
If necessary, Australia can import food from other highly fertile, poorer nations in the region.

Most Australians live in major capital cities, located on the coast and are fairly disassociated from Agriculture. Most farms are run by multi-generational families, with corporations only really significant for processing and transportation of produce.

Please review your postion and assumptions.

Droughts are frequent in Australia, perhaps every second or third year. So far there has been amazing abilty to adapt via no-till farming, drip irrigation and in the future there will be major water recycling. Suburban norms can adapt rapidly; for example there is no shame to a having a brown dried up lawn and it is now cool to install a rainwater tank. So far there has been either a good recovery from every drought or the level of adaptation has improved. However this could be the the biggie that catches people out. There is little sign of an exodus to the wet tropical north as people clearly like their coastal cities. I guess it's the same as something like global 75% oil depletion; people just can't wrap their thinking around it.

I like to periodically (about every 6 months) troll through the EIA numbers of different country production to see if I can define any patterns etc (who looks to have peaked, who hasn't, what country might produce how much more this year etc - I have been doing this for a wee while. I am not sure how much interest this is but here is a brief summary using the most recent 2006 annual data.

1) Of the 37 countries listed (plus one extra 'others' category) I reckon 16 have definitely peaked.

2) I reckon within these 16 countries total bpd decline at the end of 2007 will be of the order of 575,000-600,000 (perhaps a surprisingly low figure really, but then many of them look to only be declining at around 10-20,000bpd, and some look as though they will have stable production this year - ie the UK with the new Buzzard field coming on line.

3) The remaining 21 include 11 of the 12 OPEC countries (I'll talk about them separately below). The non-OPEC countries in this group look as though they might increase production by up to 960,000bpd.

4) The OPEC countries (as has been alluded to here countless times) are very difficult to analyse. To my simplistic eye I would group them as

a) Definitely peaked - Indonesia
b) Production rising - Angola, Kazakhstan, Libya, UAE (by a total I estimate for 2007 of 350,000bpd)
c)Production stable - Algeria, Kuwait, Quatar, Venezuela (though the latter looks as though it may be starting to have problems - underinvestment rather than peaking?)
d) Production curtailed by war/insurgency - Nigeria, Iraq
e) The great unknown - SA - either entering decline or the prime carrier of the burden of OPEC cuts??? Able to boost production again?
f) Iran - showing signs of stress in production?

Nominally then (excluding d), e) and f) above), it looks to my eye that expansion might outstrip depletion by 600,000bpd (a rather tight margin!!!). If peace broke out in Nigeria and Iraq (not likely!), another 250-500,000bpd would be added to that total.

But as far more informed folk that I have pointed out e) is the elephant in the room. If SA can get production up again then this simplistic analysis suggests global production is still (just) increasing.

a little surprised that you list kuwait under c) production stable. hasnt burgan ( the world's 2nd largest field ?) peaked ?