DrumBeat: June 15, 2007

OPEC to Maintain Its Current 30M B/D Output Level

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Thursday that there was no need for the group to inject further oil supplies into the market in the face of rising demand, an implicit rebuke to the International Energy Agency's call this week for urgent new supplies from the group.

Basrah contains huge oil wealth

Oil researcher, Ahmad Al-Husseini, said that geological studies "in Iraq showed that there are about 530 geological complexes of good prospects for oil; about 115 sites have been drilled so far with reserves estimated at about 111.3 billion barrels of oil, which leaves 415 locations requiring exploration."

He pointed out, "reserves in the 415 sites unexplored for various reasons are estimated at over 215 billion barrels." He believed that regions and provinces rich in oil "will include in future nearly two thirds of Iraq."

Chevron Chief Touts Energy Security

"America is at a crossroads when it comes to energy," the Chevron head told more than 100 members of the Commonwealth Club.

Using California as an example, O'Reilly said that in 1910, California accounted for 25 percent of the world's oil production. By 1985, California produced only 60 percent of the oil it consumed and the rest came from Alaska. By 2005, 40 percent of California's oil was imported.

Retired Generals, Admiral Warn of Dangers Created by Oil Dependence, Rising Global Instability

"It has been thirty years since we've had meaningful energy policy changes relevant to oil dependence in this country, and the acuteness of the threat has only grown in that time. Our situation will only continue to worsen if we don't make changes in our consumption levels. Two-thirds of global reserves are in the Persian Gulf Region. Iran has the world's third largest proven reserves, Iraq has the fourth largest. By comparison, America holds less than 5 percent of global reserves."

China Oil Imports Rise 11.5 Percent

Oil imports to fuel China's booming economy rose by 11.5 percent in the first five months of the year, a state news agency reported Friday.

China is the world's No. 3 oil importer after the United States and Japan, and Chinese leaders see growing reliance on imports as a strategic weakness.

Russia-China oil link nears completion

Construction of the first Russia-China oil pipeline is going well and is expected to be completed by next year, said experts from both countries.

The pipeline will initially supply China 10 million tons annually. It will gradually increase to 30 million tons a year.

The feasibility of three more gas pipelines from Russia to China is also being discussed, said Li Guoyu, an expert with the China National Petroleum Corporation.

A Different Kind of Power Plant

We humans have been harnessing nature for ages. Last Friday at Kibbutz Ketura here in the southern Israeli desert, I saw cows in pens and algae in tubes. Guess which excited me more?

But before you get too excited... ‘Dead’ biofuel-from-algae initiative leaves a stink

The virtual collapse of De Beers Fuel, which had promised South Africa bio- diesel produced from algae, has left a stink in the local biofuels industry.

Weekly Offshore Rig Review: Semisub Shift

For a little over a year, the RigLogix team has been working with an expert in rig demand and a mathematician to create forecasts of offshore and onshore drilling rig demand. Over that time, our team has generated a score of reports that analyze the ongoing and future trends in rig demand and provide accurate predictions of rig utilization and day rates up to ten years into the future.

Icy Island Warms to Climate Change

A rapid meltdown and fast-sliding glaciers in Greenland could raise sea levels around the world and flood coastal cities and farmland. The infusion of cold water could jolt the Gulf Stream, alter weather throughout the Northern Hemisphere and scatter fish and marine stocks.

Yet this sweeping reworking of humanity's global accommodations will likely be fickle. While Greenland has many people who fear what warming will bring, it has quite a few others who reckon they may do quite well by it.

Renewable fuels provision stalls energy bill

Senate Democrats, eager for a vote on energy legislation, ran into staunch Republican resistance Thursday to requiring that utilities use more wind, solar and other renewable sources to produce electricity.

China's refinery runs soar 10%

Chinese refinery runs leapt nearly a tenth in May from a year ago, the fastest growth rate in 11 months, as oil firms picked up the pace to meet accelerating domestic summer demand and tap a profitable export market.

ENERGY-CHINA: Biofuels Eating Into Food Grain Stocks

Surging demand for biofuel is now partly blamed for recent price hikes in the food market and for shortages in grain stocks. Wheat prices are at their highest level in a decade, due to poor harvests in key producing countries like the United States and Australia, while corn prices have surged by up to 20 percent in local markets.

Beijing has begun auctioning some of its wheat reserves to halt the rise in crops prices and prevent panic among the public. Despite predictions that this year would see another bumper harvest, Chinese government officials feel compelled to restrict the use of corn for producing biofuel.

Gas tax can't be suspended

INDIANAPOLIS -- Gov. Mitch Daniels does not have the authority under state law to suspend the state's sales tax on gasoline even when prices are high or fuel is scarce, the Indiana attorney general's office said yesterday.

An efficient alternative

Instead of forcing a costly and possibly unrealistic mandate on utilities and consumers, Congress should expand its list of favored energy sources to include nuclear power.

Swaziland: Petrol Pumps Run Dry

LOCAL service stations are running short of fuel, amidst rumours of an impending crisis in neighbouring South Africa.

Interviewed motorists fears attributed the impending fuel crisis to the on-going strike by civil servants in South Africa, which is gaining momentum by the day. Some also blamed the worsening security situation in the Middle East region, which is the largest oil supplier in the world.

Islamabad acts to cope with power crisis

The loadshedding is likely to be significantly reduced in the next few days, following a decision to release more water for power generation and purchase surplus production from private industrial units, besides expected fall in temperatures.

In a major policy decision, the government decided to set aside existing laws to allow sale of electricity by captive power plants (CPPs) to power utilities or adjacent consumers. While the generation companies were criticised for forced outages, the Indus River System Authority (Irsa) was asked to release additional water for power generation to reduce people’s suffering.

Tidal energy can help resolve Karachi’s energy crisis

The complex creeks network in the Indus Deltaic region, extending over an area of 170 kilometers along the 990-km coastline that Pakistan shares with the Arabian Sea can generate 900 megawatts (MW) of cheap energy, and adequately meet the power requirements of Karachi, according to a research conducted by the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO).

Power-generating buoys shelter in the deep

They look a bit like underwater mines, but they have a far less sinister purpose – the first of these submarine wave-energy devices should sprout up off the UK coast in 2008.

AWS Ocean Energy has developed an underwater buoy that harnesses wave energy from 50 metres below the surface. The British company says that because the entire device is underwater, it does not suffer from storms in the way that other wave-power devices do, and will not interfere with shipping.

Import Bingo

Live by the imports or die by the imports. With US refineries continuing to struggle, our fortunes with gasoline supply and price are becoming increasingly dependant on imports. And if we aren’t breaking records we have to rely on our broken refinery system.

Getting to Know: Dr. Eban Goodstein

Dr. Eban Goodstein wants college students around the country to join the fight against global warming, and he’s focused on getting Hispanics and other minorities involved.

...“What we’re all experimenting with is the creation of a new social movement,” he says. “In 2100, the world could be 10.5 degrees hotter than it is now. It’s a post-peak oil, post-water shortage world, it’s tribalistic politics, and it’s not a place that we want for our children or grandchildren.”

Oil debate's crude for thought (scroll down)

"The problem of the peaking of world conventional oil production is unlike any faced by modern industrial society," said Dr Bezdek, who has written two reports for the US Department of Energy on the economic impacts and risk management of declining oil supplies.

"Previous energy transitions, from wood to coal and from coal to oil, were gradual and evolutionary.

"The world is facing an imminent energy discontinuity that will be abrupt and painful," said Dr Bezdek.

The shape of the world economy: Is a global economic crash such as the one that occurred in 1929 possible?

Warren Buffet once said - "It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked".

Is it possible that the global tide of financial inbalances today will at some point fall like dominoes and expose governments and ordinary citizens that are financially over-exposed to indeed be naked?

Council backs people-friendly transport tunnels

Lord Mayor John So said transport projects, including the tunnels, were vital for Melbourne's future liveability, and would "solve our current problems and give Melbourne room to grow without choking on its own traffic. Our suggestions are driven by the realities of peak oil, climate change, road congestion and Melbourne's continued growth projected at 3 per cent out to 2020."

Citizens fight Nestlé over town water

Increased consumption is an environmental concern, especially with climate change being an important environmental issue in Canada, and recent dialogue on peak oil. Fossil fuels are used for packaging, for transporting bottles and running both the industry and recycling plants. Polyethylene terepthalate (PET), derived from crude oil, is commonly used for water bottles. More than 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to supply the annual American demand for bottled water. As stated by the Earth Policy Institute in 2006, this is “enough to fuel around 100,000 U.S. cars for a year.” Globally, this figure totals 2.7 million tons of plastic used for this market each year.

Hyperion plans first U.S. refinery since 1976

Little-known, privately held Hyperion Resources Inc. said on Wednesday it plans to build an $8 billion oil refinery, the first in the United States since 1976, at one of several sites under consideration in the U.S. Midwest.

The Day “Peak Oil” Became a Household Word

Matt Drudge has just taken Peak Oil mainstream.

Up until today, you could randomly ask 10 people on the street what “Peak Oil” is and you’d get a blank stare from at least nine of them. I’d wager that as of yesterday, Drudge himself would have been among that vast majority.

ExxonMobil spending less to find oil than in 1981

Count on high gas prices sticking around: ExxonMobil turned a $39.5 billion profit last year on sales of $365.4 billion - more than any other corporation ever.

Yet it isn't making the investment in finding new oil that it did in 1981.

New York's Bloomberg takes SUV to green car event

It's not easy going green.

Just ask New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

He arrived at a green car initiative on Thursday at the American Museum of Natural History in a small motorcade of fuel-guzzling sport utility vehicles.

Fuel plan backed by carmakers offered in Senate

Congressional allies of major automakers put forward a proposal on Thursday challenging the leading Senate plan to force the industry to make vehicles that go significantly further on a gallon of gasoline.

Al Gore: G8 agreement on climate change a "disgrace"

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore denounced a deal by world leaders on curbing greenhouse gases as "a disgrace disguised as an achievement," saying on Thursday the agreement struck last week was insufficient.

The dedicated climate crusader, whose 2006 global warming documentary won an Oscar, said leaders at last week's G8 summit in Germany had not risen to the challenge to respond to what he calls a "planetary emergency."

Could some win with global warming?

It's not in Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation, but there are some upsides to global warming.

Northern homes could save on heating fuel. Rust Belt cities might stop losing snowbirds to the South. Canadian farmers could harvest bumper crops. Greenland may become awash in cod and oil riches. Shippers could count on an Arctic shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific. Forests may expand. Mongolia could see a go-go economy.

On the "Could some win with global warming topic":

I used to work at the university campus next to where they were constructing the Greenhouse Gas Research Technology Centre in Regina. Construction here goes year round, regardless of weather.

I was watching the crew put on the metal roof in February, four stories up in -25C with a 30km/h wind. I was wondering if they interviewed the construction crew what their personal research into the effects of Global Warming would be at the moment.

I would imagine you would get a two word research report and one of the words would have 4 letters. :-)

Could some win with global warming?

Some of these articles are so devoid of substance, it makes them hilarious:

Looking around the world, a list provided by Tol said the biggest winner in a warmed-up world would be — no surprise — Canada. It would see a 220 percent increase in international tourist arrivals by the end of the century

Yes, the man's an economist. Bright ones, those.

The only people arriving by the end of the century will be invading hordes, not tourists. You can tell by the fact that they come on foot, and carry guns.

Wow, 220% in only ... 93 years??

Just think of all the money to be made in Canadian tourism with an astonishing 0.85% annual growth rate.

Dr. Albert Bartlett, where are you?

I emailed Dr. Bartlett some of my stuff on the Export Land Model. He is mailing me an article he did on the topic 21 years ago. (Good thing that I never claimed to be doing original work on the topic.)


That sounds interesting. Please share. Read a fair bit of the nutty professor, but don't recall this.

He's sending it snail mail. I'll try to post a summary.

HeIs: I live in Toronto, one of the warmest cities in Canada. The temp increase necessary to make this town bearable from Nov to April would put the entire state of Florida underwater (along with other nasty surprises). Sounds like an economist.

"The temp increase necessary to make this town bearable from Nov to April would put the entire state of Florida underwater (along with other nasty surprises)."

That could happen.

Prediction of "business as usual" includes +5 C by 2100.

That's 9 degrees F. And that 9 degrees includes the global average over the entire planet, including the 70% of water.

We know that land will change more, obviously, so Toronto will change more, and we know that with GW the polar latitudes will heat more than the equatorial ones (roughly), and that winter temps will increase more than summer temperatures.

Consider the possibility of a 20 degree F change in winter temperatures---on average---and now include some extreme warm events---that's a pretty big difference.

Florida might not be all underwater, but could be depopulated of permanent residents because of the occasional Category 8 hurricane and the unwillingness for any insurance company to write anything.

Besides, it would be unbearably hot and humid--110F with 100% humidity for 6 months of the year.

Is there a difference between Economics and Astrology?

Economics can predict simple systems, but scales very poorly. The world is complicated, so complicated noone understands it all (maybe Buffet but probably not, i guess he concentrates of specific areas and signals).

Astrologers (successful ones) have a good insight into people and what makes them tick.

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.”
-Laurence J. Peter

Richard C

What I don't understand about these positive prognostications on the effects of GW on colder climates is how narrow minded and out of touch they are with what the reality may be. The possibilities are that we will see more severe storms and droughts and temperature extremes that would not benefit crops, and would not attract tourism (assuming there were much tourism left). There is no way to predict what locations might see any net benefit, if there is any to be had. It may be possible that some areas are better off, but I think the probabilities are slim that areas the size of Canada or Russia see overall benefits.

Worst of Drought Spreading Across South

"Seeing the effects this early in the year shows we are in a really unprecedented situation," said John Christy, the state climatologist and a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The arid conditions mean the atmosphere will heat up more than normal as summer approaches, making triple-digit temperatures more common across the region, he said.

The combined effects on agriculture could be devastating.

Seems adverse climate conditions around the world are putting pressure on food production, along with economic and energy factors.

We had torrential rain here in France yesterday. Whereas the rain caused no real problem for our vegetable plot, it seemed to encourage the deer and rabbits to come and help themselves to our plants. Even net protected plants got eaten. Looks like a major fencing project is going to be necessary for next year... sigh!

Triumvirate of collapse - Economy, Ecosystem, Energy

Good thing we're using all of that farmland to grow foodstuffs instead of using it to grow corn to make ethanol to put into gas guzzlers. :)

Oh wait, they ARE growing corn for ethanol. Hm. Stock up on your rice and beans this month! lol

But I thought the Ethanol was supposed to be for us.

"Shaw said the industry expects to export ethanol this year to markets in Asia, representing the first significant U.S. ethanol exports in several decades."

This article is from 2005 before Bush's push for Ethanol and before they got their story straight.


When food becomes unavailable because the ACREAGE used to grow it has now been converted to crops for ethanol production, people starve. Currently, they are now in poor nations that could not afford food exports from the US, but it will get closer to home. Currently in the US, the poorest segment of the population is at the going hungry/malnourished stage. With ever increasing food prices that will climb the economic ladder. With people having to spend a larger proportion of their pay for food, that means little to spend on other things. It is impoverishing the nation. The worse part, Ethanol producers selling Ethanol to overseas markets because they can get a better price. In other words, Americans go hungry for nothing. No fuel price benefit, only more profits for ADM and other Ethanol producers.


I work with several people in my county that help the Homeless and hungry folks in the area. Miss Jeese, ( I don't know her last name, but she has had a Documentary done of her life and she is writing a book of how an elderly Black Women can influence the Status Quo. ) Helps the Homeless in the Little Rock River market and Downtown areas. Yeah just a few steps from the Clinton Library and Glass House thingy they made it look like. She and I have been talking about what we can do she is working with state and local Poli-ticks to get things done. I work on a one on one basis and do food and bread pick ups and Ferry a few homeless to places they need to go. Usually when my wife is hanging out with old friends we do a lot more ferrying work. She ( My third wife )was homeless when I met her. She was not always thus, and dislikes those that are homeless by choice. Yes there are a few really totally lazy bums that just hang on the fringes of the world and like the freedom of homelessness.

I have Fellow Chef's and Food stores that gather old products up on a daily to weekly basis and I take them to where they are needed.

I know of one place to get free breakfast, 3 places to get free lunch and If you need free dinner there is always the Local Sally ( Salvation Army ). Several Homeless shelters work with the homeless to get them back on their feet and some of them are like small prison's. Heck even the State Mental Hospital has a few Homeless people living off the fruits of the land, The bill for my 10 days there back in Jan 2007, was 9,000 bucks, 900 plus a day and I knew at least 3 guys and 2 gals that had hit the 3 month mark and were just never going to leave, 3 square meals and one snack a day.

The other Mental Ward at Living Hope, tied to the Little Rock Branch of St. Vincent's Hospital cycles them in and out pretty fast, but there were at least 3 that had been there for over 30 days, if you have no place to go too on the outside they tend to hang onto you. I have not gotten my bill for my 8 day stay. It really was a bogus stay this time, no brain tumor or nothing just me acting like the slightly crazy guy I am when I near the end of writing project and walking in the heat without water to re-hydrate.

As the USA's housing market bites the big one, I will let you know if I see suits out there getting food from the free food places.

Charles E. Owens Jr.

Core Inflation

Definition: Core inflation is a measure of inflation which excludes certain items that face volatile price movements. Core inflation eliminates products that can have temporary price shocks (i.e. energy, food products). Core inflation is thus intended to be an indicator and predictor of underlying long-term inflation.

I find this so funny, but then again Im not an economist.

I still think it is more noteworthy that little is said about the expansion of money supply in reporting on inflation. Particularly given how much of that that has gone on in recent years.

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

the dow is up 100 pts on tame inflation news. sound like a blow out ? "investors" (apparently) reacting to reports on inflation instead of real inflation ?

Yeah - exactly... bizzaroworld again

Now, IANAE, however in my layman's understanding if you increase money supply, chasing a world of finite resources, that is by definition inflation (i.e. the ratio of money to resources increases) - this sometimes manifests itself in price increases directly, sometimes there is a disconnect.

Like the character Mugatu plaintively exclaims in the great intellectual tour-de-force that is the movie Zoolander: I feel like I am taking crazy pills!

When no-one around you understands
start your own revolution
and cut out the middle man

You're using the Austrian definition of inflation, which is technically correct but not the definition most people use, which can be phrased as "things important to me got more expensive". Obviously that's far more vague mathematically than measuring an increase in the money supply, hence things like the questionable definition of core inflation.

The two are related however. If fuel and food get more expensive, this is not Austrian-style inflation at first, but people are more likely to get into debt to try and pay for them which in turn grows the money supply diluting the value of an individual currency unit, making those goods even more expensive.

It's for this reason that runaway inflation is such a great threat, especially under a fiat fractional reserve system like the one we all use today. Hyperinflation has destroyed societies before.

Now I don't think this will happen to us because the causes of inflation are much better understood now than they were in the past. But it's worth bearing in mind.

"The two are related however. If fuel and food get more expensive, this is not Austrian-style inflation at first, but people are more likely to get into debt to try and pay for them which in turn grows the money supply diluting the value of an individual currency unit, making those goods even more expensive."

I think you have it backwards.

MONEY IS SUPPLY INCREASED(+12% increase for M3 Lately), THEN, as more money chases few goods, PRICES GO UP.

Mise where are you when we need you.

No, I don't have it backwards. The system is linked in both directions, that's why it's confusing.

Yes pumping extra money into a closed economy will cause prices to go up in general across the board. This is inflation Austrian-style. The point is that if a few prices that people are sensitive to go up, this doesn't technically mean an increase in the money supply (presumably prices went down elsewhere as people reallocated their resources and demand slackened), but the increase in borrowing that people and businesses will do to afford these essentials *does* trigger increase in the money supply, which in turn raises prices. So it's cyclical.

I heard it was;

"Cat rescued from Tree, Dow up 100 points"


Core Inflation. Yes. It seems stupid at first. But it works because when food and fuel are separated out then it's easier to see the effect of increasing cost of food and fuel *on* all the other categories. Providing it's NOT smoke and mirrors I'm glad we can see that.

I think the name of the metric is wrong. But if most people understand what the metric is trying to present I don't see a problem.

Actually, core inflation should be food and energy, the lifeblood of our economy. Longterm inflation will be significantly affected by energy and food prices. The concept that the price shocks for food and energy are temporary seems seriously outdated. As far as the other stuff goes, the stuff that is part of "core" inflation, I can mostly do without it.

While I am a perennial sceptic of measuring inflation disregarding the money supply, the core inflation method is valid in that the cost of the core goods is partially dependent upon energy and food, thus over time will reflect those items as well. By eliminating them from the 'metric' - we used to just call them measurements - the rapid oscillations are damped out much like shock absorbers [dampers] on a car suspension.

Core inflation is a much maligned concept, but is one of a number of metrics that are intended to be used in determining the amount of benign lobotomy by interest rate that the economy requires. I don't like interest rate volatility in principle, but given the basic structure of the system we have, it is what, albeit crudely, has been shown to work. Like a crude medicine with ugly side effects, but the only one we have been able to come up with.

What is of greater concern may be the amount of borrowed money in the stock market. If the interest rate becomes higher than the rate of market rise, borrowed money exits. Once that triggers .....The amount of borrowed money and margin is apparently, even as a percentage, at a recent historical high. Fun while perfection lasts. Good luck.

While I agree that removal of the food & energy components may reduce volatility from the index, the problem arises when those two components become persistently high. In this situation we are not merely factoring out volatility, we are factoring out a prime component of inflation.

I'd submit that it is pretty difficult to make anything without energy, and food is a form of energy. The cost of raw materials is usually high in energy component as is pretty much every other cost factor. That's why energy cost is such a major factor. Just because we don't get a breakdown of the indirect cost factors - even labor cost has an energy component - we don't see it as such.

But that's the reality. By measuring the delayed effect of energy/food costs rather than the immediate prices, we get a smoother and damped out indicator. While this doesn't give a snapshot of current conditions, it gives an averaging of the recent past. If these costs - energy and food - become persistently high, and persistently high by definition becomes the new normal, then they will show up in the core rate.

Anyone looking for an instant reading from core rates is looking in the wrong place by definition. I totally agree that energy costs are a main driver of inflation especially if attempts are made to mask reality by increasing the money supply. Sound familiar?

As we discovered - we should have known - in the 70's, you can't print oil. That debacle gave us the best part of a ten to one inflation of the currency and the demise of the ten cent cup of coffee. That's my core indicator and cheaper to buy and healthier than The Economist's 'Big Mac Index'.

At the moment we are skirting with wage undershoot in the US, so prices will go down or wages up as the debt palliative is pretty much pooped out. Not a healthy situation and very little if any room for error. Again, good luck.

given that the "core" inflation is supposed to eliminate volitility and as you state .... an instant reading from the core rates is looking in the wrong place... well, why not use a moving average ?
of course, that would give an inflation reading substantially higher than "core" rate and i suspect that has more to do with the invention of "core" rate than volitility.

...the core inflation method is valid in that the cost of the core goods is partially dependent upon energy and food, thus over time will reflect those items as well.

No, it doesn't. When food prices go up, more of people's money go into food, reducing the inflationary effect on other goods. The same efect happens for energy, but weaker: when energy prices go up, people spend more of their money at less energy intensive products, reducing the inflactionary pressure on other goods.

So, core inflaction turns a long time problem of inflation measuring (how to weight the prices of different products) into a short term one. That makes its measurements near useless. I really don't understand why you don't accept that inflation is seazonal, like the rest of the world.

I'll have to agree that you are right in theory. I also stated that I'm not enamored of the core inflation concept from the get go; I was merely attempting to make a case in its favor that wasn't being made.

What is interesting is that the response you have mentioned that would be expected doesn't seem to happen in practice. This is because, presumably, the cost of food and gasoline has been so small in relationship to other expenditures that the fluctuations don't affect consumption much for the vast majority. Those to whom gasoline and food have been major expenditures don't sem to have been buying much anyway as a percentage of the whole economy. Even Wal Mart seems to be weathering the high gas price storm. As has been pointed out in earlier threads, we may reach a point where a triage occurs between discretionary spending and food and energy expenditures. Statistically it doesn't seem to be happening en masse, as yet.

The cost of automobile ownership has so outstripped the fuel costs that the replacement period was the governor of auto cost. Food as a percentage of restaurant bills is not great either, yet the number of meals eaten out has surged - don't you love that word - in the last two decades.

It appears as though we are indeed heading towards a point where oil and food prices will become dominant factors in econometrics but at the moment we may be jumping the gun. The gun is now loaded.

people who dont live within their means have no problem, generally, in paying more for gasoline, it just shows up on their bank of america statement. the minimum payment may go up a little, maybe 1% plus finance charges or some goofy amount like that.

The focus on core does have to do with volatility of energy and food. For example, in the most recent run on inflation, energy prices were down. The other problem with food is that price changes cause so much substitution by consumers. From an inflation standpoint there is no difference between beef, pork, chicken, or beans. The basket changes so readily. It is true though that there is this persistent gap between inflation figures and money supply, and the gap indicates the inflation numbers are understating inflation.

With so much at stake, there is some other factor at work as well, because the markets tend to be the most accurate - albeit fickle - arbiter of data. The only indicator that accurately predicts recessions time and time again is the markets, and the same goes for recovery. This last decline and recovery of the markets also preceeded the decline and now likely recovery of the economy.

Is a period of peak oil imminent. Probably. But right now the markets appear to discount that yet. Maybe the problem gets solved when we are ten feet from the wall. Who knows. I know there are about 50 start up companies in solar electric power at least, and I could imagine the price of solar falling well below the cost of fossil fuel electric. I can think of hundreds of solutions, all of which can be implemented very quickly in the United States.

My issue is whether in response to peak oil, the first world pulls in all the lifeboats and leaves the second and third world in a state of disaster, as appears to be the strategy now. I do not believe the first world can separate itself in that way. The solutions have to be global in scope and not just regional. It is not enough for Denmark to be 100% carbon neutral (which it appears they will be in ten years time). Equally contries like Swaziland have to be provided with the same equal opportunity. A child in South Africa, or Lesotho has as much right to a decent life as one in Texas or New Jersey.

ResponsibleA. has it right, mostly. The money supply increase is not more interesting, though, it's the same issue. By skewing inflation numbers downward, that increase remains hidden. And that's the purpose of the exercise. Ditto for not publishing M3.

What people experience as inflation is that they pay more tomorrow for the same items than they did today. Taking out food and energy is a veiled attempt at hiding that, or confusing them.

There is an instrument the B(L)S uses that is even smarter than the core CPI index, namely hedonic regression. Simplified: if you paid $1000 for a computer 2 years ago, and you pay $1500 today for a similar one, you would seem to pay more. No, says the BLS. Today's machine is twice as fast, so you should expect to pay $2000. They then count this as anti-inflationary. Really.

The underlying problem of course is that nobody knows what the real inflation numbers are. John Williams does a great job at Shadowstats, but even for him it remains a matter of guesstimating.

I would say we can make this very simple, and go the Austrian way: Inflation equals money supply increase. John Williams sets 2007 inflation at 6%, vs the official 2.5%. But he puts M3 at around 11%, and that should really be what we call inflation.

And then we could go into the new money-creation instruments developed in the private sector, the derivatives vehicles, estimated for 2006, by FT's Gillian Tett, at $470 trillion. But, as the number indicates, that could easily become too scary.

I would say we can make this very simple, and go the Austrian way: Inflation equals money supply increase. John Williams sets 2007 inflation at 6%, vs the official 2.5%. But he puts M3 at around 11%, and that should really be what we call inflation.

The Austrians are wrong, because what's measured as "money supply" isn't at all like physical currency (paper bills), where you could conceivably count up all outstanding money and divide by the number of goods.

Money is not created in fact by the Federal Reserve---it is created by the banks who are in the Federal Reserve System when they loan out money to private people and companies.

The Fed does change the *profitability* and *ability* of those banks to make loans and therefore the desire to create money (increase loans outstanding) or destroy money (decrease loans outstanding), by changing the interest rates (price of money, wholesale) and reserve requirements (banks deposit a fraction of outstanding assets {loans to public} with the Fed, and earn no interest on it).

And the actual effect of the money supply depends very specifically on the 'velocity of money', and also on where the money is being used. As recently much of the money is going into financial assets, and sure enough there's inflation in all of them.

Also, a large amount of this money supply increase is going overseas to countries and people who use it as substitutes for their own currency, and others who just sit on it. And this increase in money supply does nothing for domestic inflation.

Monetarism as central bank policy was attempted in the early 1980's and failed its pradtical test, despite good theoretical attractions. Fed went back to controlling the price rather than the quantity of money, because it is the price which is what directly influences relevant human economic behavior (loaning money) just as it is the price which influences relevant economic behavior with gasoline.

And similarly, for inflation---the most effective way to get some idea of 'inflation', even if flawed, is to measure general price rises because everything else is worse.

And then we could go into the new money-creation instruments developed in the private sector, the derivatives vehicles, estimated for 2006, by FT's Gillian Tett, at $470 trillion. But, as the number indicates, that could easily become too scary.

All those private derivative contracts have two sides to them. Assuming that the relevant parties obey their contracts and they clear transactions, somebody wins and somebody loses. People have been worried about this for a bit too long and looking at the headline number (notional value) is not very relevant.

Example: currencies are traded in nominal units of zillions, but the underlying is quoted to 5 decimal points
(e.g. 1.3457 EUR/USD) and traders look for profits of dozens to a hundred basis points, e.g. 0.0100 is a big deal.)
It's trivial to trade $1M euros---and with a strong daily market move, e.g. 100 points, make +/- USD$10,000.

The nominal amount was a whopping '1.35 million dollars', the relevant amount is the +/- $10,000.

And bonds can change even less---so face value (nominal amount) of the derivatives are even more frighteningly higher, it seems. But that's not the underlying economic reality.

The Day “Peak Oil” Became a Household Word

I read this article from Whiskey and Gundpowder yesterday and was somewhat sceptical. Last night I watch CBC's "The Hour" (www.cbc.ca/thehour/), a pretty popular show here in Canada. The show's host, George Stoumboulopoulos referreed to the article from The Independant and actually said the words "Peak Oil". Who knows, maybe the Peak Oil debate will become a household word.

The host then went on saying there are "people who have been talking about Peak Oil for years", such as David Suzuki, Al Gore, and his next guest.......John Kerry. That cost me some fine booze and a new set of clothes.

Funny enoiugh George did a very good piece on peak oil in 2005.. I guess he is your typical news bimbo who doesn't even hear what they are saying themselves. Of course his brain could be pickled from the days in Much Music. I get the feeling the MSM has been enlisted to softly introduce peak oil into the collective awareness. Boil the frog slowly.

I wish we could afford the life we are living.

""Who knows, maybe the Peak Oil debate will become a household word.""

Monkey Paw time.

Most of us here will likely regret the day Peak Oil becomes a household word.

"Timezzz UP !" Says that crazy, hairy, ancient Bitch we all know and love so dearly.

Some people are just not understanding that the world is going to end soon:


Don't they read the Oildrum?!

Building vehicles to run on ethanol has never been in doubt.

The question that remains is simple: can ethanol as a transportation fuel support an American lifestyle that is minimally different than that of today?

As far as grain sourced ethanol I think the answer has been fairly represented as No.

Whether any kind of biofuel will provide a Yes answer is questionable but in my mind is not totally ruled out.

So the issue is not whether Ford can make hybrids that use E85, it is from where will the ethanol be sourced?

InJapan writes: "The question that remains is simple: can ethanol as a transportation fuel support an American lifestyle that is minimally different than that of today?"

So when we big 'Murican' guys press the pedal to the metal and notice that we're only going 85% as fast as when we pressed to the metal using gasoline, what are we big 'Murican' guys going to do? Press the pedal 15% father down than the floorboard allows? LOL.

The issue is if enough ethanol could be made, from any source.  I believe the answer is "no".  We can't grow enough biomass, and if it's made using fossil carbon it will run out.  The crux of the issue is that the carbon is dumped and diluted into the atmosphere, which makes it hard and expensive to get back.

This keeps coming back to electricity.  If we can capture and convert enough energy from any combination of sources, we will not run out of electrons to move it.

"The issue is if enough ethanol could be made, from any source. I believe the answer is "no"."

Especially if we're exporting a big chunk of it to Asia.

Ethanol doesn't need to replace all gasoline, it will augment the fuel supply. The hybrid/e85 car is an excellent transition technology that uses currently available know-how to help us avoid problems related to peak oil.

The carbon is dumped and diluted into the atmosphere but the beauty is plants are good collectors.

Plants are good collectors AND releasers of CO2.

Unless their carbon is buried for geological time, i.e. does NOT undergo normal aerobic decay like nearly all dead plants today do,

Reforestation is but a minor temporary fix to greenhouse gas emissions, unless we embalm the logs and dump them in the deepest ocean, providing fossil fuel for the intelligent cockroaches to evolve in 200 million years.

...unless we embalm the logs and dump them in the deepest ocean

Or we put them into long lived housing and furniture.

The carbon in the 1890 home that I live in was captured up to 200 years ago (and at least 118 years ago) and should have an additional century or two. Longer for the 1849 home across the street.

Multi-century capture is long enough to get past the global GHG peak and well into the downslope (where [speculation] the release of CO2 may slow Global Cooling back towards the norms of 1900).

Reforestation is but a minor temporary fix to greenhouse gas emissions

The deforestation of Iceland after Settlement is estimated to have released 6 billion tonnes of carbon. All fossil fuel emissions globally were about 7 billion tonnes of carbon

Reforesting Iceland with larger trees could capture at least twice as much carbon as was lost by cutting down the shrubby Icelandic willow and Icelandic birch.

Reversing GW by over a year is a worthwhile goal. And Iceland is not the only possibility.

Best Hopes for Carbon Capture,


Ethanol doesn't need to replace all gasoline

Why not?  The USA's annual 140 billion gallons of gasoline accounts for about 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions.  The gasoline alone is more than we can emit and keep atmospheric CO2 levels stable.

it will augment the fuel supply.

It does a poor job of that.  Engines able to run well on pure gasoline are inefficient on high-ethanol blends.  A fuel supply which includes gasoline does not accomodate ethanol blends well.

the beauty is plants are good collectors.

The 1.2 billion tons of CO2 can make about 730 million dry tons of herbaceous biomass (45% carbon).  Problem is, you lose about half of that in conversion to ethanol; you'd need to grow about 1.5 billion tons of biomass to recapture all the carbon from engines plus the carbon lost in conversion.

The "Billion-Ton Vision" paper only found about 700 million tons/year of biomass in the US today, and 1.3 billion tons in the optimal scenario.  This is won't recapture the carbon from gasoline, let alone diesel, industrial petroleum, fuel oil, coal and natural gas.  Any system which requires you to throw away half your energy and carbon in conversion from raw material to finished fuel is going to make the problem at least twice as hard as it needs to be.

We need to push the internal combustion engine to second place, behind the storage battery.  When we do that, the carbon–capture and ethanol issues mostly resolve themselves.

We need to push the internal combustion engine to second place, behind the storage battery

We need to push the storage battery to second place, behind the grid connected overhead wire and 3rd rail.

Best Hopes for Electrified Transportation, with a concentration on rail,


Thus falling prey to the "If we can put a man on the moon, why can't we..." fallacy.

Putting men on the moon was an engineering problem; so are most of the difficulties of electrifying light-duty vehicles.  Getting people to move to places served by streetcar lines is a multi–faceted social, financial and regulatory (among other things) problem.  We are likely to see a resurgence in streetcars and the like, but the trillions of dollars invested in real estate outside even the hypothetical reach of such systems (plus the American dream of freedom in the personal auto) will push even harder on that one, relatively simple, engineering problem.

Guess which one I think will crack first and fastest?

About 30% of American want to move into TOD (per polls posted by Laurence Aurbach), Build to satisfy that unmeet market demand and then see what happens after that#.

The USA transformed it's urban form in ~20 years (1950-1970) with gov't aid and policy support. I think it can do so again.

Best Hopes for the "other TOD",


# Once 30% move in, well past Peak Oil, I strongly suspect that another 30% to 50% will be waiting to follow them unless social and economic breakdown is well along.

To quote Kunstler, American Suburbia was the greatest waste of resources in human history.

It does not logically follow that just because we invested $XX trillion in building it, that it has any substantial long term residual value. People can, and do, make very bad investments.

I think I read another headline:


People do stupid things all the time, Keithster. I mean, you are walking proof of that...

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


As witty as your original post. Try posting something of substance. Just because someone is investing money does not mean they will succeed. In fact, most startups fail, or didn't you get that memo? Of far more concern is the real science behind what they are doing as opposed to another pump-and-dump stock scam from you.

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

Ford Motor Company is a startup?! Did you even read my post?

My god, Keithster... even within large corporations there are new projects and these are the equivalent of startups. Many corporations encourage this because they can afford to do so and even if 9 fail, all it takes is 1 to succeed to pay off the others.

This is a new operation. It is dependent on a fueling network that does not yet exist and there have been very real and credible assessments of ethanol as a fuel that show that it cannot scale. And that is the important point - the available science does not suggest that this is a viable path at all. Ford is pissing in the wind. They could work on hybrids but no, they want to sell giant SUVs like GM and for that they need a cheap fuel source.

Well I have news for you, Keithster, ethanol has never been cheaper than gasoline for any extended period and gasoline is still going up.

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

The atlantic ran an interview with Jack Beatty, who wrote a book about late nineteenth century called Age of Betrayal. His main thesis is that all that was won in the civil war changed for the worse after that, hence the title. Of interest for our purposes might be this question and answer, and I apoligise for the length:

What was the role of the railroad? People tend to think that the main change the railroad wrought was quicker travel. But you talk about it being much more transformative than that.

Before the railroad, America’s industrialization was hostage to America’s geography. As late as 1839 it took four days for goods to travel the 60 miles between Lowell and Concord, New Hampshire. In 1841, the railroad cut that to four hours. Four days to four hours in four years—vertiginous change. In a verb favored by railroad promoters, the railroad "annihilated" American space. Before, the railroad factories could not maintain continuous production for want of continuous supply of raw materials—floods washed out roads, ice shut down lakes, rivers, and canals. After the railroad, factories could run around the clock and goods could reach customers previously lost to distance.

And the goods were more affordable thanks to scale-and-scope production. In the words of the late Alfred D. Chandler, the dean of business history, scale and scope constitute "the dynamics of industrial capitalism." They make it go. Everything depends on them. By making more of something, you can make and sell it cheaper—that’s economy of scale. And from the same processes of production used to make one thing, you can make another—that’s economy of scope. The railroad, in Emerson’s phrase, was the "magician’s wand" that released scale and scope, and transformed America from a commercial-agrarian nation into the world’s leading industrial power in fifty years.

But the dynamics of industrial capitalism destroyed the viability of the free-labor dream. In the book I instance an Akron, Ohio, butcher. He fits Lincoln’s ideal: a small proprietor who slaughters local beef. Then one day Armour, a pioneer in scale-and-scope production at its Chicago meatpacking plant, drives a refrigerated car into Akron, and holds a sale in the railroad yards, underselling the Akron butcher by a factor of magnitude. He can’t compete. Scale and scope have put him out of business. If he takes a job at Armour’s slaughter-house, he moves down the class and opportunity scale from free labor to wage labor. He can still rise—but within the working class and only through collective bargaining. But for that he’s got to wait until the New Deal and the rising tide of the postwar boom. Cheated expectations fed the violent strikes of the era, including the largest strike anywhere in the world in the 19th century, the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which I chronicle in the book.

Scale and scope transformed not only manufacturing but farming. Mechanization brought continuous production to agriculture, and the railroad connected the farmer to the city and to the world market. Returns went to scale—to bigger and bigger farms. Lincoln’s farm laborer could not "put enough by" to buy his own farm—everywhere the railroad bid up the price of land. He could not rise. He stayed a farm laborer—or quit the farm for the city.

Still, the free-labor ideal survives in farming as propaganda. Preserving the tiny number of "family farms" is a justification put forward by the farm lobby. The Homestead Act was put forth by the Republicans as a supposed cure for the class structure congealed by industrialism. The idea was that the eastern factory laborer would leave the factory behind for free land in the west. But that’s not the way it worked out. Why? Because the land was not free—$1,500 was the minimum needed to set up a farm as early as the 1840s. And that was three years pay for the skilled factory worker of 1900! Small farms weren't economically viable. So it wasn’t the factory laborer who went to the farm, but the factory itself. Women’s labor, child labor, seasonal labor—all the aspects of wage labor that the farm was supposed to cure became a part of farm life. That was a bitter social turn. There was no escape from industrial capitalism.

This point about travel between Lowell and Concord is illustrative of the fact the technological innovation is actually slowing, rather than accelerating as conventional wisdom would lead us to believe. Many cornucopians suppose that all technology (energy included) is growing according to a sort of Moore's law. Transportation, however, is a major counter example.
Consider that about 168 years ago travel between Lowell and Concord was cut from 100 hours to 4, a 96% reduction. As the railroad industry matured and the diesel engine was perfected in the early part of the 20th century, this was reduced from 4 hours to probably around 2 hours, a 50% improvement. With the car and interstate highway system in the 50's and 60's this was reduced (ignoring traffic) to one hour, another 50% improvement. How about the airplane? Although the in air flight time might only be 15 minutes, it is not possible to complete this 60 mile distance by plane from door to door faster than one can drive it. And so, at least in this example, the fastest travel time available between Lowell and Concord has been roughly unchanged for 50 years. Now if technology is indeed growing exponentially, and given the previous growth rates, one would have expected by now to be able to travel from Lowell to lexington in minutes. Instead we find that the improvement in travel time slowed, and in fact plateaud 50 years ago. Those expecting technology to solve the coming energy crisis should think twice. Energy expliotation is a mature industry much more akin to the mature transportation industry than to the still growing computer/ communication industry.

So maybe the Concorde was Peak Transport?

Another great example!

It now takes longer to cross the atlantic than it did from 1975 until a few years ago when the last concorde was retired.

Same goes for the space shuttle. It was cutting edge technology 25 years ago. Yet despite all the super computers, great engineers and 25 years of tinkering with them, we cannot launch them with better than about 98% safety. There are just too many o-rings, valves and other parts. And now the space shuttles are being retired and old-fashioned rockets more similar to 1970's apollo technology will power future missions. And to think that when people watched the movie 2001 when it came out in 1968, the notion of humans orbiting distant planets did not at all seem like a stretch. If technology had continued on its prior trajectory we would indeed have done exactly that. As it is, one doubts whether NASA will really get a man on mars let alone even get someone back on the moon again.
We've reached a point in many fields where "progress" is running up against concepts like diminishing returns, receding horizons and chaos theory.

I'd like to say that I think the real problem is pretty simple the Space shuttle makes a perfect example. The shuttle is not made of off the shelf parts but basically 100% custom manufacture I see this time and again in all fields of engineering given the chance the choice is to re-invent the wheel one more time. Whats missing is making that leap to tested components that can really be put together we assurance that the pieces will work as expected and the issues will be more at the interaction level. This sort of scaled engineering remains rare or imperfect and its seldom used in practice.

I really think this is the core reason your seeing engineering really stall out. Now the underlying reason is generally economic, people don't want to pay for the "parts" and parts are generally overpriced if available at all. Thus the combination of traditional business and the natural engineering desire to build to much from scratch results in this sort of logistical log jam that stops us from moving forward. This is why I'm fascinated with open source software since it removes what I believe is on of the key constraints with traditional approaches.

We could have shuttles today that worked and where cheap enough for all to use if NASA had worked toward a commercial shuttle or better a open standard shuttle design that could be implemented by anyone. This problem is closely linked to Jevon's Paradox and probably is a variant.

Thats hardly an accurate description of our technical progress. It is in the best interest of several powerful(lol?) corporations to maintain the status quo on their cash cows: IE the car. Air travel is problematic for short hops because of bureaucratic red tape, not because the technology isn't there. Take a look at this:


That is an example of transportation technological progress. Unfortunately, it will only, if ever, allow for a shortening of flight time in long distance travel, as our aviation system and society in general is currently plagued by a symptom commonly know as 'lets worry about religious-driven madmen hijacking every plane in the sky and crashing them on our heads'. In that regard, the current limiting factor on transportation speed is ourselves. You can also look at the problematic JPods for another potential avenue of travel, or perhaps a glimpse at the future from Minority Report(only joking)!

As everyone here can agree, our current transportation scheme is untenable in the long term: it will HAVE to change! When that happens, a number of radical changes that may surprise you will take place.

In regards to our overall technical progress: the sum of all human knowledge doubles roughly every 7 years. Much of that knowledge has little current application in our daily lives. But as is often said here: the greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to comprehend exponential growth. You can look at this site for a brief example: http://newsfan.typepad.co.uk/does_human_knowledge_doub/2007/06/index.html

"In that regard, the current limiting factor on transportation speed is ourselves"

Yes but this is inescapable. We cannot build more roads, better freeways or faster cars to travel faster. As soon as we do this, traffic increases, accidents increase, road rage increases, policing also needs to increase, etc. This is a receding horizon. Yes the technology keeps improving but the impact is minimal. The biggest jump in transportaion was foot/ horse to train. train to auto or train to plane made for a less dramatic impact on our lives.

"the sum of all human knowledge doubles roughly every 7 years"

Perhaps so, but what does it get us?

Consider medicine (my field). 50 years ago a few million dollars (in today's dollars) and a couple years of research could get you a great new chemo drug. Today's it's hundreds of millions of dollars and 10 years. Say chemo A, now 50 years old, costs $1000 per patient and gets a cure rate of 50%. Chemo B comes on the market at $50,000 per patient. It gets a cure rate of 60%. Yes chemo B is better and more technologically advanced. In fact it takes several orders of magnitude more knowledge to create chemo B than was needed to create chemo A. But when we consider how much more knowledge and cost is involved, a "breakthrough" gets us a lot less bang for our buck than we used to.

Thats because medical research is primarily focused on treating the symptoms and not curing the problem. There are only so many different ways to pork a consumer with a feel good drug!

'Air travel is problematic for short hops because of bureaucratic red tape, not becuase the technology is not there'
True there has long been a desire by the general public for a small aircraft that would allow each individual access to the sky and direct routes from home to work or where ever. The FAA has stopped the average individual at every turn from access to the sky and for very good reasons, not bureaucratic red tape. The truth is the average Joe is not going to handle flying any better than he handles driving. Flying in general or commercial aviation takes all the training, skills and attention that an experienced pilot can muster to get from point A to point B safely. Put a bunch of yahoos in small aircraft where they have to think in three deminisions instead of two, throw in inattention and a little 'sky rage', and chaos will ensue.

I love the quotes up above:

"The world is facing an imminent energy discontinuity that will be abrupt and painful," said Dr Bezdek."

Warren Buffet once said - "It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked".

I think the folks who have been counting on infinite growth to finance all our debt are going to be mighty surprised!


One thing about a depression, it makes for concentrated thoughts on essentials. Route 66's may become electrified and run on rails if depression and resulting energy conservation/redirection comes soon.

I doubt they will be surprised. My notion is that the folks who are financing all this are perfectly aware of what is going on, and they are in a position to profit from the inevitable collapse.

It is obvious that the capitalist system depends upon exponential growth -- a physical impossiblity -- and so can only be rescued by periodical collapses. "Capitalists" are hardly unaware of this.

The trick is in engineering the collapse so that many are eliminated while a few prosper. This seems to be happening--

The wEn Program: Electrification of Transportation (E) supported by wind (w) and nuclear (n).

Alan Drake and I are kicking around the idea of a joint presentation. I do Peak Oil/Peak Exports. He does the wEn Program.

Can we make a difference? Probably not, but I suppose we can at least try.

At least we can try to make things better than they would have otherwise been.

How's that for a slogan?

Hmmmm... "wEn" sounds quite like "WIN" (Ford's economic platform) which might not be such a good move... maybe another name?

Regarding specifics - I thought the key issue was one of scale. That is, to replace a noticeable portion of the transportation in the US that is FF powered one would need nuclear plants numbering in the hundreds. No?

maybe another name?

That's easy... "nEw".

Yeah, that occurred to me too (we are showing our age).

I guess we could turn it around and say the "nEw Program."

How about throwing an "s" in there for Solar.

You seem to be targeting non-carbon fuels, but have ignored the highest potential future energy source around! There is no limits to how many south facing rooftops could have a couple of solar panels on them. Costs for solar generated electricity are rapidly approaching that of the highly subsidized coal and nat gas generated power that we have now.

100 million rooftops x 1kW system on each = about 50 nuclear or coal plants.

Cost of approx $5000 per household. $500 Billion, that's a lot money... how much have we spent in Iraq?

That is, to replace a noticeable portion of the transportation in the US that is FF powered one would need nuclear plants numbering in the hundreds. No?

If *ALL* of the electricity for electrified rail came from nukes, a few dozen nukes PLUS a dozen multi-GW pumped storage units would be required.

France has less than 100 nukes to make 70% - 80% of their electricity (all uses). Switzerland has about 3 GW on nukes (two modern plants) for half of her electricity. Both societies could switch to largely non-oil transportation in a pinch.

Of course, the USA could switch 90% of our ton-miles and a third of our pax-miles to electrified rail and power it off of conservation and energy efficiency without one new nuke.

Best Hopes,


For us here in the west maybe a slogan something like this:

Let's give it a try, let the other guy die.

Sorry you two but am in a foul and testy mood today, see above. Good wishes for your project though.

Careful about what you ask for. If we promote nuclear power really hard, we may end up with a bunch of hastily built nuclear power plants, constructed while the concrete supply dwindles in a natural gas starved economy, and while advanced electronics become harder and harder to come by due to declining supplies of rare metals and increased costs. Would that be an environment in which you would like to produce the potentially most dangerous structures known to man?

The problem with nuclear power is that if something goes wrong in a reactor, it can go really, really wrong. Millions of people can get high doses of radiation, and hundreds of square miles of land can be rendered uninhabitable. There is a good reason why reactors haven't been built in the US recently - nobody is capable of "never making a mistake", particularly the managers hired by large corporations that run reactors. The story of TMI is very chilling.

Here is the real problem. Every one of us is having trouble envisioning a post-industrial world, but that's what we're headed for. Humanity's entire industrial/expansionary program was doomed from the start by finite resources and our own tendencies for exponential growth. Not only do populations grow exponentially, but so do industries, captialization, and resource demands.

The most important and useful guide to think about the inevitability of the failure of "continual growth" is the book Limits to growth by Meadows, et. al.

This short but amazing book - published in 1972 - outlined the structural problem of continually using more and more resources of all types. It's a very easy read. Too bad it's out of print.

The authors wrote a series of followups. The latest is Limits to Growth - the 30 year update which is still in print. This book has a lot more details if you like that kind of thing.

The authors themselves tried to envision a world in which growth can taper off without a disastrous crash. Thirty years ago they found ways that might have averted the impending crisis if the world had immediately embarked on a serious program of preparing for resource depletion. That was thirty years ago, the old "standard model" projections are still accurate, and we have much fewer options now.

My own sense is that the industrial program itself can't be supported in the long term. Not only can't we keep our cars, we also can't keep our flow of goods or our grocery system. We'll be lucky to stay alive regardless of how hard we work to keep the system going.

We should be looking for other ways to exist on a planet that has limited resources. Like voluntarily reducing our population instead of letting wars, starvation, and disease wipe us out. Like devoting our attention to things that really matter - the well being of each other - instead of wealth and material things.


If we promote nuclear power really hard, we may end up with a bunch of hastily built nuclear power plants, constructed while the concrete supply dwindles in a natural gas starved economy, and while advanced electronics become harder and harder to come by due to declining supplies of rare metals and increased costs.

Fears here are based on popular myth. Electronics are in no danger of becoming harder to come by because of depletion of metal supplies, as most rare metals have linear cost related to exponential reserves (spend twice as much and get ten times the product) coupled with the fact that most of them also have decent substitutes.

Concrete is in no danger of ever becoming a scarce commodity. You can make portland cement from quicklime burning from any heat source, including nuclear powered induction furnaces. I expect coal (or coal gas) will always be cheap enough to suffice however.

Would that be an environment in which you would like to produce the potentially most dangerous structures known to man?

Hydroelectric dams or chlorine plants?

The problem with nuclear power is that if something goes wrong in a reactor, it can go really, really wrong. Millions of people can get high doses of radiation, and hundreds of square miles of land can be rendered uninhabitable.

No, there is no way for a meltdown to give millions high doses of radiation. In a very catastrophic scenario you can suppose that thousands get low level doses of radiation, and imagine that they have iodine deficiencies to make it worse. That would model Chernobyl.

You can give millions a high dose of radiaton in exactly the same way you can drown hundreds with a full bathtub.

The story of TMI is very chilling.

You mean how the operators did everything exactly wrong and the accident only led to property damage?

Here is the real problem. Every one of us is having trouble envisioning a post-industrial world, but that's what we're headed for.

Sure we are. Give me some dates so I can laugh as they pass.

Humanity's entire industrial/expansionary program was doomed from the start by finite resources and our own tendencies for exponential growth. Not only do populations grow exponentially, but so do industries, captialization, and resource demands.

Well we've got some time before this is even remotely relevant. Energy consumption growth can grow some ten thousand fold before we're on the same order of magnitude as the solar flux. At this rate our nuclear fuel (supposing we for some reason cant do solar cheaply yet) will only last some sixteen million years.

The notion that we wont have moved a large chunk of our industry into space before the fuel exhausts itself is just silly.

There are limits, but we arent even close to scraping them.

The technology is absolutely there, Dezakin, but the technology was there in several past collapses that Diamond discusses in Collapse too. What got them? The social part of the problem.

Your faith in humanity exceeds mine at the moment.

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

The technology is absolutely there, Dezakin, but the technology was there in several past collapses that Diamond discusses in Collapse too. What got them? The social part of the problem.

Diamond is a sensationalist who suggests we can draw the future in the tea leaves of the past. I'm not comfortable with his analysis or the notion that an industrial civilization spanning the world is analogous to a pre-industrial slave based agrarian societies with populations less than 1/100th at the largest.

Your faith in humanity exceeds mine at the moment.

Theres no sign that humanity is going to enter any sort of failure mode that it cant recover from very quickly.

Dezakin wrote: Concrete is in no danger of ever becoming a scarce commodity.

Concrete is a scarce commodity right now. It is not for lack of energy. Production of portland cement has been effectively outlawed in the United States. Ditto for production of steel.

76,200 hits.


1,960,000 hits.

I'm not anti-nuke, but I am pro-competently-regulated nuke.

Competently regulated means carefully-thought out and researched siting. You can't just plop a nuclear power plant down anywhere. The number of really good sites (away from population centers & not upstream or upwind of them, not on fault lines or in hurricane zones, etc.) are actually somewhat limited. It takes a lot of time to properly evaluate a site. And it is not just NIMBYism -- a lot of people oppose a nuclear plant site because they have genuine legitimate reasons why it is a bad site.

Competently regulated means carefully built, using a tested & proven design, quality materials, and assembly by trained and skilled workers.

Competently regulated means carefully operated, by staff that have been thoroughly trained and regularly drilled.

When people talk about "crash programs" to ramp up nuclear, that really makes me nervous. Crash programs almost always end up with the exact opposite of the above.

Just one error of thought to address:

... concrete supply dwindles in a natural gas starved economy

Cement production doesn't require natural gas.  I've found descriptions for making it using coal breeze (coal powder), and as carbon is lost from it rather than gained (limestone is calcined in the process) it could be made using electricity.

Assuming that cement takes 5 GJ/ton to make (2006 numbers are a bit less) and a wind turbine base requires 500 tons of concrete of which 50 tons is cement, the invested energy in the concrete for the base is 250 GJ.  A 3.6 megawatt wind turbine will produce 250 GJ in just 19.3 hours of full-power operation.

Assuming a wind-turbine base requires 1,250 tons of concrete, of which 15% is portland-cement (187.5 tons), the incorporated portland-cement energy would be (at 5 GJ/ton) 937.5 GJ. Our 3.6 MW wind-turbine would produce that in two months of 5%-capacity operation.

Correction: our windmill was blown down after a week of operation. The portland-cement was never paid for, much less the rest of the up-front costs.

Just like the Zimmer Nuclear Power Plant. Built to 99% complete and then scrapped.

The turbines & generators were turning into a grossly inefficient coal fired plant for bookkeeping reasons (steam turbine & 4 pole generator were designed for low temp, low pressure nuke steam instead modern design temps & pressures for new coal plants).

40,000+ wind turbiens and one (or 5) goes wrong, big deal.

About 400 commercial nukes built and the list of economic disasters is VERY long.

Zimmer, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Whoops #1, #3, #4, #5, Brown's Ferry #1, Fort St. Vrain, Angra (Brazil), BNPP Philippines, Windscale (UK), Trojan, Davis-Besse just off the top of my head. Many more with a bit of digging.

You pointed to a speck of tarnish on a sterling record of the wind industry. I can point to the baked on layers of crud of the nuke industry.

Best Hopes that the Nuke industry does better this time,


Note that the site you use as a source, AWEO.org, is an anti–wind front group (with a name deliberately chosen to sound like the American Wind Energy Association).  But using the weight and cement fraction figures, the number goes up to 72 hours (~10 days at 30% capacity factor).

If your windmill ran at 5% for a week and then blew down, you ought to get out of both the wind and civil–engineering businesses.  Buy into T. Boone Pickens' 4 gigawatt project in the Texas panhandle instead.

Add another E for "efficiency" ?

LOTS can be saved with more efficient use, and it can be done quickly.

Electrification with wind, efficiency, nuke ? ewen ?

Too early this morning to scramble letters :-O

Best Hopes for a better acronym,


Looks like the 'Yesmen' have started a funny little scandal on the Gas & Oil Expo in Calgary yesterday, promoting such thing as vivoleum: When the crisis hits - what crisis? After a mass die-off bodies of million s of humans are turned into oil.

"We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant," said
"NPC rep" "Shepard Wolff" (actually Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men), before describing the technology used to render human flesh into a new Exxon oil product called Vivoleum. 3-D animations of the process brought it to life.

another coverage of the story at canada.com.

Jonathan Swift lives!

Thank you Leanan for the work and links you provide.
Would anyone care to share their thoughts on this. To late? Not enough? BS?
Plastic That Grows On Trees? Fuel, Polyester And Other Chemicals From Biomass:
ps I started a new thread, is this right?

At the end of yesterday's Drumbeat I posted a couple of links on this subject, but there is no harm in adding more links.

It is an interesting topic, to chemists anyway, and if one believes that biofuels have a role in the future then developments such as the one to which you linked will be needed.

At the heart of the issue, though, which is the same as with the E85 hybrid Keith linked to earlier, is from where do we get the basic constituent, the biomass needed in the beginning?

If one has an acre of land, which method is the best for exploiting the light that falls upon that land each day: (1) photosynthesis, (2) solar thermal, (3) solar PV ?

You wrote:
"At the heart of the issue, though, which is the same as with the E85 hybrid Keith linked to earlier, is from where do we get the basic constituent, the biomass needed in the beginning?"
I don't know if your in Japan, I believe your familiar with the US and its massive Transportation corridors. These rights of way are constantly being mowed. Why could we not plant these biofuel crops along these extensive public rights of way.(Certainly before we sell them to foreign interests) In fact make these transport corridors(ie: Interstates,State highways the only places to grow biofuel crops. I believe there are a few million acres along these corridors that are not being used, but never the less are mowed and maintained regular. Does this make any sense?
I am no cornucopian I am extremely fearful the government will take much or all the CRP land out of protection. Why, if these lands are available?

you also wrote:
"If one has an acre of land, which method is the best for exploiting the light that falls upon that land each day: (1) photosynthesis, (2) solar thermal, (3) solar PV ?"

Why could you not do a combination of 2 or more? A quarter acre of pv(1/4 acre=11,000 sq ft+-) 1/2 acre of sweet clover or alfalfa or some such crop which is suitable for the geography and climate

Well, I am back in the US now. Unfortunately I have not discovered how to change my login name.

Yes, there are considerable land areas held in public for transportation, and yes during the summer quite a bit of grass mowing needs to be done. However, even if it is a million acres of grass that is not as much as it may at first sound. Others here at TOD have done calculations on biomass -> alcohol requirements and (depending upon assumptions) have shown that to replace current transportation fuels with biomass derivatives would require a very substantial portion of all arable land dedicated to fuel production.

Rather than using that land for biomass, I would rather see those transportation corridors used for high speed rail, lined with PV or windmills.

If you would read some of my posts in the ethanol thread:

One would see that photosynthesis is at best 6% efficient at producting biomass, meaning 6 Watts ouf of the average 100 watts falling on the planets surface can be captured(I use average insolation because it accounts for day/night/clouds/diffusive agents)

In reality it is more like 0.5 Watts for production of ethanol, and something blatheringly small for biodiesel (.11 Watts or something rediculously horrible.)

PV gets today 10% easily with commercial stuff for working conditions.
The lab max for 1 junction is >25% i think, and for some money you can buy 19% efficient cells with not to bad of a problem.
The world record for lab multijunction is >40%.
Concentrators can help out MJ cells

Right now we are using von neumann machines to collect us our energy (self replicating machines -> PLANTS and SEEDS)

capital investment is always the last thing people want to do

#edit: hardlink to the good post.
# http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2615#comment-198597
#I ran a similar look-see at the different crops listed in #the wikipedia page for biofuelcrops, they all suck, same #for ethanol in terms of Watts extracted per m^2, PV beats #them all into the ground.

I have read and do appreciate your earlier posts.

The goal of my somewhat rhetorical question was to illustrate to the OP that there are always tradeoffs in building/designing any effort, engineering and financial tradeoffs.

If one is only concerned about the net energy made available as a product then I have no doubt that PV is superior to photosynthesis for that one hypothetical acre.

However, if one is able to grow a food crop of some sort and additionally use part of the remaining (non-food) portion of the plant to produce alcohol (e.g. cellulosic methods) then in certain locations that may be preferable.

As someone else stated, different locations and communities will need different solutions. In the far future (post-oil), I can envisage highly rural areas maintaining automation of agriculture by local generation of biofuels. Even if such agricultural areas can not be supporters of an entire nation with their biofuels ( such as you pointed out given the low net returns from the sunlight via photosynthesis) that may be acceptable - all the is required is that farms continue to be able to exploit automation so that one laborer can work a larger area.

Solar thermal integrated into the design of the house and barn of which a substantial percentage will be subsurface. PV installed at the edges of the fields and crops on the rest. What happens where is site dependent.

Climate Change and field crops.

We are coming down to an important segment of this springs growing season.

We had some great variations this early spring that caused a lot of damage. Last year in my region the same but due to huge rainstorms and flooding.

At this point most crops are planted. Yesterday I saw some corn starting to tassel and yet some that was just kneehigh. Late planted due to weather factors.Most soybeans are about 6 inches high and have not started what I term 'tillering'.

I note that farming is very very dependent on weather and CC is all about weather.

So we are entering a crucial phase of corn. The time when pollen falls and also the point of many areas of the corn belt needing some moisture very soon. In fact the same can be said right now of soybeans. They are just sitting there. Going nowhere. They need moisture as well and its not coming.

The temp on the bank sign yesterday at 4:00 was mid 90s. I am told that heat at 95 degrees will kill pollen. What a shade measured temperature translates to in the field I am not certain and local microclimates are varied.

So we will see about this hugem huge corn crop shortly. Either a good crop or weather will take its toll. Rain will come as required or it won't.

Like I said. We are at an important point. My garden is getting quite dry. The moisture level is lower and now I have to start watering again, just as I did a few weeks ago.

In the last 2 months we have had a few good local showers. Just one in my area. Illinois is looking bad. Central Ky is looking bad. Ohio is looking bad I read. Indiana likewise.

These are major major corn belt states. Drought is coming on to the southeast I read. Alabama is hurting and has for a few years. Okla planted corn ...this is going to be iffy for them. I,m betting they will lose most of it.

Now its just..wait and see.



Your descriptions are always highly appreciated.

Apart from your area there's huge droughts in the west, the southeast, plus (just for starters) in Australia, and in Ukraine/Romania, all major food (grain) producers that feed not just themselves, but many others too.

Australia lost 2/3 of its crop last year, and from what I've read, this year ain't looking any better. The Ukraine has the most fertile soil on the planet, anything is said to grow there, "just plant a stick in the ground", no fertilizer needed, and even in that soil, which retains water very well, it's curtains for the year: no more exports.

I find these scary patterns. Lester Brown last year warned about the lowest levels of world grain reserves since god knows when, and we might well go below that.

In the meantime, lots of people keep touting ethanol. And investors get all wet and hard from projected grain profits. While farmers deserve all the money they should make, this will start to hit people who can't afford higher prices, I'm afraid. We see the oil/energy crisis taking shape in Swaziland Zimbabwe Pakistan, but we have to realize that world food prices rise as fast as energy prices, and millions will start falling off this flat earth.

Exceptional drought spreading from Alabama into Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia

The choking drought that's killing crops and turning streams into dusty trails across the Southeast is expanding.

Previously limited to the northern half of Alabama, the drought classified as exceptional has grown like an ink blot to extend from eastern Mississippi across Alabama into southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia, government meteorologists said Thursday.

They classify conditions in the region as being worse than even those in southern Florida, where Lake Okeechobee is drying up, and the perennially dry West.

And this is disconcerting too. It’s really birds, bees and butterflies that are all out of here. As are amphibinas and reptiles. It's getting empty.

America`s common birds vanishing

Vanishing habitat has caused an alarming decline among America`s most common birds, the Audubon Society said Friday.

All 20 birds on the society`s Common Birds in Decline list lost at least half their population since 1967 and some of the birds declined by as much as 80 percent, said a statement from Audubon.
Meadowlarks and other farmland birds declined because of suburban sprawl, industrial development and the intensification of farming, the society said.

Greater Scaup and other tundra-breeding birds faced dramatic changes to their breeding habitat as the permafrost melted earlier and more temperate predators moved north in a likely response to global warming, the Society said. Boreal forest birds like the Boreal Chickadee lost habitat to logging, drilling and mining.
Audubon reached its conclusions after studying 40 years of information collected from its annual bird survey and its Christmas bird count.


As to the birds you are very correct. I have noticed it here very often. A lack of Blue Jays, Cardinals and many others.

There are a few birds around. To show how little there is they never touched my blueberry bush and its usually gone before I can pick any.

A Brown Thrasher(somewhat rare) used to hang around a lot. This year a few of her young brood fell out of the nest and my Jack Russels got them. She immediately left the area.

So yes,,a huge number of birds are not visible like there once was. I hardly see quail any longer either. There is a monstrous woodpecker in the nearby woods. Likely a pileated and I glimpse him rarely.

I am seeing more honeybees working the white clover and now more and more adults where before it was just the ocassional immature ones. This winter I will build a hive,super , whatever and get a queen. See just what is going on.


PS. Still no rain and none forecast. Now watering my sweet corn which so far is not stressed like that in the fields.
Its looking like that if I tend it carefully I will have a nice crop for the freezer and the open pollen to store away for seed corn. I have enough to get a very large number of neighbors enough to start up with when it gets rough out here. Most sadly have left gardening. The local farmers market is empty so far.


If you plan to put in a colony of bees, go ahead and put in two. That way if one begins to decline, you will notice it by comparing it against the other one and hopefully remedy the problem before it becomes terminal for the colony.

Good idea Boby,,thanks for the thought.

I need to locate a bee smoker. The auctioneers sold mine some time ago. I still have a veil but dont' use them.

Will make two then. Trade the extra honey. Keep the wax.

I worry though about having the chemicals in the future to treat the hives.


Airdale, I keep a running tally of rainfall for the area that I live in (East Coast Central Florida). Our normal rainfall is 44 inches. In 2005 we were down 14 inches. In 2006 we were down 17 inches. So far this year we are down about 7 inches. I keep a bird bath full in the back yard and it is in constant use by Jays, Cardinals,etc. A few years ago birds seldom used my bird bath. I watch for insects and other wild life. This year I have not seen a single honey bee, although we have lots of flowering plants in the yard. I have not seen a single fire fly. Lots of other insects have gone missing including dragon flys. Our rainy season starts in June, or it used to, now we seem to get rain only in conjunction with tropical systems. We no longer get the almost daily tropical downpours that lasted about thirty minutes each afternoon. All is changing in this area.
Good luck with your garden and crops.

Went to weather.com and got this online video feed about the two main drought areas centered in the SE and SW.

"The Ever Expanding Drought" 6/15


Here in my neck o' the woods (US Great Plains-- central & eastern Nebraska, central & western Iowa) we've had a beautiful reprieve from the drought. We had a cool, rainy spring and recent warm sunny weather has the corn and soybeans really taking off. I drove through the loess hills banking the Missouri river on the Iowa side a few days ago, and the corn is looking fantastic. I crossed the Platte River today two miles upstream from where it runs into the Missouri, and the water level is as high as I've seen it for a long time. The Platte feeds the critical surface irrigation corridors in the heart of the Nebraska corn and bean lands.

This map has our local farmers feeling all happy:


Last summer this map showed Nebraska, western Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and the southern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin all covered in yellow and red.

Corn production in the US is expected to be the highest this year since WWII.


"Largest planted acreage" ≠ "highest production". It remains to be seen how the drought/rainfall pattern will intersect with planted area.

The central US does seem to be having a comparatively rainy summer so far, though. Central Texas is as green as I've seen it (been here about 10 years).

Oh, for anyone who thinks the one of the benefits of climate change is a smaller carbon output during the Winter (less heating oil & natural gas used, etc.), I'd just like to remind you that those same warmer temps translates to a larger carbon output during the Summer (from the increased use of air conditioners, which frequently rely on electricity from coal-fired power plants).

And I'm just talking about the Northern-tier states of the U.S. (Northern New England, Upper Mid-west, high elevation towns in the Rockies, etc.), where air conditioners are now much more common than they used to be. I shudder to think about Southern climates in the Summer...I assume the AC is blasting practically all day and all night if one can afford it.

For once I agree with the Republicans. They tried to ammend the energy bill to allow the 15% "renewable" energy standard be met by nuclear. The Democrats wouldn't go for it and now the bill is in limbo.

If we had pursued nuclear in a continuous manner these last few decades, carbon dioxide emissions and energy scarcity would not even be an issue. The leftists and environmentalists really hurt the US; it is appalling that they haven't learned their lesson.

Right. Nuclear energy would be too cheap to meter.

That's what they told us in the Pacific Northwest when they tried to develop a bunch of nuclear plants (WPPS) that failed, and the taxpayers and ratepayers had to bail out the investors.

Please tell me what group of "leftists" and "environmentalists" have gone on record as extolling the virtues of irresponsible consumption.

That's what they told us in the Pacific Northwest when they tried to develop a bunch of nuclear plants (WPPS) that failed, and the taxpayers and ratepayers had to bail out the investors.

If you actually remember your history, the nuclear power project failed because demand wasnt rising as anticipated, and WPPS was plagued with mismanagement of a public utility in general.

The plant itself provides very low cost electricity.


The other four nuclear plants were costly boondoogles later sold for scrap.

Overall, the most expensive power in the USA (even higher than Hawaiian islands burning diesel).

However, the public di NOT "bail them out". The State of Washington reneged on their guarantee (to their great shame) and stuck the bond holders.


The other four nuclear plants were costly boondoogles later sold for scrap.

Overall, the most expensive power in the USA (even higher than Hawaiian islands burning diesel).

Thats disingenuous. The power wasnt expensive, but rather the demand never arose. It wasn't a case of price being too high so much as there not being enough buyers.

"Too cheap to meter" was explicitly given as blue-sky speculation, not a prediction.

...and for the better part of the last few decades the REPUBLICANS HAVE BEEN IN CHARGE of CONGRESS. So, just whose fault is it?

Please tell me what group of "leftists" and "environmentalists" have gone on record as extolling the virtues of irresponsible consumption.

They don't extol irresponsible consumption, they practice it like everyone else. Though I think there is a guy in the Kalahari desert , or used to be, that does practice responsible consumption.

The "investors" in WHOOPS were the utilities of Washington and the State of Washington. They, to their shame, reneged on their guarantees to the bond holders.

The equity owners are the investors, the bondholders are the lenders.


If we had pursued nuclear energy efficiency in a continuous manner these last few decades, carbon dioxide emissions and energy scarcity would not even be an issue. The leftists rightists and environmentalists corporate shills really hurt the US; it is appalling that they haven't learned their lesson.

Just another day of partisan Oil Drum banter!

Actually, I'm a non-partisan independent. I just like to keep things "fair and balanced"

Doesn't matter what you are, TOD is still a very partisan place :P

Nuclear power can replace coal; Conservation and energy efficiency cant.

Turning this into a left right thing doesnt help, but one cant help but notice the irony in the situation.

How true !

More insulation can be added in a week, as can tankless water heaters, reflective film, etc. A couple of months for solar water heaters, new windows, etc.

TXU's two new nukes will be on-line (**IF** all goes well) by 2020.

Both nukes and conservation & energy efficiency will displace both coal & NG, in different ratios depending upon the area. Conservation just does it decades quicker.

Best Hopes for Conservation & Energy Efficiency as crisis priorities with more nukes as an afterthought in the distant future,


That's bogus thinking. The fact of the matter is that Fossil Fuel burning merely transfers the cost to the next generations in terms AGW remediation (whatever that is) whereas Wind & Nuclear power is mostly all up-front. What is required is pricing that includes CO2 remediation built into the coal & LNG generation plants.

You have a severe logical disconnect.

One, how would nuke electricity solve a liquid transportation fuel crisis in the absence of electrified transportation ?

Two, the nuke industry killed itself. Per TVA (which canceled several nukes), the economics just did not make sense anymore.

After 3 Mile Island, safety lessons were learned and improvements required. Should we have continued to build more unsafe reactors ?

The US nuke industry was building "one of a kind" nukes at every site. Who is to blame for that ? (Hint: few of them had full beards and none wore sandals to work).

Three, it took two decades for the US utilities to learn how to operate a nuke properly, with minimal unscheduled downtime. This learning curve has transformed nuke economics and made new nukes possible.

NOT leftist enviromentalists, but utility operators were what caused all the unscheduled downtime !

Summation, the nuke industry was the cause of the nuke building crash, not the guys picketing out front in sandals.

It was badly run, with enormous costs overruns an delays due to "less than perfect" safety designs and just bad management (see Zimmer, a good example of utility mis-management).

Best Hopes that the Nuke Industry will do MUCH better this time,


AlanfromBigEasy wrote: One, how would nuke electricity solve a liquid transportation fuel crisis in the absence of electrified transportation?

  1. Nuclear-powered mining and refining.
  2. Nuclear-powered production of synthetic hydrocarbons for supply to all industrial activities that otherwise would rely-upon petroleum feedstocks.
  3. Nuclear-powered, indoor, windowless, soil-less agriculture.
  4. Nuclear-powered synthetic (agricultureless) food production.
  5. Nuclear-powered telecommuting and virtual presence.

Regarding #5:

The average daily commute to work has shrunk from 25.5 minutes in 2000 to 25.1 minutes last year
The share of people working at home increased from 3.3 percent in 2000 to 3.6 percent last year.

Perhaps persons with longer commutes were more-likely to decide to work from home.


The commercial aviation industry relies on cheap seats and full planes. Reducing either side of this equation creates a vicious cycle for the carriers. Rising fuel prices equals higher ticket prices, which reduces demand for seats. Less passengers leads to even higher ticket prices as carriers cover flying costs at reduced capacities. Higher ticket prices leads to . . . reduced demand for seats. Dramatically more expensive oil could deal another significant blow to the international aviation industry, which saw five bankruptcies in 2005 and is still reeling from six straight years of net losses, with 2006 set to be number seven.
The growth of telepresence and effective visual collaboration will worsen this dynamic by further reducing demand for commercial aviation among business travelers who are the airlines least price-dependent customers. When Cigna deployed two TeleSuite Systems between its offices in Philadelphia and Bloomfield, Conn., it eliminated thousands of flights a year. Its ticket volume grew so low the company’s US Air representative even called to inquire about the financial health of the company. HP reported a two percent reduction in its $800MM+ travel costs in Q4 2005, with less than half of its planned deployment of 24 Halo Collaboration Studios active
As fields dwindle, the global demand for oil is soaring. Growth has averaged one to two percent a year as the third world continues to industrialize. Peak oil theory has its skeptics, including this author, but should the theory prove true, the adoption of telepresence and effective visual collaboration would necessarily accelerate.


AlanfromBigEasy wrote: Two, the nuke industry killed itself.

Nuclear energy is not the same thing as the historical nuclear industry. The former scales better than the latter.

Anything that cuts pointless aviation miles is an absolute good.

You can talk to people on the other side of the planet without leaving your desk.

We do it all the time.

The 'ROAD WARRIOR' concept is bull shit in this day and age and the concept needs to be seriously derided. Road Wankers are out of date, pointless, polluting, ignorant and dinosauric.

Most of them are wankers with MBA's and jobs with management consultants anyway.

They should be shot And any airmiles given to charities in Bangladesh: Bangladesh is going to be one of the first highly populated land masses inundated by oceanic thermal expansion (aka Marine transgression)

Chav scum travelling to holiday destinations on cheap flights should be taxed to death.

And lets be brutally frank with each other: The only people who holiday in Spain / Tuscany are Chavs. People with money, but no style or class.

Any way.
Lets see what happens over the next few years, when Spanish peasants are expected to give up Agricultural Water rights so that whingeing Chavs can fill swimming pools.

Add global warming and desertification to the Mediterrainean basin as well.

Not a pretty sight.

MUDLOGGER wrote: Anything that cuts pointless aviation miles is an absolute good.

You can talk to people on the other side of the planet without leaving your desk.


I often wonder why the president of the United States ever bothers flying anywhere. If there is one person in the US who never needs to travel anywhere at all, it is the president. Scrapping or mothballing Air Force One would free up ~$1 billion/year for virtual-presence suites and services, and for physical security (the latter needed since, without an operational Air Force One, the president has no option to flee an attack).


GIVEN THE alternative of doing nothing about global warming -- which President Bush and the Republican-led Congress excelled at for the past six years -- the flurry of activity on climate change in Washington is welcome. President Bush at least agreed at the recent Group of Eight summit in Germany to international talks on the topic, and the Democratic-led Senate is debating an energy bill designed in part to limit greenhouse gas emissions. But here's the problem with the latter: Nowhere in its 277 pages does the legislation even entertain the notion of incentives to curb greenhouse gas emissions, through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system or both.

A new Round-Up has been posted at TOD:Canada - coverage of Canadian energy, income trusts, climate change and the global credit bubble.

A real good talk about food miles, organic vs not so organic, and the farm bill at:


52 minutes in length, click the "Where does food come from" top link. Author Michael Pollan in MN earlier this spring, talking of his new book Omnivores Dilemna and the Farm Bill before Congress.

To Pat's credit, he was against the Iraq War from day one.

June 15, 2007
On the Escalator to War With Iran

by Patrick J. Buchanan

These are the "birth pangs" of a "new Middle East," said Condi Rice last summer, as Israel pounded Lebanon. Unfortunately, the new Middle East may make us all pray for the return of the old.

Hamas is today engaged in savage street-fighting with Fatah for control of Gaza. If Hamas prevails, it could convert this Palestinian enclave into a terrorist base camp between Israel and Egypt.

In northern Lebanon, Islamic jihadists are battling the army for control of a Palestinian refugee camp. Scores are dead.

On Wednesday, a seventh parliamentarian was assassinated with his son in a Beirut car bomb attack.

In Samarra, the Golden Mosque was attacked again on Wednesday, collapsing the two minarets that survived last year's bombing. Gen. David Petraeus is grim about the consequences of what he says was an al-Qaeda attack to escalate the Sunni-Shi'ite war.

With Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan convulsed by ever-widening civil wars, a new danger is that the United States, tied down in two of those wars, may be about to lash out and launch a third – on Iran. .

. . . Which raises the question: Where is the Congress? Why is it not holding public hearings and sifting the evidence to determine if Tehran is behind these attacks on Americans and if the United States has not itself been aiding insurgents inside Iran?

Or is it all up to George W. as to whether we launch a third and wider war in the Middle East, which could result in an economic and strategic disaster for the United States?

WT: Buchanan is a throwback to an earlier age- a Republican politician who hasn't been bought and paid for.

Make that former politician.

The question is whether he is a recovering politician like Al Gore.

Gore will never recover, he is terminal.

Mose in Midland

This does not bode well AT ALL!!!!!!!!!

China arming terrorists


New intelligence reveals China is covertly supplying large quantities of small arms and weapons to insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, through Iran.

The Neocons so very badly want the US to attack Iran. But I think they need a more skillfully crafted big lie to stir up the American populace to call for blood (and oil).

I expect that the neo cons are considering how big a mushroom cloud it will take to get Americans demanding war with Iran. A couple of kilotons should get the job done. Will they pick a dysfunctional city or just stand back and throw a dart at the map? Detroit is probably their first choice because of its ethnic make up and failing auto manufacturers, but they also have to consider what is down wind.

The Washington Times would be better called by its real purpose "The Moonie Times." aka Reverend Moon like Fox News is an extension of the neocons.

Unnamed officials, unsubstaniated intelligence = baloney! If these 'unnamed intelligence officials' will not put their names behind their 'intelligence reports' then their 'intelligence reports' are just so much more propaganda and hot air. What we have here is more priming the pump for military action against Iran and possibly China. The Washington Times indeed... This rag is another mouthpiece for the neo cons.

'What we have here is a failure to communicate'...

Buchanan tonite predicted on McLaughin Group the US will hit Iran w/ airstrikes by Sept.

PartyGuy...I apologize in advance for posting this "doomer" and "partisan" article out of Bloomberg:

Oil Rises to 9-Month High on Concern Refiners Won't Meet Demand


Valero Energy Corp. shut a unit at its Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery yesterday, according to a state-administered Web site. Refineries in the U.S. and Canada have unexpectedly shut units this spring, paring gasoline production for the peak-demand driving season. U.S. refineries reduced operating rates the past three weeks, an Energy Department report on June 13 showed.

``In the short-term the market should remain strong, at least until next Wednesday's report,'' said Justin Fohsz, a broker at Starsupply Petroleum, a division of GFI Group Inc., in Englewood, New Jersey.

I think the market will remain strong for a little longer than next week's report!!!

"I think the market will remain strong for a little longer than next week's report!!!"

You are probably right. Never underestimate the markets ability to ignore bad news.

I don't understand how a refinery bottle-neck would cause crude oil prices to rise. I would think that a refinery bottle-neck would cause crude oil prices to drop, as production exceeds the ability to process and causes crude inventory increase. I would also think that a refinery bottle-neck would cause refined product prices to rise.

Yep. Reasons given for crude going up.

1.Geopolitics at the end of the week(Iran, Gaza, Hamas).
2.A 'benign' core inflation number boosting commodities (lessens fed rate hike pressure).
3.Crude tends to rise in sympathy with gasoline.

Some sense that at this point in the season a system which 'isn't keeping up' means more crude demand a bit later on. Most traders had expected a better refinery ultilization number and assume that has to increase.

Believe most would agree the EIA (lack of gasoline build)report was bullish for gasoline. For me 1&2 seem right for crude. 3 a bit less.

My alternate explanation.. WT's financial trader and friends are getting Export Land on the radar. That was interesting.

AP STORY: Gas Prices Expected to Rise at Pump As Futures Rally Continues on This Week's Inventory Report

The weather pattern that has been bringing cool and wet weather to the US Midwest is changing. We are now starting to get some hot/humid days.

Checking the East Pacific weather map at Accuweather...


...the huge plunging systems that had been swirling down from the north are breaking up.

These northern Pacific systems have been pushing the steady stream of storms and tropical systems shooting out West Africa to the south quite a bit. With the absence of the Pacific northerlies pushing down, some of these tropical systems training westerly are going to start edging more northward.

I think folks need to start watching out for some "events" to occur in the GOM and east coast of the US. Be prepared, especially you, Alan (although, I believe you shall always be prepared from here on out).

Just my 2-cents worth of doomer analysis.

RE: Weekly Offshore Rig Review: Semisub Shift

Would like to hear any comments on the above from those in the oil and gas industry.

Fleet shifting to drilling in 7500 water depth, which seems near impossible to me. Article speculates that the days of the under 4000 ft fleet are over-they will be cannabilized.

What problems are forseen, is there that much more oil under these waters? With such an industry shift, you'd suppose there's quite a bit of "new" oil to be found. Or is it that's all we have left, so better go for it.

Would you drill through 7500 ft off water to get to oil if you didn't have to?? The oil co's are desperate. They know the game is up on exploration but they lie about it to us. Just like Colin Campbell did, he's a liar too.

No, 7500-9000 feet is fairly common now. Angola is fair example, as is Brazil.

Common but fraught with complexities.

One of the big issues is marine riser handling on older rigs. (they are not designed for greater lengths of riser

For those not in the biz, a Marine riser goes from the rig to the seabed. A hollow tube of steel, it acts as a pipe down which the drill string goes.

To cut a long story short, the greater the water depth, the greater the deck space and pipe handling requirements.

Other things occur as well: bouyancy, hydrostatic pressures, blow out prevention , energy required to pump returning drilling fluids etc.

That is why you need the latest generation of rigs. And of course they are not cheap.

But yes. If you can find elephants at 500 feet of water, then you would not got to 7500 feet or deeper.

So Jack1 and 2 are off to the races.

On setting the riser, is that done from top down, or bottom up? I'd guess top down, but that'd be alot of pipe weight to hold and keep vertical and straight.

How is the ship stabilized during the operation to keep from drifting away from the hole-10,000 feet of cable anchors? Wouldn't want Joe Hazelwood for captain.

Also, the production platforms, ala Thunderhorse, these platforms are buoyed up by large "bladder" legs that don't reach the seafloor, and then are tied off with cables, correct?

Marine risers are basically long sections of pipe that screw together and are lowered in sections from the Drill floor on the rig. They then latch onto a Blow Out Preventer on the sea bed. The greater the depth of water, the more sections of riser required.

Deep water drill ships and semisubs are dynamically positioned over the well head. Anchoring is usual in shallow waters. Semis are are just that: Semi Submersible and have large bouyancy tanks. And of course, the more pipe and load you have, the bigger the beast required

Deep water drilling is highly complex and techically skilled. Modern drillships and Semis are a huge financial investment and hire out at a comensurate price tag.

All come with high degrees of Automation: pipe laying, pipe racking, dynamic positioning. Some have Two Derricks for Drilling and pipe Handling.

They are quite fantastic beasts. A marvel of engineering.

...And because they even need to be built in the first place, they say more about the age easy oil being over.

Let me try and dig up a few links for you.

From the TransOcean Website :



Deepwater Expedition
The DEEPWATER EXPEDITION is a self-propelled dynamically positioned drillship capable of drilling in water depths up to 10,000 ft using 18¾in 15,000 psi BOP and 21in ID marine drilling riser.
Rig Type 5th Generation Deepwater
Design Rauma Repola Arctic DP
Builder Khersons Shipyard 1989 / Rebuilt Keppel 1999
Year Built 1999 Conversion
Classification DnV +1A1, MV, EO, AUTR DYNPOS
Flag Marshall Islands
Accommodation 130 berths
Helideck 80 ft x 80 ft
Moonpool 26 ft x 28 ft
Station Keeping Dynamically Positioned
Max Drill Depth 30,000 ft / 9,144 m
Max Water Depth 10,000 ft / 3,048 m
Operating Conditions Wind Speed: 45 knots; Significant Wave Height: 16 ft @ 12 sec; Current: 2 knots
Storm Conditions Wind Speed: 100 knots

And a bit more:


Thanks mudlogger. I appreciate your time and link. I hope all will click it. Real informative story.

I did a bunch of googling on the subject last nite, esp the engineering construction sites. Fascinating, and a marvel. The investments are insane-really need those elephants. This isnt picking the higher fruit in the orchard-its climbing the mountain to find the cliffside orchard to pick.

Thunder Horse. I wonder if it will come online, pay out or be hit again. My 17 yr son is fascinated by it too.

'Producers move to debunk "Peak Oil" forecasts: report '

At an OPEC seminar on Wednesday, Jum'ah of Aramco said the world had produced only about one trillion barrels, or about 18 percent, of the earth's producible potential of 5.7 trillion barrels of oil.
"That fact alone should discredit the argument that peak oil is imminent, and put our minds at ease concerning future petroleum supplies," he said.
The remaining 4.7 trillion barrels should be enough to last more than 140 years at current output rates, he said.


I dont think he was accurate enough. I think the exact amount of oil in the world is 5.723687248925431239163543 trillion barrels.
I mean if he insists on seeing 4 trillion barrels which no one sees then he must at least be accurate about it. No?

im almost willing to believe OPEC.

If they are wrong and oil is running out, they are going to get nuked real hard once they stop exporting...

There's plenty of oil. We're not going to pump any more than we are because... well, we're just not. Not that we don't have it, mind you, we have plenty. Just ... well, there's too much, yea that's it, there's too much oil, that's why we aren't going to pump anymore than we are. Talk to us again next September.

...uh...fool me...uh...fool me twice...uh...fool me once...uh...well, you know what I mean...uh...

I agree. We really should call their bluff. Maybe threaten with a tactical nuke, then when they come clean and admit they have peaked the markets will have more time to adjust.

For newcomers, my "Iron Triangle" Theory:

I think that we are seeing an "Iron Triangle" of sorts defending the status quo concept of ever expanding energy supplies: (1) most housing, auto, financing and related companies; (2) Most MSM companies that are selling advertising to Group #1 and (3) some major oil companies, major oil exporters and energy analysts that are working for the major oil companies and exporters.

The housing/auto group wants to keep selling and financing large homes and SUV's.

The MSM wants to keep selling advertising to the housing/auto group.

In my opinion, some major oil companies are afraid of punitive taxation, and some exporters are afraid of military takeovers. This group of oil companies, exporters and their analysts provide the intellectual ammunition for the other two groups, i.e., promising trillions and trillions of barrels of conventional and nonconventional oil reserves.

An interesting theory. Are these 3 branches of the economy working to deliberately subvert our future prospects, or is it more of a coincidental issue. I could just as easily see the situation reversed in 'new urbanism' manner, where parts of the system work to ensure that the suburban sprawl doesn't repeat it self. Who is to say which is better, at the moment? Both extremes look like they came straight out of a bad sci-fi book :P


You don't believe in the Forever angles and you don't like Nevermore, colour my party hat curious, just what is your favorite spritly dance?

I don't think Jeffrey's "Iron Triangle" is deliberately trying to inflict harm. They are trying to paper over any little problems and keep the show going as long as possible.

Problem is, some wrinkles keep showing up in the paper. Smooth them out one place, and they come up somewhere else ...

I never said it was. I just said it was an interesting theory :)

Party guy, you also said this

Both extremes look like they came straight out of a bad sci-fi book :P

My view is that if we aren't going to play nice and share the wealth of this planet as well as take care of it in common (be economical) we will each try to maximize our own share. How this process is described as in 'the Iron Triangle' is for the ease of understanding how aspects of this rather simple process unfolds in more complex social/'economic' patterns.

Your view, for my part, is welcome and I would like to hear you elaborate on it. I , for one , don't mind shitdisturbers but prefer them to also have a good reason for doing it.

BTW, anyone know where Freddie Hutter is these days. Interesting process there.

Credit Cards Cut Off Gas Purchases

As the price of gasoline continues to rise, rules to prevent credit card fraud at the nation's pumps are confusing consumers who just want a full tank of gas.

Caps on transaction amounts - or the total dollar amount of gas a customer can pump into their car - are limiting some drivers of gas-guzzling vehicles.

"When I go to the gas station I now have to use two credit cards just for one tank of gas," said Paul Brisgone of Oxford, Pa. "Kind of defeats the convenience of pay-at-the-pump."

Oh, the inconvenience of having to use two credit cards...

Well, Paul of Oxford PA could always get a Honda Civic and fill up with one half of one credit card.

Or is that just way too far beyond his IQ?

If he walks down the street and comes up against a lamp post or trash can, would Paul just stand there confused and waiting for the obstacle erode /rust away / fall down?


I wonder if Paul from Oxford, Pa., is related to Paul the economist from Oxnard, Ca.? Perhaps the two could work out a car pool arrangement?

Sorry, I did not post the link...the rest of the story is equally amusing:


Hello TODers,

Could the drought in the SE US be worse than the drought in the SW US?


Western Drought Now Beats Dust Bowl


May I suggest TODers bookmark this link for future reference: http://www.droughtoutlook.com/

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

Hello TODers,

Some interesting info from the last link above [please add to your favorites so you can email to friends and family]:
When The Rains Stop

Did you know, that researchers have found by checking lake beds and tree rings, that droughts appear in regular cycles?

Did you know that two of the main traceable cycles happen to hit at the same time, (now)?

Did you know that in the traceable history of droughts, that the seven year dust bowl drought of the thirty's was considered a "short" drought?

Did you know that droughts usually start in the east and move to the west?

Did you know the present drought started in the east in 1999?
Heat and drought is the most powerful weapon in Nature's arsenal: water & food shortages = dehydration, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, starvation, disease, etc. Maximum interlocking positive feedbacks to maximize overall decline blowback.

Maybe we should be hoping for as many hurricanes as possible this year to help replenish our reservoirs. Unfortunately, it seems that as more dust blows off Africa from their drought and deforestation: it helps suppress hurricane development in the Atlantic. Will our historical policies causing the decimation of Africa spell the end of North America?

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

Our policies, or our fore-fathers policies. Last time I checked, we were the source of the most aid to Africa, not a destructive force :P

You should read Making a Killing: How Corporations Use Armed Force to Do Business by Madelaine Drohan for some insight on the history of Western corporations in Africa. The people of Africa have been exploited for their natural resources for well over a century.

If you believe that our 5% of the world's population uses 25% of the world's resources without a lot of people getting screwed over, IMO you are ignorant and naive.

... for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative. -- Kurt Vonnegut

Hello TODers,

Just updated North American Drought Monitor shows further drought geographic enlargement:


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

The Chief Magistrate Judge [Lorenzo Garcia] may undertake whatever legal analysis he deems necessary and may conduct hearings to determine if there is a violation of the injunction and, if so, to recommend the imposition of sanctions, including censure, striking pleadings, imposition of fines and/or incarceration of the Plaintiffs.

The counter attack.

The world may becoming apart in other ways than energy?

Middle East Oil Works

I am reminded of the case of the Azadegan Field in Iran. It was discovered in 1999. There were some reports that it contained 26-32 billion barrels of oil in place.


It has been estimated that it might produce 100,000 - 260,000 barrels of oil per day.

At this rate if you get a 100 billion barrel oilfield you might be able to produce it at a rate of about a million barrels of oil per day.

Is there some sort of accounting error?

Love your logo.
Maybe it should be a symbol of the American New Energy Legislation for the "21st Century"?

Why if we can put a man on the moon and also sell bogus stock options to the unwitting, why we can do anything.

How about a tall (grande) CAFE coffee mug with the empty Enron meter logo emblazoned on its side? Now we're generating that there bio-gas with pure java beans! Hallelujah. Our creativity and ingenuity knows no bounds. We are getting good people.

Love the coffee mug with logo idea. Put me on the list for one. Last I checked my supply of mugs was down to 287 give or take a few in the dishwasher. When the economy crashes I can use them for barter or for throwing at the invading hordes.

generating that there bio-gas with pure java beans

great idea :-)

but wouldn't that again raise energy consumption of oodles of servers?


From Kunstler's site, an absolutely amazing photo sequence - abandoning entire blocks of a city, and yet keeping up appearances.

It is not how collapse looks, oddly enough - the facade of this emptiness is being cared for.

Somehow, this seems insane.

Deeply, truly insane - a squandered luxury, and a contempt for how people used to live - together, in places they were proud of.

What is striking is how little anyone cares at what happens, as long as they can just drive away in the end, as the photographer does.

Frightening, surreal.

What time of day-as you point out-it's clean abandonment, trash swept, and recent-note the relatively young, planted trees lining the streets.

That old musical, with its chorus, Gary, Indiana, Indiana, gary...or some such keeps coming to mind...a bright future not long ago.

From the wikipedia page

After celebrating its 100th year in 2006, the city of Gary finally shows evidence of rebound from years of economic depression. Many buildings that have been left vacant for years are now finally planned for demolition and development.[2] Many new homes have been built through a the HOPE VI grant from HUD. [3]

Looks like they are trying to rebuild. That would explain the neat appearance.

These pictures remind me very much of Berlin before 1989, streets and spaces right in front of the Berlin wall. Although abandoned the places still look a little romantic - there are almost no cars!

Actually, I showed the pictures to my German wife - her first (unironic) comment was that there must be a Walmart somewhere around. Then she said that there must be parts of East Germany that look like this - though when considering it, we agreed that there is very little likelihood that some city center has been completely and totally abandoned.

The point, as far as I can express it, is that America seems to have reached the point where abandoning things (or tearing them down) is the 'solution.' This level of waste is unimaginable - and is based on what Americans believe to be normal - that is, dead city centers, surrounded by malls and subdivisions.

And it makes Kunstler's point about what American society considers worthwhile - who would bother to have anything to do with downtown Gary, Indiana? The answer, clearly enough, is no one.

But what will keep the suburbs running? Odd as it sounds, Gary used to actually be a functioning industrial town - without the need for massive oil based infrastructure.

Even more frightening, Americans believe they are in Iraq for many reasons, including brining Iraqis a better life - any urban Iraqis, seeing such pictures, would wonder at how truly alien their occupiers are - though they might begin to understand why Americans would have no understanding of how people in cities live.

These are truly amazing pictures - in a way, I can't believe they aren't staged, because even to my eyes, they are just too incredible. Certainly, I have seen enough truly run down areas on the East Coast (some much worse than this, actually, in terms of streets, growth, etc.), but none so empty of human life - including the trash so common in a throwaway society. Strangely, you can't even imagine being scared walking down such streets at night - eery, yes, but not menacing.

This whole area seems to have been just thrown away. Truly beyond comprehension. And I went through Gary on Amtrak in the mid-1980s - then, it was a decaying, rusting, hopelessly depressed area. Now, it is a preserved corpse.

And yes, of course outside of 'downtown,' people go about their business - driving everywhere. And at least in Gary, downtown is unlikely to be a byword for crime - the crime statistics in that area are likely quite comforting.


Thank you for the great sequence of photos, and your commentary was excellent, I think your questions are truly perceptive. You are right, it is truly bewildering, but for me it points up something else I often think about, that being the "bi-coastal nature of America. Nobody wants to live in the outback anymore. I live in Central Kentucky. I would not live on the coast for anything. But I have friends, country folks like me, who are saving and planning, looking for the day when the will live on the ocean front, many already with money down or deposits on condos or homes in coastal North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia or Texas (Florida is becoming so fantastically expensive it is off the list of most folks)

For these folks, considering a home in Indiana, Illinios, Ohio, or (GASP!) Missouri or Kentucky would be unthinkable. The dream is the south and the coast, and they will spend fortunes to do it.

What this creates is abandoned property. But it does not mean available property. In my own beloved city (I live and work about a half hour outside of), Louisville KY, there are many abandoned areas. But you cannot buy the properties. They are owned by absentee landlords, who were and are wealthy enough to move to the coast and hold these properties in reserve. What this creates is a "neutron bomb" effect, in which the city remains but is empty, except for a small population of poor, drug addicted and criminal. When the crack house squatters finally accidently set the building on fire, it is revealed that the building is owned by a wealthy citizen of Florida or Coastal Georgia.
It has happened so often that is almost a cliche'.

One last thought: For those who get on the boards and claim that there is no way that solar or wind will work because you cannot afford virgin open space for acres of solar panels or cannot make the open space for giant windmills, look at the photos of Gary again. This is within an hours drive of one of the biggest electric power markets in the world, Chicago, Illinios. You could turn the whole area into a giant renewable energy farm for Chicago and it would annoy no one and cost no valuable farm land or real estate development land!
There is even blocks and blocks of area already concreted and asphalt, so no one could say you were killing down open greenspace!

Your right expat, it is a fascinating place. I almost want to go up there now, just to look. Wouldn't it be a kick in the azz if the place became a tourist trap, with people coming just to see a modern ghost city! :-)

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

In one photograph, I saw two parallel cracks spaced just the right distance apart.

Asphalt covered railroad or trolley tracks ! I know them well (New Orleans once had 222 miles of track, today 7 miles operating and 7 miles waiting for FEMA to approve funding).

The former Young Republicans (all remarkably good looking) that are in charge of doling out FEMA monies also fail to understand Urban Life and wonder why we do not just bulldoze and redevelop a "better quality" of suburban life in New Orleans. Bring in mobile homes for the poor, increase parking, widen streets, etc.

Best Hopes for the next 19 months,


This whole area seems to have been just thrown away. Truly beyond comprehension.

This kind of thing is usually the product of high taxes, racial politics or both.  Detroit is a case in point; as the racial balance of the city shifted and the whites left the now-hostile city, business and its employment went with them.  The city hiked taxes to keep itself solvent, which accelerated the exodus.  The drop in property values led to a selloff, as owners tried to get out fast.

The city of Southfield was largely farmland until this exodus rolled over it.  Now it's tract houses and strip malls.  And as the exodus from Detroit has grown to include the black population, Southfield now looks somewhat like Detroit did in the early stages.

she said that there must be parts of East Germany that look like this

Right (just take a train trip over to Leipzig and Dresden and look at all those scrapped factories), but there is a big difference: the wide streets everywhere in Gary.

Just recently I did an experiment. Me and my third wife are going through some tough times, for an un-godly stupid reason we got seperated. But I have found out that I can walk from where she is at to where I am at in about 2 hours time, I hike at about 3.5 miles per hour if I am keeping a steady gait and pace myself so that I do not stop but for cars in my way. I'll cross a busy fast moving highway on foot with the ease of a hot knife through butter. I used to play chicken with 55 mph Semi's and the cars they seem to have tagging alone beside them on the state's roads.

Yes I am Crazy! Yes I have been in a mental Hospital twice this year, The State mental ward and the Christian run place here in town are both behind me and under my belt as far as experiences. Thank You *Bows*...

The point I am trying to make is that I can and have survived just fine on foot for the last 3 weeks. I still drive my van when I need to ferry my wife here or there. But when I am finding a parking place I shoot for the empty sections out in the back Nine of the Lots. I don't mind walking. I have increased my walking speed to 3.5 miles perhour, from an average of 3 mph. I can walk at times 7.5 miles in under two hours, If I don't stop for a breather and carry water on my back.

I know the lay of the land and can balance on the tops of guard rails because I have practiced the balancing acts of my youth here in my older age. I am 43 and nearly in the best shape of my life, even though I have several life threatening medical issues as well.

Survival of the fittest. *Laughs* or in my case the craziest. I have found some of the best Black Berry patches taking short cuts through the undergrowth behind buildings, Season is in and I know where they are hiding.

But I have noticed that some streams are showing signs of the Red Tide that some places in the Ocean are showing, Man that stuff stinks too.

Best of Luck in the End of Days as we spin like a top in space and wind down the energy tether pole.

Charles E. Owens Jr.

Opinions are only mine, if they sound good to you, more power to you and your mind working in harmony with mine.

Hello TODers,

The CFR weighs in on Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe's Unending Agony

When I talked this week with David Coltart, a Zimbabwean member of parliament and human rights lawyer, his office in Bulawayo had been without power for five hours. The central business district of Zimbabwe‘s second-largest city, he said, was “a ghost town,” with “hardly anyone on the streets” and “signs everywhere of total economic collapse.”

Zimbabweans have discovered with horror that their founding father, Robert Mugabe, is an abusive parent, as if George Washington had grown mad with power, expropriated Monticello and given Thomas Jefferson a good, instructive beating.
Bob Shaw in Phx,Az Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Hello TODers,

Most will recall my recent email to the PGA asking them to start plowing golf courses. It appears their 'infinite growth' response is to accelerate the building of even more golf courses:

The Golden Bear Roars: Nicklaus Inks New Deal

Today, however, Mr. Nicklaus's golf-course design business is arguably the most successful in the field. It has built 315 courses world-wide and has another 60 more under design or construction, far more than any competitor. The infusion of capital from Mr. Milstein is meant to accelerate the company's growth.

In the design group, which accounts for at least half of the company's profits, the company plans to step up the growth overseas, where demand for golf courses is skyrocketing. While there are 31,000 courses in the world, 19,000 of them are in the U.S, with most of the new demand coming from abroad, according to Mr. Milstein and Mr. Nicklaus.

Mr. Nicklaus has courses under way or planned in India, Korea, China, Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia and Turkey. Mr. Nicklaus, who logged more than 600 hours on his Gulfstream jet last year, this summer will travel to Kazakhstan to plan a course.
Recall my earlier post that detailed that a golf course can use the water-equivalent of 6,000 American homes.

EDIT: I guess the final blowout stage occurs when all these thousands of golf courses are ultimately paved for NASCAR racing along with the asphalt required for the fans' RVs.

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

Why can't we build a race track and golf course on downtown Gary IN, (see expat's post above)

In the meantime, another bit of interesting news,(?)

1957 Plymouth unearthed in Oklahoma


“Buried with the car were 10 gallons of gasoline — in case internal combustion engines became obsolete by 2007 — a case of beer, and the contents of a typical woman's handbag placed in the glove compartment: 14 bobby pins, a bottle of tranquilizers, a lipstick, a pack of gum, tissues, a pack of cigarettes, matches and $2.43.”

Can you believe it, they were actually careful enough to leave gasoline with the car, because they believe in 1957 that gas could be obsolete by 2007!
And this within a year of Hubbert's great presentation first explaining Peak Oil to a larger audience.

What did they think would obsolete gasoline? What do we think will obsolete gasoline by 2057? Any thoughts? Let's have some fun with this one! :-)

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom :-)