DrumBeat: May 12, 2007

Higher gas prices leave many workers running on empty

Sixty percent of employees confirmed that the price of gas has significantly reduced the amount of money they have to spend on other things, while 45 percent reported the need to pay off debts more slowly or not at all. Finally, 26 percent indicated that the cost of gas has necessitated going without basics such as heat or air conditioning, or even cutting back on food purchases, over the past few months.

Further, Hochwarter found that those most affected by gas prices were prone to experience stress both on and off the job. Specifically, negative views of work and the company, sluggishness, antagonistic behavior, feeling overwhelmed and sadness were significantly higher for those indicating gas-price-related effects on spending behavior.

Surge in carbon levels shows vegetation struggling to cope

Climate change may have passed a key tipping point that could mean temperatures rising more quickly than predicted and it being harder to tackle global warming, research suggests.

Bristol University researchers say a previously unexplained surge of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere in recent years is due to more greenhouse gas escaping from trees, plants and soils. Global warming was making vegetation less able to absorb the carbon pollution pumped out by human activity.

Study Sheds Light on Earth's CO2 Cycles, Possible Impacts of Climate Change

A research team, including Kent State Professor of Geology Dr. Joseph Ortiz, tracing the origin of the large carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age has detected two ancient "burps" that originated from the deepest parts of the southern ocean around Antarctica.

The coal rush

We stand at the beginning of a worldwide "coal rush" led by China, India and the United States, which plan to install 850 new coal plants by 2020, 150 of them in the United States. The CO2 from these plants could easily push the planet past a global warming "tipping point" that would initiate irreversible melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. According to global warming expert James Hansen, NASA’s chief climatologist, this would raise sea levels by 80 feet over about the next couple of centuries and "produce a new planet."

Climate change could lead to global conflict

Climate change could spawn a new era of conflicts around the world over water and other scarce resources unless more is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, warned yesterday.

Total: Able to Meet Republic of Congo Oil Supply Contracts

When asked about market speculation that full production would resume within three weeks, the spokeswoman was skeptical.

"We don't yet know what caused the accident so we would prefer to take all the security measures necessary before giving an indication on when production can resume," she said.

When the Gas is Gone, We'll be Rich!

Last week was just full of unpleasant surprises for natural gas supply.

I’ve been researching the issues and it looks like we have some serious supply issues on our hands, starting now and growing worse over the next 20 years or more.

America Has Oil on the Brain

Lisa Margonelli traveled thousands of miles from her local gas station to oil fields half a world away to try and understand how Americans can buy 10,000 gallons a second without giving it much thought.

Dealer prices gas over $4 in protest - He says tactics used by Shell are unfair to operators

For franchise dealers like Oyster, it is the ultimate irony. At a time when the oil companies are posting record profits, the little guys are struggling to stay in business. And many, like Oyster, are giving up the fight.

Ethanol seen chomping into corn crops

The surging fuel ethanol industry will gobble up 27 percent of this year's U.S. corn crop, challenging U.S. farmers' ability to satisfy food, feed and fuel demand, the U.S. government said Friday.

Even with its projection of a record 12.46 billion-bushel corn crop this year, the Agriculture Department said U.S. stockpiles will run low going into the next crop year when voracious ethanol demand will rise again.

"We keep our head just above water [this year]. We've got to swim that much harder in 2008," said analyst Mark McMinimy of Stanford Washington Research.

Big trucks rule the road

Keena Lewis, a guidance counselor in Lafourche Parish, said she's been driving large frame SUVs since her days in college. Lewis drives a 2000 model Ford Explorer and plans to upgrade to a Ford Expedition in the coming years, she said.

"People wouldn't expect a girl to be driving an SUV like this," Lewis said. "When I drive my SUV, it makes me feel powerful, sexy and in control."

Stealing copper leaves big headaches

The side yard of the Dartmouth apartment building that Dorothy MacAlduff owns and lives in is marred by a deep, rocky pit that still reeks with the stench of heating fuel.

The hole mirrors three other pits on Pinecrest Drive properties neighbouring Ms. MacAlduff’s, where cleanup crews were excavating polluted soil and draining deep ponds of oil-saturated groundwater Friday after thieves cut fuel lines to several residential oil tanks.

The lines were cut Wednesday and Thursday for the copper wiring they contained and at least two tanks worth of oil ended up spilling into the ground.

Saudis: Foiled plot mirrored 9/11 attack

Al-Qaida-linked plotters hoped to reproduce the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, planning to send suicide pilots to military bases and attack the oil refineries that drive the economy of Osama bin Laden ‘s homeland, the government said Saturday.

India: Power cut in Bijoygarh for 14 hrs, locals protest

MORE than 450 people came out on the streets and blocked Bijoygarh Road for over four hours today to protest the daily power crisis in the area. Fed up with the daily outage and low voltage, residents of ward 95 today resorted to a road block from 7.30 am to 12 pm.

Pakistan: Abdullah Haroon Rd shopkeepers burn KESC vehicle, tear gassed

Angry shopkeepers in Saddar set fire to a KESC vehicle, after yet another long power outage in the area, Thursday.

According to the shopkeepers on Abdullah Haroon road, many of the markets had been without electricity all morning, following which at about 2 p.m. most of them decided to close their shops and take to the streets.

Canada: Pump Shock in pictures

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson today invited motorists to fight back against gas-price gouging by taking part in "Pump Shock in pictures" - an NDP campaign that lets everyday Ontarians blow the whistle on Ontario's worst gas-price rip-off artists.

End of the road for Ford?

FORD Australia is reviewing its multimillion-dollar outlay on V8 supercars racing in light of shifting consumer tastes and the company's difficult economic situation.

On the road? - As gas prices rise, many rethink vacation plans

As summer approaches, many families will be making plans to pack their bags and drive to their favorite destinations.

Some of these trips will be forfeited, however, because of high gas prices.

Australia: Families' weekly bill up $175

SOARING costs in groceries, housing, fuel, power and childcare have put a staggering strain on household budgets.

Already battling sky-rocketing mortgages or rent, ordinary Queenslanders will be hit by huge hikes in food prices, big increases in electricity charges and rises in the cost of petrol over the next few months.

Australia: Bowser thefts linked to stolen rego plates

THE huge surge in "drive-off" fuel theft, triggered by skyrocketing petrol prices, is being linked to the underground trade in stolen registration plates in Sydney, which has risen at the same rate as bowser larcenies.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures show petrol thefts, or service station fraud, has increased by 33 per cent since mid-2004, from 9163 incidents to more than 12,900.

In the same period, the number of number plate thefts rose by a third.

Uranium exploration firms flock to Niger desert

Niger has granted a wave of permits to British, Canadian and Indian mining firms allowing them to explore for uranium in its desert north, the West African country's government said on Saturday.

Monetary Reform and How a National Monetary System Should Work

If this bubbles bursts, much of the middle class wealth that remained after the 1987 stock market crash, the 2000-2002 bursting of the dot.com bubble, and the ongoing decline of the housing market will be gone for good.

Maybe the party is finally over. Maybe at the end of their 300-year reign, starting roughly with the creation of the Bank of England in 1694, the financiers have finally succeeded in doing enough damage to the world economy that the rest of us are willing to take action. Or maybe there will be a sufficient distraction by more war in the Middle East and elsewhere. Maybe peak oil or global warming will intervene with destruction on too large a scale to ignore. Or maybe we’ll just limp along into the sunset.

Dow Chemical, Saudi Aramco Agree to Factories in Saudi Arabia

Dow Chemical Co. agreed to partner with Saudi Aramco, the largest state-owned oil company, to build a chemicals complex in Saudi Arabia that will use low-cost raw materials from adjacent oil and natural gas plants.

The high cost of doing business

"Our customers use a lot more electricity than the average customer in this country. We do a lot of work to explain that to our customers who are used to a much more temperate climate and, more likely than not, their electric bill will increase when they move to Southern Nevada ... because the volume of electricity they're using has changed. Our electricity prices are much lower than they are in Southern California but it takes a lot more to cool your home."


The truth is that without oil, humanity - all six and a half billion of us - would be catapulted back into the steam age. And the results would not be pretty.

Now, a new book says that the age of oil is about to draw to a close and that the post-petroleum era is already upon us.

True Costs Of Fossil Fuels

Cheney revealed the goal of the war in a speech while still the CEO of Halliburton in 1999. To his own question of "Where is the oil going to come from to slake the world’s ever-growing thirst," Cheney answered, "The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies." The "Cheney Energy Task Force" had all eyes firmly fixed on The Prize back at the beginning of 2001. Along with Ken Lay of Enron and a cadre of Oil Men, they knew the only way to start describing victory was "Iraqi Oil Secured"; a main reason the White House has appealed clear to Cheney’s duck hunting buddy on the Supreme Court to keep all aspects of the meeting secret.

Granville students park cars for a day

The day, dubbed Strive Not to Drive, was an effort to get students to use less gas and reduce carbon emissions to help solve the global warming problem and energy crisis.

Global warming, nuclear power: double trouble

The historical coincidence of global warming and a revived nuclear industry magnifies the hazard. For example, resource depletion in some countries because of global warming will jeopardize their nuclear plants' maintenance and health and safety programs. Climate change will also reduce water supplies, which are crucial to avert reactor meltdowns.

Chevron shuts down some Nigerian operations amid rampant violence

Chevron Corp. temporarily shut down some operations in Nigeria's offshore waters Friday as the second-largest U.S. oil company scrambled to protect its workers and equipment from rampant violence that threatens to drive up gasoline prices.

The San Ramon-based company's lockup in the Niger Delta came just a few days after gunmen seized four of its American subcontractors from an offshore vessel amid an outbreak of militant attacks that have disrupted Africa's biggest oil-producing country.

Russia, CAsia leaders agree landmark gas pipeline deal

TURKMENBASHI, Turkmenistan (AFP) - The presidents of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan agreed a landmark gas pipeline deal on Saturday in a victory for Moscow over European and US plans for the region.

Alaska OKs natural gas pipeline bill

Both houses of the Alaska Legislature on Friday approved a bill establishing a path for a multibillion dollar natural gas project designed to tap a huge heating fuel supply and transport it to the rest of the country.

High octane price vapors

Head for the hills. Gas prices are over $3 -- just make sure you carpool.

That's the message network Chicken Littles are telling viewers as they hype so-called "record prices" and warn of an economic cataclysm tied to $4-, $5- or $6-a-gallon gasoline. Diane Sawyer even linked the prospect of pain at the pump to the idea of another stock market crash.

Ghana: Businesses spend $62m monthly on power plants

Businesses in the country are incurring costs of more than 62 million dollars a month on power plants for their operations.

The services sector including financial institutions spend over 4.4 million dollars, manufacturing industries 37.3 million dollars, mining 17.4 million dollars while the Agricultural sector is spending more than 2.9 million dollars each month on running their power plants.

Energy crisis lurks on Balkans

"The Balkan's countries need as much as 30.000 MWh that are impossible to provide, therefore the region will face a major energy crisis."

Carbon Call

Not realistic from a political standpoint, not realistic because the targets are incredibly expensive—that’s a Yale economist’s take on the multi-trillion dollar strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions unveiled April 4 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Others find it hard to even imagine...the magnitude of changes, the speed needed to reach the report’s emission peak by 2015, then subsequent reduction of 50%, to level off at 85% of the emissions of 2000. This could cost up to 3% of the world’s gross domestic product. Such economic bloodletting will only happen when imposed by nature, and that could be gruesome.

Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq, U.S. Study Says

Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq’s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.

Using an average of $50 a barrel, the report said the discrepancy was valued at $5 million to $15 million daily.

The report does not give a final conclusion on what happened to the missing fraction of the roughly two million barrels pumped by Iraq each day, but the findings are sure to reinforce longstanding suspicions that smugglers, insurgents and corrupt officials control significant parts of the country’s oil industry.

The report also covered alternative explanations for the billions of dollars worth of discrepancies, including the possibility that Iraq has been consistently overstating its oil production.

The remarkable rise in popularity of electric bicycles in China (as witnessed by a longtime blogger on the spot with no particular interest in energy-issues).
and here.

Hello Berkeley,

Thxs for the update. I have posted much on this before, but I think it bears repeating: widespread adoption of bicycles, wheelbarrows, and other human-powered hand-tools to help leverage human power limitations will help confer personal biosolar tactical advantage into a large and contiguous biosolar habitat's long-run strategic advantage.

Recall my earlier postings on how the invention of the wheelbarrow or rickshaw was considered a secret weapon for China, or see the links again:


I have also posted much before on spiderwebriding. Imagine if the Chinese laid down narrow gauge steel rails for steel-wheeled-barrows--how much more effective and efficient would the 100,000 workers in the linked photo accomplish their task?

First, by going to two wheels, it eliminates the required high center of gravity load balancing exertion by the upper arms and backs. Then, the steel wheel to steel rail vastly reduces frictional forces and eliminates the problems of potholes and mud. You can probably then move to a hip-harness: now you are using the superior strength of your legs and vastly reducing the upper body exertion [thus greatly reducing injury rates].

Now add modern design: what if those 100,000 workers further leveraged their efforts by adding PHEWs [Personal High Efficiency Workers] for negotiating the steep upgrades and downslopes? The battery assisted worker or PHEW could be a standardized design that would use a middle rail cog-gear setup for the bottom cograil, then the PHEW's upper frame would clamp onto the wheelbarrow's axle. It would then discharge the battery on upgrades, but could gather regenerative braking forces on the downslopes. That would free up the poor bastards in the photo who uphill assist the wheelbarrow operator to do more productive tasks with less effort.

Finally, TODer Jokuhl posted earlier in response to a reply by TODer AlanfromBigEasy:
Bob Shaw's request got me thinking that we could keep the SWR [Strategic Wheelbarrow Reserve] safely and productively loaded aboard your SRR (Strategic Railcar Reserve, right?), for handy deployment!

If humans don't plan ahead: we will end up like the iconic photos of the poor African women carrying loads on top of their heads, or the Chinese laborer balancing heavy pole loads across their shoulders.

Never forget: one crude barrel = 25,000 physical man-hours.

How do you want to work once the FFs are gone?

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

Thanks for the link to the "Engines Of Our Ingenuity" website.

All those interested in tools, mechanics, physics, and the history behind our inventions (and looking for some quick light non-depressing reading) should check it out.

Here is a link to the Overall Index page:
2217 short articles!

Here is a quick sample...
2020 The screwdriver: archetype of subtle obviousness
[screwdriver, obvious, screwheads, invention]
1509 Late 18th century competition among roads, canals and railways [transportation, power, mines, mining, locomotive, Trevithick]
1512 The corner store: a retail outlet that is lost but not forgotten
[merchandising selling grocery store Galveston Beasley immigrants urban architecture]

Having recently started a business selling a modern version of a very old agricultural tool - still used world round by small farmers and called a grub hoe or digging hoe here in North America - I have been amazed at how many decent manual tools have been forgotten and have gone out of production since we started focusing on electric tools and farm tractors. Some I am able to find still available in other countries.

Thinking about the amount of effort needed to revive some of these tools and produce them here in the US is a bit overwhelming sometimes. One step at a time I guess..

While we are talking about great hand tools...

This spring I have been using my new broadfork:


It's a fabulous tool, and built to last a century. Surprisingly easy on the body (burns a lot of calories, though).

Hello Greenman,

Thxs for responding. Good tool that could be easily improved by simply adding a fulcrum point. After sticking into ground: swing out steel arms with metal pads on the end to act as a fulcrum point--then the leverage required is reduced by the teeter-totter action. Save your back and arms!

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

Ah, you are missing the point. The crossbar is the fulcrum.

You step on the crossbar to drive the tines into the ground, then grab the handles and lean back. The crossbar on the surface of the soil is the fulcrum, and you just swing your weight back. Works very well.

Yeah, they're fun to use. Just make *sure* when using your broadfork in rocky soil, that you don't lean back into a *big* rock. The tines are quite solid, but you have tremendous leverage with a broadfork, and straightening those tines after you bend one on a big rock is not fun.

Good tool that could be easily improved by simply adding a fulcrum point.

Got one and do use it. The idea is to initially double dig a bed using the French intensive system, then never ever set foot on the oil again. Use your broadfork every spring to lift the soil for aeration and to loosen it so that you can work in more compost with a spading fork. The broadfork isn't really designed for TURNING soil, but for LIFTING it.

In Tennessee archiologists have excavated a Native American "industrial" site specializing in the manufacture of chert digging hoe blades. The site has chert nodules of just the right size and having a near-ideal combination of toughness and workability. The workshop arrangements imply worker specialization, and were used over a long period of time. Their hoes have been found hundreds of miles away, re-sharpened down to a nub.

Maybe in a couple of hundred years that site will be back in production.

Errol in Miami

If you haven't dicovered him yet, Eric Sloan's books are loaded with facinating info about old tools and ways of using them.

Thanks for remembering that one, Bob. I kind of liked the notion.

Here's today's wildly-impractical supplementary notion, or TWISN. I envision this with bike riders on some 'big hill' in a newly renovated, bike friendly town.. but it could work equally well with wheelbarrows, also! If there was an 'up' track and a 'down' track, with a looped Tow-Rope between them, then the ones going downhill could latch on and help the climbers ascend. This would/could even spare the descenders some of the strains of an unregulated descent.. (or in the case of bikers, the wasting of their height potential into the friction-wear on brake pads. A variation would be some kind of Linked Funicular Railcar, like a paralleled pair of escalators. There would be friction losses to consider, as well as the inertia of system equipment (making that rope look better and better), but such details, while devilish are not automatically dealkillers.. as much as we want things to be devilishly simple!

Bob Fiske

Hello Greg in MO & Jokuhl,

Thxs for responding. Yep, we need lots of simple tools improved for the postPeak era.

I think spiderwebriding is best, but I was thinking about ways to improve the uphill & downhill use of rubber-tired wheelbarrows & bicycles for ice & snow because safe footing will be next to impossible.

Perhaps the rope-tow used on beginning skier bunny slopes. The safest way I have seen is where the novice sits inside a inflated tube to be dragged up the slope-- no way for them to fall. It also greatly reduces weight/sq. foot; it takes tremendous advantage of sliding across the top of the snow [no snow removal required].

Therefore if a wheelbarrow or bicycle needs to go up a snow-covered hill--just have them flop down onto the tube or some kind of sled--simple and safe. Since the rope or cable is circular-looping, the other side of the mechanism can be used for those wishing to get a load down the slope.

Same principle could be used on frozen canals or across lakes.

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

This is really good news. The numbers are amazing. As a new e-bike commuter myself, I can tell you the e-bike technology is advancing nicely. Replacing some of our car usage with e-bikes could make a nice dent in fossil fuel consumption.

drwater, what kind of electric bike do you have, and how are you liking it?

(and there isn't a way to send private msgs on TOD, is there?)

also - I just emailed Consumer Reports begging them to do a review of electric bikes. Maybe if others did likewise...?

I didn't want this to be one of the first comments but I'll forget if I wait...

A few issues:
1) Has anyone renewed a certificate of deposit (CD) recently? It seems by the rates being offered, that the banks believe the next three months are going to be strong, but after that see things start going downhill.

2) RR, I'm sick of seeing "There have been no new refineries built since the 70's blah blah, evil environmentalists, blah..." Do you have access to information such that you might be able to do a main article with some graphs on refinery capacity through the years? Perhaps including upgrades in heavy oil processing capacity too?

3) Ace obviously puts a lot of effort into his posts, and he must live in some non-US part of the globe because his posts are invariably buried at the bottom of the drumbeats...can I petition on his behalf to grant him TOD Contributor status on the side column?

4) I think OilCEO has returned as Jefferson Space Shuttle. ::sigh::

Do you have access to information such that you might be able to do a main article with some graphs on refinery capacity through the years?

I have been thinking about doing such an article, but haven't had time yet. It would be worth covering, because this comes up again and again. But I did recently address it on my blog:

Tyson Slocum is Wrong

It is much cheaper to expand existing capacity than to build new refineries. The API recently estimated that it costs about 60 percent as much to expand existing capacity as to build new capacity. And refiners are definitely investing in expansions. In just the past 10 years, refinery capacity has expanded by 2 million barrels per day. That is the equivalent of adding 1 decent-sized refinery each and every year for 10 years.

I have links to the data in that post.

In Regina Saskatchewan, the local refinery/upgrader has gone through major capacity/system enhancements over the years. I know that it might be a narrow interest, but I would like to see someone with expertise evaluate the potential for oil/gas production and refinery capacity in Saskatchewan.

CAPP Statistics

My layman impression is that due to political factors, Alberta was overdeveloped and there is a lot of potential in Saskatchewan that hasn't seen the same investment. With the petroleum problems worldwide, our province may be a little on the socialist wing and hasn't been that conductive to business, but Lorne Calvert isn't Chavez.

While I'm certainly no expert on the situation, my observation and understanding is that most Saskatchewan properties are shallow wells, medium to heavy oil, not much gas, slow production from small dome structures. A typical well puts out maybe 150 a day. I don't think that the government has been at all restrictive, but that the production potential has been of the low cost, low output type.

A look at production profiles from North Dakota might point out whether the exploitation has been similar on both sides of the border. My hunch is that Saskatchewan may have been more active. The US has seemed to be slow to develop the Montana area as well. There are all sorts of these small production areas about the world, but cumulatively they won't result in much export possibility - and export is where the problem is.

Got any oil for sale?

It would be nice if you write this to also discuss the crack spread light/heavy and sour. Distillates vs gasoline and more.
I think this should be a fairly long series like we have gotten for coal and oil fields. You have posted most of this information before but it would be great to see it as a series of articles. The ending is of course how the heck is gasoline price determined. A set of rational articles by and expert will go a long way to educating everyone on how refineries operate and it might help prevent the uninformed backlashes we are seeing against refiners as gasoline prices rise. In my opinion your employer should pay you to write these since it would be to their benefit to get the truth out to the public and the MSM cannot handle the complexity directly. Bloggers who write the local papers can point the uninformed journalists to your blog.

Its a chance for two things.
1.) Educate the public so they understand that rising gas prices are not some attempt to gouge people.
2.) Open a door for people to look at the peak oil issue and begin to understand that the oil industry is having problems the least of which is that the easy oil is definitely over I don't think this is a contentious issue regardless of your stance on peak. From there you can track into more pessimistic opinions. The bottom line is oil will get more expensive for a long time to come.

I think with your expertise you can both shed some light on the refinery industry that helps people make the right decisions and point them into the right direction of concern about our oil supplies not fear mongering.

On another note a nice article on fractional flow would also be appreciated.

Robert, from an engineering perspective, what is the reasonable upper bound on the size of a refinery today, given our current technology? I would suspect that above a certain size, complexity would exceed our capacity to manage the plant and thus there ought to be an upper bound (just as there is a practical upper bound to the current max height of skyscrapers and it has risen over the years as technology has improved).

If we knew the size of the existing refineries, the rates of expansion, and the practical upper bound, we could make a guess at when new refineries would be needed. If refineries are unlike skyscrapers, lacking reasonable upper bounds, then expansion obviously the preferred way to always proceed.

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

The upper limit is almost certainly because of economics, not available technology.

Land is the limiting factor.

Most (at least many) refineries contain duplicate units of different processing/refining units.

But space is critical around many refineries.

A local refinery in Chalmette (downriver of New Orleans) had a crude storage tank that collapsed and spilled during Katrina. They offered generous buyouts (perhaps 130% of pre-Katrina values) for homes with a dozen feet of water and smeared in goo.

Saves legal fees, promotes good will but also clears the way for expansion.

Best Hopes,


Land is the limiting factor.

I don't think land is an issue here:

(google maps) Coop Refinery

The farmland to the north of the refinery would sell for $500-$2000 acre, and you can go for a few hundred miles of before you had an obstacle.

Consumer's Coop Refinery

I wonder what Jeff Vail thinks about the security of the refinery. More serious than a terrorist act, it's a traffic issue and a truck heading west on highway 46 that misses the curve would go right through the middle of the refinery. There isn't even a barricade. We don't have many lunatics, but we have a lot of icy roads. :)

We also have a lot of Co-ops and no Conoco.

Saskatchewan: Easy to draw, hard to spell.
Saskatchewan: You can watch your dog run away, for 3 days.
The actual license plate slogan: Land of the Living Skies

Robert, from an engineering perspective, what is the reasonable upper bound on the size of a refinery today, given our current technology?

I was about to write the same thing that Alan wrote. The land - specifically the tank farm since it takes up so much space - is going to be the limiting factor. It isn't going to be the technology. You can always add another cracker, another crude tower, another hydrotreater, another coker. But you can only do this as long as you have the land (and customers close enough to justify processing the crude) to do so.

For some refineries, transportation is the limiting factor.

Inland refineries (off water transportation) are limited by their pipelines. Crude in, product out.

Some product is shipped out via rail instead of pipeline or water (and locally trucks, New Orleans gets most of it's gasoline by trucking a couple of dozen miles from refinery to filling station), but higher costs work against that. I know of a few cases of local production crude being trucked in, but <250 miles. Imported oil is never trucked in.

I know of no case where water based refineries are limited by docking space.


In Houston, Colonial and Rancho pipeline access is crucial. When Astra Zeneca bought the Crown facility, this was key to the purchase.

Kinder Morgan is literally building storage tanks on top of each other at their facility.

Real estate is an issue along the Houston Ship Channel.

In Houston, Colonial and Rancho pipeline access is crucial. When Astra Zeneca bought the Crown facility, this was key to the purchase.

Kinder Morgan is literally building storage tanks on top of each other at their facility.

Real estate is an issue along the Houston Ship Channel.

Has anyone renewed a certificate of deposit (CD) recently? It seems by the rates being offered, that the banks believe the next three months are going to be strong, but after that see things start going downhill.

The Federal Reserve is in a terrible bind right now. The US$ has been plunging against other major currencies (arguably due at least in part, if not mainly, to our trade deficit -- which is due at least in part to increasing imports of increasingly expensive oil). The usual remedy would be to raise interest rates, which they had been doing until recently. They have had to stop raising them, though, because what they have already done has sent the housing market into the tank. Now we are just looking at a wave of foreclosures; bumping interest rates much higher would turn that wave into a tsunami.

So they must raise rates, but they can't. That's the bind, and it is a tough one to be in. I would hate to be a Fed governor right now.

What will happen? My best bet is that eventually global realities will overwhelm domestic expediency, and the Fed will have no choice but to raise interest rates further to defend the US$ from a total meltdown.

I could be wrong of course. But you might want to think twice before you lock in investments long-term right now.

increasing mortgage interest rates are a factor, but are not high (by the standards of the last 30 yrs). how about affordability ? bubblaceous prices and stagnant real earnings ?

Mortgage interest rates are not high by historic standards. What is different from historic standards are the number of people that have financed their home purchase with adjustable rate mortgages.

yes, is see what you mean. people who couldnt afford the mcmansion, driving the price up with "creative" financing.
an acquaintence from la told me that creative financing can mean the same as a five finger discount.

Ruminations about the garden:
With kudos to Unrepentant Cowboy but not understanding why he spent so long fighting that stony Texas soil.

I read a few drumbeats back that it was posted that the 16 and 17 centuries were times of immense drudgery and hard toiling labor and they didn't want to ever go back to that.

Several others have penned that its is a huge undertaking to go back to the land and develop a sustaining garden and style of life.

To all of those with like opinions I suggest, as was suggested to me, to read the book "Possum Living".

I also would point out that those painted scenarios are not exactly true to todays adventurer into sustainable living, particularly the part about growing food.

I have an auction to go to shortly, I go to a lot of them and find many useful items, and can't expound too much on this area right now but will later.

First we are not serfs and tied into serfdom any longer. With finacial abilities one can easily purchased a few acres or maybe 4 or 5 and live , IMO, very easily a sustainable lifestyle and be very comfortable. In fact find it quite pleasing and not just a big drudge.

I have always planted huge gardens when I had the room. In fact I have sometimes had 2 gardens. I found the work enjoyable and very healthy.

What I find is the drudgery of living in suburbia and having to constantly mow grass, run kids everywhere, thousands of trips to shopping malls, hardware stores, gas stations and driving always to eat out or go for entertainment.

Sitting at traffic lights and all the above are to me the monstrous equivalent of serfdom. Drudgery and never ending, spend, spend , spend, commute , commute and work , work , work 8-5 or even worse all weekends for zero pay(salaried,etc)and then have to do unpleasant duties and take a ration of shit along with it from mgmt.

Piss on a bunch of that nonsense. I would rather be growing my own food and laying in the hammock that to do the above.

Look at it this way. You buy or save some seed. Til the soil. Plant the seed. Eat the results. You have just eliminated every single middleman in the food chain. You can enjoy the best, freshest and healthiest food that you would be hard pressed to be able to purchase and you paid absolutely not one single cent for it nor paid any taxes on it as well nor expended gas or other trips to obtain it.

Just how much simpler can it get? . You own the property and with it paid off you are your own king. No rules or regulations apply. You do as you wish.

Later I will tell how simple it is to get and maintain good gardening soil. Gotta an auction to go to and some good tools to buy dirt cheap.

Airdale-I see it simple and easy, not a drudge or hardship,
and some have already 'broken the code' on this.

A google search turns up this link:

The book is apparently out of print, though Amazon says it has some.

First we are not serfs and tied into serfdom any longer...

I would respectfully submit that the whole feudal concept was a consequence of overpopulation back in the dark ages. A farmer could always live comfortably if there weren't a hungry army willing to work for the local warlord and go a-pillaging.

It was probably a population-limiting dynamic for most of history: the pillaging destroys the ag base, a famine ensues, the survivors eventually start farming again. Then their excess offspring get together into gangs fraternal organizations of some sort and decide to build a city. ...

But you probably still don't have one of these:

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

Actually feudalism was a form of land holding and government.

The really big population dieoffs occurred when the Bubonic plagues decreased populations to the point where labour was at such a premium it resulted in the first cracks in the feudal system. Men started to become their own masters.

AS far as the agriculture base being destroyed by what you call pillaging which was a relatively rare occurrence, that is the last thing that would happen. Goods might be taken and people die but unlike today land was considered good stuff, and other than set fire to a crop to deny it to a 'pillager' it would be rather like a bank robber burning the cash to 'destroy the ag base. Pretty difficult too.

I think we have become divorced from the land to such an extent that even the act of simply growing one's own food has become a thing of myth and apocrapha.

I was probably the one who mentioned Possum Living. The link is http://www.f4.ca/text/possumliving.htm

I like this book because of its outfront style - no pretension. It prints out at 66 pages.

"Just how much simpler can it get? . You own the property and with it paid off you are your own king. No rules or regulations apply. You do as you wish."

Well, I don't know where you live, but around here we have to pay Property Taxes! A house and a couple of acres is easily $1200 per year in taxes. That's $100 per month. If you don't pay it they will throw you out on your ear and sell it dirt cheap to someone else that will pay the taxes!
And as to no rules or regulations - Well, there are plenty of people living in the city that work for the County Government that spend a lot of time telling the people that live out in the country what they can and can't do with/on their property. Where and what you can build, how many animals you can have and where you can have them, how many vehicles you can have parked on your property, ad naseaum.
I could go into a long diatribe about some of the problems of "Living in the Country", but I think you get the general picture.
A major depression-die off is probably the only thing that will ever get us any of our lost freedom back unfortunately.
Individual freedom is inversely proportional to population!

but around here we have to pay Property Taxes!

Like I was saying, there's always people to do the bidding of the local warlord. Come to think of it, I live in town and don't grow my own food, so I'm the beneficiary of that scam.

Thanks airdale! Be sure and pay your bills on time, K?

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

"Just how much simpler can it get? . You own the property and with it paid off you are your own king. No rules or regulations apply. You do as you wish."

Well, I don't know where you live, but around here we have to pay Property Taxes!

*clap* *clap* Some people do not live in the real world, where there are other people.

The tax issue (and the 'services' one gets for the taxes) seem to be a product of excessive energy washing about the system. As the energy declines, the service level will have to drop - because taxes will have to drop. It'll be hard to sell to citizens they have to sacrifice, that the idea of 'if you work hard you can become one of the big wigs', while the spread between the rich and poor grows.

Most places also have laws about the harvest of game, so anyone who's plan is to 'go into the woods and forage' will run afoul of the game laws. Not to mention changes in gun laws. So much for 'doing what you want' and 'being king'. Unless you are delusional about the world works.

Eric, I doubt you have the slightest idea of what I speak of.

Changes in gun laws? Yeah...like we can carry concealed here.
Like we do NOT have to retreat from those who threaten us either in our home or elsewhere. That was a recent change in MANY states.

Harvest of game? If the deer come in my garden or any other and consume it then I have the LEGAL right to shoot them.

I do NOT need a hunting license nor deer tags on my own land in Kentucky. I do not need a fishing license either to do the same. In fact I believe that I now get them free. I do abide by the game rules but ................insert obligatory..*IN THE FUTURE WHEN THERE IS NO RULING AUTHORITY******REPEAT REPEAT OVER AND OVER FOR THE READING IMPAIRED***************

then no one will need SQUAT!!!!!!!

That will be your REAL WORLD son. Your future and continual world of reality IF you survive the dieoff and I'm thinking you Eric Blair will NOT survive it.

Airdale--as I see it, as I live it and now back to the auction...

Eric, I doubt you have the slightest idea of what I speak of.

Gee, Airdale - who's fault is it if you can't express your thoughts?

Please feel free to show how your solutions work for an ENTIRE planet.

I'm gonna help ya out here - That computer you sit in front of is on the Internet. The Internet allows the entire world to communicate, to express how the volume of oil and its consumption are world problems. So far your solution for everyone is to crawl into the woods, kill whatever game one can find, and eat/burn whatever plants they can get. Humanity has a poor history with that plan.

Harvest of game? If the deer come in my garden or any other and consume it then I have the LEGAL right to shoot them.

Show the law. Because you've shown a lack of understanding In fact I believe that I now get them free. of local laws.


So then you are claiming that the Anarchists have the future correctly?

And now how does that future stops someone from coming to your collection of property and take it? There won't be any laws.

With no laws regulating hunting - people will hunt critters to extinction.
In 1910, only 10,000 deer roamed the state, and in 1975, there were about 250,000.

How about how humans made Australian the desert it is now.

The laws of the land is why you THINK you are a King on your own land.

That will be your REAL WORLD son.

Oh really?

I'm thinking you Eric Blair will NOT survive it.

Now you've gone to threats because you can't create a good argument.

Tisk Tisk. I'm SO looking forward to the the defenders of Airdale to say 'Yea, the future is a lawless Anarchy!'

And now how does that future stops someone from coming to your collection of property and take it? There won't be any laws.

That's the real tough nut to crack: surrounded by fifty million Bubbas with guns. I can't figure out any way for an individual to solve that problem, no matter how big of a peronal arsenal one might accumulate.

We'd best hope that it doesn't get to that point, and thus we'd best all work together to avoid that outcome.

"Please feel free to show how your solutions work for an ENTIRE planet."

Eric, there IS NO solution that will work for an ENTIRE planet. That's one of the points - it's unsustainable at this level. This is not a desire or a threat, just the way some people see the status quo.

And airdale makes a lot of good points. I don't know where you live, but here in NH, it is totally legal to hunt and fish on your own property. And the coverage of game wardens is ridiculously low in any case, and dependent on the good will of the landowners.

I really don't think you understand how life works in rural areas.

"I'm thinking you Eric Blair will NOT survive it.

Now you've gone to threats because you can't create a good argument."

How is that a threat? He was stating his opinion of your chances in a very different kind of world. A dire warning, perhaps. I don't think (wishful thinking?) things will get quite that apocalyptic myself, but to call that a threat makes no sense. If he said "I'm a'comin' to gitcha!", that's a threat.

Eric, there IS NO solution that will work for an ENTIRE planet

Oil has been offered up as just that. And done a damn fine job of filling that role.

Solar is a solution that works 'everywhere' on the surface for some of the time.

Airdales 1st posts where about how 'we'd all better figure out how to live off the land' forage in the woods. At 130 acres per human to be sustainable, doomed thinking. But he keeps pushing it, and a bunch of people keep buying it.

And airdale makes a lot of good points

Lots of people make good points. But poor ideas are STILL poor ideas. And most of the people making good points here arn't saying 'I've been saying that for the last 3 days, how come no one is acknowledging me?'

Eric, it's good you mentioned solar: plants are the only self-replicating, self-repairing, and therefore sustainable solar energy collection system.

Further, it's my perception that Airdale is not advocating foraging. He writes often of his garden and fruit trees. Please try to accept that he understands food production very well - because he does it.

I will also support Airdale's notion that without gas to go zooming around those gravel back roads, there won't be a big "authorities" presence in rural areas in 20 years or less. My guess is the local "well ordered militia" or maybe "deputies" will be the functional local law enforcement.


plants are the only self-replicating, self-repairing, and therefore sustainable solar energy collection system.

'cept the photon -> work conversion rate is not very good.

http://www.theoildrum.com/user/eric+blair to see someone elses math on the topic.

How exactly will this plant plan keep the present population levels and economic system going?

How can you grow plants on the side and roof of present buildings?

Electrical generation from renewables has a place due to the high quality and flexibility of electricity. Downside is it is hard to store.

No man is an island.
Except airdale.
Pointless arguing with him.

People who have a violent mentality will be the first to go, because nobody wants to band together with them.

Ahhh oldhippie,

As you told me once so I ask you,

Have you checked your mirror lately?

"No man is an island." ??

Sometimes quotes from various writers and sages does not exactly fit real life.But if you have noticed from my scribblings , I am not living an islandlike existance.
I like to spend time alone on the farm doing what I love to do rather than hanging out at the local coffee shop kibitzing all day long. Rather take a walk in the woods.

I will be part of a network , when the future happens. Many are in this 'network' already HOWEVER being able to live in solitude and alone will be of value. Its another word for relying on others and sharing assests. Ones you trust. Around here everyone knows who the slackers and quitters are. There are few secrets in a rural community.

Do you not note that many here profess to be childless and are lauded for that lifestyle? I have two children and a wife but if they do not wish to live where I live then I can understand that. (Rude Crude you asked whether I had children).

Many here do not find my lifestlye acceptable or so they say. I wonder what plans oldhippie has made for as I read I can't remember any. Your choice but don't bitch about others choices. Again check your mirror.


You're really going out on a limb expecting there to be no "ruling authority" in the future. I find that people love to project their own political/social leanings and worldview onto their predictions about the world following peak oil. The wackier their current positions, the wackier their predictions about the future...

At many periods of mass conflict and difficulty in history, central authority grew more autocratic, as opposed to dissolving into nothingness. I don't really see any more reason to expect the future to be some kind of Mad Max anarchy as opposed to some sort of Walden 2 utopia... either of those outcomes is nothing but daydreams and conjecture at this point and there is no factual support for predicting either outcome.

Historically there has never been periods in which "authority" did not exist. What we have seen is authority increasing or decreasing in complexity and scope, based upon the growth or contraction of the civilization behind that authority.

It is fully reasonable to expect a contraction in complexity and scope of authority if the civilization's current level of complexity cannot be maintained. In fact, that is the logical outcome. Of course, being what we are, that usually leads to a reorganization that produces a new authority that can grow larger over time.

Whether this historical pattern will continue or find itself interrupted as the age of fossil fuels begins to decline is a great unknown. But examining human history before the onset of widespread usage of fossil fuels certainly suggests that it will.

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

Many less complicated societies of the past have had ruling hierarchies which held the power of life and death over individual members of the society. In many less complex societies human life was given less value than it is in modern western society. Less complexity of authority does not equal less scope of control. Slavery was a feature in many more "primitive" societies and could hardly be considered narrow in scope.

In many less complex societies human life was given less value than it is in modern western society.

Do you think modern western society gives much value to human life? Not the humans outside the view of the cameras, or without the money to pay for stuff.

I agree on the property taxes but the rest of it sort of reflects a city view. Few in the country are going to worry about gun laws. The serious country people have enough ammo to last a lifetime. And, fewer are going to worry about game laws if TSHTF; people will take what is necessary to survive. The deer in my area were wiped out within six months after the Depression took hold. I wouldn't think twice about taking game regardless of the laws. If I can't shoot it, I'll trap it or snare it. And, yes, I have traps and snares. In fact, I have a number of snares set up now to get any wild pigs who try to get into my garden and orchard. I may even set up a live trap this summer when they are more likely to be around.

Country people who don't know how to trap or clean game might find some of the DVDs from Buckshot of interest. http://www.buckshotscamp.com and people who don't know how to tan hides will be interested in the book,Deerskins into Buckskins or go to http://www.braintan.com It's good for the puke factor since the animal's brain is used for tanning. BTW, Duke Traps make some really neat head-hold traps (along with leg-hold traps) http://www.duketraps.com/4body/bodytrap.html

Country people will also forage but a city or suburban person who thinks they can just forage beause the land looks "rural" is going to find out that someone owns that land who will not take their trespassing lightly.

Todd; a Realist

Few in the country are going to worry about gun laws.

Yet, the game wardens have FAR more power than the local police to enforce the game laws. No need for warrants. I expect the gun laws will come under threat - to keep the childern safe or some such reason. In many locations if you have a felony conviction you can't own a gun. No matter what the conviction is for.

The deer in my area were wiped out within six months after the Depression took hold.

Which is why the 'you'd all better learn how to go into the woods and harvest what you can' plan is a long-term doom plan.

Irresponsible. At least some people see the plan as folly.

dvd and book list deleted

The firefox series is good to have in your collection. I've prefered oak for tannic acid. But you can use tea also.

Country people will also forage but a city or suburban person who thinks they can just forage beause the land looks "rural" is going to find out that someone owns that land who will not take their trespassing lightly

But that's not Airdales position - he's now pimp'n for a LACK of laws. 'trespassing' can't exist in the world he's claiming is coming.

Odds are, once again, Airdale will be shown to be well outside the mainstream.


We've had ample discussion about what will happen in the future and I don't want to get into it again. It is likely that there will still be laws on the books as society collapses - I'm with Airdale on the coming collapse. But, with or without "laws", trespassers are going to either be told to leave or get whacked. Who knows about taxes. The odds are that they will become moot in a really collapse.

Even today in my boondocks area, the closest game warden is about a 2 1/2 hour drive away; there is a resident county sheriff but he seems to mostly chase the few homeless people out of the developed area (the developed area is about half a square mile in total while there are 800 square miles of boondocks); there is a federal trapper but he's not going to do anything about poaching in a SHTF scenario.

What is true is that those of us in rural areas live in a different reality. I seldom get to urban areas and I can never figure out why people live that way. I hated it when I had to live that way. Nuf said. Time for lunch and then the garden. I'm planting some quinoa today.

Hello Todd

Just read with interest your comment about growing quinoa.

Have you had much luck growing it - I was considering trying it but think the climate where I live isn't right for it. It likes to grow at high altitudes and in dry conditions if I'm not mistaken...

Thanks for any insight you can provide...


I trialed three varieties last year (all OP and available from Seeds of Change) - Temuco (short with big heads but small seeds), Faro (bigger seeds but still small) and Dave Four-O-Seven (the "biggest" seed but still about the size of sesame seed).

Ok, I live at 3,060 feet in the Coast Range Mountains of northern CA. I irrigated them like regular crops and fertiligated (soluble 20-20-20 plus trace minerals) them as I do everything else. I doubt that my elevation made any difference although our low humidity might have. FWIW, I also have been working on developing my own strain of winter wheat for a number of years and it does fine here.

What I liked about it was that NOTHING touched it...not the rabbits, not the grouse, not the quail, not the deer, not the wild pigs, not the gophers - nothing. And, it has a complete protein. Oh yea, it germinates almost as soon as it gets water. The downside is that the seed heads can germinate if they are ripe and get rained on.

What I didn't like was threshing and winnowing it compared to my wheat. There is a lot of small chaff and the seeds are small so it's hard to get just the seeds. With my wheat, I throw the heads into a "Leaf Eater" which is a weed whip in a drum and then take the seeds and chaff to a windy hill to winnow it. The quinoa was a pain all the way around.

I'm only trying the Faro and Dave this year on a larger scale - 30' double rows each.

I see it as a survival food and nothing more. But it is easy to grow, easy to harvest with reasonable yields.

Try it and see what happens. Over the past 30+ years I've trialed probably 100 varieties of tomatoes, corn and on and on. Seeds are cheap.


Hi Todd,

I always like to hear about what you're up to.

re: quinoa. I read somewhere that it can be toxic to people.

Have you ever heard of this?

I just checked "wiki", which I know is not always a good source. I also tried looking on the USDA site - I imagine if toxicity was a problem, they'd have it there (somewhere).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinoa. It talks about "fat hen"
"...Similar Chenopodium species, such as Pitseed Goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri) and Fat Hen (Chenopodium album) were grown and domesticated in North America as part of the Eastern Agricultural Complex before maize agriculture became popular. Fat Hen, which has a widespread distribution in the Northern Hemisphere, produces edible seeds and greens much like quinoa, but in lower quantities. Caution should be exercised in collecting this weed, however, because when growing in heavily fertilized agricultural fields it can accumulate dangerously high concentrations of nitrates."

Eric Blair said:

"Odds are, once again, Airdale will be shown to be well outside the mainstream(possum living u might say)."

Thanks for the compliment Eric. I knew you would understand me finally. The mainstream is where the current is the swiftest and is fast carrying you away. Doncha see?

(And thanks Todd for the link on the book. It jives very well with all the rest of my views, the Foxfire series,the Mother Earth magazines of long ago and the rest.)

With the upheaval we will all be out of the mainstream. Those who can't fight the current go over the falls.

I'm guessing your not yet able to think about dirt that way.
So my bdu's get dirty and the knees worn. I have many pairs and I just cut them off at the knees and continue on. Ditto my Osh Kosh bibs. Down in the dirt where the plants come out of the ground. Thats where its happening. Out in the woods where the game is. Thats where you find some protein. Stalk the wild asparagus as well. Gather ginseng and goldenseal. Find a wild beehive using flour to sprinkle on the bees and trace their flight path. Use a bee finder box with some honey in it.yada yada........if we haven't killed off all the bees as yet.

Your head is in the wrong place. This year,next or sometime this is how it will all play out. We all know that. No magic bullets are going to do much good. Its back to the past. Live it or die. We haven't the time anymore. The planet is dying and lots of us need to die as well or no one will be left standing nor will a viable earth be left. Once the dams break and the tipping points are reached then all the MSM and politicos will be on the run but there is nowhere to run to and no where to hide. You are eigther prepared for it or not. This is the way it will play out IMO,,YMMV and you can go with what you like.

Imports up,imports down,prices up,prices down,graphs say this and graphs say that,production is up , production is down...its going to go bad no matter what.

Best case IMO(which means squat) is mebbe two years outside. If so I will ride my bike,maybe get a Cessna 150 to play with,tool around some in my jeep but I will always be getting more and more ready. A new forge, anvil and 500 lbs of blacksmith coal. Find a spring down the holler and build a springhouse. Dig a root cellar.Start a new compost pile.Stock up on kerosene. .....

Airdale-nothing witty to say...its just that simple

Were the shit truly to hit the fan in the apocalyptic fashion you prefer to dwell on the Cessna 150, the bike (Harley, I believe, not a bicycle) and the jeep will be no more than scrap piles of small parts and metal useful only for keeping simpler machines going. You cannot possibly maintain that stable without input from us loathesome city folk. And just why would we help an ornery cuss like you? A few months at most could you keep that machinery going without social organization far far beyond what you contemplate.
You wouldn't even have the OshKosh overalls without social organization. Think through the production and distribution of overalls and tell me that will continue to happen when every crackpot is his own King. Do you think that one is solved if you have stockpiled a hundred pair for personal use?
Basically the airdale shtick is shtick. Just romantic BS.

Oh, come off it. We all have our own "shtick." But just because you or EricBlair don't like airdale's doesn't mean it's fair to jump on him with all manner of misrepresentation and misinterpretation.

Case in point: airdale DID NOT suggest he'd still be riding his harley or flying a cessna after TSHTF. What he did suggest was that in his opinion "its going to go bad no matter what" in "mebbe two years outside." (IMHO, I think that's a pretty fair assessment of our FUBAR situation although we can all quibble about HOW bad it'll be and/or get, and when or if it does so, and by what combination of means). airdale then went on to say, "If so I will ride my bike, maybe get a Cessna 150...", which clearly meant in the meantime he will ride his hog, etc.

Either you completely misread what he wrote, or did so knowingly because you find him irritating. I'm guessing it's the latter based on the rest of your pet peeve rant against airdale. But you and ericblair look a lot more "ornery" than airdale does for misrepresenting and misinterpreting. It's pretty clear neither of you like the guy.

Personally, I might not agree with everything he writes, just as I may not with anyone else here, but I also don't make a fetish of jumping over any one particular individual either just cuz their POV shtick irritates me.
But berating one fellow for stuff he didn't actually say, and otherwise running him down continually with one's own crooked lines of BS, is more obnoxious than any sthick of airdale's.

It's been said that PO is like a rorschach test; well, it seems to me that the same could be said of airdale for some here. Maybe you all should take a look in the mirror. Thus I would recommend that if one doesn't like airdale, IGNORE him, or beware looking more foolish and ornery than he's alleged.

Well, Airdale pretty much has the right idea. Thing is that his way doesn't apply to everyone because he appears to have more then average resources in place.
It depends to what degree things deteriorate, personally I happen to think that the type of arrangement he has is not defensible by an individual or a family, but who knows how things play out.

My take on airdale is not that he has the "right idea" for everyone, only for himself and anyone else who sees the world somewhat likewise. This is the biggest mistake I think folks are making WRT airdale, reading him as saying or expecting *everyone* should or will be doing as he is.

It's also quite possible that some of his commentary has slipped into such suggestion/interpretation. So what? Who here hasn't offered their frigging opinion of what we all should be doing or not doing!

Why I'm little bothered by whatever airdale might say along these lines is because it's primarily related to individual acts. I can take it or leave such advice, and find no real offense in it either way.

Worse in my mind are the opinions offered that betray such choices and our responsibilities as imperfect individuals in a limited world. I.e., we gotta build more nuclear plants; we gotta drill for more/all the oil in ANWR and tar-sands, gotta have coal, gotta have this, or that, or any other Big Bizness Big Tech Plan by the Know-It-All Man (excluding, of course, Alan's electric light rail ones and tontonella's 100 mil. wheelbarrels, etc plans ;-) ) like genetic engineering, nano-tech, etc.

When things inevitably go bad with these kind of big shit plans, no one is responsible and yet lots of things are wrecked. We are living in the wreckage right now. I'm sick of it because it's insanity and hope to god to see less of it before I see any more of it undertaken as a way to solve whatever the crisis is.

Whatever airdale's faults are, and I'm sure there are many, AFAIK his opinions/ideas boil down to speaking about and doing on a this is what I'm doing level. And like I said, I may not agree with everything he offers up from his POV, but there's a hell of lot less harm in it than a lot of other *we better do this* opinions offered up here on a daily basis.

IMHO, the only thing that'll save our sorry asses is learning to live with less of everything, not more of the same. I think airdale understands this fact and for that I give the man a lot of credit.

Oh maybe I got that wrong. Maybe the Cessna and the Harley are only for before TSHTF. So then the airdale plan is eat drink and be merry? Party till the roof falls in?
I can't figure why this guy is a prophet to some here.
TOD has been through a number of petty prophets, seems to be a popular pose.
Prophets deserve to be laughed at. Beyond that I won't tell you I've got a solution.

"I can't figure why this guy is a prophet to some here."

Well, right there is your mistake. That airdale has offered his opinion about things and that some folks might agree with some of his takes on things does not make him a "prophet" in the true and best sense of the word.

That you may disagree with such thoughts and opinions of airdale's is perfectly understandable. What's not particularly reasonable or useful is doing so in a way that mischaracterizes his thoughts and opinions, and anyone else who is more often than not amused, entertained even, or interested in airdale's musings.

When it comes to prophets and prophecy, one could argue that everyone here at TOD falls in that category. Who's right, who's wrong, who's funny, who's a pain in the ass with their prophetic opinions is all a matter of personal opinion.

Hell, there are a lot of opinions expressed here by others I don't care for, but I haven't turned such dislike into spite for the person making them and made a fetish of mindlessly attacking those people. But this is precisely what I see of you and ericblair doing WRT airdale. And IMHO that's just being petty.

Hence my simple advice that you all IGNORE him.

Of course, airdale should just IGNORE you all too! :-)

Hi Airdale,

No problem with what you are doing, I am curious about a couple of things though.

With a collapse, if sudden over a period of half a dozen years or so, there would be a lot of loose souls wandering about getting into trouble, but there would still be an elite that would have resources and know how to use those resources as well as these loose souls. Would you consider there is a high possibility of the establishment of a new feudal society by this elite using the aimless as a new peasantry?

If so where does that leave you and I? I too am doing a lot of the things you are doing, but the thing I really would like to make some progress at is establishing a social order that would negate any efforts at the reestablishment of feudal society. It would consist of an anarchy of individuals who realize the need of commons. That is individuals that understand that the needs of each met, under the constraints of nature, results in the greatest good for all. This may sound highfalutin' but all it really comes down to is friends and good neighbours that are truly that.

My friends and good neighbours are scattered all over the place. The place where my family has lived for about 8 years now is a relatively small city of a rather standard mobility for these days, in other words a lot of their friends and neighbours are scattered all over the place.

I don't know that you don't have a similar situation where you are, even if you are more isolated.

When one can hardly voice one of the most important events of our time, peak oil, to establish some commonality seems rather a pipe dream at the moment but possibly there would be moments during great flux it might be possible, one could, as an example, consider the establishment of trade unions during the dirty thirties? Any thoughts?


(thanks godraz for the understanding..'preciate it,I agree that many can disagree without the barbs..which I tend to return and perhaps shouldn't)

Ok crystal,about organization. Here in small communities we already have a lot of internal communications and understandings. Some are old and ill, some disabled BUT some are healthy and wise and many can be trusted , for here your rep surely proceeds you.

So I am part of what one could call a network. Those who can work together and are good friends and can be relied upon. Its the way it works out in the country, at least around here. My ancestors and kin are very well known since they helped settle this area. And I have kept my rep shiny clean as well so my word and handshake is of value.

As to using stragglers (peasantry) ,how do you know they won't slit your throat in the middle of the night. Or a pitchfork thru your back? You don't and without a long previous relationship you simply can't trust them.

I went to grade school with these people. I am related to a huge number. My word is my trade in stock. This is the great advantage we have over those who will go wandering off and live in the 'hives'.

We are ON the land. We OWN the land. We know the outback and have the resources. Those , like my children, barely know the next door neighbors in the burbs. They are sitting ducks therefore for all kinds of acts of violence when things get bad.

Yes someone can walk down my lane and accost me and maybe even sneak around the area looking for soft targets. It would be easy to do but somewhere justice will have to be enforced. How I am not sure but the survivors will have to be constantly viligant and that is the tiring part.GThe rest is probably better left unsaid.

After its all sorted out I would like to see it along the lines of small communities with tradesmen of various kinds. Not too long ago as a child that is exactly what my community was like. We bartered and neighbors traded whatever,,chickens of one breed to one another, you borrowed your neighbors boar hog for awhile and repaid the favor. You got together for gathering the harvest,you helped each other, no one cheated and once more you had to be trusted.

To me those were the golden years of my youth. Today I can still walk those fields and farms where I did all this as a youth. My memories are very close and real. I can stop and chat with almost anyone within 5 miles of me and they remember me and all my parents very well. We have HISTORY between us.

Tomorrow I have to scour the county for a 'subsoiler' to mount on a 3pt hitch to break up soil a foot or two down in my new garden. I have been told who to ask and what farm to check. I will therefore borrow one and do the work and then return it and a favor someday. We do this a lot here. I am always borrowing someones tractor and in return maybe cleaning all the virii off their computers.

Make sense?

As to the way it all works out? Lets this time not let the politicos get us by the gonads.Let not the greed blind us.
"Keep it in the furrow."


"I agree that many can disagree without the barbs..which I tend to return and perhaps shouldn't"

I'd suggest that that would be a really good idea. As I've suggested to those that don't care for you and your musings, best if you all just IGNORE each other!

Best hopes for an 'IGNORE in PEACE' agreement. :-)

Excellant points Airdale.

To ChrystalRadio's comment concerning a social network:

If such does not currently exist where you are located then it will be neccessary
to create one. Like it or not we are in this together and while self reliance will
be neccessary it will be virtually impossible to "go it alone". We will have to
rely on one another to survive.

Rude, Gee you make me feel like a teenager again...so misunderstood.

I think, Airdale, even though his community still is functioning communally it's likely not what it was in his youth. As far as most places, there is nothing anywhere near what I experienced growing up in the small town prairies. WE ARE going it alone and that's the problem. It leaves a vacuum for the two bit despot. Those schoolyard bullies did not die on graduating, they are out there and given wealth and power that many of them have accumulated in this age of oil, will make it impossible to as you say 'go it alone'. This I think is going to be the big problem' not hungry displaced people, but someone with dogs chains and whips saying lets go booby we have a kingdom to build.

This year,next

Oh good! A date when this will all happen. The we can all see if Airdale is a seer or more like the UseNet Oracle.

or sometime

Or not. Guess if there is NOT 'no government' by the end of 2007 then the seer of TOD won't be shown to be in error.

this is how it will all play out. We all know that.

No, "we" do not all "know" it. But feel free to provide proof so "we" can all "know".

No magic bullets are going to do much good.

Magic bullets do great things! Just hard to get magic bullets. Regular bullets, easy. Magic ones - that is hard. What with no magic.

Its back to the past. Live it or die.

Yea, sure. A past where metal working was done by charcoal, where the Americas had no draft animals, where the Chinese had gunpowder - but used it for fireworks.

Humanity will un-learn the disease model, unlearn material science, and think weather is the act of a vengeful God.

I guess it depends how deep in the country one is. One most definitely needs to be more then one tank of gas away.

People seem to forget the 800# gorilla in the closet. Illegal immigration, the equivalent of a 200 division horde that is not going to work with you.

Never mind the homegrown welfare establishment. They are going to take what they want and if the NOLA model holds authorities are more likely to join them then to stop them.

Dude, there are so many 800# gorillas running around this place it ain't funny.


how long does ammo last? i have some laying around that is at least 10 yrs old. can anyone tell me if it is safe to use ?

The US military has stored and used ammo that is decades old. Ten years is not a problem. Heck, I have a couple hundred rounds of 5.56 that is probably 15-20 years old and it fires just fine (slowly rotating my ammo stocks as I also shoot for pleasure).

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

I have had factory and hand loaded rounds stored for that long at times
and have had no problem with the ammo or the firearm. One thing that
could possibly happen is that the powder could absorb moisture and would
not fire. So grab a few random rounds, find a sportsmans club and launch
a few down range. If you encounter a misfire remove the magazine and the
chambered shell. Check to see if the chambered shell is intact. if the bullet
is not attached it my be lodged in the barrel. (sometimes the primer will fire
but the powder will not burn. This may cause the bullet to lodge in the barrel).
If this happens I would recommend buying new name brand ammo. I have had
Federal .22 shells that were over 20 years old function without a problem.

Note: If you are using old military surplus rounds I strongly recommend breaking your firearm down
and cleaning it thoroughly after use. Some of these rounds were made with a caustic compound which if residue was left in the chamber could cause blisters in the barrel and in the mechanisms of the firearm.

Ownership, especially of land, requires authority -- either duly constituted or warlord style. Trying to own your own land without civil authority or a gang of mercenaries isn't going to work. Anyone who has a decent rifle and an ability to use it can easly pick off the owner, and then he owns it.

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

Post WW II Western Germany (from memory) financed essential gov't services primarily from property taxes on farmland. A number of German farmers lost their land to the tax man.

The Depression and WW II profitering by the farmers made them unpopular and as the best off sector of society post WW II, with real assets of value, they were a logical target for punishing tax rates.

In Eastern Germany, they just confiscated the farm land.


Thanks Alan,

Interesting. I was wondering if nationalization of OCs is on the table, why not the same for farms? (Or, perhaps, a selected few?) In a sense, this occurs with corporate acquisition. Depending on what one considers the state-corporate boundary to actually be (in reality).

West Coast Japanese-Americans lost their farms and most of their other property in WWII. The supposed "security" issue was bogus, and the documents revealed in the past few years make it clear that they knew it, even at the time. The real issue was that they took land that no one else wanted, and made it into rich farmland via hard work (and a lot of irrigation). It was California representatives who pushed for the internment, because their (white) farmer constituents were in competition with Japanese farmers, and coveted their land.

You know where I live. I have posted it often enough. Western Kentucky.

I had over 100 acres in production , a 45 x 60 pole barn,a corn crib, anohter pole barn(45 x 50) and two ponds. I was paying in the 80's about $250 per year in taxes to the county.

Today I have a 4500 sq ft. log house, and about 1/4 of the previous acreage. I pay now $450 per year.

If TSHTF I will pay zero for no one will be there to collect it. If I just lived in the pole barn on 5 acres(as I intend to do in the future) I will pay about $50 per year.

To those in the burbs? You pay thru the nose.....you just made my point about serfdom.

No County Gov tells me what to do. My relatives are in County Gov and I have done work for them as well in programming and computer infrastructure. In fact installed the Sheriffs systems and set them up for tax purposes.

No one here goes around pestering you unless you break a law flagrantly.

"I get the general picture"?????

I have lived on farms even while employed. I think you can tell me nothing that I haven't learned long long ago.

Question is then where do YOU live that they give you all this guff from the County?

Airdale-it is as I said it is and thats the way it is where I live. I don't live elsewhere for those obvious reasons. Never near a city either. Out here we are still FREE!!!!!

Actually no, I did not know where you lived. I live on a 75 hectare (187 acre) farm in southern Minnesota and the levels of government meddling in everything got so bad we just put all the tillable acres in CRP & let it go back to nature.
I'd love to put up fences (good = expensive) and raise Loline Angus cattle based on a grass fed plan.
But if I put up fences I am afraid they will raise my taxes (improvements don't ya know) and then there is the problem of if and where they might give me legal permission to build a barn to keep the cattle in over the Winter. It's just easier to say to heck with it at my age (67) than to try to fight (county) "city hall".
My property taxes have more than doubled over the last couple of years and are set to go way up again next year.
I have serious worries on a fixed retirement income of being taxed off the farm before I can grow old and die of old age. Property taxes here are based upon the assessors guess what your property might sell for if it was sold based upon the selling prices of "nearby" property that has sold recently. It takes no account of the condition of your property or its ag production capacity (quality) except that if you make an improvement to the property it increases your taxes. Ie if you put up a new barn that is an improvement that will raise your taxes, but when the barn grows old and falls down they never decrease your taxes as a result, but if you build a new barn to replace the falled down one that is another "improvement" and will raise your taxes some more.
I am now beginning to really understand why old people let their places fall apart. They can't survive the tax increases on a fixed income that would accrue from fixing them up.
Hint, don't consider southern Minnesota as a good place to move for retirement or post peak survival.

My relatives are in County Gov

I think that's one of the more important things to have post-SHTF. City people live such isolated lives (no really). They can't just chat with the mayor about fixing those potholes in the street if there's 500,000 other citizens that also want the mayor's time. We're overpopulated, QED.

But when you're related to, or friends with, everyone in the county, you have an external resource of inestimable value. Of course when crunch time comes, the State Gov may start sniffing around for stuff to confiscate... they'll be worrying about a lot of hungry cityfolk.

Though I do envy your situation, Airdale -- you're probably in one of the best spots on the planet right now. Rural state, about as far from the coastal population centers as possible, as WNC Observer said, "surrounded by fifty million bubbas with guns". That's a d@mn3d good buffer against anything but nuclear fallout.

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

I've enjoyed your posts, but usually too busy to join in. Your setup is pretty ideal. I grew up in small town in Illinois and learned how to hunt, butcher, garden, and fix stuff. Now, I'm in a small city but think I'll do well also, even id "within a gas tank" distance from a lot of people. The bigger cities will simply be a mess when TSHTF and Katrina was only a preview. No matter your income level, you could still starve in the city due to lack of basic survival skills and ability to think clearly and learn new important skills.

Dandelions in my lawn are a potential source of food, and even in many urban areas there are numerous wild foods available but hell, most people don't even know how to cook anymore! No joke! Everyone seems to eat out or use prepared meals most of the time. And it's not just food, I bet most people don't know how to get clean water if their municipal source failed, and how to secure protein if it didn't present itself shrink wrapped on a styrofoam tray. The basics: water, food, shelter, family, and community are how humans have survived for thousands of years. A shock to the system will require us to revisit many of those Firefox books, and take care of basics.

In a sick way, I would prefer a simpler existence concerned about basic survival because I am confident I can handle it and would be highly motivated to protect and provide for my family. Until TSHTF though, I'm praying (meditating) that I'm just being paranoid, and that all the engineering analysis and data on PO is incorrect or wrong. (I'm an engineer and I know estimates can be wildly wrong). I would love for my children to not have to deal with the mess I fear they are inheriting. But my experience is telling me that like Airdale's estimate, we're about 2 years from American life being seriously disrupted.

Airdale, I agree with you on the drudgeries of suburbia and the joy you can achieve producing your own food and building your own "stuff". I am in a place in my life where I can't uproot myself right now, but got the garden going and looking for other things I can make instead of purchase.

Now, this kind of lifestyle is exactly what the President and the MSM do NOT want us to do because it will bring too many hardships to the economy. You are right, we are being sold on the idea that it is our "duty" to shop, drive, and not change our lifestyles. I forget when Bush said it (post 9/11?), but didn't he say the best thing Americans could do is act like nothing happened and just go back to shopping?

The life you describe is fine, but it really is not possibel for most of todays city dwellers. Mostly the rural places are already occupied. This is a result of the overpopulation, and the majority of people are stuck with city/suburban living. Those who are PO aware can still make the move out from the urban living, but soon that window will be almost closed.

I don´t envy the remaining city dwellers, they are going to have survival problems of all kinds, like criminality, food, water etc.

Speaking of land in the country, we own 2.5 acres of it. I have been planning to sell off some rental real estate to pay off the remining mortgage but now we have learned that the adjacent property w/ house and above garage rental unit, also 2.5 acres is going to be placed on the market. My husband thinks we should buy it and have our adult son live in it and rent out the extra unit.

At first, I dismissed it saying my goal was to have less debt not more and that I was preparing for the potential for dire outcomes in the near future. But I am wodering if having the space for the other adult offspring, grandkids and extra growing space might not be a good idea.

Back to the steam age?

A rather long but very good article:

The truth is that without oil, humanity - all six and a half billion of us - would be catapulted back into the steam age. And the results would not be pretty.

Now, a new book says that the age of oil is about to draw to a close and that the post-petroleum era is already upon us.

Unwittingly, the author states, we are sleepwalking into a crisis that will make current fears about global warming look like a sideshow.


Ron Patterson

I dunno, we'll get to use all that nifty steam technology:

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

What is that, a steam-powered typewriter?

The picture links to a story. Somebody pried the keys off an old Smith-Corona and glued 'em on an early IBM keyboard. Dolled up the board with some brass doohickeys and wrote the article for Make.

You plug it into your telecalculograph:

per the UK article: the following comment posted under the article is simply a wonder:

What is the fuss all about? Money makes the world go round. If there is profit to be made then man kind will always find a substitute for whatever that is in short supply. The law of supply and demand always holds true. Remember, we human beings, are the most resourceful and adaptable creatures on earth. No crisis, man made or natural, has ever threatened our survival as a species. We can always rely on our wisdom, ingenuity and perseverance to overcome all kind of difficulties.

- Wing, Poole UK

This is Peter Huber's argument, that our aggregate consumption of energy will increase--essentially forever.

If pressed, Mr. Huber will admit that oil production will someday peak, but he believes that there will always be substitute forms of energy.

This is analogous to saying that while individual oil wells (discrete sources of energy) in a given field will peak and decline, the overall oil field (the sum of the discrete sources of energy) will never peak and decline.

During George Bush's eight years in office, the world--from fossil fuel + nuclear sources--will have used the energy equivalent of about 600 Gb of oil, or 100 East Texas Fields, or 50 Prudhoe Bay Fields or 10 Ghawar Fields (production to date for Ghawar, URR for the other two).

There is one small ray of hope and it's not entirely futile. Good advances are being made in Nuclear fusion and we may only be 40years away from a viable power station!!
This essentially unlimited source of energy could be the future. OTOH It might be easier just to locate 100,000's of giant steam turbines at subterranian levels where temperatures can sustain good steam pressures. Then pump all that electric goodness out of the ground. Not beyond current day technology.



First commercial power generation slated for 2040 (provided society exists in the format as we know it!)

If all the worlds leaders get together and publically admit that there is an energy crisis looming and implement immediate energy saving laws, coupled with a multilateral crash program in (in fusion) dwarfing that of all the worlds combined military/space development programs then I think society does stand a chance of maintaining it's current modus operandi. remenber that ITERS funding in terms of global spending is tiny and the program could be massively fast-tracked.


multilateral crash program

The multi-lateral crash program looks to be this:

Re: Crash program

“It gets weirder. This article was published within days of the U.S. Government’s shut down of eGold, the oldest private electronic gold bank. On the same day that the indictments came out against eGold, Brinks, a U.S. firm that provides bullion vaulting services, dropped BullionVault as a client. BullionVault allows individuals to easily and efficiently move their fiat currencies into physical gold, but it does not allow payments to other parties. [I am a satisfied client of BullionVault, by the way.]

Are factions of the Elite in open conflict? Do some of them want access to these gold services, while others, mainly U.S. dollar interested parties inside the U.S., view those same services as a threat? Is Steil warning governments to shut down these services, lest individuals abandon their “absurd” fiat currencies?

I don’t know what’s going on here, but I’d really like to find out.” http://cryptogon.com/?p=706

Nice link to the Council of Foreign Relations site in there too.

I find it interesting that the US dollar, as talked about in almost all economic articles, is presumably the Federal Reserve Note, and not the US dollar at all.

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

>First commercial power generation slated for 2040 (provided society exists in the format as we know it!)

In Late 1950 they said Fusion with be next major power source in the next 10 years.

In the Late 1960 they said Fusion will be the next major power source in the next 15 years,

In the Late 1970 they said Fusion was twenty years away

In the Late 1980s they said Fusion was twenty years away

For the has decade or so, they say Fusion is a mere thirty years away.

See a trend here?

Fusion is destination that doesn't exist. If you research Fusion you will understand why it will never work. Projects like Iter are simply a way for researchers to spend billions of tax payers money and recieve big $$$ salaries. Some of researchers working on Fusion have privately admited that Fusion is a dead end, but they hope the programs stay alive until they retire, since they have no real chance picking up a different career (at thier current salary).

I would also add, that Fusion would just make electricity. We use Oil and Gas a feedstock for petro-chemicals (plastics, fertializers, industrial chemicals, building materials). Pretty much any thing made made today contains materials that originated from oil and gas. Don't bother responding about using electricity to make these same products, you're wasting your time.

I've spent a lot of time reading about fusion and share much of your sceptiscism...but.. as it is NOT technically inconcievable am not ready to dismiss it. We didn't get where we are today by being "surrender monkeys":-). We did it on the back of genius minds when the political/economic will was there. Your argument about ever receeding horizons is only valid as long as fusion remains fringe science. If it was, like i say, given some REAL funding and man-hours, who knows what the future holds. Remember we only have to hold out as long as our supplies of Uranium last.

Is the supply of tritium not the big bugbear? look to the moon. We've been there before.

To your last point I would argue that, as oil will not just run out end of story, we will still have a large hydrocarbon base. In my point above I noted that transportation can be electrified. if you were to remove transportation from the eqaution, oil would last 3 times longer! Secondly much of the worlds electric power still comes from oil/gas/coal - again remove this useage and our remaining URR are eeked out even longer for use in plastics, fertilizer, chemicals etc.

Like one poster joked here about his grandson saying to him:

"What??? You used to burn oil?"


I think that concentrating on the technology, which is difficult but doable, misses an important point : diminishing returns.

"What??? You used to burn oil?"

Supposedly we live in the Nuclear Age, yet we use coal for 25% of our energy need, and only 7% nuclear. We use as much coal now as we ever did. So really we are still more in the coal age than the nuclear age. In theory, if it was just down to technology, fission plants should be in the majority, providing clean reliable power. In practice only one country has achieved that.

The nuclear age never really took off. Some say this is due to technical problems of waste, some say it is political reasons to do with proliferation, but several analyses say it is down to economics, the costs don't add up. In particular, while operating costs may be low, high capital costs are a major deterrent. Fusion has even higher capital costs. Plus, bigger fusion plants work better, which pushes the costs in the wrong direction. Assuming the technology can be worked out, which is not certain, the economics of big fusion plants will not be attractive to investors.

Fusion power is no more unlimited than methane on Titan - it's unlimited, but bloody expensive to get to. ROI gets you every time.

I suspect we may end up with something like Concorde, a great technical achievement, even a reliable commercial service, but the economics simply never add up.

Fusion is the energy of the future, and always will be

To be fair to ITER last time they powered up, they did generated enough Fusion energy to run a 60W lightbulb!

I'd say it's the technology of now but the engineering of the future.

Huh? ITER has not been built yet. ITER is designed to produce 500MW.

The rest of your comment is equally meaningless.

Sorry, it the the JET fusion reactor that got fired up!

It might be easier just to locate 100,000's of giant steam turbines at subterranian levels where temperatures can sustain good steam pressures. Then pump all that electric goodness out of the ground. Not beyond current day technology.

It's not economical. Practical geothermal energy plants tap steam from super-heated underground rock to run the turbines. However, there are only a few places on the earth where magma is close enough to the earth's surface to allow steam to be produced and captured economically. These are regions where there are young volcanoes, crustal shifts, etc.

We could do more with geothermal than we have thus far, though.

Well, as much as I hate to defend someone like Peter Huber, his argument is a touch different - he isn't comparing apples to apples so to speak, as in your case of wells, he is comparing apples to as yet unknown and ungrown beans.

Though this may seem a bit silly, a beanstalk could provide a lot of electricity - assuming you call it a space elevator, and can master a lot of not exactly trivial materials engineering problems.

As for the amount of energy available - Dyson already has that covered, literally. A Dyson sphere is intended to capture the entire energy output of a star, and makes the engineering problems of a space elevator equal to 2 year olds making mud pies.

The truly interesting thing about a Dyson sphere is the accompanying idea that any civilization advanced enough to construct one would 'disappear' to outside observation - and thus, it may be that there a number of advanced civilizations in the universe, simply that we can't detect the residual energy leaking from such spheres over the immense distances involved.

In other words, Huber is as silly as Glassman and his Dow 36,000, but the broader discussion is quite different.

As one of the authors who wrote about a space elevator put it, 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic' - whether we ever reach that point is another discussion entirely. But a giant extension cord from solar satellites to the earth is quite imaginable - and quite honestly, likely cheaper than most of the alternatives we will try first, to keep suburbia humming (suburbia doesn't work much better with fairly plentiful electricity but reduced oil - too many people living in the suburbs have no capital - apart from their homes, ironically - and a city with functioning electrified transport - like NYC or Moscow or Toyko or Paris - is the sort of place to benefit from cheaper electricity).

And let's be realistic - today's U.S. is very unlikely to devote any major effort to such a project, since it will have more important things to handle, like keeping the Walmarts open.

But a giant extension cord from solar satellites to the earth is quite imaginable - and quite honestly, likely cheaper than most of the alternatives we will try first, to keep suburbia humming

In order for the solar satellite to be in geo-stationary orbit around the earth, the "giant extension cord" would have to be 35,900 km long. The weight of any imaginable extension cord material would be huge. I calculate a total weight of 35,800 pounds for a 35,900 km length of very fine (0.01" diameter) copper wire (without insulation), or just under 1 pound per km. In reality, the wire would have to be much thicker to keep from breaking under its own weight. However, the thicker wire would weigh a lot more, so it wouldn't work. There is probably no material having sufficient strength-to-weight ratio to make it possible. Conceivably, there might be some kind of exotic material such as carbon nano-tubes that might be able to do it, if we could make them 35,900 km long, but that is really far-fetched.

hi IfeelFree,

I think Expat was speaking figuratively about an extension cord, possibly beamed energy? While the idea of Dyson spheres catches my old 18 teenager SF imagination, I think the idea of bringing in enough energy to make a dent in fossil fuels would be a lot like running an electric kiln. It might just work if all we were to do was replace a bit but we would be just as likely likely to pig out to the point where in the end the head pig was living a solitary life in a fridge amidst the remnants of a burnt out planet...gee ain't SF still fun?

yes, the basic metaphor was figurative.

Power satellites (in the futuristic 1970s jargon, powersats), have a couple of challenges - placing them in orbit cheaply enough, and getting their collected solar power down to Earth in a reasonable fashion. A space elevator solves both problems - lifting the powersat infrastructure becomes relatively inexpensive, while the elevator's space 'anchored' end can become a collector point for the beamed energy.

This could even make financial sense, as the power generated would likely create a steady source of revenue.

Unfortunately, the odds of people doing something reasonable along these lines seems pretty low at this point. Though building a missile defense system seems something a bankrupt nation feels is critical - apart from defense contractor profits and dreams of world domination, such a system is hard to justify. Though as we have seen over generations, that combination seems irresistible in a political context - whether a monarchy (Great Britain), a monarchy followed by a dictatorship (Germany), or a republic (the United States).

And as a solution for our problems - no, it isn't really. But it is at least a conceivable scenario, much like fusion, that shows that Huber's perspective is at least in a sense understandable. Wrong headed in many ways (the invisible hand just waves, and problem solved), and arguably an excuse to keep living the way we do without changing, but possessing a certain insight.

Still, reading good SF from people like Clarke and Niven would probably be more productive than Huber. For example, Niven imagined a world with a massive population problem leading to a true global warming problem - after all, if you are running a huge number of fusion plants, where does the heat go? Looked at this way, even fusion has its limits. Unless you can figure out a way to move your planet farther from its sun - in SF, creating such scenarios is part of the fun, while solving them requires nothing more than a clever idea.

You might begin by educating yourself about carbon nanotubes and their direct application to this specific problem. Or, you might not educate yourself and go on spouting nonsense. Your choice.

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

...and yet the market still hasn't provided a cure for cancer, despite there being incredible demand for it.

Medicine is still in the dark ages compared to Engineering! Apples and oranges. Medical researchers are still pulling apart the video recorder too see how it works.

I see. So the market can solve any problem... except when it can't.

For a good reason.

Cancer Treatment and Research is financially self-fulfilling, as long as you Don't find a cure.

We know about dozens of sources of cancer cells, from Microwave radiation to Processed Sugars and Vegetable Oils, Petrochemical Offgassing and other VOC's.. they are mostly extremely profitable products, either cheap to produce or pricy to buy, or both.. OR they are waste products that would be 'too expensive' to clean up properly.

The Market, left to its own devices, would never recommend curing cancer. It's a healthy economic indicator.

--Outrageous Claims Links..

"The foods that allow people of every race and every climate to be healthy are whole natural foods - meat with its fat, organ meats, whole milk products, fish, insects, whole grains, tubers, vegetables, and fruit - not newfangled concoctions made with white sugar, refined flour, and rancid and chemically altered vegetable oils."

(The above is also a good counter-vision to this 'Nightmare of Stone-Age Living' that we get threatened with in nearly every drumbeat comment section..)

Bob Fiske

Yep. The typical notion of health in our society is ridiculous. I am often appalled at how unhealthy people are. But it is good for so many businesses there is little incentive to really educate people beyond the silliness that is included in advertising or change their habits...

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

would be catapulted back into the steam age

The steam age lacked the material science of today, The evolution of tech that has brought us neodymium magnets. Silicon that can switch high current and voltage. PV panels. It seems like new batteries with carbon-lead sponges are around the corner.

But none of these energy sources will be the same cost as $10 a barrel oil. Or even $60. Guess for some people if they can't get oil at $10 its the end of their world.

In case anyone didn't check out the Energy Blog ( http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/energy/2007/05/green_star_prod.html#more ) today, the top article is on algae and specifically looks at a press release from Friday, from Green Star Products ( http://www.greenstarusa.com/index.html )

I just thought it was coincidental (?) that an algae based biodiesel company would send out a press release the same day as a TOD article (which was somewhat sceptical on the whole proposition), on the same topic.

Makes one wonder how widely read TOD has become...

If you read their press release they have not actually grown any algae yet, whether biodiesel or any other kind. It would be more accurate to call them a covered swimming pool company so far.

Since an algae pond only needs to be 4-6 inches deep it is a pool for very short swimmers.

>Since an algae pond only needs to be 4-6 inches deep it is a pool for very short swimmers.

And not for very long: Evaporation. Setting up large scale algae farms would consume far more water than traditional crop.

The long term experiment that NREL ran showed that pound for pound algae cultivation even in the dry climate of New Mexico and in open air used only one tenth the water that local corn crops used. If covered ponds are used evaporation becomes a non issue.

Conceptual Critique for HV DC Transmission Loops

I have been trying to work through the conceptual issues for a non-GHG electrical grid for North America. Tentative results so far are 51% wind, 25% nuke, 18% hydro (develop ALL of Canada's hydro + small US hydro), ... and 18% pumped storage.

The "Wind Export Belt" (northern Alberta-Manitoba to Texas) would be connected to pumped storage via HV DC lines and from there to the electricity importing states & provinces.

Example: HV DC lines Western Oklahoma to Chattanooga TN (2 GW pumped storage today, 12+ GW tomorrow) to central Florida, where existing HV AC distribution would cover most of the state.

Florida would have enough nuke to export power at 3 AM to pumped storage and enough solar PV + nuke to export power @ solar noon (but not at peak demand @ 3-4 PM, it would pull some power back from pumped storage). Wind either directly (if available) or stored wind energy in pumped storage would take care of the evening loads, etc. And Florida would have some minimal wind turbines of it's own as well.

I am worried about grid stability with this massive HV DC grid. Historically, HV DC grid has been quite stable (Zaire keeps their copper mines going with hydropower + HV DC).

One possible solution is creating polygon HV DC loops so that a break at any one point will increase the distance traveled but a viable path would remain.

For example, a triangle between OK, FL and Chattanooga pumped storage complex. If OK wind is low and Florida is pulling load from pumped storage for 6 PM dinner time and a tornado severs the line in Georgia, power could be transferred from Chattanooga to Oklahoma and then to Florida.

The direct line from OK to FL would also reduce transmission losses slightly.

Any critiques or thoughts ?

Best Hopes for Viable Plans,


Two questions immediately come to mind:
1) why no solar on the resource list;
2) how to transition/integrate with the current grid system?

I presume you are doing this as a prelude/concurrence with building out electric rail, no?

Practical question: what are the carrots, what are the sticks? I assume the "sticks" are the ever increasing price of NG and coal as feed for current electrical generation. Can you get current power companies and rail companies to buy into an idea like this?

I think the correct order is to first determine WHAT to advocate and then HOW.

No one has, AFAIK, worked out the broad brush details of just what a non-GHG North American electrical grid would look like. Once that is widely accepted as a goal (and NOT an impossible one), one can start work on the different bits and pieces.

I am working on WHAT.

I did not give my complete list (pumped storage is an energy sink, about 20% loss). Please note that Florida is an electricity exporter at solar noon. I was figuring 4% solar PV throughout half the USA and 3% solar thermal in the desert SW (built on the largely abandoned infrastructure of Phoenix ?)

I also assumed a 20% reduction in overall NA electrical demand. Add-ons would be ground loop heat pumps for domestic heating and electrified transportation. Reductions would be much reduced domestic electrical hot water heating, significantly reduced air conditioner loads, electrical resistance heating, lighting and computer/video loads.

Gov't action at some point is going to be required, with a carbon tax if nothing else.

Best Hopes,


Hi Alan,

I think your focus on *what* is excellent. Have you considered focusing on small stable regions first, then expand those out in links?

What I am saying is that a large complex system is going to be prone to never getting constructed because of regional upheaval.

When early economic growth happened it was because the power, ore, and manufacturing were co-located. What if your plan focuses on getting some small stable regions up and running. Those will suffer the least in economic terms, and can eventually regrow out to form your larger system.

That larger system might be less efficient than if designed top down from scratch, but it would have a much better chance of growing up organically.

How would this change your design? I have no idea, and maybe it would not change at all. But I am tossing the idea of bottom up design.

An example region would be Portland/Seattle. They have a skilled manufacturing base, power, and food in a high density area. Such a place will be more resistant to fail than others, and if they start building wind power, they could grow the energy capacity of regions that fall into deep depression and cannot afford the investment to change.

Another such region would be Duluth/Minneapolis. Another area with a good manufacturing base, local power production, and food production. Not as well prepared for transport losses, but they do form a sea port.

I expect there are other regions in the country that are going to be more stable than most. Can we triage those to become lifeboats that "regrow" the others should the oil decline rate be fast?

Just a few miles outside of Portland is one end of a major HV DC line. The other end is outside Los Angeles. AFAIK, power never goes South to North on that line.

Adding a substantial wind component to your existing hydro would increase the power exporting potential of the NW. If things break down in Southern California, there are worse cases than having too much renewable electricity (especially in a dry year). Lots of small, run-of-the river possibilities up there as well.

But, without exports, there will not be a surplus built in the NW.

Today, the long distance grid (with a few exceptions) is HV AC. The US has basically 3 HV AC grids, East, West and Texas. The 60 Hz timing of the 3 grids are not in phase.

It *MAY* be more efficient and reliable to convert some HV AC to HV DC lines and break the country up into "Texas size" bits with HV DC feeding between regions (I suspect that it is).

British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and a bit of Northern California would be a natural AC grid IMHO. And as a power exporting region via HV DC. Florida (minus the panhandle) might be another, smaller, importing grid. And Southern California + Southern AZ + Las Vegas another. Etc. etc.

The SoCA-AZ-LV AC grid could generate some power itself + HV DC imports from BC-WA-OR, Texas (mainly wind), Wyoming-Upper Great Plains area, and even Manitoba (hydro + wind) in extremis.

I can paint in broad brush strokes and speculate on the details. Real planning will require detailed knowledge and thousands of man-years.

Best Hopes,


I think your focus on *what* is excellent

BEEP. Wrong answer!

From my experience in software development - in 100% of the cases you are stuck with outdated/unscalable/inefficient system, the question WHAT turns to be almost irrelevant. The real question has always been HOW to get from here to there (wherever that is).

The problem lies in that upper management/self-called architects are ALWAYS focused on the question WHAT. None of them has any idea of how the HOW-s should look like. But of course this is not an obstacle to keep pushing their pet projects/targets no matter what. Kind of reminds me of the EU targets for 30% reduction of CO2 emissions in 20 years or other funny stuff we've been hearing about.

Hi Levin,

re: non-GHG North American grid.

re: "Kind of reminds me of the EU targets for 30% reduction of CO2 emissions in 20 years or other funny stuff we've been hearing about..."

I like hearing something opposite (in theory). It's good for the discussion, which I hope Alan will write up as a guest article.

Some qs:

1) Do you think the concept (non-GHG NA grid) is a good idea?
If so, why yes? If not, why not?

2) If you'd not like to see the "what" as first priority, then what is your approach?

3) What do you see as a more workable approach to the problem? Could you share this with us?

To my way of thinking, since solar has a known daily pattern, it would make a lot of sense to match peak loads to peak solar as much as possible first, then fill in the rest.

Since you are focused on electric rail, for example, why not schedule as much of the rail traffic as possible to run during daylight hours? This would match demand with supply. (I realize this cannot be done 100%, but we could to take it as far as we could in that direction.) A lot of energy-intensive industrial and commercial processes could be scheduled around solar peaks as well. Differential pricing between solar peak and off-peak time periods should go far toward driving end users to schedule their demand for daylight hours.

why not schedule as much of the rail traffic as possible to run during daylight hours?

1) Because the cost of pumped storage and HV DC lines is much cheaper than expanding the rail (and everything else) system (and distorting operations) to operate part-time.

2) Wind is cheaper than solar today, and likely to remain so IMO (although the gap may narrow). Wind and hydro/pumped storage make a great combo. You will note that the "core" of the grid is wind + hydro/pumped storage with a large nuke adjunct and a smaller solar, geothermal, bio adjunct.

3)Winter solar generation at higher latitudes is small and short. Even in New Orleans (30 degrees), June 21st insolation is twice December 21st insolation on clear days.

4) Solar generation, like wind, varies quite a bit with weather (it even rains in Phoenix :-).

One design goal is reliability little worse than today. Natural variances in supply work against that.

Still, variable pricing depending upon supply is a very good idea. This can minimize the need for pumped storage & transmission.

Best Hopes,


2) Wind is cheaper than solar today, and likely to remain so IMO

Unless the jet stream shuts down.

*whistles past the graveyard*

Winds are driven by the solar differential in heating (not the jet stream) and do not vary that much annually.

The "Wind Export Belt" is created by the lack of mountain ranges between the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. As long as there is a major delta in temperatures between these two bodies of water, there will be winds between them. If one heats up more than the other, the delta will shrink somewhat, but winds (somewhat reduced) will still exist.

OTOH, higher temps > evaporation will increase > increased global rainfall > increased hydro in toto (I have invested in Canadian hydro). California eastward to Carolinas is expected to get less rain in some models, Canada more.

My plan massively expands Canadian hydro.

Best Hopes for Physics,


The existing coal plants are never going away. They should be in the plan.

Creating a renewable back-up for unusual circumstances is simply uneconomic, so I have allocated that to existing, mothballed fossil fuel plants in the long term plan.

Most plants operating today will be scrapped by the time we can even get to a 90% non-GHG grid; and that last 10% will be tough !

Every few years (prolonged calm during a heat wave for example) the coal fired plants may be fired up. Hopefully, they can burn stockpiled charcoal. But when that runs out, coal can be used. And biogas can be injected into depleted NG reservoirs and retrieved during that same heat wave.

Dramatically reducing a/c demand by all possible means (even a little sweating) is part of the conservation plan.

IMHO, 25 to 30 years is roughly the time required with "urgent commercial efforts" (see Canadian tar sands today as an example) to get close to a 90% non-GHG grid. Perhaps another decade to get to 98% or 99% and years more to get to the first year w/o GHG generated electricity on the main grid.

Best Hopes for minimal GHG emissions,


Dramatically reducing a/c demand by all possible means (even a little sweating) is part of the conservation plan.

Porches & shade trees & hammocks & fans & loose fitting lightweight cotton clothing & iced sweet tea or lemonade MUST be ESSENTIAL parts of your conservation plan! :-)

Life CAN be good post-Peak Oil,

Best Hopes for Linen and poplin suits (still sold in New Orleans),


Hello AlanfromBigEasy,

You already know I consider you a National Treasure.

For this upcoming hurricane season: I am sure that you will safely evacuate NOLA well ahead of any serious storm. But I will be quite worried if you somehow get stuck somewhere in an dangerous and exposed condition because of some unforeseen problem.

TGP80 --> are you and your men tuned in?

In the extremely unlikely event: can you last-minute helicopter swoop in, then air-evac Alan please?

Contact Alan with any details. Big Thxs!
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

No, my evac strategy is different. I leave at the last minute with some people that do not have cars.

Katrina turned serious (>10% chance of affecting New Orleans) at 10 PM Friday (probably the worst time to start the count down which is supposed to start 72 hours out).

I called & eMailed some friends (woke one up).

Saturday was spent boarding up, helping several people. Traffic began backing up @ 12:45 PM per radio reports. Incoming traffic was stopped @ 1:15 PM and by 2:30 PM, counterflow was started (very smoothly and efficiently unlike Texas, where over 40 died in their evac for Rita). This basically cut New Orleans off, since only Airline was open in both directions, and it was clogged and hard to access. From vague memory, it went contraflow that evening.

This limited the National Guard from getting in in large #s (mobilized early hours Saturday, but they thought the roads in would be open longer, and few units took Airline Saturday PM.

After dark I called every person I knew that did not have a car. All either did not answer or had Sunday plans to evac with someone else. Then I saw where all USAir, United, American, Delta, Northworst and others has canceled flights in perfect weather, stranding thousands. Southwest & Continental were overwhelmed with desperate pax.

Sunday, I awoke @ 3:30 AM, ate and packed (basically just threw dirty clothes in, figured that was a good selection :-) and was driving towards the airport by 5 AM. 3 hours of stop & go driving on Airline I was at airport (usually 15 to 20 minutes).

Difficult decision of who to offer help to. Strange sight inside the ticket counters. Those in line with SW tickets avoided eye contact with those milling about. I saw no families with small children (apparently SW gave them preference) so I invited group of 4 Filipinos ("We have no money"; taxis were charging hundreds/head on one way ride out). But a cell phone call got through as we were loading saying a friend was on his way to the airport to pick them up.

So I went back in and got a bewildered family of 3 (daughter was Tulane freshman just starting) from Wisconsin. Perhaps we should have ditched their luggage and fit one more person in, but I did not know how badly the Fed's would fail. Over 5 hours stop & go from leaving airport after 9 AM. Dropped them off at Birmingham airport (they flew SW) and got to Tennessee before finding an empty hotel bed.

Contraflow worked like a charm. In final hours, Mississippi Gov asked Louisiana Gov for both sides of I-59 to get more people out from MS Gulf Coast (I took I-59 contraflow out). LA agreed and my route was shut down about 90 minutes after I got on it. I would have been forced to take I-12 (north of the lake) to I-55 and several more hours of stop & go and I-12 was not a safe place to be broken down on when Katrina hit.

They closed the airport to commercial flights @ about 4 PM (Continental flew an unscheduled 767 for their people and stranded pax) and SW evaced their people @ 5:30 PM "in the quickest turn around is Southwest Airlines history". Last roads closed @ 5 PM. Stranded pax left @ around 3:45 PM were evaced to SuperDome.

In an earlier, and less serious evac for another hurricane, I left with two car less people @ 10:06 AM after they announced @ 10 AM "that if you are not out yet, shelter in place". I went to the intersection of I-55 & I-12, pulled over in mobile home dealers lot, ate sandwiches with the pair and listened to radio for 4 hours. Hurricane turned and we were first ones back in :-) Last out, first in, minimal stop and go traffic.

Best Hopes for no more evacs till the US Army Corps of Engineers builds by 2010 (?) what they promised that they would build in 1968.


Thxs for the reply.

Wow. I hope you win the lottery soon - if there's any such thing as karma in the world then your actions during Katrina seem to demand it!

The army had widely acknowledged the fact that stonger levees were required. The engineering corps are not dummies, and they have a mandate to the public good. However as funding was cut, it was difficult to improve levees at all.

It has come out (to use one of several examples), that the design zero elevation and build zero elevation for one set of levees (those "protecting" New Orleans East, Lower 9th Ward and Chalmette) were off by 1.5 to 1.7 feet.

This error (sheer staggering incompetence) was not discovered till the levees were 1/4th complete. Instead of 1) admitting error 2) building the remaining 3/4 to design and 3) going back and adding to the "improved" levees the US Army just covered it up (and continues to do so).

The lack of honor in the US Army is surprising and sad,


I have seen a lot of comments made about design and construction errors, but not so many comments about the fact New Orleans is steadily sinking an average of 6mm/year (29mm/year in places), according to a study published in Nature.

What we found is that some of the levee failure in New Orleans were places where subsidence was highest. These levees were built over 40 years ago and in some cases, the ground had subsided a minimum of 3 feet which probably put them lower than their design level.

So I wouldn't be too hard on the Army Corps, they are asked to fight a battle they can't win.

The US Army 1) lied 2) covered up the truth.

Their malfeasance killed over 1,100 American civilians and destroyed 80% of my city.


Cognitive dissonance.

And now you know why we don't mention that New Orleans is sinking around here...

"Best Hopes for Linen and poplin suits"

Don't forget panama hats! I always wanted a white suit and a panama hat, but it just doesn't work up here on the farm in NH.

I have my white linen suit (looks great with any solid color shirt and complimentary solid color tie :-) but no panama hat.

Good idea though :-)


Best Panama hats are made at Optimo Hat Company, 10215 S. Western Ave. Chicago. Functional and at times miraculous. Pricey.

They do wear out, you know.

I think that a lot of the world is running out of easily mineable coal. If the seems of too thin, too deep and/or too far apart, it is not cost competitive to extract the coal.

Just as with oil, we have extracted the easy to get at coal first.

solar costs are still out to lunch.

concentrators are nicer. still too expensive.

I believe that solar will develop better economics over time, so I included a small % for them (4% solar PV spread over half the nation, but concentrated mainly south of 33 degrees latitude) and 3% solar thermal, exclusively in the desert SW.

Best Hopes,


Something to be said for PV panels on residential & commercial/institutional rooftops: they don't take up any land that isn't already taken up anyway. There is also something to be said for a distributed approach that co-locates the energy source close to the end user. And then there is a fact that one cloud doesn't have that much of an impact on overall installed PV output.

one cloud doesn't have that much of an impact on overall installed PV output

I have seen weather maps and photos with entire states covered in clouds.

Solar PV is "nice", but it cannot be counted on for more than minimal output for any given future day. And it costs more than wind (see Ontario subsidies; 4x as much for Solar PV as for wind per kWh; and far less interest).

Best Hopes for ALL renewables.


I have been working on a solar thermal machine for a while, and would be shot if I told you more, but it looks at the moment to cost about $700/kW, and the engine itself has such a long life as to make it a non-issue- would be replaced as obsolete long before wearing out. Works as well on any other heat source. $/kW-hr way better, too.

Stay tuned; meanwhile, don't bet the farm on PV solar.

But-as ever- population is the only REAL problem.

Hey Wimbi;
As a fellow Mainer, I'd like to be in contact with you. Would love to hear how your engine is progressing, and just try to have a decent list of connections locally of people working with Alt Energy interests.

Since your address isn't listed, feel free to drop me a line, if you'd like.

Personally, tho' I'm glad to have some PV, I think that a bunch of Solar Heating is what we in N.E. should be getting in place. Also just heard (From Dryki, I think) about how many 'Tide-Mills' used to be set up along the Maine Coast. That's a seriously underexplored one for us!

Bob Fiske

Thanks, Johukl, for your interest. My associates threaten immediate execution if I say another word. Ah, capitalism!

But the real message is simple. Take any thermo text, look at all the heat cycles that have been tried, look at what stopped them, and then think of all the new materials, processes, etc that can make them work now when a while back they were more or less hopeless.

Then assume that we can relatively easily get 50% of Carnot efficiency from many of these cycles in real life. Then take a look at all those roofs people are talking about putting PV on, as, eg, in LA. Do a thought experiment with your favorite thermal cycle and selective absorber. HA! You get decent efficiency and MUCH LOWER COST than PV (Kramer Junction)

Moving parts? Sure. And so what's in that tried and trusty old steam power plant- rigid pyramids of dilithium? Just go find Scotty and give him the keys to the control room.
But all this is mere fun and games- a diversion . The real problem, population, cannot be solved by such simple sport.

Thanks for the howdy, nonetheless. Sounds like you've got a plan. I won't ask again. But I do hope to have contact with as many Mainers in interesting RE applications as possible.. so if you like, I would hope we could be in contact as part of a Maine network, if you will.

It's such a small state, I'm sure we'll cross paths eventually anyway!

Bob Fiske

One possible solution is creating polygon HV DC loops so that a break at any one point will increase the distance traveled but a viable path would remain.

It's exactly how the phone company insures the integrity of long distance lines. SONET is deployed in a bidirectional ring, so that cutting an optical fiber cable anywhere will cause alarms to light up, but no interruption of service.

I believe that the initial intention may be to use HVDC connected hydro for load balancing but it goes all wrong. The temptation is to use hydro for peaking and then a bit more and a bit more. Then voila, the dam levels don't recover and gasfired generators have to take over. Carbon taxes may not help because powercos don't think that far ahead.

Hi Alan,

This is *great*! And very much needed. Thank you.

Is there any chance the TOD editors could invite a longer version as a guest article? I hope so!

If possible, it would be nice to know a little ahead, so we might invite people outside TOD to comment. It might be interesting for the distributed energy folks, if they wanted to take a look.

BTW, have you seen Simmons "red and green" states analysis? It sounds useful for your project.


It's under "Red sails in the sunset..." if you scroll down the page.

May 11, 2007, 12:21PM
Bloomberg outlines national energy plan in Houston
Associated Press

NEW YORK  — Despite constant denials that he is running for president, Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out a national energy plan today in a speech in Houston and took veiled jabs at his potential opponents, accusing them of "politics as usual."

Bloomberg's Houston speech also ridiculed the idea of taxing sugar-based ethanol imports while subsidizing corn-based ethanol; both policies are intended to help U.S. corn growers. But the inconsistent approach to the two cleaner-burning fuels is "nothing more than pork-barrel politics," the mayor said.

Bloomberg proposed expanding access to natural gas sites, with more natural gas pipelines, and building new nuclear plants and wind farms. But many people, he said, aren't willing to do what it takes by allowing wind farms in the water off the coast.

Wow, this is amazing. Even I didn't expect ethanol production to grow this fast.

USDA economist projects 58 percent growth in ethanol production

The economist, Keith Collins, projected that 118 U.S. ethanol plants will produce 9.3 billion gallons of ethanol for the crop year ending August 2008, up from the 5.9 billion gallons expected for the current crop year.

Go ahead take some potshots at ethanol; you know you want to. I expect to come back to the site later and read some good ones. Don't use the bogus food vs. fuel or negative EROI arguments either; use real arguments with factual support.

I have no potshot but I do have a question: How much ($) will be paid this year as subsidies for the production of ethanol in this country?

Quick guess - more than 58% - it is a natural law of subsidies, related to Parkinson's Law.

You can send the check for this consulting service to any tax haven. Please contact me for details - ADM has always been satisfied with this insight, by the way.

Too much. And the subsidy goes to the oil companies because they are usually the blenders. See the subsidy is a trick to get the blenders to take the ethanol.

I really don't know why the oil companies complain about ethanol subsidies if they make so much money from them.

InJapan, I give you 2.5 corn cobs out of 5. Not bad!

Too much. And the subsidy goes to the oil companies because they are usually the blenders. See the subsidy is a trick to get the blenders to take the ethanol.

Which must explain why the oil companies lobby so hard to keep the subsidy. But wait. It's actually the corn farmers and ethanol producers who lobby to keep the subsidy. So I don't think you understand who the subsidy actually benefits here.

Remember when you came on telling us all that Pacific Ethanol - then trading around $30 a share - was such a good deal? It was part of what prompted me to write this essay:


Guess who was right then? Guess who is right about who the subsidies benefit?

Actually, I said 'subsidies.' While fully acknowledging that the oil industry receives massive subsidies, both direct and indirect ( http://www.fasab.gov/pdffiles/natresources052006.pdf for some excellent background relating to offshore oil - yes, for example, MMS can 'reduce or eliminate any royalty or a net profit share specified for an OCS lease to promote increased production' - that's right, an oil company offshore can pay less to the federal government by producing more for the taxpayers' to buy), agriculture has a long list of subsidies.

The link at http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-241.html is from 1995 -

'Nothing symbolizes ADM's political exploitation of Americans better than ethanol. Ethanol has become a magic obeisance button for politicians. Simply mention the word and politicians grovel like trained dogs, competing to heap the most praise on ethanol and its well-connected producers. Regardless of how uncompetitive the product may be, politicians have for years talked about ethanol as if it were the agricultural equivalent of holy water. Ethanol producers have received a de facto subsidy of nearly $10 billion since 1980--yet they continue demanding more, more, more.

Andreas has long sought to frame the ethanol issue in histrionic terms. Burning tax dollars to artificially jam ears of corn into gas tanks seems to have near-cosmic significance. In 1988 Andreas hailed ADM's ethanol operations as "a service to corn growers" and "a service to humanity."(27) Andreas declared in 1992, "This is the Midwest vs. the Middle East. It's corn farmers vs. the oil companies."(28) Ethanol producers view themselves, not as self- serving corporations at the federal trough, but as veritable Mother Theresas striving to save the world with clean air and renewable resources.'

Remember, all this is from a half generation or more in the past. Really, very little has changed in America in decades, which is something incomprehensible to me.

On the other hand, Germany is continuing to expand its solar and wind generation capacity - a slightly older article at http://www.wind-works.org/FeedLaws/ARTsNorthAmericanWindpower.html provides some interesting information about how to make a 'subsidy' work -
'Germany recently revised their ground-breaking Renewable Energy Sources Act (Erneuerbare Energien Gesetz, or EEG) which not only explicitly states that renewable power generators have a right to connect to the grid, but also spells out exactly how much they will be paid and for how long. The EEG sets out specific prices for a host of technologies, from wind energy to biomass plants. It's this level of detail that separates what French researcher Bernard Chabot calls Advanced Renewable Tariffs from the one-time Danish system and the earlier German feed law (Stromeinspeisungsgesetz).'

And you know who pays this 'subsidy'? Anybody who uses electricity, of course, and no one else - the electric companies are forced to buy power at a fixed rate, and then they turn around and pass the cost along to their customers. Though the power companies do their absolute best, with ADM style methods, to hide the fact that the EEG means that they actually are in an essentially cost neutral position - what the power companies lose is their monopoly position in power generation.

I expect such practical and decentralized solutions to be opposed at every turn in the U.S. by all companies which rely on massive centralization of capital and power to ensure a steady stream of revenue. As noted by the repeal of the 1930s era laws regarding public utilities -

'The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA) was a law that was passed by the United States Congress to facilitate regulation of electric utilities, by either limiting their operations to a single state, and thus subjecting them to effective state regulation, or forcing divestitures so that each became a single integrated system serving a limited geographic area. Another purpose of PUHCA was to keep utility holding companies engaged in regulated businesses from engaging in unregulated businesses. PUHCA required that Securities and Exchange Commission approval be obtained by a holding company prior to engaging in a non-utility business and that such businesses be kept separate from the regulated business(es).

PUHCA was one of a number of trust-busting and securities regulation initiatives that were enacted in response to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression, including the collapse of Samuel Insull's public utility holding companies.

The utility industry and would-be owners of utilities lobbied Congress heavily to repeal PUHCA, claiming that it was outdated. On August 8, 2005, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law, repealing PUHCA, despite consumer, environmental, union and credit rating agency objections. The repeal became effective on February 8, 2006.'


Most people try to avoid repeating their worst errors - America currently seems unable to even grasp when the most basic elements of a disaster are recurring.

Naw, I'd much rather see you comment on
Monetary Reform and How a National Monetary System Should Work

Given you like talking about markets - one of the underpinnings of markets is money.

Feel free to use real arguments with factual support.

USDA economist projects 58 percent growth in ethanol production

DIYer projects cheap beef for a while at distress-sale prices, followed by a large permanent price increase.

It ain't bogus if it's true.

Beef went down this winter when hay was in short supply. It's on it's way back up. Bar-b-Que may start to be at a premium soon as well. Eat good while you can. John

Even I didn't expect ethanol production to grow this fast.

Yet they still need the subsidies. Pull the subsidies, the whole house of cards comes down.

Don't use the bogus food vs. fuel or negative EROI arguments either

Bogus? Like this from CNN yesterday?

Ethanol seen chomping into corn crops

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The surging fuel ethanol industry will gobble up 27 percent of this year's U.S. corn crop, challenging U.S. farmers' ability to satisfy food, feed and fuel demand, the U.S. government said Friday.

Even with its projection of a record 12.46 billion-bushel corn crop this year, the Agriculture Department said U.S. stockpiles will run low going into the next crop year when voracious ethanol demand will rise again.

A trade group, the Renewable Fuels Association, estimates ethanol production of 9.5 billion to 10 billion gallons during 2008. Some 14 billion gallons would be needed for every gallon of U.S. gasoline to contain 10 percent ethanol, said RFA spokesman Matt Hartwig.

They may want to brush up on their math a bit in that last paragraph. Given that the BTU value of ethanol is less than 70% that of gasoline, total fuel requirements are going to be well above the current 140 billion gallons.

Hershey also pointed a finger at ethanol yesterday:

Hershey Mired In Chocolate Mess

The high price of corn is punishing chocolate maker Hershey, which on Thursday cut its earnings expectations as the result of rising demand for ethanol.

Neither corn nor its distillate ethanol are directly tied to the confectioner's products, but soaring animal feed costs are pushing up dairy prices.

That's bogus, though. We know you can have your cake and eat it too without consequence. As long as it isn't chocolate or have any corn-related ingredients.

Yes, but corn is still cheaper than 10 years ago, and the talk in corn-pone land is that new plantings will drive down price next year....

Robert, I expected better from you. Calories are cheaper than at any time in human history which explains our obesity problem. Plus higher corn prices means farmers actually get paid a livable wage, which they have lacked for the last couple of decades.

I read www.agweb.com to get the facts, and if you listen to them (there is a message board), they think the price of corn is going to plummet because the prices are just good enough for them to start planting some of their fallow fields. They laugh at all the news articles about high food prices related to ethanol.

1 corn cob out of 5.

Robert, I expected better from you.

I gave it the level of response it warranted. If I wasn't laid up on the couch bleeding internally from my kidney stone surgery, it might have warranted more attention. But I doubt it.

What if all that extra ethanol never makes it to the gas pump?.

The Economist also has an ethanol article:

The craze for maize

Corn-based ethanol is neither cheap nor especially green: it requires a lot of energy to produce. Production has been boosted by economically-questionable help from state and federal governments, including subsidies, the promotion of mixing petrol with renewable fuels and a high tariff that keeps out foreign ethanol. The federal government offers ethanol producers a subsidy of 51 cents per gallon (13.5 cents per litre); and a growing number of states are pushing for wider use of E85, a fuel blend that is 85% ethanol and only 15% petrol. Since oil prices rose above $30 a barrel in 2004 (they are more than double that now), ethanol capacity has grown especially rapidly. And although the country is experimenting with other renewable plant-based fuels of varying feasibility, from biodiesel to (much greener) ethanol derived from trees, the biggest boom has been in corn-based ethanol.

Most of these arguments have been refuted already.
It requires a lot of energy but it gives back more.
I hate subsidies too but you need them because oil and gas get more. Plus the subsidy goes to the blenders not the producers.
Yes get rid of the tariff but jeesh Brazil had and still has tariffs on their ethanol. Why is ours so beyond the pale?
At least the article acknowledges that corn-ethanol isn't the endpoint.
I give this 2.5 corn cobs out of 5 I guess.

That would be typical. Milking the subsidies is their only concern. The American way.

Excellent article. I somehow missed this. These are good points, and my gut feeling is the railroads and other infrastructure will get built. But I don't know.

5 out of 5 corn cobs for you.

I guess that if the goal is simply to provide a supply of a liquid hydrocarbon that can keep the existing automotive fleet fueled, regardless of price, or efficiency, or anything else, then I suppose that ethanol will do as well as anything.

One way or another, however, there is a price to be paid.

Whats wrong with home grown fuel? Why is it better to send money abroad? Just because farmers after more than 25 years of living in one of the worst bear markets ever seen, now have some extra in their pockets?

Do you prefer to keep on financing the terrorists in SA?

Do you prefer to deter even more our trade balance?

Do you prefer, that the US$ is falling off the cliff?

What's wrong with you? Are you working for the middle East countries or for big OIL?

Corn based ethanol is 10 BTUs in (largely natural gas and oil) and 13 BTUs out.

A waste of time, effort and gov't subsidies !

We trade some imported oil for imported natural gas and imported natural gas based fertilizer (corn uses more nitrogen than the alternative crops).

So no significant reduction in any of the areas that you mentioned (except much more farmer welfare).

OTOH, if we spent those same gov't subsidy $ on this


Note: Dark brown lines are post-2014 plans

We WOULD positively impact all the problems listed (except smaller welfare checks for farmers). Saving 100,000 barrels/day at 2,000 pax MPG of electricity is a reasonable estimate.

Best Hopes for Rational Planning,



0 out of 5 corn cobs

Your issues you list are of concern to many people here. However, corn ethanol which can only exist on the market via subsidies is not a solution to them.

Ah the great pump-and-dump ethanol scammer is pumping ethanol again!

I suppose this means that in a few weeks to a few months we'll have Keithster pushing some ethanol stock again, like the last time you tried this scam here?

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

I don't ethanol stocks.

0 out of 5 corn cobs.

Of course you don't. You pumped them and dumped them after you'd suckered someone else into pushing the price higher. People don't forget just because time has passed, Keithster.

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

Okay, everybody, I am back in fighting form after my pig poop debacle. I may be bowed and covered in brown stuff, but I am back!
The renewable fuels association webpage has some astonishing stats on ethanol production. The number of plants will be way up. We can hope that many will use cattle dung to help fire the plants, and then feed the leftover mash to to the nearby cows. You get huge energy returns doing that, proponents say 40 to one.
Of course, I am the one who brought you the news on the pig poop salvation, but put "methane cattle ethanol corn plant" into your search engines, and you will find the articles.
I also have very, very news for Peak Oilers: You should change your name to "Peak Plateauers." Or maybe the "Fossil Flatheads."
Look at North American oil production. It has been flatlining for decades. No peak. A plateau. Hubbert's Peak (the hoariest, holiest most sacred of icons in the TOD world) applies only to the historcial accident known as the Lower 48. If America had conquered Mexico and Canada, not only would we have even more sexy Latins here, and Canadians might not be so boring, but also we would have "Hubbert's Plateau."
Why? (Check out BP's website for stats). I suspect we picked the low-hanging fruit in the Lower 48, then moved on, letting production go down here, as we could get the crude more cheaply elsewhere.
Eventually, worldwide, the low-hanging fruit is picked, so we go into the middle of the tree. The TOD crowd is right; it costs more.
We are beginning to se and do that now (it helps that Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela are run by kooks, and the KSA wants higher, not lower, prices. There is lots more low-hanging fruit, we just can't get to it).
The good news is that if North America is a guide, we get a plateau, not a peak, worldwide. What makes it any more meaningful to focus on the Lower 48 than North America? I wonder if any of you Peak Oilers can flatly say the Lower 48 is more instructive than North America, and why.
Other very good news is that higher prices do suppress demand. We know that from the 11 percent drop in demand following the price spike of 1979. You cannot say it was a lack of supply. We had plenty. It was demand. Demand only recovered after 10 years, and then only when oil was cheap again. One article in today's drumbeat mentions nixed summer driving plans. I know power-boaters in LA who go out once every two weeks now (burning 50 gallons), and not every weekend. We can hope for sinkings despite the lesser chances.
My guess is that in 2006, or 2007, we will see peak demand at $60 a barrel or more. Just waiting on the BP figs.
The good news is that world production, if it follows the pattern in North America, will flatline. World crude oil demand at above $60 can be expected to flatline, and possibly fall.
Yes, yes, the Indian Lotharios want their Tatas. I know. But maybe they will say "Ta Ta" to their jilted lovers while driving off in the plug-in hybrid Tata.
Ta ta and oink oink.

I wonder if any of you Peak Oilers can flatly say the Lower 48 is more instructive than North America, and why.

BC has been a member for 7 weeks 5 days. I have tried to avoid responding to the parade of new member cornucopian and semi-cornucopian posters, for obvious reasons, but some brief comments.

We want a geographically limited region, like the Lower 48, to use as a model for another geographically limited region, the world.

The Lower 48, North Sea and Mexico all peaked and started declining in the vicinity of the 50% of Qt marks on the respective Hubbert Linearization (HL) plots, and all three regions showed strong linear patterns prior to their respective peaks.

As Deffeyes predicted, world crude + condensate production is now declining (EIA data)--at the same stage of depletion that the above three regions started declining.

What is instructive about the Lower 48 and the North Sea is that oil companies have been unable to reverse their long term declines.

Or, to put it another way, the function of oil companies on the downside of the second half of production is to slow the rate of decline. We don't stop finding oil; we just can't offset the declines of the old, larger fields.

Also, for political reasons, the oil exploration and production rates for the "Lower 47", Texas, Mexico, Alaska and Canada all "marched to different drummers".

Political reality, so each has their own Hubbert Curve, because of differing influences.

Best Hopes for High Oil Prices,


Not a convincing reply, westexas! North America is a geographically limited region, while jumping from the North Sea to Canterelli to the Lower 48 is more cherry-picking.... the fact remains that North America production is basically a flatline for 30 years....part of the answer is heavy oil (tar) which the world has in larger supply than light oil....
Moreover, you did not address the fact that world oil demand falls in the face of higher prices.....look at the numbers after 1979.......
I hold out hope we will skirt major disasters, while transitioning to more-expensive fossil crude...probably north of $60 a barrel long-term...we can look forward to both flatling production, and slightly declining demand....
that is not all ice-cream and cakes, by the way. That is a tripling of price, and real hardship for many.....but it is survivable....

I wouldn't call it cherry-picking. It's hard to base a petroleum extraction model on Antarctica or the floor of the Pacific Ocean. To establish a model for Hubbert's analysis, one naturally gravitates to oil-producing regions.

Moreover, you did not address the fact that world oil demand falls in the face of higher prices.....look at the numbers after 1979....

That's actually one of the more important questions posed around here. At least for forecasting. From the Hubbert, Deffeyes, Khebab, et. al. we have a rough idea what the supply curve (which will also be the demand curve, eh?) will look like. What effect will that have on the economy?

And in 1979 we were saved by Middle Eastern oil imports. Nothing on the horizon (as endlessly discussed here) will replace these. So we're going to be conserving, period. And shooting silver BBs -- tar, biofuels, photovoltaics, etc. But bottom line is, we shall be using less petroleum in the future.

I'll repeat my prediction that every politician on the planet will shortly be beating the "green drum" and boasting about how their policies have reduced greenhouse emissions.

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

IMO, the key question is why did world crude oil production fall, as crude oil prices increased?

Average monthly Brent crude oil price in the 20 months preceding 5/05: $38

Average monthly Brent crude oil price in the 20 months following 5/05: $62

Using Brent as an index price (I realize that different grades of oil sell for different prices, with discounts for transportation costs), the world paid about 1.7 trillion dollars for about 72 mbpd in the 20 months prior to 5/05.

After 5/05, the world paid about 2.7 trillion dollars for about 72 mbpd over a 20 month period. So, why did the world pay an extra trillion dollars or so?

I submit that it was because the cumulative difference, between what the world would have produced at the 5/05 rate and what we actually produced, through 2/07, is on the order of 450 million barrels. The extra trillion dollars was what was necessary to kill off enough demand to balance a reduced supply (of about 1%) against a forced reduction in demand.

Think about that for a moment. In round numbers, a decline of about 1% in world crude oil production caused increased expenditures of about one trillion dollars over a 20 month period.

So...I wonder...if we can reduce demand to just one percent below production, then do we get cascading prices?

Depends what you mean - if Americans started car pooling in significant amounts, the decrease could certainly be larger than one percent. In which case, China and India would likely have no problem buying all the crude that Saudia Arabia would then have swimming around in tankers, looking for a home.

'Demand' is one of the real problem areas in this debate. 'Demand' in terms of what can be burned will never be higher than production (even the invisible hand bumps up against reality). 'Demand' in terms of how much will be produced at a given price is another reality, one the invisible hand works with very well. 'Demand' in terms of how much oil is required to feed 6 billion plus human beings generally leads to various scenarios involving mass death if that demand cannot be met by production, which then leads back to the first definition, which in turn leads to the second.

Many people here believe in geology trumping any definition of demand - that is, it's will be all downhill from here, so to speak. Though this ride means unfastening your seatbelts, however.

Who is saying that demand won't decline, if the price gets high enough? It seems that the issue is whether the demand could concievably decline 'inside' of the downslope of supply. Maybe it can, but if enough fields pull a ..Cantarell on us, or even if it's just 'above ground factors' (excuses, excuses) it would leave a lot of people outside the box.. running on vapors, as it were.

Glad you're hopeful, but do make sure to appreciate it while you're hanging onto those low-hanging fruit, there, since when they're gone, you won't be discovering any other ones.

Bob Fiske

The US has been flatlining for 30 years? Benjamin, have you actually reviewed the data? The US has declined at close to a steady 2% per year for 37 years now. US production in 1970 was 3,517,450,000 barrels for the year. It has steadily declined to where in 2005, total production was 1,890,106,000 total barrels. In other words, production today is HALF of what it was in 1970, despite the best technology, more wells drilled than ever before, more powerful computers... the works!

Source: US Crude OIl Field Production, EIA

How can you even make such an uninformed claim, sir? You are painting yourself as completely uninformed about oil.

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

Greyzone! Come on, guy, you are smarter than that!
Read what I wrote. I wrote that "North American" crude production has been flatlining for 30 years or so. If you go to BP's webpage, and download their world statistical review, you will see this is correct. Moreover, it has flatlined in an era of cheap oil. If the new price regime of $60 a barrel holds, then what will production look like in the next 30 years? Interesting question.
The whole point of looking at North American production is this: What makes the Lower 48 and Hubbert's Peak any more instructive than "North America and Cole's Plateau"?
The Lower 48 was an accident of history. Some antique maps I have show the USA extending northwest into Canada, by quite a bit. What if we had taken over Mexico in 1847? Using political boundaries to make geological extrapolations seems dubious.
I am trying to start a new movement of "Fossil Flatheads." We believe that more likely than a peak we get a plateau. You are welcome to join my group as member No. 2. Membership is free and worth every penny.
The good news is that with a plateau, we probably will endure higher prices, but not a catastrophe, for many more decades. In the interim, we can concentrate on lowering fossil crude consumption (let the price signal do that). If I am right, and and fossil oil consumption falls gently at more than $60 a barrel, and continuously, then we buy some more decades. Check out the BP website again: Crude oil consumption fell 11 percent worldwide after the price spiek of 1979. Did not recover to that level for 10 full years, and then when oil was cheap.
I realize that Hubbert's Peak is the hoarist, most sacred and holiest of all icons in the Peak Oil movement. But movements need to adapt to stay relevant. If we broaden the picture to include North America, we get "Hubbet's Plateau." If you can say why the Lower 48 is more instructive than North America, then say so.
Okay, okay, okay, I screwed up on pig poop. But, on this one I am right. North American production, even in a period of cheap-o oil, is basically a plateau. Fossil Flatheads, unite!

We can hope that many will use cattle dung to help fire the plants, and then feed the leftover mash to to the nearby cows

Except that feeding cows to cows is what made BSE a major problem - the infection simply concentrated in the very animals that would suffer from it.

Not a good practice.

You misunderstand! The wet mash is the leftover corn, after ethanol has been made. Wet corn mash. Here is how it is working: You put a cattle herd of about 60,000 around an ethanol plant. Hopefully a large cornfield is nearby. You collect the dung, create methane, and help fire the plant. You make ethanol from corn. The left over wet mash (corn) is fed to the cows.
Many advantages here. Usually, the wet mash is baked into pellets, then trucked to market, then re-trucked back to the cattle – in this scheme you just push it out the door, and the cattle lap it up. They are not exactly gourmets.
Obviously, you are using the dung, instead of it going into the atmosphere, or polluting fields and streams.
Proponents claim huge net energy returns, on the order of 40 to one. Sounds high. One can bet it is very energy positive. Iowa will probably bring back one million cattle to exploit this new arrangement.
As a pig poop expert, I am hopeful to see pig-potato-ethanol plants, as potatoes produce more calories per acre than corn, and pigs grow more meat per calorie than cattle. In theory, pigs should rule.

They are not exactly gourmets

Actually, they are. In good mixed pastures, preferred grasses are eaten first.

And wet or dry distillers grains have strict limits as a percent of their diet.

A discussion of this.


Feeding recommendations for DGS generally limit intake to 20% of the daily diet dry matter, for growing calves (500-700 lbs) that is a maximum of 5.5-7 lbs of modified wet DGS or 3 lbs of dry DGS. Finishing cattle (900-1200 lbs) can be fed 9-12 lbs of modified wet DGS or 4-6 lbs of dry DGS while cows (1200-1500 lbs) can be fed 10-12 lbs of modified wet DGS or 5-7 lbs of dry DGS. Increased feeding levels of DGS are possible. However, producers must consider increased nitrogen and phosphorus excretion in waste management plans

Also, your EROEI surely miss the massive applications of nitrogen fertilizer that corn requires, the diesel to plant and harvest, pesticides, etc. 10 in, 13 out.

Now, if you were inventive, you would place the water ethanol mixtures in tankers, ship them to Iceland, distill the water out with geothermal steam, and return them to the US market. Might add 1 BTU to the equation.

Best Hopes for NOT using corn based ethanol and spending our subsidy $ elsewhere than on farmer welfare checks (direct or indirect).


elsewhere than on farmer welfare checks

Food is subsidized, but that should read "consumer welfare checks"

I am against subsidies of whatever kind, but I still get a bit annoyed at these types of remarks. Farming has no means to pass increased cost onto the consumer beyond declining production causing an increased demand. There are domestic marketing boards, but there is no international OPEC for wheat that can swing the price. This means there is no way for a farmer to sell his product at a fair price to reflect his production costs.

The problem with agricultural subsidies in a global market is that if one country does it, production doesn't decline and isn't reflected in the commodity price.

Robert Rapier defends oil company profit at 12% as being relatively minimal compared to other industries, and it's true, it's not gouging. Canadian Hard Red Spring wheat is around the same price as it was in 1972 (not adjusted for inflation), and corn was $3 a bushel then and just went above that recently. Diesel, a tractor or NH3/urea are over 4x the 1972 price. Canadian farming is subsidized mainly by off-farm jobs and almost all of the 50,000 Saskatchewan farms have an off-farm income to support the farm. You effectively have someone working a second job to subsidize a cheap loaf of bread.

This is a good article:
Just like 1972: Grain prices ramp higher
A lot of stats:
Saskatchewan Agricultural Statistics
You also have 50,000 farms carrying 6.7 billion of debt.

Again, I am against subsidies and supposedly NAFTA was to limit them, but that isn't always true. See Softwood Lumber. It's a screwed up agricultural market with ridiculously low commodity prices. Farmers also spend all of their income back into the local economy, in most cases they borrow the money and spend it on inputs and equipment before they actually have it.

So.. I am for banning agricultural subsidies internationally but it is a little insulting to have subsidies called "farmer welfare" when almost every family farm I know is a business with a million or two of investment, carrying at least a few hundred thousand of debt and one or both adults are working a second job to keep the bank from taking their farm. 12% profit would be a dream. Breaking even is the best most hope for.

It's "welfare" to the consumer buying the bread, not to the farmer working the second job.

Canadian farmers and Australian farmers manage to raise wheat with little gov't support i.e. welfare. Although I am reminded of a satellite photo that clearly showed the USA-Canada border. Grazing in Canada, wheat in the US due to the differences in gov't subsidies.

Misusing land like that just raises total costs (taxes for welfare payments + grocery prices) to the "consumer". One should not be able to determine what is grown by who gets the bigger welfare check.

After my grandfather died, my father retired and strated to run the inherited farm. Now a bit over 400 acres with 400 head of cattle in the Kentucky bluegrass. At 80 years old, my father hires out 99.5% of the work required and still makes a modest profit.

Now beef cattle. unlike dairy cattle or wheat, etc. supposedly get no welfare. However, my father was surprised by just how much he could get for new water tanks and how favorable the tax code was.

Some types of farmers get billions every year (see corn ethanol boondoggle for indirect welfare and price support payments fro direct welfare checks). Other types of farmers, who raise strawberries and avocados and beef cattle get relatively little gov't welfare checks, and that is more indirect infrastructure support and tax benefits.

I do not see the need for ANY farmer welfare (with the possible exception of disaster/drought support in extreme cases). We have paid hundreds of billions over the decades to support farming welfare, and yet "the family farmer is dying out". I have heard that since I was a child.

I do not see the logic in making farmers (of certain crops) a special welfare class, which is what they have been for 70+ years.

Strawberry farmers get by without price supports, why not wheat and corn farmers ? If wheat goes up 56 cents a bushel when welfare stops, well fine.


I do not see the need for ANY farmer welfare

Strongly disagree. While the subsidy system is deeply flawed, it is necessary. (And no, I don't think the purpose of the subsidy system is to support the family farmer.)

Strawberry farmers get by without price supports, why not wheat and corn farmers ?

Because if there's a strawberry shortage, it's an inconvenience. A shortage of grain could mean disaster.

I think all but the most extreme of libertarians would admit that the free market is not the way to run agriculture. If all the farmers decide to grow flowers, or nothing, because of "market signals," the result could be famine. Sure, eventually the "market" will kick in and tell them to grow more food, but in the meantime, the customers could all starve.

That is the reason why agriculture is subsidized or otherwise controlled the world over.

The problem with farming is that it just doesn't fit into the industrial system of production. Mixing economics and farming is like putting a round peg into a square whole, hence the subsidies. Farming is the interface between the artificial world of modernity and the real world of nature. An interface that is prone to failure.

It is ludicrous that a family, farming hundreds of acres, cannot make sufficient money to live. If that same family used a fraction of the same land solely for themselves, they could probably live comfortably in terms of shelter, food, energy and water. The problem lies not with farming, but with the theoretical structure of economics in which its being forced to work within (debt being the shackle).

Farming should primarily be about producing food for the farming family and secondarily about selling surplus production locally. Not about producing mono-crops for money and the farmer then buying what is needed to live from some multi-national retailer.

The way I look at it is that a distinction must be made between the natural economy and the artificial ("money") economy. The two must be separated with a strictly enforced interface and every effort made to minimise the destructive and destabilising money economy.

It is ludicrous that a family, farming hundreds of acres, cannot make sufficient money to live. If that same family used a fraction of the same land solely for themselves, they could probably live comfortably in terms of shelter, food, energy and water. The problem lies not with farming, but with the theoretical structure of economics in which its being forced to work within (debt being the shackle).

Part of the problem is the property taxes, which are generally set as if you are growing the most profitable crop you can. That's how economic forces, combined with ecological reality, create monocultures.

But farming has always been a hard life. Floods, disease, drought, plagues of locusts, pillaging armies. One thing the Green Revolution has given us is surpluses, and the ability to ship them where they are needed. It used to be that countries kept stores of food in case of famine. Now, few do that (except China, which has a long history of famine, and a long memory). We just assume we can buy what we need on the global market, should it be necessary.

Farming should primarily be about producing food for the farming family and secondarily about selling surplus production locally.

You realize, of course, that that implies that everyone farms. Because if there are no surpluses, how do the non-farmers eat? In a bad year, or if the farming families just don't feel like working that hard, there won't be surpluses to feed the doctors, lawyers, tractor manufacturers, oil field workers, Dow Chemical engineers, computer scientists, etc.

If all the farmers decide to grow flowers, or nothing, because of "market signals,"

How about if "all the US farmers decided to grow corn that will go to non-edible fuel, because their president told them to" :)

Excerpt from SK Ag & Food Saskatchewan Farm Income Stats

2004 thousands of $
Total Farm Cash Receipts incl. Payments 5,943,604
Total Operating Expenses after Rebates 5,089,408
Net Cash Income 854,196
Total Income-in-Kind 12,838
Total Depreciation 920,884
Realized Net Income -53,850
Total Inventory Change 811,571
Total Net Income 757,721

6 billion gross, 53 million loss

If you wonder why I own 2 sections of prime Canadian farmland, but work for the phone company, this table sums it up. This is also why there isn't large corporate grain farming in western Canada. On the positive side, although the US Corn bender pushed up NH3/urea price, feed grain prices are way up this year and the spring has been relatively good.

"In theory, pigs should rule."

In reality the pigs do rule, and them Pigs 'R Us!

> USDA economist projects 58 percent growth in ethanol production

If that much ethanol is produced, the the price will crash. There simply isn't enough demand.

>Don't use the bogus food vs. fuel or negative EROI arguments either; use real arguments with factual support.

They are not bogus and very real. But by all means, please continue to live in a fantasy world. After all 99.99% of the population does.

I have some questions. If all of the corn crop was put into ethanol production, what percentage of gasoline usage would that replace? At the current growth rate, how many years would it take to achieve that?

>I have some questions. If all of the corn crop was put into ethanol production, what percentage of gasoline usage would that replace? At the current growth rate, how many years would it take to achieve that?

I believe it would be about 7 to 11 percent. If the entire process was run on ethanol instead of petro for machinary and transportation it would consume all of the ethanol and then some.

Monetary Reform and How a National Monetary System Should Work

Glad to see money issues making it into drumbeats.

Perhaps Gail the Actuary will spend time here:


(I spent some time here, decided that this was far to wonky/disconnected when I got into theories about how money that is destroyable increases velocities and how 'speedy money' is a good thing. As long as "we" are re-designing the world, why not have the money up for grabs!)

Another set of resources:

Well, while fractional reserve banking is fraud for the ages, it does go back all the way to the Bank of England. The only way to get a new system would be to eliminate TPTB and they own all the resources and all the armies.

The only way to beat them to some extent is to fall through the cracks and disappear in the static.

Hello Musashi,

Thanks for the long view.

re: "...TPTB and they own all the resources and all the armies."

Okay, what would you do next? Hypothetically speaking.

I'm serious.

If I knew I wouldn't be reading this stuff. I hope to eventually have enough bits of information to make a more educated decision as to which way to go.

Hi Aniya!

Good, challenging question.. I had to take a stab.

To me, the model has been the World Social Forum, which is to say, if you don't like the conversation and can't get a word in, then create another one. Don't put yours in competition with the 'THE' Conversation.. just establish the one you need, and keep your focus on enhancing and reinforcing it. As with any revolution, it will take seed if you've correctly judged the moment in history, and have been able to germinate an idea that others will get with and spread.. or in other words, it will happen if it can.

In either case, it is taking control and responsibility, first of your own mind, and then of your surroundings, and is the kind of transcendence one should be striving for, no matter the period in history.

My favorite symbol for this is from a sight on the streets of NY, where a dog-owner had obeyed the leash law, but the dog trotted along beside him, both wearing and carrying the handle of the leash in his own mouth. Negative connotations can be made, of course, but I saw an image of 'creative self-discipline'.. not unlike Krishna's chariot in the Upanishads. The Horses are the wild energy, and the driver reins in and manages that energy.



What one can do and what I am doing (and have been learning to do for a long while) is simply understood as Westexas' ELP.

Catherine Austin Fitts and her Solari web site has a number of good financial ELP ideas toward our Tapeworm Economy run by TPTB. Ultimately if we want to change things we are going to have to implement these things on our own; I.e., be the solution (or at least as much a part of one) you want to see!

The problem(s) isn't for lack of good ideas, either on the individual or collective level, but that *the system, TPTB, our culture* or what ever we call it, is no longer responsive to what needs doing to save anything other than itself. Despite the interconnection between all the parts of *the system* each part is purely out to maximize its own part and limitless growth of profit or power, etc.

Once you face this fact you'll stop waiting for some salvation to be handed to you and get on with making it happen. The plain fact is that no one or group is in control anymore. It's a crackpot contraption we are in and it's soon to crack-up irrevocably.

At that point you'll understand it, which is as Gary Snyder said: "Find your place on the planet, dig in, and take responsibility from there."

In this regard, musahi's suggestion about, "The only way to beat them to some extent is to fall through the cracks and disappear in the static" is completely relevant and appropriate.

Down Hubbert's Peak: Last Phone Message

After the tone, please leave your message…

"Hi, Darling. I've been trying to reach you for hours. With this major rain and windstorm, I'm amazed that the cell phone works at all. But I'm not sure yours is working. I was immediately dumped to voicemail. Maybe you’re trying to reach me.

"You may have heard on the news about the big rockslide on I-5 here in the Siskiyous. The kids and I are fine! Don't worry. We arrived to a small backup about twenty minutes after the rock fell. I suppose a lot more drivers would be waiting if it weren't for the fuel shortages…

"The rain has been unbelievable! It reminded me of a Texas cloudburst, the kind that floods streets in just minutes. Couldn't see ahead at all. Yes, I pulled off until the rain let up--to a downpour, that is. A downpour seemed light in comparison to the deluge! All kinds of mudslides and rock-falls were triggered by the storm. I linked up with a few other drivers who had also stopped during the big rain, and we carefully picked our way through the debris until reaching the massive slide. It's a mess here. I-5 in both directions is buried under a mountain. Gone. I'm guessing days to clear at best.

"Nearly three hours have passed since we stopped at the slide. Apparently the fuel shortages have slowed the arrival of cleanup crews. Everyone is beginning to feel the pinch. Indeed, only two patrol cars have arrived on our side of the rockslide. Can't see what's happening on the north side.

"Right now, I'm just waiting to see what the officers say. Communications are sketchy. Apparently radio repeaters are out. And, as I mentioned, cell phones are a bit finicky out here. Though I have seen the police talking on their cells.

"The kids are currently playing in the car. They've found the slide pretty exciting. I wish I could share their sentiment. The whole ordeal has me stressed! They're getting bored, though. The video games are loosing their luster. I'll have to do something soon.

"I'm thinking about an alternate route. Perhaps west to 101. Maybe. Certainly the coast was pounded. I might have to go further inland, perhaps to 395, and then head north. At least it's too warm for snow!

"Hold it…

"One of the officers is approaching me. Hold on…"

Phhtt, phhtt… Thump, thump, thump…

"This is terrible. Apparently another slide went across the road to our south. We're stuck!

"There're injuries, maybe some fatalities. The officer asked if I had any medical training. Wish I did. Still my car might become an emergency shelter for the wounded. I'll have to go soon.

"The officer also mentioned the possibility of aerial extraction. They didn't know how soon it would come. With the gasoline shortages, and the intensity of the storm, I'm not optimistic. This has me worried.

"One of the police just left. Racing south…"

"Ah, the rain's picking up again. And the temperature has to be around seventy-five! Up here! This is amazing. More and more, the weather seems to be going haywire. Getting soaked… I'm heading back to the car.


"Ah, cripes. The phone's battery is low, too. I'll have to get it charging.


"I'm inside now. The rain's so loud on the roof, it feels like I'm going deaf! Hopefully you can hear me.

"Hold it, Brett. I'm on the phone! Play with your sister.

"Getting a map… Here we go… If an air rescue is unable to arrive, we might be able to get back to Dunsmuir on foot. You know, climb around any rockslides that might be in the way. Might have to stay there awhile. Who knows, they might be happy to have some business, so few people are traveling these days.

"Wow, Corvallis seems so far away now...


"But I'll wait a little longer before acting on that idea. Maybe that air rescue will arrive. Let's hope!

"Just know that we're okay, Dear. I'm not alone out here. We'll put our heads together and figure something out, I'm sure.

"This world seems to be turning upside down quickly, doesn't it? It's hard to believe that just two years ago we took a fun little trip to Hawaii. Energy didn't once occupy my thoughts on that vacation. Now, energy is on my mind all the time. Each day seems to bring yet another crisis.

"The kids are listening. I probably should go. Give this phone a rest. You take care. Know that we're thinking of you. Love you..."


Thanks for reading!



PS. This one doesn't have as deep a message as some of my others. The discussions about the Hurricane Katrina govt response inspired this piece.

Hey, graywulffe -

Nice little bit of writing. Are you archiving these on a site, somewhere? I'll have to pull your comments and see if I can get a complete set...

Thanks much!

I'm thinking about an archive specific to these stories. It'll be awhile before I get to such a project, though.



A free blog at Blogger would be a quick and easy way to do this. It would also get you into the search engines a lot faster than setting up your own site.

TOD started out on Blogger.

Thanks! I've got the blog up-and-running:

Peak Oil: Toward Yesteryear



Nice work!

You should add the URL to your TOD profile. (Click on "My account" on the sidebar, then Edit and Personal Information. There's space to list the URL of your home page.)

Hi Wolf,

Thanks. Your north west references give me an opportunity to mention http://www.ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=541, a spectacularly amazing (really) example of community organizing, which has expanded far beyond the idea of emergency preparedness, to include "community resilience". It's practical, doable, and "fund-able". Check out the past newsletters, if possible.

I try to mention this some fraction of the times we talk about ELP, as it's a proven (though still somewhat unique) tool for creating community where one lives. It's also a platform to address issues of food and energy security, etc.

"When you stick your head out the door - who's there? Your neighbors." (L. Edwards.)

Great information!

Back when I was getting my NR degree, the City of Ashland forester visited the university and gave a detailed presentation on the city's disaster response--especially in regards to fire and the urban-wildland interface. He handed out binders that contained the plans. I still have mine.

I recall that his main emphasis was on the community-building aspect of the project. Community was a key element to getting anyone to agree, and making a fire mitigation strategy work (buffers) among people with a huge variety of backgrounds. He pointed out that it took years just to accomplish the kind of trust (=community) that was needed. Something on the order of a decade.

If the timeline is typical of most US communities, and is similar in moving forward on Peak Oil strategies (compared to fire mitigation, which is a more "real" threat due to the number of homes that burn down out here in the west--something shown on the news every year), then one of the big challenges for dealing with the problem is exemplified.

I suppose steadily escalating fuel (and other) prices might help motivate people in the right direction. However, with a decade-long lead-time in building community trust, waiting for such a signal to arrive and the official call of "Peak Oil" is probably unwise. Unfortunately, it is difficult to convince people of the urgency in the current "information-war" environment.

I'm sure there's a shorter, more clear way to write this. My brain's a little fuzzy today. :o)



Lisa Margonelli traveled thousands of miles from her local gas station to oil fields half a world away to try and understand how Americans can buy 10,000 gallons a second without giving it much thought.

Well, duh!



In case you haven't heard...

"Iraq War Is All About Controlling the Oil" at:


I'm glad somebody finally cleared this up.

It’s the Money, Stupid!
Jay Hanson, August 10, 1998

Hubbert noted the fundamental difference between the properties of money and those of matter and energy upon which the operation of the physical world depends. Money is essentially an abstraction and not constrained by the laws within which material and energy systems must operate. In fact money grows exponentially by the rule of compound interest.

Jim Puplava (financialsense.com) had some interesting numbers, in the third hour of his Internet program, on money supply growth, year over year, in various regions:

Russia, 42%
China, 18%
India, 17%
Brazil, 14%,
Australia, 14%
UK, 13%
EU 10% +

He estimates that reconstructed US M3 is growing at about 12% per year.

He thinks that we are setting the stage for the next Great Inflation. As Marc Faber said, the US 30 Treasury Bond, held to maturity, is "The world's worst investment." Faber strongly recommend that people start buying farmland.

In deflationary periods, debtors get killed. In inflationary periods, creditors get killed. As we have discussed, we are probably headed toward deflationary inflation, or stagflation. I would suspect that the price decline in McMansions will continue to overwhelm the inflationary effect.

But what about using debt to buy productive assets--especially food and energy assets? Or very basic housing close to mass transit lines, etc.

As we have discussed, we are probably headed toward deflationary inflation

If one believes in coordinated actions of 'The Powers that Be" (VS its a bunch of shit that happens and some people have an advantage) a stagflation lets the wealthy/powerful and flexable to be on the 'right side' of the economic transactions, with others keeping up their loosing history.

Throw in a few laws to help herd the herd for the shearing and its a party!

Food, water, shelter and clothing are often listed as the basic needs.

Building (with borrowed US $) a hyper efficient (say German building code; R-49 walls etc. plus solar assisted domestic hot water etc) house near Urban Rail may lose nominal value the day that it is finished (it may not) due to the fact that it not "what the market demands".

But this opening day value can only increase as energy supplies rise in price, regardless of relatively cost values.

People with jobs WILL have a roof over their heads ! Renters and/or buyers can be found when one owns the housing that is in the upper 0.1% of desirability post-Peak Oil.

If one can absorb the potential "Finishing Day Loss" (see down payment), then I see such housing as "can't lose", even in a collapsing housing market and economic depression.

Comfortable (if not overly spacious) housing with a $12/month utility bill (2007 $) and no need for a car (but secure bicycle parking !) has intrinsic value. A small, protected garden and fruit tree(s) only add value IMHO.

Best Hopes,


I'd add a garage apartment or mother-in-law suite to that list. If you can take in a renter, you've got an inflation-indexed cash flow.

Actually what I proposed to WestTexas privately was a 2 to 10 unit building. A common wall (duplexes are common in New Orleans) saves energy, land and cost of construction. If one has a corner lot, a triplex with the 3rd unit having an entrance on the other street works well, and increases the number of common walls.

A 2+2 two story quadplex is a rough cube is even more energy efficient (especially if you have one of the bottom units).

A three story rough cube would be even more efficient, but the living arrangements & land lord issues mount considerably.

Best Hopes for Energy and space efficient housing,


I like it!
If only I could find the land close to light rail. I think Portland has been ahead of the curve a on smaller infill housing. This type of property isn't easy to find, yet I'm looking.
I figure a space saver would be to build the tiolet/shower/sink into 1 tiled room rougly the size of a bathtub.
The medicine chest/toilet paper would have to be in the door and there would need to be a shower curtain to close off the door opening when showering. Also if the door opened into and blocked a hall then you could have a place to change. Still working on the details.
I figure a single stand alone unit 16' x 20' outside dimens. with 12/12 pitch would be two loft bedrooms, 1 bathroom, kitchen, dinning/living. Porches would be a must imo. Back porch could be enclosed garden tools, etc.
Multi unit a bit tougher but perhaps the some details from single units could go to multi.
All the best

Those new "Forever" postage stamps might be a good inflation hedge - as long as there continues to be postal service, anyway.


inflation, deflation, stagflation ? we just dont know .....so maybe the best we can do is diversify.

The problem with this list is that it ignores serious differences between the economies of these countries. In the case of Russia, the economy is under-monetized, currently around 20% compared to 50% in the EU and USA. Russia is still transitioning from arbitrary Soviet prices to market ones. A more useful measure of inflation is the GDP deflator. In the case of Russia it is around 17%. For the UK it is currently 2.48%.

Hello TODers,

From Leanan's toplink:
Sixty percent of employees confirmed that the price of gas has significantly reduced the amount of money they have to spend on other things, while 45 percent reported the need to pay off debts more slowly or not at all. Finally, 26 percent indicated that the cost of gas has necessitated going without basics such as heat or air conditioning, or even cutting back on food purchases, over the past few months.

Recall from my earlier postings that I said our labor force needs to shift to SIXTY PERCENT or more towards relocalized permaculture: 150 million wheelbarrows and 150 million bicycles would be a good start,IMO.

Recall from my earlier Zimbabwe postings that the leading inflationary item was the price of a bicycle because Pres. Mugabe was not Peakoil Outreach aware to plan mitigation properly.

Thus, I find it tragically ironic:

Zimbabwe to head key U.N. commission

UNITED NATIONS - Zimbabwe, a country suffering from acute food shortages and rampant inflation, won approval to lead the important U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development despite protests from the U.S., European nations and human rights organizations.

... and people wonder why I am a fast-crash realist.

When will the stupidity end?

EDIT: Mugabe's version of Sustainable Recycling is for pregnant women to carry and internally feed a baby for nine months, then immediately have them clog the sewers till overflowing with dead infants:

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- The corpses of at least 20 newborn babies and fetuses are found each week in the sewers of Zimbabwe's capital, some having been flushed down toilets, Harare city authorities said, according to state media Friday.

Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya said the babies' remains were found among a wide variety of waste and garbage cleared by city council workers unblocking sewers and drains in Harare.

"Apart from upsetting the normal flow of waste, it is not right from a moral standpoint. Some of the things that are happening now are shocking," the state Herald, a government mouthpiece, reported Chideya as saying.
Will North America be any smarter?

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

I think that a lot of misanthropic types in the first world would love to find a good way to kick Africa out of the lifeboat first.

Perhaps that's why they are promoting

Robert Mugabe who has a lot of similarities to Pol Pot

Quiz... What was the most violent conflict since World War II?
The Second Congo War (1998-2003). So while you were experiencing the Internet bubble, the Monica Lewinsky Scandal, etc and the terrible deaths of a little over 2000 people at the World Trade Center... In central Africa 3,500,000 to 4,000,000 people were being hacked to death with machetes, starved to death, clubbed in the back of the head and dying from AK47 fire.

Hi abelard,

Thanks for the link.

I can't stand either Hugo Chavez or George W. Bush. They are both clowns IMO. My gripe with the Venezuelan oil company Cit-go is on a personal level. I have purchased their oil on which they offered a $.50/qt. rebate. I carefully followed their instructions, but never received the rebate.
I keep careful track of rebates I send in so I know it is not a mistake that I made. They just assume you won't notice that the rebate was never paid. But I notice that stuff. I refuse to buy any Cit-go gas or oil because I think the company is dishonest.

Hello TODers,

When elephants move, ants get crushed. The Porridge Principle of Metered Decline's next sequential advance:


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

International Energy Agency Worried About Present Oil Supply


Chevron evacuated non-essential personal from its Nigeria operations.


International Energy Agency Worried About Present Oil Supply


Does anyone have access to the full OMR these press reports are based on? The IEA only have highlights on their website. This OMR looks like interesting reading.

In one press report, it said the IEA expect production from the UK to increase, surely some mistake there.

Look at how many Microchip seminars are being held in China!

Microchip added its libraries to ExpessPCB!!!

What to do?

Here's my solution

I'm doing Option #2.

Hoping we're going to get our legal project settled soon.

So senior citizen is looking for new, exciting, and hopefully financially profitable projects.


Thursday May 10, 2007 14:41

Pamela N. Phillips
NSA Chief FOIA Public Liaison Officer/DJ4
9800 Savage Road, Suite 6248
Ft. George G. Meade, MD 20755-6248
Telephone: (301) 688-6527
Fax: (301) 688-4762
Email: foialo@nsa.gov

Ms phillips,

We enclose a motion to void judgment in our visible 1997 NSA FOIA lawsuit.

The FBI Gilbert letter reveals that Sandia Labs, the FBI, and NSA withheld documents, without acknowledging their existence, requested under the FOIA/PA.

I'm hoping that Ms Becknell is successful at sending me these documents by May 25, 2007. If not, I can do another jury trial DEMAND FOIA/PA lawsuit at the DC circuit.

We really feel that we should get matter settled.

We ask for your help to get these unfortunate matters settled before they get worse.

Here's our settlement proposal:

1 We ask that NSA post on its website the documents requested in our 1997 FOIA lawsuit

What information was provided to Saddam Hussein exactly? Answers to this question are currently being sought in a lawsuit against NSA in New Mexico, which has asked to see "all Iranian messages and translations between January 1, 1980 and June 10, 1996". [7]

2 The FOIA allows monetary compensation for a successful lawsuit. Therefore, we ask for payment of $1,000 per docket entry line - of which there are currently 77 entries.

We ask that you forward by email our settlement proposal to those in power to settle.

Please give us an ack if you get this email.

Thanks in advance.

Bill and Art


World Offshore Oil Frontiers


1 ton of petroleum = 7.3 barrels of petroleum.

Some people have warned that such statements about estimates for frontier areas should be reduced to about ten percent of the estimated amounts from the start, as they were frequently exagerations.

The 7.5 billion barrels reported by the Chinese at Jidang Field, Bohai Bay were "geological reserves", OOIP. The recoverable reserves might be less than 50% of that amount.

Family man Joseph Dupre was at the Lafayette Auto Dealer Association's auto show, planning to buy a new Chevy Tahoe. He said he was buying the vehicle to replace his other truck, so he could have more space to carry his wife and child...

I wonder how big his wife and child are??

„Finally, 26 percent indicated that the cost of gas has necessitated going without basics such as heat or air conditioning“

This is typically american. Here in Europe, nobody does have air conditioning, at least at home...


"When I drive my SUV, it makes me feel powerful, sexy and in control."

I find girls in SUVs soooo sexy!

That gal's quote reminds me of this documentary:

Hapiness Machines where they convinced women to start smoking through launching a bunch of PR stunts to show women who smoked as confident, man defying, and sexy. It's a shame more people don't study social psychology and understand how they are manipulated.

Here in Europe, nobody does have air conditioning, at least at home...

Because most of Europe was settled before cheap air-conditioning. (And even so...an estimated 50,000 died in that heat wave in 2003.)

There was an interesting article in Newsweek a couple of years ago, about how few except the very poor lived along the Gulf Coast a few decades ago. It was simply too unpleasant. Hot, humid, prone to hurricanes.

Then there was a lull in hurricane activity (a natural cycle, probably), which coincided with the availability of cheap air-conditioning, and suddenly everyone and their uncle wanted to move to the coast. So now we have millions of people living in harm's way.

In 1950, the dawn of the air conditioning age, New Orleans was the 16th largest US city with a population of 570,445. However, our housing and clothing was adapted to the heat and stifling humidity (well to do families sent the wives and children across Lake Pontchartrain to the cooler North Shore in the summer). Poor homes (400 sq ft shotguns) had 10' to 11' ceilings and adequate ventilation. Middle class homes had 11' to 14' ceilings and mansions had 12' to 16' ceilings. Trees were (and are) common, along with overhanging balconies in some areas.

Cotton and linen suits were considered appropriate business wear in the warmer months.

Dallas was the next largest SunBelt city at 22nd (434,462) and Miami was the next largest southern coastal community with a population of 249,276 (41st largest).

few except the very poor lived along the Gulf Coast a few decades ago

I have only to look out my front door to dispute this. However, the commercial necessity of New Orleans may have been the driving force to get people to adapt to our less than pleasant summer weather.

There is no doubt that the movement of population to the SunBelt would not have occurred without air conditioning.

Best Hopes for highly efficient air conditioning in well insulated buildings,

Alan with a pleasant 79 degrees @ 8:30 AM this Sunday morning

By Gum, it never came to my mind that the north shore of the lake where I spent a dozen years of my youth (Covington) was thought by some to be a sort of escape from N'Yawlins. Ykes! I thought sleeping in a puddle of sweat was the universally ordaned human condition until I got in the Navy and went north, where it was actually cold some summer days, and people painted their barns.

On the other hand, my Cajun buddies seemed never to complain no matter how hot, humid or buggy. But then they played football barefooted, too. Maybe a couple of hundred years of conditioning has something to do with it.

Just think how much more powerful, sexy and in control you would be in a 14,500 pound (empty) International CXT.

(Motor Trend review)
Popular Mechanics article with classic attitude:

When you go down the road in the CXT, everything around you seems to shrink. Hummers are like Minis. Occasionally you find a crushed Toyota Prius up under the wheel well, and you have to get in there with a stick and pull it out. Most unfortunate.

Do I get a 100% expensable this year bussiness tax credit? I'll bet I do. Addicted to oil? Hmmm...

The problem I have with such pronouncements is that they lump ALL biofuels together as being equally "bad", however you define "bad". It just isn't so, there are big differences between them. Different crops have different land use and ecological and energy profiles. The fuels themselves have different profiles (biodiesel has a higher energy content than ethanol, for example, and diesel engines are inherently more efficient than gasoline/ethanol burning ones). What about celluosic ethanol produced from crop wastes? Or for that matter, what about wood stoves burning windfall wood that has been gathered by hand? And then we should also include biogas (methane) in this category; all biogas is generated by agricultural or municipal wastes. Instead of polluting the water, they are put to productive use; instead of releasing methane (a potent GHG) into the atmosphere, it is captured and put to productive use. How is this "bad"?

As I have posted on other threads a few days ago, it is quite feasible for farmers (even highly mechanized farmers) to grow and produce all of the biodiesel they need right on the farm. It only takes a few acres, they can press the oilseeds right on the farm, and they avoid the whole high-energy transport loop from farm to factory to farm. How is this "bad"?

If we are going to go to a lower energy-input agriculture, then we are going to have to go to practices that naturally build up the soil, like crop rotation and cover crops. It just so happens that certain oilseed crops such as rapeseed or sunflowers fit well into such crop rotation schemes. How is that "bad"?