DrumBeat: July 1, 2007

Practical responses to peak oil

For those who came in late, it is increasingly clear that global oil reserves are reaching the point where half has been used up, called “peak oil”. After this point supply will no longer meet demand, and prices will rise increasingly steeply until oil becomes inaccessible.

We don’t really know how this will play out in the complex modern world because we have never faced anything like this before. The markets may give a real indication of the change by steadily rising prices, there may be a ratchet effect with an overall rise but regular short decreases in price (as already seems to be happening), or there may be sudden rises and falls until the price becomes meaninglessly high.

Grim worldview from the deck of the Titanic

Throughout history, whenever a new energy source was exploited, human population skyrocketed. But never has it increased as quickly as it has since the oil age arrived in 1859 and the world population was a little more than 1 billion. The exponential growth in population going hand-in-hand with the use of hydrocarbons is not just a coincidence.

In just a little more than 130 years, humans have run through more than half the world's reserves of oil and natural gas. Since population growth is contingent on a readily available supply of cheap oil, collapse is inevitable. The slippery slide down the slope of Peak Oil will be quicker than the trip up.

20 Burning Questions

In today’s paper, the special section, 20 Burning Questions, explains the concept of peak oil. It refers to the time after which the oil that’s being pumped out of the ground can no longer rise to meet the needs of an increasingly industrialized, congested and demanding world.

The situation is out of control, but we don’t notice until prices at the gasoline pump spike. Presently, gas at $2.79 a gallon seems like a bargain. That speaks eloquently to how high prices have risen in the matter of just a few months. We all would have been squawking “price gouging!” three years ago if gasoline had exceeded even $2 a gallon. But the reality is that it’s still a relatively cheap fuel source.

A pipeline into the heart of Europe

Russia has used the energy card in breaking through the cordon sanitaire assembled by Washington. Three major developments in the past month have brought Russia back into the Balkans. First came what an alarmed American specialist called Moscow's "Anschluss of Austria". The reference was to Putin's visit to Vienna on May 23-24, which has laid the foundation for an Austrian role on Europe's energy map as a "hub" for natural gas sourced from Russia.

What happens to a Gas Station that doesn't have any gas?

Well, here is what the Iranians answered.

Over 50 gas stations were burned over night by Iranians protesting a new fuel rationing law in Tehran and other cities, Wednesday, 27 June.

Iran leader backs "brave" gasoline rationing move

Iran's supreme leader on Saturday threw his weight behind a gasoline rationing scheme which sparked angry protests and left more than a dozen petrol stations burnt out in the world's fourth largest oil exporter.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority under its system of clerical rule, hailed the government's "bravery" in a speech to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and senior officials, state television reported.

Iranian Leaders Defend Fuel Rationing

Iran's top leaders defended a new fuel rationing plan Saturday that sparked violence earlier this week, saying it will free up funding for development projects and make the country "invincible," state-run television reported.

Iran’s stress on pricing flexibility, a reflection of tight energy market

While India and Pakistan want to fix the price for the next 25 years, Tehran is insisting on a contract clause that allows it to revise the selling price of its gas every three years.

$250 Billion in Subprime Losses?

Before we touch on the credit world, I want to briefly look at a development in the oil markets which I find intriguing. Dr. Woody Brock, in a recent paper on oil prices, wrote a rather interesting sentence, to wit, that Iran would not have net oil to export in 2014. I found that rather remarkable. Woody is very serious and sober-minded even for an economist, not given to rash analysis, but this was certainly a new idea to me. I knew they were importing most of their gasoline, as they do not have a great deal of refining capacity. As it turns out, there is much more to the story.

NOCs knocking on the market door

Historically, the large international oil companies (IOCs) such as BP, Total and ExxonMobil - all of which are have very high credit ratings - may have had the upper hand in global oil as a result of their expertise, technology and financial resources.

However, many of today's national oil companies (NOCs) have become equally formidable players, putting both very much on an equal playing field.

UN: Sri Lanka Govt. blocking fuel supplies to its Wanni offices

The United Nations is accusing the Sri Lankan government of starving its humanitarian agencies of much-needed fuel to operate vehicles and also generators which power freezers storing life-saving vaccines and other medicines. The continued power shortages, caused by lack of fuel, will soon affect the preservation of vaccines and essential medicines, the UN warned in a letter to Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa.

Zimbabwe senator arrested for defying price controls

The state-run Sunday Mail said a crack unit on price controls arrested Zanu-PF senator Siriro Majuru, of Murehwa-Goromonzi east of Harare, for allegedly over-pricing and hoarding basic commodities.

...Zimbabwe, reeling under hyperinflation, is critically short of essential items like wheat, fuel and food.

Fiji: Fuel price hike a worry

Rising fuel prices, deplorable road conditions and the increased number of competitors is threatening the future and viability of the bus industry in Fiji, says the Fiji Bus Operators Association.

South Korea and Ukraine sign uranium mining and nuclear power deal

South Korea has signed a deal to cooperate in building nuclear power plants and developing uranium with Ukraine, the country's energy ministry said on Sunday.

South Korea will help Ukraine build and operate nuclear power facilities and Ukraine will allow South Korea to join its uranium development projects, according to a memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries.

Protests by Native Groups in Canada Close Road and Rail Links

Canadian travelers faced road closings and rail shutdowns on Friday as they set out for the Canada Day holiday weekend during nationwide protests by native groups against the Conservative government over several recent disputes about land claims and financing.

Ethanol boom, retirements fuel railroad hiring

Myriad other factors also contributed to boosting the demand for railroad workers: the growth in container shipping; limits on how many hours long-haul truckers could drive; soaring gas prices; the Wyoming coal boom; and the demand for Midwestern corn for ethanol development.

Back on track: Railroads are acquiring competitive edge in shipping

Nobody likes the rising price of oil better than U.S. railroads.

As the cost of crude soars, rail is gaining a competitive edge after losing ground to trucks for half a century. Even as automotive plant closings and reduced U.S. housing construction have contributed to a 4.4 percent drop in train shipments this year, investors including Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn are flocking to railroad shares, betting that higher oil prices and surging Asian imports along with congested highways will boost long-term demand.

`We want our customers to know we plan to stay downtown'

While full- and mid-sized SUV sales are down, light truck sales are doing well. I'm optimistic that the third- and fourth-quarter sales should be strong. Our local economy continues to be very strong, with low unemployment and stable housing. What effect is this era of gasoline prices near $3 a gallon having on sales? Now that people are used to $2 to $3 gas, it's not as big a shock as it used to be. Although $3 is considered a psychological barrier, it has already been broken ... One thing has changed though: People in the past didn't ask about fuel mileage much. They do now. Gas prices are factoring more in people's buying decisions.

How is your dealership responding to concerns about gas prices in terms of your inventory?

GM and Chevrolet have come out with new products to address concerns about gas mileage. The Silverado pickup and Tahoe SUV were redesigned for 2007 and have sold really well. There is a gas electric hybrid Tahoe coming out in the fourth quarter of 2007 as an '08 model. They are looking to get a 25 percent increase in gas mileage.

Reducing need for coal power plants

South Carolina is one of the least energy-efficient states in the nation. We consume more electricity per capita than all but a few states and roughly twice as much as California. Efficiency and conservation are truly "low-hanging fruit" for our state. Other utilities recognize this and are taking bold steps to avoid the construction of new plants by promoting conservation.

Energy companies squirm under Congressional attention

"It shocked me the speed with which that legislation went from committee to the Senate floor," said Ben Shepperd, executive vice president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

While the tax provision was bad enough, he said, the fact that it took oil company dollars to fund alternative energy sources was "robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Venezuela: It's our oil

WHEN Venezuela's government announced this week that two American oil giants, Exxon Mobil and ConocoPhilips, would walk away from their large investment in the Orinoco heavy-oil belt rather than accept tough new contract terms, officials presented it as the recovery of sovereignty over another slice of the country's all-important oil industry. Some other Venezuelans saw a government blunder that could accelerate the decline of the state oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Either way, the impact of the walkout may not be immediate.

Big Oil and Big Media V. Hugo Chavez

If these actions by Venezuela and Russia succeed as is likely, they may influence other oil producing nations to follow a similar course and pursue plans for larger stakes in their own resources as well. Why not? They own them and even with less ownership interests, Big Oil will still earn huge profits from their foreign investments. They just won't be quite as huge as they once were with one-sided deals benefiting them most.

Little mileage left in carmakers’ excuses

Detroit needs to do something to get out of their self-dug rut, and this legislation may be just the ticket. Congress is handing them a golden opportunity to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, because they can’t afford to lose out to Toyota, Honda and others for too much longer. Is it of little coincidence that in this day of perpetually rising gas prices the “greenest” companies also sell the most cars? A new, higher-mileage fleet will help to free the Big Three from their stubborn and failing old ways of business — and may lead them back from the brink.

Ethanol is an Alice-in-Wonderland solution

Corn ethanol now barely makes a dent in the nation's oil dependence, and this Alice-in-Wonderland solution to the energy crisis is so divorced from economic reality that it must be regarded as disingenuous. Ethanol production this year will reach 6 billion gallons, but that amounts to just 4.3 percent of the gasoline sold. If ethanol production were three times greater, it would replace only 10 percent of the gasoline in a country that depends on imports for two-thirds of the oil it uses.

Price of oil and water still mix - Boaters ignore high fuel prices

"Just our gas is going up, but since fiberglass is a petrol product, I think we'll find the price of the boats themselves go up. The biggest impact will probably be on people thinking of buying boats."

Companies adapt to steep fuel costs

High gas prices don't slow down Iowa businesses. They modify routines, adopt new technology and reward employees who conserve.

Several Iowa firms come to a simple realization: Saving fuel equals saving money.

South Jersey family farms struggle to make ends meet

"With the cost of fuel that went up, that affects the cost of everything. Fertilizer went up through the roof because it's petroleum-based."

Creating an Energy Descent Action Plan (audio)

Rob Hopkins of TransitionCulture.org and Sonya Wallace of Creating a Sustainable Sunshine Coast (CASSC) tell GPM's Andi Hazelwood about creating an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) and dealing with the associated challenges.

A letter from Joe Bageant:

Emigrate to give and build, not just to save your own ass.
---more than you wanted to know about one man’s escape from America project

...After the issue of our rapidly diminishing freedoms, escape from America, emigration and finding a spot in the world in the face of what we all know is coming is the second most common topic of the hundreds of emails I receive weekly. Because I chose to leave the country (though I’ve had to return for a couple of months to fulfill some book contract obligations), I get an enormous number of questions about Belize, which I now consider home and where I personally sponsor a few very small scale development projects in the black Carib village of Hopkins. I do it alone mainly because anyone who has ever offered to help expects to be able to boss black people around and have a free Caribbean getaway home in exchange for his/her money or assistance. Please feel free to publish this letter on your site.

I am by no means an expert on matters of emigration to Belize or anyplace else. But here is my personal take on the matter, much of which goes against the grain of the rapidly growing American baby boomer migration to Mexico, Belize and other Latin American countries.

Edited to shorten it to a link and an excerpt.

Thanks, Leanan. I figured you would take care of it. How did you know where my blog was or that it was on it? You must be psychic or something.

Google. :-)

Hi Leanan,

News.google.com with keyword searches? I'm curious...

No, just the regular Google. I searched a phrase from the article (with quotes around it), and it came right up.

"Let me start by saying that yours is perhaps my favorite site for its truthfulness and I should have written to you folks a long time ago. Especially considering that you have been such strong and steady supporters of my own efforts on the Internet. Forgive me my tardiness in acknowledging my gratitude."

I believe this comment was intended for The Oil Drum crowd as I had asked him to write something for The Oil Drum about Belize as so many were mentioning it as a potential hidey hole.

I believe this comment was intended for The Oil Drum crowd as I had asked him to write something for The Oil Drum about Belize as so many were mentioning it as a potential hidey hole.

I have long considered such a move myself. I spent three weeks in Northern Honduras and the Bay Islands in 1997, and three weeks in Guatemala, around the Rio Dulce area, in 2000, looking for a place to retire, perhaps on my boat.

But I have since had second thoughts. I now believe an American that living in a third world country, when things really get tough, would be disastrous. Such a person would suffer the wrath of every starving person in the country.

"When law enforcement vanishes, all manner of violence breaks out: looting, settling old scores, ethnic cleansing, and petty warfare among gangs, warlords, and mafias. This was obvious in the remnants of Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, and parts of Africa in the 1990s, but can also happen in countries with long tradition of civility.”
- Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate.

Just being a member of any minority in any country would be a perilous position to be in. All manner of civil behavior would disappear. “Others” are always blamed for the misfortunes people suffer during times of crisis. And no better a target would exist than an American living amongst pitiful starving masses of a different culture and language, especially if law enforcement disappears. And one thing I found while in Honduras and Guatemala that law enforcement is already in very short supply there. It could completely disappear with little provocation.

While in La Cebia, Honduras, I was shocked to see an armed guard, with a shotgun, standing outside the local Burger King. Then I noticed the same thing at KFC, and everywhere else. Because robbery is so easy and the police so scarce, even fast food restaurants are forced to hire their own armed guards. I believe such a place would be an extremely dangerous place for an American during a local insurrection. And insurrections will be everywhere as we tumble over the cliff of diminishing fuel supplies.

Ron Patterson

While in La Cebia, Honduras, I was shocked to see an armed guard, with a shotgun, standing outside the local Burger King. Then I noticed the same thing at KFC, and everywhere else. Because robbery is so easy and the police so scarce, even fast food restaurants are forced to hire their own armed guards.

Have you visited an 'inner city' mall or fast food shop in the US of A?

Last 'inner city' mall I was at:
2 bill paying centers, 1 bank, 5 other units. at least 1 guard per store, and 3 'guards' in the general walking around area. These guards just lack the shotguns.

When you drive down the street and see an armed guard at every business with a cash register, or you have to step around a 20 year old with a shotgun when you visit your local Wendy's, then you can make a legitimate comparison.

Ron Patterson

yes, it could be wise to stay in your own country. For example in Europe we have a huge muslim immigrant population.
If i were a muslim in Europe, i would think about moving back to my muslim country.

WTSHTF the europeans could vote up new Hitlers, and kill the muslims, like the germans did with the jews. I believe this will be very likely. Most of ordinary people hate the muslims already. Everybody i talk to are negative to the muslim immigrants. Only the politicos are positive, and the matter is tabu for now, but it could very fast change if TSHTF.

Oh don't be shy now. Just say what you mean!!

I thought i did it.

Hello Swede,

Probably impossible to do because of our aggregate genetic desire to scapegoat others, but I thought an example near the very end of the movie "Gandhi" was hopeful:

The Goondas stand. They glance at Suhrawardy; he smiles tautly and they start to leave, but one (Nahari) lingers. Suddenly he moves violently toward Gandhi,taking a flat piece of Indian bread (chapati) from his trousers and tossing it forcefully on Gandhi.


Mirabehn and Azad start to move toward him – the man looks
immensely strong and immensely unstable. But Gandhi holds up a shaking hand, stopping them. Nahari's face is knotted in emotion, half anger, half almost a child's fear –
but there is a wild menace in that instability.

NAHARI: Eat! I am going to hell – but not with your death on my soul.
GANDHI: Only God decides who goes to hell . . .
NAHARI (stiffening, aggressive): I – I
killed a child . . . (Then an anguished defiance) I smashed his head against a wall.

Gandhi stares at him, breathless.

GANDHI (in a fearful whisper): Why? Why?

It is as though the man has told him of some terrible self-inflicted wound.

NAHARI (tears now – and wrath): They
killed my son – my boy!

Almost reflexively he holds his hand out to indicate the height of his son. He glares at Suhrawardy and then back at Gandhi.

NAHARI: The Muslims killed my son . . . they killed him.

He is sobbing, but in his anger it seems almost as though he means to kill Gandhi in retaliation. A long moment, as Gandhi meets his pain and wrath. Then

GANDHI: I know a way out of Hell.

Nahari sneers, but there is just a flicker of desperate curiosity.

GANDHI: Find a child – a child whose mother and
father have been killed. A little boy – about this high.

He raises his hand to the height Nahari has indicated as his son's.

GANDHI: . . . and raise him – as your own.

Nahari has listened. His face almost cracks – it is a chink of light, but it does not illumine his darkness.

GANDHI: Only be sure . . . that he is a Muslim. And
that you raise him as one.

And now the light falls on Nahari. His face stiffens, he swallows, fighting any show of emotion; then he turns to go. But he takes only a step and he turns back, going to his knees, the sobs breaking again and again from his heaving body as he holds his head to Gandhi's feet in the traditional greeting of Hindu son to Hindu father.A second, and Gandhi reaches out and touches the top of his head.
Mirabehn watches. The Goondas watch. Suhrawardy watches. Finally

GANDHI (gently, exhaustedly): Go – go.
God bless you . . .

Most likely: we will go the way of Tadeusz Borowski, #119198, who personally helped maybe 50,000 or more of his closest friends, "THIS WAY FOR THE GAS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!"

http://dieoff.com/page226.htm [Please be prepared: this is a gut-wrenching read]

Yeast don't choose sides, then resort to violence. =(

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

Hello Bob
WTSHTF i believe we will see a lot of this(see former Yugoslavia, Ruanda etc even before PO).

Hello Swede,

Thxs for responding. Yep, since, in the aggregate we refuse to peacefully control our population Overshoot and the planet's carrying-capacity, then, by default: we will genetically whittle our grand total down postPeak. Of course, Mother Nature will lend a hand to reinforce this blowback trend.

My hope is that eventually enough people will become Peakoil Outreach informed that we can somehow optimize our detritus decline, then ramp up effective biosolar strategies so the Bottleneck Squeeze is as effective as possible for the maximum # of lifeforms to reach the other side. Time will tell.

It won't be much fun if it is only humans and cockroaches on the last outpost of a tropical Ellesmere Island. =(

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

Funny you should bring this up. I ran across the story again in an anthology recently, after not having read it in many years.

It still shocks me.

Borowski killed himself before he reached 30 years old, I believe.

According to Nirad Chaudhuri,one of my fave writers, most of GHandi was a load of baloney. pure Hollywood and largely apocryphal. Of course G's himself was stage-manager extraordinaire so this is appropriate.


I have spent a lot of time in Central America (I drove from California to Costa Rica, then island hopped through the Caribbean, finally ending up in Columbia- long story), and surfed in Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica fairly frequently.
Anyway, forget Central America- with the exception of Nicaragua, all are client states of the US, with the usual huge difference in class, wealth, and all the suffering and violence that those conditions cause. Argentina or Chile offer greater opportunities for emigration, with educated populaces out of the thumb of the corporate jackals of the World Bank, and the economic slavery that brings on. Plus, Venezuela seems to be honestly trying to create a true Boleverian Revolution, with possible more energy security (possibly being the key word)
Personally, it is BC for me--

I feel you are right Ron. The scarest phrase Post Peak I think will be "You're not from around here are ya?"

I wouldn't think a country/cultural change at this time. I was in San Paulo Bz and Bueno Aries Argentina a few years ago, and wouldn't want to be there post peak for example.

Immigrants will have the same experience here in rural areas I believe. In cities enclaves of different groups will spring up more than there is now.

I'm from the northeast US and our citie had a german section, an italian section, a polish section, an irish section(Only citie with a traffic light has the Green Light over the Red Light),

Those families with roots that still exist in rural america I think will fall back there to some degree.

Watch for water to seek it's own level in times to come.
Stratification will increase.

(Only citie with a traffic light has the Green Light over the Red Light)

The only one I know of in the northeast US is in Syracuse NY.

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

On location and re-location.

I think that my best option is to continue to "bloom where I am planted" and work on making things better here.

Of course any plans can change due to unforeseen developments, which are not necesarily PO related.

I do think that it is good to evaluate where one might like to live in terms of peak oil and global warming.

A good time to make any changes might be sooner rather than later.

I am in a pretty good location with some good relationships and fairly local options for short-distance relaocation if things get too crazy in the city. (Minneapolis, MN)

Other thoughts on the "stay put" vs "find a new place in the sun" issue?

I think we will all die, so we just need to figure out what we want to do betweeen now and then. My priority has slightly less to do with long-term survival than with living for positive change while I can amidst the mainstream culture. Tilting at windmills, perhaps.

Thank you Leanan and Sid
I believe what your friend Joe finds most repulsive about Americans is the belief held by many of 'American Exceptionalism.' When I was younger I thought that if Americans were immersed in other cultures that their hubris would somehow be diminished. Now I realize that exposure of Americans to other cultures generally reinforces American hubris. Casting the pearls before the swine makes the swine no more intelligent.


Actually, I believe the opposite - that is, common Americans have been travelling less for a generation, and that is not merely coincidental. A silly example - in the early 1990s, the number of Malaysian students studying at American universities was greater than the entire number of American university students studying overseas.

Essentially, at this point, the message most Americans hear about overseas concerns 'threats' to their safety. The groups that tend to travel this most in American society also tend to be inured to actually integrating - Mormon and other missionaries, military personnel, the upper class.

This lack of experience of a broader world is one of the more useful tools available to ensure that Americans have no way to compare and contrast their own way of living with any others.

This may be one of the more interesting things about Sicko - it actually seems to open a window into certain aspects of daily life in other societies - and apparently, even this short glimpse is almost revolutionary.

Americans have become so American-centric they seem even unaware of it - any observations about how they live which don't fit their own opinions or self-image is immediately dismissed as being 'anti-American.'

Facts, like the example above concerning university students, play little role in American discourse at this point. It remains one of the attractions of peak oil to me.

Oh, and as a little side note - notice how the price of oil has been climbing steadily since Gonu? What an odd little juxtaposition - unprecendented and vicious storm in a major oil producing region, and afterwards, rising prices, as if the amount of oil available was less than the market anticipated. Merely a factor in a very complex situation, of course, possibly one which doesn't even exist - or one which has simply faded into the background, just like the permanent destruction of oil infrastructure in the Gulf Of Mexico.

You stated 'Actually I believe the opposite...', followed by a string of excuses for Americans that believe they are exceptional.
1) 'common Americans have been traveling abroad for less than a generation.' Where did you get that idea? I have been traveling abroad all my life (now over 60) and I am not rich, not a mormon and not in the military. I have encountered thousands of Americans abroad and most have been unwealthy, unmilitary, and unmormon.
2) 'Americans hear of threats to their safety.' I agree, but in what way do threats to their safety give them leave to think of themselves as exceptional?
3) 'Lack of experience of a broader world...snip...ensure Americans have no way to compare their own way of living with that of others.' I agree that they have no basis for comparison. If Americans cannot compare then why do they assume they are exceptional? Besides, the government still issues passports for a nominal fee. I have not seen any Americans with anchors tied to their asses.
4) '...Sicko...opens a glimpse into other cultures...glimpse is revolutionary.' Yes, and there are also a wealth of foreign films that offer glimpses of foreign cultures and are generally much more entertaining than anything coming out of Hollywood.
5 'Americans have become so self centric...unaware of it...anything that dont fit their own self image or opinions are immediately dismissed as anti-American.' Yes, this is called ignorance.
5) PO is PO, not on subject of being an expat in Belize or American exceptionalisim.
6) I respect and appreciate what you are doing for the people of Belize. I have worked in foreign countries and lived as a native. To help people that really need help gives one a feeling like no other. However, your response in no way excuses the Americans living in Belize in 'American compounds.' There behavior is the picture of ignorance and is typical of those that accept the concept of American exceptionalisim without ever even considering what they are doing. They have the opportunity to become familiar with a foreign culture, and that would probably change their lives for the better, yet they choose to remain ignorant.

Oops - that first sentence is not merely confusing (or wrong, if you prefer), it place the opening in context, Another try -
'For a generation, the number of average Americans simply travelling abroad has been declining.' Which itself is based on some data and some anecdotes. A nice link at http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2003/01/31/how_many_america.php gives some additional perspective to that opening comment providing some context to what I mean. If we exclude immigrants travelling back to countries where they came from, the number of Americans I know who simply take a month to travel in a foreign country has declined over the last 25 years - in part, because how many Americans do you know with a month of free time and adequate savings to travel, especially compared to 25 years ago? The amount of military overseas, and especially those living on the economy, has also declined markedly over that time span.

As for exceptionalism - it is much easier to remain convinced of your exceptionalism if your only experience of other cultures is essentially zero (another place where the text is less than perfect, I see). There is an interesting German expression that translates to 'they only cook with water too.'

I come from Northern Virginia - the number of movie theaters playing non-Hollywood films has been declining around DC since I was 25. A complicated subject, but even a normal video store offered little in the way of foreign films. Obviously, how things are today in the U.S. in terms of Netflixx/Amazon/etc is beyond my experience.

Point number six seems to explain some of the confusion - I don't live in Belize, and was only commenting that in my opinion, the problem is that fewer Americans who aren't immigrants experience the world - though the pearls before swine may still apply, it is not the major problem currently.

People do what they want to do. If Americans choose not to travel abroad it is because a great many of them have been taken in by the consumer economy that surrounds them and have chosen to spend their discretionary income on consumer goods instead of travel. I ceed the point that some Americans do not have the means to travel abroad, some through no fault of their own. The ignorance in America is monumental. Americans have been distracted by bread and circus while their opponents in the class war have taken from them thier unions, their jobs, their overtime, their vacations, their decent standard of living, their health care and have left them in a state of fear for the miserable jobs that remain. Only an ignorant people would watch football on tv while so much was being taken from them. Ignorance, and the belief in American esceptionalisim, in our country springs from terrible schools that teach little of other countries and cultures or anything else except a bit of rote learning. They act, more than anything, as a day care service. After a couple of generations of such poor public education it becomes the norm. The entire system from grade school through college has been degraded. When all are rendered ignorant who remains to point it out?
All public libraries have computers with internet connections. Most films ever made are available from Amazon, Ebay, Half.com, and numerous internet sources. Many can be purchased used for bargain prices. Most of these same public libraries have movies that can be checked out just as books are available.
The 'pearls before swine' is definitely an appropriate analogy.

I think it must be more than just the lack of actual travelling overseas - the opportunities are more and the costs of travel somewhat less for Americans than they are for young Australians, yet here there has long been a "rite of passage" that many of us are almost expected to go through - finish Uni, then backpack through Europe (usually) for a year, working odd jobs if you can.
Personally I missed out (which I have some small regrets over), but at least I have travelled to Europe, SE-Asia, South America and the U.S. - and I'm little more than half your age. Why there should be such a different level of desire to even travel overseas between Australians and Americans (and probably similarly between Canadians and Americans) is hard to understand. I'm sure it must have something to do with the level of confidence about your own country's "importance" in the world - Australians are known to suffer a level of "cultural cringe" that, while often unnecesarily harsh, at least motivates us to go out there and see all these other countries and cultures that we all secretly know are better than ours. Americans appear to suffer something of the opposite effect. You might think events like 9/11 and the Iraq debacle would at least start to cause younger Americans to question their confidence in their own country's superiority, perhaps encouraging them to travel overseas a little more. I suppose it's too early to tell whether that's actually happening at all. But if it does, peak oil might put an abrupt end to it, which would be a shame.

Wizofaus thanks for the response. BTW, Australia is turning out some excellent films. I especially enjoy the comedys.

In Feb, 1967, I left America for a 1 1/2 years of bumming and working my way through Europe, Greece and Turkey. I had just completed four years in the navy and had seen most of the Med but not as a civilian. I hitched, missed a lot of meals, sometimes slept in fields, met lots of great people, and had a wonderful time. In 1967 this was common practice among American youth. Viet Nam was beginning to roar and the draft age kids knew that they had to try for college deferments or get drafted. Many that I met in Europe, when they found that I had been in the navy, wanted advice about what to do. I convinced some of them to join the Navy or Air Force to avoid becoming cannon fodder(3 year enlistment vs 2 in the Army) or to take a four year enlistment and go to school on the GI Bill (what I did). I have tried to understand why kids dont take the opportunity to go to Europe now when they graduate hs and prior to starting college. I dont know the answer. After most kids finish college today they have large school loans to pay off so they get jobs right away but the hs graduates of today are afraid to just go to Europe without a car, credit card, lots of cash, etc. They have a different mind set than the kids of 1967. We were hippies and naieve enough to think we needed to see the world, get an education, then change the world...lol. My fellow travelers and I did not think of America as 'better than any other country', in fact, just the opposite. We saw America as a war mongering nation and would sometimes would try to pass for Brits because we didnt want to admit that we were Americans (four years in the navy is an education about American policies abroad). I doubt we fooled any Europeans. American youth today dont seem to have an adventurous spirit. Like I said, I dont know the answer, and perhaps it is because there is too much of a generational gap between them and me. I fear that they will miss an opportunity that will not come their way again.

The student loans aspect I hadn't thought of.
In Australia we have a system that makes a lot of sense - government subsidised interest-free loans that don't need to be paid off until you're earning enough. There were a lot of objections to the system when it was first introduced (given that previously under-graduate education was free), but even though it took me a good 5+ years to pay off my loan, and it represented a significant drain on my salary, it always seemed like a well justified expense (even though I was offered a good-paying full-time job well before I graduated).
Do student loans in the U.S. start accumulating interest immediately, and have minimum payment requirements regardless of salary (like any other loan, that is).

Yes, even the federally subsidized loans start accruing interest as soon as you take them out (all be it at a very low rate). This means that the loans I took out to cover freshmen year were charging me interest all through undergrad and grad school. Now I went to a State school so my tuition wasn’t that ridiculous. But even the 30+ k loan I ended up with when all was said and done (and consolidated) needed a $200 payment 6 months after I got my diploma. You can only defer if you go back to school for another degree.

As for bumming around Europe, the only people I know who did that were either rich or did a study abroad semester (and those kids were usually rich). Also, while you can backpack around Europe on the cheap you first have to get to Europe. The airlines generally frown upon hitchhiking.

When I graduated it took me 9 months to land a job. The first three student loan payments blew what little savings I had. When I did get a job and moved to where I’m at now the security deposit and first months rent went on the credit card. No traveling for me.

Besides, we all know us amurikins rock so what’s the point? :)

"No man who owns his own house and lot can be a Communist. He has too much to do." (Bill Levitt - 1948)

A $250,000 in student debt is normal for medical doctors.


Wizofaus, I am hearbroken to see what you write here, and if I wanted to be uncharitable, I would say it is not simply that people in the US know nothing of the rest of the world, but that people in other countries no nothing of the history of the places in which they live. I am from Australia too. I am not that old, and I am telling you that my tertiary education was FREE. One of the greatest shocks I received on returning to Oz for a holiday last year was to hear all this appalling cr*p about 'student loans', and on a US scale. What is wrong with you all? Why aren't you setting fire to things in the street? How did you all just buy this stuff without even a whimper? I can't believe it. Did you have no idea that people in the generation before yours didn't pay a cent for this stuff? And yet you accepted that you ought to?

If even the young, who have the least to lose, won't fight, then no one will. Australia is doomed. No one knows, no one remembers, no one fights. Everyone will sleepwalk along in some reverie about good old John Howard (even though the boomming economy is all about China, and nothing else), and then it will all fall apart when the US goes belly-up and China tanks. You should know that from hanging out here.

God. You all deserve what you get. A midget, in all senses of the term, as one of the nation's longest serving leaders.

A constant refrain here is that US people are sheep, but I tell you now that Australians are far, far worse.

Well, like I said, I was one of the early ones for whom tertiary education required a HECS loan. I would tend to agree that it would preferable that tertiary education was fully subsidised, although I wouldn't be too keen on knowing my taxpayer dollars were funding so many mostly worthless law or management degrees either.
But I've never known anyone for whom HECS was a difficult burden financially. Many of my friends were musicians (I did a Music degree as well as a Science one), some of whom are probably today, over 10 years later, still not earning enough to be paying much (if any) HECS - which they're fine with.
I'm sure if Howard had his way he'd love to introduce something more akin to what the U.S. has, but Education funding has always been an important electoral issue here, and I doubt he'd get away with it anyway.

I spent a good % of Sunday with 27 young IN SHAPE upper middle class (mostly) kids bicycling from Jacksonville to San Francisco. They spent a week in New Orleans doing volunteer labor. Sunday was their "day off".


They began to pick up on the cultural differences here in New Orleans.

All is not lost :-)

Best Hopes for diversity of culture within the US as well as outside,


Americans are traveling less, and very few even have a passport--
Plus USA people work all the time--
Australians are planning that motorcycle trip through Asia with their 6 weeks, and Euros are off to all parts of the Planet--
USA Americans are shell shocked with 2 weeks off, and quite uncomfortable with free time.
Work is a addiction for USA Americans, and keeps them from facing reality.

I'm not convinced that explains the difference between student-level or just-graduated Americans vs Australians.
Unless perhaps American colleges/universities deliberately push students into jobs as quickly as possible?
BTW, I've never heard of anyone doing a 'motorcycle trip through Asia' - is that a genuine phenonemon? Flatting in London while working at the local to pay for jaunts off around the rest of Europe still seems to be the prevailing stereotype, and I know several people who've done just that (or similar enough).

My brother has a dive business on the Great Barrier Reef--
Yes. it's true. I have been hanging in NZ, and with the exception of rich fly fishermen, Americans are few and far between- Lot's of Euro's and Aussies.
Most American Students can't find Iraq on a map--
Some can't even find the USA, and that must be quite challenging to be that ignorant.

Funny that people keep calling me "wizo" - does the missing '-ard' really make it that ambiguous?

Generalizing about a nation of 300 million people is a waste of everyone's time.

While we are wasting bytes discussing each of our tiny views of reality here, I and my wife both traveled to Europe after graduation, and we have many friends who did as well.

Enough of us found Iraq well enough on the map to invade it. The same will hold true for future military endeavors. We Amercuns even put a high-falootin GPS system up into outer space to help us when we take a wrong turn on the way to overpowering places that have stuff we need. We don't want all of our citizens to know where Iraq is on a map. In a uniformly highly educated population, few would be content to work retail.

And by the way, being ignorant in America might possible be the easiest lifestyle available on the planet. It comes naturally to millions of people, and they seem to be loving it.

"And by the way, being ignorant in America might possible be the easiest lifestyle available on the planet. It comes naturally to millions of people, and they seem to be loving it."

Please. Obviously consoling your elitist soul with that one. Perhaps you need to do a little slumming to find out what your own country is really like.

I'm sure they are really loving not seeking medical treatment even when they really need it because they can't afford it and have no insurance.

I'm sure they are really loving it, never being able to afford even minor luxuries or time off.

I'm sure they really love being taken advantage of at every turn because they did not have the opportunity for a real education that would help them to understand what is going on around them and to reason out the truth. Ignorance is not bliss, it is one abuse after another.

I'm sure they enjoy being worn out by 45 when elitist scum like you live almost twice as long.

America is not the pretty face presented in the media. Life for the disenfranchised in this country is demeaning, degrading and short.

Look to the French Revolution. The elite tried to reason with a dienfranchised population who were not taught to reason. They sought mercy from people who had never been shown any. They plead for their lives to people who had watched too many loved ones die needlessly. When TSHTF, what will come naturally, will be hunting down people like you to exact their vengeance.

Your final hours may be like the movie 'Deliverance'.

Well, I'm poor and living on a meager pension, but all I ever do since retiring 25 years ago is travel, both in the US and all over. What helps me is that I'm fluent in a number of languages and almost no one would guess my nationality.

The main reason I have stayed in the US the last couple of years is the devaluation of the dollar which makes most places way too expensive. No big deal, you need more then a lifetime to travel every road here.

Hello Expat,

As a side note on Cyclone Gonu's effects:

As to the economic cost, the damage of infrastructure alone is put anywhere between $2.6 billion and $3.25 billion. Undoubtedly, this is a large amount for a relatively small economy like that of Oman. The country's gross domestic product (GDP) amounts to about $31 billion.

Real cost

Yet, the real cost is certainly higher taking into account the economic notion of opportunity cost. This is a reference to alternative use of funds and lost opportunities.
Imagine how Murkins would react if 10-15% of our National GDP and infrastructure was instantly wiped out in a storm, terrorist attack, or earthquake. It would probably take Martial Law to maintain order.

Another interesting find from my google:

Iran-Oman gas pact to open new export routes

Analysts say Iran could use Oman as a transit route for its gas, which could be processed at Oman's Qalhat LNG plant. The plant can make just under 10 million tonnes of LNG per year.

"Potentially you could have Iranian gas actually being piped to Oman and then liquefied and sold on international markets," said Stuart Lewis, Middle East director at energy consultancy IHS.
Seems like an Iranian defensive strategy in case the US Navy blockades Hormuz.

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

So...do you really think that the US will blockade the Straights of Hormuz? And do you honestly think that if this hypothetical blockade were to happen, what is stopping the vaunted US blockade from cutting the gas pipeline? Do you realize there is a relatively large body of water that separates the two countries...

To blockade any port, channel or waterway is internationally recognized as an act of war. Iran, Pakistan and India are accepting proposals and bids on a $4 billion pipeline that would connect the three countries. The US is attempting to bluff Iran with a bit of battleship diplomacy but Iran has not blinked. If the lunatic Cheney has his way this administration will attack Iran prior to the 08 elections, but a great deal of pressure, by the very powerfull in America, is being put on Cheney and those that surround and support him. Each day that passes without an attack on Iran sees Cheney grow weaker and less able to pursue such action. Another war in the mid east will do nothing to advance the long term interests of the US. Only the interests of Israel will be advanced by such a war and then only in the short term. It is long past time to send the children of this administration back to kindergarten and re-staff the state department with professionals that are able to conduct the diplomacy that will advance American interests in the mid east. The American military has proven once again that military action will not suffice when only diplomatic solutions can possibly succeed. How many times must we learn this same lesson?...'Experience runs and expensive school but fools will learn in no other'...Ben Franklin

I suspect that the emerging excuse for staying in Iraq will be that the US needs a large military presence to serve as a check on Iran.

However, as we discussed the other day, this strategy is dependent on the American military's willingness to continue to die or to be maimed for life, basically to maintain access to and/or control of Middle Eastern oil fields They are seeing a "Continuous cycle of fighting, training, deploying, fighting etc. and they see no end in sight. They have seen their closest friends killed and maimed, leaving young spouses and children as widows and single parent kids." (WSJ article)

Petroleum Intelligence Weekly Headline (6/22/07):
Iraqi Crude Exports Rise to US, Drop Sharply to Asia in June

i wonder if this penis waving over iran is not just an excuse for the price of oil to rocket. a cover-up of peak oil really.

how will peak oil play out............ afganistan, iraq, nigeria, iran, to name a few.

Hello PartyGuy,

1. I have no idea if the US will blockade or when--just my speculation that Iran sees this Omani hookup as a defensive strategy.

2. Yep, the US will probably cut this pipeline, but that will probably turn the Omanis against us. More likely, as a future privatized 'pirate navy': we will not cut the pipeline but somehow economically force the Omanis to sell/give the LNG to the controlling topdogs. Again, speculation on my part, but the Iranians want to probably counter this by pipelines running to China/India/Pakistan/etc so their armies/navies will counter ours.

3. I am not an engineer, but evidently, Iranian and Omani engineers must think this pipeline is doable.

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

I thought the US Navy precence in the area is to keep the strait of Hormuz OPEN. If someone blocks the straits, it will moore likely bee Iran(if they are attacked by US/Irael).
Or have i missed something?

Hello Swede,

Speculation on an alternative strategy: US Navy lets the tankers of friends through [KSA, Iraq, UAE], but Iranian-flagged or Iranian filled ships are prohibited, or taxed heavily to exit the Hormuz Strait. That is why I think Iran wants to go to pipelines--to effectively blunt this US naval blockade possibility.

Cid Yama,

Thanks for the link. Its interesting to hear a perspective from an American emigre in Belize, I've known several of them, and considered it myself.


Unless I am confusing you with another poster, I believe you mentioned once that you are diabetic. If so, have you or others considered medical care availability and how you would retain access to medications neccessary for your health and survival. While I suspect that will become an important issue for many in the U.S. post peak, I would think that access to critical meds would be much harder in remote countries than where we are presently located.

Thanks for your concern, my other main potential place to move would be Costa Rica, which has an excellent public health system.
Belize just isn't that remote. Its about 1,000 miles south of Houston, although the plane service is through Miami. I know at least 4 people who've moved there and lived there over the last 30 years. Its also close to both Mexico City and Havana, both places with good medical care.

>Thanks for your concern, my other main potential place to move would be Costa Rica, which has an excellent public health system.

Is Insolin and most essential drugs and medical supplies manufactured in Costa Rica? Modern Medicine is 100% dependant on industrialized infrastruture. Even if all of the medical supplies and drugs are manufactured locally its still likely to fail because the raw materials used in the manufacturing are still imported from some where else.
I wouldn't coun't any Public Healthcare system remaing good after a crisis.

If I recall Costa Rica last summer or fall, faced rolling black outs because of low water reserves (aka hydro power). Since Costa Rica is in a tropical zone, risks to tropical born diseases are subtantially higher. Without proper treatment, your life could end up pretty misable.

>I know at least 4 people who've moved there and lived there over the last 30 years.

I don't believe its wise to assume that after a fall, that things will remain the same. Mexico is already having trouble and in some areas. In Mexico, Americans are kidnapped and held for randsom. The practice of randsoming Americans is wide spread in Latin America. I can't imagine how bad things will get down in South America, but I doubt it will fair any better than the US.

Insulin is produced in Costa Rica, as well as in El Salvador, by branches of US and EU pharmaceutical companies, the same types I got in the US. Insulin and syringes are covered by the basic health care but most non-generic pills and meds are not.

In the US my doctor had me on several BP meds, several diabetic pills, and insulin. After moving here, with the better diet and more exercise, I am off of all but the insulin.

When/If TSHTF in my lifetime, I think this place will do better than most, and I will feel a lot safer here than I would in Alabama. There are a lot fewer guns and right wing religious crazies here than there. Plus, we are surrounded by food, bananas, citrus, mangoes, not to mention that other black gold, coffee.

I think the gringos that will have trouble anywhere are those who live in large cities, or haven't taken the time to learn anything about the culture or language of their adopted land, or who haven't bothered to get to know their neighbors and their community. There are gated communities down here and there is no way I'd live in one of those.

Joe Bageant is a very entertaining writer, judging from some of his essays. Here's an example that will hit home to those of us that survived the 1960's:


It is to be hoped that his new book will do very well, although then he might be caught in the celebrity trap he warns us about. Naa...

E. Swanson

I also have been reading Joe Bageant for a while. GREAT writer.

I have often called him the "NASCAR Kunstler".

I highly recommend anyone.

The Beauty of the System

Madmen and Sedatives: Inside the Iron Theater

Somewhere a Banker Smiles

Or any of the titles on the left side.

Sightly off topic but I realized last night that we have achieved the alchemist's dream of turning lead into gold.

The trick is simple. If you don't take our paper money and accept it as money as you once did gold we fill you with hot lead traveling faster than sound. Viola lead becomes gold.

In Mexico it is referred to as 'plata o plomo' , silver or lead, but the mechanism is somewhat different. It refers to the use of bribery to ensure that politicians are corrupt and therefore at the mercy of those who would be wanting their services in future. A clean politician has a short campaign trail as was demonstrated by the assassination of Donald Colosio in Tijuana perhaps a dozen years ago.

Somewhat like doping in cycling, as long as it is universal the playing field is level. Whether the PRD - the left of center party which got 49.7% of the vote - is/was 'clean' is a matter of great conjecture, but I have the feeling that a PRD victory in last year's elections was just not going to be allowed to happen; the sad part is that the gap between the reality and the outcome became too large to have any credibility with the masses. When no one you know or know of voted for the winner, it is hard to imagine how you lost. This, combined with the oil export situation, is a far greater threat to stability than illegal immigration or tortilla prices.

Mexico is such a marvelous country but so disastrously mismanaged that the possible path to redemption is hard to visualize. I blame the Catholic church which, while diligently providing the local organization and necessary services that substituted for the destroyed culture, failed to move past a 17th century worldview and totally stifled any Enlightenment accomodations that were made in other Catholic provinces. Thus you have Sancho Panza versus the 20th century.

The overwhelming fact is that this mess is sharing a border with the US. There is nowhere in the world where one can get the stark societal contrast that going from the back streets of Tijuana to San Diego in its opulence will. I'm in no way blaming the US for this; Spain and the church managed just fine on their own. However, the reality of the situation sits right across the southern border.

What also strikes me is that the situation could get worse, and the oil export inevitability will, along with an ever expanding population, just accelerate the tragedy. In a way, they are better off in Guatemala or Honduras where the population is more rural and self sufficient; Mexico's urbanisations will become nightmares in a Central American version of long emergency. PO is a world problem and thinking that only the rich countries will be sorely affected is fallacious.

This may come as a shock, but Mexico IS a rich country.

From the CIA World Factbook 2007:
Rank Order - Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Mexico is 11th out of 153 economies listed. (the US was 15th)
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Mexico is 15th out of 229 economies listed. (the US was #1 by this measure)
GDP - real growth rate:
Mexico ranked 110th out of 216 with a growth rate of 4.8%. (the US ranked 153rd with a 3.2% growth rate.

By any measure on a world scale, Mexico is a relatively wealthy nation, though it of course doesn't even come close to it's overconsuming northerly neighbor. The back streets of Tijuana are opulent compared to almost any urban center in most of Africa, (and a lot of places much closer than Africa) though that may not be evident if one only has San Diego to compare with.

I don't disagree with much of your comment (other than that the PRD might be "clean" --not a chance) but the tone seems to echo what many US politicians and their lackeys are programming the public up there to believe: the border is about to be overrun by hordes of unwashed subhumans. The foreign bogeyman...hey, it's used all the time in Mexico, too. And for the same reasons; to distract the masses from the real internal problems that the country faces and the utter incompetence of the elected leaders to do anything about them.

I never discounted the potential or actual, for the few, wealth of Mexico. Nothing magic happens at the border that suddenly condemns them to poverty. What I am referring to are the shanties constructed of tin scraps on a foundation of tires that from time to time slide down onto the 'freeway'. I've spent plenty of time in the backwoods of Mexico and speak the language and culture almost too well.

Lots of 'real' money comes into Mexico daily. Resorts, tourism, investments have definitely dealt the Mexicans a good hand in comparison to the paltry amount of 'tourodollars' that end up in United Fruit/Honduras for example. The tragedy of Mexico is that just when the possibility of of a chance at first world opulence appears, the oil revenue looks set to fall. I'm not saying that the result would be a wholesale rush to the border because by that time the USA won't be in great shape either.

Subtract the oil revenue from your figures and tell me how far up the list Mexico is. Then subtract the amount of foreign capital that would be gone if the oil revenue falls off. Then tell me how wonderfully the economy will function. Then subtract a whole pile of tourist money when jet travel takes a fall.

Westtexas export land model is about to occur just south of the Rio Grande. I don't personally care how many Mexicans cross the border or whatever. Whether my tone happens to coincide with US politicians is not my concern; Mexicans are. You can't help but love those people and they deserve far better than they have got. I don't give a crap what Americans think of the situation; it just is, and it isn't likely to get any prettier, unfortunately.

I used to spend my free time in Mexico but the drug situation just got to the point that you are not safe except in the tourist zones. For a limited time in the 70's and 80's there was relative freedom and safety, but now it is over. I used to travel by motorcycle down there and live pretty close to the ground, but I'm glad I did that then and not now.

Wher there's no greed there's no fear.

Hello Petrosaurus,

Well said. From memory: I believe Mexican remittances from the US to their families back home is the second largest component of their GDP after Pemex. A big recession in the US will hammer Mexico too.

Bob Ebersole, formerly known at oilmanbob

Hola Petrosaurus!

I love Mexico and Mexicans, too. The main thing thats wrong with Mexico is that its too close to the United States. The new oil law being pushed through the puppet Iraqi Parliament has shown the Neocon's hand; it really was blood for oil. Mexico is underexplored, there should be a lot of oil and gas left in the country, and that's bad news for Mexico if the US continues to pursue resource wars.
I don't know if the remittances will slow down much. Mexicans will do any kind of work, and their loyalties are to their families. Its one of their best traits, and used to be a virtue in our society too.

Whether my tone happens to coincide with US politicians is not my concern

I can believe that.

New Mexico's Spaceport America

I live in El Paso, Texas, and just 80 miles or so north of here in New Mexico is still under-construction Spaceport America near the White Sands Missile Range. I was near that area yesterday, and took a moment to reflect on this project, a government-subsidized/private industry partnership which in my opinion is a gigantic boondoggle that will not survive peak oil.

I don't know if the project's been discussed before on TOD, or how many people here have paid any attention to it. Anyway, being so nearby, I have an interest in what they are doing, even if only to shake my head at it.

With something like $200 million of scarce New Mexico state funds being poured into it, the idea is to create a launching area for private companies to make money. None of the planned rockets will be powerful enough to reach orbit, which means there will be no commercial satellite launches (the only genuinely useful space business that currently exists).

So what will be launched on these suborbital flights that will quickly crash back to earth? Well, we got an idea from the first "successful" launch on April 28, which carried the ashes of Star Trek's Scotty (actor James Doohan), plus Gordon Cooper (one of NASA's first astronauts). There were also ashes from more than 200 other people whose families paid for the privilege. The payload was then recovered, and the ashes presented to family members. Inspirational messages hailing Cooper and Doohan were also launched during the flight alongside messages from students in Japan and the U.S., star dedications and a music album composed and performed for Celestis by the Russian band Cyclotimia.

The flight was hailed as a big success.

However, this wasn't the first attempt. A rocket launched from the same spot on September 25, 2006, spun out of control and crashed. It's fortunate that the only passengers on board were already dead. But that is going to change, with place afoot to begin passenger flights. For a mere $200,000, people will be able to take a thrilling 15-minute ride to an altitude of 70 miles, and briefly experience weightlessness on the fall back to earth.

The government subsidy (roughly $200 million) for the spaceport is being paid for by a special sales tax which was approved by southern New Mexico voters in a referendum in April. People living in the area whom I've talked to sincerely believe that Spaceport America will soon create a booming economy for the region.

My feeling is that by the time this project is ready to fly passengers, we'll be into peak oil far enough that there may be queues at the gas stations. How are we going to justify joy rides for millionaires when angry consumers won't be able to fill the tanks of the SUV's and motor homes?

ozonehole, great post, the spaceport under construction near you isnt the only boondoggle in progress. I live not far from the Kennedy Space Center where launches of the space shuttles take place. Some good science has come out of the shuttle missions and the repair of the Hubble telescope was a great accomplishment for the astronauts but most of the knowledge that we have gained about space and other bodies in our solar system came from the much less costly unmanned science missions. Now the shuttles are old and practically worn out but NASA continues to patch them up for one more flight. The astronauts going into space are putting together a giant erector set called the space station...for what? A large part of NASAs budget depends on keeping the shuttle program going...so they keep it going. The money would be better spent in more unmanned science probes. All this nonsense started because NASA realized that the public would be more interested in manned spaceflight and astronauts and that funding would be easier to get for manned missions so that is where they spend the bulk of their budget. Putting men on the moon was probably the high point of our space program but we have been there, done that. Its time to use NASAs budget for real science.

Why River?

Because ALL shuttle missions are MILITARY missions.

The head of NASA stated this explicity a few years back. This was at an ebb of popular support and he knew who buttered his bread. It's entirely propped-up by the military. I suspect a good bit of our investment/interest in the space station is as well.

Remember in earlier years, those shuttle missions whose purpose was described, wholly and completely, as 'military'. Entire missions and no details...

We continue along, for now, with space and world domination plans full speed ahead. PNAC anybody?

What do you mean by "all shuttle missions are military missions"? The last military mission was STS-53 in 1992, after that all the missions are civilian. Or is building ISS a military mission in your book?

Hi River,

I agree with you entirely. I've also been a great non-fan of the space shuttle ever since its inception. Seems like its only purpose has been to send astronauts on joy rides in low-earth orbit. The international space station was invented later mainly for the purpose of giving the shuttle crews something to do, as well as for the sake of being a showpiece of "international cooperation".

I'm not sure if the news made it your way, but just a couple of weeks ago there was another great "successful" space shuttle mission. It got non-stop news coverage on our local TV stations and in the newspapers because one of the astronauts was Danny Olivas, from El Paso. There were, of course, the requisite interviews with his family, high school teachers, former classmates, etc. I think the city had one big collective orgasm. Which reinforces my view that the space shuttle is simply a big national feel-good project.

As for the Hubble Space Telescope, it is indeed a great scientific instrument, but it easily could have been launched and periodically replaced using an unmanned rocket at much lower cost. However, that would have been much less entertaining than having shuttle crews doing space walks.

Even for what very limited useful work the shuttle can do, it could be better done with a space capsule. It just doesn't make sense to bring wings and wheels into space. These things add complexity, numerous points of failure, and huge cost. However, "space planes" look really cool, and meet the public's expectation that "space exploration" is a Star Wars or Buck Rogers type adventure. Plus the US aerospace industry loves the billions in subsidies that might otherwise go to less profitable (but far more useful) space missions like sending an unmanned craft to retrieve soil samples from Mars.

Yes, you're right. The zenith of manned US space missions was reached with the Apollo flights to the moon. Since then, only unmanned missions have done anything useful, but these have been seriously budget-constrained because the space shuttle and international space stations soaks up the lion's share of the funding. And I'm afraid that in the post-peak oil world, useful space exploration will become one of the first casualties. However, we'll probably continue with worthless shuttle missions for awhile longer - the public does need heroic astronauts stories to take their minds off of everyday earthly problems.

I think that robotics in space is a sadly unexplored field.
We never really got the cheap launchers needed to launch small robots into space. If you did then you could send up complex system in pieces. I've always thought rail guns would have been a good approach to this cheap small payload launch system. But we tied our manned space program and unmanned programs tightly together even though the unmanned program does not have the problem of high g launches and can handle much higher losses if done correctly. You could do a lot of stuff with high speed cheap launches of say 100 kg.
Even 1-10kg could be enough today with our ability to miniaturize. It would be natural to look to the moon or beyond for raw materials with this sort of system thus it leads far more naturally to a real space based ecosystem instead of getting everything from earth.

Sending people up when needed could have then been done with a much smaller and less complex shuttle or rocket.

But we decided to not treat getting stuff into space as a different problems from getting people into space.

Its a bit funny but if we do have the problems some expect we can expect NASA to be gutted so it might actually lead to a real space program.

Check out the "Babylon gun", capable of sending parcels into earth orbit. (Ballistic projectile launcher!)

A Canadian designed it and was assassinated by Israel.


It was the largest gun ever built.

The numbers from the article say 600$/kg for 200Kg at a time into space.

A Canadian designed it and was assassinated by Israel.

Yes, because Bull's gun would have been used to bomb Israel.  Would that we had the guts to treat A. Q. Khan and his like as the same sort of threat.

The remains of the Supergun are still in the Iraqi desert, being too big to interest looters.

I've also been a great non-fan of the space shuttle ever since its inception. Seems like its only purpose has been to send astronauts on joy rides in low-earth orbit. The international space station was invented later mainly for the purpose of giving the shuttle crews something to do, as well as for the sake of being a showpiece of "international cooperation".

It's changed as it went.

  • In the beginning, the Shuttle was going to be a cheap launcher with fast turnaround, with dual-purpose military and civilian missions.  (Well, aside from its role in replacing the fully-operational Saturn V and keeping the R&D funds flowing.)  The wing design was specified to allow enough cross-range landing capability to permit a launch from Vandenberg AFB, dropping a satellite, and landing at Vandenberg after one orbit.
  • When it became obvious that the Shuttle wouldn't have the lifting capability or rapid turnaround for military missions, it became a way to keep lots of contractors employed.
  • When the ISS was agreed upon, it acquired a foreign policy mission:  it helped to keep Russian rocket scientists employed in civilian jobs rather than working for Saddam Hussein, Iraq or N. Korea.

Actually doing science in space, putting people on the Moon or Mars, and things like that are very much the red-headed stepchildren of the people who determine NASA's budget.

LLNL took some of its money for random research and came up with a space-station concept which could have been launched in one shot of a Titan booster.  Because it was inflatable and made mostly of Kevlar and the like, it was dubbed the "community space suit".  It could have been put up for a few billion dollars (about as much as one Shuttle mission) and was designed to spin for artificial gravity (allowing simulation of both Lunar and Martian conditions).

This concept would have destroyed the ISS gravy train, and it was immediately buried.  I recall reading that the unrestricted research funds that LLNL used to come up with this great advancement were cut off, so that uppity engineers couldn't threaten the entrenched interests with anything so gauche as a better idea.

If the US manned space program has a problem, it is that it has too much money for its missions.  Less money would get rid of the gravy train and force changes.  Just putting the remaining Shuttles in museums (the real tragedy of Columbia is that it should have been at the Smithsonian) would allow more people to more things in space for less.

I just heard a story on the radio that a commercial firm did a launch with the inflatable space station. Checking the news services came up with this link: Inflatable Space Station Launched Into Orbit

Of course the radio announcer concluded with the snide joke, asking, where do you get those things, Toys-Are-Us?

Well, of course.  With the Shuttle fleet dying and the ISS nearly complete, the gravy train was running out anyway.  It was no longer worth suppressing the superior idea.

A lot of times when I hear people talk about the manned space program being a huge waste of the government's money (instead of robotic, i.e, the stuff that JPL sends up), they talk like we're sacrificing something significant.

NASA's budget for the past year was on the order of $16 billion. The DOD's budget? $419.3 billion. So NASA's TOTAL budget is under 4% of our defense spending, or if we look at Medicare ($2.56 trillion over the next five years), that's about 3%(per year).*

I talked to an astronaut recently about this, and he firmly believed that we would have plenty of money to spend on both manned and unmanned missions if the government took science more seriously. Looking at the above numbers, that makes sense.

Regardless of whether or not space travel tanks in the next few years, I think the bigger issue is that it's time we use REAL money for real science.

*figures are from the congressional budget office(http://www.cbo.gov/)
whitehouse.gov (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2006/)

I don't have a problem with manned vs unmanned I just don't think the two problems should not be tied together. They are simply two different problems that need to be solved.
One involves reducing risk to launch a human in space, unmanned only requires reasonable cost/benefit numbers and has far fewer constraints.

I'm of the opinion that the only good reason for sending people into space is if they're going to live there (rather than just visit). When it comes to science and exploration, machines are better in almost every way. For the amount of money to be sent on a manned trip to Mars, we could send hundreds of probes all across the solar system.

The Federal Transportation Agency spends about $1.5 billion/year on "New Starts"; new Urban Rail Projects.

For $16 billion you could build the 2nd Avenue subway and extend the Los Angeles Red Line subway at least to UCLA, and perhaps to Santa Monica.

and the next year ...


Juan Cole has a link to a new blog "Informed Comment Global Affairs. Today Farideh Farhi comments on Iranian rationing.


"Proponents of economic sanctions against Iran immediately seized on the events as either a sign of sanctions working or a clue about Iran’s vulnerabilities that can be seized upon in order to pressure Iran further over its nuclear program. Both of these prognoses are off the mark because, as is usually the case with most of the analyses of Iran, the context of decisions or events are either ignored or, more likely, simply not known. So here are a few points that should be taken into account before any judgment is made about the impact of gasoline rationing on the future of the Islamic Republic:"

So we have country facing a balance of payments crisis, inflation, the prospect of higher unemployment and syrocketing domestic fuel demand.

Just like the good old USA

But contrary to how we are dealing Iran is trying to do something about their problem pre-emptively.

In the new landscape dominated by ELM the first country(s) to get their domestic consumption and dependency on imports under control will be 'winners' in quality of life and economic health.

Now if certain other governments could just get that idea... Nah we're too busy rejoicing at how economic sanctions are going to 'bring them to their knees'. That's misconcieved.

The first knees to buckle may be much closer to home.

BTW pihwht; great article

'Greenland's Ice Meltdown Quickens...'
snip... 'The Greenland ice sheet, second only to Antarctica in the volume of water locked in its deep freeze, has been a barometer for researchers measuring the effect of the world's growing consumption of coal, oil and gas on heating up the planet.
What their instruments have confirmed is that the news out of Greenland is bad -- and getting worse.'
snip...'The measurements of melting on the Greenland ice sheet in the past few years are shaking glaciologists to the core," said Charles Bentley, emeritus professor of geophysics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who's been studying glaciers in Greenland since 1954.
Using satellite radar measurements, scientists calculate that Greenland lost 54 cubic miles of ice in 2005, compared with 22 cubic miles in 1996.'
snip...'Bentley, 77, is a leading glaciologist with more than 50 years of field work in polar regions, with a mountain and trench named after him in Antarctica. His wizened, placid demeanor grew darkly serious when he pondered the consequences of global warming.
"Before too long, the whole human race is going to have to think differently about how we live on the Earth's surface," he said. "Whatever steps we fail to take now will make the problems facing us that much worse in the future."'


Good link, River, thanks. I read a few years ago about the effects of soot accumulation on the snow melt rates, and I haven't seen much since, so that is interesting. Yet another feedback loop that was ignored by the IPCC report.

Of course, for more evidence of climate change, just watch the news of the flooding in the Midwest US right now. 20" of rain in a few days. And more is coming. Here in New England it's chilly, I'll need to put the heat on tonight, it will be going down into the upper 40's (NH). More north/south flow. Hope that changes before October.

It was almost as warm during the first week of January this year as it is the first week of July. Nah, nothing "wrong" with the weather...

I'm going to fill my heating oil tank early this year...

In case some are not aware. The Verdigris River at Independence and Coffeyville Kansas currently have stream flows of over 200,000 Cubic ft per second. that is more than one third the Avg. flow of the Mississippi at N.O.
It is more than 30 ft above flood stage.


Hello Dipchip,

Thxs for the info. So what does this mean for the Mississippi River & NOLA? No big deal, or uncontrolled flooding? AlanfromBigEasy, are you on top of this?

There is probably a million cu ft per sec coming out of SE Kansas today, However most goes into 3 large lakes in NE Okla. Then into the Ark. River. So after it exits Kansas it is controlled to some degree. All of the Okla. watershed and part of west Texas are drained by the Red River and the Ark. River. So all of the Kansas and Okla water are coming thru to N.O. eventualy.


The water was 24 ft above flood stage at Fredonia Ks. and is currently 23 ft over at Independence and Coffeyville Ks.

Hello Dipchip,

Thxs for responding. Recall my pre-Cyclone Gonu posting where I said the Omanis had no idea of how bad their flash-flooding would be, and how the Omani Govt. should tell everyone to park their vehicles on safe high ground. That way their cars would merely get a good storm-washing instead of the interiors and drivetrains being filled with mud and sand. Unfortunately, the post-mortem photos showed lots of wrecked cars and an entire new car dealership thrashed by floodwaters.

Do you have any idea if the same lack of preparation is occuring in your area? Any dealerships under water or did they safely move the new & used cars first? Thxs for any reply.

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

Don't live there. Nebraska in the summer and Houston in the winter Nov 1 to April 15th.

No big deal for New Orleans. We have (thanks to competent 1930s engineers) two "safety relief valves" upstream.

The Old River structure is designed to divert 1/3rd (avg) of the Mississippi River down the Atchafalaya Basin (and generate hydroelectric power while doing so).

The second is the Bonne Carre spillway that diverts water into Lake Pontchartrain and is opened about every ten years. Almost 2 mile long spillway (I have watched them open it, impressive !)

We also have levees along the Mississippi River, but they have never been tested due to the two pressure relief valves upstream.

The Mississippi River is a mile wide and 100' (30 m) deep in New Orleans. Add 15' and speed it up to 15 knots and a MASSIVE amount of water goes by without harm to New Orleans.

Best Hopes for St. Louis, Memphis, etc.


Great chart and article on Energy Density

Some Fuels that won't work

Bio Fuel Very limited supply of used cooking oil - Moving from food crops to fuel will cause starvation and produce a lot of pollution.

Solar Cells As of today, it takes about 20 years of constant use to get the energy used in manufacturer back out - if the life span of solar cells that long. Perhaps lower energy manufacturing methods will one day be figured out - they would have to be a magnitude or two improved to make these practical.

Hydrogen Embrittles its container (explodes pores in metals - forms brittle hydrates) is one of the most dangerous gases to handle - explosive from 4 - 96% concentration. You would have to store vehicles outside - no tunnel use etc. Besides the most economical way to produce hydrogen is from oil - Best way to store hydrogen is as gasoline - as there is more hydrogen in a gallon of Gasoline than in a gallon of liquid hydrogen. In any article you read about hydrogen, it is a good idea to replace the words"hydrogen economy" with "boondoggle" to get a clearer meaning.

Ron Patterson

Ron, great link, thanks!

The claim about the payback on PV is clearly wrong.

The USDOE calculated some years ago that the energy payback time for crystalline PV was 4 years and heading downward towards 2, and thin-film was ~2 years and heading toward 1.

SRI's sodium process requires about 4 moles of sodium per mole of silicon produced.  The heat of formation of NaF is -290 kJ/mol.  A kilo of silicon is about 36 moles, requiring 144 moles of sodium to make.  If the sodium can be made at 50% efficiency, that kilo will have about 23 kWh of electricity invested in it.

A PV panel using 1 mm cells uses about 1 liter of silicon per square meter, or 2.8 kg/m².  At 14% efficiency, that's about 140 W/m² or about 50 Wpeak/kg.  It would take about 460 hours of peak production to make the sodium required to replace the silicon (about 77 days at 25% capacity factor).  Thin-film cells would require considerably less.

Moral:  Anyone claiming that PV can never achieve energy payback is repeating an old wive's tale (no offense intended to old wives).

Re Energy payback on PV.
From international peer reviewed Life cycle assessments studies in recent years the energy payback or PV modules are generally between <1-6 years - And the lifetime is estimated to 25-30 years. Thus an energy payback rate can be expected to be 5->30 times in the module lifetime, mostly depending on location. Also for small- rooftop panels, the environmental cost of the rest of the system must be considered.

This can be compared to solar thermal that has a lifetime payback rate of some >20 times in 20 years-

And onshore wind generators - 3 MW size with an energy payback rate of 25-30 times in 25 years.
more here :

Vind generator 3 MW http://www.vestas.com/NR/rdonlyres/90590DF0-75D8-4E35-A199-D808312A8A29/...




Solar thermal:

So PV, Solar thermal, wind generators are absolutely a large plus for the environment. Nothing beats them except energy saving :-)

kind regards/And1

the useful life of solar cells is much greater than 25 years.

a rough assumption may be that solar cells depreciate in power output by 0.5% a year, which puts a halving time at well over 135 years. It would typically be components that fail, and improved manufacturing techniques(matching coefficients of thermal expansion, or by choosing materials with low coefficients of expansion) as well as joining techniques(right now it is epoyx) a change to a more solid state panel would be amazing.

if the above is implemented, a produced cell can expect to produce for 60-80 years with no maintenance beyond washing with water.

Please keep in mind the danger warnings I have given in repeated posts about information regarding alternative and renewable energy:

There is and will be a concerted attack of slander, bad infortation, false statistics and outright untruth concerning them over the next several years.
The technologies that show real promise of delivering a full paradigm change in energy production, distribution and use will be the ones under greatest attack. Some of the things you will read and hear will be beyond all belief, but the entrenched industry knows that most folks have no technical background, and will not be able to ask questions, must less search for answers. The idea is to kil the alternatives in the crib.

A great example is the link we are responding to:

First let us say that the energy density chart is very useful and interesting, and most of the data seems to conform to that given by other authoritve sources (I have not had time to backcheck them all, but it is always a good thing to do....just because it is an authoritive looking chart does not make it correct!) But the trick comes on down the page, in the remarks:
{my reply will be in brackets}

"Solar Cells  As of today, it takes about 20 years of constant use to get the energy used in manufacturer back out - if the life span of solar cells that long. Perhaps lower energy manufacturing methods will one day be figured out - they would have to be a magnitude or two improved to make these practical."

{as several posters have already demonstrated, that claim would have to be considered pretty outragous, and could be viewed as outright disinformation.
Also not mentioned is the generation of solar already being installed in the real world, in which the PV cells are actually integral to the roof. The benefit is staggering in that the roofing costs, which consumes tons of asphalt to install, are reduced by a huge factor, and many of these solar roof integrated systems have a warranty that is twice as long as the older style roof would have been (20 years, with expectations that they will go even longer) Ås stated above, the attack on PV solar is becoming increasingly desperate and slanderous.}

"Hydrogen    Embrittles its container (explodes pores in metals - forms brittle hydrates) is one of the most dangerous gases to handle - explosive from 4 - 96% concentration.  You would have to store vehicles outside - no tunnel use etc."
{The embrittlement charge is absolutely correct. One must assume that this problem is not considered insurmountable, however, and already there has been promising work in carbon fiber and ceramic lined containers. But the problem is far from solved.

{The idea that a hydrogen powered vehicle could not be used in tunnels has to be one of oddest I have heard in years, given that propane and natural gas vehicles are used in them all the time. The "one of the most dangerous gases to handle" charge must be taken in context. The chemical makeup of natural gas and LPG is very close to hydrogen, and methane gas, which must be dealt with in many industrial and mining situations every day, is almost straight hydrogen.
But again, no context is given to the remarks concerning the safety charge, and the writer knows that what the public will read is "dangerous" and "explosive". Gee, it's a good thing that gasoline isn't, right?}

Batteries  No one talks about battery wear out - energy density goes down as the batteries wear out. Manufacturing exotic batteries causes more pollution than they could possibly prevent. Energy density is still 2 magnitudes from practical.

{All I have heard is talk about the fact that "batteries wear out"! In fact, this is the absolute wall we must get through for plug hybrid and electric cars to succeed. People WILL NOT consider them if they have to carry the risk of a failed battery pack (several thousands of dollar liability) all by themselves. The petroleum industry knows this. This is why they hammer at that point over and over.

But of course, warrenty arrangements will be possible to insure the buyer against such loss, when the manufacturers are certain that they have achieved reliability. The issue is deep and repeated charge and discharge. In every other way (power per weight, power per volume,etc, the batteries of today are ready for prime time. As for the charge " Manufacturing exotic batteries causes more pollution than they could possibly prevent.", given the bogus and farcical nature of the comments about solar panels at the energy density page, I would have to see third party proof from a reliable and non petroleum industry funded source to buy that one. What is "No one talks about" is the fact that batteries are and will be recycled.}

You have to love the opening disclaimer on the page:
"The following information may have errors; It is not permissible to be viewed or used by anyone who is or has ever met a lawyer. Use is also confined to Engineers with more than 370 course hours of engineering and should only be used for theoretical studies."

Funny! :-)
The remarks at the bottom of the page should also be placed off limits to anyone with a healthy dose of scientific curiosity and skepticism.

But sadly, the author of the "energy density" webpage uses a pathetic device to attempt to avoid any questioning of his version of facts":

"You could write your congressman to change the laws of physics. Often, reality doesn't fit our emotional wants and desires, but reality can be a stubborn thing to deal with - it doesn't go away when you quit believing in it."

This is an old propaganda tool, equating to "If you don't believe me, you are a fool and denialist who will not accept the reality I am preaching."
Now I may be. Or I may not be. But of course, in true scientific discourse, my desire to question your facts proves nothing about my being a fool. You still have to defend your "facts". There are many "scientific" and "psuedo-scientific" so called "facts" being thrown around. Why should I accept only yours on faith alone?

Thank you
Roger Conner Jr.

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

methane - ch4
lpg(propane) c4h10

these fuels are closer to coal than to hydrogen.

dont get me wrong these gases can be very dangerous and explosive. my recollection from hs chemistry is that hydrogen ,in the presence of oxygen, is explosive without ignition (at atmospheric pressure).

remember the hindenburg ?

and come to think of it, i am part of the "entrenched industry"

C4H10 is butane.

And hydrogen does not ignite under ordinary conditions. However, it does burn quite vigorously given a spark.

The advantages of hydrogen over pipeline gas are:

  • lighter than air, so any leakage goes up up and away.
  • hydrogen diffuses more rapidly than any other gas, so it does not tend to accumulate near a leak.

As a historical note, almost 2/3 of the passengers survived the Hindenburg crash. This was because the lighter-than-air flames were mostly going up.

The disadvantage is that it has less btu's per unit volume. And that enough hydrogen to be useful as fuel takes up a lot of space, or needs to be chemically combined with something to pack more hydrogen atoms into the space.

Propane is 3 Carbon to 8 Hydrogen atoms in a complex molecule:

Natural gas is 1 Carbon to 3 Hydrogen molecule

Methane is a 1 Carbon atom to 4 hydrogen atom molecule (!)

Methane gas is just about as close to straight hydrogen as you can get, with only the one carbon atom making it stable enough to deal with.

On the Hindenburg tragedy, it is now realized that the fire was promoted equally much by the materials in the skin of the airship as it was by the hydrogen itself. Interestingly, statistics from the dead show that some 35 of the 37 dead were killed by falling or jumping to the ground, not by the fire.

Hydrogen is not to be treated lightly when it comes to safety, but methane, natural gas and propane are probably with a few percent of being every bit as dangerous.

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

About 9 of my years with Amoco were spent on the transportation ER team, 7 or so as Lead Responder.

The situations for each are serious if involved in accidents or leaks but pose different problems and considerations. Propane was my favorite to have to respond to even though it is heavier than air and has a better chance of finding an ignition source than Natural Gas or Hydrogen. Propane is quite widely shipped in trucks and tank cars and over the years the containers have been perfected, they are very solid and usually are the toughest thing in the accident and thus, they survive well. It's vapor pressure at 60 degrees F is 106 PSI, 100 degrees F = 196 PSI, thus it is practical to ship in liquid form in pressure vessels at ambient temps.

Commercial Natural Gas basically IS methane at a purity level of just over 90% We played with LNG for specialized situations involving bus systems, a few State vehicle programs and even worked with UP and BNSF on some experimental LNG locomotives. Incidents were almost nonexistent since the rate of exposure in the transportation system is so low. I shudder to think of it becoming more common. It is commonly shipped in trucks cryogenicaly, below it's liquifaction point (sub negative 160 degrees F) at atmospheric pressure. The tank trucks
are basically double walled vacuum bottles with an 8 inch thick void. Even though they are stainless steel construction, the walls, because of weight limitations, are nowhere near as thick as Propane containers and thus more likely to loose integrity in an accident. Once even the outer wall is penetrated it looses vacuum and begins to warm to ambient temps., gaining pressure all the while. The inner vessel is equipped with pressure relief devices which will vent to atmosphere in this event. Luckily yes, the vapors vented are lighter than air and usually escape to atmosphere without ignition. If the inner vessel punctures of course you have other problems, lol, but at least they go away fast as the liquid flashes to vapor.

Tank car movements of ANY Cryos are extremely rare, most being Ethylene. We were about to commence the only real LNG tank car moves while working with UP on their locomotive project (thanks to CARB, hehe). Amoco had not been involved with any tank car Cryo moves up to this point (mid 90s). During the this process I discovered that the entire existing Cryo tank car fleet had been built in the early 70s and something like only 113 had been built. So, any move to transport volumes by rail will be problematical, no tank cars available and the previous manufacturers are no longer in the business. I even tracked them down and felt them out about the possibility of making more, no was the answer.
We had managed to get a whole 7 of the cars before the program fell apart. UP, after throwing millions of dollars at it, gave up trying to get the line engines to run consistently on LNG. Last I heard they and Santa Fe did each have a switch engine running on LNG in L.A.

Hydrogen presents a unique difficulty. Yes, again the vapors are lighter than air, nice. But it has such a wide range of ignitability, wider than anything else in my experience by far, that it has to be treated with kid gloves in a big way. It is by far the biggest hazard if release occurs. Other common Flammable Liquids and gases have a much narrower fuel/air ratio range. You have probably seen truck trailers transporting it, those tube trailers at very, very high pressure levels at ambient temps. They are extremely solid and unlikely to puncture or leak in an accident. Like Propane trucks and tank cars, they are usually by far the most solid thing in the incident and so they destroy other things they contact without suffering severe damage themselves. Cryo moves also occur, but much less frequently, most shippers prefer the heavy walled tube trailers, very solid containers.
It simply is not shipped in rail tank cars to my knowledge, well, as of 6 years ago anyway, lol.

I have responded to numerous Propane incidents, truck and rail, from small leaks to major derailments, only a couple LNG releases, both small leaks, and no Hydrogen incidents, gee, too bad, lol.

Once again, give me a Propane incident any day.

Thanks, EP, for mentioning the fluoride process again and keeping that idea alive.

I still think we need a silicon reduction plant near every hydroelectric dam. Pretty much the way we have aluminum reduction plants near dams.

Replying to myself....

Evergreen Solar reported that it is continuous-casting polycrystalline silicon ribbons of 100 microns (0.1 mm) thickness.  This would reduce the amount of silicon required to 0.28 kg/m² and cut the payback for the silicon by a factor of 10.

Also, the heat of formation of NaCl is -411 kJ/mol.  If the sodium is made from NaCl instead of NaF, the energy requirements may be somewhat higher than my example.  However, sale of the chlorine or fluorine may offset the monetary cost and energy expenditure.

Eng. poet:
If it were to cost me say $20,000 retail price to install a PV system that could displace a $100/month household electricity bill (back of the envelope numbers for exsisting tech. based on what I've seen) we are somewhere around a 20 year pay back period...

Now I know this definition of payback is not the same as the energy payback of making the cells, but I suggest that it is probably lots closer to the "truth" than 3-4 years, which I agree is the U.S. Gov. figure.

I say this because that $20K that I put into the economy will generate a cascade of activity on the part of the people I pay it to, and the people they spend it with etc. etc. which all has embebded energy expenditures which flow from it. The other side of that is that it took a bunch of energy expended to amass the 20K in the first place.

A clumsy way of suggesting that there is a lot of "externalized" energy useage in the whole system other than just that required to fabricate the panels and other hardware.

I think that line of argument (that market price is the best reflection of embedded energy cost) has been thoroughly demolished elsewhere - you only need to look at the price of, say, oil - it's gone from $10 to $60bpd in a few years with no change in energy density.
I'm willing to bet the cost of manufacturing PV panels can be cut by at least a factor of 4 or 5 with sufficient economies of scale, and once the current refined silicon shortages are overcome. And with a bit more competition and higher demand, profit margins are inevitably going to be tightened up, so retail costs will come down even more. That's all without any improvements in the actual technology, which could easily double the EROEI in the next 5-10 years.


...you only need to look at the price of, say, oil - it's gone from $10 to $60bpd in a few years with no change in energy density.

I'd suggest that what is importantis not the "gross" energy in a barrel of oil which is what I assume you mean by the "energy density" but the "net" energy i.e. the amount of energy the "oil producing" sector of the economy provides to the rest of the economy over and above what it consumes internally.

All other things being equal an increase in the price of a given quantity of oil most likly correlates to some degree with an increase in the relative size of the oil producing sector of the economy and thus a reduction in the net energy produced, so I'd say it is really no different than the PV case.

P.S. I did not claim that: "market price is the best reflection of embedded energy cost" just that it seems to me to measure some costs you don't see if you don't look beyond the PV factory or the oil refinery

Do I take that to mean that you think the net energy of a barrel of oil is truly substantially less (a 6th??) than it was 5 or so years ago? So where's all the extra energy coming from that's required to extract oil now?

The price of oil now could just as well be based entirely on a combination of speculation, fears of terrorism and currency slides (as some have postulated). Personally, it's hard to see how the supply-demand gap could not be substantially responsible, but I very much doubt the slightly lower EROEI of oil now compared to 5 or so years ago has much to do with the price difference.

wizofaus, there's no extra energy required to pump oil from existing wells. Thats the beauty of this kind of energy, once the capital investment is made, its made-kind of like wind or solar. The only extra energy is in maintence. Coal or bitumen, since they are mined, require a lot of additional energy beyond the energy in the capital equipment and construction.
Bob Ebersole

The question was essentially rhetorical, but surely pumping water/CO2 into wells requires extra energy? Not a hugely significant amount perhaps, but unless there's a vacuum left behind in old wells, it must require some surely?

Well, I think there is little doubt that the EROEI is getting worse; More deep water and other exotic locations for new wells, more shipping by tanker as opposed to pipeline as various countries pass peak / continue to decline, etc. etc. but also as you say much of the shift is due to market / speculative factors. But I'd argue that this too needs to be accounted for in terms of the net energy of the oil sector of the economy.


Lets say I decided to quit my job as a medical lab tech and spend my time day trading oil futures on my computer instead. I'd have moved from the "non-oil sector" of the economy to the "oil sector" of the economy. My new income is an additional cost which must be born by oil consumers for (presumably) no new additional oil brought to market. I'd have thus reduced "net energy" and "efficiency" of the oil production system by some increment.

I know this definition of payback is not the same as the energy payback of making the cells

Indeed it's not.  It includes the the inverter, the installation, and a heck of a lot of hand labor for the assembly of most panels.  What we need is:

  • Automated assembly (requires higher volume).
  • The effects of cheaper silicon (coming from at least 2 different processes) to work through the system.
  • Inverters as cheap per-watt as computer power supplies.
  • A default design for panels so that they can function as roofing and displace another expensive building component.
  • Uniform building and electrical codes so that installation has no expensive overhead.

A panel made from Evergreen Solar's ribbon cells would appear to lend itself to automated assembly.  At SRI's price of ~$14/kg, a square meter would cost about $4 for the raw silicon.  Call it $40 for the finished cells and their interconnects; you're up to 30-40¢/watt, then you need low-iron plate glass, sealants and the edge treatments.  You can get a computer power supply for well under 1¢/watt; $1/watt system cost seems entirely achievable.

At $1/watt, most of the activity will be for non-labor inputs, and the cascade of energy demand will be low.  Of course, as this makes energy cheaper, the demand for more PV will be high....

Integrating the PV as roofing material will cut costs by eliminating other roofing.  It appears to me that raised-seam roofing with overlapping "shingle" tongues between rows may be a good way to go.  You switch to metal roofing below the PV and continue that to the eave.  This eliminates redundant roofing beneath the PV and might allow post-installation access to the panel connections (easy installation and service!).  It's non-cell but essential advances like that which will make the system costs competitive.

That's about my numbers too. I can take my twenty grand and buy a 30 year T-bill at 5% and get a thousand bucks a year. I can put it in the stock market and get lord know what. I can put it on my roof and never pay an electric bill again. I don't care what electricity costs five years from now, ten years from now, thirty years from now.

As a solar thermal proponent - you have to believe in something in these trying days - I agree with your assessments. The solid state panel guys are working hard and may get a real winner in the long run, but today's versions are hopefully not what we will be stuck with.

The hydrogen storage problem in which a gallon of liquid has less hydrogen than a gallon of gasoline seems impossible. What happens is that the carbon atoms can suck hydrogen atoms closer together than merely compressing them can. This also illustrates the phenomenal forces that holds matter together and why it takes so much to pry hydrogen and oxygen apart.

I'm not sure that there wouldn't be a way to attach hydrogen to carbon from coal to make a more stable and liquid fuel, but the hydrogenation process might eat up more than you'd get. Besides, you just end up burning the coal anyway.

I'm still at solar thermal. Looks like we'll need whatever we can get.

"Solar Cells As of today, it takes about 20 years of constant use to get the energy used in manufacturer back out "

According to Giacomo Bizzarri of the University of Ferrara and Gianluca Morini of the University of Bologna, the amount of electricity that can be saved over the lifetime of a domestic PV panel is about 2000 kWh per square metre for thin film modules, with an expected life of 20 years, single-crystalline silicon devices with an anticipated lifespan of 25 years fare better producing 4400 kWh per square metre. However, the initial costs are about 2.5 times the value of the electricity produced, the researchers say.

The pair carried out a cost-benefit analysis and found that the total energy produced over a two-year period outweighs the energy used in manufacture, installation, and maintenance. Their analysis also shows that the manufacture and use of PV panels produces less pollution than fossil fuel based electricity generation.


Payback with Nanosolar is supposed to be one month!!


"However, the initial costs are about 2.5 times the value of the electricity produced..."

Although I've seen some of the studies claiming an energy payback of a couple of years for PV, I will not be convinced until the economics are in step with the energy calculations. Otherwise the theoretical calculations are likely missing some important real-world constraints.

While poor EROI can be masked by distorted economics (think ethanol or tar sands), can the opposite also happen? If not, what is the reason for PV's economic payback being so poor? (And please don't respond that it pays back in some areas where summer afternoon electricity prices are much higher than normal and thus net metering of PV power is economically viable - that's a case of distorted economics.)

I understand that PV's high cost is determined in large part by low volumes, which has made its fabrication very labor-intensive.  Having to buy semiconductor-grade silicon is another factor, soon to be history.  I just found that Evergreen Solar is making 100-micron (0.1 mm) polycrystalline wafers, so they only require about 0.3 kg of silicon per square meter of panel.  That's less than $5 worth using SRI's cost figures for silicate reduction.

please don't respond that it pays back in some areas where summer afternoon electricity prices are much higher than normal

Why not?  If it costs less to add PV at the point of use than to buy peaking generators and their fuel, plus upgrading the lines and transformers to handle the extra load, then PV does pay.  The more we buy, the cheaper it gets and the more places it pays to install it.  It's a virtuous cycle.

My solar panels are guaranteed to produce 90% of their rated power for 30 years by the manufacturer. It's possible they don't intend to be in business in 30 years. It's possible they do intend to replace everyone's solar panels with cheaper future solar panels. But I have no evidence solar panels do not have a 135 year half life.

I have a question. When my panels have outlived their usefulness, can't they recycle the silicon? They have to refine the silicon again but they don't have to make raw silicon from sand and sodium again. Anyone know.

My utility paid me $3.50 a peak watt to install the panels or one third of the total cost, parts+labor. Why they do that is their business, but I can announciate benefits to them. They don't have to upgrade the local substation. They don't have to upgrade the high power lines. Power generated near the load enhances stability. I give them extra power on hot summer days with peak air conditioning, and in return they give me power at night.

I live in California. I realize our 300 days of sun and screwed up regulation doesn't apply everywhere, but it starts providing solar economies of scale for everyone.

Another problem is supply related. There was a backlog of orders beginning a few years ago, when alt en became popular again, and dealers were actually out at times. Since then, some new plants have opened, but I'm not sure if the shortage has been corrected. Silicon was also in short supply, and its price increased. Between the time I started getting bids in 6/05 and the installation last June (delayed because we waited for the new tax laws in 1/06, and then held up by weather), the price of the panels went up about 15%. I was figuring a cost payback of about 3.5 years, but it looks like it will now take about 5-6, unless electricity prices go up. I'd get a much better return if we got paid for XS power; I'd go with time of use metering, and actually make money every year.
Complicating the shortages was the fact that research on PV almost dried up after Reagan took office; the only ones really working on PV were the Japanese, so new technology is just starting to show up.

It's like that with a lot of our emeging technologies. In '72, TI came out with their hand calculator; 4 functions, $150. The T1-68, in '88, had 254 functions for 65 bucks. I have a '85 Mother Earth News with an ad for a 30W panel for $209. I paid about $950 for a 200W panel, which is undoubtedly more efficient.


June 22, 2007 SANYO has broken its own record for the world's highest energy conversion efficiency in practical size crystalline silicon-type solar cells. The company achieved this solar energy breakthrough by demonstrating an efficiency of 22% (beating a previous record of 21.8%) at a research level for its HIT solar cells, the first time that a photovoltaic manufacturer has broken through the 22% mark in conversion efficiency for this type of cell.

Stirlings can get much higher efficiency, and are made of cheap materials. They do need concentrators.

I am working on a very simple cheap stirling that pumps water. According to a standard simulation program, it will get about 40% thermal efficiency at hot end temp of 600C and heat reject at 60C.

Nuclear industry revival hits roadblocks

The much-touted resurgence of the European nuclear industry, promoted as a local solution to climate change, is already running into trouble.

Now the Finnish nuclear regulator, STUK, has uncovered a series of safety "deficiencies" in the new-style plant's manufacture and design. This setback has already caused it to fall 18 months behind schedule and about €700 million over budget.

I have an odd sense of déja vu. I think nuclear is one of our necessary silver BBs. However, we're going to have to get much better at doing it. This isn't heartening.

Homer Simpson would have that plant up and running in no time!

With enough Duff anything is possible!

In every new regulatory regime where nuclear power faces more scrutiny than any other industry, this might be expected. The 3rd reactor is unlikely to face such issues, but I dont think finland will need a 3rd reactor.

In the US or China this would be much less of a problem. Bigger problems would be supply chain bottlenecks, similar to the wind industry.

The 3rd reactor is unlikely to face such issues, but I dont think finland will need a 3rd reactor.

3rd reactor? What do you mean? OL3 will be Finland's 5th nuclear reactor.

Its the very first of that design.

I frequently hear that Zimbabwe's current economic woes are attributed to Peak Oil. I want us to try to set the record straight so that this often quoted talking point can finally be put to rest! This is a repost from late late late last night in yesterdays drumbeat.

Zimbabwe began to have economic problems during the later part of the 1990s, when oil was ridiculously cheap. So no, PO really has nothing to do with Zimbabwe outside of an academic argument on how much better off they would be if oil was still $10 a barrel. Unfortunately, we now know based on the actions of Mr. Mugabe that they would most likely be in just as bad a pickle in this dream world as they are now.

Take this article for example. In it, they clearly explain that the problems started in early 2000 when, for some unknown reason, Zimbabwe decided to print an insane amount of cash. Note that oil was almost 1/4th the cost that it currently is now at this time period. Prices didn't start spiraling out of the OPEC basket control until much later.

Yet what the IMF’s analysis never sufficiently addressed was how and why the rapid collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy occurred in the first place. The sharp upward pressures on prices and exchange and interest rates were the result of a swift increase in the money supply, to be sure. Yet since 2000, where had the pressure to print money--on a scale never before seen--come from? Why were previously sound banks failing by the dozens? And given the enormous foreign direct investment (FDI) in Zimbabwe in the late 1990s, why were investors suddenly jumping ship?

I'm sure you will attempt to construct a straw-bridge link to why the banks suddenly started failing with Peak Oil, but even if this had occurred in 2004, prices were not yet high enough to cause this kind of economic stress around the world, let alone cause one single country to collapse. A better explanation might be that there was outside political and economic influences.

This was not the only problem, however. Perhapse what happened is simply related to the fact that Mr. Mugabe decided it would be in his countries best interest to reclaim all the white owned farm land and distribute it to poor blacks, many of whom had little to no experience in the ways of farming.

But while many problems cited by the IMF and others are important, they do not provide a full explanation for how a country can lose fifty years of economic progress in only five years.[2] In fact, Zimbabwe’s collapse can be traced to a single policy: its fast track land reform program, under which the Mugabe government, beginning in 2000, seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms, leading to a sharp drop in agricultural output. The other “inappropriate” policies adopted by the Mugabe government exacerbated the damage, but they were not the underlying cause.

And that is the crux of the matter. When he started confiscated the breadbasket of the country, the investors got spooked and bailed in mass. Zimbabwe's response? Mass produce money to pay for what the investors formerly were, causing inflation to spiral out of control. Also, notice how the collapse began in earnest back in 2002, well before the PO effects were felt, as oil production increased from 2002-2005 by nearly 6 million bpd.

But I would like to go out on a limb and suggest a plausible link to this situation and what is happening in another country: Venezuela. We all know that their oil production has been declining, and not for a lack of resources and flow rate constraints: it's simply due to the fact that most investors are spooked by a hauntingly similar "Zimbabwean" situation. The key difference however is that Venezuela is receiving an enormous influx of cash from their oil exports. But eventually, their production must decline to a point where these revenues alone are not enough to stem the tide. Indeed, inflation seems to griping Venezuela in many ways. 20% and rising...how remarkably similar...

I think we should be looking at Venezuela as the next 'flash point' for economic collapse.

Party: I have no idea why you draw parallels between Zimbabwe and Venezuela, Mugabe and Chavez. IMHO, considering that being as left-wing as Chavez is will always be risky and difficult, the guy seems to be quite sharp. Mugabe is just a thug. Venezuela also has the Orinoco sludge that might come into the picture eventually.

I'm drawing parallels between the two because both are essentially dictators, and both are engaging in the confiscation of land, equipment and money from other companies and investors. In addition to all of this, inflation has started to rise quite rapidly in Venezuela, reaching 20% this year alone.

There is no reason to assume that it is going to fall to 12% like their central bank has stated, as Mr. Chavez is now locked into the socialist program spending spree at the cost of international investment support. The only reason things are as bad in Venezuela yet is due to the fact that they have oil reserves that they are exploiting.

Given enough time, I think their situation is going to implode in a similar fashion.

Party: Not to defend Hugo (because I am not that interested) but it is very inaccurate to state that he has run a formerly prosperous country into the ground (or that he is on the way to doing that). Venezuela wasn't Switzerland when the guy was elected (if it was he wouldn't have been elected in the first place). To compare him to Mugabe is ridiculous. He is attempting to improve the lot of the poor in Venezuela while at the same time growing the economy, which is no easy task.When is the last time a leader of the USA even took on that responsibility? Back in the 60s?

Hugo Chavez has been elected and reelected. Twice he has been the choice of the Venezuelan electorate, in spite of a US sponsored coup. He can be called a demagogue, perhaps, but he's less of a dictator than GWB who has never been elected honestly. I've never heard that he arrests people and sends them off to secret prisons for torture either.
And if you'll read the Financial Times article that you linked to, the source of the inflation is the huge influx of dollars from oil exports. The Bolivar is linked to the dollar, and the true rate of US inflation is 10% or higher according to shadow inflation, so the basis of the Venezuelan inflation is linked to the US inflation. Perhaps you feel that Chavez should be spending the excess government revenues on building a military machine?
The squealing that the multinational oil companies are doing is because they had a 1% royalty in the Orinoco Heavy Oil Belt, and Chavez wanted to raise it to 1/6th. When they refused to negotiate, he decided to throw them out. Conoco-Phillips and Exxon are the main companies affected, the others are accepting the terms just as they did when Aramco threw them out. I guess that's socialism, but 80% of the world seems to use the socialist model for oil and gas, or national oil companies.
I really feel that the drum-beating for resource wars against Venezuela and Iran is evil. All war is evil, just as murdering your own citizens through capital punishment is evil, and murdering them through civil wars is evil.


Mr. Mugabe was elected numerous times and has held power for 27 years. Simply being elected doesn't mean that you are regarded as a competent leader (see Dubya for a reference point).

The policies that you enact affect the lives of those who elected you. Mr. Mugabe decided to appease the poor blacks in his country by seizing the rich white-owned farm land, and it met with disastrous results. Hugo Chavez decided to appease the poor Venezuelans in his country by seizing property that belongs to other people and investing the revenues in outrageous social reform programs, and these have caused inflation to grow from a regional low to a developing world high.

I'm not talking about the oil companies themselves: the exploitation is wrong. However, they are probably the lesser of two evils, as I suspect we are seeing a growing international investment trend away from Venezuela which is leading to a scenario of run-away inflation! There is a reason that Venezuela is practically begging China and Russia to invest in their country, and there is a reason that oil production has declined from 3.2 mbpd to 2.3 mbpd - a decline that coincided perfectly with Hugo Chavez's actions and policies!

And for the record, I am not advocating (drum-beating) military action against Venezuela or anyone else! I am simply pointing out the haunting parallels between Venezuela and Zimbabwe. Where you pulled your war-mongering opinion out of best remains a 'private' matter...

'Mugabe was elected numerous times...' yes, in rigged elections like those in 2000 Florida and 2004 Ohio.

'Chevez siezed land that belonged to others...' Yes, land that was lying fallow, and he did not sell it to invest in 'outrageous social reform programs'...he distributed it to poor farmers with no land to farm.

Any inflation in Venesuela is mostly attributable to the inflated US dollars he is accepting for oil.

Venesuela is not 'begging china for investment capital'. You have it bass ackwards.

Any decline in oil production by Chevez is a consequence of policy formulated by the government of Venesuela.

You sound like a person that should be working to implement the Project For A New American Century, have you sent an application to Chaney?

I think the Iranian support of Jihad against the U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan is not support of world peace.


Tougher sanctions against Iran were being considered.

The amount of radical militant Islamicism that has been supported by Iran is alarming.

Chavez ought not be too proud of his own actions after stealing billions of dollars invested in Venezuelan oil projects and paying for weapons from the Russians with it. His seizure of foreign oil rigs violated international laws against piracy.


Iran is not supporting Jihad in Afganistan.

'Tougher sanctions against Iran were being considered'? You think this is breaking news?

'The amount of radical militant Islamicism that has been supported by Iran is alarming.' Who is alarmed? I am not alarmed for they are not supporting any more radical islamists than is the US.

'Chevez...blah, blah, blah, blee, blee, blee...' Wow, he violated international laws? I am so grateful that America never violates international laws.

To River-

You might like to dream that Iran has not been involved in funding Islamic revolution. Ignoring a problem does not make it go away.


It is sort of like the 1960's when the U.S. was worried about Communism and tried to contain it by opposing its spread by military means. The fact that Capitalism was a healthier and more profitable system might have turned China to the road towards a free market economy. Poland went free as Russia implemented internal reforms. The Berlin wall was torn down.

Only by doing better than Islam might nearly 5/6ths of the world be free from its (t)errors. By endurance one might save ones soul.

Interesting thoughts, River.

Unfortunately, you have taken my response to oilmanbob completely out of context. I was showing the similarities that Venezuela has to Zimbabwe. His contention was that they were different because Chavez was 'elected' by the people. I was simply showing that Mr. Mugabe was also 'elected' by the people.

Furthermore, you seem to have completely transposed the two countries. ZIMBABWE was the country that took the farm land from its owners and gave it to the poor. VENEZUELA was the country that took the oil production facilities from those who built them so he could use them for his pork projects.

The stated inflation in Venezuela is 10 TIMES as much as the stated inflation rate in the US. And we all know how government statistics under-report the real rates...

Hugo Chavez has mad numerous public speeches stating his desire to see Russian and Chinese companies investing in the Omicron belt...what do you think this signifies in a country were the lack of investment has cut your production by 1/3rd...

You are correct about their policies limiting their oil production...policies of incompetence, mismanagement and underinvestment!

...are you serious? This entire dialogue was about Zimbabwe...


Did you forget to take your meds? You seem a tad tense. Look, I would trade Chavez for Bush in a NY minute and I didnt 'transpose' anything. Chavez accomplished the land reform that he promised prior to his election...something many in South America have promised but few have made good on. If things in Venesuela were as bad as you make them out to be, Chevez would not have the support of almost 80% of Venesuelans. The support that Chevez does not have are the FWO that are still well off but not quite as well off as they were pre-Chevez. BTW, how much support does Bush have? I am not familiar with the Omicron belt...is that close to Orions belt? Since you have such strong feelings about how Chevez should run Venesuela why dont you take it up with him? Personally, I, for one, have heard enough of your nonsense.

I didn't mention the farming 'land reform', nor did I say things were bad in Venezuela. All I said, and VERY briefly I might add, is that things in Venezuela are remarkably similar to conditions in Zimbabwe 4 years ago. That doesn't mean things will go bad! I don't want to get into some kind of 'flame war' over that contention, which you seem hell bent on ensuring, so I wont respond to any of your 'rants' in regards to this subject. Bring some rational arguments, or follow the three monkey creed "Hear no Evil, See no Evil, Speak no Evil."

And for the record, you are deluded if you think 80% of the Venezuelans support Chavez. There is a reason he banned opposition political adds after all...

Yes, and you are deluded if you think that 30% of Americans continue to support Bush. Zimbabwe and Venesuela are in no way similar and by contending that they are or that Chevez is in any way similar to Mugabe then it is you that are trolling for a flame war. Chavez has not banned political adds of opposition parties...that is more nonsense. Chavez did not renew the license of a tv station that, in cahoots with the CIA, attempted a coup against him. Chavez has also put all on notice that if another coup is attempted against him that he will take further action and only a fool would hold such action against him. I ask of you to follow the one monkey creed...'speak no more nonsense'...I could care less what you see and hear, just dont repeat it unless you can back it up.
As for rants, you are the ranter that started this nonsense. If you wish to continue with your nonsense, I will be happy to oblige you by pointing out what you write that is nonsense.

What he has done is concentrated most of the countries legislative and executive power to himself and packed the supreme court with his cronies. Even if his motives are pure as the driven snow, its a dangerous road to take that eventually leads to corruption.

"What he has done is concentrated most of the countries legislative and executive power to himself"

What it does is allow him to make deals unilaterally and to act quickly to forge a coalition of South and Central American States to stand against an increasingly desperate Bush Administration. Making lucrative deals with China and Russia gets them on his side in a conflict with the US. They would stand to lose these deals should the US invade or assasinate Chavez. I believe Chavez is doing the only thing he can do to survive. He truly believes in the Bolivarian Revolution and wishes to improve the lot of the majority of his population, thus the massive support he has in his country.

Oh this is lunatic. The US isn't interested in Chavez at all, and neither is the Bush administration. They're single minded about the middle east.

People will allways excuse their favorite spokesman who spouts ideology they like, however innapropriate they act. Hes not trying to survive, hes consolodating all power to himself. My guess is he'll be there in twenty years on, with elections and the like being ancient history and all political power of any opposition gutted.

Hes just another populist thug.

Calling Chavez a distator is factually nonsensical, as are all accusations of un-democratic practices. If you get your news from US press, don't expect to know anything real about any subject. Fact is, Chavez has far more voter support than Bush, and hence can afford to act way more democratic. And does.

For most of the 20th century, Venezuela has been one of the biggest oil producing nations in the world, and all profits have gone to foreigners and ther cronies inside the country. Chavez tries a different approach, with overwhelming support from the population. It's quite possible, though, that outside influence will collapse his attempts at a better life for his people.

In the meantime, he doesn't kick out investment because he likes to do so, but he knows that if he doesn't, he will certainly fail. No country has ever benefited from IMF/World Bank investment, for example, other than those who invest.

Everywhere we do business people get treated in terrible ways, and many die. Still, we persist in blabbering about liberty and democracy. That is called delusional.

Agreement that IMF is a scam.

It's a way for rich countries to manipulate the poor countries (unending debt!). They try to bootstrap an economy into the 1st world when society must transition on its own and see the benefits, not be forced into it because someone 'said so'.

Chevaz is a dictator in name and power. He holds the popular opinion and the power, but what when he loses his popular support? Will he hold onto the reins of power? or will he let it loose, as the people will it?

He is also funding his public works projects with the oil revenue, so if oil revenue falls, so do the public works. And if his country cannot bring the expertise to extract that oil, well he is up shit creek probably within 5 years.

I think the underlying problem is intrinsic to leveraging a natural resource to support a government. All countries that try this seem to eventually fail. In Zimbabwe it was crops. Oil in Venezuela and many countries. The intrinsic problem is the government in most cases is not a good steward of the natural resource and esp not good at handling the situation when costs for extracting or maintaining the resource increase. You have almost a certain feedback loop between diversion of money into pet projects decreasing resource base and collapse. Norway stands as the lone exception as far as I can see. Other than that its like clockwork as the countries fail to convert the revenue from the natural resource into a sustainable economy. The US is probably the most glaring failure but Russia seems hell bent on giving it a second go.
This time around they seem to be doing better but we will see.

zimbabwe crops failed because person A took farms away from group B, who also happened to be quite competent at farming and gave the farms to group C who was incompetent at farming.

Thus farming yields dropped.

It was not a leveraging of a natural resource, it was person A bungling up the farming system to appease group C.

Guys, according to the CIA factbook 24.6% of the adult population of Zimbabwe has HIV. They also say the elections are fixed, its tribalist and pagan-25% pure pagan, 50% mixed pagan and Christian, 25% Christian. Basicially, the country is an open,bleeding, pus-leaking sore in the armpit of humanity. As far as history, Cecil Rhodes took it as a political possesion in the 1880's, exploited the gold and diamonds, then had the British confiscate his private country in the 1920's. The Brits cut it loose in about 1980, and Mugabwe has run it since.
I feel sorry for the 13,000,000 people living there, but its hard to blame the misery of a quarter of the population having AIDS on anything in particular. Its just a horror and unfixable, I had several friends die of it. The misery of watching 1/4th of the population die must be intollerable, no wonder they are acting psychotic.


...and the purpose of my original post was to demonstrate that Peak Oil was not the cause of Zimbabwe's problems. I suppose The Oil Drum can agree to this now and no longer repeat the baseless claim that Zimbabwe plunged over the Olduvai Cliff via Peak Oil?

PartyGuy, I never claimed that Zimbabwe's problems were because of peak oil, I just think Hugo Chavez is getting a bum rap.
I apologise for implying that your posts were part of the build-up to resource wars. I'm probably hyper-sensitive because of watching the build up to the invasion of Iraq, and the current tom-toms about the Iranian nuclear threat. The agitation about Chavez seems to be from the same quarter. And the thing all three have in common is exportable reserves of oil.
Unfortunately, the USA has abandoned its democracy. Our media is controlled by a very few companies who are now drooling over the prospect of massive election spending. The Supreme Court staged a coup in 1980, and now has been packed with even more ideologues. We've got federal police monitoring our travel, talk of a national ID card, and the National Defense Agency monitoring our phones and internet. The wealthiest 1% of our country controls 40% of the assets, the poor are getting poorer while the middle class is shrinking.
I really don't know what to do. My vote isn't counted. I figure its irreconcilable differences time and emmigration might be the best ploy.

Dont worry, oilmanbob! I know you didn't :) This thread is a rehash from yesterdays drumbeat when someone said no one was able to demonstrate a non-peak oil excuse for the woes of Zimbabwe. I've been trying to maintain and clarify that context, but some people are a little over zealous in the use of their flamethrowers...

Are there actually figures showing a meaningful long-term trend of the "poor getting poorer" in the U.S.?
I could certainly believe that it was actually the case if you took illegal immigration into account, but I'm not sure that would be meaningful metric of anything, except to demonstrate that when people ARE truly poor, they will do anything to escape it, including leaving everything you know behind and risking death leaving your country.
As for the wealthiest 1% controlling 40% of the (monetary) assets - would you consider this to be a problem if everyone had a decent standard of living? In other words, do you have a problem with unequal wealth distribution per se, or just the fact that the U.S. has more than enough wealth that no-one need be poor, yet still maintains significant levels of poverty?
FWIW, supposedly the wealthiest 5% of the country pay ~54% of the taxes.

Bob Ebersole, the commie rat formerly known as oilmanbob

Screw a bunch of figures. Before Ronald Reagan there were very few homeless people-now there at hundreds of thousands. I have a large number in my neighborhood alone, sleeping on the beach or living in abandoned houses.
About 1/3rd of the country, including myself, can't get decent health care. About 1/4th of the young black men in the country are in prison or on parole and probation. Their children are in poverty being raised by single women or their grandparents. the decent working class jobs have been sent overseas, and no one can get by on the minimum wage. The recent raise won't take effect for two years.
Screw it, if you can't open your eyes and see the problem, there's very little hope for yoy.

I don't live in the U.S. I would suggest that here the poor have not demonstrably become poorer over the last 15 years - and personally I've never witnessed any sort of genuine poverty (accepted, I've been fortunate enough to be able to live exclusively in the wealthier parts of our country). I'd agree that their situation hasn't improved anywhere near as much as it could have, given our overall prosperity in that time, and there's no doubt the rich have gotten a lot richer.
But the same line "poor have gotten poorer" has been used to describe Australia too, without much evidence to back it up.

There's plenty of data at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to back up the decline of the American middle class. If I had any competence at computer craft I could paste my graph of wage data here. Anyway US non-supervisory wages peaked in 1972 (remember peak US oil was about then)even though per capita GDP has continued to increase. If you would like to see the graph you can email me at jjhman@comcast.net

The raw data is at: http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab3.htm

So why does everybody keep voting for governments that aren't doing something about it?

Our electoral process is broken at a fundamental level. Lobbyists and corporate donors control our electoral process. It's estimated that candidates in the 2008 election (Senate, House and President) will spend $5 billion dollars. In the first quarter of the year, Hillary Clinton has raised $36 million dollars. Dennis Kucinich who will only accept donations from individuals raised $344,000 in the same time period. Kucinich's chances of being elected President are about in line with my chances of winning the lottery.

Even if he were to be elected President, our legislative branch is still filled with members who place the interests of their corporate sponsors and lobbyists over the interests of the American people.

Since the Democrats took over the House and Senate this year, almost nothing has changed. Two years ago, there was outrage amongst the voters because of the Jack Abrahmoff scandal (he was a lobbyist who was bribing members of Congress.) Republicans failed to pass any ethics reform legislation at all. Democrats in the House passed a watered down ethics bill, but this bill still needs to make it through the Senate and be signed by the President. American voters have a very short attention span.

That is the 30% of voters who bother to vote. Even when we do elect leaders, it's more of a matter of selecting corporatocracy lite (democrats) or corporatocracy strong (republicans).

Don't become a Buddhist. The world doesn't need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world does need more compassion. -- Dalai Lama

I suspect voters having a short attention span is a fairly universal phenomenon. But, at least in Australia, governments rarely survive long if the average "battler" feels like the economy is leaving them behind. I'm no huge fan of our current government, but some how or another they've managed to make sure the benefits of a booming economy have flowed through to most socio-economic groups (read: we're all up to our eyeballs in debt, but at least most of us have been able to service it). If this hadn't been the case, they wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in hell of surviving the upcoming election. As it is, they might just scrape though, despite growing discontent over various other policies.

What's the matter with Kansas?

The largely blue collar citizens of Kansas can be counted upon to be a "red" state in any election, voting solidly Republican and possessing a deep animosity toward the left. This, according to author Thomas Frank, is a pretty self-defeating phenomenon, given that the policies of the Republican Party benefit the wealthy and powerful at the great expense of the average worker. According to Frank, the conservative establishment has tricked Kansans, playing up the emotional touchstones of conservatism and perpetuating a sense of a vast liberal empire out to crush traditional values while barely ever discussing the Republicans' actual economic policies and what they mean to the working class. Thus the pro-life Kansas factory worker who listens to Rush Limbaugh will repeatedly vote for the party that is less likely to protect his safety, less likely to protect his job, and less likely to benefit him economically. To much of America, Kansas is an abstract, "where Dorothy wants to return. Where Superman grew up." But Frank, a native Kansan, separates reality from myth in What's the Matter with Kansas and tells the state's socio-political history from its early days as a hotbed of leftist activism to a state so entrenched in conservatism that the only political division remaining is between the moderate and more-extreme right wings of the same party. Frank, the founding editor of The Baffler and a contributor to Harper's and The Nation, knows the state and its people. He even includes his own history as a young conservative idealist turned disenchanted college Republican, and his first-hand experience, combined with a sharp wit and thorough reasoning, makes his book more credible than the elites of either the left and right who claim to understand Kansas

Because everyone in the U.S. considers themselves "pre-rich." They aren't wealthy now, but they think they will be one day. So they don't want to tax the rich, since they all think they'll be the rich, eventually.

I wouldn't say everyone, but a lot of the middle class behaves that way. Perhaps they also realize that the rich hire accountants to avoid high taxes, corporations pass taxes along to consumers and the truly poor don't pay much at all, so any increase in taxes will eventually target the middle class.

The last 2 Presidential elections were stolen. The US has not been a Democracy for a long time. I would guess the best description would be a Plutocracy.

Even if the top 1% pay 99% of the taxes what should be done with the lower 99% paying 1% of the taxes? Kill them? Obviously if one makes more $ they will pay more in taxes, but as a proportion to their income it has fallen by far.

(see W. Buffets comments about how he is taxed at ~16-18% and his secretary is taxed at ~30%, even though he makes ~100? times more~)

I am not American, but I do know that the founding fathers never wanted wealth to build up to such concentrations in the hands of the few.

You guys should just start up a 80-90% death tax only. (only pay taxes on your liquid assets at death, once as well as shareholder earnings taxation only at the rate of whatever. It's how it used to be! No wage tax, only taxation on income from investments, letting money do work for you was seen as something requiring tax)

I am also reminded that some people are not willing to learn how to manage their money. Switch the rich and poor mans positions and in a short time they will have reoriented to their original positions.

Personally I'm ambivalent about wealth disparities. In one sense, they're inevitable, especially due to the power of technology, and the way it tends to magnify inherent differences in personal abilities and ambitions. In principle they shouldn't be a problem, providing that there is no genuine poverty. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, that concentration of wealth tends to translate to a concentration of power and influence, and those with wealth can rarely be expected to care much for the good of society - nor do we minions get any choice over who these people are. But we DO have a choice over which governments we vote into power, and the government is really the only body capable of mitigating such concentrations of wealth. So that should at least act as something of a check over how far the situation can go.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I never understood discussion of Zimbabwe to be an example of Peak Oil in action. Instead I understood it as an interesting example of a society in collapse... like a moving picture to illustrate the Tainter book.

Oilmanbob, have you read 'The River: A Journey To The Source Of HIV And Aids'? Fascintating science mystery. Education and entertainment in one.

River, I haven't, but I'll look for it. Aids traumatised the US in urban areas-although many people are still in denial about how big a hole it left in all our lives. I went to the University of St. Thomas in Houston's Montrose area in the early 1970's, and lived in the Montrose and the Heights, so I knew a lot of people who died from Aids. Mostly gay guys, but a couple of dope fiends too.

aids doesn't mean shit in Saharan africa, your life expectancy is already fairly low. Living to 25 is excellent.

The fast generational turnover has already produced peoples who are highly resistant (or perhaps immune) to HIV and further progressions thereof.

Removing competent people from their works is the surest way to f*ck over a country. Replace oil workers with priests, priests with construction workers, programmers with medical doctors and tell me what happens to the system.

Special circumstances DO not apply here(race or whatever). It is a shifting of the supply curve due to technology shrinkage. (Where tech in this case in the knowledge of the previous farmers!)

Zimbabwe’s top cleric urges Britain to invade

ZIMBABWE’S leading cleric has called on Britain to invade the country and topple President Robert Mugabe. Pius Ncube, the Archbishop of Bulawayo, warned that millions were facing death from famine, unable to survive amid inflation believed to have soared to 15,000%.

Some parts of Zimbabwe have seen 95% of crops fail, leaving families with only two or three weeks’ food supply to last a year. Prices in the shops are more than doubling every week and Christopher Dell, the American ambassador, predicts that by the end of the year inflation could hit 1.5m%.


Promise to hand out flowers to the invaders first, then we'll think about it.

Hello Memmel,

Agreed. As I have mentioned numerous times before: It is the Total Context of stewardship towards biosolar living: How well are countries preparing to manage their Overshoot for the postPeak era; to optimize their detritus decline and ramp up what is biosolar achieveable?

Recall my posting yesterday on Pakistan. I would argue that the billion$$$ spent by India and Pakistan on nuke warheads would have been better leveraged instead by Peakoil Outreach and widespread efforts to halt desertification and flash-flooding. Thus, they are enhancing present and future blowback instead of seeking to attenuate it.

These leaders have been aware of Malthus [1798], M. King Hubbert [1956], and the Club of Rome [1970?] for a long time, but never had the cojones to make education and Overshoot reduction a national goal.

So instead, we are all globally sleep-walking into the Tragedy of the Commons, the US included. Zimbabwe is just another convenient example of the Thermo/Gene Collision; a bleeding and leading illustration of a 'canary in the coal mine'. The fact that people are still golfing at Harare National, while others are being eaten by crocs in the Limpopo River trying to escape to South Africa, shows just how bad the level of stewardship is in Zimbabwe.

EDIT: Will Tiger Woods still be golfing while millions of US citizens will be in dire straits? Something to consider.

It was pretty sad to read the posting of the Atlantic newslink where a Pakistani General says the only thing left to do is to nuke his own countrymen so that some youngsters might have a future chance. =(

Recall my other postings explaining the long-run advantage of FF-exporters using their wealth for importing only biosolar goods. If I was the Saudi and/or the U.A.E. King: since my offspring will be dune-riding camels again postPeak, I would be making damn sure the Arabian Peninsula's natural aquifers and oases would be totally topped off by the desalination plants before I ran out of fossil fuels. Instead, they built a refrigerated ski-slope in the desert; the exact opposite of sound preparation. Yikes!

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

I'm not sure somehow people will eventually have to change intrinsically almost a evolutionary change in a sense.

I almost wonder assuming we keep our technology if we don't modify ourselves. You can think of us escaping into some sort of advanced video game instead of buying real items. And also going on trips but storing the trip for later recall.
Its not as far fetched as it sounds we can see the beginnings of this today. Collectively we all have a addiction to wealth and power its effectively in our genes until we learn to control this addiction I'm not sure if we can change. Its a bit funny that when everyone has the same form of insanity its considered sane. I recognize that individuals step outside of their shells every now and then and for me peak oil really woke me up to both the destruction we have caused and to the fact that the "natural/organic" folks have not really presented a viable alternative outside the obvious that once the population drops dramatically we can live well on this planet in a sustainable manner. I'm not convinced we can keep the population down to even allow for a sort of sustainable living nirvana. If you look back into the past and at the third world today they have a hard time keeping the population in check.

The point is we seem destined to always push our resources to the limit then end of oil may lower the bar so to speak but it just seems we will have the same mess as today but with less people. Generally I'm able to see an answer often wrong but in this case I see no way out unless we as a group change but I'm not sure how we need to change. The electronic escape concept is the best I've come up with by moving our avarice and greed into a virtual world that uses less energy than playing king for a day in the real maybe we will treat the real world as sort of a preserve or natural backdrop to be filmed for use in the virtual world. Our reality tv shows point to this sort of injection of semi-real experience into the virtual world.

I like the tiger woods comment!

Just to let everyone think for a bit, the best bang for buck has always been golf. Little real physical work for great monitary gain!

guess why?

'cause all executives golf.

I used to golf but I really really hate it. so boring, i would prefer to do a real physical sport and get sweaty from working, and not all the booze i was drinking while playing.

/tiger was also capable of doing very well because most golfers are in craptacular shape, so combining his physicality with excellent body awareness is a good match.

If I was the Saudi and/or the U.A.E. King: since my offspring will be dune-riding camels again postPeak, I would be making damn sure the Arabian Peninsula's natural aquifers and oases would be totally topped off by the desalination plants before I ran out of fossil fuels. Instead, they built a refrigerated ski-slope in the desert; the exact opposite of sound preparation. Yikes!

I don't think the royals and the super rich are planning to live in the middle-east after the oil is gone. I think they will flee to US/UK/Canada/Switzerland. Most of them already have their kids living or studying in the western countries.

Even Kim Jong-Il's sons are not living in N. Korea.

Saudi Arabia seems to be doing a pretty good job of managing their oil resources. But then its not really a country, just a little family business.

The problem is the upstream petrochemical industry is not a big employer and competition for converting plastic etc into cheap products is pretty fierce. I don't think KSA will be able to compete on the manufacturing front. They are making the right moves which is to continue vertical integration of the oil industry its just they need something else and that does not seem to be happening. Its a diversification problem.

because they are both command economies?

no command economy has survived the market reality of scarcity and excess. except for *cough*china*cough* which has reoriented towards the free market.

Right, when China removed controls and became market oriented, the economy took off. Vietnam too!

Ironic that Iran and Venezuela are trying to swim the other way.

One small factor is that they did not have an economy based on locally based enterprise, but on the extraction of local resources by outsiders who paid tiny royalties. Interestingly, in the early fifties when the elected government in Iran demanded a better deal, we successfully installed the Shah and stopped that sort of thing until '79. With Venezuela our coup failed.

FYI happy Canada day!!

What are the chances that we will see TRUE market prices in places like Iran?

Because as Iran subsidizes their own countrys oil consumption with the profits from sale to other countries. This encourages an excess of cheap oil in Iran.

Note how the rationing plan is causing large hardships? Altering the ration to a real price, and taxing it will do wonders. (look to Norway)

I can't resist commenting on an lead item in yesterday's Drumbeat "The True Cost of Oil: $65 Trillion a Year" versus a lead item in today's Drumbeat "Ethanol Is an Alice-in-Wonderland Solution".

Can "facts" be so starkly differently interpreted by PO aware observers? Evidently so. The Doomers must be right. Not because most are oblivious to PO, but because the PO "In Crowd" is in complete disarray. If we can not agree on the cost of oil and whether or not a profitable product like ethanol is economic, there is no hope.

If we can not agree on the cost of oil and whether or not a profitable product like ethanol is economic, there is no hope.

I fear it is worse than that. How about a 55 MPH speed limit? I've seen torrents of debate about such a simple sacrifice. Anyone want to help support or deny this?

Don't become a Buddhist. The world doesn't need more Buddhists. Do practice compassion. The world does need more compassion. -- Dalai Lama

There's been a ton of debate, but IMO, it's not worth the sturm und drang. The 55 mph speed limit saves very little fuel (less than 1%).

I'd be in favor of it for safety reasons, but to save energy, it's not worth it.

The 55 mph speed limit (traffic camera enforced) would raise the time cost of auto travel and thus reduce gas consuming car trips.

Good for the "second order" energy saving effects.

Best Hopes for a 50 mph Speed Limit (traffic camera enforced) + tolls on all interstates,


Sorry, I file that one with "it doesn't get hot in the NYC subway."

You'd have to travel a long way before the difference between 55mph and 65mph made a significant difference in the time cost. That's the tragedy of it. People risk their lives driving like maniacs, all to shave 10 minutes off their travel time.

65 mph is de facto 75ish mph. Bring it down to 50 mph (tickets at 56 mph) and the "one day" range shrinks significantly. The area that one can reach in a day shrinks as the square of the radius (assuming no unusual coastlines). Add an overnight hotel bill in and the dollar and time penalty goes up significantly.

And without heat inputs trains stranded in the tunnels will go towards their 365 day average temperature. Pleasantly warm >;-) Stations are another issue.



Of course, there is no such thing as a "PO 'In Crowd'" and there is no one set of data or beliefs. We're all just struggling along independently, helping each other as we go, to try to get a handle on our energy options. Can there be disarray if there never was array?

Do a little research on one of these topics and you'll soon see how much variance there is in the available data, and in how the problem is defined. That was partly the point of my article.

We can't agree on the cost of oil because the true costs are hidden and externalized. Is that the fault of PO observers? No, it's our challenge. If we rise to that challenge and fail, is that our fault? Only if we quit trying.

When it comes to energy policy, no one is trying to lead us through a well-considered plan for the future. No one is responsible for planning for oil depletion and taking measures in response. No one is driving this bus. We're all just muddling through and we're mostly on our own, with our own perspectives and biases and incomplete (and inaccurate) information.

The sooner people realize that, the better.

Energy consultant, writer, blogger www.getreallist.com

Well said !


Two articles on Export Land Countries:

Booming Russia and 'Regained' Prosperity
[Analysis] Russia is making its presence felt yet again since the collapse of the Soviet Union

Another yard stick of measuring economic growth and its performance is from the consumption side of the economics, and in this matter too Russia stands tall. Household consumption is rising and it played a vigorous role than investment in the 11.6 percent increase in domestic demand in the first quarter of 2007.

"With real disposable incomes up by 13 percent, private consumption rose by 12.7 percent year on year in January-March, the economic development ministry's estimates. This helped to fuel a 13.6 percent rise in retail sales and a 7.9 percent increase in the sales of services to the population," according to the Economist.

Economics, they say, is all about supply and demand, and they are right. Strong domestic demand is also reflected in further rapid growth in imports of goods and services. These were up by 36.8 percent year on year in January-March 2007; exports, by contrast, rose by 5.3 percent, with energy exporters still struggling to increase production volumes, according to the report published by the Economist.

Fuel Subsidy: The Facts as They Are (In Nigeria)

Myth #2: Fuel is not a social product but a commodity like any other, and should therefore not be subsidised but priced like any other commodity.

On the surface, you cannot fault this argument. But something is missing in the logic. When you have an economy like ours that runs principally on fuel, there will be social unrest if the pricing is not “nudged” by the government. Fuel affects every life in Nigeria. Mass transit is nonexistent. Power failures mean there is heavy reliance on generators. Transportation is indeed a major component of production cost. The difference between the price of a tuber of yam in Gboko and Lagos is that high because of expensive transportation. Therefore, every little upward adjustment in fuel price leads to a rise in the cost of living and a fall in the standard of living. Our lives depend on petrol and any attempt to deny this fact will lead to incessant strikes, worsening poverty and economic contraction. The compromise we can reach is that a large percentage of “fuel subsidy” should be sustained until we attain local sufficiency in refining. That is fair enough.

I would appreciate anyone who likes to double check numbers, assumptions and sources to look at this article of mine:


Any glaring errors?

Right off the bat, the tractor must be charged during daylight hours so it takes 2 sets of batteries, or can't work daily. It appears to be a very small vehicle-how much land can it plow a day?
How much power does it produce-how many rows can a farmer plow at one time?


Good points on the two sets of batteries, and the batteries to me are deciding factor at this time:

If one uses the tractor to even 80% of it's maximum capacity, we are talking about a lot of relatively deep charge/discharge cycles. How much is that going to shorten the life of the batteries? Has replacement of batteries been factored into the costs?

Actually, this makes the two set of batteries idea all the more sensible, in that if one engineers an automated system to change the rack (i.e., the tractor is pulled into a bay or "slip" and battery pack can be winched off and on...it's doable alright, and we now have double the time before we have to purchase a replacement set...but it does raise the initial capital cost.

However, we are moving in the right direction. Batteries are getting more reliable, durable and affordable. Solar panels are getting more efficient. If the electric tractor will work even marginally now, it will certainly be doable in a half decade or so.

In the interest of some "out of the box" thinking, here's a few points:

-Did you know that the first self propelled fuel cell vehicle was an Allis Chalmers farm tractor?


If the fuel cell has any potential as a power source for mobile applications, the farm tractor should be one of the most fitting applications. The hydrogen could be provided by solar powered splitting of water, and the hydrogen stored in the same type of tanks now used for propane or CNG, but lined with a material to avoid enbrittlement. Methane from digested animal and plant waste could also be used. It could be interesting.

-Reference was made in the article to Ford-New Holland. Several years ago, study was done on the concept of a robotic farm tractor. Using an electric tractor, this becomes all the more fascinating. There would then be no reason that robots could not tend the fields 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with GPS guidence (which most large tractors now have). These could be built in modular sizes, and carry advanced PV solar panels onboard, so that they would continue to be recharged even as they work, reducing the deep discharge problem, with storage only coming into play during cloudy periods or in nighttime work.

Richard Heinberg for once in his career may have stumbled blindly into the truth: We may indeed need and get that 50 million farmers, but they may be mechanical, not human.

In 1980, Alvin Toffler (who has a habit of being right much more than every once in awhile over the long haul) made a statement that was at that time somewhat smirked at (by some commentators, laughed at) when he said one of the great boom industries of the next century might be what he called "value added" farming, for both food and energy. However, if PV and battery development continue at the current pace, or (happy day) speed up, the need for so called "bio fuel" will actually be somewhat limited. Food production, however, will always be of primary importance to the human race.

What we are waiting to see is if the Technical/Industrial/Financial/Educational system of the United States is still able to absorb the possibilities now becoming available to us, and act on them, or whether we will decline while other nations pass us by and take these wealth producing methods and take our markets along with them.

Time and talent are now the issues, not oil.

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

The old deep cycle lead acid batteries run about $3K for the 10 kWh auxillary battery pack. Ideally you have two of these, so the capital cost does go up by about 6K.

Newer batteries apparently can go through many, many more cycles than these lead acid types, they weigh much less too, and they are much more power dense. They cost about 3 times more, but likely worth it if buying new and not cash limited.

This small tractor could handle a 1 kW roof top and on a sunny day, doing light duty it could power itself in the field.

Howe's tractor works fine. If I recall, he was attaching some sort of wings to it and he expected to be able to do lightish work in real time.

One of the other things that's not immediately obvious - if you have an electric tractor, then an electric car makes more sense, as does PV for parts of the home - so your charging array gets bigger and more cost effective. It's not *only* for the tractor, for example.

cfm in Gray, ME

  1. I have trouble believing that it would take 40 hours of cultivation per acre.  If the 20 HP tractor was cultivating a strip 6 feet wide 4 passes per year (plowing, sowing, weeding/thinning and harvest) it would have to move at a mere 12.1 feet per minute.  I'd bet on more like 120 feet per minute (2 ft/sec), so figure 4 hours/acre/year.
  2. Diesel fuel is about 7.7 lb/gallon.  The BSFC of a reasonable diesel engine is about 0.35 lb/hp-hr, so 20 HP should come to about 7 lb/hr or more like 0.9 gallons.  1.7 gal/hr means a very inefficient 20 HP engine.  If you can't do better in that size, use a larger tractor.
  3. Fuel requirement figures I've seen before for farming are on the order of 6 gallons/ac/yr.
  4. 5 kWh is about 6.7 hp-hr.  Your battery will be able to run 20 HP flat-out for about 20 minutes; at 12.1 feet/minute, you'd get a whole 242 linear feet plowed per day.
  5. The ICE tractor could be co-fueled by producer gas made from crop wastes.  This would cut the liquid fuel requirements by as much as 90% (you only need enough for pilot ignition of the combustible gas mixture).

Items 1 and 2 point toward an error factor of 10 to 20.  If you assume 10 gal/ac/yr due to inefficiencies of a small tractor engine, your canola requirement is about 10% of your total cultivated acreage.  This goes down further if you can co-fuel with crop wastes, bio-gas, or any other non-crop fuel.  I think you need to re-check the figures on this starting from square one.

Let me give you a hand here. Before I left home I did a lot of plowing with a 26 HP tractor. It used a two bottom plow that cut two 14 inch furrows at 2 miles per hour in second gear. This was about full load for the tractor. plowing is the toughest job for a tractor.

At 28 inches it takes 3.5 miles of plowing to equal an acre. So at 2 MPH its 1.75 hours per acre. So a good days work is 5 acres and IIRC about 10 to 12 gallons of gasoline. Maybe 15 Gallons. Leave in the morning with a full tank and refill at noon. I think it had an 8 gallon tank.

Prior to farming mechanization I believe the old adage was: "One acre per horse per day".

Help me out further please...

A tractor needs a few to several passes over the same area in a year and each pass will require different power levels.

1. Clear sod or cover crop by discing-1-3 passes?
2. Harrow-2 passes?
3. Seed-1 pass
4. Harvest-1 pass
5. Light disc-1 pass
6. Light harrow-1 pass
7. Sow off season cover crop-1 pass
8. Till in or harvest surface only of cover crop-1 pass

In this example, where I am thinking of a grain and clover rotation perhaps, 9-11 passes over the same field occur.

Any comments?

Sod is generally 1 time operation, and you'll be better off plowing than discing for seedbed prep. With discing,harrowing, it'll depend on the size of your implement, and the depth or offset you work with, tandem or multiple gang, along with field's soil and moisture conditions.

Passes/year depend on crop, and how you intend to overwinter field-stubble vs not. Most implements today are sized/configured so only one pass is needed, or multiple operations are done in one pass-light till, seeding, fert or no till seeding, but I guess you wish to keep in the 30 hp range.

One thing you appear to be overlooking in your tractor is that most 30 hp today are almost worthless w/o the 3 pt. A small workshop in the field, thinking of the baler, an implement that gathers, compacts and ties off hay. Can your electric tractor be fitted for 3pt and pto, or is it just a tow unit.

I would agree with engineer poet's implication above, that for the work, biodiesel is the way to go. Perhaps you'll get there with a solar electric, if that occurs, I would imagine personal electric vehicles would be so commonplace and cheap to operate that suburbia and country homes will soon swallow 1/2 of all farm land.

Thanks for the input.

This tractor comes with 2, 3 pt hitches and a nice pto. See other comments for some details.

Did you read the original article about the features of this tractor?

We are likely going to use it primarily has a tow unit. Part of the problem we see with agriculture is the use of deep tilling. This cuts down on instantaneous power demand but would require more passes I suspect.

Quickly read main piece, didn't follow links. Haying in high gear, animals jumping/breaking every fence on the place it seems. Nice to see you include pto.

When things quiet down this fall, I'd like to see a good piece/discussion on the implications of cheap solar, and whether we inherently must use every acre of good land for human food. When does it end?

So plowing (assuming no low-till or zero-till practices) takes 1.75 hr/ac and perhaps 2.4 gallons/ac; we are still WAY below the 68 gal/ac of the article.  How fast does planting (assuming not done along with the plowing) and reaping go?  Disc harrow?

OK: I'm a little tight right now, but I did all this stuff. All the other operations were done in third gear about 3 to 4 miles an hour. Cutting grain with a binder (cutting and tying bundels) for threashing (2nd gear). Picking corn with a single row picker was also 2nd gear. Lots of mechanics to power.

Example of planting corn: Plow, Harrow, Plant, cultivate (weeds) Lay-by (cultivate),Harvest (1940-1948).

No weed killer, no fertilizer, seed poison, thats it.
Then some Prayed for rain. With me it was only hope.


In response to:

1. This may indeed be off. I'd like to hear from people or find data on time of use on a tractor for various crops. We based these assumptions on limited personal experience but others may have different results. Also, see my response below, I think more than 4 passes would be in order in most cases.

2. Data for the fuel efficiency of tractors in the 40-50 hp range comes from an international testing agency in Nebraska linked in the article. I used the 20 hp fuel efficiency because a tractor will have variable power use and this seemed to be a possible average given the range.

3. I would like to know where you have gotten those numbers and for what uses. Steve Heckeroth uses a figure of 200 gallons per acre of diesel for "intensive" agriculture in the developed world. I don't know where he got that or what is meant by intensive. We derived our figures by using the gal/hr at 20 hp and estimating how many hours it would be in use in a year and how much area that would cover. Our numbers our much lower than his and much higher than yours!

4. It is confusing to go between electric and diesel motor in the discussion of power. Steve's tractor has 2, 2 hp electric motors and 1, 5 hp electric pto motor. Because of the high efficiency and torque of electric motors we considered this roughly equivalent to a 35 hp diesel tractor. According to Steve, doing moderately strenuous work like mowing with the pto is 2 hrs on 5 kWh battery set. The tractor can also swap out auxillary 10 kWh battery sets via the 3 point hitches.

5. I am not sure I believe that crop wastes exist. But to follow along, are you talking about on-board gasification? Do you have experience making biogas in large quantities from on-farm residue? Do you think the anaerobic digestion of biogas production yields nice compost?

Really appreciate your detailed feedback.

I haven't been taking careful note of the numbers on inputs to biodiesel but I believe
1) no battery powered tractor would be powerful enough
2) that oilseed based biodiesel would compete too much with food production.

The contractor preparing my place for canola is using his own 'mineral' diesel. I think the way ahead must be liquid fuel made via gasification of non-food biomass. This is currently way beyond the resources of small communities.

I'm not sure if the distinction between "food biomass" and "non-food biomass" is meaningful. If one is worried about the food-fuel conflict, it seems that land use is far more important.

For example, if one farmer plants two acres of canola and uses the product from one acre for food and one for fuel, are they worse than someone who plants one acre of canola and one acre of jatropha or rapeseed? Both have two acres and are using one to produce food and one to produce fuel.

It is also important to note that wasteful food production may compete with food production as well. Who is better, a farmer who grows one acre of vegetables and three acres of fuel, or one who uses all four acres to produce beef?

Fair points but it is hard to know where to draw the line. Are lawns and public parks a wasteful form of agriculture? Does composting and municipal green waste recycling offset this? We could eat acacia seed instead of rice because it doesn't use irrigation or nitrogen fertiliser, and so on. I like the idea of using biowaste and weeds of wastelands like mesquite. They will survive PO & GW. The aim should be that liquid fuels only handle what transport electrification can't and then only for a sustainable human population.

Beautiful land!

Power is not the problem with electric tractors. The largest work machines in the world use electric motors. Batteries, weight, replacement cost, etc. have been the issue, but these are fine in a tractor, the weight is needed. Also, batteries are now longer lasting and store much more energy than just a few years ago.

Re time and energy for annual crops. In my earlier life I spent 46 years in farming and partly parallel until now 31 in engineering. On the long days on the tractor you have ample time to make energy calculations! The Farming (wheat, barley)was done with one tool at a time- and not as now with several in one go so I had to pass each m2 8-10 times each year - breaking, 2 times harrow, sowing, compacting, fertilizer, 2-3 times spraying - fungicides- pesticides, harvesting, compacting bales, harrowing etc.
On our Danish farm (25 hectares heavy clay soil)we used a David Brown 70 HP tractor which had a specific energy use at medium loads of 220 gram Diesel fuel per HP/hour.
The least fuel were used for spraying- and the most for ploughing.
I could plough some 7-8 hours on some 30 litres of diesel~ 4 litres per hour~40 kwh/hour/hour~54 HP in average. This was sufficient to pull a 3 blade a. 16 inch= 4 feet in width)plough 8-10 inches deep and at a speed of 3-4 kilometres per hour depending mainly on the weather. A slip of the wheels- with differential blocked of 30 % was common in the fall. The plough brands used were (Kverneland- http://www.classic-combines.com/kverneland.html and Fraugde). This means that with 15 kw~20 hp a little less than the famous 26 HP Ferguson ( http://www.veterantraktorensvenner.dk/mtmar2001/index.shtml ) you kan pull one 12-16 inch plough in heavy soil or maybe 2 x 10 inches in lighter soil.No more. My parents started with one horse (Jydsk) that could pull an approximately 10 inch plough.
I did experiment with reduced "tilling". In a few years weeds will take over the field completely. But 1-2 years in a row is possible.

Regarding energy use in farming, the European litterature has an large number of studies- unfortunately often in local languages- here a typical Danish study
kind regards/And1

Data for the fuel efficiency of tractors in the 40-50 hp range comes from an international testing agency in Nebraska linked in the article.

How measured?  I could imagine high losses in e.g. hydrostatic transmissions.

Steve Heckeroth uses a figure of 200 gallons per acre of diesel for "intensive" agriculture in the developed world.

Direct or indirect?  If he's including all the chemical inputs and up/downstream processing, it's an apples/watermelons comparison.  Remember, 1 HP = 550 ft-lb/sec; if your power level implies on the order of 10,000 lb of thrust at your speed and your tractor only weighs 2000 lb, you probably have an unrealistic assumption somewhere.

It is confusing to go between electric and diesel motor in the discussion of power.

You need to get down to ft-lb/sec delivered to the transmission, which is going to be the common interface point between concepts.

I am not sure I believe that crop wastes exist.

Rice hulls and straw, wheat chaff, corncobs, excess corn stover.  Many of these present disposal problems.

But to follow along, are you talking about on-board gasification? Do you have experience making biogas in large quantities from on-farm residue? Do you think the anaerobic digestion of biogas production yields nice compost?

Solid fuels would require on-board gasification.  I have zero experience with biogas, but many others do; if you have any animals on the farm, the manure is a likely biogas feedstock.  Anaerobic digestion converts a subtantial amount of the input to gas, but leaves the phosphorus and potassium; the nitrogen appears to be largely converted to ammonia.

I found a presentation which claims that human and plant pathogens are removed by thermophilic anaerobic digestion.  This may fit well with an integrated scheme.  What you'd need is inexpensive and reliable gas cleanup and compression systems.

Dear President Carter:

An unfortunate situation resulting from your administration's decision by apparently Zbigniew Brzezinski to incite Saddam Hussein to attack Iran in 1980 requires your immediate help to try to resolve peacefully.

Look at this positively.

It gets SO BAD, then they have to do something about it.

Let's all hope this is soon.

----- Original Message -----
To: "Bill Payne"
Sent: Sunday, July 01, 2007 1:34 PM
Subject: heavy handed threats
>Any more threats of incarceration?
> Just remember what you told me about being rational. If you end up behind
> bars, there are a number of ways to stop you from appealing, one being an
> unsavory form of US torture known as diesel therapy. Candidates are moved
> from facility to facility, their paperwork never catches up long enough for
> them to manage their cases, boxes go missing. Diesel therapy participants
> often end up crippled if they are left on the road for many days/weeks,
> tightly cuffed, Michael needed a cane for years. Diesel therapy was used to
> interfere with his appeal process.
> I read your docket list, but note that none of your links to documents were
> working at the time.
> You guys might want to set up a quick notice system, so that if one of you
> is grabbed, the other can make a dash. Serious, if one of you gets out of
> the country, it will make it harder for them to detain the other.
> - A
> PS, I needed some time to quell the panicked feeling that I might have to
> send letters to another brilliant person locked away in a prison cell. Have
> been thinking and worrying.

Michael Riconosciuto on Encryption

Best comments I've read.

I meet "Micro cona shuto" through my father and brother in-law in Hercules, CA.

Mind blowing tech.

'Nough said.

Hello TODers,

Summary Box: Farmers getting older
This is a damn shame. If Peakoil Outreach was effective: we would be going the opposite direction. What convinced me to be a fast-crash realist was the failure of the National PTA to promote relocalized permaculture change in our schools [No reply to my email]. This could have been an easy political solution because these children would not have been able to vote against the politicians that jumpstarted this process. It would have seemed perfectly natural to learn how to grow carrots on the plowed baseball diamonds and football fields. Oh well.

EDIT: From Leanan's Titanic toplink:


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

Just a reminder of the cumulative effects of all those people not yet fully 'activated' by Peakoil Outreach:

Optimists will bring the detritus peak sooner and faster.
Pessimists will delay the Peak and optimize the decline.


Titanic pessimists got lifeboat or debris-seating, while the Titanic optimists drowned.

I sure hope we start mitigation soon.

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

My wife's nephew is stationed in Afghanistan - even with bad knees they took him for a second tour - so when I saw that his latest Men's Journal had Michael Phelps on the cover, I took a look. Even more interesting was The Gospel of Yvon about Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard as green corporate guru.

"Outside of global warming, the end of oil is the biggest thing that's going to happen. It's going to happen within our lifetime. ..."

He goes on to dismiss hydrogen, electric or ethanol-powered cars, nuclear power, etc. and to say that:

... ultimately we're going to have to go back to a very simple lifestyle, and it's going to be the end of globalism.

I'm a happy person but I'm very pessimistic about the fate of the world. ... it could turn out more depressing than Cormac McCarthy's The Road. But you know my attitude is to keep fighting. Otherwise you lose your soul."

I don't think this is online yet.

"He goes on to dismiss hydrogen, electric or ethanol-powered cars, nuclear power, etc. "

Now that's the way to be honest about it! Don't name all the alternatives, just dismiss them all with the swipe of a hand as "etc."

Which alternatives and renewables won't work? "All of them, and you don't have to waste your time describing them to me...."

Lee Raymond, please call this guy, you are bound to be able to find use for him in a petro think tank somewhere....this is the straight forward "science" the energy industry needs to convey to the public, to the point!

Which alt won't work again? All of 'um, including "etc" :-)

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

Sorry, I didn't have time to rewrite the entire article, and that wouldn't be fair use anyway. Chouinard dismisses those alternatives much as some TOD contributors write about there being no silver-bullet solutions. Men's Journal is on newsstands now, so you can buy it or just browse the article.

Hello TODers,

NEOLA, Utah (AP) -- A fast-moving wildfire burning in eastern Utah killed three men who were working in a hay field, authorities said. A 63-year-old man and his 43-year-old son were working in the field Friday afternoon when they were caught by the fire and died at the scene, said Louis Haynes, a spokesman for the Uintah Basin Interagency Fire Center.

A 75-year-old man injured in the fire died overnight, Uintah County Sheriff Jeff Merrell said Saturday. An 11-year-old boy who was with the men survived.

"A fire wall came over that hill," Merrell told the Deseret Morning News. "The officers who were here said it just started sucking up all the air."

The newspaper reported the boy was treated and released from a hospital.
I am no fire expert, but were these guys actually oxygen-starved long before the flames raced over them? That seems hard for me to believe. Any firemen out there? It reads as though these poor guys had plenty of time/warning to evacuate far ahead of the flame and smokefront unless the clear air suffocated them unexpectedly. Thxs for any reply.

Edit: to clarify my question

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

It had to be radiant heat or smoke inhalation during a temporary wind shift

Hello Boof,

Thxs for responding. From your link:
The firestorms can be classified in several types:

Thermal bubble: at the bottom of a small valley rich in combustible materials (plants), the combustible gas forms a bubble that cannot mix with the air because its temperature is too high; this bubble moves randomly, pushed by the wind.

Fire carpet: in a deep and opened small valley, the whole valley catches fire.

Confinement by a layer of cold air: a strong and cold wind prevents the pyrolysis gas from rising, which leads to the explosive situation.

Pyrolysis of the opposite slope: the fire progresses down a slope, but the radiated heat pyrolyses the plants on the facing slope, which catches fire seemingly spontaneously.

Bottom of a small valley: the gases accumulate in the bed of a dry river; when the fire comes, it completes the fire triangle and the bottom of the valley catches fire.
Maybe these guys were overcome first by these invisible gases. Shows just how dangerous wildfires can be. Thxs again.

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

So do you really have carte blanche to post any random stuff unrelated to energy? I guess nothing is off-topic, even for Drumbeats.

That's good, I've got a few questions on DIY I would like answered.


Actually, you can get title above from Assiciation Of American Railroads in Washington, DC. For Strategic, not cosmetic, thinkers.

Tahoevallylines.org; ASPO article 374; "Second Dimension Surface Transport Logistics Platform" lines of thought.

NEW THREAD- while we're standing around, encourage willing entrepreneurs, locale by locale, who will research, contact, conduct repairs, etc, and return dormant rail lines to deminimus freight service. See ASPO (peakoil.net) article 374 for talking points and let's get 1950's model, rail network in place to replicate period of best-balanced transport in USA.

The fact is this is happening in USA, but below the radar, mostly in midwest, as corn belt branchlines are rehabbed for ethanol movement. This should in fact be the norm wherever dormant rail corridor exists. You know, those rusty rails you trip over on hikes... In California, here's a guide: Placerville, Santa Rosa, Calaveras, Esparto/Capay Valley, Willits, Monterey & Isleton are examples of rail corridor waiting for rebuild. Your state is waiting for your research & list for action.

The fact of morale boosting is another benefit, although the tangible good is the ability of locales to once again be able to ship & haul by another menas than just long-haul trucking. This is a heads up to responsibles to look at the so-called "Texas Corridor, a monster freeway project for trucks- running from Panama Canal to Canada. Is it wise to continue this idiocy knowing about Peaking Oil & Post 911DAY Realities? Well, you get the idea of what we're talking about- Parallel Bar Therapy.

Just saw on the news that Coffeyville, Kansas flooding has caused the shutdown and spillage of a refinery in that area. Floodwaters are contaminated. Not sure how big the refinery is or how much spillage. It's a stinking mess down there.

Hello Dragonfly41,

Thxs for the info--Hope it doesn't catch fire like the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland did in the past.

Hello TODers,

Iran in Crisis after cleric's murder July 02, 2007

The assassination of a prominent cleric in an oil-rich Iranian province, coinciding with violent protests in Tehran over the rationing of petrol, has plunged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into his biggest crisis since he was elected two years ago.
I am not sure what they mean by 'crisis': my last google doesn't yet show civil war or other conflict. Maybe it is still building.

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

Hello TODers,

Pakistan hit by more flash floods

At least 50 people are feared to have died in the latest flooding in Balochistan province.

He said hundreds of villages had been inundated, with 90% of crops, cattle and houses destroyed in some areas.
In the olden days before widespread desertification, these storms were culturally welcomed as necessary for crops and cattle.

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

Hello TODers,

Now this is a good postPeak biosolar habitat signal:

Viking ship sets off to recreate ancient voyages
Will Viking Earthmarines protect the necessary tall tree forests to later rebuild their trading and raiding fleets for the postPeak era?

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

Hello Bob - well said :-)
I have rowed a small Viking boat from the Viking ship Museum in Roskilde for 3 hours- blisters all over!
I think the vikings preferred sail also. Wind energy beats human energy again :-)

Here the Homepage of the Viking ship trek from Denmark to Ireland plus a host of more info on the subject. Hopefully they make it without storms.

and here you can see the progress of the ship
kind regards/And1

I like the idea of making the speed limit something like 60 mpg in the U.S. The higher registration fees would never fly in California, that is how we lost our last Governor.

I would like to see mag strip cards issued to each register owner of vehicle throughout the country. In the event of an emergency, you would strip the card through a gas pump and it would tell you how many gallons that you could buy.