DrumBeat: May 6, 2007

Renewable is not a synonym for sustainable

One of my dad's maxims was "never buy or sell hay." Buying hay might bring in the seeds of weeds we had spent years trying to control; selling hay removed tons of nutrients without replacing it with commensurate manure. Thousands of years of unharvested prairie had built the rich silt loam. The first 75 years of diversified, value-added farming saw mainly livestock and livestock products leave a nearly-level farm, using no commercial fertilizer, yet with ever-increasing yields.

Kuwait oil reserves secret for national security

Kuwait will never disclose the size of its oil reserves for reasons of national security, Oil Minister Sheikh Ali Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah was quoted as saying after Kuwait announced a new oil find. “Kuwait has not and will not disclose the size of its oil reserves,” he told Al-Arabiya Television late on Monday. “The Kuwait people are not concerned with numbers. This is related to national security.”

Industry newsletter Petroleum Intelligence Weekly (PIW) said in January 2006 it had seen internal Kuwaiti records showing reserves were about 48 billion barrels — half the officially stated 99 billion, or some 10 percent of global oil reserves. Kuwait’s former oil minister, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd Al-Sabah, has said that PIW’s report only paints a partial picture while other oil officials said the report was inaccurate. PIW said official public figures do not distinguish between proven, probable and possible reserves. Sheikh Ali told Arabiya that just because some fields were not proven it did not mean there was no oil there but that they were not being used.

Is U.S. Natural Gas Headed Toward Excess Supply?

Several recent analytical studies, sponsored by EPRI, indicate that there is a plausible scenario that gas supplies will increase and that excess gas supplies could emerge over the intermediate-term, perhaps within two years.

Wind Farms May Not Lower Air Pollution, Study Suggests

Making good decisions about wind energy may be difficult, said David J. Policansky, the study director, because negative effects occur locally while benefits are probably regional or national.

Facing Western Diplomatic Pressure, Iran Looks East

When Iran looks west, it faces trade sanctions, political hostility and military threats. So now the vilified government is turning to the east, where energy-hungry Asia is embracing it as a regional partner.

The (Not So) Eagerly Modern Saudi

SAUDI ARABIA, home of Islam’s holiest sites, flush with oil revenue, and increasingly the most influential player among Arab countries, has long resisted changing its ultratraditional ways. Now the intrusions of global economics and technology have begun to challenge some traditions in ways that the country’s idealists could not. And the strain that this is causing is showing in the form of surprisingly open debate about how much Saudis really want to modernize.

Dave Cohen: The Call on OPEC?

An earlier column, Decline Rates and Non-OPEC Supply, investigated a likely peak (or plateau) in oil supplied by nations outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) by 2010. The "call on OPEC" to satisfy growing world oil demand must inevitably increase thereafter. Will OPEC answer the call? The people running OPEC are businessmen. They will answer the call only if there is a financial incentive to do so.

Big Oil in Tiny Cambodia: The Burden of New Wealth

Still clawing its way out of the ruins of its brutal past, Cambodia has come face to face with an extraordinary new future: It seems to have struck oil.

Accidental Sustainability and Why We Can't Sustain It

For those of you who haven't heard yet, a portion of a highly trafficked freeway interchange in the San Francisco Bay Area collapsed early yesterday morning when a gasoline tanker lost control and exploded. The flames apparently reached temperatures nearing 3000F degrees, and a structure we ordinarily trust to be quite stable turned from an overpass into an asphalt waterslide.

Iran gas oil price hike rejected

Iran's parliament on Sunday voted against a government proposal of gas oil used as diesel fuel for trucks and for heating homes, official media reported on Sunday.

Refined oil and gas products are heavily-subsidised in resource-rich Iran, encouraging consumption as well as draining state coffers, but raising prices is politically sensitive as the country struggles with high inflation and unemployment.

Birth of a New Wedge

Agrichar is the term not for the biomass fuel, but for what is left over after the energy is removed: a charcoal-based soil amendment. In simple terms, the agrichar process takes dry biomass of any kind and bakes it in a kiln to produce charcoal. The process is called pyrolysis. Various gases and bio-oils are driven off the material and collected to use in heat or power generation. The charcoal is buried in the ground, sequestering the carbon that the growing plants had pulled out of the atmosphere. The end result is increased soil fertility and an energy source with negative carbon emissions.

Ethanol: Converting Agricultural Crops into Oil

Is this the optimal economic and social way to produce fuel? It is known that the prices of corn, and consequently bread and fodders for chickens and other animals, have risen as a result of using corn to produce fuel instead of food. Also well-known is the fact that corn and sugar cane fields use large amounts of water.

A green light for General Motors, AAA

Sedans that run on a combination of ethanol and gasoline were parked next to trucks powered by high-efficiency engines.

Hybrid sport utility vehicles powered by gas and batteries were flanked by a futuristic car that runs on liquid nitrogen.

Staunching the energy crisis

This problem can be readily addressed by literally putting the power in the hands of the people by encouraging householders to produce renewable energy.

Move to hybrid

Many people say their conscience is driving them to seek alternative fuels.

Pump pain palliatives

Another spring, another jump in gasoline prices and another round of ineptitude from Washington.

There is never a good time of year to see gas above $2.80 per gallon, but it's particularly worrisome to reach this level now. That's because pump prices tend to go up from here as we head into the high-demand summer vacation season.

Good works usually come at the expense of something else

On the up-side, higher oil prices increase the viability of ethanol. And, theoretically, at least, decrease the number of illegal immigrants entering the United States.

Gas price anxiety returns

Increasing gas prices are causing some to reconsider that long summer car trip in favor of a closer vacation destination, but others say high fuel costs will not affect their upcoming travel plans.

Sky's the limit?

"Like a baseball player with a hamstring injury, the refineries will get off the disabled list in time for peak season."

Carolyn Baker: The Spirituality of Collapse

The first edition of this article was written in February, 2006, but I have recently revised and updated it. Since the first writing, the theme of collapse seems to have reverberated around the world, now manifesting its symptoms in the scientific community’s latest dramatic reports on global warming, the issue of Peak Oil coming further out of the closet--being discussed openly in mainstream media, and the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble that now finds 1 out of every 264 homes in the nation facing foreclosure as each day the value of the dollar decreases and the value of precious metals soars.

Peak Oil and U.S. Representative Vernon Ehlers

This morning, I brought up Peak Oil in a town hall meeting with U.S. Representative Vernon Ehlers of Michigan.

Representative Ehlers was formerly a nuclear physicist, is one of only three scientists in Congress, and is extremely well versed on both energy and Peak Oil.

It sucks the energy right out of you

A Modest Proposal: For Tomorrow's Energy Crisis, Today, imagines the world in 2039, 19 years after the oil crash of 2020. In it, a cyclical process finds humans modifying their bodies monthly by eating foods that raise their body mass index, or BMI – like Borks, a cross between beef and pork – to gain weight before having the fat extracted and turned into fuel.
The film can be viewed online here.

The Uranium Juniors and Majors: A Symbiotic Relationship

Fears about peak oil and the concept of uranium as a cleaner energy source have coupled in the industry’s collective imagination and forced the price of uranium to triple in the last year. On the supply side experts are alerting the public of shortages and many are saying that the uranium price will continue to climb as a result. With bio-energy solutions seen as being far-off in the future, uranium is being touted as nothing less than the solution to world’s energy and greenhouse gas problems.

Pipeline delivers huge benefit and international research goldmine

In Weyburn, the oil buzz would be at a much lower pitch if it weren't for a pipeline that comes all the way from Beulah, about 200 miles southeast as a strong crow would fly.

Minister demands staff electricity metre figures The pipeline carries carbon dioxide, one of the most common molecule bonds on earth.

Ghana: Minister demands staff electricity metre figures

The Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment has directed all directors and members of staff of the Ministry to read electricity meters in their offices and official residence every Monday morning and submit the figures to his office.

The exercise, which takes off on Monday, is intended to show the percentage savings the ministry, its departments and agencies, are making as their contribution towards efforts at solving the country’s energy problems.

The Silver Lining to Impending Doom

A curious feature of capitalism is that threats, or more precisely, the human response to them, are economically and technologically stimulating. Or, to put it another way, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

...There are good reasons to believe that crying wolf is exactly what the brightest innovators ought to be doing, and not only in response to the challenge of climate change. As a general matter, high anxiety will lead to more intense pursuit of innovation.

The Production Crunch

The implications for the world economy are potentially catastrophic. The world is not running out of oil, but it will run out of production capacity if the national companies, the new rule makers in this business, don't invest. Already, the petroleum industry is far more fragmented than it was a few years ago. Countries with large resources have an obligation to the world economy to develop their oil, not just cash checks. If they don't, the world will be unable to meet surging Asian demand. Oil-based kleptocracies will be strengthened, making these countries even less stable. The recent elections in Nigeria are an egregious example.

U.S. nuclear revival begins with restart of TVA's oldest reactor

Closed since 1985, TVA's oldest reactor was the scene of a major fire sparked by a candle three decades ago. It has been reborn as a modern 1,200-megawatt atomic generator capable of lighting 650,000 homes.

It isn't over yet for Lord Browne

His bullish refusal to accept that oil is in terminal decline may prove still more haunting than his lies to a judge.

Nigerian gunmen seize British oil worker

Gunmen seized a British oil worker from a rig operating off the Nigerian coast in a dawn attack Saturday, a company spokesman said.

Work was suspended on the rig and 23 people left on board unharmed were safely taken to shore, said Guy Cantwell, a spokesman for Houston-based Transocean Inc. He said the worker was a subcontractor on the rig, which was drilling on behalf of the Nigerian oil company ConOil.

Japan gives $2.1B to stem climate change

Japan pledged up to $2.1 billion in aid Sunday to the Asian Development Bank to combat global climate change and promote greener investment in the region.

Mediterranean nations face up to threat of climate change

Global warming threatens to wreak economic havoc across the Mediterranean basin, warned scientists from 62 research institutes who have banded together to study the regional consequences of climate change and propose ways to adapt.

Mark June 9 on your calendars: The World Naked Bike Ride to protest oil dependency hits the northern hemisphere. "Less gas, more ass."

Check out GliderGuider's post at TOD:Canada entitled Peak Oil, Carrying Capacity and Overshoot: Population, the Elephant in the Room.

Yeah, I saw that. Here's my .002 cents:

I begin my peak oil writing topic by showing my students Albert Bartlett's phenomenal presentation. He says, "Zero population growth is gonna happen." It's like peeling the skins off their poor, innocent eyes.

All of Shake-speare's tragic heroes, too, have to face the dreadful import of their actions. "Howl, howl, howl!" All art is prophetic.

Our great tragedy is that, like the proverbial coyote, we can see what's about to happen to us. Blessed are the yeasts, without eyes or brains.

Our fate's awfulness lies in its simplicity: we will be embarrassed AND humiliated. Like Oedipus, we have done something stupid but understandable: he tried to run away from the Curse of the gods, and we have thought we could evade the laws of nature. Sorry, but you just can't do that. Not in this universe.

The laws of thermodynamics, population theory, etc. are as well known as the curse of Oedipus. Yet we simply turned our backs on them.

It's not that we're no smarter than yeasts: that's a diversion. The issue is control: we simply have not been able to control our numbers. Curtain.

Who of us will be able to face the next ten years without gouging our eyes out?

Here is a link to a scientific report on Cold Fusion. don't discredit it to quickly. The source is the Navy.


and a video presentation on Googlevideo.


Also another science article of note this week was the result that Mercury DOES have a molten core of some sort. This is again another discovery that flies in the face of what was thought to be known. Mercury was thought to have had a SOLID core. They aren't able to provide an explanation of why the core is molten hot.


Plus the Sun is not what it seems. The amount of oxygen with the sun is about HALF of what they though. This too is a big problem for many theories. Throws off many understanding of previous thinking about the universe.


I would also like to point out that Pons and Fleischman are mentioned in this article. It was someone else that broke open the story and in a sense from what I have read and learned, "screwed up' the research etc, and caused CF to be discredited. This same person is now heralded as a hero of a theory using an explosive that is complete BS, and if his path is followed, it too will lead to discredit the research imo.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

What you just posted bears no similarity to what you replied to.

Quantum mechanich does allow fusion to happen at room temperature. But this is extremely rare and would do absolutely nothing to help us solve our energy problems.

Mercury and the Sun, sigh. And this will help us solve our energy problems how exactly.

It's obvious you're just desperate and grasping for straws right now.
What exactly are you thinking? That Mercury having a molten core somehow means we're NOT in overshoot, please. Thats so pathetic its not even funny.

But the thing is that even if we did manage to achieve fusion, and provide us with unlimited energy. This would be some 40 years into the future, and thus be to late to help us right now.
Also nuclear energy provides electricity, while oil is primarily used to provide transportation and feed the petrochemical industry.
So even if we had fusion right now, I find it a bit difficult to see how that would help us solve the overshoot problem. I mean having electricity for you computer is nice, but how excatly will that help us drive a tractor, or getting fertilicer and insecticides.

Tractors run on diesel, they could thus run on biodiesel, and it is feasible to grow enough oilseeds like sunflower and rape to at least fuel the tractors. We have lots of problems confronting us, but I'd put that one pretty far down toward the bottom of the list.

This would make a good article. Consider writing it up. Percent cropland required. How much coal we would need to distill etc. Summery of EROI studies.

The Hirsch report did not include biofuels because they did not consider the technology mature enough (they required a minimum of at least 10,000 bpd capacity to count beyond the pilot stage).

While corn ethanol is terrible for EROI (and we cannot afford the carbon from coal) I wonder how much worse it is that CTL?

Don't have time to do all the reearch required.

I have seen a figure of 6 EROEI for sunflower oil. That compares with a figure I have seen for ethanol of 1.35 - or maybe even <1. If one rigs up an old-time horse-powered press right on the farm, maybe the EROEI could even be a little better for the sunflowers. Running straight veg oil in cold weather is a problem, but as most farm machinery tasks are in warm weather that should not be much of a problem.

How much acreage would have to be dedicated to growing sunflowers to power a tractor for a year? According to the source below, 1 acre of sunflowers should yield 102 gal of sunflower oil per year; rapeseed does a little better at 127 gal/ac.


The total amount of fuel needed to run a farm for a year will depend upon the size of a farm, but I would guess that for most farms we are talking about a few acres at most. The source below lists typical farm fuel consumption per acre for most common mechanized tasks.


Looking at this table, it would appear that the total fuel consumption may run somewhere in the range of 2.5-5 gal/acre, depending upon crop. That would suggest that a single acre of sunflowers should provide enough fuel for at least a 20-40 acre farm. A 160 acre farm may require between 4-8 acres of sunflowers. That would seem to me to leave plenty of acreage for food production.

>Tractors run on diesel, they could thus run on biodiesel, and it is feasible to grow enough oilseeds like sunflower and rape to at least fuel the tractors. We have lots of problems confronting us, but I'd put that one pretty far down toward the bottom of the list.

1. It takes a lot of fuel to transport ag products to consumers that live far away from the fields. Not only do you need to grow the fuel to run the tractor, but the fuel to transport it (refrigerate it), process and package it.

2. A lot US ag. relies on depleting aquifers. Less water means less productivity.

3. US ag. yields are deplendant on petro-chemical inputs (eg. Fertializer, Pesticides). Costs for chemical inputs are already rising, and we have yet to experience an serious declines in energy resources. Before the green revolution, AG yields were about 25% of todays yield. If we abandon the green revolution, we will need to farm 4 times the amount of land to achieve the same production level today.

4. Fixing the AG issues does not resolve social issues with declining energy resources. Millions of Jobs will be lost that are dependant on cheap energy. Most of these people with not be able to adapt (ie retrain, choose a completely different career path), as the major of workers are specialists. In most cases a new career would take at least a decade or more to gain the same level of knowledge base in a new career.

5. This does not also resolve loss of energy for other vital systems and services that are dependant on cheap energy. Transportion, construction, industial processes, electricity, maintanance, etc.

Sounds bad, i can not find an argument that contradicts what you say. Perhaps Europe can cope with the AG issues somewhat better than US, because we have not yet gone so far in the industrial AG buissnes as you have in US.

1. It takes a lot of fuel to transport ag products to consumers that live far away from the fields. Not only do you need to grow the fuel to run the tractor, but the fuel to transport it (refrigerate it), process and package it.

Yes, there are other issues besides fuel for the tractors. We really need electrified rail (large PV arrays in remote locations could provide the power, if most trains were scheduled to run during the day). Biodiesel could also fuel barges and ships for bulk transport of grains. As for the tractors themselves, the oilseeds could be grown and pressed right on the farm.

2. A lot US ag. relies on depleting aquifers. Less water means less productivity.

Yes, water is a big problem - it deserves to be far higher up on the list of problems than the fuel supply for farm equipment. Global climate change should open up more northerly, better watered lands for cultivation to replace the arid lands that are running out of water; not only do northerly lands have more precipitation, they will also have less evaporation, so salinization will be less of a problem. Agriculture is going to have to get a lot better about managing and conserving water, just like we are all going to have to get a lot better about managing and conserving energy.

3. US ag. yields are deplendant on petro-chemical inputs (eg. Fertializer, Pesticides). Costs for chemical inputs are already rising, and we have yet to experience an serious declines in energy resources. Before the green revolution, AG yields were about 25% of todays yield. If we abandon the green revolution, we will need to farm 4 times the amount of land to achieve the same production level today.

Or we could all cut beef out of our diet and make up most of the difference right there. It wouldn't even be necesary to all become vegans - just cut out the beef and that will get us most of the way there.

Fertilizers are the least important input in crop productivity. Making sure the plants get plenty of sunlight and water (& thus keeping the weeds from competing from the plants for water) and keeping all the other life forms from eating the crop before we do are the most important thing. Putting plenty of manure or compost (or now charcoal) back into the land, plus crop rotation that includes legumes, is the only sustainable method of maintainging soil fertility; such an approach also has the advantage of increasing the soil's ability to hold water (see 2 above).

Oh, and one more little silver lining on a black cloud: increasing CO2 levels will INCREASE crop yields.

4. Fixing the AG issues does not resolve social issues with declining energy resources. Millions of Jobs will be lost that are dependant on cheap energy. Most of these people with not be able to adapt (ie retrain, choose a completely different career path), as the major of workers are specialists. In most cases a new career would take at least a decade or more to gain the same level of knowledge base in a new career.

5. This does not also resolve loss of energy for other vital systems and services that are dependant on cheap energy. Transportion, construction, industial processes, electricity, maintanance, etc.

There are a huge number of problems, the list is almost endless. My point was just that there is no need to put fuel for tractors at the top of it.

Fertilizers are the least important input in crop productivity.

You had me going until I got to that line WNC Observer. But at that point I knew you hadn't a fu**ing clue as to what the hell you were talking about. Just try growing corn, or cotton, or soybeans, or wheat without fertilizers and see what kind of yield you get.

Of course water and sunlight is important. But that sure as hell does not mean fertilizer is unimportant. Have you ever heard of Liebig's Law of the Minimum? You cannot grow anything without water, sunlight or the necessary elements in the soil. All of them are important and nothing will grow without them. If you don't have enough nitrogen in the soil, you will not get much of anything. That goes for potassium and phosphate as well.

Of course you could go back to organic farming, or pointed stick planting as they did many years ago. But you would go back to those yields as well. It is with the aid of chemical fertilizers that brought about the green revolution. And if those fertilizers go away, we would only be able to feed a tiny fraction of the people we feed today.

Ron Patterson

Who said without any? Who said unimportant? What I said was LEAST important. Of course soil fertility matters. But you can pour all of the fertilizers you want on the land, but if there is not enough water or sunlight, they will make no difference at all. Soil fertility must be maintained by adding plenty of manure & compost and crop rotation, that is the only sustainable way to do it, and if it isn't done, then of course crop yields are going to be pretty pitiful. Chemical fertilizers have been a convenient but unsustainable shortcut. Maybe using them has generated superior yields, but those are not sustainable yields. But there is no way that shifting from unsustainable to sustainable practices means that yields will disappear.

"But you would go back to those yields as well. It is with the aid of chemical fertilizers that brought about the green revolution."

Erm, I know a couple here who grow crops organically, and they would be the first to pull you up on this point. It took me all of 5 seconds to Google this:


Crop yields from modern organic farming are often equal to or in excess of conventional farming.

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

thats not definitive proof..
but oh well. believe what you want, the green revolution was simply industrializing agriculture. without the energy basis behind that industrialization we will go back to the pre green revolution level of food production if not less due to soil damage between then and now.

I agree that the vast availability of energy was probably the most important part in the green revolution, but that has nothing to do with my comment. Chemical (in the loose sense of argi chem fertilisers - as opposed to manure type) fertilisers are not necessary to maintain high yields.

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

I hope everybody will keep in mind that a lot of those jobs dependent on cheap energy are best not done at all.

So how are those people gonna live when they lose those wortthless jobs? Better that they keep getting paid what they are paid and do nothing, than get paid doing what they are doing which is worse than nothing.

Examples? Almost all advertizing. Many manufacturing jobs resulting in worthless crap. A high proportion of office jobs. On and on. Just look around, notice the tons of entropy generation, and ask "did we need to do that?". No.

Worst of all. What really needs to be done ain't being done. What? Start with education and go on and on.

maybe we can make a transition from crap manufacturing to maintaiance of well engineered and manufactured products (like in the good 'ole days)

not only do northerly lands have more precipitation, they will also have less evaporation, so salinization will be less of a problem.

Because of the rate of change involved, adequate soil cover will be lacking on much of it.

True for permafrost, not so sure that is true for boreal forests (but their soil will be acidic and need lots of limestone)

>Global climate change should open up more northerly, better watered lands for cultivation to replace the arid lands that are running out of water; not only do northerly lands have more precipitation, they will also have less evaporation, so salinization will be less of a problem.

I very much doubt that, because northern regions weather will remain volatile limiting the growing season. There will still be late season cold snaps and early frosts that will inhibit crop yields.

>Oh, and one more little silver lining on a black cloud: increasing CO2 levels will INCREASE crop yields.

CO2 levels are rising in PPM. The small rise in CO2 levels doesn't significantly increase crop yields.

>Or we could all cut beef out of our diet and make up most of the difference right there. It wouldn't even be necesary to all become vegans - just cut out the beef and that will get us most of the way there.

Beef and other livestock can graze on marginal land that isn't suitable for farming. Today livestock are factory farmed because is easier and more economical, bu it doesn't have to operate that way.

>We really need electrified rail (large PV arrays in remote locations could provide the power, if most trains were scheduled to run during the day). Biodiesel could also fuel barges and ships for bulk transport of grains. As for the tractors themselves, the oilseeds could be grown and pressed right on the farm.

1. PV panels are extremely expensive and will become hideous expensive as energy prices soar. Few people understand how much pollution is generated and how much energy is consumed to make PV panels.

2. For Biodiesel farming, please read up on Rudolf Diesel's great biodiesel experiment and why it was abandoned. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a successful large scale farming operation using home-grown biodiesel without subsidation. Yes, I seen the articles about India farmers selling biodiesel. But much of the labor is done with cheap manual labor (pratical slave labor) and they don't consume any of the produced biodiesel for farming operations. They do not operate on a closed cycle. Despite huge diesel shortages in Africa, How come farmers dont simply make thier own biodiesel? Theorically Africa could be a food exporter if only the abandoned there fossil fuels ways! I also hear that there is a Rich Nigerian who wished to deposit a large sum of money in your bank account if you can kindly provide him with your back account information! He made a fortune by using biodiesel for farming!

Personally I am sick of all these wild ideas that people have in their heads that biodiesel, PV panels, Wind, etc are a solution. None of these are practical solutions. Instead of people telling everyone how things could work, how about actually trying it! I would like to see people actually try it for themselves instead of armchair coaching. I doubt anyone here that promotes biodiesel has even tried growing crops and pressing them to make biodiesel.

WInd turbines, HV DC transmission and pumped storage are all workable technologies that are cost effective (to a limited extent) today !

Minor modifications to economics and modest technological improvements will greatly expand the scope of these workable technologies.

For example, for the current price of electricity in Hawaii, I could design a system of wind turbines in Oklahoma, HV DC from there to a massive pumped storage complex around Chattanooga TN (one 2 GW there today) and from there another linked HV DC line to Florida. I might be able to do this for half of the current price of power in Hawaii ($0.32 / 2 = 0.16/kWh).

Best Hopes,


>WInd turbines, HV DC transmission and pumped storage are all workable technologies that are cost effective (to a limited extent) today !

For that to work you need:

A. Land that is Raised sufficient to create a kinetic potential and a place to drain the water into (aka River, lake or sea), and that can be configured to hold a large body of water.
B. An abundant source of water near by
C. An Abundant source of Wind (within a few hundered miles)

This rules out large sections of the US, because

A. Midwest is too flat and too dry
B. Western US already has water shortages.
C. Most of the Eastern US is heavily populated (aka suburbia) which leaves no room for constructing large man-made lakes or expanding existing ones.

There are few areas remaining to build storage facilities because most of the land that meets these requirements is already occupied. Fresh water is also used to supply agraculture and large cities.

Wind will never replace the majority of US electrical Production. I suspect it would probably max out at about 10% of current production.

Now all you need to do come up with another 150% to 170% of electrical production to move the US economy away from liquid and gas fossil fuels (aka to the electric economy instead of our current fossil fuel economy). Good luck.

As a lawyer, you show easily be able to recognize the uphill battle of displacing large groups of people and constructing new HV power lines over people's property, or trying to even build wind farms off the the coast because it "destroys the view, or kills birds" or a million other excuses people come up with.

It should be pretty obvious that nothing is going to be done until we start seeing national rolling blackouts and empty gas tanks. By then it will be too late and it still will take for every as politicans begin the finger pointing as usual and waste valuable resources on non-value projects.

IIRC, I was the one who informed you about the need to construct storage lakes to back up wind production. As we had a debate about the limitations of Wind power.

>For example, for the current price of electricity in Hawaii, I could design a system of wind turbines in Oklahoma, HV DC from there to a massive pumped storage complex around Chattanooga TN (one 2 GW there today) and from there another linked HV DC line to Florida. I might be able to do this for half of the current price of power in Hawaii ($0.32 / 2 = 0.16/kWh).

This would never work. Its way too complex and you have glossed over a huge list of issues that make this project impractical. Even if it could be made to work, Florida is only one of forty-eight states. What about California, Texas, the Mid-West, the Northeast, and the rest of the US's major population centers?

I have read that rapeseed requires a great deal of nitrogen, and NO2 emissions from fields are considerable.  While rapeseed methyl ester (RME) may be carbon-neutral, it is not greenhouse-neutral.

Rather than grow a low-yield oilseed crop specifically for diesel fuel, it may be more efficient to adapt the diesel to run on something closer to raw biomass.  I'd look at:

  • Torrefied biomass (including crop wastes) as fuel for a gasogene feeding an Otto-cycle engine.
  • Turn biomass into bio-oil and use in a suitably modified diesel (corrosion-proof fuel system, etc.)

It shouldn't take much of a biomass yield to do the job.  If crop wastes are insufficient, a relatively small tallgrass plot would yield the fuel required for cultivation.  Excess could be converted to charcoal and tilled in.

There are any number of oilseed crops that can do the job. Most diesel engines can run filtered straight veg oil with no or minimal modification. The problem is cold temps. Sunflower oil remains liquid to a little lower temp than most veg oils, which is one thing to say in its favor. The growing conditions in much of the US are optimal for sunflowers; as a Brassica, rapeseed is a better fit for northerly climes like Canada and N Europe, but can be grown in much of the US as well.

It should be noted that sunflowers, rapeseeds, and other oilseeds are increasingly being cultivated as cover crops in a crop rotation scheme, and can thus play a part in preserving soil fertility. Like all crops, sunflower yields can increase with the application of nitrogen and other fertilizers. It should be noted, however, that the root systems of sunflowers are considerably wider and deeper than is the case with corn, and they are thus able to make good use of the fertility latent in a sustainably managed field with less need for fertilizer supplementation than is the case for some other crops.

My impression is that sunflowers are a relatively easy crop to grow, and are feasible to grow on a small scale; they are one of the few oilseeds that even home gardeners could and routinely do grow. Sunflower seeds are relatively easy to harvest and to process on a small-scale, low-tech basis. My thinking is that what is needed is an oilseed crop that could be processed into biodiesel right on the farm, eliminating the need for energy to transport the seeds to a factory and the oil back to the farmer -- that is what really kills you on EROEI.

Humans have been pressing oils from oilseeds for millennia before the modern industrial age, so it certainly can be done. Rig up a solar roaster to pre-heat the seeds before pressing and you can probably get farmstead production yields that may still be lower than what can be achieved by industrial production, but not that much lower.

The issue isn't the capability.  The issue is the per-acre productivity (acres cultivated per acre of fuel crop) and the net GHG effect.

Harvestable corn stover can come to around 2 tons/acre above what's needed for soil cover.  Compared to 6 gallons/acre of diesel (about 45 lb/acre) for production, the fuel yield overwhelms requirements and none of it comes from the primary product.  With canola, your fuel is your product.

Back in the 80's, FEMA published plans for an emergency wood-gas generator for ag equipment.  The suggested fuel was wood chips, but torrefied biomass would probably work even better.  If you can run the combines on last year's corn stalks, you're doing a lot better than if you have to add acres of something else just to get a liquid diesel fuel.

Prisoner X, first you posted your thread as a reply to another thread that was not remotely connected to your subject. You did this just to get your post near the top of Drumbeat for this day. That was very rude of you.

Second, science is always correcting itself. We are discovering new things each day that proves old theories were in error. Plate tectonics is a perfect example. That is simply how science works, ever discovering and ever revising old theories.

Your reasons for reasons for mentioning the fact that two previously held theories about Mercury and the Sun, are wrong, is obvious. “Science was wrong here so it is obviously wrong about cold fusion as well”. No my friend, that is a non sequitur.

Coating a thin wire with palladium and deuterium, then claiming that charged particles are emerging as a result, is not an example of cold fusion even if it is true. However it might be, as the article points out, “an important precursor to scientists receiving the necessary funding to fuel additional research in the field”. After all, a research grant is the most important thing of all here……Isn’t it.

Ron Patterson

"The laws of thermodynamics, population theory, etc. are as well known as the curse of Oedipus. Yet we simply turned our backs on them."

This was part of that post. You jump to conclusions.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

The classic research paper conclusion: "More research is needed" ;-)

How on earth would getting MORE energy make the problem we're in better rather than worse? It would let us extract more of our depleting global resource base, generate even more waste, and make even more people - all of which are precisely the parameters of the box we're in.

If cold (or even hot) fusion is to be the Deus Ex Machina for mankind, it behooves the priests who worship that Deus to tell us why the Machina isn't going to just kill us all a little faster. If too much energy got us into this predicament, more energy is very unlikely to be the solution.

Would need a bit of a change in values to go along with that bit more energy which seems about as likely as cold fusion.

I wonder if the green revolution as well as mechanized agriculture has as much to do with the population explosion. I think possibly the use of oil has more to do with the concentration of population than any increase that couldn't occur with an organic style of agi. The real use for the oil has been in the production of lots and lots of food transportation and amusing gigas to keep that concentrated population occupied. The difference between oil and no oil is the first way we get to the Olduvai Gorge by Caddy the other by foot.

Exactly. The ultimate nightmare scenario would be some form of limitless energy source like breeder reactors or what have you. For what? SO we can pollute even more of the planet w/ sprawl before running up against the walls of phosphate, fishery,etc. depletion anyways?

I actually watched the Google video (in spite of the abysmal sound quality). Radiation measurement is something that I know about, having worked in that field for over 20 years. The person speaking states that they were unable to measure x-ray/gamma-ray radiation with a standard radiation detection system because "the activity occurs in bursts, so if you have a burst of activity and a lot of nothing, it averages all out". Therefore, they used a type of dosimeter, CR-39, and are basing their claims on results with the CR-39. This smells of bullshit. Standard radiation detection equipment is fully capable of integrating x-ray/gamma-ray/charged-particle events over long periods of time. (I've personally made such measurements extending over many days.) If the integrated count-rate is not above normal background levels, then the conclusion is obvious -- there is no excess radiation.

The dosimeter evidence was unconvincing. While a comparison with natural background counts was made, the speaker doesn't say anything about higher count rates in the deuterium-palladium (D-PD) system, but rather that the chemical etch pits in the dosimeter material have a difference appearance for the D-PD system than for background. That is not what one would expect. If excess radiation is being produced, there should be MORE counts in the dosimeter (for an equivalent exposure time). The change in the appearance could be related to chemical effects in the etching process, or possibly contamination of the materials being used. If they are going to make these kinds of claims, they really need to get some people involved who know how to make accurate radiation measurements.

Once again, this looks like "junk science" where they are always chasing effects that are just at the limit of what we're able to measure, and so they can always claim that the results are "suggestive" or "inconclusive".

IFeelFree turned a great sentence,
"Once again, this looks like "junk science" where they are always chasing effects that are just at the limit of what we're able to measure, and so they can always claim that the results are "suggestive" or "inconclusive".

Be careful about throwing stones however, this is the type of sentence one sees often enough in the mainstream media about peak oil....

Anyway, I want to confirm what you are saying by my own home experiments, but I have to run out and get some batteries for my dosimeter...so long for now....:-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

I have to call 'em as I see 'em. The lecture about cold fusion radiation measurements fits the textbook definition of "junk science". As for peak oil, it's not junk science. Any rational person knows that oil resources are finite. The only disagreement is about the timing of the peak, and that's not a matter of scientific principle. It's a complicated matter of geology, technology, politics, etc.

North American Railroad Electrification Plans from the 1970s

A map that summarizes all of the studies made by different railroads.


IMO, these rail lines would have been just Phase I if oil prices continued to climb, instead of falling in the 1980s.

Best Hopes,


The path not followed. What a shame.

When I worked for the Burlington Northern
RR in 1979 and 1980 they did a preliminary cost study of electrifying various pieces of main routes, some over mountain passes. The results showed a large savings in operational costs especially with fuel saved from regenerative braking and not having to maintain diesel engines.

The reason none of these studies went forward was the capital investments were huge and the RR's could not justify to their bankers that these costs would be repaid with the low level of RR profits. Also, the fuel cost savings would have been less when the price for diesel declined by half in the next few years (1981 to 1986). Had the US government provided some assistance for building this electrification infrastructure some of these rail lines would be saving many millions of gallons of fuel per year. Instead the US Congress started taxing RR's fuel (about 4.5%) and putting the money into a federal budget deficit reduction fund. The trucking industry was also taxed this same amount, but their taxes were put into the Highway Trust Fund for building more roads.
No wonder the US transportation system is headed for disaster along with its oil based economy.

Off Topic

New Orleans mourns the loss of veteran clarinetist Alvin Batiste who passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning, May 6, 2007. Batiste was scheduled to perform at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival later today

I had him marked on my JazzFest calendar. I had not heard him play since before Katrina.

I am looking forward to his Jazz Funeral though.



Best hopes for beautiful clothes-drying weather like this for it.

I'm pretty sure all music started in New Orleans.

Ernie K-Doe

quoted by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top with the proviso "at least for the USA, New Orleans just influenced the rest of the world".

The closing of Alvin Batiste's time slot was extremely moving. Slow adapted hymn with Harry Connick Jr on piano and doing vocals, Branfeld Marsalis and several others. Artfully and soulfully done ! The *ONE* most meaningful song at this year's Jazzfest.

It ranked with last years Bruce Springstein's "What is a poor man to do when bodies are floating on Canal Street, his friends and his family" and the dirge like version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" that closed JazzFest 2006.

Best Hopes,


So much depressing [but not necessarily false] stuff at Peak Oil and The Oil Drum so I want to write about some fun stuff I know something about.

I only read about energy-related material to try to learn something new.

Lawnchair emailed me on Peak Oil that he looked at my 8051 forth book some years ago.

I emailed back that I fired-up a Cypress PSoc [system on a chip] connected with USB to our Toshiba laptop and powered by the USB cable on Friday.

Note the neat Windows pane interface to the PSoc.

The PSoc you see close to the red surface mount LED has on-chip flash.

The Psoc is accompanied with a C compiler and I think you can do assembler prgramming for it too.

A program is downloaded to the PSoc over the USB cable.

I tried download a Cypress test program. And got a checksum error on every attempt. Welcome to the real world.

I also emailed lawnchair a jpg on a 80C51 system I took on saturday.

What's really neat about the picture you see is that a generic 80C51 microcontroller has been replaced with a Dallas 89C430 8051 variant which executes each instruction in one clock as opposed to 12 clocks for the orginal 8051.

And terminal emulator for the above machine worked in a DOS window on our internet machine [AMD XP1.6 running Windows 98SE]. The serial port disk interface doesn't work however.

Another of my project is interfacing a Netchip 2270 USB 2.0 to the above 8051 forth machine using EXPRESS PCB to build the two sided surface mount board.

When I put the project to rest about three year ago to finish our legal project, all was working except the 2270.

The design includes deriving 3.3 volts power and regulated 5 V from the USB cable.

Here's a forth article I wrote for IEEE Software [my computer science phd student, Ted Lewis, was then editor] which explains some of our work with 8085 forth done at Sandia labs and funded by the National Security Agency.

About forth. It is very limited but very useful in some applications. Like building crypto units and interfacing to hardware.

Some video games are sometime written in forth. Early satellites were programed in forth. Telescopes too.

If you have a mac, then your mac boots in forth [open system boot architecture].

And the former USSR used forth and a variant of the 8051 to fuze some of its weapon systems. And I wrote a Sandia-approved book about this funded by the National Security Agency? Oh dear.


I have never read such a long post where I didn't understand a single frackin word that somebody wrote. This is why I did chemical engineering, instead of CS or EE.

I have to admit that I as straining to see the relevance here. Sounds very cool but I can't imagine why.

I feel the similarly too, depending on the subject.

Here's my USB 2.0 Netchip 2270 ExpressPCB board layout.

It's all working except for the 2270.

I also do vw rabbit repair unless it becomes too complicated for me.


I have never read such a long post where I didn't understand a single frackin word that somebody wrote.

Oh he simply suggests running the Oil Drum web site in FORTH (since this programming language can navigate soviet missiles, bring a man to the moon and back, and runs on stone age hardware :-).

The problem with FORTH is that your code is ugly; if you polish it, you reverse your progress.

(inside joke)

I no idea what joke you're referring have. I think FORTH a wonderful, natural language is. People don't rational and logical thoughts think and they it on FORTH blame.

I like it. That's jupiter ace.

FORTH, because the world is stacked against you.

Yes. If you do forth, then the world is stacked against you. The C people will get you

Silicon valley forth contractors used to tell me, "C is an American disease."

You can make a lot more money doing C, C++, MASM, Windows device drivers.

I learned after doing forth.

Real message is the advance in building surface mount PCBs using

When at Sandia labs I spent thousands of dollar per board.

I use I Harbor Freight heat gun to lay down the chips.

Then I use aluminum foil to guard chips I don't want to remove when removing the chips I do want to remove.

Intelligence is moving into the chips so their are fewer of them.

So ExpressPCB makes a LOT OF SENSE.

Neat and fun comments.

Only a sunday post on forth and hardware development.

best to all

You guys get back to ENERGY business on Monday.

Thanks for the refreshing retreat into pure techno-babble. I didn't get much of the hdw or programming jargon, or even the intention, but I've been smiling throughout this whole thread.. so you've done some good in the world!

To jump egregiously to the other end of the Tech-Gratis-Techia band-wagon, my diversion this weekend from the stark reality (and what sometimes grimly poses as stark reality) here at TOD was to indulge in some Sidewalk Shopping during Portland (Maine)'s "Bulk Item Garbage Pickup" Week, where all manner of manna is left streetside for our perusal and reusal before it gets scooped into dumptrucks and carted to the magical land of 'Away'.

I scored a couple 24" Plexi Mirrors for a Tracked Solar-Lighting project.. a 36v DC PM Motor and a SLA Battery, etc from a Mini Motorbike, to be reversed into either Windpower or MicroHydro .. 1 Gallon Glass Jars for Grain and Staples Storage (and Making some Russian Kvass) .. Some rigid Insulation .. half a dozen square KittyLitter Buckets, for dry tool storage out at our woodlot .. and I can't get my mind off that we exercise bike with the perfect little flywheel on it, to convert into a pedal-powered workstation (not computers, but Grain-Grinding, Lathe, Routing, Tool Sharpening.

Some of the best tech stuff on the streets is the discarded exercise equipment, since they're made from decent-quality (even really great) materials, sometimes have hardly been touched, and there are multiples of the same machines out there, if you need identical parts! The number of things I've made using just Nordic Tracks, it boggles the mind! (Usually Camera Cranes..) That's the kind of Fusion I'M talkin' about!~

Thought I'd share,
Bob Fiske

I too have been known to grab exercise equip. from the ends of driveways. Great free source of square and round steel tube that can be cut up and used for fabricating whatever you desire. Price up steel stock sometime at your local supplier, its not cheap.

You must be reading my mail!

Right angle square tube pieces haunt my dreams! And when there's a ball bearing set built into the end of that? Heaven, sheer heaven...


The first micro I ever coded for a living in 1983 was an 8051. The company I worked for didn't have an assembler for it, but they did have a 6809 assembler. So we hacked the 8051 instruction set into a set of 6809 macros that parsed the 8051 assembly language and spit out the appropriate machine code as data constants. M-I-C ... K-E-Y ... K-L-U-G-E...

Ah, the good old days.

This takes me back a bit. I cobbled together a version of Forth running on DEC LSI-11 machines under RT-11 back in the 80s. I used to distribute programs supporting our x-ray spectrometers with this. It was fun. I really enjoyed the conferences at Asilomar. Those were great. Later I moved to Japan and attended FIG meetings there. I even managed to publish a couple of articles in Japanese. That was more work than it was worth. This is totally off topic from PO, just reminiscing.

The nation's paper of record features an article on electric bikes (of course, where I reside, riding a bike--electric or otherwise--means risking your life among the gigantic PU trucks and SUVs barreling down the roads, so it's only an interesting novelty, but for those who live elsewhere...)


I am still contemplating the purchase of an electric bike. Like the people in the article, it has to be a folder. I don't live in NYC, but I do live up a flight of stairs, and there's simply no place to store a non-folding bike downstairs.

Me and my wife own pedalassisted electrical bikes. I can only recommend them. It´s fun and you don´t sweat. And you get light exercise without pains, which we all need if we want to live a long life.

That's what I want. I don't want to go a bazillion miles an hour, and I don't want the kind you can't pedal at all. I just want a little help on the hills now and then.

Yeah, I've noticed that the best e-bikes are from Europe and Asia. There seems to be growing interest here in the U.S., but we're still way behind the rest of the world.

You may have to contact a company directly to see how you can get one over here. The Electric Bikes site has US dealership addresses, that could be a start.

From what I've heard, it's just not possible, at least for a reasonable price.

I am leaning toward the Dahon (though I worry it's underpowered), or buying non-electric folder and converting it myself.

Converting it yourself is reasonable. I've watched bike shop mechanics put together "specials" for over 40 years and every single one of them worked. Of course many needed a bit of re-engineering along the way but all perfectly straightforward stuff.
Main pitfalls involve weight. Bikes are generally not overbuilt, adding static loads throws out everything. Since motors torque so much more smoothly than humans powertrain is surprisingly nonproblematic.
I looked around a bit and not clear the Dahon is available.

Too many of the electric bikes out there are prototypes and projects. Too many press releases. If you don't really know what you're getting, who you're dealing with, best to stay with something conservative from a company that's really in business. (OTOH some of the prototype bikes give you implausible quantity of beautifully engineered hand machined goodies and the price says someone just handed you a big gift)
Do not worry about underpowered. You said you wanted assist. Power requires battery weight, put in a big enough battery and you need to use that battery on every micro-incline. And things break.

Leanan, look at air assisted bikes too. I don't know of any manufactures but the concept looks correct and can regenerate while riding and no batteries, though probably a lot less power.

I vote for the Dahon. 37# is quite light for an electric and you got stairs.
Dahon has lotsa dealers, hope they have this one. Have long noticed the coolest Dahon stuff is non-US.
Wayback in 70's Dahon had quality issues that spoiled the market a bit. That is long long gone. Good bikes.

the U.S., but we're still way behind

OJ at rabbittool has a patent on a geared hub. Still in the 'need to ship' phase - Japanese companie(s) were going to do the manufacturing last I knew.


That appears to have a superior motor controller to most of the kits I've seen, and the design of the battery pack (if I'm looking at it right) is genius. But the motor itself? Why geared? Gearless hub motors have proven themselves effective and efficient with no appreciable drag when freewheeling and no gears to wear out. Plus I hate the kits that castrate the original gearing cluster. For more hilly places and longer rides, the battery pack IS going to deplete and you'll be left with a very heavy bike and steep gearing.

Thanks Seadragon!
(for future readers - here's a no-reg link to the article, made with the NYTimes link generator)

Real Goods sells an electric folding bike (UrbanMover Terrain, with NiMH battery) for $1200. I got my (non-folding) UM Sprite from them and I couldn't see going back to wholly-human-powered biking.

Maybe the bike's a novelty for now, but IMO it's not going to stay one.

only possible issue is slopes - UM says "up to 12%", I think Giant Suede was "up to 15%" ("hill climbing" column in Electric Bikes NW's comparison table gives relative info for Giants and Ezees incl. the Quando.)

p.s. in case anyone's wondering, I am not graywulffe's lively hazel eyed Anna.

That looks interesting. Does it fold up quickly and easily? Is it light enough to ride without power?

I don't know. I expect that the Terrain's light enough for no-power riding, since my Sprite (also UM) barely weighs more than a mtn bike, when you have the battery off.
(ergo UM bikes aren't heavy)

What's the grade of the hills you'll need to climb?
If less than 12%, I'd say contact Real Goods (Gaiam) support , tell them you ride herd here at The Oil Drum, and see if they'll get you in touch with Terrain buyers.

Of course what they ought to do is give you a very steep discount...

Here's the contact form for the Seattle store that sells Quandos (folders) - you might ask if they can get you in touch with some Quando owners.

And the national distributor for UrbanMovers is in Sonoma Calif., his email addr is info.us at urbanmover.com (let me know if that addr doesn't work for you) - he might be able to get you in touch with Terrain owners.

As for UrbanMover bike quality - it _is_ a NiMH battery not SLA like the $300 ones (IIRC), and my Sprite handles better than the only other modern e-bike I've tried (giant suede - although Sally loves hers), and I have to say I love it.

Please report back with what you find out (and what you do).

from Specs for the Quando -
"Folding and unfolding takes around 30 seconds. The folded bike is supported by its kickstand, keeping it stable and upright."

From the UrbanMover FAQ: "...in a survey of electric bike owners, a third of respondents used their bikes typically at least once a day and 81% used their electric bikes at least once a week...at least twice as often as a conventional bicycle."

Here's a UK electric bicycles forum - it has a thread on cheap bikes, and also a bike reviews section.

The Urban Mover thing looks like a Chinese basic $300 folder with some add-ons. And I gotta wonder if you can get the saddle high enough so that the pedals are useful. Pictures not good enough to be sure but seems sketchy - as you would expect from a $300 folder.
The Ezees have a seat tube angle so severely steep that no human will ever use the pedals except as footrests. Clearly not built by anybody who ever rode a bike
Most bikes sold on the American market will only ever function as garage ornaments. Sad but true. Lotsa carryover into the ebike arena. Caveat emptor.

Toward Yesteryear

Dear Anna,

How long has it been since I actually wrote you a letter by hand? Years, for sure. Remember those little notes that I would send you? The ones where I would draw wildflowers and butterflies in the margins? And include uplifting thoughts to help you through your busy workday? So long ago! Before either of us had discovered e-mail. I certainly enjoyed writing those letters. As I penned those messages, I always imagined your soft face, framed by your fine brown hair, and your lively hazel eyes.

Well, Anna, it seems that life demonstrates again that it tends to flow in circles, or more accurately a long and irregular spiral. I recall all those discussions we used to have about life philosophies. Life, of course, acts. We can believe all we want that it will move forward in a certain direction, and then something comes along to remind us that it can, without advance notice, change at any moment.

Just as I hung my hands over the computer keyboard to type out a note to you, the electrical service failed. Now, I sit in the dark with two little candles flickering on my old dining table, and can't help this stark feeling that, perhaps, we're seeing the beginning of the end of the "new" way of doing things. We're entering a new era, I suspect, and we'll have to adapt to yet another "new way." And this new way looks like it may be similar to the "old way" that, currently, seems like a distant memory.

Oh, I'm sure the power will return to California at some point, Anna. We've all been through blackouts throughout our lives. And, in this case, the grid doesn't appear to be damaged. Stars fill the sky. There has been no storm to crack power poles, no earthquake to shake lines to the ground. No, Anna, this appears to be classic load-shedding. An all-too-familiar rolling blackout. I wish I knew more, but my usual source of information is, of course, down—the internet. I should try to find that emergency radio. Maybe when I'm done penning this letter.

"Load shedding?" you ask. I can still hear your voice so clearly. That sweet, soft tone that enthralled my young ears. Yes, Anna, even in the vast, powerful United States, we aren't immune from the consequences of a strained energy supply. Here in little Ukiah, I'm probably the victim of the demand from the masses who live just to the south, in the dynamic and energy-hungry San Francisco Bay Area. Perhaps this is due to an increase in heating demand from a recent cold spell. Summer has forgotten to arrive, that's for sure! I suspect that we might have a frost here, under that clear, cold sky. And with natural gas in short supply due to ever-diminishing production despite an ever-increasing number of new well-heads, the price sure has escalated. Those natural gas outages in So Cal weren't just quirks. I'm sure much of the remaining supply is being allocated to emergency services first, and other customers second. As a result, I can only guess that many people have switched to portable electric heaters. Which might have put an enormous strain on the electricity supply. Now many of us sit in the dark, and become increasingly cold.

In fact, I just donned another blanket. That beautiful cover that you made for me during our long honeymoon. The one decorated with carefully-cut fabric leaves in all shades of autumn warm--red, orange, yellow. The lively cloth foliage is hard to see in the dim light. But even with diminished presence, the promise of a toasty reprieve from the chill is reassuring. Ah, yes, Anna, I can see your wry smile. Indeed I should have bought some wood for my little fireplace, the one that has been unused for perhaps a half-decade. I recall how you loved fires. They so fit with your idea of romance. Feel free to laugh at me now, for I'm now wishing I shared your romantic sense—I should have been more sympathetic to the simple joys you found in life. I'd at least have more warmth! And from more than one source.

What an amazing, and frightening time we live in, Anna. Peak oil and peak natural gas, as they go through their uncompromising arc of depletion, have now bumped us down the comfort scale. Load shedding used to be a problem for the poor, or so-called "developing" nations, only occasionally showing up in the developed world due to very--how should I put it?--interesting circumstances. The local news agencies have been failing us over recent years, only rarely reporting the ever-increasing occurrences of power interruption in developing nations. And even more rarely portraying the situation within its broader geopolitical framework despite a strong interdependence between nations. Thus failing to show us how the problem has been spreading like a stealthy disease: South Africa, the Philippines, Pakistan, India, Colombia, to name just a few places that have been suffering increasing hardship. As the price of fossil fuels escalated since the early part of this decade, many of the poorer nations have been struggling to keep power plants in operation, and maintaining vulnerable distribution grids. Now it looks like the load-shedding problem has migrated up the international ladder of affluence and is hitting the so-called "first world."

I had to smile after writing the above paragraph. Yes, Anna, I certainly haven't lost my enthusiasm for the subject of energy production. I recall you reminding me more than once that I often got carried away with that topic. In front of your carefully-made romantic fires, or at dinner parties, or even on evening strolls through the park, where a simple lamp alongside a path would bring to my mind thoughts of electron flow and hydroelectric dams. Sometimes you just wanted to talk about more personal things. Concrete, down-to-earth things. Like plans for our next vacation. Or events in our friends' lives. Or our recent adventures in the workplace. Vividly, I recall how the little stories I told about my childhood would keep you deeply enthralled. I was a bit of a wild-child. I now understand how my adventures would interest you, sweet Anna, the girl who always wanted to please her parents. I should have accommodated you more often, and listened to your own stories with as much care as I put into my work on energy. You always had a thoughtful approach to life. And we certainly had the ability to talk about many things when we were young. What happened? I guess we changed. Just like the world is changing before our very eyes. Or, perhaps more so, we were too busy with our extremely active progress-driven lives to pause, and explore the very things that had brought us together in the first place.

How I wish I could sit next to you now, Anna, and tell you more of those stories from my boyhood. To simply sit close to you, and feel your warmth under the pretty blanket of dancing autumn leaves. To simply hold your hand--hopefully it would be one of those times when your fingers were actually warm! How such small digits ever retained heat still amazes me to this day. Yes, Anna, with someone near, someone whom I could talk to, the dark would be much less intimidating.

As it is, I don't even have a cat! It's just me, and my tiny, old house. And your lovely blanket. I guess writing to you helps. I hope you're okay down there in Monterey. Maybe you still have electricity. I'm not sure--without a doubt the greater Bay Area's in the dark, or there wouldn't so many crisp, clear stars in the sky. In any event, I suspect the power will be up and running again sometime after sunrise. We will then resume our normal lives. Until the next hiccup. And, I'm sure, power interruptions will increase in frequency and duration over the years. At some point, what passes for normal will look quite different from what we've experienced up to the present. I hope social unrest during this critical transition doesn't cause serious problems. How people will react to fear--fear about the gigantic unknown that the energy downturn poses--is my biggest concern as we enter this uncertain time.

Feel free to send me your thoughts. I wish you well, Anna. Know that I'm thinking about you, and if you ever need assistance at this important juncture in history, I will be there for you. As you can easily tell, I've never really stopped loving you. Maybe, as the world changes, and the pace of our lives slows to a more sane level, we will discover some of that magic spark that so captured us decades ago. The end of the industrial age could very well have its perks.

May the US Postal Service will continue to run for a long time.

Take care, Anna,

Your good friend, Anthony


Thanks for reading!



Kuwait: What has the announcement of audited reserve figures to do with national security????

Those cheiks are spinning around, it's just incredible.

He's probably right. If it became generally accepted that the present numbers are bogus a hell of a lot of people would suddenly become very interested in grabbing what's left.

The odd thing is they say "we will never reveal our oil reserves as a matter ofnational security"! Yet at the same time they publish their reserves in the oil and gas journal. They are basicaly admitting that the figures they publish are bogus.

brutus11, if the Kuwaiti Monarchs and the Saudi King let the peasants know how much of the national treasure they have pissed away and stashed in overseas bank accounts there would be a fundementalist Islamist revolution. They've given away national sovereignty by allowing the US to occupy their countries, and when the peasants awake there will be the devil to pay. It would be enough to make me an anarcho-syndicalist if I wasn't one already.

The working class and the owning class have nothing in common!

if the Kuwaiti Monarchs and the Saudi King let the peasants know how much of the national treasure they have pissed away and stashed in overseas bank accounts there would be a fundementalist Islamist revolution. They've given away national sovereignty by allowing the US to occupy their countries, and when the peasants awake there will be the devil to pay.

Having lived in both countries… it is a mistake to try to “lump” them together as you have done… whilst there are superficial similarities... there are fundamental differences.

Firstly, Kuwait does not have a “monarch”… but it does have a ruling family... the Al Sabahs… and a functioning (if limited in its powers) parliament.

Remember, also, that there are only 1 million Kuwaitis… (serviced by 2m expat workers) and they are all by western standards “rich”. Those males not running their own businesses are provided with a state “desk job” in one of the ministries. There is also free education & healthcare & housing loans and other financial benefits too numerous to mention.

Yes, the Al Sabahs do take a large slice of the oil pie... but I think it is fair to say that most Kuwaitis generally accept that the system in place ensures that the oil revenues trickle down to all levels of society.

Kuwaitis are consequently well-educated & well travelled… many having homes in London, France, Switzerland, Egypt etc. where they escape the 50oC temps of summer.

There are no “peasants” and there is no talk of money having been “pissed away” in overseas bank accounts. There will be no Islamic "revolution" in Kuwait.

Finally, post-liberation, there is obviously no resentment towards USA in Kuwait… and certainly with unstable Iraq & Iran to the north… no sense that US forces are “occupying” their country. They were invited and welcome.

What neither country has is diversification from the primary oil industry; though Kuwait is a financial hub (somewhat smaller than Dubai or Bahrain). And, of course neither wishes to take the tourist route of Dubai… (though, what the future of tourism will be in a post-peak world has been questioned on TOD before)

It was said that pre-invasion Kuwait earned more from its investment income than it did from oil. Paying for Desert Storm post-1991 dented that but no doubt the recent high oil prices have filled the coffers again.

Can a country live on investment income alone??

By comparison, the Eastern province of KSA was on a slightly lower rung of wealth when I was there in the early 80s… but of course KSA has seen a tripling in population since then and two decades of lower oil prices… with consequent effects on incomes.

There are no “peasants” and there is no talk of money having been “pissed away” in overseas bank accounts. There will be no Islamic "revolution" in Kuwait

There may be no 'peasants' per se - as in Kuwaiti nationals - but there certainly are poor downtrodden schmucks who fill the peasant niche.

When helping shut down the postwar oil fires and spills my organization was apalled to see the Al Sabahs' moving entire families of oilfield workers back into the petrochemical hell with adjacent wells still blazing. Little children would be out in the streets hacking carcinogenic black gunk from their lungs in noontime twilight under blackened skies. When we started our work there, the edict was that each well had to be returned to PRODUCTION before other fires were quenched. We pressed to get this changed. There may be some on this board who will contradict this, if so they weren't there.

My people asked my permission to speak out about the kids forced into the disaster, and got it; thus there were reports of mistreatment of the oilfield workers and their families fed by us to the international media (who we were escorting, since otherwise there was a media blackout), and pressure was brought to bear on the Al Sabahs on several issues. However, this did cause Kuwait to renege on agreements with us to reimburse the costs we had fronted to curtail environmental damage, costing us huge bucks we could ill afford to lose.

The Al Sabah's have a lot to answer for, though they'll probably never have to.

From the gas article.

Over the last five years U.S. gas supplies (i.e., domestic production and imports) have been declining. This has led to both a tight supply and demand balance and high natural gas prices. In addition, many industry observers project that these trends will continue and, as a result, forecast further increases in gas prices.

However, there is now clear evidence that an opposite set of conditions could materialize—potentially over the next two years. The evidence for increasing production arises from two developments:

Drilling activity has increased every year since 2002. The average gas-directed rig count has grown 15% in just the past year and, at record levels of over 1,400, has doubled in four years.
An industry shift to developing more unconventional resources (i.e., shales, tight sands, and coalbed methane). The unconventional resources have turned out to be much more prolific than was imagined even a decade ago.

The level of disconnect from reality is absolutely astounding. Not only is it obvious the author has no idea what he's writing about (tight sands). But the obvious conclusion escapes him. If the rig count is up but production is down. Must mean the size of the wells drilled is decreasing.

I've been working on unconventional gas projects for about a year now, Barnett-Woodford shale in the Permian Basin and the Delaware Basin. There's a lot of shut-in production, some for lack of pipelines and some from lack of a market. I've got a buddy with coal bed methane wells in Montana and his best offer is $2.00/mcf, while the market price is around $7.50 on the Gulf Coast. And, exploration seems to be slowing.
Of course, one good hurricane and prices will skyrocket.

Unconventional gas wells seem to have a 60% decline rate in the first year, and an additional 40-50% decline the second year, with the wells then lasting at least 20 or 30 years. After about 5 years they need to be re-fracked then can be refracked several more times. They are very expensive to produce compared to conventional gas wells because they make a lot of water and must be pumped and the water disposed of in injection wells. For the wells to remain economic gas prices need to remain above $5.00/mmbtu. Most of the operators are gambling that future natural gas prices will be at least double their current price over the next 30 years.
The majors- Exxon-Mobil, Shell and Connoco-Phillips- are all very heavy in the shale plays right now, and its their first significant onshore domestic exploration since the 1970's. Whether this is because they see a huge potential because of the prices or because of their diminishing overseas opportunities, they're drilling. So is Boone Pickens, and about half the independent operators in the US.
Anybody wanna buy a 70,000 acre lease block at 78% NRI offsetting three Barnett-Woodford wells producing 1.3mmcf, 1.2mmcf and 300 mcf vertical wells? $125.00 per acre, new 5 year leases. bobebersole2004 at yahoo.com, 409-392-7497.

Let's say for a minute that the gas article is correct -- that we're in good shape with nat gas for awhile. But let's also say that oil prices go up a bunch. How much effect would those oil prices have on nat gas prices? And why?

Talk about “slow boil”.

Well some of ya were yesterday

John Williams, of shadow government statistics is on at the end of Puplava’s
Show. Lisa Margonelli author of OIL ON THE BRAIN is on earlier.


He shows inflation at 10+%, has been for some years. This is the hidden tax that Ron Paul talks about.
Williams believes TSHTF soon. His financial advice at the end of the piece is to put all your money in stocking up on small tradable goods if you want to save your family.

I am so sick of the MSM talking about “sub-prime mortgages going bad”.
Like people are digging through their file cabinet, pulling out the mortgage, open the folder up and take a wiff, PU!!! Yep that one’s gone bad.

Its people’s inability to pay the mortgage that should be the focus of the reporting. Yes I understand all about ARMs and resets and all the creative lending elements but IMO it still boils down to ability to pay.

Wheres all the prosperity they keep talking about that will allow people to continue to pay the bills?

Wages are falling, stagnant or at best increasing at so called “cost of living” increase of 2.5 to 3% while the value of that $ is decreasing at 10+%. (don’t worry I won’t post any graphs).

It’s like each night as you sleep a gang comes in and rebuilds your house around you only 10% smaller. You can’t tell what it is but something ain’t right.

Patience, the real fun will not begin until the day the yen carry trade unravels.
This will not happen until the day the hedge funds cannot repay their Japanese lenders, but the day will come.

OK, here's what i don't get about hidden inflation: wouldn't it be reflected in borrowing rates? Ie if inflation is actually 9%,then how is it I'm able to borrow money on a credit card for 7.9%? Would the bank be losing money in real dollars? THanks in advance.


mtn, two ?'s.
1) what interest rate does the bank pay on deposits?

2) what do you think the "actual inflation" rate is ?

They probs pay low single digit percentages. Not sure if that matters here.

I have no idea what the real inflation rate is. That's what I'm trying to understand.The official figure is in the high 2's i think. Many are claiming it is higher. IT would just seem to me that it could not really be higher than what banks are loaning money for since banks would have to be considered smart money (right?). One would expect that the real rate would be the lowest interest rate charged (somewhere in the 5's) minus a reasonable profit for the bank, which would come out to somewhere around the official figure.


well, i have an online account that pays 5 % , i also have cash flow accounts that pay near zero. and although people are not in the habits of saving, those deposit accounts do add up and are loaned out for little more than administrative costs. of course there is some risks to the lender.

with respect to credit card accounts, yes low interest loans are available, but these are mostly teaser loans. either they are for a limited time and the credit card co wants you to roll it over to a high interest loan. or they are assuming that sometime during the term of the loan, you will miss a payment, or make a late payment. this may not happen to you, but it will on average, happen.
another pitfall is to have a low interest loan and charge additional goods on that card (take a vacation, say). guess which balance gets paid off 1st. (the low interest one) and you will be paying the high rate on the goods until the entire balance is zero.
credit cards can be used to your advantage, you have to be really careful.
oh and another thing, credit cards are considered revolving credit, and will generally have a negative effect on your credit score.
and best of luck with your finances.

yeah i was thinking that. probs they average 10-11% on the teaser accts when one takes into acct all the people who violate the terms and then get jacked up,miss pmts and incur fees etc.


Yeah i play that game w/ the cards. Def can save you some money. I finally got a little careless and missed a pmt on one. Fortunately it was not one of thge ones w/ a reset. Am going to cancel a couple of the ones w/ low balances to get things a little more ship shape.

Here is one more observation re. real inflation: I have a consolidated student loan that pay every month. It is a good chunk of change and i just chip a way a little principle every month. PMts are 90% interest. Rate is in the 6's so it does not freak me out that bad (it's like asmall mortagage sans the house...). Anyways, I run my own business along w/ all the attendant transactions involved. I think this gives me a pretty good perspective on real value of money. If inflation were 10% ,it would really seem like the principle value of that loan was going down a lot in real terms. It would be going down by half in about 4 years if i just pay off the interest. Just doesnt seem like it has been going down anywhere near that much. Just my perception


yes indeed. but is your perspective based on earnings ? which may or may not be increasing at the rate of real or imagined inflation. or, is your perspective based on cost of living or disposable income?

from my perspective, i see costs increasing (taxes, insurance medical care to name a few) escallating at a much higher rate than official inflation.

The observations would be from a little of everything:purchases,sales,net etc. That said,it's possible that i am insulated somewhat from the costs. I drive a small car and i live in NYC so a dont drive long distances most of the time.I rent my apt. (stabilized) and just cover hot water and electric. Single. Probs if i had a family i would notice more. That said i do not think the real value of the principle of the loan has gone down more than 5% (incl. 1-2% principle paid) Maybe i'm wrong. Hope so.


The interest rate in the US is artificially low due to foreign central bank recycling of dollars by purchasing US Treasury Bills. Demand for T-Bills, causes interest rates to be lower than the real rate of interest.

Yes, foreign central banks are actually loosing money on the T-Bills. They are earing 5%, but if actual inflation is at 10%, they are loosing 5% each year.

However, global economics are not necessarly driven by profit motive, it is driven for political purposes.

If we truely had a free market, interest rates in the US would be much higher.

Recommended Biog - Especially for Los Angeles Area


Written by Darrell Clarke, who spent about 20 years supporting and advocating the Expo light rail line.

Note the cross-section proposed at the bottom of the page (under Expo Line).

Not heavy duty analysis, but a good overview of LA area issues that touch on national issues.

Best Hopes for Darryl and wife retiring to New Orleans,


LA is one of the hard nuts to crack, wrt peak oil mitigation. ( I have always hated driving in LA, through LA, and around the surrounding areas. ) The population density of the greater LA metropolitan area is too low to support rail with enough stations to be within walking distance ( < 1 mile) of the majority of the population (even worse for San Diego and San Jose counties.) In the California cities there may be a few corridors that are dense enough, but those are usually just a small fraction of the total population.

This population density problem is of course why the US (and Canada) have not been able to support rail (and conversely why Japan and Europe have been able to build large rail systems.)

But, it goes deeper.... The thinking process (say, of someone shopping for an apartment) of the LA shopper contrasted with, for example, an Osaka shopper is quite different. If you are looking for an apartment in a Japanese city you might try online at http://www.chintai.net/osaka/top/CGI/index.cgi . On that webpage you'll notice top-central area there is a large rectangle with three columns, on the left column are three entries starting with "JR". Those are categories of rail transport (JR, subway, private rail), clicking one brings up the actual lines in that category, etc. The process (usually employed) is one of shopping by rail line.... it is just part of your (Japanese) automatic thinking process.

It is that enculturation that as an American I took to, and many others do to. However others do not take to it. The psychological and cultural make up of the American populace is varied and while there are plenty or rail supporters (at least nominally so if queried on a survey) in the US, the truth is the thinking process of the average American is inimical to lifestyle-by-rail.

And that is the hard nut - Southern California is all about paradise via automobile. The LA blue line, even with extension, is a token effort to demonstrate something else but it is a nominal effort. A noble effort it is, but not a significant one if your goal is to reduce auto traffic. Ditto San Diego trolley, and rail in the San Jose valley. To change the lifestyle-thinking of residents in these major California metropolitan areas is the herculean task.

The crisis approaches........
I observe by noting that a few here are entering more into an introspective mode or what I call 'spiritual insight'...or you can call it 'whaterver' but Graywulff does so by sharing his innermost personal thoughts and BillP does so by sharing his interest in Forth(once wrote a few routines in Forth) and electronics and I do it by lamentations(bees,timber,soil...).

So now some I notice are not posting as much as before, myself included. We are aware as never before of the oncoming crisis and are hurrying in diverse ways to avoid it as much as possible by preparing as best we can.

I say give those who are entering a catharsis at this time, a little slack. They must express or be alone and those alone times can be trying.

I don't know Graywulff's past life experiences but I can commiserate for I too have a past that dogs me badly when my thoughts go elsewhere.

A young girl who loved me badly during the time of the Class of 57. I dumped her severely after two years and she became somewhat insane as a result. Electroshock theraphy, massive pyschological drugs. Persisted for years and finally she managed to get the job done by finally overloading her heart beyond all measure and it complied by dying.

I later tried to find her grave for I felt endtimes approaching and wished to bury ghosts of the past before it all came dooming down. All I found was where her ashes were
supposed to be and not even a headmarker nor stone to mark the remains of my first love.

All I have are some memories of the times we shared and how soft her eyes shone in the backseat of that 53 Dodge at the drive-in theatre and the way she spoke. I never speak of this much. Its too hard to do so and Graywulff has opened some old and painful sores.

So perhaps TOD might in the end serve as a place for some for shedding some of that baggage , if that is possible or even desirable.

We are all going to have to become familiar with suffering I am sure. In the future ,in the dark and maybe all alone.

To those who can survive? I salute you. Don't give up. Something of value may exist on the other side. I doubt it will be a techie landscape. Spirit will be of great value and most of the rest you can throw on the compost pile.

In the unknown that lies ahead? Where ever good people come together let me hope that they don't go down this doomer road again,this worship of technology and energy. Re-resurrect the human spirit and remember those who were your heros and mentors from the past. Love and treat your mates decently. Raise your children right. Help your neighbors. Get down on your knees sometimes ,for the earth and nature is too precious to not worship. Treat all animal life with respect even if you must consume it. Don't trash the environment,its our only home if it lets us live on in any way or form.


I kept reading about switchgrass. I think it was used as cattle feed, perhaps in the outdoor ovens of indigenous peoples to cook their food. Have not seen any pilot projects for wood based alchohol succeed, so there was alot of buzz about it, but not much fact. The Germans tried it but found coal to oil to be cheaper. Where is all this switch grass talk coming from? It seems to be low on the list of priorities. They made more growing corn in the north and sugar cane in the south. God help us prevent some loonie from suggesting that government fund it. They ought better fund grain hybrids or converting to battery operated vehicles and new local electric projects. This switch grass is about as practicle as trying to run New York on cow manure methane instead of putting the manure on corn fields.

Where is all this switch grass talk coming from?

You've got people who's line of thinking is 'burn 'waste wood'' to make carbon to use in Carbon-Zinc air batteries, When asked about getting the micro-elements back to the land they handwave about how 'the market will provide the drive' to return the 'spent' material to the land.
(VS The link at the top about selling your straw)

Combined with the Big Ag who'd like someone else develop their markets - the talk'n about growing grass will continue.

God help us prevent some loonie from suggesting that government fund it.

Havn't ya figured it out? That is exactly what will happen as the purpose of the State is to help big business. Tax and spend, borrow and spend - it'll work to xfer the money from the masses to the people/businesses who give at campaign time.

Thanks for the post.


Glad to see you posting. Sorry if your feeling down.
Have you planted a garden? If so, I am curious to know
how it is doing. While visiting my mom in western KY last
weekend I noticed some bumble bees and a few honey bees
working the white clover blooms near her garden. The honey
bee numbers seem fewer this year but I am encouraged seeing
them out doing their thing. My mom's garden is doing quite well, so far.

Yes Rude Crude,

Lots of potatoes(yukon gold,kennebec white and pontiac red), onions of three kinds,corn of two varieties,two varieties of tomatoes,and finally cucumbers and mesclun. More to go yet.

Today near the pole barn I finally saw ONE honey bee working a white clover head. That was all so far. So there must be a least one feral hive not too far away.

Lots of rain,creeks are out, river is in the backwater. Planting has been severely delayed by the large acreage farmers due to the wet and cold spring. Corn is up to 3 inches but now some fields are flooded, not too bad so far. All wheat planted before Mar 29 is toast in Western Ky.

Wheat is being burned down with chemicals, too much nitrate in it to serve as hay,so they say. We are seeing very 'spiky'weather here. Cool one day and hot as hell the next.


"a few here are entering more into an introspective mode or what I call 'spiritual insight'"

There must be something in the air, Dale...

Since I got sharply focussed on the approaching shades this spring, I find myself much more contemplative than I have been in the past. I've spent my life as a rationalist, reductionist hardass, but having come to the understanding that reason will not be part of the solution and has played no small part in the problem, I am suddenly finding much of value in the human spirit. I'm still a bit uneasy about the word "spiritual", but I'm working up the courage to admit that's what I'm thinking about.

Thanks for noticing the shift around here.

GG and Airdale,

There are degrees of spiritual maturity. Similar to how we can’t let a Mengele cause us to turn away from doctors, we can’t let religious demagogues turn us from wisdom.

Science and spirituality are not at odds—they are concerned with different domains. As the Christian contemplative Bernadette Roberts writes in What Is Self?, “Although science does not really know what matter is, or know its true nature, nothing the mind is capable of studying or defining is the Eternal Manifest. The reason for this is that the divine is a dimension of existence beyond the grasp of consciousness, self, the mind, intellect and senses - intuition and insight as well."

I’ve also noticed that a few at TOD have become more contemplative—and I believe it’s a natural reaction when we start to comprehend our cognitive and physical limits. The 14th Century contemplative poet, John of the Cross, described this as a stage of spiritual development called “Night of the Senses.” I too am grateful that TOD has the depth of intelligence to allow such ruminations.



"Dark Night of The Soul" by St. John of the Cross. That was what I read or read the interpretation of it which was very good.

Very contemplative and one reason I suspect that many monks study this work as well. All the time and seclusion to think and meditate. There was a famous monk who lived in Kentucky at Gethsemane near Bardstown. In Louisville near the Galleria is a plaque to his memory, Thomas Merton , a very well know spiritual writer of enormous talent.

Thanks for your(and others) thoughtful reply.

Airdale-exceeding my imposed limits here...but it is Sunday. A day I try to rest on.

So now some I notice are not posting as much as before, myself included. We are aware as never before of the oncoming crisis and are hurrying in diverse ways to avoid it as much as possible by preparing as best we can.

After viewing "Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash," my immediate thought was: there's nothing left to say.

After viewing "Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash," my immediate thought was: there's nothing left to say.

Except, "damn I need to go BUY MULTIPLE COPIES of that thing . . . "

Airdale-your posts are very readable and useful.
Regarding this latest,consider that humans have a terribly complicated and misunderstood spirituality.

Death and dying are likewise poorly elaborated, though the concept of separation from the body is recognized by many, in many ways, the world over.

So why not reach out and intend your thoughts to that spiritual quality, however you might imagine it, and assume your intentions will cause an effect?

Perhaps you are sensing the effect of some others' spirituality. The scope and impact of communication is always under estimated.


I'm sorry that my story brought to mind some open wounds. It's intent was to reach deep into human emotion, and I guess it worked in your case. I, too, have had my share of heartache.

Peak Oil is a human affair. We found the oil, began to use it, and now people must face the consequences of exploiting such a "gift" so effectively. Increasingly, I'm exploring the emotional side. How are real people going to feel as the crisis unfolds.

You're very perceptive in your comments about introspection. I've gone through many stages of Peak Oil acceptance. That I'm now able to write detailed and interwoven human stories about Peak Oil means that I have digested and internalized much information. I'm now asking the big questions about personal meaning. The exploration will continue for as long as I am able.

Thanks for your posts. I enjoy your observations about the natural world, and your thoughts on the situations at hand.




The old wounds and memories are more and more of my life as the 'leaden'(not golden) years set in. I do have many fine memories to offset them though. By keeping the memories alive I try to believe that the personalities are still alive in some nebulous, aether, world, timespace,alternate multiverse, quantum,...whatever. Living close to the ground and doing simple things satisfies me a good deal.

For my part you can continue down your trail of thoughts as its a welcome break from envisioning the sheer hell of the possible future scenarios from reading TOD ,even ocassionally. A beacon burning bright on the internet. To use another's(WT's) similitude.


I hear you.

I'm not studying the subject much anymore, just checking in to make sure my understanding is still up-to-date; I'm just getting ready.

In addition to getting my own life in order, I've filed away the technical basics of how to make soap and derive penecillin with no industrial inputs. I suspect those might be useful things to know in the future. I've always had a sticky memory for random trivia, so I figured I'd put it to work. My education in con law and software engineering probably won't help much, but the right kind of trivia and my natural hacker skills might go a long, long way.

My worst case scenario is that human beings are remarkably adaptable, and the real shit doesn't hit the fan until I'm in my 50s. I'd much rather face TEOTWAWKI while I'm still young and spry.

And about the past, all I've ever found to do is leave more on the table of human kindness than you received, and have faith that your mistakes will be forgiven. I don't know if that's true, but if we all hold to it we might have a shot. And it's certainly never too late to start practicing either of those.

Another practical source you might appreciate is 'Green Plastics', which describes both the Petroleum Plastics, as well as a range of ways to make plastics from natural materials. From Cellophane to Bakelite and beyond..

Sorry, I don't have the Author Info handy, but email me if you can't find it.


While I think I get Bendzela's comment about there being 'nothing to say'.. I'm glad some of you are out there saying it today. Wow, a Sunday at TOD.

Portland (Westbrook, I should say) lost a 3-year young institution yesterday in 'Chicky's Fine Diner', as close as I've come to feeling like I was in New Orleans, up here in the crochety Northeast. Good music, family atmosphere, really good food.. Tom would come in a couple nights a week and play some Honkytonk Piano during the dinner hours, and my daughter and her 3yr old buddy Tommy would squeal and run through the whole place like it was their yard. It was a young place that had an old soul.. and this news after an afternoon memorial service for a friend on the beach, and some more ashes in the sea.. getting dusted by the very guy whose house sheltered us when the girl had been poisoned by lead dust. Lorelei and I made sandcastles within the circle of people reading poems for John, telling stories and even Tapdancing out his eulogy.

.. oh, the Humanity

Browns Ferry 1 has been restarted after a two decade+ shut-down. (I toured the unit under construction as a student).

Per memory, it was originally a 1,000 MW net unit. Upgraded to 1,065 MW net before shutdown. Twin units 2 & 3 are now 1,113 MW net.

My ears perked when the article mentioned BF 1 would restart as 1,200 MW. Unsure if that is gross or net.

Best Hopes for more non-GHG power,


Before I started reading TOD today, my dad was reading about those TVA plants in Alabama. My brother still lives in Huntsville, and I did for 7 years ending this month a year ago. I used to pass the Hollywood Al, plant on my way to and from Stevenson where my then wife's mother lived. I have seen the water cooling towers and often wondered if it was up and running or not. It seemed a waste to let it go for so long. While the Coal fired plants got twice daily train loads of coal for the power they were chugging out.

40 or 50 new plants will mean some good jobs for the folks that had to get other jobs when the plants closed down. I know a few guys that will be getting back into that field again.

For me TOD is like a great virtual speakeasy where I can perch on a stool at the bar, gaze around the dimly lit room at all the others and not think to myself,
Geeeez!!! these people are toast and they don’t even have a clue.
Can’t get that anywhere out here in the real world.
Cheers all

On second thought the battery operated car might be a thing for seniors living in Florida getting around in golf carts. There were diesel cars more efficient than gasoline cars, there were hybrids/plug in hybrid types already designed, there are natural gas cars. Since hydrogen was made from natural gas, it seems as easy to directly operate cars off of natural gas. It costs a reported $2,000-$5,000 to convert a car to natural gas. Alot of houses have natural gas lines already installed. In the 70's after the Arab oil embargo there were crash programs to develop oil shales. That was more than 25 years ago. Part of the current problem is OPEC cut more than a million barrels a day. The cartel cornered the market. Gas prices are going up. The Saudis were using petrol dollars to fund Islamic expansion, it is a mess.

I know what you mean, although when I read BenjaminCole I must admit the word clueless does surface. Kind of reminds me of Freddy/ Hothgar.

Well, clueless maybe, but look at the charts. Peak Demand may be here before Peak Oil. Insulting me won't change that dynamic. So, answer the question: If Peak Demand precedes Peak Oil, what does that mean? Does it buy us a few more decades?
Remember, world oil demand fell after the 1979 spike, and did not recover for 10 full years – when oil was cheap again. If oil stays above $60 this go 'round, will not that permanently depress demand? So we do not have 2 percent annually compounded growth, which seems to be a premise of so many "running out of oil" scenarios?
How does asking these questions make me clueless? Or, are we so open-minded in this forum, that even asking the wrong question is forbidden?

Demand is strongly related to prices. If demand stays above $60 per barrel, won't that indicate, in part, that we still have strong demand. If price above $60 per barrel depresses demand, then won't it be likely that the price will go below $60 unless we have a peak in supply. The problem, for me, is that it is not clear what demand is since it also seems to be equated with production. If production is constraining demand, how do we really know what the demand is.

Demand is a function of production and production is a function of demand. How do you disentangle this seemingly circular web of causality.

Here's the deal, though. We need to cut back on consumption, regardless of the price. We also know that price will help cut back on consumption and demand, whatever that is. Regardless, also, there are factors in the world such as the rise of China and India as major consumer nations which will inherently drive more demand, regardless of the prices.

I don't think the world is prudent enough to benefit much by being bought a few more decades unless it is simultaneously implementing policies to force that delay. We need to assume that peak oil has passed, is here now, or will be upon within a couple of years. We need a crash program based upon one of those assumptions. Let the future sort out when peak oil actually happened. We will be better of by assuming the worst. We shouldn't be counting on a so called peak demand to save our bacon now or give us much time to save what is left of that bacon in the future.

Do you have reference to something you call a "demand" chart. How do you differentiate that from a "consumption" chart? Frankly, I think the concept of "demand" is too abstract to be of much use other than from a theretical standpoint in economics classes. I could be wrong, certainly, but would like some more explanation of this from you. One can draw supply and demand charts all day but wher e does the basic data from those charts come from?

Well, demand is consumption. Price rations supply. If oil hits $60, people use less. Now, I grant you, in really poor nations, that may involve true hardship. It is not a luxury to ride a crowded bus to reach market, it is a necessity. You might say, in poor nations, there is demand, but the price system foils it. An economist would not brook such an argument, but I would.
For the industrialized world, price rations supply, usually very well.
But I come back to the point: We are witnessing Peak Demand for fossil crude, if price stays above $60 a barrel. Call it Peak Consumption if you want.
Given supplies, this appears to buy several more decades of relatively adequate supplies. I realize there is no drama in such a scenario. But you cannot say consumption is increasing much, and I think 2006 or 2007 we will see worldwide decline in consumption (already falling in Western world). Demand in India appears to be falling, and was down in 2005 from 2004.
This is good news. If you say we are running out of oil, you also have to factor in consumption.

Ben: Peak oil consumption is "Peak Oil". Peak oil "demand" is "Peak Oil".

Brian- Yes, but if consumption begins tailing off now, and the peak consumption year is 2006 (I suspect it was, just waiting on data to come in), then world consumption will be far, far less in 2030 than generally expected. You have seen the figures from the IEA, CERA or elsewhere predicting a doubling of consumption in 32 years...indeed the "running out of oil" scenarios generally rest upon 2 percent annual growth in consumption....such a level of consumption would drain the world dry at some point, maybe in our lifetimes...but if consumption flatlines, we buy decades and decades more time to find reasonable alternatives to fossil crude....the transition to a non-fossil fuel based economy becomes much, much easier....
Peak Demand probably also means there is excess supply that has to be sopped off the market by OPEC cutting production, as it is now doing.....but this is a dangerous game for the KSA....they can sop off some supply, but the longer the price stays above $60, the less demand will be semi-permanently, going forward....
actually, I keep coming back to the probability of a glut in the next couple-three years....demand is dropping now, as new suplies are being brought to market....KSA is cutting output, but at some point they won't be able to cut enough....then oil prices will revert towards the marginal cost of production, which was $3.57 a barrel in 2003, so call it $6-7 now....
We will need fairly stiff gasoline taxes to keep demand suppressed....and huge rebates for buyers of high mileage cars and trucks.....
that is unlikely, so we can all re-convene on this board in 20 years (the next tight cycle) and argue about whether we are running out of oil.....Club of Rome deja vu all over again....


The point is that as oil supply drops, prices rise, economies collapse. We may see price spikes up and down because the collapse will not be smooth.

We know demand is still out running supply, just look at the US gasoline demand, it increased despite high prices.

For your theory to work, you would need to show that Demand is dropping because people don't need the oil (efficiency is out running supply decline).

If prices for oil drop because of over supply, and GDP of the worlds economies all goes up, then you could possibly claim "peak demand".

Instead what we are seeing is increasing demand in wealthy countries, and power outages and shortages in poorer countries. These effects are consistent with a peak in Supply.

While you are waiting for those GDP numbers to go up, and prices to go down, you need to read a solid book on peak oil like "Beyond Oil" by Ken Deffeys. You hope to educate us, when you are the one who needs to do some reading. Understand the statistical models. Actually reading "Limits to Growth: the 30 year update" would not hurt you either.

...indeed the "running out of oil" scenarios generally rest upon 2 percent annual growth in consumption

Erect a straw man argument and then attack your own creation.


Ben: Nobody on TOD uses the phrase "running out of oil" which was coined by the MSM to mislead the sheeple. The optimistic consumption forecasts you quote are based upon unrealistic assumptions of obtainable oil reserves on planet Earth.

Biofuels: The great green con

So by blending crops such as sugar and corn with petrol, biofuels will slash carbon emissions and save the planet. Right? Not when the price is escalating food prices and the clearing of the rainforests

Biofuel is the latest green craze. It is made from crops such as wheat, rapeseed, corn and sugar, and less commonly, waste products such as used cooking oil and tallow (animal fat). According to biofuel's many fans, blending conventional petrol and diesel with these crops or waste reduces the amount of crude oil needed and the overall amount of carbon released into the atmosphere.

But questions are starting to be raised about just how green biofuels really are. They encourage deforestation - responsible for around a quarter of the world's carbon emissions - as land is cleared to grow the crops. Biofuels have also driven up food prices, hitting the world's poor the hardest. According to the International Grain Council, at the end of this financial year the world's grain stocks (corn, wheat and barley) will be the lowest since the 1970s, mainly because of soaring demand from biofuels. Some of these "green" energy sources also use up more energy during the manufacturing and refining process than they save.

Politics - particularly the interests of big agricultural businesses - is starting to dictate the biofuel market. The US has imposed punitive import tariffs on Brazilian-made ethanol - one of the world's most efficient biofuels - and subsidises the export of its domestically made corn-based ethanol, which is one of the least efficient. This subsidy could lead to a trade war between the EU and the US.

The biggest drawback with biofuels is the deforestation that it directly and indirectly causes. How much deforestation takes place is hard to measure, but if new demand emerges - such as from biofuels - more land has to be found from somewhere.

For the moment, let us stipulate that biofuels save some carbon. Holistically, however, biofuels may increase carbon emissions, because their promise encourages people to ignore efficiency. The problem is further exacerbated because the auto companies get credits towards CAFE standards by producing E85 flex fuel vehicles, knowing full well that there aren't near enough outlets to fuel all these vehicles with ethanol.

The congress is getting to this by legislating mandatory renewable fuel standards. Throw in some assumptions about how much ethanol we will have in ten years and some CAFE standards which continue a special standard for SUVs and, voila, problem solved, or so they would like us to think.

Unfortunately, biofuels have mainly become a way for the consumers and politicians to avoid hard choices and hard decisions to impose higher gas taxes or cap and trade.

Kunstler's great insight is that Americans will try to solve our problems with magical thinking.

We need efficiency first, so called renewable fuels second.

Agreed, but short of a total collapse of civilization and extinction of humankind, we will need farm tractors, fire trucks, utility trucks, heavy equipment, police vehicles, ambulances, shuttle buses, ships & barges, etc. All of these are essential and we have to keep them running, even if the rest of us have to walk. All of them could be run on biodiesel, and it is feasible to grow enough oilseeds to at least run all of these.

If those are the only things were want to drive with liquid fuel, there will be plenty of oil for that...

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

Or we could use nuclear reactors to generate hydrogen for synthetic diesel fuel by running CO2 and hydrogen over cobalt catalysts.

Which requires more nuclear reactors than just electrifying the vehicles.

One of the things that drives me crazy: Rants against "biofuels" that cite the known problem with ethanol and generalizes them to biodiesel, which is something very different.

Diesel engines are more energy efficient than gasoline powered engines to start with. The EROEI on biodiesel crops is MUCH better than ethanol. Yes, tearing down tropical rain forests for palm oil plantations is a problem, but tearing them down for sugar cane plantations would be no better, and probably worse. Completely covering the forests with shade from massive PV panels erected above the canopy wouldn't do them much good either.

I am very much an ethanol sceptic, but don't throw the biodiesel baby out with the ethanol bathwater.

Biodiesel might be better than (corn) ethanol, but it's not nearly good enough to preserve the happy motoring utopia. IMHO the fundamental problem with all biomass based energy production is that photosynthesis is a very inefficient process, it converts only about 0.1 % of the energy in sunlight into biomass, and by the time you have biopowered wheels turning only a small fraction of that 0.1% remains. Add to that unsustainable farming practices (soil erosion, aquifer depletion, nutrient runoff, you name it), competition with food production for arable land, etc., and IMHO large scale biomass based energy production looks like an extremely dangerous proposition in the long run.

The happy motoring utopia is going to have to go. If we are fortunate to somehow avoid a total colapse, then here is how our transport is going to have to be organized:

1) Farm machinery, heavy construction equipment, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, shuttle buses, barges & ships, etc. will have to be run on biodiesel. Diesel engines are ideal for these applications, and the biodiesel will have to be the fuel. We can probably come up with enough acreage to grow biodiesel crops for these applications, but maybe not much more.

2) All intercity transport of passengers and freight will have to be by electrified trains. Urban areas of any size will need electrified commuter train systems as well. Most of these will have to be powered by large scale PV arrays, and thus most of the scheduled traffic will have to move during daylight hours. This will be an arguement in favor of high-speed rail -- make the most of the limited daylight hours available.

3) Neighborhood Electric Vehicles can provide all-weather transport between homes and mass transit nodes, and for local shopping trips, etc. Those who are able can also walk or cycle. The NEVs can be recharged during the day by PV panels -- metered parking can be made available at businesses, employers, and city centers, or fold-up PV panels can be carried in the NEV and set up on the rooftop to recharge during the day. A network of NEV rental vehicles (along with a network of rental bicycles) should exist in most communities.

4) A few longer-range passenger vehicles may be needed for transport to and from rural communities located far from mass transit nodes. Biodiesel may be an option, or possibly hydrogen fuel cells recharged by PV panels or wind generators. These will be an expensive and rarely used mode of transport.

The above applies mostly to land transport. I'm not even going to hazzard a guess as to how air transport can continue, and what would fuel it.

WNC Observer: I don't disagree with your points, I just have a bit of a variation of opinion on them.

1. Farm machinery can relatively easily be converted to battery electric or compressed gases (NG, wood gas, coal gas, bio-methane, hydrogen). If you can run a submarine on nuclear or diesel charged batteries, you can run a farm tractor on wind changed batteries. Weight, travel distance, travel speed and collision safety aren't near the same challenge in farm equipment compared to passenger vehicles.

2. Solar thermal shows a great potential for efficiency improvements and base load large scale power generation and Solar PV is probably a better solution at the urban residential level.

3. Compressed air storage from wind power and combined cycle power generation has a lot of potential. Coal gas, bio-methane or NG and wind powered compressed air storage improving the gas turbine effiency and then carbon sequestering could be a very efficient and economical base load power generation system.

Biodiesel from field crops is no panacea, for two reasons:

  1. The yield of oilseed crops is much smaller than for carbohydrates or cellulose.
  2. The diesel engine is better than Otto cycle, but not enough better to make up for the decreased input.

If there's a solution from plants, most of it's going to come from single-celled algae.  Solix is talking 5000 gallons biodiesel plus 8000 gallons ethanol per acre, and even 1000 gallons of ethanol per acre from wild-algae pond scum beats 127 gallons of RME any day.  If you have the water, it also beats corn all hollow.

I don't know that much about the technical aspects of it but I'm fully aware that it is coming.
Trying to figure out who the ones with real knowledge and insight are so as to gather the best data to finalize my preparations.

I think in the US there will be a significant emphasis on tactical, rather then just technical preparations, because demographics and attitudes are quite unique.

Funds at a trickle as water pipes fail

All over the state — and all over the nation — broken and leaking pipes have many poor rural communities facing similar health threats and economic hardships. It's been a problem that has been buried for decades. But a crisis point is finally arriving, experts warn. And there's nowhere near enough government money to go around.

As last Wednesday's rupture of a water main under Seattle's University Bridge showed, it's a problem affecting urban areas, too. But the experts say the difference for such towns as Vader is clear: They don't have the millions of dollars that big cities have to keep their systems running.

One federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) survey has estimated that Washington state alone needs at least $6.7 billion over 20 years to replace aging drinking-water pipes.

Nationally, the EPA guesses it could cost $300 billion over the next 20 years just for drinking-water pipes, and almost as much to replace failing wastewater lines.

"We have never been in this situation before, where such a vast system of infrastructure is aging like it is," said Ben Grumbles, an assistant EPA administrator in Washington, D.C. "Water is life, and infrastructure systems are the lifeblood of a community."

In Washington's small towns, they put it another way:

"You have to be glad you have water today," said Mayor Norma Joiner of Tieton, a farming town in Yakima County where 21 water mains broke over a five-day period in November. "But you wonder if you'll have it tomorrow — or even later today."

Just a reminder that some locations are also past Peak Water. They didn't set their water rates high enough to fund capital reinvestment, so now some of them are going to be looking at catch-up repairs at the same time that water supplies are depleting due to lower rainfall due to GW. People can live without air conditioning and television and electric lights if they have to. They cannot live without water.

Hello HeIsSoFly,

The US could easily divert sufficient funds from the military to rebuild the millions of miles of essential water & sewage infrastructure. But our ignorant leaders won't.

I expect the US to go down faster than Zimbabwe; Zim's Humpty-Dumpty just fell a short distance off a wall, I expect our Humpty-Dumpty to fall off a very tall energy cliff. The eventual regression to the mathematical mean wil be brutal: 5% of world pop. using 25% of it's energy is unsustainable.

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

"The eventual regression to the mathematical mean wil be brutal: 5% of world pop. using 25% of it's energy is unsustainable."

Easy solution. Just eliminate enough of the rest of the worlds population to make our population 25% of the new worlds population and everything will be alright - right?

Sorry, it's just been one of those days.


we need the military to go get the oil,

and make sure others don't get there first (or else they'll come get us)

post peak, oil will be power, way more than it is now

we'll keep that 5% of world population number, but guess what? world population will decrease dramatically, and we'll still be at 5%

do the math.

But the concept of EROEI applies just as much to the use of militaries by empires to extract energy. With Iraq we're probably already at <1 EROEI, and it just gets worse from there.

Armies don't care about net energy, they take any shortfall they might have from the populace they control, domestic or conquered.

Compare the Pentagon budget with that for US health care, education and so on. That should shine a light.

There's a lot that can and will be taken from you, in energy, money, food and manpower, before the DoD start worrying about net energy.

Plus, the energy in the oil underneath Iraq soil is worth much more in EROEI than what has been spent on the invasion. And that count will keep on going up in our favor. Can't lose.

The surplus just won't be spent on you, but then, you didn't really expect that, did you?

From a rational viewpoint, conquest doesn't make sense. From a market viewpoint, however, they are investing energy at a time when it is abundant to reap energy at a time when it is scarce. It depends whether you look at the actual energy you can use vs. your place in the pecking order: a matter of priorities.

Fiddling with figures while the Earth burns

If you want to get some idea of what much of the Earth might look like in 50 years’ time then, says James Lovelock, get hold of a powerful telescope or log onto Nasa’s Mars website.

That arid, empty, lifeless landscape is, he believes, how most of Earth’s equatorial lands will be looking by 2050. A few decades later and that same uninhabitable desert will have extended into Spain, Italy, Australia and much of the southern United States.

“We are on the edge of the greatest die-off humanity has ever seen,” said Lovelock. “We will be lucky if 20% of us survive what is coming. We should be scared stiff.”

The suck the body fat out of you for energy article, though laughable as an energy source is also very bad on the science at first glance.

The human fat cell is a hormone factory as well, and taking to many of the out of the human body could just as easily kill you as being to obese in the first place.

My second wife had a Roux-n-Y Gastric bypass, she was a type-2 diabetic before the operation, but after it she is not. The reduction in the size of the fat cells played a role in the her bodies ability to deal with her insulin levels.

They would have a better more humane use for fattening up a pig and using that as energy than humans, after the pig dies from the fat cell loss, you can kill it and eat it.

Handling the harm that a great reduction in fat cell counts in a human might just over balance costs of energy verses health care.

But if you don't care about humans go for it, Like the Irish were told during the Potato induced famine, to eat their own kids. Ala-Hannibal Lecter.

"Soylent Green is people!"

This is a joke right?
You know that Swifts A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick is written in 18th century (famine was in 19th ) idea of selling children for food was satirical and if you have read it you would understand one very important thing about humane nature. It never changes.
Ps you could find it on the net, its free (no copyright) and i strongly suggest Gulliver's Travels
as well (the adult version)

Simmons is now saying, blatantly, that Ghawar is in decline:


We know he reads TOD; and perhaps, IMHO, Stuart's latest posts, make it incontrovertible.

It's a great read, thank you

I may have to print it out and 'accidently' leave it for some friends to read

I should have referenced page 39; it almost reads like a footnote, but is so very significant.

Here is the PDF in color:

Energy Market Outlook

Our US freinds seem to have a new petrol high as of this weekend:


Oddly enough because of the fall of the US$ (or the rise of the NZ$) petrol prices here in NZ are about the same as this time last year ($1.55/L). This is despite the fact that we get our fuel via the benchmark of Tapis crude which has been at $74US or thereabouts for the past month (within 12% or so of its high of last year).

Down here this adds an extra conundrum to Central Bank policy - interest rates are kept high here as there is an inflation problem, which is making exporters howl, but keeps the NZ$ up, and the price of imported petrol down. Problem is how do you exit this - lower interest rates and the NZ$ falls so petrol rises (and more inflation). Its a conundrum that more than one country will be facing......

A candidate for Monday's drumbeat:

Grassley demands answers on ethanol from oil execs

In four similar letters to the chief executives of ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Chevron and Conoco Phillips, Grassley says an April 2 Wall Street Journal article revealed ethanol policies that gainsay the protocols the companies discussed under oath in a March 14, 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

The problem will solve itself.
But not in a nice way.

As Ghawar goes, so goes the world.

Terra preta,
I have read some about this since Todd brought it up a while ago. I have come to the conclusion from reading the information at Cornell University that the bio-carbon added to the soil was a by-product and not the orginal intent. Looking at what little information we have and a clear lack of microscope lens not being found in any ruins I would assume that the carcoal was a by product of burning brush and or crop refuse to control insects, diseases, and weed seed. Given the lack of ag chemicals 2,000 yrs ago this would make sense. They outlawed field burning when I was a kid. My horticulture prof. said that fire was very effective at weed/disease/insect control. If you don't do that then you rely on chemicals.
The post from Cornell clearly states that fields while still very fertile today are often abandoned because of weed infestation. Given the primitiveness (not lack of inteligence) of people 2,000 years ago I make my assumptions about the origins of terra pretta.

I have tried this for weed control in my garden by slowly rolling burning brush piles over fully expanded and seeding patches of chick weed, bitter cress, poa annua, and others. I expect sanitation of the upper layer of soil by the heat generated by the fire. I also expect greater soil summer temperatures because of the blackened soil color from the added carbon. I have not crushed the charcoal beyond what happens when spading. I expect increased soil arreation from the larger particle sizes, and increased or easier warming by having a soil with less mass. So far results are very encouraging with the weed control aspects.
To the future...

So how would the US cut emissions by 80% to avoid a 2 deg. rise in temperature ?
Or is it really too late ?

Giving Up On Two Degrees http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/05/01/1058

I think we're going to have to use sunshades (e.g. aerosols in the stratosphere) to control temperature and the consequences thereof.  We're already losing the Arctic sea ice, and both Greenland and WAIS are looking like cause for panic.

If we can make enough aerosol and rebuild our economies around systems which pull carbon out of the atmosphere and put it in the ground instead of the reverse, we should be able to shut down our techno-fixes in a century or less.  That's about half as long as it took us to get in this situation, so that's not too bad.

I'm not trying making a case for outdoor burning of brush but to understand how and why this happened. I will be using a barrel in the future, hopefully as a heat source for a building. Our conditions are far diferent han thiers.

Any thoughts about the claimed benefits of remineralization , or is it just a cranky idea?

I wonder about the energy cost of grinding up rocks, though.

We have a consultant tht has been harping on this for years. Silica is his main target. He maintains that silica is missing in soils and so many plants and is a cause for lack of health and vigor. I haven't a clue whether this is correct or not.
I think this bio-char/terra preta is the most interesting information that I have read in 30 yrs. If you could only rewind the history of the amazon and watch. If it does as indications show it is big.
How many times we look back to find answers. "History doesn't repeat but it rhymes" Mark Twain

Yes, that link is going around the internet. Problem though, for those who are trying to use this guy's statement to refute anthropogenic global warming, is that it is a fallacy (i.e., simply taking the word of an "expert".)

Not really, all the points he raised have been analysed in great depth, and debunked. The "anti" AGW people are not coming up with anything new, they keep recycling old talking points. This is actually good, because if bright people can't find any flaws, it gives confidence the IPCC/consensus position is robust.

www.realclimate.org is worth reading.

Tsk! There you go denying historical fact again. You cannot honestly debunk contemporary writing that described wheat growing in Greenland and orchards, nor the ice core record that showed temperatures higher than today.

It is unfortunate that there is this almost religious ferocity in many of those espousing Global Warming that makes it virtually impossible to rationally discuss realities that they appear only to happy to deny.

Who's denying it?  It happened.  That part of the world got considerably warmer for some time.

However, it does not appear to have been a global phenomenon.  It didn't make the Arctic ocean ice-free, shrink glaciers worldwide, thaw the Siberian permafrost or destabilize the Antarctic icecap.  What we're seeing now is a whole lot bigger, and the amount and source of the gases behind it points the finger right at us.

You do realize that England is producing wine again, and the warming trend shows no sign of slowing down?

I have seen the only written record of the Vikings in Greenland, the Saga of the Greenlanders in a museum in Reykjavik. I have read several sagas (Njal's is my favorite) but never the Greenlanders Saga. If there was no mention there, there is no written record.

Still, I doubt the presence of orchards. I have talked with Throstur Eysteinsson about the first plantings of SIberian larch in Greenland by the Icelandic Forest Service. His theory for the death of the Greenlanders is no trees > no charcoal > no iron > no scythes > no hay > no sheep.

Iceland can support dozens of species today, and the only nut tree is the Swiss stone pine (pine nuts). No known fruit trees are remotely possible. I am the only non-Icelandic member of their "Tree Growing Club" and have introduced several species for trial there.

Best Hopes,


From the report of Ivar Bardson (a priest/monk who apparently visited Greenland at least twice in the period from 1341 - 1347, and who was later a Bishop) "On the mountains and lower down grow the best of fruits, as big as apples and good to eat. There also grows the best wheat that exists."

A reply by Þröstur Eysteinsson

Hi Alan

Good to hear from you!

I won't say that the description below is an out-and-out lie but it is an exaggeration. There are fruits in Greenland but they are all small. The closest they have to apples is northern mountain ash (Sorbus decora). It produces pomes (like apples) in clusters, each about the size of a blueberry. Like other mountain ash species, the fruit is supposedly edible but not very good (I know, I've tried them).

Barley was cultivated in Iceland but never wheat. I suspect that the same was true for the Icelandic settlements in Greenland. (For some reason it is usually called the Norse settlements, Norse refering to the Nordic countries. But as far as anyone knows, the only Nordic people that settled there were Icelanders.)

All the best


*sigh* I had higher hopes for you...

All these objections have been debunked many times over. Regional variations are really the weakest form of objection.

The accusation of religious fervour is just pathetic. Playground rhetoric. I wonder though, why is GW so hard for you to believe? Why does it present such a threat to your mindset? And aren't you rather similar to the person who, despite all the evidence, thinks that PO is a load of nonsense?

For the record, I don't believe that climate scientists have all the answers, they are prone to overstating the case in order to provoke action, and due to PO the IPCC projections are way out. If you hadn't called me a religious nutter, we might have had a rational discussion about it.

From a very good site, Greenland Used to be Green saves me some typing.

World Crude Oil & Lease Condensate Production Scenarios to 2100

The chart below shows three scenarios.

The production rate from 2007 to 2013, based on bottom up analysis of future megaprojects, is forecast to decline at -0.8%/year. Unfortunately, after 2014 the production decline rates become steeper for all three scenarios.

The black line shows the forecast production rate for total URR of 2.2 Tb (trillion barrels) which is equal to 1.0 Tb cumulative production to the end 2005 and remaining URR of 1.2 Tb. 1.2 Tb is the same as the BP Annual Statistics remaining proven reserves as at year end 2005. These remaining proven reserves include 743 Gb for the Middle East (includes Saudi Arabia).

The green line corresponds to a drop of 0.1 Tb, in total URR, assumed to occur in the Middle East. Similarly, the red line corresponds to a further drop of 0.1 Tb, total URR, assumed to occur in the Middle East.

Click to enlarge

As I believe that the Middle East proven reserves are overstated by at least 0.2 Tb, due primarily to reserves overstatement in Saudi Arabia, the red line is my preferred forecast scenario.

However, even the optimistic black line shows that peak crude oil and lease condensate production has most likely already occurred in 2005! It is highly unlikely that liquids production from NGLs, oil shales, ethanol, BTL, CTL, GTL and tar sands will be able to offset the production decline from C & C.


America and gasoline: myths and reality


In conclusion, we can see that there are developed nations that have:

* high proportions of their city population commuting by car
* large-area sprawling cities with poor (by European standards) mass transit
* cities with geographical layouts that make travel inefficient
* high oil dependence for transportation support of industry and agriculture
* relatively large intercity distances that are frequently travelled for business
* yet still have only 50-60% the per capita oil use of the United States.

Frankly, the "we need cheap gasoline because we have such badly designed cities" argument is wearing thin. There are commuter nightmares in Frankenstein-layout cities all over this planet.


So is American gasoline use really a result of long commute times, suburban sprawls and intercity distances that do not exist elsewhere? Or is it more a result of excessive leisure use and lifestyle habits that exploit its low cost relative to other developed nations? People here will continue to blame commute times and urban design. I disagree, and I believe the facts support my view.

He adds its probably because of the size of our SUVs and Pickups.

I wonder how much of that is due to our war machine. Someone in the comments stated that we use 16 gallons per soldier per day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I wonder what percentage of fuel use in the US, and other countries, is directly and indirectly related to what I would term the "entertainment industry". That would include things like cruise ships, 300hp bass boats and other non-essential watercraft; competitive races, including boat, air, car, motorcycle, dog and horse races (including the fans and support staff who drive to them ); the obvious TV, radio, stage and screen entertainment; tourism of all kinds; sports (pro, college, and HS football, baseball, soccer, basketball, etc. ) that require transportation and energy for players, fans,staff, etc.; casinos; bars and restaurants; and on and on. And of course the energy for the above facilities themselves. I'm sure the list is incomplete, but you get the idea.

I suspect it's a great deal more than "our war machine".

Don't forget competitive eating. That's getting really big.

Yep. And all the "fitness centers" for the folks who are too lazy to get out and do a little manual labor. Or those who load their $1500 mountain bike's on their RV and drive 300miles to ride around in the woods for an hour or 2.

And let's not forget all those suburban riding mowers, leaf blowers, edgers, etc. for manicuring ridiculous useless grass. At least you can eat dandelions.

And last but not least, the entire manufacturing, marketing, and sales industry that is devoted to making sure we all have access to all those cool toys. And speaking of toys - stupid plastic talking dolls, and other crap that serves no useful purpose.

Increasing the fuel efficiency of our auto/SUV fleet is certainly a large silver BB. That improvement, plus reduced economic activity (recession/depression) are the only major reductions that the US can make in the early years post-Peak Oil. A minor reduction in shifting freight from truck to diesel RRs. And a large # of very small changes can have a modest impact.

The EU and Japan can easily increase the supply of their alternative non-oil transportation systems (add more rail cars, pack people a little tighter, stagger working hours a bit can all increase capacity for urban rail and their RRs can handle more freight as well).

The US cannot make a comparable shift until it builds many more non-oil transportation systems.


Best Hopes,


pack people a little tighter,

Now I know you've never ridden a peak hour train in Tokyo.

They pack in so tight I think I'm gonna die. Its scary sometimes.

The strangest part, the Japanese don't seem to object to the packing.
I've more than once screamed at those yaros's trying to pack in and I get flabbergasted looks in responce.

On the Odakyu line (where I live) they are doing a major expansion project to make the trains run at only 150% capacity during peak. I think even 100% capcity on a Tokyo train would blow your mind.

Let me just add that most station are at max capacity for train length. The exception would be the Odakyu line (between Shimokitazawa and Noborito) which historically has been in front of the curve in terms of capacity. But until they finish their expansion project (circa 2012) it won't do them much good.

You have no idea how overloaded the train system is here.

He adds its probably because of the size of our SUVs and Pickups.

An accident of history perhaps, but the USA is quite unique in this regard. An example of the principle "consumption expands to use available resource". This makes PO a problem particularly of US concern.

I guess Americans look on our tiny vehicles with the same puzzlement that we look upon the American's oversized cars. Here, small can be cool.

Will the mindset of the average American change, do you think?

Fill the tank, make pina coladas and use it as a body rub, the versatile coconut oil
Apparently it turns to butter in cold weather.

I have seen several stills and one video of the white gloved "pushers" on Tokyo subways packing the last few passengers aboard. I was told that subway expansions had significantly reduced their role in recent years.

I was about to include a caveat that "at capacity" Urban Rail lines could not "pack then tighter' but did not. In the US, refusal to board seems to happen @ 80% of crush load for daily commuting. For special events, where people think it will be a "one time" event, refusal to board seems to happen at 85% to 90% of crush load. In Japan they seem to go a few % ABOVE CRUSH LOADS !

On some Tokyo lines (I understand that not even Osaka loadings are as bad as Tokyo) more people could be crammed aboard with the aid of pushers. On others not.

But expansion plans could be "fast tracked" post-Peak Oil in Tokyo and the rest of Japan.

What are the headways in Tokyo at rush hour ? I heard that Moscow ran trains closer together than Tokyo.

Best Hopes for Tokyo Commuters !


Those "pushers" are just the conductors. They have them stationed on the platform to make sure the doors close not increase capacity. They really don't have to push much, the passengers seem to do that all on their own.
But they are still there, working every rush hour.

Speaking of the Odakyu line again (I'm most familiar with this one) they are doing an incredibly expensive expansion project to make most of its length (out to the Tama river) 4 tracked. This stated purpose is to get more express trains on the tracks and lessen the crowding on the trains. But I'll still be over capacity even then (they advertise it as being less over capacity if you can believe that).

The Keio line for another example is 2 tracked its entire length. During rush hour the trains crawl along at a tiny fraction of their non rush speed. I believe this is a way to get more trains on the track at any one time, even if it takes longer to get to the destination. The Keio line looks like a cattle car in a world where they don't have a cattle rights movement.

On the Yamanote line (the ring line circling the city) they run trains less than every 2 minutes (90 seconds maybe) during peak times. Don't know if they could increase that if they tried. Their new thing is new cars with more doors to speed up the loading/unloading.

They are building the last planned subway line parallel to the Yamanote along its busiest section (Shinjuku to Shibuya) in an attempt to lessen the congestion.

There are no more subways planned after that. The city is literally packed with subways anyway.

And the population in the city is constantly growing. I see new high rise apartment building constantly under construction.

The Tokyo commute is a nightmare. But its the price you pay for living in one of the greatest cities on earth :-)