DrumBeat: May 20, 2007

Oil Price ‘Gouging’: A Phantom Menace?

On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on investigations plans a hearing into evidence of possible price gouging and other market manipulation by oil companies.

The chairman of that hearing will be Representative Bart Stupak, Democrat of Michigan, who has introduced a bill that would define price gouging as a price that is “unconscionably excessive” or that “indicates the seller is taking unfair advantage of unusual market conditions.”

The Zero-Energy Solution

Mike Strizki’s house, the house of the future, the revolutionary house that might very well change our lives forever, is an unremarkable two-story, 3,000-square-foot, white colonial-style kit home in front of which, one rainy day last November, were parked no fewer than seven trucks and cars, a pair of Jet Skis, a speedboat on a trailer, several golf carts, a small tractor, a couple of vans and an old dump truck rusting in the middle of the woods, like a major reworking of a Robert Frost poem. There was nothing odd, or futuristic, or exotically “eco” about the house — no solar panels to be seen, no giant arrays of thermopane windows passively drinking up light and heat; yet here, I’d been told, in the Sourland Mountains in New Jersey, an hour from Manhattan, was a house that had the potential — not long from now, not 20 years from now, but maybe within 5 to 10 years — to help turn millions of American homes into fully self-sustaining power plants, each one capable of producing hydrogen to fuel cars as well.

Motorists will dig deep this summer

Member states of OPEC are fast joining ranks to thwart recent moves by industry and pressure groups in North America and Europe to open the valves.

Record high gas run continues

Gasoline prices hit their record high for the seventh straight day Saturday, as gas costing less than $3 a gallon is becoming a rare find anywhere in the country.

Oil pricing - between devil and deep blue sea

Global crude oil prices are rising once again. And once again developing countries like India are going to be the worst hit. Consumers in this country may have to face hikes in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas in the coming months if the situation does not ease soon in world markets. Indian public sector oil companies are already gearing up to make a case for a price hike to the government, which ultimately takes these decisions.

Gore's Inconvenient Truth required classroom viewing?

First it was his world history class. Then he saw it in his economics class. And his world issues class. And his environment class. In total, 18-year-old McKenzie, a Northern Ontario high schooler, says he has had the film An Inconvenient Truth shown to him by four different teachers this year.

...McKenzie says he has educated himself enough about both sides of the climate-change controversy to know that the Al Gore movie is too one-sided to be taught as fact.

Media Ignore European Energy Politics to Advance Global Warming Alarmism

One of the issues on the table was whether Russia is going to provide more energy resources to EU nations starved for such.

Didn’t hear about this?

Well, that’s not surprising, for in the midst of the media’s ongoing attempts to create global warming hysteria while pushing the U.S. to participate in the Kyoto Protocol, our press have little interest in reporting how energy politics across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are threatening economies around the globe.

Renewable energy: The tide turns

Senior cabinet ministers are pushing for Britain to be the first nation in the world to get much of its power from the tides, as part of a massive new expansion for renewable energy. The Environment Secretary, David Miliband, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and Trade and Industry Secretary Alistair Darling want a giant £14bn barrage to be built across the Severn.

Variety review of The 11th Hour:

True to its doom-laden title, global-warming doc "The 11th Hour" presents the viewer with reams of depressing data, loads of hand-wringing about the woeful state of humanity and, finally, some altogether fascinating ideas about how to go about solving the climate crisis. Co-produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this latest exercise in celebrity eco-activism lacks the personal touch that helped "An Inconvenient Truth" go green at the box office, but audiences might warm to its layered insights and polished presentation, given careful nurturing by Warner Independent and effective showcasing as an educational tool.

Pump paradox

With energy prices so high, what incentive do cash-rich oil-producing nations and multinationals have to increase supplies?

An interview with Rupert Murdoch about News Corp.'s new climate strategy

When Rupert Murdoch, the cantankerous and conservative owner of Fox News, enthusiastically joins the fight against climate change, you know we're past the tipping point on the issue. Think landslide.

Are high gasoline prices un-American? Maybe not

"The only way one can effectively address this problem today and get an immediate kick is by raising the price at the pump and keeping it there," economist Philip Verleger told New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. An additional tax of 50 cents to $1 a gallon would give the government cash to buy back the most fuel-inefficient vehicles on our roads. "The best monument to 9/11 we could erect would be a mountain of crushed gas guzzlers," Verleger says.

Taking on High Gas Prices in California and the Oil Industry

I went to a freeway-adjacent Chevron Station in LA ($3.49 a gallon for regular) this morning to hear Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez talk very tough about the oil and refining industries: “Skyrocketing gas prices are hurting California families and jeopardizing our economy. During the electricity crisis a few years ago California adopted ... measures to keep energy companies from using these convenient shutdowns to amp up their profits and today we’re going to make sure oil companies can’t use Enron-like tactics on California consumers.”

Sri Lanka: Higher and Higher

The plight of the consumer keeps getting worse with prices of gas, electricity, fuel and other items increasing day-by-day while a chain reaction has been set off by the depreciation of the Rupee.

Asphalt prices pave way for higher costs

The high price of crude oil has pushed up more than just the cost of filling up the family automobile with gasoline at the corner convenience store.

It also has forced up the cost of laying down pavement for new roads, filling in the potholes of aging parking lots or reconditioning a home's leaky roof with a new layer of three-tab asphalt shingles.

Thomas Friedman, commencement speaker at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The situation is amplified by the rapid advancement of China, India, and the former Soviet Union, he said. As the citizens of these countries pursue their own versions of the American dream and look to purchase cars and furnish their homes with new appliances, Friedman said the global demand for energy will skyrocket at an unprecedented rate.

Jamaica: If we should find oil, then what?

Over the last three months, the Government has been hinting at the possibility of oil in the territorial waters of Jamaica. The Prime Minister, in at least one media report, was quoted as saying she wanted all Jamaicans to pray for the discovery of the precious commodity.

Boosting Penn Valley Park’s drawing power

One of the most controversial aspects of Clay Chastain’s light-rail plan mandates the closure of all roads carrying through traffic in Penn Valley Park. That includes Broadway, carrying 23,000 cars a day.

No big deal, Chastain argues: Creating a large swath of “open, contiguous green space in the heart of the city” is more important than traffic flow. Green space, he asserted in an interview with The Star, is the “greater good.”

Freight train usage keeps rolling higher

The number of railcars transporting freight nationwide grew to 17,380,102 in 2006, up 1.2 percent over 2005, according to Tom White, a spokesman for the Association of American Railroads.

Getting in on the (under)ground floor

Earth homes are environmentally friendly and energy-conserving structures that are built with three sides covered by concrete and soil, using solar energy to heat and cool much of the home.

Energy Crisis: Biomass fuels likely to be just one step in the search for a solution

It isn't going to be easy, painless or cheap for any of us. We didn't just pretend not to hear the first warning bell when it sounded in 1973, we pretended that it was a call to an all-you-can eat buffet.

Fears over looming energy crisis in UK
The lights could go out in Britain within eight years as demand is predicted to outstrip supply.

ACROSS Britain, cities are plunged into darkness. In London, the Underground grinds to a halt, leaving panicked commuters stranded in oppressively hot carriages. In office blocks, lifts stop operating and the air-conditioning shuts down. Employees swelter in stifling conditions.

This is not the postapocalyptic vision of some film-maker, but a realistic scenario as Britain grapples with a looming energy crisis. The statistics are frightening. In only eight years, demand for energy could outstrip supply by 23% at peak times, according to a study by the consultant Logica CMG. The loss to the economy could be £108 billion each year.

The controversial British National Party is Ahead of the pack on Peak Oil crisis. They've been running a series on peak oil all week, including Eating up the oil reserves, A looming economic depression? and Building an electricity based economy.

Venezuela May Create Private Oil Drilling Company, Envoy Says

Venezuela, which this week announced plans to nationalize 18 oil rigs operated by international companies, wants to establish a Latin American oil and gas drilling corporation.

Erratic energy prices 'could hit world economy'

TOP finance officials from the world's eight wealthiest countries said yesterday that the global economy is on track, but warned that volatile energy prices could disrupt growth.

Peak Oil and the Inflation Lie

The selective use of core inflation is a cover-up that is routinely assisted by corporate media that, knowingly and unwittingly, promotes the illusion of a “growing economy with inflation under control, or non-existent”.

Consider all options to keep the lights on

We are facing a looming energy crisis that needs to be addressed immediately. Base-load generating plants can take years to construct, so we must begin constructing new facilities today. If we do not deal with this issue in a timely fashion, California-style rolling blackouts won't be far away. These are not just a nuisance; they can have crippling effect upon our economy and quality of life.

Oils well that ends

When will this foolishness stop? How long will the consumer keep getting shafted by the Arabs, oil companies, environmental "whackos" and the liberals who want to keep us in bondage and not resolve the energy crisis facing our nation? Well, I think I have a solution for solving our energy crisis.

Shell hit by ‘dirty’ Arctic oil furore

The world’s largest untapped oil reserves – in northern Canada – have become the new front line in the battle between environmentalists and the energy industry.

Peak problems: As height of oil production nears, people must conserve and change the way they live

Most of the world is not tuned into "peak oil" as a real and inevitable event. But peak oil, the moment when we can no longer, on a global basis, increase oil production may be here already or only a year or two away.

Is peak oil a big deal? Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, a respected oil analyst and past director of the National Iranian Oil Company, refers to it as "the most important event of the 21st century." His greatest worry is the continuing contraction in oil production after the peak, with annual production reduced by approximately 30 percent or more within 12 to 15 years after the peak.

Living green before their time

Almost 40 years ago, Morninglory commune took a zero-footprint path.

I can't help but feel a little short-changed by economists here in Oz who blame our high gasoline (petrol) prices entirely on US refinery capacity constraints. Surely a flat crude oil supply over the last two years has something to do with it? Here's how I reconcile the evidence:

From other comments, I accept that there is a degree of arbitrage between crude oil and refined products, so the two tend to move together (I'd love some examples of that arbitrage). That the US has a large spread between crude prices and refined products resulting in record refining profit margins reflects the reality of the refinery capacity constraints. But while refining margins have gone up, some arbitrage between them means that crude and product prices still tend to move in the same direction on a day-to-day basis.

But it can't all be about the refineries. The world is not producing or processing any more crude now that it was in 2005 and 2006. Yet refinery issues were not so much on the front pages then (apart from the mainly short-term impact of the hurricanes).

With flat production, what has happened is that demand has been quite comprehensively destroyed in large regions of Africa and other developing countries. The (smaller) refineries in those regions are presumably not set up to be able to export refined products to take advantage of US product shortfall, so they are running well below capacity because their economies cannot afford the price of crude oil.

The US is the only regional economy with insufficient refinery capacity for it's market so it goes to out to Europe and Asia for gasoline imports, forcing all the other refineries to run at maximum and buy more crude to enable that. But over the last two years it's really been a zero sum game. Consumption of oil and refined products has grown a little in Asia/Europe/America/Russia/Middle East at the expense of consumers in Africa and other poorer countries.

So refineries in the still strong consumption economies have had to out-bid the developing nations for access to a flat supply of the world's crude oil (thus $76 TAPIS oil price in Asia very close to last years record highs). And now the US is further bidding up the price of refined products to make up for their regional refining capacity shortage. Thus US$3+ gasoline which is pushing up product prices in the rest of the world.

Refinery capacity constraints in the US are real, but meanwhile some third world refineries are probably running below previous levels. The huge impact of flat oil supply over the last two years in driving up oil prices is being underestimated.

Appreciate development or criticism of this line of thinking.


But it can't all be about the refineries. The world is not producing or processing any more crude now that it was in 2005 and 2006. Yet refinery issues were not so much on the front pages then (apart from the mainly short-term impact of the hurricanes).

Stuart is working on a post about this. From the data, most of the blame can be laid on oil prices. The recent run-up is primarily due to refining issues, but it came from a base that was established as a result of high crude prices. If you go back a few years, you can say that the run-up is about 70% crude price and 30% gasoline supply related.

Is there anything that Stuart is not preparing a post about!?

I look forward to it :-)

That 70/30 breakdown is very useful. I'm hoping to get some more press coverage here in the next few weeks and that's a great line to use up against the economists blaming it all on refineries.


and another question.. what is total refinery capacity in the US against total consumption?

ie. what proportion of gasoline has to be imported?

Incidentally, that 70/30 analysis is mine. Stuart was coming up with some different answers.

To meet demand, right now we require roughly 1.3 million bpd of a total consumption figure of around 9.4 million bpd. In peak season, that demand number will go up to about 9.6 million bpd and the import number will need to follow (which also depends on how high refinery utilization goes).

I think I have decided to write a post on exactly why gasoline prices are rising. There are 3 factors to explore: Supply is down. Why? Imports are down. Why? And demand is up. I am doing a bit of research right now.

does it seem feasible to you that there may be refineries in africa and elsewhere that are processing less now than two years ago because local economies can't afford the price and because the refineries aren't fitted out for exporting products?

No doubt demand is down in many 3rd world countries. While we have been experiencing record demand here in the U.S., since crude production has been flat someone must be getting by with less.

Your question made me curious about refineries in Africa, so I poked around and found this:


In the 50 years between 1954 and 2004 48 refineries were built in Africa. In 1954 the first African refineries were built in Algiers (CFP/Total) and Durban (Socony/Mobil). These were followed by the building of Luanda refinery (Petrofina) in 1958, and refineries in Kenya (Shell/BP), Ghana (ENI/Agip), and Senegal (consortium), in 1963. In the 1960’s refineries were also built in Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Tanzania, Nigeria (Port Harcourt I), and Capetown. In the 1970’s, following nationalisation of the oil industry in many countries, several state controlled refineries were built, such as Arzew in Algeria, Warri in Nigeria, CORAF in Congo, and SoNaRa in Cameroon. A final burst of refinery building took place in the 1980’s, including refineries at Warri and Port Harcourt in Nigeria. Whilst there have been a number of modernisation projects since then, the only new refineries built in the past 10 years have been Khartoum in 2001, and MIDOR in Egypt in2002.

Even whilst refineries were being built, others were already being closed. In 1966 the Zimbabwe refinery closed due to sanctions imposed during the UDI period. Between 1980 and 2003 a further 10 uneconomic refineries closed permanently.

All the refineries are basically of the topping/reforming type, except for the 4 refineries in South Africa, 2 in Egypt, 3 in Nigeria, 1 in Cote d’Ivoire, and 1 in Ghana, There are also 3 Synfuel plants (coal and gas feedstock) in South Africa. The total active distillation capacity for the continent is around 3 million b/d (15 million mt/yr), an average of 79,000 b/d per refinery.

The largest refinery in Africa is the Skikda refinery in Algeria (300mbd), the second largest the Ras Lanuf plant in Libya (220mbd). In Sub Saharan Africa the largest are the Port Harcourt refinery I and II in Nigeria (210mbd), and the Shell/BP Sapref refinery in Durban (165mbd).

Be interesting to see some production statistics from some of the African countries, but I am not sure that information is readily available. We end up with anecdotal evidence.

I think this also opens up a big can of worms as the worlds crude supply gets heavy and sour.

All the refineries are basically of the topping/reforming type

This link seems very good.

The topping reforming refinery is what we consider a simple refinery. So this means many of the third world refineries are probably only efficient with light sweet crude.

The implication is these countries will not have the capitol to convert to complex refining and thus we should see the poorest nations suffer the worst since they are competing for light sweet crude or refined gasoline with America.

I think this is the reason that refined gasoline on the global market is in short supply its now cheaper for the poorest countries to import refined products then to run their light sweet refineries. This is probably what is driving the Brent price since its Nigerian light thats the key.
This will get worse as the production of light sweet declines.

Yet one more time it looks like the pressure that peak oil puts on the oil infrastructure will ensure that we will have serious problems well before the predictions of geologic peak based on capacity. So we have indeed in essence lost a bunch of refining capacity because of the peak of light sweet even though the total oil volume has not decreased as much.
Because of above ground factors such as this the effects of peak oil are advanced by 1-3 years beyond what a simple supply analysis indicates. Of course Nigeria is now the biggest exporter for the US over KSA so it seems we have no intention of letting the poorest countries even get the light sweet they need to sustain themselves. I think my musical chairs/russian roulette model is correct. We can't even handle the peak of light sweet crude.

"I am doing a bit of research right now."

If you didn't see it, I put a comment towards the end of yesterday's DrumBeat which may be relevant. High Asian demand for naphtha may cause problems for the US this summer as exports from Europe are sucked East. It's also interesting that Saudi Aramco has apparently informed Asian suppliers that it will be cutting supplies of naphtha in the second half.

For anyone who wants to make their own (eyeball) judgement on the relationship between WTI crude and RBOB gasoline, here is the chart. It'll take a few seconds to load, and once it has done so drag the left hand side of the time period bar so the chart extends out from the initial 200 days to 658 days. Then look at 2007 vs 2006.

Brent may tell a slightly different story.

that is a very interesting chart with a very large spread opening up since Feb this year.

if only we could do the same thing for Brent and TAPIS oil price, which i think would track regional gasoline prices a little more closely.

Go back clear through 2006 and you see the exact same pattern as we are seeing now - as summer driving season comes along, the price of gasoline climbs above the price of crude and stays well above or just slightly below til roughly early August when if falls well below crude again.

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

... and how much of the rise is from the dollar decline (if any) ? Does that have an indirect effect on oil prices (since other currencies can bid more aggressively for oil than we can ?

Global peak: 2007 - 2010
Global decline rate, Post peak: 2%
Economic response: Severe global recession, ~5 years, then slow recovery

Check out Bakhtiari's four phases of transition. Find it linked in this Byron King article at 321energy.

Bakhtiari's view of T1 is that worldwide oil supplies will remain almost constant during this initial phase. New discoveries and production that is now coming on line will just about compensate for the production that is lost due to depletion. But T2, T3, and T4 will be, as Bakhtiari puts it, "more turbulent phases."

cfm in Gray, ME

Yesterday's Drumbeat had an article about methane and dams. The article said that decomposing vegetable matter created methane in the reservoirs. It suggested that dam operators capture the methane. How?
Also, if there were no dam, wouldn't the vegetable matter decompose in the ocean, creating methane there?

I think the idea is that the dam kills dry-land vegetation that would otherwise survive and not evolve methane.

In some dam projects here in Texas, the builders clear the land before flooding it. With the vegetation bulldozed into heaps they burn it, releasing CO2 instead of CH4 (at about 1/20th the GHG effect).

I have also seen some older reservoirs with thirty- and forty- year old tree stumps sticking up out of the shallow end. Apparently it can take them quite a while to rot.

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

Sure, dry land vegetation is killed but a lot of rivers have high levels of organic sediment that will collect against a dam, rather than flowing downstream. Normally, it would stay suspedned or get deposited onshore, being exposed to oxygen and thus able to aerobically decompose.

Piled at the bottom of the dam the process is very much like eutrophication of a pond or lake. Dead matter piled on top of dead matter seals out the oxygen, favouring anaerobic decomposition and methane production.

The only way I could think of capturing the CH4 would be to install piping much like in a landfill and let it seep into the pipes as it forms. But the sediment isn't so stable or dense and putting a hole in it to install a pipe may just release all the gas that is in there...

Unless it significantly reducing sedmimentation in the resevoir, as it may in very high BOD rivers, I can't see it being economical...

But it is a nice idea.

Sure, dry land vegetation is killed but a lot of rivers have high levels of organic sediment that will collect against a dam, rather than flowing downstream. Normally, it would stay suspedned or get deposited onshore, being exposed to oxygen and thus able to aerobically decompose.

Perhaps rather than blame that on the dam, there should be some effort to reduce the amount of organic matter going into the river upstream. If it's agricultural runoff or sewage or the result of logging, treat it at the source. Or at least affix blame to the source; IMO dams are one of the best sources of sustainable, renewable electricity.

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

Leaves, branches, trees, organic-matter rich soil, aquatic biota -- much of what ends up in a stream is deposited there by natural forces.

I have not had time to read and review the article. Earlier work profiled a "worst case" reservoir. Large tropical reservoir with high organic matter and low flows most of the year (and short head > minimal power production).

Let undone was the question if the organic matter had not settled to the bottom of the reservior, where would it have gone (swamp gas is methane).

Atmospheric methane has a half life of seven years, carbon dioxide over a century. So the storng GHG impact of methane (which has doubled since the beginning of the Industrial Age) has to be adjusted for it's short lifespan.

However, methane > CO2, so methane is just an intermediate step. Biological source methane is just part of the natural carbon cycle though.

How much of the increased C02 is biological and how much is escaped NG ? C14 analysis should answer that but I could find no paper.

Human alterations of agriculture and land use could well be responsible for doubling average methane levels.

Best Hopes,


I skimmed this article the other day, and I believe also they might have been extrapolating from a worst case senario. I have no idea how they might capture this gas for power production.

With lakes and reseviors, there are a couple of very broad factors to consider wrt methane. Methane generally comes from anaerobic decomposition in the sediments. Primary (algal) and secondary production within the water body "rain" significant amounts of organics for methane production. Production and release of gases to the atmosphere is broadly influenced by location-tropic vs temperate, depth of the water column and degree of eutrophication of the water body. With sufficient oxygen in the water column, much of the released methane can be oxidized by bacteria. Tropical, shallow, eutrophic reserviors will be the worst for methane release to the atmoshere.

RE: "Or at least affix blame to the source"

Um, that would be us and our insastiably arrogant appetite to live beyond our earth based ecological means.

WRT to "IMO dams are one of the best sources of sustainable, renewable electricity." That depends upon what value one places on the viability of wild salmon (and other such river species) to live too.

The decimation of slamon runs in the Pacific NW (and elsewhere) to feed our electrical appetite is without a doubt. Me, I'd rather sacrifice such electrical generation than the free running rivers and abundant fish to eat that these damned rivers once allowed the reproduction and proliferation of.

That's the kind of sustainability that is more important to me, and IMHO should be to us all than powering our electrified human arrogance.

The methane dam issue just points out another unintended consequence of this folly.

"It was your skill and your science
That led you astray.
And you thought to yourself,
I am, and there is none but me."
Isaiah 47:10

Um, that would be us and our insastiably arrogant appetite to live beyond our earth based ecological means.

Yeah, that sounds about right, thanks.

As for the salmon, I thought there was a technofix in the form of salmon ladders around the dams. Though I don't live in the NW and don't have much of a feel for the damned rivers there.

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

The ignorant Ocala, Florida editorial includes:

My proposal is that the president and Congress proclaim a national goal of developing an automobile that runs on hydrogen within the next 10 years or sooner.

It's already been done, you... retired Chrysler engineer. That's not the thing holding back the mythical "hydrogen economy".

He also rabbits on about "the Arabs, oil companies, environmental "whackos" and the liberals who want to keep us in bondage". News flash: "the Arabs" are #4 on the list of countries exporting oil to the United States.


I guess those evil Canucks and Mexicans and Nigerians didn't require special mention - or are they under the category of "liberals who want to keep us in bondage"?

What, you mean you haven't HEARD?

All the mirrors in America are broken.

Hey, you doomers! Yeah, you! Shell has a few words for you.

Ha...ya...they ran that add in my last Popular Science mag. I guess the "doomer" word is getting out in the public enough that Shell thought they had to respond. At least they are acknowledging there is actually a "debate" going on about the petroleum future. That's an improvement...right?

In a magazine I received yesterday, there was a dvd from Shell. It was a little movie about some shell geologist that invented something they call snake drilling which was supposed to allow for the recovery of millions of barrels of oil from small pockets around offshore oil rigs.

It was a weird thing for them to make. Probably not 1 in 100 people would actually watch it and it was about some relatively obscure innovation that will have no real impact on global production capacity. I guess it was just some fluff piece to try and show how smart shell employees are.

The shell geologist did make a matter of fact statement that all the easily recoverable oil has been used up. I thought that was interesting.

I thought SA had been using directional drilling for years? Has this not been used in most depleted areass to get the last stuff out, for some time now?

Knowledgeable people to the rescue. Who's been using directional drilling?


Marco, not really. The US is full of fields that could be redeveloped using directional drilling and modern seismic imaging. Major oil companies and big independents can't make any money on that kind of production, their overhead is too high. Most directional drilling is being used on unconventional gas and in tight oil reservoirs, and the business just doesn't have enough rigs or personel for redevelopment prospects.

Not as long as they have billions to levy against us in a media war.

But Shell:
Does it scale?

"Say No to No."

Isn't that cute. A message perfectly tuned to the ears of a people who've never been denied anything.

Good luck, you chumps.

Sound bites...sound bites...sound bites...it is the tool of all advertisers and more recently politicians.

What would be TODs sound bite(s) so that we have some "catchy" phrases to pass along to the masses?

"Say Yes to Know" - Get in the know on the world petroleum situation.

Any others care to waste a lazy Sunday afternoon brainstorming?

Saying "No" to "No" is not the same as saying "Yes" to "Yes";

and because I say "No" to "Yes" frequently, it doesn't mean I necessarily say "Yes" to "No."

If Shell tells me "no" I can't have $1.25 gas to whom do I say "no" that isn't OK while they make record profits?
...just a question...

What an image problem - good luck!

I think everything they are trying to avoid will only hit harder if they don't diversify into holding/building rail. Hey guy's GM is up for sale (cheap). Drop the car/truck and get building light rail...

IMO, the entire auto industry is toast. But the first to go will be The Big Three. Even if hydrogen proves feasible, the problems that plague Detroit will still be problems -- high wages, legacy costs and shabby workmanship.

The next chapter in Planet Automobile is going to be the "ultra low cost car." These will be manufactured in places like China or Korea (or maybe even in North America, but not under Detroit's leadership). These cars will be the most affordable to the emerging middle class in the developing world and to the ever-sliding American middle class. Most likely, they will employ old technology -- the ICE -- but be cheap and economical to operate. Should hydrogen ever become "the thing" the same Chinese and Korean workers will build them.

When the average wage in Detroit = the average wage in Shanghai, Detroit will start making cars again.

Peak: Ghosn of Nissan says they are working on a $2500 automobile to compete with Tata Motors in India.

Brian, Toyota has announced plans to do something similar.

They really ought to just abandon the passenger car market and focus on things like trucks, delivery vans, shuttle buses, heavy equipment, etc. -- the things that do essential tasks and will have to keep moving even when high fuel prices ground most privately-owned passenger cars. There are not that many companies in the world that are capable of making the heavy-duty stuff, they might actually have a halfway chance of competing in that niche. It is certainly the only market segment where they actually might have a chance of exporting anything.

If they really want to keep a finger in the passenger car market, they should cut a deal to import the cheap stuff from China and slap their own nameplate on it. That is what every other US company is doing that wants to stay in business.

The auto companies cannot abandon the passenger car market because almost no one else has either. This has to be a consumer driven change. So long as consumers will buy SUVs then the auto companies will continue to make SUVs. Since consumers won't change until it becomes extremely painful, you can expect things to get even more painful for the auto companies.

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

From today's Drumbeat:

The following positive things will occur when this hydrogen-powered vehicle becomes reality:

We will be released from bondage to the Arabs and big oil companies.

The raw material - sea water - is an endless source of hydrogen and it is free.


It seems to me that the idea of using nuclear power to hydrolyze water has been pretty well hashed out here in the OilDrum and basically found wanting.

The author of this piece says he is a specialist in transporting liquid hydrogen for rocket fuel--after it has already been made. I don't see any nuclear or chemical engineering credentials listed, and I certainly don't have any -- but the project seems daunting.

Also, I just watched "who killed the electric car" again last night, and I was struck by something I missed before -- the death of the recent electric car project coincided with the Bush Administration announcing a major push for the development of a Hydrogen Economy.

Is this all a diversion? Is the global financial elite steering us over the cliff? Can the driver see, or are the blind leading the blind?

Not to mention the effect Climate Change will have on nuclear power plants:

Climate change puts nuclear energy into hot water

"We're going to have to solve the climate-change problem if we're going to have nuclear power, not the other way around," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who is with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

"As the climate warms up, nuclear power plants are less able to deliver," he said.

And I see the water problem also makes an appearance.

Finding enough water for nuclear plants "is front and center of everything we will do in the future," said Craig Nesbit, a spokesman at Exelon, a Chicago-based company operating the largest group of U.S. nuclear plants.

It's a good article, and the main theme is very true. However, it might also be worth pointing out that the "thirst" of light water reactors seems like a good argument for building breeder reactors, which use liquid metal for cooling.

From the article:

Anti-nuclear groups have pounced on the difficulties faced by the industry in France.

"Nuclear power actually is worsening the effects of climate change already under way," said Stéphane Lhomme, a spokesman for the French anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucléaire, or Get Out of Nuclear.

Plant life and fish are damaged by "dumping vast amounts of hot water into rivers and by evaporating larger and larger amounts of water," he said.

I suppose it would be impolite to mention that the same anti-nuke groups were instrumental in stopping France's breeder reactor program.

Wikipedia has an informative page on breeders:


As Wiki points out:

Water cannot be used as the primary coolant since it acts as a moderator, slowing neutrons to thermal levels and preventing the breeding of uranium-238 into plutonium 239.

There are no active breeder reactors anywhere in the world. The few that were built have all been shut down because they did not make sense either from an economical or from an energy standpoint. Given the billion dollar investments, these decisions were not taken lightly.

Still, it's impossible to make people understand that as we are entering a world of less available energy and money, breeders make even less sense than they did before.

The same goes for the Alberta tarsands: the return on investment, be it in energy or financial terms, is simply too low to make it viable. The tarsands industry will strangle itself through a combination of problems with money, water, natural gas, and other terms. The notion that it will be taken over by for instance the military, which cares not for net energy, is naive: they do. Not even the Army can afford to spend a barrel of oil to get a barrel back.

Breeders will probably be touted and built, only to be abandoned once the new reality sets in that comes with moving from a world of energy surplus to one of energy constraint. This transition is very hard for people to understand, so much so that Shell, Total, Statoil et al are investing billions in Alberta, all of which will disappear in the sand.

It's a transition that will lead to utter despair: first we can't understand, and once we do, we don't want to. We are so stuck in that idea of energy surplus that we can only come up with "solutions" that require a lot of energy. Just look at all the posts on this forum about "energy-saving" vehicles. The peak of not getting it. The age of the automobile is over, never to return.

The energy's truly not there anymore, and much of what remains will be used on dead ends. That is the essence of Receding Horizons.

The link between available energy and available capital is especially poorly understood: we live in a world of printing presses, and think that's just the way it will always be. But as your energy goes down, so must your cash. That is already happening of course; as it takes ever more energy and money to get those barrels of oil, we all get poorer fast.

For now that remains hidden (but not for long), we shift the burden to the weakest members of society: the old, the sick, and the black, here and abroad, at ever increasing levels, as well as the rest of the natural world.

There's another shift, towards the future of our children. We spread our waste through both time and space.

The average child in the US is born with well over $100.000 in debt to her name. She will have to pay that back, plus interest, with ever less energy available to do so. That is impossible. And we expect her to go out and build breeders?! Those same things we shut down because we lost too much on them? Don't think so.

You are mistaken. The BN-600 reactor is still operational and there is commitment to build the BN-800.

Fast breeder reactors are the only type of nuclear reactor worth building. The current crop waste energy by producing "waste" that is stockpiled waiting to be buried somewhere.

Beloyarsk-3 is a fast neutron reactor that as far as anybody on the outside knows has never bred. Even if it has, it must have been miniscule, or its achievements would have been used long ago as an argument to build more of the same.

As it stands, after decades of trying to build working breeders, the net result is most likely zero. Since breeding, even in theory, is a complex multi-pronged multi-step concept, it would take another two decades, supposing sponsors might be found, to construct another such reactor. By then oil prices will be so high that construction costs will soar to impossible heights.

We will have neither the money nor the energy to build these kinds of large projects.

While Uranium is cheap and "waste" disposal can be deferred the cost of fuel reprocessing will be used as an excuse not to adopt the better technology. A standard pattern really.

As for "has never" bred. That's just your racist chauvinist fantasy. If it isn't done by the west it isn't worthy of mention...

Maybe it is just me and maybe I am being irrational, but the thought of all that liquid sodium really scares me. I understand the basics of nuclear technology and am not anti-nuke (I am extremely pro-safety nuke), but I do know what happens to sodium when it comes into contact with water. If a terrorist would ever succeed in creating a breeching event that ruptured those liquid sodium lines, that would make for one very, very bad day.

Liquid sodium is not that bad. The fire is actually a hydrogen fire and despite the Hindenburg hydrogen fires are not that bad its so much lighter than air that the burning portion tends to float into the sky. Of the class of materials that can go kaboom hydrogen is on the safer side. Next the reaction surface behaves like a hot skillet if you drop water on a slab of sodium you will see that the hydrogen lifts the water off and sodium hydroxide rust start to form. If you do the reverse and drop a sliver of sodium into water it will tend to dance on the surface from the vigorous hydrogen production.
To get and explosion you need to drop a pretty big piece of sodium into a pool of water to get it to submerge and really get going. Some people have been surprised at how hard it is to get a good old hydrogen fireball out of sodium and water.

But I've never played with sodium I promise :)

Fast breeder reactors are the only type of nuclear reactor worth building.

Thats only true if we're faced with a uranium shortage. We aren't. LWRs are a mature technology and if breeders are to compete they'll have to compete on more than just fuel efficiency.

Well, its also slightly true if you want to stockpile weapons grade plutonium, which is why the only ones that got funding were the liquid metal cooled reactors. Molten salt reactors just aren't as useful for weapons production.

Not even the Army can afford to spend a barrel of oil to get a barrel back.

Any one care to make a guess at how many barrels the Iraq war has cost, and how many they'll get back?

Or doesn't it count, if the neo-cons started it?.


Don't you know the Army only puts 20 dollars worth of fuel in the tanks so they are immune to fuel supply problems.
Also by naming mobile guns tanks they get almost infinite mpg if we had been able to call SUV tanks then the American people would have no problems. So all we need to do is takeover the moniker tank for SUV's and put 20 bucks in and all is well.
Especially if you drop a healing crystal into your new tank.
Do you think American are stupid ?

The depth of this author's ignorance is shocking. The editors that published this need to sit in the corner.

From the article:
"The emission from a hydrogen-powered engine is water vapor and any environmentalist should love that. Adding water to the atmosphere will retard global warming - if there truly is such a thing.

From Wikipedia:
"Water vapor is a naturally occurring greenhouse gas and accounts for the largest percentage of the greenhouse effect, between 36% and 90% [2]."

At the end of the article:
"Robert Parsons is a retired chemical engineer who worked in Chrysler's space division."

Sad, sad, sad. If I knew that Chrysler had a space division, I might have made an offer.

This "water vapor as a greenhouse gas" is a red herring used by the GW-denier crowd to deflect attention from anthropogenic GW gases. Yes, it's a greenhouse gas but it's a natural component of the atmosphere. Without it our climate would resemble the Moon — temperatures plummeting to -140° at night and such. The unfortunate effect of the anthropogenic gases will be to tilt the atmoshperic temperature balance juuust a teensy bit toward the warmer side.

I wonder if our politicians could decide to do something if the excess of CO2 were demonstrably killing people?

... but, reviewing the article, yes, that was a really dumb thing for the author to say ...

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

And one of the interesting side effects of higher CO2 levels is that it could cause higher water vapor levels, which in turn would increase water vapor levels, creating a nice positive feedback loop until the climate system gained enough energy to transition to a new state.

People do not seem to understand that climate is like a spinning top. You don't have to smack to top clear off its spinning axis to cause it to tumble. No, just drop a single drop of water on a spinning top and it may spin out of control. Just a tiny forcing can upset a previous equilibrium. This is why, even though CO2 emissions are often called "tiny" compared to other forces, that they can still have huge consequences.

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

Humans are born with a linear intuition. Knowledge of nonlinear dynamical systems behaviour requires an education. But the education system is all about pandering to the lowest common denominatior so most people are never learn anything about it. That is why the global warming "debate" is so inane.

Do you have a cite to any research on this point?

This runs counter to my experience. I think human intuition tends toward nonlinear thinking and the recognition of feedback loops and multiplying causes and effects. Education is what actually brackets that intuition into a rigid linear function.

As individuals become more educated and specialized, they lose their intutive side and become less capable of seeing social, political, or other trends.

You are claiming you have a natural sense of the response of a complex multi-variable system to a small perturbation. This is unphysical since it would require at the very least an approximate model of the system in your brain. Such a model and hence any intuition can only be developed after sufficient experience with numerical models (nonlinear PDEs do not have many useful exact solutions).

Education can be mindless training to establish a set of concepts or beliefs. This is not the sort of education I am talking about.

It is interesting how the answers that children give to various questions about physics have an uncanny similarity to the ignorance of the medieval period (I've seen a seminar on this years ago). So whatever intuition humans have, it tends to guide them in the wrong direction when it comes to physics. An example of the intrinsically linear nature of human understanding is the term "ceteris paribus" used in economics. This is a linearization assumption. Thinking about multiple changing processes at the same time is very challenging. If there is a bias in academia it is actually to look for a single cause and simple explanation.

Humans [many organisms??] are very comfortable at multi-parameter system dynamics, feedback loops, non linearity etc. Brains are analog computers. This is how you throw accurately, drive a car etc.

I agree that many have a medieval view of life. I suspect that is favoured by evolution too..

Being a neural network, the brain needs to learn to develop a model of the physical reality it observes. Nobody has climate dynamics built into their brain from birth. That a few scientists, with sufficient effort, develop an intuition about this nonlinear system does not mean everybody and their dog has similar understanding.

... though CO2 emissions are often called "tiny" ...

Forgot the irony tags in my previous comment.

The temperature difference between ice and liquid water is a fraction of one degree. Climate modeling scientists are saying a lot of things the Cheney administration doesn't want to hear these days.

And yes, I've seen Al Gore's movie, thanks.

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

Saw this article posted on another board-


Very interesting, for those who don't want to jump over to the article, it describes the chemical reaction that happens when water interacts with an aluminum-gallium alloy; the water splits into hydrogen and oxygen, with the aluminum absorbing the oxygen, leaving free hydrogen for a fuel cell or other purposes.

IF this can be developed to feasability AND the fuel cell can solve its own problems (like not using platinum for a catalyst) we might be onto something here... of course, that's also assuming there is no collapse of the economy before then either... none of these are gimmies...

Franc (penguinzee)

This cockamamie scheme is like a bad lunch. It just keeps coming up. It was just discussed here and here. One never knows, but I wouldn't worry too much about it making a sizable contribution to anything, anytime in the next century or three. Besides the "process problems" - chortle, chortle - there might be the issue of locating a small asteroid made out of the otherwise rare element gallium. It might be easier just to extract C and H from CO2 and water with nuclear energy and synthesize gasoline, rather than smelt aluminum, load pellets and water into a car, and then figure out how to extract the aqueous mess from the car, ship it back somewhere, and refine the gallium back out of it, and smelt it once again.

Sigh. Hard experience has taught me that professors frequently have genuine and considerable difficulty with the practicalities of seemingly wonderful abstract concepts and demonstrations. Worse still, this guy is a "Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering" - not Chemical Engineering. I don't know that a Professor of Chemical engineering would have gotten so excited over the well-known fact that aluminum is exceedingly reactive once you penetrate the oxide.

Some of the early discussion about this made me think: I wonder how impractical it would be to use sodium as a fuel, sodium and water. Similar to the aluminum-gallium trick... sodium is lighter, that would be one advantage, and of course there is no requirement for any gallium.

Here's one google hit on one way to refine the concept:


Of course the root problem is that we use too much energy, so all these methods for transforming it are really beside the point. Fun though to play chemical engineer... as long as I don't fool myself into thinking I know what I'm doing!

Bad idea. We allready have the perfect fuel and its called diesel. You can make it from water and limestone if you want, for a whole lot less than inventing whole new chemical energy storage regimes with associated toxicity issues.

Aluminum is incredibly difficult to reduce from its ore. The process is messy (producing CO2 as a byproduct) and requires far more energy than you'll ever get out of that mess as hydrogen.

A slightly cheaper route would be to just use sodium. Splits water, makes hydrogen. And metallic sodium is easier to produce, though it still requires more energy than you get out as hydrogen.

A still-cheaper route would be to take all the electricity you're using to reduce difficult metals and store it in batteries or supercapacitors. Or just put it on the electric grid.

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

Mother nature does not feel that reducing metals in general to zero oxidation state is worth it. I'm sure if it was useful a enzyme would have evolved that allowed metals to be taken to zero oxidation state. Hydrogen and Amines for example common common biologically along with sulfur the redox problems for all three are non trivial. So far mother nature in general does not feel that the benefits from metals are worth the energy cost.

The fact that metals don't grow on trees is the heart of the split between inorganic and organic chemistry and does indicate that zero oxidation state metals are not worth it so to speak.

As we get better at chemistry we in general move away from bulk reduced metals to higher performing composites made in general from carbon but also alloys and ceramics. Its mainly cost that prevents us from using advanced composites for more items. Bone, spider silk and the lowly eggshell still outperform most man made materials. Assuming we keep advancing technically the difference between biology and man made will blur and zero oxidation state metals will not be a big part of our future. I think we unlike Mother Nature will still use them probably by creating a biological like or derived system to produce them where needed but the quantities will be small.

The Times dropped the bombshell, probably without even realising it!


An EROEI of 3:1 for the Athabasca tar sands Hmmmm. Do they know what EROEI a barrel SA light gets?

If that is the stated return then it's probably closer to EROEI of 2:1, if the "law of receding horizons" is factored in. Oh and skyrocketing gas prices because of gas usage to create the steam. And those giant yellow diggers with the 10ft wheels that eat fuel faster than a jumbo jet on takeoff!!


They could just bury a nuclear bomb in the tar sands and blow it up. The heat and pressure would create oil, which could just be pumped out. No problem. Let's move on to more pressing problems.

It would make more sence to send the nuclear bomb back to the centrifuges and mix it with low grade uranium to make fuel rods for nuclear power plants.

I don't know if you're being ironic, but I have seen people here argue the use of nuclear bombs to turn oil shale ito crude.

It is a dumb idea.

Actually Hurin, if you read the Times article it actually states that they are talking about building a nuclear power station next to the sands to deliver the required energy!


BTW I agree with you. The fact that all this stuff is being discussed and done is the evidence. Now if they start talking 'Plowshares'.....

There was no mushroom cloud, but on December 10, 1967, a nuclear bomb exploded less than sixty miles from Farmington New Mexico. Today, all that remains at the site is a plaque warning against excavation and perhaps a trace of tritium in your milk.

It's just two little words.

I'm not really being ironic. It isn't any more far-fetched or destructive than what is going on now, so far as I can see. And if it really worked, it would save a lot of natural gas for other purposes.

So does it work?

There are all kinds of problems with it. For one thing, any oil that might be produced would be highly radioactive and too "hot" to be brought to a refinery. Then there's contamination of the area, including the ground water. It would be an environmental nightmare.

I don't know if you're being ironic, but I have seen people here argue the use of nuclear bombs to turn oil shale ito crude.

Actually, if as part of the deal you were to bury several million SUVs in the hole along with the nuke before you set it off, the conservation savings might boost the EROEI of the project substantially.


SequesteredSUV - it would make a good TOD handle.

cfm in Gray, ME

Marco, that EROEI is for producing synthetic crude in Canada. Does it include the additional energy used transporting the oil, the energy and capital required to refine the product into gasoline, the transportation and delivery costs of the gasoline to the convenience store? I suspect the actual EROEI of the Alberta bitumen rivals the efficiency of ethanol, much lower than is touted in the MSM.

We're gonna produce the tar sands. The miltary and cops will probably suck up the 3 million barrels per day that Canada projects as the production in 20 years, national security trumps everything else in the game. And EROEI doesn't matter to them. But we all need to figure out how to survive without fossil fuel.

The point is though that the Times article writes aobut both the low EROEI and the devastating consequences of developing these alternative hydrocarbon without realising (or stating if they do realise) that we would not be going after these dregs if the easy oil was still flowing.

They are all but admitting peak oil without actually stating it. The MSM just do not seem to want to utter those 2 simple words!


Holy Shit?

Yes very funny! I just get exsaperated about the silence on the subject. I've written letterts to the editors of the Times, Guardian and Independent now. I didn't even get a response, let alone a print. I was neither alarmist or doomer in the letters.

How are we supposed to formulate and implement a strategy to help save society when we are still trying to convice people we are not crackpots?

And in the same paper today:


Fears that the lights go out in the UK within 8 years

If the stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stages_of_dying then I'd guess the lack of refineries protest is a form of anger. That suggests the next stage will be some kind of bargaining, maybe 'just give me 5 gal/20L a week to get to work'.

Umm...I think we are just entering the "anger" phase in the stages of grief. That stage could last awhile.

Well, fellow TODers, I'm actually off to do some work on this spring Sunday. But before I head out, here is a link to the second article I've had published in the local SW Minneapolis paper The Southwest Journal.

The article is titled "No Need For Speed."


I'll learn to make those cool short links, I promise! My spring has been packed with extra outdoors work and taking care of the children!

re: asphalt prices, from 9-11-01 to today, the "world" crude oil price increase (%-wise) has exceeded the asphalt price increase . from may through october '06 the asphalt price run up was excessive ( about $ 1/gal up to $ 1.75/gal*) . prices have settled down to the $ 1.20/gal range since then.
in the us of a, asphalt prices are seasonal because of both supply and demand. as i understand it, canadian heavy crude floods the us market during the winter months.

* this data from the fdot asphalt price index

I love your rig! Didn't know it was a recumbant trike, cool!

In your article, you said,
" We are rewarded for speed. The true cost of this speed is not accounted for in our economy. " .. and your examples were good. I just find myself often thinking of another cost, as a fellow craftsman, which I have rarely been able to jive with the econ. models. The faster you work, the less a product costs, and for a manufacturer or for piece-work anyway, the more profit you can realise for the article (against labor cost). So when you are talking about craft/arts that depend on careful work, thoughtful planning, etc.. the actual value of what is produced 'seems' higher when those activities are curtailed, even though you could be making a better product if you could be really careful, fastidious, etc. But the industrial ethic insists that this is just a cover for sloth..

OK, it's really just a rant.

Good work!

Bob Fiske

Thanks, Bob!

You touched on a particular sensitive spot for me, too. Sometimes when I want to take time to do a job well, the person paying me will plead for me to just work fast and sloppy. The house for many people has become nothing more than a toilet and a telephone situated in an "investment property." The house is a financial instrument. It is supposedly a way to make money when they move on in a few years. Who gives a damn if things are done well, as long as they are done cheap and it looks OK for a couple of years or so?

This is what we have become.....?

Ah, well. Some people do want to pay well and have work done well, too. I need to remeber that.

More on topic: the recumbent trike is a terrific technological achievement. I really recommend that everyone ride one at least once to get a feel for how well they can handle.

From the cheap EZ-3 to the Trice or the Organic Engines SUV, to the upscale and expensive models, these can be a practical and wonderful way to get around!

I was shocked to read a somewhat positive article about the oil business in the New York Times today. For those of you outside the US who aren't familiar with it, the New York Times is a leftist publication. Its quality has been dropping for a long time but this article was somewhat decent.

A Wildcatter Pounces

There are a smattering of good statistics in it but this caught my eye, "A decade ago, oil companies spent $2 on exploration for every $1 spent on acquisitions; today, it’s the other way around. Exploration, which once took a place of pride among major oil companies, now takes a back seat."

What is "positive" about that? Acquisitions occur because there is no more greenfield to exploit, and consolidation is the order of the day.

Also, what is a "leftist" publication? Certainly not the NYT-- which is, and has always been, a shill for Empire and world domination. Fine goals, perhaps. But not by any means a "leftist" agenda -- unless the word is understood to mean "Trotskyist" or something like that.

Positive meaning they aren't trying to smear the oil companies as being shills for Empire and world domination.

Leftist as in, oh never mind, I am obviously talking to the wrong person.

Keithster, I hate to break this to you but the whole "leftist vs rightist" thing is passe. Dead. Fini. I know this is going to disappoint a lot of people -- politicians, TV preachers, think-tank weenies, and the like -- people who've staked their careers on "left vs right" thing -- but it just isn't relevant anymore.

It's a whole new day. Wake up and smell "civilization" burning.

The right wing will never be able to admit that it was their policies (especially the economic ones) and viewpoints/prejudices that are the major reason that we are in the hole we are in.

As far as I am concerned, every republican leader since reagan should be hauled in front of the nearest brick wall and give a cigarette and a blindfold. And it is the true republicans that should be doing the hauling, since they have been used and mistreated for 26 years by their so-called leaders.

At least I can say that I have known since 1984 that republican economic policies are nonsense.

The NYT is only "leftist" to those on the right. To "real" progressives, the NYT is faux left...essentially a gate-keeper of leftist thought; i.e. "if an idea is further left than the NYT, it is too left.” Their strong support for the Iraq invasion belies their "leftist" credentials. Try Mother Jones or The Nation if you want to see what the left really thinks. The MSM portrayal of the left is caricature and paper tigers.

You are talking to the right person - at least, I can understand what you are saying.

I just don't believe the NYT is "leftist" in any way that is meaningful. "Left" can be taken to mean any set of ideas that promote a collectivist agenda (we can solve our problems by working together and hammering out compromise.) "Right" by contrast, is any set of ideas that promotes an individualist agenda -- eliminate your competitors and adversaries, never compromise.

Every real person is a confused jumble of all those ideas -- and that is why it is so easy to spin and twist people's minds. Which is what the NYT has become masterful at doing.

Excuse me, but isn't empire and world domination a perfectly reasonable strategy for resource extraction corporations to support, as long as they can get taxpayers to foot the bill for the violence? Have you not heard of the East India Corporation and the many wars it caused?

The great Marine general Smedley Butler, in retirement, told the media that he'd conquered Haiti, the Domincan Republic, Nicaragua, etc, etc for our fruit and mining corporations. What, big oil is wimpier than Dole?

Which brings us to, how many times did the New York Times parrot Bush's lies for war? How many times did it not tell you that things were going badly in Iraq? How many times did it help Bush try to create an environment supporting yet another war against Iran? And why did the Times' corporate advertisers not mind all that? Some leftists.

"Its quality has been dropping for a long time."

Can you say Judy Miller?

Groundwater management continues to be a struggle in the farming areas of the Great Plains of the United States. The Omaha World Herald newspaper has an ongoing series on it. This semi-arid area, which supplies large quantities of corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, and sugar beets, is struggling from long-term drought and depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, the largest underground fossil-water reservior in North America.

Today's episode focuses on the Republican River, which feeds irrigation across large areas of Nebraska and Kansas.


German said it's better to use water fully while the aquifer holds out.

"There really is a natural end to this," he said. "When all these pivots start sucking air, people stop using them. The land is sold and it goes back to dryland. . . . There'll still be plenty of water for cows, just not enough for a pivot."

German says a continuing population decline is inevitable.

"The point is," he said, "all of us are fighting a battle over grandkids who aren't showing up, anyway."

See the links at the right side of their article for the rest of the series.

About the article on the solar-hydrogen house.
I noticed that not a word was said about the property of hydrogen of causing embrittlement in normal steel. Anyone who has studies hydrogen knows that a special grade of steel is required for hydrogen pipelines to prevent embrittlement.
My guess (the article didn't say) is that he is storing that 17,000 liters of hydrogen in 4 used propane tanks of 500 or 1000 gallon capacity at low pressure.
What happens when those standard steel propane tanks get brittle and break?
Glad I don't live anywhere near him.

Those 10 tanks are probably cylinders, unless he's totally bonkers.

I started reading it but gave up as it had too much fluff on Page 1 and there were another 6 pages to go. If someone did read it can they comment on where he gets his hydrogen from?

Is it produced on-site with solar power or is it trucked in?

thanks in advance.

Onsite using an electrolyzer.

The Air Car

The fiberglass MiniC.A.T. runs on compressed air, and offers zero pollution and very low running costs...

the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India's largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility...

Most importantly, it is incredibly cost-efficient to run – according to the designers, it costs less than one Euro per 100Km (about a tenth that of a petrol car). Its mileage is about double that of the most advanced electric car (200 to 300 km or 10 hours of driving), a factor which makes a perfect choice in cities where the 80% of motorists drive at less than 60Km. The car has a top speed of 68 mph.

Refilling the car will, once the market develops, take place at adapted petrol stations to administer compressed air. In two or three minutes, and at a cost of approximately 1.5 Euros, the car will be ready to go another 200-300 kilometres.

As a viable alternative, the car carries a small compressor which can be connected to the mains (220V or 380V) and refill the tank in 3-4 hours.


I had a good look at the air car concept a couple of years ago and something struck me about the viability of the concept in low temperatures. India may be good market for it, but something about ice [not ICE] in condensation makes it look problematic in North Dakota. ??

Has anyone else looked for a thorn amongst the roses of this otherwise engaging concept? I really like the idea of compressed air and I can see how NASCAR could have some crash and blow gladiatorial fun with this. Something really Anerican auto shop about it. Lotsa compressed air guys already out there.

Solution to water in air that has low temp is the use of an air dryer after the compressing state. My company runs air tools in a cold environment (during winter) and an air/water separator after a cooling device is the answer.

As far as energy needed to make compressed air, a windmill driving a compressor is the best solution for individual/community use. Compressed air could be stored on windy days in large tanks underground to keep it cool for water removal and pack more in during hot weather. Also the risk of explosion is prevented with underground tanks. For periods when wind does not blow, then PV could supply electric power for a scroll type compressor, or maybe just use Nat Gas in a small jet turbine compressor.

I keep worrying about accidents. Sharp stress on one section of the high pressure container could create an short radius explosion with shards.

But perhaps crash safety will be the second casualty after environmental standards post-Peak Oil.

I would advocate sacrificing crash safety first, that is a personal choice that may involve another person who chose to drive, but rarely 3rd parties. Environmental degradation affects all of and inhibits those that walk and bicycle most.

Best Hopes for fewer VMT (vehicle miles traveled, bicycles are not counted),


2000 psi cylinders for welding have been around for decades and are transported by truck. The only vulnerable point is the valve stem which must be shielded. I doubt that air tanks on a car would be any big deal as far as safety goes.

I have handled those cylinders !

Storing enough air to go anywhere (2000 psi is probably not enough) would require too much weight for those wide safety margins (engineering intuition). And, as you note, they must have one penetration for air in & out.

To get the ranges mentioned just off of stored air would require cutting EVERY corner IMHO.

Probably meets Indian safety standards.

Best Hopes,


You're right. 4350psi

According to their website, 300 bar 100 liter tankls made with carbon fiber.

Some cute pics for the end of a tough week

750 kg 200-300km range

Being developed as a bi-power 320kg runabout

this is bullshit. Nobody would like to drive in such a cart.

typical American, still on the extremes.

Why not to drive a Diesel? For ex. BMW 530d with 230 hp, 0-100 in 6.8 seconds and consumes about 8.5 Liter of Diesel per 100 Kilometers.

My Chevy Avalanche consumes about 17 Liter per 100 Kilometers.

I buy Westexas's export land model (250 to 500 Billion barrels likely coming as imports) and I've concluded it's all already spoken for with just the vehicles we have today. Certainly with the ones we'll build in the next few years before the process slows down. The thing we have to settle on is how much we are willing to sacrifice to do it.

The estimates and assumptions are pretty dynamic, but even 700 million vehicles (including busses and long haul trucks) getting an average of 20 mpg (probably high) and each having 200,000 good miles left in them. (many road haulers go to the 1 million mark+) would burn 167 Billion barrels.

The expected miles are high cause we won't quit adding trucks, and cars tomorrow and we may be forced to drive these out further. Then we haven't counted any of the ships, planes, diesel rail, ag/construction equiptment yet, let alone recreational vehicles, motorsports, and the myriad of industrial and household power modules found everywhere in the world. The military use is huge for heavens sake.

Point is there may be enough diesel fuel and gas tanks on the 'road' right now in the net import 'consumer' nations ,were most of the vehicles are, to account for all the ($10) fuel likely ever coming their way. We are literally driving the last of the dinosaurs.

Go with Alan's light rail (it's going to look good when the gasoline gets real tight this summer or next) Bring on a good electric car, change the neighborhood organization, develop a good neighborhood sized vehicle, or ride a bike ,but I highly doubt we will be able to drive large ICE vehicles in anything close to the manner we do now very much longer.

Of course, if everyone got serious about carpooling, that might change your calculations quite a bit, for a while anyway. Doesn't change the fact that things are going to have to change, though.

Carpooling may stretch it out some. Nobody wants to suffer the "indignity" of riding public transport or huddling together in a compact car. It's got to become shiek to conserve. But eventually we'll be doing all that 70's fuel crisis stuff and more.

There are more big SUV's around than owners who can 'feed' them. It's another 'sub-prime' level problem. What gets me is the people I've tried to talk out of buying a newer pickup lately. One told me yesterday he wished he'd listened.

If US planners we're looking at net exports they'd be hitting the 'reverse engines lever' on freeways, runways and sprawl now. They'd incentivize electrified rail projects so fast it'd make our heads spin.

btw a 'SequesteredSUV' plowshares program sounds great! LOL

Nobody would like to drive in such a cart.

Actually, that's not quite true. I would be perfectly happy driving such a vehicle to work (4 mi round trip commute) and around town. When gasoline gets up to >$5/gal (not that far off now), I suspect I wouldn't be the only one.

This probably won't be the answer for the people with 50+ mi round trip commutes. There really is no answer for such people, other than relocating or changing jobs.

You are right about diesels, though. I am planning on replacing my two cars as soon as I can afford it, one with a used VW tdi diesel, and one microcar - NEV or something like the above.

Have you considered a bicycle as a second "car" ? Or perhaps a "third" good weather, short distance "car" ?

Best Hopes for Non-Oil Transportation,


Yes, I have considered it, or maybe a trike with electric assist & big wire basket in back (better for hauling groceries). I'll probably get one eventually for some of those short trips. Our town has not gotten its act together with sidewalks and bike lanes, unfortunately, and while the trip to work is a short one the route is still too hazardous to attempt by foot or bike. When gasoline goes up to >$10/gallon, those hazards will mostly dissapear, though, and walking or cycling would certainly then become my primary mode. At least I live and work in a small town where I COULD live without a car.

Or maybe before that some other poor schnook trying to walk or cycle along the route will get killed by an oncoming car, and then the local gov't will get its act together and do something. That seems to be what it takes in this country - a sacrificial lamb for every traffic light and pedestrian crossing.

Huh? I drive to work and to the supermarket on a bicycle. That looks pretty luxurious and high end to me by comparison. Would anyone buy such a fancy overpowered vehicle? (Oh wait... you'd buy a Chevy Avalanche.)

If I did get a car it would be a diesel, and I like the idea of a compressed air energy storage system... if they ever bring it to market. But I don't expect to be able to afford that kind of luxury any time soon.

In India it is >100 F in most of the country from April through November. The cold air exhaust from the engine would be most welcome.

You know this idea has been kicking around for 10 years, and nothing in this article suggests that it is any closer to market than it has ever been.

MDI has researched and developed the Air Car over 10 years and the technology is protected by more than 30 International patents and MDI is actively seeking licensees, with according to the company, 50 factories in Europe, America and Asia signed already.

Business Week says someone has signed some agreement... and they publish an article based on that. A person might begin to suspect that there is some kind of fundamental problem with the power system that we're not reading about.

I love the idea, and wish that the reality will prove to be as good as the PR makes it sound.

I'm sure that it is very difficult to bring a new energy storage and power system to market... but if all works as described on the company website why has it taken this long?

It is, at the least, curious.

Well said.

To add, does anyone know of the energy required to fill this vehicle to 4300 psi? Sure seems to good to be true.

I don't know if these folks have figured out any good tricks - but usually when you compress a gas you heat it up, and then when you let it decompress it will cool down. So it seems like the air tank will heat up when you fill it, then get cold when air is leaving to push the car forward. Heat will be moving from the environment through the tank walls & this dissipates energy. Maybe they insulate the tank, but then the tank walls could overheat and weaken.

Most (all?) heat generated is at the compressor. Heated air coming out of the compressor goes through an intercooler that cools it down before piping to storage (large tank or car tank).

Same for discharge. Most (but not all) cooling is at the point of expansion in the car's engine. They probably have a heat exhanger at that point - lets call it an inter-heater.

Disclaimer: I do not know how the French Co. has implemented its system, but the above seems to be what they would have to do to make the system work.

Well, if this doesn't work out and all else fails, there is always an inner spring with a big key sticking out the back to wind it up. . .

From the NYTIMES article on solar homes:

The cost of solar power is a bedeviling problem, and 90 percent of it must be paid upfront at installation: Strizki’s system, not including the geothermal component or hydrogen-fueled appliances, cost $500,000. Donations from others and a New Jersey Board of Public Utilities grant of $225,000 reduced his out-of-pocket costs to $100,000.

I find so-called "solutions" like this offensive. Maybe someone can make the case that the state should be coughing up subsidies to private persons and their greed will help us all but it strikes me more like climbing on everyone else's dead and half-floating bodies. Maybe it will work in Cumberland Foreside, but it's not going to work on Grant Street in Portland Maine. It's not going to work on the typical middle class home in North Deering or anywhere else in Maine. The 1/2 of 1% solution and everyone else pays. There's your "political class".

It will only suck resources away from more reasoned proposals. If a state is going to make such experiments, they should be done with community property.

Talk about class warfare. Where is the hut for his Blackwater team? Will Mr. Strizki allow them into his mudroom to get warm or will they stay warm by burning the furniture and 2x4s from other nearby homes?

We - this country, the U.S. - isn't going to be in this together. Look at New Orleans.

cfm in Gray, ME

You got that right. It's "every man for himself."

But, wasn't that the central message of the "Reagan Revolution?"

To put a Northern North America located Solar PV->electrolysis->hydrogen system into perspective.

The Toronto Exibition Place 100kW Solar PV demonstration project cost $1.1 million and they have a mixture of panel vendors.

They estimated 22 years to reclaim the investment at $0.42/kWh under Ontario's Standard Offer Program. Which is allowing $0.42/kWh for PV and $0.11 for all other renewable systems.

You can watch the live output stats (requires flash) of the Exhibition Palace 100kWh installation in Toronto and see historical data.

The system has been online since last August and they should have a much better month this June, but the 100kW Solar PV installation poorest functional month was 1.8MWh (January) and best was 9MWh so far.

At the $0.42/kWh this translates to $756-$3780 per month or 24-121 years to reclaim the investment. At $0.11/kWh this is $198-$990/month or 92-462 years to break even on the investment.

I would think the real annual output will land in the center and at the $0.42/kWh rate, they will reclaim the $1.1 million in around 40 years if the panels output doesn't degrade severely through that period.

In higher annual insolation areas like California and Hawaii with peak electrical usage due to AC, solar PV is getting better for low-maintenance installations like a Walmart or Google roof, when the PR factor is taken into account, but in Canada, it's a long way off from feasible due to the low winter insolation and "Twin Peaks" electrical load with the highest peak in February when solar PV has no real output.

Once you are past the Solar PV, producing hydrogen byelectrolysis has a very poor efficiency. It's not even feasible with nuclear at $0.04/kWh, nevermind a Solar PV system at $0.40/kWh.

If the hydrogen gets used in an ICE, this all gets substantially worse.

To understand this, 100 kW peak Solar PV setup for $1.1 million at the demo project in Toronto is around 134 HP peak output, which it only reaches for a few hours each sunny day in the summer. Once you account for the electrolysis loss, the extreme loss in compressing hydrogen to 3000 psi to make it dense enough to do anything with and then loss in the fuel cell or ICE...

What makes this all even more silly is that a large portion of solar PV manufacture is electricity in electric arc furnaces to refine silicon. If they just made hydrogen rather than silicon, it would be substantially more efficient than making PV panels that don't have any output in the dark. But no one is considering nuclear->hydrogen very seriously.

Keep moving along folks... nothing happening here.

Once you are past the Solar PV, producing hydrogen byelectrolysis has a very poor efficiency. It's not even feasible with nuclear at $0.04/kWh, nevermind a Solar PV system at $0.40/kWh.

Why is it inefficient? To quote the relevant part of your Wikipedia reference on electolysis:

The energy efficiency of water electrolysis varies widely. The efficiency is a measure of what fraction of electrical energy used is actually contained within the hydrogen. Some of the electrical energy is converted to heat, a useless by-product. Some reports quote efficiencies between 50–70%[1] This efficiency is based on the Lower Heating Value of Hydrogen. The Lower Heating Value of Hydrogen is thermal energy released when Hydrogen is combusted. This does not represent the total amount of energy within the Hydrogen, hence the efficiency is lower than a more strict definition. Other reports quote the theoretical maximum efficiency of electrolysis. The theoretical maximum efficiency is between 80–94%.[2]. The theoretical maximum considers the total amount of energy absorbed by both the hydrogen and oxygen. These values only refer to the efficiency of converting electrical energy into hydrogen's chemical energy. The energy lost in generating the electricity is not included. For instance, when considering a power plant that converts the heat of nuclear reactions into hydrogen via electrolysis, the total efficiency is more like 25–40%.

In other words, if the hydrogen is used for heating, the efficiency is 50-70%. If the chemical energy of both the oxygen and hydrogen are considered, the efficiency is 80-94%. The low efficiency of 25-40% includes the inefficiencies of a nuclear power plant. Those losses occur whenever nuclear power is used, irrespective of the end use.

So, using the most pessimistic estimate of energy storage for hydrogen -- 50% -- why is it impractical to use nuclear power for electrolysis? Energy cost of $0.04/kWh becomes $0.08/kWh + whatever losses are incurred using the hydrogen to do work (fuel cell, combustion, etc.).

It seems to me the bigger problem is storage and transport of hydrogen, because of its high propensity for leakage and explosion. That's hydrogen's Achilles' heal, in my opinion.

It seems to me the bigger problem is storage and transport of hydrogen, because of its high propensity for leakage and explosion. That's hydrogen's Achilles' heal, in my opinion.

I agree. I didn't word that correctly: compression, storage, transportation and safety are bigger issues than electrolysis efficiency for hydrogen for motor fuel, but hydrogen is much easier to obtain by cracking it from NG or methane than electrolysis and would have a energy gain, not a loss (however small that is).

Where hydrogen is used in large scale and not transported, like NH3/urea production, the issue is that electrolysis hydrogen is close to the energy put in, and it's much cheaper to obtain it from something with a positive energy output. This would be why it's almost all obtained from cracking NG. We have several nitrogen fertilizer plants locally and they are seriously talking about building a pipeline for coal gas for hydrogen cracking to replace NG, but no one is talking about building a nuke for electrolysis. The efficiency of electrolysis isn't the problem, it's that hydrogen from NG or even coal gas has a high positive energy return even with the gasification as opposed to the loss (however small it is) with electrolysis.

SHEC-labs has a pilot plant where I live where they are cracking hydrogen from landfill methane with a solar supplimented process. I would think this has far more hydrogen output than electrolysis, and well beyond the solar energy input, not below it as in the Solar PV electrolysis idea.

Same as it ever was...

Big SUV sales increase in first quarter of 2007

2007 SUV Sales

When TSHTF these vehicles will be great for people doing car pool. How many can comfortably ride in a large SUV?


Hello Marco,

A big SUV like a Ford Excursion or a Chevy Suburban with three rows of seating can comfortably ride eight people. Carpooling at TSHTF-stage: probably get twenty people onboard; sixteen inside [eight for lap-dancing over badly potholed roads], four more holding on for dear life on the outside roof-rack.

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

Having already lived like this in Nicaragua, you describe it perfectly. We were packed in the back of small pickup trucks. And the roads, yes riding over huge bumps in the Pan American Highway was quite an experience. We passed many "highway repair" crews with shovels,pick-axs and wheelbarrows.

Wheelbarrows for road repair -- that's fantastic.

Bob would definitely approve. Suburbia will rise again!

Alleluja!! Suburbia is saved. Thank god some of the engineering problems I have to solve at work are not as complicated as this:-).

This article exemplifies why we have our energy problem: no one is willing to change their lifestyle, especially those that have money. I like the quote at the end about wanting to "drive his kids" anywhere they want to go and "towing the ski boat to the lake".

Those that can afford the oil will get it. Those that can't, well they can sit home and worry about where their next meal will come from.

Like many ignorant people in the US, this guy and the spokesman for Union of Concerned Scientists thinks it's just a problem of the government not mandating higher gas milage standards. They don't consider that in twenty years the population of the world will be 25% larger and the oil available to produce food for them will be 25% less.

No problem, just increasing the suck rate on the global straw, and speeding the day of reckoning and the cost of the adjustment when it comes.

In short just making the cliff higher, and the road to it shorter.

Party on!

Why does there always seem to be a high correlation between tensions in Lebanon and the price or crude/gasoline?

Islamic militants, security forces battle in Lebanon


Hello Dragonfly41,

If any society on the planet refuses to incorporate the reproductive warnings of Robert Malthus, Garrett Hardin, Albert Bartlett, or Isaac Asimov: then this society will default automatically to the machete' moshpit method of demand destruction when aggregate stress reaches the breaking point. Wise and early mitigation to optimize the decline path can help reduce this violence to tolerable levels if energy denial can be overcome by Peakoil Outreach.

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

Is it not something to do with a 50 year long proxy war between the east, the west, the muslims and the christains/jews?


Hello Marco,

Thxs for responding. Those wars are merely expressions of time-eternal inclusive fitness due to reproductive overcrowding, then resource-grabbing. Perceived religious and racial differences are just mentally-convenient scapegoating tricks in which to justify violent attacks upon 'different others'.

Compare with the immediate aftermath of the Toba volcanic event so long ago: there was probably so few humans per square mile density that I imagine, possibly for at least a few generations anyway, that there was no widespread need for tribal warfare; it was easier just to spread out into new territory instead of widespread continuance of just clubbing each other to death.


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

Bob...jeez...you are usually so mild-mannered. Why so pessimistic all of a sudden?

What I was really aiming at is that last year when we had the runup on crude prices, wasn't there a conflict going on in Lebanon? And then, the conflict subsided and so did crude prices..big time.

Just a bit of a coincidence, I'm saying.

Hello Dragonfly41,

Thxs for responding. My PO + GW attitude hasn't changed one bit, but maybe your perception of my attitude has changed. Nothing wrong with that, of course [it is a natural progression of reading postings]. I am actually a pretty easygoing, happy-go-lucky kind of guy, but really concerned with what lies ahead.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to do a 'Vulcan Mind-Meld'; we can only express fragmentary bits & pieces of our total mindsets in our postings. Semantic communication loops and other imperfections are tough to accurately overcome.

Please forgive me if you thought I was attacking you; I meant nothing of the kind--I was just merely expressing the sad Lebanese strife into a larger backdrop with a broad environmental Thermo/Gene Collision theme.

What you said as far as a Lebanese-FFs coincidence occurring is probably true, but I am sure there were other factors involved too; impossible to include all spectrum effects in a brief posting. Perhaps: the temporary Israeli bombing and invasion in response to army kidnappings, maybe a import shortage of some critical local good, a religious sermon or gathering that precipitated radical action and further social polarization, etc, etc.

As you well know, no change is ever a supersmooth plus or minus slope--jagged charts are the rule. Charting wars and other violent outbreaks will be no different. As the saying goes: " A time and place for everything."

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

A good friend of mine, long time peace activist and educator that teaches special ed kids to build rammed earth and bottle walls, asks me today - "what should I do, buy guns?" Are we going to start seeing bicyclists with little bioregional flags and AKs slung over their shoulders? If a gun rack is street legal, why not? Just try it! [I told her we can go target practice together but we should drive.]

I don't know anyone with half a clue of what's going on that's not deeply pessimistic. Some are pessimistic to the point of being incapacitated. That came up here at TOD in the context of how a person starves to death in some threads some months ago; it seems people can simply lose interest in anything and everything.

What's going on psychologically in the peak oil aware community?

I've seen the best minds
of my generation
destroyed by madness

I get up in the morning, wash my face in cold water, make a pot of coffee [imported from Ethiopia], and stroll through the garden talking to the peas and chickens. Then I go to work helping clients destroy the planet.

cfm in Gray, ME

What's going on psychologically in the peak oil aware community ?

IMVHO, fear of the unknown. Something I am less afraid of, even though I am (arguably) the most at risk frequent poster here.

The difference is that, for me, TOD is my relief, a hypothetical disaster rather than a real one. Much more intellectual, much less real.

Last night at a benefit (all day block party, donated drinks, beer, food, music. all pretty good) where 100% of proceeds went to help rebuild firehouses that France did not rebuild. That we have to go to such extremes because GWB will not sign the f*cking checks has a MUCH stronger impact on me than TOD and post-Peak Oil does.

I figure a slow motion descent into a Great Depression scenario with large elements of society in Grapes of Wrath desperation.


I have seen worse a mile from where I live. Slow is better than in a couple of days. It gives more time to prepare, physically and psychologically. And hopefully there will not be as many broken promises in the future.

Best Hopes,


This is from the Janesville Gazette (you may need to register to read the original but it is free)
This could be trouble if we are switching more from semis to train freight. Anyone know is this is a problem being faced around the country?

By Stacy Vogel
Gazette staff

Two Fulton Township residents held signs Friday as a Wisconsin & Southern Railroad passenger train passed reading "Gov. Doyle" and "Help us."

While it's unclear how the people holding the signs felt about the Wisconsin & Southern, they effectively summed up the railroad's message to state and county officials Friday.

The railroad hosted about 30 officials from the state Department of Transportation and several counties, including Rock, on a trip from Janesville to Madison. Passengers experienced rail conditions firsthand in the "theater car," which included plush seats and a transparent back wall to see the track.

Wisconsin & Southern President Bill Gardner said the railroad hosts several of these trips a year, but Friday's trip took on extra importance coming after two derailments in Fulton Township in a two-month span.

Gardner described the first derailment, Feb. 16, as the worst derailment he'd ever had. The incident cost the company $1.2 million.

Railroad officials blamed both derailments on the condition of the track, which is publicly owned. Much of the track in Rock County is more than 80 years old and was built to handle much lighter cars than the ones that travel it today, they said.

"That rail that was laid in 1924 is just not capable of handling what we're running today," Gardner said.

Passengers immediately felt the difference as the train switched from newer, 115-pound track to the 80-year-old, 90-pound track in Milton. While the first part of the trip was smooth and quiet, the train was swaying and noisy on the older track.

Gardner emphasized the need for money in the state budget to lay new track between Milton and Madison.

"We're really short of the funding that we need for this railroad," he said.

The railroad falls under a mix of public and private jurisdiction: The Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission, made up of representatives from eight counties, owns the track, the state owns the right-of-way and the Wisconsin & Southern runs the trains.

While the Wisconsin & Southern is responsible for track maintenance, the state pays for 80 percent of the improvements. The railroad and rail commission each pay another 10 percent.

The state has under-funded improvements for years, Gardner said. Meanwhile, it's difficult to slow rail expansion because local economies depend on it.

The next proposed state budget includes $11 million a year for state-owned railroad, an increase of $5 million over previous years, but much of that will be used to buy new track, he said.

Wisconsin & Southern would need $20 million to rebuild the track between Milton and Madison over the next two years, said Ben Meighan, head of maintenance for the company.

That's much easier said than done, said state Rep. Kim Hixson, a passenger on Friday's trip.

"We do have limited resources in the state budget, and everyone wants a slice of the pie," he said.

Hixson said the trip helped convince him of the need for more money for railroad upgrades. The railroad should be a priority, especially as new industries that depend on rail, such as ethanol plants, come into the area, he said.

"We're talking the safety of people, the safety of the environment and the economic issues," he said.

Hixson supports the additional money in the proposed budget but isn't sure if he could support the extra money the Wisconsin & Southern wants, he said.

"It depends on what we would have to give up to get there," he said.

Meanwhile, Fulton Township residents might have to be prepared for more derailments if the state doesn't provide the upgrade money, Gardner said.

"If the money doesn't come, I don't want to see it happen, but it's going to happen," he said. "There will be more derailments."

Many states have purchased track from railroads when it was sold off as not economical to operate. In other words the private railroads could not afford to maintain service on many lines because the revenue was not great enough to pay the train crews and maintain the track. So to maintain service to many smaller cities, states like Washington, North and South Dakota, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oklahoma, New Mexico and many others bought these rail lines. Most are operated by private comanies and pay a fee to the state to use the track.

Many of these smaller freight hauling railroads have had a hard time competing with trucks as the states still spend a huge amount of money on the raods/highways compared to the railroad lines. However, a great majority of the rail system in the US is still owned by the larger freight railroads (about 90%) and Amtrak (from Boston to NY to Wash DC plus a couple other mostly passenger routes).

One problem with getting more freight back on the railroads is that so much infrastructure was eliminated in the 1970's and 1980's as the RR's were losing money. Many major routes between large cities were reduced from two tracks to one track, greatly limiting capacity. And likewise many other direct routes were abandoned altogether, such as from Pittsburgh to Columbus, Ohio to Indianapolis.

Putting the infrastructure back will cost tens of billions $$$. But every year the states and Federal governments spend over $50 billion just on roads and highways. Capital expenditures for rail projects total less than $2 billion per year. Go to www.narprail.org and hit info tab for more details on spending on roads versus railroads.

wow mbnewtrain we are getting our asses kicked by 3 former warsaw pact nation and war torn Yugoslavia as far as per capita spending. Quite eye openers. Thanks for explaining that. Yeah our highway spending is sickening and its now 'highway construction season', which is our other season from winter :-p.


Hello Skylar,

Quote from article: "How can gasoline demand be growing if miles traveled data are heading down in the first quarter?"

1. More SUVs and big pickup trucks.

2. More waiting in traffic jams, then stressed-out drivers responding by energy wasteful jackrabbit-driving whenever possible.

3. I see a lot of people driving around on under-inflated tires. They probably are also not changing oil and air-filters when required to maximize engine efficiency and mpg.

4. Now that the heat-season is underway in the Southern US: I see more people using the vehicle's A/C, and wasting fuel in drive-thrus so they don't have to take the time to unload, then reload the kids, plus recool the parked vehicle's over-heated interior.

5. Greater ethanol usage automatically lowers mpg because of less energy content.

6. People driving without noticing the parking brake is still engaged?

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

IMO that AP wire article is not very well written... does not discuss the difference between total consumption and per capita consumption, and the bit about quoting a Mr. Tom Kloza wrt gasoline wholesalers is a bit misleading as one can look at EIA gasoline stock data along with consumption and price data and get the real picture. Additionally the article doesn't even raise the reasonable issues that Bob Shaw pointed out to you (that model and operation of vehicles makes a difference too.)

There is no mystery here... the US is growing in population (lots of immigration), the vehicle buyers still like large vehicles, therefore total gasoline consumption goes up with a business as usual lifestyle. Additionally, VMT statistics are not as easily gathered as gallons of gasoline in a tank.

It's rather depressing that the only 'political' party in the UK which seems to be taking peak oil head on is the far-right BNP. As the links provided above show they have actually given the issue some prominence and they must have a few folk researching the issue deeply. The BNP seem to be gaining ground at grass roots level in working class areas in inner cities where immigrant levels are high, and many of their prospective voters (low income whites) are not, you would think, going to be the first to grasp peakoil as a key issue. So its not really a vote winner for them at the moment. However no doubt they are planning a longer game, and see potential (as all extreme parties would) in the potential economic/social dislocation that PO brings. One point though - no matter how unpalatable the BNP are, it would be hard to argue from a peakoil perspective if you lived in the UK that the surge in immigrant numbers into the UK in the past decade is a good thing. The world as a whole needs fewer people, not more, and already massively overcrowded places like the UK are only making a future situation worse in the years to come (if you live in the UK).

I think the BNP is excited about Peak Oil because it means that someone is going to be "kicked out of the lifeboat" and for them that means the immigrants. Yes, they are racist and so on but really many are going to get "kicked out of the lifeboat" over the next decades BNP or no BNP. The BNP just knows who they're going to tell to walk the plank when TSTTF while other political parties are terrified of having to make that decision and prefer to avoid the topic all together.

I had a look at a couple of BNP sites a while back. My impression is that they recognise that they have zero chance of ever getting into government as long as business as usual continues. Their only chance is a crisis that shakes up people badly and makes them desperate enough to listen to more extreme voices.
By "getting on board" early they hope to enhance their credibility when the crisis comes, perhaps to an extent which will make it possible to implement their wider (somewhat facscist) agenda.

In that sense they are not so different from the extreme left, who see the coming Global Warming/Peak Oil crises as an opportunity to advance an anti-capitalist,anti-corporatist agenda.

The principle difference is the composition of the list entitled "First against the wall when the Revolution comes".

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

towing the ski boat to the lake

Every time I hear motorboat towing as a "need" for huge trucks I want to scream. I love alpine and cross-country skiing, but being towed behind a noisy boat never seemed like much fun to me. Any 30+ MPG USA car with a roof rack can carry a canoe or Sunfish or Laser sailboat just fine.

One additional benefit/problem with huge trucks I see skipped repeatedly in the media is their ability to run over and crush anything they hit. Wether real or perceived advantage, I see a lot of people driving them for exactly that reason. That's why high fuel taxes alone won't be sufficient to stop the truck craze. The government needs to require these rigs to have a certain level of safety for people in other vehicles; otherwise, it's just a continuous automotive arms race. In California, there is already a ban on assault rifles as being "too dangerous"; the same level of thinking needs to be applied to 6000 pound battering rams. Would you like to be hit from the side by an F350 while driving in a Prius/Smart/Civic/Fusion ?

Just for a moment hop on over to "cornucopia land" where technofixes can actually fix things and life has continued on almost as "usual."

One of the advantages of an electric powertrain could be to distribute power to a tow rig. The rig would have it's own electric motor to power itself and would exert basically no hitch pressure on the tow vehicle (like a Radio Flyer wagon). It's actions (accelerate, decelerate) would be controlled by the towing vehicle through the attached power distribution line. Thereby a tow vehicle need not be a 6,000lb behemoth to tow a large payload.

There are things called sailboats, and there are people who love the water so much that they actually live in them full-time. There might be something to be said for living in a home that could conveniently sail away beyond the horizon for a little while if things got a little too ugly on land.

Indeed. Isn't Dmitry Orlov planning to do something like that?

It might be less than idyllic if you throw in piracy, though. Might be good to get a mean-looking one; big metal ships can be had for scrap prices and refitted for sail use.

And say, what would be the chances of a rich family towing their ski-boat successfully though areas where people were suffering crash conditions? Hmmm.

One of the most prevalent arguments against better gas mileage is safety. But there are safety issues because of the arms race and the refusal to regulate bumber heights. Proliferate smaller cars and you make things safer. When I was growing up, the only time I ever saw pickup trucks was when they were driven by people who were clearly in the trades. SUVs, of course, did not exist. Let's start by making truck based vehicles for commercial use only.

I continue to be fascinated by what is or what isn't happening to demand in various geographical regions, because what at first sight seems as though it should be a simple picture, actually appears less so when one looks at the data (which is often fragmentory).
BP provide some data:


I have looked again at Africa through the years 1999 to 2005 (the most recently available), a period which covers oil moving from cheap to expensive. Here (according to BP) is the calculated increase year on year of African oil demand (mbd) in that period:

1999-2000: 0.41%
2000-2001: 0.69%
2001-2002: 1.43%
2002-2003: 2.26%
2003-2004: 2.95%
2004-2005: 4.2%

This looks strange does it not - as the oil price climbed in that 6 year period demand was not destroyed, in a continent which is on average the poorest on the planet - quite the reverse, it actually picked up. It will be fascinating to see if this trend continued in 2006.

Now part of the explanation for this is that economic growth in Africa since 2000 has actually been on an upslope - even in oil importing countries the OECD recently calculated growth of 4% plus in GDP.

I am not posting this with any particular point in mind, just to highlight that some of the assumption made about demand in various parts of the world do not necessarily stand up to scrutiny when the available data is analysed.

One thing to keep in mind is if by "Total Africa" BP includes all of North Africa. Note that from Morocco to Egypt there has been both population increases as well as some economic growth. In that time period also Libya has been slowly coming out of the shadows. Algeria and Libya both have been working on increasing hydrocarbon production also (needs to be checked.)

In other words, north of the sahara and south of the sahara are different environments.

Hello AndyH,

Thxs for posting this African oil demand info. I am not sure what goes into accumulating this data, but I am sure most Africans today would readily agree that they cannot afford sufficient supplies to meet their desired demand. Recall my earlier newlinked posting that detailed that bicycles were the leading inflationary item in Zimbabwe at one point in time:

Humble bicycle propels Zimbabwe inflation [Nov 2006]

ZIMBABWE'S inflation has spiked higher on the back of the humble bicycle, according to government statisticians.

The price of a bike in October was almost twenty times what it was a year earlier, as Zimbabweans frustrated by chronic fuel shortages opted increasingly for pedal power.

The 1,838 percent inflation in the two-wheeler market pushed overall annual inflation last month to 411 percent, the Central Statistics Office said on Thursday.

"We are selling more bicycles now than before ... Most people who come here do not complain about the prices, they believe it is a worthwhile investment," a Harare bicycle dealer told Reuters. "For us it is good business because demand is high."

Let's examine Zimbabwe in more detail. It is hard to gather sufficient info on this very poor and mostly-ignored country. From the latest May 15th update [CIA Factbook] on Zimbabwe:
Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 39.5 years
male: 40.62 years
female: 38.35 years (2007 est.)

Oil - imports: 23,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate: 80% (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: -4.4% (2006 est.)
23,000 bbl/day X 365 days/yr = 8,395,000 bbl/yr for 2004.

Due to worsening economic conditions: I would guess this has diminished by an additional 25% if we could gather total 2006 info, or extrapolate partial 2007 oil import data. Remember, prices of crude and finished petro-products have increased dramatically since 2004!

8,395,000 [2004] - 2,098,750 [25% less]= 6,296,250 [2007?]

6,296,250 bbl/yr divided by 365 days/yr = 17,250 bbl/day [This is my SWAG prediction for Zimbabwe in 2007]

In short: It is hard to consume much in the way of FFs if you are broke, and die young. But I could be wrong as it takes time for blowbacks to fully assert themselves. Compare with the 1997 Zimbabwe info from this link:

[The date is 13 August 2007 ???--timewarp?]
In 1997, the consumption of liquid fuel products was of the order of 1,4 million tonnes [for Zimbabwe] according to the US Department of Energy. The breakdown of consumption per product is given below:

Product Consumption 1997
(in metric tons)

Gasoline 350,104
Jet fuel 179,977
Kerosene 42,026
Distillate 749,944
Residual 0
LPGs 10,069
Unspecified 31,761

Total 1,363,880

According to reports from SADC, the present consumption is estimated at 1.7 million metric tons. The manufacturing sector and the retail sector use the greatest percentage of petroleum products. In recent years, there has been an increase in liquid fuel consumption, particularly in diesel, which is cheaper than gasoline.

Zimbabwe relies upon a variety of imported finished petro-products so an accurate metric ton to barrels conversion is difficult and time consuming-- so I took a shortcut. =)

From inspection of the table above: most of the 1997 imports was distillate and gasoline. From this EIA conversion table:

Density Conversions:

1 thousand cubic feet of methane = 42.28 pounds
1 thousand cubic feet carbon dioxide = 115.97 pounds
1 metric ton natural gas liquids = 11.6 barrels
1 metric ton unfinished oils = 7.46 barrels
1 metric ton alcohol = 7.94 barrels
1 metric ton liquefied petroleum gas = 11.6 barrels
1 metric ton aviation gasoline = 8.9 barrels
1 metric ton naphtha jet fuel = 8.27 barrels
1 metric ton kerosene jet fuel = 7.93 barrels
1 metric ton motor gasoline = 8.53 barrels ****
1 metric ton kerosene = 7.73 barrels
1 metric ton naphtha = 8.22 barrels
1 metric ton distillate = 7.46 barrels *****
1 metric ton residual oil = 6.66 barrels
1 metric ton lubricants = 7.06 barrels
1 metric ton bitumen = 6.06 barrels
1 metric ton waxes = 7.87 barrels
1 metric ton petroleum coke = 5.51 barrels
1 metric ton petrochemical feedstocks = 7.46 barrels
1 metric ton special naphtha = 8.53 barrels
1 metric ton miscellaneous products = 8.00 barrels

To keep things simple: I used the average of the asterisks, approx 8.0 bbl/metric ton.

1997: 1,400,000 metric tons X 8 bbls/metric ton = 11,200,000 barrels/yr or 30,684 bbl/day imported in 1997 for Zimbabwe. Compare with 2004 CIA: 23,000 bbl/day--quite a dramatic drop!

An interesting discrepancy-- lies or delusion? Quote from MBENDI link above: "According to reports from SADC, the present consumption is estimated at 1.7 million metric tons.

1.7 million X 8 bbl/ton = 13,600,000 bbl/yr or 37,260 bbl/day!!! Somehow, given the deteriorating conditions in poor Zim: I don't think that Zimbabwe 2007 has vastly increased from their 2004 import level.

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

Hi there

Can anyone point me towards an article that I'm pretty sure I found via TOD a while back?

The article was about how if you take inflation into account then most of the major stock market indicators in the US have been going backwards for a few decades, despite markets regularly posting record highs.

The article compared key market indicators against other things like commodities and metals etc to show that markets in general are dropping, not rising.


Yo! AC--wazzup?

This might not be the same link but it's the same thing: http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/2007/0416.html

You can just google "The DOW is crashing"

Thanks for that AC and Substrate. Exactly what I was after.

yeah, or just look around at the retired "401K" and mutual fund millionaires in paid for houses with enough interest income from their bonds to pay for $5 or $10 dollar gas in an SUV and still have left over money for cruises and golfing tours. Investing in the markets for twenty or thirty years really mistreated them, didn't it? I am suspicious of the Wall Street gang myself, but you can carry anything to the point idiotic returns.

The only people being damaged are the young people who are reading these whacked conspiracy theories and being made so cynical they are not putting money in investment for thier future. Instead, they figure if the crash is coming and their life is going to be crap if they survive at all, sink it in debt and enjoy it now.

We are destroying the young with this "doomster propaganda", but hey, the idea is to reduce the competition, right?


Hello TODers,

The iconic Clipper Ship, the "Cutty Sark" badly damaged in a fire:



Damn shame, I tell ya.


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

Basket of currencies?? yea, right. The article says it appreciated 36%. Sounds like the "basket" may be 98% euro's.
Talk about the Al Sabah's showing the neo-cons the middle finger.

Maybe now the US "brings freedom" to or rather "liberates" Kuwait ??

I am going out on a limb here,a very thin limb too, and post something I read over on a farmers forum this morning.

I am doing this to show a little balance. This site pretty much flogs the military and the republicans and especially the military BUT it never talks of the soldiers perspective that I can recall.

So here is something that I am sure will be very controversial. NOTE that I am not taking a stand on the issue publicly but I do support our troops overseas and talk to other vets about past conflicts on an adhoc basis.

For instance I spoke to a member of the 10 Moutain who in Mogadishu drove in the rescue convoy to bring out those about to be destroyed after they were cut off and the Administration refused to allow them armour. He spoke of having to dive under the Humvee everytime they would hit a blockade. Finally tired of constant incoming they just started shooting everything in sight. Like he said"if they are coming to the gunfire then they are combatants as opposed to running from it". I won't go into details but its likely I would have done the same.

I also spoke to a ex Navy chief who spent much time imbedded with Marine Scouts in Afghanistan. I speak to other vets when ever I notice one wearing his 'colors'. Usually a vest with something about 'veteran' on it.

So here is an oddity on TOD. A letter from a serviceman from Iraq. Please do not hold me responsible for the contents. I am just trying to balance the scales with something from the other side of the issue. Having served myself in harm's way during the cold war flying navy surveillance aircraft I always knew that the media and public had a huge misconception about the military.

However once home on leave I took a chance and wore my dress blues to downtown St. Louis to go to a dance at Soldiers Memorial. There was a Shriners convention in town that nite and I was never able to buy myself a drink all nite long. I kept getting handshakes and slaps on the back from those hell raising Shriners. Felt good for a change to be appreciated for placing your life on the line. I ended up my 5 years with reduced hearing loss due to the constant whine of engines for those 12 hours missions we flew 24/7. Thousands of hours of flight time can do that. I never asked nor take any type of benefit for that. I just considered it a price I would pay.

The letter I copied:Its rather lengthy.

Hello family and friends, Friday, 11 May 2007, 0100 AM, Camp Anaconda (Balad Air Base) Balad, Iraq

Well, we are in the month of May which is our 8th month in Iraq and our 14th month away from home. This month I will miss me and my wife’s 15th wedding anniversary. That’s pretty normal now, I’ve missed everyone’s birthday, missed Christmas, missed Easter twice and now I will have missed my anniversary two years straight. Our moral here is treading water, we continue to kick butt on missions and take care of each other even though we know the American public and Government DOES NOT stand behind us…….Ohhhh they all say they support us, but how can you support me (the soldier) if you don’t support my mission or my objectives. We watch the news over here; every time we turn it on we see the American public and Hollywood conducting protests and rallies against our “illegal occupation” of Iraq .
It is still like ground hog day here, day after day after day we continue to fly missions and kick butt. I personally have just flown my 80th combat mission. Every day is the same so it’s hard to come up with content to write this little Iraq journal update. So I thought I’d go with my favorite rant on how I hate the media. If any of you have friends or family in the media please forward this to them along with my name and contact info.

Hello media, do you know you indirectly kill American soldier’s everyday. You inspire and report the enemy’s objective everyday. You are the enemy’s greatest weapon. The enemy cannot beat us on the battlefield so all he does is try to wreak enough havoc and have you report it everyday. With you and the enemy using each other, you continually break the will of the American public and American Government. We go out daily and bust and kill the enemy, uncover and destroy huge weapons caches and continue to establish infrastructure. So daily we put a whoopin on the enemy, but all the enemy has to do is turn on the TV and get re-inspired. He gets to see his daily roadside bomb, truck bomb, suicide bomber or mortar attack. He doesn’t see any accomplishments of the US Military (FOX…you’re not exempt, you suck also). Let’s give you an example. Couple days ago we conduct an air assault. We lift troops into an area for an operation. The op goes well and we kill several, take several prisoners, free 2 hostages and uncover a massive weapons cache containing munitions and chemicals that were going to be used in a truck bomb. Next morning I wake up and turn on AFN (armed forces network) and watch the nightly news (NBC)…..nothing, none of that reported. But the daily car bomb report was reported, and the file footage was not even from the event. There was a car bomb in the Sadr City area and your news report showed old car bomb footage from another part of town from some other time. So we really set the enemy back that night but all he had to do was turn on the news and be re-assured that the enemy’s agenda (objective) was still going to be fed to the American public. We…the soldiers keep breaking the back of the enemy. You….the media keep rejuvenating the enemy.

How hard would it be to contact the PAO (public affairs officer) of the 1st CAV, 36th CAB, 25th ID or the Marines and ask what did you guys accomplish today? How about some insurgent blooper videos? We’ve got plenty of captured video from insurgents being stupid. How about the video that shows an insurgent getting ready to fire a surface to air missile? He is untrained and has the tube elevated to high. The missile leaves the tube and as it launches, its’ back blast catches the shooter on fire. Now that would be something to show on the evening news. Media….we know you hate the George Bush administration, but report both sides not just your one sided agenda. You have got to realize how you are continually motivating every extremist, jihadist and terrorist to continue their resolve to kill American soldiers.

OK, enough on the I hate the media stuff. Day to day ops are still good. It is starting to get hot here. Highs right now are about 105 degrees. I’m still good for another 10 degrees or so and then it will start to get unbearable. I am back flying night missions again. That is good because even at night the temps have not dropped below 90, so not having the sun out helps. The micro climate cooling vest has also been a savior. It really keeps your core body temp at a comfortable level. That really helps because we are wearing so much gear; you really get hot and sweaty when sitting in the seat for upwards 6-8 hours a shot.

I had a close call mechanically the other night. I had an engine malfunction just as I crossed the wire on short final landing back at home. Ten minutes prior to that we had just dropped off a squad in downtown Baquaba ( Camp Warhorse ) it’s a good thing it didn’t happen then because it’s kind of a bad neighborhood. Anyway I think we would have been fine, we just dropped off our passengers and were down on fuel so the aircraft would have been able to fly on a single engine. Right now It’s so hot that our max power available is being environmentally reduced so when you are full of fuel and full of passengers or cargo our two engine aircraft cannot sustain flight with just a single engine. So the engine malfunction happened just as I was lowering the collective getting ready to land. Since our helicopter has wheels we just executed a single engine roll-on landing to the runway. Maintenance determined the electrical control unit (ECU) on the engine failed due to wear and tear and not due to ingestion of “steel or lead”

In the beginning of my tour in Iraq I used to write about how I would get “pre game jitters” or a little nervousness prior to missions. Well, we have been here so long and flown so many missions and flight hours that now I rarely get any nervousness or anxiety prior to missions. I don’t know if that is good. We try real hard not to get complacent because as soon as you do the enemy or some kind of mechanical situation will sneak up on you. However, we do the same thing day after day after day and you get so good at it that it starts to become routine. Once again the length of our deployments is what leads to this. We have been here so long and flown so many hours and so many missions we get that routine feeling. Just last week on a mission the TOC (tactical ops center) sent me a message during my mission. The message stated that there was a surface to air fire attack (SAFIRE) on a Blackhawk on my route of flight at my next checkpoint. My reply was……”oh well, its just small arms fire and I want to stay on my route so I can stay on my time-line”. My door gunner’s reply was……” sweeeeet I finally get to kill somebody”. Well we took off and my trail aircraft persuaded us to alter our route to avoid the area. I fought off my laziness and agreed. That is an example of how being here so long leads to complacency, but with good crew coordination we overcame it. We used the most conservative response which was offered up by one of the pilots in the trail aircraft.
Missions, my flight company (Co. B 1-108th Iowa Army National Guard) has so far accumulated over 5000 flight hours since getting here last October. Our missions are still pretty generic. We carry troops to the fight, we re-supply the troops, we carry casualties, we carry heroes, we conduct aerial command and control and we haul all kinds of dignitaries. Some of the non-soldiers we have carried have been; the VP of the US , the SEC DEF of US, every General officer American and Iraqi and the Buffalo Bills cheerleaders. This month Toby Keith is coming to Balad for a concert and we are all torn as to whether we want to fly him or have the day off to attend the concert.

Please continue to pray for our safety, thank you.

CW4 Jim Funk

B 1-108 AV 36 CAB

LSA Anaconda

APO AE 09391

Airdale, my heart goes out to this guy and everyone else -- especially the Iraqi people -- who are stuck in that hell hole formerly known as Iraq.

So, let us not forget why all of this is happening: O-I-L...*

  • Oil
  • Israel
  • Logistics
  • *attibuted to ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    (and if Toby Keith thinks this is such a noble cause, I can show him where the nearest recruiting office is)

    Airdale, I just finished working in El Paso for most of the last year. My motel was full of troops and "contractors" which is the administrations way of increasing troop levels in the war zone while lying about the troop levels. Ft. Bliss, north of El Paso, is one of the main training stations because it is desert and mountains. I talked with a lot of the servicepersons. It impressed me a lot.

    Our Army, Airforce and Marines accomplished the original stated mission. They dismantled the "weapons of mass distruction" capability, and replaced Saddam Hussein in rapid order. But, there has been no mission since. Its impossible to do a job when there is no objective.

    The National Guardsmen in particular struck me as being some of the finest kids in the USA. They joined as a way to pay for their education mostly, and were willing to work for the benefits. And, they have been horribly abused by the policies of extending their tours of duty. I am really sorry that their service has been so used and abused by the tyrants in Washington.

    The regular Army and the contractors took that government nickle and I don't feel sorry for them, except that they are emmeshed in an unwinable war that is immoral. Our country is still littered with the Vets of Viet Nam and the first Iraq war living homeless on the streets. They seem to be decent people who are willing to undertake some of worst jobs in the world out of a sense of honor and duty.

    I dispise the US media conglomerates. They shamelessly instigated this war, and have not reported it at all accurately. This is a direct result of the take-over by industry conglomerates of all information sources but the net.

    My conclusion? I support the troops but don't support the war. I hope they all come home soon. They won !

    Thanks for sharing the letter.

    "..even though we know the American public and Government DOES NOT stand behind us…….Ohhhh they all say they support us, but how can you support me (the soldier) if you don’t support my mission or my objectives."

    Question: If neither the American public nor Government supports the mission and objectives, why is he there?


    Hi,,as to your question?

    Well I must say that I support the mission but not the methods.

    It seems to me that the insurgents have a battlefield and that is Iraq and they wished for a battlefield IMO.
    So I prefer it be in the MidEast then instead of here. They brought the fight here by not just 911 but by many terrorists acts(Khobar Towers,USS Cole,etc).

    Its for sure that they despise Americans and our faith. We however allow them to come to this country and live among
    us. Try to go to their country and dare to show the cross or anything Christian and you will see that they do not reciprocate.

    This is a complex issue and I certainly am not privy to much of the details but I do believe we are locked in a war regarding religious idealogy. That war has been waged on other countries and those countries have fallen to the banner of Islam whether they wanted it or not.

    But one biggie still remains on the table and for us in the USA it is a huge one. The treatment of their women. Its not just in KSA but India and many other countries. Yet NOW and feminists seem to duck the issue quite nicely by just being totally shutmouth.

    I also do not wish to have to pray 5 times a day whether I wish to or not. Nor be beaten with a rod if I don't.

    I have read the Quran. I have watched as Islamics attempt to proselytize young women in our country.

    Just the proclivities of the Princes of SA are enough to tell me which way the wind is blowing and who is faithful and who just shucks and jives with it.

    I am cetain that if I travelled to the outback of some far off mideastern country and joined up with some Bedouins that they and I would have much of worthwhile topics to discuss. However that is not the way it is being played out.

    I have watched enough heads being sawed off by these fanatics to understand what is going on. I am not forgetting either the burnt bodies of those in the towers whilst the Saudis our country were being given cushy flights back home . Then we find out that most of the terrorists were Arabs.

    So thats my views and I don't often discuss them with others but out here in the rural areas folks are not too sure that we are doing the wrong thing with this war. Most out here are very conserative no matter when handle they pull in the ballot box.

    I might add that the letter I posted was on a farmers forum website.

    So my views are ..yes I support the conflict but I think the methods are 'nam all over again. Fix the problems and get out. Those people will soon enough self-destruct anyway and so we don't need to be sacrificing our young men for this if its not winnable. BTW I always thought the torture of prisoners was wrong. Having been thru Navy Escape and Evasion training though I do believe that sawing heads off is far worse than a waterboarding. Neither is righteous. Do it clean with honor and valour or don't do it at all.

    I did vote for GWB. I wish it was McCain instead. I would never have voted for Al Gore.('so always remember the union label'....)

    but hey..I am a redneck,bubba,hillbilly,shitkicking farmer from Kentucky. Now gotta go kick some more shit.


    It seems to me that the insurgents have a battlefield and that is Iraq and they wished for a battlefield IMO. So I prefer it be in the MidEast then instead of here. (9/11, Khobar towers, USS Cole)

    I'm sure that the insurgents and the perpetrators of the various acts of terrorism are not interchangeable. The insurgents, for example, never left their homeland.

    Its for sure that they despise Americans and our faith. We however allow them to come to this country and live among us. Try to go to their country and dare to show the cross or anything Christian and you will see that they do not reciprocate.

    I'm sure that you will find admirers as well as loathers of Americans and their faith among "them". There are churches all over the Middle East; not that it matters: freedom of religion isn't a bargain, it's a principle that is held up in the West.. regardless of what happens elsewhere.

    This is a complex issue and I certainly am not privy to much of the details but I do believe we are locked in a war regarding religious idealogy. That war has been waged on other countries and those countries have fallen to the banner of Islam whether they wanted it or not.

    Are you referring to the Caliphate of more than 1000 years ago?

    The treatment of their women. Its not just in KSA but India and many other countries.

    Afghanistan was a valid target (though it wasn't the reason for that war), but Iraq was amongst the most liberal countries in the Middle East, regarding women's rights. Saudi-Arabia would have made a better target if that was the goal.

    I also do not wish to have to pray 5 times a day whether I wish to or not. Nor be beaten with a rod if I don't.

    What is this information for?

    I have read the Quran. I have watched as Islamics attempt to proselytize young women in our country.

    Again: freedom of religion, within the bounds of the law.
    Regarding the soldier, he seems caught between his training to obey orders, and the general criticism of almost everyone on those orders. Why does he think that he is not supported by either the government or the people? I'm still unsure why it is difficult to understand that "supporting the troops" and criticizing the goals and methods of the war can't go together. Isn't the general reluctance to continue the armed presence in Iraq an expression of concern for the wellbeing and safety of the troops?

    I am doing this to show a little balance. This site pretty much flogs the military and the republicans and especially the military BUT it never talks of the soldiers perspective that I can recall.

    Fair enough, from my POV, although others may argue it's off topic. I would argue that the soldiers POV is a much more limited concern than, say, the policy responsible for his circumstance.

    I think that debate on policy is magnitudes more important than whether the troops are supported or not. In fact I think it's a non-issue. Which brings me to the next quote.

    how can you support me (the soldier) if you don’t support my mission or my objectives.

    This was a major recognition for me in my time of service; after one signs the dotted line into service you are the state's property. A TOOL.

    You might guess, I only spent one hitch as a tool for the state.

    In general, regarding support/no support for troops. If they serve their time honorably I support their service in a role as soldier. Same distinction as regarding support for, say, POTUS vs the man in the position.

    As I said above this is a non-issue and is being used by various parties for various reasons. In deference
    to this forum I will not comment further.

    Where IS that 'Theory of Everything' ?
    Here it is !